Amendment 16A (to Amendment 16)

Part of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Dubs Lord Dubs Labour 9:45 pm, 17th July 2019

I am afraid that I do not follow the thrust of that argument. We are talking about something that we talked about in the previous amendment. I am saying that we should not talk about giving the Assembly the powers on one issue; there are other issues in the Bill but nobody has suggested that we talk about those. In any case, I believe that the situation in Northern Ireland has changed quite a lot. I do not like bandying public opinion polls around, but the latest figures I have from the 2018 Northern Ireland Life and Times survey, which is equivalent to the British Social Attitudes survey, are that 89% of people in Northern Ireland believe that women should never go to prison for having an abortion, 82% believe that abortion should be a matter for medical regulation and not criminal law, and 71% believe that it should be a woman’s right to choose whether to end her pregnancy. I believe the situation has changed, and we cannot simply say, “The Assembly did that some years ago”. The argument in this amendment was that we should consult Assembly Members now; I say, not if we are dealing with one issue only. We should consult them on everything and bring them back to life that way. I am sorry, but I am not happy about this amendment; it is simply time to have another go at the previous amendment.