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Welsh Parliament Approves Historic Expansion: Senedd Members Set to Increase by Over 50%

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The Welsh legislature has approved a plan to expand its number of representatives by over 50%. The proposal required a two-thirds majority for passage, which was achieved through a coalition between the Labour government and Plaid Cymru, ensuring sufficient support.

Welsh correspondent @TomosGruffydd

Wednesday, May 8, 2024, 6:

The parliament of Wales has passed a measure to expand its membership by over 50%.

The Senedd, situated in Cardiff Bay, presently consists of 60 representatives. However, under newly sanctioned government proposals, this number will increase to 96.

This week commemorates the 25th anniversary of the inaugural election held by the Welsh Assembly, as it was referred to at the time.

The Senedd Reform Bill required approval from two-thirds of its members, a supermajority, to be passed.

On Wednesday evening, 43 legislators supported the bill, while 16 opposed it.

The Labour administration formed a partnership with Plaid Cymru to secure enough support to pass the vote.

The leading opposition group in the Welsh Parliament, the Conservative Party, argues that funds would be better allocated to increasing the number of teachers in Welsh schools and boosting staffing levels within Wales's National Health Service.

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Darren Millar of the Welsh Conservatives described the bill as the "largest power grab" in Welsh democratic history and renewed demands for a referendum.

Based on data from the Welsh government, the total expenditure for implementing the legislation is projected to reach as much as £120 million over a span of eight years.

What is the function of the newly established constituencies?

Wales correspondent

Presently, 40 individual constituencies are represented by two-thirds of the members of the Senedd. The remaining 20 members serve five broader regions.

Voters select a specific candidate to represent their local area, and also cast a ballot for a preferred political party or independent candidate in the wider regional election.

Starting with the upcoming election, the 32 Welsh constituencies represented in Westminster will be merged into 16 paired constituencies for the Senedd.

Every one of the 16 districts will have six representatives.

Candidates will be selected from a roster provided by political parties, except in the case of independent nominees.

Voting intervals have been shortened to occur every four years as opposed to the previous five-year schedule, and a new rule mandates that all candidates must be registered voters in Wales.

"Funding Democratic Initiatives"

The Welsh government contends that increasing the number of Senedd members will enhance its ability to oversee and challenge the government's actions.

"By supporting and passing this monumental bill, we are not only investing in democracy but also in Wales' future," stated Counsel General Mick Antoniw, as he encouraged legislators to back the measure.

Wales has a smaller number of representatives in its regional government compared to Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The legislative body in Northern Ireland consists of 90 members, whereas Scotland's Parliament is composed of 129

Cardiff is set to see a rise in its membership numbers at the same time as the representation of Welsh MPs in Westminster decreases from 40 to 32 in the upcoming election.

Jane Dodds, the head of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, expressed her backing for the legislation in the assembly, yet criticized it as "fundamentally flawed" because it includes a closed list voting system.

She expressed concerns that the modifications could deprive voters of genuine options.

"Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth declared to the Senedd, 'This parliament is prepared to serve a confident, independent Wales.'"

However, Labour MP Joyce Watson stated that the vote "does not concern shifting towards an independent Wales."

Discover additional details on Sky News: Scotland appoints a new deputy first minister, marking the second Conservative MP to switch to Labour in just 11 days.

Stay informed about the most recent developments in the UK and globally by tuning into Sky News.

The legislation is set to be enacted into law following the Royal Assent scheduled for early July.

The adjustments will be implemented before the upcoming Senedd vote in May 2026.

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