N. Ireland Politics

Special advisers' Bill: TUV plans to reduce numbers and cap on pay defeated in assembly

TUV leader Jim Allister
Image caption If Mr Allister's bill had passed, the upper limit on a special advisers' salary would have come down from £92,000 a year to around £78,000

A bill brought by Jim Allister which would have reduced the cap on special advisers' pay has been defeated in the assembly after the DUP and Sinn Féin voted against it.

The legislation proposed by the TUV MLA would also have cut the number of special advisers, known as Spads, in the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers from eight to four.

In his speech which concluded the debate, Mr Allister said: "The cabal which controls this house has determined to kill this bill."

He accused Sinn Féin of a U-turn, saying that the party had indicated its support for the bill last week.

Mr Allister told MLAs: "Sinn Féin has ridden to the rescue and done a deal with the DUP on this."

Thirty-three MLAs voted for the bill, including those from the UUP, SDLP and Alliance.

But with 52 MLAs from the two largest parties voting against the legislation, it was defeated and will not go through to any further stages in the assembly.

Image caption The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister has the most advisers

Mr Allister brought the bill forward because he felt the current number of Spads at 18 was too high.

He told MLAs earlier in the debate: "Provision for, and remuneration of special advisers has got wholly out of control."

He said that it was "preposterous" that the Office of the First and Deputy first Ministers had the same number of special advisers, eight, as the whole of the Welsh government.

The TUV leader had proposed that the number of Spads in the executive's lead department should be reduced to four.

He also proposed that the upper limit on a special advisers' salary would come down from £92,000 a year to about £78,000.

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