Somebody has to pass laws and hold government to account. That somebody has to be paid.
The question is, “how much?”
The independent Remuneration Board that sets the salaries of Assembly Members say that from 2016 a backbencher should receive a salary of £64,000. Thereafter their pay would rise or fall in line with average earnings in Wales.
No, no, no has been the almost universal reaction to the proposals. The voter sees it as yet another example of politicians getting their collective noses in the trough.
Sandy Blair, chair of the Remuneration Board, said that it was their aim “to set levels of remuneration appropriate for the growing responsibilities of the most important democratic institution in Wales. The Fifth Assembly, starting in 2016, will be a mature Parliament like those in Westminster and Scotland, with law-making and tax-setting powers and wide-ranging influence over Welsh life.
“With new responsibilities come new expectations on AMs. We are proposing a salary for AMs which reflects the weight of responsibility they carry.’’
A reasonable argument Mr Blair. Of course they’ve had new powers and new responsibilities devolved to them from Westminster.
So Mr Blair, a cunning little plan. If they’ve taking powers and responsibilities from MPs then surely that lot at the other end of the M4 need to have their pay cut to pay for the largesse coming to AMs.
After all why increase Welsh and Scottish MPs pay packets to £74,000 if they’re doing a hell of a lot less.
If MPs are paid less, AMs could be paid more and Mr Blair’s wish could come true “to attract the highest calibre people to be Members of the National Assembly.”