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An extra 36 new Senedd Members are to be created as Wales’ Parliament grows

The size of Wales’ Parliament is to grow with the creation of an extra 36 new Members of the Senedd. Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford and Plaid leader Adam Price have jointly published plans to increase the size of Senedd to 96 members. There would also be gender quotas in their plan.

Any change like this requires the support of two-thirds of the current 60 member Senedd. Between the two parties, they have 43 seats out of the total 60 meaning that their proposals are likely to be approved. In a joint statement, they say changes should come into force by the next Senedd election in 2026.

Senedd reform is one of the areas where Labour and Plaid both agreed change is needed in their co-operation agreement which they signed after the 2021 election when Labour emerged with exactly half the seats and needing the support of one other party to pass its spending plans.

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The statement from Mark Drakeford, the Labour leader, and Adam Price, the Plaid Cymru leader, says:

  • The Senedd should have 96 members – up from the current 60
  • It should be elected using closed proportional lists with integrated statutory gender quotas and mandatory zipping – which requires parties to put forward equal numbers of male and female candidates and alternating between men and women when preparing their candidate lists
  • Seats should be allocated to parties using the D’Hondt formula (which is the current formula for electing members of the Senedd)

These are just proposals but the statement says they want Senedd reform to be implemented in time for the next election in 2026, even if some of the changes are introduced on an interim basis.

The statement says a full boundary review should be instigated in this Senedd term and its recommendations should take effect from the subsequent Senedd election, due to be in 2026. It would mean the new UK Parliamentary constituencies of 32 would be used, paired with 16 constituencies which should elect six members

They have set out a joint position statement in a letter to Huw Irranca-Davies, the chair of the cross-party Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform which must publish its findings by May 31. That will then be debated and voted on by the Senedd.

A letter by the two leaders reads: “As you will be aware, Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru recently voted to support Senedd reform at our respective party conferences and to enable further cross-party negotiations on the detail of Senedd reform proposals to progress. The detailed work of your committee to date, the McAllister Report and the previous Senedd’s Committee on Senedd Electoral Reform has facilitated a number of discussions between our two parties to explore areas of common ground.

“As a result of those discussions, we set out below our joint view on the package of proposals that is most likely to succeed in achieving the two thirds Senedd majority that is required by law to deliver reform. We are grateful for the hard work of your committee in exploring some of the core elements of Senedd reform. We are confident that the statement below will enable you to make recommendations on these fundamental issues.

“We are mindful that there are a number of further matters that will need to be considered by the Government and by the Senedd once the work of preparing and scrutinising the proposed legislation gets underway. We have committed to undertake further detailed work on these matters.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The case for Senedd reform has been made. We now need to get on with the hard work to create a modern Senedd, which reflects the Wales we live in today. A Parliament that truly works for Wales. The joint position statement we are publishing today will help support the important work of the cross-party Special Purpose Committee to move Senedd reform forwards.”

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, said: “These reforms will lay the foundations for a stronger Welsh democracy and a fairer, more representative Senedd that will look entirely different to the outdated political system at Westminster. A stronger, more diverse, more representative Senedd will have a greater capacity to perform its primary purpose of making a positive difference to the lives of the people of Wales”.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds MS said: “The statement falls short of what we need to create a Senedd and a democracy that’s fit for Wales.

“The proposed constituency map will mean nothing to communities, and we will still be lumbered with a voting system that fails to ensure that votes match seats. Plaid Cymru appeared to have abandoned their commitment to STV.

“In a scramble to make an announcement, Plaid Cymru and Labour have ensured that the debate about whether the Senedd is fit for purpose will start no sooner than these proposals are brought into law.”

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