Senedd reform: progress (of a sort) by Hugh Rawlings


On 30 May 2022, the Special Purpose Committee established to consider the prospect of a larger Senedd published its report. The report’s proposals are bold, calling for a 96-Member Senedd elected via a more proportional electoral system.

In this briefing note, Dr Hugh Rawlings sets out the political and practical background to the Committee’s proposed reforms before analysing the recommendations themselves. He also identifies three challenges that still need to be addressed.

Dr Rawlings, who was Director of Constitutional Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations within the Welsh government, argues that while the commitment to a 96-Member Senedd is welcome, the adoption of a closed proportional list system to elect them would represent a significant backward step. He concludes that the proposed change to the electoral system prioritises the interests of parties over voters, and would enhance the position of political parties whilst reducing voter choice and the accountability of representatives to the electorate.

Before his retirement, Dr Hugh Rawlings worked on devolution and related constitutional issues for more than twenty years. He held numerous senior civil service positions within the Welsh government, most recently as Director of Constitutional Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations.

This publication presents the personal views of the author and not those of The Constitution Society, which publishes it as a contribution to debate on this important subject.