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Women’s Rights

Volume 719: debated on Wednesday 7 September 2022

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. This Government support any work undertaken in Northern Ireland to tackle issues that disproportionately affect women. In May, my predecessor made regulations that remove the barriers to ensure that women and girls in Northern Ireland have the same access to healthcare as those in the rest of the UK.

Despite the lead taken by the Government and the votes of this House, abortion services are still not being commissioned in Northern Ireland. I ask the Secretary of State to give a timeframe for when that will finally occur.

I will happily write to my hon. Friend with more details about that, but the regulations laid in May take a dual approach. On 20 May, the previous Northern Ireland Secretary wrote to the Health Minister in Northern Ireland requesting that he provide a clear and unambiguous commitment that he will comply with the regulations. There has been lots more action since, about which I will write to my hon. Friend.

On the issue of women’s rights, this week Northern Ireland’s golden girl, Lady Mary Peters, celebrated 50 years since achieving her gold medal at the Olympics. She has inspired young women such as Bethany Firth, Kate O’Connor, Ciara Mageean and a host of others to do likewise. Now that the Secretary of State is in post, what will he do to promote women into sport and encourage them with not only active support but resources for sport?

I thank the hon. Member for his question. He will know that I am a not very good but passionate sportsman in a whole host of sports, and I recognise what getting more women involved in all sorts of sports can do to benefit communities, people, their health and everything else. I will do everything I possibly can using sport as a tool to both get involved in all the communities in Northern Ireland and try to encourage more women into sport at the same time.

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

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the new Prime Minister to her place—and I know she will want to ensure that any statements will be made in the House first.