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“New Decade, New Approach” Agreement

Volume 671: debated on Wednesday 5 February 2020

5. What discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the allocation of funding to the Northern Ireland Executive for the implementation of the “New Decade, New Approach” agreement. (900564)

Following the restoration of the institutions, I have of course been in frequent contact with the Chancellor and other Government colleagues to discuss the “New Decade, New Approach” agreement. This agreement, as we heard earlier, is supported by a generous financial package of £2 billion and also comes with strings attached, with reform required in health, education and justice. The new Finance Minister has already been to London to meet the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and me.

The “New Decade, New Approach” document was created not by the five parties in Northern Ireland but by the UK and Irish Governments. It has set high expectations among the public in Northern Ireland. Will the Government commit generously to fully funding this agreement?

As the hon. Lady knows, this agreement has already delivered an end to the nurses’ strike in Northern Ireland. Having sat through hours of negotiation and discussion, I say to her that it was always clear that the parties had to prioritise what they wanted from Government. They are about to do that, and I look forward to hearing their plans in due course.