THE first minister has backed calls to increase the number of Senedd members.

Mark Drakeford said there was growing enthusiasm among MSs to bolster the Senedd's ranks, but that it would be for all MSs – not his government – to make a decision.

Previous studies have recommended bringing in additional Senedd members. A parliamentary committee report last autumn said laws should be passed "early in the sixth Senedd" (the current term) to raise the number of MSs by 20 or 30 in time for the next national election in 2026.

Mr Drakeford told BBC Wales today he felt there was a "significant tide across parties" in Wales to make the Senedd "fit for the responsibilities it now discharges".

The Senedd is currently made up of 60 members, 40 of whom represent constituencies and the remaining 20 represent five larger regions.

In response to the first minister's comments today, the Welsh Conservatives said they would resist any moves to add to the Senedd's numbers, arguing that the government should be focusing on recovery from the pandemic.

Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies, whose party group is the second-largest in the Welsh Parliament, said Mr Drakeford was "badly mistaken" to think there was cross-party support for increasing the number of MSs.


The Tories refused to take part in a Senedd committee's reform report last September that went on to recommend the 20 or 30 extra members. The Brexit Party also withdrew from the study – though that party (now named Reform UK) no longer has any representation in the Senedd.

"Only Labour and Plaid Cymru have an appetite to create more politicians in Cardiff Bay," said Mr Davies in a statement this morning. “Welsh Conservatives have been clear that this parliamentary term should be focused solely on Wales’ recovery from coronavirus, not increasing the size of the Senedd."

Jane Dodds, meanwhile, said her Welsh Liberal Democrats party would be prepared to work with other parties to increase the number of Senedd members.

The Lib Dem leader is the only representative of her party to have won a seat in the recent election, and said reforms of the Senedd should not stop at bringing in additional MSs.

Ms Dodds said the first minister's comments were "encouraging and I hope he will be true to his word" but that "any change to the number of MSs should also go hand in hand with the introduction of a proportional voting system, for Senedd elections to make sure that every vote counts and every member elected is elected by the majority of voters".

Plaid Cymru also supports expanding the Senedd. Party leader Adam Price told BBC Wales the parliament is "currently too small to fulfil its role of holding the government of the day to account".

With Mr Drakeford's Welsh Labour party holding 30 of the Senedd's 60 seats in this term, a vote on increasing the number of MSs could pass with ease, should Plaid and the Lib Dems continue to support the reform.

This article originally appeared on our sister site The National.