Abortion in Northern Ireland

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:25 am on 25th March 2021.

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Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 11:25 am, 25th March 2021

We are talking to the Department of Health all the time, and we will obviously continue to—I myself have spoken to the Minister of Health consistently. This is something that the Department has the funding for. There is a substantial block grant for the Executive to make their decisions, and we got that £900 million uplift in the spending review just last year. The Department of Finance outlined just a few weeks ago the underspend on last year, so there is no issue with money. At the moment, there is obviously a substantial cost for people who are having to travel from Northern Ireland to mainland Great Britain, in a way that is financially inappropriate, let alone unjustifiable morally and in healthcare terms.

So this is something that the Northern Ireland Executive can provide and that the Department of Health should be moving on with. We will continue to work with them to ensure that that is done, giving them whatever support we can, but, ultimately, I think we would all much rather see this being provided and worked through by the Department of Health locally in Northern Ireland than this Parliament having to take the action we are taking now.