Tories oppose expanding the Senedd while ‘appointing more to the House of Lords’ says Drakeford
The Conservatives are opposing the expansion of the Senedd by 39 members while adding the same number of new peers to the House of Lords every few months, the First Minister has said.
The Conservative Senedd group today said they wanted a referendum on expanding the Senedd, as suggested by Welsh Secretary Simon Hart.
But 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.
The First Minister was responding to a question by Clwyd West Conservative Senedd Member Darren Millar who asked for a referendum.
“Now, when such significant changes to voting systems have been presented in the past, they have been put to the public vote, for the public to have a say via a referendum,” he said.
“Back in 2011, when there was a proposal to scrap the first-past-the-post system for Westminster elections, quite rightly, the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, put that decision into the hands of the public via a referendum.
“Given that there was no specific mention of an increase in Members of the Senedd in your party’s manifesto for the last Senedd election, do you accept that there is a need for the public to have a direct say on the package of proposals that is being put forward before this Senedd and will be debated tomorrow?”
Blaenau Gwent Labour Senedd Member Alun Davies responded said that they simply did not want to see the Welsh parliament strengthened.
“The reality is they stuff the House of Lords, as they have already today, with unelected peers. They put them straight in the UK Government without any democratic accountability,” he said.
“And they come here seeking a referendum, not because they believe it—and I don’t believe any of them believe the nonsense they talk on these matters—but because they simply don’t like Welsh democracy.”
In their statement on Senedd reform, Mark Drakeford and Adam Price said they wanted reform to be implemented in time for the next election in 2026, even if some of the changes are introduced on an interim basis.
- The Senedd should have 96 Members.
- It should be elected using closed proportional lists with integrated statutory gender quotas and mandatory zipping. Seats should be allocated to parties using the D’Hondt formula.
- The 2026 Senedd election should use the final 32 UK Parliament constituencies proposed by the Boundary Commission for Wales once it has concluded its 2023 Parliamentary Review.
- These constituencies should be paired to create 16 Senedd constituencies. Each constituency should elect six Members.
- A full boundary review should be instigated in this Senedd term and its recommendations should take effect from the subsequent Senedd election.
Mr Drakeford said: “The case for Senedd reform has been made. We now need to get on with the hard work to create a modern Senedd, which reflects the Wales we live in today. A Parliament that truly works for Wales.
“The joint position statement we are publishing today will help support the important work of the cross-party Special Purpose Committee to move Senedd reform forwards.”
Mr Price added. “These reforms will lay the foundations for a stronger Welsh democracy and a fairer, more representative Senedd that will look entirely different to the outdated political system at Westminster.
“A stronger, more diverse, more representative Senedd will have a greater capacity to perform its primary purpose of making a positive difference to the lives of the people of Wales.”
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