Northern Ireland

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:17 pm on 26th June 2017.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office 4:17 pm, 26th June 2017

Let me deal with some of the detailed points that the right hon. Lady has made. She seems to think that providing more money for Northern Ireland health and education, and broadband and other parts of infrastructure, in some way makes it less likely that an Executive will be formed. I can assure her that it makes it more likely that an Executive will be formed. She asked about infrastructure help for the rest of the country. I am happy to repeat some of the things I said in my statement and add to them. We are pledged to provide £8 billion of new money for the health service and £4 billion for education, and we have an overall infrastructure fund of £23 billion, so the rest of the country absolutely will share in the advance in infrastructure spending that we have promised.

The right hon. Lady asks, of course, about how we can afford this. We can afford this because we have a strong economy after seven years of Conservative Government. It takes some nerve for a party that had tens of billions of pounds of unfunded commitments at the election to complain about targeted infrastructure spending and spending specifically designed to help some of the most deprived communities in this country. Labour also had a pledge to nationalise half of British industry and said that it was not going to cost any money because although it would borrow the money, it did not count as borrowing because it would pay it back out of the profits of the industry. I have two things to say to the right hon. Lady: first, if you borrow money it is still borrowing; and secondly, after six months of a Labour Government running an industry there would not be any profits to pay back any of the borrowing.

The right hon. Lady is fundamentally wrong that this does not help, in what is a hugely important week for Northern Ireland, to try to make sure that we restore proper devolved democratic government to Northern Ireland. I think that helping the Executive to be set up will be one of the great achievements of this week. What she has missed is that this extra support—this extra money—goes to all communities in Northern Ireland, run by the Northern Ireland Executive, so that people from all political traditions—all communities—will benefit from it. I would have thought, frankly, that she would welcome that.