Y Pwyllgor Biliau Diwygio

Reform Bill Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Darren Millar
David Rees Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Heledd Fychan
Sarah Murphy

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Daniel Hurford Clerc, Bwrdd Taliadau Annibynnol y Senedd
Clerk, Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd
Dr Elizabeth Haywood Cadeirydd, Bwrdd Taliadau Annibynnol y Senedd
Chair, Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd
Jane Dodds Aelod o’r Senedd dros Ganolbarth a Gorllewin Cymru
Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Aled Evans Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Catherine Roberts Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Georgina Owen Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Helen Finlayson Clerc
Josh Hayman Ymchwilydd

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:17.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:17.

1. Cyflwyniadau, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions, and declarations of interest

Can I welcome Members and the public to today's evidence session of the committee, looking into the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill? We continue our scrutiny of the Bill this morning. Before we go into the business of scrutiny, can I just remind people that we are being broadcast live on Senedd.tv and that there will be a transcript available in the usual way, when it's published? There is simultaneous translation in the room, available on the headsets on channel 1, for simultaneous translation from Welsh or English; but, if you require amplification, that's available on channel 2. Can I also remind Members to turn their phones off or on silent, so they do not interfere with our meeting? And there is no scheduled fire alarm today, so if one does take place, please follow the directions of the ushers to a safe location. I think that's the business of that.

2. Bil Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau): Sesiwn dystiolaeth gyda Bwrdd Taliadau Annibynnol y Senedd
2. Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill: Evidence session with the Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd

I'll go on to item 2, which is the evidence session we have today. Can I welcome members of the Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd to the committee? Elizabeth Haywood, who is chair of the independent remuneration board, and Daniel Hurford, who is clerk to the board. Thank you. We'll go straight to some questions. I'm sure you're aware of the consequences of the Bill—you've been sitting down, probably, thinking about it for quite a while. But we want to explore a few avenues with yourselves, as we consider our report to the Senedd on the Bill. So, I'll hand over to Darren Millar to start.

Thank you, Chair, and thank you for coming to give evidence today. Can I just ask you to what extent you've been involved in helping the Government to predict the costs of this legislation, as far as the additional Members and the additional resources for Members are concerned?

We haven't been directly involved in establishing the costs. We were consulted on the estimates that were placed in the impact assessment, and we were asked what we thought about them. In the board's view, you had to have some sort of starting base, and whatever you came up with, however complex, was probably not going to be the end result, in any case. So, we agreed that what was put into the impact assessment was probably the right one.

And those figures were predicted on the basis of the 2022-23 determination, weren't they?

I mean, you know the direction of travel, if you like, in terms of the issues that the remuneration board is considering, in advance of the next Senedd. Are they still likely to be a fair reflection of the estimated costs, or not?

Well, you have to look at what has happened in the economy generally, and the fact that inflation has risen and therefore all costs have risen. So, if the base cost was being set now, it would obviously be at a different level. As I say, I still think it continues to be a sensible baseline to work from. It was done on a fairly simplistic basis; in other words, if you add 36 Members, you divide what's there by the number, i.e. 60, and then add another 36 on top of it. That's probably the simplest and the most transparent way of establishing potential costs for a future Senedd. But there are a lot of known unknowns, and probably quite a few unknown unknowns, which, obviously, I'm not really in a position to talk about yet, because they are unknown unknowns. So, we are aware that the overall costs might change. But in some areas, I suppose it is possible that costs will go down—for example, if there's more hybrid working, and people don't need as much in the way of external offices, or, as we found during COVID, aren't doing as much travelling. And that is going to change, it's going to evolve over time, it's not going to stay static throughout even any one Senedd term. I don't know whether you want to add to that, Daniel.


It's important to remember that the board has a duty to review its determination once per term. So, the board will be undertaking a review of the determination ahead of the Senedd election anyway, and changes may occur, in terms of staffing support, the party political support allowance, wider Member support as well. So, the board would be undertaking this, and so current costs would be very different in a future Senedd term, potentially, anyway. But the Chair's right, there are a lot of known unknowns and unknown unknowns, to use the cliches. But you as Members will be shaping that in terms of the ways of working, the business approach to a future Senedd, how often you meet, how you meet and so on and so forth. So, the costs as set out in the regulatory impact assessment at the time were the best estimate of what the costs may be in future.

Can I just challenge a little bit on this? Because, of course, the Bill when it was published, or introduced—shouldn't it have been based on the 2023-24 determination, the outcome of which was known at the time?

I'm just trying to remember the exact dates. Was it actually known at the time? I'm not sure—.

The consultation had commenced, I think, towards the end of the Welsh Government's work in finalising the RIA. I'm not sure at what point they needed to make a final decision in order to progress the work, but there was a crossover in terms of one financial year into the next. And, likewise, wider costs in terms of Senedd Commission staff pay et cetera would also need to be uprated. So, as a fixed point in time, it was the best available data.

