Northern Ireland Executive Restoration

Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Rob Roberts Rob Roberts Conservative, Delyn

What recent assessment he has made of the effect on Northern Ireland of the restoration of devolved Government.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

What recent assessment he has made of the effect on Northern Ireland of the restoration of devolved Government.

Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

The “New Decade, New Approach” deal has restored decision making to locally accountable representatives in Northern Ireland and guarantees the Good Friday agreement. It has ended three years of stasis at Stormont and is already having a beneficial effect on Northern Ireland’s citizens.

Photo of Rob Roberts Rob Roberts Conservative, Delyn

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this Conservative Government have demonstrated their commitment to strong devolved government and funding for all of our nations within this United Kingdom?

Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: we have delivered in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and we are delivering on our commitments to the Union.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

Over the past few years, this House has made a number of important decisions on very important devolved areas of government in Northern Ireland. Does the Secretary of State agree that locally elected politicians in Northern Ireland are best placed to make those local decisions?

Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. Ensuring that the Good Friday institutions are retained and enhanced was an absolute priority of the UK Government, and Northern Ireland is best served by the power-sharing agreement that is in place.

Photo of Paul Girvan Paul Girvan Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Education), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport)

A stable Government needs confidence in the community. A Northern Ireland Minister was mentioned in a recent programme on the horrific murder of Paul Quinn. If that Minister— Mr Conor Murphy—has any information relating to that incident, he should make it known to both the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda.

Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I agree with my hon. Friend. I condemn wholeheartedly that horrendous murder. As with any crime, anyone with information should come forward immediately.

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance, North Down

Will the Secretary of State clarify his earlier answer in relation to the Stormont House agreement? He did not refer to it in detail but talked in generalities. A commitment was made recently in “New Decade, New Approach” and it was Government policy back in 2015. Is it still Government policy to fully deliver on Stormont House?

Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

What I have said is that we are going to deliver on the commitment of ending vexatious claims against our armed forces and police officers. I have also said that I will discuss with all Northern Ireland parties how we will deliver on all aspects of the “New Decade, New Approach” document.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Conservative, New Forest East

Following on from that answer, can the Secretary of State confirm that the specific assurances given on Armistice Day last year about the ending of repeat investigations in the absence of compelling new evidence is entirely compatible with the restoration of devolved government and all that that entails?

Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I thank my right hon. Friend for all his work in this area. I was reading his Defence Committee’s 2017 report again at the weekend. I confirm that we can deliver on the Prime Minister’s and the Government’s priority of ending vexatious claims against our armed forces and the police, and we can deliver for victims and survivors in Northern Ireland.