SSo at the next general election the number of Welsh Members of Parliament will be cut down from the current forty to thirty.
Less politicians always goes down well with voters. Whether the same voters will be as pleased when they try to access their new Members of Parliament remains to be seen.
Westminster constituencies and Assembly constituencies have at the moment the same boundaries. The vote to change Westminster’s boundaries has an effect on the Assembly.
There will have to be an uncoupling of National Assembly constituencies from these newly created Westminster seats. If this doesn’t happened there will be ten less members also in the National Assembly.
Some might say hooray to that too. The less politicians some would argue the better.
But hold on, what would happen if there were less AMs. There would be less scrutiny of laws and less people to hold the Welsh Assembly Government to account.
Hughes’s law says, poor law making, makes for big fat lawyers.
Would those that want less politicians be happy to pay lawyers enormous wads of cash to drive a horse and coaches through the defects of Assembly made laws? Unlikely.
No, the Assembly needs a certain number of politicians to do it’s job properly. Fifty is just to small a number. As scientist would put it, you need a critical mass and fifty, just doesn’t do it.
It is debatable that even with sixty members that the Assembly can cope. For certain any reduction from this number would have a detrimental effect on the institution.
In Lord Richards opinion eighty would be required. But that number is barely talked about in the current referendum campaign, just in case it frightens not the horses, but the voters. Why is it that in Wales issues are never properly addressed? Are people afraid to argue the case for a properly functioning democracy.
Last nights vote is significant because it not only changes Westminster but it raises fundamental questions about the National Assembly.
With less MPs in London representing Wales in the law making process it strengthen the case for the power over Welsh laws resting with the Assembly. It even poses the question should more functions not be devolved down from Westminster – perhaps that’s a question for another day
But it does certainly raise the question of how are these law makers to be elected? And how many of them are needed?
Just as Richard put the number of Assembly Members at eighty, in the same report he suggested a change in the voting system. He recommended the single transferable vote system(STV). He thought the system would be fairer and more representative.
Now, whether there is agreement with the dear Lord or not, surely now is the time to debate such issues. For a referendum without such a debate opens up the prospect of another one, if such changes are later to be found necessary. And be assured they undoubtedly will be. For mercy sake, surely no one wants to yawn through yet, another referendum campaign
So, lets not pussyfoot about and try to introduce democracy by stealth. The people of Wales deserve a proper debate.
A fledgling Welsh parliament needs the backing of the people. That backing will only be given if voters understand all the issues.