Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has said he will move to commission abortion services "within weeks" if Stormont does not.

Mr Lewis said he has both a moral and legal duty to act if there continues to be no movement.

It comes after the UK government took further legislative action last week in a bid to ensure the full delivery of abortion services in Northern Ireland.

Abortion laws in the north were liberalised in 2019 following laws passed by Westminster at a time when the power-sharing government at Stormont had collapsed.

However, while individual health trusts in Northern Ireland currently offer services on an ad-hoc basis, the department of health has yet to centrally commission the services due to a political impasse on the issue.

The DUP, which is opposed to abortion, has refused to agree to the issue being tabled on the agenda of the ministerial executive.

The regulations laid at Parliament remove the need for the department of health to seek the approval of the Stormont Executive to commission the services.

That means Health Minister Robin Swann, who remains in post in a shadow capacity despite the power-sharing crisis, can now move to roll out the policy.

Mr Swann said he is seeking legal advice.

Robin Swann said he is seeking legal advice

Today, Mr Lewis met with volunteers in Belfast who support women through termination services.

Mr Lewis told the PA news agency if he does not see "positive steps in the very, very near future", referring to a timeframe of "weeks", government will take the action.

"The Department of Health can act and I expect to see them take action because we have taken away the hurdle that the Department of Health said was there," he said

"If they don't take action, there is a secondary point in what we did last week, which is that we have now taken a power so that the Secretary of State, I, can act, I have got the legal basis to act and commission services directly in Northern Ireland.

"I have said all along this should be done by the devolved administration, but if it's clear that the devolved administration won't do it, I have a moral duty to act because I do think women should have access to proper healthcare the same as they do in the rest of the UK, but I also have a legal duty on me from the 2019 act that Parliament passed.

"We'll see what happens with the Department of Health but we're not going to leave this very long. If they haven't shown positive steps in the very, very near future, then we'll take the action to commission services."

Mr Lewis said he is also putting together a team of experts within the Northern Ireland Office for commissioning the services.

He met with people who provide support and advice, as well as people who have used abortion services.

"There are some really harrowing stories about what people have to go through," he said, adding that he had also met with pro-life campaigners.

"I respect if some people are very pro-life, freedom of speech works both ways, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be providing the service and making sure we do in a safe environment for people," he said.

"I have to say I have been disappointed and surprised at just how reluctant the system in Northern Ireland has been and the Department of Health have been.

"The Department of Health is there to support health and yet it has been reluctant to do that in this area, which I do think is disappointing."

A spokesperson for Mr Swann said: "The Secretary of State's written statement and new regulations are being given careful consideration by my department.

"I am in the process of seeking further legal advice, including with regard to a Northern Ireland Minister of Health's legal responsibilities under the Northern Ireland Ministerial Code."