Pwyllgor o'r Senedd Gyfan

Committee of the Whole Senedd

06/03/2024

Cynnwys

Contents

1. Bil Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau): Trafodion Cyfnod 2 1. Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill: Stage 2 Proceedings
Grŵp 14: Enwau etholaethau’r Senedd, a rôl Comisiynydd y Gymraeg yn eu henwi (Gwelliannau 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 107, 109) Group 14: Names of Senedd constituencies, and the role of the Welsh Language Commissioner in their naming (Amendments 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 107, 109)
Grŵp 15: Adolygu ffiniau etholaethau’r Senedd: cwota etholiadol (Gwelliant 14) Group 15: Senedd constituency boundary reviews: electoral quota (Amendment 14)
Grŵp 16: Refferendwm ar Ddeddf Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau) 2024 (Gwelliannau 36, 37) Group 16: Referendum on the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Act 2024 (Amendments 36, 37)
Grŵp 17: Adolygiad o weithrediad y Ddeddf etc. ar ôl etholiad cyffredinol 2026 (Gwelliannau 9, 10, 19, 116, 11, 12, 49, 53, 20, 50) Group 17: Review of operation of Act etc. after 2026 general election (Amendments 9, 10, 19, 116, 11, 12, 49, 53, 20, 50)
Grŵp 18: Pŵer i osod terfynau gwariant ymgyrchoedd etholiadol y Senedd mewn cysylltiad ag adran 1 a Rhan 2 o Fil Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau) (Gwelliannau 81, 82, 83, 85, 86) Group 18: Power to set Senedd election campaign expenditure limits in connection with section 1 and Part 2 of the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill (Amendments 81, 82, 83, 85, 86)
Grŵp 19: Darpariaeth drosiannol pe bai etholiad cyffredinol eithriadol yn arwain at beidio â chynnal etholiad cyffredinol cyffredin 2026 (Gwelliannau 84, 87, 88) Group 19: Transitional provision in the case that an extraordinary general election resulted in the 2026 ordinary general election not being held (Amendments 84, 87, 88)

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 15:24.

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

The meeting began at 15:24.

1. Bil Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau): Trafodion Cyfnod 2
1. Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill: Stage 2 Proceedings

Prynhawn da a chroeso i'r cyfarfod yma i ystyried Cyfnod 2 Bil Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau). Yn unol â'r rhestr o welliannau wedi'u didoli, byddwn yn ailddechrau'r trafodion y prynhawn yma drwy waredu gwelliannau 90 a 91, a drafodwyd yng ngrwpiau 3 ac 1, yn y drefn honno. Felly, gwelliant 90 i ddechrau. A yw'n cael ei gynnig yn ffurfiol gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol?

Good afternoon and welcome to this meeting to consider the Stage 2 proceedings of the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill. In accordance with the marshalled list of amendments, we will resume proceedings this afternoon by disposing of amendments 90 and 91 discussed in groups 3 and 1 respectively. So, amendment 90 first. Is it formally moved by the Counsel General?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 90 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 90 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy, mae'r gwelliant yn cael ei gynnig. Y cwestiwn yw: a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 90? A oes unrhyw wrthwynebiad? Does dim gwrthwynebiad. Felly, mae gwelliant 90 wedi ei dderbyn. 

It is. The amendment is moved. The question is that amendment 90 be agreed. Does any Member object? There are no objections. Therefore, amendment 90 is agreed. 

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Ydy gwelliant 91 yn cael ei gynnig gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol?

Amendment 91, is it moved by the Counsel General?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 91 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 91 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy, mae wedi ei gynnig. A ddylid derbyn gwelliant 91, felly? A oes gwrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Felly, mae gwelliant 91 wedi ei dderbyn. 

It is moved. The question is that amendment 91 be agreed. Does any Member object? No, there are no objections. Therefore, amendment 91 is agreed. 

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

15:25
Grŵp 14: Enwau etholaethau’r Senedd, a rôl Comisiynydd y Gymraeg yn eu henwi (Gwelliannau 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 107, 109)
Group 14: Names of Senedd constituencies, and the role of the Welsh Language Commissioner in their naming (Amendments 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 107, 109)

Y grŵp nesaf y byddwn ni'n ei drafod yw grŵp 14. Enwau etholaethau’r Senedd a rôl Comisiynydd y Gymraeg yn eu henwi yw'r grŵp yma o welliannau. Gwelliant 92 yw'r prif welliant yn y grŵp a dwi'n galw ar y Cwnsler Cyffredinol i gynnig y gwelliant hwnnw. 

The next group of amendments is group 14, the names of Senedd constituencies and the role of the Welsh Language Commissioner in their naming. The lead amendment in the group is amendment 92, and I call on the Counsel General to move that amendment.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 92 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 92 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Diolch, Llywydd. I'm pleased to open the debate on this group of amendments that relate to the names of Senedd constituencies and the role of the Welsh Language Commissioner in the boundary review process to be undertaken by the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru. I will be supporting all the amendments in this group, and, in opening the debate, I would like to set out the effect of the amendments and how they relate to the recommendations of the Reform Bill Committee.

Amendments 92 and 101 are in response to recommendation 33 of the Reform Bill Committee. The committee recommended that amendments to Schedules 1 and 2 to the Bill are brought forward to provide that each Senedd constituency be given a monolingual name unless the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru considers that there are specific reasons why bilingual names are appropriate. The two amendments create the presumption, in Schedule 1 and 2 to the Bill respectively, that the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru will give a single name to a Senedd constituency. It will only be in circumstances that the commission consider doing so would be unacceptable that they must propose different names for communication through the medium of Welsh and English.

While the amendments do not specify that the single name for a Senedd constituency must be in the Welsh language, as per recommendation 34 of the Reform Bill Committee, the effect of the amendments in practice will mean that any single name must be acceptable to use through the medium of Welsh. There are many examples of names in Welsh that are acceptable in English—for example, Llanelli, Ynys Môn, Torfaen, Pontypridd—but we have not identified any names in English that would be acceptable in Welsh. I'm therefore confident that the amendment gives effect to the recommendations of the committee.

The remaining amendments in this group are a package that respond to recommendations 32 and 35 of the Reform Bill Committee. They require that the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru must consult and have regard to the representations of the Welsh Language Commissioner during the Senedd boundary review set out in Schedules 1 and 2 of the Bill.

Amendments 93, 96 and 99 amend Schedule 1 to the Bill and require the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru to consult and have regard to any representations of the Welsh Language Commissioner on the orthography of any proposed constituency names before making its initial, second and final reports.

Amendments 102, 106 and 109 likewise amend Schedule 2 to the Bill to give the same effect. These amendments are in response to recommendation 35 of the Reform Bill Committee. They expand the existing provision of the Bill, which currently limits such consultation to the orthography of proposed constituency names in the medium of Welsh. The amendments ensure that ahead of each report, the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru will consult the Welsh Language Commissioner on the orthography of proposed constituency names and take account of their views.

Amendments 94, 95 and 97 amend Schedule 1 to the Bill and require the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru to consult the Welsh Language Commissioner regarding its proposals during the first and second periods of consultation.

Amendments 103, 104 and 107 likewise amend Schedule 2 to the Bill to require the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru to consult the Welsh Language Commissioner regarding its proposals during the first and final periods of consultation. These amendments are in response to recommendation 32 of the Reform Bill Committee. During these consultation periods, the Welsh Language Commissioner will have the opportunity to provide comments relating to all aspects of the proposals set out in the respective report. This would include representations on the proposed names for Senedd constituencies that may be broader than the orthography of proposed names.

Whilst this means that the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru must consult with the Welsh Language Commissioner at different times for different purposes, there are several reasons for taking this approach. These include maintaining the timescales and overall delivery of such reviews and ensuring representations that may relate to the substance of proposals, including the proposed constituency names, are received by the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru and given regard to in the same periods of consultation.

I'd like to take the opportunity at this point to make the connection between these amendments and amendments 98 and 108 that we debated in the first group at the start of these Stage 2 proceedings. Amendments 98 and 108 to Schedule 1 and 2 to the Bill respectively combine the requirement for the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru to have regard to the representations of the Welsh Language Commissioner with the technical amendment that addresses concerns raised by the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales in their written evidence to the Reform Bill Committee.

The process and approach provided for by the amendments have been discussed with both the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales and the Welsh Language Commissioner’s office. I am grateful for their engagement and input as we have developed our response to the Reform Bill Committee’s recommendations. Diolch, Llywydd.

15:30

Diolch, Llywydd. I can confirm that the Welsh Conservatives will be supporting all of the amendments in this group. As the Counsel General has quite rightly said, there was a great deal of evidence at the Reform Bill Committee Stage 1 proceedings, which suggested that there was the opportunity to strengthen the role of the Welsh Language Commissioner in terms of the naming of Senedd constituencies in the future, and that's why there was a clear recommendation to try and have a single monolingual name that could be used interchangeably by people who might want to speak in English or Welsh when naming constituencies. 

