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Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 12 September 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 16 July 2007, Official Report, column 79W, on abortion, whether Parliament will be able to pass legislation changing the law relating to abortion in Northern Ireland once the Northern Ireland Assembly has assumed responsibility for the criminal law. (153304)

When responsibility for the criminal law is devolved, consideration of legislation relating to the law on abortion will be a matter for the devolved authorities in Northern Ireland. As paragraph 13 of the Devolution Memorandum of Understanding (Cm 5240, published in December 2001) makes clear:

“The United Kingdom Parliament retains authority to legislate on any issue, whether devolved or not. It is ultimately for Parliament to decide what use to make of that power. However, the UK Government will proceed in accordance with the convention that the UK Parliament would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters except with the agreement of the devolved legislature.”

The Government’s position on the law on abortion in Northern Ireland is as set out in the answer of 16 July 2007, Official Report, column 79W.