Welsh Secretary demand for Senedd expansion referendum ‘very strange’ says top academic
The Welsh Secretary’s demand for a referendum on expanding the Senedd is “very strange” as the UK Government has implemented a number of changes to Wales and England’s elections without holding referenda, a top academic has said.
Simon Hart said yesterday that the Welsh Government should “seek the approval of its voters” by holding a referendum before expanding the size of the Senedd.
His comments come after the First Minister and leader of Plaid Cymru, in a joint statement, suggested that the Senedd should be expanded to 96 members, from the current 60.
“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,” Simon Hart said.
But Professor Richard Wyn Jones, the Director of Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, said that the suggestion was “very strange”.
“The UK govt is currently changing the voting systems for local authority and combined authority elected mayors in England, the Mayor of London, and Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales,” he said. “It’s doing so without referendums.
“In addition, it is reducing the number of Welsh MPs at Westminster and doing so without a referendum.”
Richard Wyn Jones also questioned the credibility of Conservative’s concerns about the new voting system’s lack of proportionality.
Mark Drakeford and Adam Price’s statement suggested the Senedd should be elected using closed proportional lists with integrated statutory gender quotas. Seats should also be allocated to parties using the D’Hondt formula, they said.
Politicians from the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats have raised concerns that such a system would be less proportional than the one currently used.
At Wales Office questions, Tory Devizes MP 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.”
Richard Wyn Jones said that these concerns did not stack up as the Conservative party “is opposed to proportional representation”.
“So what’s the point of principle at stake that apparently requires a referendum for changes to the arrangements for the Senedd but not for the other changes being pushed through by the UK Govt?” he asked.
“I’m really struggling to see it, but presumably the Secretary of State must have an answer?”
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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Although he isn’t the sharpest tool n the box, this was quite a clever move by Hart because it seeks to drum up approval, on the part of sections of those now entitled to vote in Welsh elections, for the UK Government’s strategy of undermining the legitimacy of the Senedd and the Welsh Government. Richard Wyn Jones, who is a much sharper tool than Hart, has effectively demolished the credibility of Hart’s proposal. Mr. Jones could have added that electoral support for an increase in the number of MS’s has already been registered by the Welsh electorate in the last… Read more »
The membership of Plaid Cymru (and Liberal democrats/Green parties) will be perplexed by the decision to adapt the ‘Party lists’ system of Proportional Representation when our policy clearly agreed that the ‘Single Transferable Voting’ system would be the best system here in Wales. STV would give the voter more power to order their choices of candidates in priority order 1-2-3 even if they happen to be in different parties. It would be fairer for the growing independent candidates. STV will de-toxic politics here as candidates of one party will still need to campaign with other supporters of other parties to… Read more »
I agree. STV would be much better. I suspect it’s a compromise..
Whenever Hart makes a suggestion, its always best to ignore it.
I disagree Ieuan – SH is obviously working to a givem central office script…he has little track record of original policy thought outside Annimal hunting.
There must by some background plotters on this ..? But whom 🤔
Can’t be his deputy …David Davies as his background is to ignore referenda…as he did over Europe in his Remain leaning Monmouth….
I always ignore him!!
Johnson does ignore him…. Unless he needs someone to collect wine.
One can equate Simon Hart statements, with a million monkeys being given typewriters. Given a long enough period of time, one of them should come up with something that makes sense. In the meantime, both Hart and the monkeys should be ignored.
Tories are weird 😂😂 They hit other people over the head with the rule book, but then pretend it doesn’t exist when you point it out to them. There’s a word for that 😉 It starts with an H and ends with a Y 😂😂 I’m being light hearted here, but if I was to say what I really think of Simon Hart it wouldn’t be published here or anywhere else 🤗👍🏻
Why are England MPs debating something that does not concern them?
I find Simon Hart is a control freak. And he’s panicking because Wales has taken a positive decision on its own that will strengthen devolution and he hates the fact so cynically demands a referendum. What Hart forgets is that these proposals were debated & scrutinised by the Senedd and in numerous committees over weeks & months and put out to public consultation before coming to a decision regarding increasing the size of the Senedd and its intention change the voting system recently announced. This differs greatly to the Conservatives who undemocratically hijacked Wales EU powers and also took back… Read more »
All this proves is that Simon Fart and his fellow Tories are a bunch of hypocrites and charlatans (as Richard Wyn Jones seems to be suggesting in the above article). Best to simply ignore them and just go ahead with these largely sensible plans which will produce a much fairer electoral system than the outdated Westminster FPTP system.
Pretty sure most in Wales would only be against having a referendum to chose over more Gov bureaucracy because S. Hart mentioned it. One wonders who ties his shoe laces for him.
And to the ordinary voter… “ closed proportional lists with integrated statutory gender quotas and mandatory zipping. ”… means what exactly!
Structured to confuse no doubt
Has this Man ever suggested any thing that would be good for Wales i only see him trying to block everything that we want too do why is not fighting for our share of HR2 funding
Yes……. Hart is very strange indeed. What other country on Earth would tolerate a sabateur like him in their legislature?