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Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 Section 3(5)

Part of Deferred Divisions – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scotland Office) (jointly with the Northern Ireland Office) 7:00 pm, 16th October 2019

I have taken many interventions on this issue, so if my right hon. Friend will forgive me, I will try to make some progress.

Alongside substantive updates on Executive formation in the abortion law review, reports were also published on transparency of political donations, higher education and a Derry/Londonderry university, presumption of non-prosecution, and troubles prosecution guidance. The section of the report on transparency of political donations states:

“The regime in place for political donations and loans is specific to Northern Ireland and reflects circumstances that are unique to Northern Ireland parties and their donors. The current law maintains anonymity concerning most donations and loans made before 2017.

The legislative framework provides that greater transparency may be introduced in respect of donations or loans made after 1 January 2014, however, in considering the merits of doing so the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland would wish to be satisfied that it creates no risk of intimidation.

The current legislative arrangements are based on broad consensus among the Northern Ireland parties and moves towards changing the law on donations before July 2017 will require a similar level of Northern Ireland consensus. There is a broader long-standing convention that changes to legislation directly affecting political parties are not made without wider discussion and consultation between parties and the Government.”

Higher education and a Derry university are a devolved matter, which once again underscores the importance of getting Stormont back up and running. The decision on the business case for Ulster University’s proposed Northern Ireland graduate-entry medical school for the Magee campus is, therefore, a matter for Northern Ireland Ministers in a restored Northern Ireland Executive. The Government remain open to considering the eligibility of contributing inclusive future funding towards the capital costs of the project. However that, too, will be dependent on a restoration of the Executive.

On the presumption of non-prosecution, the report published on 4 September set out the current position on the investigation of troubles-related deaths and the steps being taken to develop an improved system for dealing with the legacy of the troubles. Since then there have been no significant updates on which to report.

Again, on troubles prosecution guidance, the report of 4 September set out the current position with regard to the relevant elements of policing and the justice system in Northern Ireland and the steps the Government are taking to improve the current system for investigating the past in Northern Ireland. Since then there have been no significant updates on which to report.

I hope I have made my position clear: I want to see Stormont back up and running. The Secretary of State is doing everything in his power to achieve that objective, and I hope the parties will do the same and commit to reaching an accommodation on restoring the institutions at the earliest opportunity.