Clause 7 - Northern ireland: reserved matters

Higher Education Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 10 February 2004.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Tim Collins Mr Tim Collins Conservative, Westmorland and Lonsdale

I have two brief questions, as this is a relatively straightforward clause that relates to the inclusion of references to the arts and humanities research council in schedule 3 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which deals with reserved matters. Can the Minister offer the Committee some clarification of the status of the reserved matters under the 1998 Act? Does he imagine that the inclusion of the AHRC will be permanent alongside the other research councils, or will the British and Irish Governments and the various parties in Northern Ireland discuss it as part of a review of the Good Friday agreement? Are the provisions likely to be on the statute book for a very long time, or are they to be provisional and temporary?

Photo of Alan Johnson Alan Johnson Minister of State (Education and Skills) (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education)

I think that they will be permanent, not least because the devolved Northern Ireland Administration participated in the consultation on and examination of the issue. When we framed the legislation, we took into account that the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Warley (Mr. Spellar), had written to me in July last year to inform me that he was content to make the AHRC a reserved matter in Northern Ireland. That is with the complete agreement of all those interested parties in Northern Ireland, and particularly the higher education community and local

politicians who were involved in the original process. With that, I hope that the Committee will allow clause 7 to stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.