Today was the last day of the consultation by the Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillan, on how the Assembly should be elected. The Shadow Secretary of State, Owen Smith, has issued his response, claiming that it is an attempt to rig the electoral map of Wales that should be abandoned.
– Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP
This Green Paper was Cheryl Gillan's attempt at rigging Wales' electoral map in the same way that her Cabinet colleagues were trying to gerrymander the results of the next general election. Now that those plans have been scuppered by Coalition disarray, Cheryl Gillan should waste no time in dropping her own proposals, for which she has no mandate. With not long to go before the Cabinet reshuffle, Cheryl Gillan needs to ignore speculation and get on with the job in hand. She could start by not hesitating with this decision and by dropping her defunct proposals immediately.
Mrs Gillan's preferred option is to cut constituency AMs from 40 to 30, in line with the proposed cut in Welsh MPs. The number of regional list AMs would be increased to keep the total number the same. Failing that, she wants constituencies with much more equal numbers of voters.
However the Welsh Government has argued that any decision should be a matter for the Assembly itself. The Liberal Democrats say they will no longer back changing the Westminster seats but the Prime Minister says that he will press on with that proposal.