I do think it's a little bit of a shame that it's taken a while to get the proper level of engagement, shall we say, from the Welsh Government with the office of the Welsh Language Commissioner over these issues. It would've obviously been much better if that detailed engagement and work had taken place in advance of the publication of the Bill. Nevertheless, I do think that it's welcome that that engagement has now taken place. I fully support every single one of the amendments in this group and very much hope that everybody else in the Chamber this afternoon will do likewise.

Diolch, Llywydd. Yn sicr, mae'r dystiolaeth wedi dangos inni yn glir yn y Pwyllgor Biliau Diwygio yr angen i gryfhau'n sylweddol yr hyn a oedd yn y Bil fel y'i cyflwynwyd o ran y cyfle, wrth lunio etholaethau newydd i Gymru, i hyrwyddo’r Gymraeg wrth galon ein bywyd cyhoeddus a democrataidd, i sicrhau bod ffurfiau Cymraeg enwau yn cael eu defnyddio’n gywir ac yn eang, ac i gryfhau rôl Comisiynydd y Gymraeg yn y broses. Mi oeddwn i'n gwerthfawrogi’n fawr yr undod trawsbleidiol ar draws y pwyllgor yn hyn, a bod ein dyheadau ni wedi cael eu hadlewyrchu yn y gwelliannau gan Mick Antoniw. Mi ofynnodd Sarah Murphy, pan oeddem ni ar y pwyllgor, pam bod angen 'Bridgend', pam na wna 'Pen-y-bont' y tro yn y ddwy iaith. Mae parciau cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog ac Eryri wedi arwain y ffordd ar ein cyfer, felly mae’n iawn fod trefniadau enwi etholaethau y Senedd hon yn dangos yr un uchelgais.

Dydy’r gwelliannau gan Mick Antoniw yn y grŵp yma ddim yn union fel y byddwn i wedi’u llunio, ond maent yn sicr yn dangos dylanwad y pwyllgor arnyn nhw ac mae o'n welliant sylweddol i'r hyn a oedd yn y Bil fel y’i cyflwynwyd am sawl rheswm. Yn gyntaf, maen nhw'n cael gwared ar y disgwyliad i'r comisiwn ffiniau roi enw at ddibenion cyfathrebu drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg a drwy gyfrwng y Saesneg ar etholaeth, gyda rhagdybiaeth o blaid enw uniaith, gyda’r ddealltwriaeth mai enw uniaith Gymraeg fyddai honno. Maen nhw yn ehangu rôl Comisiynydd y Gymraeg yn y cyfnod rhagymgynghori o ran orgraff enwau arfaethedig etholaethau, ac maen nhw'n gwneud y comisiynydd yn ymgynghorai statudol yn ystod y cyfnod agored o ymgynghori, fel y gallai’r comisiynydd gyfrannu arbenigedd ar y dewis o enwau, yn ychwanegol at y cyngor a roddir ar sillafiad neu’r orgraff yn y cyfnod rhagymgynghori, neu yn wir gynnig cyngor ar effaith yr etholaethau arfaethedig ar y Gymraeg yn ei ystyr ehangaf, gyda dyletswydd statudol wedyn ar y comisiwn ffiniau i roi sylw dyladwy i'r materion a godir. Mae hyn yn gydnabyddiaeth o swyddogaeth y comisiynydd fel y corff sydd â’r cyfrifoldeb arweiniol ar argymell ffurfiau safonol enwau lleoedd Cymru a’r cyfoeth o arbenigedd ehangach sydd wedi’i gronni yn y maes yma yn fwy cyffredinol gan y sefydliad.

Er mwyn sicrhau bod y darpariaethau yma yn gweithio yn effeithiol, fe glywsom ni yn y dystiolaeth i'r pwyllgor fod dal angen cytundeb rhwng y tri chorff mwyaf perthnasol—y comisiwn ffiniau, Comisiynydd y Gymraeg, a’r Llywodraeth—ar yr egwyddorion a’r confensiynau lefel uchel sy’n sail i ddatblygu enwau, i roi fframwaith i'r trefniadau manwl ar lo mân y broses fwy cadarn o lawer a fydd yn y Bil wedi’i ddiwygio o dderbyn y gwelliannau yma. Felly, byddai'n dda pe gallai'r Gweinidog ddweud mwy na hynny rŵan, neu ddychwelyd ato yng Nghyfnod 3. Yn yr un modd, byddwn yn awyddus i weld dychwelyd at y mater gwneud y Gymraeg yn un o'r clymau lleol yn Nghyfnod 3, yn unol ag argymhelliad y Pwyllgor Biliau Diwygio.

Thank you, Llywydd. Certainly, the evidence demonstrated clearly in the Reform Bill Committee the need to significantly strengthen the Bill as introduced in relation to the opportunity provided by the formation of new Welsh constituencies to put the Welsh language at the heart of our public and democratic life, to ensure that Welsh names are used accurately and widely, and to strengthen the role of the Welsh Language Commissioner in the process. I very much appreciated the cross-party agreement across the committee on this, and that our aspirations are reflected in Mick Antoniw's amendments. Sarah Murphy asked, when we were on the committee, why we need 'Bridgend', why won't 'Pen-y-bont' do in both languages. The Bannau Brycheiniog and Eryri national parks have led the way for us, so it's only right that the arrangements for naming constituencies of this Senedd should show the same ambition.

Mick Antoniw's amendments in this group aren't exactly as I would have drafted them, but they certainly show the committee's influence and it is a significant improvement on what was included in the Bill as introduced, for a number of reasons. First, they remove the expectation for the boundary commission to provide Welsh and English constituency names for the purposes of communication with the presumption in favour of a monolingual name on the understanding that that would be a Welsh name. They expand the role of the Welsh Language Commissioner in the pre-consultation phase in terms of the orthography of the proposed names of constituencies, and they make the commissioner a statutory consultee during the open consultation so that the commissioner can provide expertise on the choice of names, in addition to the advice on spelling and orthography in the pre-consultation phase, or indeed to provide advice on the broader impact of the proposed constituencies on the Welsh language in its broadest sense, with a statutory requirement placed on the boundary commission to pay due regard to the issues raised. This is a recognition of the commissioner's function as the lead body in recommending standardised place names in Wales and the wealth of broader expertise that has been garnered in this area more generally by the office.

To ensure that the provisions work effectively, the committee heard evidence that there still needed to be agreement between the three most relevant bodies—the boundary commission, the Welsh Language Commissioner, and the Government—on the principles and the high-level conventions that are the basis for developing names, in order to provide a framework for the detailed arrangements on the nitty-gritty of the much more robust process that will be in the amended Bill, if these amendments are accepted. So, I would be pleased if the Minister could tell us more about that now, or to return to it at Stage 3. Likewise, I'd like to see a return to the issue of making the Welsh language one of the local ties at Stage 3, in accordance with the Reform Bill Committee's recommendation.

15:35

Only in summary to say that I'll take on board the comments that have been made, and we'll give consideration to those. I move the amendments.

Y cwestiwn yw: a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 92? A oes unrhyw wrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Felly, mae gwelliant 92 wedi ei dderbyn.

The proposal is to agree amendment 92. Does any Member object? No. Therefore, amendment 92 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cwnsler Cyffredinol, ydy gwelliant 93 yn cael ei symud?

Counsel General, is amendment 93 being moved?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 93 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 93 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy. A oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 93? Na, dim gwrthwynebiad. Mae gwelliant 93 wedi ei dderbyn.

Yes. Are there any objections to amendment 93? No, no objections. Amendment 93 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Ydy gwelliant 94 yn cael ei symud, Cwnsler Cyffredinol?

Is amendment 94 being moved, Counsel General?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 94 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 94 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy. Oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 94? Nac oes. Felly, mae gwelliant 94 wedi ei dderbyn.

It is. Are there any objections to amendment 94? No. Therefore, amendment 94 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 95 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 95 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 95? Nac oes. Felly, mae gwelliant 95 wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections to amendment 95? No. Therefore, amendment 95 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 96 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 96 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Gwelliant 96—a oes gwrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Felly, mae gwelliant 96 wedi ei dderbyn.

Amendment 96—are there any objections? No. Therefore, amendment 96 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 97 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 97 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 97? Nac oes. Felly, mae gwelliant 97 wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections to amendment 97? No. Therefore, amendment 97 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 98 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 98 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Gwelliant 98—oes gwrthwynebiad? Na. Mae wedi ei dderbyn, felly.

Amendment 98—are there any objections? No. Amendment 98 is agreed, therefore.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Tynnwyd gwelliant 24 yn ôl.

Amendment 24 withdrawn.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 99 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 99 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Gwelliant 99—gwrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Mae gwelliant 99 wedi ei dderbyn.

Amendment 99—objection? No. Amendment 99 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 100 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 100 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 100? Nac oes. Felly, mae e wedi ei gymeradwyo.

