The case for shrinking Stormont


Whilst we’re waxing Ludwig von Mises, let me direct you once more to the estimable Newton Emerson, who eloquently makes the case for limited government. Let’s recall, as mentioned on these pages before, that the current Stormont Assembly has 108 representatives, where the old Stormont got by with a mere 52. (And the Scottish Parliament, more powerful and with a population three times the size, has only 129.) On top of that, you’ve got the first and deputy first ministers, ten departmental ministers and two junior ministers in the OFMDFM, plus each department being shadowed by an Assembly committee. Not to mention Assembly members double- or triple-jobbing as Westminster MPs or district councillors, with their wives and children on the payroll.

Newt approvingly cites the example of Sir Basil Brooke, prime minister of the North between 1943 and 1963, who got all his business at Stormont done on one morning per week before returning to his Fermanagh estate. Bearing in mind what our political class is like, that’s a pretty good record. And yet, the punditocracy (itself under threat of downsizing, as Newt points out) is grousing about the current Assembly’s two-day week, and demanding more political product. No, a thousand times no! Can you imagine the damage these bozos would do working a five-hour week?

Peter Robinson keeps talking about the need to reduce headcount in the public sector. Our elected representatives would be a good place to start.


  1. Paulie said,

    December 5, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    “Our elected representatives would be a good place to start.”

    They’re the last place you should start. People who are elected are directly rivaled by commerical pressure groups, bureaucrats and media interests.

    I’d ensure that people who’ve been voted have the numbers and the resources to rival them (either by weakening unelected forces or strengthening elected ones). It’s certainly not the case today, and is even less so than it was in the past.

  2. Liam said,

    December 5, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    The old design was better.

  3. Ciarán said,

    December 6, 2008 at 12:56 am

    And all this while our obviously overworked MLAs have deigned to give themselves another £3,000 pay rise.

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