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Law (Conformity)

Volume 972: debated on Thursday 25 October 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will cause to be compiled and published a list of those parts of the law in Northern Ireland which in the opinion of the Government it is expedient in due course to bring into conformity with the law in Great Britain or England and Wales, as the case may be, showing the respective enactments in parallel columns.

No. Legislation is introduced for Northern Ireland to meet the particular needs of the Province and not simply to bring Northern Ireland law into conformity with that of Great Britain. An exhaustive survey of the differences between the law in Northern Ireland and that in England and Wales, quite apart from the separate legislative and legal system in Scotland, would be an enormous task of doubtful utility.

Are the Government aware that my hon. Friends and I warmly support the steps taken already to assimilate the law in Northern Ireland with that in the rest of the United Kingdom, or that of England and Wales as the case may be, even where that may be most conveniently achieved by Order in Council, which we otherwise find objectionable? Is it not most unsatisfactory that these measures should be produced, as it were, haphazardly in the course of the session without it being possible to gain any idea of the priorities and to be assured that we are tackling the most serious discrepancies first?

At present there are, of course, a number of orders before Ministers by which it is intended to enact similar provisions to those already in existence in Great Britain. This is a continuing process. If it would help the right hon. Member and his hon. Friends I would be perfectly happy to let him see a list of those orders which are before Ministers, or have them placed in the Library.