Are there any objections to amendment 100? No. Therefore, it is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 78 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 78 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 78? Nac oes. Mae gwelliant 78 wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections to amendment 78? No. Amendment 78 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 79 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 79 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 79? Nac oes. Felly, mae e wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections to amendment 79? No. Therefore, it is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Grŵp 15: Adolygu ffiniau etholaethau’r Senedd: cwota etholiadol (Gwelliant 14)
Group 15: Senedd constituency boundary reviews: electoral quota (Amendment 14)

Dyma ni'n cyrraedd grŵp 15. Grŵp 15 yw'r grŵp o welliannau sy'n ymwneud â'r cwota etholiadol ar gyfer adolygu ffiniau etholaethau’r Senedd. Gwelliant 14 yw'r prif welliant fan hyn, a dwi'n galw ar Darren Millar i gynnig y prif welliant.

That brings us to group 15. Group 15 is the group of amendments that relate to the electoral quota for Senedd constituency boundary reviews. The lead amendment here is amendment 14, and I call on Darren Millar to move the lead amendment.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 14 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 14 (Darren Millar) moved.

Diolch, Llywydd. I move amendment 14, tabled in my name.

The Bill before us today includes a clause that stipulates that when the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru undertakes a boundary review in advance of the Senedd elections currently scheduled for May 2030, it must ensure that the electorate in each of those Senedd constituencies has to be within 10 per cent of the electoral quota. Now, the electoral quota is the total number of local government electors in Wales divided by the total number of Senedd constituencies. And as we know, for the first set of elections, the commission will be required to pair each of the current 32 UK parliamentary constituencies in Wales, to create 16 new Senedd constituencies.

Now, UK parliamentary constituencies have an electoral quota of plus or 5 per cent—. There's a requirement for UK parliamentary constituencies to be within 5 per cent of the UK electoral quota. Now, at the time of the last review, that meant that the electoral quota was 73,393. So, the margin by which constituencies can vary from that quota means that every constituency, in the whole of the United Kingdom, now contains between 69,724 and 77,062 electors, other than five protected constituencies, which include Ynys Môn, which is a protected constituency and remains unchanged, with just 52,415 electors.

Now, the result of this is that, at the Senedd elections in 2026, all Welsh Senedd constituencies will have just under 147,000 electors, bar the constituency paired with Ynys Môn, which is likely to have between 122,000 and 125,000, depending on which constituency it's paired with, which means that it could have up to 25,000 fewer electors than elsewhere. Now, that actual number is likely to be even larger than that, because of the extended franchise that we have here in Wales for Senedd elections, versus UK parliamentary elections, because, of course, we give voting rights here in Wales to 16 and 17-year-olds, and to foreign citizens with the right to remain in Wales.

Now, in the interests of fairness and equality of representation for all citizens in Wales, it is important that all Members of the Senedd represent a similar number of constituents. I'm sure that all of us would agree with that. And it's also important that the size and shape of constituencies should be reviewed from time to time, to reflect population changes and try to ensure that those constituencies have a similar number of electors, whilst, at the same time, paying regard to local ties and not splitting communities that naturally sit together. But, under the electoral quotas proposed by the Welsh Government, it will be possible in future Senedds that constituencies could vary in size by up to 30,000 electors or more. Now, that is clearly unfair and inappropriate, and it will need to be addressed. The Reform Bill Committee recommended that the electoral quota of 10 per cent should be reduced in order to address this inequity. We know that the boundary commission has been able to do its work, with smaller constituencies, to find constituencies and communities that come together with this plus or minus 5 per cent margin. You would expect that, with bigger constituencies, with more electors, you could have twice as good an opportunity, even at 5 per cent, to be able to make sure that those constituency boundaries were appropriate. Yet, the Welsh Government is seeking to have a 10 per cent quota, I believe, without justification. And I think, if there's variability in the number of electors in Senedd constituencies of up to 30,000 voters or more, then that, clearly, is not right.

So, in the interests of fairness and equity of representation, I urge Members to support my amendment, which would reduce the electoral quota percentage variation from 10 per cent to 5 per cent. It would still give the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru a margin of about 15,000 to work with, in order to move communities in and out of constituencies, which, by any stretch of the imagination, is more than sufficient.

15:40

Diolch, Llywydd. Dŷn ni'n gwrthwynebu'r gwelliant yma gan Darren Millar. Mae'n bur amlwg i bawb beth yw canlyniad gosod cwota artiffisial yn achos yr etholaethau San Steffan newydd, gyda chanlyniadau anfwriadol fel etholaeth Aberhonddu, Maesyfed a Chwm Tawe. Byddai'n well gen i beidio gweld cwota, fel sydd yn digwydd yn yr Alban, ond os oes cwota yn gorfod bod, yna mae angen cynnig gymaint o hyblygrwydd ag sy'n bosib, yn hytrach na chlymu dwylo'r comisiwn ffiniau, fel mae gwelliant Darren Millar am wneud. 

Bydd y cwota yn gweithredu o fewn fframwaith ehangach o gyfarwyddiadau sydd yn Atodlenni’r Mesur, gan gynnwys y gofyniad i geisio lleihau newid. Mae yna bryder yn nhystiolaeth ysgrifenedig y comisiwn ffiniau am ganlyniadau anfwriadol yn eu dehongliad o hyn. Cafodd argymhelliad perthnasol y pwyllgor yn hyn o beth ei nodi gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol. Felly, a gaf i ofyn am ddiweddariad ar y gwaith sy'n digwydd i fynd i'r afael â'r amheuon gododd y comisiwn? Os nad oes datrysiad derbyniol i hyn, mae'n bosib y bydd angen dychwelyd at y mater penodol hwn yng Nghyfnod 3. 

Dylid pwysleisio hefyd mai ffiniau interim ar gyfer un tymor yn unig fydd y parau arfaethedig yn defnyddio etholaethau San Steffan. Felly, mae o'n bwysig bod y cyrff fydd yn gyfrifol am gyflawni'r system newydd yn deall hynny ac yn paratoi at weithredu o dan y ffiniau llawn Cymreig newydd fydd yn cael eu defnyddio o 2030 ymlaen ac yn cael eu hadolygu yn achlysurol wedyn.

Thank you, Llywydd. We oppose this amendment tabled by Darren Millar. It seems perfectly obvious what the result of imposing artificial quotas has been in the case of the new Westminster boundaries, with unintended consequences such as the Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe constituency. We'd prefer not to see a quota, as in Scotland, but if there must be a quota, then we must include as much flexibility as possible, rather than tie the boundary commission's hands in the way that Darren Millar's amendment proposes. 

The quota would operate in a wider framework of directions set out in the Bill's Schedules, including the requirement to seek to minimise changes. Concern is expressed in the boundary commission's written evidence about unintended consequences in their interpretation of this provision. The committee's recommendation in this regard was noted by the Counsel General, so may I ask for an update on the work under way to address the concerns raised by the commission? And if there isn't an acceptable solution to this, we may have to return to this specific issue at Stage 3.

It should also be emphasised that the proposed pairings of using Westminster constituencies will be interim boundaries for one term only. So, it is important that the bodies that will be responsible for delivering the new system understand this and prepare to operate under the new Welsh boundaries that will be used from 2030 onwards and reviewed regularly from then on.

Well, thank you to both Darren and to Heledd for those contributions. By way of starting, I will not be supporting Darren Millar's amendment. Introducing a smaller variance than 10 per cent would likely mean more change in Senedd constituency boundaries between 2026 and the 2030 elections, and less flexibility for the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru to take other factors beyond the electoral quota into account as part of its reviews, such as geography and local ties. While UK boundary reviews now apply a statutory 5 per cent variance from the UK electoral quota, this is not a long-established rule. The statutory electorate range was introduced in 2011, and the 2023 UK parliamentary boundary review is the first implemented review to have used this variance.

In terms of boundary reviews for the Scottish Parliament, constituencies should be as near the electoral quota as is practicable. Therefore, no numerical variance is in place in Scotland. While I recognise the concerns identified around variations in constituency size, I do believe that a variance of 10 per cent appropriately balances such concerns against those that might arise from a more rigid electoral quota.

I did look back and was considering this with the comments I made at the Stage 1 general principles debate, and then I stated that I concurred with the comments that were made by Professor Renwick that the level for an electoral quota is fundamentally a trade-off between equality of representation and the flexibility to respond to matters such as geography, local ties and community relations. And I noted also, then, that the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales and Boundaries Scotland expressed concerns to the committee that the more rigid a variance is, the more likely it may give rise to otherwise unavoidable situations, such as the very large geographical constituencies or the breaking of community ties. As such, while I recognise the concerns identified by Members around variations in constituency sizes, I said that I believe that a variance of 10 per cent appropriately balanced those particular concerns.

I do have one other potential regard as well, of course, and that is that other legislation coming before this Senedd on the issue of automatic registration may result in up to another 400,000 people being added to the register. I think 10 per cent is an appropriate balance between the ensuring of parity, but also recognising that there are potential ties and other issues that may want to be considered when the boundary commission carries out its functions.

15:45

Well, I'm disappointed to hear the response from the Counsel General and, indeed, Plaid Cymru on this matter. I think that having differences of up to 30,000 between one Senedd constituency and the next is, frankly, unacceptable. That's over half the size of some of our current constituencies in Wales and, clearly, it would be, in my view, inappropriate. The fact that the margin on a bigger constituency with more voters of 10 per cent is going to give more than twice the flexibility that's afforded to the current boundary commission, in terms of the reviews that have been undertaken for UK parliamentary constituencies, gives me some confidence that, even if it was set at 5 per cent, having this margin of 15—and, as I say, it's likely to be greater because of the extended franchise and, indeed, the automatic voter registration system that the Minister's just referred to—would give more than sufficient flexibility. I don't know of many issues that couldn't be resolved with a margin of between 15,000 and, say, 18,000 variance, in terms of the opportunity to go up above or below the electoral quota that might emerge as a result of some of the changes. So, what seems to me to be happening here is that you're going to bake in some unfairness, particularly in respect of that corner of north-west Wales that will have over-representation in the Senedd, and that will be detrimental to every other part of Wales because, effectively, their votes will mean much more than the votes of other people in other parts of the country. That seems to me to be grossly unfair. I don't want to see that injustice to be allowed to continue.

I appreciate what you say about the flexibility that there is in Scotland and that the variance rule of plus or minus 5 per cent of the electoral quota is something that is relatively new in the parliamentary boundary review process for the UK Parliament, yet you have decided to put one into this Bill. So, the question is: is it appropriate or not? And it is disappointing, I have to say, and we see this all the time, to see the effects of the Government whips on people—when a committee makes a recommendation, it doesn't do that lightly; it does it because it's trying to reflect the evidence, and balance that evidence and make a recommendation in accordance with the evidence that it's received. We heard conflicting evidence from different people about whether it was appropriate to have a variance in there against the electoral quota, but, on balance, the committee of all Members made a recommendation to reduce the quota. And then we see, in the Chamber today, members of that committee standing up and arguing against having any electoral quota reduction at all, in spite of the fact that they were party to the recommendation to reduce it. So, I would like to see a reduction. I've proposed 5 per cent, if the Minister thinks it needs to be higher than that, closer to 10 per cent, or somewhere in the middle, then I'd be happy to have a discussion with him. But I cannot see any justification for having Senedd constituencies that could be 30,000 to 35,000 in magnitude, in size, in terms of the number of people voting in those constituencies—that difference. That seems to me to be grossly unfair. We need to address it, and that's why I urge people to support this amendment this afternoon.

15:50

Y cwestiwn yw: a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 14? A oes unrhyw Aelod yn gwrthwynebu? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad. Fe gymerwn ni bleidlais ar welliant 14. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 15, neb yn ymatal, 39 yn erbyn. Mae gwelliant 14 wedi ei wrthod.

The question is that amendment 14 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] There is objection. We will therefore move to a vote on amendment 14. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 15, no abstentions, and 39 against. Amendment 14 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 14: O blaid: 15, Yn erbyn: 39, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 14: For: 15, Against: 39, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Gwelliant 101 nesaf. A yw'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol yn cynnig y gwelliant?

Amendment 101 is next. Counsel General, is it moved?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 101 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 101 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy, mae'n cael ei gynnig. A oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 101? Nac oes. Mae gwelliant 101 wedi ei dderbyn.

It is moved. Are there any objections to amendment 101? No. Therefore, it is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 102 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 102 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy, gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol. A oes gwrthwynebiad i 102? Nac oes. Mae 102 wedi ei dderbyn.

It is moved by the Counsel General. Are there any objections? There are none. Therefore, it's agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Ydy 103 yn cael ei symud gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol?

Amendment 103—is it moved by the Counsel General?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 103 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 103 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

A oes gwrthwynebiad i 103? Nac oes. Mae 103 wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections? There are none. Therefore, 103 is accepted.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 104 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 104 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

A oes gwrthwynebiad i 104? Nac oes. Wedi ei dderbyn, felly.

Are there any objections to 104? No. The amendment is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 105 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 105 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Gwrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Felly, mae 105 wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections? There are none. Therefore, 105 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 106 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 106 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

A oes gwrthwynebiad i 106? Nac oes. Felly, wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections? There are none. Therefore, it is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Gwelliant 25, yn enw Darren Millar—ydy e'n cael ei symud?

Amendment 25, in the name of Darren Millar—is it moved?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 25 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 25 (Darren Millar) moved.

Ydy, mae'n cael ei symud. A oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 25? Nac oes. Felly, mae gwelliant 25 wedi ei dderbyn.

It is. Are there any objections to amendment 25? There are none. Therefore, amendment 25 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 54 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 54 (Darren Millar) moved.

A oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 54? Nac oes, wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections to amendment 54? There are none. It is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Tynnwyd gwelliant 26 yn ôl.

Amendment 26 withdrawn.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 55 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 55 (Darren Millar) moved.

A oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 55? Nac oes, wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections to amendment 55? There are none. It is accepted.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 56 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 56 (Darren Millar) moved.

A oes gwrthwynebiad i 56? Nac oes, wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections to 56? There are none. It is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Gwelliant 107, Cwnsler Cyffredinol—ydy e'n cael ei symud?

Amendment 107, Counsel General—is it moved?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 107 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 107 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy. A oes gwrthwynebiad i 107? Dim gwrthwynebiad. Wedi ei basio, felly.

It is. Are there any objections to amendment 107? No. Therefore, it is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 108 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 108 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Wedi cael ei symud. A oes gwrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Felly, 108 wedi ei dderbyn.

It is moved. Are there any objections? There are none. Therefore, 108 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Tynnwyd gwelliant 27 yn ôl.

Amendment 27 withdrawn.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 109 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 109 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Wedi ei symud. A oes gwrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Mae 109 wedi ei dderbyn.

It is moved. Are there any objections? There are none. Therefore, it is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Darren Millar, gwelliant 15—ydy e'n cael ei symud?

Darren Millar, amendment 15—is it moved?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 15 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 15 (Darren Millar) moved.

Ydy. A oes gwrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad i welliant 15. Fe gawn ni bleidlais, felly. Agor y bleidlais—gwelliant 15. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 15, neb yn ymatal, 39 yn erbyn. Felly, mae gwelliant 15 wedi ei wrthod.

It is. Are there any objections? [Objection.] There are objections to amendment 15. We will move to a vote and open the vote on amendment 15. Close the vote. In favour 15, no abstentions, and 39 against. Therefore, amendment 15 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 15: O blaid: 15, Yn erbyn: 39, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 15: For: 15, Against: 39, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Tynnwyd gwelliant 28 yn ôl.

Amendment 28 withdrawn.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 110 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 110 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Wedi cael ei symud. A oes gwrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Wedi ei basio, felly.

It is moved. Are there any objections? There are none. It is therefore agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Gwelliant 16. [Chwerthin.] Gwelliant 16, Darren Millar—ydy e'n cael ei symud?

Amendment 16 is next. [Laughter.] Amendment 16, in the name of Darren Millar—is it moved?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 16 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 16 (Darren Millar) moved.

Wedi cael ei symud. A oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 16? Nac oes. Felly, mae gwelliant 16 yn cael ei dderbyn.

It is moved. Are there any objections to amendment 16? There are none. Therefore, amendment 16 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 17 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 17 (Darren Millar) moved.

Felly, mae gwelliant 17 wedi'i gynnig. A oes gwrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Wedi ei basio, felly.

Amendment 17 has been moved. Are there any objections? There are none. It's agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 111 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 111 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

A oes gwrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Felly, mae 111 wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections? There are none. Therefore, amendment 111 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 112 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 112 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Oes gwrthwynebiad i 112? Nac oes. Wedi ei dderbyn.

Are there any objections to amendment 112? No, it is agreed.

15:55

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 113 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 113 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Gwrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Mae 113 wedi ei dderbyn. 

Are there any objections? There are none. Therefore, 113 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 114 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 114 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Wedi ei symud. Does dim gwrthwynebiad, felly mae e wedi ei basio.

It has been moved. There are no objections, and it is therefore agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 115 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 115 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Gwelliant 115 wedi ei symud. Ydy e'n cael ei wrthwynebu? Nac ydy, felly mae 115 wedi ei dderbyn.

Amendment 115 is moved. Is there objection? No, so 115 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Dwi yn mynd i gymryd toriad o bum munud ar y pwynt yma, felly fe gymerwn ni doriad.

I propose a five-minute break, so we will take that break.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 15:55 ac 16:03.

The meeting adjourned between 15:55 and 16:03.

16:00
Grŵp 16: Refferendwm ar Ddeddf Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau) 2024 (Gwelliannau 36, 37)
Group 16: Referendum on the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Act 2024 (Amendments 36, 37)

Reit, rŷn ni'n barod i ailgychwyn. Byddwn ni'n ailgychwyn gyda grŵp 16. Refferendwm ar Ddeddf Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac etholiadau) 2024 yw'r grŵp yma. Gwelliant 36 yw'r prif welliant yn y grŵp, a dwi'n galw ar Darren Millar i gynnig y prif welliant ac i siarad i'r grŵp yma.

Right, we are ready to resume and we will do so with group 16: a referendum on the Senedd Cymru (Members and elections) Act 2024. The lead amendment in the group is amendment 36, and I call on Darren Millar to move and speak to the other amendment in the group.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 36 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 36 (Darren Millar) moved.

