Sammy Wilson MP MLA is Northern Ireland’s finance minister:
How would you characterise the financial relationship between Stormont and London?
It is fairly good if you consider the things we dealt with over the last three years. We were given an extra £250m for the police budget because of the uncertainties we were facing. After the Government stopped carrying over [under spends], which we would have had some difficulty with, we were allowed £60m to £70m carry over a year. With the Air Passenger Duty [which has been devolved for long haul flights] we made the case that Northern Ireland was in a different position from Great Britain.
Would you like greater fiscal devolution?
I am reluctant to have full devolution of fiscal policy. I don’t think we have the maturity to take some decisions at present, for ministers to say no to some demands we face. And as a unionist I don’t want to see a reduced link to the UK. I am disappointed that Corporation Tax was not devolved. It would be a massive risk with a reduction in our block grant – our case to the Government in Westminster is that we are taking the risk. But we have to do it to get our economy moving.
What is your reaction to Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers’ offer of economic aid if there is faster progress towards a shared society?
I am not happy. I have not seen any economic package on offer. She has not defined what she wants us to do. What will bring stability to Northern Ireland is having a stable economy. People will be less willing to do damage to their streets and towns if they have a job and a stake in society. Any help we get from Westminster to build the economy is more likely to build that stable society. We are already working with people that often we don’t like and have little in common with, yet we have produced a stable Assembly.
What do you do with your free time?
Any spare time I spend in the garden and I am an avid reader.
Block grant to the Northern Ireland Assembly for 2013/14
Total Northern Ireland Assembly controlled expenditure 2013/14