Northern Ireland Office

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



Secretary of State

 Portrait

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Shadow Ministers / Spokeperson
Liberal Democrat
Baroness Suttie (LD - Life peer)
Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)
Alistair Carmichael (LD - Orkney and Shetland)
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

Scottish National Party
Richard Thomson (SNP - Gordon)
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

Labour
Hilary Benn (Lab - Leeds Central)
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab - Life peer)
Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)
Junior Shadow Ministers / Deputy Spokesperson
Labour
Fleur Anderson (Lab - Putney)
Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)
Ministers of State
Steve Baker (Con - Wycombe)
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 28th February 2024
11:30
Northern Ireland Office
Oral questions - Main Chamber
28 Feb 2024, 11:30 a.m.
Northern Ireland
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Scheduled Event
Wednesday 24th April 2024
11:30
Northern Ireland Office
Oral questions - Main Chamber
24 Apr 2024, 11:30 a.m.
Northern Ireland
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Select Committee Docs
Thursday 22nd February 2024
15:21
Select Committee Inquiry
Monday 5th February 2024
Defence Spending in Northern Ireland

The Committee is launching a new inquiry on defence spending in Northern Ireland.

Despite its potential, Ministry of Defence spending …

Written Answers
Wednesday 21st February 2024
Public Finance: Northern Ireland
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what his planned timetable is for the Northern Ireland Assembly to …
Secondary Legislation
Wednesday 31st January 2024
Windsor Framework (Constitutional Status of Northern Ireland) Regulations 2024
These Regulations make provision about the Windsor Framework and related constitutional matters.
Bills
Wednesday 24th January 2024
Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act 2024
A Bill to make provision to extend the period following the Northern Ireland Assembly election of 5 May 2022 during …
Dept. Publications
Friday 23rd February 2024
16:27

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.


Bills currently before Parliament

Northern Ireland Office does not have Bills currently before Parliament


Acts of Parliament created in the 2019 Parliament

Introduced: 24th January 2024

A Bill to make provision to extend the period following the Northern Ireland Assembly election of 5 May 2022 during which Ministers may be appointed.

This Bill received Royal Assent on 25th January 2024 and was enacted into law.

Introduced: 29th June 2023

A Bill to authorise the use for the public service of certain resources for the year ending 31 March 2024 (including income); to authorise the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland of certain sums for the service of that year; to authorise the use of those sums for specified purposes; to authorise the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland to borrow on the credit of those sums; and to repeal a spent provision.

This Bill received Royal Assent on 18th September 2023 and was enacted into law.

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, and to provide for the validity of interim custody orders.

This Bill received Royal Assent on 18th September 2023 and was enacted into law.

Introduced: 27th April 2023

A Bill to Extend the period during which departmental functions may be exercised in the absence of Ministers to cover the whole of the current period in which there is no Executive; to give the Secretary of State power, during that period, to commission advice and information for the purpose of developing options for raising more public revenue in Northern Ireland or otherwise improving the sustainability of public finances in Northern Ireland; and to require certain accounts and related documents to be laid before the House of Commons in periods in which the Northern Ireland Assembly is not functioning.

This Bill received Royal Assent on 24th May 2023 and was enacted into law.

Introduced: 9th February 2023

A Bill to make provision to extend the period following the Northern Ireland Assembly election of 5 May 2022 during which Ministers may be appointed and after which the Secretary of State must propose a date for another election; to allow the Secretary of State to propose a date for another election before Ministers have been appointed; and to amend the procedure for making regulations defining permitted material for transplantation in Northern Ireland under section 3 of the Human Tissue Act 2004 in the period until the Presiding Officer and deputies of the Assembly are elected.

This Bill received Royal Assent on 28th February 2023 and was enacted into law.

Introduced: 12th January 2023

A Bill to authorise the use for the public service of certain resources for the years ending 31 March 2023 and 2024 (including, for the year ending 31 March 2023, income); to authorise the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland of certain sums for the service of those years; to authorise the use of those sums for specified purposes; to authorise the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland to borrow on the credit of those sums; and to repeal provisions superseded by this Act.

This Bill received Royal Assent on 8th February 2023 and was enacted into law.

Introduced: 25th May 2022

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

This Bill received Royal Assent on 6th December 2022 and was enacted into law.

Introduced: 21st November 2022

A Bill to make provision to extend the period following the Northern Ireland Assembly election of 5 May 2022 during which Ministers may be appointed and after which the Secretary of State must propose a date for another election; about the exercise of functions in the absence of Northern Ireland Ministers; to confer powers on the Secretary of State to determine salaries and other benefits for Members of the Assembly in respect of periods in which the Assembly is not functioning; and to confer powers on the Secretary of State to set the regional rate in Northern Ireland.

This Bill received Royal Assent on 6th December 2022 and was enacted into law.

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 8th February 2022 and was enacted into law.

Northern Ireland Office - Secondary Legislation

These Regulations make provision about the Windsor Framework and related constitutional matters.
This Order makes changes to the rules governing the handing in of postal voting documents for local elections in Northern Ireland. Similar changes are made to the rules governing Parliamentary and Assembly elections in a separate instrument (the Representation of the People (Postal Vote Handling etc.) (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2024) (S.I. 2024/XXX).
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
Petitions with most signatures
Northern Ireland Office has not participated in any petition debates
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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.


9 Members of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee
Bob Stewart Portrait
Bob Stewart (Independent - Beckenham)
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
Mary Kelly Foy Portrait
Mary Kelly Foy (Labour - City of Durham)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 8th June 2020
Carla Lockhart Portrait
Carla Lockhart (Democratic Unionist Party - Upper Bann)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 8th November 2022
Robert Buckland Portrait
Robert Buckland (Conservative - South Swindon)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 8th November 2022
Jim Shannon Portrait
Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party - Strangford)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 9th January 2023
Kelly Tolhurst Portrait
Kelly Tolhurst (Conservative - Rochester and Strood)
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Member since 22nd January 2024
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee: Previous Inquiries
Unfettered Access: Northern Ireland and customs arrangements after Brexit Brexit and Northern Ireland inquiry Fisheries inquiry Electricity sector in Northern Ireland: follow-up Agriculture inquiry The land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland: Follow-up inquiry Education funding in Northern Ireland inquiry Funding priorities in the 2018-19 Budget: Health Consultation on Stormont House Agreement inquiry Existing passport processes inquiry Changes to NI Renewable Heat Incentive payments inquiry Tourism in Northern Ireland inquiry Implications of the EU withdrawal agreement and the backstop for Northern Ireland inquiry Support for UK Victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi supplied Semtex and weapons: Follow-up inquiry Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry Welfare policy in Northern Ireland inquiry Organised crime gangs in Northern Ireland inquiry Devolution and democracy in Northern Ireland – dealing with the deficit Bombardier inquiry Work of the Secretary of State inquiry Update from the Police Service of Northern Ireland inquiry The land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland Northern Ireland and the EU Referendum inquiry Implementation of English votes for English laws inquiry Electricity sector in Northern Ireland inquiry Work of the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors inquiry The work of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland evidence session Future of the land border with the Republic of Ireland inquiry The work of the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland inquiry An air transport strategy for Northern Ireland Air passenger duty: implications for Northern Ireland Corporation Tax in Northern Ireland Fuel laundering and smuggling Draft Northern Ireland Bill The banking structure in Northern Ireland Outcome of the Spending Review and the Talks Promoting the tourism industry in Northern Ireland through the tax system inquiry Responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland HM Government support for UK victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi-supplied Semtex and weapons inquiry Administrative scheme for "on-the-runs" Cross-border co-operation on policing, security and criminal justice after Brexit The effectiveness of the institutions of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement The funding and delivery of public services in Northern Ireland Integrated Education Renewable Energy and Net Zero in Northern Ireland Defence Spending in Northern Ireland Agriculture Brexit and Northern Ireland Implications of the EU withdrawal agreement and the backstop for Northern Ireland Changes to NI Renewable Heat Incentive payments Consultation on Stormont House Agreement Education funding in Northern Ireland Existing passport processes Funding priorities in the 2018-19 Budget: Health Historical Institutional Abuse Support for UK Victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi supplied Semtex and weapons: Follow-up Organised crime gangs in Northern Ireland Tourism in Northern Ireland Update from the Police Service of Northern Ireland Work of the Secretary of State

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

19th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what his planned timetable is for the Northern Ireland Assembly to bring forward revenue raising proposals.

