- 3 updates
Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP has claimed that Nick Clegg's decision to oppose cutting the number of MPs has exposed the Coalition's divisions. He has called on Cheryl Gillan to drop her own plans for changing the way that the Assembly is elected.
The Welsh Government has responded swiftly to Nick Clegg's announcement, seeing an opportunity to halt any possible changes to how the Assembly is elected, even before consultation is complete on the proposals put forward in a Green Paper by the Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillan.
Last week, the Welsh Government formally opposed changing from a system of 40 constituency AMs and 20 elected from regional lists to the Welsh Secretary's preferred option of 30 constituency and 30 regional AMs. It said any change should be a matter for the Assembly itself to decide.
Plans to get rid of a quarter of the Welsh seats at Westminster, cutting the number of MPs from 40 to 30, look unlikely to go ahead. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says his party will vote against reducing the membership of the House of Commons and making constituencies more equal in population.
Mr Clegg, who was in charge of the legislation to reduce and equalise parliamentary seats, says the Lib Dems will now block the change after rebel Conservative MPs sabotaged his plans to reform the House of Lords. He says they have 'broken the contract' between the coalition partners.
The Prime Minister had wanted the boundary changes to go ahead, partly because the current pattern of constituencies favours Labour. The Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillan, has proposed that there should be consequential changes to Assembly constituencies. Her consultation closes next Monday.