THE Welsh Government should “seek the approval of its voters” and hold a referendum before expanding the size of the Senedd, the UK Government’s Welsh Secretary has said.

The Labour-led devolved government in Wales has proposed expanding the size of the Welsh Parliament from 60 members to 96.

The plans, agreed as part of a co-operation deal with the Senedd’s Plaid Cymru group, could also see a more proportional voting system adopted.

In Westminster, Conservative MPs expressed concerns about the costs of the reforms and said the money could be better spent on public services.

At Wales Office questions, Conservative MP for Devizes Danny Kruger said: “The Welsh Government has decided it wants to increase the size of the Senedd, however there are real concerns that this will lead to a lack of proportionality in representation.

“Does he agree that this money would be much better spent on public services?”

Simon Hart replied: “Indeed I do. I have to say if this Government was making suggestions of this nature involving the constitution and voting measures, I have every belief that pretty well all of the members opposite would be saying this should be subject to a public referendum at the very least.

“So, I would suggest that the proper course of action for Welsh Government is to seek the approval of its voters before proceeding with any of these costly measures.”

The Conservatives in the Senedd have also opposed the plans as wasteful, but supporters say more MSs are needed to hold the Welsh Government to account.

Elsewhere in the debate, Labour chided the UK Government for not giving Wales a share of HS2 windfall cash and said Chancellor Rishi Sunak would not have needed to make a £10,000 helicopter trip to the Welsh Conservative Party conference if the nation had more rail investment.

Shadow Wales minister Gerald Jones said: “Wales has 11 per cent of the UK railway infrastructure but in recent years only received one per cent of the Government’s investment. If that wasn’t bad enough, classifying HS2 as an England and Wales project is denying Wales nearly £5 billion of investment.

“I know (Mr Hart) doesn’t like us reminding the Welsh public about his Government short-changing Wales. But now the leader of the Welsh Conservatives agrees with us, as does the Welsh affairs select committee.

“Perhaps if the Government had given Wales a fair settlement to upgrade its railways, the Chancellor wouldn’t have to fork out £10,000 for a helicopter to make a round trip from London to Powys. When is the secretary of state going to use his position at the Cabinet table to ensure that his Government coughs up?”

Mr Hart said Mr Jones had made “slightly trite comments”, adding: “I would have thought better of him had he avoided them.”

Mr Hart said the UK Government had invested £340 million in Wales’ rail infrastructure, adding: “I think that he underestimates and he undervalues the investments that we are already making.”