‘Practical challenges’ to expanding Senedd by 2026 says Mark Drakeford
The First Minister has said that there are a “series of practical challenges” to expanding the size of the Welsh parliament by the next Senedd election in 2026.
Both Plaid Cymru and Welsh Labour’s conferences have backed expansion to as many as 100 Senedd Members, which they say is necessary in order to ensure that the work of the Senedd is able to continue to run smoothly as it expands its powers.
However, asked at today’s joint press conference with Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price whether the work would be done by the time of the next election, Mark Drakeford could not give a definitive guarantee that it would happen in time.
“The government approaches this on the basis of wanting to see reform for 2026 but recognising that there are a series of practical issues that have to be addressed in order to make that happen,” Mark Drakeford said.
“There is a committee of the Senate, chaired by [Labour Senedd Member] Huw Irranca-Davies and including the members of other parties including Sian Gwenllian of Plaid Cymru. We are waiting to report it will help us to set out to 2026. But our starting point is is that when we would like reform to happen.”
Contentious and time-consuming issues to be resolved with expanding the Senedd could include a new voting system and possibly as a result new electoral boundaries.
Adam Price however said that his party considered Senedd reform by 2026 “absolutely essential”.
“We cannot afford to wait another nine years,” he said. “Because this for us is about our ability to deliver for the people of Wales.
“It’s actually about the kind of things that we talking about today – the bread and butter issues in terms of transforming public services and the economy in Wales, and all those other important questions at the heart of our democracy.
“And we were given in two referenda, the instructions by the people of Wales to deliver on these promises and ambitions.
“But at the moment we don’t have in the Senedd the tools, if you like, which are necessary in our view for that task, and that’s why it is up to the essential that we reform the Senate to ensure that we do have those tools following the election.”
The Welsh Conservatives meanwhile oppose adding any new Senedd members. In a recorded message Andrew RT Davies criticised the proposal.
“That’ll cost you the taxpayer 12 and a half million pounds a year,” Andrew RT Davies said. “That’s not what you want your money spent on.
“People are telling me you want to see more doctors, nurses and teachers on the frontline dealing with your priority and we’re the only party in Cardiff Bay who believe we should make the 60 MS’ work that much harder, instead of putting another 30 to 40 MS’ in Cardiff Bay.
“So if you want to make a difference on May the fifth – if you want to send a clear message to Drakeford, Priceand the Lib Dems, make sure you vote for the Welsh Conservatives and stop this absurd suggestion of increasing the number of MS.”
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