We need to consider the exact implications of the judgment that we received on Friday. When we have reached our conclusion, I will of course come to the Chamber, when I will be happy to debate it with the hon. Lady, who I know has a particular interest in and knowledge of that issue.
The budget statement that I made to Parliament on 8 March set out headline departmental allocations for the 2018-19 financial year, helping to safeguard Northern Ireland finances by enabling the Northern Ireland civil service to manage and maintain public services throughout the early months of this financial year. This budget Bill seeks to build on that certainty.
As I advised the House on 20 March, the budget position and the vote on account provision approved by Parliament in the Northern Ireland Budget (Anticipation and Adjustments) Act 2018, which provides authority to the NICS to access up to 45% of the previous year’s allocations to allow day-to-day spending in the early months of this financial year, was the first step in the budget-setting process. Further legislation is now required to put that budget position on a legal footing and to provide the legal authority for the NICS to access the full level of funding available for the whole financial year. Without the Bill, the only way for Departments to access cash is for the NICS to make use of emergency powers under section 59 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, although those powers, too, are limited.