I appreciate that you've just provided, effectively, the determination, and said, 'Do you think that these assumptions that are then being made might be fair?' But one of the assumptions that the regulatory impact assessment makes is about the number of potential committees that could be formed post the introduction of the new arrangements, and they come up with a low figure and a high figure, based on whether there's one extra committee or three. Given that a number of committees have had to be formed post the start of this Senedd, during the Senedd's progression, do you think that that's a fair assumption in terms of the allowances? And I think particularly about things like the co-chairing arrangements, and things like that, which we've seen as a feature of this Senedd, which are completely new. Do you think that there's sufficient allowance for the costs associated with that in the Bill?

Well, I think, particularly if you're talking about co-chairs, again, that was one of the unknown unknowns—nobody had really thought about that. So, it's not actually for us to make those decisions. The board's role is actually to come up with the framework for the funding and the support, as is required, for the Senedd Members to be able to run their business, once those decisions have been taken. So, it's not for us to take any decision on what committees you as Members decide to set up. We'll deal with that as and when it happens.

But, of course, it is for you to determine what the pay and allowances of things like co-chairs are, isn't it? And you, again, will know the direction of travel, which we don't, in terms of the discussions that take place internally within the remuneration board about the pay and allowances that Members, chairs, co-chairs, business managers, whips, et cetera, might be paid in the future. And not all of those things appear to have been properly taken into account with the figures that are before us.

Can I turn attention to this issue of the fact that the term is going to be shortened, rather than the extended period of five years that we've had in recent terms? Obviously, I don't expect you to take a view on that, but how will that impact on your work? Will there be any additional costs, do you think, that you might have to pick up as a result of that? Do you have to squash more work into a four-year term period? 


I don't know. I don't think that we can really comment on that at the moment. There may be an impact, I would presume, but it's highly likely that our own term will be shortened to match, since it's supposed to be coterminous with the Senedd term. That's fine. So, there will be a difference there. But in terms of the overall budget, yes, if you're looking at a whole Senedd term, it'll be four years instead of five. But the other elements of it—for example, whether you as a Senedd decide that you want to have three days of session, rather than two days, or indeed if you wanted to go down and have one day, which seems unlikely but I'm just using that as an example—we would then respond to that, and that is what would affect the budget. 

So, in terms of your work, though, you've got this stock piece of work to review the allowance and determination every Senedd term. Presumably, at the moment, you build up to that over a period of time, and there's a certain amount of cost that you anticipate in being able to do that, but you're spreading that over four years rather than five years. So, there's a potential 20 per cent increase in the costs associated.

Are you referring to the board's costs or are you referring to the budget—?

Oh, I see. 

Yes, because no allowances have been made for that, you see. 

Sorry, I misunderstood. 

If I just come in, so you're absolutely right, the National Assembly for Wales (Remuneration) Measure 2010 essentially says the board, where reasonably practical, has to publish a determination before the term in which it starts. So, there's not a defined time, but if the Senedd term is moving to four years, then the board cycle moves to four years as well. There isn't a forecasted additional amount of capacity required within secretariat support, research et cetera, so it would be the same amount of resources applied, but the work would be undertaken on a four-year rather than a five-year window. So, it wouldn't mean that the cost increased. 

You'll be aware that costs have increased in the recent period, largely because of Senedd reform. The board has outlined its strategic work programme, which includes several thematic reviews, which essentially takes stock of the determination and ensures that the new determination is fit for purpose for a new Senedd. And the Chair may wish to comment, but early in the new term, given it's such a significant change in terms of the reform of the body, a significant number of new Members and how those Members will wish to work in terms of business and ways of working, the board will wish to review early in that term and engage with all the new Members as well, just to make sure that the determination is working for them, or where changes have occurred—the unknown unknowns—where the board may wish to respond. 

So, just to reassure you that the budgetary estimations forecast for the board don't increase to manage a shorter window of work. It'll continue as is, but just done a year earlier than currently scheduled. 

So, there won't be a requirement for more frequent meetings or anything like that. 

We might well have to have more frequent meetings between now and when the new Senedd is formed, but that is—. This is a very big change. 

Now, of course, again, unknown unknowns. If there are major big changes again in the future then the same thing may happen again, but I think probably it's currently with the thematic reviews and the need for objective external research that we feel is required, certainly for a couple of them—that has possibly expanded our budget slightly for this year and for next year.

Yes. But I think most people would expect you, if you've got to do the determination work over a programme cycle of five years, that if that's going to be four years, there will be some—. It may not be clerking resource, as it were, secretariat service, but certainly more frequent meetings with Members, and post implementation of any changes, a review of those pretty early on, as has been indicated. 

