Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Expenses revisited: An eye for an eye

Assembly insiders are all the rage these days...The chairman of a panel that recommended big cuts in AM allowances ran up expenses of nearly £80,000 while chairing the Welsh Development Agency.

Sir Roger Jones chaired the WDA, whose role was to create jobs by attracting inward investment, from January 2002 until it was merged with the Assembly Government at the end of March 2006.

Details of Sir Roger’s expenses while he was at the WDA show that his claims totalled £78,800 during his time chairing the board.

More than £30,000 was spent on overseas air and rail travel, more than £14,000 on hotel accommodation, more than £11,000 on hospitality both in the UK and overseas, and £6,000 on taxi fares.

An Assembly insider said: “This is extremely embarrassing for Sir Roger and comes just days after it was revealed he claimed thousands of pounds in pay and expenses while undertaking a review on the same subject.

“Sir Roger has spent tens of thousands of pounds since 2001 on hospitality, travel and subsistence while chair of the WDA, you have to question whether this was money well spent. The annual figures from the WDA accounts show that in several years he was claiming a bigger annual salary than an AM, for what was a part-time role.

“His previous comments on AMs behaving like children in a sweet shop seem particularly hypocritical now.”

Some AMs [mainly Labour] are unhappy, if that's the most polite of descriptions, and you don't need to hang around Cardiff Bay's No. 1 restaurant to find that one out. Whether you agree or not, one commenter seems to give us food for thought.

Yes, this does seem a great deal of money, but what we must remember is that this amount covers a four year period. So please don't throw out the baby with the bath water use some common sense. Think of his job, and the amount it cost each year, then make your decision on whether he is overpaid or not.

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