The UK Government remains determined to support the Executive to unlock the opportunities that the financial package presents.

To help stabilise the Executive’s financial position, the UK Government has agreed to pause its debt repayments from 2022-23 and 2023-24 of up to £559 million and will no longer require these funds to be repaid, subject to the Executive publishing a plan by May 2024 which outlines how it will deliver sustainable public finances and services and demonstrating implementation of that plan by May 2025.

This sustainability plan must include the delivery of a balanced budget for 2024-25 by raising a minimum of £113 million through locally generated income. It will be for the Executive to determine if it will consider a different course of action to deliver the public services that Northern Ireland needs as part of its sustainability plan.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
8th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether all (a) buildings and (b) workplaces staff from their Department occupy have a suitable and sufficient risk assessment under Section 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The Northern Ireland Office is co-located in two locations in London and Belfast, and these sites are managed by other government departments.

The Northern Ireland Office follows Ministry of Justice policy, which complies with Health and Safety legislation. The Northern Ireland Office requires all its employees to undertake mandatory training in Health and Safety compliance, as well as workstation risk assessments for new starters, employees whose work environment changes, and in pregnancy.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
7th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what account the UK Government Financial Package to Northern Ireland takes of shortfalls in the policing budget.

Policing is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland and the PSNI’s main budget is allocated by the Department of Justice. It will be for the Minister of Justice and Executive to consider how to use the financial package and funding for the PSNI budget.


This Government recognises the difficult challenges around policing in Northern Ireland. That is why the Department of Justice budget, which includes the PSNI budget, was the third largest of all departments for 2023-24. Since 2011, we have made additional contributions to the PSNI through Additional Security Funding. The Government’s contribution for the financial year 2023-24 was £32 million and is the same as that provided in 2021-22, and has been provided each year since 2015-16.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department has taken to encourage international companies to (a) invest and (b) base themselves in Northern Ireland in the last six months.

International investment makes an important contribution towards Northern Ireland's prosperity.

The Northern Ireland Investment Summit, led by the Department for Business and Trade in partnership with the Northern Ireland Office and Invest NI, welcomed over 180 global investors to the region in September. The Summit showcased Northern Ireland’s innovation, sector strengths and opportunities for inward investment to a truly global audience.

We are already seeing new international investment in Northern Ireland’s key growth sectors as a result, along with established companies already based in Northern Ireland announcing that they will be expanding their operations in the region.

My Department continues to work closely with the Department for Business and Trade to maximise opportunities to encourage investment. I attended the Global Investment Summit that the UK hosted in November and met with many businesses interested in setting and scaling up in the UK. My clear message to them was that Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom has all of the right ingredients for economic success: exceptional talent, unique opportunities, a tradition of creativity and a healthy spirit of private sector entrepreneurship.

A key factor for international investment is of course business certainty. We thus welcome the restoration of devolved governance in Northern Ireland.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
6th Feb 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of inquests into deaths to the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland that will not have been completed by 1 May.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023 requires Troubles-related inquests to conclude by 1 May 2024. The legislation provides a limited carve out for any Troubles-related inquests where the hearing of all evidence has finished and where the only matter still to come is the delivery of the inquest’s findings.

The Act contains provisions allowing a coroner to request a review of a death by the ICRIR, led by Sir Declan Morgan as Chief Commissioner, if the inquest has not been concluded via the coronial process by 1 May 2024. Close family members, as well as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland and the Advocate General for Northern Ireland, can also request a review of a death by the ICRIR.

The case management of inquests is a matter for coroners.

Lord Caine
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
6th Feb 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government how many inquests into deaths to the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland are still to be completed.

At this time, 37 Troubles-related inquests have not been completed:

  • 18 cases have commenced hearing of evidence;
  • A further two cases have been listed for hearing;
  • Another 17 cases have not been listed for hearing.

Lord Caine
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions he has had with his counterpart in Northern Ireland on trends in the number of barristers working in Northern Ireland since 2019.

