In January 2015, the Fourth Assembly Commission considered the capacity of the Assembly, and published a report which unanimously concluded that:
“With only 60 Members, the National Assembly is underpowered and overstretched.”
At the time the Commission published its report, the Assembly did not have legislative competence over its size. However, the Wales Act 2017 devolved powers to the Assembly over its size and electoral arrangements. The Fifth Commission led a programme of Senedd reform to explore how the newly-devolved powers might be used
In February 2017, the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform was appointed by the Llywydd and Assembly Commission to consider these and related issues.
Publishing its report in November 2017, the Expert Panel made a series of recommendations, which included:
- Increasing the size of the Senedd to at least 80 and preferably closer to 90 Members;
- For the Senedd to be elected by Single Transferable Vote; and
- A lowering of the minimum voting age to 16 for Senedd elections.
The first phase of the Assembly Commission’s Senedd reform programme included the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020. The Act, which became law in January 2020:
- Gave 16 and 17 year olds and all qualifying foreign citizens the right to vote in Senedd elections;
- Changed the name of the Assembly to Senedd Cymru or Welsh Parliament;
- Changed the law relating to disqualification from being a Member of the Senedd.
- Made the Electoral Commission accountable to, and financed by, the Senedd in relation to devolved elections and referendums
In July 2019 Members decided that further cross-party work was necessary to progress the remaining aspects of Senedd reform, and agreed to establish the Committee on Senedd Electoral Reform. On 10 September, the Committee published its report on ’Senedd Reform: the next steps’, and recommended that legislation should be introduced soon after the 2021 election to:
- Increase the size of the Senedd to between 80 and 90 Members (from the current 60) with effect from the 2026 election;
- Introduce the Single Transferable Vote electoral system.
- Establish arrangements for reviewing the Senedd’s constituency boundaries.