Page last updated at 12:53 GMT, Wednesday, 15 December 2010

AS IT HAPPENED: MLAs debate NI draft budget

The Northern Ireland Assembly debated a draft four-year draft budget, after an agreement during late night talks at Stormont Castle.

1302 Alliance MLA Anna Lo asks Sammy Wilson if has he considered the cost of the division in Northern Ireland society and of the potential savings that could be made from a shared future? Mr Wilson replies: "We must be sensitive to the situation on the ground," but that he was open to any innovative ideas that could save money.

1301 Mr Wilson says he hopes for goodwill so that progress could be made on savings and making the budget work.

1259 SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie says: "There are certain areas in this budget that we would like included that are not included. We have eight weeks to make this better and a much more improved budget."

1258 Margaret Ritchie defends the decision to bail-out PMS savers on Talkbalk. She says: "Those people need to be protected. Those who are savers have a right and a justified right to be assisted."

1257 Mr Wilson says the Executive had to abide by the civil service pay freeze - "we are talking about hundreds of jobs (could be lost) had we not implemented the pay freeze," he says.

1254 The finance minister tells the assembly: "We want to give young people skills so they would not be a burden on society and make a contribution to society."

1252 Mr Wilson says: "As a result of our investment many key projects will be able to proceed over the period. They include the new police and fire service training centre, Altnagelvin Hospital radiography centre, sports stadia and the water and sewerage network upgrades

1251 Mr Wilson says the removal of quangos will require legislation.

1250 Economist Neil Gibson says Northern Ireland should not expect anything other than world class services. Developed countries around the world would kill for the amount of funding the Northern Ireland Executive receives, he adds.

1248 Roger Pollen from the Federation of Small Businesses tells Talkback it is important to clarify if the plastic bag levy is being looked at as a way of raising revenue or helping the environment. If it is to deter the public from using plastic bags then revenue will fall as a result.

1245 Sinn Fein's Sue Ramsey asks: "Are you indicating there is no provision for increasing student fees?"

1243 The finance minister says: "We have applied the prudence principal to Belfast port. We have put £15m in Belfast port in the last two years."

1238 Alliance MLA Stephen Farry tells Talkback: "This is an agreed draft budget it is not a collection of ideas. We do respect we are part of a partnership. You do not get everything you want. It is not perfect and we will pick over the flaws in the weeks to come.

1234Sinn Fein's Niall O Donnghaile tweets "This is a great triumph for Daithi McKay" after Sammy Wilson commented on the Plastic Bag Levy in the Assembly chamber

1234 Mr Wilson says the Department of Education and Learning budget is growing over the next four years.

1233 Slugger O'Toole tweets the Executive is "making tough choices for the good of the country...":

1232 Mr Wilson says: "We have sought to look around where there is unused capital to bring into the budget."

1230 Talkback callers are demanding answers. Dave in Derry wants to know why his taxes are being used to bail out PMS savers? Mary asked where the ministers came up with the "magic" public sector pay freeze figure of £21,000. She believes this will hurt young people the most.

Sammy Wilson
1227 Mr Wilson says the policing and justice budget will be ring-fenced and the new police and fire training facilities will still go ahead.

1225 The DUP's Alastair Ross asks how the draft budget will impact on policing.

1220 Patrica McKeown from the public service union, UNISON, tells Talkback the Finance Minister needs "to get real". She said Mr Wilson may have protected the "health" budget but he failed to mention funding for social care. She added: "If he has refused to look at that, he has refused to look at the most vulnerable people in society."

1219The minister reiterates the budget does not envisage water charges being brought in.

1218 Conall McDevitt tweets: Schools budget taking huge hit in budget. Are SF and the DUP asking all our children to pay for their new pet projects ?

1216 Mr Wilson says "We have sought to make this an Executive budget and sought ways to include all Executive members." He adds he is disappointed that some MLAs are trying to present it as a budget of two parties (the DUP and Sinn Fein).

1213 The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry says while his party may have done things "more radically", they will give the draft budget "a fair wind".

1210 SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie asks when we will see a programme for government and how priorities for different departments were established.

Mark Devenport
1208 BBC's Political Editor Mark Devenport said the budget breakdown is not yet clear but he believes a quarter of the savings will come from fresh revenue, while 75% will come from cuts to services that the Executive departments will have to shoulder.

1208 After a question by Ulster Unionist David McNarry, Mr Wilson says he is surprised the MLA did "not have the humility" to apologise for previously briefing the press that a deal on the budget was never going to happen.

1204 Simon Hamilton (DUP) congratulates the finance minister on budget which he says some members of the house were saying was not possible.

1202 The chair of the finance committee Jennifer McCann (Sinn Fein) asks Mr Wilson if the public will have adequate time to respond to the budget.

1200 "Leaves us with the capacity to deliver quality public services and the lowest household taxes anywhere in UK."

1159 Mr Wilson urges all members of public to have their say on the draft budget

1158 New police and fire training facilities to go ahead, as will water and sewage improvements, and sports stadia.

1157 A tax on plastic bags is another feature of the draft budget

1156 Announces £20m hardship fund for those in economic difficulties

1155 Mr Wilson says even in most difficult financial situation health service funding will be ring-fenced, but the health minister must make efficiencies.

1152 Mr Wilson announces a scheme to help Presbyterian Mutual Society savers who lost money when it collapsed.

1151 He says it is essential to maximise job creation sectors - £18.8m to be invested over the next three years to hopefully create more than 4,000 jobs in that period.

1149 Mr Wilson says the Executive is committed to protecting household budgets, so domestic rates will only increase in line with inflation over the next four years and there are no plans to bring in water charges.

1147 We will put a freeze on annual inflation pay rises for all public sector workers earning more than £21,000

1146 "One thing we don't want to do is include figures in the budget where we don't know if the money is available"

1143 "The real benefit of devolution is how we react in tough times."

1141 Mr Wilson says it was not possible to achieve complete consensus around the Executive table, but at least nobody voted against it. "Crucial that we have a budget for the next four years

1139 Sammy Wilson said Northern Ireland faced its most difficult fiscal situation in decades due to the spending review

1138 Sammy Wilson said Northern Ireland faced its most difficult fiscal situation in decades due to the spending review

1137 Sammy Wilson gets to his feet about eight minutes earlier than expected

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific