Amendment 16A (to Amendment 16)

Part of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Baroness O'Loan Baroness O'Loan Crossbench 10:00 pm, 17th July 2019

I thank the noble Lord; I am in his debt.

There is a democratic deficit. Noble Lords have acknowledged it throughout this debate. They have all acknowledged their unease at the way they have found themselves forced to do this and they have stressed the unacceptable nature of what they have been obliged to do. Despite that, our people still want a voice. While discomfort has been expressed here about what has been said, there is huge discomfort in Northern Ireland about the imposition of abortion by Great Britain on a people who do not want it. The context is that we are talking life and death issues. That is the difference about abortion: it is the life and death issue of a child, in respect of which, as noble Lords have said, the Assembly had a clear view.

We face Brexit. We started with Brexit this evening and we will end with Brexit. It would not be good to do this to a people who do not want it without at least consulting their MLAs; it would be too reminiscent of the bad old days. Of course, we are all aware of the subtext: that Sinn Féin had two red lines to coming in to the talks, which have now been removed. Sinn Féin may come back but not, I suspect, before this Bill is passed and implemented.

There are so many uncertainties around this Bill. I think the Minister has forgotten about the Istanbul convention; I hope he will come back to me on that.

I ask noble Lords to do as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, has said: to respect, in so far as we can, the devolved Administration. Our peace in Northern Ireland was very hard won. We still have fears, troubles, bombs and shootings. I ask noble Lords to give a voice to the MLAs in Northern Ireland by supporting this amendment. I do not intend to withdraw it; I wish to test the opinion of the House.

Ayes 39, Noes 138.