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Welsh parliament votes to increase Senedd members by more than 50% | UK News

The Welsh parliament has voted to approve an increase of more than 50% in its number of members.

The Senedd, located in Cardiff Bay, currently has 60 members – but the now-approved government plans will see that figure rise to 96.

This week marks 25 years since the Welsh Assembly, as it was then known, conducted its first election.

The Senedd Reform Bill needed a supermajority of the Senedd – two thirds of members – to give it the green light.

Fourty-three members voted in favour of the bill on Wednesday evening, with 16 against.

The Labour government entered into a cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru to make sure they had the numbers to vote it through.

But the largest opposition party in the Senedd, the Conservatives, have said money should instead be spent on getting more teachers in Wales’s schools and more staff in the Welsh NHS.

The Welsh Conservatives’ Darren Millar said the bill was the “biggest power grab” in the history of Welsh democracy and reiterated calls for a referendum.

According to the Welsh government’s own figures, the bill as a whole will cost up to £120m to implement over an eight-year period.

How will the new constituencies work?

Currently, two-thirds of the Senedd’s members represent 40 individual constituencies. The other 20 members represent five larger regions.

People choose an individual candidate for the constituency, and vote for a political party or independent candidate in the regional vote.

From the next election, the 32 Welsh constituencies at Westminster will be paired to form 16 Senedd constituencies.

Each of the 16 constituencies will be represented by six members.

Unless an independent candidate, members will be chosen from a list drawn up by political parties.

Elections will take place every four years instead of five, and candidates will have to be registered to vote in Wales under a new requirement.

‘Investment in democracy’

The Welsh government argues the Senedd will be in a better position to scrutinise and hold the government to account with more members.

“It is an investment in democracy, it is an investment in the future of Wales and I urge members to support and to pass this historic piece of legislation,” counsel general Mick Antoniw said.

Wales currently has fewer members in its devolved administration than those of Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has 90, while the Scottish Parliament has 129.

The move to increase members in Cardiff comes as the number of MPs representing Wales at Westminster will be cut from 40 to 32 at the next election.

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Jane Dodds, told the chamber she would support the legislation but said the bill was “fundamentally flawed” due to the proposed closed list voting system.

She said those changes risked “robbing voters of true choice”.

“This will be the parliament that is ready to serve a confident, independent Wales,” Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth told the Senedd.

But Labour backbencher Joyce Watson said the vote “isn’t about moving towards an independent Wales”.

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The bill will formally become law when it receives Royal Assent in early July.

The changes will be in place in time for the next Senedd election in May 2026.

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