Page last updated at 09:21 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

'Double jobbing' bill progresses in assembly

Dawn Purvis has proposed a private member's bill
Dawn Purvis proposed the private member's bill

An assembly bill to end so-called double jobbing has passed the second stage.

The bill would stop politicians in Northern Ireland serving as both councillors and assembly members.

The private member's bill was put forward by Progressive Unionist Party leader Dawn Purvis.

It will now be referred to an assembly committee, where it will be considered in detail.

It is the first private member's bill of the current assembly to reach this advanced stage of the legislative process.

On Tuesday it was supported by Sinn Fein, the UUP and the SDLP. The DUP and Alliance Party raised challenges to the bill, but did not oppose its passage.

If it is passed, the ban on dual council/assembly mandates would come into force at the next local government elections.

Mrs Purvis said: "It is my hope that ending dual mandates will help increase public confidence in the assembly, bring new people and new ideas into politics, and make the work of government more meaningful and relevant to the people of Northern Ireland."

"There are important issues of transparency and inclusion that are part of this bill, but there is also a matter of fairness.

"It is simply not appropriate in the current economic climate for elected officials to be holding more than one paid, elected position, when most people are struggling to find a job or hold onto the job they have."

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