Welsh Government should hold a referendum before expanding the Senedd, Welsh Secretary says
The Welsh Government should “seek the approval of its voters” by holding a referendum before expanding the size of the Senedd, the UK Government Wales Secretary has said.
His comments come after the First Minister and leader of Plaid Cymru, in a joint statement last week, announced plans for all members to be elected through proportional representation, making Wales the first country in Britain to abolish the First Past the Post system at a parliamentary level.
They also suggested that the Senedd should be expanded to 96 members, from the current 60.
Control over the Senedd and its elections are devolved to Wales, meaning that the Welsh Government and parliament can form their own institution independently of Westminster control.
At Wales Questions, Conservative MP for Devizes Danny Kruger said: “The Welsh Government has decided it wants to increase the size of the Senedd, however there are real concerns that this will lead to a lack of proportionality in representation.
“Does he agree that this money would be much better spent on public services?”
Simon Hart replied: “Indeed I do. I have to say if this Government was making suggestions of this nature involving the constitution and voting measures, I have every belief that pretty well all of the members opposite would be saying this should be subject to a public referendum at the very least.
“So 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.”
In last week’s statement, 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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