Governance

Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at on 8 February 2023.

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Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance, North Down

What steps the Government are taking to help ensure good governance in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is best governed through locally elected and accountable Ministers operating in the devolved institutions. In their absence, we introduced the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act and published guidance to provide Northern Ireland Departments with the support that they need to make limited but necessary decisions to maintain the delivery of public services that operate in the public interest.

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance, North Down

The Secretary of State recently met the family of Dáithí Mac Gabhann. The Organ and Tissue Donation (Deemed Consent) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 is one of the casualties of the absence of the Northern Ireland Assembly. There is a groundswell of opinion across Northern Ireland MPs and other stakeholders that the Secretary of State should act, through Westminster, to make the Act effective in Northern Ireland. Will he listen to those voices?

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I was honoured to meet Dáithí and his family last week. I obviously understand the position in which the family find themselves. There is a piece of secondary legislation that should have been passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly. The easiest route for this to happen—the quickest route by which Dáithí can get the result he requires, through the passage of that secondary legislation—is via the Assembly coming back and passing it, but we are looking at all options. I have asked officials in my Department to see what we can do.

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, House of Commons Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Conference Committee, Chair, Speaker's Conference Committee, Chair, Restoration and Renewal Client Board Committee, Chair, Restoration and Renewal Client Board Committee

Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I have a short announcement to make. The Clerk of the House, Sir John Benger, has informed me that he has indicated to His Majesty the King that he intends to surrender his patent as Clerk of the House in the autumn, to allow him to take up the role of Master of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. There will be an opportunity much nearer to the time for Members to pay tribute to the outgoing Clerk, and I shall want to place on record Sir John’s reflections on his time as Clerk on that occasion, but it is a little time away. I will ensure that arrangements are made to appoint his successor in plenty of time to allow a smooth handover.

Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, let me point out that a British Sign Language interpretation of the proceedings is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv.