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Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland

Volume 512: debated on Wednesday 30 June 2010

9. When the Government plan to publish their response to the consultation on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. (4212)

I thank the Minister for that illuminating reply. Before the election, the Secretary of State expressed scepticism about legislating for a Northern Ireland Bill of Rights, but does the Minister accept, now that he is in office, that as there was a solemn commitment to doing so, and as that was part of the Belfast agreement, it would present difficulties in the peace process if he were to renege on that commitment now?

I do not think that there is any question of reneging. The fact is that the world has moved on; we now have a coalition Government who are committed to looking into a UK-wide Bill of Rights. Of course we remain committed to fulfilling the commitments in the Good Friday agreement, and we are considering the best way of doing that within the architecture of a UK-wide commission. We genuinely believe that if we are to have a UK-wide Bill of Rights, the people of Northern Ireland are best represented within that, rather than by any stand-alone sideshow.