Wales politics

AMs get brief reprieve from double-jobbing ban

The promise seemed clear enough.

The UK government offered an "ambitious package" for Wales and would "prohibit 'double jobbing', by preventing assembly members from also being MPs".

In its explanatory notes to the Wales Bill, the government said: "The practice of simultaneously being an AM and a member of the House of Commons (commonly known as "double jobbing") has been the source of some criticism. In its 2009 report, the committee on standards in public life examined the issue and recommended "that the practice of holding dual mandates in both the House of Commons and the devolved legislatures should be brought to an end as soon as possible."

So does the Wales Bill prevent AMs from also being MPs? Closer examination reveals that an AM elected as an MP at a UK general election would be allowed to carry on sitting in Cardiff Bay for a year (372 days, to be precise). An MP elected to the National Assembly for Wales would be expected to clear his or her desk within eight days. So why the different rules?

A Wales Office spokesperson said: "The Wales Bill will end the practice of 'double jobbing' between Cardiff Bay and Westminster. The UK government believes that dual mandates do not serve constituents well, and that AMs should not simultaneously be able to be MPs.

"The Bill does set out some limited exceptions to this. An MP elected to the assembly has eight days in which to resign their seat in the commons (there is no similar grace period for an AM who is elected as an MP because the assembly does not have the same restrictions on resigning that exist at Westminster).

"Another exception is where an AM is elected as an MP within a year (372 days) of an expected assembly election. In this case, they could 'double job' until the assembly election is held so that the expense of a by-election is avoided when an assembly election is only a year away."

Good news then - potentially - for those AMs hoping to make the journey to Westminster next year. If successful, they'll also be able to draw one third of their old salary as AMs - on top of their full pay as an MP.