I spent yesterday at Westminster, London, attending a debate on the crisis surrounding the Presbyterian Mutual Society. It was held in Westminster Hall within the Palace of Westminster, and was chaired by Sir Nicholas Winterton.
The debate was the result of a request made by the DUP’s Chief Whip, Reverend William McCrea MP, and he opened the debate with an excellent speech outlining the current situation with regard to the PMS, and highlighting a number of key issues.
A number of Northern Ireland Members were able to make important points to Dr Ian Pearson, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, who was there to wind up the debate and to respond to the points that had been made. There were significant contributions from Mark Durkan, The First Minister, Peter Robinson, David Simpson, and Lady Sylvia Hermon. The Hansard record of the whole debate can be read here.
I believe that this was a significant debate which maintains the pressure on the decision-makers to come up with an agreeable solution to this long-running problem. The PMS situation also created some lively interchanges with NI Minister of State, Paul Goggins, during Northern Ireland Questions which can be read here. Again, the NI Members used the opportunity to make important points and to seek assurances from the Government. All in all, it was a very useful day of discussion when almost every speaker accepted that this crisis needed to be resolved quickly. I believe that minds are now focused on getting a solution, and that encourages me.
A visit to Westminster also gives the opportunity to chat about other issues, and I appreciate very much the work of the ever-efficient Margaret, who has been such a good friend and who has opened so many doors for us during this crisis. Without her help, many significant conversations would not have taken place. We trust and pray that all these efforts may soon yield fruit, and that this distressing situation may yet be resolved.