Posted: Mon 30th May 2022

Committee backs plans to increase the number of Senedd Members from 60 to 96

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, May 30th, 2022

A committee has backed plans to increase the number of Senedd Members from 60 to 96.

Earlier this month First Minister Mark Drakeford and Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price set out proposals to reform the Senedd.

A report published today by the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reforms has now backed a ‘radical package’ of changes including the increase of politicians in Cardiff Bay.

The Committee has also ‘strongly’ recommended that Wales introduce gender quotas in time for the 2026 Senedd elections and has set out a timetable to achieve this, with the expectation that the Welsh Government will introduce a reform Bill next year.

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.

Welsh Conservatives have however claimed expanding the Senedd to 96 Members could cost taxpayers “up to £100 million over the next five years.”

According to the reform committee recommendations, the road to reform should continue with a Welsh Government Bill to be introduced next year.

It is estimated this could receive Royal Assent by May 2024, in time to begin a boundary review, “with the aim for this to be completed by April 2025.”

16 constituencies with 6 Senedd Members each 

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.

Chair of the Senedd’s Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform, Huw Irranca-Davies MS, said:

“Our report sets out a plan for a strengthened Parliament which will provide a stronger voice for the people of Wales.

“Today’s Senedd is very different to the institution that was established over 20 years ago. Its powers have increased to meet the ambitions of our modern and proud nation. It can now make laws and set Welsh taxes, issues which affect the lives of every single person in Wales.

Huw Irranca-Davies said: “With greater powers must come greater accountability.”

“We need a parliament that can effectively scrutinise the decisions taken by the Welsh Government, on behalf of the public it serves. The current system doesn’t allow that to be done as well as it should be.”

“We believe reform is essential, and it is achievable by 2026.”

He added: “The changes we are recommending will be a positive step to making our Parliament better reflective of Wales’s communities.”

“By leading the way on gender quotas, it will mean women – a majority group in Wales – will have certainty of fair representation, which can only lead to better and fairer outcomes for us all.”

“This would further the Senedd’s journey to being better reflective of the experiences, needs and hopes of the population it serves, helping people to feel more included and heard in the democratic process.”

Clwyd West MS Darren Millar resigned as a member of the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform after Labour and Plaid outlined their plans

Opposition reaction 

The Welsh Conservatives have expressed disappointment at the report.

Earlier this month, Darren Millar MS resigned as member of the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform after Labour and Plaid outlined their plans for an expansion of the Senedd, thereby making the conclusions of this report futile.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Constitution, Darren Millar MS said:

 “The contents of this report are no surprise. They simply regurgitate the instructions given to Labour and Plaid members of the committee by their party leaders.”

“Welsh Conservatives maintain our firm opposition to an increase in the number of Members of the Senedd.”

“Wales needs more doctors, dentists, nurses and teachers, not more politicians in Cardiff Bay.”

“The people of Wales have not had their say on these detailed proposals.”

“They have not endorsed a voting system which severs the direct accountability of their elected representatives and gives political parties more power to impose their candidates on local people and nor have they given a green light to a system which promotes one aspect of diversity over another.”

A motion for a plenary debate on the Committee’s report has been tabled for 8 June 2022.

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