Diolch, Llywydd. I move amendments 36 and 37, both of which have been tabled in my name. Now, as all of us in this Welsh Parliament know, if we're honest with ourselves, the overwhelming majority of the public do not support an increase in the size of the Senedd or a change in its voting system. The overwhelming majority of responses to the consultation by the Reform Bill Committee on this legislation underscored this lack of public support. And the reality is that none of us has ever knocked on a door before an election campaign to have someone answer and tell me that the solution to all of the problems in Wales is that we need more politicians in Cardiff Bay. Yet, Labour and Plaid MSs have been claiming a public mandate for the proposed changes before us today.

They claim that references to Senedd reform in their manifestos provide them with a clear mandate to introduce this package of measures. Like a used car salesman pointing to an exclusion clause buried in the small print of a long warranty document, they point to these manifestos, assuming that they have been read by the masses and that anyone voting for their parties have signed up in blood to every clause they contain. But, Llywydd, their manifestos are not worth the paper that they are written on. References to Senedd reform in these documents are scant. In advance of the 2021 Senedd election—. And I can hear the First Minister chuntering on the front bench. In advance of the 2021 Senedd election, the Labour manifesto simply said this, and I quote,

'we will build on the work of the Senedd Committee on Electoral Reform…and develop proposals to improve the representation of the people of Wales in their Parliament’.

Note—note—that there was no reference to increasing the number of Members of the Senedd, there was no mention of the potential costs, there was no reference to changing the voting system, and there was no reference whatsoever to taking away the opportunity for voters to vote for individual candidates of their choice.

And what of the Plaid manifesto? [Interruption.] Because I want you to hear, because you usually have your fingers in your ears and do not listen, do not listen to the people of Wales. Perhaps if you took your fingers out of your ears, then you'd understand the scale of the opposition that is out there and that will confront you when you actually speak to people about these plans, Lee Waters. 

So, what of Plaid Cymru's manifesto? As I've said before, and I'll say it again, it's the best antidote to insomnia ever produced. It said this:

'We will...implement the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform, in particular'—

in particular—

'on Single Transferable Voting, gender quotas and expanding the Senedd.'

I will give you some credit: at least there was mention—at least there was mention—of more Senedd Members. But the legislation that we have today is not consistent with the commitment in your manifesto. I know you have a co-operation agreement that you don't like people describing as a coalition, but it is, without Ministers. It's effectively a co-operation agreement—it's a coalition without Ministers. So, while there's at least the mention of more Senedd Members, the legislation that we have before us today, which Plaid says it now supports, does not constitute STV in any way, shape or form, and it does not implement all of the recommendations of the expert panel on Assembly electoral reform. So, Llywydd, it is therefore abundantly clear that neither Labour nor Plaid voters at the last Senedd elections have given the green light for the reforms that this Bill before us today seeks to introduce.

There is therefore no public mandate for the changes to proceed, and it is the view of the Welsh Conservatives[Interruption.] It is the view of the Welsh Conservatives that significant constitutional changes of the nature in this Bill, particularly changes to the way in which Members of a national Parliament are to be elected, should be put to the people in a referendum. That's what the UK-led Conservative coalition Government had the decency to do back in 2011 when it gave the public the opportunity to have their say on proposals to change the UK parliamentary voting system. At that time, voters across the whole of the United Kingdom were given the choice of whether to back a proposal to scrap first-past-the-post as a voting system for UK elections and to replace it with the alternative vote system instead. That proposal was roundly rejected, with 68 per cent of those who turned out voting against the proposals, and it was rejected in all parts of the UK, including here in Wales, where two out of every three people backed the first-past-the-post system and expressed a view to keep it. 

Now, given that that was the attitude towards scrapping first-past-the-post when it was last tested at the ballot box, it is all the more important that the public have their say on any plans to scrap the first-past-the-post system whereby two thirds of the current Members of the Senedd are elected in this Parliament.

Now, I have to say that I suspect that these plans would be even more wildly unpopular than the AV system that was previously proposed, especially given the closed list voting system, which we already know—[Interruption.] I'm happy to take an intervention.

16:10

When did we vote on the police and crime commissioner method of election, and when did we vote on the change to the police and crime commissioner voting system? And when did we vote on the mayoral voting system, and when did we vote on the change to the mayoral voting system in England?

There was a clear manifesto commitment from the Conservatives. [Interruption.] A clear—[Interruption.] A crystal—[Interruption.] There was a crystal clear—[Interruption.] Unlike the manifesto—[Interruption.] Unlike the vague manifesto commitment of your own party.

Unlike the vague manifesto commitment from your own party, Mike Hedges, there was a crystal-clear manifesto commitment to change those voting systems. And I'm talking, and I'm talking here—[Interruption.] And I am talking here very carefully about elections to a national Parliament. They're not national Parliaments. This is about changing the voting system for national Parliament elections, a completely different—completely different—matter.

So, I suspect that these would be even more unpopular than the proposed AV system that people had the opportunity to vote on in 2011. Because we know that the proposed closed voting list system is a power grab from the public to political parties. It removes the direct accountability between Members of this Senedd and the people that we represent, and that is why I have tabled amendments 36 and 37. Amendment 36 will insert a whole new section in the Bill, and this will require that a referendum should be held prior to any part of this legislation coming into force. Amendment 37 is consequential to amendment 36, and I commend them both to the Senedd.

Diolch, Llywydd. I feel like I'm in a bit of parallel universe, because, for the last set of amendments, Darren was mentioning fairness and equality of representation, talking about a similar number of electors, and yet seems to be advocating against a Senedd that would be fair and equitable with a similar number of electors. I outlined yesterday the inequity of representation, especially with the reduction of 40 to 32 MPs. Why should we put up with—

Why should we have to just put up with having fewer representatives, fewer people fighting for our communities, making the case for change, fewer representatives scrutinising the Government? I'm not willing to be non-ambitious for our communities; I want a democracy that works. And I thought that you did from your previous contribution, but obviously not.

Yn etholiad diwethaf y Senedd, aeth dros 63 y cant o gyfanswm y pleidleisiau i bleidiau oedd gydag ymrwymiadau maniffesto i ddiwygio’r Senedd hon. Yn refferendwm 2011, pleidleisiodd cyfran debyg o blaid atgyfnerthu pwerau datganoledig Cymru, ac mae’r Bil hwn yn parhau â’r daith honno ac yn ceisio galluogi creu deddfwrfa genedlaethol fydd yn deilwng o bobl Cymru ac yn gallu cyflawni’r gwaith y gofynnwyd iddi ei wneud yn effeithiol ar ran pobl Cymru.

Mae o y tu hwnt i unrhyw amheuaeth resymol, felly, fod yna fandad democrataidd ar gyfer y mesurau sydd wedi’u cynnwys yn y Bil hwn, ac felly—ddim yn syndod, dwi'n siŵr—nid ydym yn cefnogi gwelliannau 36 a 37, a fyddai’n diystyru ewyllys sefydlog etholwyr Cymru. At hynny, pan fyddwn yn ystyried eu hanes ar faterion cyfansoddiadol sy’n effeithio ar Gymru, mae’n amlwg nad oes gan y Torïaid unrhyw hygrededd o gwbl. Mi wnaeth Mike Hedges ddangos hwnna'n glir.

Fel y gwnes i sôn, doedd yna ddim refferendwm ar y penderfyniad i dorri nifer Aelodau Seneddol Cymru yn San Steffan o 40 i 32, ac fe wnaethant wrthsefyll pob galwad am bleidlais gyhoeddus ar delerau eu bargen Brexit galed, drychinebus a na wnaeth, yn wahanol i’r cynigion a amlinellwyd yn y Bil hwn, ymddangos ar unrhyw bapur pleidleisio neu faniffesto. Doedd dim refferendwm ychwaith ar newidiadau adweithiol y Blaid Geidwadol i system etholiadol y comisiynwyr heddlu a throsedd yng Nghymru, yn ail gyflwyno system cyntaf i’r felin yn lle system fwy cyfrannol, gan nad ydyn nhw’n gallu ennill mewn system lle mae pob pleidlais yn cyfrif, fe ymddengys.

Bob tro pan fydd llais a safiad Cymru yn lleihau o ganlyniad i benderfyniadau San Steffan, mae distawrwydd yr Aelodau Torïaidd wedi bod yn llethol. Ac eto, pan ddaw’n fater o fesur hanesyddol a fydd yn cryfhau seiliau ein democratiaeth yn defnyddio rheolau a osodwyd gan eu meistri nhw yn San Steffan yn Neddf Cymru 2017, mae gennym y Torïaid ar eu traed yn ceisio troi'r cloc yn ôl ar ddatganoli yng Nghymru. Mi oedd o'n ddigon da iddyn nhw bryd hwnnw gael uwchfwyafrif, ond rŵan bod y trothwy uchel hwnnw wedi'i fodloni, maen nhw'n trio newid y rheolau eto. 

