A cross-party group of Assembly Members will begin looking at expanding the size of the soon-to-be Welsh parliament and changing the voting system.
The National Assembly voted in favour of creating the Committee on Assembly Electoral Reform yesterday.
The committee will look at recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform on:
- The size of the Assembly. The Expert Panel recommended that the Assembly needs an extra 20 to 30 members to cope with its growing workload.
- How Assembly Members are elected. The panel recommended a change in the voting system, to a proportional method called the Single Transferable Vote. One option would be to pair the current 40 constituencies to merge them into 20 seats, each with four AMs, giving a total of 80.
- How a new electoral system could encourage the election of a more diverse Assembly. A gender quota would boost the number of women in the Senedd, and the option of standing as a “job share” candidate would aim to encourage people with disabilities or caring responsibilities.
Any changes will require a law to be passed in the Assembly with a two-thirds majority.
Reforms such as giving 16 and 17-year olds the vote at Welsh general elections and changing the name of the institution to Senedd / Welsh Parliament are currently being considered by the National Assembly.
‘Effective and accessible’
The Assembly Commission’s Creating a Parliament for Wales consultation received over 1,800 responses to questions about the size of the National Assembly, of which a majority thought that the institution needs more Members to carry out its role effectively.
“These reforms are about how we best represent the people of Wales,” Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly said.
“This is the next important step in creating a more effective and accessible legislature, ensuring that our democratic framework is fit for the future.
“With ever-increasing pressure and the additional responsibilities of this parliament, the case for reform is stronger than ever.
“I look forward to following the committee’s work in scrutinising these important issues of democracy and accountability.”
The size and membership of the Committee on Assembly Electoral Reform is yet to be determined and is being discussed by political groups.
AMs were given powers to make changes to the way they are elected under the 2017 Wales Act.