Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Wednesday, 20 June 2012 12:18 UK

Finance Committee

The finance committee agreed to fast-track the Budget Bill following a row over a delay in the delivery of budget information, on 20 June 2012.

Addressing members, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson accused some of political grandstanding over the issue.

Committee members had complained of a failure on the part of finance department officials to deliver budget figures to them in good time.

As a result the committee had refused to grant the bill accelerated passage.

The minister said his department had served the committee well, handing over 82% of papers within the timescales set by the members.

He said this compared favourably with other committees, and that his department had responded to member's questions that were tabled the day before the committee meeting.

"I want to put it on record we recognise the importance of the committee and always seek to service the committee as efficiently as possible," he said.

He added that he was therefore a "bit disappointed" at the way the committee had reacted to "a genuine mistake" that was remedied quickly.

The minister hoped that "political grandstanding" by some would not persist and they could get on with business, but acknowledged: "That's the nature of the game."

Committee chairman, Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein, said he acknowledged the department had been very cooperative in the past.

He said the committee took its scrutiny role very seriously and it was on that basis that it granted accelerated passage, which will allow the bill to pass more quickly through the assembly.

Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs quoted standing orders and the importance of the committee's function, but was told by the minister that the route he was going down was "not very profitable".

Mr Wilson said the papers were delivered by officials more than a week previously.

He then accused Mr Beggs of "chuntering on" about the the issue in public and hoped he would not continue to do so.

Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin said he wanted to speak out against Mr Wilson's argument that the committee had granted accelerated passage in previous years after only one committee briefing.

He said this was "an argument around a puff of smoke" and that every year the scrutiny process was different.

Finance committee membership


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