MLA expenses review announced

As David Gordon reports in the Belfast Telegraph, the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission is to review the MLA expenses system. NI Assembly clerk Trevor Reaney was on Stormont Live today, and it sounded like he was playing down any expectations of radical reform – see below the fold. The review follows on from the recommendations of the Senior Salaries Review Body, and the recommendations of the NI Assembly Committee on Standards and Privileges after looking at the use of the Office Costs Allowance to create a property asset for a political party. As Mark Devenport notes in this video the expectation is for something resembling the much more transparent Scottish system. But transparency, by itself, is unlikely to be sufficient here..

NI Assembly clerk Trevor Reaney on Stormont Live.

As David Gordon notes in a separate report.

The Paisleys’ Ballymena office has attracted particular attention due to its size and cost — the combined annual total of £57,200 is three times higher than the next highest MLA rental.

Some other MLAs last year confirmed that they had claimed rental expenses for premises owned by relatives, including Michael McGimpsey (UUP), Kieran McCarthy (Alliance) and Gregory Campbell (DUP). The UUP’s Billy Armstrong received payments up to the end of 2007 for a prefab office owned by his wife and located on the family farm.

Figures obtained by this newspaper last year showed that of 18 MLAs paying office rental expenses to their parties, 10 were from Sinn Fein.

The rules need to be stricter and, unlike the Fees Office in Parliament, to be enforced.

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  • alan56

    Imagine if we adopted the Scottish system. We would be able to work out if they bought from a unionist or nationalist business! That should be fun.

  • StarHound

    The review of expenses clearly needs to take in the Civil Service and associated quangos following the revelation that the Consumer Council spent £1,730 on a thinly disguised puff for outgoing Chief Executive Eleanor Gill’s new business and £1,360 on her ‘leaving party’ which broken down as follows:

    ‘More than £440 was spent on music, £375 on waiter service and £150 on invitations.’

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8068346.stm

    What is going in these agencies when they think that they are entitled to waste public money on ‘waiter service’?

  • Pigeon Toes

    The review of expenses clearly needs to take in the Civil Service and associated quangos following the revelation that the Consumer Council spent £1,730 on a thinly disguised puff for outgoing Chief Executive Eleanor Gill’s new business and £1,360 on her ‘leaving party’ which broken down as follows:

    ‘More than £440 was spent on music, £375 on waiter service and £150 on invitations.’

    And Funniest of all DRD spent £55,000 on a report to vilify complainants, and to prove to the great unwashed that there was no wrongdoing o their behalf.

    The contents of the report and the “investigators” assertions have now proven to be “flawed” (at best)

    There might be a few twitchy backsides in Clarence Court this week.

    Possibly more so when the EU Investigation is completed….