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

Part of Deferred Divisions – in the House of Commons at 8:20 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) 8:20 pm, 16th October 2019

The hon. Lady is right to say that this is a sensitive matter, and we should all seek to get it right. Let me make clear that we will take the action that is required by the law, and that means that more guidance will be published. We have already published guidance for healthcare professionals—on 7 October—to confirm the new state of the law during the interim period and their responsibilities. The guidance was published on gov.uk and circulated via the royal medical colleges. It also contains information for healthcare professionals in Northern Ireland about the funded abortion services in England that are available to women from Northern Ireland under the existing UK Government scheme. The healthcare professionals will be able to refer women to the service if the requirements of the Act come into force on 22 October.

Tony Lloyd asked about information on service provision. It is already available, and more information will be made available as we move forward with the process. The hon. Gentleman also asked an important question about the Secretary of State returning to the House. I can confirm that, as and when any extension of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act was considered or as and when any other powers were sought, the Secretary of State would need to come to the House in order to deal with that.