Y Pwyllgor Biliau Diwygio

Reform Bill Committee

26/10/2023

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Darren Millar
David Rees Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Heledd Fychan
Sarah Murphy

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Alan Renwick Aelod o'r Panel Arbenigol ar Ddiwygio Etholiadol y Cynulliad
Member of the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform
Alun Davidson Clerc, Tîm Newid Cyfansoddiadol/Strategaeth Busnes Seneddol
Clerk, Constitutional Change/Parliamentary Business Strategy Team
Jane Dodds Aelod o’r Senedd dros Ganolbarth a Gorllewin Cymru
Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales
Manon Antoniazzi Prif Weithredwr a Chlerc y Senedd
Chief Executive and Clerk of the Senedd
Yr Athro Diana Stirbu Athro Polisi Cyhoeddus a Llywodraethu, Prifysgol Fetropolitan Llundain
Professor of Public Policy and Governance, London Metropolitan University
Yr Athro Laura McAllister Cadeirydd y Panel Arbenigol ar Ddiwygio Etholiadol y Cynulliad
Chair of the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform
Siwan Davies Dirprwy Brif Weithredwr a Chlerc a Chyfarwyddwr Busnes y Senedd
Deputy Chief Executive and Clerk and Director of Senedd Business
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd Y Llywydd
The Llywydd

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Catherine Roberts Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Georgina Owen Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Helen Finlayson Clerc
Clerk
Josh Hayman Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Samiwel Davies Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:19.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:19.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions, and declarations of interest

Okay. Can I welcome Members and the public to this morning's meeting of the committee? We will be undertaking evidence sessions today, but before we do that, can I just do some housekeeping? Can I remind Members, please, to turn your mobile phones off or to silent, so that we're not interrupted during our sessions? The meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv and a transcript of the proceedings will be published in the usual way. We operate a bilingual system in the Senedd, and therefore, if you require simultaneous translation from Welsh to English, the headsets are available and that's on channel 1. If you require amplification, that will be on channel 2. Also, there is no scheduled fire alarm this morning, so if one does take place, please follow the directions of the ushers to a safe location.

2. Bil Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau): Sesiwn dystiolaeth gyda’r Panel Arbenigol ar Ddiwygio Etholiadol y Cynulliad
2. Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill: Evidence session with the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform

We move on to the first evidence session. Can I welcome our witnesses, Professor Laura McAllister, who was chair of the expert panel on Assembly electoral reform, and Professor Alan Renwick, who was a member of the expert panel on Senedd reform? Welcome. I'm going to move into questions quickly, because we have a shortage of time, and perhaps I'll start with the first one. In your views, based upon the work you did in the expert panel—and I appreciate that we had a special purpose committee after that and we've had other committees since—is there anything that you would have expected in the Bill that isn't in the Bill?

09:20

Diolch yn fawr iawn, Cadeirydd. Thank you very much. I think Alan and I are very cognisant that we worked on the expert panel report some six to seven years ago now, and I think politics and constitutional matters have moved on since then. I don't think there's anything in the Bill that is unexpected. I think some aspects of the Bill are very much tidying up areas, for example, around the Deputy Presiding Officer and additional Deputy Presiding Officer and the term lengths. I think, generally, the issues and the debate around size are closely related to the ones that we had whilst we were working on the expert panel. Clearly, the impact of Brexit is more clearly felt now, in terms of the competences that have come to the Senedd since then, and I think there's also a more live debate around the deepening of powers for the institution than there was when we worked on our report, not least the independent commission that I'm chairing with Dr Rowan Williams, which, of course, is looking at all of these matters.

So, I don't think there's anything that isn't there that we thought should be there, although I think Alan and I will both want to challenge some of the content of the Bill from the perspective of our analysis of how you enlarge the Senedd.

I would just say that, clearly, the two areas where the expert panel made recommendations where either there isn't material in the Bill or there is only limited material are in relation to gender quotas and job sharing. But I understand, of course, that, on gender quotas, there's separate legislation coming, and on job sharing, there is at least a step in that direction in the Bill.

Okay, thank you. We will go into some of those details, obviously, in the questioning. I was more concerned with trying to find out if there's anything that you think the Bill missed an opportunity on, effectively, and rather than meeting all the expectations, was there something that could have been done. Perhaps that'll be teased out in some of the questions as we move on. Sarah.

Thank you, Chair. Thank you, both, for being here this morning. I'm just going to ask a few questions, then, on the size of the Senedd, because your expert panel recommended that it should be 80 to 90 Members, but it's now being proposed that it should be 96. You also said that you were not persuaded that the benefits of having more than 90 Members would necessarily outweigh the resultant increase in costs. So, could you explain to us a little bit how you came to that conclusion and what your thoughts are now that 96 is being proposed, please?

Yes. We undertook quite considerable research of an international comparator basis around size and we tried to look, as far as you ever can, in a scientific way at what would be the appropriate size for the Senedd in the future. As you mentioned, Sarah, we were recommending a bracket of between 80 and 90 and suggesting that the upper end of that bracket would be more appropriate, given the form-follows-function approach that we'd taken with our research. There's lots of evidence out there, of course, that compares institutions according to the competence that they have, the size of the population, any territorial issues, and so on. And I think that was the right bracket for then.

Of course, 96 is slightly above the recommended number that we put forward, and I'll just make two points on that. I think, given what's happened in the meantime, that probably gives an added security to futureproofing the size of the Senedd, because nothing would be more problematic than to increase the size once and then have to go back and increase the size again within a relatively short period. That's relevant, of course, because there's a live debate about the deepening and widening of the powers of the Senedd, not just through our commission, but more widely. So, I think that's important. Were something like justice to be devolved to Wales, then, clearly, there would be the need for a much bigger capacity of scrutiny, particularly, and, potentially, for the ministerial capacity side as well.

I think the other point I'd make, and Alan would probably have additional ones, is that it's a very fine balance between cost and benefits, and also public opinion, because, clearly, you would want to bring the public with you on a journey towards enlarging the Senedd. That's not always easy, of course, as we all know. But we made the point that there was less return in terms of benefits for the cost that it would swallow were we to go above 90, so I think that argument has to be made for 96 based on that delicate balance between cost and benefit.

09:25

I agree with everything Laura has said there. Clearly, it's a matter of balancing costs and benefits. So, the benefits of increased size are particularly around greater opportunities for representation and, particularly, greater opportunities for deeper scrutiny within the Chamber. The costs are principally simply financial costs—it costs more, clearly, to run a bigger Chamber, and, potentially, costs in relation to public opinion if there is a perception that more politicians, to use the language that often would be used, are a bad thing.

I think it's clear that the benefits continue to grow, so there continues to be more benefit as you increase the size of the Chamber. Looking back at our report from six years ago, it's quite striking that we talk about how, even if you're increasing the number of Members to the sort of range that we were talking about, in order to gain benefits in terms of Members being able to specialise to a greater degree, not having to be on multiple committees, it would still be necessary to have quite a lot of constraint upon the number of members of a committee, the number of committees. So, the benefits continue to develop further as you go beyond 90 in terms of being able to have a stronger scrutiny system, but the costs clearly grow as well. Our calculation at the time was that those costs become harder to justify as you go into that range.

But, as Laura says, if you take into account that we are six years further down the line now, there have been lots of changes. As Laura said, Brexit in particular has happened and brings additional changes, and the desirability of futureproofing is considerable. So, I would be quite comfortable with 96 as a number at this stage. 

Okay, thank you. So, just to clarify, the report was six years ago, and when you did it, you based the 80 to 90 on the current powers, not on the potential future powers, which, as you said, could be justice.

Yes, except we did note that the debate was ongoing over further areas of devolution, and also the point that I made about not wanting to have to revisit this question, hence our recommendation was at the upper end of the 80 to 90 figure.

Okay, thank you very much. Just my last question, then—you've touched on this a few times, but it would be good just to get a solid, clear answer. Do you think the costs proposed for the implementation of the Bill appear to be proportionate compared with those published by the expert panel?

I think they do, yes. I looked closely at the detail of the costs, and whilst I didn't sit down with a calculator and work out what inflation was on each of those and rising costs around energy and everything else, I think they're certainly in line with the calculations that we worked on for the additional Members back in 2016. Of course, it's always extremely difficult to work out exactly what ongoing and one-off costs are for this.

I'd make one other relevant point, if I may, which follows on from Alan's. Once you go beyond 90 Members, I think there needs to be a really forensic conversation about how you staff Members as well, because I think we're pushing at the upper end of what is appropriate for the powers that we have currently and what might happen in the near future. I wouldn't like to see the benefits of having politicians being diluted, particularly, by having heavy staff complements, because I think our argument in the expert panel was that staff, whilst they're tremendous and do wonderful work—and I've seen that at first-hand—they can't do the work that a politician does. The rationale for increasing the size of the Senedd has to be about specialisation for Members, and the time and the thinking space that you need to be able to scrutinise effectively. And I've always felt very sympathetic to you as politicians who sit on several committees, because it's almost impossible for you to prepare in a way that allows you to generate the kind of scrutiny that you want to do.

So, my argument, or my point, really, is that we need to be mindful that once we go over the 90 threshold, there probably needs to be a revisiting of what staffing resource is given to the Members as well. That's not suggesting you diminish that, but you don't necessarily increase it in line with the increase in the politicians. 

09:30

Can I ask a question on this, then, because 96 was above your previous limit? You've indicated that you were looking at futureproofing; we don't know how far away that might be yet. Have you considered, or did you consider, a combination of increasing the number of Members, plus a change in the way in which the Senedd works?

Yes, we did. We spent quite a lot of time looking at alternatives to enlarging the Senedd, the areas that you know about, obviously—expanding the working week, using the working week differently, streamlining the committees, reducing the membership of the committees, and so on. But there's an obvious trade-off with all of that, which seemed very clear to us, which was that, with a very small number of non-ministerial MSs, your capacity to do things differently is still massively constrained. 

There's also an argument, of course, that if you don't increase the number of politicians, but change the operational format of the institution, you become dependent on non-political capacity here, so staff, not just staff of politicians, but staff of the Commission themselves. And I don't think that necessarily enhances the scrutiny objective, which was the key rationale for why we were recommending an enlargement of the Senedd. 

No, I don't have a view, to be honest, on the financial cost calculations; that's beyond my expertise. 

Can I just pick up on the costs issue, for a moment, if I may? You're right, this does influence how people feel about the proposals and whether they support their implementation or not. So, in your report in 2017, you indicated an upper cost end—which, presumably, was based on an additional 30 Members—of £9.6 million per annum. I don't know how you drilled that down to—. I know that there were some tables with costs in the document. There are two questions I've got about this. One: when I put that through the Bank of England inflation tool on their website, it suggests that the annual cost for 30 extra Members—not 36 as proposed—would be about £12.26 million per year on a recurrent basis. Obviously, these figures appear to be significantly higher than that—disproportionately higher than that—when you take into account that there are only an extra six Members. So, the Welsh Government's calculations are around £17 million in terms of the annual recurrent costs on a yearly basis. Now, appreciating there's been inflation, but I've just taken that into account, is there any reason that you think it's so significantly different? Were there any areas that, when you looked at it, you thought, 'Well, actually, perhaps that could be significantly greater, but we'll allow this'?

Not that I'm aware of, but, as I say, I very much lack expertise on this. The point that I would make—and you're absolutely right, clearly, to scrutinise these figures very carefully—is when we're thinking about the merits of a larger Senedd, it seems to me, in the grand scheme of things, these are fairly small sums of money, and the benefits of a well-functioning legislature are very, very considerable. So, it's absolutely right to be careful about the costs, but I'm just wary of placing too much emphasis on those when we're looking at the Bill as a whole. 

09:35

Can I just, if I may, Darren, jump in on that issue? You'll also see in our report that we talked about some counsel to the Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd—not to assume that everything necessarily had to be done in the same way with more Members. Because it's back to the point I made to Sarah, if you have more Members, then you expect work to be done differently. And I've worked with the remuneration board, so I'm very aware that some of the conversations that we'd had in the past were about compensating for an under-resourced political capacity. So, some of the proposals that were being made were to help MSs, because there were so few of them, but—

So, your figures took into account a reduction in staffing levels, did they, for MSs?

Well, we certainly looked at that. I mean, the figures were ballpark figures, as they had to be at that point. We didn't have the time or the space or, as Alan said, the expertise to drill into the absolute detail of that. But I think that's a live consideration for how you might want to support professionally 96 politicians, and therefore, I'm not sure if that was taken into account with the Welsh Government figures that were put in front of you.

Yes, I mean, just looking at the figures, they're, what, 38 per cent higher than you'd expect them to be, accounting for inflation. Okay—

Before you go on, Darren, Heledd wants to come in on this particular point.

Byddaf i'n siarad yn Gymraeg. Jest eisiau mynd ar ôl y pwynt capasiti oeddwn i yn benodol hefyd. Ydych chi'n sôn am staff Aelodau etholedig neu staff y Comisiwn ac ati, oherwydd, yn amlwg, mae yna wahaniaeth mawr? Ac un o'r pethau dŷn ni wedi'i weld yn ddiweddar ydy, wrth i fwy o bobl fod yn ymwybodol o'r Senedd, fod cynnydd wedi bod mewn gwaith achos a staff o ran etholaeth neu ranbarth ac ati, o gymharu ag Aelodau Seneddol. Felly, jest eisiau deall y mater o gapasiti yma, oherwydd mae yna wahaniaeth, onid oes, rhwng staff Comisiwn a staff efo Aelodau.

I will be contributing in Welsh. I just wanted to pursue the capacity issue specifically. Are you talking about the staff of elected Members or Commission staff, because, clearly, there is a major difference there? And one of the things that we have seen recently is that, as more people become aware of the Senedd, there has been an increase in casework for staff in constituencies and regions, as compared to MPs. So, I just wanted to understand that issue of capacity, because there is a difference between Commission staff and Member staff.

Yn union.

Precisely.

