§ Mr. Nigel Evans
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on nominations to the forthcoming political negotiations, and about progress in setting up the forum established by the Northern Ireland (Entry to Negotiations, etc) Act 1996. 
§ Sir Patrick Mayhew
I have issued invitations to nominate teams to participate in the negotiations, under section 2(2) of the Northern Ireland (Entry to Negotiations, etc) Act 1996, to the nominating representatives of the following parties:
- Alliance Party
- Democratic Unionist Party—DUP
- Northern Ireland Women's Coalition
- Progressive Unionist Party (PUP)
- Social Democratic and Labour Party (SLDP)
- UK Unionist Party—Robert McCartney
- Ulster Democratic Party (UDP)
- Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)
I am required by section 2(3) of the Act to refrain from inviting nominations in respect of any part if I consider that requirements set out in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the ground rules for substantive all-party negotiations— 545W published as Command Paper 3232—are not met in relation to it. Paragraph 9 of the ground rules makes clear the agreement of the British and Irish Governments that the participation of Sinn Fein in the negotiations requires the unequivocal restoration of the ceasefire of August 1994.
After consultation with the Irish Government, both Governments are agreed that this requirement is not met and that, for so long as it is not met, no invitation can be issued in respect of Sinn Fein.
Letters have also been sent to the nominating representatives of all parties returned at the elections, including Sinn Fein, about arrangements for the forum. With them is a draft of initial rules of procedure, on which we seek comment. The letters also deal with the location of the forum: we have now identified suitable premises for it at the Interpoint centre in Belfast. I am placing a copy of these letters in the Library of the House.