The Welsh Parliament’s expansion to 96 members is set to kick off its legal journey today.
The goal is for the Senedd Reform Bill to navigate the legislative process and be ready for the scheduled 2026 election. The discussion surrounding the increase of Senedd members from the 60 it currently has has persisted for several years. The bill is anticipated to encompass provisions mandating that candidates live in Wales.
The bill’s specifics will be unveiled on the Senedd’s website at 11 a.m., providing a comprehensive overview of its contents. Gender quotas have been suggested as a means to enhance female representation within the governing body, yet questions linger regarding the Senedd’s legal authority to implement such a alteration.
In June 2022, plans to reform the Senedd received support from Labour MSs, as well as members from Plaid Cymru, and the lone Liberal Democrat member, while the Conservatives opposed the proposal. During that time, Members of the Senedd (MSs) were called upon to endorse a report crafted by the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform. This committee recommended the following changes for the reformed Senedd:
- An increase in the number of members to 96, along with the implementation of integrated statutory gender quotas.
- The adoption of closed proportional lists, with seat allocation through the D’Hondt system, currently used in the regional list component of the existing electoral system.
- Implementation of these changes in time for the 2026 Senedd elections.
- The establishment of 16 constituencies based on the 32 UK Parliamentary constituencies proposed by the Boundary Commission for Wales following its 2023 Parliamentary Review.
Previously, the estimated cost of these changes exceeded £75 million over a five-year period. The concept of a larger Senedd had received support from both Plaid Cymru and Labour as part of their cooperation agreement following the 2021 election. However, the exact content of the bill is still uncertain at this time.