New Clause 1 - Report on implementation of The New Decade, New Approach Deal

Part of Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 6 Gorffennaf 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Louise Haigh Louise Haigh Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 10:30, 6 Gorffennaf 2021

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I thank you, Mr Stringer, for chairing us through the speedy but proper scrutiny of the Bill this morning.

On Second Reading and this morning, the importance of all political parties abiding by commitments that are made in forming the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive has been discussed at length. The Government have made that very clear on important elements of NDNA. If it is true for the Northern Ireland political parties, it must be true for the UK Government as well, as one of the co-signatories, just as it holds true for the Irish Government.

The provisions of annex A of NDNA outline a financial commitment that the Government were prepared to provide about 18 months ago. Much of that has still not been delivered, by the Government’s own admission—£1.5 billion of the funding set aside has yet to be delivered. I know the Minister will have figures on how much has been given for covid, but it still remains that much was promised to be delivered on public policy to support the mandate set out in NDNA.

The standstill budget for Northern Ireland when covid support is removed means the 7,500 police officers promised is little more than a pipe dream. Indeed, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has confirmed that it will cut numbers if that budget remains at a standstill this year. That also apples to the investment in transforming public services, such as the health service, which has been repeatedly mentioned because of the appalling waiting times in Northern Ireland, and infrastructure delivery.

The Prime Minster, who could not build a bridge when he was Mayor of London from one side of the Thames to the other, seems more concerned with one that will not be built from Scotland to Belfast, than delivering commitments the UK made just 18 months ago on urgent infrastructure requirements. The Stormont House agreement, recommitted to New Decade, New Approach, seems further way than ever, with the Government unilaterally rewriting it in briefings to newspapers.

The establishment of a Northern Ireland hub in London is nowhere to be seen, neither is the connected classroom initiative. Little wonder that the NDNA review panel has met just twice, as the Minster confirmed on Second reading, when it was supposed to meet quarterly. The Government would clearly rather not review their progress on their commitments.

The new clause is important because it requires the Government to report on which aspects of NDNA have yet to be delivered, especially when there is little time left of this mandate. It would provide an important parliamentary mechanism for Members across the House to keep to their side of the bargain, just as we ask all Northern Ireland political parties to keep to theirs.