The East Belfast MLA was speaking after the DUP, UUP, Sinn Fein and SDLP failed to vote for the amendment in the Assembly today (Tuesday). It would have seen the number of MLAs cut from 108 to 90 in time for May’s poll.
Under the so-called ‘Fresh Start’ agreement, such a cutback will take place for the first election after May. However, Mr Lyttle, who revealed the move would have saved the public purse £11 million over the lifetime of the next Assembly, said he could not understand why other Executive parties did not want to see the change now.
“We are in the strange situation of the parties having agreed to this reduction already but while Alliance wants to see it carried out now, others are holding off until 2021. Why agree to do something but wait five years to implement it?
“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 population the size of Northern Ireland does not need a legislature as large as the one we currently have. It is disappointing other parties decided to act in self-preservation and not follow Alliance’s lead to carry out much-needed reform, while still ensuring representation for smaller parties.
“They will have to answer to people why they didn’t want to see a government that is more value for money and more effective as soon as possible.”