This is a devolved matter for the Northern Ireland Department of Justice. The Secretary of State has had no recent discussions on this issue.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
29th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, which policies under each arms length body reporting to their Department fall within the scope of the Environmental principles policy statement, published on 31 January 2023.

My Department has a legal duty to have due regard to the Environmental Principles Policy, as it applies to Ministers when making policy and in some instances, arm’s length bodies may also develop policy for Ministers, however, the duty does not require either the Northern Ireland Office or its arm’s length bodies to maintain a comprehensive list of policies within the scope of the duty.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
31st Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the Command Paper entitled Safeguarding the Union, published on 31 January 2024, CP 1021, what discussions she has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) the Welsh Government on the potential impact of the decision to replace the Green Lane with a UK Internal Market system on the ability of goods to travel from Wales to Northern Ireland through the Republic of Ireland.

The Cabinet has engaged with these new measures which have been collectively agreed in the usual way. On 31 January 2024, I wrote to the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland regarding the Government’s work to secure a restored Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly and on the Safeguarding the Union command paper (CP 1021).

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
25th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on what date the UK Government made the decision to allocate £150 million from the Fresh Start Agreement funding package to the Strule Shared Education Campus.

In June 2018, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced £144 million from the Fresh Start Agreement funding package to be allocated to the Strule Shared Education Campus in Omagh. This built on an initial £43 million announced in March 2016. The UK Government was advised by the Northern Ireland Civil Service in June 2023 that there was an assumption that this allocation had risen.

Fresh Start Agreement funding has always been subject to individual projects, including Strule, being agreed between the Northern Ireland Executive and the UK Government. The Government has continued to work with Northern Ireland Departments on funding arrangements and projects under the Agreement and final funding allocations continue to be subject to HM Treasury approval.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
25th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment he has made of the potential implications for his policies of William Shawcross’ report on compensation for UK victims of Gaddafi-sponsored IRA terrorism, submitted to the Government in March 2020; and what assessment he has made of the potential impact of publishing that report on the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The Government is unshakeable in its commitment to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, the culmination of the hard-won gains of the peace process which has transformed the political and economic life of Northern Ireland since it was agreed in 1998.

The then Foreign Secretary set out the Government's position on Mr Shawcross's report on compensation for UK victims of Qadhafi-sponsored IRA terrorism in a Written Ministerial Statement made on 23 March 2021. Mr Shawcross's report was commissioned as an internal scoping report, to provide advice to Ministers. Its content is based on private, confidential conversations and information shared on this basis. The UK Government reiterates its sympathy for UK victims of Qadhafi-sponsored IRA terrorism and indeed for all victims of the Troubles.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what targets his Department has set to help achieve the Government's commitments on net zero.

The Government set out how we would meet our commitments in the Net Zero Strategy in 2021 which included a detailed breakdown of actions required across all sectors of the economy. This was updated in 2023 through the publication of 'Powering Up Britain'.

The Northern Ireland Office is committed to minimising the impact we have on our environment and supporting the wider UK Government’s Net-Zero commitment. We are committed to utilising video conferencing and dial-in facilities rather than travelling to meetings, using public transport rather than cars and taxis when travelling to meetings, and ensuring that electricity usage is minimised by implementing energy-efficient equipment. In line with the Government alignment to TCFD disclosures, the Northern Ireland Office will be reporting future metrics and targets in our Annual Report & Accounts.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
22nd Jan 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government what discussions they have held with the government of Ireland regarding the possibility of that government establishing a public inquiry into the Omagh bombing of 1998.

In October 2021, the Northern Ireland High Court found that an Article 2 compliant investigation into the Omagh bombing had not taken place, citing four grounds which the Court held could give rise to plausible arguments that there was a real prospect of preventing the Omagh Bomb. The Gallagher judgement also expressed a desire that a simultaneous Article 2 compliant investigation occur in Ireland, though it recognised that it was not within the Court’s power to order a cross-border investigation.

In response to the findings of the Court, the Secretary of State announced in February 2023 that the Government would establish an independent statutory inquiry into the Omagh bombing. In June 2023, the Secretary of State appointed Lord Alan Turnbull as Chairman of the Omagh Bombing Inquiry. The Government continues working at pace to finalise the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference as soon as possible.

