Reg Empey: Health powers should be returned to Westminster
During the debate on the Northern Ireland Budget (No 2) Bill I called for the Department of Health to be brought back under Westminster on humanitarian grounds in the same manner as welfare reform was a couple of years ago.
This can be done and should be done given the dire health statistics which clearly show that everyday people are now coming to harm due to the long waits to see consultants.
I find it abhorrent that over 83,000 people across Northern Ireland have been waiting longer than a year for even their first appointment.
I also asked the minister what steps are being taken to resolve police pay.
With a claim due to be made for 2018, the settlement for 2017 has not even been made.
What way is this to treat the people who we depend upon to keep the peace when they are attacked by thugs and gunmen as we have seen in recent days?
No answers were forthcoming on the implementation of the Hart Inquiry into historical institutional abuse.
These victims are being let down again and it is an utter disgrace that they are yet to see any movement towards the recommendations made by the inquiry being implemented.
During the debate there were no new ideas for restoring Stormont and no new initiative was anticipated.
I can only hope that wiser counsels will prevail and the secretary of state will get ahead of the game for once and ensure that the dangerous political vacuum is not filled by terrorists and troublemakers as has been the case in the past.”
Lord Empey, Ulster Unionist Peer, House of Lords, London