Public not on board with Senedd expansion plans, poll suggests
The public aren’t on board with plans to expand the Senedd from 60 to 96 members, despite the Welsh parliament voting earlier this month to go ahead with the changes.
A YouGov poll asked the public: ‘Do you support or oppose increasing the number of seats in the Senedd, from 60 to 96?’
With ‘don’t’ knows’ removed, only 39% backed expanding the Senedd, with 61% opposed.
A large chunk of respondents, 33%, however, fell into the ‘don’t know’ bracket, suggesting that there is a lack of public knowledge about the plans.
The poll by YouGov / ITV Wales had a sample size of 1020 adults in Wales and was conducted between 12 and 16 June.
A Western Mail poll in March found that people backed expanding the Senedd by 48% to 30%, with the rest saying they didn’t know.
However, as part of that poll respondents were also given background information, including the fact that the Scottish Parliament has 129 elected members while the Northern Ireland Assembly has 90.
For that poll, a statement read to the participants said: “The Senedd / Welsh Parliament is currently considering whether to increase the number of elected Senedd Members.
“A panel of experts said the current number of 60 was too low to represent the people of Wales, hold the Welsh Government to account and deal with its growing workload effectively.
“As a result, they recommended an increase to around 90 members. This will incur extra costs.
“The Scottish Parliament has 129 elected members while the Northern Ireland Assembly has 90 elected members.”
The Welsh Conservatives have called for the plans to expand the Senedd to be put to a referendum before they go ahead in 2026.
“I would suggest that the proper course of action for Welsh Government is to seek the approval of its voters before proceeding with any of these costly measures,” Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said.
However, speaking in the Senedd, the First Minister Mark Drakeford accused the Conservatives of complaining about expansion of the Senedd on one hand while increasing the number of peers in the House of Lords on the other.
“Every nine months, the Prime Minister appoints more people to the House of Lords than we propose adding to the membership of the Senedd—every nine months. Where’s the referendum on that, I wonder?” he asked.
Boris Johnson has appointed 79 new peers since becoming Prime Minister in 2019.
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