Mr Laurence Robertson
Nominated by (own party)
Mark Field, Mr Robert Syms, Philip Davies, Mrs Anne Main, Victoria Atkins, Alex Chalk, Bob Stewart, Robert Neill, Mr Andrew Turner, Neil Carmichael, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Jack Lopresti, Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger, Mr Christopher Chope, Mr Henry Bellingham
Nominated by (other parties)
Frank Field, Sir Alan Meale, Ian Paisley, David Simpson, Danny Kinahan
I was privileged to chair the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee during the last Parliament, finding it a very worthwhile role, as well as a challenging and demanding one.
I have no family or business connections with Northern Ireland, but I have long taken an interest in the Province because I care about it. For too long the people of Northern Ireland suffered due to the Troubles and, as a result, the economic performance of the Province has lagged behind the rest of the UK.
I see it as the role of this Committee to monitor and hold to account the work of the Northern Ireland Office and the government, but also to propose policies which would help to cement the peace and to increase opportunities and prosperity for everyone in Northern Ireland. If elected to chair this Committee again, I shall dedicate myself to those ends.
I am grateful to the Members who served on the Committee during the last Parliament. Working together, I believe that we achieved a great deal, including:
- The responsibility for setting the rate of Corporation Tax in Northern Ireland
- (NI) is to be devolved to their Assembly. The Committee pressed for this.
- Following our Inquiry, Air Passenger Duty was reduced for long-haul flights from NI, thereby saving the only route from NI to the US.
- The Committee’s Inquiry reinforced the importance of the Military Covenant in NI.
- We scrutinised, and achieved some changes to, the Miscellaneous Provisions (NI) Bill
- We regularly assessed the security situation in NI, and pressed for adequate funding of the PSNI
- The Committee recommended exploring the possibilities of a Common Visa for the UK and Ireland and this is gradually being introduced.
- We carried out an intense Inquiry into the “on-the-runs” letters, interviewing, among others, Tony Blair.
- Our Inquiry reinforced the need for fair, transparent and efficient banking services to be provided in NI.
- We looked closely into counterfeiting and laundering and pressed for a new fuel marker to be developed, which the government has just introduced.
- We have held regular meetings in NI and Dublin, and visited the US once, in connection with inquiries.
It will be for the new Committee to decide which areas it might look into during this Parliament, but the following might be considered:
- The situation regarding the on-the-runs who received “comfort letters”
- The workings of the institutions in NI and how they might be improved
- The general security situation and how the peace might be cemented, including dealing with the past.
- Promoting tourism to NI, in particular, how the UK rate of VAT puts the industry in NI at a disadvantage compared to the Republic of Ireland
- To carry out further inquiries into counterfeiting and laundering.
I should like to continue this work and hope you can support me.