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Naomi Long: Will the First Minister give way?
Naomi Long: Will the Minister give way?
Naomi Long: I have asked the Minister to give way.
Naomi Long: I thank the First Minister for giving way eventually. The point that he made about Members ranting about the situation is unjustified. Anything that I have said in the public domain or in the Chamber has been measured in tone; it is not my intention to simply rant about the issue or to whip up hysteria, but simply to deal with issues of concern. The Minister claims that some Members have not...
Naomi Long: There were from you.
Naomi Long: Does Sinn Féin know that?
Naomi Long: At all stages of the Bill, I made clear that I was not opposed to accelerated passage.
Naomi Long: The First Minister said originally that the issue might be that the clause would leave regulations open to judicial review. The Alliance Party is making the point that clause 4(5) provides cover in cases where an alternative mechanism might exist, but the choice is made not to use it. Therefore, asking the First Minister to explore the issue retains a backstop position that covers the use of...
Naomi Long: If the Member is willing, and the First Minister keen to do so, that can still be done. I simply sought clarification that our reading of that amendment was an accurate reflection of its intention.
Naomi Long: If the First Minister had been listening to my contribution, he would know that I made it very clear what my queries were. I outlined what our understanding of amendment No 11 was, and I then asked him whether he could clarify whether that understanding was correct. It is all on the record.
Naomi Long: I oppose the notion that clause 2 stand part of the Bill. Many of the issues that I will raise today, I also raised last week. Unlike with clause 1, OFMDFM made very little effort to address those issues in any meaningful way. [Interruption.]
Naomi Long: Mr Speaker, I thank you for your assistance. I seem to have the knack of clearing the House. Much of what I will raise today on clause 2, I also raised last week. However, having reviewed the Hansard report of last’s week debate carefully, I note that, unlike with clause 1, OFMDFM made very little effort to address the concerns about clause 2 in any meaningful way. The Ministers gave more...
Naomi Long: Will the Member indicate where the Bill provides a ring-fenced fund for anything? It simply provides an enabling power to allow OFMDFM to intervene in such circumstances as it feels it is necessary. It is not actually creating a fund or doing anything of the sort that he has just described.
Naomi Long: Will the Member give way?
Naomi Long: Will the Member give way?
Naomi Long: I thank the First Minister for giving way and accept, in part, what he said. The position that my party was trying to express was that it would be more logical for cross-cutting themes, and the lack of levers to ensure delivery, to be dealt with coherently and altogether, rather than tagging one issue on to the Financial Assistance Bill and leaving the rest in the ether, to be dealt with...
Naomi Long: The First Minister suggested that clause 2 would be one way to deal with disputes between Departments. Clause 2 is part of the Financial Assistance Bill and, therefore, relates specifically to financial assistance. If clause 2 is now being interpreted as a means to direct Departments on their responsibilities, that seems to go beyond what is contained in the legislation. I accept that there...
Naomi Long: Does the Member agree that not one of the debates that has taken place on the subject has delayed fuel payments by one day? Protocol requires that the Bill go through all the legislative Stages. Mr Moutray has exposed only his own lack of understanding of the legislative process.
Naomi Long: I thank the Member for giving way. Several Sinn Féin and DUP Members made the point that their opposing the amendments will speed up the process. Will the Member state clearly how many extra days would be added to the process if the amendments were agreed to?
Naomi Long: I rise to give the Alliance Party’s position on the second group of amendments. I will preface my party’s response to those amendments by reiterating its stance on two particular matters. (Mr Deputy Speaker [Mr McClarty] in the Chair) The First Minister refers continually to his frustration that my party does not listen to him. Mr Moutray also expressed his concern. It may be news to...