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
Karin Smyth (LAB - Bristol South)
Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)
Ministers of State
Robin Walker (CON - Worcester)
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
Scheduled Event
Wednesday 16th June 2021
08:45
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee - Oral evidence - Select & Joint Committees
16 Jun 2021, 8:45 a.m.
Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol
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Scheduled Event
Wednesday 16th June 2021
11:30
Northern Ireland Office
Oral questions - Main Chamber
16 Jun 2021, 11:30 a.m.
Northern Ireland
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Scheduled Event
Wednesday 23rd June 2021
08:45
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee - Oral evidence - Select & Joint Committees
23 Jun 2021, 8:45 a.m.
Work of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
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Debates
Thursday 13th May 2021
Select Committee Docs
Friday 11th June 2021
00:00
9 June 2021
Oral Evidence
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
Tuesday 15th June 2021
Abortion: Northern Ireland
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland, …
Secondary Legislation
Monday 26th April 2021
Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 (Extension of Duration of Non-jury Trial Provisions) Order 2021
Sections 1 to 8 of, and Schedule 1 to, the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 (c. 6) (the …
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
Monday 14th June 2021
14:45

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
Oral Questions
Mar. 10
Urgent Questions
May. 20
Westminster Hall
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Bills currently before Parliament

Northern Ireland Office does not have Bills currently before Parliament


Acts of Parliament created in the 2019 Parliament

Northern Ireland Office has not passed any Acts during the 2019 Parliament

Northern Ireland Office - Secondary Legislation

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.
These Regulations confer on the Secretary of State the power to direct the First Minister, deputy First Minister, a Northern Ireland Minister, a Northern Ireland department, the Regional Health and Social Care Board, and the Regional Agency for Public Health and Social Well-being.
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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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Petitions with most signatures
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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.


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
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee: Upcoming Events
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee - Oral evidence
Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol
16 Jun 2021, 8:45 a.m.
At 9.30am: Oral evidence
The Right Hon. the Lord Frost CMG - Minister of State at Cabinet Office
Mark Davies - Deputy Director, Transition Task Force Northern Ireland at Cabinet Office

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Northern Ireland Affairs Committee - Oral evidence
Work of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
23 Jun 2021, 8:45 a.m.
At 9.30am: Oral evidence
Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP - Secretary of State at Cabinet Office

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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

10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what timeframe he plans to agree with the Minister of Health in Northern Ireland on the introduction of a fully funded and commissioned abortion service; and what steps he is taking to ensure that service is made available.

We made the Abortion Regulations in March 2020 - and remain disappointed with the continuing failure to commission abortion services that are consistent with the Regulations to ensure women and girls have safe local access to this healthcare service. While medical professionals have taken forward some service provision on the ground in Northern Ireland from last April and over 1,100 abortions have been provided to date, more needs to be done.

We have always said that we believe that the commissioning of services by the Department of Health would remain the most appropriate way to progress the matter. However, after a year of engaging to see positive progress made, with no success, the legal duties and moral obligations are such that we have taken further action.

The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021, which came into effect on 31 March 2021, give the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland a power to direct relevant Northern Ireland Ministers, departments and agencies to commission abortion services, consistent with the conditions set out in the 2020 Regulations.

We will not let progress be drawn out indefinitely. We are clear that we want to see concrete progress towards the commissioning of abortion services before summer recess, and if this is not achieved, we will not hesitate in issuing a direction immediately so direct action is taken so that the rights of women and girls can be properly upheld and they can have safe and lawful access to abortion services locally.

We will continue to engage with the Department of Health to try and find a way forward and will provide every opportunity to move forward with commissioning before we have to issue the direction.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland, whether he has plans to allocate long-term funding for the maintenance of a central access point for abortion care.

The Northern Ireland Office has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment his Department has made of the mental health impact on pregnant women in Northern Ireland during the covid-19 pandemic of a lack of access to abortion services in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Office has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland, what urgent steps he is taking to ensure that those services are fully (a) funded and (b) staffed.

