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Senedd size and voting system under discussion in move welcomed by electoral campaigners

06 Oct 2021 3 minute read
The Senedd. Picture by Senedd Cymru.

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.”

‘Big enough’

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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2 years ago

An important move which needs perhaps to be balanced by a reduction of county councillors in some areas or perhaps linking at least a couple together such as Merthyr and or Denbighshire with neighbours.

Delivery via discussion and ownership is needed as well as robust scrutiny of quangos and arms length bodiea.- this can only be done with an incresed number of Senedd members able to specialize and develop skills in their chosen topic/ interest areas.

The electoral system perhaps also needs to modified to end the Ist and 2nd division of MS’s through smaller electoral divisions.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 years ago

With Wales losing 9 Westminster MPs, and seeing the Senedd is woefully undermanned, our parliament desperately needs more members to handle not only the increased workload, but equally important, to allow members to scrutinise government properly. If we compare like for like. Northern Ireland’s Assembly Stormont initially had 109 MLAs, but this was reduced to 90 members after a reduction of constituencies. Where we in Wales with increased responsibility since becoming a legislature in 2011, has had the same amount of Senedd members but an increased workload. This cannot continue. And with Wales being twice the size of NI, double… Read more »

Grayham Jones
2 years ago

We in wales have got to stop being little Englanders and and be proud to be welsh it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales we need a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 A Free Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Jonathan Edwards
2 years ago

This is tweaking a defective model. Not sure how having more Members solves anything. But if we do, why can’t Wales join the rest of the civilised world and put the extra ones in a separate elected house? Bicameral legislature please. Works well in 50 US state etc etc The reasons why Westminster doesn’t do this are all bad. But Wales can change independently of Westminster.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
2 years ago

I’m not against increasing the number of members, it’s a nonsense hat because of the small number of members almost all of the the major group – in this case labour – are ministers. However, I think a serious note of caution is required when it comes to proportional representation, despite the arguments this NOT a fair voting system. Take the Senedd. Almost all the conservative members were elected on the list, they did not have to face angry constituents, standing on doorsteps in the pouring rain. Just hide behind the party name and tv programmes. the current leader has… Read more »

2 years ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

It is possible to have a mix of PR along with a constituency element. Have say 16 constituencies with 5 MSs elected from each constituency on a PR basis. That would mean politicians still having to put in the hard yards in to try to win people’s votes.

Philip Pughe-Morgan
Philip Pughe-Morgan
2 years ago
Reply to  R W

The Added Member System would seem to meet your desires, with a proportion of Senedd members being elected as now in single member constituencies, and the balance being chosen through a regional or national list system. The key issues would be to decide the proportion of members to be selected through each process, and also whether the single seat members should be chosen as now by the traditional FPTP voting system or through some form of PR.

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