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Welsh Government should hold a referendum before expanding the Senedd, Welsh Secretary says

25 May 2022 3 minutes Read
The Senedd. Picture by Senedd Cymru. Inset: Welsh Secretary Simon Hart.

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.”

‘Foundation’

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.

They stated:

  • 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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Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

Hmm, a referendum that can then be manipulated and lied about like the Brexit vote? Don’t trust a word these Tories say.

Kurt Morgan
Kurt Morgan
1 month ago

That’s fine 🙂 We’ll have a referendum in Cymru on two conditions: 1.There’s a UK General Election in September, this year; 2.Referenda are carried out under the same laws as a General Elections, so that if elected politicians lie they can be held to account in Special Courts that have the power to remove them from office. Meet those criteria and that’s fine, otherwise the Tories can jog on. This is Cymru, not England, you don’t control anything here!

Andrew Redman
Andrew Redman
1 month ago
Reply to  Kurt Morgan

The ex. Plaid Leader of CCC was NOT held to account either by the Leader Of Plaid in Cardiff or the Leader of Plaid at Westminster! If they are unable to control their own what gives them the right to criticise others? (asking for my grandchildren)

Stuart Cane
Stuart Cane
1 month ago

Are they having a referendum on changing the size of Westminster then?
Thought not.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  Stuart Cane

Yes, good point. No referendum on the boundary changes either!

Geraint
Geraint
1 month ago
Reply to  Stuart Cane

Did they have a referendum for all the new members of the House of Lords that have been appointed since the Tories came to power in 2010?

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

Shall we hold the same type of vote we had over the internal market bill, that can override devolution, oh, we didnt have one, silly me. Here we go again, the “cost” word has been used, a day after crossrail in London opened, 3 and a half years late and £5 billion over budget, and the clown also says that it may lead to a lack of “proportionality in representation”, as we are going for a PR voting system. Utter tripe.

Arwyn
Arwyn
1 month ago

Says the member of a government that has not ever won a majority in a national election in Wales in the history of democracy. You have no mandate in Wales Simon.

Adrian Meagher
Adrian Meagher
1 month ago

I don’t remember a referendum before reducing Wales’ complement of Westminster MPs from 40 to 32. So why do we need a referendum before enlarging the Senedd? After all Stormont has 90 MLAs so it is eminently reasonable to have 96 in the Senedd seeing that Wales is 50% bigger than NI.

I. Humphrys
I. Humphrys
1 month ago

But first, a referendum on the need for a “Welsh Secretary”?

Cynan
Cynan
1 month ago

A referendum eh? Yes let’s have a referendum on independence.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

There was one – last year’s Senedd election, when both parties campaigned on a platform which included expanding the Senedd! And im sure Devizes MP Danny Kruger would agree the £22 BILLION being spent to give Westminster a makeover would be ‘much better spent on public services’ 😉
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/amp/entry/restoring-palace-westminster-could-cost-ps22-billion-bombshell-report-reveals_uk_62161cc5e4b06e1cc587dc10/

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Well said! WS Simon Hart forgets that the majority seats won last Senedd election were by Pro-Devolution parties. The electorate knew all to well that if either Welsh Labour or Plaid Cymru’s won, as they Welsh Government would enact on their manifesto pledge of increasing the Senedd capacity and changing the electoral system after much Senedd chamber & committee debate over the weeks & months, including public consultation.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
1 month ago

Presumably he is also calling for a UK referendum on expanding the House of Lords to accommodate all Johnson’s cronies.

Andrew Redman
Andrew Redman
1 month ago

Perhaps you can supply the answer to how many in The HOL represent which political groups?

Kurt C
Kurt C
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Redman

Tory 257, crossbench 185, Labour 170, Lib dems 83, DUP 5, Green 2, UUP 2, Plaid 1, non affiliated 39, independent 3, lords speaker 1 and Lords spiritual 25. Wiki was easy

Geoff Evans
Geoff Evans
1 month ago

Ah! the Colonial Governor from the Cotswolds is demanding a ‘referendum’ on Welsh democracy! Perhaps he’s forgotten that there was no ‘referendum’ to ask the people of Wales if they wanted this nation to be legislated out of existence and then assimilated into England back in 1536. Short memories these Anglo Tories!

Marc
Marc
1 month ago

Can we have a referendum on whether Wales should pay towards a railway that that runs completely in England? Oh and perhaps have a say in whether the people of Wales want a nuclear power station on Ynys Môn? And while we’re at it let’s have a referendum on abolishing the title of the Prince of Wales and renaming the Prince of Wales bridge to something the people of Wales want!

