MLA staff will not have salaries cut, Northern Ireland Secretary says

MLA staff will not have salaries cut, Northern Ireland Secretary says

Staff working for members of the crisis-hit Stormont Assembly will not have their salaries cut, the Northern Ireland Secretary has said.

Karen Bradley again signalled her intent to slash MLA pay by 27.5% but said she was still seeking the views of the local parties before making a final decision.

However she said she did not intend to take action on the salaries of their staff, as she did not think they should "suffer" because an executive has not been formed.

MLA staff will not have salaries cut, Northern Ireland Secretary says

"I do not intend to take any action with regard to staff salaries. I think it is quite right that they should be continuing to be paid because they work incredibly hard for the constituents of the MLAs," Mrs Bradley told MPs as she moved legislation to address pay during the impasse.

The Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Pay) Bill would enable Mrs Bradley to make a determination on pay during the period without an executive, though does not itself make any changes to MLA pay or allowances.

Last year, Mrs Bradley's predecessor James Brokenshire commissioned former Assembly chief executive Trevor Reaney to examine the controversial issue of paying MLAs who have now not sat at the Assembly for 14 months.

Before Christmas, Mr Reaney recommended the 27.5% cut, a move that would take the standard salary rate of £49,500 (€56,772) down to £35,888 (€41,160) in two stages.

Mrs Bradley said she was still "minded to follow" the recommendation but said she continued to encourage representations from parties "before bringing forward a determination on wider changes to pay and allowances under this Bill".

"I cannot act to put a determination in place until this Bill has been passed by both Houses and received Royal Assent," she added.

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith said Labour accepted the need for a cut in MLA salaries but cautioned that previous salary cuts during a similar period when the Assembly was not sitting had not necessarily led parties to do a deal.

The Bill cleared the Commons without amendment and will be scrutinised in the Lords at a later date.

- PA

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