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Budget 2016-17

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:30 pm on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP 4:30 pm, 19th January 2016

The lack of transparency from the Department of Education has certainly been a concern for some time. Given its failure to take part in savings delivery plans, for example, there has been a concern that there is a silo mentality in the Department. We will want to drill down into that when we have the officials with us very shortly. As I indicated at the start of the speech, that limits the amount that I can say in relation to the departmental budget. We will be getting that information in February. However, it is an ongoing concern and I do not disagree with the Member, for once, on that subject.

I will say briefly, as an MLA, that I have been here as Budgets have come and gone. I had the great pleasure and honour of listening to the last two speeches from the leaders of the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists. To be fair, the Ulster Unionists are outside the Government, and, therefore, whatever criticism they make is at least based on that. However, if one came as an outsider to this place, one would be shocked to learn that the SDLP, for all its criticism, has consistently been a member of this Executive. This is not criticism from an opposition but from a party that is in the Government. A more honest position would be to follow what the Ulster Unionist Party has done. I listened with interest to the catalogue of figures from the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and the clichés from the leader of the SDLP. We heard a litany of figures. When my colleague —