So, it is possible that that is the case, but I don't really see that actually having those additional meetings—. We do quite a lot of our meetings, as I think you do, either in a hybrid format, as we’re doing this time, or indeed online. For example, we probably will add a couple of extra meetings on the thematic reviews over this coming year, to deal with them properly. But having an online meeting for an hour is not a huge additional cost on the budget, and generally speaking—. In fact, I think this is probably the first time, maybe the second, in the history of the board that we have requested a little bit of additional money that we can use on external research. Otherwise, we manage within the budget that we’ve got.


Just to help us understand that, obviously we're not the Finance Committee, but what is the additional resource that's had to go in in order to cope with the Senedd reform?

Specifically—and I think all of the Members around this table are aware—for example, one of the thematic reviews is about staff pay and grading, and we felt that it would be both unfair and injudicious to try and use internal research and staffing to cover that. We needed to get some outside expertise, so, obviously, we brought in experts, Beamans, to do that work. That costs money. We will probably have to do the same thing when we have a good review of Members' pay and the business costs as well. And that will be happening next year. 

Okay. So, just to get this right, what additional costs have there been in the budget associated with Senedd reform to date and forecast to the end of the term?

For next year—and Finance Committee scrutinised the Commission around about a month ago—there's an additional budget for staffing costs in terms of—

Absolutely, yes, but specifically the board made a request for an additional £60,000 for external support—in the main, research, as the chair has highlighted, in terms of getting independent expertise around benchmarking and so on, regarding staff pay, and potentially Members' pay and remuneration as well. So, specifically for next financial year, an additional £60,000 for that work. 

Can I add two questions to that? Has that work also included the possibility of an increase, so that you're doing it and you, therefore, understand the implications it will have if Senedd reform does take place. So, it's not just about the current representation, but it's also about future representation. Since you're spending the money, you might as well spend it wisely and ask for that. So, does it actually look into that position? So, that's the first question. I'll leave you to answer that one first. 

I'll start off on that. If you're looking at the staff pay and grading one, actually the initial part is looking at whether the grading and so on is correct now. It is actually unlikely that the full report and the recommendations will arrive in time for us to do anything specifically in the sixth Senedd. It is possible, but unlikely. If they decide that, actually, there are real problems with the grading, and there’s something that we can do immediately, we would certainly do it. But we don’t know yet. We will get an initial report this March, I think, isn’t it? We’re getting an initial report in March, and, again, many of you will know that Beamans are out there talking to staff, talking to you, as we go. So, if you’re looking to the future of the Senedd, the actual pay levels—their recommendations—will come from any benchmarking that they’re doing with outside bodies as to where the staff sit, whether it’s against the Commission, whether it’s against, I don’t know, the audit commission, whether it’s against charities, or whatever it might be. And Beamans are going to look at that over time and tell us what is what.

So, there’s that side of it, and then the other side of it is—and we’ve had this from a number of the Members—whether they’re getting the correct sort of staff that they need for jobs. Let me use an example. We know that social media has increased hugely over the time of the Senedd—and I say ‘the Senedd’; it’s not just from the beginning of the Assembly, it’s actually particularly since COVID. And therefore the sort of jobs, the sort of roles that people are recruited into, may well have changed, and we need to have a look at that and make sure that job descriptions and, indeed, the pay bandings are correct for those jobs, and hopefully will be fit for the future as well.  

And therefore that will be used for the seventh Senedd determination.

Absolutely. The chair's outlined the initial stages of the work, and then the final stage will be very much about engaging with Members, and the board is keen to seek the views of Members and staff throughout this process. But around the quantum, so the types of roles that you as Members in a new Senedd will need, but also the number and how they work, we were hearing from Members recently about the great range in roles, and the types of roles and the types of working as well. We were talking about hybrid, but also an increased number of part-time staff in the recent period. So, it'll be looking very much to the new Senedd around how many staff, what kind of capacity and the support that Members individually need within their own offices, but also, then, corporately within a group structure. So, there's a wide review looking at the PPSA—the party political support allowance—to see what resources Members need as a group, or even pooled resources, which is a model the UK Parliament and Scotland use, whereby Members pool some of their staff and resource to maybe have a researcher on a particular field.


Okay. I have two other points I want to raise. At the beginning, in response to Darren Millar's question, you indicated that 2022-23 was a baseline—somewhere to start. It was important to have that baseline. Two questions on that: have you been able to look at how much was actually spent compared to how much was anticipated, expected to be spent? You highlighted the change in the ways of working as one of the reasons why you may find less spending because of less travelling, more hybrid opportunities. So, is there a percentage less spent than anticipated in the determination?

And the second question is: you then said it was a good starting point, so have your predicted, based on inflation and predicted inflation, where the starting point in the seventh Senedd might be in those costs?



The first one? Have you done analysis of the spend on 2022-23?

Well, I'll let you handle that one. 

Yes, every year the board, working with the Commission—. So, the determination budget is set within the Commission's wider budget, and it's based on the maximum amount claimable by Members, and the challenge is, obviously, that not all Members make every draw on every one of their budgetary allocations, whether it's staffing, whether it's OCLF, whether it's accommodation, so you have to anticipate a full claim. And every year there is an underspend—the full allocation isn't drawn down by individual Members and the challenge in working out an appropriate trend in the current period is challenging, because of the COVID period, obviously. The patterns of work and the patterns of expenditure changed significantly in the period. And there's still a change as a result of that, both in terms of hybrid working and Members' individual needs that fluctuate on a monthly basis and a year-by-year basis, but also in terms of the staffing support. And, as I said, we've heard that, post COVID, there's probably a move towards increased part-time work for staff rather than full-time work. So, it's difficult to see a clear baseline in actually how things are moving forward.

And one of the matters the board will need to explore, with Members in due course, is, into a new Senedd—and there's obviously the fundamental issue of potentially 36 additional Members—it's how a new Senedd will work, and it's whether the same family-friendly principles remain, whether there's the same context around hybrid working, remote working, and how that beds in. And then the board will have to make a decision around what budgetary considerations are provided to allow that flexibility, because, obviously, not all Members are the same. Some Members like to be in Cardiff, some Members need to dial in in a hybrid format. So, as I say, the COVID period has really, really changed the nature of how the determination is spent, but, more importantly, how Members and the rest of the population work. So, we can't really give you a clear answer on that, but just to reassure you, in terms of the determination budget on an annual basis, a certain portion, inevitably, every year is not fully claimed by all Members.

Okay. I'll bring Jane in now. On one of the concerns, you mentioned trend. You've had 2021-22, 2022-23, and we're now in 2023-24, so when do you think you'll be able to work out a trend based upon—and this is post COVID—the statistics as to how working patterns are changing? 

Well, we sort of look at that in the budget, because we see the budget every month and how much has been spent, whether it's in line with what is expected or not. Obviously, looking at COVID, that did make a big difference, because, of course, people weren't travelling because they weren't allowed to travel. So, that made a huge difference in terms of those costs. It's actually still probably quite early to work out whether people are going to continue not travelling as much, because travel has started to come back, just as you have started to come back in to the Senedd for your meetings; you're not all doing everything virtually. So, I think, anecdotally, rather than in evidence, we are seeing that travel has reduced at the moment, in terms of both support staff and Members, but I do have a question over whether that is going to be the same, given that the boundary changes that are going to happen or likely to happen in the next Senedd—. If you have the much larger 16 constituencies, you've got a wider area for people to travel in and maybe to travel from. So, that's actually going to be one of our headaches, because we're not actually going to know which constituencies are paired with which until very late in the day, and that affects two things particularly: it affects the travel budget and it also affects the accommodation—housing and hotel accommodation criteria. So, those are really going to be very difficult for us to establish before the next election. So, I'm not really sure that what's happened in the past is hugely beneficial on those two items for the future, because the shape of the Senedd and the whole electoral map, if you like, is so different.


Diolch yn fawr iawn. Dwi am ofyn cwestiynau yn Gymraeg. Diolch yn fawr iawn am ddod y bore yma. Jest i gario ymlaen efo'r sgwrs yna, os gwelwch yn dda, dwi'n gweld ei bod yn anodd iawn cael rhyw fath o ddealltwriaeth am y dyfodol ynglŷn â faint o arian fydd ar gael ar gyfer y cyllid. Ond a oes gennych chi ryw fath o fodel yn eich pen? A hefyd, dwi eisiau gofyn a ydych chi'n bwriadu cysylltu efo'r pleidiau o ran sut maen nhw'n gweithio yn y Senedd yma ar gyfer y Senedd nesaf. 

Thank you very much. I want to ask questions in Welsh. Thank you very much for coming in this morning. Just to carry on with that conversation, I realise that it is very difficult to have some kind of understanding as to the future and how much funding will be available. But do you have some kind of model in mind? Also, do you intend to get in touch with the parties in terms of how they work in this Senedd in relation to the next Senedd? 

On that, if the translation was correct, you asked about how much funding is available. That is actually not a question for us; that is a question for the Commission. We set the framework for what should be spent. How that is costed out and where it comes from is a matter elsewhere. That might have been a translation issue, but I just want to make sure that that is clear. So, in terms of the parties or the groups and how they work within the Senedd, yes that work is ongoing at the moment. As you know, Jane Roberts has been out and talked to a number of people. Dame Jane Roberts is the lead on the board for the political party support allowance. So, she's looking at that. And the idea is really to look back at first principles. What is that political party support allowance for? What should it cover? What does it cover? And she's looking internationally at the various different models and then we'll test that out and see whether that works in terms of the Senedd and whether there are other ideas, and then come up with recommendations. 

A hynny yw, ar gyfer y seithfed Senedd, ar gyfer y Senedd nesaf.

And that will be for the seventh Senedd, for the next Senedd.


I need to move on. I'll come back to you, if we've got time, Darren. Sarah. 

Thank you very much. Thank you, both, for being here this morning. I'm just going to ask a few more questions about the support for Members in the seventh Senedd. So, the determination of the seventh Senedd, if following previous precedent, will be published ahead of the 2026 Senedd election. Is that correct? 

Sorry. It will be published—?

The determination for the seventh Senedd will be published ahead of the 2026 Senedd election.

We certainly hope so. Under the Measure, we have to produce it beforehand. The tradition has been that it is published a year before. That is going to be very difficult this next time. So, I'm not going to commit to doing that. But, certainly under the Measure, we have to produce it before the new Senedd, and we will do so. 

There may be some elements in it which will not be fully detailed and may have to be tweaked, finalised, after the Senedd is in, but the majority of it will be there.


And that brings me on to my next question. How will the board, then, be approaching the development and the determination of Members' pay and allowances in the seventh Senedd? Do you think there may then, with this particular topic, be any reviews that will be necessary following the election?

Members' pay and allowances, that's actually—. Well, Members' pay and personal support is the area that I'm leading on for the board. In fact, later today, we are discussing a scoping paper on how we're going to be taking that forward, so I can't really give you any detail yet. But it is likely to be divided up into three phases and areas, if you like. So, one will be around Members' pay, and in that I include the additional office-holders' pay, et cetera, so all of those kinds of areas. One will be around the residential allowance, okay?

And the other one that we want to try and look at is around loss of office and whether there's anything that we need to do on that one, which we hope, obviously, will take effect before, if we can do it, so that if we do make any changes, that will impact on any Senedd Members who leave at this election.

Understood. Okay. Thank you. And will the board be working with other stakeholders, like—

Sorry, I'm having difficulty hearing.

That's okay. Will the board be engaging with other stakeholders, like the Senedd Commission, current Members and trade unions, in developing that as well?

Yes. As I've said, that's also one of the areas where we want to use some external assistance. But at the moment, I haven't got a proper timetable for you, because, as I say, we're looking at the scoping paper today. But we will be talking, obviously, to Members and support staff, actually, on this one too, and also other stakeholders.


Yes. Just a point of clarification on the timing of the determination. As I said, the National Assembly for Wales (Remuneration) Measure 2010 states that the determination on Members' pay and additional office-holders' pay is set before the new term. And as the chair said, previous boards have published it usually in the summer before the election in the main, so that candidates who are standing know exactly what their remuneration would be, but crucially, what kind of support they may have in terms of if they have dependents they need to care for, pension entitlements, and winding-up allowance is a key one because candidates may be leaving a relatively secure profession, so they may need to know what kind of financial protection they will get.

So, traditionally, it's been in the summer, but as the chair mentioned, with Senedd reform, it's a more challenging period to develop a determination. But the determination, as published traditionally, covers residential accommodation expenditure, travel, staffing allowance, PPSA, and all of that is not specified for a particular deadline. So, it could be—and the board will discuss this in the coming months—a determination on Members' pay and support, so that candidates know exactly what they may be entitled to, but some of the other elements around PPSA or staffing support may be published at a later point, in advance of the election, and then, as the Chair said, reviewed early on, just to make sure that new Members who've come in, their views are taken on board and their experiences working in a very new working environment.

Thank you. My last question, because I know we're short on time now, is just to ask you about the offices for Members. We've heard from the Public and Commercial Services Union that they suggested that there would be an opportunity to reduce costs by establishing permanent Senedd constituency offices within the new constituencies. We also heard from Professor Laura McAllister that consideration may be needed of the staff resource given to Members as a result of the increased size of the Senedd. So, what do you plan to model, I suppose, in terms of the amount of staff and whether or not there are going to be what I think have been called these 'hubs', these constituency office hubs, where all six Members covering the region work out of with their staff?

Well, our understanding was that the idea of the Commission having a regional hub, if you like, for all Members had been abandoned because there was serious negativity about it from the Members. I think it's more likely that, given that there'll be six Members for every constituency, it's highly likely that there'll be more than one Member from a party and those people might band together. Because it sometimes happens now among Members of the same party, and that might become more frequent, but it's not something that we are likely to be—. Well, in fact, we certainly won't be saying, 'You must do this, and all six of you in any region have got to be in a particular place.' So, we are working with the Commission on some of this, and that's why I say we'd certainly heard that this had been abandoned as an idea. But we would certainly encourage Members to share offices where possible.

More particularly, I think, we'd encourage them, I hope, to join together in terms of staffing. It certainly seems to make sense to us in terms of research. If you have one researcher, they can't possibly cover every eventuality, whereas if you've got a group of you and—. But whether that will come through the group support, the party political support allowance, or whether that is better sitting among Members, I don't know, and it's a question that we will be asking when we come out.


Okay. But it's not being modelled, then, looking at how that could reduce the cost if we were to have regional hubs. That's been abandoned.

No, well, we—.

It's work to be done, really. Sir David Hanson is leading this particular thematic review on ways of working. Initial work has been done, and research of other Parliaments and their approach to multimember constituencies and working, whether that's offices or staffing, is being done. But I know Sir David next year will be planning to engage with Members, and, apologies in advance, the board independently and collectively will be seeking views quite extensively, seeking views of Members around their office needs and their staffing needs in a new Senedd, but, crucially, in a new constituency model, and how that would work, whether there's scope to share teams, share offices or not. The board will wish to test some of the ideas with you, and as the chair said, several Members already do share offices, and there could, in that situation, be scope to make savings or make efficiencies, but then again, it's whether those efficiencies are then provided to the Members, as currently is the case, where if you don't spend all your resources in the office and constituent liaison fund on offices, you may be able to use some of it for other matters, such as staffing. So, the board is keen to look at how flexible a future determination needs to be in order to respond to, probably, 96 very different Members' needs.

Can I just add one other thing to that? Because of the fact that, with the best will in the world, there's going to be, probably, 50 to 60 new Members in the next Senedd, whatever happens, because of the additions, but also because of people retiring and everything else, we don't know what those Members are going to want and need in terms of support. Some of them might decide they don't want an office at all, so that might become more frequent, and we've got to try and be prepared to provide that sort of flexibility. That's why it's taking us a bit of time to try and model that. Any help you can give us would be gratefully received.

Understood. Thank you very much, and thank you, Chair.

Diolch yn fawr iawn, Gadeirydd. Os caf i symud ymlaen, felly, i'r cymorth i'r pleidiau gwleidyddol, byddwn i'n hoffi gwybod eich barn chi o ran os bydd angen ailasesu'r mathau o gymorth sy'n cael ei ddarparu i grwpiau gwleidyddol yn y seithfed Senedd. Er enghraifft, ydych chi'n meddwl ar y funud ei fod o'n od ein bod ni ddim efo system debyg i arian Short yn San Steffan sydd yn gallu cael ei ddefnyddio at ddibenion pleidio gwleidyddol, ond ddim yn fan hyn?

Thank you, Chair. If I could move on to support for the political parties, I'd like to know your opinion in terms of whether a reassessment will need to be made of the support provided to political groups in the seventh Senedd. For example, do you think that it's strange that currently we don't have a similar system to the Short money in Westminster, which can be used for political purposes, but not here?

Every legislature has a different model, and again, as you will know, this is being looked at at the moment—I've already mentioned Dame Jane Roberts, who is looking at this and studying international comparisons. To say that you can't really use it for political purposes, I actually don't think any of them allow purely party political work to be done with whatever it is called, whether it's Short money, whether it's a support allowance or whatever. There is the ability for the money to be used on policy, not on manifestos, which would be purely party political, and that is provided for in the UK through the policy development allowance grant, whatever it's called, which is managed by the Electoral Commission.

The relevant guidance in Westminster says

'Given the nature of opposition work, Short Money and Representative Money can be used for party political purposes.'

I'm aware, as you said, that the review is ongoing, but it seems to be an anomaly here, but I guess what you're saying is that we can feed into that review as it takes place.

Sori, fe wnaf i newid i'r Gymraeg. Os caf i symud ymlaen felly, o ran paratoi ar gyfer cwotâu rhywedd, byddwn i efo diddordeb gwybod os ydy'r bwrdd wedi ystyried a allai math, lefel neu natur y cymorth sydd ei angen ar Aelodau gael ei effeithio gan y nifer a chyfran uwch o fenywod sy'n Aelodau o'r Senedd o ganlyniad i’r ddeddfwriaeth sydd ar ddod ar gwotâu rhywedd. Er enghraifft, efallai bydd mwy o Aelodau sydd â chyfrifoldebau gofalu, er enghraifft.

Just changing to Welsh. If I could move forward therefore, in terms of preparing for gender quotas, I would be interested in knowing whether the board has considered whether the type, nature and level of support needed by Members could be affected by the higher proportion and number of women who would be Members of the Senedd as a result of the forthcoming legislation on gender quotas. For example, there may be a greater number of Members with caring responsibilities.


Okay. Well, again, it's not up to us to decide the gender quota question. What we try and look at is whether there is anything in a determination that could be seen to produce an obstacle to people of different genders, people of different abilities, whatever, coming into the Senedd. So, that's our key focus, and we always carry out an equality impact assessment on that. And we do consult with outside bodies to get their views on such matters.

It extends from the chair's previous response on the Members' pay and personal support thematic review, which the board will be discussing later on today. And as part of that, there'll be extensive engagement with Members, and the issue around personal support and diversity and specific needs of individual Members, particularly around caring needs, but it's not just caring needs; it's what wider support Members with caring responsibilities may or may not need in terms of accommodation, and so on and so forth.

So, irrespective of whether the future Parliament is gender balanced completely, or whether an individual Member has got specific needs for their specific personal circumstances, the board seeks to ensure that the determination is sufficiently flexible, but provides sufficient support for all individuals and all Members to participate as fully as they can in Senedd business. So, just to reassure you that those considerations, irrespective of whether the gender quota Bill comes through, or when it does, or the implications of that, the determination will seek to meet the needs of all Members in the future Senedd.

Diolch. Dwi'n ymwybodol o'r amser, Gadeirydd, os ydych chi eisiau symud ymlaen.

Thank you. I am aware of the time, Chair, if you want to move forward.

Ie. A gaf i jest ddilyn un cwestiwn, os gwelwch yn dda, ar ôl Heledd? Un o’r pwyntiau i newid y gender quota yw trio cael mwy o fenywod i fewn i’r Senedd, ac mae’n rhaid inni dderbyn bod menywod ddim yn dod i’r Senedd achos bod ganddyn nhw gyfrifoldebau ynglŷn â gofal plant, neu ofal am bobl eraill. Pryd fyddwch chi'n gwneud yn siŵr bod pobl yn gwybod yn union pa fath o faterion fydd ar gael ar gyfer y seithfed Senedd, ynglŷn ag, er enghraifft, gofal plant? Dwi'n gwybod rydyn ni wedi bod yn siarad, onid ydyn, am crèche ac yn y blaen. Felly ar ba bwynt yn y chweched Senedd, ar gyfer paratoi ar y seithfed Senedd, fyddwn ni'n gwybod yn union pa fath o faterion fydd ar gael?

Yes. Can I just follow up on one question, please, following on from Heledd? One of the things about changing gender quotas is in order to try and get more women into the Senedd, and we have to accept that women aren't currently coming to the Senedd because they have responsibilities such as childcare responsibilities, or other caring responsibilities. So, when will you ensure that people know exactly what kinds of issues will be available in the seventh Senedd, in terms of, for example, childcare? I know we've been discussing crèche provision, et cetera. So, at what point in the sixth Senedd, in order to prepare for the seventh Senedd, will we know exactly what kinds of issues will be available?

That's a difficult one, because some of the issues, I think, will be for the Commission to handle. Some of it, actually, is for the parties, and it is the parties after all who—it's through them that Members are selected, the candidates are selected. So, parties also have a role to play in this. So, we will certainly be asking questions. As you know, we have a section within the determination, section 3A, that does provide a specific number of support allowances, and we will be seeking to find out how they're working as part of the Member pay and support process that will be in, as I said, in the next year, so in 2024.

Diolch. Mi wnaf i symud ymlaen, os yw hynny'n iawn. Jest un cwestiwn ar rannu swyddi. Mae yna, efallai, fwriad i rannu swyddi, efallai yn y seithfed Senedd, ond mwy neu lai yn yr wythfed Senedd, rydym ni’n meddwl; dydyn ni ddim yn hollol siŵr. Felly, pa fath o drafodaethau sydd wedi bod ar gyfer rhannu swyddi yn y remuneration board, os gwelwch chi'n dda?

Thank you. I'll move on, if that's okay. I just have one more question, and that's about job sharing. There is perhaps an intention to introduce job sharing, perhaps in the seventh Senedd, but more likely in the eighth Senedd, we believe; we're not entirely sure. So, what kinds of discussions have been had in terms of job sharing in the remuneration board, please?

Really only to keep an eye on what is happening. Again, it's not a decision for us; if the Senedd takes the decision to move forward on job sharing, we will respond to that, but it is not a matter for us to actually take a decision on job sharing and whether it should happen or not. It is for the Senedd to decide. 


Ie. Felly, jest i ddilyn, un cwestiwn byr, os gwelwch yn dda. Felly, dydych chi ddim wedi meddwl amdano fo o gwbl, neu dyw e ddim gennych chi yn eich pen, achos bydd o'n cael effaith, oni bydd, ar y taliadau yn symud ymlaen. 

