Bungling Welsh Labour’s answer to the cost-of-living crisis… MORE politicians on the payroll! Mark Drakeford unveils plans to increase number of Senedd members by a third and replace first-past-the-post with EU-style system
The Welsh Government has come under fire after confirming plans to increase the number of Senedd politicians by a third.
The Labour-led administration in Cardiff has unveiled proposed legislation to boost the number of Welsh Parliament members to 96 from the current 60.
The Welsh Government, headed by First Minister Mark Drakeford, also wants to ditch the first-past-the-post voting system and single-member constituencies for elections.
Instead, there will be 16 enlarged constituencies across Wales – rather than the current 40 constituencies and five regions – with six members elected in each area using the D’Hondt formula.
This was the electoral method used by the UK for European Parliament elections before Brexit.
Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru, who have a formal agreement to work together in some areas of government, have been heavily criticised for pushing forward with their plans during the cost-of-living crisis.
It has been estimated that increasing the number of Welsh politicians will cost taxpayers an extra £12million a year.
The Labour-led administration in Cardiff, headed by First Minister Mark Drakeford, has unveiled proposed legislation to boost the number of Senedd members to 96 from 60
Under the plans there will be 16 enlarged constituencies across Wales, with six Welsh Parliament members elected in each area using the D’Hondt formula
Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth, whose party has a formal agreement to work together with Welsh Labour, hailed an ‘historic step to strengthen and empower our democracy’
Senedd members currently earn a salary of just under £70,000, while they are also given allowances for running an office and for residential accommodation if they live far from Cardiff.
Darren Millar, Welsh Conservatives shadow minister for the constitution, said: ‘It’s disappointing that Welsh Labour ministers continue to press ahead with plans to increase the size of the Senedd at a cost of tens of millions each year while threatening to cut budgets for schools and hospitals.
‘Wales needs more doctors, dentists, nurses and teachers, not more politicians.
‘The Welsh Government should be focused on addressing unacceptable NHS waiting times, poor standards in schools and the lacklustre performance of the Welsh economy, not wasting time, energy and taxpayers’ money developing yet more legislation on Senedd reform.’
Mr Drakeford earns £153,033, slightly below that of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, while other senior Welsh Government ministers earn £109,308.
The Welsh Government’s proposals, which have been published today, also include:
- Increasing the maximum number of ministers appointed by the party forming the Welsh Government from 12 to 17, and there will be two deputy presiding officers instead of the current one.
- Instead of five-year terms, MSs will be elected for four-year terms and all candidates will have to live in Wales.
- Parties will be required to select gender-balanced lists of candidates for the new enlarged Senedd constituencies.
If the changes are supported by the Senedd they will be adopted for the next set of Welsh elections in 2026.
If the changes are supported by the Senedd they will be adopted for the next set of Welsh elections in 2026
Welsh Labour’s Mick Antoniw, the Counsel General, said: ‘This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a modern Senedd which truly reflects Wales, and to strengthen our democracy.
‘We are creating a more effective Senedd, with a greater ability and capacity to hold the Welsh Government to account.
‘This Bill will help ensure the Senedd also reflects the huge changes to Wales’ devolution settlement since 1999, including law-making and tax-raising powers.
‘Wales is the most under-represented country in the UK – the Senedd has the least members of any devolved Parliament in the country and the recent reduction to UK parliamentary seats is the most significant change in a century.’
Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth said: ‘Twenty-six years ago to the day when the people of Wales voted Yes for devolution, we are taking another historic step to strengthen and empower our democracy.
‘A stronger, more representative Senedd, elected through a proportional system, will be better equipped to continue to make a difference to the people of Wales.
‘It will ensure fairness, provide better scrutiny and help all of us realise our ambition for Wales and our maturing democracy.
‘Once passed, the Senedd Reform Bill will also place Welsh democracy on firmer foundations and bring us closer to the size of the legislatures in Scotland and the north of Ireland.
‘This stands in stark contrast to the way in which Wales’s representation on a UK level at Westminster is being weakened.’
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