Expert panel to support work on electoral reform unveiled by Llywydd
The National Assembly for Wales's Llywydd, Elin Jones AM has today (February 1) announced that Professor Laura McAllister will chair the Assembly's Expert Panel on Electoral Reform.
The purpose of the Expert Panel is to advise the Assembly Commission on three core issues:
- the number of Members the Assembly needs;
- the most suitable electoral system to be used to elect them; and
- the minimum voting age for Assembly elections.
Although the Expert Panel will carry out some public engagement and awareness-raising in the course of its work, its priority will be to fulfil the terms of reference set out below.
Announcing the Panel, the Llywydd said:
"The devolution of powers to the Assembly and a move to a reserved powers model signals a new constitutional basis for the Assembly, with important new responsibilities. The Assembly finally has autonomy over its own affairs to help make this institution a stronger, more accessible, inclusive and forward-looking legislature that delivers effectively for the people of Wales.
I am delighted to be able to announce such an expert and highly qualified Panel. Between them they bring a 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 work will be vital to the Commission's efforts to reform the National Assembly for Wales and shape the future of Welsh democracy.
Such fundamental constitutional issues cannot be wholly separated from the political realities of representative democracy in Wales. Therefore, I will be working closely with the First Minister and the political parties represented in the Assembly to build and maintain broad cross-party support."
Chair of the Expert Panel, Professor Laura McAllister, said:
"The capacity of the Assembly to carry out its vital functions holding the Welsh Government to account, making laws for Wales, agreeing Welsh taxes, and representing the people of Wales has long been a subject for debate. The Panel and I look forward to exploring the evidence, and preparing robust, evidence-based recommendations for the Llywydd and the Commission to consider."
The Panel's membership is:
- Professor Laura McAllister (Chair) - Professor of Public Policy and the Governance of Wales at the Wales Governance Centre
- Professor Rosie Campbell - Professor of Politics at Birkbeck University of London and Professor Sarah Childs – Professor of Politics and Gender at the University of Bristol (joint membership)
- 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 to the National Assembly for Wales
The Llywydd will also establish and chair a Political Reference Group, members of which will be nominated by the political parties represented in the Assembly.
The Reference Group's role will be advisory. It will act as a sounding board for the Panel's emerging findings, and will help the Panel to ensure its work culminates in workable recommendations.
Panel terms of reference:
- To review, and complement if necessary, the existing evidence and research relating to the size and electoral arrangements for the National Assembly;
- From that evidence base, and in order to inform the preparation of any necessary legislation, to make recommendations to the Assembly Commission on what should be the size of the membership of the National Assembly, the electoral system that should be used to elect its Members and the minimum voting age for National Assembly elections;
- The Expert Panel should report by autumn 2017 so that, provided the required degree of political support exists, any legislative changes could be made in time for the National Assembly election in 2021.
Written Statement: Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform