Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland MLAs' salaries to be cut by £13k - Civil Service getting powers to take executive decisions

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley has announced that MLAs salaries will face cuts of over £13,000.

The reduction was recommended by an independent review into MLA salaries. Mrs Bradley also announced that she will bring forward legislation to allow Northern Ireland's civil servants to make decisions in the absence of a functioning Executive.

The Secretary of State also ruled out calling an Assembly election.

Salaries will be cut by over £7,000 from November and a further reduction of over £6,000 from February if parties cannot reach an agreement to return to Stormont.

The initial reduction will see MLA salaries fall from £49,500 to £35,888 followed by the reduction of a further £6,187.

"The reduction will take effect in two stages, commencing in November - it would not reduce the allowance for staff as I do not think that MLAs' staff should suffer because of the politicians' failure to form an Executive," Mrs Bradley told the House of Commons.

"I recognise that there is a need to provide reassurance and clarity to both the Northern Ireland Civil Service and the people of Northern Ireland on the mechanisms for the continued delivery of public services.

"So, the legislation I intend to introduce after the conference recess will also include provisions to give greater clarity and certainty to enable Northern Ireland departments to continue to take decisions in Northern Ireland in the public interest and to ensure the continued delivery of public services."

The decision making power of Northern Ireland's civil servants had been called into question by a Court of Appeal ruling in July which said that Stormont's civil servants did not have the power to make key decisions without the approval of a minister.

The ruling said that senior civil servant Peter May had acted above his power when he gave the go-ahead for a controversial waste incinerator in Mallusk, Co Antrim.

Mrs Bradley told the Commons she was planning to introduce legislation to remove the obligation to call an Assembly election.

"I have not believed and do not now believe that holding an election during this time of significant change and political uncertainty would be helpful or would increase the prospects of restoring the Executive," the Secretary of State said.

"I intend, therefore, to introduce primary legislation in October to set aside for a limited and prescribed period the legal requirement to propose a date for a further election."

The devolved administration at Stormont has not sat for months in a row over identity issues like the place of the Irish language.

Repeated rounds of negotiations, led by the British and Irish Governments, have been unable to secure the restoration of the former coalition between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists.

Public services have suffered because no ministers are in place to make major decisions.

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