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 Mike Nesbitt Mike Nesbitt UUP 12:45 pm, 16th January 2017

I am sorry, Mr Speaker; I did not hear you. It was not my intention to speak, but I want to say a few words, having listened carefully to the contributions to date. I know that we appear to be in our last days or maybe even the last day, according to the Minister, and so, with an election looming, I suppose that maintaining a tone that would be well received by the public is challenging.

I want to say a few words about the Ulster Unionist position. We always hear — we have it thrown in our faces — about seven years of Conservative rule and austerity. We have had it today from the two outgoing parties of Stormont Castle. Where are they taking us with no Budget? Where are they taking the vulnerable of Northern Ireland, with no Budget and no Executive?

The Ulster Unionist Party absolutely had our position on welfare reform and tried to negotiate with the other parties around the table, not least at Stormont Castle/Stormont House. One thing we were sure about was that the bedroom tax was not a good tax in principle and was a bad tax for Northern Ireland. When Michael Copeland was our spokesman, he demonstrated huge empathy with the vulnerable, as his successor, Andy Allen, has done, and let us remember that Andy faces his own challenges in life.