HL Deb 18 November 2004 vol 666 cc77-8WS
Baroness Amos

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Northern Ireland has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I made a Statement on 6 May on the review of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (Disapplication of Part IV for Northern Ireland Parties, etc.) Order 2001, and I announced to the House that I would report back on developments following further consultation on the issues involved.

The Government have now concluded in the light of lengthy consultations with the parties and the Irish Government that it would not be appropriate to move away from the current disapplication as soon as next February, and that the current arrangements should be extended for a further two years. It is clear that concerns about intimidation remain across the community. And there is a range of complex technical issues that will need to be fully worked through with the Irish Government before we are in a position to legislate in a way which takes account of the particular role of the Irish Republic in the political life of Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland parties will also need some time to adjust to any new arrangements.

This will take some time and require detailed discussions with the political parties, the Irish Government and the Electoral Commission. However, the Government are determined that there should be a move to greater transparency in the political donation arrangements in Northern Ireland. The Government have no wish to return to Parliament to seek any further extensions of this disapplication. So I have today invited the parties formally to submit to me by the end of March 2005 proposals for a reformed system.