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago

His Conservative party were soundly rejected by Welsh voters at Senedd and local elections standing on a manifesto platform of “No Senedd Expansion.”
We have had our vote, now jog on.

The workload for those chosen is too high which is why expanbsion is needed. Tory opposition is just a tacit admission that they are never likely to gain power and face such a workload so this is just a cynical spoiling measure by perennial failures.

Gareth Cemlyn Jones
Gareth Cemlyn Jones
1 month ago

Support a Referendum when they think they can influence the outcome! No moves to concede a referendum on Scottish Independence, being a lot more difficult to influence!
Says a lot about the Colonial Governor and also his perception of the Welsh electorate.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Wales-hating Tory antagonist Simon Hart cynically calls for a referendum for any Senedd expansion. But I’d ask him this question. Where was the referendum to sanction Whitehall retaining Wales EU powers taken that should have been returned to Wales when we left the European Union? Don’t forget these were powers initially given to the EU from areas already devolved to Wales by Whitehall. I’ll answer. There was no referenda or Welsh Government/public consultation. His Tory idiocracy just hijacked those powers to interfere with Senedd competency and Welsh devolution. Like it or not Simon Hart. The Welsh Labour Government has legitimacy… Read more »

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

I know it’s long been said that those democratic fans of referenda…. Hitler, Mussolini, Napoleon and King Zogg of Albania 🇦🇱 ( who announced the result the day before the vote 🗳 ……that they gave folk a voice ….

So I have a second question for this suggestion by SH

Do we need a Sec of State plus Minister for Wales ?

Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

How about a referendum on dumping the redundant Secretary of State roll??

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Quornby

and Minister of State please 🤞
Monmouth needs to see a return of a full time MP asp

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago

It was in the parties’ manifestos as was the case for “radical federalism”.

Danny Kruger and Simon Hart have not even been elected here!

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 month ago

A referendum. Isn’t that the thing they are denying to the Scottish Government and people (despite the SNP having a mandate to hold one and the Tories having no mandate in either Wales or Scotland)?

Typical Tory hypocrisy!

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Perhaps we should also have a referendum on the obscene amount of money they are spending on repairing the Palace of Westminster?

What about a referendum on Hs2?
What about a referendum on the Jubilee celebrations (and price tag!)?
What about a referendum on nuclear power stations….. the list could go on….

Last edited 1 month ago by Mr Williams
Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago

So Simon Hart wants yet another referendum in Wales, this time on more members of the Senedd, yet he didn’t call for similar referendums when his boss stuffed the House of Lords with 100 new members and the Vale of Glamorgan Council had new members added this month. Though I suppose no-one ever said the man had principles.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

I seem to recall the Tories were proposing boundary reform as well as reducing the number of MPs to 600 (even though those proposals were scrapped). Furthermore it was the Tories that gave the Senedd the power to increase the Senedd when the Wales Act was passed in 2017.

As for the idea that this would lock Labour into permanent governance, what do you think First past the Post does? PR could actually help the Tories.

In regards to Danny Kruger – is Devizes in Wales? No it isn’t.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

What about a referendum on having our voice in Westminster being reduced by eight members? We are preparing our Parliament for Independence Mr Hart when your job will become redundant. He won’t be happy until we are silenced completely and under total dictatorship.

George
George
1 month ago

Feels like it was just last week that the Welsh Tories were talking about trying to recognise they actually are Welsh and here we go again with some awful Welsh Tory just trying to undermine Wales in order to…. what? To get a place in House of Lords? To keep a position they’re determined to make irrelevant?

GarethW
GarethW
1 month ago

Well sorry to tell you Mr Hart and Mr Kruger, it’s none of your business so please keep your nose out

Michael Waite
Michael Waite
1 month ago

I am convinced that the closed list method of PR will remove the power of who governs us from the people and give power to politicians. It is a system designed by politicians for politicians. People will feel less connected and less represented as those chosen on the list will owe loyalty to the party leadership and not to the people. This is contrary to the ethos of the the Senedd. It is wrong that such a significant change is slipped in without the opportunity for the people of Wales to engage, debate and approve. It is underhanded and dishonest… Read more »

Adrian Meagher
Adrian Meagher
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Waite

Personally I do not believe a referendum is necessary before enlarging the Senedd but a referendum on the method of electing ASau might be useful, giving the people a choice between the proposed closed-list system and the more individualistic STV. The stumbling block with STV is it does not guarantee gender equality. Would the people of Wales ignore the compromise recommendation of Labour/PC? Maybe a polling company could explore the issue?

John Williams
John Williams
1 month ago

The money we waste on the unelected Monarchy and House of Lords would be better off spent on public services.

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