Housing Benefit (Welfare Supplementary Payment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:30 pm on 16th January 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Eamonn McCann Eamonn McCann People Before Profit Alliance 1:30 pm, 16th January 2017

I am nearly finished. I do think, Mr Speaker, that, on this issue and some of the other matters before us, it is impossible to understand the issues that arise in relation to these things without seeing them in the overall context of economic policy generally and the funds made available, whether from Westminster or from Stormont.

I will say this to end. There is an awful lot of agreement here as well as bickering and finger-pointing. Everybody agrees that we must support the most vulnerable, while there are arguments about how we reached the present situation with regard to the bedroom tax. Everybody seems agreed. I do not think that there is anybody who has failed to say that they want to look after the most vulnerable and even that they entered politics precisely for the reason of defending the least well off and so forth. We are all brothers and sisters. I sometimes got the impression that we all want to storm the citadels of capitalism even though there is some disagreement about who has the right to lead the charge. I say that the people who should lead the charge are the people most affected by it, and I call on people outside the House in this situation that we are moving into, however it is.

I will deal with one other thing before I finish. The regulations last for four years, and I think that it was Alex who said that that is all that we can do because that is the end of the mandate and so forth. That is my point exactly. I want everybody to understand this. Can we please have nobody else talking about us having got rid of the bedroom tax? We have not got rid of the bedroom tax. The bedroom tax is here. That is the fact of the matter, and we could have a more sensible and objective debate if everybody accepted that and moved on the basis of that. Let us try to do that, Mr Speaker. As I said, I direct my remarks mainly at people outside here. I direct my remarks to the people directly affected by these matters. As we move forward in the debate and in the circumstances that we all find ourselves, I am sure, Mr Speaker, that you will be happy to chair and inform. I hope that I have not attacked anybody personally or unfairly in political terms. We need to proceed like that on an understanding and an acceptance that the bedroom tax is already here.