New panel to look into AMs' pay and allowances

Published 21/10/2009   |   Last Updated 14/07/2014

New panel to look into AMs' pay and allowances - commission statement to plenary, 21 October 2009

21 October 2009 As Llywydd and Chair of the Assembly Commission, following my commitment to you on 8 July, I would like to make a statement on the proposed National Assembly for Wales (Remuneration) Measure, which was laid earlier this week. The Proposed Measure will implement recommendation 12 of the report “Getting it Right for Wales”, the report of the Independent Review Panel on financial support for Assembly Members. In my statement following the publication of the Panel’s report in July, I said I would undertake the role of Member in Charge to pilot this essential Measure through the various stages according to our scrutiny procedures on behalf of my Commissioner Colleagues. This statement today is the beginning of the scrutiny process. Next will come stage 1 consideration, and a committee report which will assist Members here in Plenary Session on the general principles of the Measure. If those principles are approved, we will proceed to stage 2 - detailed consideration by committee, and to stages 3 and 4 of consideration by the Assembly, concluding with Royal approval, which we hope to achieve in July.

If we go through these stages successfully, this would enable the Independent Remuneration Board to be recruited during the summer and start working next autumn. The proposed Measure will require the Remuneration Board to set future salary levels, fixed for the duration of each 4-year Assembly term. The Board will be appointed on a statutory basis and operate independently of the Assembly. It will make decisions on financial support for Assembly Members. Those decisions will be final and not subject to ratification or approval by the Assembly Commission or the Assembly.

The establishment of the Remuneration Board will demonstrate that the Assembly is prepared to legislate in a way that will strengthen the devolution process in Wales, by setting a foundation for a more open and transparent independent system of financial support for Assembly Members that will command public confidence.

The Remuneration Board will be required to balance three objectives:

  1. ·To provide Assembly Members with a level of remuneration which fairly reflects the complexity and importance of the functions which they are expected to discharge, and does not, on financial grounds, deter persons with the necessary commitment and ability from seeking election to the Assembly;

  2. ·To provide Assembly Members with resources which are adequate to enable them to exercise their functions as Assembly members, and

  3. ·To ensure probity, accountability, value for money and transparency with respect to the expenditure of public funds.

The central principle of the Proposed Measure is that we, as Assembly Members, should no longer seek to set our own remuneration. In that regard, it goes beyond the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009, which transfers control over allowances to an independent body but retains for MPs the ultimate power to decide what salaries they themselves are to be paid.

Members on all sides of the Assembly will recall their concerns when pay and allowances were linked with, and set as an arbitrary percentage of, Westminster which took little account of the particular needs of the Welsh democratic model. That is why the recommendation to sever the external link has been accepted, thereby taking advantage of our new legislative competence and operating in a devolved and responsible way, so that pay and allowances are set by a body with a complete understanding of Welsh circumstances and the unique roles fulfilled by Assembly Members.

In piloting this proposed Measure, I know that our approach is being watched closely by our friends throughout the United Kingdom and beyond whilst awaiting publication of various reports on financial support for members of their legislatures. Whilst encouraging you, my fellow Members, to continue down the path upon which we started, by thoroughly scrutinising the details of the Measure, I would like to encourage our friends in Scotland, Northern Ireland and especially in Westminster to continue to follow our lead.