The campaign group True Wales is demanding a referendum be held on proposals under discussion to increase the number of members of the Welsh Assembly from the present 60 to no fewer than 87.
A leading Cardiff academic, Professor Roger Scully, says it’s “possible” that the political parties in the Assembly may agree to increase the number of AMs – despite several re-assurances in given in the past that this wouldn’t happen.
It’s claimed that the present 60 AMs just can’t cope with the amount of work they now have to do . The Presiding Officer Elin Jones (Plaid Cymru) says the Assembly is currently “overstretched ” .
The new proposals for increasing the number of Assembly Members – and creating what’s claimed would be a “more effective and accountable” Welsh Assembly – have just been published by Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre and Electoral Reform Society Cymru in a report called “Reshaping the Senedd”.
PROPOSED CONSTITUENCY CHANGES
Instead it’s proposed that Wales should adopt the same revised constituency-boundaries for Welsh Assembly constituencies as those proposed by the Boundary Commission for Parliamentary constituencies. That then that would create 29 Assembly constituencies in Wales. one of two possible alternative electoral systems for electing Assembly Members .
If the Boundary Commission’s proposed new constituency boundaries for Parliamentary constituencies the MP elections are also adopted for the elections of Assembly Members, (and – so far – there’s no sign that they will be) then as far as Assembly elections were concerned Penarth would be placed in what would be a new Vale of Glamorgan East constituency with 3 AMs.
The existing Cardiff South and Penarth Assembly constituency – which is currently held by Vaughan Gething would disappear – with most of it going into a new Cardiff South constituency.
PROPOSED CHANGES IN THE VOTING SYSTEM
The new proposals involve scrapping the two existing systems of electing AMs (- the “First Past the Post” system and the so-called “Additional Member“ system ) and would bring to an end the hassle voters have in filling in two different ballot papers to elect AMs.
Instead it’s proposed that Assembly Members should – in future – be elected by one or other of two suggested methods :-
- Single Transferable Vote (STV) – A total of 87 members elected in 29 constituencies . Each constituency would be represented by 3 members. [Professor Scully has said that the Labour Party “would, in nearly all political scenarios, do very well out of STV in Wales”]
- Open List System – A total of 87 members elected in 29 constituencies. Each constituency would be represented by 3 members.
Activist Rachel Banner of the True Wales campaign group says it would be “entirely illegitimate” to enlarge the size of the Welsh Assembly and create seats for 27 more AMs without first obtaining the assent of the people of Wales in a national referendum.
She says the arguments for enlarging the number of AMs in the Welsh Assembly must be put to the electorate .