Wales politics

Brexit Party AM fails to declare employment of daughter

David Rowlands
Image caption David Rowlands is one of 17 AMs who employ family members

An AM may be in breach of Welsh Assembly rules by failing to declare that he employs a family member, BBC Wales has learned.

David Rowlands, who has just defected from UKIP to the Brexit Party, employs two members of his family among his support staff.

But while his wife Keryn is declared on his register of interests, his daughter Rhiannon is not.

An aide of Mr Rowlands took the blame for the notification not being made.

Plaid Cymru called for Mr Rowlands to refer himself to the assembly's standards body.

David Rowlands, who sits on the commission which controls the day-to-day running of the assembly estate, was one of the four new Brexit Party AMs revealed last Wednesday.

Assembly rules say AMs must declare any family members whose salaries come from the public purse. They have four weeks from the first salary payment to make the declaration.

Sources say Ms Rowlands has been employed by her father for more than a year.

Ian Williams, one of David Rowlands' aides, took the blame for the notification not being made.

He said: "I was asked to do it, it was my fault. I forgot to do it."

Mr Rowlands told BBC Wales: "It's a mistake that Ian made. I can't say much more than that."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Assembly rules say AMs must declare any family members whose salaries come from the public purse

The assembly's rules make it clear that it is the responsibility of AMs to declare such matters on their Register of Interests.

Employment of relatives by elected members of British parliaments, funded by public money, has been the subject of controversy.

AMs can no longer take on family members as new employees after changes that came into force in April.

The body that sets assembly pay, the Remuneration Board, will allow existing staff to remain in post but they cannot increase their hours or be promoted. Their employment will be phased out entirely by the dissolution of the next assembly term.

It follows moves by the Scottish Parliament and the standards body in the UK Parliament to phase out the practice.

Of the assembly's 60 AMs 17 employ 19 family members. Three AMs employee four family members of other political colleagues.

'Responsibility'

Plaid Cymru has banned AMs from employing family members.

The party's Rhun ap Iorwerth said: "In terms of sticking to the rules, if you do do it, you have to register it and David Rowlands, who has registered the employment of his wife, has not registered the employment of his daughter.

"It's in breach of the standing order - clearly that has to now be the subject of an enquiry by the standards committee here.

"I would expect that maybe David Rowlands would want to refer himself [to the committee].

"If you break those rules you have to take responsibility for yourself and you have to expect the consequences when you don't stick to them."

A Brexit Party spokesman declined to comment.

An assembly commission spokesman said: "It is incumbent on the relevant assembly member to ensure that they fulfil their duties with regard to the register of members' interests."

Meanwhile, assembly members have blocked giving the Brexit Party a representative on a crucial committee.

Caroline Jones AM had been nominated by her party as a member of the business committee, which is responsible for assembly business.

Six AMs voted against and the vote needed a two-thirds majority to carry.

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