Northern Ireland Office

We ensure the smooth working of the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland.



Secretary of State

 Portrait

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Shadow Ministers / Spokeperson
Liberal Democrat
Baroness Suttie (LDEM - Life peer)
Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

Labour
Peter Kyle (LAB - Hove)
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Liberal Democrat
Alistair Carmichael (LDEM - Orkney and Shetland)
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

Labour
Baroness Smith of Basildon (LAB - Life peer)
Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

Scottish National Party
Richard Thomson (SNP - Gordon)
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)
Junior Shadow Ministers / Deputy Spokesperson
Labour
Tonia Antoniazzi (LAB - Gower)
Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)
Ministers of State
Conor Burns (CON - Bournemouth West)
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State
Lord Caine (CON - Life peer)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
Scheduled Event
Wednesday 6th July 2022
Northern Ireland Office
Legislation - Main Chamber
Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill - report stage
View calendar
Scheduled Event
Wednesday 13th July 2022
Northern Ireland Office
Legislation - Main Chamber
Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill [HL] - third reading
View calendar
Scheduled Event
Wednesday 7th September 2022
11:30
Northern Ireland Office
Oral questions - Main Chamber
7 Sep 2022, 11:30 a.m.
Northern Ireland
Save to Calendar
View calendar
Debates
Thursday 30th June 2022
Select Committee Inquiry
Wednesday 30th March 2022
The effect of paramilitaries on society in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has launched a new inquiry into the effect of paramilitaries on society in Northern Ireland. …

Written Answers
Monday 4th July 2022
Overseas Trade: Northern Ireland
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the commitments set out in the New Decade, …
Secondary Legislation
Thursday 23rd June 2022
Health and Social Care Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2022
This Order makes amendments consequential on the Health and Social Care Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 (c. 3 (N.I.)) (the “2022 …
Bills
Wednesday 25th May 2022
Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill [HL] 2022-23
A Bill to make provision about the national and cultural identity and language in Northern Ireland
Dept. Publications
Thursday 30th June 2022
16:59
Treaty
None available

Northern Ireland Office Commons Appearances

Oral Answers to Questions is a regularly scheduled appearance where the Secretary of State and junior minister will answer at the Dispatch Box questions from backbench MPs

Other Commons Chamber appearances can be:
  • Urgent Questions where the Speaker has selected a question to which a Minister must reply that day
  • Adjornment Debates a 30 minute debate attended by a Minister that concludes the day in Parliament.
  • Oral Statements informing the Commons of a significant development, where backbench MP's can then question the Minister making the statement.

Westminster Hall debates are performed in response to backbench MPs or e-petitions asking for a Minister to address a detailed issue

Written Statements are made when a current event is not sufficiently significant to require an Oral Statement, but the House is required to be informed.

Most Recent Commons Appearances by Category
Jun. 22
Oral Questions
Mar. 10
Urgent Questions
Nov. 11
Westminster Hall
View All Northern Ireland Office Commons Contibutions

Bills currently before Parliament

Introduced: 17th May 2022

A Bill to address the legacy of the Northern Ireland Troubles and promote reconciliation by establishing an Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery, limiting criminal investigations, legal proceedings, inquests and police complaints, extending the prisoner release scheme in the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998, and providing for experiences to be recorded and preserved and for events to be studied and memorialised.

Commons - 60%

Last Event - Committee Stage (Commons)
Wednesday 29th June 2022
(Read Debate)
Next Event - Report Stage (Commons)
Monday 4th July 2022
Introduced: 25th May 2022

A Bill to make provision about the national and cultural identity and language in Northern Ireland

Lords - 60%

Last Event - Committee Stage (Lords)
Wednesday 22nd June 2022
(Read Debate)
Next Event - Report Stage (Lords)
Wednesday 6th July 2022

Acts of Parliament created in the 2019 Parliament

Introduced: 12th May 2021

A Bill to make provision about Ministerial appointments, extraordinary Assembly elections, the Ministerial Code of Conduct and petitions of concern in Northern Ireland.

This Bill received Royal Assent on Tuesday 8th February 2022 and was enacted into law.

Northern Ireland Office - Secondary Legislation

This Order makes amendments consequential on the Health and Social Care Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 (c. 3 (N.I.)) (the “2022 Act”).
The Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 (S.R. 2000/347) (“the Flags Regulations”) make provision as to the flying of flags at government buildings in Northern Ireland, in particular by specifying the buildings on which flags must be flown on certain days. Section 67(2) of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 (c. 26) provides for the Flags Regulations to apply to court houses as they apply to the government buildings specified in Part 1 of the Schedule.
View All Northern Ireland Office Secondary Legislation

Petitions

e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.

