Clarification call after new AM is banned by Senedd

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

WREXHAM Council’s former leader has called for clarification of the rules which saw him temporarily disqualified from his new Welsh Assembly seat.

Aled Roberts became a Liberal Democrat regional AM for North Wales at the election earlier this month and has since stood down as council leader.

But on Tuesday he was barred from sitting in the Senedd after officials discovered that at the time of his election he was still a member of the Valuation Tribunal for Wales, which is not permitted under the rules.

At the same time, South Central AM John Dixon was disqualified for being in a similar situation with the Care Council for Wales.

Both AMs were hoping to be back in their seats this morning following a vote to suspend orders by fellow members.

But a motion which would have reinstated them if a majority of AMs voted in favour was withdrawn from Wednesday's plenary session.

The earliest another motion can be tabled is next Wednesday afternoon.

Cllr Roberts, who plans to continue as a member of Wrexham Council until next May, said: “I have been a member of the valuation tribunal, which meets three or four times a year, for about the last 12 years.

“The Assembly has ordered that you cannot be an AM and a member of a tribunal.

“I checked beforehand with the Assembly Government to see if I could continue on the valuation tribunal and they said yes.

“But the rules had changed and because of that an order was made and I was disqualified from sitting in the Senedd.”

He added: “I find it strange that no-one warns you about this beforehand but, ultimately, it is your responsibility to check things out to see you have not fallen foul of the rules.

“I think there is a need for clarification to prevent this sort of thing happening again.

“As soon as I found out on Tuesday that there was a problem I resigned from the valuation tribunal.”

A spokesman for National Assembly said: “The National Assembly Disqualification Order 2011, which came into force in January, disqualifies any person from taking office as an Assembly Member if he/she is a member of one of the organisations listed in the schedule to that order.

“Any person who wishes to be elected to the Assembly must resign from any of those listed organisations, prior to the election.

“If a person elected to the Assembly has since ceased to be a member of the organisation, a motion can be put to a full plenary session of the Assembly for the disqualification to be disregarded and, if passed, by a straight majority of members voting, then the disqualification would be lifted.”

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