Belfast Telegraph

Call for double-jobbing ban on MPs

The Government should ban Northern Ireland MPs from taking seats at Stormont, a Westminster committee has said.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life hit out at double-jobbing by Assembly politicians in its annual report.

It had previously called on parties to voluntarily stop their elected representatives from holding dual mandates but the committee found that the parties seem "unwilling or unable" to do so.

The Government has already said it hoped to end double-jobbing by agreement with the parties but said that it will bring in legislation if necessary ahead of the next Assembly elections in 2015.

The committee said it had earlier called for the end of dual mandates at Westminster by 2011, prior to which 16 of the 18 Northern Ireland MPs also held Assembly seats.

"Following the publication of our report, a number of dual mandate MPs indicated that they would either give up their seat if elected to Westminster in May 2010 or not stand for re-election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011," the committee's report said.

"But there are still nine Northern Ireland MPs, 50%, who have dual mandates, two of whom are also ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive.

"The Committee continues to question whether it is possible to sit in two national legislatures simultaneously and do justice to both roles, particularly if the MP concerned holds a ministerial position."

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is the largest Northern Ireland party at Westminster with nine MPs. After a number of senior figures stepped down from Assembly politics, the party now has two MPs at Stormont. Gregory Campbell holds seats in both houses while his party colleague Sammy Wilson is also a Stormont minister.

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