Owen Paterson: “A settlement is precisely that – a settlement. It is not the opening round of a negotiation.”

You might have thought that when the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers met yesterday with NI Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, and Treasury Finance Secretary, Mark Hoban, the first item on the agenda would be the still-to-be-agreed NI draft budget.

After all, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness did tell us that the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, had assured them that the NIO and the Treasury would be re-examining the figures.

Strangely, there’s no mention of that in the OFMDFM statement following yesterday’s meeting

Plenty about corporation tax and the proposed UK loan to the Irish government though…

Meanwhile, as the BBC reports, Owen Paterson has this evening re-iterated the UK Government’s position on the block grant

[Owen Paterson] said: “A settlement is precisely that – a settlement. It is not the opening round of a negotiation.”

Mr Paterson said Stormont had got a fair deal, which compared well with the rest of the UK and included an offer to resolve the crisis faced by savers with the Presbyterian Mutual Society (PMS).

In a speech to the Co-operation Ireland dinner in Belfast, he said the government would stick to its wider financial plans.

“The executive is being asked to make reductions in current spending of 1.72% a year over four years.

“While the reduction in one of the capital spending streams is higher, having discussed in detail with the Treasury we are confident that – using the same assumptions and calculations as Gordon Brown in 2007 – we will deliver the £18bn promised after St Andrews. [added link]

“Northern Ireland is now the only part of the United Kingdom that hasn’t set a budget following the spending review settlement.

“That cannot go on. People need clarity and certainty.”

Adds  Comments by Secretary of State Owen Paterson MP : Co-Operation Ireland Dinner (Belfast)

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  • bob wilson

    Every day now we have an increasing contrast between a Conservative government that takes difficult decisions and gets on with things – even things that come out of ‘left field’ like having to help the Republic and an Executive lead by people who are more interested in posturing ahead of an election than making decisions.
    The Executive rarely has difficult ‘left field’ things sprung on them. They have to administer a budget and provide some leadership thats all.
    Not just have they failed on big things like rationalising education and dealing with the transfer test but even ‘small’ things like dealing with absenteeism in the public sector or cutting down on schools employing expensive retired teachers for relief cover.

    Peter Robinson, Arlene Foster and Sammy Wilson all rushed to the media to puff up their chests and say they were going to make sure NI got ‘looked after’ as a part of any loan to the Republic.
    Their agenda is to imply only they can look after ‘Ulster’ and that Owen Paterson and Financial Secretary Mark Hoban cant be trusted to bat for NI.
    Frankly that’s insulting tosh. Its an attempt to portray Conservatives as ‘foreign’, ‘alien’ or ‘indifferent’ to NI – by people who call themselves Unionists!
    Owen Paterson has shown via the spending settlement he is more than capable of doing the best for NI. And that he – ably assited by local Conservatives and other advisers – has a good
    Cameron has said part of the reason for offering the loan is because of the impact of the Republic on NI’s economy
    Mark Hoban is a down to earth guy who is more than capable looking out for NI

    The local media ought to focus on what the Assembly and Executive have or havent done – and be careful about reprinting DUP and SF spin like the ‘Clegg summit’ mentioned above

  • bob wilson

    Sorry line missing above

    Every day now we have an increasing contrast between a Conservative government that takes difficult decisions and gets on with things – even things that come out of ‘left field’ like having to help the Republic and an Executive lead by people who are more interested in posturing ahead of an election than making decisions.
    The Executive rarely has difficult ‘left field’ things sprung on them. They have to administer a budget and provide some leadership thats all.
    Not just have they failed on big things like rationalising education and dealing with the transfer test but even ‘small’ things like dealing with absenteeism in the public sector or cutting down on schools employing expensive retired teachers for relief cover.

