Thursday, 17 February 2011

Less politicians says Westminster

SSo at the next general election the number of Welsh Members of Parliament will be cut down from the current forty to thirty. 
Less politicians always goes down well with voters. Whether the same voters will be as pleased when they try to access their new Members of Parliament remains to be seen.
Westminster constituencies and Assembly constituencies have at the moment the same boundaries. The vote to change Westminster’s boundaries has an effect on the Assembly.
There will have to be an uncoupling of National Assembly constituencies from these newly created Westminster  seats. If this doesn’t happened there will be ten less  members also in the National Assembly. 
Some might say hooray to that too. The less politicians some would argue the better. 
But hold on, what would happen if there were less AMs. There would be less scrutiny of laws and less people to hold the Welsh Assembly Government to account.
Hughes’s law says, poor law making, makes for big fat lawyers. 

Would those that want less politicians be happy to pay lawyers enormous wads of cash to drive a horse and coaches through the defects of Assembly made laws? Unlikely.
No, the Assembly needs a certain number of politicians to do it’s job properly. Fifty is just to small a number. As scientist would put it, you need a critical mass and fifty, just doesn't do it.

It is debatable that even with sixty members that the Assembly can cope. For certain any reduction from this number would have a detrimental effect on the institution. 
In Lord Richards opinion eighty would be required. But that number is barely talked about in the current referendum campaign, just in case it frightens not the horses, but the voters. Why is it that in Wales issues are never properly addressed? Are people afraid to argue the case for a properly functioning democracy. 
Last nights vote is significant because it not only changes Westminster but it raises fundamental questions about the National Assembly. 

With less MPs in London representing Wales in the law making process it strengthen the case for the power over Welsh laws resting with the Assembly. It even poses the question should more functions not be devolved down from Westminster - perhaps that's a question for another day
But it does certainly raise the question of how are these law makers to be elected? And how many of them are needed? 

Just as Richard put the number of Assembly Members at eighty, in the same report he suggested a change in the voting system. He recommended the single transferable vote system(STV). He thought the system would be fairer and more representative.

Now, whether there is agreement with the dear Lord or not, surely now is the time to debate such issues. For a referendum without such a debate opens up the prospect of another one, if such changes are later to be found necessary. And be assured they undoubtedly will be. For mercy sake, surely no one wants to yawn through yet, another referendum campaign

So, lets not pussyfoot about and try to introduce democracy by stealth. The people of Wales deserve a proper debate. 

 A fledgling Welsh parliament needs the backing of the people. That backing will only be given if voters understand all the issues.


  1. "There will have to be an uncoupling of National Assembly constituencies from these newly created Westminster seats."

    As I read Clause 11 of the new Act, it does exactly that, by simply decreeing that the Assembly constituencies stick to the old boundaries (until such time as the UK Government decides what to do about them, which it will not think about until after 3rd March), and are therefore not affected by the reduction.

    It buys them some time to think through the consequences of a rushed change at UK level - but if they go ahead with the plans to hold the UK and Assembly elections on the same day in 2015, and haven't sorted it out by then, it doesn't take a genius to predict more than a degree of chaos.

  2. Agree Gareth. The Assembly will soon need 70 or 80 members. Maybe 70 would be easier to 'sell' the public.

    I'm in favour of STV, but to keep things simple, I'd just add 2 more members to the present 5 regional seats and keep the Assembly constituencies as they are.

    Cadiff Boy

  3. Agree mostly, however I feel the blame lies more with the No campaign. True Wales have repeatedly and cynically twisted not only the words of the Yes campaign but the letter of the law (schedule 7 to be precise) by claiming that taxes will be raised and more politicians will be installed following a Yes vote. They have proved incapable of entering into any kind of mature debate or even of campaigning on the actual issue in hand. With such a manipulative and underhand opponent, the Yes campaign must watch what they say carefully and campaign on the most uncontroversial and blandest concepts and issues, otherwise the No camp will make political capital out of it in any way possible. If a Yes campaigner was to raise the issue and question, despite no alternative being actually on offer, whether 60AMs was enough to scrutinize primary legislation - the No camp would doubtless claim that the Yes campaign in its entirety WILL install more AMs following a yes vote.

    When the debate is reduced to such a low level by one side, the other must be very careful not to fall victim of low tactics. The cost of True Wales' tactics is a poor, un-engaging debate - though one suspects that that is the grand strategy from the pig-fanciers.

  4. Its rather perverse in a time of tight cost control to advocate the expansion in numbers of Assembly members because of the "impending" reduction of MPs to thirty. Particularly when AMs ridicule the effectiveness of MPs.

    AMs simply need to work smarter.

    I'm reliably informed that the chamber has already been modified to accomodate 20 more dead legs.

    Interestingly the loss of 10 MPs has no cash effect on the Assembly budget whereas the addition of 20 AMs and all their hangers on will directly impact the Assembly budget making even less cash available to improve Wales.

    This referendum is about a stealth approach to independence with a veneer of democracy attached. It is definitely the wrong referendum about the wrong issues at the wrong time. But Plaid want it - tells you all you need to know.

  5. Astonishing that those on the yes side attempt to grab a moral highground they have never, and cannot, occupy because of the incestuous nature of their funding where there is a symbiotic relationship with the Assembly.

    The no side are being honest in that they have rationalised all the consequences stemming from a yes vote.

  6. "I'm reliably informed that the chamber has already been modified to accomodate 20 more dead legs."

    Really? Why would this be when any increase in AMs would, at best, be at least four years away? Sounds like another No campaign myth.

  7. Several AMs have reported the modification to accomodate 20 more dead legs to me. It is true!

  8. Alun, the original brief to Richards Rogers Partnership includes ...

    ... specifics of the brief included the stipulation that the building be an exemplar for access, that sustainable strategies and renewable energy systems be implemented throughout, that the building have a minimum 100 year life span, and that, wherever possible, Welsh materials be used. Other elements included a 610 square metre (6,566 sq ft) debating chamber for 60 to 80 members, three committee rooms, offices, a media briefing room, tea room, members’ lounge, public galleries, and a main hall to act as reception, orientation and exhibition space.

    So there is space aplenty for 20 extra members it seems, so, Anonymous of 17 February 2011 16:55, True Wales could be better described as Truth Wales in this context, and as night follows day, Tax Raising powers will follow.

  9. Like all new buildings the chamber provides room for expansion. It is called sensible design. Having a desk in the press lobby there I would be the first to let you dear readers to know of any adaptions.

  10. It appears to me, having seen Rachel Banner on the politics show, that she is actually advocating an increase in the number of AMs if there is a YES vote! We have a reduction in MPs, so her basic (fallacious) argument that scrutiny should be performed by a partnership between AMs and MPs becomes even more absurd.

    There are already two MPs on the Welsh Affairs committee who do not represent Welsh constituencies - presumably when we have 25% fewer MPs that number will increase. Our Secretary of State does not represent a Welsh constituency, and has only tenuous links with Wales. She is spending far more time on constituency matters than she is on defending Welsh interests.

    For al undecided voters, the decision to reduce Welsh representation in Westminster has to be a deciding factor to vote YES!

  11. One AM thought the space matter so important as to 'phone me and explain that modifications had been executed. Sorry Gareth if you didn't spot the changes.

    What anybody that wants to see further power granted to the existing Assembly should consider is that Carl Sargeant is a minister and virtually illiterate.

    Scary that such a person has power of any sort.

  12. I have checked with officials and with my fellow journalists on the point of fact and I am ensured that no further modifications have been made to the design. I reiterate the fact that the original design was for an eighty member chamber. If design changes were made recently to add more members then it would become a story. I'm afraid the AM concerned has got it wrong and wittingly or unwittingly has mislead 'anonymous'.