As Panel members, we are experts in our respective fields. Our report and recommendations are robust, evidence-based and politically neutral, identifying options for reform of some of the most fundamental constitutional arrangements in Wales.
We have been remunerated for our work in line with the rates paid to other similar office holders advising the Assembly. The daily rates are £333 for the Panel chair and £267 for Panel members. The overall costs of our work were some £38,000 and are detailed in our report.
We arrived at our conclusions having examined the issue from many perspectives:
the changing role and powers of the Assembly;
the steps that have been, or could be, taken to increase the capacity of the Assembly without more Members;
the complex and varied roles Members undertake;
Members' responsibility for policy, legislative and financial scrutiny and oversight of the Welsh Government and other public bodies in Wales;
the capacity of the Assembly's committee system; and
how the Assembly compares to equivalent legislatures elsewhere in the UK and the world.
All of our analysis pointed to the same conclusion: that the appropriate future size for the Assembly is between 80 and 90 Members. Increasing the Assembly to a size within that range would deliver meaningful benefits for the capacity of the institution and corresponding dividends for the people of Wales.
Within this range, there would be a noticeable difference between the lower and upper ends. A figure close to 80 would undoubtedly strengthen the institution and make it better able to fulfil its responsibilities effectively. At the upper end, the benefits would be greater, providing a meaningful difference in the ability of many Members to specialise, with consequent benefits for scrutiny and representation. The upper end of the range would also lessen the risk that the question of capacity would need to be revisited in the foreseeable future, should the responsibilities of the Assembly increase further. Our preference, therefore, is for the size of the Assembly to be closer to 90 Members.
The scrutiny and oversight role of the Assembly, if carried out effectively, positively affects the lives of people in Wales by improving the quality of Welsh legislation, and influencing Welsh Government policy and decision-making. Even marginal improvements in the scrutiny of the Welsh Government's expenditure and policy-making would reap significant dividends to the taxpayer.