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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Hain letter outlines talks topics
Peter Hain arriving at the Labour Party conference
Peter Hain will travel to St Andrew's next week
The secretary of state has written to the parties setting out a number of key issues for discussion at next week's intensive talks in Scotland.

Peter Hain said agreement was needed on changes to the institutions and support for policing and the rule of law.

He said the parties could "clear away remaining differences and doubts in these areas and... demonstrate their support for restoring institutions".

"Both governments are committed to working with you to achieve that aim."

In his letter, Mr Hain said the politicians will need to discuss the ministerial arrangements for a future department of policing and justice and the timetable for devolving law and order powers.

He also highlighted questions such as whether the Stormont ministerial code should include a requirement to uphold the rule of law and how the first and deputy first ministers should be elected or appointed.

Additionally, the government has published a number of draft changes to the law, illustrating how the Stormont rule book could be redrawn.

The British government has laid down 24 November as the deadline for a deal to be reached over the restoration of devolution.

The main parties meet in the Scottish town of St Andrews later this month.

Devolution was suspended in October 2002 over allegations of a republican spy ring.

The court case that followed collapsed and one of those charged, Denis Donaldson, later admitted working as a British agent.




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