What analysis has the Assembly Commission undertaken with regards to value-for-money to the taxpayer in terms of the resource and time cost to the National Assembly for Wales of bringing forward the Trade Union (Wales) Bill?
The Assembly Commission uses a range of controls and processes to ensure that value for money is at the heart of the services it delivers to the Assembly.
However, the Assembly Commission does not budget on the basis of, or analyse expenditure on, individual items of scrutiny undertaken by the Assembly. Instead, the Assembly Commission allocates resources to the different types of services it provides and staff work with Members to determine how best to use those resources within the requirements of Standing Orders and relevant legislation.
The decision to introduce a Bill is made by the Member in charge, and the nature of the subsequent scrutiny is shaped by the decisions made by the Business Committee, by other committees and by the Assembly in Plenary. The services provided by the Assembly Commission are designed to be responsive to these decisions.
The Trade Union (Wales) Bill has been referred to the Equality, Local Government and Communities (ELGC) Committee for Stage 1 scrutiny, and that Committee's deadline for reporting to the Assembly is 7 April 2017. The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee will also undertake scrutiny of the Bill during Stage 1, and the Finance Committee (and other committees) may do so too. The deadline for Stage 2 proceedings in ELGC Committee to be completed is 16 July 2017, subject to the general principles of the Bill being agreed by the Assembly. The timetabling of further Stages (if required) is a matter for the Government.
For illustrative purposes only, the current total annual salary costs (at 2017/18 rates) falling to the Commission of the main services involved in the procedures described above are shown below.
- Clerking team (typically 4 staff) for each committee: up to £166,420 x 3 annually
- Research Service: up to £140,076 annually
- Legal Service: up to £369,218 annually
- Communications officers: up to £73,818 annually
It is very important indeed to note that the costs of an individual item of scrutiny cannot be disaggregated, and in any case these costs are not exhaustive (for example they do not include accommodation, equipment, utilities, expenses, translation, interpretation, broadcasting or any costs borne by Members). Using them out of context, and without these caveats, would therefore be very misleading.
None of our teams will work exclusively on scrutinising this one Bill. Communications staff, for example, will routinely work across a wide range of committees, simultaneously supporting multiple policy and legislative inquiries, as well as a range of other responsibilities. Likewise staff from Research and Legal Services may support multiple committees, and will also provide advice in response to Member inquiries on matters within the specialist areas of expertise. The Committee clerking teams will very rarely working exclusively on one item of scrutiny- Committees will typically be undertaking (or preparing to undertake) multiple items of policy, legislative and financial scrutiny. The Assembly Commission would typically assess the value of this investment according to whether or not Members were satisfied with the services they received to enable them to undertake effective scrutiny and in doing so potentially make improvements to the legislation itself, its implementation and/or public understanding of it. The scrutiny itself would enable the Assembly to assess the value of the legislation under consideration.