The Economy and Work

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 4:25 pm on 26th May 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Tom Elliott Tom Elliott UUP, Fermanagh and South Tyrone 4:25 pm, 26th May 2016

It is a pleasure to follow Justin Madders.

Rural broadband is a key issue and it has been raised by Conservative Members. I know that broadband is an issue in some urban areas as well, but it would help the rural economy significantly. It will not address the farming crisis that some Members have mentioned—Chris Davies highlighted a number of difficulties in the agricultural sector—but it will help bring better perspective to the rural community and to farmers in particular.

On the anti-corruption summit, Her Majesty’s Speech said that

“legislation will be introduced to tackle corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.”

I hope that that works in Northern Ireland, because we have a huge problem with fuel laundering and smuggling, and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs does not seem to be getting to the root of it. It is almost an economy—an illegal economy—in itself, but it exists in Northern Ireland and we really need to grapple with it. I ask the Government to provide more powers to the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland so that it, rather than HMRC, can be the lead partner. That would be hugely beneficial and productive.

I do not have much time, but I want to touch quickly on the proposed adoption legislation, about which I speak from a personal perspective. It is vital that additional legislation is promoted to help all these young people and to give them a fair and equal chance. Education legislation has also been proposed, and I make a plea for co-operation between the education authorities and those who will be responsible for the adoption provisions. Adoptive kids are sometimes short-changed by the education sector, because those involved in it are not fully aware of the needs of adoptive and looked-after children.

I welcome the proposed adoption legislation, although I know that it will apply only to England because it is a devolved matter. Northern Ireland does not even have adoption legislation—we still rely on a children’s order. I do not know about the other devolved regions, but there is a huge gap in the legislation in Northern Ireland. These young people need the best start possible in life, and one way of doing that is to provide facilities and support, by which I mean not just assessments, but action by local authorities.