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Thursday, March 18, 2004

A decision at last

After what seems to be a year of agonising indecision the House Committee finally bit the bullet today and agreed that they will publish details of Assembly Members' claims and allowances. Most AMs have been publishing these voluntarily anyway but at least this decision will reaffirm the Assembly's committment to transparency, even if it was taken very late in the day. What horrified most members was the implications of the Freedom of Information Act. Apparently, after January 2005 the Assembly will be required to comply with any reasonable request to give the details of these claims. Matters such as how much members pay in rent for their office, travel claims and possibly even bonuses paid to staff will be open to public scrutiny. No problem with that of course but it does give one the impression that the big issues like Education and Health may well take second place to prurience in the less serious media. Another distraction from the real work of the Assembly and yet another big stick to beat us with. Let us hope that the MPs are subject to the same level of scrutiny.

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