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Joined: 09/03/2009
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The Northern Ireland Executive is to get an extra £33m to help with devolution.

The money is contained as part of the budget unveiled by Chancellor Alistair Darling, the last budget before the expected general election.

Mr Darling said it was a budget to help boost Britain's long term economic recovery and that borrowing would be £11bn less than forecast this year.

"But the recovery is still in its infancy," he said.

"There are equally tough choices ahead."

There was some encouragement for small business, notably a £2.5 bn growth package, funded largely by £2bn raised through taxes on bankers' bonuses.

There will be help for advanced manufacturing, and business rates will be cut for one year from October.

Mr Darling abolished stamp duty on house sales under £250,000, but only for

first-time buyers.<

That will be funded by the introduction from April next year of a new higher stamp duty band of 5% on properties costing more than £1m.

He also said petrol price increases will be phased in, with a 1p per litre increase from next month, with

another 1p rise in October.<

Duty on beer, wine and spirits will increase from midnight on Sunday, with 10% on cider, and further increases to come on high strength cider.

Tobacco duty will increase by 1% above inflation, and then increase by 2% in real terms each year until 2014.

Mr Darling said that stronger than expected tax receipts meant that government borrowing would be £167bn this year, £11bn less than he had predicted in the pre-Budget report in December.

He also announced a guarantee to give everyone a basic bank account, giving up to one million more people access to bank accounts over the next five years.

The budget breakdown revealed that the Government had relocated more than 21,500 Civil Service posts out of London and the south east of England, with 210 of these relocated to Northern Ireland.

Liam Byrne, Chief Secretary to the Treasury said: "This is a budget about opportunity, not austerity. It will continue to support businesses and families, while bringing down borrowing in a way that doesn't damage the recovery or frontline services.

"The challenge for the UK is how we invest as a country to support the industries of the future - we will drive future growth in Northern Ireland by offering help for small business, promoting innovation, and investing in infrastructure and key skills."<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009
Environment Minister Edwin Poots today said he believes everyone in Northern Ireland will benefit from the introduction of the new Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill.<

Speaking during an Assembly debate today on the Bill Mr Poots said: “The main purpose of the Bill is to contribute to everyone’s quality of life. Clean and tidy neighbourhoods help to engender a sense of pride in their residents. People also feel safer in such neighbourhoods and feel more at ease in their local surroundings.”

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill is designed to help district councils to deal more effectively with a wide range of day-to-day problems which impact on the quality of local environments across Northern Ireland.

Mr Poots added: “The Bill will help bring about positive benefits In terms of tourism, reducing anti-social behaviour and making all of us think more about the environment in which we live. It should also help to reduce the massive street cleaning costs faced by district councils.

“The Bill will show, for example, that this Assembly intends, through the introduction of stronger legislation and higher fines, to get tough with those who continue to litter and deface our streets and public spaces.”

The Bill was introduced in the Assembly on 22 June 2010 and brought forward by Mr Poots following the completion of a public consultation exercise earlier this year.<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

Today (16 September 2010), the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission will hold its annual conference in Belfast. The conference will focus on the future of human rights in the UK.

In advance of the conference the three UK National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) have issued a joint statement calling for the implementation of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

The Joint statement from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Great Britain, Scottish Human Rights Commission and Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission reads:

“The three UK National Human Rights Institutions (N.I, Scotland and Great Britain) agree that the establishment of a UK Commission to investigate the possible creation of a British Bill of Rights must not delay the process of implementing a separate Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland”

Professor Monica McWilliams Chief Commissioner of the NIHRC said:

“A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland should be given the attention it deserves and not mixed up in a wider UK debate. On this issue the three United Nations accredited national human rights institutions are totally agreed. The Northern Ireland process was established by the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and its completion remains crucial to guaranteeing future peace and democratic stability. The new Westminster Government must now bring forward the necessary legislation to uphold promises made to the people of Northern Ireland and to fulfil treaty obligations agreed with the Government of the Republic of Ireland.”

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the SHRC, said:

“There has been so much time, effort and constructive thinking put into the Bill of Rights process for Northern Ireland by so many people that everything must be done to ensure a positive outcome. This further advance of human rights for all is not only what the people of Northern Ireland deserve after so many years but would also enrich the public debate within the United Kingdom and serve as an inspiration to so many people around the world, particularly in conflict situations.”

Trevor Philips, Chair of the EHRC said:

“We fully support the conclusion of the process in Northern Ireland as soon as possible, in order that a robust Bill of Rights can be enacted to reflect their particular circumstances. We also believe it is important to consider the implications of devolution in the development of any Bill of Rights for the UK as the legal and constitutional issues involved are different in all four nations.”


Further information

NIHRC: Please contact Claire Martin, Press and Public Affairs Worker on (028) 9024 3987 (office), 07717 731 873 (mobile).

SHRC: Please contact: Jenifer Johnston on 0141 229 0888

EHRC: Please contact Zena Ambrose, Senior Press Officer, 020 3117 0266 (office), out of hours duty press officer 07767 272 818 (mobile).

Notes to the Editor

  1. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (the Commission) was established in 1999, by the Northern Ireland Act 1998, to protect and promote the human rights of everyone in Northern Ireland. The powers and functions of the Commission include reviewing law and practice, advising the government, promoting an awareness of human rights and taking cases to court.
  2. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission will hold its Annual Conference today 16 September 2010 at the Belfast Waterfront. The conference will start at 8.45am and all media are welcome to attend. Further information about the conference< including speakers and the programme.
  3. There are three human rights Commissions in the UK - the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Great Britain. This statement represents the views of all three.
  4. The NIHRC, EHRC and SHRC are the three National Human Rights Institutions< for the UK accredited by the United Nations. 
  5. On 10 December 2008, the NIHRC in accordance with Paragraph 4, in the Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity section, of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and section 69(7) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, provided Government with advice on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.
  6. The Northern Ireland Office Consultation on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland ended on 31 March 2010.<