Examination of Witness

Part of Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 29 Mehefin 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Howson-Smith:

In terms of the petition of concern, I do have some worries that perhaps we did not necessarily go far enough in ensuring that, for example, petitions of concern are not tabled on Bills that are allowing the Northern Ireland Executive to take border legislation that is compliant with human rights. For example, petitions of concern were previously used—or were likely to be used—on issues around abortion and that was a concern for me, that perhaps those measures did not give adequate protection. On that specific issue, Westminster is taking forward legislation and we are now in a process of implementation. However, there were some suggestions about potentially having more oversight from human rights bodies in that petition of concern process. I do not think that that necessarily would have been a bad thing. I think that would be quite valuable, given the previous types of things the petition of concern has been used for. However, I hopefully think that the changes that are in there will make parties and MLAs think twice about using petitions of concern in that way again.