By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing for us to set a small number of cookies. Cookie policy

Desktop
Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
 
 

​ Frequently Asked Questions​


This page contains key information relating to Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform.

These responses have been provided by the Expert Panel in response to its published report.

Download the full FAQs [PDF, 152kb]

Why has the Expert Panel been established?

​The fact that the Assembly is undersized and overstretched has been recognised since the earliest days of devolution. The Richard Commission emphasised this thirteen years ago. The Silk Commission repeated the message in 2014. The Assembly Commission highlighted it two years ago.

In February 2017, the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform was appointed by the Llywydd and Assembly Commission. We were tasked with making recommendations on:

  • ​​​the number of Members the Assembly needs,

  • the system by which they should be elected, and

  • ​the minimum voting age for Assembly elections.

We were asked to report by autumn 2017, and to make recommendations which, provided the required political consensus is achieved, could be implemented in time for the Assembly election in 2021.

Our report was published on 12 December 2017.

Who are the panel members?

The Panel's membership is:

- Professor Laura McAllister (Chair) - Professor of Public Policy and the Governance of Wales at the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University

- Professor Rosie Campbell - Professor of Politics at Birkbeck University of London and Professor Sarah Childs – Professor of Politics and Gender at Birkbeck University of London (job sharing)

- Rob Clements – former Director of Service Delivery at the House of Commons

- Professor David Farrell - Chair of Politics at University College Dublin

- Dr Alan Renwick - Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London

- Sir Paul Silk - Chair of the Commission on Devolution in Wales from 2011 to 2014 and former Clerk of the National Assembly for Wales​

How was the Panel appointed?

​Panel members were appointed by the Assembly Commission. They were selected because of their wealth of expertise in the fields of electoral systems, parliamentary work and capacity, the constitutional position of the National Assembly, and wider issues of governance, including equalities, diversity and engagement. Their expertise places them among the very best in Europe in their fields. ​

How much did the panel's work cost?

As Panel members, we are experts in our respective fields. Our report and recommendations are robust, evidence-based and politically neutral, identifying options for reform of some of the most fundamental constitutional arrangements in Wales.

We have been remunerated for our work in line with the rates paid to other similar office holders advising the Assembly. The daily rates are £333 for the Panel chair and £267 for Panel members. The overall costs of our work were some £38,000 and are detailed in our report.

Why does the Panel believe more members are needed?

As Panel members, we are experts in our respective fields. Our report and recommendations are robust, evidence-based and politically neutral, identifying options for reform of some of the most fundamental constitutional arrangements in Wales.

We have been remunerated for our work in line with the rates paid to other similar office holders advising the Assembly. The daily rates are £333 for the Panel chair and £267 for Panel members. The overall costs of our work were some £38,000 and are detailed in our report.

We arrived at our conclusions having examined the issue from many perspectives:

  • the changing role and powers of the Assembly;

  • the steps that have been, or could be, taken to increase the capacity of the Assembly without more Members;

  • the complex and varied roles Members undertake;

  • Members' responsibility for policy, legislative and financial scrutiny and oversight of the Welsh Government and other public bodies in Wales;

  • the capacity of the Assembly's committee system; and

  • ​​how the Assembly compares to equivalent legislatures elsewhere in the UK and the world.

All of our analysis pointed to the same conclusion: that the appropriate future size for the Assembly is between 80 and 90 Members. Increasing the Assembly to a size within that range would deliver meaningful benefits for the capacity of the institution and corresponding dividends for the people of Wales.

Within this range, there would be a noticeable difference between the lower and upper ends. A figure close to 80 would undoubtedly strengthen the institution and make it better able to fulfil its responsibilities effectively. At the upper end, the benefits would be greater, providing a meaningful difference in the ability of many Members to specialise, with consequent benefits for scrutiny and representation. The upper end of the range would also lessen the risk that the question of capacity would need to be revisited in the foreseeable future, should the responsibilities of the Assembly increase further. Our preference, therefore, is for the size of the Assembly to be closer to 90 Members.

The scrutiny and oversight role of the Assembly, if carried out effectively, positively affects the lives of people in Wales by improving the quality of Welsh legislation, and influencing Welsh Government policy and decision-making. Even marginal improvements in the scrutiny of the Welsh Government's expenditure and policy-making would reap significant dividends to the taxpayer.​

How much would more Assembly Members cost?

The Assembly Commission's estimate of the additional annual recurrent costs associated with our proposals ranges from some £6.6 million (for an additional 20 Members) to £9.6 million per annum (for an additional 30). In 2017–18, the Commission's annual budget was £53.7 million. The additional recurrent costs therefore represent 12 and 18 per cent of that budget respectively.

In addition, there would also be some one-off costs associated, for example, with adjustment of the Siambr and Members' office accommodation. The Commission estimates that these would be approximately £2.4 million for 20 additional Members and £3.3 million for 30 additional Members.

The cost estimates provided to us are, necessarily based on the services and system of financial support currently in place. Decisions taken by both the Remuneration Board and the Commission in the past, however, have been taken at least partly on the basis of compensating for the lack of Member capacity in an Assembly of only 60 Members.

We have made a very clear recommendation that the Assembly's independent Remuneration Board and the Assembly Commission consider how the total staffing support, services and financial resources provided to Members can be altered in the case of a larger Assembly, so that the cost of implementing our recommendations is kept to an absolute minimum.

The costs should be considered in the broader context of democratic representation in Wales and the positive impact of the Assembly's scrutiny and oversight role, improving the quality of Welsh legislation and influencing Welsh Government policy. Even marginal improvements in the scrutiny of the Welsh Government's expenditure could reap significant dividends to the taxpayer through improved legislation, policy and decision-making.​

Would legislation be required to increase the number of Assembly Members?

Any changes recommended by the Expert Panel would require the Assembly to pass a Bill setting out the details of the changes. The powers to introduce legislation to change the number of Members and the electoral system were conferred on the Assembly by the Wales Act 2017.

Any such Bill would be subject to the Assembly's legislative scrutiny processes. In addition, the Bill would require a super-majority at its final legislative stage. This means that at least 40 Members would need to vote in favour of the Bill.

How have political parties been involved in the Panel's work?

As independent experts, our role has been to make robust, impartial, evidence-based recommendations on the matters within our terms of reference.

Nevertheless, fundamental constitutional issues should not be considered wholly in isolation from the political realities of representative democracy. To that end, we welcome the constructive way in which the Llywydd and the Political Reference Group she chairs have engaged with our work. Our conclusions and recommendations are our own, but the Political Reference Group has been a valuable sounding board as our thinking developed.​

​​What happens next? How can the public have their say?

​The Assembly Commission will consider the report's findings and look at how to take forward any reform of the Assembly's electoral arrangements. If the Commission brings forward proposals, it will want to give people opportunities to make their views known. Public consultation is therefore likely to be a significant part of the Commission's development of any legislative proposals. Any Bill would also be subject to scrutiny by Assembly Members as part of the legislative process.


Partners & Help