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Budget 2016-17

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 5:00 pm on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Trevor Clarke Trevor Clarke DUP 5:00 pm, 19th January 2016

That was a very meaningful interjection from the Member who gave us all his woes and glows earlier, as well as a history lesson, but when he was challenged about who introduced some of this stuff and was pointed back to his party, he had nothing to say — just like he has nothing to say now, and just like his Minister had nothing to offer last year. I have to say that, with the Executive and all the problems they have had over recent months, "fresh start" is a good description of where they are going and the direction of travel we are on.

[Interruption.]

I can hear him laugh. Maybe he wants to speak to the Quarry Products Association (QPA), which, when his Minister was in charge, was considering laying off its workforce. The QPA has welcomed the investment announced by the current Minister for the security and jobs that it is bringing.

That is not ideal. However, it is better than having a workforce — you know this, Mr Deputy Speaker, given that we met them through the Committee — where some of the organisations employing those individuals were suggesting a month's notice and were going to be getting rid of them. We also heard in the Committee that some were going to England to seek work because there was nothing in Northern Ireland. If the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party wants to criticise a Budget that is investing tens of millions of pounds in infrastructure in Northern Ireland, so be it.

I think a degree of certainty has been brought into the homes of those employed in that industry. He talked previously about mortgaging this place. There are people employed in that sector who have mortgages and are glad of the certainty that Fresh Start has brought. They are glad of the investment that has been brought to Northern Ireland and to its roads, securing their futures so that they can pay their mortgages. However, if the leader of the Ulster Unionists thinks that is a bad thing, shame on him, is all I have to say.

I welcome this Budget. I welcome the opportunity for officials to come to the Committee this week to get into more detail on it. I am sure it is not everything that we would want, but there is enough in it for us to get going and to bring certainty to some of those employed in that sector. I certainly will be voting in favour of the Budget.