Live Northern Ireland Questions House of Commons


Live Northern Ireland Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to the Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire and his ministerial team.


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Welcome to the BBC's coverage of the House of Commons. There will be too

:00:17.:00:28.

urgent questions. The first is tabled by deadbeat Abrahams about

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payments regulations and the second comes from the women and equality

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committee Mariah Miller about women wearing headscarves in the

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workplace. Then the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, will make a

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statement on national insurance contributions and Priti Patel will

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update the Commons on issues relating to Isis, or Daesh. Do join

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me for a round-up of the day in both houses at 11pm tonight, and before

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that, we have questions for the Secretary of State for Northern

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Ireland about private legislation. All that! Order! The clerk will now

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receive two read the title of the private bill set down for

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consideration. Second reading. Wednesday the 22nd of March. Thank

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you. Order! Questions for the Secretary of State for Northern

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Ireland. Minister, Chris Hopkins. I condemn the irresponsible and the

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disgraceful comments by Jeremy McGrath, I support the judiciary in

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Northern Ireland and any attack on them is an acceptable. I thank the

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Minister for his response, but what I am calling on is asked to contact

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the PPS that man released on licence, a man with a lengthy

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history of violence is not being pursued by DP S N I. What will the

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Minister do to ensure action is taken. Thank you. I thank the

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honourable gentleman for his question. I reiterate a condemnation

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of his comments, Gerry McGrath, but if we are given the relevant

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information and consider whether we can suspend the license. It's up for

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the commissioners to discuss that. It would be wrong for us to try to

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fix the system further down. I trust our police service, and the PPS to

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make the right decision. The Minister will know that he did not

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receive a comfort lesson, but that scheme of those on the run, operated

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by both Labour and Conservative governments was utterly deplorable,

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immoral and wrong. Can you confirm whether anything like this is on the

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table for Sinn Fein at this time? I think that would be very helpful.

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The Government is committed to resolving issues in Northern

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Ireland, and I believe parties in Northern Ireland share this

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commitment. I will continue to return to Belfast to establish a

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partnership executive in the short time frame available. Progress has

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been made that needs to continue with urgency in order to achieve a

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positive outcome. I, as a nurse, am acutely aware that a budget needs to

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be set to insure public services are adequately funded, but without a

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Northern Ireland executive in place it is almost impossible. Does he

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share my fear is that failure to restore an executive is putting

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Northern Ireland in severe financial risk? I think my honourable friend

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highlights some of the issues regarding setting a budget for

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Northern Ireland which is a key priority. She highlights the health

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service and I pay tribute to those working there. There's a sense of

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opportunity that new executive can take forward and ?120 million that

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was taken into account. This could take Northern Ireland forward. May I

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first, on behalf of my colleagues express my condolences to those

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families of the crew 's in that Northern Ireland helicopter that

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crashed. We would like to spread deep sympathy at this time. Also,

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George Gilmore, murdered in Carrickfergus. An appalling crime

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carried out it appears to be by loyalist paramilitary. We need to

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move forward on the Stormont House agreement, tacking the pal a

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paramilitary. I agree with the honourable gentleman in his current

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thoughts about the crew of the Irish helicopter. It's a terrible tragedy

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and I know the whole House will share that and I join with him in

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condemning that appalling murder that has taken place. I have spoken

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to DPS and I and I know they are actively pursuing lines of enquiry.

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-- PNSI. I will continue to work to confront that scourge. There's no

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reason for it at all. We are trying to put ?25 million towards the

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importance of that work. The Secretary of State will be aware

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that this party is absolutely and totally committed getting devolution

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back. We didn't create that present crisis. Others walked away. We are

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determined to restore this as quickly as possible. We heard what

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they write Minister had to say. Can the Minister confirm that the Irish

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Republic's involvement is limited to strands two and three when it is

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regarding the Republic. I can certainly give him that

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contemplation. The Irish Government will be playing in that context, and

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the responsibilities we all feel in seeing a devolved Government getting

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back, delivering for Northern Ireland. That is something I know

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all the parties recognise. Having been a member of Parliament prior to

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devolution, I'm aware of the total inadequacy of direct rule. Can my

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honourable friend ensure that he is undertaking these negotiations with

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the utmost urgency to get a deal on devolved Government. I can give that

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confirmation, because devolved Government is the only thing I'm

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working towards, recognising that that is what the people of Northern

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Ireland voted for and wanted to see. Delivering that change, that

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positive impact on peoples lives and that's the urgency we are

