ERS Cymru Press Release – Response to Draft Wales Bill


Warm welcome for new election powers

Devolution of the voting age, voting system and size of the National Assembly amongst measures welcomed by the Electoral Reform Society

Electoral Reform Society Cymru have responded to the release of the draft Wales bill today (October 20th 2015).

The draft bill provides for the devolution of power over ‘all elements of Assembly elections’. The bill also devolves responsibility to the Assembly to run its own affairs. Some areas are ‘protected subject-matters’ that require a two-thirds majority of all seats in the Assembly. These ‘protected subject-matters’ include:

the franchise for Assembly elections [e.g. Votes at 16];
the electoral system for Assembly elections;
the number of constituencies and regions or other such areas and the numbers of members to be returned in each constituency or region or other such areas [E.g. the size of the Assembly];
changing the name of the Assembly

Steve Brooks, Director of ERS Cymru said:

“After a long wait, we are delighted that the UK Government has revealed its plans to devolve power over Welsh elections to the Assembly.

“When it comes to who can vote and how they can vote, for too long Wales has been stuck in the steam age. These new powers on offer to the Assembly will enable AMs to drag our democracy into the 21st century.

“Important reforms like lowering the voting age and introducing a fair voting system, coupled with ideas like on-line voting and better promotion of elections could help breathe new life into Welsh politics.

“We’re pleased to see the AMs gain new powers over the timing of elections and the overall size of the Assembly. With extra powers we need a stronger Assembly that’s better able to question and challenge the decisions Welsh ministers make.”

Brooks concluded:

“It is also right that the Bill ensures that changes to the ‘rules of the game’ should require a two-thirds majority to ensure there is a real cross-party consensus, and that parties have to work together on this.

“It is now important that all parties work together on the Wales Bill. The work that has already been done to build cross-party consensus around these issues should not be wasted, and that we are able to move to ensure the best governance possible for Wales.

“We look forward to looking at this draft bill in detail, to contributing to its development, and to help build the best possible devolutionary settlement for the people of Wales.”

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