“and in light of the other budgetary pressures facing the Executive”

The BBC report that Finance Minister Peter Robinson has criticised members of the NI Executive who voted in favour of the Alliance party’s amendment yesterday, and he says those that did broke the ministerial code as the executive had unanimously agreed not to vote for high-spending measures unless all ministers supported them. However, as observer correctly pointed out in the comments zone here last night, the Assembly actually passed the UUP amendment to the motion, after voting on the Alliance amendment.. and it gives the Executive much more room for manoeuvre on the issue.. to the extent that they have not given an absolute commitment to provide that free personal care for the elderly at all.. nor a time-frame.Here’s the motion as agreed by the Assembly, after the UUP amendment was accepted

That this Assembly accepts the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Long-Term Care of the Elderly; supports in principle the introduction of free personal care; calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to report on the fiscal, workforce and administrative preparations required to implement the policy; and asks the Executive to consider the costs and method of delivery in the context of the Comprehensive Spending Review and in light of the other budgetary pressures facing the Executive.

And those Executive Ministers criticised by Peter Robinson?

From the AYES [scroll down], to the Alliance party’s amendment, that would be

Mr M McGuinness, Mr Murphy, Ms Ritchie, Ms Ruane

Adds UTV report

, , , ,

  • observer

    Pete, thanks for the acknowledgement. Although I see that BBC NI are still confused …

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6704235.stm

    “On Tuesday, the assembly voted in favour of providing free personal care for the elderly in the 2008-2009 budget and onwards. MLAs passed an Alliance amendment to an SDLP motion which backed the provision of free care”.

  • Pete Baker

    To be fair, observer, the BBC report is factually accurate.. but they are omitting to mention that agreeing to the UUP amendment meant that the earlier vote was meaningless.

  • J Kelly

    What ministers are we talking about here. Can someone calrify for me, if the Assembly passes a motion such as this are the executive duty bound to implement it.

  • Pete Baker

    J Kelly

    I clarified which ministers are involved in the original post.

    And you may want to read the motion as passed.. also in the original post.

  • To be honest, BBC NI’s television coverage of the debate was pretty shambolic yesterday. They completely missed the vote on The Alliance motion. Jim Fitzpatrick then asked Mark Devenport to interpret the two votes. Devenport guessed that the Alliance motion had been defeated and they proceeded to have a debate based on their assumption that the Alliance motion had been defeated. It was really embarrassing stuff.

    They then cut-off from a debate on the next motion (something to do with learning difficulties) to bring Minister McGimpsey and Iris Robinson (Chair of the Health Select Committee)into the studio to talk about the first motion.

    In a truly embarrassing moment. Jim Fitzpatrick gradually began to sense that maybe the Alliance motion had not actually been lost. He then had to actually ask Minister McGimspey the result of that vote as The BBC had missed it !!!

    To be fair, Mark Devenport subsequently apologised, but the BBC’s coverage was absolutely amateurish and pretty shambolic. They are going to have to do a lot,lot, better if they are to cover future Assembly matters with even a degree of professionalism.

  • Pete Baker

    mac

    That confusion was, no doubt, due to the deputy speaker initially ruling the Alliance amendment as lost.. before a recorded vote was forced.

    But the subsequent UUP amendment means that the Alliance amendment is now irrelevant.

  • joeCanuck

    At least we are having “real” politics at last.

  • I watched it live yesterday Pete, and the point I’m making was that the BBC actually cut-over to the chamber after the result of The Alliance motion had already been announced. They were’nt actually aware what way the Speaker had declared the result. They had no-one in the studio who could verify the result so Mark Devenport simply said that he would assume that the first vote had been lost based on hearing the second vote (on the amendment).

    They then went over to what was a quite interesting discussion on the second motion (which was I think a DUP motion concerning Learning Difficulties at Primary School Level). They interrupted this very abruptly to do the interview with Minister McGimpsey and Iris Robinson, but they had still not the first idea about the result of The Alliance motion on the Health debate.

    I generally enjoy BBC’s political coverage apart from Mark Carruthers who tends to be a bit Stephen Nolan-esque in limiting the level of debates to a very basic level. I do, however, feel that they were all over the place at times yesterday. Both Minister McGimpsey and Iris Robinson were extremely competent in their replies and it was perhaps quite ironic to see our local politicians being professional and our local journalists quite amateurish. The local media has lambasted local politicians for years for their alleged lack of competency, but yesterday the reverse was definitely the case…

  • DC

    If I was an elderly person I would hardly be expecting much in the way of cash savings anytime soon in what is a very watery commitment to providing free personal care.

    As for primacy of authority of Excutitve Ministers over that of the collectivity of Assembly members wishes is very interesting.

  • DC,

    I agree. Michael McGimpsey was at great pains to cite the Scotish Assembly who waited three years before finally awarding assistance. He made it clear that nothing would happen prior to 2010. The other point is that the latest costing estimates indicate that the potential costs may be anything from £40 million to £60 million. This is a significant extra burden on the Health Budget.