I completely agree, and I'm certainly not suggesting for a moment that there should be a reduction in either the staff of the Commission or the staff that work individually for politicians individually. But I think it would be wrong not to look at the support structure around the body of politicians, if the body of politicians increases. Because the evidence that we took in our expert panel, including from the Hansard Society and various other organisations and individuals, made the point quite clearly that the biggest asset to effective scrutiny is the time and the specialisation of politicians. You can compensate for that—and I don't need to tell you that, obviously—by having great staff who are doing the research for you, but at the end of the day, it's you who needs to be in the committee room or challenging budgets and so on. So, I think that needs a debate, and I would be very surprised if the Independent Remuneration Board wouldn't be looking at that in some detail. But I don't think that necessarily means a reduction; it might mean a recalibration or a restructuring of how people work in order to give you the capacity to scrutinise effectively.

Can I follow up on that? Sorry, Darren. Can I just ask, then, because, obviously, one of the things that Westminster has is in terms of access to Short money and so on, to support the nature of opposition work, which is different. So, when you are talking about recalibration, do you think we just need to look at how everything works together in terms of supporting policy development work and so on, some of the things that may be lacking at present?

Yes, I mean, Alan might want to talk about the Short money scenario in the House of Commons, but, for me, I think this is an opportunity as well to look strategically at the support that you have as politicians. I think what's happened over the 24 years of devolution is that things have been bolted on to compensate for an underpowered Senedd, and that's not necessarily the best strategic way of doing it. And I'm not suggesting that the House of Commons has got this perfectly right, by any means, but I think this is an opportunity for the Independent Remuneration Board to look at things in the round, to make sure that you are resourced in a way that allows you to discharge those responsibilities.

Just another aspect of cost, obviously, is making this building fit for purpose and providing sufficient office space for bums on seats, as it were, and the kit that people might need. The Senedd Commission figures seem to be rather lower than you would expect in terms of their estimates: there's £1.8 million-worth of capital expenditure to make all of the adjustments in the Senedd Chamber and office space. What figures did you arrive at when you were considering these matters? Can you remind us?

09:40

We split them, didn't we, in terms of recurring costs and one-off costs, and, obviously, the capital costs were included in those. But I'm not going to pretend to be expert enough to know if the restructuring of this building with its resources is accurately reflected in that number. I can only imagine that the Commission has broken that down into the areas you mentioned, Darren, around—

I wish you had, otherwise I wouldn't be asking you. Okay. We'll make sure that we refer to the report.

Can I turn everybody's attention, then, to the issue of the number of Ministers that's proposed in this Bill? In your evidence, Alan Renwick, you made reference to the fact that one of the principles, if you like, of Senedd expansion should be that the growth of the Executive should be smaller than the growth of the Parliament itself, so that that can aid and improve scrutiny. Do you think that they've gotten the balance right, the Welsh Government, in the Bill that they've put forward?

The proposal, of course, is that the Senedd would increase by 60 per cent and the number of Ministers would increase by a little over a third, if you include the First Minister and the Counsel General in the number of Ministers. So, that basic principle is adhered to. I don't have a view on what the exact number of Ministers ought to be—you need much greater expertise on Wales than I have in order to calculate that exact figure—but certainly, that number is within the right sort of range.

As I've said in my evidence, the point in the Bill that I have more concerns around is the suggestion that it would be possible through regulations for Ministers further to increase that number by two. It just seems to me a really fundamental point that it shouldn't be for Ministers to decide an increase in the number of Ministers; that ought to be a decision that is made by the Senedd as a whole, through full scrutiny, i.e. through primary legislation. So, that is a point in the Bill that I would have a clear concern about.

Ministers obviously could only introduce those regulations if there was a vote in the Senedd—that's what we're told—and of course it would take the number of Ministers from the current 12 up to 17 and then up to 19, potentially, with the vote. One thing that there doesn't appear to be in the legislation is any mechanism to peel that back to 17 if there's a new incoming Government, for example. Do you think that that's something that should be in the Bill?

I think the provision in the Bill should simply not be there. It should simply be for primary legislation to decide that maximum number of—

Yes. I agree entirely with Alan's point about primary legislation and about a supermajority for changing that, because I think that's right for a constitutional matter of this import. Just in defence of the increase, which I think is proportionate, as Alan said, to the size of the legislature, it's the issue over widening of powers in the future, but it's also the issue of the size of the portfolios that Ministers currently have, which I think are too large and unwieldy in terms of the scope of coverage and being able to discharge those responsibilities well. So I think, on balance, the increase that's being suggested is about right, with the provisos that Alan has made around securing that only through primary legislation, and, in my opinion, supermajorities in the Senedd.

So up to 19 is about right, or up to 17—could you just clarify that for me?

I think up to 17 is right, but I don't object to a future increase, subject to the caveats that we've made here. And that, I think, would only appropriately be brought forward if there was to be a widening of the powers of the Senedd—for example, to include justice, or additional powers over welfare, or broadcasting.

So, there'd have to be a clear business case, as it were, a justification for that increase.

I think that would be the nature of the debate in the Senedd if it was primary legislation coming forward, and I think it's appropriate for it to be scrutinised in that way.

And just in terms of the balance here, there are an additional five Ministers, potentially up to an additional seven Ministers, but on the parliamentary side, the scenarios that are set out suggest just an additional three committees of the Senedd in order to assist with the scrutiny of those roles. Is that enough?

09:45

It would depend on the nature of the ministerial roles, clearly. Generally, you want to have a mapping of the ministerial roles and committee roles, and I'm not sure exactly what is being proposed there, but that ought to be the principle that should be upheld. 

But three would be enough, would it? Because the scenarios range from one to three committees. 

It's very difficult, obviously, for us to comment on how a future Senedd should operate, because I think that's a decision for the Senedd itself, with advice from the Commission. But I think it's back to my point about whether the Senedd acquires additional powers. Justice generates a huge area of potential scrutiny, doesn't it, with all aspects of the criminal justice system, including police, probation, prisons, and so on. I don't know how you as a Senedd would wish to map that across the committee structure. But I think our report does give some useful intelligence about how committees should be balanced, that they shouldn't be too big and unwieldy, but neither should they be so small that you can't reach quorum and also that you can't build organisational expertise within the group. But I think it would be wrong of us to be too prescriptive over how the committee structure would look in the future. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Dwi'n mynd i ofyn cwestiwn yn Gymraeg. Bore da i chi'ch dau. Mae'r cwestiwn cyntaf, os yw hynny'n iawn, i Alan. Rydym ni wedi gweld—ac mae'n help mawr ei chael—tystiolaeth rydych chi wedi roi i'r pwyllgor ynglŷn â'r Bil sydd gennym ni o'n blaenau ni. Mae hynny'n help mawr. Diolch yn fawr iawn. Ym mharagraff 15 o'ch tystiolaeth—dwi ddim yn siŵr os ydych chi eisiau edrych yn ôl—rydych chi'n siarad am ddewis y pleidleiswyr, ac rydych chi'n sôn hefyd eich bod chi ddim yn hapus am y system sy'n cael ei chynnig i ni—hynny yw, y system closed list, rhestr gaeedig—am bod hynny yn lleihau dewis y pleidleiswyr. A allwch chi jest sôn mwy am hynny, os gwelwch yn dda? Achos mae hynny'n dod drosodd o bob peth rydych chi wedi sgwennu ynglŷn â'r Bil sydd o'n blaenau ni. Diolch yn fawr iawn. 

Thank you very much. I'll be asking my questions in Welsh. Good morning. The first question is for Alan, if that's okay. It's very helpful to have the evidence that you've provided to the committee on the Bill currently before us. That's very helpful indeed. Thank you very much for that. In paragraph 15 of your evidence—I don't know if you'd want to review that—you talk about voter choice, and you also mention that you're not content with the system that's being proposed—namely the closed list system—because that restricts voter choice. Can you just tell us more about that? Because that comes across from everything that you've written on the Bill before us. Thank you. 

Yes, certainly. Thank you. We have, in all democracies at present, a lot of public dissatisfaction with how democracy functions. We have particular dissatisfaction and disillusionment, I'm sorry to say, with politicians, and a concern that politicians—. I'm not expressing a view on this; I'm just saying this is—

There's a public perception that politicians are out of touch—all of the things that you are very familiar with. We have abundant evidence from various sources that removing from voters the opportunity to vote for an individual politician, to choose an individual person on the ballot paper, would further enhance that dissatisfaction. I did a big study a few years ago of voting systems across all European countries, and there has been a very clear trend over recent decades towards giving voters greater choice at the level of individual candidates, precisely in order to respond to that concern. 

In the UK in particular, clearly the UK democratic tradition is one of voting for individuals in elections. We see that in first-past-the-post for Westminster elections, but also under the additional member system—people are able to vote for individual candidates. We've done a lot of recent survey evidence looking at public attitudes to democracy in the UK, and people really value accountability, they really value the principle of being able to 'throw the rascals out', and that includes at the Government level, but also at the individual level. 

It just seems to me very, very clear that to remove that ability for voters to vote for individual candidates would create a significant danger of increasing public disaffection with the system. And when we're talking about a reform to increase the number of politicians, when that is the context, then the suggestion that you also then change the voting system in order to give voters less power to determine who the individual politicians filling those seats are seems to me really dangerous. I just would urge the committee and the Senedd as a whole to think very seriously about whether it really wants to go down that kind of path. 

09:50

Diolch yn fawr. Jest cwestiwn byr, os gwelwch yn dda. Felly, beth ydych chi'n glir amdano, dwi'n meddwl—ond dwi eisiau jest cadarnhau hyn, os mae hynny'n iawn—yw eich bod chi'n dweud bod yr hyn sydd o'n blaenau ni, hynny yw y system rhestr gaeedig, ddim yn gadael i'r pleidleiswyr gael y dewis dros rywun. Hynny yw, fel dwi'n ei ddeall o'ch tystiolaeth, mae'r blaid yn cael y dewis o bwy sy'n mynd mewn i'r rhestr gaeedig. Mae gennych chi farn hefyd am system lle y buasai, efallai, y pleidleiswyr yn cael y dewis. Dwi'n meddwl eich bod chi'n dweud ym mharagraff 17 bod y flexible list system yn fwy derbyniol. Dwi jest eisiau cadarnhau mai dyna beth rydych chi'n ei ddweud.

Thank you. And just a brief question. So, what you're clear on, I think—and I just want to confirm this, if I may—is you seem to be saying that what's before us now, the closed list system, is not allowing voters to have that choice. As I understand from your evidence, the party makes that choice in terms of who will be included on that closed list. And you also have a view on a system that would provide more of that voter choice. I think you say in paragraph 17 that the flexible list system would be more acceptable in your view. I just want to confirm that that is your view. 

Yes, certainly. Clearly, under a closed list system the voters directly do not have any influence over which of the party's candidates are elected. Presumably, when parties are deciding who goes at the top of the list, they're going to take into account public opinion in that they're going to want to have more popular people at the top of the list. So it's not as though there isn't an indirect influence there, but there's no direct connection.

There are two kinds of system that the expert panel considered that would give voters a choice at the individual candidate level. The panel recommended in favour of a single transferable vote system, which in a sense maximises the amount of choice that is available to voters and the degree of influence that voters have in determining which of a party's candidates are elected. And you, of course, will be very familiar with STV systems. But the expert panel also indicated that it would be acceptable to have a flexible list system, and a flexible list system is one in which each party presents a list of candidates in a determined order. The party decides what order that is, but voters have some ability to change that order. So, it's more balanced between party control and voter control, whereas STV goes fully over to voter control, and closed lists go fully to party control.

There are a zillion different forms of flexible list system that you can imagine, but in the report we suggested keep things simple and you can just have a system where each voter is able to vote for one candidate from the list of their chosen party, and any candidates who get above a specified percentage of the vote go to the top of the list, essentially. So it's a very simple system to operate. It's easy for voters to understand, easy for administrators to administer. And that would achieve that balance. 

Os caf i jest ddod mewn, yn amlwg STV mae fy mhlaid i yn ei ffafrio, fel y Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol. Ond ydych chi'n cytuno o ran y rhestr gaeedig mai un o'r pethau mae o'n gallu hwyluso ydy cyflwyno cwotâu rhywedd integredig yn fwy hawdd? Felly, er ei bod hi'n system sydd efallai yn creu problemau, os ydyn ni eisiau symud ymlaen o ran cwotâu rhywedd a chydraddoldeb, ei fod o'n lleihau'r risg trwy gael rhestrau caeedig.

If I may just come in, clearly my party favours STV, as do the Liberal Democrats. But do you agree that, in terms of the closed list, one of the things it can facilitate is the introduction of integrated gender quotas? It can be more easily achieved through that system, so although it is a system that does cause problems, if we do want to move forward on gender quotas and equality, then it does reduce the risk by having those closed lists.

Laura might want to come in on this as well, but clearly with a closed list or with a flexible list you can have a zipped list of candidates, so it's not just where you have a gender quota where you require equality in terms of the number of candidates, but you also have alternating female, male, female, male. If you have a closed list, voters cannot change that. If you have a flexible list, it is possible that voters will decide to prioritise people in a way that disturbs that balance. So yes, it is the case that a closed list system guarantees that the equality that you pursue through the gender quota system is reflected in the result. It is also the case that, over time, voters have been getting less prejudiced in their voting behaviour. So, more recent studies find less of an effect—and, indeed, some studies find that women benefit—from individual candidate voting. So, how big a concern that is is something that would require careful thought in Wales, I guess.

09:55

Could I jump in on that? I think you can overplay the guarantee part of the closed list with regard to gender balance, because, as Alan mentioned, the open list system can be made to work in a very similar way. And all of the research that my colleagues who work in this area around gender quotas are doing at the moment shows that very point that Alan made at the end, which is that voters actually can favour female candidates, or, indeed, candidates from different ethnic backgrounds as well, through the threshold approach that you can have within flexible open lists. I understand that's being put forward as one of the arguments in favour of closed lists—a safer guarantee—but the evidence suggests that that argument is weakening as electors become less discriminatory towards female candidates or candidates of different ethnic backgrounds. So, I don't think it's as strong as you might think. And one further point about the integration of gender quotas—I appreciate that this will be in a separate Bill, but, nevertheless, we're talking about the electoral system per se—I think it's really important that we don't just interpret quotas as being the vertical zipping of lists, because the biggest impact that you can have is if you horizontally manage the process of quotas according to winnable seats—so, therefore, lists across various constituencies by different parties. If you have those two things together, you can almost certainly guarantee a better gender balance than using just gender quotas—sorry, I'm getting—vertically in a closed list. So, it's really important to see the bigger context to that as well.

