Why cutting MLAs pay may not be a route to salvation

From the BBC; The secretary of state has said she “is minded” to reduce MLA pay, in the wake of the collapse of the Stormont talks. Speaking in the House of Commons, Karen Bradley said the “time is right” to address “concern about MLA pay in the absence of a functioning assembly”. Last December, former assembly Chief Executive Trevor Reaney recommended a cut of 27.5%. Mrs Bradley said she wants to hear from Northern Ireland’s political parties before making a … Read more

#ae17 in numbers

SEVEN DAYS before institutions collapse; 5 MLAs per constituency means a minimum of 18 MLAs not returning to the Assembly; 30 is still the magic PoC number; £85,000 still the estimated daily cost to the tax payer of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

Quiz time! Do you know these co-opted MLAs?

Let us know how many you got in the comments below. Kris Nixon (Belfast Barman)Kris tweets ferociously as @belfastbarman and runs an associated site, www.belfastbarman.com where he occasionally opines his views. He lived abroad for a while and as such, feels he will never really ‘get’ this place. Formerly a barman, he regularly broke the cardinal rules of, “No politics or religion in the pub,” as such, he turned to writing. Previously a stand up comedian and an animal crematorium … Read more

Almost 30% of MLAs not seeking re-election

A really interesting article by Sam McBride in the News Letter today highlight the number of MLAs standing down at the next election. In his piece McBride points out; Almost 30 per cent of MLAs elected in the last Assembly election are not even standing for election next year – and the turnover in Assembly politicians could end up being as high as 40 per cent. But goes on to say; On top of that, several MLAs who stand for … Read more

Is it time to reduce the number of our MLAs?

CUTTING THE MLAS: Tomorrow the Assembly will debate this motion brought forward by the Alliance party. 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.

Within a constituency, are each MLA’s mileage claims of a similar size? No …

Annex B of the Independent Financial Review Panel’s most recent consultation document [the content of which I blogged about earlier] contains a table showing each MLA’s mileage expense claims for 2013/14 and 2014/15, along with the distance of their constituency office from Parliament Buildings. I’ve charted the 2014/15 mileage claims of the MLAs to help visualise the patterns and outliers. Note: MLAs receive a standard rate of Motor Mileage Allowance for business travel by car. The rates that may be … Read more

And, here, what about a rent cap for MLA constituency offices (in case you missed it)?

For yesterday morning’s #SluggerReport I decided to return to a matter which seemed to have been sidelined by the flag/political signage controversy, the IFRP report on MLA expenses, which represents a bold attempt to tighten rules. listen to ‘What about the IFRP's rent cap proposal for MLAs?’ on audioBoom For example, it targets the controversial arrangements surrounding the DUP Ballymena office – long covered by Slugger and also featured in the recent Spotlight payroll expose. In short, DUP MLAs and … Read more

Independent Panel finds problems with MLA Staff Recruitment.

Quick scan through the report…. The Independent Financial Review Panel report today said that MLAs have 84 different job titles for their staff. But, what was more bizarre was that the pay rates for some levels of staff ranged from £6.35-£33.75 per hour. The report was also critical about the recruitment process for members of staff complaining about the lack of a recognisable process for recruitment of members of staff. On family members the report argues that anybody employing relatives … Read more

Is it time to reduce our number of MLAs?

So our MLAs are currently still engaging in yet another talks process and according to the BBC earlier in November, the DUP circulated a paper which again highlighted their support for the deflation of Stormont departments and a reduction in the number of MLAs. While the DUP support a reduction in MLAs from the current number of 108 to something between 70 and 80, the Deputy First Minister wouldn’t cut back Stormont just as much as the DUP but does … Read more

#SpotlightNI: Dodgy deals and private societies which turn out not to be what they seem…

Here’s a conversation involving Peter Weir of the DUP and Francie Molloy both trying to find ways to defend the otherwise indefensive on Spotlight last night… listen to ‘DUP's Peter Weir & SF's Francie Malloy react to Spotlight expenses investigation’ on audioBoom Now, I’m not a fan of expenses stories, but listening Peter Weir you would come to the conclusion that there was nothing to see here. Interestingly he cites a ‘public service’ argument conveniently ignoring the fact that the … Read more

MPs with a slim majority are more likely to tweet: crunching numbers of tweeting elected representatives

Democratic Audit UK today posted a summary of results of research by James Donald who has been looking at the tweeting characteristics of Westminster MPs. It made me wonder about our local politicians. But first, the highlights from the UK-wide findings. Nearly 63% of MPs (408) had Twitter accounts in January 2013, while 37% were still abstaining. (Today, Tweetminster suggests the figure has risen marginally!) The findings showed that the younger an MP is, the more likely she/he is to … Read more

Unregistered interests: ca. 50% of MLAs don’t declare £150 payments from Lobbyist Company?

There are lots of interesting little details in the Assembly Register of Member’s Interests. Two MLAs being paid a small sum for filling in surveys isn’t one of them: Miscellaneous Interests Jim Wells and Paul Givan Stratagem Northern Ireland: a survey company which occasionally surveys the views of MLAs on a wide range of issues. A fee of £50.00 is payable for each survey completed. You can find the results of numerous Stratagem surveys of MLAs online but details of … Read more

“cutting their own pay and numbers is more for the optics than the effect”

The BBC reports that the Northern Ireland Assembly has passed a motion, proposed by the NI First Minister, DUP leader Peter Robinson, wearing his East Belfast MLA hat, calling on the independent Assembly Commission “to reduce its running costs in line with the level of reduction faced by Executive Departments.” The Belfast Telegraph report notes, On Monday [Peter Robinson] outlined a range of further cost-cutting steps including the voluntary freezing or reducing of ministerial or Assembly member costs and ending the subsidy of Assembly … Read more