If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.

If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).

Trending Petitions
Petition Open
63 Signatures
(6 in the last 7 days)
Petition Open
766 Signatures
(5 in the last 7 days)
Petition Open
728 Signatures
(1 in the last 7 days)
Petition Open
22 Signatures
(1 in the last 7 days)
Petitions with most signatures
Petition Open
766 Signatures
(5 in the last 7 days)
Petition Open
728 Signatures
(1 in the last 7 days)
Petition Open
63 Signatures
(6 in the last 7 days)
Petition Open
22 Signatures
(1 in the last 7 days)
Northern Ireland Office has not participated in any petition debates
View All Northern Ireland Office Petitions

Departmental Select Committee

Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Commons Select Committees are a formally established cross-party group of backbench MPs tasked with holding a Government department to account.

At any time there will be number of ongoing investigations into the work of the Department, or issues which fall within the oversight of the Department. Witnesses can be summoned from within the Government and outside to assist in these inquiries.

Select Committee findings are reported to the Commons, printed, and published on the Parliament website. The government then usually has 60 days to reply to the committee's recommendations.


11 Members of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee
Simon Hoare Portrait
Simon Hoare (Conservative - North Dorset)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Chair since 29th January 2020
Bob Stewart Portrait
Bob Stewart (Conservative - Beckenham)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Ian Paisley Portrait
Ian Paisley (Democratic Unionist Party - North Antrim)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Claire Hanna Portrait
Claire Hanna (Social Democratic & Labour Party - Belfast South)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Robert Goodwill Portrait
Robert Goodwill (Conservative - Scarborough and Whitby)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Stephen Farry Portrait
Stephen Farry (Alliance - North Down)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Gregory Campbell Portrait
Gregory Campbell (Democratic Unionist Party - East Londonderry)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Scott Benton Portrait
Scott Benton (Conservative - Blackpool South)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Mary Kelly Foy Portrait
Mary Kelly Foy (Labour - City of Durham)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 8th June 2020
Stephanie Peacock Portrait
Stephanie Peacock (Labour - Barnsley East)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 6th July 2020
Fay Jones Portrait
Fay Jones (Conservative - Brecon and Radnorshire)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 11th January 2021

50 most recent Written Questions

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department

27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the commitment set out in the New Decade, New Approach document published in January 2020, what progress has been made in promoting Northern Ireland as a global cyber security hub.

This Government is committed to promoting Northern Ireland as a global cyber security hub, and to helping achieve the New Decade, New Approach target of 5,000 cyber security professionals working in Northern Ireland by 2030. Cyber is a growing sector in Northern Ireland, home to 4% of the UK’s cyber security workforce despite representing 2.8% of the UK population.

To this end, the Government provided Invest NI with £8 million to expand their overseas presence, through the New Deal for Northern Ireland, to attract investment and further promote Northern Ireland’s cybersecurity excellence on a global stage.

The Government has also invested £15 million from the New Deal fund in the Skill Up initiative which includes courses focused on cyber security to develop a pipeline of cyber professionals. Cyber security is a sector we are also supporting through the City and Growth Deals programme, with projects such as the Global Innovation Institute forming part of the Belfast Regional City Deal.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the commitment set out in the New Decade, New Approach document published in January 2020, what steps have been taken to ensure that the work of the War Memorials Trust is better promoted and understood in Northern Ireland.

Officials have been engaging with the Department of Communities, which is responsible for Northern Ireland’s Historic Environment, in order to ensure that our proposed programme of work with the War Memorial Trust complements the Department’s strategic approach, and does not undermine the existing policies on built heritage in Northern Ireland.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the commitments set out in the New Decade, New Approach document published in January 2020, what progress has been made in (a) supporting the delivery of the Northern Ireland International Trade plan, (b) establishing a new Trade Advisory Board, (c) the appointment of Northern Ireland Trade Ambassadors and (d) developing a Trade Accelerator Plan and a “Made in NI” campaign.

The Government is committed to supporting Northern Ireland businesses to trade. Through the New Deal we have invested £8 million to expand Invest NI’s presence overseas.

