Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 Section 3(2)

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 (Rule of Law) – in the House of Commons at 8:59 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 8:59 pm, 9th September 2019

I accept the hon. Lady’s point, but I return to the fact that the ways to achieve the sorts of things that she is discussing are much more complex.

The Government are committed to finding practical, sustainable and workable solutions to establish an improved system that works better for all and ensures that soldiers and former police officers who risk their lives to maintain peace and order and to keep others safe are treated fairly.

On abortion law, if an Executive is not formed by 21 October, the Government have a duty to make the necessary regulations. As I have set out, it is the Government’s preference that any questions of reform on these important, sensitive and devolved issues are considered in the right place by a restored Executive and a functioning Assembly. However, we recognise that a majority of MPs want to ensure that reform happens if we continue to see an absence of devolved government. From 22 October, the specific criminal law in Northern Ireland will fall away, and a criminal moratorium on prosecutions will come into place. I have instructed my Department, working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and the Government Equalities Office to develop an appropriate new legal framework that will be in operation by 31 March 2020 if that proves to be the case.