£10,000 scheme to train AMs blasted
A training scheme which included giving politicians tips on how to ask questions and what to wear has been branded a disgraceful waste of public funds.
The Welsh Assembly Commission used a total of £10,000 of taxpayers' cash for 10 sessions to help Assembly Members improve their job skills.
The assembly's deputy presiding officer, David Melding, insisted the programme was good value - and said it was "standard good practice" of any employer to provide work-based training.
However, the Welsh Conservatives' former assembly leader, Rod Richards who resigned from the assembly in 2002, said: "It's an absolute disgrace they even thought of it let alone spent public money when everyone else is having to cut back due to the cold wind of recession.
"The political parties themselves who choose the candidates and politicians should be paying to train people to be politicians and how to dress."
The training sessions at the centre of the row were paid for with public money by the Assembly Commission, a publicly funded and independent body responsible for providing the services to support the role of politicians.
According to reports, those taking part were given advice on how to ask ministers questions in committees as well as where to position themselves at the table and how to dress.
It is not yet clear how many AMs took part, but one AM who did was Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay, chairman of the enterprise and business committee, who said he found the sessions useful - but was shocked when discovering their cost.
A commission spokesman said the main aim of the training sessions was to make AMs better law makers - something which was important following the institution being granted primary law-making powers after last year's referendum.
According to sources, the total figure worked out at around £230 per member. The assembly has 60 AMs and it was reported the training was provided by Core Solutions, founded in 2000 by a Scottish QC, John Sturrock.