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 9:25 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 9:25 pm, 9th September 2019

I would like to begin by making the very obvious point to the Secretary of State that had he been consulted on the question of Prorogation, and had his advice, if he had been asked for advice, been accepted—that Prorogation was inappropriate precisely because of the volume of work on Northern Ireland that needs to be done in this House—then we would have made more time and space for debates on Northern Ireland across all the issues that the House will not be able to debate tonight. This is an important issue. In the end, he has been let down by others in his Government. I need to emphasise that point, because it will come up time and time again.

Lady Hermon is absolutely right to make the point that we should have had a debate tonight on historical institutional abuse. The Secretary of State is also right. He has met victims of that abuse. He knows not only how strongly they feel, but how many of their lives were changed because of what happened to them all those years ago. This House and this society of ours owe them an obligation. The Secretary of State made it clear that he will push for early inclusion in a Queen’s Speech. However, we need a guarantee not only of that but of early movement by the Government—any Government—on this issue. That also applies to the issue of victims’ pensions—we need to see early action.

Like the Secretary of State, I need to race through a number of issues, and some I will have to leave for another day. On abortion, the Secretary of State is right. I say to Democratic Unionist party Members and, through the media, those who are unhappy with the present situation, that they have some capacity for resolution in their hands. If we can see Stormont up and running—if we can see an Executive and an Assembly up and running—then of course that is the remedy to people’s concerns about this legislation. It is important that people take that point away and do not simply shuffle off with the usual finger-pointing, saying “It’s them over there that are doing it”. People in this House have to take their responsibilities seriously as well.