Statement from the Assembly Commission

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 17 February 2016

Reference: AC 01/15/16

The Assembly Commission met today and restated its continuing commitment to a strong and independent mechanism to deal with the payment of MLAs' expenses to ensure the proper use of public funds by elected MLAs to serve their constituents.

The Commission agreed to:

  • Invite the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) to update and review its Peer Review Report in the light of recent media comments;
  • Agreed that Assembly officials develop amendments to the Members' Handbook arising from the IPSA report. These will be introduced alongside any amendments arising from the Independent Financial Review Panel's (IFRP) forthcoming determination.
  • Request that IPSA quality assure the new Financial Support for Members' Handbook before it is approved by the Assembly Commission;
  • Reaffirm its position that no elected MLA (including Commission Members) should have any role in the claims review process; and
  • Confirm its January 2016 decision that Assembly officials should develop legislative proposals to strengthen the effectiveness of the IFRP for consideration by the Assembly Commission following the election.

The Commission also noted that:

  • It was the Commission itself which brought forward the proposals and legislation to establish the IFRP;
  • The IFRP's determinations have already introduced significant changes to the expenses regime for MLAs since 2012;
  • The Commission itself agreed to the Clerk / Chief Executive's proposal to ask IPSA to conduct the Peer Review of the administration of the Assembly expenses system; and
  • The IPSA report "did not identify any major issues of concern", but made a small number of recommendations.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Northern Ireland Assembly Commission:
The Speaker, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Paula Bradley MLA
CaitrĂ­ona Ruane MLA
Samuel Gardiner MBE MLA
Karen McKevitt MLA
Judith Cochrane MLA

Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP):
Patrick McCartan CBE
Dr Henrietta Campbell CB
Alan McQuillan OBE

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA):

IPSA is the body that regulates and administers the business costs, expenses, pay and pensions of members of the House of Commons. IPSA is statutorily independent of Parliament, Government and the political parties.

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