The First Minister has responded to the statement by Number 10 I told you about earlier and urged David Cameron to 'stay true to his word.' Here's what Carwyn Jones had to say:
This is not what I was told by the Prime Minister. I have made itrepeatedly clear that changing the electoral system for the Assembly,without the consent of the people of Wales, is wrong and dangerous. Italso sends an unfortunate message to the people of Scotland ahead of theindependence referendum.I call on the Prime Minister to remain true to his word and stateclearly that changes in the way AMs are elected, will not be forced onthe people of Wales without their consent.
I told you earlier that the First Minister had repeated his claim that the Prime Minister had twice given him assurances that there would be no change to the electoral system in Wales without the agreement of the Assembly.
I've been in touch with Number 10 to get its view of what the PM did or didn't say to the FM. Here's the response from a spokesperson:
We have always been clear that we would consult on any changes to electoral arrangements for the Welsh Assembly which is what we are doing through this Green Paper
I've just had this response to Carwyn Jones' earlier attack on UK Government plans to review Assembly electoral arrangements from Wales Office minister David Jones, who was at the same joint ministerial meeting:
This is a Green Paper, a consultation document and if the First Minister wants to feed into that consultation he is, of course, welcome to do so. There is nothing in this process other than that which is entirely in the devolution settlement. (Responsibility for ) electoral arrangements remain here at Westminster; it would be incoherent not to have a review given the changes planned to parliamentary boundaries.
The First Minister says he's told the Deputy Prime Minister that plans by the Welsh Secretary to review the way AMs are elected are 'fundamentally undemocratic.' Carwyn Jones raised his opposition to Cheryl Gillan's Green Paper on electoral reform at a meeting chaired by Nick Clegg earlier.
– Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister
I made sure that it was seen as a very serious issue. The Deputy Prime Minister understood it was a very serious issue and we'll explore this further.
When she launched the review earlier this week, the Welsh Secretary dismissed calls for decision-making power over electoral systems in Wales to be devolved. She said that in two years there had been no request for any such transfer. Carwyn Jones responded:
– Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister
We don't want to see any change. Nobody has a mandate for change. Nobody thought we'd have a Green Paper such as this in this age of devolution, seeking to impose change on the people of Wales without their consent. We thought we were beyond those days and the Prime Minister has given me assurances there'd be no change without the agreement of the Assembly.
Yesterday Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan opened public consultation into how Assembly electoral boundaries might be drawn in future. The public have 12 weeks to put forward their views on the issue. Andrew RT Davies speaking, at his party's weekly press conference this morning, said this;
– Andrew RT Davies , leader Conservative Group at the National Assembly
I am in favour of the status quo and in favour of de-coupling. I will be feeding this into the consultation process over the next few weeks. The current 40:20 model has serve the Assembly well
By de-coupling, he meant that Assembly and Westminster constituencies would not have the same boundaries. Mr Davies added that he was against Westminster and Assembly Elections being held on the same date. He said that he thought it was important to keep the two separate to avoid confusion.
The Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith says the Westminster government has no mandate to change the Assembly voting system, as nothing has been proposed in an election manifesto. He also claims that the proposals are a distraction from the real challenge of a lack of jobs and economic growth.
– Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP
It is therefore disappointing that Cheryl Gillan should choose to focus her efforts on imposing constitutional change especially when the motivation for that change appears to be narrow party political interest. Welsh Labour believes there are far more important challenges in the months and years ahead than this interference in the voting system to the National Assembly for Wales. The Tories are showing they have the wrong priorities at the wrong time. However, we will of course seek to engage constructively with the consultation process and make a full submission."
The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, had this to say about plans contained in the Wales Office Green paper on Assembly Election reform.
There is no mandate for this. The electoral system for the Assembly is a matter for the people of Wales and no one else.
The Prime Minister has assured me there would be no change to future electoral arrangements without the agreement of the Assembly.
Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh Secretary, talks about the proposed changes to the way the Welsh Assembly is elected.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have backed the decision by the Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan to press ahead with a consultation on changing how the National Assembly is elected.
– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM
We broadly welcome the UK Government’s proposals to protect, and possibly increase, the proportional element and fairness of our voting system. Welsh Liberal Democrats have long argued for a fully proportionate system of voting but given the current political situation we believe that any step to make our National Assembly more democratic and accountable is welcome. The best interests of the people of Wales in any change to the voting system must be paramount and our response to this consultation will fully reflect this.
Plaid Cymru has issued its response to proposals to change the way Assembly Members are elected which have been published by the Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan today.
– Ieuan Wyn Jones AM, Plaid Cymru Constitutional Affairs Spokesperson
Whilst Plaid Cymru will be examining these proposals closely and look forward to being at the heart of debates about democracy in our country, we believe that decisions about elections in Wales should be made in Wales and not in London.
Plaid Cymru supports the Single Transferable Vote system to elect members to the National Assembly. That is the fairest way of keeping the constituency link and ensuring that there are fewer wasted votes.
Although Cheryl Gillan does not include STV as an option in her Green Paper it should be considered, and it will form part of our response.
We are open minded about whether the Assembly should have 4 or 5 year terms; what we should avoid is a clash of an Assembly and Westminster election in the same year.