I have pressed the parties on the urgent need to resolve the current impasse in the interests of the entire community and I believe a deal remains possible. Locally accountable government is essential for the delivery of public services, good governance and political stability in Northern Ireland.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer and his patience and perseverance in restoring the Executive. How concerned is he about the lack of accountability to locally elected politicians of civil servants who are delivering public services in Northern Ireland?
I am concerned, because it is not right that we do not have locally elected politicians making decisions and, yes, making sure that civil servants who act to deliver those services are held accountable. That is why we need to see the restoration of the Executive at the earliest possible opportunity, serving all communities, and delivering those public services that people need.
Given that we have not had a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly for nine months, why on earth do the 90 Members of the Legislative Assembly continue to receive their full salaries and their full staffing allowance? It is an absolute scandal that that continues to be the case.
I certainly hear that message loud and clear. There is no direct way in which I can intervene; there is no legislation that would authorise me to do so. As I said in a speech in Cambridge on Friday, if we were to be in the situation where the UK Government have to make direct directions, that is certainly an issue that I would have to consider.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. If the Secretary of State is so perturbed by a perceived lack of good governance in the province of Northern Ireland, perhaps he would like to tell his Back Benchers why he and his Government technically gave £1 billion to an unaccountable executive, led by the DUP.
We have recognised the case for the needs of Northern Ireland, where there has been under-investment in infrastructure and mental health issues. I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman does not acknowledge and recognise that. We firmly do, and act in the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom.