HL Deb 12 July 1976 vol 373 cc14-6

3.6 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Draft Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, which was laid before the House on 22nd June, be approved. My Lords, this order is being made under paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland Act 1974. The main purpose of the order is to appropriate the balance of the 1976–77 Main Estimates, the Vote on Account of 1976–77 having been appropriated in March this year by the Appropriation (Northern Ireland) Order 1976. The present order also appropriates certain sums arising out of Excess Votes for the financial year, 1974–75.

My Lords, the Northern Ireland Main Estimates are being presented for the first time this year in a revised form, similar to that now used for United Kingdom Supply Estimates. Estimates will from now on be set out by public expenditure survey programme, rather than by Department, thus bringing out their relationship to the public expenditure survey and showing more clearly the purpose for which money is being spent. The total of the Main Estimates provision for 1976–77, including the sum already voted on account, is some £1,038 million, compared with a 1975–76 total of £827 million and a total Estimates provision in that year, including Supplementaries, of £1,028 million. Details of the provisions sought are set out in the Main Estimates Volume.

I shall briefly take your Lordships through the major increases in expenditure over 1975–76 included in the present Estimates. In Class II No. 4, Compensation for Price Restraint, £23 million is provided for the Northern Ireland electricity service and £3 million for the gas undertakings to compensate for losses caused by compliance with policies of price restraint in 1975–76. In Class II No. 5, Functioning of the Labour Market, there is an increase of £6.4 million, which is mainly due to the provision of new or extended schemes as part of the measures introduced last year to relieve unemployment. In Class V Vote 1, sub-head A1, Housing Services, there is an increase of £10.7 million for grants and subsidies to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, which is due for the most part to an anticipated increase in the number of new houses on which subsidy will become payable in the course of the year. In Class IX, Health and Personal Social Services, and Class X, Social Security, there are increases of £5.2 million and £12 million respectively, which are mainly the result of pay and price changes, and increases in the rates of benefit, made on the basis of parity with Great Britain.

There were Excess Votes, amounting to £0.9 million, on five votes of the Northern Ireland Estimates in 1974–75. Details of these, and of the reasons for them, are set out in the statement of Excesses. The Excess Votes have been considered by the Public Accounts Committee, which has recommended that the necessary sums should be made available. Copies of the Main Estimates Volume, the Statement of Excesses and of the Northern Ireland Financial Statement for 1976–77, which provides details of the estimated receipts and payments of the Northern Ireland Consolidated Fund for that year, are available in the Library.

This order will be considered in another place shortly. My purpose has been to indicate the general nature of its contents, but I am, of course, prepared to deal with any question arising from the Order which your Lordships may wish to raise. My Lords, I commend this order to the House.

Moved, That the draft Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, laid before the House on 22nd June, be approved.—(Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.