Political news

Withhold assembly members' pay if no power-sharing agreement reached, says Owen Paterson

Owen Paterson was secretary of state from 2010-2012
Lizzy Buchan, Press Association Political Staff

Assembly members should not have their salaries paid by the taxpayer if they cannot reach a powersharing agreemen, a former minister has said.

Conservative former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson said withholding pay from MLAs might "crystallise minds" in the Assembly against lengthy negotiations.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire pledged to keep "all options under consideration" in his efforts to form a new executive.

During an urgent statement on Northern Ireland, Mr Paterson asked Mr Brokenshire: "Would you agree with me that there is one measure that would put pressure on the parties to come back to the talks and might crystallise minds, and that would be to make it clear that should the elected members not form the executive after a lengthy period of negotiation then their salaries and expenses will not be paid from the public purse?"

In reply, Mr Brokenshire said: "Certainly we will be keeping all options under consideration but the focus has to be on looking to the positive, looking to that outcome that sees parties coming together and getting the devolved government back on its feet at the earliest opportunity because, actually, that is what people voted for."

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