NIO gives no answers on MLA pay consultation process

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley said she was 'minded' to cut pay for MLAs
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley said she was 'minded' to cut pay for MLAs

The NI Office has declined to answer questions posed by the News Letter regarding the consultation on reducing MLAs’ pay.

In the wake of Karen Bradley’s announcement that she would be consulting the parties before taking a final decision on whether to cut MLAs’ salaries, we asked the government to clarify when the process would begin, how long it will last and what exactly it will entail.

However, we received no answers to any of our questions.

An NIO spokesperson simply said: “As the secretary of state made clear in the House, she is minded to reduce MLA pay in line with Trevor Reaney’s recommendations and will shortly seek to introduce legislation to take a power to vary MLAs’ salaries.

“However, in the meantime, she would welcome full and final representations from the Northern Ireland parties so that the power we can legislate for in Westminster is used appropriately.”

The issue of reducing MLAs’ pay has been a hot topic since the collapse of Stormont 14 months ago.

Following Mrs Bradley’s announcement, North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon described the delay in making a decision as “dithering” and “morally indefensible”.

Mrs Bradley’s predecessor James Brokenshire commissioned former Assembly chief executive Mr Reaney to examine the issue of paying MLAs who are not performing their roles as legislators due to the political impasse.

Before Christmas, Mr Reaney recommended a 27.5% cut – a move that would take the average salary of £49,500 to £35,888 in two stages.

This would entail an immediate cut of £7,425 followed by a further reduction of £6,187 three months later.

It is one of 18 proposals put forward in the report, including reducing staff allowances in the future.

Mrs Bradley told the House of Commons on Monday that she was “minded” to reduce pay in line with the Mr Reaney’s recommendation, and said she would seek to introduce legislation at Westminster that would hand her the power to vary MLA pay.