HC Deb 31 October 1975 vol 898 cc641-3W
Mr. Duffy

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what arrangements are being made for the payment of the salaries of members of the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention after that body is dissolved on 7th November.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Although the Convention will, under the terms of the

by the end of 1976–77, distributed as shown in the table below. In England the works will be undertaken mainly but not exclusively in the assisted areas; in Scotland there will be similar preference for localities where unemployment in construction is most serious; and in Wales the aim will be to alleviate unemployment in the industry while contributing to improving the housing stock. The projects authorised under these arrangements will be directed to social and economic purposes to which the Government are giving priority, including assistance to inner city areas.

Northern Ireland Act 1974, be dissolved on 7th November, the Act also provides that the Convention may be recalled at any time within six months of that date. Consistent with this, the Act permits me to continue paying salary to Convention members for up to six months after dissolution. I have decided that I should exercise this power, and Convention members will continue to receive their full salary after the Convention has been dissolved. The Government have not yet received the Convention's report, and I cannot yet say for how long it would be appropriate to continue these payments, but I intend to give at least three months' notice of the date when payment will cease.

Although the 1974 Act makes no provision for secretarial or travelling expenses to be paid during this phase of the Convention I intend to continue to meet members' secretarial expenses arising from the business of the Convention during this period; and I believe that it would be right to enable Members to continue their Convention work by paying travelling expenses for a very limited number of journeys to and from the Convention premises.

In keeping with these decisions, I have decided that Convention members should continue to be afforded the facilities which they at present enjoy in the Convention premises; I shall also continue to accept and answer correspondence from them on personal cases, but I shall, as I have frequently explained to the House, continue to be careful to ensure that there is no trespass on the rights of Members of Parliament at Westminster.