Yes. Laura's already answered the question about the fact that the proposed zipping arrangements—

—won't necessarily deliver a balanced Senedd without other action perhaps being taken. But you can assure us that this issue of ensuring gender zipping can still take place within a flexible list system, which is what you've already—?

We modelled that ourselves in the expert panel, so I think there's evidence there—and other countries have done it as well, so there's plenty of international evidence for that.

Jest cwestiwn olaf gen i i Laura, os gwelwch yn dda. Yn y pedwerydd Cynulliad, roeddech chi'n asesu modelau pleidleisio fel bwrdd sydd efo 10 principles—ydych chi'n cofio hynny? Dydw i ddim yn siŵr am hynny. Roeddwn ni'n ffeindio hynny'n help mawr iawn. Yn eich barn chi, felly—. Mae gennym ni'r cynnig rŵan o—rydyn ni wedi sôn amdano—restrau caeedig. Beth ydych chi'n meddwl—rydych chi wedi sôn tipyn bach am hyn, dwi'n gwybod—beth ydych chi'n meddwl o'r asesiad hwnnw oedd gennych chi yn y pedwerydd Cynulliad, ac ei gymryd e draws a'i ddadansoddi fo ynglŷn â beth ydy'r cynnig rŵan?

Just a final question from me to Laura, please. In the fourth Assembly, you assessed voting models as a board with 10 principles, I think. I think I'm right on that. We found that very helpful. So, in your view, therefore—. We have this proposal now of the closed list, which we've already discussed. Now, you've touched on this, but what is your view of that assessment that you made in the fourth Assembly, in analysing it against what's being proposed now?

Diolch yn fawr iawn, Jane. Let me be really frank: we rejected the closed list system very early on in our deliberations in the expert panel because it didn't meet most of the criteria against which we were measuring it. Specifically—and I think these were the key issues for us—it gives too much power to the party and not enough power to the elector, as Alan said, so it weakens that area of voter autonomy and voter choice, which is, I think, a dangerous precedent in the current climate that's already been described, and it doesn't allow for any direct line of accountability between a politician and the voter. It allows a direct line of accountability between the party and the voter—and, to be fair to arguments for closed lists, that is in line with the party-dominated culture that we have in the UK generally—but I think, if anything, when people are aware of the fact that they won't be able to actually choose a specific candidate, that that will be chosen for them, I think that could cause some real issues in terms of public support for any change.

The only other thing I'd say in favour of closed lists is that, depending on how you operationalise them—here we're talking about 16 constituencies with a district magnitude of six—that should deliver a degree of greater proportionality. But it might not if the electoral arithmetic changes in the future. Because six is a relatively small district magnitude, it might not generate a great deal more proportionality, which, for me, seems like a heavy price to pay for the weaknesses of closed lists as well. There's also the issue of smaller parties—how will they be represented, given the calculation method for translating votes into seats is D'Hondt, which, traditionally, favours the largest party or the party with the largest number of votes? So, I think—. I mean, I don't know whether you want to go into this, and I'm certainly not an expert about arithmetic calculations—Alan knows far more about that than I do—but it's always worth thinking about how this might be modelled using the Sainte-Laguë system as well, which tends to allow more opportunity, because it's a different method, for smaller parties to be elected. But it's far from perfect. The closed list system was rejected by our panel early on in our considerations against those principles that you mentioned, Jane.

10:00

Diolch. Os caf i symud jest bach ymlaen o hwnna, mae'r memorandwm esboniadol yn dweud y byddan nhw'n cael eu hadolygu ar ôl 2026—[Anghlywadwy.]—profiad o restrau caeedig. Felly, hyd yn oed os ydy o’n cael ei ddefnyddio, yn amlwg, bydd o angen cael ei adolygu. Ydych chi'n gweld neu'n rhagweld y gallai fod yna symudiad gweddol rwydd i symud o restrau caeedig i'r rhestrau hyblyg neu agored, os ydym am newid i system STV wedi 2026? Ydych chi'n meddwl bod gweddill y pecyn yn hwyluso hynny—hynny ydy, y 96 Aelod, 16 o etholaethau chwech Aelod ac yn y blaen?

Thank you. If I could move on from there, the explanatory memorandum states that there will be a review of closed lists after 2026. So, if it is adopted, it will need to be reviewed. Do you anticipate that there could be a relatively smooth move from closed lists to flexible or open lists, if we were to shift to STV post 2026? Do you think that the rest of the package facilitates that—96 Members, 16 six-Member constituencies and so on?

So, a shift from a closed list to a flexible list system is very easy to do. A shift from closed lists to STV is a little bit more, but actually not that much more, complicated. And similarly, you can do any of these systems in a system with six-Member districts. It makes a bit of a difference to the counting process, the ballot paper, that kind of thing, but it's not difficult to make that shift.

Can I add on one question from that then? If such changes happen, can we confuse the electorate, because we are talking about one system for 2026, possibly, and then maybe a different system altogether for 2030? So, how do we engage with the electorate to ensure that they understand those proposed changes?

Yes, that is certainly a danger, and voters already have to deal with multiple different voting systems across different elections in the UK, and specifically in Wales. But, you're right, changing the system repeatedly can only add to that confusion. I wouldn't exaggerate the extent of the problem, I guess. From the voters' point of view, none of these systems are actually terribly complicated. Particularly when you get into STV, if you start looking under the bonnet, then it gets scarily complicated, but the voter doesn't need to worry about that.

I think as well the review is really important. Whatever comes out of the process of the Bill's scrutiny, I think ensuring a really muscular review is absolutely critical, because I'm sure that, if you pursue the closed list, there will be unintended consequences of that, which you would wish to then review at the end of the period. I like the term 'healthy democracy' and so on, but you really need to get under the bonnet of that and explain exactly what you mean: is that about turnout, or is it about citizens' understanding and the intelligibility of the system and maybe different demographics and how that's played out?

The other point I'd make, Chair, if I may, is that, obviously, I would like to see the internal democracy of Wales treated in the round, so that we looked at local government as well. And, of course, local government does have the opportunity to pilot different electoral systems, and it would be wonderful if we had pilots on STV in local government during this period. I appreciate that not many are enthusiastic about this at the moment. Nevertheless, wouldn't it be good, because you'd have another body of evidence of how STV works and representativeness from that as well whilst you have a closed list system operating for the Senedd? I know that might sound a bit naive, but it would be a great piece of research and evidence for the review that you would have after the period of the next Senedd.

10:05

Diolch. Os caf i symud ymlaen rŵan at ffiniau, a chwestiwn penodol i Alan, os gwelwch yn dda, dŷch chi'n cwestiynu yn eich tystiolaeth y 10 y cant o hyblygrwydd naill ffordd neu'r llall gan y comisiwn ffiniau wrth bennu'r ffiniau parhaol o 2030 ymlaen. Dŷn ni wedi gweld enghreifftiau ymarferol o osod cwota rhy dynn o 5 y cant gyda ffiniau San Steffan, gan, felly, dorri cysylltiad cymunedol mewn llefydd fel Cwm Tawe, lle mae'r ardal honno mewn sedd San Steffan hefo Aberhonddu. Ydych chi'n derbyn felly fod y gallu i newid ffiniau rhwng y ffiniau interim yn 2026 a'r ffiniau Cymreig llawn yn 2030 yn gyfle hefyd i ehangu cysylltiadau rhwng cymunedau, yn ogystal, fel dŷch chi'n amlinellu, â'r perygl o'u torri?

Thank you. If I could move now to boundaries, and this is a specific question for Alan, in your evidence, you question the 10 per cent flexibility either way by the boundary commission in putting in place the permanent boundaries from 2030 onwards. We've seen practical examples of setting too tight a quota of 5 per cent with Westminster boundaries, therefore losing that community connection in areas such as the Swansea valley, where that area is in a Westminster seat with Brecon. Do you accept, therefore, that the change of boundaries between the interim in 2026 and the full boundaries in 2030 could be an opportunity to enhance relations between communities, as well as the risk of damaging those?

So, the point that I made in my written evidence is simply that the principle of democratic equality is a really important principle, and, to the extent that you move away from equal numbers of Members across constituencies, you move away from that principle of democratic equality, and it's important, therefore, to have a good justification for doing so. Now, you've just offered a good justification for doing so, and community ties clearly do matter.

What I was suggesting in my evidence is that this is just an issue to think about very carefully and to think about where the balance of those things most appropriately lies. We have now seen the Westminster-level boundary review work through with the 5 per cent flexibility, and in most cases that seems to have been fine and it hasn't caused huge problems. You mentioned a case you know much better than I do where there may be concerns, but there has never been a boundary review where there weren't some communities that were split up and were upset about it. So, wherever you set that threshold, there is going to be a trade-off, and I just think it's important to think carefully about whether there is sufficient justification for having such a broad range of flexibility as is in the Bill at the moment. I think you need a very clear justification for that.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Os caf i ofyn, felly, ynglŷn â Chomisiwn Democratiaeth a Ffiniau Cymru yn benodol, ydych chi efo unrhyw farn o ran os mai hwn ydy'r corff priodol i gynnal yr adolygiadau ffiniau ar gyfer etholiadau'r Senedd, a hefyd oes gennych chi farn ynglŷn â sut dylid penodi aelodau i'r comisiwn?

Thank you very much. If I could ask, therefore, about the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru specifically, do you have any view as to whether this is the appropriate body to conduct boundary reviews for Senedd constituencies, and also do you have any views on the appointment of members to the commission and how that should be conducted?

I think it certainly is the appropriate body. It should be a body in Wales that is responsible for this, and I think the principle of what's termed 'automaticity' among nerds like me in the implementation of boundary reviews is a desirable one that's being introduced. So, the current UK Government introduced that in the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020 for UK boundary reviews, and I think it's absolutely right that that should be applied in Wales as well.

But it is key, if you remove the ability of the Senedd to have some kind of check at the end of the process of boundary reviews, that you're absolutely sure that the boundary review process itself is free from undue political interference. So, I gave evidence with Robert Hazell, my colleague at the University College London Constitution Unit, to the committee that looked at the Westminster legislation on this, and we argued very strongly that, in that case, there needed to be greater protections for the independence of the boundary commissions from the potential for interference from the Executive. I think exactly the same applies here. So far as I can see, for example, there's no requirement that the commissioners should not be members of political parties, which would seem to me like a fairly obvious, basic starting point. So, some thought around exactly what are the constraints upon appointments, who can be appointed, would be appropriate. Some thought around the process of appointment would be appropriate. There's very little in the legislation currently about how the commissioners are appointed, and ensuring that there’s some kind of independent process that produces either a candidate or a small list of candidates, from whom Ministers then choose, would seem to be appropriate.

And then, finally, the kind of key point that we made in our evidence to the Westminster committee on this was that commissioners should be appointed for non-renewable terms, so that there is no danger of their being inappropriately influenced in order to hope for re-election. So, my colleague Robert Hazell has worked on protecting the independence of regulators and other such bodies a great deal, and he argues that that is the most important principle—of all the principles—that needs to be applied to these kinds of bodies.

10:10

Can I say something as well? I agree entirely with Alan. I think there's not enough substance around how the commission would be constituted and worked for us to be able to judge whether that automatic principle should be enacted in the way we think it should. And I think we would need to look at the public appointments code and framework, because, clearly, there are prohibitions there for some public bodies around political party membership and so on.

And the other small point I'd make is that I think territorial representation is really important for the appointments of the new commissioners as well, so that you don't have a body that is entirely from the south of the country or the north of the country or wherever; that there is territorial diversity as well, and that that should be really built in, because that's the only way the public will feel that it has a legitimacy and integrity of its own.

I have four minutes. Can I ask you about residency requirements, if that's okay? So, in the Bill, it proposes that in order to be both a candidate and a Member of the Senedd, you must live in Wales. I think everybody's got sympathy with that point. But some people have suggested that it might be better to have a local connection to a constituency, rather than a simple qualification to live in Wales. So, for example, at the moment, under the suggested arrangements, you could live in Cardiff but represent a constituency in the Alyn and Deeside sort of area, but you couldn't live in Chester, or immediately next door, and stand as a candidate for Alyn and Deeside. Do you think that that's satisfactory? Do you have any views on that? Should there be something about proximity to constituency, or about a constituency connection, in addition to the rules that we have? Is that something that you've considered?

If I'm being really honest, I haven't considered that in detail, but I’ll give you a view—and Alan might have a different one—which is: I think there's a difference between local and national within the picture of Wales. I think it's completely anomalous to have representatives in this Senedd who don't live within the national boundaries of Wales. The difficulty I could see with your point, Darren, is that, in a way, that should probably be left up to the political parties to decide, because people who might be on the electoral register in Cardiff might have very strong family and backgrounds in Clwyd, for example. So, should we be determining that based on where their current place of work and residence is, rather than where they may be making their home and working in the future?

So, I'm not sure that that can be done effectively through the Bill. It may be that that's something that the parties would take into account more naturally in terms of the selection of their candidate.

I guess I would say that the principle of voter choice is really important here. So, that firstly means that voters should in general be able to elect whoever they want to elect, unless there are very good reasons for having constraints on that. But secondly, clearly, voters should be able to choose someone that they want, and so this interacts with the question of list flexibility, and I would have—. So, if you have a system where voters don't have any say over individual candidates, then the particular parties are able to put at the top of lists candidates whom voters don't particularly feel any sense of connection with, and in that scenario, potentially, there's greater justification for putting limits on the parties in order to protect voters’ likelihood of having candidates that they want. Whereas if you have flexible lists, then there's greater ability for voters to decide whether they want a candidate who lives outside the constituency or not.

10:15

Okay. And with the current arrangements kicking in at the point of candidature, rather than on election, do you think there's an issue there? So, at the moment, we have rules around individuals who can stand for election and are not disqualified from becoming candidates, but may have to resign from things if they do become a Member, for example. So, they're not disqualified at the point of candidature. Do you think that there's an issue to consider here about whether the disqualification kicks in at the point of candidature rather than the point of election?

I can see the issues. I can see the benefits, actually, of each side of that, because, clearly, if we want to create a more diverse Senedd, people are taking a risk in terms of standing for election. There's never any guarantee that one will be elected, despite maybe even being towards the top of a closed list. So, it might be prohibitive to candidates who want to put themselves forward if you stop it being at the point of candidature, rather than acceptance of the position. But I haven't got much more to say than that, really. I think there's a risk attached to both sides of that.