We are pleased that businesses in Northern Ireland are reaching out to access the specialist support offered by the DIT hub in Northern Ireland, which includes access to the Export Academy, to help businesses trade globally. This new hub will be responsible for driving forward much of these trade commitments, with support from my department. This will include development of a trade and investment plan, including scoping a Trade Accelerator proposal, working in conjunction with Northern Ireland Executive departments, Invest NI and the business community. Work is already underway to recruit DIT Export Champions for Northern Ireland, and DIT are promoting Northern Ireland products through their new “Made in the UK, Sold to the World” campaign.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
16th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support is available for ex-service personnel in Northern Ireland who do not qualify for enhanced learning credits to fund (1) further, or (2) higher, educational courses.

We remain committed to ensuring that our veterans can access gold standard services irrespective of where they live in the UK - including in Northern Ireland where circumstances mean a slightly different approach is necessary.

Whilst skills is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland, with further and higher education the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy, the Government has shown time and time again that it is committed to supporting Northern Ireland, levelling up across the UK and strengthening our Union.

We have invested £15m from the New Deal for Northern Ireland to enable the Department for the Economy to deliver the ‘Skill Up’ initiative, which will fully fund further education colleges and universities to provide approximately 15,000 training places to support key growth sectors.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
22nd Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial implications for Northern Ireland of the failure to form an Executive following the elections on 5 May: and whether they plan to introduce an emergency budget for Northern Ireland.

The ongoing political situation in Northern Ireland is very disappointing. There is around £437m of additional funding, on top of the Block Grant, that the Government has made available but which has not been allocated to services as a result of the absence of an Executive. The setting of a budget is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive - that is why our priority is for the Northern Ireland Parties to restore fully functioning devolved institutions as soon as possible.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department is taking to support veterans and help tackle the legacy of the Troubles.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill will establish a process that focuses on information recovery, delivering for victims and survivors, providing certainty for veterans and helping Northern Ireland to move forward.

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department is taking to support veterans and help tackle the legacy of the Troubles.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill will establish a process that focuses on information recovery, delivering for victims and survivors, providing certainty for veterans and helping Northern Ireland to move forward.

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on providing support for (a) working families, (b) pensioners and (c) benefit recipients in Northern Ireland in the context of the rise in the cost of living.

The Government has provided significant resources to the Executive to address these issues and I continue to urge the parties to form an Executive, so that the £435 million provided by the Government can be allocated to help people across Northern Ireland as a matter of urgency.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the adequacy of support for veterans in Northern Ireland.

The unique circumstances in Northern Ireland mean delivery for veterans is approached in a different way from the rest of the UK. I can assure the hon. Member that I and my officials work closely with colleagues across Government, including the MOD and Office of Veterans Affairs, to ensure veterans can access gold standard care irrespective of where they live.

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has had discussions with Cabinet colleagues on the appropriateness of the use of the doctrine of necessity in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.

I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues about issues affecting Northern Ireland, including the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill is lawful under international law. The legal basis on which we are acting is set out in the published statement of the Government’s legal position.

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
6th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many new civil suits against (1) the Northern Ireland Office, and (2) the Ministry of Defence, relating to the Northern Ireland Troubles were filed in the Northern Ireland courts in the week ending 21 May.

The Northern Ireland Office has contacted the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS) who are the relevant body. NICTS stated that cases are not categorised on receipt and as such they are unable to provide figures on the number of civil claims filed relating to the Northern Ireland Troubles in the week ending 21 May.

I can however confirm that four Writs relating to the Northern Ireland Troubles and filed in the period in question have been served on the Northern Ireland Office to date.

The Northern Ireland Office does not hold information on the number of Writs served on others (including other Government departments).

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether the Government has allocated funds to celebrate the formation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 2022 in the context of the series of celebratory events planned in the Republic of Ireland.

No funding has been allocated by the Government to mark this year’s centenary of the formation of the RUC. Events in Northern Ireland have been arranged locally and by the RUCGC Foundation. Further information may be sought from the PSNI, the RUCGC Foundation or the Department of Justice.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has plans to seek cross community support for the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill before it receives Royal Assent.

The Government’s preference has always been to move forward on the basis of consensus. That is why we delayed the introduction of this legislation, and why it reflects a number of significant changes from the proposals contained within the Command Paper published last July.

However, it is clear that the people of Northern Ireland have waited too long to see the implementation of effective legacy mechanisms which is why we have brought forward the Northern Ireland (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill. This legislation seeks to deliver effective outcomes for those most impacted by the Troubles and wider society.

We will, of course, continue to engage with key stakeholders as this legislation makes its way through Parliament.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
9th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will publish the dates of each meeting of (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department with representatives of the Loyalist Communities Council in each of the last 12 months.

Ministers and officials have not met with anyone in the last twelve months who has stated that they are attending in their capacity as a representative of the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC).

I attended a meeting on 16 December 2021 where an individual understood to be a member of the LCC was present, but in this instance it was made explicitly clear to all attendees in advance of the meeting that this individual was attending in a different capacity.

The Northern Ireland Office does not have a definitive list of representatives of the LCC, nor does it have set criteria for what constitutes being a representative of that organisation. Furthermore, individuals who Ministers and officials meet as part of routine engagement and outreach may not always be explicit about the capacity in which they are attending those meetings.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
9th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what his Department's policy is on (a) what, (b) how and (c) for how long biometric data that is relevant to (i) ongoing and (ii) concluded Northern Ireland legacy cases is stored.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill contains provisions which will ensure that biometrics are available for use in future investigations by the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) into Troubles-related deaths or serious injuries.

These biometrics will only be retained for a finite period to allow the investigations to be completed, and must be destroyed by no later than the end of a reasonable period after the conclusion of the work of the ICRIR.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
8th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he has had with the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) on the decision not to allow Rhys McClenaghan, Eamon Montgomery and Ewan McAteer to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer because those athletes hold FIG licenses to represent the Republic of Ireland.

Discussions with FIG are being led by Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland. However, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has written to the FIG President to express his concern at the decision not to allow these gymnasts to participate. He has emphasised that this appears to frustrate their birthright to identify and be accepted as British or Irish, or both, and to hold both British and Irish citizenship.

It is the Government’s firm position that, given that these gymnasts were born in Northern Ireland they should be free to compete both for Ireland and the UK as set out in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

I am also aware that colleagues at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are engaging on this issue.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
6th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many buses in total are currently operating in Northern Ireland; and what proportion of these buses are (i) electric, (ii) hybrid-diesel, (iii) biomethane, (iv) diesel and (v) other fuels.

Transport is a devolved matter within the competence of the Northern Ireland Executive. Specific questions on public transport and the bus fleet in Northern Ireland should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure.

Through the New Decade, New Approach agreement, the Government provided £50 million to support low carbon transport in Northern Ireland, enabling the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure to commit to ordering 100 low-carbon buses to be deployed in Belfast and Londonderry.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
6th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has had discussions with EU representatives on proposals to remove the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Foreign Secretary leads on our negotiations with the EU and she has had extensive exchanges through both informal channels and the structures under the agreement.

We will continue to talk with the EU and our preference remains a negotiated outcome but while the EU discusses their position and their mandate, we will take steps to solve the problems created by the Protocol and restore the Executive. We are not scrapping the Protocol - we are protecting the elements that work and fixing those that don’t. We remain open to discuss any new proposals but we can no longer wait to address the issues we face now.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
24th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what events they are planning in Northern Ireland to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

The Northern Ireland Office shares with the rest of the United Kingdom in celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen and in thanking Her Majesty for 70 years of selfless devotion to duty and leadership of our whole nation. The Northern Ireland Office worked closely to deliver and collaborate on a range of exciting projects and events to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee. We saw a range of events in Northern Ireland including the lighting of beacons, Jubilee Big Lunches as well as the return of the Northern Ireland annual Garden Party that acted as a moment of celebration in this Platinum Jubilee year for people in Northern Ireland.

We also worked with a range of local organisations to develop a Jubilee hamper which showcased the best of Northern Irish produce and was sent to the Royal Household. We ran an exciting competition for young people to design a rug for Her Majesty and we also worked to profile the many organisations and individuals across Northern Ireland who have been honoured by Her Majesty in her last 70 years. In addition, the commemorative Jubilee book was distributed to Primary Schools across Northern Ireland. We wanted to make sure that the Jubilee brought communities together, celebrating the best of Northern Ireland.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
24th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they have set the bar for immunity in the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill as only requiring a perpetrator to provide an account which is true to the best of their knowledge and belief.

The test for immunity, as set out in the Bill, requires an individual to make an application to the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) for immunity. The panel must then be satisfied that the individual has provided an account which is true to the best of their knowledge and belief, and which describes conduct which forms part of the Troubles.

