Senedd size and voting system under discussion in move welcomed by electoral campaigners
Electoral reform campaigners have welcomed the creation of a new committee to discuss expanding the Senedd and the creation of a new voting system.
Members of the Senedd voted today to create the new committee, chaired by Huw Irranca-Davies MS.
The Electoral Reform Society said it was a “welcome step forward in delivering the reforms to our parliament that we so desperately need”.
The Committee will consider three issues:
- The Senedd’s size and system for electing Members
- Measures to improve the diversity of the Senedd
- Creating a system for reviewing constituency boundaries and seat distribution
The creation of the new Committee comes after the Expert Panel report on Assembly Electoral Reform recommended that the Senedd needed between 20 and 30 additional Members.
It also said that Senedd Members should be elected through a more proportional electoral system with accountability to the public and diversity at its heart.
Nia Thomas, Spokesperson for ERS Cymru said she hoped the changes could be put in place for the 2026 election.
She said: “The time for reform is long overdue and now more than ever we need a stronger, fairer and more diverse Senedd to meet the challenges Wales faces. But change can only happen if parties are willing to work together on it – they can and must find common ground on a way forward.
“We call on all parties to ensure they support this process and together we can create the Senedd that Wales needs.”
Senedd Llywydd Elin Jones MS, said that with primary law-making and tax-raising powers it was crucial that the Senedd was equipped to make good legislation and hold the Welsh Government to account.
“We’ve heard strong evidence from experts that the Senedd needs to change – our new Committee will help towards making sure that our parliament is big enough to carry out its important duties, that it reflects the population of Wales and that its electoral system best represents the will of the voters,” she said.
Huw Irranca-Davies MS, Chair of the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform, said that it was important that the matter was considered on a cross-party basis.
“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of the decisions that are made by the Welsh Government,” he said.
“I look forward to working with colleagues from all parties to achieve a consensus on how we build a stronger Senedd to represent the people of Wales and hold the Welsh Government to account.”
The Committee on Senedd Electoral Reform was previously set up to gather further evidence on the need for reform, to listen to the views of the public and to inform political parties and their manifestos ahead of the 2021 Senedd election.
The Committee reported in September 2020 and argued that there is: “clear and compelling evidence that the Senedd is currently undersized, that its membership lacks diversity, that the current electoral system constrains voter choice and Member accountability and that the absence of a mechanism for the review of the Senedd’s boundaries should not be allowed to continue.”
The new cross-party Committee will consider the conclusions of the Committee on Senedd Electoral Reform. By 31 May 2022 it will report with recommendations for a Welsh Government Bill on Senedd Reform.
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