Yes. I don't have a more developed thought than that, either, but it's an interesting question.

I'm going to hold it there, because I am aware that Professor McAllister has to leave on time. But I'll add an extra onto this: obviously, some people who are disqualified on election are usually in posts that may be remunerated, whereas candidature, you're not remunerated as a candidate. So, there is a slightly different consideration there as well.

We're just going straight into our constitutional commission, but I'm—

Okay. It was just a really simple, straightforward question. Under the current arrangements, any constituency that's twinned with Anglesey to form a Senedd constituency will have about 25,000 fewer voters than everywhere else. Do you think it's right that that should still have six Members of the Senedd in the first Senedd term—or should it have five?

Well, I think if you move away from the same district magnitude across the whole of Wales, you bring in different challenges and different problems. I think the issue is whether we accept that Ynys Môn, Anglesey, requires that provision, and if we do, then I think we have to live with the fact that that will be a constituency with a smaller electorate, but the same number of elected Members. I think it could open up a whole set of other problems, were you to change the district magnitude for one of the constituencies out of the 16.

Can I thank you both for your evidence session today? It's been very helpful. As you know, or you should know, you'll receive a copy of the transcript, and for any factual inaccuracies, can you please let the clerking team know as soon as possible?

Diolch yn fawr iawn. On that note, we'll now take a short break before the next evidence session and we should resume at 10:30.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:18 a 10:29.

The meeting adjourned between 10:18 and 10:29.

10:25
3. Bil Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau): Sesiwn dystiolaeth gyda’r Llywydd a Chomisiwn y Senedd
3. Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill: Evidence session with the Llywydd and the Senedd Commission

I welcome Members and the public back to this morning's evidence sessions in relation to the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill. And in the second evidence session we have this morning, we have representatives of the Commission of the Senedd. Can I welcome Elin Jones, the Llywydd? Would you like to introduce your team for the record, please?

10:30

Ie, diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. Fe wnaf i adael i'r aelodau staff gyflwyno eu hunain, os ydy hynny'n iawn. Manon.

Yes, thank you very much, Chair. I will allow officials to introduce themselves if that's okay. Manon.

Manon Antoniazzi, clerc a phrif weithredwr Comisiwn y Senedd.

Manon Antoniazzi, clerk and chief executive of the Senedd Commission.

Alun Davidson, clerk, parliamentary business strategy.

Siwan Davies, dirprwy brif weithredwr a chlerc a chyfarwyddwr busnes y Senedd.

Siwan Davies, deputy chief executive and clerk and director of Senedd business.

Thank you for that, and for your time this morning. We have some questions for you, but perhaps I'll start off with a more general question.

The Counsel General, when he came before the committee, clearly stated that it was not a Government Bill; it was representing the wishes of the Senedd. How do you view the Bill? Is it a Government Bill? Is it a Senedd Bill? How do you perceive the Bill coming forward?

Well, the Member in charge of the Bill is a member of the Government, but the background of the Bill is more, possibly, unusual in its construct than other more straightforward Government Bills that come via manifesto and programmes of government that a Government would put forward. So, we know the history of the Bill, the long-standing discussion and independent reports and committees of the Senedd that have looked at the numbers of Members and electoral systems that would be appropriate for future Senedds. The committee, of course, the special purpose committee, came up with a set of recommendations, and the Senedd endorsed those recommendations, and then tasked the Welsh Government to bring forward the Bill as we see it.

I think it's also clear that the Bill itself has been part of the co-operation agreement that has been discussed between Labour and Plaid Cymru, and therefore there's that interesting aspect to this Bill as well. But in terms of our Standing Orders as a Senedd, then the Member in charge is a member of the Government and the Welsh Government have introduced the Bill as they have introduced other Bills into the Senedd over the past years.

Because, again, the Counsel General indicated that he was actually implementing the recommendations of the special purpose committee, but there are elements in this Bill that weren't part of the recommendations, so did the Senedd or the Commission have any discussions with the Government in regard to those aspects?

As I said, technically, the Bill is a Bill of a Welsh Minister, introduced into the Senedd. The spirit of the Bill, of course, part of it, has emanated from the motion agreed by the Senedd to ask the Welsh Government to bring forward this Bill. It has parts within it that were not part of that motion, and therefore the Welsh Government has introduced those as part of that. As chair of the Commission, as Llywydd, I was informed that that was going to be introduced just before introduction. We weren't involved in any of the detail around the discussions of those aspects of the Bill that weren't part of the motion from the Senedd, no.

Thank you for that. It's important for us to clarify that, because, obviously, the Counsel General will come back before the committee and we want to be sure as to what the boundaries are when we come back to the next set of questions with him. So, I move on now to Sarah.

Thank you, Chair. Thank you all for being here this morning. As you can imagine, in the current context of a cost-of-living crisis, and with cuts being made by the Welsh Government to its budget, the area of interest that I'm getting questioned on a lot by my constituents is the Senedd Commission's involvement in the cost estimates and how that's all come about. So, to start with, would you be able to explain the Senedd Commission's role in providing those cost estimates for the Bill's regulatory impact assessment, and if you could also elaborate on the conversations that the Senedd Commission has had with Welsh Government about those estimates, and any queries that have come about because of those estimates, please?

Okay. In terms of the costs that were provided by the Senedd Commission to the Welsh Government and have appeared in the regulatory impact assessment, we were requested to provide those costs by Welsh Government back in last December, and then the officials—and they can discuss in a bit more detail how they put those figures together—. And those figures were then looked at by the Commission and agreed by the Commission, and presented to the First Minister at some point—I forget the date—and then the First Minister responded in advance of the Bill being presented to me, wearing my other hat as Llywydd, that there had been some alteration to the figures in order to meet how they were looking to present their regulatory impact assessment. And we can discuss those issues with you as well.

So, I'll ask Manon to lead on how we put together the figures in the first place, and how we, within the Commission, look to meet the exact expectation your constituents have—if we're doing this, then we have to do it as prudently and as wisely in terms of public finance as is possible to do.

10:35

Before Manon comes in, can I just ask one question? You just said you presented the Welsh Government with figures, they looked at it, but they came back and presented some additional figures to you. Did you therefore go through the additional figures prior to the Bill being laid, or was it for you to consider?

The two aspects that were subject to change in that process were, first, to reduce the length of time of the period of years, because one year, the 2023-24, would have been a spent year, in that the funding would already have been spent by the time the Bill had gone through its scrutiny process. And the other was to conform to how the Welsh Government itself provide these figures in terms of staffing costs. We had costed it on the basis of every single member of staff that was identified as needing to be added to the complement of staff to be paid, at that point, at the top level of their scale. We know, in reality, that that never happens at any point, both for Commission and for political staff, and, therefore, to provide the Welsh Government with how they assess it, which is on an average of salary bands, we were part of realigning those figures in accordance with how they undertake their costings as a Welsh Government.

Thank you, Chair. We had to find a basis on which to plan, and, therefore, common assumptions were developed. And in view of the inter-dependency between the Commission itself and the independent remuneration board and the Business Committee, these assumptions were developed in conjunction between the three organisations, and then ultimately agreed by the Commission. 

Then, as Commission staff, we started off, as we always do, with service level planning, and those figures were then scrutinised at every governance level within the Commission, with the executive board finally satisfying itself that those cost estimates were modelled correctly, that there were no gaps or duplications, presenting those figures to the Commission. And then the Commission agreed the cost estimates and sent them to the Welsh Government at the end of March. So, what we had then was a snapshot in time, at that point, with high-level estimates of costs. As the Llywydd has already explained, there was then a dialogue with colleagues in the Welsh Government so that they could understand exactly what the figures represented. There were certain changes, as the Llywydd mentioned, in terms of the cost estimates, to conform with the Welsh Government's RIA methodology, and to reflect other provisions, such as the four-year terms. And then, the final figures that were to be used in the RIA were decided upon by the Welsh Government, and the Commission was informed of that before the Bill was laid.

Thank you very much. We've just heard evidence from Professor McAllister and Professor Renwick on the expert panel. I thought what was interesting was that they, obviously, looked at the costs, the cost-benefit analysis, really, but they reported six years ago. And so we did ask them did they think that the costs now were in line, I suppose, with things that they couldn't have predicted at the time, which was inflation and other rising costs that we have. So, in that context, I suppose, do you believe that you now have a level of certainty in the robustness of the cost estimates provided  and, for example, whether, following the experience of resourcing two additional committees in this sixth Senedd, you think that any changes will be made to the estimates made for the resourcing of additional committees in the seventh Senedd, which is, of course, one of the things that people are saying is a benefit of this legislation?

10:40

Well, I think that the costings that we supplied to the Welsh Government were the most accurate, robust costings we could've supplied at that time, given the fact that we had the basis of assumptions, of course—that there is a minimal change and a greater change—and we modelled, on both bases, a scenario of costings on both bases. But, as you've alluded to, even as we move closer to 2026, there will be factors that may need to change. The Commission is tasked with providing a budget for each financial year, as we are more current in how we are doing that. The budgeting process will provide a different analysis, a different set of figures, that may be greater or lesser than what we have in the RIA. But, ultimately, it will be for the next Senedd to decide both on what it wants to do, how many committees or how many times Plenary wants to meet, and it will be for the Commission at that point to provide the resource to meet the work and expectation of that Senedd. Therefore, these things are the best costings at the time, but we are in a dynamic Parliament and that can fluctuate up or fluctuate down—fluctuate up in terms of activity is how it usually works, by the way; as you've mentioned, two extra committees even in the midpoint of this Senedd.

Absolutely. And just a couple of very specific questions, I guess, on how the Senedd Commission has modelled the impact of larger constituencies and an increase in Members from mid and north Wales on the financial support provided to Members. So, you know, it's to be noted, as a result of the changes to the UK parliamentary boundaries, that there would be a disproportionate increase in the number of Members of the Senedd elected to represent mid and north Wales. Is this something that you've considered?

I'm going to ask Alun, because we obviously have costed for the increased costs of travel and maintenance and overnight spend that an additional number of Members will have, and I'm guessing that some of those issues will have been looked at in terms of, especially, overnight spend for those Members from mid and north Wales who will be having to stay overnight in the Senedd, and the travel costs as well.

Yes. There has been some, in the modelling that was done around the determination costs, consideration given to the different bandings of allowances in the different areas, to try and reflect the increase in different areas of Wales in terms of the Members. Those were factored into the figures.

Okay. Thank you very much. And I'd just ask, then, about the modelling and assumptions used when estimating the cost of the proposed refit of Tŷ Hywel, where, obviously, as Members of the Senedd, we work, and I suppose whether things have been considered like us doubling up in offices, like MPs do, for example, and the cost-benefit analysis of that refit.

Yes, and I'll draw in Alun as well. I think issues such as the use of space is a matter that we need so much political input to that we haven't gone a long way down the road of considering that sort of thing, which the Members who are using the offices will need to determine in the long run. We have looked at reconfiguring the offices. The assumptions included that there would be still an office for each Member. So, that's where we are at the moment. And, as the Llywydd mentioned, there is a high-level estimate and then, each year, we will be putting forward a budget where we will be taking additional costs into account, such as inflation, closer to the date, and any emerging design considerations, any business considerations, that emerge closer to the date. And also, of course, we will be looking hard for savings through ways of working, and that is the difference between the budgeting system and the high-level estimates that we put forward in March.

10:45

Only to add very quickly, the assumption is that Members, for the purposes of the cost estimates exercise, would be provided with their own office, and their staff be accommodated as they are now. That was the assumption made in terms of developing cost estimates, exactly as the chief executive and clerk has just said. There's a process of consultation that's really beginning now with Members, and, of course, final designs and plans will take account of some of that feedback.

And I think, looking back at all of this, over the period of the last five to six years when I've been Llywydd, and thinking that this could be coming along the line as the expert panel had developed their work, et cetera, one of the assumptions of course is that all additional Members and staff would be able to be housed in Tŷ Hywel. I think that it would have been very difficult pre COVID for us to have made that assumption. That assumption is now based on a different working pattern, both for politicians, political staff, and especially Commission staff, which is allowing us to think about how we deliver office space in a different way post COVID. Therefore, knowing that we haven't needed to go out to look at additional office space in the rest of Cardiff Bay has meant that this costing has been far more prudent than it could have been in a pre-COVID context.

I do just want to test this area of costs a bit, because, looking back at the expert panel's recommendations back in 2017, the costs even then—the capital costs—were higher than the capital costs the Commission has put forward now. Obviously, now's costs you would expect to be far greater, because of the increased costs associated with inflation, wouldn't you? So, for example, the refit of the Chamber and the refitting of offices in order to provide accommodation for Members is estimated to be £1.8 million across two financial years, in the figures provided by the Commission to the Welsh Government, yet the refit of a single corridor in Tŷ Hywel a number of years ago was £1.8 million. So, are they really realistic? Was it just a finger-in-the-air job? Where did you estimate these figures from? You must have had some cost estimates that you were able to associate with the works that you thought might be necessary.

Well, let's start with 'finger in the air'—no, it wasn't, and I'm sure that everything I've explained to you to date shows how the Commission itself, both in terms of staff and in terms of the Commissioners, looked at the figures carefully that were provided to the Welsh Government. In terms of the expert panel and their assessment of capital costs, I can't comment on that, but I would go back to the point I just made earlier: an expert panel sitting in 2017 would have possibly assumed that there would need to be extra office space in the context of everybody working in Cardiff Bay at all times, and that may have factored into their thinking at that time. But we haven't needed to do that now in how we've assessed our costs, because we believe that Tŷ Hywel is, on its own, able to accommodate in 2026 the additional Members and their political staff that are necessary.

In terms of the cost of the corridor refurbishment, comparing with any costs for both Tŷ Hywel Chamber and this Chamber permanently, then I'd make the point that—and Manon can make this in a bit more detail—that corridor refurbishment was not just a refurbishment, it was the development of two additional technical translation booths. It relocated our security presence from where it had been on that corridor to a fitted out, more purpose-built area within Tŷ Hywel. So, it was a big job at the time, not just new paint on the wall and new walls. But I think Manon and Alun will want to clarify some of the figures that you've alluded to there that may not be totally the right comparators to make.

