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

Labour
Louise Haigh (LAB - Sheffield, Heeley)
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
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
Alex Davies-Jones (LAB - Pontypridd)
Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)
Ministers of State
Robin Walker (CON - Worcester)
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
Scheduled Event
Wednesday 27th October 2021
11:30
Northern Ireland Office
Oral questions - Main Chamber
27 Oct 2021, 11:30 a.m.
Northern Ireland
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Debates
Thursday 22nd July 2021
Select Committee Inquiry
Monday 19th April 2021
The experience of minority ethnic and migrant people in Northern Ireland

Data from the Northern Ireland Census 2011 illustrates that 1.8% (32,400) of the population belonged to non-white minority ethnic groups; …

Written Answers
Thursday 29th July 2021
Armed Forces: Northern Ireland
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their agreement New Decade, New Approach, published on 8 January 2020, what funding …
Secondary Legislation
Tuesday 18th May 2021
Local Elections (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) Order 2021
This Order amends provisions in the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962 (c. 14 (N.I.)) (the “1962 Act”) relating to …
Bills
Wednesday 12th May 2021
Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill 2021-22
A Bill to make provision about Ministerial appointments, extraordinary Assembly elections, the Ministerial Code of Conduct and petitions of concern …
Dept. Publications
Thursday 29th July 2021
15:05

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
Dec. 02
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Mar. 10
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Jul. 22
Written Statements
May. 20
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Bills currently before Parliament

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Acts of Parliament created in the 2019 Parliament

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Northern Ireland Office - Secondary Legislation

This Order amends provisions in the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962 (c. 14 (N.I.)) (the “1962 Act”) relating to election publications for Northern Ireland local elections.
Sections 1 to 8 of, and Schedule 1 to, the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 (c. 6) (the “2007 Act”) provide for trial on indictment without a jury (“the non-jury trial provisions”). Section 9(1) of the 2007 Act provides that the non-jury trial provisions expire at the end of the period of two years beginning with the day on which section 1 of the 2007 Act comes into force (“the effective period”). Section 1 came into force on 1st August 2007. Section 9(2) enables the Secretary of State to extend the effective period by order. Section 9(3)(b) provides that the effect of such an order is to extend the effective period for two years beginning with the time when the effective period would end but for the order.
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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).

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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.


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

21st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their agreement New Decade, New Approach, published on 8 January 2020, what funding related to the armed forces has been provided under that agreement; over what period each funding stream will be delivered; and what terms and conditions apply to each funding stream.

This Government is committed to an ambitious programme of Armed Forces modernisation.

Under the New Decade, New Approach agreement, the Government is supporting our Armed Forces and veterans in Northern Ireland through a range of measures, including UK-wide legislation to further incorporate the Armed Forces Covenant into law and the appointment of the Veterans Commissioner to act as an independent point of contact for veterans in Northern Ireland.

Up to £200,000 has already been provided for veterans’ support services from the New Decade, New Approach funding. Further details on funding allocations for veterans’ services will be set out in due course.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
16th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 14 July (HC Deb, cols 389–91) on prosecutions relating to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, what assessment they have made of the implications of their proposals for (1) Operation Kenova, and (2) any referrals for prosecution to the Public Prosecution Service arising from its investigations.

The Government recognises the positive achievements of Operation Kenova in terms of building relationships with victims and survivors, and helping them to understand the circumstances around what happened to their loved ones.

However, it is clear that with the passage of time, the chances of successful prosecution from even the most robust of investigations is vanishingly small.

That is why, as outlined in the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland’s oral statement of 14 July and in the command paper published afterwards, the Government wants to move away from a focus on criminal justice outcomes - which is delivering for nobody - and instead focus on effective information recovery and reconciliation measures.

The Government’s proposals are intended to inform ongoing intensive engagement with the Irish Government, Northern Ireland parties and other stakeholders with an interest in this issue. All elements of these proposals - including their practical application - are subject to ongoing consideration and discussion.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the policy paper entitled Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland's past, CP 498, published on 14 July 2021, what plans the Government has to bring forward legislative proposals to end judicial activity in relation to Troubles-related conduct across the spectrum of criminal cases, and current and future civil cases and inquests.

