Source: Traditional Unionist Voice – Northern Ireland
Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-
“The move by the five Executive parties for the Assembly to take back full control of MLAs’ expenses is, I believe, foolish and wrong.
“Both the perception and the reality of MLAs controlling their own expenses is a retrograde step in terms of the public’s rightful expectation that such self-serving powers should not be in the hands of the recipients of publicly funded allowances.
“It is undeniable that the past Independent Panel make some absurd decisions, for example, that the phone number of the constituency office could not be on the signage of the office. Or, the insistence that where an MLA retired and his/her successor wished to retain the same office staff, then, the salaries of those staff dropped to the bottom of the applicable scale!
“In order to provide a mechanism whereby such inequitable decisions can be reviewed, I have tabled the following amendment to the Assembly motion, so that it might read:-
“That this Assembly notes that Members’ salaries, allowances and pensions are determined by an independent body and that there should be no change to that arrangement, save that, in accordance with section 47 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Assembly Commission can issue guidance to the independent body on the subject of allowances, with the exception of the quantum thereof, but only in circumstances where the implementation of the arrangements set by the independent body are causing practical difficulties or inequities and the Commission shall publish all such guidance.”
“This preserves critical independence on the setting of allowances, but allows sensible adjustments, not in respect of quantum, but in respect of application.
“I trust my amendment will be permitted to be debated so that there is a real choice before the Assembly. If the only choice is the Assembly Commission’s motion, then I will vote against it.”