Senedd Reform & More politicians

Updated May 2024

The Stage 4 vote on Senedd Reform, was voted through in the Welsh Parliament on the 8th May 2024, by Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats. All Welsh Conservative members of the Senedd, voted against this legislation. The plans to progress the number of Senedd Members, and change the way Members are elected, have been confirmed. I am certainly not in favour of this legislation, and I want to set out why. 

The Welsh Government introduced its Bill earlier this year which the Senedd had been scrutinising, which now passed, will increase the size of the Senedd from 60 to 96 Members, allow for an increase in the number of Welsh Government Ministers, and change the Senedd’s electoral system so no longer would just one member represent a constituency, but several Senedd Members would represent a larger constituencies.

Firstly, there is no public mandate for either a larger Senedd or for the proposed changes to the voting system, so none of these proposals should be implemented in my view, and certainly not without the public having their say in a referendum. Unfortunately, Welsh Conservative calls for a referendum on the policy have been ignored by the Welsh Government.

Under the new requirements, voters will not be able to vote for an individual candidate. Instead, in 16 regions of six members, parties will put forward slates of candidates, but voters will simply vote for a party, not a person. In my view, the link between constituent and the Senedd member will be lost. Voters understand and expect to have a close relationship with their constituency member and to be able to hold them accountable if not.

My concern is that future Senedd members, now that this legislation is agreed, will owe their position not to a personal relationship with voters, but instead to their party bosses. This, I believe, is the wrong and bad for democracy.

All this will cost £120 million of taxpayers’ money.

Not once have I knocked on a door and spoken to a resident that thinks the solution to Wales’ problems is to spend countless millions in perpetuity on more politicians, and it’s my view that we do not need more politicians, what we really need is more doctors, dentists and teachers.

Our Welsh NHS remains under-funded, with the longest waiting lists in the UK. We still have nearly 25,000 patients waiting two years or more for treatment, whereas in England there are only 282.

Our education system lags the rest of the UK, with the steepest decline in PISA results and a cut to education of £56 million, not in real terms, but in actual cash terms, hitting school budgets across Wales.

We have significantly higher unemployment and economic inactivity levels in Wales than elsewhere in the UK and pay packets lagging thousands of pounds behind.

Wales already has the powers it needs to deliver a better economy, better schools, and an improved NHS, yet, the people of Wales would rightly expect the Labour Government to be addressing these issues, not putting time, energy, and resources into what I think is an unnecessary vanity project.

Politicians must not forget that the voters are our boss. Yet Labour and Plaid’s plans amount to a power grab from the public to political parties that will determine who gets elected and who doesn’t.

Both other parties voted down Welsh Conservative amendments calling for a referendum on the proposals. The people of Wales deserve to have their say and I and my Welsh Conservative colleagues will continue to be opposed to this legislation that will, in my view, undermine our democracy.