Report could lead to increase in number of AMs

The Expert Panel will advise on the number of AMs needed in the future

A report is to be published later that's likely to recommend increasing the number of Assembly Members and allowing sixteen and seventeen year olds to vote in Welsh elections.

The report comes from a group of independent academics who were asked by the Presiding Officer Elin Jones to study international evidence and offer advice on three main areas:

  • the number of Members the Assembly needs
  • the most suitable electoral system used to elect them
  • the minimum voting age for Assembly elections

It's not yet known what the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform will recommend regarding the number of AMs needed but in a lecture to Cardiff University last week Elin Jones gave a strong indication that she's already convinced by the arguments.

Among the countries of the EU, the average size of lower chambers of parliaments is 267 members.

According to a recent study, for those parliaments serving populations of between 1 and 6m people, their average size is 142 members.

We have an extremely small institution and the people of Wales, per head of population, have far fewer representatives in their national parliament than the EU average.

If the report recommends that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and if that’s what Members ask me to do, then I am prepared to lead the debate. I am prepared instigate an innovative, thorough and meaningful conversation with the people of Wales.

– Elin Jones AM, Presiding Officer

There's considerable cross-party support in private for the principle of increasing the numbers of Assembly members but no party has been prepared to call for that publicly.

The Expert Panel will also recommend changes to the voting system to make it fairer and more efficient and ways of improving gender diversity.

It'll publish its report: 'A Parliament That Works For Wales' later this morning.