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approaching with. I'm pleased to hear from the honourable gentleman

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that he is rolling out the direct rule option. But what is the

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contingency if there is no agreement reached, and will he extend that

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period if no agreement is reached? What I would say to the honourable

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lady, is that the UK Government takes its responsibility seriously

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when it comes to political responsibility, but the real intent

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is there in securing an agreement in that three-week period. I believe it

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is achievable. And it's weird that goodwill and approach that I believe

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the parties will engage to achieve that outcome and speculating on

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alternative approaches is not helpful. Can I echo the comments for

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the member of the member for Belfast North on those who have recently

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lost their lives. We will be behind the Secretary of State in trying to

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re-establish after these re-elections. But if local

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politicians are wise enough not to form an administration, would he

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consider taking measures to cease paying salaries and expenses to

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those who have been elected? I think my honourable friend is equally

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highlighting a report that was published in the last week on this

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very issue. I would say to him that my focus and intent is in getting

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the parties to get together to reach that agreement in three weeks. I

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think that is doable with urgency, with a sense of goodwill. It's a

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rather sombre day because it marks the Ides of March, but this Friday,

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we will have a chance to fail glorious and Patrick, and may I wish

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you and the House wish you a happy Saint Patrick's Day in advance. And

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I can't remember a more serious time since the Good Friday agreement was

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signed. May I say to my colleagues that normal hostilities are

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suspended. We will be offering unequivocal support to the Minister,

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and the Government and the time -- and the time for working together is

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here and now. Has there been a round table plenary yet involving all the

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parties? At the outset, can I thank the honourable gentleman for his

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support, and the cross-party nature of the approach that is shared on

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this serious issue. We want to get an executive back into place,

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delivering the Northern Ireland, following through on the

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expectations of the public. I hope people understand that I'm not going

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to provide a running narrative in regard to the talks, but what I can

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say to him is that progress is being made, some significant issues still

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need to be resolved but we are approaching this with good will. I'm

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slightly concerned by the statement of the leader of one of the Northern

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Ireland parties saying meetings had been cancelled. Have you received

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any representation from the charitable sector are that they are

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experiencing due to the budgetary impasse? He makes an important

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point. The budget has not yet been set and some of the uncertainty

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means we need to see the executive in place within the three-week

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timescale, because there could be a problem with a range of issues in

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Northern Ireland. The faith community, the voluntary sector, and

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the business community have said The Government stands firmly behind

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the institutions of the Belfast agreement and its successors. I have

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regular discussions with the Government on a number of issues and

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our immediate priority is working with the parties to resume the

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devolved administration. I'm grateful for that answer. The sexual

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state will know that at the time of the Good Friday Agreement nearly 19

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years ago the European Union also played a role alongside the British

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and Irish governments. -- the Secretary of State. Does he know of

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any support to maintain the institutional frameworks

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particularly the institutional corporation that has been some

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potent over the last two years. I think they're very strong

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relationship between the UK Government executive and the

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Government in Ireland, we stand behind our commitments to the

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Belfast agreement and its successors. What I picked up at EU

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level is a strong level of support for the Good Friday Agreement and

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Belfast agreement. We are determined to get the best possible deal for

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Northern Ireland recognising our commitment. Turning to the Good

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Friday Agreement will he ensure that the disgraceful treatment of my

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constituent Cockrell Major Denis Hutchings and others will be

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addressed as part of any further discussions on the part of legacy

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issues. I know she has raised the issue of a constituent in a number

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of occasions and I pay tribute to her on her work as a constituency

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MP. She will understand I am unable to comment on individual cases but I

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can say that the current system in dealing to a range of issues related

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to legacy is not working for anyone, not working for service personnel

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are victims and why it is important we move forward on the Stormont

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House bodies decree that their system that I think everyone agrees

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is needed. Does the Secretary of State not understand that Brexit

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could have implications for the standing and can say for some of the

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implementation bodies are created on the Strand to the agreement? Does he

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appreciate that stranded to after-hours common implementation

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that could help to answer some of the problems Brexit creates. --

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offers a common implementation. There was a discussion to EU and

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related issues and I think it is important to recognise institutional

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framework we have under the Belfast agreement. That is something we

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support. I would draw the honourable gentleman 's attention to the White

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Paper that highlighted that support and highlighted are recognition of

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it. The Secretary of State will attend a belligerent utterance of

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the former Sinn Fein director of Unionist engagement who said the

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Prime Minister can stack are hard or soft border with the sun doesn't

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shine. Can I invite the Secretary of State to remind Martina Anderson and

