First Minister’s comments on enlarging the Senedd ‘a big step forward’ say campaigners
The First Minister’s comments saying that he would like to expand the Senedd are a “big step forward” for tackling Wales’ democratic deficit, campaigners have said.
Mark Drakeford said there was “growing enthusiasm” for a Welsh Parliament “fit to discharge its responsibilities”. Last year, a report by Labour and Plaid members on a Senedd committee backed expanding to 90 members, from the current 60.
Jess Blair, Director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru welcomed his comments, saying that the institution needed to expand in order to better deliver for the people of Wales.
“The First Minister’s comments today represent a big step forward to address the democratic deficit in Wales,” she said.
“In the two decades since devolution the powers and responsibilities in Cardiff Bay have grown, yet the size of the Senedd has not, remaining the same size as Pembrokeshire County Council. But the call for a larger Senedd is being heard in Cardiff Bay with politicians from across the chamber recognising the time for reform is now.
“Our parliament must expand if it is to deliver for the people of Wales. We need a chamber that is fit for purpose if we are to deliver the fair recovery from covid that Wales needs. We look forward to working with the First Minister and all pro-reform parties to make that change happen.”
Both Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats back having a bigger Senedd, providing the required 40 seat majority to make changes, but the Conservatives oppose the move.
A sticking point however could be how proportional the new system would be. The current semi-proportional system, where 2/3 of members are voted in through First Past the Post in constituencies, favours the Labour Party.
In 2017, Cardiff University’s Professor Laura McAllister conducted an in-depth review on the issue. Her Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform recommended the Assembly should be increased to between 80 and 90 members and also a change to a Single Transferable Vote system of choosing MS.
Mark Drakeford said that there were still “significant practical issues to work through”