Page last updated at 05:54 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 06:54 UK

MLAs to abide by code of conduct

Assembly members who breach the code can be suspended without pay

A new code of conduct for assembly members has come into effect.

From Monday, MLAs will have to register details of any family members they employ and of money earned from work outside Stormont.

The assembly will be able to suspend members without pay if they are found to have breached the code.

Standards and Privileges Committee chairman Declan O'Loan said the code would "significantly improve openness and accountability at the assembly".

He added: "It will ensure that members are held to the high ethical standards expected of them by the whole community."

MLAs have 28 days to register the details, after which a new version of the Register of Members' Interests will be published.

Last year when the issue of employing family members was first raised, the DUP said 18 of its MLAs employed a relative, among UUP MLAs it was seven, among the SDLP MLAs it was 10 and among Sinn Fein MLAs it was three.

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