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Tuesday, 18 July, 2000, 21:20 GMT 22:20 UK
Chancellor's cash boost for NI
Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown: Second spending review
The government has announced that there is to be a rise in public spending in Northern Ireland of close to 1bn over the next three years.

It will be down to the Stormont power-sharing executive to decide how best the extra money should be spent.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Gordon Brown opened his election war chest to unveil a 43bn boost in public spending in the UK over the next three years.

The government also said there would be extra funding for the Northern Ireland Office to meet its commitments under the Good Friday Agreement.

This is thought to include more than 300m for the reform of the RUC.

The chancellor said it would "help fund the modernisation of policing and criminal justice" in Northern Ireland.

Peter Mandelson:
Peter Mandelson: " Good news for everyone in Northern Ireland"
He said it would help "underpin peace and future prosperity".

The Secretary of State Peter Mandelson said it was good news for everyone in Northern Ireland and would give the devolved administration the resources to deliver improved services.

Stormont finance minister Mark Durkan said the extra allocation of money was "very welcome".

Speaking on Tuesday, he said: "Through recent debates in the assembly, I am well aware of the many pressing issues which we must address and we now have a good opportunity to act.

"There will never be enough to meet all demands but the executive committee will now be able to consider how to deploy the additional spending as we set out our priorities for the programme for government."

'Substantial boost'

The minister said as a result of lobbying, the executive had succeeded in securing a correction to the Barnett Formula which determines the amount of money Northern Ireland will receive out of the overall budget.

Also on Tuesday, Northern Ireland First and Deputy First Ministers, David Trimble and Seamus Mallon, described it as a "substantial boost" for the province.

Mr Trimble said the increase would provide "a good basis for the development" of public services in the province.

Deputy First Minister Mallon stressed that the spending patterns of the Northern Ireland Executive would not necessarily mirror those in England.

"With devolved government we now have the responsibility and opportunity to address local needs for the distribution of this money and we will need to look carefully at how best to use this allocation," he said.

The chairman of the Assembly Finance and Personnel committee, Francie Molloy, said MLAs would be watching how the money was spent to see if priority was given across the departments to targeting social need.

The Sinn Fein MLA said: "We need to ensure that money is allocated fairly and equitably."

The Mid Ulster Assemblyman said spending on health and education as well as transport remained high priorities for the Northern Ireland executive and he also stressed the importance of improving infrastructure west of the Bann.

In the Commons, Mr Brown insisted his spending spree did not mean a loosening of public finances, stressing that the extra resources were now available not at the expense of prudence but because of prudence.

Mr Brown, announcing his second Comprehensive Spending Review to MPs, said: "The public spending allocations for 2001-2004 that I'm announcing today are possible because, having eliminated the 28bn deficit ... having reduced the national debt, the state of our public finances is strong."

He insisted there were strings attached to the extra money for health, defence, education and tackling crime: "At every stage money will be tied to output and to performance."

Mr Brown told MPs that Regional Enterprise Zones would be set up, there would be further help for science and technology developments and e-commerce companies would be encouraged to set up in the UK with a special Internet service supplying "comprehensive business advice".

Stormont finance minister Mark Durkan
"Increases are significant"
See also:

14 Jul 00 | CSR
17 Jul 00 | UK Education
17 Jul 00 | CSR
16 Jul 00 | UK Politics
13 Jul 00 | Business
12 Jan 00 | N Ireland
15 Dec 99 | N Ireland
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