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Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill

Volume 624: debated on Monday 24 April 2017

Considered in Committee (Order, this day)

[Mr Lindsay Hoyle in the Chair]

Clauses 1 to 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill reported, without amendment.

Third Reading

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have contributed to today’s proceedings, which have provided valuable and important exchanges on the Bill. They have made very clear the unequivocal support of this Government and this House for devolved government in Northern Ireland. I extend my thanks to Her Majesty’s Opposition, to the Scottish National party and to all others for their support for the Bill, and for agreeing to its faster than usual passage through this House.

As we have heard, this Bill is short and modest in scope, but it provides the framework within which the parties may come together, reach agreement and, yes, form an Executive. If an agreement can be reached, it will give the parties the platform to convene the Assembly, appoint Ministers and get on with the resumption of devolved government. That is what the people of Northern Ireland voted for on 2 March, and it must remain the focus. This Bill will also provide the flexibility for an incoming Government to act in the best interests of Northern Ireland and the space for the parties to conclude a deal. I am very appreciative of the support of the House for this approach.

I was grateful, too, for the support there was for the Government taking the exceptional step of having this Parliament set a regional rate for Northern Ireland for this year. Although very much a step we had hoped to avoid, that is an essential move for securing greater financial certainty for individuals and businesses in Northern Ireland. It stands alongside the remarks I made on Second Reading about the budget situation in making it clear that this Government will always uphold their responsibilities on political stability and good governance in Northern Ireland.

In conclusion, I am grateful to all right hon. and hon. Members for their support for the passage of this Bill. I thank my officials for the support they have provided. I am also grateful for the support of the Northern Ireland civil service and of my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Kris Hopkins). The Bill provides the scope and space for a deal to be done, which is what businesses, community groups and individuals across Northern Ireland want to see. I am sure I speak for the whole of this House when I express my sincere hope that all sides use the opportunity this Bill provides to secure the resumption of devolved government in Northern Ireland at the earliest opportunity, and so I ask right hon. and hon. Members to support this Bill on its Third Reading.

The Bill has not been amended and I have already indicated that in the current circumstances we will support it, but I just want to wish all the parties the very best in the negotiations. I devoutly hope that an agreement can be reached soon and that the institutions can be restored as soon as possible.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.