Today, Members of the Senedd voted to create a new Committee, which will take forward the next phase of Senedd reform.
The Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform, chaired by Huw Irranca-Davies MS, has been tasked with developing policy for a Bill on Senedd reform. The Committee will consider three issues:
- the Senedd’s size and system for electing Members,
- measures to improve the diversity of the Senedd,
- creating a system for reviewing constituency boundaries and seat distribution.
Llywydd of the Senedd, Elin Jones MS said:
“I’m pleased that today the Senedd is taking an important step forward in strengthening Welsh democracy.
“Devolution has moved on a long way since its introduction in 1999. Now, with primary law-making and tax-raising powers it is crucial that the Senedd is equipped to make good legislation and hold the Welsh Government to account on behalf of the people of Wales.
“We’ve heard strong evidence from experts that the Senedd needs to change – our new Committee will help towards making sure that our parliament is big enough to carry out its important duties, that it reflects the population of Wales and that its electoral system best represents the will of the voters.”
Huw Irranca-Davies MS, Chair of the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform added:
“It is right that important matters such as the working of our democracy are considered on a cross-party basis.
“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of the decisions that are made by the Welsh Government. I look forward to working with colleagues from all parties to achieve a consensus on how we build a stronger Senedd to represent the people of Wales and hold the Welsh Government to account.”
The creation of the new Committee comes after the Expert Panel report on Assembly Electoral Reform was published in 2017, recommending that the Assembly (as was) needed between 20 and 30 additional Members, elected through a more proportional electoral system with accountability to the public and diversity at its heart.
A number of the Panel’s recommendations have already come into effect through a new law; the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020. This included the renaming of the National Assembly as the Welsh Parliament / Senedd Cymru and the introduction of votes at 16.
The Committee on Senedd Electoral Reform was previously set up to gather further evidence on the need for reform, to listen to the views of the public and to inform political parties and their manifestos ahead of the 2021 Senedd election.
The Committee reported in September 2020 and argued that there is: “clear and compelling evidence that the Senedd is currently undersized, that its membership lacks diversity, that the current electoral system constrains voter choice and Member accountability and that the absence of a mechanism for the review of the Senedd’s boundaries should not be allowed to continue.”
The new cross-party Committee will consider the conclusions of the Committee on Senedd Electoral Reform. By 31 May 2022 it will report with recommendations for a Welsh Government Bill on Senedd Reform.