The Northern Ireland Office has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether an Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out on the Department of Health's decision not to commission abortion services in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Office has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 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. I put on record my 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.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how much his Department has spent on social media advertising in each month since January 2020; and on which platforms that money was money spent.

Between January 2020 and June 2021, the Northern Ireland Office spent a total of £18,626 on social media advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. A monthly breakdown is detailed below.

2020

Expenditure

January

n/a

February

n/a

March

n/a

April

n/a

May

n/a

June

£5,500

July

n/a

August

n/a

September

n/a

October

n/a

November

£787

December

£6,106

Total

£12,393

2021

Expenditure

January

n/a

February

n/a

March

n/a

April

£340

May

£4,090

June

£1,803

Total

£6,233

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how much his Department has spent on social media advertisements in each of the last five financial years; and on which platforms that money was spent.

The Northern Ireland Office only started paid-for activity on social media platforms in 2020. Since then a total of £18,626 has been spent on social media advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how much his Department spent on print media advertisements in each of the last five financial years; and on which media outlets that was spent.

Over the past five financial years, the Northern Ireland Office has not had any expenditure on print media advertisements.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to modify the provisions of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that require the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to be drawn from the largest nationalist and unionist designations in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Government remains fully committed to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and has no plans to amend the provisions of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that relate to the designation of Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, or to modify provisions of that Act in respect of the appointment of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to amend the provisions of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that require Members of the Legislative Assembly to designate themselves as nationalist, unionist, or other, upon taking their seats.

The Government remains fully committed to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and has no plans to amend the provisions of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that relate to the designation of Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, or to modify provisions of that Act in respect of the appointment of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps he is taking to scrutinise the effects of the UK's withdrawal from the EU on Northern Ireland.

The agreement reached with the EU gives us full control over our own laws, courts, borders and seas. It will help unlock investment and protect jobs right across the UK, giving us fantastic opportunities as an independent trading nation, striking trade deals with other partners around the world.

The Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol is a unique, and delicately balanced, solution to a unique and sensitive set of problems. It aims to uphold the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in all its aspects; safeguard Northern Ireland’s integral place in the United Kingdom, its customs territory and internal market, while preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.

It is clear over the months that the Protocol has been in force that there have been issues having a direct, and often disproportionate, impact. It is critical that these issues can be addressed in order to protect the political, social and economic fabric of life in Northern Ireland and to restore confidence on the ground. It is our priority to move discussions with the EU forward and to ensure the Protocol is given effect in the pragmatic and proportionate way intended.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I have met, and will continue to meet, with business and community representatives to listen to their experiences, to understand what the data tells us about impacts under the Protocol and to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to addressing issues with the Protocol. We will continue to work closely with all sectors of opinion in Northern Ireland as talks with the EU Commission continue.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to his letter to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of 7 October 2020, when the Government plans to bring forward legislative proposals for a longer-lasting regime to define Qualifying Northern Ireland Goods.

The Government has introduced significant and robust protections as part of the UK Internal Market Act. This enables “qualifying” goods to continue to be placed on the whole UK market and prohibits checks and controls as goods move from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK. To ensure these measures were in place from 1 January and to avoid disruption, this approach provides protection to all goods in free circulation in Northern Ireland.

The Government is developing a longer-lasting regime in discussion with Northern Ireland business. As we have done more broadly, it is right to take sensible, practical steps to phase in our approach in a way that is supported by business.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to the Answer of 1 March 2021 to Question 153426, on Ethnic Groups: Northern Ireland, what the timescale is for the creation of the Castlereagh Foundation.

The New Decade, New Approach agreement included a commitment to provide funding to establish the Castlereagh Foundation to support academic research through universities and other partners to explore identity and the shifting patterns of social identity in Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has announced he will appoint an Advisory Committee which will support the UK Government to identify appropriate delivery partners to establish the Castlereagh Foundation and take the work forward at the earliest opportunity.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many meetings he has held with Lord Frost since his appointment on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland holds regular meetings with Lord Frost on matters relating to the NI Protocol. These meetings have also included engagements with EU representatives, Northern Irish businesses and politicians across Parliament.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department is taking to prevent vexatious lawsuits against soldiers that served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

The Government has been clear about its intention to prevent vexatious claims against former service personnel.

