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New Decade, New Approach: Implementation

Volume 681: debated on Wednesday 30 September 2020

What progress his Department has made on the implementation of the proposals in the “New Decade, New Approach” document published in January 2020. (906636)

Despite the need to focus on covid-19, quite rightly, good progress has still been made in a number of areas in delivering on the new decade, new approach agreement. We have been releasing money from the £2 billion of funding set in the deal, changing the family migration rules for the people of Northern Ireland, holding the first joint board meeting, announcing the appointment of a veterans commissioner and, indeed, setting out our intentions for marking the centenary of Northern Ireland next year.

I welcome the tremendous progress that my right hon. Friend has made in delivering on the new decade, new approach deal, including appointing a veterans commissioner, as he has just pointed out, but also holding the first meeting of the joint board. Does he agree that this demonstrates that the deal signed earlier this year is working well?

Yes. My hon. Friend makes a very good point. The deal is a good example of ensuring that the Northern Ireland Executive are able to function and flow. They have worked very well through the difficulties and the challenges of the covid period, and they continue to work well. It is good to see all five parties working across the Assembly and across the Executive to deliver for people right across all communities in Northern Ireland.

Covid and Brexit are of course the headline acts—my right hon. Friend is right—but the NDNA cannot be forgotten. The Government response to our Northern Ireland Affairs Committee report was, possibly understandably, thin. Can he assure me that delivering the NDNA in full has his energy and commitment, because he knows how important that agreement is for progress and peace?

Yes. My hon. Friend makes a very good point. He is absolutely right about delivering on that in full both in the legislation we will need to pass in this House, which we will bring to this House in due course, and in making sure that things are being delivered across the NDNA—whether the independent fiscal council, which I have spoken to both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister about, or continuing the joint board meetings, the leaders’ meetings and the whole range of things that we need to do. Working together, these are the issues I discuss with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, generally on a weekly basis at least, to make sure that we continue to deliver.