Stormont Assembly members’ pay to be cut by more than £13k
First reduction to commence in November as MLAs not performing all their functions
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley gives an update to MPs in the House of Commons, London on Thursday on the restoration of Northern Ireland Government. Photograph: PA
Northern Ireland’s devolved legislature in Belfast has not sat since early last year in a row over identity issues like the Irish language, which has prevented the appointment of ministers.
Repeated negotiations convened by the British and Irish governments have failed to persuade former coalition partners the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin to reconcile their differences.
Ms Bradley told parliament: “While Assembly members continue to perform valuable constituency functions, it is clear that during any such interim period they will not be performing the full range of their legislative functions.
“So, in parallel, I will take the steps necessary to reduce Assembly members’ salaries in line with the recommendations made by Trevor Reaney.
“The reduction will take effect in two stages, commencing in November — it would not reduce the allowance for staff as I do not think that MLAs’ [Members of the Legislative Assembly] staff should suffer because of the politicians’ failure to form an Executive.”
Ms Bradley’s predecessor as Northern Ireland secretary, James Brokenshire, commissioned former Assembly chief executive Mr Reaney to examine the controversial issue of paying Assembly members.
He recommended the 27.5 per cent cut, a move that would take the standard salary rate of £49,500 down to £35,888 in two stages.
Public services have suffered because no ministers are in place to make major decisions.
Controversial issues like provision of abortion cannot be addressed in the absence of an Assembly.
In explaining the need for a “stepped approach”, Mr Reaney said the impact of any salary reduction on MLAs’ personal circumstances has been acknowledged.
Mr Reaney addded that research shows Assembly members spend 50 per cent to 60 per cent of their time on constituency work.
The average working week exceeds 50 hours, and sometimes up to 80 hours he added.–PA