Northern Ireland Budget (Anticipation and Adjustments) (No. 2) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:23 pm on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 4:23 pm, 5th March 2019

It is probably helpful if I clarify that point. We have to put on a statutory footing, by the end of March, the spending for the financial year 2018-19—the year we are in. That is what we are doing. The vote on account of 70%, rather than the 45% we did last year, is because of the recognition of the pressures on the Departments in Northern Ireland as a result of having no Ministers, and because we have additional moneys coming through. If an infrastructure decision is taken, money will need to be spent. What I did not want to do was constrain Departments to be legally able to have only up to 45% of the previous year’s spending. The 70% reflects the fact that, because there are no Ministers and because of the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland the fact that there may well be decisions on infrastructure and on other issues that may require accelerated spending in a Department, I wanted to provide flexibility so we do not have to come back sooner and bring forward the legislation required to put that on a statutory footing for the next year. We will of course have to do that at some point; what we hope is that it will actually be done in Stormont.