Government trying to ‘stifle debate on abortion and equal marriage’ says MP

The Government has been accused of trying to “stifle the debate on issues like abortion and equal marriage” in Northern Ireland.

Labour MP Connor McGinn (St Helens North) raised concerns about a potential lack of time to debate the forthcoming Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill on Monday.

He said this could have a detrimental effect and block discussion on important business.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr McGinn (pictured) said: “Can I say gently to the Leader of the House, who I know to be a fair man, that he shouldn’t under-estimate the level of dissatisfaction about the Government’s approach to the Northern Ireland business on Monday.

“It seems to be a pretty transparent and poor attempt to stifle the debate on issues like abortion and equal marriage and restitution for victims of institutional abuse. Not just to stifle the debate, actually, but to block any progress on them.

“Can I urge him to work through the usual channels and do the right thing and give us the proper time to scrutinise these important issues?”

Commons Leader Mel Stride said: “You raise an extremely important matter and you have my personal commitment to do just that.”

Labour has raised concerns about a lack of time to table amendments to the Bill.

Commons Speaker John Bercow, however, reassured Mr McGinn that “help is at hand”.

Mr Bercow said: “I hope that is reassuring, because it is very explicit that, although, of course, there are ordinarily deadlines for the submission of amendments, it is possible for there to be manuscript amendments, and the decision as to whether manuscript amendments are permissible is a decision for the chair.”

He urged Mr McGinn not to “languish in perturbation” for the rest of the day, saying there is “help at hand” from the leader and from “other sources if necessary”.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) UK Parliament.