Stormont special advisers should be subject to Civil Service disciplinary processes if they breach their code of conduct, Robin Swann has said.
The Ulster Unionist leader supported an independent review of their number, role, remit and salaries, and said they should be compared with their counterparts across the rest of the UK.
The role of special advisers has been under the spotlight during the Renewable Heat Incentive inquiry.
Mr Swann told his party’s annual conference in Armagh: “And I think it goes without saying that special advisers need to be pulled into line.
“It is clear that when it is left up to parties it doesn’t work.
“So we are proposing that special advisers must be subject to the Northern Ireland Civil Service disciplinary process for breaching their code of conduct.”
He also reiterated unionist concerns about legacy proposals from the Government.
“In particular, it quickly became clear that we could not give our support to the Historical Investigations Unit – another mess that has the DUP’s fingerprints all over it.
“We agree that the current situation is intolerable for victims.
“But we cannot stand over these proposals.
“We cannot support the establishment of a parallel police force.
“We cannot allow the rewriting of history.”
He highlighted the plight of those who have already had a Historical Enquiries Team review, those whose loved ones were murdered outside Northern Ireland and the 47,000 who were injured.
“When a former justice minister has said that this process may only lead to one or two prosecutions – why are we setting up an entirely new police force?
“Why are we not adequately funding our existing police force, which has the support of all political parties and across the community?
“Why are we just moving the workload from one desk to another at great expense?”
He said his party knows the human cost of IRA terror.
“And we will not allow history to be rewritten so that the murders of our party members, our elected representatives – our friends – are portrayed as anything other than the barbaric, bloodthirsty, sectarian murders that they were.
“To allow narratives to be shaped by those who brought mayhem to our streets will not reconcile our society for future generations.”