Power Sharing

Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons am ar 22 Tachwedd 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Opposition Whip (Commons)

What steps his Department plans to take to help restore power sharing in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

What recent discussions he has had with political parties in Northern Ireland on the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive.

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I will answer those questions from my beautifully tabulated pack. Our focus remains on delivering for the people of Northern Ireland, who expect and deserve locally elected decision makers to address the issues that matter to them. I will continue to engage regularly with the party leaders, and believe there is genuine willingness on all sides to re-establish the conditions for the devolved institutions to go back to work and to thrive.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Opposition Whip (Commons)

We have heard in this House today how disappointed Northern Ireland is at no successful levelling-up bids. I visited Coleraine football club, which was disappointed to be unsuccessful in round 2. Is the Secretary of State confident that the restoration of power sharing is close? Northern Ireland simply cannot afford to lose out on even more money.

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I am glad that the hon. Lady went to Coleraine football club; I went there and had a wonderful experience with a great football team. I would have loved to referee, but I was not allowed. I believe that we are moving closer to a decision. Discussions are still to be had, and they are continuing at pace and at length.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

We have already heard today an example of how the people of Northern Ireland are disadvantaged by the lack of a functioning Executive. I would add to that list the deployment of the apprenticeship levy and the reform of the renewable heat incentive. Does the Secretary of State agree with me that civil servants in Northern Ireland face an almost impossible job in trying to steer the ship of state without co-ordinates set by the politicians elected there? [Interruption.]

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question and his obvious popularity in the House. I agree with him. He is completely correct that there are a whole host of issues that require elected Ministers in Northern Ireland to take their place. I would like to place on record my thanks to the Northern Ireland civil service for the work they have been doing in such circumstances with the limited guidance we have given them, because they have been doing a sterling job on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland.