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Saturday, July 21, 2007

An ordinary working day

An article in the Western Mail on 14th July arguing for an increase in the number of Assembly Members to 80 so as to effectively scrutinise primary legislation has produced a predictable reaction in their letters' page.

David Williamson's original piece pointed out that the Assembly already has 18 separate committees all of which need to be appointed from a pool of 45 available AMs. Fifteen Assembly Members are not eligible to serve on these committees because they are either in government or the Presiding Office. This is the situation now, before we have even started to properly legislate.

I was quoted in support of an eighty member Assembly, telling the reporter that with just 60 AMs, “there simply will not be enough hours in the day to ensure legislation is properly scrutinised.” This has rather got under the skin of Mike Came from Pontypridd:

Shame on our National Newspaper printing such propaganda. What if our well-paid, well-pensioned and underused Assembly Members started to work like ordinary people? Five days a week, 9am to 5pm with the weekends off for constituency business (most of which is completed in the week by paid assistants anyway). What if our overworked AMs received the normal allocation of annual holidays that the working classes enjoy, ie, 30 days plus the statutory holidays? Possibly then we could look forward to St Davids Day as a national holiday. Would these normally accepted conditions of employment give them enough time to complete their onerous duties?

All I can say is that if I reduced my working hours and increased the number of days I take as holiday as suggested in this letter then there really would not be enough hours in the day to do everything I need to do as an AM.
... but you spend hours blogging and trawling the Internet! :P
Hardly, an hour a day maximum. Bloglines is a very useful tool.
You are also a councillor? How do you manage to fit a full time AM job in with that?
In exactly the same way that I fitted in my previous full time job in with being a Councillor - good time management and personal organisation.
It's been commented on several times already that the quality of the current batch of AMs is questionable - while the quality of AMs remains an issue adding more AMs will likely make matters worse.
I am with you on most of this Peter. My experience of Councillors and AMs of four parties is that they give far more to their roles than do the majority of those who decry them. Councillors have to attend numerous events and dig into their pockets to contribute when otherwise they would be pursuing their own interests. AMs with family friendly hours that are still meeting organisations late into the evening and then reading policy papers at bed-time.
MPs by contrast with time to write biographies and novels are never subject to the same part-time jibes.
My work colleagues refuse to accept any truth other than the one they hold self-evident - that is that people are involved in politics only to make money! My experience is of candidates with no prospect at all of being elected to paid office putting up hundreds of their own money as well as giving extensively of their own time to the cause.
I do have a preference for AMs standing down from the Council at the subsequent general local auhority election. Doing so would give someone else an opportunity to participate more fully in local government.
As one of those who has dug extensively into my own pocket Gerenig, I fully agree.

However, this is all part of serious issue which all parties need to address (although how is something we all struggle with) that of public perception.

The 'you're all the same' cry is surely one all of us involved in politics is familiar with. It is disheartening when you put your all into trying to make a difference only to be subject to constant critcism from those who still insist all politicians are corrupt.

At least this letter writer put his name to his views unlike many.
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