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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The cost of devolution

The Tories have once more raised the cost of the Assembly. They tell us that we are now employing 1,000 more "pen-pushers" than three years ago and this is costing £31.5m more than in 1999. This is despite the fact that as a proportion of the Assembly's budget the total cost of administration amounts to 0.8%, the same as in 1999. They have even provided a breakdown of where the extra civil servants are based. Of course democracy costs money. We have taken into the Assembly some quangos and set up new bodies such as the Care Standards Inspectorate, with Tory support, to deal with devolved functions. We now have a policy making function whereas before we left it to Westminster. We also have a larger budget to administer. The Tories like to pose as the guardians of public money but what they are actually doing is attacking the devolution process by proxy. They have to decide, are they for the Welsh Assembly or against it? If they are against it then why do they sit in it and benefit from their membership?

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