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

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:45 pm on 16th January 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP 1:45 pm, 16th January 2017

I will not repeat the points, because today will be an incredibly long day; I have no doubt about that. I have put on record the factual position about the bedroom tax, which is coming and will be here, and the mitigation that the Executive rightly brought in and that other parties voted against because they were opposed to the agreement that allowed the mitigation measures to flow from it. We have been working on a range of mitigation measures. One of them that has not been brought forward — again, the plan was to introduce it — is the working tax allowance, for example, for low-paid workers. Without an Assembly, we will not be able to introduce a scheme that would allow approximately £100 million that was proposed by Eileen Evason to be spent out of that half a billion pound block.

The stakes are incredibly high for these institutions, and I do not underestimate the challenges in dealing with those mitigation measures in the future. Let us be under no illusion: the stakes are high for the very future of this Assembly. I believe wholeheartedly in devolution. People said we were not able to make it work, and we did for the past 10 years. This party, by introducing a range of measures, was able to make this place work, but Sinn Féin, for other reasons, because it does not see its agenda being advanced, now believes it can use other issues to weaken unionism. I trust the people of Northern Ireland. I never fear going to the electorate, and I believe it knows exactly the agenda being pursued by Sinn Féin. This party wants this place to work. We want devolution to succeed. I do not want to have direct rule, but I am very clear that we are going into a period of negotiations. Sinn Féin wants weak unionists: I trust the people to elect the right unionists.

Question put and agreed to. Resolved:

That the draft Housing Benefit (Welfare Supplementary Payment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 be approved.