I rise to speak on the first group of amendments that appear on the Marshalled List for the Further Consideration Stage of the Financial Assistance Bill. At the outset, I wish to state that my colleagues and I oppose amendment Nos 1, 2 and 3. Last week, the Assembly held a marathon debate concerning the Financial Assistance Bill and its context. Having read the long list of purposeless amendments that have been tabled this week, I believe that this could be another marathon debate.
I have no problem with a marathon debate. However, the same point is being made time and time again, and some Members are using the debate as a political football. Are the Members who have tabled the amendments not listening to the First Minister?
The amendments that are listed in group 1 undoubtedly attempt to use the Bill as a political point-scoring exercise and attempt to sabotage its ability to assist those who are most in need. Although those Members are trying to score points, they are hindering and deterring the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) and the Executive in assisting those who are most in need.