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

I am sorry to intervene on the hon. Gentleman again—he is being very generous with his time—but I just want to be absolutely clear on the record: this has nothing to do with a timetable around the restoration of devolution. It is recognising that last year we were under pressure to introduce, before the summer recess, the Northern Ireland Budget Bill for 2018-19. We did that in July—I think in the last week of July—to put it on a statutory footing, because there was a risk that if we had not done so, some Departments would have run out of the ability to spend money over the summer recess. There would have been no legal basis for spending on schools, hospitals and so on. The reason for the 70% is that, in the absence of Ministers and with additional spending pressures on Departments, I do not want us to be in a position where we are urgently having to take that legislation through here again. I would much rather we gave civil servants the comfort they need. I accept that it is unusual, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that it is nothing to do with the timetable around devolution.