Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

We need to cut the wheat from the chaff at Stormont

"Better fewer but better" was a slogan devised by Lenin, the Russian revolutionary leader, which could be useful at our own not so revolutionary assembly up at Stormont.

Lenin was trying to cut down the state apparatus and improve the quality of those working in it. Apply that to the Assembly where we have 108 MLAs awaiting a pay rise which is likely to be an inflation buster.

There is an argument for paying our politicians well enough to attract the most able candidates to run our affairs. Dr Alasdair McDonnell has a point. Politicians have no job security and need some help if they lose an election.

The problem is that there are too many of them. Looking around the Stormont benches there are many able people who are taking a pay cut by working for the £43,000 a year as an MLA is paid. Unfortunately there are also many who wouldn't earn anything like that elsewhere and they are dead weight on the institution.

What we need to do is keep the best talent in politics, making it a really competitive field, and get rid of the rest.

It is not likely to happen under present rules, but the fairest and most cost effective way to fund a pay increase for our politicians would be to cut MLA numbers by at least half.

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