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St Andrews Agreement

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the St Andrews agreement is binding in international law; and whether it has the same status as the 1998 Belfast agreement.[HL8078]

The document published by the British and Irish Governments on 13 October 2006 entitled The St Andrews Agreement records the understandings and commitments reached by the two Governments on the matters discussed in St Andrews on 11 to 13 October, to which they are fully committed and which they intend to take forward actively with the political parties in Northern Ireland. The St Andrews agreement focuses on achieving full and effective operation of the political institutions established by the 1998 Belfast agreement.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they gave an undertaking to the Government of the Republic of Ireland atSt Andrews on 13 October that legislation would be introduced in the United Kingdom Parliament with a view to enactment by 21 November 2006 to give force to the agreement reached at St Andrews; whether they consulted Parliament before giving any such undertaking; and what effect the failure of Parliament to pass such legislation by theabove date would have on the St Andrews agreement.[HL8079]

The St Andrews agreement contained a commitment that, if the Northern Ireland political parties endorsed the agreement by 10 November, the Government would bring forward legislation to Parliament to give effect to the agreement. That is a matter for the Government; Parliament's role is to consider the legislation once introduced.

If the legislation is not in force before the25 November 2006 deadline in the Northern Ireland Act 2006, Schedule 3 to that Act would come into immediate effect.