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Joint Framework Document

Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 24 September 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if the Joint Framework Document is the preferred option of Her Majesty's Government for a settlement in Ireland. [15678]

[holding answer 13 November 1997]: Our primary aim is to secure agreement amongst unionists and nationalists. So far as the Government is concerned, no outcome is either predetermined or excluded in advance, or limited by anything other than the need for agreement. The Joint Framework Document describes a shared understanding reached between the British and Irish Governments on the parameters of a possible outcome to the talks process. We believe it is, as the Prime Minister said in May, a reasonable basis for negotiation. The development under this Government of a wider constitutional reform programme, including our commitment to devolution elsewhere in the United Kingdom and to better protection of human rights through incorporation of the ECHR, may also have helpful implications for an agreed outcome to the current negotiations.