Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness answered questions on behalf of his Department during today’s Question Time. Mickey Brady asked what discussions have taken place with Welsh and Scottish counterparts on the devolution of fiscal powers. The First Minister and deputy First Minister met with the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales in October to discuss the devolution of further powers. Mr McGuinness described the discussions as “wide-ranging, constructive and had a major focus on the devolution of fiscal powers including corporation tax, air passenger duty, landfill tax, aggregates levy and bonds and borrowing”. The deputy First Minister revealed a collective will to work together when common aims are shared. “Securing the power to devolve corporation tax is a key objective of the Executive” and the deputy First Minister has written to the Prime Minister to press him to make a decision on the tax before his Autumn statement in December. The devolution of corporation tax could allow the reduction of the tax from 20% to 12.5% - a move that could create jobs and encourage foreign investment in Northern Ireland.
Jimmy Spratt also asked the Minister for his plans to build Executive consensus on Welfare Reform. Mr McGuinness said that he hopes that the current inter-party talks can resolve all outstanding issues including budgetary and financial matters in a way that protects the most vulnerable in society. He emphasised that it is the responsibility of everyone in the House to protect the most vulnerable which represents “a real challenge against the backdrop of the strategy that has been employed by the coalition Government at Westminster” given the “critical undermining of the block grant to the tune of over £1bn”.
During topical questions Mr McGuinness addressed the derogatory remarks made by Gregory Campbell concerning the Irish language during last week’s Question Time, describing them as “not befitting of membership of this House” and “bordering on racist”. He also answered questions on the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, gender inequality in the Civil Service, the Social Investment Fund and provided an update on the Desertcreat Community Safety College.
You can read the full transcript on our website.