Yes. Therefore, just to follow up with one brief question, please. So, you haven't given it any thought, or you don't have it in mind, because it will have an effect, of course, on the remuneration moving forward.  

It will. You're correct that it will have an impact, but we are not going to pre-empt any decisions that are taken, and that's why we're following the discussions with interest, but we're certainly not going to be taking any decisions on that basis until we know what is going to be happening. 

Darren, I'm going to come back to you for the last question if you want it, because I'm conscious of your time and—

I've got to go and chair a board meeting, Chair. [Laughter.] 

It's just one brief question, if I may. I noticed that you referred to assumptions about a potential 50 or 60, I think, new Members—

I said somewhere between. 

—given a bit of churn, plus an additional 36 coming in. I note that that hasn't been reflected in the figures for things like office set-up costs and things like that in the Senedd Commission's workings. Was that something they discussed in detail with you or not? 

Not in detail, no. 

And nor have they reflected the potential additional costs of Members having to roam across bigger constituencies either. Again, is that something you challenged them on when they came to you to say, 'Are you happy with these assumptions we've made'? 

I go back to what I said at the beginning, that you have to start from somewhere, and, as Daniel said earlier, there has generally been a bit of an underspend in the determination. Sometimes that's travel, sometimes that's something else, and the money can therefore be—. If, for example, it suddenly increased, if it was within the underspend, then it would get moved across. 

I guess travel is the only thing that isn't capped, really, isn't it? You know what people's allowances are going to be, pretty much, unless there is an extra committee here or there. You know what their upper limit of allowance is going to be on office accommodation, staffing et cetera, but the travel is the most unpredictable, right? 

I suppose, and—. I don't know—

—I suppose also—. The postage and stationery side of it was another one, which can vary as well. 

Although that's within the office costs at the moment. 

Yes, it is. The other area, of course, is elements that come from the central determination budget. So, again, to use a specific example, if you look at security—. And we were very keen to make sure that security was—is—beefed up as far as Members and, indeed, support staff are concerned. And that budget has increased. So, there will be other things, probably, that come under that central budget that are also not capped but can vary quite significantly between—. Sorry, Daniel, you wanted to—.

I think it's important to note as well that travel—. You're right, it may vary, and it may increase, given the size of the constituencies, but in the determination itself and in the wider regulatory impact assessment travel is a relatively small element, as you appreciate, of the determination. Staffing support in the main is the significant proportion of the determination budget. So, significant variance in travel should not have a significant impact on the totality of the determination, and, as the chair said, given typical underspends in any one year, it may be that that can be met within underspends in other areas of the determination. 

But assumptions about there being simply another 36 are pretty unrealistic, right, in terms of office set-up costs et cetera, because, if you've got retiring MSs or people who aren't returned and people wanting to make arrangements for new offices, then—

There's likely to be more than 36 is what you're getting at. Yes, I would have thought so. 

—we need to be a bit more realistic than that. Okay. And including office security—

I'm going to stop him now, because I gave him one question and he ended up with four. [Laughter.] I'm conscious our witnesses do have to go to another meeting. So, we'll end there. Thank you very much for your time this morning. You will know that you will get a copy of the transcript, and, if there are any factual inaccuracies, please let the team know as soon as possible so that we can get them corrected. So, I'll leave you to go to your next meeting. 

Thank you, Chair. Thank you for inviting us. 

Thank you all. 

3. Papurau i'w nodi
3. Papers to Note

For Members now, we'll move on to item 3 on the agenda, which is papers to note. There are two papers. The first one is the letter to the First Minister and the leader of Plaid Cymru regarding the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill, which was inviting them to a session. And the second is a letter to the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution regarding the Bill, again dated 22 November. Are Members content to note those papers?


Yes, I'll come back to you. So, are we all happy to note?

Just in relation to the letter to the First Minister and the leader of Plaid Cymru, have we had a response to that? Because I noticed the dates were very soon, as it were, in terms of availability, that we'd invited them to attend.

We had a response late yesterday afternoon. It's not, therefore, in the papers, but will be in the papers for the next meeting. But we'll discuss that afterwards.

I'll give them out. Because they're not in the public domain, I'd rather give them out to you afterwards. But we have had a response, late yesterday. With that in mind—. We will talk about that, Darren, and you can have a view then. 

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod hwn ac o'r cyfarfod ar 7 Rhagfyr 2023
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public for the remainder of the meeting, and from the meeting on 7 December 2023


bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod ac o'r cyfarfod ar 7 Rhagfyr yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).


that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting and from the meeting on 7 December in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Are Members now content to move under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of today's meeting, and, technically at this point in time, next week's meeting on 7 December? Because it should be in private. It's scheduled as a technical briefing. Therefore, we'll do so. Thank you very much.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:06.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:06.