While this is, of course, a matter for the Irish Government, the UK Government is keen to understand what consideration it has given, since the Gallagher judgement, to the setting up of an investigation in Ireland to discharge its obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. This issue was directly raised most recently by me at the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference on 28 November 2023.

This is one of several legitimate questions regarding the Irish Government’s record of dealing with legacy matters in its own jurisdiction.

Lord Caine
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
18th Jan 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government how many written meeting requests relating to his ministerial responsibilities the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland received in 2023; how many were granted; and how many are yet to receive a reply.

All meetings that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland undertakes as part of his ministerial responsibilities can be found in transparency reports. Links for January to March 2023, April to June 2023, and July to September 2023 are available. The transparency report for October to December 2023 is due to be published in due course. The exact number of meeting requests granted and yet to receive a reply are not centrally collated and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. The Northern Ireland Office processes all ministerial meeting requests in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance.

Lord Caine
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what the cost to the public purse was of the (a) Human Rights Commission and (b) Equality Commission in each of the last ten years.

In line with the requirements of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) provide the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with a copy of their Annual Report and Accounts which are laid in the House.

These accounts are publicly available and the honourable Member may view these via the NIHRC and ECNI’s websites which I have detailed below.

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

www.nihrc.org

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

www.equalityni.org

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will hold discussions with (a) his Irish counterpart and (b) the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland on whether steps were taken to question Jimmy Dunlop about the Claudy bombings of 31 July 1972 prior to his death.

The UK Government has, and will continue to, hold discussions with the Irish Government on a range of issues, including legacy.

Policing and justice in Northern Ireland is a devolved matter. Operational matters regarding the investigation of criminal conduct in Northern Ireland are a matter for the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI), which is rightly operationally independent of the Government.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
17th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many equalities impact assessments his Department completed in each of the last five years for which data is available.

My Department has obligations in relation to equality considerations under both Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. Under Section 75, the Northern Ireland Office as a designated public body has a statutory duty to screen all new, proposed or revised policies in relation to functions delivered in Northern Ireland for potential equality impacts and consider a full equality impact assessment (EQIA) for any policies screened in.

In the last five years, the Northern Ireland Office has published over 29 screenings and one EQIA in 2022.

Further information on the Northern Ireland Office’s Equality Scheme and its published equality assessments can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/northern-ireland-office.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
17th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has had discussions with the (a) Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and (b) Northern Ireland Executive Office on disability discrimination protections in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Office has obligations in relation to equality considerations under both Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 and is committed to fulfilling all statutory requirements in relation to its work. However, the setting of equality policy and associated legislation in Northern Ireland is devolved and therefore this is a matter for a Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to consider.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
17th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment his Department has made of the potential implications for (a) his policies and (b) people living with HIV in Northern Ireland of differences in disability discrimination legislation between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

The Northern Ireland Office has obligations in relation to equality considerations under both Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 and is committed to fulfilling all statutory requirements in relation to its work. However, the setting of equality policy and associated legislation in Northern Ireland is devolved and therefore this is a matter for a Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to consider.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
15th Jan 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the case Angesom v the Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] NIKB 102, what assessment they have made of the finding in paragraphs 86 to 103 concerning the impact of Article 2 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on immigration in Northern Ireland.

The Government is aware of the judgement in relation to this case. Article 2 of the Windsor Framework applies in respect of a diminution of a right, safeguard or equality of opportunity provision or protection covered by the relevant chapter of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, as a result of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights does not form part of domestic law anywhere in the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Lord Caine
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
16th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of increasing protections for journalists under libel defamation law in Northern Ireland.

The civil law of defamation is a devolved issue in Northern Ireland. As such, the development of, or any reform to, the law in this area is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive and Northern Ireland Assembly to consider.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
10th Jan 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proposal by the Victims Commissioner to provide payments to the relatives of those killed during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The Government fully recognises the terrible loss of those bereaved through Troubles-related incidents. Support for victims is a devolved matter for consideration by a restored Northern Ireland Executive. It is right that a restored Executive considers how best to acknowledge and support people who have lost loved ones during the Troubles.

