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Four whips and a wad (Mark 2)

Betsan Powys | 22:43 UK time, Monday, 15 October 2007

What's the value of an Assembly Member?

Priceless? Not a lot guv? You might have your own ideas but the official answer is £1000 a head.

Last month I brought you the story of plans to pay party whips and extra £1000 for every member in their group. Others have picked up on the story more recently. To recap: Carl Sargeant would pocket £26,000, Chris Franks £15,000, William Graham £12,000 and Kirsty Williams an useful £6000. Useful and rather embarrassing because it would mean she took home more than her boss. Sadly for Trish Law she's not a group, so no cash.

I offered a way out. Yes, inter-party relations are more complex in a coalition; the new powers make it vital that things run smoothly. All hard work. So surely the plan was to use the money to pay for secretarial support for the poor whips, just as they've done in Northern Ireland?

No. Apparently it's plan A. Let's give them the money.

Today I got to read the 'Risk Assessment' that's been prepared for the Assembly Commission who meet on Wednesday and who must decide whether the whips get their wad. In it the Commission is warned that there "would appear to be a reputational risk in that the public perception of the Assembly could be damaged by negative media reporting ... without an independent recommendation. There is also a financial risk in setting any salary at a level higher than that which might be eventually recommended by a review'.

There was also a note telling the Commission that this "would be a new departure for the Assembly" and "outside UK practice".

Nick Bourne and Mike German say they were not asked by Rhodri Morgan whether they supported the idea. They say his letter to the Presiding Officer claiming there is "consensus" and that the idea has "gained general endorsement" is "astounding" and "disgraceful". They both believe the independent review of AMs' salaries, which will report in February, should be left to sort this one out.

Were they asked? The First Minister's camp are indicating that "as far as they knew it" the Conservatives were on board. (The Tory whip, William Graham, is on the Commission by the way.)

What about the Lib Dems? Were they part of this 'consensus'? Mmmm, no. But "ultimately this is a matter for the Commission to determine".

Someone's not communicating very well with their colleagues. What shall we do ... pay them a bit more?

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:42 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Richard Harris wrote:

AMs are very highly respected and valued in the new Wales. They are the focal point of our cutting edge devo-democracy – the envy of the civilized world – mobbed on street corners by grateful hoodies. Why then should not the aspirational party WHIPS be recompensed accordingly…”incentivised” as Mr. Brown says? Who else ensures that our dedicated and often exhausted “over-tired” AMs arrive on time, stay wide awake in committee – the right committee – and vote selflessly for the greater glory of our world class micro-mini nation! And think of the wardrobe costs for AM/PM!

It is obvious that the initial business plan for our vital democracy was ill thought out – as with the Millennium Opera Centre (“Chez Kath Jenkins”) . The golden rule should be…”think of a big number then double it.. then X2 again! So, give them the cash! We can always print more of the stuff. That’s what makes Welsh independence so attractive!

BIG respect in the D’Assembly!

  • 2.
  • At 12:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ed Rafaelson wrote:

Isn't it interesting that people who are first language Welsh often make the mistake of using the wrong indefinite article before a word beginning with a vowel.

Example:
'....Kirsty Williams an useful £6000.'

Ymddiheuriadau! I stand corrected Ed. £6000 would still be useful mind ...

  • 4.
  • At 07:23 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Leighton Bowen wrote:

Surely, the Whips are employed on Party business not Government. Why should Council Tax payers foot the bill for people whose job is to keep their own Party members in line? This not an extra commitment to good governance but to Party discipline. If there is any extra money available (I thought Assembly budgets were supposed to be tight) send it to Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent, two strong Labour-supporting areas disgracefully named this week among the top-10 worst areas to live in a Channel 4 survey covering England and Wales.

  • 5.
  • At 12:37 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • johnny foreigner wrote:

Just more trough snoutery, IMHO.

I just wonder what 'incentives' there are to prevent patients languishing on trolleys in hospital corridors for hours whilst awaiting a bed.

How about an Arts Centre in every hospital corridor, or even Welsh lessons while the patients wait? Maybe it'll take their minds off their illnesses?

Your patient pal.

johnny.

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