Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 15:23 UK

Big cuts in AMs' expenses agreed

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The proposals could mean a 1m saving over four years

Substantial cuts have been agreed in the expenses which can be claimed by Welsh Assembly Members.

AMs backed the changes put forward in a report, including scrapping interest payments on mortgages for their second homes after the next election.

Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas said the Assembly Commission had agreed to all the report's proposals.

The commission, which includes representatives from all four parties, took the decision on behalf of AMs.

Sir Roger Jones's report, Getting it Right for Wales, followed a 10-month investigation of the pay and expenses of AMs.

Its implementation will mean that, after the next assembly election in 2011, AMs will no longer be able to claim mortgage interest on second homes.

Some 25 of them will, however, be able to rent accommodation within five miles of the assembly in Cardiff Bay, half the number of AMs currently entitled to a second home allowance.

KEY PROPOSALS OF REPORT

AMs to rent, not buy, second homes
Second homes for 25 instead of 51 out of the 60 AMs
Receipt for every claim
£30.65 overnight (food) allowance scrapped
No employment of AMs' family members in future
No more claims for furniture or fittings on second homes
Independent valuation of office rent payments by AMs to political parties
AMs' pay linked to average earnings not MPs' salaries
Source: Getting it Right for Wales
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AMs will not be able to employ family members in future but any existing arrangements will continue.

The current link between AMs' pay and MPs' salaries will also be broken.

AMs' salaries will be increased in line with inflation next year and in future be linked to changes in average earnings in Wales.

The current "daily allowance" of £30.65 for members on assembly business to spend on meals will also be scrapped "as soon as possible".

Lord Elis-Thomas said work would begin "immediately" on implementing the changes.

He said: "That these changes have been endorsed during the year in which we mark the tenth anniversary of devolution is a testament to the assembly's maturity and is a signal that the assembly is committed to operating in ways that are right for Wales.

"(The report) addresses the contentious issues of remuneration and financial support - issues which have been such a stumbling block to people truly engaging in the democratic process.

"But of equal importance, it places a strong emphasis on ensuring the capacity of the assembly and Members to undertake our work - to represent the interests of Wales and its people, make laws for Wales and hold the Welsh government to account."

Earlier, Conservative AM and commission member William Graham told the BBC Wales am.pm that the plans "were agreed with ease" at a meeting on Tuesday evening.

Labour commissioner Lorraine Barrett said there were "bits and pieces" in the report that not all AMs would like, but "you can't unpick it".



SEE ALSO
AMs' expenses face radical cuts
06 Jul 09 |  Wales politics
AMs' expenses claims are online
29 Jun 09 |  Wales politics
Rule change call on AMs' expenses
13 Dec 08 |  Wales
AMs' expenses publication nerves
28 Jun 09 |  Wales
Third of Welsh MPs repay expenses
19 Jun 09 |  Wales politics

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