Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Tory MS calls for referendum on Senedd expansion plans

15 Feb 2024 4 minute read
Janet Finch-Saunders – Image: Senedd Cymru

Emily Price

A Tory MS has called for a referendum on the Welsh Government’s Senedd expansion plans which will see the Welsh Parliament increase in size from 60 to 96 members.

In September last year, plans were announced for a major overhaul of the Senedd – how it makes laws, how it’s scrutinised and how it represents Welsh people.

The controversial reform will expand the the number of politicians by a third with 96 members elected using closed proportional lists with seats allocated to parties using the D’Hondt formula.

As well as the voting system changing, a number of other measures will be introduced – including reverting to a four-year term of office.

The Welsh Conservatives have opposed the plans which they warn will be costly.

Referendum

On Thursday (February 15) in a post on X, formerly Twitter, Aberconwy MS Janet Finch-Saunders announced that she has written Mark Drakeford calling for a referendum on the plans.

In a letter to the outgoing First Minister she raised “serious concerns” that the Welsh Government is pursuing major constitutional reform “without having the democratic support of the people of Wales.”

The Welsh shadow minister for climate change quoted a line from Welsh Labour’s 2021 manifesto which states: “In the next Senedd, we will lead Wales in a national civic conversation about our constitutional future.

“We will build on the work of the Senedd committee on electoral reform, chaired by Welsh Labour’s Dawn Bowden, and develop proposals to improve the representation of the people of Wales in their Parliament.”

Reform

The Welsh Conservative MS argued: “The commitment was to lead a national discussion and develop proposals to improve representation – not implement major changes without directly consulting the people of Wales.”

She added: “Even the Plaid Cymru manifesto did not commit to increasing the size of the Welsh Parliament to 96 members.

“Neither of the parties in the co-operation Welsh Government presented the electorate with the plan to increase the size of the Welsh Parliament to 60%.

“More so, neither of the parties presented the electorate with the costs of increasing the size of the Welsh Parliament: between £100 million and £120 million overall over the coming years.”

The Welsh Government says Senedd reform plans will better serve the people of Wales.

Evidence presented to a Senedd Committee in January stated that the Senedd’s responsibilities in areas such as transport, economic development, rail and taxation had increased since 1999 and therefore more MSs would be required to provide a good level of scrutiny.

The Welsh Conservatives say that the money spent on an expanding the Senedd should instead be ploughed into improving Wales’ public services.

The Party has also warned that closed list electoral systems take power away from the people and hand it to political parties.

Reform

Mrs Finch-Saunders said: “Mark Drakeford has no mandate to increase the size of the Welsh Parliament by 60%.

“Neither the Labour nor Plaid Cymru 2021 manifestos committed to increase the size to 96.

“The public should have their say on major constitutional reform. I have written to ask for a referendum.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “These once-in-a-generation Senedd reform plans have been in progress since 2017 and will strengthen democracy in Wales. The changes – which are currently being debated by Members of the Senedd – will create a modern Senedd better able to represent the people of Wales, with increased capacity to scrutinise, make laws, and hold the government to account.

“The First Minister will respond to the correspondence received from Janet Finch-Saunders MS in due course.”

Nation.Cymru invited Plaid Cymru to comment but they declined to do so.


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
18 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Richard E
Richard E
4 months ago

What mandate did JFS reference on her U turn Road Safety views ? Were they in her local or Wales manifesto ? We need to know ?

Paul ap Garth
Paul ap Garth
4 months ago

We had a referendum in 2011 to give the Assembly full law making powers – roughly equal in power to Scotland and Northern Ireland. As a result of that referendum we now need more MSs to manage the work load. Which will meant the Senedd will have roughly the same number of MSs as Northern Ireland has MLAs. Because that is the number of people you need to operate the powers. The Siambr was built to expand to accommodate more MSs because everyone knew if more powers were devolved it would need more politicians to function properly. Did Finch-Saunders demand… Read more »

Crwtyn Cemias
Crwtyn Cemias
4 months ago

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ENGLISH. Gan roedd tua 65% o’r pleidleisiau a chafwyd eu bwrw yn etholiad 2021 Senedd Cymru, ar gyfer Pleidiau sy’n gwbl gefnogol o ddatganoli, dywedwn i fod e’n gystal i Janet rhoi’r ffidil yn y to ynghylch ei galwad am refferendwm ar gynyddu nifer Aelodau’r Senedd. ~ Given that some 65% of the votes cast in the 2021 Senedd election were for Parties fully supportive of devolution, I’d say that Janet might as well give up now on her call for a referendum on increasing the number of elected Members in the Senedd.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  Crwtyn Cemias

If thats the case then what does the WG have to fear over having a referendum? 65% with back them RIGHT!!!

Last edited 4 months ago by NOT Grayham Jones
Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago

Are you advocating that the people have a vote on every decision made by a government, if we need a vote on this subject? If so , how do you pick or select which changes do or don’t have a public vote.

Richard
Richard
4 months ago

Bring back Grayham Jones 💜 asp

Rob
Rob
4 months ago

Did we have a referendum to introduce these ridiculous Police and Crime Commissioners in 2011? A referendum to increase the members of the House of Lords? A referendum to change English metro mayors from second preference voting back to first past the post? A referendum to reduce Welsh representation in the UK Parliament from 40 to 32?

Paul ap Garth
Paul ap Garth
4 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Or, a referendum to reverse a cut in the number of MPs that was promised in 2010, legislated for in 2011, and abandoned in 2020.

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago

In March 2022 the UK Gov passed a law to change how long a gov could stay in power before calling a general election, no public vote was held, the Tory’s recently asked the boundary commission to alter the boundaries of constituencies , no public vote held. No public vote on the Brexit deal, her party is very choosy on what and when they want referendums or public voting.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

That is what it says on the tin, but like all products, democracy has been devalued lately to the point it is not worth the paper it is written on…

Annibendod
Annibendod
4 months ago

Do we get a referendum whenever the Tories stuff the Lords full of their cronies? No? Thought not.

D Jones
D Jones
4 months ago

The Tories seem to want Wales to be a part of England and moan about every change that gives Wales its unique identity.

Jeff
Jeff
4 months ago

What is it with the referendums? This because that 20mph thing? Don’t like the weather, lets have a referendum, don’t like the way the sun comes up in morning, lets have a referendum, don’t like the way a vote went, lets have a referendum.

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

But only when things dont go the Tory’s way. 20 mph, lets have a vote, more MS let’s have a vote, but when Tory’s win, Brexit, the people have spoken, no need for another vote, change the PM, get rid of Boris, then Truss,no need for an election, we had one to elect Boris. Only when it suits them are they pro democracy and will accept a result of a vote.

robin campbell
robin campbell
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

I have to admit, I voted for more rain. Sorry!

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
4 months ago

Did the people have a referendum when the the tory scum reduced the number of M P,s in parliament to the new boundries to suit the tories NO did the people have referendum when the scum tories changed the voted system to show the right to vote which favoured the tories and denied hundreds of thousands the right to vote NO so BOG OF

MattJ
MattJ
4 months ago

I wonder if she could show us the letters she’s written to successive UK prime ministers about enormous number of new politicians they have created in Parliament.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.