That is why we have delivered the Overseas Operations Act, and we remain committed to delivering for Northern Ireland veterans separately as part of a wider package to address legacy issues in Northern Ireland that focuses on reconciliation, delivers for victims and ends the cycle of investigations that is not working well for anyone.

We are seeking to make progress on this issue as quickly as possible and are engaging substantively with key stakeholders - including the Irish Government, Northern Ireland parties and civil society - on the way forward.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he had with (a) people and (b) the families of people affected by IRA terrorism in Great Britain prior to the announcement that the Government will introduce legislation to address the legacy of the past in the Queen's Speech 2021.

The Government remains committed to bringing forward legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles as quickly as possible and fully recognises the importance of engaging with victims and survivors and their families as part of this process.

Since March last year, and prior to the Queen’s speech, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and his officials have listened to a wide range of people on legacy issues, including the Victims and Survivors Forum and groups funded under the Victims and Survivors Service’s Victims Support Programme.

The Government is committed to publishing a list of ministers’ meetings with external organisations, including those with victims groups, on a quarterly basis. Publications for the Northern Ireland Office can be found on Gov.UK.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether the Government plans to proceed with legislative proposals to address the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland announced in the Queen's Speech 2021 without legislative consent from the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Government has been clear that it 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 in accordance with Standing Order 42A of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and in line with the Sewel Convention.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the (a) recommendations of the report by the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on abortion law in Northern Ireland and (b) majority judgments of the Supreme Court in In the matter of an application by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) [2018] UKSC 27.

We recognise that access to abortion services is an emotive and sensitive issue for many. In July 2019, Parliament imposed on the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland a duty under section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 to ensure all of the CEDAW recommendations are implemented in Northern Ireland. This is a matter of domestic, not international, law.

The devolution settlement does not absolve us of our responsibility to uphold the rights of women and girls, given the duty in section 9 of the EF Act did not fall away with the restoration of the Executive, nor with the making of the initial regulations that came into force on 31 March 2020.

While we made the Regulations last March providing the framework for access to abortions, and some service provision commenced, this has not discharged those legal duties in full. We carefully considered the views and evidence presented through the consultation - including those who took the time to share individual, and often deeply personal experiences, to help shape the final framework for Northern Ireland. The CEDAW Report and recommendations require that evidence based protocols are adopted in terms of provision of services in Northern Ireland, and we took particular account of the views and evidence provided by experts and medical professionals, alongside the views of other respondents in making decisions on the final proposals. We considered the range of views in light of our legal obligations, and took evidenced based decisions, in order to bring forward a new legislative framework that is operationally sound, works best for Northern Ireland and that delivers on the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland’s duty. To this end, we developed an abortion framework that provides access to services consistent with what the CEDAW Report and the section 9 duty require.

We consider the Regulations to also be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and we are confident that the legal framework put in place, and the ongoing efforts to ensure the CEDAW recommendations are implemented, is lawful in light of case law and the statutory obligations imposed on the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, when was he informed of the decision by the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland that she was unavailable to meet HRH The Prince of Wales on his visit to Northern Ireland which began on 18 May 2021.

Private audiences with members of the Royal Family are a matter for the Royal Household.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the number of EU border checks completed in Northern Ireland, if he will have discussions with his EU counterpart on taking a more pragmatic approach towards the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol (‘the Protocol’) is a unique solution to complex challenges. To work, it must be given effect in a pragmatic, practical and proportionate way. That is how we ensure it can meet its core purposes: to uphold the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions, safeguard Northern Ireland’s integral place in the United Kingdom, and prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

This has been the basis on which the UK Government has continued to give effect to its obligations under the Protocol, conscious of the need to minimise its impact on everyday lives in Northern Ireland - as the Protocol itself sets out.

