Budget Bill: Second Stage

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 7:45 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Mervyn Storey Mervyn Storey DUP 7:45 pm, 9th February 2016

I have listened to the Member raise genuine issues about concerns that are out there. He rightly acknowledges the work of our healthcare professionals. I did that in the House even yesterday. That is the right thing to do. Is the Member telling us, however, that his party would now reverse its position on welfare, for example, and say that the money that was negotiated for the mitigation measures and the money that we will spend on welfare should be put into our health service? Let us remember that his party voted against the Budgets, so is he saying that we should not have allocated an additional £133 million resource DEL to the Department of Health or provided £40 million before Christmas to help with waiting lists? Is he saying that those are things that we should not have done?

I take his point that I like to see outcomes, but I realise that the sad reality of the House — I have said this time and again — is that we have political wish lists longer than the length of the Chamber. Collectively, parties are going to have to say, "Yes, we would like to be able to do that, but our priority is our health service and delivering for that". It is time that his party stopped making the case for some of the things that it has advocated. We would then have the resources to deal with the issues.

It also comes down to another issue, and I said this to Mrs Cochrane the Member for East Belfast. When we talk about rationalisation, tell us where you want the services to end. Tell the people. In my constituency, does it mean that we have to tell people that the Causeway Hospital should close? Is that the sort of rationale and rationalisation that the Member and his party support?