Alliance calls for reduction of MLAs at next election

Reducing the number of MLAs by one per constituency at the next election would save the taxpayer over £11 million in the lifetime of the next Assembly.

The number has been revealed by Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson, ahead of an Assembly motion brought by the party tomorrow (Monday) calling for the 108 MLAs currently in Stormont to be cut to 90 for the May 2016 election.

Last week’s ‘Fresh Start’ deal states such a cutback will take place immediately after May’s poll. However, Mr Dickson said due to the simple nature of the legislation changing the number of MLAs, there was no reason it could not be in place for May 2016.

“There is no doubt the Assembly’s standing among the public is as low as it has ever been. A series of crises has led to people asking how much value for money they get from the institution as it currently stands. As such, there is a natural question of the need for 108 MLAs.

“That will be reduced to 90 at the next election after May but Alliance is asking why that cannot be brought forward to the next election. Estimates are it would save the taxpayer around £2.2 million each year, or £11 million per Assembly term, in wages, expenses and office costs. That effectively means 75 more police officers or 90 more nurses each year. In a time of austerity, there is no need to potentially wait five years before that money is put back into the public purse.

“A place the geographical size and with the population of Northern Ireland does not need a legislature as large as the one we currently have. There is an opportunity for much-needed reform and we need to take it. A streamlined government would be value for money and be more effective for people.”

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