Shailesh Vara: There are no plans to introduce online voting to Northern Ireland. The verification of registration applications received from individuals using the digital registration service is an operational matter for the Chief Electoral Officer and is carried out in accordance with the law.
Shailesh Vara: The flying of flags on Northern Ireland government buildings is regulated by The Flags (Northern Ireland) Order 2000, and The Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000, as amended in 2002, which specifies the buildings and the days on which the Union flag can be flown. There are no current plans to review how this legislation operates in regulating flag flying at Northern Ireland government...
Shailesh Vara: The structure and makeup of the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland are operational matters for the Chief Electoral Officer. Following the recent publication of the response to the joint consultation on the Future Delivery of Electoral Services in Northern Ireland I have every confidence that the Chief Electoral Officer will make the right decisions for the future of her office and the...
Shailesh Vara: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has made clear that she is carefully considering all the details and will set out the next steps on this matter in due course.
Shailesh Vara: An error has been identified in the written answer given on 26 June 2018. The correct answer should have been: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has had engagements in twelve of the sixteen eighteen parliamentary constituencies since her appointment.
Shailesh Vara: Transport is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and policy issues of this kind would be for a restored Executive and the Scottish Government.
Shailesh Vara: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has had engagements in twelve of the sixteen eighteen parliamentary constituencies since her appointment.
Shailesh Vara: The Northern Ireland Office published an updated Single Departmental Plan on 23 May 2018. This set out the Department’s main policy objectives and how it will achieve them. Single Departmental Plans will be revised annually to reflect new priorities or changes in responsibilities.
Shailesh Vara: In addition to the recent announcement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland of the allocation of up to £140m to fund the Strule Shared Education Campus and the announcement in March 2016 to support the development of 23 shared and integrated education projects, both the UK government and the Northern Ireland Civil Service are working closely together to bring forward further bids...
Shailesh Vara: The Secretary of State regularly meets a range of MPs and MLAs on Northern Ireland matters and will continue to do so. A member of the ministerial team would be happy to have a meeting to discuss integrated education with Kellie Armstrong MLA and the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon.
Shailesh Vara: Funding for integrated education projects will be considered against the policy objective of increasing provision. The allocation of funding for integrated education will be determined once bids are considered and funding is allocated. Both the UK government and Northern Ireland Civil Service are working closely together to bring forward bids for funding as a priority.
Shailesh Vara: Same-sex marriage is a devolved matter. The Government's priority therefore remains the re-establishment of a fully-functioning devolved government in Northern Ireland, so that decisions on same-sex marriage can be taken by locally elected and locally accountable politicians.
Shailesh Vara: Clause 43 of the December joint report makes it absolutely clear that there will be no physical infrastructure or related checks and controls on the border. As for the use of technology, the hon. Gentleman will be aware that the details of a potential solution have yet to be worked out.
Shailesh Vara: I do not accept the hon. Gentleman’s analysis. The fact is that the Northern Ireland economy is doing very well, with the lowest unemployment rate in the country, and exports are increasing. On the single market and the customs union, let me be absolutely clear: the people of the United Kingdom collectively voted to leave the EU, and that includes the customs union and the single market.
Shailesh Vara: My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. We need to have a comprehensive economic agreement with the European Union. That is possible, and I very much hope that all parties will work towards it.
Shailesh Vara: I can assure the hon. Lady that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State spoke with the Chief Constable this morning about the European arrest warrant. We very much hope to have, as the Prime Minister has suggested, a UK-EU security treaty that will be all-embracing and bespoke. As the GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming said this morning, it is important to recognise that four European countries...
Shailesh Vara: One of the dividends of the Belfast agreement is that we no longer have physical checks, along with security installations, at the border.
Shailesh Vara: There is regular engagement by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union with the EU’s chief negotiator, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland hopes to have a meeting with the chief negotiator for the EU very soon.
Shailesh Vara: The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we do not give a running commentary on all the meetings we have, but he should be aware that there is certainly a backstop and it will last until the end of December 2021.
Shailesh Vara: May I just say that the European Commission has agreed, in the joint report it signed in December, that there will be no hard border—no physical infrastructure on the border? It is also incumbent on us to make sure that the details of the Belfast agreement are met, which means ensuring that there is not a hard border.