Budget Bill: Second Stage

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 10:00 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Mervyn Storey Mervyn Storey DUP 10:00 pm, 9th February 2016

No doubt that is more material for manifestos, press releases and all that. That is an issue for the Member.

I will conclude by addressing an issue —

[Interruption.]

— do not encourage me — which is that we ignored young people who are not in full-time employment or training. Again, we do ourselves a disservice in that we ignore the fact that some €37 million has been secured from DEL and from ESF match funding, which will aim to provide 10,000 places. That is significant and is an investment in our unemployed and economically inactive. It should not be dismissed.

We were accused of playing politics with the Budget. Would it not be an awful thing if politicians did something political? Would it not be awful that we would be involved in such a thing? Let me explain — I think that I did explain, but the Member who made the allegation was not listening or was not present, and he is not present now. The reason for the increased Vote on Account for the Department for Regional Development is to provide it with the cover to take on the additional functions that it will inherit when it becomes the Department for Infrastructure in May after the elections. The Member implied that that is something to do with the party to which the Minister belongs.

As I explained, a number of Departments will take on new functions because of the reduction from 12 Departments to nine, where a similar increase has been needed, and the amounts are being made available in the Vote on Account, including for DARD, which is not a Department that any of my colleagues lead. I need to reiterate that the Vote on Account does not set a Department's budget for the year; it is simply a mechanism to allow a Department to keep carrying out its functions until such time as the Assembly considers the Main Estimates and the Budget Bill for 2016-17.

I am glad that I can recommend the Budget to the House, and I ask that the Assembly approves the Budget that is before it tonight.