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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all for today

    Stormont Parliament Buildings

    Principal Deputy Speaker Christopher Stalford calls proceedings to a close.

    Join us tomorrow morning at 10:30 for live coverage of the Justice Committee.

    In the meantime, have a great evening.

  2. The minister replies to the debate

    Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots replies to the debate.

    He says the one certainty he does have is that "had we remained in the European Union we would have been looking at a reduced payment".


    He questions the suitability for the future of a simple flat-rate payment.

    The minister expresses his support for the hill farmers, saying they have "a vital contribution to make".

    The MLAs voted to support the LCM.

  3. Minister 'wasting no time'

    Green Party leader Clare Bailey (below) commends the minister in "wasting no time" in tackling the "weighty backlog" sitting in his portfolio resulting from the last three years.

    She says if the LCM is not supported, payments for farmers may not be available "to them when they wake on Saturday morning".

    Clare Bailey

    TUV leader Jim Allister says while there are "unfolding questions", the certainty this piece of legislation brings "to the here and now" is something to be welcomed.

  4. 'Hill farmers depend on payments'

    Linda Dillon of Sinn Féin (below) says she is from a farming background and that hill farmers in particularly are dependent on the payments.

    "I don't think that this one-year assurance is going to be of a massive comfort to them," she says

    Ms Dillon says her party will be supporting the LCM as to reject it would mean that farmers would not get their payments.

    Linda Dillon

    Colin McGrath of the SDLP emphasises how important the agri-food industry is to the economy across the north.

    He says he hopes the LCM will find support from the house this evening.

  5. Maiden speech by John Blair

    In his maiden speech, Alliance's John Blair (below), pays tribute to his predecessor David Ford and to his South Antrim constituency.

    John Blair

    Mr Blair says he would support the LCM's endorsement, in the circumstances, but that he would prefer that these matters were dealt with by the assembly, steered by the minister and the relevant committee, with "the appropriate emphasis on local impact".

    He says that while further LCMs may seek to put definition on an ongoing issue, they do not bring certainty to farmers or the agrifood industry.

  6. New checks on goods entering NI 'indispensable'

    John Campbell

    BBC News NI Economics and Business Editor

    Michel Barnier

    New checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain are an 'indispensable' consequence of the Brexit deal, Michel Barnier has said.

    Last week the prime minister suggested GB-NI trade would remain 'unfettered.'

    But the EU's chief negotiator said the UK's choices make frictionless trade 'impossible.'

    Read more about this here.

  7. 'Put our shoulder to the wheel'

    DUP MLA William Irwin welcomes the motion and says there is "an acute urgency in this matter".

    He says seeking a continuity in direct payments will be a "comfort to thousands of farmers" across Northern Ireland.


    SDLP MLA John Dallat says the issue does not just impact on the agricultural community, "but on everyone".

    "I am sure the minister would agree that all of us need to put our shoulder to the wheel."

    He says he would worry if the payments were withdrawn in the future.

  8. 'Payments make up most of farmers' incomes'

    Sinn Féin's Declan McAleer (below) chairs the Agriculture Committee and expresses some of the concerns regarding the continuation of the payments.

    "The importance of the direct payments to farmers cannot be underestimated," he says, as they make up most of the farmers' incomes.

    Declan McAleer

    Mr McAleer says there will be minor differences from 2019 but they should work in favour of the farmer.

    He says that under normal circumstances the committee would have had more time to consider the matter, take evidence and report to the assembly.

    Nevertheless, he says the committee agreed that it was prepared to support the LCM.

  9. 'Time constraints' for farm payments

    Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots says he would normally have brought the motion forward within the established time frame and apologises that it was not possible to do so.

    Edwin Poots

    He says the house is under tight "time constraints" and he is seeking the legislative authority to enable some £293m to be made in direct payments to farmers this year.

  10. Direct payments to farmers


    The next item is a debate on a legislative consent motion (LCM) about direct payments to farmers.

    A legislative consent motion allows Westminster to make a law in a devolved matter that would usually be dealt with by the NI Assembly.

    In this case, the LCM will allow for payments to continue to be paid to farmers after Brexit.

  11. No extra cash for hospital waiting lists

    Paul Givan

    Paul Givan of the DUP asks whether the Department of Health did not put in a bid for extra cash to address the problem of hospital waiting lists.

    The minister says there is a very small allocation of resources available in this monitoring round.

    He says one of the first people who spoke to him after he was appointed was the Health Minister, Robin Swann.

