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Welsh politicians must ‘bite the bullet’ and deliver a larger Senedd says Electoral Reform Society director

10 Mar 2022 2 minute read
Mark Drakeford at FMQs. Picture by enedd TV.

Welsh politicians must “bite the bullet” and deliver a larger Senedd, according to the director of Wales’ Electoral Reform Society.

ERS Cymru Director Jess Blair was responding to a poll by the Western Mail suggesting that the people of Wales back the idea of having more members in the Senedd.

The poll by Beaufort Research commissioned by the Western Mail newspaper suggested that with ‘don’t knows’ removed, 61.5% wanted to expand the number of Senedd Members from 60 to 90 and 38.5% did not.

Jess Blair said that it was clear that Welsh support for devolution had increased over the years, and that there was a greater understanding of the role of the Senedd following the Covid pandemic when the Senedd and the Welsh Government could set different rules in Wales to elsewhere.

She said that ” this apparent increase in public support offers encouragement to key decision makers to bite the bullet and deliver a stronger parliament for Wales”.

“To many it might seem surprising for a poll to find support for more politicians, especially one undertaken not long after a number of sleaze scandals in Westminster and trust in politicians found to be at a record low,” she said.

“But really growing public support for a larger Senedd should come as no surprise. It’s clear that the public’s engagement with devolution and the way decisions are made in Wales has evolved in the past couple of years.

“The pandemic has highlighted the different decisions that can be made on either side of the Severn Bridge. In September, another poll demonstrated higher support for Mark Drakeford than Boris Johnson and that an overwhelming number of people in Wales preferred the Welsh approach to tackling the pandemic.

“The Senedd has come a long way since its inception in 1999 and this poll shows that the public have been on a journey with it too, evident by their more positive reflections on Welsh politics in recent months and years.”

The 2021 co-operation agreement between Plaid Cymru and Labour includes a commitment to legislate on a larger Senedd, and a Senedd Special Purpose Committee is due to report on the issue before 31st May this year.


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Ceramike
Ceramike
6 months ago

Whilst a strong supporter of the Sennedd I fail to understand how an increase in its members numbers will have any effect on the powers available to Wales and Welsh government. The powers that would be of benefit in enabling Wales to govern itself better and more efficiently, are held by the UK government, which currently is wholly opposed to devolution. This UK government’s dislike of devolution is unfortunately shared by the Welsh Conservatives along with the rump of UKIP, Brexit Party who are all opposed to a self governing Wales. Until there is a change of government at Westminster… Read more »

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
6 months ago
Reply to  Ceramike

That does not mean we should not support the idea

Erisian
Erisian
6 months ago

Is more always better? Does the current membership struggle with their work load?
I’m not against this in principle but I would like more explanation of the thinking behind enlargement.

James
James
6 months ago
Reply to  Erisian

Compared to the Scottish Parliament (129 seats) and Northern Ireland Assembly (90 seats) Wales has relatively fewer MSs per head of population. When you take out the Llywydd, deputy and the cabinet you’re left with something like 40 MSs to scrutinise the actions of the Welsh Government – not enough to do a good job. That’s all on top of the constituency work as well. All parties should support this as it should in theory enable better scrutiny, more equal representation and improved government policy development and implementation.

Geraint
Geraint
6 months ago
Reply to  Erisian

I would think that by having more members you would enable the opposition in particular to have MSs that can develop a real understanding for their briefs and then be able to ask the difficult questions that hold the government to account. At the moment the Plaid and Tory opposition have one member each that cover huge areas like education and health. With the best will in the world the MS covering these portfolios for their parties are only going to be able to cover a limited part of their brief and be unable to dig deeply into the required… Read more »

Arwyn
6 months ago

Local govt has to be tackled also. To anyone wondering about that particular thorny issue, I recommend listening to the recent Hiraeth podcast with Steve Thomas. Personally I’d abolish town & rural councils, tranferring their powers to the current 22. I’d then look at which services would be best delivered at a strategic level and re-establish the old 8 counties to look after them. There’d be no need for mergers then. At the same time we could look at how the Senedd could give some of its responsibility to the 8 whilst retaining oversight. In the end it has to… Read more »

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
6 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Agree.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
6 months ago

More Senedd. Less golf club councillors, diolch.