10:50

That historical example was actually a very major building project. It stripped that area back to the bricks and, as the Llywydd mentioned, it created some new technical booths and also a new security hub for the whole building, which was needed at that time. We benefit—. In terms of the sheer building costs, which is what you refer to there, we benefit from the fact that the Siambr has a back wall that can be removed, so the construction costs aren't as big as they might have been otherwise. There is also included in the number that you quoted a lot of IT kit and equipment for the project. The capital cost in the RIA, if you add that in, it actually gets to £2.7 million, so it is actually more than that earlier project cost. Alun, do you want to add anything? 

Yes, that's correct. In terms of what's in the regulatory impact assessment, if you like, the total costs around the Siambr and Tŷ Hywel works come to about £2.7 million. It includes an element of the sunk costs that are presented in there, so 2023-24 costs, as well as the headline accommodation line costs. And you also find the Siambr ICT kit upgrade that's required within the other capital costs in the regulatory impact assessment, and that totals about £2.7 million. 

Yes. I'm just trying to understand why they're so wildly different, and why even those figures are still less than those that were in the report in 2017. So, the figures I've got in front in me from the 2017 report have the costs of the alteration of the Chamber, they have separate ICT costs, which are way under the costs you've proposed here, so I can see that they've gone up, those sorts of related costs. It's the costs of the changes to the building that don't seem to make any sense, and we all know that construction inflation is higher than the general rate of inflation as well. So, even back in 2017, additional office accommodation in Tŷ Hywel, not in a separate building, for 30 Members, not 36 as proposed, was £1.6 million. And, on top of that, £720,000 for ICT, £400,000 for the Chamber alteration, £250,000 for ICT within Members' offices out and about in their constituencies for 30 Members, so that's £3.29 million versus you're saying a total of about £2.7 million. It just doesn't make any sense.

Well, we have—. The figures that we estimated in March were planned robustly, as usual. I have assurance from the people with the relevant expertise within the organisation. They have been put together with help from the external consultants that we normally use. It is not to say that they won't be subject to change. Part of the sunk costs that Alun mentioned just now are the design costs that we'll have to undertake this year in order to keep the project on track, and decisions will have to be made by the Senedd in the course of that process that will influence the cost of the final design. We also have changes that will happen from year to year, as I mentioned before, as it comes to budgeting. There are some additional costs that have emerged, as I was scrutinised on by the Finance Committee recently. And there are additional costs that are emerging in terms of the configuration of the space in Tŷ Hywel, so we have laid those out to be as transparent as possible. But that is the nature of translating the high-level estimates into budgetary reality from year to year. I’m confident that the costs put forward were reasonable according to what we were being asked to provide in March, yes.

10:55

At the time. And there was no challenge from the Welsh Government about the assumptions that had been made on those capital costs in particular.

Before Darren—. I just want to clarify something for myself, Darren. Because Darren's mentioned the figures from the expert panel back in 2017—I think it was 2017. Can you tell me, did they actually come to you for figures or did they actually produce those figures themselves? Do you know? Can you remember?

I wasn't here, I'm afraid, Chair. I believe that there was input from the Commission on those costs then. However, it would probably not have been subject to the same rigour of estimate in terms of the detail, and indeed in terms of the assumptions that fed into those estimates at that time, as they have been for the current purposes.

It would help us to have that comparison. If you perhaps could provide us with some information as to how those estimates for that report were produced, that would be very helpful, for us to know that.

Just to put it into context, the costs laid out in 2017, which were for a 90-Member Senedd—the upper-scale costs—in today's money, according to the Bank of England's inflation calculator, would be about £4.2 million. So, it's significantly different than the costs that you've been able to provide us with. So, I think a breakdown would be really useful, actually, just in terms of helping us to get our heads around it. Thank you.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Os caf i, efallai, edrych o ran yr adnoddau a chefnogaeth sydd eu hangen, yn amlwg, rydych chi wedi sôn ei bod hi'n anodd gwybod, tan eich bod chi'n gwybod yn union beth sy'n digwydd, sut i gynllunio, ond yn amlwg mae'r gwaith yn mynd rhagddo. Rydych chi'n awgrymu yn eich nodiadau i ni, yn y dystiolaeth, fod bwrdd gweithredol yn arwain ar y gwaith hwn. Gaf i jest fod yn glir? Ai bwrdd gweithredol o uwch-swyddogion y Comisiwn sy'n gyrru'r gwaith, a lle mae'r mewnbwn neu'r trosolwg a'r berchnogaeth wleidyddol o hyn i gyd?

Thank you very much. If I could perhaps now turn to resources and support required, clearly you've mentioned that it's difficult to know, until you know exactly what's going to be happening, how you can plan, but of course the work is ongoing. You suggest in your evidence to the committee that an executive board is leading on this work. Can I just be clear? Is that an executive board of senior officials in the Commission that is driving this work, and where is the input or oversight and political ownership in terms of all of this?

O ran busnes y Comisiwn, yn cynnwys hwn, mae'r bwrdd gweithredol o swyddogion yn aml iawn yn dod â phapurau gerbron y Comisiwn, ac mae'n fater i'r Comisiwn wedyn, sy'n Gomisiynwyr o bleidiau gwleidyddol, i fod yn cytuno neu beidio—er enghraifft, yn yr achos yma, ar y cost estimates a aeth i'r Llywodraeth ar gyfer yr RIA. Ac felly, mae'r penderfyniadau terfynol ar faterion fel hyn yn gorwedd gyda'r Comisiwn o gynrychiolwyr pleidiau gwleidyddol.

Well, in terms of Commission business, including this, the executive board of officials very often brings papers forward to the Commission, and it's a matter for the Commission then, who are Commissioners from political parties, to agree or otherwise—for example, in this case, on the cost estimates that were submitted to Government for the RIA. And therefore the final decisions on issues such as this sit with the Commission, and they are of course representatives of political parties. 

Diolch. Os caf i ofyn, un o'r pethau sydd wedi ein taro ni o ran datblygiad polisi ac ati, ac os ydyn ni'n edrych ar sut fydd y Senedd yn gweithio, ac ati, ydy ei fod o bach yn od ar y funud fod peth o'r arian mae'r pleidiau gwleidyddol yn ei dderbyn er mwyn datblygu maniffestos neu policies yn aml yn deillio yn ôl faint o Aelodau Seneddol sydd ganddyn nhw yn San Steffan yn hytrach na faint o Aelodau'r Senedd sydd ganddynt. Roeddwn i'n meddwl, oes yna unrhyw drafod neu ystyriaeth wedi cael ei rhoi o ran trafodaethau efo'r Comisiwn Etholiadol neu i archwilio fan hyn i'r defnydd o rywbeth cyffelyb i arian Short yn San Steffan, sydd, yn amlwg, yn rhoi mwy o hyblygrwydd i bleidiau gwleidyddol nac y mae ein rheolau ni, o ran yr elfen wleidyddol, felly.

Thank you. One of the things that struck us in terms of policy development and so on, and if we look at how the Senedd will work, and so on, was that it is a little strange at the moment that some of the funds that political parties receive to develop manifestos or policies often depend on the number of MPs they have in Westminster rather than how many Members of the Senedd they have. So, I was wondering whether there's been any discussion or whether any consideration has been given in terms of discussion with the Electoral Commission or to look here at the use of something similar to Short money in Westminster, which clearly gives political parties more flexibility than is allowed by our rules, in terms of the political element.

Byddwn i'n dweud bod y drafodaeth yna yn drafodaeth sydd efallai ddim yn mynd i 'feature-io' yn y Mesur yma, neu'r gwaith hyd yn hyn ar y Mesur. Ond, yn sicr, o ran gweithredu'r Mesur a gweithredu'r newid, yna fe fydd yn rhaid i'r gwahanol bartneriaid sy'n rhan o hyn—sef y Comisiwn a'r rem board hefyd—fod yn ystyried lle mae rhai o'r goblygiadau neu syniadau newydd yn gorwedd yn briodol. Ac felly, dwi'n meddwl bod yna rywfaint o agoriad yna i gael y drafodaeth wrth i'r rem board a'r Comisiwn drafod yn fanylach sut mae gweithredu ar gyfer 2026, ac wrth i'r pleidiau, drwy wahanol gynrychiolwyr, ddod â syniadau newydd ynglŷn â sut y dylid ariannu gwahanol agweddau o fywyd gwleidyddol. Efallai bydd Siwan eisiau ychwanegu rhywbeth fan hyn.

I would say that that discussion isn't a discussion that will feature in this Bill, or the work to date on the Bill at least. But, certainly, in terms of implementing the Bill, and implementing the change, then the different partners involved with this—the Commission and the rem board—will need to consider where some of the implications or new ideas can appropriately fit. So, I do think that there is an opportunity there to have that discussion as the rem board and the Commission discuss in greater detail how we should implement in 2026, and as the parties, through their various representatives, bring forward new ideas as to how different aspects of political life should be funded. Perhaps Siwan would like to add to that.

11:00

Fel mae'r Llywydd yn ei ddweud, mae hwn yn rhan o'r gwaith cynllunio ar gyfer sut bydd y Senedd newydd yn cael ei gweithredu o ran cymorth o ran staff y Comisiwn, o ran ariannu gan y bwrdd taliadau ac yn y blaen, ac mae trafodaethau yn cychwyn nawr rhwng y Comisiwn a'r bwrdd taliadau ynghylch hyn. Ac ar hyn o bryd hefyd, mae'r bwrdd taliadau yn ymwneud â rhaglen waith, a rhan o hynny yw adolygu'r PPSA, er enghraifft. Felly, mae'r trafodaethau yn cychwyn nawr gyda'r bwrdd taliadau ac Aelodau yn eu grwpiau, a gyda staff yr Aelodau ac yn y blaen, ond mae hwn i gyd o dan y fframwaith—roeddech chi'n gofyn amboutu’r rhaglen waith—so, rhaglen diwygio'r Senedd, sy'n rhywbeth sydd yn cydlynu gwaith pob un o'r bobl sy'n gwneud penderfyniadau—so, y Comisiwn, y Pwyllgor Busnes, fforwm y Cadeiryddion a'r bwrdd taliadau—fel eu bod nhw'n gallu gweithredu gyda'i gilydd. Er eu bod nhw'n gwneud penderfyniadau yn annibynnol, maen nhw'n gweld amserlenni ei gilydd ac maen nhw i gyd yn gweithio i'r un assumptions ar y cychwyn o ran y costau. Ac o ran datblygu wedyn, eu bod nhw'n gweithio ar y cyd, fel bod pob rhan o'r jig-so yn mynd at ei gilydd. Felly, fel mae'r Llywydd yn ei ddweud, dyma gychwyn ar y broses, a nes bod y Bil yn cael ei gytuno ac yn dod allan fel Deddf, bydd rhai o'r pethau yma ddim yn cychwyn nes hynny, ond maen nhw i gyd yn yr amserlen ar gyfer y rhaglen.

As the Llywydd said, this is part of the planning work for how the new Senedd will operate in terms of support from Commission staff, in terms of funding from the remuneration board and so on, and discussions are starting now between the Commission and the remuneration board on this. And also at the moment, the remuneration board is involved with a programme of work, and part of that is to review the PPSA, for example. So, negotiations are starting now with the remuneration board and Members in their groups, and their staff and so on, but this is all part of the framework—you asked about the work programme—so, the Senedd reform programme, which is something that co-ordinates the work that all of those decision makers would do—so, the Commission, the Business Committee, the Chairs' forum and the remuneration board—so that they can work together. Although they're making independent decisions, they can have an overview of each other's timetables and they're all working to the same assumptions initially in terms of costs. And in terms of development then, they can work jointly, so that all pieces of the jigsaw fit together. So, as the Llywydd said, this is the start of the process, and until the Bill is agreed as an Act, then some of these things won't commence until that time, but it is all timetabled for the work programme.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Os caf i jest ofyn, mae rôl gan y Comisiwn o ran addysgu ac ymgysylltu â'r cyhoedd ynghylch y system etholiadol a gynigir gan y Bil, ac yn amlwg mi oedd yna rôl hefyd efo cyflwyno pleidleisio 16 a 17, felly, gaf i ofyn, oes yna unrhyw wersi wedi'u dysgu o hynny? Oherwydd, yn amlwg, mi fydd o'n newid i'r cyhoedd, a dwi'n gwybod o ran adnoddau'r Comisiwn ei hun eu bod nhw'n brin, felly, jest i weld pwy sy'n arwain ar y gwaith hwnnw ar y funud, a faint o bethau sydd wedi'u dysgu sydd efallai yn bethau byddech chi'n eu gwneud yn wahanol.

Thank you. And if I may just ask, the Commission has a role in educating and engaging with the public on the electoral system that's proposed in the Bill, and clearly there was also such a role in introducing votes at 16 and 17, so, can I ask whether any lessons have been learned from that experience? Because, clearly, it will be a change for the public, and I know that in terms of the Commission's resources, that they are scarce at the moment, so, I was just wondering who is leading on that work at the moment, and how many lessons have been learnt that may be things that you would do differently, perhaps.

Wel, ie, fe oedd y gwaith hwnnw o ran paratoi, yn enwedig rheini oedd yn pleidleisio am y tro cyntaf yn dilyn y newid etholiadol ar gyfer 2021, fe oedd y Senedd yn rhan o hwnnw, y Comisiwn Etholiadol ac, wrth gwrs, y Llywodraeth, a gyda llywodraeth leol hefyd. Felly, mae yna sawl gwahanol bartner yn gyfrifol mewn gwahanol ffyrdd er mwyn i hynny ddigwydd. A dwi'n meddwl doedd hi ddim yn wers a ddysgon ni, ond y bartneriaeth wnaethom ni ei datblygu yn ystod y cyfnod yna, cyn etholiad 2021, fe fydd angen inni weithredu yn yr un modd ar gyfer yr etholiadau i ddod, sef gwneud yn siŵr bod y partneriaethau yna sydd â chyfrifoldebau neu waith gwahanol i gyd yn cydlynu’r gwaith yna yn hytrach nag yn ei ddyblygu, a bod pawb yn gweithio mewn rhyw ffordd strwythuredig i sicrhau bod pawb yn gwneud gwahanol waith sydd yn mynd i allu rhoi'r ymyraethau cywir. Achos dwi'n cytuno, mae hwn yn mynd i fod yn newid mawr i'r hyn y bydd etholwyr yn 2026 yn ei wynebu, ac mae'n rhaid inni fod yn glir gyda'r etholwyr hynny eu bod nhw'n ymwybodol o'r newidiadau a sut mae'r rheini yn effeithio arnyn nhw. Wyt ti eisiau dweud rhywbeth yn ychwanegol?