This Government has always made clear, in successive manifestos, that it will never accept any moral equivalence between those who defended democracy and the rule of law in Northern Ireland, and those who sought to destroy both.

Lord Caine
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
10th Jan 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the proposal by the Victims Commissioner to issue payments to the relatives of those killed during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, whether the scheme will apply in respect of paramilitaries who were killed.

Support for victims is a devolved matter for consideration by a restored Northern Ireland Executive.

This Government has always made clear, in successive manifestos, that it will never accept any moral equivalence between those who defended democracy and the rule of law in Northern Ireland, and those who sought to destroy both.

Lord Caine
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
15th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will ask the Permanent Secretary of the Northern Ireland Department of Health to publish an update on the Report of the Expert Review of Records of Deceased Patients (Neurology).

This is a devolved matter for the Northern Ireland Department of Health. The UK Government has no powers to intervene in this process.

It remains the Government’s top priority to restore the Executive so that locally accountable political leaders can take action on Northern Ireland's public services, including health, in order to deliver better outcomes for the people of Northern Ireland.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
15th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether his Department is taking steps to help ensure the survival of curlews in Northern Ireland.

Biodiversity, conservation and protection is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland. In the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive and Ministers, it is for the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to advise on this topic.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions he has held with the Irish Government on legacy issues.

The UK Government engages regularly with the Irish Government both at ministerial and official level on a range of issues, including legacy.

At the most recent British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference on 28 November 2023, Ministers discussed the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act as well as a number of individual legacy cases.

Since the Irish Government took the decision on 20 December 2023 to bring an interstate case against the UK Government in Strasbourg in relation to the Legacy Act, I have written to the Tánaiste to express my profound regret regarding this decision.

The UK Government will continue to engage on legacy issues and a range of matters that benefit from partnership between our two countries.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
9th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps he is taking to help grow Northern Ireland's economy.

The Government is committed to supporting Northern Ireland’s economy. The Northern Ireland Investment Summit in September 2023 welcomed 180 investors, and generous funding packages are creating jobs, developing skills, supporting businesses and attracting FDI, including through the £617m UK Government investment into the four City and Growth Deals in Northern Ireland and the British Business Bank’s £70m Investment Fund. Northern Ireland is now positioned for an era of transformational success with a financial package worth in excess of £3bn to a returning Executive, plus unique arrangements for trade across the UK, the EU and the world, together with a range of government packages of support.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
9th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps he is taking to help grow Northern Ireland's economy.

The Government is committed to supporting Northern Ireland’s economy. The Northern Ireland Investment Summit in September 2023 welcomed 180 investors, and generous funding packages are creating jobs, developing skills, supporting businesses and attracting FDI, including through the £617m UK Government investment into the four City and Growth Deals in Northern Ireland and the British Business Bank’s £70m Investment Fund. Northern Ireland is now positioned for an era of transformational success with a financial package worth in excess of £3bn to a returning Executive, plus unique arrangements for trade across the UK, the EU and the world, together with a range of government packages of support.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
9th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps he is taking to help ensure the safety of women and girls in Northern Ireland.

I recently visited the Women’s Aid Federation NI in Belfast, to hear directly about this important issue. It is disappointing that Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK without a dedicated strategy to tackle violence against women and girls and I note the significant work currently underway in the Executive Office to develop a Strategic Framework to End Violence Against Women and Girls. It is vital that the Northern Ireland Executive is restored to approve and implement this strategy.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
9th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps he is taking to support local businesses in Northern Ireland.

This Government is committed to supporting SMEs. The British Business Bank’s £70m Investment Fund for Northern Ireland will increase the supply and diversity of early-stage finance for SMEs in Northern Ireland, and £17m of UK Shared Prosperity Funding (UKSPF) is delivering advice, business support and grants for SMEs. This is part of a range of measures in place and I should be glad if the hon Member requested an adjournment debate so that I could answer fully.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
9th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has had discussions with Health and Social Care Northern Ireland on its response to potential cervical screening errors at the Southern Health and Social Care Trust between January 2008 and October 2021.

