Posted: Wed 8th Jun 2022

Call for a referendum on plans to increase number of Senedd members from 60 to 96

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 8th, 2022

Ahead of a crucial vote on reform later today, the Welsh Conservatives have called for a referendum on Labour and Plaid’s policy to expand the number of Senedd members from 60 to 96.

The Senedd is set to vote on the recommendations by the cross-party Senedd Special Purpose Committee who have backed expanding the Senedd to 96 members via a proportional voting system with integrated gender quotas – all by 2026.

The current 60 Member Senedd remains smaller than its other devolved counterparts, with the Scottish Parliament having 129 Members and the Northern Ireland Assembly having 90.

Under their proposals, Wales would be divided into 16 constituencies, each represented by six elected Members of Parliament using the d’Hondt method of proportional representation currently used to elect regional Senedd Members.

Earlier this month, Conservative MS Darren Millar resigned as member of the Special Purpose Committee after Labour and Plaid outlined their plans for an expansion of the Senedd.

The Conservatives claim an expanded Senedd “could cost taxpayers up to £100 million over the next five years.”

Shadow Minister for the Constitution, Darren Millar MS said: “If implemented, these plans would deliver radical change that I believe do not enjoy the support of the people of Wales.

“Despite the First Minister’s assertions to the contrary, there was no reference to more politicians or scrapping the first-past-the-post system for elections for the majority of Senedd Members in the Labour manifesto prior to the Senedd elections last year.

“As there is no public mandate to make these significant changes to the voting system they should be the subject of a referendum to give the public their say.”

If the motion is passed today, it means the Welsh Government will begin work on a Senedd Reform Bill – making Senedd reform by 2026 highly likely.

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for the constitution, Rhys ab Owen MS said that today’s vote was an “opportunity” to deliver a parliament that would work for Wales and to “boost” Welsh democracy – making it “more powerful, fairer and more representative”.

He said: “Plaid Cymru has long championed empowering our national parliament and for years we’ve argued that the Senedd is currently too small to fulfil its role of holding the government of the day to account.

“Today’s vote is an opportunity to deliver a parliament that will work for Wales.

 “The role and responsibilities of the Senedd have changed considerably since it was first established in 1999, and we must ensure that it is appropriately sized to be able to carry out its scrutiny functions.

“A stronger Senedd will have a greater ability to make a difference to the lives of people across our nation. It will also boost our democracy – making it more powerful, fairer, and more representative and reflective of all the voices and aspirations of Welsh society.

“Just like the Wales football team, we’ve seen a growing confidence in Wales over the past couple of years. A confidence in our national parliament – in our capability to do things differently. So, it’s not about more politicians. It’s about super-powering our parliament – making it fit to represent our people. A stronger Senedd isn’t a nice to have. It’s an absolute must.

 “I hope we take that step today, just like the team took a step on Sunday, towards that game-changer moment.

 “And, while Plaid Cymru will continue to make the case for Wales to become an independent nation, building a stronger, more representative Senedd fit to serve the people of Wales is something we can all surely agree on.

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