Cameron’s article reflects comments which he made in a speech to the Scottish Conservative party conference, last week. He is adamant that representing one’s constituents at Westminster must be a full time job.
“Our new electoral force as Conservatives and Unionists has explicitly stated that “the holding of joint mandates will not be permitted”. I would prefer all the Northern Ireland parties to respond to the public’s justified anger over politicians’ failures and reach a similar voluntary agreement to end all dual mandates before the 2011 Assembly elections.
However, if we cannot persuade other parties to work with us and bring double-jobbing to an end by mutual agreement, a future Conservative Government would consider introducing legislation to prohibit dual mandates. I am determined that when voters in Northern Ireland go to the polls in 2011 to elect MLAs, the era of dual mandates and double salaries will have been brought to an end.””
Cameron will also reiterate Owen Paterson’s remarks that it is ’inconceivable’ that a Conservative government would continue to fund absentee Members of Parliament who refuse to take their seats in the chamber.
In the wake of the expenses controversy at Westminster, these undertakings form an important component of the Conservative and Unionist leader’s plan to restore confidence in politicians and require them to deliver value for money. This commitment will restore the primacy of the House of Commons in the nation’s political life and ensure that members are fully committed to their duties there.
The quality of Northern Ireland’s representation at Westminster should improve after the Conservatives come to power, thanks to their commitment to end dual mandates. And the only means to ensure that part of that representation can be involved in government is casting a vote for Conservatives and Unionists at the general election.