Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Where have all the AMs gone.

Had both BBC Wales and Radio Cymru on tonight, wanting me to do Good Morning Wales and Post Cynta tomorrow morning to talk about Assembly Members expenses. Only reason they want me of course is because everyone else is either on holiday or under the desk. Never have so many voice mails been accessed by the media in so short a period of time. I think I'm on with Sir Alistair Graham, who used to be Chairman of Standards at Westminster.

This is not an easy issue for me, because so many members of the public will strongly disapprove of a lot of the expenditure. But I've always taken the view that if I'm spending public money I should be accountable for it - which has meant that over the last few years, whenever there's been a discussion on this issue, its usually been me who 'appeared' on the media.

I don't think that I'll be willing to say much about Lesley Griffiths sofa, or Nick Ramsey's TV system - except that I'm pleased that the public know about it and can make their own judgement. Neither will I make a judgement on whether Mike German should have been able to claim for a 'second' home when his 'first' home is so near to Cardiff - except that I'm pleased that Sir Roger Jones and his panel have been established to review the whole system.

They might want to make an issue of Assembly Members who lose their position having their mortgage interest paid for three months, or until the property is sold. Personally, I think this is fair enough, and I had no concerns about claiming the allowance myself. In fact, I still retain the flat, and will do so until I decide that my political career is finally over.

I'm content to appear, but I do think it's a poor show that the BBC have to come for me tomorrow morning, rather than one of current Assembly Members who are rather better remunerated than I was.


Sarah Millington said...

I shall be listening with interest. They've probably all gone somewhere nice, hot and sunny on holiday. They have probably all gone to the places we should be!

IKEA Bed said...

The issue with Mike German is that he used to have a permanant home in Cardiff. He chose to live in Cwmbran and should not therefore expect the taxpayer to subsidise his present home in Cardiff. As for Alun Cairns the mind boggles. He now lives in a barn conversion well inside the Vale but has taken advantage of a rule which allows him to claim the full £12500 because the area used to be for assembly purposes be in the Vale. With Jane Hutt who is the AM for the Vale caliming absolutely nothing then Cairns attempt to boost his income seems astonishing. Coming on top of his Italian faux pas his political credibility has been shot to pieces. The whole episode has made law making powers for the Assembly evn harder to obtain. It also shows that the Welsh political class are totally out of touch with the people of Wales. Another sad day for politics in Wales. We even made the national news but for the wrong reasons. The world again laughs at us. Hardly surprising when you have politicians who expect the taxpayer to pay for mattress protectors and ironing board covers. People expect individuals who earn over £100 k ayera to pay their way. After all the average Welsh wage earner takes home far less than that. As ordinary people struggle to pay the basics the idea that someone can claim for a £2000 sofa just pours salt in the wounds.

Glyn Davies said...

Sarah - No criticism of those who are on holiday, but the media realy shouldn't have to be asking me about this because current AMs are unwilling to appear.

ikea - I agree that this issue has been damaging to the National Assembly, as it has to the democratic process as a whole. The terms and conditions of employmet, if I can call them that, have to be fair and transparent. Personally, I welcome the review that has been established under the leadership of Sir Roger Jones to look at the whole allowances system. I hope that all those who believe that there should not be an allowance to help cover the cost of maintaining an AM's second home in Cardiff will make their point to Sir Roger. I don't think it is reasonable to say to an AM from Monygomeryshire for example that he should not so claim, while it is part of the agreed terms and conditions.

Gary Price said...

Glyn, Whilst many people in Wales are suffering from the increses in their energy bill, food costs etc and the general credit crunch that so many talk about, the breath taking hypocrasy of our AMs is a good reason why the WAG should be abolished? you can get the full list by clicking this link you are even mentioned. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2008/08/12/we-re-even-paying-for-ams-coat-hangers-91466-21518491/

Glyn Davies said...

Gary - When an Assembly Member loses their seat, there is a 'redundancy package' which allows for paying off staff, and other costs arising from being an AM - including the interest on the Cardiff home for up to three months, by which time it should be sold. th eonly aspect of this that irritates is the impression that I would not want this information to be made public. My Cardiff housing costs have often been featured on this blog. I take the view that if its taxpayer's money, the taxpayer has a right to know - but it does mean that I finish up being the only recipient that is willing to talk about it - 15 months after I lost my seat!