Gordon Dunne: Shame on you.
Gordon Dunne: Can the Minister outline how welfare supplementary payments are to be calculated?
Gordon Dunne: I welcome the opportunity to speak on this important piece of business in the House today. I thank the Minister for his work in bringing forward the regulations. They are an important step in introducing effective and realistic cost controls to reduce the burden upon our Budget and help bring controls to the scheme. I know that the Minister and his officials have worked extensively on...
Gordon Dunne: I, too, welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter. I commend my colleague Alex Easton for raising it this evening. I think that we are all very aware of the public realm work that has been completed, with £8 million of investment through DSD, which is now the Department for Communities, in partnership with Ards and North Down Borough Council. In the main, it has been a success. I...
Gordon Dunne: T6. Mr Dunne asked the Minister of Justice whether she is aware of recent reports of plans to curb the potential prosecutions of military personnel. (AQT 671/16-21)
Gordon Dunne: I thank the Minister for her answer. Does she recognise the need for such measures to be put in place to limit the potential for ex members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary to be prosecuted under the so-called legacy investigations?
Gordon Dunne: 7. Mr Dunne asked the Minister of Justice for an update on the reform of legal aid. (AQO 924/16-21)
Gordon Dunne: I thank the Minister for her answers. Does she recognise the need for the Department of Justice and legal services to implement and drive change? A recent Public Accounts Committee report came to this conclusion: "What we have found in this inquiry is that these reforms have not been implemented effectively and the costs of legal aid have continued to climb. We are seeing average annual...
Gordon Dunne: It needs to be controlled.
Gordon Dunne: No, thanks. There were clear risks from the start in having two bodies involved in managing the scheme. DETI was responsible for the policy framework, and Ofgem was responsible for managing the applications and installations, including compliance. Ofgem, which was working on the ground, did not even have a representative based in Northern Ireland. The other major discrepancy was that...
Gordon Dunne: No, thanks. There was no evidence of a management review by DETI. There was no clear establishment of a risk register that would have identified the major financial risk of overspend in the project. The business case, which was referred to the Department of Finance on 9 March 2012, stated that Ofgem would provide regular management reports that would enable the uptake to be carefully...
Gordon Dunne: It is important that we get to the bottom of the problem and that corrective actions are put in place to stop a recurrence. The lessons learned from the project should be applied to all Departments.
Gordon Dunne: I rise to speak on this item of business that has been brought before the House as an MLA and also a member of the PAC. The Public Accounts Committee has had a rigorous programme of work, and we have gone through a number of months of concentrating on that work and have engaged with a number of those involved in the scheme. All members — I stress all members — of the various parties...
Gordon Dunne: I, too, thank the Minister for his answers. Can he give his assessment of how important he sees the retail sector to the Northern Ireland economy and how our town centres are facing up to the ever-changing challenges?
Gordon Dunne: T7. Mr Dunne asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for some information in relation to the basic payment scheme, better known as the single farm payment scheme, and, given that a lot of her officials have been caught up in dealing with appeals, for an assessment of the overall progress of the appeals process. (AQT 602/16-21)
Gordon Dunne: I thank the Minister for her answer. Can she advise how many applications are delayed within the actual process and whether the necessary resources will be made available to try to resolve the issues?
Gordon Dunne: 5. Mr Dunne asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for her assessment of the time taken by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in responding to councils’ consultations on planning applications. (AQO 820/16-21)
Gordon Dunne: I thank the Minister for her answer. Does she agree that an efficient and effective NIEA is important for an effective planning process? Can she give us some more information on the performance of the NIEA so far this year for the different council areas?
Gordon Dunne: T5. Mr Dunne asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister for an update on their planned visit to China. (AQT 560/16-21)
Gordon Dunne: I thank the Minister for her answer. Following our successful year of food and drink and given the quality of products available, what opportunities exist for further exports of our quality products into new markets like China?