§ '.—(1) In its application to Northern Ireland, this Act has effect with the modifications specified in subsections (2) and (3).
(3) In section 7, for subsection (3) there is substituted—
(3) In Articles 4(a) and 15 of the Limitation (Northern Ireland) Order 1989, the references to an action founded on a simple contract and an action upon an instrument under seal shall respectively include references to an action brought in reliance on section 1 relating to a simple contract and an action brought in reliance on that section relating to a contract under seal.".
§ (4) In the Law Reform (Husband and Wife) (Northern Ireland) Act 1964, the following provisions are hereby repealed—
- (a) section 5, and
- (b) in section 6, in subsection (1)(a), the words "in the case of section 4" and "and in the case of section 5 the contracting party" and, in subsection (3), the words "or section 5".'.—[Mr. Lock.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.3.45 pm
§ Mr. Lock
In 1998, the Law Reform Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland issued a report which recommended for Northern Ireland reforms similar to those contained in the Bill. As contract law in Northern Ireland has traditionally paralleled that in England and Wales, it was originally the Government's intention to implement the Law Reform Advisory Committee's recommendations by extending the Bill directly to Northern Ireland. However, as the prospect of devolution grew ever closer, it was decided that, as contract law will fall within the transferred area of competence, the reforms should be a matter for decision by the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly. Regrettably, however, the Assembly is not yet up and running, and the Government have decided that this valuable piece of law reform should therefore be extended directly to Northern Ireland.
Amendment No. 3 directly extends the provisions of the Bill to Northern Ireland, subject to the consequential amendments that are contained in the new clause.
Subsections (1), (2) and (3) of the new clause make minor consequential amendments to clauses 6 and 7 of the Bill, so that the references to legislation will apply to the equivalent statutory provisions in Northern Ireland.
Subsection (4) of the new clause repeals section 5 of the Law Reform (Husband and Wife) (Northern Ireland) Act 1964, which has no direct equivalent in England and Wales. That section modifies the rule of privity of contract in respect of contracts that expressly confer a right on the spouse or child of the contracting parties. As the Bill before us makes comprehensive provision for third-party beneficiaries under a contract, there will no longer be any need for that provision on the Northern Ireland statute book when the Bill receives Royal Assent.
Subsection (4) also makes a minor consequential amendment to section 6 of the Law Reform (Husband and Wife) (Northern Ireland) Act 1964, which takes account of the repeal of section 5 of that Act.
§ Mr. Burnett
I shall not delay the House long. In the absence of any Member of Parliament from the Province, I simply ask whether full consultation has taken place with the legal and other professional bodies in the 27 Province, and have they raised any objections, or any points requiring clarification, concerning the Bill's impact on the Province?
§ Mr. Hawkins
I, too, can be brief. I was simply worried about what the Minister said in his covering letter to me, when he raised the question of uncertainty over the Northern Ireland Assembly. The future of Northern Ireland is in all our thoughts, for reasons much more serious than the contents of the Bill. I wonder whether the Minister might say a word or two about what he meant by the uncertainty over the Northern Ireland Assembly. I also associate myself with the concerns raised by the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon.
§ Mr. Lock
In answer to the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon, yes, there has been consultation, and yes, as I said, these provisions arose from a report of the Law Reform Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland published last year and, as far as I am aware, no substantive objections have been made to the extension of the rights in the Bill—which is a Law Commission Bill—to Northern Ireland.
In answer to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath, I do not feel that it would help the delicate position in Northern Ireland to say anything further at the Dispatch Box this afternoon about the relationship between Britain and Northern Ireland, save that I do not feel that it is right that, given that these rights will be of value to people in Northern Ireland, we should hold up their implementation while other political events continue elsewhere.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.