D’Hondt System

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th March 2017.

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Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire Conservative, East Devon 12:00 am, 15th March 2017

What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the d’Hondt system in Northern Ireland.

Hear, hear!

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)

I take it that reaction was not for me.

The use of the d’Hondt system is a stipulation of the Belfast agreement, as it ensures cross-community representation in the Executive. The Government are committed to upholding Northern Ireland’s constitutional settlement, as outlined in the Belfast agreement and its successors.

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire Conservative, East Devon

The priority must of course be to persuade all the parties back into government in Northern Ireland to avoid the prospect of direct rule. Given the recent instability, in the longer term is it worth having a discussion about a new form of government involving a Government and an Opposition?

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question, but we are not considering a review at this moment in time. What is important now is to help the parties to come back together and form an Executive, and that is the Government’s focus.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Does the Minister agree that, as the talks develop over the next few weeks, a likely consensus is going to emerge around the Stormont House agreement and all the contents therein? We should base progress, and hopefully agreement, on that, rather than on wish lists with no chance of success.

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)

It would be appropriate to build around the common consensus that is currently out there. There have already been agreements on Stormont House, so obviously that should be the centre point of the current talks.