Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Robinson seeks smaller government

First Minister Peter Robinson
First Minister Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson has outlined detailed plans to streamline government at Stormont.

The First Minister's proposals would see the number of Assembly members cut from 108 to 75 and government departments drop from 12 to eight.

Acknowledging that any reconfiguration would require cross-party agreement, Mr Robinson said he had also asked his DUP ministers to review all arms-length bodies under their responsibility to establish which are expendable.

He outlined his ideas at an event for the Federation of Small Business in Belfast City Hall.

"Tonight I want to move the debate on in a constructive way and I offer these thoughts as a contribution to the debate and in the full knowledge that to be delivered we will require cross-party agreement," he said.

"I do not pretend that these are the perfect answers or the only answers but it is important to start somewhere."

While Mr Robinson has long been an advocate of smaller government at Stormont, he has now unveiled a set of firm proposals on how to achieve it.

Under the First Minister's plans, the department he now heads up with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness would become the Executive Office.

It would deal with Executive business and have responsibility for many of the central or cross-governmental functions.

In addition there would be seven conventional departments - Economy and Business; Education; Health and Social Services; Regional Development; Justice; Communities and Social Welfare; and Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development.

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