There have been difficulties in the operation of the Protocol, and we are working through the structures of the Withdrawal Agreement to seek to resolve these. The UK and EU were able to use the Ireland/Northern Ireland Specialised Committee on 26 March to take stock of outstanding issues. Lord Frost and Vice President Šefčovič, and their respective teams, remain in close contact as we move forward. Issues remain, but our aim is to find common sense, risk-based approaches that enable us to agree a pragmatic way forward that substantially eases the burdens on Northern Ireland.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government in which areas (1) the European Parliament, or (2) the European Council, are co-legislators for Northern Ireland.

The Government do not recognise the concept of a co-legislator. The legislatures for Northern Ireland are the Assembly and the Houses of Parliament. The Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol gives effect to a limited group of technical EU legal rules considered necessary to facilitate trade and the movement of agrifoods.

The Protocol provides for forums in which forthcoming legislation can be discussed, including whether new areas of law should be applied. New pieces of EU legislation that amend or replace acts referred to in the Protocol are notified to the Joint Consultative Working Group. New EU legislation that is within the scope of the Protocol but does not amend or replace acts listed in the Annexes of the Protocol, does not apply unless there is a Joint Committee decision to add the new act.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are under investigation by the Equality Commission over alleged breaches of equality duties related to the Northern Ireland legacy proposals published in March 2020.

It would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations being carried out by the Equality Commission. However, I can confirm that the Northern Ireland Office is fully committed to fulfilling its equality duties.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he has had with the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) on delays in the PEACE PLUS programme and the effect of those delays on organisations who receive funding under that programme.

The UK Government has committed more than £500m to the PEACE PLUS programme. PEACE PLUS, like the past PEACE programmes, will provide the funds and opportunities for participation and dialogue, and will bring decision-making and responsibility for community development closer to the people who benefit directly.

I am delighted that the Special EU Programmes Body has undertaken extensive research and stakeholder engagement in development of the programme, including a public consultation, which closed earlier this month.

Whilst the programme is still under development, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I have heard the concerns raised by stakeholders about funding opportunities before PEACE PLUS opens for competitive bids. I would like to draw attention to some of the other significant funding opportunities that are available for bids now.

The UK Community Renewal Fund, worth £220m in total, has been launched to help local areas prepare for the launch of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in 2022. It will invest in skills, community and place, local business, and support people into employment with £11 million of this funding set aside for Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, the UK government will oversee a project competition directly, rather than through local councils.

More information on the Community renewal Fund is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-community-renewal-fund-prospectus/uk-community-renewal-fund-prospectus-2021-22#introduction

The Levelling Up Fund will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets. The Levelling Up Fund is a capital-only fund, and will also be overseen directly in Northern Ireland by the UK Government. We will be accepting bids at the most local level, from a range of local applicants, with a deadline for bid applications of 18 June.

More information on the Levelling up Fund is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/levelling-up-fund-additional-documents/levelling-up-fund-frequently-asked-questions

Finally, the Community Ownership Fund is a £150 million fund to help ensure that communities across the UK can support and continue benefiting from the local facilities, community assets and amenities most important to them. The Community Ownership Fund prospectus will be published at the end of June.

In the meantime, my officials continue to work with the EU Commission, the Special EU Programmes Body and the Northern Ireland Civil Service in preparation for the launch of the PEACE PLUS programme.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether it is his Department's policy to ensure equal treatment of Northern Ireland veterans and those who served overseas.

The Government is fully committed to delivering on its commitments to veterans who served in Northern Ireland - as well as those who served overseas - as quickly as possible. We have been clear that we will do this as part of a wider package to address legacy issues in Northern Ireland that focuses on reconciliation, delivers for victims and ends the cycle of investigations.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what plans the Government has to bring forward legislative proposals on Northern Ireland veterans in the next six months.

The Government is fully committed to introducing legislation as quickly as possible that delivers better outcomes for victims, survivors and veterans; focuses on information recovery and reconciliation; and ends the cycle of investigations. This will deliver on our commitments to Northern Ireland veterans, giving them the protections they deserve.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will place the minutes of the New Decade New Approach Joint Board in the Library.

