Northern Ireland (Regional Rates and Energy) (No. 2) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:42 pm on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Alderdice Lord Alderdice Liberal Democrat 7:42 pm, 12th March 2019

My Lords, like other noble Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his presentation of these Bills. He commands considerable respect and affection in this House because he is assiduous in his work, he is committed to the business and he is a man of integrity. He clearly demonstrates that by what he says. At the start of the debate, he admitted that the commitment that he had made last year was not one that he was in a position to deliver. We all have some sympathy with him. However, I associate myself with comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, when we last discussed some of these matters just a week or so ago. He said that he would be persistent in raising the same question and the same issue in respect of Northern Ireland until the Government addressed it.

The truth is that there is nothing at all surprising about the tragic state of affairs in which we find ourselves in the politics of Northern Ireland, because most of us here have been predicting it time after time, debate after debate, for almost two years now. The noble Lord, Lord Kilclooney, pointed out that there is not a huge array of people on all the various Benches, but this is not a question of this House. Not only noble Lords and other representatives here from Northern Ireland but the people of Northern Ireland need to understand that the lack of presence is a representation of how people on this side of the water feel about things. I see on the other side of the road hundreds of EU flags, lots of union flags, and flags of Scotland, Wales and lots of other places. In the last few weeks, however, I have not seen a single flag of Northern Ireland, and it is not because we are short of them in Northern Ireland.