The “New Decade, New Approach” deal has restored decision making to locally accountable representatives in Northern Ireland and guarantees the Good Friday agreement. It has ended three years of stasis at Stormont and is already having a beneficial effect on Northern Ireland’s citizens.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that this Conservative Government have demonstrated their commitment to strong devolved government and funding for all of our nations within this United Kingdom?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right: we have delivered in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and we are delivering on our commitments to the Union.
Over the past few years, this House has made a number of important decisions on very important devolved areas of government in Northern Ireland. Does the Secretary of State agree that locally elected politicians in Northern Ireland are best placed to make those local decisions?
My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. Ensuring that the Good Friday institutions are retained and enhanced was an absolute priority of the UK Government, and Northern Ireland is best served by the power-sharing agreement that is in place.
A stable Government needs confidence in the community. A Northern Ireland Minister was mentioned in a recent programme on the horrific murder of Paul Quinn. If that Minister— Mr Conor Murphy—has any information relating to that incident, he should make it known to both the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda.
I agree with my hon. Friend. I condemn wholeheartedly that horrendous murder. As with any crime, anyone with information should come forward immediately.
Will the Secretary of State clarify his earlier answer in relation to the Stormont House agreement? He did not refer to it in detail but talked in generalities. A commitment was made recently in “New Decade, New Approach” and it was Government policy back in 2015. Is it still Government policy to fully deliver on Stormont House?
What I have said is that we are going to deliver on the commitment of ending vexatious claims against our armed forces and police officers. I have also said that I will discuss with all Northern Ireland parties how we will deliver on all aspects of the “New Decade, New Approach” document.
Following on from that answer, can the Secretary of State confirm that the specific assurances given on Armistice Day last year about the ending of repeat investigations in the absence of compelling new evidence is entirely compatible with the restoration of devolved government and all that that entails?
I thank my right hon. Friend for all his work in this area. I was reading his Defence Committee’s 2017 report again at the weekend. I confirm that we can deliver on the Prime Minister’s and the Government’s priority of ending vexatious claims against our armed forces and the police, and we can deliver for victims and survivors in Northern Ireland.