The New Decade, New Approach Joint Board provides the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the First Minister and deputy First Minister, and other Ministers as appropriate, the opportunity to review the use of funding provided under the NDNA agreement. This is to:

  • Support the Northern Ireland Executive in ensuring sound and stable governance that delivers for the people of Northern Ireland;
  • Review funding provided by the UK Government to meet commitments set out in the NDNA agreement;
  • Support transformation in health, education and justice through the NDNA funding package; and,
  • Consider the effectiveness of infrastructure delivery, drawing on expertise from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority as appropriate.

The Terms of reference for the Joint Board are consistent with the New Decade, New Approach commitment that the Board has oversight for transformation in health, education and justice, where these draw on funding provided under the Agreement.

Whilst the Joint Board reviews the use of NDNA funding and related issues, it is not a decision-making body. As such, there are no criteria or procedures by which it reaches decisions.

The decision to release funding under the NDNA is a matter for the UK Government. The conditions of the UK Government’s financial commitments under NDNA are set out in page 54 of the agreement document.

Minutes of the meetings are not published.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will publish the (a) criteria and (b) procedures applied by the New Decade New Approach Joint Board in relation to decisions to release funding under the NDNA agreement.

The New Decade, New Approach Joint Board provides the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the First Minister and deputy First Minister, and other Ministers as appropriate, the opportunity to review the use of funding provided under the NDNA agreement. This is to:

  • Support the Northern Ireland Executive in ensuring sound and stable governance that delivers for the people of Northern Ireland;
  • Review funding provided by the UK Government to meet commitments set out in the NDNA agreement;
  • Support transformation in health, education and justice through the NDNA funding package; and,
  • Consider the effectiveness of infrastructure delivery, drawing on expertise from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority as appropriate.

The Terms of reference for the Joint Board are consistent with the New Decade, New Approach commitment that the Board has oversight for transformation in health, education and justice, where these draw on funding provided under the Agreement.

Whilst the Joint Board reviews the use of NDNA funding and related issues, it is not a decision-making body. As such, there are no criteria or procedures by which it reaches decisions.

The decision to release funding under the NDNA is a matter for the UK Government. The conditions of the UK Government’s financial commitments under NDNA are set out in page 54 of the agreement document.

Minutes of the meetings are not published.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the undertaking in paragraph 24 of Annex A to the New Decade New Approach document of 9 January 2020 that the UK will recognise Ulster Scots as a national minority under the Framework Convention for National Minorities, if he will confirm that it remains Government policy to continue to recognise Ulster Scots speakers as a linguistic minority.

The Government is continuing work to deliver on its commitment in New Decade, New Approach to recognise Ulster Scots as a national minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

The Northern Ireland Executive is primarily responsible for supporting and promoting language and culture, including Ulster Scots. To this end, the New Decade, New Approach agreement also contains important commitments from the Executive to progress. The Government welcomes the recent establishment by the Executive of the new Translation Hub in this regard.

We are continuing to work with the Executive to ensure the full delivery of the important New Decade, New Approach language, identity and culture commitments at the earliest possible opportunity.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what the Government's planned timescale is for bringing forward legislative proposals to address the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland.

The Government has been clear that it will bring forward legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles that focuses on reconciliation, delivers for victims, and ends the cycle of investigations. We are engaging with a wide range of stakeholders as part of this process and are committed to making progress as quickly as possible.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, when he plans to publish legislative proposals on ending vexatious claims against Northern Ireland veterans to ensure that there is equal treatment of Northern Ireland veterans and those who served overseas as outlined in his Written Statement of 18 March 2020, Addressing Northern Ireland Legacy Issues, HCWS 168.

The Government has been clear that it will bring forward legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles that focuses on reconciliation, delivers for victims, and ends the cycle of investigations. We are engaging with a wide range of stakeholders as part of this process and are committed to making progress as quickly as possible.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what allocations have been made from New Deal for Northern Ireland funding to date.

The Government is firmly committed to strengthening the Union, Northern Ireland’s place within it and driving forward economic growth and prosperity into the future.

