PLANS to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in future Welsh Assembly elections, as well as to change the Assembly's name to the Senedd, have been formally unveiled.

As part of the name change - which will also allow the Assembly to be referred to as the Welsh Parliament - AMs will become Members of the Senedd, or Aelodau o’r Senedd in Welsh. This is planned to come into force in May 2020, a year ahead of the next Assembly Election.

The new reform bill, which will require a 'super majority' of at least 40 AMs to vote in favour of it to pass, is being introduced 20 years after the Assembly was first formed. It follows a consultation carried out between December 2016 and March 2017 which showed 59 per cent agreed with the idea of lowering the voting age to 16 and 61 per cent agreed the Assembly should change its name. Meanwhile, 60 per cent said the role of the Assembly is not well understood.


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Presiding officer Elin Jones said: “I hope that the bill will spark interesting and meaningful debate about our democracy and political engagement in Wales.

“The aim is to encourage members, stakeholders and the wider public to participate in discussions on the future shape of our national Parliament.

“The provision to lower the voting age to 16 will, I hope, engage young people in particular in the democratic process. The proposal to change the Assembly’s name to Senedd will better reflect the institution’s status as a parliament.

“After 20 years, this is a golden opportunity to renew our democracy and ensure that Wales’s national parliament enables us to do our best for our constituents today and for future generations.”

South Wales Argus:

Presiding officer Elin Jones

It is planned to reduce the voting age in time for the 2021 Assembly Election, and the Welsh Government will work with schools to ensure young people are given the necessary political education.

The bill will also change the rules on who is banned from running to be an AM, which will mean members of the House of Lords will not be able to serve in the Assembly unless they take a formal leave of absence from Westminster.

There are currently two Peers in the Assembly - Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, also the Welsh Government's deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism, and Baroness Eluned Morgan, who is also in the cabinet as minister for international relations and the Welsh language.

Some internal rules will also be amended, meaning the first plenary following an election will not have to be held for 14 days - currently it must be held within seven days. This is intended to provide more time to select a first minister and government.

Ms Jones has written to every school in Wales with a resource pack about votes at 16, available via the Hwb platform.

Although it had previously been suggested the number of AMs could be increased from 60 to as many as 90, this is not included in the new bill. But the Assembly has said this is likely to be proposed in the future.

The Assembly has provided a list of answers to frequently asked questions about the bill here.