On Tuesday, it was announced that the size of Wales’ Parliament was set to grow with the creation of an extra 36 new Members of the Senedd (MSs). Welsh Labour leader, Mark Drakeford, and Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price, jointly published plans to increase the size of Senedd to 96 members, with gender quotas also included in their plan.
Any change like this requires the support of two-third of the current 60 members of the Senedd. Between the Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru parties, they have 43 seats out of the total 60, meaning that their proposals are likely to be approved. In a joint statement on Tuesday, they said changes would likely come into force by the next Senedd election in 2026. You can read more about the changes here.
However, the people of Wales have responded with mixed reviews to the news. There is some support but in the hundreds of comments on Facebook and on news articles, the vast majority argued the plan was a “waste of money” and that a referendum should be held on the matter.
Responding to a Facebook post on WalesOnline’s page, reader, Stephen Young, expressed his disappointment in the plans. He said: “I am pro Senedd but think this will prove unpopular with the majority and is a waste of money, money that could be spent far more wisely elsewhere.”
Sandra Jones wrote: “There should be a referendum on this. Where is the money coming from? We need money for the NHS, for a M4 bypass etc,etc. We need teachers to have full time permanent jobs not yearly contracts not more people in a talking shop sat behind desks.”
Susan Rogers agreed and said it was a “complete waste of taxpayers’ money”. She added: “The NHS, teachers/ education, free school meals, social services provision would be a better place or places for that money to be spent. Don’t forget that each will have a high salary, enhanced pension contributions and lord knows what other perks and freebies!”
Philip Ian Harvey suggested: “If these people work for the people then this should go forward as a referendum. The electorate of Wales should decide.”
Rebecca Pullen-Lee added: “What a waste of money. I’m pro Welsh Government but even I think this is an unnecessary expense to tax payers. The money could be better spent on the NHS and social care. Massively under funded areas.”
Stephen Young: “I am pro Senedd but think this will prove unpopular with the majority and is a waste of money, money that could be spent far more wisely elsewhere.”
The statement on the new plans the recommendations should take effect from the nextt Senedd election, due to be in 2026. It would mean the new UK Parliamentary constituencies of 32 would be used, and put into pairs each of which would elect six members on a proportional system. Here, our political editor at large Martin Shipton argues that this system is a stitch up for the largest parties and a threat to democracy.
However the response was not all negative. WalesOnline reader, Jake Smith, agreed with the plans. He said: “The Welsh Parliament’s responsibilities have expanded massively since it was set up in 1999, it’s time the numbers caught up. With too few MSs there isn’t proper scrutiny of government, but more MSs means more people outside government able to scrutinise which results in better decision making. Nearly £20bn is spent by the Welsh Government every year, that needs proper scrutiny.
“And the Northern Ireland Assembly has 90 members, despite being a much smaller country than Wales, and Scotland has 129 in its parliament, so 96 sounds a reasonable number for us.”
Another reader, Paul Owen, added: “This is well past due. Salary should be lower, but more are needed to scrutinise legislation.”
David Hughes wrote: “I’m all for it, and give them more powers too. Save money by getting rid of the true trough feeders, the Welsh Westminster MPs.”