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

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:45 pm on 16th January 2017.

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Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP 12:45 pm, 16th January 2017

Well, the block grant pays for the public services that are provided for the people of Northern Ireland, so there was less money to go on the essential public services that we are here to deliver. That happened because Sinn Féin, for its own reasons, decided that it would behave in the way that it did. For someone to stand up from its Benches and say that they are proud of that is remarkable. For someone representing Belfast North, one of the most deprived constituencies in Northern Ireland, to stand up and say they are proud of it simply defies belief.

I welcome the fact that the measures are being introduced, but I also want to address the point that was made by Mr Eastwood. It was an accurate point. Those of us who will be returned do not know what we will be elected to. We do not know what these elections will be. It is likely that we will not have devolution. It is likely that, at least for an extended period, we are being elected to some sort of talks process. Mr Eastwood was right: that means that the people of Northern Ireland will be at the mercy of a Tory Government and their direct rule Ministers. Anyone who thinks that it will simply be a case of collapsing the institutions and then, with the flick of a switch, getting them back up again is deluding themselves. That means that measures such as this — a Northern Ireland-tailored solution to protect our constituents — will not be put in place. We will be entirely at the whim of Home Counties Tories who do not give two figs about the budgetary implications of the cuts that they want to push through. If people are happy with that, that is up to them. They have made their decision, but let us not pretend that, by doing so, they are standing up for their constituents. They are leaving them at the mercy of a Tory Government.