DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart represents the DUP on the First Delegated Legislation Committee in Parliament. Ms Lockhart said the Government should not be meddling in devolved matters when they are under no international obligation to do so.
The Committee was considering The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021, 365)
Carla Lockhart said,
“These regulations are based not just on the false premise that they are a requirement of international law but also represent a grievous breach of the devolved settlement. They do not reflect the will of the people of Northern Ireland and the DUP cannot support these regulations.
In urging the House of Commons to vote for this step, its proponents suggested it was required because we in Northern Ireland were in violation of our international human rights obligations. This was completely inaccurate.
The CEDAW Convention, which is international law, and is supposed to define the terms of reference of the CEDAW Committee, does not even mention abortion, let alone define a right to it.
Indeed, the explanatory notes on the regulations in July 2019 had to be changed retrospectively to state:
“The section 26 (NIA) power cannot be relied on by the Secretary of State to ensure that the recommendations in paragraphs 85 and 86 of the CEDAW Report are implemented. In particular, those recommendations are not binding and do not constitute international obligations.”
Despite what has previously been claimed, it is clear that these regulations are not a requirement of international law.
With the devolution restored, each time these powers are used the Government sends out the message that the Northern Ireland Assembly and our present constitutional arrangements are not fit for purpose.
The NI Executive has been re-formed and the Parliament that voted for Section 9 no longer exists. In this context, the thing that is incumbent on the Secretary of State is to ask this new Parliament to repeal Section 9.
MPs should recognise the enormous damage they are inflicting upon the credibility of devolution by repeatedly using a regulation making power designed for a time when Stormont was suspended.”