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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 22:29 GMT
Assembly members' 8.3% pay rise
View of the Senedd from the public chamber
The Assembly Commission decides on AMs' pay

Welsh assembly members are set to receive an inflation busting pay-rise of 8.3%, bringing their salaries more in line with MPs at Westminster.

An independent panel recommended the rise of almost 4,000 - to 50,692 a year - because of a growing workload.

But the rise has been opposed by Plaid Cymru, who called it unjustified.

AMs are paid 76% of MPs' salaries but this gap is set to be reduced to 82%. They are also set to receive the 1.9% below inflation rise agreed by MPs.

The increase will bring a back-bench assembly member's salary up to just over 50,000 a year.

1999-2000 34,438 33,360
2000-2001 35,437 34,327
2001-2002 38,000 35,357
2002-2003 41,500 36,241
2003-2004 42,434 37,056
2004-2005 44,000 37,797
2005-2006 45,232 38,853
2006-2007 46,191 39,677
April 2007-Oct 2007 46,804 40,225
Nov 2007-March 2008 47,292 40,645
Pay for Assembly members since 1999, second figure is extra pay for ministers. Source: Welsh Assembly Government.

Members of Parliament currently receive 60,277 and they have accepted a 1.9% rise in the latest pay review round, in line with public sector workers.

The cross-party Assembly Commission, which sets pay, met on Thursday to discuss the panel's findings.

The commission insists that the rises are an inevitable result of the assembly's enhanced powers to draft and pass laws.

But they are certain to cause anger in the public sector, according to the BBC's Welsh Affairs editor, Vaughan Roderick.

The deal has already been condemned by Plaid Cymru.

Its member on the commission, Chris Franks AM, voted against pay rise.

Deputy leader of the Plaid assembly group, Alun Ffred Jones AM, said: "Voting to accept such a generous pay rise for AMs wouldn't have been right when many others, particularly those in public sector jobs, have been given such tight pay awards.

"We were unable to justify the sums that had been recommended and we oppose the decision to accept that recommendation."

But chair of the commission, the assembly's presiding officer, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said that there was a "price to pay for effective democracy".

He said: "I think AMs are working hard and are overseeing, not only our own budget of 45m for the Assembly Commission for all democratic services but also the 16bn spend of Welsh Government.

"That's the price of an effective democracy."

A Welsh Labour spokesman said: "A decision has been taken by the Assembly Commission and we will abide by that decision."

Conservative AM William Graham welcomed the pay rise.

He said: "We can say to members its worthwhile coming here, you won't be disadvantaged in terms of an economic prospect, that you'll get a reasonable salary commensurate with your responsibility and the complexity of the work that you do.

"But we will also expect you to work jolly hard for the days you're in Cardiff."

The commission also announced plans to crack down on the members' allowance system.

This would include an examination of employing family members and allowances for mortgages on members' second homes some miles from Cardiff.

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