Examination of Witness

Part of Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:02 pm ar 29 Mehefin 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Gavin Robinson Gavin Robinson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Defence) 2:02, 29 Mehefin 2021

Good afternoon, Jonathan. I will reflect on the question from the hon. Member for North Down. Of course, the Assembly and Executive Review Committee is the sort of place where you would ordinarily think these discussions at the moment should occur. Going to the NIO and expecting the Government to sort these issues out should be the last resort; it should be something that is foreseen and considered among parties.Q

I do not know whether you had the opportunity to hear the evidence session this morning. Some questions were raised about the lack of detail in the Bill as to what safeguards are in place if Ministers are in position and there is a difficulty in forming an Executive. You will know that the discussions during the negotiations focused on safeguards for issues that are significant, cross-cutting and controversial, which would ordinarily therefore go to the Executive, but with no Executive sitting, those decisions could not be made. It appears in one sense that there needs to be further detail in the Bill on what the pitfalls might be. One aspect that did not come out in the evidence this morning was the fact that Ministers normally operate after having gone through a process of reaching consensus on a programme for government. Any Minister without an Executive could therefore continue to bring forward decisions on that basis, and perhaps juxtapose that with an inability for Ministers to act and the difficulty that the Northern Ireland civil service found itself in during that three-year hiatus.