Is it time to reduce the number of our MLAs?

Tomorrow the Assembly will debate this motion brought forward by the Alliance party;

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The party claims that if this measure is introduced by the next election that it could see a saving of £11 million over the course of the next assembly term.

One of the proposers of the motion, Stewart Dickson sets out his rationale for proposing it;

Estimates are it would save the taxpayer around £2.2 million each year, or £11 million per Assembly term, in wages, expenses and office costs. That effectively means 75 more police officers or 90 more nurses each year. In a time of austerity, there is no need to potentially wait five years before that money is put back into the public purse.

A place the geographical size and with the population of Northern Ireland does not need a legislature as large as the one we currently have. There is an opportunity for much-needed reform and we need to take it. A streamlined government would be value for money and be more effective for people.

Should this motion be successful, it would mean that we would see the introduction of this measure four years before the Fresh Start agreement planned as the section of that document states (page 19);

MLAsMy understanding of the proposal is that it simply reduces our constituencies from 6 down to 5 seats each.

My questions for the Sluggerverse are;

  1. Is this a good idea to bring forward or should we wait?
  2. What parties would benefit/lose out if this happened in May?

 

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs