I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The Government have been working intensely to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland since the collapse of the Executive last year. It is deeply regrettable that, despite efforts, the political parties in Northern Ireland have not yet reached an agreement that would enable devolved government. In the absence of an Executive, the Northern Ireland civil service has worked, and continues to work, with the utmost professionalism and commitment to protect and preserve public services in the interests of all communities in Northern Ireland. I commend their efforts.
Many hon. and right hon. Members will have seen the ruling from the High Court last week regarding the Buick judgment. I want to reassure all Members that the Government have noted that ruling and are considering it carefully. As our track record shows, in the absence of an Executive, the Government have already taken, and are committed to take, a number of limited but necessary steps to ensure good governance and to protect the delivery of public services in Northern Ireland. That included providing certainty for Northern Ireland finances with my budget statement to Parliament on