    There is also the great unknown factor as to how many people might actually apply for assistance whenever it finally becomes available. in Scotland, the ‘take-up’ was significantly higher than had been forecast.

  • Pitt the Younger

    The elderly are being financed to too great a degree already. There is a culture that people deserve to be rewarded simpy for living a long time. Those who die get panned with death duties. I fully respect those who live in and around their 3 score years and ten, then shuffle off to make room for the rest of us coming along. There is already so many elderly people in the UK that walking down the streets is like taking up a role in Dawn of the Dead. The shuffle along with their shopping, managing to take up and entire pavement in the process. They doddle around in their little cars causing a danger for other motorists. They take imtermible amounts of time in post offices and banks where they invariably decide to go at lunchtime when other people are on the streets.

    If the Assembly wants to finance a useful initiative, I say euthanasia.

  • Pete Baker

    observer

    The BBC are now slightly less confused

    “On Tuesday, the assembly voted in favour of Health Minister Michael McGimpsey examining providing free personal care for the elderly.”

  • Pounder

    If I where in another environment, Pitt, my responce would probobly be “Fuck off troll”.

    However I’m in politer company here and I’ll counter your moronic idea with the idea that people with a certain IQ or lower be offed instead, now if you’ll step this way we’ll hook you up to the dIe-Pod.

  • Pitt the Younger,

    A somewhat extreme solution! I’m kind of hoping that you are being tongue-in-cheek with at least some of those comments…

    During yesterday’s BBC coverage of the debate, they had an interesting discussion with some guy from Help The Aged who had defended the amount of capital provided by The Scotish Assembly by stating that 60% of The Scotish public had supported the provision of this assistance in an opinion poll. I’m not sure if any local opinion polls have covered such a topic, but it would be interesting to know if local opinion would be prepared to back investing up to £60 million in elderley personal health care (to the potential detriment of many other much needed areas of local Health Care).

  • Pitt the Younger

    So whereas in other eras Pounder, the generations have been balanced, we have to support a rapidly aging population, whilst at the other end of the age-scale young people can’t find jobs or afford houses because of the selfishness of these wankers who we are now supposed to owe something!!!

  • Pete Baker

    Pounder and Pitt

    Keep it civil guys.

    More generally, I’d suggest it worthwhile watching whether the DUP push for some kind of censure against the Ministers who voted in favour of the Alliance amendment.. or whether this was just a shot across the bows..

  • Pitt the Younger

    “A somewhat extreme solution! I’m kind of hoping that you are being tongue-in-cheek with at least some of those comments…”

    I’m being somewhat tongue in cheek, although I do support euthanasia generally.

    I think we need to look seriously at the aging population and how we finance that burden. I don’t think we can keep throwing money at elderly people from working people’s taxes.

  • I don’t think Robinson has a leg to stand on if they only voted in favour of analysing the costs, so I can’t see censure.

    That said I do agree with the principle that ministers can’t just go around promising the Earth to win votes regardless of how much of our (taxpayers) money it’s going to cost us.

  • nmc

    I don’t think we can keep throwing money at elderly people from working people’s taxes.

    What about me then? I’m currently a touch under thirty and if everything goes according to plan I will pay my taxes until I’m 65 at which point I’ll retire. According to your logic I’m then owed nothing for my 48 years of taxes paid simply because I’m old.

    Many of the people who you call wankers above will also have been paying taxes for most of their lives, and if they’re anything like me they’ll have gotten fuck all in return for their money.

  • Pete Baker

    beano

    the recorded vote was for the Alliance amendment.. not the subsequent UUP one.

  • Pitt the Younger

    Although they’ll also have spent their time consuming and destroying the environment as hard as they’re able. Of course you’ll be owed something. You’ll get something. And they get plenty.

  • Pete,

    It was most likely just a shot across the bows. I think it was simply The Finance Minister flexing his muscles…

    It was somewhat amusing yesterday when Jim Fitzpatrick asked Iris Robinson if she was being a bit reluctant to fully endorse the motion because she was the wife of The Finance Minister. She did’nt look too chuffed…!

    The main Unionist anger yesterday seemed to be mostly directed at The Alliance Party who were accused of mischief by pushing to have assistance introduced by 2008. McGimpsey called this totally unrealistic and accused Alliance of blatant posturing even though they were well aware that their own motion was totally unacheivable…

  • nmc

    Although they’ll also have spent their time consuming and destroying the environment as hard as they’re able.

    Can’t really blame them, the environmental issue isn’t something they’d have been educated about. Also you make it sound as if our generation are somehow better, in spite of the fact that we have been educated on global warming and we’re still wrecking the planet.

    Of course you’ll be owed something. You’ll get something.

    And someone will probably bitch about it.

    And they get plenty.

    No more than they are due, I.e. the minimum necessary to survive.

  • SuperSoupy

    If he is raising Section F of the Ministerial Pledge I would suggest his vote and those of some of his colleagues on equality based measures run contrary to Section C.

  • IJP

    Well pointed out, Pete.

