A strong case for change
There are so many reasons that reform is desperately needed. The size of the Senedd has been the same since its inception in 1999, but the reality is that devolution has fundamentally changed. We’ve got additional powers now, including those around legislation and taxation. With just 60 members, when you take out government ministers, party leaders and the Llywydd (Presiding Officer), you’re left with just over 40 people to juggle all the scrutiny that’s required.
So this is about investing in scrutiny that will ensure that the Senedd better delivers for people across Wales. The excellent Professor Laura McAllister has said previously that ‘good scrutiny pays for itself’. Indeed, earlier this year Wales’ Auditor General said “Good scrutiny means good legislation, and good legislation pays for itself…a 0.17% annual saving, or improvement in value, in Welsh Government spending (£17.5bn), would pay for 30 extra members.” A stronger Senedd would mean our public services, such as our hospitals, can work more effectively.
Despite this overwhelming evidence base, it is now more important than ever to keep the pressure up to ensure that these changes happen. That’s because it is now in the hands of the political parties, who will consider whether to include these proposals in their manifestos ahead of next May’s election.
That is why influential organisations, who represent a huge cohort of people across Wales, have joined us in writing to the party leaders of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Conservatives and the Welsh Liberal Democrats, as well as to the First Minister and to the Brexit Party’s former representative on the Committee. The letters, signed by ERS Cymru, Chwarae Teg, Community Housing Cymru, Cymorth Cymru, Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team Wales and WEN Wales, have called for parties to commit to adopting these vital recommendations, to future-proof our Senedd and give voters the representation they need.
We cannot continue with a Senedd that doesn’t have the capacity to tackle the challenges we face. We need change now.