Sir Mike Penning calls on the Government to put pressure on the Northern Ireland political parties to progress negotiations and restore devolution and, if they are unable to, warn that there will be direct rule.
The Secretary of State mentioned the brave and fantastic work of the PSNI and the prison service, and the risks that their members run. May I remind her that there are also British Army battalions based in Northern Ireland, and that we need to ensure that they are being looked after as well? She also mentioned the five points. If there is agreement on only four of those points, surely we cannot hold out forever and a day to get a guaranteed agreement on all five of them. There must be a backstop. There must be a situation in which those in the negotiations know that if they do not sort this out, there will be direct rule.
I am sorry that my right hon. Friend is disappointed that there are only five points. There are five areas in which discussions are taking place, within which there will be areas of consensus in all the working groups as well as areas that do not yet have consensus. We are working hard to achieve that consensus. I want to see us reach a point at which all the parties in Northern Ireland can confidently go into an Executive that they know is sustainable and will deliver for the people of Northern Ireland, and at which all the institutions of Northern Ireland established under the Belfast agreement are properly constituted.