Mae hefyd yn drawiadol iawn bod mesur sydd wedi'i gynllunio yn bennaf i hybu craffu seneddol, rhywbeth y byddai unrhyw wrthblaid sydd o ddifrif yn ysu i'w weld, yn achosi gymaint o bryder ymhlith rhengoedd y Torïaid. Yn lle cynnig gimigau di-fudd sy'n mynd yn erbyn llif hanes, mi fyddwn i'n annog yr Aelodau Torïaidd yma i ymgysylltu'n adeiladol gyda'r mesurau sydd ger ein bron ni heddiw, ac i gysoni eu hunain efo'r realiti, ar ôl dwy refferenda a chwe etholiad, mae datganoli yng Nghymru yma i aros. Canolbwyntiwch eich egni ar wneud i ddatganoli weithio i bobl Cymru, yn hytrach na cheisio creu rhaniadau diangen. Nid gêm ydy gwleidyddiaeth. Mae o'n effeithio ar fywydau pawb ohonom a phawb rydym ni'n ei gynrychioli. Mae pobl Cymru yn haeddu'r buddsoddiad hwn yn ein democratiaeth, ac wedi dangos eu cefnogaeth iddo eisoes.  

In the last Senedd election, over 63 per cent of the total votes cast went to parties that had committed to Senedd reform in their manifestos. In the 2011 referendum, a similar proportion voted in favour of strengthening Wales’s devolved powers, and this Bill continues on that journey and seeks to enable the creation of a national legislature that is worthy of the people of Wales and can do the work it is asked to do effectively on behalf of the people of Wales.  

It's beyond any reasonable doubt, therefore, that there is a democratic mandate for the measures included in this Bill, so—it won't be a surprise to anyone, I'm sure—we do not support amendments 36 and 37, which would disregard the consistent will of Wales’s voters. In this regard, when we look back at the history of constitutional issues that affect Wales, it becomes clear that the Conservatives have no credibility at all. Mike Hedges demonstrated that clearly.

As I said, there was no referendum on the decision to cut the number of Members of Parliament representing Wales at Westminster from 40 to 32, and they refused all calls for a public vote on the terms of their disastrous, hard Brexit deal, which didn’t, in contrast with the proposals outlined in this Bill, appear on any ballot paper or manifesto. Nor was there a referendum on the Conservative Party’s reactionary changes to the electoral system for police and crime commissioners in Wales, reintroducing the first-past-the-post system instead of a more proportional system, as it appears that they are unable to win in a system where every vote counts.  

Every time Wales’s voice and influence are minimised as a result of decisions made at Westminster, Conservative Members have been conspicuous in their silence. And again, when it comes to historic legislation that would strengthen the foundations of our democracy following the rules set by their masters in Westminster in the Wales Act 2017, we see the Conservatives on their feet trying to turn back the clock on devolution in Wales. It was good enough then for them to have a supermajority, but now that that higher threshold has been met, they're trying to change the rules again.

It's also very striking that a Bill that has been designed primarily to promote parliamentary scrutiny, something that any opposition party would want to see surely, is the cause of so much concern amongst the Conservative ranks. Instead of proposing unhelpful gimmicks that go against the grain of history, I would encourage Conservative Members here to engage constructively with the measures before us today, and to reconcile themselves to the reality that, after two referenda and six elections, devolution in Wales is here to stay. Focus your energies on making devolution work for the people of Wales, rather than trying to frustrate it unnecessarily. Politics isn't a game. It impacts on the lives of all of us and everyone we represent. The people of Wales deserve this investment in their democracy, and have demonstrated their support for it before.

16:15

The Tories can't help themselves, can they, Presiding Officer? They just can't help themselves. They don't want more Welsh democracy—they want less Welsh democracy. I remember in 1997, in December 1997, the Wales Bill was introduced to the House of Commons, less than three months after a successful referendum in September 1997. Did the Conservative Party respect the views of the people of Wales in that referendum? Did the Conservative Party vote on Second Reading for this place to be established, in line with the wishes of the people of Wales? Of course they didn't. They voted against it. Three months after a referendum, they voted against what the people of Wales wanted. At least they're consistent. Because what we've seen—. Darren Millar talks about a transfer of power. There has been a transfer of power in the last three or four years, and what we've seen is a transfer of power from the people, from elected Parliaments, to the Executive in Westminster and Whitehall. And we've seen that through legislative consent memoranda coming down here week after week, month after month, not just neglecting the mandate that the people of Wales have given us to sit here, but actively seeking to overturn it. And then Darren Millar comes here crying his crocodile tears about Welsh democracy. Darren, you've had the opportunity to stand up for Welsh democracy when the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill was in front of the House of Commons, and you didn't—you didn't, and none of you did. You're all on your telephones now, you're not interested, but let me tell you—

Thank you very much, Alun Davies. You often talk about respecting the results of referenda. Can you tell me a time when you respected the wishes of the people of Blaenau Gwent to leave the European Union? 

I campaigned for a second referendum. I haven't sought to overturn the—. I've never sought to overturn, by parliamentary means, the delivery of the first referendum. What I've done—what I've done, and this is important—this is important; you should have been listening. What I've done is campaigned for a second referendum, and I will campaign for a second referendum today and tomorrow until we get that referendum, until we win it. Let me tell you that. [Interruption.] I'll take another intervention; it's going to take all night. Cardiff City FC are playing tonight—remember this.

I know. Do you mean a second referendum or a third referendum, because, back in 1975, the first referendum, we voted to stay in the European Union?

If Swansea City FC were playing tonight, he wouldn't be making those interventions. [Laughter.] Let me say—. Let me say—. Let me say, Mike, I do accept exactly the point you made. But this is the really important point; this is why Darren avoids these arguments in the point he was making in introducing this debate. Darren does not respect Welsh democracy and the Conservatives do not respect Welsh democracy. If they respected Welsh democracy, we wouldn't have seen the erosion of the powers of this place week after week, month after month, and it is for that reason—and it is for that reason—that the Conservatives are in opposition today and will stay in opposition. I think it's something like 7 per cent of people under 35 are saying they're going to vote Conservative at the moment. It's no surprise, if you look at them.

What we have to do is to work with the people of Wales to deliver the democracy that the people of Wales have said they wanted, and we've seen the Conservatives throw aside the interests of people when it comes to appointing their cronies, family members and donors into the House of Lords. Four hundred and thirty four new peers appointed, unelected members of the House of Lords, since the Conservative Government took office. Presiding Officer, this amendment is a mirage. It's not about Welsh democracy, it's about the erosion of Welsh democracy. It's about the Conservatives seeking to undermine Welsh democracy. I believe we have a mandate in this Chamber and in this Parliament to strengthen and empower Welsh democracy, and that is exactly what the Conservatives don't like. 

16:20

Diolch, Llywydd. I call on Members to reject the amendments in this group. The compelling case for Senedd reform has been made in a succession of experts' reports, it has been endorsed by three of the four political parties represented in this Senedd, and has been voted for by a majority of Members of the Senedd.

On some of the points that have been made, there have been hundreds of new members of the House of Lords, unelected members created; there's been no referendum in terms of whether that should be able to increase, whether there should be a limit; there's never been a call for any change there. There was no referendum that was held when changes were made to the electoral system for the election of mayors. Why was that change made? That change was made because Labour was winning all those mayoral seats and the Tories were losing them. So, what do they do? 'Let's change the voting system. We're not going to ask the people about it. We're not going to get a commitment to do so. We're not going to go to a referendum. We're just going to change the rules of the game, so that we can get people more easily elected.' There was no referendum on ID cards—a significant change, the objective of which was to stop people or to make it more difficult for people to vote, and we've seen the reasons why that is. Rees-Mogg made it very clear: it was a political manoeuvre that backfired. There was no referendum on the reduction in the number of MPs, and of our Welsh MPs.

And of course, in the Wales Act 2017, which is what entitles us to bring forward these reforms, there is no referendum requirement. Westminster, when it considered that legislation, when it was passed by all parties, if it had been intended that changes should be made only by means of a referendum, then Westminster would have inserted that. It was clearly the intention that this was a power that could be exercised by this particular Senedd. That is what we have before us, and I recommend that Members reject the amendments.

Darren Millar i ymateb.

Darren Millar to respond.

Diolch, Llywydd. Pretty extraordinary contributions, if I may say so. Look, it doesn't surprise me that Plaid Cymru want a bigger Senedd. If they have their way, we'd end up like the People's Republic of China, with thousands of people who are politicians in this Senedd, and I'm sure that that's what they want to see.

You talk about the need for fairness and equality of representation, and I have to say that your manifesto commitment was not clear. Our manifesto commitments to change the size and shape of constituencies, to equalise the votes of every person in the UK, were fulfilled and implemented. We put them to the people in our manifesto, very clearly. The manifesto commitments that were in both of your parties' manifestos are very different than what we see before us in this Bill today. 

You said earlier that there was a clear commitment in terms of the police and crime commissioner elections, changing the electoral system from supplementary vote to first-past-the-post. What it actually says is this:

'We will strengthen the accountability of elected Police and Crime Commissioners and expand their role.'

Absolutely no clarity whatsoever.

And that commitment was made clear on the campaign trail, that what we would do is go back to first-past-the-post representation.

