Assembly Speech- Creation of Ad Hoc Committee For Economic Downturn 12/5/2009


Mr Speaker / Deputy Speaker

I rise today to support the amendment to the motion from my Party colleagues.  The amendment is sensible in the context of the debate and outlines the best steps for the Assembly to take in dealing with the economic downturn.

Maybe it is an attitude thing but rather than talk about forming a committee to address the economic downturn this Assembly would find it more profitable to talk about the creation of the circumstances that will give the opportunities within which enterprise and innovation can thrive. A positive approach to building the economy and economic prosperity rather than having to address negatives.

Turning to the amendment it outlines how the Executive has reallocated £1 billion in resources aimed at tackling the economic downturn.  The amendment also points out that there are a number of other areas in which we could reduce public expenditure which would see a vast saving for the public purse.

Only yesterday my Party Leader announced a number of proposals which would see the burden on the public purse being reduced significantly.  We would see a reduction in the number of government bodies and Assembly members.  I can assure you that Northern Ireland, with a population of just over one and a half million, does not require eleven government departments.  The DUP has also called on the removal of institutions, such as the Parades Commission which no longer serves any role within society and the sooner we are free of their budget the better.  We have also called on the abolition of the Civic Forum, a quango which serves no purpose and has not met for so long people have forgotten of its existence. 

The DUP has consistently said that we want to see streamlined and cost efficient government.  The current system of eleven government departments is not cost effective; it is wasting tax payer’s money which could be used to greater effect in dealing with the economic prosperity.

There is a need to act quickly at this time.  There is a need to show the public that we understand the situation many of them are facing.  And we need to see decisions being made quickly and efficiently in response to evolving circumstances.  And you all know the old adage- form a committee that will slow them down.

I spent Monday talking to members of the business community and one of their major complaints is against red tape.  They will only laugh if the decision of this Assembly is to form another layer of bureaucracy to address issues that are the responsibility of the existing departments.

The business sector want action, want decisions, wants to be free from red tape and they expect this Assembly and its Ministers to make the decisions.

The amendment out forward by my party colleagues deals with the issues of the economic downturn.  It sets out a clear path, which has also been laid down by my party leader, on how we can best deal with the current economic climate and how we can best reduce the burden being placed upon the public purse.  The motion laid down by the SDLP will only use up valuable time we can ill afford.  This Assembly gained respect from the people of Northern Ireland when it took swift action to deal with the flooding in 2007 and 2008- the Assembly provided leadership; it didn’t need a sub committee to consider all the aspects the flooding caused to householders and businesses. The remedies are being considered by the relevant departments in the aftermath of dealing with the immediate impact of the flood damage.

The Assembly must address areas that will enable growth in the economy and provide the prosperity due to all our constituents.  In general only courageous choices will increase our prosperity.  These need to include:
1. Facilitate the growth of the private sector and jobs within it.
2. Stimulate investment.
3. Give confidence to the business community and increase innovation and enterprise.
4. Facilitating business.
5. Reform the public sector
6. Improve our infrastructure.
There is no need for the creation of yet another pointless sub committee within this Assembly.

Mr Speaker / Deputy Speaker I support the amendment