In forming a view on whether an individual’s account is true to the best of their knowledge and belief, the ICRIR must take into account any relevant information that it holds or obtains as part of that investigation. That could include information that the ICRIR obtains from witnesses or from disclosure of information from statutory agencies during the course of its investigation.

Those who do not cooperate with the ICRIR will not be granted immunity, and will remain liable to prosecution should sufficient evidence exist, or come to light.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
24th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government which crimes are eligible for the immunity process under the proposed provisions in the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.

Only serious or connected Troubles-related offences that took place between 1 January 1966 and 10 April 1998 and are related to a death or serious injury will be eligible for immunity - conditional on cooperation with the Independent Commission as set out in legislation.

Troubles-related offences that are not linked to a death or serious injury will not be investigated by the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR), and so will not be subject to immunity provisions.

Any offences from between 1 January 1966 and 10 April 1998 which are not Troubles-related could still be investigated by PSNI, or GB police forces.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
24th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill does not refer to investigations in addition to reviews.

Investigations are a crucial part of the work of the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR). The ICRIR will, in statute, have the necessary powers to secure information and conduct thorough and robust investigations, including the power to compel witnesses and test forensic evidence.

The legislation also places an obligation on authorities with information potentially relevant to an incident to provide full disclosure to the ICRIR.

The ICRIR will have a Commissioner for Investigations, and the scope of the ICRIR’s investigative process will be an operational matter for the ICRIR, and will depend on the specific circumstances of each case, including whether there is an outstanding ECHR obligation and the wishes of the family or individual.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
24th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they did not seek advice from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission regarding the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.

The Northern Ireland Office held discussions on legacy with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission on 14 April 2022. Discussions with the Commission, and other interested parties, will of course continue during passage of the Bill.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment his Department has made of the compatibility of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

This legislation, which had its Second Reading on 24 May, deals with legacy issues in a way that complies with international human rights obligations, supports information recovery and reconciliation, and responds to the needs of individual victims and survivors, as well as society as a whole.

The legislation does not prohibit investigations into those Troubles-related incidents which might engage the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. We will establish the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery to conduct investigations into Troubles-related deaths and cases of very serious injury, for the purposes of information recovery.

We have included various measures to ensure the body is equipped with the necessary powers to secure information and conduct thorough, Article 2 compliant investigations.

We are confident that these measures fulfil our Article 2 obligations.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions his Department had with relevant (a) individuals and (b) organisations on the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill prior to its publication.

Since January, the Northern Ireland Office has held legacy discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, including but not limited to; the Irish Government, representatives of victims and survivors (including WAVE, South East Fermanagh Foundation, the Victims Commissioner, the Victims & Survivors Forum, Ulster Human Rights Watch, Ely Centre), representatives of veterans and former service personnel (including the NI Veterans Commissioner, the Independent Veterans Advisor, the NI Retired Police Officers Association, the Police Federation of NI, COBSEO, the NI Veterans Movement), operational partners and other relevant groups (including PPS NI, PSNI, Operation Kenova, OPONI, NI Human Rights Commission), and other civil and community organisations (including Healing Through Remembering, Corrymeela, Malone House Group, JIGSA, church representatives, the Truth Recovery Process Group).

The Government has also offered to engage with other groups, who have preferred not to engage with us on this issue.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he had discussions with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission prior to the publication of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.

The Northern Ireland Office held discussions on legacy with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission on 14 April 2022. Discussions with the Commission, and other key stakeholders, will continue during passage of the Bill.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
18th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, further to his written statement of 24 March 2022, what recent assessment he has made of the Northern Ireland's Department of Health's levels of compliance with the direction to provide access to abortion for women in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

On 24 March, I made a commitment to return to Parliament after the Assembly election to make regulations on abortion, if no progress had been made by the Northern Ireland Department of Health towards the provision of services.

Regretfully, the Department of Health failed to make progress. That is why, on 19 May, I laid regulations to ensure abortion services are commissioned for women and girls in Northern Ireland. I have made a Written Statement in Parliament to set out the details of those regulations.

These regulations mean that the Department of Health will have no further barriers to commission and fund these services, and if it does not do so as directed, the Government will then move to intervene further.

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what contribution his Department is making in cross-Government efforts to improve the mental wellbeing of veterans.

