Fair and transparent system of financial support for Assembly Members aims to "Get it right” for Wales
The results of a comprehensive and far-reaching independent review of how Assembly Members are able to claim pay and allowances for travel, accommodation, funding for constituency offices and support staff was today presented to the Assembly’s Presiding Officer and Assembly Commissioners.
The report, Getting it right for Wales, is the result of a ten-month inquiry by an independent panel, chaired by Sir Roger Jones, that has developed a range of recommendations after taking evidence from members of the public, former and current Assembly Members and members of private and public sector bodies. The panel has also looked at how other parliamentary bodies, including those in Queensland and New Zealand, offer remuneration and financial support to its members.
It is the first review to be published in the UK of how elected representatives can claim financial support since the storm over Members of Parliament’s expenses broke in Westminster earlier this year.
Sir Roger Jones, chair of the independent review panel said: "The timing of the commissioning of this review in spring 2008 is a testament to the Assembly’s long-standing commitment to accountability and transparency.
"I firmly believe that adopting the recommendations contained in the panel’s report will allow the National Assembly for Wales and Assembly Members to re-establish the necessary confidence and trust of the people of Wales in the devolved democratic process.
"Our recommendations will also firmly establish the National Assembly as a mature and truly devolved legislature that is taking the lead among the parliamentary bodies of the United Kingdom and strengthening democracy in Wales.
"One of the main recommendations in the report therefore is the immediate severance of the link between Assembly Members’ pay and that of Westminster MPs. It is neither desirable nor appropriate that such links are maintained.
"In addition, we are recommending the abolition of a number of payments relating to second homes, including the abolition of the entitlement to claim mortgage interest payments on Members’ second homes in Cardiff.
"We are also recommending that the number of Members entitled to a second home will be reduced from 51 to 25 - instead we suggest the Assembly provides them with rented accommodation in Cardiff Bay.”
The panel’s report was today presented to the Assembly Commission, which is chaired by the Presiding Officer, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM. Lord Elis-Thomas will make a statement on the report in Plenary on Wednesday.
"I firmly believe that the wholesale implementation of our recommendations will allow the Assembly to be a democratic body that serves the interests of Wales and is gets it right for Wales,” said Sir Roger.