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Written Statement - Appointments to the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales

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The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales is an independent body set up under regulations made by the National Assembly for Wales in March 2007.
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Carl Sargeant, Minister for Local Government and Communities

I am announcing reappointments for a new term of 12 months for the Chair and three members of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales. These appointments will run from 1st January 2012.

The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales was established in January 2008 and operated under the Local Authorities (Allowances for Members) (Wales) Regulations 2007. The Regulations required the Panel to determine the maximum level of allowances payable by local authorities in Wales to their councillors and certain co-opted members. The Panel now operates under Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011. The Measure has extended the Panel’s remit to also include National Park authorities, Welsh fire and rescue authorities and community and town councils. The Panel may now prescribe the levels of allowances payable by authorities to their members, in addition to setting maximum levels. The Panel may make different recommendations for different authorities.

The Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 provides for membership of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales to consist of a Chairperson and four members appointed by the Welsh Ministers. Members serve terms which must not exceed four years and which are renewable up to a maximum period of ten years. The Members of the Panel must elect one of their numbers as Vice-chairperson.

The Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 extends the remit and power of the Panel, as well as putting in place important checks and balances on their new powers.

The members who are being reappointed for a new term are:-

  • Richard Penn as Chairperson 
  • John Bader – Member 
  • Declan Hall – Member
  • Gareth Newton – Member

These Members were first appointed on 1 January 2008 for four year terms expiring on 31 December 2011 following a public recruitment exercise. The Chair and three Members have been re-appointed for a new term of 12 months. They do not hold any other Ministerial appointment.  

I have therefore authorised the commencement of a recruitment exercise for all five members of the Panel, one to join as soon as possible and the other four to start in January 2013.  Existing members will be able to apply if they wish.  The advertisement is on the Welsh Government website with a closing date of 6 February 2012 for applications.

There is a need for greater diversity in public appointments as we need to ensure that decisions made take account of different viewpoints and issues.   The promotion of diversity in public appointments is crucial to ensuring that we not only increase the number of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people, as well as other under-represented groups, on boards but that we also seek to attract those who would not have thought of serving on public bodies.

Ministerial appointments to public office should always be on merit and there should be clear processes in place to ensure fairness and openness which can have the biggest impact on the diversity of the field.

These principles should enable us to widen the field of potential candidates and help us to deliver a more representative pool of decision makers in Wales.
Women are under represented at many levels in public life and we have given a commitment at Welsh Government to seek to address this. Welsh Government is currently working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission and other bodies to identify steps to deliver a more representative pool of decision makers and greater numbers of women in public appointments.

Although appointments to the Panel do not come within the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ remit they will be made following a process that takes into account the Commissioner’ Code as best practice.

Dr Rita Austin has decided against being considered for reappointment but has served the Panel well with her extensive public service experience in local government, education, health and criminal justice agencies.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Rita Austin for her four years of service with the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales.