Poll suggests majority in Wales support more politicians in Senedd

There are currently 60 seats in the Senedd, although that number could rise to as many as 90 Credit: Visit Wales

A new poll has suggested a majority of people in Wales would support an increase in the number of politicians elected to the Senedd

The poll, carried out by Beaufort Research for the Western Mail, showed that 48% of people agreed there should be more Senedd Members, while 30% disagreed. 

The 1,000 people polled were asked: “The Senedd/Welsh Parliament is currently considering whether to increase the number of elected Senedd Members.

“A panel of experts said the current number of 60 was too low to represent the people of Wales, hold the Welsh Government to account and deal with its growing workload effectively.

“As a result, they recommended an increase to around 90 members. This will incur extra costs. The Scottish Parliament has 129 elected members while the Northern Ireland Assembly has 90 elected members.

“To what extent do you agree or disagree that the number of Senedd Members should be increased to around 90?”

The results found:

The poll will be welcomed by supporters of increasing the number of members elected to the Senedd.

In 2017, an expert panel on Senedd reform called for the increase in the number of Senedd members in order to elect a "larger, more effective and accountable Assembly [now Senedd]".

The report, chaired by Cardiff University’s Professor Laura McAllister called for an 87 member Senedd with three MSs per seat using a more proportional voting system.

It also called for the voting age in Wales to be lowered to 16, a recommendation that was adopted before last year's Senedd election.

In a tweet, Professor McAllister welcomed the latest poll, saying: "These are important results from the BeaufortLtd poll and show an uplift in public support for a fit for purpose Senedd that can deliver for people.

"Although, I think we all know that the bigger challenge is establishing a consensus on a better method of electing our MSs."

The key argument for a larger Senedd revolves around the number of members needed to scrutinise the Welsh government.

Since the establishment of devolution at the end of the 20th century, the Senedd has gained lawmaking powers over areas such as health, transport and education, as well as some tax-raising powers.

However, in that time, the number of MSs has stayed at 60, meaning an increase to members' responsibilities, with many sitting on more than one committee.

A supermajority of two thirds of members is needed to implement an increase in members, as also recommended by a Senedd reform committee in 2020.

In December, Labour and Plaid Cymru, who occupy 43 of the 60 Senedd seats, signed a co-operation agreement, in which they agreed to "support plans to reform theSenedd, based on 80 to 100 Members."

The Senedd Special Purpose Committee is currently working on plans for Senedd reform and the agreement states it will introduce a bill within 18 months of its reports being published.

The Welsh Conservatives, who have 16 seats in the Senedd have long maintained their opposition to more members.