Ministerial Code: Independent Investigation of Alleged Breaches

Part of Private Members' Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:45 pm on 24th January 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP 4:45 pm, 24th January 2017

A lot of issues have been raised by Members from various parties. Over recent days and months, we have heard people talking about the need for reform of these institutions and the need to change the way in which things operate. It is clear to most observers that, whatever the outcome of the election, those of us who are fortunate enough to be returned are likely to be elected to some sort of talks process. Part of that talks process will entail reform of the institutions and changing how things operate. I absolutely want to be part of those discussions and debates.

Recent events and, fundamentally, the architecture of the institutions that were created in 1998 demonstrate the need for fundamental reform and a move towards a more Westminster-style of doing things. I would absolutely welcome that. I would welcome participation in such a process and would hope that all parties feel the same. I am happy that we should look at the scrutiny of Ministers and all those who are elected to this place in terms of how they function and operate.

As a new Member, I was elected seven months ago along with other new Members who come from a background in local government. I had the opportunity to see how, in local government, there is an immediacy of delivery; you can turn things around really quickly for your constituents and get things done. Sometimes, the system here is very difficult to navigate and can become clogged up. If, as part of the reform of the institutions, people want to put forward new ideas for how people function and exercise their power, I would be prepared to give those ideas a fair wind. I, personally, have nothing to hide from openness and transparency. I would hope that anyone who is fortunate enough to be elected here to represent the people can say the same.

I believe in scrutiny and transparency. I believe that Ministers should be held accountable for how they conduct themselves in office and out of office. I listened to the comments from the Member for North Antrim Mr McKay. They amounted largely to policy criticisms, particularly of the Minister for Communities.