Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Gun to the head blows "bits and pieces"

Following on from Monday, the Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas has said the Assembly Commission had agreed to all the report's proposals.

The commission, which includes representatives from all four parties, took the decision on behalf of AMs.

Sir Roger Jones's report, Getting it Right for Wales, followed a 10-month investigation of the pay and expenses of AMs.

The report's implementation will mean

  • After the next assembly election in 2011, AMs will no longer be able to claim mortgage interest on second homes.
  • Some 25 of them will, however, be able to rent accommodation within five miles of the assembly in Cardiff Bay, half the number of AMs currently entitled to a second home allowance.
  • AMs will not be able to employ family members in future but any existing arrangements will continue.
  • The current link between AMs' pay and MPs' salaries will also be broken.
  • AMs' salaries will be increased in line with inflation next year and in future be linked to changes in average earnings in Wales.
  • The current "daily allowance" of £30.65 for members on assembly business to spend on meals will also be scrapped "as soon as possible".
Lord Elis-Thomas said work would begin "immediately" on implementing the changes.
That these changes have been endorsed during the year in which we mark the tenth anniversary of devolution is a testament to the assembly's maturity and is a signal that the assembly is committed to operating in ways that are right for Wales.

[The report] addresses the contentious issues of remuneration and financial support - issues which have been such a stumbling block to people truly engaging in the democratic process.

But of equal importance, it places a strong emphasis on ensuring the capacity of the assembly and Members to undertake our work - to represent the interests of Wales and its people, make laws for Wales and hold the Welsh government to account.

Earlier, Conservative AM and commission member William Graham told the BBC Wales that the plans "were agreed with ease" at a meeting on Tuesday evening.

Labour commissioner Lorraine Barrett said there were "bits and pieces" in the report that not all AMs would like, but "you can't unpick it".


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