Offences Against the Person Act 1861

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:13 pm on 5th June 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 5:13 pm, 5th June 2018

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on this issue. I ask all right hon. and hon. Members in the Chamber to respect our hard-held and heartfelt views and opinions, which may be different from those held by some who have spoken, but may be in kilter with some who have not. This debate is an opportunistic move on the back of the so-called momentum of the Irish referendum to bring abortion on demand to the UK with no restrictions. That is my opinion. It may not be the opinion of everybody in this place, but that is how I feel about it. Let me be clear that the change would mean that babies could be removed from the womb and disposed of when their hearts are beating, and I am diametrically opposed to that for several reasons.

I have stood in this Chamber to speak to, and have written to, many people whom I think have power—Ministers, permanent secretaries and Secretaries of State—asking them to allocate and release funding to address the crisis point that our health and education services have reached. Devolution demands that Stormont makes major policy determinations, not Members of this place. Why are we debating this issue yet not taking the reins and addressing the A&E crisis and GP surgery closures? Other Members have referred to that. We are debating just one issue; we are not debating the critical issues of how health and education works.

As far as I am concerned, the referendum in Ireland has no bearing on the democratic process in Northern Ireland—full stop. Ireland had a referendum because its constitution demanded it, and we have no need for one; we simply need a working Assembly. Does this mean so much to Michelle O’Neill, with her “North is next” statement? No, it does not. Is Northern Ireland next? Bring it to the Assembly and see how many Members of the Legislative Assembly put their name to the change. The last time this was debated in the Assembly, the decision, by 59 votes to 40, was to leave the law as it is. The decision was supported cross party and cross community, and there was no petition of concern. People can ignore that if they want, but it is a fact of life.