Brandon Lewis – 2022 Statement on the Petition of Concern Mechanism for the Northern Ireland Assembly

The statement made by Brandon Lewis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the House of Commons on 20 January 2022.

I am today laying before both Houses of Parliament the fourth report by the UK 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 devolved Government 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 12 July 2021 to 11 January 2022 during which no petition of concern has been lodged against any motion in the Assembly.

The fact that there have been no uses of petitions of concern since the restoration of the political institutions is a positive reflection of the conduct of business within the Assembly. However, I want to take this opportunity to reinforce the importance of a stable, mature, functioning Executive and Assembly that is focused on addressing the issues that really matter to daily lives.

The UK Government are standing by their commitment to bring forward legislation that provides the necessary reforms to the petition of concern mechanism. The Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions Of Concern) Bill has completed report stage in the House of Lords. Once this legislation has completed its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent, it is crucial that the Assembly reflects the detail of these reforms in its Standing Orders to ensure the full implementation of these aspects of the New Decade, New Approach deal.

This is the final report of this Assembly mandate under the UK Government’s commitment to report on the use of the petition of concern. As there have been no uses of the petition of concern mechanism since the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly, we conclude that no further reform is necessary at this time.