Despite the Government benches getting a bit over keen when the Prime Minister entered the Chamber for PMQs, I was able to question the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps she was taking to ensure that all political parties represented in Stormont were given the ability to scrutinise the Northern Irish budget.
Despite the collapse of devolved rule in Northern Ireland we must make sure that all political parties are involved in the budget that will need to be implemented by Westminster. It will ensure cooperation and hopefully provide a platform for all parties to reenter into power sharing once more.
The Northern Irish Assembly has still not reconvened due to disagreements between the parties. But the institutions in Northern Ireland are in need of a budget to continue to operate. We are getting dangerously close to having to impose direct rule once more and pass a budget in the Houses of Parliament for the people in Northern Ireland.
As one of the last direct rule ministers I wanted the Secretary of State to outline her time frame for action and also if she would consider allowing Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to be able to table questions in the UK Parliament and amend legislation if direct rule was imposed. A half-way-house that means that communities are still represented during the passage of legislation.
I am deeply disappointed by today’s (22 November 2017) Autumn Budget as it once again held no details on the future of the North Wales Growth Deal.
This comes off the back of continued UK Government announcements that they will investigate or start the process of establishing a North Wales Growth Deal. In the Autumn Budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer said:
“We will begin negotiations for growth deals for North Wales and Mid-Wales…by the end of next year.”
During the Autumn Statement of 2016 the very same Chancellor said that he welcomes:
“…the investment in Wales through the growth deal for North Wales, the Swansea Bay city region deal, and much needed infrastructure investment.”
In this year’s Spring Budget the Chancellor stated that he:
“…has also opened negotiations for a city deal with Stirling and is considering proposals for a Tay Cities Deal and a North Wales Growth Deal.”
Three times the Chancellor has promised a North Wales Growth Deal and no action has been taken. Read more “Autumn Budget 2017: First Reaction”
Now that the UK Parliament has had to take action to ensure Northern Ireland’s civil service continues to receive funding – following the collapse of power sharing – I wanted to know what discussions the UK Government has had with all parties within the Northern Irish Assembly.
I am worried that it has only been a discussion between the UK Government, DUP and Sinn Fein. There are many other parties in Northern Ireland that all must be included in any budget agreement. If they are not we will not see a return to devolved government in Northern Ireland anytime soon. This is not what people want in the area and will only undermine a long-lasting settlement in the region.