Windsor Framework (Constitutional Status of Northern Ireland) Regulations 2024 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 9:45 pm ar 13 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Hay of Ballyore Lord Hay of Ballyore DUP 9:45, 13 Chwefror 2024

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow my noble friend Lord Browne. I want to say at the outset that I have been listening to the debate very attentively; I have listened to a number of speakers. I believe in and welcome the restoration of the Assembly in Northern Ireland. My personal view is, and has been for some time, that, for now and the future, we need Northern Ireland to work to protect the union, because we can convince people to vote for the union only with a Northern Ireland that is settled within itself. So I welcome the establishment once again of the Assembly.

Over the last number of years, many of us here in this House and in the other place have campaigned to seek significant changes to the arrangements first agreed by the United Kingdom Government in 2020. If we are being honest, the agreement reached with the Government, and the package of measures negotiated, go much further than previous agreements to undo the harm and damage of the deeply flawed Northern Ireland protocol. The new arrangements go a long way towards safeguarding Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.

I have always believed that there should be no barriers to trade or tax within this United Kingdom and its internal market. While some limited progress was undoubtedly made at the time of the Windsor Framework, the Northern Ireland protocol was not significantly dealt with then. The Windsor Framework made only limited changes to the protocol. Unamended, it was clear that a full range of customs checks and formalities would remain for many businesses importing goods from the mainland to Great Britain.

As a result of the stance my party took, the Government and the European Commission came back to the negotiating table. We judged that more work was required if we were to reach the point of securing arrangements that unionists as well as nationalists could support.

There is a great argument for why we did not involve other parties in these negotiations: they did not want to be involved. In fact, these were the parties that were very clear that we should implement the protocol in full. They stood outside the door and said: “No, no, no, we’re not involved, but we want you to rigorously implement the protocol”. That was their answer, right from day one until now. It is nonsense that we should have involved other parties—it did not happen because they shut themselves outside the door. Let us bring a bit of honesty to the debate.