As outlined in the command paper published on 14 July, the Government wants to bring forward legislation that focuses on reconciliation and information recovery, delivers for victims and veterans, and ends the cycle of reinvestigations into the Troubles which is not working for anybody.

The Government’s proposals are intended to inform ongoing intensive engagement with the Irish Government, Northern Ireland parties and other stakeholders with an interest in this issue. All elements of these proposals - and any alternative proposals - are subject to ongoing consideration and discussion.


Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what plans he has to seek the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly for legislative proposals to address the legacy of the past.

The Government intends to request legislative consent for its legislative proposals relating to the legacy of the past. The Government is also committed to working with the Northern Ireland parties, as well as the Irish Government and other stakeholders, as part of an ongoing intensive process of engagement, with a view to finding agreement on the way forward.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how (a) many bids the Government received to and (b) much funding the Government dispersed under the Community Renewal Fund in Northern Ireland since that fund's introduction.

Assessment of bids to the Community Renewal Fund is underway and we hope to announce successful applicants later this summer. In Northern Ireland, £11m will be invested in projects that will boost local businesses, support communities and help people to develop skills and move into employment.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues and social media platforms on tackling sectarian abuse and incitement online.

Online abuse is an issue that affects all parts of the United Kingdom and it is important that we work together to keep people safe from such abuse.

In May, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published its draft Online Safety Bill. The Northern Ireland Office, as well as the Northern Ireland Department of Justice, who have lead responsibility in Northern Ireland for tackling sectarian abuse and incitement online, have been engaged in this work.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the Command Paper on Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland's Past published on 14 July 2021, what training staff at an information recovery body will be given to enable them to take responsibility for determining the relevancy of material help by a state organisation irrespective of how sensitive that information may be.

The Government’s proposals outlined in the command paper published on 14 July, including those regarding a new independent information recovery body, are intended to inform ongoing intensive engagement with the Irish Government, Northern Ireland parties and other stakeholders with an interest in this issue.

All elements of these proposals - including their practical operation - are subject to ongoing consideration and discussion.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the Command Paper, Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland's Past, published 14 July 2021, whether a new information recovery body will have access to full police and disclosure powers including access to intelligence, powers of arrest, search, the right to seize documents and information sharing procedures in line with operation Kenova with MI5, PSNI and the Ministry of Defence.

The Government’s proposals outlined in the command paper published on 14 July, including those regarding a new independent information recovery body, are intended to inform ongoing intensive engagement with the Irish Government, Northern Ireland parties and other stakeholders with an interest in this issue.

All elements of these proposals - including their practical operation - are subject to ongoing consideration and discussion.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether the information sharing procedures and protocols available to Operation Kenova will be made available to the information recovery body outlined in the Command Paper on Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland's past published on 14 July 2021.

The Government’s proposals outlined in the command paper published on 14 July, including those regarding a new independent information recovery body, are intended to inform ongoing intensive engagement with the Irish Government, Northern Ireland parties and other stakeholders with an interest in this issue.

All elements of these proposals - including their practical operation - are subject to ongoing consideration and discussion.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, which victims of terror in Great Britain he consulted prior to his Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland's Past proposals, announced on 14 July 2021.

Following the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference on 24 June, the UK and Irish Governments initiated an ongoing process of intensive engagement with the Northern Ireland parties and other stakeholders, with a view to finding a way forward on legacy issues.

It was agreed that engagement with victims and survivors - including those in Great Britain - would be central to these discussions, and their views and perspectives will continue to be sought.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, which victims groups within Great Britain he plans to engage with as part of the policy on addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland's past.

Following the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference on 24 June, the UK and Irish Governments initiated an ongoing process of intensive engagement with the Northern Ireland parties and other stakeholders, with a view to finding a way forward on legacy issues.

It was agreed that engagement with victims and survivors - including those in Great Britain - would be central to these discussions, and their views and perspectives will continue to be sought as part of this ongoing process of engagement.

The Government is committed to publishing details of ministers’ meetings with external organisations on a quarterly basis. Publications for the Northern Ireland Office can be found on gov.uk.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the Command Paper, Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland's past, published 14 July 2021, whether the Government plans to bring forward legislative proposals to prevent inquests relating to the legacy of the past from continuing.

As outlined in the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland’s oral statement of 14 July, and in the command paper published afterwards, the Government wants to move away from a focus on criminal justice outcomes - which is delivering for nobody - and instead focus on effective information recovery and reconciliation measures.

The Government’s proposals are intended to inform ongoing intensive engagement with the Irish Government, Northern Ireland parties and other stakeholders with an interest in this issue. All elements of these proposals - and any alternative proposals - are subject to ongoing consideration and discussion.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the Command Paper on Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland's Past published on 14 July 2021, whether he plans to release the full human rights impact assessment for those proposals.

The UK Government is fully committed to fulfilling its human rights obligations.

On 19 July, the Government published on gov.uk a Section 75 Equality Screening Form for its proposals to address the legacy of the Troubles, as set out by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 14 July. Appropriate impact assessments will be provided in due course.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I meet regularly with colleagues to discuss matters relating to Northern Ireland, including the implementation of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol.

It is imperative that the Protocol is operated in a pragmatic and proportionate way to ensure that it impacts as little as possible on the people of Northern Ireland. The UK is working hard and in good faith to find solutions. We need to find a way forward, a new balance of arrangements, adapted to the practical reality of what we have seen since January, and based on the common interests we all share.

The Government set out its approach to the Protocol in Parliament today.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
21st Jul 2021
What discussions he has held with cabinet colleagues and social media platforms on tackling sectarian abuse and incitement online.

Online abuse is an issue that affects all four nations of the United Kingdom and it is important that we work together to keep people safe from such abuse.

In May, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published its draft Online Safety Bill. The Northern Ireland Department of Justice, who have lead responsibility in Northern Ireland for tackling sectarian abuse and incitement online, has been engaged in this work.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
21st Jul 2021
What recent discussions he has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) representatives of social media platforms on tackling sectarian abuse and incitement online.

Online abuse is an issue that affects all four nations of the United Kingdom and it is important that we work together to keep people safe from such abuse.

In May, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published its draft Online Safety Bill. The Northern Ireland Department of Justice, who have lead responsibility in Northern Ireland for tackling sectarian abuse and incitement online, has been engaged in this work.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
21st Jul 2021
What steps the Government is taking to help create jobs and attract investment in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government is committed to creating jobs and attracting investment in Northern Ireland - a key part of our plans to level up across the UK.

The Government’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ has protected jobs and livelihoods. And we have committed £600m to City & Growth Deals to help boost the economy, enhancing skills and creating new jobs such as the 100+ announced by Tech firm Igale.

We are also working with DIT and Invest NI to attract inward investment, including by highlighting Northern Ireland's strengths at a NI showcase event in London in September.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
21st Jul 2021
What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on co-ordinating a UK wide response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I continue to hold regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues as part of the Government response to covid-19. This includes regular meetings with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and, of course, the First and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Although each devolved administration controls its own public health policy, we have been coordinating our responses to Covid, seeking alignment in policy and approach where appropriate, to ensure we were able to tackle the pandemic.

This joined-up approach has been pivotal in delivering the successful vaccine rollout right across the UK which has seen over 995,493 of the adult population in Northern Ireland receive both doses of the vaccine. It will be important that we maintain this collective approach as we seek to recover from the pandemic.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure the protection of veterans who served in Northern Ireland while ensuring that the implementation of any such protection does not result in those responsible for terrorist offences evading justice.

The Government has been clear that it will deliver on its commitments to NI veterans as part of a wider package to address the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland.


As set out by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland last week, the Government’s proposed package focuses on reconciliation, information recovery and ending the cycle of investigations that is not working for anyone.


The Government remains clear however, that it will never accept any moral equivalence between those who upheld the law in Northern Ireland and those, on all sides, who sought to destroy it.


These proposals will be considered as part of the ongoing intensive talks process with the NI parties, Irish Government and representatives of NI society, further to which we will bring forward legislation.


Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to his Oral Statement of 14 July 2021, Official Report, column 388, whether the offence of perjury in respect of Troubles-related incidents will be subject to the proposed statute of limitation.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland’s oral statement of 14 July - and the command paper published afterwards - formally set out the Government’s proposals for dealing with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past.

These proposals are intended to inform ongoing intensive engagement with the Irish Government, Northern Ireland parties and other stakeholders with an interest in this policy.

Further details will be subject to these discussions and will be shared in due course.


Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his Statement on 14 July 2021, Official Report, columns 388-402, on the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past, if the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly will be sought for the proposed legislation.

As set out by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 14 July, the Government will bring forward legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles that focuses on reconciliation, delivers for victims, and ends the cycle of investigations. The Government intends to request legislative consent for its legislative proposals

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the oral contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of 27 April 2021, Official Report, column 86WH, on the Government's policy on the inappropriate use by some employers of fire and rehire as a negotiation tactic, what steps their Department has taken to (a) investigate and (b) discourage the use of fire and rehire negotiation tactics by their Department's executive non-departmental public bodies; and what steps they have taken to communicate the Government's policy on those practices to those bodies.

My Department has a number of small NDPBs who are mostly resourced by Civil Servants on secondment from the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) and follow NICS policies and guidelines. There has not been any inappropriate use of “fire and rehire” as secondment arrangements are regularly reviewed and staff return to their NICS department at the end of their secondments. The Northern Ireland Office is not the employer and is therefore not in a position to “fire and rehire” as part of any negotiations. For the very small number of instances where NDPBs are not resourced by NICS staff, the employees are not employed as civil servants but the NDPB follows NICS terms and conditions.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what mechanisms are in place to audit information provided to his Department by (a) regulatory bodies and (b) non-departmental public bodies.

My Department relies on a small number of non-departmental public bodies to provide independent advice and carry out a range of important functions to deliver strategic objectives. Assurance is taken on the quality of the information provided by these bodies through scrutiny by my officials and the work of internal and external auditors.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
9th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many items of written correspondence from hon. Members sent to Ministers of his Department have been (a) received and (b) replied to since 1 April 2020; and how many of those responses were responded to by (i) Ministers and (ii) officials of his Department.

The Government recognises the great importance of the effective and timely handling of correspondence.

The Cabinet Office is currently compiling data on the timeliness of responses to Hon. and Rt Hon. members from Government Departments and Agencies. This data will be released, and made available to Members, in due course.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, when he plans to publish the Government's proposals on tackling the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past.

The current system for dealing with the legacy of the past is failing to bring satisfactory outcomes for families and placing a heavy burden on the criminal justice system. It is not working for anyone and is leaving society in Northern Ireland hamstrung by its past.

On 24 June, the UK Government - along with the Irish Government - agreed to commence a process of intensive engagement with the Northern Ireland parties and all relevant stakeholders and civil society, including victims groups, with a view to making progress on this issue as soon as possible. This engagement process has now started, and the UK Government has committed to bringing forward proposals and to introducing legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his Department's energy usage in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

My Department is based in two leased sites, 1 Horse Guards Road, London and Stormont House, Belfast. In London, energy charges are included within the leasing arrangement from the landlord, Her Majesty's Treasury and my Department does not hold any figures for energy usage. In Belfast, the cost of energy usage is shown below.

Year

Electricity

Gas

2019

£51,637.66

£10,503.24

2020

£60,006.70

£12,446.45

2021 (to date)

£26,186.12

£9,677.60

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to his Department's announcement on 29 June of a Framework for Multiparty Talks on Northern Ireland Legacy issues, whether he plans to bring forward proposals for addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland's past before the House rises for summer recess.

It is clear that the current system for dealing with the legacy of the past is not working for anyone. It is failing to bring satisfactory outcomes for families, placing a heavy burden on the criminal justice system, and leaving society in Northern Ireland hamstrung by its past.

This is why the UK Government - along with the Irish Government - has begun a process of intensive engagement with the Northern Ireland parties and all relevant stakeholders and civil society, including victims groups, with a view to making progress on this issue as soon as possible.

The UK Government has committed to bringing forward proposals, and to introducing legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, as soon as possible.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what his policy is on his Department's rates of recycling of plastic, paper, metal and other products; and if he will make a statement.

My Department is based in two leased sites, 1 Horse Guards Road, London and Stormont House, Belfast. As a tenant, we follow the respective recycling policies and services provided by our landlord. They offer shared services under collaborative contracts, which adhere to principles set out in greening for government commitments. For example, using recycling bins for the disposal and recycling of all mixed waste. We also use recycled paper and stationery items manufactured from reusable materials.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps he is taking to encourage businesses in Northern Ireland to buy goods from the rest of the UK in preference to buying them from the EU.

Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom, its internal market and customs territory. Northern Ireland’s place in our Union is a culmination of the relationships, the commerce, and the history shared across these islands, which we celebrate in Northern Ireland’s centenary year. The UK Government is committed to strengthening the economic and business ties between Northern Ireland and Great Britain as well driving up the export of Northern Ireland’s excellent goods and services to global markets.

However, as currently operating, the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol is causing significant challenges for people and businesses in Northern Ireland, with the complexity of new requirements seeing goods movements disrupted, trade patterns changing, and businesses stepping away from trading in Northern Ireland. The UK is engaging with the Commission on these issues that are having a real impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

The Government is committed to protecting the UK Internal Market by ensuring that Northern Ireland goods have unfettered access to the rest of the UK. To facilitate the significant trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, we have launched the UK Trader Scheme and the Movement Assistance Scheme to support traders moving goods under the Protocol.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment he has made of the work required to deliver effectively the full New Decade, New Approach agreement of 2020?.

The New Decade, New Approach agreement was a historic achievement that restored the devolved institutions to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland. Its full implementation is crucial.

We have made good progress toward the implementation of our commitments, including appointing a new Veterans Commissioner; providing financial support for NI Screen’s Irish Language and Ulster Scots broadcasting funds; and launching an ambitious £3 million programme of activity to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland. Over £700 million of the £2 billion funding has also already been allocated by the Government to support the implementation of the New Decade, New Approach Agreement.

Additionally, the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill was introduced on Wednesday 12 May in Parliament and is currently progressing through Committee Stage. The Bill introduces reforms, agreed in NDNA, to improve the sustainability of the Northern Ireland institutions.

We have also changed the Immigration Rules to enable family members of the people of Northern Ireland to apply for immigration status in the UK on broadly the same terms as family members of Irish citizens.

The Government will continue to work with the Northern Ireland parties and Irish Government toward full implementation to ensure that the institutions continue to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the refresh of the electoral register from 1 July 2021, what contingencies are in place to facilitate any elections that may occur over the next few months.

The conduct of both elections and canvass are operational matters for the Chief Electoral Officer who has confirmed to the Secretary State for Northern Ireland that if required her office could conduct an election during the canvass period.

The Chief Electoral Officer is under a statutory duty to hold canvass this year following a one year postponement due to the pandemic.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, when he last met the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State holds weekly discussions with the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, when he last met the First Minister of Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State holds weekly discussions with the First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether a risk assessment has been carried out on the secure holding of CCTV footage within his Department.

Yes, a full risk assessment was carried out when CCTV cameras were first installed and all associated risks are routinely reviewed. All footage is held securely.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether any Department business has been conducted on private email addresses; and what mechanisms are in place to ensure that full records are kept of that business.

It is Northern Ireland Office policy that all official business is conducted using official email addresses on corporate IT and mobile devices.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many Freedom of Information requests have been referred by his Department for advice on handling to the Cabinet Office’s clearing house for Freedom of Information requests in each year since 2016.

The Northern Ireland Office does not hold this information centrally, and it can only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

The Northern Ireland Office has referred requests to the Cabinet Office Clearing House where appropriate and in line with the published criteria. This is available on the gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cabinet-office-and-freedom-of-information.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the Irish Republic's Central Statistics Office showing the value of Irish Republic exports to Northern Ireland increasing between January to April 2021 by 40 per cent to €977 million, what steps the Government is taking to ensure the Northern Ireland Protocol is not causing the displacement of Great Britain to Northern Ireland trade with Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland trade.

The Protocol is a delicate balance, designed to support the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and avoid disruption. This means that East-West political, economic and social links are safeguarded as well as North-South.

The statistics in question do not specify the end destination of goods and do not show what proportion are being sent into the rest of the UK. They also do not include trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and without this, the scale of any displacement is difficult to estimate.

However, longstanding trade flows are being disrupted. The UK is working hard and in good faith to find solutions. Last week’s Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee allowed for an open and frank discussion on the progress made to date and the challenges ahead, emphasising the need for urgent solutions.