    Peter Robinson, Arlene Foster and Sammy Wilson all rushed to the media to puff up their chests and say they were going to make sure NI got ‘looked after’ as a part of any loan to the Republic.
    Their agenda is to imply only they can look after ‘Ulster’ and that Owen Paterson and Financial Secretary Mark Hoban cant be trusted to bat for NI.
    Frankly that’s insulting tosh. Its an attempt to portray Conservatives as ‘foreign’, ‘alien’ or ‘indifferent’ to NI – by people who call themselves Unionists!
    Owen Paterson has shown via the spending settlement he is more than capable of doing the best for NI. And that he – ably assited by local Conservatives and other advisers – has a good understanding of NIs problems
    Cameron has said part of the reason for offering the loan is because of the impact of the Republic on NI’s economy
    Mark Hoban is a down to earth guy who is more than capable looking out for NI

    The local media ought to focus on what the Assembly and Executive have or havent done – and be careful about reprinting DUP and SF spin like the ‘Clegg summit’ mentioned above

  • Frustrated Democrat

    It is good to see a Secretary of State who states what the position is and actually sticks to it. No more bribes and goodies to keep the natives quiet that typified the last 13 years, just genuine decisions and policies.
    The local politicians need to start doing what they are being paid to do and live within the available resources; not rattling their begging bowls to try and extract more, those days are well and truly over.
    The fact that the impact of a serious default in the RoI would have been disastrous for NI weighed heavily on the minds of the cabinet when they took the decision to loan £7 billon to the RoI. It is easy to see who is taking the hard decisions which benefit NI and who are bleating and playing to the media.
    Come on Executive sort out the budget and all the other things that are going nowhere, such as education, you are taking the money now do the job.

  • Driftwood

    What we have is direct rule by the NIO (thankfully) and a placebo assembly pretending it makes a difference.

    How much does a sugar pill/homeopathic remedy cost?

  • Alias

    “…even things that come out of ‘left field’ like having to help the Republic”

    You’d want to have been blind not to see what would have happened to the UK if the 140 billion loaned by the likes of Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Northern Rock to buy property in Ireland couldn’t be repaid by the banks they lent it to.

  • Well done the NI Secretary of State – now to get rid of some of the wasters !!

  • Sean Og

    I heard Mitchel McLaughlin on the radio recently saying there was no rush with setting a budget because they have a budget in place until March.

    At what point do organisations relying on NI Executive funding have to issue reduntancy notices to their staff?

    If they only have funding to the end of March, and they have to give staff 3 months notice of possible reduntancy, we can expect a lot of notices being issued straight after Christmas.

  • Pete Baker

    Adds Comments by Secretary of State Owen Paterson MP : Co-Operation Ireland Dinner (Belfast)

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Bawb, it’s not a ‘Conservative Government’, it’s a coalition one. Dave knows that, and indeed, is jolly grateful for it. You’d be best advised to get with the programme too. Obviously it won’t be as big a conceptual leap as discovering how much you had always loved the UUP, during that period when you were told by CCHQ that you, er, did, but something tells me you’ve got it in you to do what you’re told.

    Incidentally, if you want to go on telling the DUP that they’re not really British, go right ahead, but it’s an unpleasant point of view, does you no credit and puts you in some pretty poor company. They’re as British as you and I, and pretending that something as tawdry as our political differences with them diminishes in some way their nationality is just squalid. Being a Tory is not the alpha and omega of being British, and I really do wish you could raise your eyes beyond narrow-minded, provincial pettiness. There’s a bigger world out there than your obsession with the DUP.

  • Cynic

    I love that phrase from Owen Paterson’s speech at the Co-Operation Ireland Dinner last night

    “rests solely with the Executive”

    Is it just me but isn’t it great to see that at last we have a Government determined to make NI’s Politicians take some decisions and accept some responsibility for running the bloody place.

  • Francis Hutcheson

    Cynic – bring it on!

  • DC

    Exit Gerry Adams.

  • Joseph Addison

    Does Tom Elliott or his spokesmen have anything to say. Grant you what’s the Headman done with his late delivered homework given him the caine no doubt.

  • Cynic

    No ….. unless its about chicken cage sizes

  • john greene

    ‘ local Conservatives and other advisers’

    Are these the same loserss who advised him to set up the idiotic Hatfield House meeting?

    And the ones who have advised him to say nothing to promote the Conservatives in NI since the election!!