Budget Bill: Second Stage

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 8:00 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin 8:00 pm, 9th February 2016

Thank you. I was waiting with bated breath to hear about the prosperity plan. I am happy to have a health debate. I do not know whether the Member is proud of the fact that we have set aside £4·8 billion for health, but I am. If he thinks that anyone on this side of the Chamber or the other side of the Chamber is not going to demand and insist on delivery, he has not been listening to what we have been saying today when we challenged the Economy Minister on some of the problems within DETI. We will insist on proper delivery and excellence in every Department.

However, I am still waiting to hear what the SDLP would do.

The only suggestion so far is that you will take £800,000 from OFMDFM, perhaps closing down the Victims and Survivors Service — that is £800,000 — or making 20 people redundant. You want to give that to the women's centre childcare unit, which, in fact, is being sorted out. However, you make a fair point: you have suggested that, out of a huge budget, you will take £800,000 from one Department and put it into another.

After all of the talking tonight, are you saying that you have laboured long and hard over this but will not tell us how you would move money between Departments? Do you want to spend more on health? You seemed to be saying that in your earlier suggestions. If it is more than £4·8 billion, where is it coming from? If it is to come from savings, that is interesting because, then, the SDLP's position is that the only thing that should be different in the Budget is that there should be more efficiencies. I think that everybody would sign up for that. If there is to be a bold — we heard that word used earlier — ambition behind the prosperity plan, which we are still waiting for, let us know what it is, because we would like to see an alternative. There is no monopoly on budgets, so tell us where you would remove the money from. Would it be from the Culture Department, from DOE, from DRD or from the economy? Where will you take money from to give you that additional spending power, or is there no additional spend intended? I do not know whether that will be in the prosperity plan, when we see it, but, to me, raiding £800,000 from OFMDFM and making 20 people redundant is kindergarten economics.