Increase the number of AM's from 60 to 100 says new report
The number of AMs in the Welsh Assembly needs to almost double in order for them to properly scrutinise government, according to a new report.
The study by the Electoral Reform Society and the UK's Changing Union found it had a much smaller number of AMs compared to similar law-making bodies around the world, and suggests increasing the number of AMs from 60 to 100.
The Scottish Parliament has 129 members, and Northern Ireland's Assembly has 108.
The Welsh government said it would be premature to speculate ahead of a decision on extra assembly powers.
Deputy presiding officer David Melding AM said: “I welcome this report which has, for the first time, provided us with some relevant international comparisons and analysis of the demands on assembly members.
“I am sure this report will play an important role in informing the current debate as we move towards the publication of the Silk Commission's inquiry.”
The Silk Commission, set up by the UK government, is currently looking at the devolution settlement in Wales and has already said ministers in Cardiff should be given the power to vary some tax rates.
Plaid AM and member of the Constitution and Legislative Affairs Committee Simon Thomas supported the findings of the report.
He said: “If you compare Wales to devolved countries and regions in places such as Germany, Australia and Canada, it becomes clear that we have a low number of politicians scrutinising the Welsh Government.
“This is not good for democracy in Wales and this is why Plaid Cymru has supported previous recommendations to increase the number of AMs to improve accountability.
“As the prospect of devolving financial and taxation levers from Westminster becomes more real, along with other responsibilities, we need to ensure that the Welsh Assembly is able to meet the increased demands.
“Any failure to do so could lead to a democratic deficit.
The new report said after an international comparison of similar bodies, the number of AMs should be 100.
An Assembly with 100 AMs would cost taxpayers about £10.1m per year, but the report’s authors argue that with the number of MPs and local councillors both likely to be reduced, it was time for a “mature debate” about the balance of political representation.