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

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:00 pm on 16th January 2017.

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Photo of Steven Agnew Steven Agnew Green 1:00 pm, 16th January 2017

She was not here when we were debating welfare reform in the Northern Ireland Assembly. I brought forward 23 amendments to that legislation. I did not, at the outset, say no to all and any welfare reform. What I did do was seek, through reasonable amendments, to make things better in Northern Ireland. I did not do that through a system of copying and pasting the Tory regulations, which her party supported, and introducing them in Northern Ireland legislation; instead, I said, "Let's have bespoke legislation for Northern Ireland", because it is not right to put the legislation into place first and mitigate after. What is right is to get the legislation right first and not have to mitigate. It was not no to any legislation and no to any reform; it was about better legislation for Northern Ireland that was better for the people of Northern Ireland. In ceding power back to Westminster on this issue, we wasted the opportunity to provide a better deal here.

Whilst I welcome the mitigation measures, ultimately they provide security only for the next four years and leave many people unsure what will happen post 2020. It also means we arrive at a situation where we are having to effectively pass emergency legislation to ensure those people are protected, even in the short term.