A Bill extending the deadline for holding a fresh Assembly election in Northern Ireland and introducing regulations for a new organ donation law is set to pass through the Commons.
The Government has moved to progress the stalled legislation on the opt-out donation system because the political impasse at Stormont means local Assembly members have been unable to convene to pass the regulations.
The law is named after six-year-old Belfast boy Daithi MacGabhann, who is waiting for a heart transplant.
The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill is expected to move through all stages in the House of Commons later.
It will further delay the requirement for the formation of an executive at Stormont until January 18 next year and delay an Assembly election to April 11 at the latest.
The Government said the additional time would allow the Stormont parties to “to focus attention on restoring devolved institutions” as well as providing space for continued UK-EU dialogue over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The DUP collapsed the devolved executive a year ago in protest at the post-Brexit protocol and the party has made clear it will not lift its block on powersharing until radical changes are made to the contentious Irish Sea trading arrangements.
The Bill will also allow regulations to be made regarding the rules for “Daithi’s Law”.
Last week a bid to restore the Assembly to pass the law failed when the DUP once again exercised its veto to prevent the election of a speaker, meaning no further business could be conducted.
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said he was taking the “exceptional step” of progressing the legislation at Westminster following cross-party support for the plight of Daithi.
The opt-out system, which already operates in the rest of the UK, would mean adults in Northern Ireland would be presumed to be donors, unless they take a decision to opt out. It is being implemented to increase donation rates in the region.
Mr Heaton-Harris said: “The people of Northern Ireland deserve to have a fully-functioning devolved Government working on the important issues impacting them and achieving this remains my top priority.
“This Bill creates the time and space needed to focus attention on restoring Stormont and for UK-EU negotiations to reach a solution on the NI Protocol that meets the needs of people across Northern Ireland.
“The Bill will also see the installation of an ‘opt-out’ organ donation system.
“While this exceptional intervention by the Government is welcome and important, I am disappointed the decision was not taken by locally-elected decision-makers in the NI Assembly.
“I will continue to do everything I can to support the parties to come together as soon as possible in the interests of those who elected them.”