The Government remains fully committed to supporting veterans living in Northern Ireland and continuing to build on the good progress in delivering the Armed Forces Covenant and Veterans Strategy. We are delivering on the Government’s commitments made in the New Decade, New Approach agreement, in particular, to ensure that Northern Ireland veterans are treated similarly to their counterparts across the UK.

My Department established and sponsors the Northern Ireland Veterans Commissioner’s Office, which advocates for and assists veterans as they navigate services such as health and social care.

Arrangements for service delivery in Northern Ireland are slightly different from those in other parts of the UK. Many of the service delivery aspects, including health provisions, are devolved.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the Answer of 7 March 2022 to Question 132399, on civil service staff networks, what recognised staff groups have been running in his Department over the last three years.

The Department has taken the definition of professional staff networks to mean voluntary staff networks, including employee networks on Diversity and Inclusion. The Northern Ireland Office currently has the following active networks:

  • Staff Engagement Group
  • Diversity and Inclusion network
  • Culture Club
  • Mirror Board

Over the last three years, the Department has also had a Parents’ Group, a Women’s network and a Menopause support group. These groups are not currently active.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he has had with the Orange Order on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has discussions with the Orange Order and a range of other stakeholders and groups in Northern Ireland on a number of matters, including the Northern Ireland Protocol, on an ongoing basis.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
12th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce proportional representation into elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Since 1998, Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly have been elected using the Single Transferable Vote. This system was also used for the Assemblies elected in 1973 and 1982.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
16th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to publish the details of the factors being considered in relation to the possible offering of amnesties as part of a proposed truth and reconciliation commission to deal with alleged crimes during the Northern Ireland troubles.

On Tuesday 17 May, the Government introduced the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill in the House of Commons.

The Bill sets out that individuals who were involved in Troubles-related deaths or serious injuries will only be eligible for immunity on the basis of cooperation with a new information recovery body, named the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
16th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what matters are outstanding preventing the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission in relation to Northern Ireland.

On Tuesday 17 May, the Government introduced the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill in the House of Commons.

This legislation will establish a new information recovery body, named the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery. This Body will carry out robust and thorough investigations - supported by full state disclosure - for the primary purpose of information recovery, which can potentially deliver better outcomes for victims and survivors of the Troubles.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether candidates in future local government elections in Northern Ireland have to have their home addresses published.

Candidates in future local government elections in Northern Ireland will not be required to have their home addresses published.

The Local Elections (Northern Ireland) Amendment Order 2020 amended the law in June of that year. Now, candidates for local elections in Northern Ireland who do not want their home address to be made public can instead request the publication of the local government area they reside in.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Health Secretary on matters relating to the sexual and reproductive healthcare workforce in Northern Ireland.

My Ministerial team, my officials and I have had a number of discussions with the Northern Ireland Minister of Health and his department on these matters.

This week we have again discussed the matter of providing abortion services in Northern Ireland in advance of laying Regulations to ensure these services are provided.

The Written Statement I have made in Parliament today sets out the details of those Regulations and makes clear the intent of the Government to intervene further if the Northern Ireland Department of Health does not commission and fund abortion services as directed.

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps he plans to take to ensure fully-funded and commissioned abortion services are made available to women in Northern Ireland as soon as possible following the Northern Ireland Assembly election; and what his planned timetable is for taking those steps.

Today I have laid Regulations to ensure abortion services are commissioned for women and girls in Northern Ireland. I have made a Written Statement in Parliament to set out the details of those regulations.

These regulations mean that the Northern Ireland Department of Health will have no further barriers to commission and fund these services, and if it does not do so as directed, the Government will then move to intervene further.

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the Answer of 7 March 2022 to Question 132399 on civil service staff networks, what information he holds on (a) FTE staff time and (b) budgets available to recognised staff groups in his Department within each of the last three years.

With reference to my answer of 7 March 2022 to Question 132399 on civil service staff networks, no information is held with regard to (a) the allocation of FTE for these groups. They are staff-led groups and staff contribute as time permits and as part of their wider corporate contribution to the department. In respect of part (b), no budgets are available to recognised staff groups.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
12th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to enable any group of parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly to form a devolved administration.

The restoration of fully functioning devolved institutions in Northern Ireland remains our top priority. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland remains in close contact with the largest parties in Northern Ireland to encourage them to elect an Assembly Speaker and form a new Executive.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
10th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many months have elapsed since the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement came into force; and during how many of those months there has not been an operational power sharing executive.

