Northern Ireland Assembly Members Bill [ Lords]

Part of Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:54 pm on 11th March 2010.

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Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office 2:54 pm, 11th March 2010

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is pleased to have had an opportunity to put his views on the record.

It will, of course, be for the Assembly to implement all these measures following the passage of the Bill. I understand that a Bill establishing an independent body to set salaries and allowances will be presented to the Assembly, and I am told that it is intended to be in place before the next Assembly election, in 2011.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is the only devolved legislature that is unable to delegate control in relation to the setting of salaries and allowances. The Welsh Assembly has an independent review panel to consider pay and allowances, and although the salaries of Members of the Scottish Parliament are linked to Westminster salaries, the Scottish Parliament also has power to delegate control of allowances. The Bill will create independent control of salaries and allowances for all the devolved legislatures. From the correspondence and discussions that I have had with the Speaker of the Assembly and with politicians of all parties, I know that there is a firm intention to take this matter forward once the Bill passes through the House.

It is important that we make these changes. It is a change to primary legislation-to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to facilitate the choice being available to Members of the Assembly. To conclude, the Government believe that it is right to move towards independent control of salaries and allowances in the Assembly.