Now, I maintain the position that the people of Wales want more doctors, dentists, nurses and teachers, not more politicians. If you think, if you're so confident here in the Senedd that the people of Wales want more politicians, and they want them elected via a closed list system, then what are you afraid of? Let's have a referendum. Let's test that view. Because the reality is you're all frightened of a referendum, because you know full well that those proposals would be absolutely roundly rejected by the people of Wales if you put them to them. [Interruption.]

I'm just wondering about the astronomical costs that you talk about. Based on freedom of information costs, apparently, over the last four years, the police and crime commissioners have cost in excess of £100 million. Where did that feature in a clear referendum on exactly what that cost would be, and what that size would be, year after year after year? I don't recall that at all, Darren.

16:25

Look, we are here to debate this call for a referendum—[Laughter.] We are here to discuss this call for a referendum. Can I go back to the contribution by the Member for Blaenau Gwent? He tells me, in a lecture, that I need to respect Welsh democracy, and this from a Member of a party that has ignored the views of in excess of 465,000 people—that's one in six of the Welsh population; more than one in six; much more than one in six of the Welsh population—who outright reject the view that there should be 20 mph default speed limits across the country. This comes from a man who did absolutely everything he could to thwart the will of the people in his own constituency, and across Wales, as Tom Giffard quite rightly pointed out, after the referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union.

So, what we see is scoffing, frankly, at the views of the public: 'We don't give a stuff what the views of the public are. We're going to implement our way anyway, regardless of how unpopular it may be.' So, I won't take any lectures from you, Alun Davies, on such matters, when, frankly, the people of Blaenau Gwent, who voted against staying in the EU by a margin of more than six to three—[Interruption.] It's a bit rich of you, isn't it, really? 

Marget Thatcher described referenda as a device of dictators and demigods. Why was she wrong?

Here we go, let's wind the clock back to Margaret Thatcher—that's the usual thing. Margaret Thatcher was the greatest Prime Minister in my lifetime. [Interruption.] She transformed our country into the modern nation it is today, and I'm proud to be a Member of the party that she was the Prime Minister for. [Interruption.]

Okay. Allow Darren Millar to continue. I think he wants to move back to his notes.

If I can make this point—[Interruption.] If I can make this point about the Conservatives being a party that is, somehow, against democracy, against the Welsh people and against the Senedd: that's not the case. I campaigned for further powers for this Senedd in the March 2011 referendum, as did many of my colleagues on these benches. We implemented the outcome of that referendum—because we respect the outcome of referendums, by the way—to make sure that the powers were then devolved to Wales. And we have supported consistently this devolution, and this Senedd, as a permanent part of the electoral landscape and parliamentary arrangements in the United Kingdom. Jenny, I'll happily take an intervention.

In the 2016 referendum on the European Union, we were promised £536 million for the NHS every week, and that was part of the offer that was encouraging people to vote 'yes' for that referendum. So, referendums can be dressed up to be anything you like.

Someone said it was £350 million yesterday, you're now saying it's five-hundred and something million, but what I do know is that your party has made clear manifesto commitments to increase the number of apprentices, and you're actually reducing them. And we've seen budget commitments that have also been broken, as well.

The Counsel General made reference also to the work that the UK Government is doing to introduce voter ID requirements at UK Government elections. That, of course, was a recommendation following the Labour Tower Hamlets scandal, which saw people being cheated in an election, and, therefore, those requirements to introduce photo ID, which is the norm in nearly every European country across this continent. We're an outlier, a complete outlier. The UK Government is trying to address that, because it wants to ensure the integrity and security of elections, unlike, it seems to me, the Labour Party.

So, in conclusion, Llywydd—in conclusion—we all know that these proposals are unpalatable to the people of Wales, in our heart of hearts. We know that the public, given a direct opportunity to vote on these proposals before us, in this legislation, would soundly reject them in a referendum. You say that you're confident that they support them, let's put it to a referendum. Let's test the views of the public. What are you frightened of? Let's get on with it and vote for these amendments today.

16:30

Gwelliant 36. Os bydd gwelliant 36 yn cael ei wrthod, bydd gwelliant 37 yn methu. Y cwestiwn yw: a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 36? A oes gwrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad. Felly, fe gymerwn ni bleidlais ar welliant 36. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 14, neb yn ymatal, 40 yn erbyn. Mae gwelliant 36 wedi'i wrthod.

Amendment 36. If amendment 36 is not agreed, amendment 37 falls. The question is that amendment 36 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] There are objections. We will therefore vote on amendment 36. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 14, no abstentions, 40 against. Therefore, amendment 36 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 36: O blaid: 14, Yn erbyn: 40, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 36: For: 14, Against: 40, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Methodd gwelliant 37.

Amendment 37 fell.

Grŵp 17: Adolygiad o weithrediad y Ddeddf etc. ar ôl etholiad cyffredinol 2026 (Gwelliannau 9, 10, 19, 116, 11, 12, 49, 53, 20, 50)
Group 17: Review of operation of Act etc. after 2026 general election (Amendments 9, 10, 19, 116, 11, 12, 49, 53, 20, 50)

Grŵp 17 sydd nesaf. Mae'r grŵp yma'n ymwneud ag adolygiad o weithrediad y Ddeddf ar ôl etholiad cyffredinol 2026. Gwelliant 9 yw'r prif welliant yn y grŵp. Darren Millar i gyflwyno gwelliant 9.

Group 17 is next, and it relates to a review of the operation of the Act after the 2026 general election. Amendment 9 is the lead amendment in the group, and I call on Darren Millar to move the amendment. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 9 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 9 (Darren Millar) moved.

Diolch, Llywydd. I move amendments 9 and 20, both tabled in my name. When we were debating the amendments in group 7, I explained why it was inappropriate for any legislation in this Senedd to place a duty on future Members of the Senedd or Welsh Parliament office holders. It's regrettable that this Bill introduces such provisions, not just once, but twice.

We have already debated the duties that it seeks to impose upon the Senedd in relation to a review of job-sharing arrangements for office holders. But section 19 of this Bill also includes inappropriate and constitutionally problematic provisions as well. It requires a motion to be tabled within six months after the 2026 Senedd elections, by the Presiding Officer, to propose the establishment of a Senedd committee for the purpose of reviewing and reporting on Parts 1 and 2 of the legislation. And it requires that that work be completed within a period of 12 months from the first meeting of the Senedd after the April 2026 elections.

Now, while I completely agree that we need to ensure that there is a review of the impact of any changes that this legislation will implement, it's not right that any future Senedd, or its officers, should be bound by another in order to undertake any particular piece of work. To provide such requirements on the face of this Bill is not acceptable.

The Government has argued that the primary purpose of this Bill is to increase the scrutiny capacity of this Senedd, yet sections 7 and 19 of the Bill undermine the Senedd's scrutiny capacity, by requiring it to set up two new committees after the 2026 elections, which will absorb any extra capacity that a future Senedd with more Members may have. And it will distract Members from other important scrutiny work, including holding any future Welsh Government to account.

So, it's for these reasons that I have tabled amendment 9, which gives effect to recommendation 41 in the Reform Bill Committee's Stage 1 report, by deleting section 19 of the Bill. Should amendment 9 not be agreed, then I will move amendments 10, 11, 12, 19 and 53, all of which seek to improve section 19.

Amendment 10 would delete a requirement to ensure the extent to which the elements of a healthy democracy are present in Wales, and whether that should be considered by any review undertaken by the committee established to review the operation of the legislation. The Reform Bill Committee recommended, by a majority, the removal of this requirement, as there were mixed views as to whether it would be helpful. There were questions over the definition of a healthy democracy, and there were concerns that consideration of these wider issues could be a distraction for any committee when undertaking a review of the Act.

Amendments 11 and 12 would give effect to the Reform Bill Committee's recommendation 45, by deleting the requirement for the committee to complete its work within 12 months of the first meeting of the Senedd following the 2026 elections, and replacing it to enable the future Senedd to determine a timescale for the completion of the committee's work instead. All of us in this Chamber are acutely aware of the length of time that it can take, post an election, to establish committees. It took months after the 2021 Senedd elections to put our committees together. So, placing a straitjacket on the work of the Senedd in the future could be highly problematic and lead to the work of this particular committee being rushed and being inappropriately constituted.

Amendment 19 would require the committee, should it be established, to engage with stakeholders and undertake a public consultation on its work. Amendment 53 would require the Welsh Government to lay a response to the committee's report before the Senedd, in accordance with the Reform Bill Committee's recommendation 47 in the Stage 1 report.

Turning to my amendment 20, this seeks to enter a new section into the Bill to require Welsh Ministers to undertake a review and to report on the operations and provisions of the legislation. This is a Welsh Government Bill, it is not a Senedd Bill, as implied by the Member in charge throughout the scrutiny process. It's therefore incumbent upon Ministers to ensure that, as is the case in many Senedd Acts, there is a requirement for Ministers to review the operation of the legislation that they bring forward.

