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Dual Mandates

Volume 512: debated on Wednesday 30 June 2010

8. What discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the system of dual mandates in the House of Commons and the Northern Ireland Assembly. (4211)

I should be demanding time and a half.

I have had several discussions with ministerial colleagues on the system of dual mandates. I believe that dual mandates should be brought to an end but that the best way to do so is by consensus among the Northern Ireland parties.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that so-called “double jobbing” has scarred Northern Irish politics for far too long? If local parties will not agree to end that voluntarily, will he consider introducing legislation to restrict the practice and ensure that double-jobbers take only one salary?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question, and he is quite right. The time to end double-jobbing is upon us: quite simply, a Member cannot sit in two legislatures at once. We know from local polls that double-jobbing is very unpopular—in one poll, 71% of respondents were against it. We would like to negotiate with local parties and, if absolutely necessary, we would legislate. However, I draw attention to the example set by my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Alun Cairns). On the day that he was elected to this House, he announced his intention to stand down from the Welsh Assembly, and he has forgone his salary for the rest of this year.

Order. There are far too many private conversations taking place in the Chamber. It is very unfair on the hon. Member asking the question, and indeed on the Minister answering. The House must come to order.