Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:12 pm on 24th October 2018.

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Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 1:12 pm, 24th October 2018

My hon. Friend sums up very well the intent of the Bill. It will enable civil servants to continue to run public services; it will not make them law makers. They will not have the power to change policy decisions, but they will have the ability to continue to make decisions. That is why the Bill is a matter for urgent debate, and why it is emergency legislation. Without the Bill, there would be a danger of essential public services in Northern Ireland not being delivered. That is why the Government have brought it forward.

The Bill does not give civil servants any new powers; rather, it gives clarity on the exercise of their existing powers in the absence of Ministers. It will be underpinned by supporting guidance that provides a framework for decision making for Northern Ireland Departments when a judgment is being made on whether those existing powers should be used in the absence of Ministers.