HC Deb 12 December 1985 vol 88 cc1058-9
15. Mr. Robert Atkins

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what effects he estimates the Anglo-Irish Agreement will have upon industrial co-operation between the two countries.

Dr. Boyson

The Government believe that the Anglo-Irish Agreement will create conditions which will foster the industrial progress of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Intergovernmental Conference will provide an additional forum in which opportunities for mutually beneficial industrial co-operation may be identified.

Mr. Atkins

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. Can he assure me that the success of companies such as Shorts will not be hindered by developments following the Anglo-Irish concord?

Dr. Boyson

I certainly give my hon. Friend that assurance. I trust that co-operation between the Irish Government and the United Kingdom Government over Northern Ireland will attract more contracts, not only to Shorts, but to other businesses, throughout both parts of Ireland.

18. Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what provision has been made to publish the conclusions arrived at in Intergovernmental Conference meetings.

Mr. Tom King

The first meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference took place on 11 December and we released a joint press statement recording the subjects we discussed. I have placed the statement in the Library and the Vote Office. This will be our general practice in future.

Mr. Ross

Does the Secretary of State intend in due course, perhaps when times are a little quieter, to hold joint press conferences after such meetings?

Mr. King

Although the original discussions on the agreement took place in circumstances of confidentiality, I have made it clear that I want maximum openness about the matters being discussed. The views of the minority are important, but the views of the majority are crucial, too. There must be frank discussion of all the issues. I do not yet know whether we shall achieve that aim by holding joint press conferences. We shall have to develop the practice that seems most appropriate. I am anxious to keep the House and all the parties concerned well informed.

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