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Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Act 2022

Volume 710: debated on Wednesday 9 March 2022

7. What assessment he has made of the potential impact of the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Act 2022 on political stability in Northern Ireland. (905879)

The Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Act 2022 was specifically designed to improve the sustainability of the Northern Ireland institutions. The benefits include allowing more time and space for the formation of an Executive following an election or the resignation of the First or Deputy First Minister.

I was pleased to serve on the Bill Committee for that legislation, and it is now clear that it was timely, given the recent resignations of Northern Ireland’s First Minister and Deputy First Minister. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that he is emphasising to Northern Ireland’s political parties that they all need to play their part and work together to achieve stable devolved Government?

Yes, I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. He is absolutely right. I continue to speak to a range of stakeholders, including the party leaders in Northern Ireland, about the importance of having a strong, functioning Northern Ireland Executive. A couple of them are in the Chamber now, and I have expressed to them my desire to have a First Minister and Deputy First Minister nominated now and after the May elections.

The Government have been clear that they want to legislate for the language and culture package of New Decade, New Approach before the Assembly rises for the elections, which is only two weeks away. Is that pledge going to happen in the next two weeks?

The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. I am absolutely committed to ensuring that we deliver on our promise, as is the Prime Minister, as we set out last summer, and indeed that we deliver on all our commitments in the New Decade, New Approach deal, which brought Stormont back.

Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I would like to point out that the British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on