Stormont House Agreement (reduced to 750 words, then further digested to 350 and 140 words) #StormontTalks

For those who don’t want to read the full document here’s an easy to digest 750-word summary!. (At the bottom you’ll find an even more concise 350 word digest, along with downloadable versions to re-use.)

Wordle of Stormont House Agreement December 2014Final balanced budget to be agreed in January 2015.

Legislation before Assembly in January 2015 to push through Welfare changes; no new money for ‘flexibilities and top-ups’ added to address local Welfare need. The £114m welfare reform deduction to be proportionately reduced if implementation of welfare reform completed during 2015-16.

Devolution of Corporation Tax in April 2017 – still 27 months away. Welfare Bill needs to pass through Consideration Stage in Assembly before end of February 2015. Additional fiscal devolution may include Aggregates Levy, Stamp Duty Land Tax and Landfill Tax.

Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition to be established by June 2015 and report by December 2016.

Based on earlier Party Leader Talks (rather than the specific negotiations in Stormont House) the UK Government propose devolving responsibility for parades and protests to NI Assembly. OFMDFM to bring range of proposal to Executive by June 2015.

£150m of new UK Government funding (£30m annually for 5 years) for bodies to deal with the past.

Oral History Archive – independent and free from political interference – to be formed by Executive by 2016. Academic-led historical timeline and statistical analysis of the Troubles to report within 12 months of Archive establishment.

Mental Trauma Services (as recommended by Commission for Victims and Survivors) to be established within NHS but working closely with Victims and Survivors Service.

Legislation to establish independent Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), overseen by NI Policing Board, and aiming to complete work within five years of establishment. Legacy inquests (compliant with ECHR Article 2 requirements) to continue as separate process to HIU.

New Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR) to be established by UK and Irish Governments. Limited to five years of operation. Information provided to it will not be disclosed to law enforcement or intelligence agencies, and such information will be inadmissible in criminal and civil proceedings. Immune from judicial review, FOI, data protection and national archives legislation in both jurisdictions.

Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG) established to oversee themes, archives and information recovery. Themes report to be commissioned after five years.

By March 2015, Opposition arrangements to be put in place in Assembly allowing parties entitled to ministerial positions but who choose not to take them to be recognised and supported. [This falls short of John McCallister’s reform bill which would have allowed smaller parties to form part of Opposition.] Research and financial assistance to be provided cost neutral from within existing NI Assembly budgets. Speaking rights and ability to table business.

After an Assembly election and before FM/dFM selected and d’Hondt run, representatives from parties who confirm their intention to take Executive ministries will have seven days (or 14 days if Westminster legislation amended in time) to draft Programme for Government.

Executive departments to reduce from 12 to 9 in time for 2016 Assembly election. Independent audit of departmental spending to identify how societal divisions impact delivery of goods facilities and services, leading to ‘consideration’ of how best to reconfigure service delivery consistent with shared future. In future, Executive meeting agenda to be circulated a day in advance; process to stop papers festering and not being discussed; three ministers to be able to request Executive meeting to be convened within 3 days; any minister to be able to raise item under Any Other Business.

Establishment of new civic advisory panel by June 2015 to advise NI Executive. Chair appointed by OFMDFM.

Assembly to shrink in time for 2021 election down to five member constituencies (“or such other reduction as may be agreed”). Petition of Concern threshold remains at 30 members. Parties to agree protocol to change how Petition of Concern is used. New process for “more transparent and robust system” of MLA salaries and expenses.

Maximum policy consultation period requirement drops from 12 to 8 weeks.

UK and Irish Governments [but no mention of local parties] endorse the need for respect for and recognition of the Irish language in NI.

£700m capital borrowing to fund civil service voluntary exit scheme (£200m in 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and £100m in 2018-19).

Contribution of £500m new capital funding to support shared and integrated education subject to individual projects being agreed between Executive and UK Government.

Additional £350m of borrowing for infrastructure projects (£100m in 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and £50 in 2018-19).

Proceeds from sale of specific agreed assets [likely to include Belfast Harbour] to be retained in their entirety by NI Executive. The £100m loan from Treasury and £114m welfare deductions can be paid off from asset sales and capital budgets.

Additional €50m contribution towards PEACE IV funding by UK Government.

UK Government may gift surplus properties to provision of shared housing.

– – –

Bonus – a 350 word version. Feel free to re-use and adapt these digests (attribution requested). Download as Word, PDF or JPEG

  • Executive budget agreed in January 2015. No new money for Welfare but local flexibilities and top-ups to be agreed.
  • Corporation Tax devolved in April 2017. Aggregates Levy, Stamp Duty Land Tax and Landfill Tax may be devolved.
  • Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition reports in 18 months. Responsibility for parades and protests devolved; Executive to propose mechanism.
  • NHS to run Mental Trauma Services working with Victims and Survivors Service.
  • £150m new funding for bodies dealing with past. Oral History Archive established, free from political interference. Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) overseen by NI Policing Board given five years. ECHR Article 2-compliant legacy inquests continue separately. Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR) given 5 years outside reach of police, intelligence agencies, courts, judicial review, FOI, data protection in both jurisdictions. Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG) to look at themes.
  • ‘Compact’ civic advisory panel by June 2015 to advise Executive.
  • Opposition arrangements by March 2015 give parties entitled to ministerial positions opportunity to be supported in Opposition with rights to speak, table business, research and funding.
  • Immediately after an Assembly election, big parties not going into Opposition given 7-14 days to draft Programme for Government before d’Hondt runs.
  • Executive departments drop to 9 in 2016. Departments will deliver services consistent with shared future. Executive to circulate agenda in advance; stop ignoring unpopular papers; allow three ministers to call emergency meeting within 3 days.
  • Five MLA constituencies by 2021 election. Petition of Concern protocol to be agreed. MLA salaries and expenses to be more transparent and robust
  • Maximum policy consultation period drops from 12 to 8 weeks.
  • Two governments say Irish language to be respected and recognised in NI.
  • £700m loan for civil service voluntary exit scheme.
  • £500m capital funding for shared and integrated education projects (agreed by Executive and UK Government).
  • £350m loan for infrastructure projects.
  • Specific agreed assets to be sold; proceeds retained by Executive and used to pay off £100m Treasury loan and £114m welfare deductions which may yet be reduced.
  • UK to invest additional €50m in PEACE IV.
  • Surplus UK Government properties could be gifted to shared housing.

And in 140 words …

Corporation Tax devolved by April 2017. £700m loan for civil service voluntary redundancies; £500m capital for shared and integrated education; £350m infrastructure loan; additional €50m for PEACE IV. Executive to bank proceeds from sale of local assets.

No new money but local flexibilities/top-ups for Welfare.

£150m to fund Oral History Archive, Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR) and Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG) looking at themes.

Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition reports by January 2016. Parading will be devolved (mechanism proposed by Executive). NHS-run Mental Trauma Services for victims.

‘Compact’ civic advisory panel to advise Executive (drops to 9 departments by 2016). Platform for Government in future drafted before d’Hondt run.

Opposition arrangements by March 2015. Five MLA constituencies by 2021; their salaries/expenses to be more transparent/robust. Changes to Petition of Concern mechanism.

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.