Assembly Commission Motion: Consultation on Assembly Reform
Plenary 7th February 201814:57
Motion NDM6646 Elin Jones
To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:
1. Notes the report of the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform.
2. Approves the Assembly Commission’s decision to consult on the Panel’s proposals and other electoral, franchise and internal reforms made possible by the Wales Act 2017.
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
Gareth Bennett AM
Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)
Diolch, Llywydd for bringing today’s motion on behalf of the Assembly Commission. I also would like to give my thanks to the expert panel for producing its report, and the political reference group itself, which has been meeting over the past year. The PRG meetings were very interesting, so I’m told, although I must point out I only attended one myself, as a substitute. But the UKIP representatives listened carefully to the panel and what they had to say, and also to the response of the political parties.
But I think it’s less important, really, what the political parties think about these proposed changes, than what the public think about it. This is why UKIP supports the public consultation and is therefore happy to support today’s motion. But we do feel that the consultation should act as a way of educating the Welsh electorate about these proposed changes, the biggest of which, we believe, is the proposed expansion of the Assembly. We think that this is such a major issue that the consultation should ultimately lead to a referendum, because no popular consent can be deemed to have been given unless we first have had such a referendum.172
Now, in terms of the other issues, votes at 16: we also have a national policy on that, and we do oppose extending the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds. Equal representation of genders: we believe that should be up to the political parties themselves to decide. The problem with the consultation is how to get widespread involvement, and how to ensure that voices that are heard in it are not merely those of the usual suspects—that is, the stakeholders who are already fully supportive of the Assembly as an institution and would be quite happy with an enlarged Assembly. We have to ensure that the consultation is not rigged in any way.
Now, the Llywydd has spoken of the need for consensus in this place, but also of the need for some measure of popular consent. We believe in UKIP that it would be unwise to proceed, particularly with the expansion of the Assembly, without securing that popular consent by means of a referendum.