    Mr Murphy says health is a priority for the entire executive and, while there is no allocation in this round, they are determined to deal with the issue of waiting lists.

  12. Disappointment over cash for roads

    Michelle McIlveen of the DUP says she's disappointed that the bid for extra funding for the roads network was unsuccessful.

    Mr Murphy says he accepts her point but there is a limited amount of money to give out.

    Gemma Dolan

    Gemma Dolan of Sinn Féin asks about the reallocation of funding for further education - when will the Department for the Economy receive this funding?

    Mr Murphy says the money becomes immediately available once it is approved by the assembly.

  13. Minister quizzed over teachers' pay

    Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle asks why the Department of Education has been allocated "only £19.1m" of the "£34.8m which it had bid for teacher pay".

    He asked when the executive will allocate "adequate funding to settle teacher industrial action".

    Mr Murphy said the £19m that is part of this monitoring round is for the "contractual pay costs for teachers" and other non-teaching staff in 2019-20, and is not sufficient to settle the industrial dispute over pay awards for 2017-18 or 2018-19.

    Chris Lyttle

    "Obviously there will have to be further discussions when we go to set the budget next month in relation to the outstanding pay issues," he adds.

    He said his focus was on getting the governments to live up to the commitments in the recent deal document.

  14. '£150m returned to the Treasury'

    The DUP's Paul Frew wants to know why the executive has £150.8m of ringfenced finance unallocated "and lost to the executive and by extension to people of Northern Ireland".

    He asks does this have anything to do with Mr Murphy's predecessor and party colleague, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, for quitting his post without putting in place a working budget?

    Mr Murphy says he is also concerned about the return of £150m to the Treasury and it isn't acceptable, but he doesn't think it was the responsibility of his predecessor.

    Colin McGrath

    Colin McGrath (above) of the SDLP asks about funding for Historical Institutional Abuse victims.

    He wants to know whether a timetable can now be drawn up showing when those payments can begin.

    The minister says the estimated cost of implementing the recommendations is between £25m and £60m in 2020- 21.

    He says the Executive Office will be responsible for the timeframe.

  15. Minister questioned by Steve Aiken

    UUP leader and Finance Committee chair, Steve Aiken (below), asks Mr Murphy if he can explain how the year-on-year budget allocations were arrived at in the absence of a finance minister in the past three years, and how in-year monitoring has been carried out so far?

    Mr Murphy says Stormont committees provide a vital role not only in accountability to the departments, but assisting in policy development.

    Steve Aiken

    The minister says over the last three years there was a process largely carried out internally within the civil service, with legal cover provided at various times by the Secretary of State for approving budgets.

    He says that in monitoring round terms "we are at a relatively small allocation at the end of the year", and that is perhaps indicative that there is "perhaps less money in the system" and also that "departments are spending it better".

  16. Money available for shortfall in teachers' pay


    Outlining the areas that have received funding through reallocation, Mr Murphy says the Education will receive £19m to pay for the shortfall in funding of teachers' pay.

    The Department of Health will receive £1m to increase financial support for people affected by the contaminated blood scandal.

    The Executive Office is to receive funding to bring forward the recommendations of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

    The Department for the Economy receives funding for FE colleges.

    The NI Assembly will receive £0.9m to cover the increased costs of a restored assembly and executuive and budgetary cover for for MLAs' salaries "to their correct level".

  17. Finance minister's statement

    Conor Murphy

    Mr Murphy (above) says there's a very short window to spend reallocated money before the end of the financial year in April.

    He says the assembly will have a fuller opportunity to debate the current financial position when the Budget Bill comes to the house in February.

    Mr Murphy then lists areas where money has become available for reallocation.

  18. Business resumes

    Assembly chamber

    The assembly is back in session with some minor housekeeping - the appointment of members to the Assembly Commission.

    Finance Minister Conor Murphy is about to make a statement on the January monitoring round.

    There are several monitoring rounds each year.

    The amount of money allocated to each government department is reassessed and under-spends can be reallocated to other departments where funds are in short supply.

  19. Brief suspension

    The members are taking a short break to sign a book of condolence in Stormont's Great Hall.

  20. Seamus Mallon 'had a profound influence'

    Trevor Lunn

    Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn (above) says Seamus Mallon had an "implacable opposition to violence" from which he never wavered.

    He says Mr Mallon's partnership with John Hume was "formidable".

    "Without them, the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements might not have happened."

    SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan says Mr Mallon had a "profound influence on the lives of so many of us".

    "Seamus Mallon, we will never see the likes of him again."