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Friday, May 11, 2012

A question of timing?

The Welsh Government is quite right when it told the BBC yesterday that there is no appetite for a bigger Assembly with 80 AMs. They were responding to the assertion by the Presiding Officer that there are not enough Assembly Members to do the job they were elected to do properly.

Rosemary Butler added that "If you take out the government it does reduce the number of members available to do the work quite considerably.

"I'm not saying we won't manage it, because we'll do it and we'll do it very well. But you ask me the question did I think there should be more assembly members, I think there should.

"Many of the city councils and county councils in Wales have far more members than we do and far less responsibility."

Considering that at the same time as she was calling for a bigger Assembly, the Presiding Officer was also being forced to deny that there is a 'drinking culture' in Cardiff Bay, her timing was strange to say the least. At a time of austerity the last thing that anybody is going to support is more politicians.

The workload is high but I believe we would do better to just get on with doing the job and leave any talk of expanding the Assembly until we have proved we can make a real difference with our new powers.

"The Siambr can be increased to accommodate 80 AMs in the future, by removing temporary walls."
If this quote from Wikipedia is correct, then it appears there is an expectation that the number of members would be 80 at some point. So no surprise that Butler suggest expansion to 80.
If we are to have less MPs then it makes sense to have more AMs. My concern is about Quality. Are there enough people of the right calibre to fill the extra places?
Surely her point about councils is a misleading one? You lot work full time. Most councillors of my acquaintance are part-time. The culture and ethos are entirely different.

Unless she's suggesting we go back to the pre-Lloyd George days when MPs had to meet in the evenings because they were working during the day? I'm not the biggest fan of politicians, but I would consider that a very backward step.
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