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Members: Correspondence

Volume 472: debated on Tuesday 26 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with reference to the answer of 29 October 2007, Official Report, column 608W, on territorial waters: Northern Ireland, when he expects to write to the hon. Member for Thurrock; and if he will explain the reason for the delay. (187807)

I am sorry that it is taking a significant amount of time to prepare a response. The issue raised by the hon. Member are complex and cover both transferred and reserved matters.

Under Schedule 3 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 the foreshore, sea bed and subsoil and their natural resources (except so far as affecting harbours) are reserved matters. Thus, marine nature conservation in the territorial waters is the responsibility of the Secretary of State. However, at operational level, his functions are carried out by the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland (Environment and Heritage Service).

Given the delay, I would be happy to meet with the hon. Member to discuss the issue in more detail.