UK govt proposes pay cut for N.Ireland lawmakers

The UK government on Monday introduced a bill to cut lawmakers' pay in Northern Ireland, where power-sharing is paralysed by a dispute over post-Brexit trade.

The bill, which also includes an extension to the deadline for parties to form an executive in Belfast, proposes a cut in salaries by over a quarter while the devolved body is inactive.

"At present, (members of the legislative assembly) are not in a position to fulfil the full range of their duties, so it is right that we take steps to reduce their salaries," UK Northern Ireland Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris said.

"I urge the Northern Ireland parties to use this extended time to come together and deliver for the interests of all people in Northern Ireland", he added.

The assembly has been crippled since February following the withdrawal of its largest pro-UK party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Under a 1998 peace agreement which ended decades of sectarian violence over British rule in Northern Ireland, power must be shared jointly between a pro-UK unionist and pro-Irish nationalist party.

The DUP is boycotting the executive despite elections in May and the expiration of an October 28 deadline mandating fresh elections if an executive could not be formed.

It wants the Northern Ireland Protocol, which effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the European single market and customs union despite the UK's departure from the bloc, to be overhauled or scrapped entirely.

The postponement of another election until March at the earliest is intended to provide more time for London and Brussels to resolve their differences on the protocol.

Both the EU and bloc member Ireland have suggested a deal could be forthcoming within weeks.

Britain's foreign minister James Cleverly warned last week, however, against over-estimating how swiftly a deal could be reached.