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Friday, May 20, 2016

Neil Hamilton and the danger of self-interested reform

The Western Mail reports that former Wales Office minister David Hanson has called for a ban on people who live outside Wales being able to stand in the Assembly.

Mr. Hanson is exercised by the election of UKIP’s Neil Hamilton to the Welsh Assembly. Mr Hamilton's main home is a manor house in Hullavington, Wiltshire (pictured below) and rather than following his new job over the border into Wales he is considering buying a mobile home instead. It is not clear whether he expects the Assembly to pay for that vehicle or not, in lieu of a permanent office.

Mr. Hanson's view is that this is unacceptable and he is pushing for a clause to be inserted in the forthcoming Wales Bill to ensure that only people who live within the borders of Wales can stand as an AM:

He said: “I believe that we should be applying the same principles applied when people stand for council elections to the Welsh Assembly. This is an argument of localism.

“People who live in the area or region should be the only ones allowed to stand.”

The Delyn Labour MP continued: “For example, I have discovered that in this year’s Welsh Assembly election at least 21 candidates stood for election to either constituencies or regions who didn’t live in Wales. The most high profile of these candidates was Neil Hamilton...

“I strongly believe that only people living in the area should be able to stand for the Welsh Assembly. Living in a region or area is the link that enables you to understand the challenges and opportunities facing an area.

“That is why I will be calling on the Government to include an amendment to the Wales Bill that will bring elections to the Welsh Assembly into line with other elections and more importantly ensure that localism underpins the Welsh Assembly.

The problem with this of course is that it is easily circumvented, and it is really not good practise to tailor constitutional reforms to specific and time-limited circumstances.

If Mr. Hanson really wants to introduce a worthwhile reform in the new bill, he could not do better than scrapping the Assembly's confusing and non-proportionate voting system and instead proposing that in future we have 80 AMs all elected by STV.
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