Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Pay and rations - an independent panel?

Tomorrow the National Assembly are to vote on how their pay and expenses are determined. The intention is to set up an independent remuneration panel to decide the question.
This was one of the 108 recommendations contained in Sir Roger Jones's review of the Assembly Members' pay and allowances.
All seem to be plain sailing with no one raising any objection when the Presiding Officer, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas said that the intention was to implement all the recommendations.
Now the Tories are having cold feet and intend voting against setting up and independent panel. Why? Because they are an Unionist party and don't want to break off from the Senior Salaries Review Board[SSRB].
This is despite Members expressing a view that the SSRB approach was heavily weighted towards a Westminster basis for assessing Assembly
Members' financial support and not sufficiently tailored to Wales.
The Tories by opposing this move will be putting themselves on the wrong side of public opinion. By sticking with a system that rewards MPs and is run by civil servants it can't be claimed to be truly independent.Indeed Sir John Baker a one time chairman of SSRB was of the view that an independent review body was required for Westminster.
One wonders why the Welsh Tories are seemingly out of step with their own Westminster front bench. Cameron and his team have consistently called for transparency on the question of pay and provisions.
Not a word from the Tories on this matter when the Presiding Officer made a statement on the intention to introduce the measure. The vote will take place later when the motion itself is presented, debated and more importantly voted on. Watch this space for further developments.

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