Welsh Senedd splits Senedd expansion and gender equality legislation into two
The Welsh First Minster Drakeford has introduced legislation to increase the size of the Senedd from 60 to 96 members and to ensure that its members are equally divided between men and women.
This legislation is expected to follow recommendations made last year for Senedd members to be elected from closed party lists – similar to the system formerly used to elect members of the European Parliament in the UK.
Mr Drakeford had intended the legislation would require these lists to alternate male and female candidates, but there have been disputes over whether this is within the Senedd’s power. A separate Bill will be used to detach this dispute from debates on the Senedd’s size.
Wales is set to see its Senedd increase in size from 60 to 96 members after criticism that it is too small a body to carry out adequate scrutiny.
There will also be a reform of local government finance.
Mr Drakeford told the Senedd: “A Bill to reform the Senedd itself will be introduced [to] create a modern Senedd, reflecting the breadth of devolved responsibilities and Wales we live in today.
“It will create a Senedd that is better able to represent and serve the people of Wales, with increased capacity to scrutinise, to make laws and to hold the executive to account.”
A Senedd panel last year said the increase to 96 was needed as “we believe the size of the Senedd must not be a constraint upon future decisions around the devolution of powers.
Commission on Justice in Wales ‘would find it difficult to see how there could be proper scrutiny
“For example, we note that the Commission on Justice in Wales previously commented in 2019 that at the time it ‘would find it difficult to see how there could be proper scrutiny of a Justice Department or of Bills relating to justice if there was no increase in the size of the Assembly’”.
The first minister also said there would be a local government finance bill to reform the council tax and non-domestic rates systems to “pave the way for these systems becoming more closely aligned with changes in market conditions, more responsive to the evolving pressures faced by people and organisations, and more tailored to Welsh needs as a result of being maintained within devolved structures”.