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 Dubs Lord Dubs Labour 9:30 pm, 17th July 2019

My Lords, I find this disappointing. I thought that the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Morrow, was the subject of the previous amendment but, never mind, we occasionally stray from one amendment to another.

Let me deal with the substance of it. If we were talking, as the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, has on previous occasions—although not tonight—about making use of Members of the Assembly to make general comments about policies in Northern Ireland, we would be in a different place. However, what we see today, under the pretext of giving the Assembly a new lease of life, is the picking out of one issue in the Bill and saying, “That is the way in which we should move forward”. If we want Members of the Assembly to be consulted, they should be consulted over the whole range of policies, rather than us picking the one policy which noble Lords do not like and saying, “We will proceed on that basis”. This is the wrong way to go about it and the principle of consulting the Assembly is negated by wishing to do it only in this partial sense.

We have already discussed the previous amendment and voted on it. I understand that feelings are strong—I respect them even if I do not agree with them—but it is quite inappropriate at this stage to deal with this sort of amendment. If Members of this House want to bring the Assembly back in some form another, let us talk about it—let us do it properly—not pick on abortion as being the pretext for doing it.