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House of Commons leader ‘washed his hands over SF payouts’

The Government should “admonish” Sinn Fein MPs who claim allowances but refuse to take their seats in Parliament, the DUP’s new North Antrim MP has said.

Ian Paisley jnr accused Commons Leader Sir George Young of “washing his hands, Pilate-like” of the situation.

But Sir George said allowances to the five MPs, including party president Gerry Adams and Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, was a matter for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

Before the General Election the Tories had suggested that if they took power Sinn Fein would no longer receive the allowances. In April 2009 then-shadow Secretary of State Owen Paterson said: “I think that it is inconceivable that incoming Conservative MPs would vote to continue paying millions of pounds of public money to elected members who do not take their seats.”

In the Commons yesterday Mr Paisley said: “Surely the Leader of the House is washing his hands,

Pilate-like, of the responsibilities that this House ought to have when it comes to the payment of members' allowances to a party and to members that deliberately abstain and fail to do the work that they ought to do on behalf of their constituents.”

Sir George replied: “I understand but it was a unanimous decision of the last Parliament that decisions on salaries and allowances for MPs should no longer be taken by this House but should be taken by an independent organisation. And that is where the responsibility rests.”

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