Well, yes, that work in preparing, particularly those who were voting for the first time following that electoral change in 2021, the Senedd was involved with that, the Electoral Commission also, and, of course, the Government too, along with local government. So, there are many different partners responsible in different ways in order for that to happen. And I do think it wasn't a lesson learnt as such, but the partnership that we developed during that time, prior to the 2021 election, we will need to work in the same way for the next elections, namely ensuring that those partnerships that have different responsibilities or areas of work all co-ordinate that work rather than duplicating it, and that everyone is working in a structured manner to ensure that everyone does the different tasks that will provide the right interventions. Because I do agree that this will be a major change that electors will be facing in 2026, and we do have to be clear with those electors so that they are aware of the changes and how they impact them. Did you have anything to add?

Ie, siŵr. Mae'r bwrdd diwygio’r Senedd yn edrych ar faterion sydd ar y cyd rhyngom ni â'r Llywodraeth a'r sector etholiadol yn gyffredinol, er mwyn inni allu bod yn glir trwy bob rhan o'r broses pwy sy'n gyfrifol am y cyfathrebu. Mae gennym ni strategaeth lle, ar hyn o bryd, y Llywodraeth sy'n arwain ar y cyfathrebu gan fod hwn yn Fil sy'n deillio o'r Llywodraeth, a hefyd bydd rhan o'r rôl yna yn dod i'r Comisiwn, er enghraifft, y pwyllgor yma yn cyfathrebu â'r cyhoedd amboutu gwaith—ac mae'r Cadeirydd eisoes wedi ysgrifennu erthygl, er enghraifft—a chi, fel pwyllgor, yn cyfathrebu. Wedyn, rŷn ni wedi mapio allan o ran pob rhan o'r broses pwy sy'n gyfrifol am beth wedyn, pan fydd y Bil yn cael ei gytuno arno—os yw e'n cael ei gytuno arno. Ac wedyn, dyna pryd fydd y Comisiwn yn dod i mewn i gymryd rhan yn addysgu'r cyhoedd ac yn y blaen, mewn partneriaeth â'r Comisiwn Etholiadol a'r sectorau eraill. Ond mae hwnna'n rhywbeth sydd yn glir o ran bod rôl wahanol gan bawb, ond dŷn ni ddim eisiau ein bod ni'n dyblygu, rŷn ni eisiau ein bod ni'n gwneud pethau'n effeithiol o ran gwariant cyhoeddus. Fel mae'r Llywydd yn ei ddweud, rŷn ni'n dysgu'r gwersi o'r gwaith rŷn ni wedi ei wneud o ran addysgu pobl amboutu newid yr oedran pleidleisio, a hefyd y gwaith rŷn ni'n ei wneud fel Comisiwn yn gyffredinol amboutu ymgysylltu a chyfathrebu yn fwy cyffredinol, amboutu rôl y Senedd ac yn y blaen. Felly, mae'n rhywbeth sydd yn rhan o'r rhaglen, ydy. 

Yes. The Senedd reform board is looking at issues between ourselves, the Government and the electoral sector more generally, so that we can be clear through all parts of the process who is responsible for communication. So, we have a strategy at the moment whereby Government leads on communication because this is a Government Bill, and part of that role will fall to the Commission, for example, this committee communicating with the public on its work—and the Chair's already written an article, for example—and you, as a committee, communicating with the public. And then we've mapped out, in terms of every part of the process, who is responsible for what when the Bill is agreed—if it's agreed. And that's when the Commission will have a role in educating the public and so on, in partnership with the Electoral Commission and others in the sector. But that is something that is clearly set out, that everyone has distinctive roles, but we don't want to see duplication, and we want to see things being done effectively in terms of public expenditure. As the Llywydd said, we are learning the lessons from the work we did in terms of educating people about the change to the voting age, and the work that we do as a Commission more generally in engaging and communicating, about the role of the Senedd and so on. So, it is part of the programme, yes.  

11:05

Diolch. Un cwestiwn olaf, os caf i, efo'r adran yma. Mae'r Bil yn cyfeirio mewn mannau at 'aelod o staff Senedd Cymru'. I ba raddau ydych chi'n cytuno bod angen mwy o eglurder ar ba staff yn union y cyfeirir atyn nhw o fewn y term ymbarél yma, er enghraifft staff Comisiwn y Senedd, staff cymorth Aelodau neu staff grwpiau pleidiol?

Thank you. And just one final question, if I may, on this section. The Bill refers to 'a member of the staff of Senedd Cymru'. To what extent do you think there is need for more clarity on what staff exactly are meant within this umbrella term? Is it Senedd Commission staff, Member support staff or party group staff? 

Wyt ti'n ymwybodol beth mae'r cwestiwn yna amboutu? 

Are you aware what that question's about?

Ydw. Yn y ddeddfwriaeth—. Mae terminoleg sydd yn bodoli mewn rhai Deddfau eraill ynghylch dweud 'staff y Senedd'—Parliament staff—ac mewn llefydd eraill mae sôn yn fwy priodol amboutu 'staff y Comisiwn' neu 'staff Aelodau'r Senedd'. Felly, dwi'n meddwl bod hwnna'n rhywbeth o bosib y byddai'r pwyllgor eisiau ei ystyried a gofyn cwestiwn, efallai, i'r Gweinidog amboutu hynny. Ac, o bosib, mae modd bod yn fwy clir pan rŷn ni'n sôn amboutu staff sydd yn gweithio i'r Comisiwn a'r staff sy'n gweithio i'r Aelodau, ond tybiwn i bod—a dwi ddim yn siarad ar ran y Llywodraeth—hwn yn ymwneud â phawb sydd yn gweithio o fewn y system. Dyna beth rŷn ni'n sôn amboutu, yntefe—bod yn glir amboutu rhai pobl a'u rolau, a'u bod nhw'n rhan o'r system. Ond efallai fod yna angen cysondeb rhwng y gwahanol ddeddfwriaeth ble mae'r derminoleg yn cael ei defnyddio. 

Yes. There is some terminology that's used in other legislation, such as 'Parliament staff', and in other sections it mentions more appropriately 'Commission staff' or Members' staff'. So, that's something that the committee may want to consider and to question the Minister about. And perhaps we could be more clear when we're differentiating between Commission staff and Members' staff, and I'm not speaking on behalf of the Government, but I think this relates to everyone who works within the system, and that's what we're talking about. We need to be perhaps clearer about what people's roles are within that. But there may need to be consistency between various pieces of legislation where that terminology is used. 

Dim ond i ddweud, mae'n bwysig iawn ar bob cyfle, felly, yn y ddeddfwriaeth yma ac ym mhopeth arall, ein bod ni'n glir ynglŷn ag ai staff y Comisiwn sydd ddim yn wleidyddol neu staff gwleidyddol sy'n gweithio i Aelodau—. Os oes yna unrhyw fan yn y Mesur ble nad yw hynna'n glir, yna byddwn i'n croesawu'r pwyllgor i amlygu hynna yn eich gwaith chi. 

And just to say that it's very important at all opportunities, in this legislation and elsewhere, that we are clear as to whether we're talking about non-political Commission staff or political staff working for Members. If there is any ambiguity in the Bill on that point, then I would welcome the committee in highlighting that in its work. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn. A gaf i ofyn jest un cwestiwn, os gwelwch yn dda, i'r Llywydd? Mae'n dweud bod gennych chi y pŵer i jest osod motion ynglŷn â'r sefyllfa rhannu swyddi. A allwch chi jest esbonio mwy am hynny, a beth dŷch chi'n ddeall mae hynny'n ei olygu, os gwelwch yn dda? 

Thank you very much. Could I just ask one question of the Llywydd, please? Now, the Bill states that you have the power to lay a motion on the situation around job sharing. Can you just explain that and what your understanding of it is, please? 

Gallaf. Mae'r Mesur yn rhoi gofyniad ar y Llywydd nesaf yn y Senedd nesaf i ddod â chynnig gerbron i sefydlu pwyllgor i edrych ar rannu swyddi. Mae'n anarferol, yn ôl beth dwi'n ddeall, i ddarn o ddeddfwriaeth o'r Senedd yma roi dyletswydd ar Lywydd yn y Senedd nesaf i fod yn dod â chynnig i sefydlu pwyllgor. Wrth gwrs, mae'r Mesur yn ei wneud e'n glir bod hwnna'n gynnig i'r Senedd, ac felly mae hawl gan y Senedd nesaf i benderfynu peidio â gwneud y gwaith yna.

Felly, y Senedd nesaf fydd yn penderfynu a ydy'r gwaith yma yn digwydd neu beidio, ac mae hwnna yn egwyddor bwysig iawn, byddwn i'n ddweud—bod Mesur yn y Senedd yma ddim yn clymu yn llwyr y Senedd nesaf i waith. Ac felly, mater i'r Senedd nesaf fydd penderfynu. Bydd rhaid i'r Llywydd nesaf gyflwyno'r cynnig, ac, fel dwi wedi ei ddweud, mae hynna'n anarferol. Ond cyn belled â bod y ffaith taw'r Senedd fydd yn penderfynu yn y pen draw yna yn y ddeddfwriaeth, yna dwi'n deall pam mae'r Llywodraeth wedi gwneud y cyflwyniad yn y modd yna. 

Yes. The Bill places a requirement on the next Llywydd in the next Senedd to bring a motion before the Senedd to establish a committee to look at the issue of job sharing. It is unusual, as I understand it, for a piece of legislation of this kind to place a duty on a Llywydd in the next Senedd to introduce a motion to establish a committee. Now, of course, the Bill makes it clear that that is a motion for the Senedd, and the next Senedd will have the ability to decide not to carry out that work.

So, it will be a decision for the next Senedd as to whether this work happens or not, and that's an important principle, I would say—that a Bill of this Senedd doesn't entirely tie the next Senedd to a particular course of action. So, it will be a matter for the next Senedd to make that decision, and the next Llywydd will have to introduce that motion, and, as I've said, that is unusual. But insofar as it is that Senedd that will make the decision, and that that's in the legislation, then I do understand why the Government has introduced that. 

Ac a oes gennych chi ryw fath o farn ar y criteria sy'n cael eu defnyddio gan y Llywydd nesaf ar gyfer cael y pwyllgor yma? Oes gennych chi yn eich pen beth mae hynny'n ei olygu? 

Do you have any view on the criteria used by the next Llywydd for the establishment of this committee? Do you have any thoughts on what that could look like?

Nac oes. Ac fe fydd e i fyny i'r Llywydd o ran y cynnig fydd yn mynd ymlaen. Dwi'n cymryd bydd y cynnig yna yn weddol o syml, ac wedyn fe fydd y Senedd yn paratoi sut mae datblygu'r cynnig syml yna ymhellach drwy aelodaeth pwyllgor—os ydyn nhw'n penderfynu sefydlu pwyllgor—neu terms of reference y pwyllgor ac yn y blaen.

Yr un peth byddwn i yn ei ddweud fan hyn yw beth ni'n ceisio ei gyflawni ar gyfer diwygio seneddol a chynyddu nifer yr Aelodau yw creu mwy o ofod i'r Senedd nesaf fedru arbenigo, datblygu gwaith mewn gwahanol bwyllgorau, ac mae'r Mesur yma yn ei hunan yn ceisio sefydlu dau bwyllgor i'r Senedd nesaf, yn ei blwyddyn gyntaf o weithredu. Ac felly, mae angen cydbwyso hwnna gyda'r gwaith dydd i ddydd fydd y Senedd nesaf yn ei wneud hefyd.

No. And it will up to the Llywydd in terms of the motion tabled. I assume that it will be quite a simple motion, and then the Senedd will decide how that simple motion should be taken further through committee membership, should they decide to establish such a committee, or through the committee's terms of reference or membership and so on.

The only thing I would say at this point is that what we are seeking to achieve in parliamentary reform and increasing the number of Members is to create more space for the next Senedd to develop expertise and develop the work of various committees, and this Bill, in and of itself, tries to establish two committees for the next Senedd, in its first year of operation. So, we need to balance that with the day-to-day activity of the next Senedd also.

11:10

Diolch yn fawr iawn. A gaf i ofyn un cwestiwn ynglŷn â'r iaith Gymraeg? Dwi ddim yn siŵr pwy fydd am ateb hyn. Ond yn y—dwi ddim yn gwybod y geiriau Cymraeg—regulatory impact assessment, mae'n dweud bod mesurau cynyddu maint y Senedd yn gwella gwaith craffu'r Senedd ynglŷn â diwylliant a'r iaith Gymraeg—os ydych chi eisiau edrych ar dudalen 201. Gaf i jest ofyn mwy am beth oedd y tu ôl i hynny? Dwi'n meddwl fy mod i'n gwybod, ond dwi ddim yn hollol siŵr. Ym mharagraff 672 mae o, yn fy fersiwn i.

Thank you very much. If I could ask one question on the Welsh language. I'm not sure who'd want to respond to this. But in the regulatory impact assessment, it states that steps to increase the size of the Senedd will improve the Senedd's scrutiny in terms of culture and the Welsh language—if you look at page 201. Could I just ask what was behind that? I think I understand, but I'm not entirely sure. It's in paragraph 672 in my version.

Mae gofyniad ar yr—. Dwi'n cymryd taw hwn yw'r Welsh language impact assessment mae'r Llywodraeth wedi'i wneud fel rhan o gyflwyno'r Mesur yma. Dwi ddim yn ymwybodol o beth oedd cynnwys hwnna fy hunan ar y pwynt yma, ond byddwn i'n awgrymu, efallai, ei fod e'n gwestiwn i'r Aelod sydd yn gyfrifol am y ddeddfwriaeth.

There is a requirement on the—. I assume that this is the Welsh language impact assessment that the Government has carried out in introducing this Bill. I'm not aware of the content of that at this point, but I would suggest, perhaps, that it's a question for the Member in charge of this legislation.

Oes gennych chi rhyw fath o farn, neu ryw fath o—?

Do you have any view, or—?

