Creating a parliament that works for Wales
14 December 2017
More AMs are needed to hold the Welsh Government to account and deliver for the people of Wales a report led by a University expert concludes.
Professor Laura McAllister from the University’s Wales Governance Centre Chaired an independent group of electoral and parliamentary experts to examine and recommend changes that will help create a parliament that works for Wales.
“Our recommendations are designed to ensure that the Assembly has the number of Members it needs to effectively represent the people and communities it serves, hold the Welsh Government to account, and be a parliament that truly works for Wales now and in the future,” according to Professor McAllister.
“In 1999, Assembly Members had very little scope to affect the daily lives of people in Wales. Today, they are responsible for a budget of £15bn, they make the law in Wales in a host of important areas such as health and education, and they can change the taxes we pay.
“Today’s institution still has only 60 Members and, with its increasing powers to affect people’s lives, it lacks the capacity it needs.
“This matters. The Assembly and its Members have a real, direct and positive impact on the lives of every one of us in Wales. Calling for more politicians is unpopular; but we have to report as we see the evidence.
“The Panel believes that, as its powers increase, the Assembly cannot continue as it is without risking its ability to deliver effectively for the people of Wales. There is a compelling case for an increase in size to at least 80, and ideally closer to 90 Members...”
The Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform’s report recommends that the Assembly needs between 20 and 30 additional Members elected through a more proportional electoral system with accountability to electors and diversity at its heart.
It also recommends lowering the minimum voting age for National Assembly elections to include sixteen and seventeen year olds.
“Underpowered and overstretched”
Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, said: “In 2015, the previous Assembly Commission concluded that with only 60 Members, the National Assembly is underpowered and overstretched.
“They were far from the first to do so. For over a decade, independent commissions tasked with looking at the capacity of the Assembly have reached the same conclusion. This lack of capacity will not be resolved without bold action, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer.
“This report presents considered, independent analysis of the evidence and possible solutions to create a more sustainable parliament that serves the people of Wales well into the future.
“I am thankful to the Panel members for their time, to Professor McAllister for her leadership, and to the Panel for delivering such a rigorous, evidence based contribution to democracy in Wales.
“The Assembly Commission will consider the proposals in detail over the coming months and engage with people across the country and the political spectrum.
“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.”