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The First Report on the Use of the Petition of Concern Mechanism in the Northern Ireland Assembly

Statement made on 15 July 2020

Statement UIN HCWS371


I am today laying before both Houses of Parliament the first report by Her Majesty’s Government on the use of the Petition of Concern mechanism in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

As part of the New Decade, New Approach deal upon which the devolved Executive and Assembly was restored in Northern Ireland on 11 January 2020, the UK Government committed to undertaking such a report every six months.

This report covers the period from 11 January 2020 to 10 July 2020, during which no Petition of Concern has been lodged against any motion in the Assembly. During much of that period the normal business of the Assembly has been disrupted due to Covid-19. The Assembly has adapted to deal with this by moving to meet frequently as a committee of the whole Assembly.

The fact that there have been no Petitions of Concern since the Assembly was reconvened is a positive reflection on the operation of the Assembly and of the Executive. I know that political leaders in Northern Ireland will share my view that the Assembly should aim to proceed on this basis for the remainder of the current Assembly.

The next UK Government report on the use of the Petition of Concern will cover the period from 11 July 2020 to 10 January 2021.

The report notes that full implementation of the Petition of Concern reforms in NDNA will require Westminster legislation. The Government will bring forward such legislation when parliamentary time allows, after which the Assembly will be able to reflect the detail of the reforms in its standing orders.