The Executive’s primary focus for the period in question will be to develop and agree the Programme for Government and Budget for 2003-04 in the context of the spending review. The position report on developing the Programme for Government and Budget, which we presented on 5 June 2002, sets out a detailed timescale for that work. Until the end of August, we shall be consulting Assembly Committees, the Civic Forum and others on the proposals contained in that report.
The contributions that we receive will help to shape the draft Programme for Government and the draft Budget, which will be brought to the Assembly in September 2002.
After consultation, we hope to present the final Programme for Government and Budget to the Assembly for endorsement in mid-December.
Furthermore, during the period in question we shall maintain focus on the delivery of actions and targets contained in the Programme for Government for the current financial year. Where legislation is necessary for the actions set out in the Programme, or in departmental public service agreements, it will be taken through the Assembly in the normal way. We shall continue to progress the legislative programme that is building up in the Assembly as well as taking forward the reinvestment and reform initiative and keeping in touch with the review of public administration.
I thank the Minister for his very long and detailed reply. In view of last week’s presentation to the House of Lords, do the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister expect another Blair prop for the Belfast Agreement or have they booked the Long Gallery for a departure meeting? Will they advise us how they intend to proceed with further props to the agreement or are they prepared to join the DUP, the party that has been right all along?
Comprehensive needs and effectiveness evaluations are being carried out in six key spending areas — health and social care, education, training and vocational education, financial assistance to industry, housing, and culture, arts and leisure. Work on each study will be discussed by the Executive in the weeks to come. The studies are expected to give a better understanding of the needs facing each programme and the effectiveness of the use of resources in each area. The studies will help to inform the work that will take place over the coming months to review and roll forward our Programme for Government and to develop our future Budget proposals.