I recognise the seriousness of concerns regarding cervical screening services that the honourable member raises. This is a devolved matter and responsibility rests with the Northern Ireland Department of Health.

The Government will continue to engage with women’s groups and the Department of Health to ensure that all women in Northern Ireland are receiving the care they need.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
5th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has had recent discussions with representatives of the Northern Ireland Administration on the right to protest against new abortion clinics.

The legislation in relation to Safe Access Zones at health service locations is a devolved matter and is the responsibility of the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.

Policing and Justice are also devolved matters in Northern Ireland. The PSNI are operationally independent and the responsible oversight bodies are the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Northern Ireland Department of Justice.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
8th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will make representations to financial institutions in Northern Ireland to press for the establishment of more banking hubs.

I recognise that banking hubs, which are operated by the Post Office in partnership with the major high street providers, improve access for people from communities across the United Kingdom to in-person assistance from their bank.

Northern Ireland already has a banking hub in Kilkeel. Four additional hubs are due to open in Comber, Newcastle, Portrush, and Warrenpoint, following successful community requests from the Consumer Council Northern Ireland to LINK, the UK's cash access and ATM network.

Following the closure of a bank branch, LINK will identify whether a community requires further cash services and any community without a branch can contact LINK directly and ask to be assessed for support. It is right that individuals from local communities in Northern Ireland, who best understand the specific needs of their own community, are the people who contact LINK for an assessment.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
18th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has had discussions with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) Northern Ireland's Department of Education on the potential funding implications of the Independent Review of Education in Northern Ireland, published on 13 December 2023.

The Government welcomes the publication of this long-awaited report, which delivers on a commitment agreed to in the New Decade, New Approach Agreement. We will take time to consider the findings of the report, however, we are clear that education, its funding and any potential transformation or reform of education in Northern Ireland are matters that a restored Northern Ireland Executive should be gripping.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
5th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has had recent discussions with the PSNI on the time taken to issue firearms licenses in Northern Ireland.

The issuing of firearms licences is a devolved matter overseen by the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State has a limited role relating to certain appeals against the decision of the Chief Constable not to issue firearms licences. He has not been involved in any recent discussions with the PSNI on this issue, however, Northern Ireland Office officials engage with PSNI colleagues on a regular basis. The Hon Member will know that Northern Ireland Office ministers are not an alternative to functioning devolved government and I hope he will use his considerable influence to promote the restoration of a Northern Ireland Executive so that matters such as this may be dealt with in the proper manner.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
18th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, when he plans to bring forward the commencement orders for Section 4 of the Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Act 2022.

The planned repeal of the Administration of Justice (Language) Act (Ireland 1737) is one of many steps in the Identity & Language legislation that will affirm the need to respect the freedom of all persons in Northern Ireland to choose, maintain and develop their national and cultural identity.

The Government is carefully considering its next steps on implementation, including the remaining commencement orders and will provide an update to Parliament in due course.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th Dec 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how much of the total costs incurred by the Police Service of Northern Ireland covering the visit of President Biden and other dignitaries to Northern Ireland during the commemoration of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement they have refunded.

In line with the HMT Statement of Funding Policy, the UK Government has agreed to meet costs totalling £2.752 million towards the policing operation for President Biden's visit and other dignitaries to Northern Ireland during events to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

The budget will be transferred to the Department of Justice for Northern Ireland to transfer to the Police Service of Northern Ireland at Supplementary Estimates 2023/24.

Lord Caine
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
15th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will hold discussions with Cabinet colleagues on the adequacy of Northern Ireland's transport budget.

Transport is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland. It is for the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure to make decisions on transport-related funding and spending decisions.

As I set out in my Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament on 27 April, Northern Ireland Office officials and I have worked intensively with the Northern Ireland departments to set a budget for Northern Ireland for the 2023-24 financial year. This year's budget allocation from the UK Government gave the Northern Ireland Department of Infrastructure a total allocation of £523 million.

It remains our firm view that the right people to make these decisions are locally elected politicians in a fully functioning Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly. That is why this Government is doing all it can to engage with the party leaders to support a return to stable government so that these important issues can be addressed by those elected to do so.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
13th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of his Department adopting the British Standard on Menstruation, menstrual health, and menopause in the workplace (BS 30416:2023), published in June 2023.