The £400m New Deal package of funding announced in December 2020, will boost economic growth as well as increasing Northern Ireland’s competitiveness and investment in infrastructure. This builds on the commitment articulated in the Government’s 10 May 2020 Command Paper, The UK’s approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The New Deal funding is additional to Northern Ireland’s Barnett share, demonstrating the Government’s firm commitment to Northern Ireland’s economy, and recognising the unique position of Northern Ireland following the UK’s exit from the European Union and the implementation of the Protocol on the ground in Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced on 8 March 2020 that nearly half of the £400m New Deal funding had now been allocated. This includes £23m having been made available to the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy to invest £15m over three years in skills, and £8m over two years to promote trade and investment in Northern Ireland from overseas markets.

The other allocations made so far will develop systems that will support the movement of agrifood products between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to be delivered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and to build resilience in medicine supply chains, with the Department of Health and Social Care in the lead to deliver on this priority work.

We will continue to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive to maximise opportunities this funding offers and further decisions will be made in due course on how the remainder of this fund will be allocated.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government which organisations are proscribed under Schedule 2 to the Terrorism Act 2000 due to their association with terrorism in Northern Ireland.

As set out under Schedule 2 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and published on gov.uk, the following groups linked to Northern Ireland Related Terrorism are proscribed:

Continuity Army Council

Cumann na mBan

Fianna na hEireann

Irish National Liberation Army

Irish People's Liberation Organisation

Irish Republican Army

Loyalist Volunteer Force

Orange Volunteers

Red Hand Commando

Red Hand Defenders

Saor Eire

Ulster Defence Association

Ulster Freedom Fighters

Ulster Volunteer Force

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with the victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles on the intro-duction of legislation to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

The Government remains committed to bringing forward legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles and fully recognises the importance of engaging with victims groups and other key stakeholders as part of this process.

A number of ministerial and official level meetings on legacy issues have recently taken place with victims groups, including the Victims and Survivors Forum and groups funded under the Victims and Survivors Service’s Victims Support Programme.

The Government is committed to publishing a list of ministers’ meetings with external organisations, including those with victims groups, on a quarterly basis. Publications for the Northern Ireland Office can be found on Gov.UK.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Northern Ireland.

The threat from Northern Ireland-Related Terrorism (NIRT) continues to be SEVERE in Northern Ireland (meaning an attack is highly likely). Violent dissident republican groups continue to plan attacks aimed largely against police and prison officers and members of the armed forces. Last week’s despicable attack on a part-time officer and member of police staff is a reminder that there is a small minority whose warped mentality means they remain willing to use violence to advance their agenda.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has our full support in tackling the NIRT threat. The UK Government has provided £160 million over the last five years in Additional Security Funding and has pledged a further £32 million in this financial year.

Paramilitary groups (both loyalist and republican) continue to cause harm, including through brutal attacks against members of their own communities in an attempt to exert control. This Government remains steadfast in supporting ​efforts led by the Northern Ireland Executive to tackle paramilitarism.

We have contributed £25 million of match funding to this area over the last five years and have committed a further £5 million for this financial year and £10 million over three years specifically to support the Communities in Transition project.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of on-street car parking charges in (a) Newry, (b) Lisburn, (c) Belfast and (d) Northern Ireland.

The provision of car parking is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland. Therefore, the funding allocated to this specific service is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive to allocate from within the substantial resources provided by the UK Government.

In 2021/22, the UK Government is providing £14.2bn to the Northern Ireland Executive to enable it to deliver public services for the benefit of all people and communities in Northern Ireland. In addition to this, the UK Government is continuing to drive forward investment through a comprehensive and ambitious set of City and Growth Deals across Northern Ireland, and the creation of the UK Community Renewal Fund, the Levelling Up Fund and the Community Ownership Fund to create opportunities for further investment in people, communities and infrastructure.



Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, what steps they are taking to work with the Northern Ireland Executive to encourage the recovery of the Northern Ireland economy.

The UK Government is committed to levelling up and promoting economic growth across the whole of the UK to ensure that no community is left behind, particularly as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Government has already taken steps to support individuals and businesses in Northern Ireland by providing £3.8bn funding to the Executive to help fight coronavirus.