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all those in Sinn Fein that the Good Friday Agreement is based on the

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majority will of the people and it has not changed. We do stand behind

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the Belfast agreement and the consent contained within it but I

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know the right honourable gentleman will affect for the Prime Minister

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said yesterday. There are significant issues we recognise

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which is why we have said we do not want to see a return to borders of

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the past while we recognise a desire for the expansive free trade with

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the EU and it is important that we continue that dialogue that

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discourse and focus on the important issues. My honourable friend is

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quite right to refer to the role of the Irish Government and I pray to

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Secretary of State for the good working relationship he has

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established a Minister Flanagan. May I thank him for the statements made

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by his minister yesterday at yet another one of the many St Patrick's

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Day celebrations when he not only paid tribute to the role of our core

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guarantor to the Good Friday Agreement, the Good Friday

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Agreement, but the ambassador who leaving us far Dublin. I have

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enjoyed and appreciated working with them and we wish them well on his

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new and perhaps challenging and exciting new role he has and wish

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them well in that context. I think it is important to underline that

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the strong relationship we have at the Irish Government on a range of

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issues. Like to see that continue in the future and that engagement will

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be continued with that spirit and mind. -- spirit in mind. With

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permission, I would like to answer questions and four, seven, nine and

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ten together. Nearly 65% of the Northern Ireland electorate voted

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for continued devolved Government. I have seen a shared willingness of

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the parties to engage in intense discussions acknowledging what is to

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be at stake if an executive is the ball. I believe that with continued

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positive intent we can secure a resolution that sees devolved

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Government return. I welcome that and the economic success story that

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is the Northern Irish economy over the past two years. Would my right

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honourable friend agree that a key part of that success has been

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effective stable power-sharing Government which is another reason

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for all parties to resolve this as swiftly as possible? I do recognise

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that my honourable friend is right to highlight some of the really

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important successes we have seen at the Northern Ireland economy and I

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would point again to the Labour Martic survey statistics -- market.

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60,000 more jobs in 2010 underlining what has been achieved and can be

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achieved with a strong executive in case. I wish my right honourable

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friend well in the discussions currently taking place in Northern

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Ireland. As he agree that whatever the issues need to be devolved

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Government remains far and away the best option for Northern Ireland

:19:41.:19:46.

within the UK? I strongly agree with what my honourable friend said. I

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think that the public voted overwhelmingly and very clearly with

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that increased turnout to see devolved Government back into place

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delivering for Northern Ireland and that is what I'm determined to see

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as well. Does my right honourable friend agree that the results of the

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assembly election demonstrated the overwhelming majority of people in

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Northern Ireland desire is strong and stable the bold Government? Yes

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I do and it is that stability that is able to bring about further

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positive change of Northern Ireland, releasing further foreign direct

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investment coming and more jobs created or stop that is why I

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strongly supported I do know that vision is shared by the parties.

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Will he confirm that in all the Government the Government will

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maintain full that support for the Belfast agreement? And particularly

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that the position of Northern Ireland within the union will always

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be determined by the principle of consent? A smack all the

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discussions. -- all the discussions. We do and I'm also very clear that

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the support we see of the institutions and structures. Can I

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offer condolences to those who lost life this week particularly those

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may the Irish coastguard who do so much good work in the north and

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particularly in my constituency of Southdown. Brexit is a crucial

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factor in the current political landscape in Northern Ireland and

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should be part of the ongoing talks process. Can the Secretary of State

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confirm that the issue of single stat this way you're not going back

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to any borders is a feature of the stocks? -- of these talks. We

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recognise the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland and is economy

:21:52.:21:55.

and geography and history and ensure these are properly taken into

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account as we prepare for EU exit. We want to ensure those issues are

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properly in the negotiations ahead to get the best possible deal for

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Northern Ireland. What does the Secretary of State see as a great

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stumbling blocks in the current process and how confident is either

:22:17.:22:19.

a deal will be established by March 27? As I have indicated a tanker

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deal can be achieved with goodwill and with a real sense of urgency

:22:25.:22:29.

with the discussions ahead. There are issues that still need to be

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overcome. I do not think it would be helpful to provide that running a

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narrative that I have already said I think would not be constructive. I

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would urge people to continue to engage and continue to be involved

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in intensive talks because that is the way we will do it. Sammy Wilson.

:22:47.:22:59.

Can I extend my condolences to my constituent Mr Gummer who was

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murdered by pal acknowledges this week. -- Gilmore. -- paramilitaries.

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Does he hold out much chance of success in these talks and if not

:23:16.:23:19.

will he moved quickly to fill a budget gap left by Sinn Fein? I

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think this remains doable and I think that is important message we

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need to underline. Time is short and there are a range of issues that

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still need to be discussed and agreed upon. I think it is that need

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for our positive tent and all sides and that the best way. -- positive

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intent. These are extremely matters affecting Northern Ireland whose

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people might think it extremely and courteous if we do not have an

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intent healing. -- healing. Will the Secretary of State agree that there

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is some information that is so sensitive it could never going to

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the public domain because it would put lives at risk? I do agree.

:24:20.:24:26.

Although experience as a previous of state. -- with that experience as a

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previous Secretary of State she knows national security remains our

:24:34.:24:37.

primary responsibility of the United Kingdom Government and we would

:24:38.:24:40.

continue to have that at the forefront of our minds. Minister

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Hopkins. He can bask in his unpopularity. I

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take it was not for me. It ensures cross-party communication and the

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Government is committed to upholding the constitutional settlement as

:25:12.:25:16.

outlined in the Belfast agreement and its successors. The priority

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must be to persuade all the parties back into Government in Northern

:25:20.:25:24.

Ireland to avoid the prospect of direct rule. Given the recent

:25:25.:25:27.

instability and longer term is not worth having a discussion about

:25:28.:25:31.

having a new form of Government involving our Government and

:25:32.:25:39.

opposition? I thank him for his question that would not consider a

:25:40.:25:45.

review at this moment in time. The focus is helping the parties come

:25:46.:25:50.

back together and form an executive. As the talks emerge over the next

:25:51.:25:55.

two weeks with the Minister of State agree that a likely consensus is

:25:56.:25:58.

going to emerge around the Stormont House agreement and all of the

:25:59.:26:04.

content spelling and that we should base progress and hopefully

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agreement that rather than wish list which have no opportunity of

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success? I think it would be appropriate to build around the

:26:15.:26:17.

common consensus that has opened at the moment. There were already been

:26:18.:26:20.

agreements around Stormont House and that will be the centrepoint our

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talks of the moment. The Government will continue to use every possible

:26:29.:26:32.

opportunity to promote Northern Ireland as a world-class to list

:26:33.:26:44.

destination. -- tourists. Tourism in Northern Ireland generates ?764

:26:45.:26:48.

million and attracts 4.5 million visitors a year. In light of Brexit

:26:49.:26:51.

what steps will be taking a partnership to ensure that even

:26:52.:26:59.

further tourist growth is delivered? There is commitment for industrial

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strategy and engagement with all sectors at the moment in Northern

:27:03.:27:07.

Ireland and also additional funding of ?600 million per year for the

:27:08.:27:11.

great campaign. Doctor Alistair MacDonald. Does the Secretary of

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State accept that tourism has the potential to make an even greater

:27:22.:27:26.

contribution to the Northern Ireland economy and will he take steps to

:27:27.:27:30.

ensure there are adequate resources invested in the Northern Irish

:27:31.:27:33.

tourist board and tourism in Ireland to ensure that we marketed? Just

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last week the Chancellor committed additional money to fund in Northern

:27:45.:27:49.

Ireland. I would say that is the responsibility to get an executive

:27:50.:27:53.

back. To every member of this household go and visit Northern

:27:54.:27:56.

Ireland and take a weekend break an amazing place to visit. Sir Geoffrey

:27:57.:28:08.

Donaldson. In the wake of the judgment. Number eight. This

:28:09.:28:17.

Government is unstinting in admiration of their role our Armed

:28:18.:28:19.

Forces played in Northern Ireland and the democracy that is secured.

:28:20.:28:26.

The current process is addressed in the past is not working as my friend

:28:27.:28:33.

the Secretary of State said earlier and new legal bodies will be in

:28:34.:28:37.

place by fair balance in the system. S the honourable gentleman. In the

:28:38.:28:45.

wake of the scrapping of the Iraq enquiries and the judgment today in

:28:46.:28:51.

the case of Alexander Blackman is it not time that the Government

:28:52.:28:54.

provided legal protection to the men and woman who serve this country on

:28:55.:29:02.

the front line? This Government is never moves away its obligation to

:29:03.:29:07.

care for those veterans and what I would say is I know you're very

:29:08.:29:11.

passionate about looking after our Armed Forces personnel. If you would

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like to meet and discuss this further I am more than willing to do

:29:16.:29:19.

that. Questions to the Prime Minister.

:29:20.:29:21.