Wel, fy marn i yw ei bod yn bwysig bod yr asesiad yma wedi cael ei wneud. Ac, ie, mae e yng nghyd-destun enwi'r etholaethau.

Well, my view is that it's important that the assessment has been carried out. Yes, it's in the context of naming constituencies.

Fe fyddai hwnna'n ofyniad ar Gomisiwn Ffiniau i Gymru i fod yn edrych ar hwnna, ar y pwynt yna, byddwn i'n dweud. A byddwn i'n gobeithio y byddan nhw'n gwneud y gwaith yna.

That would be a requirement on the Boundary Commission for Wales to look at that, at that particular point, I would say. And I would hope that they would carry out that work.

Could I ask the question—? I'm going back to the question on job sharing, and I understand the point that was being made as to the establishment of a committee in the next Senedd, and the duty upon the new Llywydd to establish a committee. Theoretically, it is possible that that motion is voted down, therefore no committee is established. Has the Commission looked at what the options might be in such circumstances, and should they be included? In other words, should there be something in the Bill that says, 'This needs to be undertaken', and rather than a motion to establish, there should be a duty to actually establish a committee, full stop, rather than a motion that could be defeated? Secondly, should there be in the Bill a requirement for the Government to act upon the recommendations of such a committee?

Several things come to mind when thinking about that question. I think the most fundamental thing is that, any Senedd, even this Senedd, could establish that committee now if it chooses to do so, it doesn't require an Act of this Parliament to establish a committee. So, the freedom is there to do that now, should we wish to do so, and the protection is there for the next Senedd to decide that it doesn't want to do so, even if the Llywydd has been charged with putting that motion down. I think the freedom of the next Senedd to decide on whether it wants to do this work and prioritise it in its first year, because there is a time constraint on the establishment of the committee, if I remember correctly—it is a freedom that the next Senedd should have. It may decide, in its first six months, that it doesn't want to do the committee at that point, and it votes the Llywydd's motion down, but it could return to it in another year or so and decide to establish that committee because it thinks it's a more appropriate time to do it, or it's changed its mind, and Senedds can do that, even.

Well, it wasn't at the request of the Llywydd for this to be in the Bill, so it is a matter for the Member in charge to respond to that in terms of why it's in the Bill, and for you as a committee to think about whether it should be in the Bill or not. I would be far more uncomfortable with this provision in the Bill if it was a duty on the next Senedd to implement this committee. As it is, the Senedd can vote down the Llywydd's motion, even though that might be embarrassing for the Llywydd at the time, whoever that person may be.

11:15

Do you think 96 Members is the right number of Members for the Senedd and what complications might that throw up for the working arrangements in the Senedd Commission?

I don't think there's a right and wrong number, and there are various expert panels and others who have considered what the number should be, or what the range of the number should be. The expert panel itself that looked into this issue in 2017 came up with a range of 80 to 90, veering towards the upper end of that range. Obviously, this is the number that the special purpose committee came up with, and, therefore, it's in the legislation that's before us. It seems to be a significant number, and it will mean that there will be far more capacity to undertake the work that this Parliament needs to do and flexibility to do that work in the next Senedd, so I'm comfortable with the number. 

There's no proposed increase in the number of Senedd Commissioners. You obviously chair the Senedd Commission. Do you think that that is a problem? Do think that we need more Commissioners, or do you think, actually, it could function, with 96 Members, with the same number of Commissioners?

The Commission looked at this itself, and there are no further responsibilities for Commissioners to undertake as a result of this legislation, so it felt comfortable with the number of Commissioners as outlined in this Bill. There is more work for the Commission in terms of its staff to do, and that is, obviously, reflected in the costings. But for the Commission itself, as the political representatives, we're comfortable with the numbers.

Obviously, I appreciate the Business Committee has discussed some of these matters as well—which I and other people around this table also attend. There is a proposal, of course, to increase the number of Ministers from 12 to 17, possibly up to 19, by a simple majority vote in the Senedd. Do you, as a Llywydd, have a view on that mechanism for increasing to 19, in particular, Elin, or—?

I don't have a Llywydd view on it to share with you this morning, but I was interested in both the written and the oral evidence given by a previous set of witnesses you had where there was specific mention of the fact that it would be more appropriate for primary legislation to look at the increase beyond 17 to 19, or possibly, as you, I think, alluded to there, that it would be in the context of a two-thirds majority, because it could be too straightforward for a Government with a majority to move quickly from the 17 to the 19. I would also urge any future Government to always remember—and for all of us to always remember—that these are maximum numbers. They do not have to meet the maximum at all times. I know there is a tendency, sometimes, to see it that way, but we should make sure that we always are responsible in how we allocate these roles and that a maximum is not a figure to aim for, it is just a maximum.

And I think we all have accepted that, obviously, some of the ministerial briefs are extremely wide, the portfolios are extremely wide. Some of the subject responsibilities of committees are very broad and wide as well. But, of course, if there were to be another five Ministers or seven Ministers, is the maximum scenario set out in the Commission's consideration of this of just three additional committees going to really deliver the additional scrutiny that everybody aspires to as a result of this Senedd reform programme?

11:20

I think the issue not to overly fix on here is the numbers of committees, but to think about how those committees in another Senedd and in this post-2026 Senedd could work. We know at the moment that the ability of committees to meet during a working week is restricted by the membership of those committees sometimes sitting on other committees that can't meet at the same time. The point that I'm making is that the committees themselves, even though they may be the same number of committees, can work a lot more than they currently are able to do. They could meet twice a week rather than once a week, they could meet for longer periods of time, they could have more responsibilities or fewer responsibilities depending on how often they meet.

I would say that one or three additional committees is quite a crude way of thinking about it. We had to do it in a way where we could base our costings on something tangible, but the next Senedd will be free to devise a timetable of committees that could see committees working twice a week, because Members would be free on both the Wednesday and the Thursday to do that because they're not sitting on another committee. So, there's far more scope that will be available once we have more Members to populate these committees in a different way.

You mentioned earlier that the Bill requires you to put motions forward for two additional committees—one being the committee on job sharing, and the other one being the committee to look to review the process. Based upon what you just said, where perhaps the ways of working will also be something that could be considered as things may change, should such a committee therefore be undertaken by the Senedd or should we look outside, to someone who has an outside view of both how we review the legislation, but also how it's working? Because sometimes when we work internally, we tend to have our own positions, our own views on it. Somebody from outside might actually be a better judge of that.

If the next Senedd was to establish such a committee and decide that the Llywydd's motion to establish a committee should be undertaken, and that the review of the implementation was looked at by a committee, then the implementation of this new legislation is considerable in terms of how elections have gone and how preparations worked, or didn't work, and what it's meant in terms of the establishment and the ways of working of the new Senedd. I would suggest that all committees always should look to have a degree of independence to how they assess their work, and to get expert advice in—as this committee is doing.

I would say that my main concern with this area of work would probably be on the timetable that's been placed on this committee to report. Is it within a year of the election? That would be May 2027. So, it would need to have been set up, and we know from experience that it can take a while for committees to be set up—a motion can be agreed, but then there can be some discussion around the membership, and the chairing of committees can take weeks to decide. So, even if you meet the initial criteria of bringing the motion by six months—. Is it within six months? Yes.

It's within six months of the first meeting of the Senedd, and the report within 12. 

And then you have a further six months just to do the work, which as I've said, is quite considerable on this, if it's to be done properly. So I have a degree of concern about putting a guillotine on that committee's work in terms of it has to report by May 2027. I'm not sure why that is in the legislation in that way.

I appreciate what you're saying, that there's a lot to be decided upon by the next Senedd as a consequence of this, but because this Bill actually is putting a requirement and duty upon things for the next Senedd to do, should we be ensuring that there's guidance and a direction of travel that we would expect that committee or those committees to follow? If we are telling the Senedd, 'You need to put a motion forward to establish, because we think these committees are important', should we also be putting in place guidance as to how we see those committees focusing and the areas that we would expect them to review? 

11:25

I certainly wouldn't want to see that in the Bill. Whether a Business Committee of this Senedd wants to prepare the way for committees that will be the subject of discussion in the next Senedd is a matter that could be considered, although as a point of principle I think it's important that we allow the next Senedd and then, ultimately, any committee that's formed to decide on how it wants to do its work. I find binding the hands of a committee in a future Senedd to be not an issue that I would consider that a piece of legislation should involve itself in.

Okay. Frequency of elections was not part of the recommendations from the special purpose committee. It's gone from five to four. You and I know that it went up from four to five anyway, because of other aspects. Were you consulted on the frequency? Has the change in the frequency impacted upon, perhaps, some of the calculations and workings that the Commission undertook in its preparation for the Bill?

We weren't involved in the decision making around this or consulted in any kind of formal way. We were informed that it was going to be part of the Bill and we reflected that in our final costings as well. The profiling of the costings, of course, differs quite considerably from an election year to a non-election year. So, that's the main difference in how the costings needed to be reprofiled, is it, or were there other issues about the four-year versus the five-year term?

That was the main issue. It came in after the Senedd Commission had submitted its cost estimates, and that was one of the adjustments that then was needed to the cost estimates to reflect that four-year term, so in effect reprofiling those election costs. 

They've been adjusted. That's what we've got in the RIA.

Okay. And have you identified any possible unintended consequences of this? We always talk about Bills and we always want to look at the unintended consequences of parts of legislation. Have you been able to identify any unintended consequences?

A possible consequence could be on the appointments by the Senedd that currently, because of our five-year term compared to four or eight-year terms of, say—. Is it the auditor general?

There is a greater likelihood, possibly, with the four-year term that there may be some coincidence of appointments that is avoided by five-year terms. I probably haven't explained that very clearly.

I think it's just to reflect, I suppose, the point that you made earlier, Chair—that the term had changed from four to five and now we're back to four, so there are many statutory office holders who would have predated the five, but there are some—the auditor general, the standards commissioner, the remuneration board—who have terms that are not the same as Senedd terms and so there would be an impact in terms of when these people are appointed. But it would depend on the nature of the term of the individuals and whether, when the legislation creating those offices was put together, it was done on the basis of the Senedd terms, and it would depend on the officer holder in question. But it would have an impact, potentially, as to which Senedd and at what point in the Senedd term an office holder was to be appointed. 

So, we'll need to make some consequential amendments to other pieces of legislation, potentially.

Or not, as the case may be. That's a matter for your consideration.

Would you be able to provide us with a list of those posts you think would be affected by this consideration? Okay. 

I'll come back to Deputy Presiding Officers later on. I think one of the big issues that is being raised is the residency issue and also the question of vacancies beyond. I know that this is something that has been discussed by the Business Committee. But let's take the residency issues. Are there any concerns that the Commission has in relation to residency and as to whether that would exclude individuals from it? And the biggest question we perhaps have here is the issue of someone being unregistered on the electoral register, which basically at the moment means they can no longer serve as a Member of the Senedd. There may be an appeal to that, but in the meantime, by the time the appeal is heard, they could have been replaced, for example. So, is there a view from the Commission as to how you want to handle the situation? Should there be grace periods allowed for this type of situation? Should we ensure that no-one is disadvantaged because of an error that perhaps they had no input into? What's your view on that situation?

11:30

Well, not 'could have been replaced', but 'would have been replaced' without there having been an appeal by an individual heard in time for somebody who is appealing the fact that they were no longer on an electoral register in Wales and that they were appealing that fact with the electoral registration officer. Who knows how long an appeal process of that nature could take? And, of course, once disqualified because of not being on the electoral register, then the seat is vacant and there is a process that's outlined to fill that seat, and that seat would be filled. Therefore, there would be no opportunity for the Member that had been disqualified, if their appeal was successful, to regain their seat. That's how we've interpreted the legislation in front of us.

So, should there be a grace period as a consequence of that, so that people aren't disadvantaged because of an error they had no input into?

We know that errors can happen. A computer can say 'no'. And the right of appeal is important for anybody who could end up in that situation rightly or wrongly. I think it's a matter that does need a bit more thinking by both the Welsh Government and others in how the right to appeal could be enabled in this situation. I haven't got the solution to that, but I am bringing to you the possibility that this could become an issue for an individual that had been properly elected to this place but might find themselves in a different set of circumstances and was appealing that issue with the proper judicial process. 

Yes. And of course it's worth us considering the fact that the next Senedd elections would be undertaken at a time when automatic voter registration is taking place as well, and that, because of its first implementation, could also throw up challenges, couldn't it, potentially?

It could.

On vacancies, there's a clear situation about vacancies at the moment: if it's a closed list, it goes to whoever's next on the list, if this is a party position. If it's not a party position, if the individual either leaves a party or was elected as an independent, then that vacancy remains for the duration of the Senedd. What's your view on leaving a gap in a situation where, perhaps, a constituency may therefore lose representation in the Senedd as a consequence of that vacancy?

If a constituency has nobody that can represent it, that is an issue of some concern to those people who are electors in that constituency and also probably to the workings of the Senedd at any point, because it will change possibly quite dramatically the numbers, the configuration of how we do our work in terms of Government and opposition, even, but specifically committees and numbers of committees. I don't think that these possibilities will happen often, but my experience of the last years, especially the time I've been Llywydd, is that sometimes you can't quite believe what configuration and changes can happen even within a Senedd term. So, it is an issue of some concern, but unlikely to happen that there are no representatives for a constituency. But whether this Bill should have some kind of mechanisms to trigger a change at that point, whether that is by another election at that point for that constituency, then that's a complicated avenue to go down, but I think it may be worth further investigation by the committee.

11:35

That opportunity also applies to party lists, which I think the Bill states should be eight, but it's a very strong possibility that Members on that list either leave that particular party or are no longer resident in Wales, for example, and so it could actually happen on more occasions than just an individual being left as an independent; it could actually be a party list situation that creates that vacancy as well.

Well, I'm not an expert in working out whether there are mechanisms that are easily implemented to have recalls in a list system. I think, if I'm right, the Business Committee gave some thought to this and decided not to recommend anything for this particular Bill, but I think—. We don't currently have a recall, so we have to remember that. I think there are plenty of people who are interested in the recall provision of the Westminster House of Commons system, but we're moving away from being able to match that system in a constituency by-election, but how we would do that, I wouldn't be able to offer any solutions to you at this point. I think it certainly is something that may not feature in this Bill, but it's something that will feature, possibly, in terms of some discussions that either political parties or future committees who are interested in this may want to look at.

