Payout of £845,179 for 22 ex-AMs who quit or lost seats

Senedd The assembly compares ex-members' resettlement grants to redundancy payments

Former Welsh assembly members who quit or lost seats at last year's election received a combined payout of more than £845,000.

Fourteen AMs stood down and eight failed to get re-elected.

Among those receiving resettlement grants was Mick Bates, who stood down following an assault conviction.

The assembly said the grants served a similar purpose to redundancy payments and the combined £845,179 payout was based on age and length of service.

Payments last year ranged from almost £27,000 to more than £51,000.

A further £333,668 was spent on redundancy costs for ex-AMs' support staff.

The rules for departing AMs have since changed so members elected from last May only qualify for payments if they are defeated at the ballot box, not if they stand down.

Start Quote

I think it's getting very much more difficult to attract the right calibre of people into politics”

End Quote Eleanor Burnham Former AM

However, AMs serving since before last year's election will still get a resettlement grant when they retire.

'Compensation'

The Assembly Commission, which handles day-to-day business in Cardiff Bay, said: "Resettlement grants are paid for compensation of loss of office and serve a similar purpose to a redundancy payment.

"Under arrangements in place at the end of the third assembly, resettlement grants were calculated according to a formula based on the member's age and length of service."

The payouts were revealed following a freedom of information request to the assembly by the Western Mail.

Mr Bates, the former Lib Dem AM for Montgomeryshire, received £43,813 when he stood down. In December 2010 he was fined after being convicted of attacking paramedics who came to his aid when he drunkenly fell down stairs at a Cardiff restaurant.

Conservative Alun Cairns was an AM for South Wales West, but stood down last year having been elected as the MP for the Vale of Glamorgan in 2010. He had a £29,968 payout from the assembly.

He told the Western Mail: "Unlike other politicians who switch between Westminster and Cardiff Bay, I only took one salary and in accepting the settlement grant, I followed the precedent set by Rhodri Morgan, Dafydd Wigley and others."

The previous Labour AM for Pontypridd Jane Davidson, a former environment minister, received £49,260. It was announced two months before she stood down at the election that she had been chosen for a job at the University of Wales Trinity St David.

Plaid Cymru's Gareth Jones received two resettlement grants: one when he lost a seat in 2003 and another of £29,968 when he stood down as the AM for Aberconwy last year.

Former Liberal Democrat AM Eleanor Burnham - who received £32,000 after losing her seat last year - told BBC Radio Wales she did not think it "morally correct" for AMs to get payouts if they had a job to go to in Parliament.

"I have no idea about what other people do. But I suspect that if I had a position in Westminster I probably wouldn't have taken the payout," she said.

She said she felt "as if I have been on the scrap heap since last year" and that she was re-training on a course to teach English as a second language.

"I was very, very lucky to have an excellent job," she said. "But in the end I have no work now and I'm probably never likely to work again."

She said: "I think it's getting very much more difficult to attract the right calibre of people into politics because, obviously quite rightly, everything is known about an assembly member, including the colour of their underwear, and you have to be a certain type of person to be able to put up with all of this.

"Everybody needs to know taxpayers money is being well spent."

She added: "Quite frankly, let's get it into context. Look at what the bankers have done to us and look at what the BBC pays people."

Who got what?

AM Resettlement grant

Source: National Assembly for Wales

Lorraine Barrett

£43,969

Mick Bates

£43,813

Alun Cairns

£29,968

Jane Davidson

£49,260

Andrew Davies

£51,270

Brian Gibbons

£51,270

Irene James

£26,926

Gareth Jones

£29,968

Trish Law

£26,926

Val Lloyd

£29,968

Rhodri Morgan

£46,864

Jenny Randerson

£50,191

Janet Ryder

£43,969

Karen Sinclair

£50,376

Nick Bourne

£51,415

Eleanor Burnham

£32,311

Nerys Evans

£26,926

Chris Franks

£29,968

Veronica German

£26,926

Helen Mary Jones

£31,108

Dai Lloyd

£41,815

Jonathan Morgan

£29,968

Total

£845,179

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