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Issue of sum out of the Consolidated Fund for the year ending 31 March 2020 and appropriation of that sum

Part of Northern Ireland Budget Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:09 pm on 30th October 2019.

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Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office 6:09 pm, 30th October 2019

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I thank the House for the debate that we have had on this important Bill and recognise the frustrations attached to it because of the timetable, the pace and the lack of resolution on some extremely important issues, not least to do with the passage of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill 2019, which, I can confirm to Gavin Robinson, did not have a carry-over motion in the House of Lords. I will direct the frustrations of the House about that to the Secretary of State and, through him, to the business managers. I also recognise the frustration, now I am better informed about the background, about the questions on the housing association issue that have clearly dragged on for a long time. That perhaps explains the line of questioning, but I am where I am, at the Dispatch Box today, and I think there is a genuine commitment. I am not aware of any serious impediments. I hope that that gives Members some reassurance.

We see this as a defensible, limited and sensible intervention at this time, and one that is in line with the approach taken since the collapse of the Executive in January 2017. We take very seriously our commitment to good governance in Northern Ireland and this Bill, vitally, does not preclude a new Executive, should they be formed within the financial year, from making budget adjustments if they see fit and amending legislation in the usual way at the end of the financial year. Crucially, we have heard that the impact of not passing this legislation would be Northern Ireland Departments being unable to access the full Northern Ireland block grant for 2019-20. Of course, that would have a very serious impact on the delivery of public services in Northern Ireland. The absence of legislation to underpin departmental spending would quickly become a systemic risk that would be unacceptable to all sides of the House. I thank the House for its consideration of the Bill, despite all the frustrations attached to it.

This is my last appearance at the Dispatch Box after almost nine years as a Minister and almost five years before that as a shadow Minister. I am delighted that this Bill is making its passage so that we can ensure that Northern Ireland has the budget it deserves, and so that the public services that the people we serve and represent rely on can continue to be delivered in the best possible way under the most difficult, frustrating and trying circumstances. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.