08/19/2022

Wales News Online

Local & National News for Wales

Welsh Liberal Democrats Respond to Senedd Reform Proposals

Responding to the report published by the Special Committee on Senedd Reform today, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed much-needed reforms, but have remained critical of areas that fall short of creating a strong democracy in Wales, including Plaid Cymru and Labour refusing to back the fully proportional Single Transferable Vote (STV) system.

Responding to the report, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds, who sat on the Committee said:

“As a Member of the Committee, my focus has been on ensuring that our national Welsh Parliament is equipped to meet the challenges that will face Wales in what will be the difficult years ahead.

“The powers of the Welsh Government have increased greatly over the last two decades. What was first created as an Assembly is now a Parliament. In the last election, voters overwhelmingly voted for parties that want a stronger Senedd while parties that wanted to abolish it altogether were soundly defeated.

“I strongly support the expansion of the Senedd to 96 members. While there will be a cost increase, more members will allow for better scrutiny and more cost-effective decision-making in Government. With almost all Welsh Labour MS’s currently sitting as Ministers and junior ministers, more backbench scrutiny is absolutely vital to improving decision-making.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats want to see more powers transferred to Wales that would sit in a federal UK. In order to achieve this, we need to create a Senedd that is able to operate effectively as and when those powers come to Cardiff Bay, but also a Senedd that is properly accountable to their elected representatives.

“As the Committee report makes clear, I differed from the majority of members on some issues. There is no doubt in my mind that the Single Transferrable Vote remains the best potential voting system, as set out by the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform chaired by Laura McAllister in 2017.

“A Senedd elected by STV would be fairer, less complicated, more proportional, and gives voters more choice. I do not believe that a compelling case has been made for moving away from the earlier recommendations.

“Likewise constituencies based around local authorities would have provided a stable, simpler and more recognisable system of boundaries than one based on pairings of new unfamiliar constituencies, made for Westminster.

“I would also like to state that it was disappointing to see Labour and Plaid Cymru chose to pre-empt the Committee’s report by announcing its proposals before our work was complete.

“However, on the issues of expanding the Senedd, making its elections more proportional, and establishing gender quotas on a statutory basis, I believe the case for change is overwhelming, and I will support in principle the legislation that will bring those changes into effect in time for the next elections in 2026.

“Today’s announcement is not the end of the journey. Our ambition is for a federal UK in which power and legitimacy flow from its constituent parts as a matter of consent; in which decisions are made participatively, as close to people as possible; and with the rights of constituent Parliaments are set out in a legally-enforceable constitution, rather than in conventions that can be rolled back by a Parliamentary vote in Westminster.”

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