In addition, Northern Ireland businesses and individuals have benefited from UK-wide support measures such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme which have both been extended to September 2021. The UK Government has also provided over £1.3bn in government-backed loan schemes to businesses in Northern Ireland, protecting jobs across the region.

The Government is also driving forward investment in Northern Ireland. We are delivering a comprehensive and ambitious set of City and Growth Deals across Northern Ireland, which will help key sectors to flourish, committing more than £600m to this program. In February, the UK Government signed the Heads of Terms on the Derry/Londonderry and Strabane City Deal, which will support a range of projects in the North West region. We are also investing £400m to support the NI economy through the New Deal for Northern Ireland and have committed over £500m to the PEACE PLUS programme, which will carry out vital work that promotes peace and reconciliation and contributes to the cross-border economic and territorial development of the region.

The Government has also recently announced the creation of several new funds, which will create opportunities for further investment in people, communities and infrastructure. This includes the UK Community Renewal Fund, the Levelling Up Fund and the Community Ownership Fund, each of which, organisations in Northern Ireland will be able to bid into specific funding.

All of this additional funding comes on top of £2bn of support for the New Decade, New Approach Agreement and measures to help traders navigate new arrangements as part of the Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol.

The Government welcomes the Executive’s roadmap to recovery and we want to see Northern Ireland realise its economic potential. We will continue to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive to maximise opportunities for economic recovery and growth, both now, in Northern Ireland’s Centenary year, and in the long-term.


Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
15th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with ministers at the Northern Ireland Assembly about the impact that the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland has had on the current situation in Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland remains in close and continued contact with Northern Ireland’s party leaders. The Government welcomes the unity that the Executive has shown in opposing the recent disorder.

It is clear that the factors behind the recent disorder are complex and multifaceted. The answer to these issues lies in dialogue, engagement, and the democratic process; not through violence or disorder.

The Protocol was designed to protect the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and to safeguard the gains of the peace process. There are outstanding issues with the Protocol which need to be addressed in order to restore confidence on the ground and minimise the impact on day-to-day lives of the people in Northern Ireland. The measures taken in March this year were temporary, operational steps intended to minimise disruption in Northern Ireland and protect the everyday lives of the people living there. We are working intensively with the EU to address these and working hard to ensure the effective operation of the Protocol, including through tailored support for businesses.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the funding they have allocated to mental health services in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government recognises the importance of ensuring proper provision of, and access to, mental health services right across the UK.

Health services are devolved in Northern Ireland. The funding allocated to this specific service is therefore a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive to allocate from within the substantial resources provided by the UK Government.

The UK Government is providing funding of £14.2bn to the Executive in 2021/22, and we would of course be supportive of them allocating some of this funding for these vital services.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) ongoing civil unrest, and (2) political situation, in Northern Ireland.

The sporadic, localised disorder which we have seen in Northern Ireland is completely unacceptable, and it is clear that the factors behind it are complex and multifaceted.

The Ministerial team in the Northern Ireland Office have been in close contact with political and community leaders in Northern Ireland and it is clear that the only way to resolve differences is through dialogue.

The Government commend the Northern Ireland Executive for how they have worked collectively in handling the recent unrest, and welcomed their joint statement on 8 April that set out a common position from all Executive parties against the violence and declared their support for law and order and policing.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Northern Ireland Executive about the financing of the victims' pension scheme.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland regularly meets with NI Executive Ministers about a range of issues, including funding for the Troubles Permanent Disablement Scheme. He met with Executive Ministers on 23 February and on 7 April about this specific issue, and he has written to the NI Executive offering access to NDNA funds that will help the Executive manage the cost of the scheme.

The UK Government welcomes the undertaking given to the Court on 12 April that the Executive will make the necessary funding available to ensure eligible victims receive the payments to which they are legally entitled.

There is nothing now standing in the way of the Executive delivering the scheme as set out in legislation, and we will continue to prioritise supporting the Executive’s delivery of this scheme.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what date they plan to hold the next British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference is an important element of Strand Three of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and stands to promote bilateral cooperation at all levels on all matters of mutual interest within the competence of the UK and Irish Governments.