I understand the current situation, because clearly there are two ways of being elected to this current Senedd, which is the constituency first-past-the-post or the regional, and therefore a recall would have to cover both agendas. But in a proposed closed list system, there would only be one system of election, so that should make a recall scenario—. A mechanism—. Obviously it would be complicated, but it would be a single mechanism rather than perhaps a dual mechanism.

I think that's a good point to reflect on, because we certainly wouldn't want to be in a system where, if this system was retained currently, it would be possible to recall a constituency Member but not possible to recall a Member on a regional list. So, yes, it's more straightforward in terms of that.

Ie, os caf i jest dilyn hynny i fyny, os gwelwch yn dda, roeddem ni'n clywed yn y sesiwn gynt fod yna lai o bobl sydd yn gweld gwleidyddion fel ni yn bihafio'n iawn. Felly, roeddwn i jest eisiau clywed tipyn bach mwy, yn eich barn chi, am y system yna, achos, fel dwi'n deall, mae San Steffan wedi mynd trwy system i gael y recall i mewn, ac felly doedden nhw ddim wedi'i gael o yn y dechrau ond maen nhw efo fo rŵan. Roeddwn i jest eisiau clywed mwy, yn eich barn chi. Os dydyn ni ddim yn cael o yn y Bil rŵan, pa fath o system fydd ar gael, yn eich barn chi, i gynnig y system yna?

Yes, if I can just follow up on that, please, we heard in our previous session that there are fewer people who have high opinions of politicians like ourselves, and I just wanted to hear more of your view on that system, because, as I understand it, Westminster has implemented a recall system, and they didn't initially have it but they do now. I just wanted to hear more. If we don't include it in the Bill now, then what kind of system could be available, in your view, in order to progress that?

'Dwi ddim yn gwybod' yw'r ateb i hynna, oherwydd bod is-etholiadau yn anoddach yng nghyd-destun list system. Felly, mae is-etholiadau a 'trigger-o' is-etholiadau, sef y system recall yn Nhŷ'r Cyffredin, yn ffordd sydd yn ymddangos yn weddol straightforward erbyn hyn, ac mae wedi digwydd sawl gwaith ac, o bosib, ar fin digwydd eto. Fe fydd y system is-etholiadau yna yn anoddach yng nghyd-destun list, ac, felly, does gyda fi ddim yr expertise i gynnig beth yw'r senario orau i gyflawni hynny i chi. 

The answer to that is 'I don't know,' because by-elections are more difficult in the context of a list system, so by-elections and triggering by-elections, which is the recall system used in the House of Commons, appears to be quite a straightforward approach, and it's happened on a number of occasions, and it may be about to be triggered again. That by-election system would be complex in the context of a list system, so I don't have the expertise to tell you what the best scenario in delivering that would be. 

11:40

Diolch. Ond jest un pwynt—dwi ddim yn gwybod os yw e'n gwestiwn—del dwi'n deall, roedd San Steffan yn gorfod cynnig Bil, neu ddeddfwriaeth, i sicrhau bod yna system recall. Doedd hwnnw ddim yn y system yn San Steffan. Felly, dwi'n gwybod bod o'n anodd, ond efallai dyw e ddim yn rheswm jest i ddweud, 'Fe wnawn ni weld beth sydd am ddigwydd' achos mae'n bwysig, onid ydy, cael hyn yn iawn ar ddechrau'r ddeddfwriaeth. Felly, mae jest yn rhywbeth i ni, efallai, feddwl amdano—y system recall. Dwi'n eich clywed yn union, ac mae o'n anodd, ond dydy o ddim yn rheswm i ni beidio dweud, 'Wel, beth allwn ni wneud ar gyfer hynny?'

Thank you. But just as one further point—I'm not sure if it's a question or not—as I understand it, Westminster needed legislation to ensure that there was a recall system in place. Now, I know it's difficult, but perhaps it's not a reason to say, 'Well, we'll just wait and see what happens', because it is important that we get this right from the outset in the legislation. So, that might be something for us to think about, perhaps, in terms of recall. I hear your comments, and it is difficult, but it's no reason for us not to look at what can be done in that context.

Na, dwi'n cytuno gyda'r pwynt yna o egwyddor. Byddwn i'n dweud hefyd mai un peth efallai i gadw mewn cof yw bod yr ysfa am recall ar gyfer Aelodau unigol yn mynd i fod yn llai o bosib mewn Senedd o bedair blynedd o gymharu â phum mlynedd, yn enwedig yr agosaf y bydd rhywun yn mynd tuag at ddiwedd y Senedd hynny. 

No, I agree with that point of principle. What I would also say is that one thing that you should bear in mind is that the desire for recall for individual Members may be lessened in a Senedd of four years as compared to five years, particularly the closer one gets to the end of that Senedd. 

Wel, dŷn ni'n gobeithio. Efallai y bydd rhywbeth yn digwydd yn y mis cyntaf neu rywbeth fel yna. 

We'd hope so. Something might happen in the first month.

Ie, wrth gwrs. 'Yn llai' ddywedais i; dyw e ddim yn diflannu. 

Well, yes, of course. I said it's a reduced possibility; the possibility doesn't disappear. 

Well, we would all hope that. A question on the relationship between the proposed democracy and boundary commission and the Senedd, because I think it's proposed that, perhaps, there should be pre-appointment scrutiny by the Senedd. Or should there be pre-appointment scrutiny by the Senedd?

Okay, let's say 'should there be?', because we pre-appoint quite a few other posts, and this is an important part of the review in one sense, because they are reviewing the boundaries, and it's an element of how that progress is moving. So, should the Senedd be involved in the appointment of the chair of the board?

Well, I would make the point that this commission is different to any other commission, in that it will have far more interest to political parties and potential politicians—direct interest in how constituencies are configured. So, the principle of retaining the total independence of the boundary commission from the party political process is quite an important principle to guard. So, I would say that how the Bill is currently introduced, and making sure that neither the Welsh Government or the Senedd itself can change or vote down any proposal on boundary changes, so that they are merely laid, and that the principle of—a word I've learnt this morning—automaticity is adhered to, are important to retain. 

Now, on whether the Welsh Government or the Senedd should be involved in appointing the commissioners and the chair of the commission, I think the Bill allows the Welsh Government currently—it's a role that the Welsh Government has to appoint commissioners—and whether there should be pre-appointment hearings, I think that's a matter for some consideration, given that it's a Welsh Government appointee.

Particularly as previous witnesses referred to the fact that they should not be party politically involved, and there should be independence, and there should also, perhaps, be a single term. I just wondered what your views were in relation to that, and then Heledd will come in. 

I probably don't have a view on whether they should be single term or not as appointments. It's good to refresh on a frequent basis.

11:45

Jest o ran y comisiwn ffiniau a democratiaeth, ydych chi'n gweld, efallai, fod yna rôl i Bwyllgor y Llywydd, o bosib, efo hynny?

Just in terms of the democracy and boundary commission, do you see that there's a role for the Llywydd's Committee in that regard?

As the Llywydd, I am not a member of that committee at this point. Siwan, do you want to outline some of the issues around pre-appointment hearings?

Indeed. The Bill is conferring functions on an existing commission that would be in relation to the Senedd, but, currently, the commission looks at local government, and I guess that the committee may want to look at models elsewhere, for example in Scotland, and I believe you'll be hearing from the chair of the boundary commission there, which does combine those functions as to what would be the appropriate model for appointing commissioners, for example. As the Llywydd says, there is consideration for the Senedd as to whether appointments made by Welsh Ministers are subject to pre-appointment hearings by Senedd committees, and there are agreements in place in relation to a range of those. As you say, there is mechanism currently in relation to the Electoral Commission. The oversight of the Electoral Commission of the Senedd elections is the responsibility of the Llywydd's Committee, and that is something that came in in recent times, in terms of the changes that we made to the Senedd in the last constitutional piece of legislation. So, that is another model that you may wish to look at as a committee.

I guess, in Westminster, the model around the commissions pertaining to the elections to Westminster is, clearly, an older model, but it's, in theory, chaired by the Speaker, but that person never presides because they're a politician, so it's usually a presiding judge. So, there are a number of models in the United Kingdom that you could look at, or look at models elsewhere. But, currently, this legislation is conferring additional functions via the Senedd on something that was created, I suppose, for a different purpose, and so, as a committee, you may want to consider the pros and cons of different involvement of people who are part of the Senedd more broadly.

So, obviously, the Bill makes a proposal for the possibility of two Deputy Presiding Officers, and one thing it doesn't stipulate is, if there are to be three individuals, acting as Llywydd and two deputies, whether each of those should be from completely different parties or whether there's a possibility that two of them could be from one political party. Do you have any thoughts about that and whether those roles ought to reflect the political balance? I think that at the moment it simply says that the Llywydd and the Deputy Presiding Officer must be from different—.

—but I think that the additional Presiding Officer also is caught now in the discussion.

Yes. Siwan, you can just remind me of exactly how that is constructed in the legislation, but it does have a kind of order to it.

So, the present legislation has provisions in terms of not being in the same party and not being—

—of an executive and both in the executive. However, there's an override provision, in terms of the Standing Orders and the two-thirds majority, and my understanding of the provisions—and I stand to be corrected—in terms of the additional Deputy Presiding Officer would be that you wouldn't have all three coming from a group with an executive role. So, you could imagine that they would have permutations of parties, potentially, and it comes down to how many parties you might have in a Senedd, because, in theory, you could have two. But I think the key principle is around not having a majority from the executive. Now, there's a moot point as to what would happen if everybody in the Senedd was, but then there's another problem there, isn't there? But my understanding is that the legislation reflects the recommendation of the Business Committee, in relation to having flexibility to have an additional Deputy Presiding Officer, that it wasn't a requirement. So, that's why there are two different provisions—the existing and the additional provision. But the Business Committee was clear about needing to have some sort of protection that they weren't all from the same party or from the same executive or non-executive, as is the current case. But I think it's recognising that, to some extent, what happens will depend on the composition of the new Senedd and the views of the new Senedd as to how it operates. So, that's why it's an optional provision as opposed to a requirement, as is currently the case, where you have to have a Llywydd and a Deputy; you can't not.

11:50

And you are right, it says they must be from different political groups, which is very important. Can I just test this issue of the name of—the English titles, if you like, on the face of the Bill? So, we've got used to Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer, haven't we, over the years, but the public at large are more familiar with the terms 'Speaker' and 'Deputy Speaker' in most parliamentary democracies. I know that you've shared a personal view in the past, Llywydd, that you would like to see those titles change. Can you give us further reason as to—? You know, the Welsh Government says it can't be done on this Bill, but can you give us a reason why it could be?

Well, I think the Business Committee, as well as myself personally, took the view that the Bill could consider the opportunity to change the title in English to 'Speaker' rather than 'Presiding Officer'. My experience, both within Wales and certainly outside of Wales, is that parliamentary systems are more used to using 'Speaker'. If I find myself outside of the UK, especially in other Parliaments, or when meeting visiting Speakers to here, then I tend to refer to myself as a 'Speaker', because that's the familiar term in the context of Parliaments. So, the Business Committee, in its view to the Welsh Government on this issue, along with others, did suggest that the Welsh Government could look at this. The Welsh Government did come back, in a letter at some point, to say that it was no longer able to look at this, because it considered that there were complicating factors around the legislation—[Interruption.]—yes, on 21 June—in the original legislation, in the Government of Wales Act 2006, that may make it an issue of competence as to whether we had that or not, and the Welsh Government decided it wasn't going to test the competence issue in that respect and therefore wasn't going to include it, which is fair enough.

Does the Senedd Commission have a view on whether the competence lies with the Senedd or elsewhere?

We haven't explored it in detail is how I'd answer that question at this point, yes.

Can I go back to section 19 of the Act, which is the review aspect, and the Act talks about the Senedd establishing a committee to review? It doesn't refer to the Welsh Government having a responsibility to review. Now, I appreciate the Senedd committee would expect to take evidence from Welsh Government, as part of its process, but should there be a duty upon the Welsh Government also to undertake a review, so that it's not just the Senedd looking at how the Bill went through, it's also going to be the then Welsh Government looking at how the Bill has been implemented and whether it needs to take action? Because it seems—. I know there's still a clarification as to who actually owns this Bill, effectively, and it's clear the Member in charge is a Welsh Government Minister, but he keeps saying, 'We're only implementing the will of the Senedd.' So, should there also be a duty upon Welsh Government to undertake a review? As I said, that would be part of the committee's role, and they will give evidence, but that's not the same as making sure they undertake a full review as well. 

Well, I probably don't have a view on whether there should be a duty in here for the Welsh Government to undertake its review. Post-legislative scrutiny is a good model to follow generally, but the review, in this Bill, is quite a bit broader than post-legislative scrutiny; it's about the general health of the democracy and other—

Yes, and you'll have to pose that to the Member in charge. So, it's a wider discussion about how the election went, how the change went, how the implementation of everything went, and whether anything should change for the future. I would expect the Welsh Government certainly to have a view on all of that at the time. Whether that's done in its own review or whether it's done as evidence to a committee of that Senedd is probably not—it's not something I feel I need to come to a view on myself, other than to say again that I believe that doing all of this work, if that's what's intended in this catch-all review, within the first year of that new Senedd, is a challenge if it's going to get it right and if it's going to include both Welsh Government having analysed internally how it thinks everything went in order to provide its view to the committee, and also, importantly, the point you made earlier about some kind of independent scrutiny, that either a committee could commission or various universities could offer as a result of that. We know that all of that analysis on election results, for example, usually takes a good six months for a university to turn out after an election, so I am concerned about the timetabling in this Bill.

11:55

Have any other Members got a question? We're coming close to the end. No. I have got one I'm thinking of. We all know that this is a Bill, and there's a second Bill coming, which we anticipate. Has the Senedd Commission considered the implications of a second Bill, linked into this, and particularly how it might impact upon this Bill? We will look at the detail of the second Bill at another time. But in your consideration as a Commission, how have you viewed the possibility of the things that are left out of the special purpose committee's recommendations and the consequences that would have on this Bill? Because there might be some unintended consequences on this Bill on the basis of that. We're told about gender quota—we know that's a part of it, but will there be other elements of the special purpose committee's report?

Perhaps the question is: what discussions have you had with the Government about looking at how it all fits in?