Amendment 16A (to Amendment 16)

Part of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Elton Lord Elton Conservative 9:30 pm, 17th July 2019

My Lords, I will make three brief points. First, if I were a better historian, I would be able to tell your Lordships when the parliamentary procedure that brought the Bill to this House in this state was more or less outlawed. It was called “tacking”: the Government would bring in a Bill and the Opposition would let it pass only if they could stick on other things that had nothing to do with it. That is what has happened here; it should not happen again.

Secondly, what emerges from this is that it is urgent to get the Assembly sitting again. I hope that, behind the scenes—they are certainly not doing it in front of us—the Government are straining every nerve and sinew to persuade Assembly Members to get together and do their job. One obstruction to that is the Good Friday agreement itself; perhaps, timidly but carefully, we should start looking at whether it can be amended without cataclysm.

Thirdly, it is clear that there is a total democratic deficit in what is being proposed. The noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, her two co-signatories and the 19,000 signatories of her letter all propose that, even if they do not get together, Assembly Members should for once express the views of the Province, to great betterment.