Senedd elections could be delayed by six months because of pandemic

200121 Senedd
Credit: PA

Elections to the Welsh Parliament could be delayed by up to six months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Welsh Government is proposing a new emergency Bill which would give the Senedd the power to postpone the elections that are due to take place on May 6.

Wales is under "stay at home" lockdown restrictions amid a rise in Covid-19 cases and ministers want to ensure a "safe" Senedd election.

Only a majority of Members of the Senedd (MSs) would be needed to pass the new law that would introduce the new framework allowing for a potential election delay.

But two-thirds of the Senedd would be needed to approve a delay to the election and would also have to agree a new date.

Credit: PA

Julie James, minister for housing and local government, said: "The Welsh Government's clear intention is that the next Senedd election should be held on Thursday May 6 2021.

"We are also determined to do everything in our power to ensure people can vote when the election takes place.

"However, due to the unpredictable nature of coronavirus, there is significant uncertainty about what the situation will be like in May.

"That is why we are seeking the Senedd's consent to introduce an emergency Bill that would give Members of the Senedd the powers necessary to manage the conduct of the election, in order to protect public health.

"If the prevalence of the pandemic requires that the election is postponed, the Bill will provide the powers, to be used as a last resort, to postpone the election for up to six months.

"The Bill would ensure this is subject to the agreement of two-thirds of Members of the Senedd, which means all members would have a role in the final decision."

The Scottish Government has introduced a similar law to allow a delay to the Scottish Parliament election on May 6.

Elections are also due to take place on that date for police and crime commissioners in England and Wales, and council and mayoral elections in England.