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Points of Order

Volume 745: debated on Tuesday 20 February 2024

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You will be aware that the Northern Ireland Assembly was restored two weeks ago. During the period when it was not sitting, Members of the Legislative Assembly were not fulfilling the full range of their functions, and the Secretary of State reduced their salaries.

I wrote to the Leader of the House last week about a matter of which you may well also be aware, Madam Deputy Speaker: the matter of the abstentionist Sinn Féin MPs who have not fulfilled the full range of their own functions, but have received millions of pounds in representative moneys over not two but 22 years. While they receive no salary from the House, the money that they do receive is allocated on the same basis as Short money, namely to assist Opposition parties with such processes as scrutiny and preparation for debates, in none of which Sinn Féin participates. I just wish to ascertain, Madam Deputy Speaker, whether the Leader of the House, having received my letter, has as yet indicated her intention of tabling a motion allowing us to discuss this matter.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for giving me notice of it. I have had no indication that the Government intend to table a motion on this matter, and I believe that Mr Speaker has had no such indication either. However, the hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to ask the Leader of the House a question on Thursday when she has announced the forthcoming business. I hope that that is helpful; I think that that is the direction in which he should go.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. This is not something that has happened in the last while; as we have just heard from my hon. Friend the Member for East Londonderry (Mr Campbell), it has been going on for a number of years. Representations have been made to the Government and to the Minister responsible on numerous occasions, so it is disappointing that my hon. Friend has had to bring the matter up yet again today. Is it not time for the Minister to come to the House, make a statement and get this matter sorted out?

I do not think there is much that I can add to what I said earlier, but I am confident that those on the Treasury Bench and the Whips have heard what both hon. Gentlemen had to say, and I am sure that they will be reporting back. I urge the hon. Gentlemen to take the matter up on Thursday, when the Leader of the House will be here.