Written Statement by Mick Antoniw MS, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution: Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill

TODAY, the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill and Explanatory Memorandum is laid before the Senedd.

The Bill provides for the Senedd to have 96 Members, with 6 Members elected per constituency, using the d’Hondt method. Rather than the majority of Members being elected through a first-past-the post system, all Members of the Senedd will be elected using closed proportional lists.

It provides for the creation of 16 Senedd constituencies for the 2026 election, through the pairing of the 32 new UK Parliament constituencies in Wales in an independent review. It also provides for a full boundary review to be undertaken ahead of the subsequent Senedd election to create 16 new Welsh constituencies from the 2030 election onwards and periodic reviews thereafter.

To achieve this, the Bill provides the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales with the functions necessary to undertake the pairing of the new UK Parliament constituencies in Wales, to undertake regular reviews of the new Senedd constituency boundaries thereafter, and renames it as the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru.

In association with the overall increase in the Senedd’s size, and on the recommendation of the Senedd’s Business Committee, the Bill enables the Senedd to elect an additional Deputy Presiding Officer. It also increases the legislative limit upon the number of Welsh Ministers who may be appointed, from 12 to 17. It also provides a power for Welsh Ministers to further increase this limit to 18 or 19 with the approval of the Senedd.

The Special Purpose Committee also recommended that further consideration should be given, on a cross-party basis, to exploring the feasibility and legislative challenges associated with enabling election on the basis of job sharing. In response to this, the Bill provides a pathway for further consideration of the practical and legislative implications of job-sharing by the next Senedd.

The Bill provides for returning Senedd elections to a four-year cycle from 2026.

The Bill also makes provision to disqualify any person who is not registered in the register of local government electors at an address within Wales from standing as a candidate for election to the Senedd, and from being a Member of the Senedd.

Finally, the Bill provides for a review mechanism to consider its operation and effect.

The Welsh Government has worked with partners to develop detailed cost estimates that set out the projected financial implications of this legislation over an 8-year period.

I look forward to scrutiny of the Bill by Members, and to hearing the views of stakeholders, delivery partners, and the public during the legislative process.

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