Think tank: Wales needs 40 more AMs
12:58pm Wednesday 16th October 2013 in News
THERE needs to be more Assembly members with overstretched AMs currently struggling to scrutinise the Welsh Government.
That’s according to the UK’s Changing Union think tank and the Electoral Reform Society Cymru, which backed a joint report saying the current size of the Senedd is too small and there should be 100 AMs.
It says that more could be made of existing resources if there were fewer MPs, councillors and members of the House of Lords in Wales.
Director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru Steve Brooks said: “With more and more powers being devolved, the impact the Assembly has on our everyday lives has grown enormously since 1999.
“The Assembly now controls a budget of nearly £15billion, is able to pass laws on health, education and transport, and there is a proposal on the table to give it power over income tax.
“The danger is that without a larger Assembly, laws on subjects like organ donations and smacking, and decisions on how much tax should we pay will be rushed.
The present size of the Assembly means that at the moment there are only 42 backbench AMs, out of a total of 60, available to scrutinise the Welsh Government.
The report argues that AMs are currently badly overstretched and struggle to do that work, and that based on analysing other legislatures the report recommends the Senedd should be expanded to 100 members.
A 100 member National Assembly would cost the taxpayer an estimated £10.1million per annum, the report claims.
However it suggests that if the number of councillors in Wales were cut by half there could be an annual saving of £8.3 million – almost matching the cost of having 40 more AMs.
The matter of councils is being looked at currently by the Welsh Government’s Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery, which is due to report at the end of 2013, but it has been mooted that the number of councils could be cut in half.
The report says Wales has more councillors, and a greater number of councillors per head, than Scotland, despite Scotland having a population of 5.1 million and Wales having a population of 3.1 million.
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