The National Assembly's Committee on Assembly Electoral Reform has today launched a consultation into the diversity of the Assembly and is looking at measures to improve representation in the institution is in the future.
The Committee was established in September 2019 to examine the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform on the size of the Assembly and how Members are elected. It is seeking evidence to inform its inquiry into electing a more diverse Assembly.
Witnesses have already told the Committee that the Assembly is not diverse enough. The Committee has also heard evidence that electing a more diverse Assembly could increase the effectiveness of scrutiny and improve decision making.
The Committee's consultation focuses on the nine protected characteristics established in the Equality Act 2010 (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation) as well as diversity in a wider sense such as people's socio-economic and professional backgrounds.
Suggestions to increase the diversity of the Assembly have included introducing quotas, allowing Assembly Members to job share, or providing additional funding to help people from under-represented groups to stand for election.
The Committee will look at:
- Requiring political parties to publish diversity data on candidates
- Job sharing by Assembly Members
- Electoral quotas, such as gender quotas built into the electoral system
- Barriers which discourage people from under-represented groups from joining political parties or taking part in party politics
- Additional funding and support that could be provided to help people from under-represented groups to stand for election
Dawn Bowden AM, Chair of the Committee on Assembly Electoral Reform:
"We have heard evidence that greater diversity among decision-makers leads to better decisions. It's important to us that the Assembly should be as representative of the people of Wales as possible. To do this, we have to get to the bottom of how people from under-represented groups can overcome the barriers which may prevent them from standing for election.
"Having Members with diverse backgrounds enhances the work of the Assembly and the way it represents the people of Wales. Wales will be fairer if people from a range of diverse communities and backgrounds are able to take part in the political process.
"We have designed our consultation so that anyone who would like to contribute to our work can do so. We want to hear as many views as possible on how we can improve diversity and ensure that the Assembly truly represents all communities in Wales."