Page last updated at 13:52 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Double jobbing MLAs face pay cut

Stephen Walker
BBC Northern Ireland political reporter

Sammy Wilson
Sammy Wilson says he doesn't want to end 'double jobbing'

The Environment Minister Sammy Wilson says councillors who are also MLAs should have their council allowances reduced.

Councillors currently get a basic £9,500 allowance. MLAs are paid at least £42,000.

Mr Wilson says MLAs who also sit on councils should in future only get a third of the councillors allowance.

Around two thirds of the 108 strong Assembly are currently sitting councillors.

Mr Wilson wants any new system to be similar to the arrangement which exists for MPs who are also MLAs. MPs currently get their full Westminster salary and a third of their Stormont salary.

Mr Wilson who is an MLA, an MP and a councillor says he will not legislate to end the practice of double or triple jobbing. He says it is an issue for individuals and the political parties.

It would be up to MLAs to decide if they want to do this for just a nominal amount of money
Sammy Wilson MLA

Speaking from Westminster the East Antrim MP said his planned change to the regulations would focus the minds of his Assembly colleagues who sit on councils.

"Having a council seat in your own constituency is clearly very useful. However it would then be up to MLAs to decide if they want to do this for just a nominal amount of money ".

Mr Wilson who divides his time between Westminster, East Antrim, and Belfast believes he is able to carry out all his duties effectively.

Arlene Foster MLA his predecessor as Environment Minister resigned her council seat when she took the Environment brief. However he says he is quite happy that there is no clash of interest in being a councillor and Minister.

A Belfast city councillor since 1981 he says he has no plans to resign his council seat .

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