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  1. Nick Powell

£10,000 pay rise for AMs proposed

Assembly members will get a pay rise of nearly £10,000 a year under proposals from the independent body set up to decide their salaries. AMs are currently paid £53,852, due to rise to £54,390 next year. An increase to £64,000 would be implemented after the next Assembly election in 2016.

The Remuneration Board says AMs increased powers in the next Assembly justify the increase but their pension scheme will be made less generous. Even so, the overall package will be worth 10.4%.

AMs' pay was frozen after the last election in 2011 but they will get a 1% rise next year, which is similar to what's happened to Welsh NHS workers pay, although their pay packets are usually a lot smaller.

Credit: PA

The most highly paid politician in the Assembly will remain the First Minister. Carwyn Jones' salary will go up from £135,260 to £140,000 if he keeps his job after the election. The pension cut means that his overall package will actually shrink by more than 2%, as will also be the case for other ministers.

The chair of the Remuneration Board, Sandy Blair, said they felt they couldn't suggest a bigger increase for the First Minister as that would have pushed his salary above the £142,500 paid to the Prime Minister. There will now be a public consultation before the Board makes its final decision. It will then be implemented automatically, following a decision by AMs that they would no longer vote on their own pay increases.

Lib Dem leader calls for Welsh anti-extremism strategy

In the Senedd, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has called for a specific anti-extremism strategy for Wales following the revelations that two Cardiff men appeared in an Iraqi Islamist recruitment video. Kirsty Williams said:

Last year, the UK Government set up the Tackling Extremism and Radicalisation Task Force to look into the issue. While this is welcome, this should be backed by a specific Welsh anti-extremism strategy to ensure that our communities remains safe.

People will of course be very worried and upset that men who have grown up here in Wales have resorted to joining extreme and dangerous groups. Not only do we need to remember that these men are very much in a minority, but we must also look at the potential causes that have led them to take these drastic measures.

– Kirsty Williams AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader

More powers for Wales and Scotland pledges Shadow Scottish Secretary

Labour's Shadow Scottish Secretary tells our Political Editor Adrian Masters that 'in the first year of power [Labour] will be passing more powers for Scotland and for Wales.'

Margaret Curran is due to speak at an event in the National Assembly for Wales organised by the Institute of Welsh Affairs. She's expected to promise that if Labour wins next year's UK Election it 'will not take the Union for granted.'

And she's due to acknowledge that September's independence referendum has been a 'wake-up call' for those who think the United Kingdom's nations are stronger together.


Parties urged to support Assembly name change

Plaid Cymru is urging other parties to support its bid to rename the Assembly as 'the National Parliament of Wales.'

Plaid has tabled an amendment to the Wales Bill, which is being debated by MPs and which would introduce financial powers and other changes.

Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary Leader Elfyn Llwyd, who is behind the amendment, describes the proposal as 'common sense.'

This amendment, if passed, would enforce a simple change - that the Assembly be officially named the National Parliament of Wales.

The Wales Bill already makes provision for officially changing the name of the Welsh Assembly Government to the Welsh Government. It is only right and proper that the institution's name also reflects its status as a full law-making body, as it has been since the 2011 referendum on further powers.

The leaders of other parties in Wales have already spoken in favour of this change. We hope that our straightforward and common sense amendment attracts them and their parties' support.

– Elfyn Llwyd MP, Plaid Cymru

Assembly named in top 50 employers of women in UK

The National Assembly for Wales has been named as one of the top 50 employers of women in the UK by The Times newspaper.

The awards recognise the work carried out by organisations that help women balance their work and family lives.

The National Assembly for Wales features in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women in the UK list. Credit: David Davies/PA

Presiding officer, Dame Rosemary Butler AM, said: "Women make up more than half of the population so we need a balanced workforce to reflect that. A more balanced workforce allows wider ideas and views to feed into the the workplace and, i believe, produces better results.

"The assembly has a proud record in providing all staff with opportunities to strike a better work-life balance and deserves this recognition."

The assembly has been recognised for providing a range of flexible working options including term-time working, part-time working, compressed hours and working from home.

  1. Adrian Masters

Ministers try to meet concerns of smacking ban supporters

It seems the Welsh Government is trying to meet the concerns of supporters of a smacking ban but it may not be enough to stop them voting for one later. Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams says she thinks ministers will offer 'another opportunity' to vote on the issue as part of another bill.

She thought that would mean the matter was unlikely to pushed to a vote. But other sources suggest the offer of 'another opportunity' isn't definite enough to win over Plaid and Lib Dem members who are backing an amendment to the Social Services and Well Being Bill.

If it does come to a vote, the amendment is unlikely to win because I understand Labour AMs will be obliged by the Chief Whip to vote against. It's still unclear whether or not at least two Labour AMs will rebel, but the majority will still be enough to defeat it.

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