Land Acquisition and Compensation (Amendment) Bill: Final Stage

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 7:00 pm on 15th March 2016.

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Photo of Trevor Clarke Trevor Clarke DUP 7:00 pm, 15th March 2016

I do not really have much to add to what the Minister said. I know that a lot of people today have reflected on the contributions that have been made in the Assembly during this mandate, and I want to put on record my thanks to the Minister. I have spoken to many people who are going to lose land as a result of the A6, and whilst it is seen as progress for many, some see it disadvantaging their farm practice. However, the people along the A6 whom I have spoken to welcome the fact that the Minister has moved to bring us into line with the rest of the UK by giving them the advantage of that additional 10%. The Minister talked today about providing a more favourable position, and I think that an additional 10% for those losing land is a favourable position. It is an opportunity that has been missed in the past and, on reflection, it is disappointing that we were not here sooner. I can only say, however, that, if it were not for this Minister in her term in office, the people along the A6 and, indeed, the A5 would continue to be disadvantaged. So I put on record my thanks to the current Minister. I wish her well in the forthcoming Assembly elections. I wish her the best, and I hope the she comes back to continue the work that she has been doing.

Mr Speaker, if you will allow me, I also want to pay tribute to you for the fairness that you have shown to many of us in the Chamber in your time. I wish you well in your retirement; indeed, I wish all those who are retiring at this time well. I also wish those standing for election well. These last few weeks have shown that work can be done in this place. There has been a huge amount of delivery, albeit it was late in the term. We have put our shoulders to the wheel and pushed, and we have got there. Given that the A6 comes through part of my constituency, this land acquisition legislation typifies for me what we can do to change the lives of some people. As I said, whilst they are giving up land, they will get an additional payment, and that should remove part of the burden on them.

I think that, when the will is there, we can work together for the betterment of everyone. This is not an orange or green issue. It is not about community background, where someone goes on a Sunday or their place of worship. It is about everyday things that are valuable to people.

I want to close by again thanking the Minister for bringing this forward and thanking Members for their patience in allowing accelerated passage so that we could get this in before the end of the mandate.