I wish to inform the House that I am today publishing a Green Paper on future electoral arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales.
The Government’s programme of political renewal impacts on all parts of the United Kingdom and, in Wales, has consequences for the Assembly. Currently the constituencies used to elect Assembly Members are the same as those used to elect Members of Parliament. But the move to a smaller House of Commons with more equally sized constituencies breaks that link, and will, subject to parliamentary approval, result in a reduction in the number of parliamentary constituencies in Wales from 40 to 30.
In the Green Paper we look at the effects of these changes on the National Assembly for Wales, and whether people would be better served by continuing to have 40 Assembly constituencies, but with modified boundaries to make them more equal in size, or to reinstate the link with parliamentary constituencies by changing to an Assembly of 30 constituencies. In each case the size of the 60-Member Assembly would not change, and so the number of regional Members would increase from 20 to 30 if the link with parliamentary constituencies is re-established.
Establishing five-year fixed-term Parliaments at Westminster also has implications for the Assembly, and in the Green Paper we seek views on whether the National Assembly for Wales should have four or five-year terms. We are also seeking views on removing the prohibition on standing as a candidate in an Assembly election in both a constituency and a region, and whether Assembly Members should be prohibited from sitting in Parliament.
The consultation closes on 13 August, and the Government will consider carefully the responses we receive before deciding how best to proceed.
The Green Paper will be laid today before both Houses, and is available on the Wales Office website at www.walesoffice.gov.uk.