Secretary of State questioned on Protocol and Stormont reforms
18 June 2021
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee examines the Northern Ireland Protocol and proposed reforms to Stormont
- Watch Parliament TV: Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol
- Inquiry: Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol
- Northern Ireland Afffairs Committee
Wednesday 23 June 2021, virtual meeting
- Rt Hon. Brandon Lewis MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, UK Government
Reforms to Stormont were a core pillar of the New Decade, New Approach Agreement that re-established the Northern Ireland Assembly in January 2020, three years after it originally collapsed following the resignation of then deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
During this period important decisions on spending and new policies were either put on hold or taken over by Whitehall. The proposed reforms include more time to appoint the First and deputy First Ministers following a resignation or Assembly election and provide for Executive Ministers to remain in office while they are appointed.
A new Bill making the reforms that it is hoped will help stabilise the Executive is progressing through Parliament, with Mr Lewis expecting to present it for debate 22 June, the day before the evidence session. MPs are likely to ask about when the Bill is likely to pass.
Meanwhile, tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol – a Brexit compromise to avoid border checks on the island of Ireland – continue to rise. On Wednesday, the Committee questioned Lord David Frost, the Government’s chief EU negotiator, who said the Government would consider “all options” if solutions could not be found to ease GB to NI trade.
Businesses trading across the Irish Sea are required to undertake checks and certifications that did not exist on such movements to before this year. With loyalist opposition to the Protocol resting on the view that there is now a border in the Irish Sea, statements earlier this year by Mr Lewis that there wasn’t could be challenged.
The Committee are also likely to the NI Secretary about;
- data protection and data adequacy with the EU;
- involvement in the Levelling-Up Fund and UK Government investment in NI.
Image: Parliamentary copyright