Point of Order

– in the House of Commons at 1:47 pm on 23rd March 2021.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 1:47 pm, 23rd March 2021

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. According to the House papers today, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has issued a written statement on the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021. I wish to make a point of order about the Government’s intention to pursue the issue of the procurement of abortion services in Northern Ireland. I am led to believe and understand that there has been a 200,000% increase in abortions. Do you believe, Madam Deputy Speaker, that it is the role of the House to intervene in a devolved matter such as health, as the topic of abortion was debated only last week by the Northern Ireland Assembly in the correct forum? Do you further share my concern, Madam Deputy Speaker, that the connotations of the actions by the Secretary of State reverberate throughout every devolved nation represented in the House? I believe that the House must send a clear message that devolution means devolution, even if it does not suit the agenda of some in this House.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. I have not seen any statement, which I do not think has been published yet, and nor have I seen the instrument in question, so I can make no comment on the detail of those matters. However, I recognise the point that the hon. Gentleman is making about the desirability of open and thorough debate on important matters such as the one that he has raised. I am sure that Ministers will have heard—I am looking for nods—what he has said, and the Government will take seriously the points that he has made, particularly about the process of devolution and the way in which it relates to matters that are debated in the House. I thank him.