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I think the hon. Lady and I are in agreement. Not enough is being done and the political decision-making capacity is not there. These things are outrageous and tragic in their own right, but of course the reality is that we also have two dates approaching very quickly:
First, of course, is Brexit. As I said to the Minister, there is no part of this United Kingdom of ours that will be more changed than Northern Ireland. Irrespective of whether we have a deal on Brexit or a crash-out Brexit, either will transform Northern Ireland in a way that will be massively different from the effect on any other part of this United Kingdom. We need to dwell on that. I said to the Minister that the Secretary of State had said he would need to bring forward regulation and legislation to equip himself as Secretary of State, and the Government, with the necessary provisions. Even if we sit not just this Saturday but every other weekend day between now and
We need to have some certainty about issues such as policing. We know that the previous Chief Constable warned that a hard border across the island of Ireland would create targets for would-be terrorists, and we know that the current Chief Constable has asked for more resource in the event of a no-deal Brexit. In any event, we know that, with the possibility of an increase in civil disturbances, almost irrespective of the type of Brexit, there needs to be some concentration on keeping the peace and on the questions relating to stability. We are simply not seeing that. I hope we get clear answers from the Minister as to what the timetable is for when the Secretary of State will come to the House.
The Secretary of State and the Minister know Northern Ireland, so I do not doubt that they will recognise that there can be no hard border across the island of Ireland. The Prime Minister’s red lines are such that they must take that into account. In that context, the need for an Assembly and an Executive to be up and running is paramount. That really has to be a driving force. I accept that the Secretary of State is in Belfast today bringing the parties together—I do not simply accept that; I want him to be there—but I have to say to the politicians that the gap between them is so small. I need to say this through the House. I cannot recognise the principle that keeps them apart, out of the Assembly and out of the Executive when we look at issues such as health, education and the very important issue of Brexit. I hope the Minister can reflect on the questions that we need to address that will help to bring the Executive back into operation between now and
I wish now to turn to the question of abortion, which other Members will want to raise as well. I have two specific questions for the Minister. He talked a little around the issues, and I am not sure that we have had absolute certainty on them. If the Assembly does not meet before
The second question may be even more important, and it has been raised, either directly or indirectly, by other hon. Members. Will the Minister guarantee that, if we move into this phase, come
I do not intend to speak for long, because I know that other Members wish to speak, but may I simply say to the Minister that I hope he can answer some of these difficult questions tonight? Those he cannot answer, will he undertake to return to Members, both individually and collectively, so that we have proper answers on the record and we know where we are traveling both in terms of the formation of the Executive and, of course, on this very difficult, but very necessary, issue of providing safe and legal abortion?