Plaid MP 'open' to deal on Parliamentary boundaries issue

Jonathan Edwards MP Credit: Plaid Cymru

A Plaid Cymru MP has said his party would be open to discussing a deal with the UK Government over its controversial plans to cut the number of Welsh MPs from 40 to 30.

But Jonathan Edwards said any deal would have to involve a significant transfer of powers to the Assembly and a new Government of Wales Act in order to offset the reduction in numbers of MPs.

And he insists he's speaking in an individual capacity, saying that no direct contact has been made between his party and Number 10.

Controversial proposals**

The UK Government wants to cut the number of MPs by making constituencies more equal in size.

The Boundary Commission for Wales will publish its revised proposals for 30 new constituencies in Wales tomorrow although MPs will find out today how the changes are likely to affect them.

But the changes may never happen because Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said his MPs won't support them when they come to a vote because his Conservative coalition partners have failed to push through reform of the House of Lords.

It's widely thought that Mr Clegg's move spelled the political death of the proposed changes, at least before the next UK General Election in 2015.

But there's been talk in Westminster about possible deals which could herald a political resurrection for the new boundaries.


I'd heard suggestion that one such deal involved the SNP either abstaining or supporting the plans in return for the significant concessions they'd won regarding their independence referendum. It was suggested to me that it would also involve reaching separate agreements with the DUP.

That speculation's been dismissed by many at Westminster.

But Jonathan Edwards' intervention suggests that Plaid Cymru might be willing to consider joining other small parties in supporting the proposed changes given the right offer from Downing Street.

The MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr told me that his party is 'not wedded' to the necessity of keeping 40 MPs for Wales, but that any cut in representation in Parliament and the corresponding likelihood of 'permanent Tory majority' in London would have to be accompanied by 'huge amounts of power devolved' from Westminster to Wales.

He refused to be pinned down to specific powers but said it would have to be a major transfer and include areas such as policing, criminal justice, broadcasting and responsibility for energy projects.

Most importantly, he said, there would have to be a vote on a new Government of Wales Act setting out which areas the Assembly would NOT have responsibility for, before Plaid would give its support.

Mr Edwards insisted that there has been no formal communication between Plaid Cymru and the UK Government but said he and colleagues were willing to talk to Number 10.

There are a lot of ifs and buts and I think the prospect of any deal remains highly unlikely.

But it's interesting that the possibility is being spoken about and intriguing that a high-profile Plaid MP feels able to make such an offer so publicly.