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.

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Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP 1:30 pm, 16th January 2017

My sense is that, despite all that has gone on today — the content of the speeches — Members will support these regulations. I think that the public will appreciate that, despite all that has gone on, parties can set aside the party politicking that everyone has engaged in. People say that I engaged in party politics — of course I did as have Sinn Féin and every other party. Given the day that it is, that is not surprising. However, despite all that, we will pass regulations that will protect individuals from the financial reality of the consequences of the bedroom tax being introduced. I was very clear that I was not prepared to use the bedroom tax during any political campaign in the way in which it would have been had we not taken measures today. I spent night and day engaging with my officials on solutions to try to get round the fact that there is no Executive for me to bring regulations to.

I regret the fact that the Finance Minister engaged publicly on all this. On Thursday, when I had identified the way forward, I rang the Finance Minister. I spoke to him personally. I said that I had identified a way forward and that the regulations, the approach that we are taking today, would be the way forward. He indicated to me that he would take it to his Department and come back to me. His response? He published his permanent secretary's advice on social media. That is indicative of the way in which Sinn Féin has been handling these issues over the last week. The very clear agenda, which is much bigger than bedroom tax and much bigger than RHI, is its objective, which Barry McElduff summed up very well in his tweet about his "comrade" Martin and how he stands with him on his resignation, to achieve a united Ireland.

Unionists know what Sinn Féin is doing. Unionists know now exactly what the republican agenda is. I am not prepared to allow bedroom tax to be used during the campaign that will happen —