Report says Welsh Assembly needs more members

12 December 2017

An expert panel has produced a report saying the Welsh Assembly needs 20 to 30 more politicians to properly function.

The independent report says as Wales has received more power from devolution, the Assembly needs to expand to provide proper scrutiny.

It estimated an extra 20 to 30 Assembly Members would cost between six to nine million pounds a year.

This is the first year Wales can make changes to its own electoral system. Before now the power lay with Westminster.

Professor Laura McAllister, from Cardiff University chaired the panel.

She said “I don’t see why we should have an underpowered parliament in Wales compared to other nations in the UK. I don’t think Welsh people want that either so this is an opportunity to make sure the parliament we have has the right number of members to scrutinize government properly, represent constituents properly, and in turn deliver good public services for the people of Wales.”

The panel also recommended a number of other constitutional changes: lowering the voting age to 16, changing the way we vote to a new system called Single Transferable Vote, and making it law that political parties have run as many female candidates as men.

Any of the report’s recommended changes will require new laws to be passed in the Assembly – and that will require a two thirds majority.

Wales Labour said it won’t give its view until its 2019 conference. But the Welsh Conservatives and UKIP are against lowering the voting age.

UKIP Wales leader Neil Hamilton said the idea should be put to a referendum, saying: “The last thing Wales needs is yet more politicians.”

Conservative MP for Monmouth David Davies, who is a former member of the assembly was against the idea. He argued that AMs should work more effectively, rather than see their numbers increase.

But the Presiding Officer Elin Jones welcomed the report.

She said the Assembly Commission, the cross-party group which ordered the study, will consider the proposals and added: “I hope we can find a broad consensus for change and deliver a stronger, more inclusive and forward-looking legislature that works for Wales for many years to come.”



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