Grayham Jones
6 months ago

It’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 kick all English party’s out of wales that’s the Tories Labour and all Brexit party’s

Leigh Richardss
Leigh Richardss
6 months ago

With nearly two thirds of people in Wales in favour of a larger senedd, and popular support for welsh devolution at an all time high, there’s never been a better time to do this – particularly as Wales number of MPs is being cut from 40 to 32. Labour and Plaid must take this opportunity and legislate for this

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago

More of a disparity of service will occur – the dwindling number unionist Welsh MPs will seem more and more like sycophantic mouthpieces telling tales on their welshie counterparts. Hopefully the Welsh public will take note, see who serves them, see who despises them and pop a big fat tick in the box for annibyniaeth.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
6 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

CJP, just to pee on the cornlakes as it were. shouldn’t we begin also to discuss our readiness in Cymru for the depression to come. This was already on its way but is now guaranteed by the sanctions rebounding, so our Gov. should begin to prepare, and not be shocked like we were when Covid arrived?

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago
Reply to  I.Humphrys

Not sure your stream reached my bowl, Mr Humphrys. Your point, although a valid question, doesn’t really follow what I said. You’ve peed in someone’s bowl, just not mine. Nevertheless, yes it looks like dark financial days ahead. Our senedd could get the jump on it in several ways but I fear that their preferred model (expansion of the UBI project and bolstering the government-led infrastructure projects) will deepen the malaise. One thing they could do is pick an area that’s under the auspices of Bae Caerdydd and move it somewhere else; making Swansea, Aberystwyth, Wrecsam and Caernarfon centres for… Read more »

Llyn
Llyn
6 months ago

While I accept the case for an increase in Senedd members I really would caution those pushing for an increase. We are in an age of populism and facing a bleak economic outlook and war in Europe. Given all that the proposed increase will certainly give the anti-devolution far-right a cause to resurrect their currently comatose fortunes in Wales. Would it be better to have a Senedd made of 60 members like that we have now or a Senedd with 90 members including a sizeable minority of Wales deniers whose purpose is that of destroying the Senedd? See the make… Read more »

R W
R W
6 months ago
Reply to  Llyn

That’s why an expanded Senedd must get rid of the ridiculous two-tier system we’ve got at the moment, making it much harder for opportunistic one policy right-wing parties to get a foothold in our parliament. This could be done by creating 16 constituencies in Wales, with each electing five members on a PR basis, making it harder for niche anti-devolution parties to get anyone elected with a low percentage of the vote. This is why it would be highly irresponsible of any one of the main parties to push to keep the current two-tier system.

Richard
Richard
6 months ago
Reply to  R W

The amost 70 per cent who support a better model of Senedd just cannot understand the strange split in elections.

We need to see an electoral system that reflects the vote
and allows a wide level of participation.

Also numbers that allow effective oppossition and scrutiny through a robust select committee system.

A cut in the numbrr of county councils and more power and responsibility for Town and Community Councils will allow stronger grass roots links…

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

Time Mark Drakeford & Welsh Labour stopped dragging their feet. They have majority support at the Senedd. And more recently a public consultation showed majority support for a larger Senedd from 60 to 90.. Our democracy is under threat by the fascist Conservatives. The Tories have already reduced our voice with their cynical politically motivated reduction of MPs from 40 to 32 at Westminster. And since 1999 to present day Wales has struggled with only 60 Senedd members where Scotland has had since 1999 69 more MSPs have 129 Scottish parliament, and NI 30 more MLAs although they did have… Read more »

Mark drakeford
Mark drakeford
6 months ago

The Senedd needs to focus on the nhs, education and getting the economy going. Under devolution we’ve massively underperformed the rest of the U.K. on these items, and we continue to see the Senedd taking measures that directly hurt welsh youth prospects. Nation.cymru, we need your support on this!

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