Approximately 269 months have elapsed since the Northern Ireland Executive met for the first time on 2 December 1999 after the signing of the 10 April 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. During that period, there have been approximately 94 months without a fully functioning Executive.

Lord Caine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how much the Department spent on communications staff in (a) 2019-20, (b) 2020-21 and (c) 2021-22.

Departmental spend on communications staff was £358,430 in 2019-20, £331,262 in 2020-21 and £564,014 in 2021-22.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
27th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department is taking to support exporters in Northern Ireland.

The Government is committed to supporting Northern Ireland exporters, who I regularly visit.

Through the New Deal, we have invested £8 million to expand Invest NI’s presence overseas.

I am pleased that exporters, including some who I have visited such as Armagh Cider Company, Mash Direct, and Kiverco, are reaching out to access the specialist support offered by the DIT hub in Northern Ireland, which also includes access to the Export Academy, to help businesses trade globally.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
27th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department is taking to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

The Government continues to implement the New Decade New Approach agreement and is united around the ambition for a strong functioning Executive delivering a more prosperous, shared future for Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland are going to the polls on 5 May. It is vital that we give people the space to make that choice in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, to ensure that fully functioning devolved institutions are restored at the earliest possible moment.

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
27th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department is taking to support the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The Government continues to implement the New Decade New Approach agreement and is united around the ambition for a strong functioning Executive delivering a more prosperous, shared future for Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland are going to the polls on 5 May. It is vital that we give people the space to make that choice in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, to ensure that fully functioning devolved institutions are restored at the earliest possible moment.

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
27th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department is taking to strengthen Northern Ireland’s place in the Union.

I can assure my hon. Friend that this Government is taking every opportunity to strengthen Northern Ireland’s place in this United Kingdom.

The Government’s record investment in Northern Ireland proves that we are immeasurably stronger together, including the £15bn Spending Review settlement for the Executive, the largest settlement since devolution in 1998; our ambitious levelling up agenda; and our work to build a safer, more prosperous and integrated future that will benefit the whole community.

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
25th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department is taking to contribute to efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

My Department is committed to making our estate and operations more sustainable and resilient, and supports, where possible, the delivery of this Government’s Greening Government Commitments. We are a small department, with a low carbon footprint arising from our accommodation and corporate travel requirements, and we choose to act sustainably when conducting every part of our business. As an example, we are taking steps to reduce our carbon emissions by utilising technology to enable virtual meetings rather than staff flying short haul between London and Belfast to attend all meetings face to face.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent assessment he has made of progress on restoring the Northern Ireland Executive.

The people of Northern Ireland are going to the polls on 5 May. It is vital that we give people the space to make that choice in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, to ensure that fully functioning devolved institutions are restored at the earliest possible moment.

We encourage the parties to form an Executive as soon as possible. The people of Northern Ireland need strong local political leadership and a stable, accountable executive that works with the Government to deliver on the issues that matter most.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many communications staff are employed by his Department (a) full time, (b) part time and (c) on flexible working arrangements as of 19 April 2022.

The number of staff working to deliver the communications function in the Northern Ireland Office is 13. All are employed on a full-time basis; there are no part-time communications staff. There are communications staff on flexible working arrangements but there are fewer than 5 on this arrangement.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has had discussions with relevant stakeholders on rescheduling the (a) Ulster Grand Prix and (b) Northwest 200 following cancellation as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Responsibility for sport policy is devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive, with proposals for financial support a matter for the Executive and Tourism NI.

We recognise the importance of events such as these for the Northern Ireland economy, and as part of Northern Ireland’s outstanding tourism offer. Our focus will be on encouraging the parties to form an Executive following the NI Assembly elections so that important decisions, such as proposals for financial support for sporting events, can be made by the Executive on behalf of the people in Northern Ireland.

In the case of the Northwest 200 road races, the organisers have confirmed that the 2022 event will take place on May 8-14 and we wish those taking part and the organisers every success.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent estimate he has made of the number of companies in Great Britain that no longer service the Northern Ireland market following agreement of the Northern Ireland Protocol in October 2019.

The Northern Ireland Protocol as it is currently being implemented is causing real problems for Northern Ireland. An example of this is the decision by at least 200 suppliers in Great Britain to cease delivery to Northern Ireland because of the costs and bureaucracy caused by the Protocol leading to reduced choice on the shelves in Northern Ireland.

The Government has been consistently clear that significant changes are needed if the Protocol is to endure and provide the certainty businesses need and protect the stability of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)