The Northern Ireland Office follows the Ministry of Justice Corporate policies which adhere to the Civil Service HR's wider model.

This Department is committed to providing an inclusive and supportive working environment where all employees are treated fairly, with dignity, respect and understanding, and their health and wellbeing is fully supported.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
8th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions he has had with his Irish counterparts on Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State engages regularly with the Tánaiste on matters relating to Northern Ireland, both in private meetings and via the bilateral structures established under Strand 3 of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

The British-Irish Council met in Dublin on 23-24 November, and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference met on 28 November, also in Dublin. The joint communiqués from both meetings can be found online.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
12th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what the cost to the public purse was for the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery since it was established.

The Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery was established on 14 December 2023 and has only begun to incur expenditure. The ICRIR’s expenditure will be set out in annual accounts which will be laid in Parliament.

£250 million has been allocated to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act and the non-legislative memorialisation measures announced alongside it. This includes costs for the establishment of the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery, and for the Commission’s work. These funds were set aside under the Stormont House Agreement and the New Decade, New Approach agreement.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
12th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he has had with the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence since March 2023.

The UK Government has engaged, and continues to engage, with UN Special Rapporteurs through established channels, including formal responses to the reports of the UN Special Rapporteurs - which are also made publicly available.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
13th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many vehicles (a) owned and (b) contracted by his Department are (i) petrol, (ii) diesel, (iii) electric and (iv) hybrid.

The Northern Ireland Office does not own any vehicles. The department has three contracted vehicles, two of which are diesel and one is hybrid.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
5th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how much their Department spent on hospitality in (a) 2021, (b) 2022 and (c) 2023.

We do not routinely publish this data, as has been the case under successive administrations. All Business Units within the Northern Ireland Office have a responsibility to keep official hospitality costs as low as possible and demonstrate good value for money.

Details of ministerial and senior official hospitality are published on a quarterly basis, and are available on GOV.UK.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will make it his policy to decide whether to remove the 31 August 2024 deadline for applications to the Victims' Payments Board by 19 December 2023.

The Victims Payments Regulations (2020) requires the Secretary of State to conduct a review and report on the operation of the scheme between August 2023 and August 2024. This review provides the most appropriate means to thoroughly consider the issue of backdating. It will be conducted as early as is practicable within the review period, in order to allow sufficient time to take action on this matter and others should it be required.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how much his Department spent on external recruitment consultants in the (a) 2020-21, (b) 2021-22 and (c) 2022-23 financial year.

The amount spent by the Northern Ireland Office on recruitment consultants in the last three years was:

2020-21 - £10,395

2021-22 - £42,336

2022-23 - £20,360

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
24th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how much their Department spent on (a) current and (b) legacy IT infrastructure (i) in total and (ii) purchased in 2013 or earlier in each of the last three years.

On current IT infrastructure, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) spent a total of £1.358m over the last three years. This can be broken down as £475k in financial year 23/24, £428k in financial year 22/23, and £455k in financial year 21/22. The NIO has no legacy IT infrastructure and no IT infrastructure purchased in 2013 or earlier.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
4th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he has had with representatives of the Northern Ireland Administration on a strategy on ending violence against women and girls.

The Secretary of State recently visited the Women’s Aid Federation NI in Belfast as part of the 16 Days of Action against gender-based violence, to hear about this important issue.

It is disappointing that Northern Ireland remains the only region of the UK without a dedicated strategy to tackle violence against women and girls. The UK Government notes the significant work currently underway in the Executive Office to develop a Strategic Framework to End Violence Against Women and Girls. It is vital that the Northern Ireland Executive is restored to approve and implement this strategy.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
6th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending the deadlines for (a) eligibility for back payments and (b) all applications to the Victim Payments Board.

The Victims Payments Regulations (2020) requires the Secretary of State to conduct a review and report on the operation of the scheme between August 2023 and August 2024. These issues - the possibility of extending the periods for backdating payments and for the submission of new applications - will be considered as part of this review. If the Hon Gentleman would like to make his case in correspondence, I will ensure his views are duly considered.

Steve Baker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)