    Peter Robinson is basically correct. The Executive parties should be honest and admit they are not going to be able to deliver on free personal care.

    Dividing up our schools, health centres and leisure facilities comes first with this government.

  • IJP

    Pete

    The vote on the Alliance amendment may be legally irrelevant, but politically it’s VERY relevant.

    Two Executive parties are proposing spending money on an issue that another Executive party was pledged to in its manifesto.

    But now we find they won’t deliver. We need strong, joined-up government. But from at least three of the parties, we’re getting cheap populism.

  • SuperSoupy

    And Paisley Jnr also seems in breach through promoting his disgusting backwards views on homosexuality.

  • Pete Baker

    IJP

    Indeed the vote on the amendment is still politically relevant.. in particular the votes of certain Ministers. I think I did highlight that.

    However as I said, and in light of the majority of the reports on yesterday’s events – “But the subsequent UUP amendment means that the Alliance amendment is now irrelevant.”

  • SuperSoupy

    I don’t think so, the Ministers did not promote anything against the Executive position. They engaged in a free vote in a democratic chamber.

    The Ministerial pledge is not an imposed whip on elected reps.

    Ministers are free to vote how they choose, they are bound to support the decisions of the Executive but that cannot restrict how they vote in the Assembly.

    I’d love Robo to try it through the courts. We have several equality votes he and others voted against along with Jnr’s outburst that are more likely to be deemed breaches than a complaint over a democratic vote if he wants to start this nonsense.

  • IJP

    Correct, Pete, you reported it all very fairly.

    Which is more than others did!

  • Pete Baker

    Well, IJP, my initial post was as wrong-headed as everyone else.. but I was reliant on the information available and I haven’t seen a subsequent corrective from those same sources.

    SS

    “We have several equality votes he and others voted against along with Jnr’s outburst that are more likely to be deemed breaches than a complaint over a democratic vote if he wants to start this nonsense.”

    Lovely.. three weeks in and the Executive parties are blackmailing each other over ministerial voting – and it is about how Executive Minister’s vote – [and other matters].

    The honeymoon is over!

  • SuperSoupy

    Pete,

    And don’t you just seem to want it and love it. (even though it’s not true)

  • Pete Baker

    SS

    So it’s not true that “the Executive parties are blackmailing each other over ministerial voting.. [and other matters]”

    Really..

  • SuperSoupy

    I’ll clarify, your seeming glee at what is essentially posturing may be worthy of an exclamation mark to you but as it stands the Executive is ticking along nicely but with the elements of confrontation and difference expected in a democracy.

  • SuperSoupy

    Pete,

    You’ll present it as that. I see words and a democratic process continuing.

    Come back to me when it hits the courts, which it won’t because it’s just words while the work goes on.

    Hey, why not revisit it in a few weeks when your assumption turns out wrong? It’d be a first.

  • Pete Baker

    My “seeming glee”?

    “You’ll present it as that.”?

    Just for you, SS – *shakes head*

    “..as it stands the Executive is ticking along nicely but with the elements of confrontation and difference expected in a democracy.”

    Ticking along nicely, indeed..

  • SuperSoupy

    Pete,

    The day you revisit your analysis on policing, the Ard Fheis, the Ard Comhairle, and devolution is the day I’ll believe you aren’t just seeking bad news with anti-SF obsession.

    This story will receive the same non-links when it doesn’t fit the agenda. ie. it goes nowhere

    But you can hope for failure, as always.

  • Pete Baker

    No offense, SS, but you’ve been asked before to point out exactly where my analysis of those particular issues was wrong – there are, I’m sure, many links available on Slugger to that analysis – and you’ve yet to do so.

    And what story?

    That “the Executive parties are blackmailing each other over ministerial voting.. [and other matters]”?

    As you said yourself..

    “We have several equality votes he and others voted against along with Jnr’s outburst that are more likely to be deemed breaches than a complaint over a democratic vote if he wants to start this nonsense.”

  • commonsense

    SouperSoupy are you as dense as your contributions? If Ministers agree in the Executive to a particular line and then vote against that position in the Assembly they are in violation of the Ministerial Code which requires them to support all Executive decisions. Maybe you are not up to date with the new changes to the law but the Ministerial Code is now on a statutory basis.

    Irrespective of the leagl position it is absurd that Ministers should be so weak and insecure that they allow the little Alliance Party to yank their chain. The Executive alone should set the policy and be sure they have the money to implement it before it is approved in the Assembly.

  • SuperSoupy

    Well, your hyperbole of presenting my comments on Slugger as problems in the Executive and blackmail would be an easy example of bullshit.

    But carry on spinning.

  • Pete Baker

    So nothing on your actual claims then, SS?

    Meanwhile, the problems in the Executive are there for everyone to see.

    Carry on, indeed.

  • SuperSoupy

    Commonsense,

    The decision must be supported, who spoke against it?

    The will of the Assembly is included in the same line of the pledge.

    Both equal.

    Ministers can input to both, while not working to undermine either.

    If any minister had spoken in the debate there may be a point, as it is they just exercised voting rights.