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

Part of Deferred Divisions – in the House of Commons at 8:05 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Gavin Robinson Gavin Robinson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Defence) 8:05 pm, 16th October 2019

That is right. The people of Northern Ireland are concerned by the proposals and by the absence of any regulation over the next five months. We will be devoid in Northern Ireland of any legislative protection. The Minister referred to section 25 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Act. I do not believe he was right. I would like him to consider this point. He indicated that it provided a legal protection from termination during this five-month period, but it only applies to a woman whose pregnancy is at such an advanced stage that the child is capable of being born and living. We are talking about towards the end of gestation, arguably 27 or 28 weeks. At that stage, there would be some difficulties, but not a barrier.

People have talked in this Chamber about legislation in England that says that healthcare professionals have to be regulated individually, but that is not the case in Northern Ireland. The piece of paper I am holding here is a legal opinion from a QC who is pre-eminent in the field of healthcare. He is also a former Labour Member of Parliament: David Lock. This legal opinion lays out in stark terms the lack of any legal protection that will be available in Northern Ireland over the next five months. [Interruption.] I see people sitting on the Labour Benches to my right dismissing this, shaking their heads and saying it is not true. Well, it is, and it is not just their former colleague making this point. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has made exactly the same point. It said:

“The likelihood of individuals resorting to potentially unsafe practices remains while prosecutions under the criminal law have been removed and a healthcare process not yet been established.”

In Northern Ireland, we regulate the buildings not the people. I wish to ask the Minister a series of questions. I will understand if he cannot answer them in full this evening, but if he cannot, I think we will need a written response in quick time. Can he indicate which piece of legislation in Northern Ireland over the next five months will preclude terminations where there is not a person qualified to do one? What law stops a non-qualified person, when consent is present, from carrying out such a termination? What legislation precludes terminations taking place anywhere or what legislation requires a termination over the next five months to take place in a hospital or clinic? Those are serious questions.

Maria Caulfield raised the concerns of women in Northern Ireland. They are concerned about the lack of any legislative protection whatsoever as a consequence of the cavalier attitude taken when passing the legislation in the House.