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Plans to overhaul Senedd announced

18 Sep 2023 3 minute read
The Senedd. Picture by Senedd Cymru.

Plans to increase the size of the Senedd by a third and abolish first-past-the-post voting and single-member constituencies for elections have been announced by the Welsh Government.

If the Bill is implemented there will be 96 Senedd members compared with the current 60, with the 40 constituencies electing a single representative by first-past-the-post and 20 additional members chosen proportionally from five regions, replaced.

Instead, there will be 16 enlarged constituencies across Wales, with six members elected in each area using the D’Hondt formula, which is currently used to elect the 20 additional members.

Instead of five-year terms, MSs will be elected for four-year terms and all candidates will have to live in Wales.

The maximum number of ministers appointed by the party forming the Government will be increased from 12 to 17, and there will be two deputy presiding officers instead of the current one.

Plans to require parties to select gender-balanced lists of candidates for the new enlarged constituencies will be contained in a separate Bill.

If the changes are supported by the Senedd they will be adopted for the next set of elections in 2026.

The Bill has been announced by the Labour-run Welsh Government as part of the co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru.

Critics

Critics said the cost of increasing the size of the Senedd could have instead been invested in public services.

Counsel General Mick Antoniw said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a modern Senedd which truly reflects Wales, and to strengthen our democracy.

“We are creating a more effective Senedd, with a greater ability and capacity to hold the Welsh Government to account.

“This Bill will help ensure the Senedd also reflects the huge changes to Wales’ devolution settlement since 1999, including law-making and tax-raising powers.

“Wales is the most under-represented country in the UK – the Senedd has the least members of any devolved Parliament in the country and the recent reduction to UK parliamentary seats is the most significant change in a century.”

Plaid leader Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “Twenty-six years ago to the day when the people of Wales voted Yes for devolution, we are taking another historic step to strengthen and empower our democracy.

“A stronger, more representative Senedd, elected through a proportional system, will be better equipped to continue to make a difference to the people of Wales.

“It will ensure fairness, provide better scrutiny and help all of us realise our ambition for Wales and our maturing democracy.

“Once passed, the Senedd Reform Bill will also place Welsh democracy on firmer foundations and bring us closer to the size of the legislatures in Scotland and the north of Ireland.

“This stands in stark contrast to the way in which Wales’s representation on a UK level at Westminster is being weakened.”

Darren Millar, Welsh Conservatives shadow minister for the constitution, added: “It’s disappointing that Welsh Labour ministers continue to press ahead with plans to increase the size of the Senedd at a cost of tens of millions each year while threatening to cut budgets for schools and hospitals.

“Wales needs more doctors, dentists, nurses and teachers, not more politicians.

“The Welsh Government should be focused on addressing unacceptable NHS waiting times, poor standards in schools and the lacklustre performance of the Welsh economy, not wasting time, energy and taxpayers’ money developing yet more legislation on Senedd reform.”


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Rhobert Davi8s
Rhobert Davi8s
6 months ago

“Counsel General Mick Antoniw said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a modern Senedd which truly reflects Wales, and to strengthen our democracy”.

Spiffing idea!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
6 months ago

A chance to create a ‘Broederbond’ we pick you accept…

Richard
Richard
6 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Keep the party back room managers away 😈

Paul
Paul
6 months ago

Conservatives cancelled plans to decrease the number MPs from 650 to 600 without a thought for the cost. The also pack the Lords with cronies multiple times a year without a thought for the costs. All while the UK is short of doctors, nurses, dentists and teachers and cutting budgets for health and education (in real terms).

Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
6 months ago

The figures quoted give a representative for about every 35,000 people in Wales as compared to about one for every 75,000 at Westminster. To be realistic I think that is over representation and a figure of perhaps 70 Senedd members in total would be perfectly adequate. The method of election which is much better for the Senedd is as much a basis for good representation as the number of representatives.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
6 months ago

Closed lists Rhun !

Are you joking us ?

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
6 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I wondered about this.

The Electoral Reform Society recommended the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system.

Plaid Cymru policy is for the implementation of the Single Transferable Vote (STV). system. I have checked this.

The Liberal Democrats are certainly in favour of STV.
And, so is the Green Party.

The only conclusion is Welsh Labour are taking their instructions from Starmer’s UK Labour.
Conservatives would rather have no elections, but run a system similar to Belarus.

So you know what you must do in the next coming elections.
Red and Blue NOT for you.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
6 months ago

Proportional representation – a closed list means jobs for the boys and girls, the party faithful, no troublemakers, do as you are told. No direct constituency responsibility, members hiding behind party labels.
Strange how those keenest on PR and the ones who’ve never actually won an election……..

CapM
CapM
6 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

“Strange how those keenest on PR and the ones who’ve never actually won an election……..”
Those would be the voters unrepresented by a FPTP system then.