To support the significant trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain we have launched the UK Trader Scheme and the Movement Assistance Scheme to support traders operating under the Protocol. We will also establish a reimbursement scheme for goods that attract a tariff, but which can subsequently be shown to have remained in the UK customs territory and further details will be announced in due course.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
15th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with ministerial colleagues in the Northern Ireland Executive on the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination programmes in Northern Ireland.

The Ministerial team in the Northern Ireland Office speak regularly with the Northern Ireland Executive to discuss a wide range of issues, including Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme.

Although each devolved administration controls its own public health policy, we have been coordinating our responses to Covid, seeking alignment in policy and approach where appropriate, to ensure we tackle the pandemic effectively.

This joined up approach resulted in the UK-wide vaccine rollout for which almost 80% of Northern Ireland’s adult population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. It will be important that we maintain this collective approach as we seek to recover from the pandemic.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
15th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to legislate for language and cultural matters in Northern Ireland which are currently devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Government announced on 21 June in a Written Ministerial Statement (HLWS100) that should the Northern Ireland Executive not have progressed the legislation for the identity, language and culture package in the New Decade, New Approach agreement by the end of September, the UK Government will take the legislation through the UK Parliament in October 2021.

It is the Government’s preference that the Executive deliver its commitment on this carefully balanced package of measures, which was agreed to by the parties and helped to end the three-year political impasse in Northern Ireland.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
15th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with ministerial colleagues in the Northern Ireland Executive on the extent of COVID-19 testing in Northern Ireland.

The Ministerial team in the Northern Ireland Office speak regularly with the Northern Ireland Executive to discuss a wide range of issues, including testing in Northern Ireland. The Minister of State in the Northern Ireland Office has been attending Covid-19 Operations Committee meetings, as have NI Ministers to discuss UK-wide policy and our operational response to Covid-19.

Testing is a powerful weapon in our continued fight against the virus. Collaboration between the UK Government and NI Health and Social Care Trusts has enabled over 2.5 million tests in Northern Ireland. We will continue to build on this success with the Executive, exploring further ways to utilise mass testing schemes for Northern Ireland.



Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, when he last had discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive on tackling toxic air.

Air quality in Northern Ireland is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive.

The UK Government is committed to delivering action on climate change at a global scale through its leadership at COP26. The UK Government has committed to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, ahead of achieving Net Zero by 2050. This will deliver cleaner air, as well as jobs, prosperity, and a brighter future.

We will deliver this action across the whole United Kingdom and Northern Ireland has an important role to play in that. Northern Ireland has great potential to become a leader in hydrogen technology, and the UK Government has supported this including providing £11.2m to Wrightbus to develop and manufacture low-cost hydrogen fuel cell technology for buses and create a hydrogen centre of excellence. In addition, through the New Decade, New Approach agreement the UK Government has provided £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland regularly meets with stakeholders across Northern Ireland, including Executive Ministers, and discusses climate change in Northern Ireland. In addition, the COP26 President chairs the COP26 Devolved Administrations Ministerial Group, which meets quarterly.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many meetings he has had with representatives of the road haulage industry in Northern Ireland in the last 18 months on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The UK Government engages extensively with businesses to understand how the Protocol is working on the ground and listen to concerns that arise.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I have met with representatives of the road haulage industry in Northern Ireland numerous times individually and through the Business Engagement Forum. These discussions have informed the Government’s approach to the implementation of the Protocol and discussions with the EU during and after the Transition Period.

Following engagement with industry representative organisations and their members, the Government will be publishing additional guidance to the Haulier Handbook focused on Northern Ireland on gov.uk shortly as well as hosting webinars to update and provide support for them on changes. We will continue to engage with the industry.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment they have made of the potential (a) threats and (b) opportunities of artificial intelligence in respect of their Department’s responsibilities.

The Department has made no assessment of artificial intelligence in respect of its responsibilities.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of anti-abortion protests outside clinics in Northern Ireland on the accessibility of abortion services to women requiring abortion care.

We recognise that there are strongly held views on abortion, and that everyone has the right to express their views, including the right to peaceful protest. Equally, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is under a clear legal duty under section 9 of the NIEF Act to ensure that the recommendations in paragraphs 85 and 86 of the CEDAW report are implemented in respect of Northern Ireland. That includes Recommendation 86(g) - ‘Protect women from harassment by anti-abortion protesters by investigating complaints and prosecuting and punishing perpetrators’.

We previously committed to keeping the matter of exclusion zones under review for 12 months following the making of the 2020 abortion regulations, and we will continue to keep the matter under close review as and when abortion services are commissioned.

There are a range of existing public order offences in Northern Ireland that can likely be relied on, depending on the individual circumstances of the incident.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that all children and young people in Northern Ireland are taught about all pregnancy options, including abortion as part of comprehensive relationships and sex education.

We recognise that sexual and reproductive health education is an important component in ensuring women and girls are well informed of the choices available to them.

Following the restoration of devolution, the Minister for Education agreed to continue funding the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) for the 2020/21 FY and now from 2021/22, and further funding was made available to develop a Relationship and Sexual Education hub. This further funding will continue to develop resources but also provide Teacher Professional Learning. My officials continue to work with the Department for Education to ensure appropriate implementation of recommendation 86(d) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW report) in Northern Ireland.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
10th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many women have travelled to the British mainland to receive abortion care since the establishment of a legal framework for abortion in Northern Ireland on 31 March 2020.

The Department of Health and Social Care has now published the 2020 statistics on abortion in England and Wales. In 2020, there were 371 abortions in England and Wales for women from Northern Ireland.

I would note that over 1,100 women and girls have been able to access local abortion services since April last year - and this should not be overlooked at a time where the services have not been formally commissioned. It is, however, very distressing to hear that even throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, some women and girls have still been forced to travel, at a time where it is even more crucial for local access to healthcare to be available. We put on record our thanks to the medical professionals who have ensured that women and girls have had some access to abortion services in Northern Ireland to date, and the organisations that have supported this work.

However, progress must be made towards properly commissioning services so that safe, local abortion services are fully available as a healthcare service in Northern Ireland. The current situation is not acceptable. If there continues to be no progress, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will issue a direction using his powers under the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021, to ensure that services are commissioned and delivered according to the 2018 Report of the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on the commitment in the New Decade New Approach Agreement to tackle health inequalities and provide sustainable funding for investment in and reform of the health and social care system through the Elective Care Framework announced by the Northern Ireland Minister of Health.

The UK Government recognises the importance of ensuring proper provision of, and access to, health services right across the UK. That is why it is important we continue to see a functioning Executive delivering for all the people of Northern Ireland and tackling these crucial issues.

The Executive’s focus over the past year has been on responding to the Covid-19 pandemic but as we now recover, the Executive must ensure that they Build Back Better to deliver the public services that the people of Northern Ireland deserve.

I welcome the plan to address waiting times in Northern Ireland and reform the health and social care system through the Elective Care Framework announced by the Executive’s Health Minister and I look forward to engaging with him on it in the near future.

The UK Government is providing substantial funding to the Executive of £15.6bn in 2021/22 to enable it to deliver excellent public services. This is in addition to the £445m explicitly to support the transformation of public services from NDNA and Confidence and Supply. It is for the Executive to make the necessary decisions to ensure this funding is used effectively.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether his Department operates a red, amber and green rating system for categorising Freedom of Information requests according to their presentational sensitivity.

The Northern Ireland Office do not use a red, amber and green rating system for categorising Freedom of Information requests.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many (a) Northern Ireland businesses have been adversely impacted by and (b) complaints the Government has received on the operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol since 1 January 2021.

I have engaged extensively in the build up to and since the Protocol was implemented at the start of this year, talking to businesses throughout Northern Ireland and across sectors. These experiences have also been set out to me in writing as correspondence and as reports for individuals businesses and business representative organisations.

I have heard first-hand about the range of experiences under the Protocol as it is currently operating for people and businesses in Northern Ireland. Where concerns have been raised - for example about reduced choice of products from Great Britain, burdensome checks and processes on products for supermarkets, cancelled deliveries, increased costs, risks to the supply of generic medicines and the impact on investment and growth - these have shaped and guided the Government’s approach to Protocol implementation.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)