HC Deb 30 July 1998 vol 317 cc597-8
Mr. Paul Murphy

I beg to move amendment No. 38, in page 22, line 36, leave out from beginning to end of line 17 on page 23.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 39 to 42.

No. 6, in clause 51, page 25, line 9, at end insert— '(3) Subject to subsection (4), no payment shall be made under section 45(1) or 46 unless a draft budget for the financial year to which the payment relates has been approved under subsection (2) and has been laid before the House of Commons at least ten sitting days before any motion is made in that House for the approval of a grant of supply out of which the payment is to be made. (4) Nothing in subsection (3) shall prejudice any grant of supply for the purposes of making good to the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland any issue which may be authorised out of that Fund under section 47.'. Government amendments Nos. 52 and 67.

Mr. Murphy

Amendments Nos. 38 to 40 and 52 respond to representations made to the Government by a number of right hon. and hon. Members, including the First Minister. They abolish the present system whereby the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland is financed from two sources. The first, which is represented by clause 45, is the so-called attributed share—the share of the total of UK taxes that comes from Northern Ireland. The second, in clause 46, is the additional payment made because the money raised from the attributed share is insufficient to meet Northern Ireland's needs.

In Scotland, these matters are not presented in the same way as they are for Northern Ireland. We see no reason for a difference; we therefore tabled the amendments to abolish the clause. It will make no difference to the total amount provided for Northern Ireland, but it is an important presentational point.

Amendments Nos. 41 and 42 remove the requirement for the draft budget to be laid before the Assembly by a specific date in December. The requirement was originally included to coincide with departmental and Treasury planning cycles, which change from time to time. We did not want the dates to be altered, nor did we want the Assembly to be so tied down. The amendment merely requires the draft budget to be laid and considered before the start of the financial year. In practice, I expect the Assembly to deal with it before each Christmas to give Northern Ireland Departments time to allocate money internally for the new financial year, as we do at present.

Amendment No. 67 is consequential on the repeal of the Government of Ireland Act 1920.

Amendment agreed to.

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