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Per Capita Expenditure

Volume 508: debated on Wednesday 24 March 2010

8. What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on trends in per capita expenditure in Northern Ireland on matters for which he is responsible. (322980)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has had no recent discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on these matters.

The public expenditure per head of population in Northern Ireland is now more than £10,000, and more than a quarter higher than the UK average. As things have got better in Northern Ireland, one would have thought that trend would go down. Does the Minister agree, or does he expect to see it at a constant level?

The expenditure for which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is responsible relates now only to policing and criminal justice matters, and they will shortly be devolved. It is true that the number of police officers per head of population in Northern Ireland is higher than it would be in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency or mine, but that is perfectly understandable when one considers the troubles of the past 30-odd years and the prevailing problem and challenge from dissident republicans. [Interruption.]

Is it not right that, after more than 35 years of the most terrible terrorist campaign, the level of expenditure on security in Northern Ireland was rightly spent to defend democracy and the Union with the rest of the United Kingdom? Will the Minister give a commitment that in the event that at any point in the future some kind of civil emergency arises, the money will be available to protect and defend the ordinary people of Northern Ireland against terrorism?

Both in the current financial year and for the next financial year a considerable amount of additional money will be made available to the Chief Constable to deal with the security threat. It is very much the judgment of the Chief Constable that we listen to. We will listen to his assessment and respond accordingly.