We will of course look for the appropriate time for the next BIIGC, especially in the context of strengthening the bilateral relationship between the UK and Ireland, now that we have left the EU.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on regional inequality of the funding for Northern Ireland provided through the Levelling Up Fund.

The UK Government is committed to levelling up across all parts of the United Kingdom to ensure that no community is left behind, particularly as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets.

We are taking a different approach to delivering the Fund in Northern Ireland, which takes account of the different local government landscape compared to England, Scotland and Wales. By treating Northern Ireland as one geographical area, we will ensure all communities have equal access to apply for the Fund.

For the first round of funding, at least 3% of total UK allocations will be set aside for Northern Ireland.

The deadline to submit bids for the first round of the fund is noon on Friday 18 June 2021.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the implementation of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

This Government remains fully committed to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and ensuring that all obligations under it continue to be met. The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement provided a foundation for peace and a framework for prosperity for Northern Ireland.

The 10th April marked 23 years since the signing of the Agreement. In that time there has been a transformative change in Northern Ireland where peace has brought stability and opportunities, and enabled Northern Ireland to develop into the vibrant place it is today.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made on the New Decade, New Approach commitments, announced in January 2020.

The New Decade, New Approach deal reached in January 2020 includes a balanced package of commitments to deliver more transparent and sustainable institutions in Northern Ireland. The UK Government has already delivered a number of our key commitments including:

  • The release of £556 million of the £2 billion of funding agreed in the deal;
  • The appointment of a Veteran’s Commissioner in September 2020;
  • The launch of the programme for the Centenary of Northern Ireland in 2021 and including 39 successful bids from the £1million Shared History Fund;
  • The establishment of the governance structures that underpin New Decade, New Approach, namely the Joint Board and the Implementation Review Meetings.

The UK Government works closely with Northern Ireland’s political leaders to support them in making the devolved institutions work and where appropriate, in delivering their commitments within NDNA.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the National Infrastructure Commission about infrastructure development in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister announced the Union Connectivity Review on 3 October 2020. The review, which is chaired by Sir Peter Hendy CBE, aims to support the Government's work to build a stronger, fairer economy for the future by establishing how the quality and availability of transport infrastructures can support economic growth and quality of life across the whole of the UK. The review is considering transport connectivity between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland via road, rail and air, and across the Irish Sea.

Sir Peter Hendy is being supported by an advisory panel of experts, which includes a Commissioner for the National Infrastructure Commission. The terms of reference for the review also ask Sir Peter to consult widely with relevant government agencies, including the National Infrastructure Commission, alongside the devolved administrations, local authorities and their infrastructure commissions.

The Union Connectivity Review interim report was published on 10 March 2021 and the final report will be published in the summer. The Government will carefully consider the report and recommendations.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the current political stability in Northern Ireland.

The Covid pandemic has undeniably put new and difficult demands on the Northern Ireland Executive, as it has on political leaders everywhere. The UK Government commend those leaders working every day through very challenging circumstances, who continue to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.

The UK Government works closely with Northern Ireland’s political leaders to support them in making the devolved institutions work, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has regularly been engaging with these political leaders over recent weeks during the period of unrest in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government encourage the Northern Ireland Executive to continue to demonstrate their collaborative leadership in supporting law and order and policing. It is also vital that further engagement with all sides of the community continues to help prevent further disorder. The only way to resolve differences is through dialogue.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on using the NHS Test and Trace database system.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I speak regularly with Cabinet and Ministerial colleagues across Government to discuss a wide range of mutual issues, including the NHS Test and Trace database system. However, the Northern Ireland Office is not the lead UK Government Department responsible for the NHS Test and Trace database system policy. The lead department is the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

As health is a devolved matter, the Department for Health Northern Ireland make their own decisions on testing and tracing, however there is continued UK-wide engagement to ensure a coordinated and collaborative approach.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether his Department plans to use the NHS Test and Trace database system.

The Northern Ireland Office is not the lead UK Government Department responsible for the NHS Test and Trace database system and does not therefore develop policy relating to the use of the system. The lead department is the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)