Information and timeline on the establishment of the Independent Financial Review Panel and its progress
Prior to the restoration of devolution in May 2007, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland wrote to the SSRB (Review Body on Senior Salaries) and requested them to conduct a review of MLA salaries, allowances and pension benefits in the Northern Ireland Assembly. This was taken forward by the new Assembly Commission following restoration of devolution.
SSRB Report published. It recommended that the Assembly should, in the future, accept the recommendations of any independent review on salaries, allowances and pensions, without modification.
Following individual meetings with Party Leaders and a collective meeting on the 18 June 2009, there was general agreement that the Assembly Commission should consider an independent mechanism for the future determination of salaries, pensions and financial support for Members.
December 2009—March 2010
After considering the SSRB Report the Assembly Commission supported the SSRB recommendation that the Assembly should consider setting up a wholly independent process for determining MLA salaries, allowances and pensions. The Assembly Commission moved to make the necessary legislative changes to facilitate this process.
The Northern Ireland Assembly Members Act 2010 received Royal Assent. This Act amended the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and allowed the Assembly to delegate the determination of salaries, allowances and pensions to an independent body.
The Assembly Commission launched a public consultation on the establishment of an independent body to be responsible for determining MLA salaries, allowances and pensions. All responses received supported the establishment of this independent body.
On 15 November 2010, the Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Bill NIA 3/10 was introduced into the Assembly and went through its Second Stage on 23 November 2010.
The Bill began its Committee Stage on 24 November 2010, going to an Ad hoc Committee set up to consider it.
The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission published its Report on the Financial Support and Pensions for Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly. This report made reference to the establishment of an independent body, separate from the Assembly, to set the pay and pensions levels for MLAs and was debated and agreed in Plenary on 13 December.
On 19 January 2011, the Ad hoc Committee published its report on the setting up of the Independent Financial Review Panel. The Bill also made provision for an Assembly Commissioner of Standards.
The report on setting up the Independent Financial Review Panel was debated in Plenary on 8 February 2011 and the Bill completed its Consideration Stage that day.
On 1 March 2011, the Bill to set up the Independent Financial Review Panel completed its Final Stage.
On 29 March 2011, the Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act.
Advertisements for members of the Independent Financial Review Panel were placed in National, Irish Republic and local Northern Ireland newspapers as well as on the Assembly website week beginning 4 April 2011.
Interviews were held for the three members of the Independent Financial Review Panel during the week beginning 23 May 2011. The selection panel was made up of Sir Neil Macintosh, Mr John Dowdall, Mrs Rotha Johnston and Mr Trevor Reaney, Clerk/Director General to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The Chair and members of the Independent Financial Review Panel were appointed on 1 July 2011.