Northern Ireland Budget Bill

Part of Miscellaneous – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 13th November 2017.

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Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee 7:00 pm, 13th November 2017

Yes, I really do. Although it is of course Sinn Féin’s choice not to take its seats here—one that, as a democrat, I regret. Nevertheless, we need to ensure that both communities are heard. The Assembly may be one way of doing that and it would at least give MLAs something to do.

The last time we discussed this matter, on 2 November, the hon. Member for Pontypridd was very keen for MLAs to continue to draw their pay and rations. I do not agree with that and the bulk of people in Northern Ireland do not agree with it either, but I welcome today’s announcement that Mr Trevor Reaney will be appointed to discuss the matter further with interested parties. He will come up with recommendations on how MLAs should be paid, given that this could go on for a considerable time. We try to restore faith in politics in Northern Ireland, as we do in the rest of the United Kingdom, and it is very difficult to see how that process is enhanced or advanced in the event that we are paying individuals largely for sitting at home. I accept that many of them will be working hard to try to represent and help their constituents as well as they possibly can; nevertheless, their primary role is to attend Stormont and represent those views there, and that is just not happening.