Bachgen o Lerpwl
6 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Well said Dr Ball.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
6 months ago
Reply to  CapM

I’d like to respond to this. I am not saying that FPTP is perfect,but the reality is that in many cases – especially in Wales – the successful candidate has won with substantial support; it follows that the electorate has spoken. I stand by my earlier remarks. As far as I am aware, the vast majority of Senedd Tory members have never stood and won a FPTP election and this is the case with the majority of Plaid Cymru members. This latter case illustrates the duplicity of that party and the nonsense of PR. Certainly those who won list seats… Read more »

CapM
CapM
6 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

FPTP encourages voters to vote for one candidate when in reality they would prefer to vote for another candidate but they know that would mean a ‘wasted vote’
FPTP discourages voters to vote for any candidate in constituencies where the result is a foregone conclusion.
That’s the reality.

The new system gets rid of the regional lists as well as the FPTP constituencies.

Richard E
Richard E
6 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Quite right John – a closed list system best suits those closed away from public’s gaze

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
6 months ago

Darren Millar needs to understand we are preparing our nations’ Parliament for governing Cymru after independence. Also, his comments in the last paragraph are off target once again. The word ‘Welsh’ (twice) should be replaced by ‘Westminster’ and ‘UK’ respectively for it to make sense.

Thomas Picton
Thomas Picton
6 months ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

I’d suggest the time to prepare the Parliament for independence is after a referendum on that topic has been won. Which won’t be in my lifetime or yours. Spending money and government time preparing for a pipedream is a complete waste when there are real problems to solve here and now.

CapM
CapM
6 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Picton

Fail to prepare -prepare to fail.
‘Advice’ to supporters of independence and a Unionist hope.

Rhobert Davi8s
Rhobert Davi8s
6 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Before you can contemplate Independence we need to be a complete country that can cater for its own population without relying on our very good friend across the border. We need to have our own hospitals instead of relying on English border hospitals and A&E as we do now. The same applies to airports. We also need massive inward investment to make up for jobs that will be lost to red wall areas of England. At the moment We cannot stand alone, we don’t even have a ferry connection to mainland Europe.

CapM
CapM
6 months ago
Reply to  Rhobert Davi8s

Contemplating independence obviously comes before planning for independence which obviously comes before choosing to be independent. The don’t dare contemplate it was(and it appears still is) the standard response across the empire. It also appears that your imagined independent Cymru is an isolationist country. Given the long and close links with England it’s a bizarre and alarmist vision that excludes reciprocal arrangements and exchange of resources that benefit both countries. “we don’t even have a ferry connection to mainland Europe.” Neither does Estonia. Not sure if the rather odd no ferry argument was used by those identifying as Russian Unionists… Read more »

Bachgen o Lerpwl
6 months ago
Reply to  CapM

Ah yes people in England will be desperate to use our airports and hospitals when we become independent.

CapM
CapM
6 months ago

They’ll want our water and green energy for starters.
People use airports if it suits them. They’ll choose Cardiff if it suits them regardless if Cymru is independent

People in England already use hospitals in Cymru and like us do not have to pay for hospital car parking. Also those that live in England and have a GP in Wales get free prescriptions.

The suggestion that a future independent Cymru would be isolationist is ironic given the isolationist Brexit we’ve just been through because of the self preservation needs of the Unionist Tory party.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
6 months ago

Up to 8 million people in UK not properly registered to vote, mostly young people and renters. How many in Cymru add that to closed lists and democracy just flew out the window?

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
6 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I am happy to be corrected, but surely it is not essential to have closed lists to operate PR? If so it would, therefore, it not be sensible to complain to one’s existing MS and suggest that the closed list part of the legislation be voted down?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

I would not dare Peter…but I will be making my views known to him. I am keen to know his opinion on this matter. Many thanks for your advice…

CapM
CapM
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

There are different forms of PR. As I understand it Plaid could not get Labour to support the better Single Transferable Vote system.
Given the two thirds? majority needed to change the system what we’ll get is what Labour are willing to accept.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
6 months ago

Sounds good to me!
I vote for a party, not an individual.
And it effectively locks out the Abolish the Assembly party & all the other assorted right-wing freaks.
Good work bois.

Bachgen o Lerpwl
6 months ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

OK anything which reduces the opposition to your chosen party is a good thing then.

Glen
Glen
6 months ago

How does stuffing the Senedd with party yes-men going to improve democracy?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
6 months ago
Reply to  Glen

And women…

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
6 months ago

If an example of the nonsense of PR is needed. look no further than Liberal Democrat Mike German. In fairness he stood in for a constituency seat and came third with 11% of the vote. As top of the list, he was duly elected and then became Deputy First Minister. So we had the ridiculous situation that the holder of the second most powerful position in Welsh politics was clearly rejected by the electorate, achieving one in ten of those who voted and if those who did not vote, something around one in twenty….. That apparently, is democracy, PR and… Read more »

CapM
CapM
6 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

I think you’re mislabelling the regional list system as being PR.
Perhaps the regional lists could be classed as a perverse example of PR. One that was part of a chimera of an electoral system fathered by Labour.
Perhaps because they feared what a genuine PR system would mean for their hegemony.
Perhaps that’s why they wouldn’t back Single Transferrable Vote PR this time.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
6 months ago
Reply to  CapM

I think someone else made that mistake too but beth bynnag…

CapM
CapM
6 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Pwy/Who?

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