HC Deb 02 May 1996 vol 276 cc1281-2
1. Mr. Michael Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to extend the Abortion Act 1967 to Northern Ireland. [26375]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Malcolm Moss)

I have no plans to extend the Act to Northern Ireland.

Mr. Brown

I understand entirely the answer that my hon. Friend gave to my question, and I am sure that that answer will be welcomed by most hon. Members representing the Province. Why do we continue to legislate differently for the Province than for the rest of the kingdom?

Mr. Moss

The Government did not include Northern Ireland in the Abortion Act because at that time they considered the reform of social law in that very sensitive area to be a proper matter for a devolved administration; that remains the Government's view.

Dr. Hendron

The Minister will recall that, last year, an all-party delegation met the Prime Minister to discuss that question, and we all expressed our absolute and total opposition to any extension of the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland. I hope that the Secretary of State or the Minister will confirm that the Government will make no effort to extend that Act.

Mr. Moss

I am happy to confirm the answer I gave some moments earlier.

Mrs. Ann Winterton

My hon. Friend might like to know that I led that delegation to meet the Prime Minister, and I and other hon. Members are delighted to learn that the policy has not changed. It has the personal support of the Prime Minister and the unequivocal and unanimous support of hon. Members from all political parties in the House that represent the Province.

Mr. Moss

I am aware of the deputation that the hon. Lady led to the Prime Minister, and I am happy to repeat his assurance that there are no plans to extend that Act to Northern Ireland.