Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:
“Today I moved the first stage of my new Special Advisers Bill. The Bill is designed to curb the Stormont Executive’s excessive spend on Special Advisers by reducing the number of SpAds in OFMdFM from 8 to 4 and linking their salaries to the senior civil service pay band for Assistant Secretaries (Grade 5).
“The legislation also seeks to make Special Advisers subject to the prevailing Civil Service disciplinary processes and prevent ministers blocking discipline. Thus it would help to avoid a repeat of Stephen Brimstone’s unpunished treatment of Lisburn councilor Jenny Palmer during the Red Sky affair.
“The legislation was out for consultation during the Summer and the proposals received a warm welcome with over 98% of the 148 respondents agreeing that there was a case for reform.
“When one considers the number of Special Advisers employed at Stormont and contrasts it with the other devolved regions of the UK the case for reform is compelling. Northern Ireland has 19 SpAds while Scotland has 14.
“Over the Summer the Welsh Government published details of the number and cost of Special Adviser employed in Cardiff. They get by with 9 – less than half the number employed by Stormont. The paybill was also revealed. For the period 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015 the cost of Welsh Government SpAds totalled £626,995. The Stormont SpAd pay bill (at over two million) is more than three times that.
“This Bill will test the platitudes of MLAs in professing opposition to waste as against what they actually do. I trust all can unite around these essential and measured proposals.”