With regard to the other amendments in this group, if I can just briefly speak to them, we will not, I'm afraid, be supporting Jane Dodds's amendments 49 and 50, which seek to add to the requirements placed upon a future Senedd committee undertaking a review and setting out even more detailed requirements for Welsh Ministers when undertaking a review. In our view, these provisions are unnecessarily prescriptive and will not afford the sufficient flexibility to either the Senedd or Welsh Ministers to undertake any post-implementation reviews that may be required.

However, should my amendments 9 and 10 fall, then we will support amendment 116 in the name of Heledd Fychan, because that seeks to require a Senedd committee, when conducting a future review, to consider the support available for Members of the Senedd and registered political parties in Wales. This was an issue that cropped up during the evidence sessions at Stage 1, and it does seem clear to me that there's work to be done on this issue, given that the support for political parties at a UK level to assist with policy development and other matters is far more generous than that that's available here in Wales to this Senedd, where we have a significant portfolio of responsibilities that we all need to make sure that proposals are developed for. I look forward to hearing the rest of the debate.

16:35

Diolch, Llywydd. Dwi'n falch o ddilyn Darren y tro yma, oherwydd dwi'n mynd i ganolbwyntio fy nghyfraniad ar y gwelliant dwi wedi ei gyflwyno yn y grŵp hwn, gwelliant 116, sydd yn welliant er mwyn amlygu’r angen i roi ystyriaeth bellach i sawl agwedd yn ymwneud efo trefniadau i gefnogi datblygu polisi. Mae Senedd fwy a mwy cynrychioladol yn ei ystyr ehangaf yn mynd i roi mwy o gapasiti i ni i ddeddfu, craffu, a chynrychioli pobl Cymru. Ond mae’r un mor bwysig i ymestyn ein gorwelion o ran sylwedd y gwaith, o ran ein gallu fel Aelodau ac fel pleidiau i ddatblygu rhaglen i lywodraethu Cymru fel sail i'n gwaith a llunio a chynnig datrysiadau ar gyfer dyfodol Cymru, o’r argyfyngau natur a hinsawdd i effaith deallusrwydd artiffisial ar waith, o ran ein huchelgais dros addysg a iechyd, taclo tlodi—pob math o feysydd gwahanol. Mae hynny i gyd yn golygu adnodd—ddim o reidrwydd mwy o adnodd, ond yn sicr yr angen i ryddhau'r adnodd sy’n bodoli yn barod ac i'w ddefnyddio fo yn fwy creadigol.

Fe glywson ni yn y Pwyllgor Biliau Diwygio nad yw'r trefniadau presennol ddim yn gydnaws efo datganoli fel y mae, heb sôn am mewn Senedd fwy. Cytunodd Elan Closs Stephens ar ran y Comisiwn Etholiadol, sy'n gyfrifol am weinyddu’r grant datblygu polisi presennol dan Ddeddf Pleidiau Gwleidyddol, Etholiadau a Refferenda 2000, fod y pwyllgor wedi adnabod anomali. Er mwyn cymhwyso ar gyfer y grant o £2 filiwn, sydd heb gynyddu ers 2000, er mwyn cael arian i ddatblygu maniffestos ar gyfer etholiadau Senedd Cymru, rhaid i blaid wleidyddol gael dau Aelod Seneddol yn San Steffan. Mae yna ymgais, annigonol fyddwn i'n dweud, wedi bod i geisio ystyried datganoli fel ryw bolt-on ar ymylon y drefn yma, ond fel mae’n sefyll mae’r arian sydd ar gael i bleidiau ar gyfer cefnogi llunio maniffestos ar gyfer etholiadau Senedd Cymru yn gallu amrywio os oes newid yn system pleidiau gwlad arall, fel ddigwyddodd gyda dyfodiad Plaid Alba yn yr Alban.

Er bod yr agwedd benodol hon wedi’i chadw yn ôl yn San Steffan, mae ffyrdd drwy Bwyllgor y Llefarydd yn San Steffan, drwy Bwyllgor y Llywydd yma yn y Senedd a thrwy gangen y Comisiwn Etholiadol yng Nghymru i bwyso i newid y drefn. Mae angen i Lywodraeth Cymru ychwanegu ei llais at y drafodaeth, a Chomisiwn y Senedd hefyd. Mae’r mesur diwygio etholiadol arall sydd yn mynd drwy’r Senedd ar hyn o bryd, sef y Bil etholiadau a chyrff etholedig, hefyd yn cynnig posibiliadau y bydd fy mhlaid am archwilio i'r eithaf o ran symud y maes pwysig yma ymlaen.

Byddwn i'n awgrymu bod angen trefn neilltuol ar gyfer etholiadau Senedd Cymru, yn ogystal ag etholiadau Senedd San Steffan tra’n bod ni’n rhan o’r system honno. Fydd hi ddim yn beth cwbl newydd i Lywodraeth Cymru fentro i'r maes yma; mae Llywodraeth Cymru eisoes yn cyfrannu £441,000 ar gyfer Canolfan Polisi Cyhoeddus Cymru, gyda'r Economic and Social Research Council yn rhoi grant o £9 miliwn dros bum mlynedd i gefnogi’r gwaith. Ond dim ond y blaid lywodraethol gaiff fynediad at yr adnodd yma ar hyn o bryd. Mae eisiau paratoi i sicrhau bod gennym drefn briodol i gefnogi gwaith polisi gan yr holl bleidiau yn y lle yma sy’n deilwng o bobl Cymru, fel bod pob plaid yn gallu bod yn datblygu eu gweledigaeth a chyfrannu rywbeth i Senedd newydd.

O ran y gefnogaeth sydd ar gael i bleidiau wneud eu gwaith o fewn y Senedd wedyn, mae angen edrych ar y trefniadau hynny hefyd. Yn wahanol i'r rhyddid cymharol ddaw efo’r arian Short yn San Steffan, sy’n gallu cael ei ddefnyddio at ddibenion pleidiol wleidyddol o ystyried natur cynhenid wleidyddol gwaith gwrthblaid, mae’r trefniadau yn ein Senedd ni yn llawer fwy llym. Mae’n sefyllfa ryfedd hefyd lle mae’r Clerc, fel prif swyddog cyfrifyddu’r Comisiwn, i bob pwrpas yn bersonol gyfrifol am wariant pob un grŵp gwleidyddol, sy’n gofyn wedyn wrth gwrs am reolau caeth i roi sicrwydd ei fod yn cael ei wario yn iawn.

Mae’r argymhelliad gan y Pwyllgor Biliau Diwygio yn argymell i'r Llywodraeth, y Comisiwn a’r bwrdd taliadau gydweithio i adolygu'r trefniadau cyn 2026 yn gam cyntaf ar y daith, sydd wedi ei nodi gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol wrth ymateb, ond hoffwn glywed felly am ei fwriadau o ran ymateb i'r argymhelliad. Mae angen mynd yn llawer pellach a bod yn uchelgeisiol os am greu Senedd newydd uchelgeisiol, a galluogi i'r gystadleuaeth am seddi fod yn ornest o syniadau. Rydyn ni eisoes wedi clywed am bwysigrwydd maniffestos; rydym ni angen sicrhau bod gan bob plaid sydd yn sefyll ar gyfer y Senedd yr adnodd hwnnw ac nad yw'n ddibynnol ar y nifer o Aelodau Seneddol yn San Steffan.

Mi fyddwn i yn hoffi clywed gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol o ran sicrwydd y daw'r gwaith hwn ymlaen, ac os felly, fydda i ddim yn gwthio hyn i bleidlais heddiw. Ond yn sicr, dwi’n gobeithio y byddwn ni’n gytûn bod hyn yn rhywbeth mae’n rhaid inni edrych arno fo er mwyn ein democratiaeth ni.

Thank you, Llywydd. I'm very pleased to follow Darren this time, because I'm going to focus my contribution on the amendment I've tabled in this group, amendment 116, which is an amendment to highlight the need to give further consideration to several matters related to arrangements to support policy development. A larger Senedd, which is more representative in the broadest sense, will give us greater capacity to legislate, to scrutinise and to represent the people of Wales. But it's just as important to extend our horizons in terms of the substance of the work, in terms of our ability as Members and parties to develop a programme for the governance of Wales as a basis for our work and to formulate and propose solutions for Wales’s future, from the nature and climate crises, the impact of artificial intelligence on employment, in terms of our ambition for education, health, tackling poverty—all kinds of different issues. All of this requires resource—not necessarily additional resource, but certainly a need to release existing resource and to use it more creatively.

We heard on the Reform Bill Committee that the current arrangements are not aligned with devolution as it currently stands, not to mention in a larger Senedd. Elan Closs Stephens agreed, speaking on behalf of the Electoral Commission, which is responsible for administering the current policy development grant under the the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, that the committee had identified an anomaly. To qualify for the grant of £2 million, which hasn’t increased since 2000, to receive funding to develop manifestos for Senedd Cymru elections, a political party must have two Members of Parliament at Westminster. An attempt, an insufficient attempt, I would say, has been made to consider devolution as a kind of bolt-on on the margins of this arrangement, but as it currently stands the funding that is available to parties to support the work of drawing up manifestos for Senedd Cymru elections can vary if there is a change in the party system in another nation, as happened with the advent of the Alba Party in Scotland.

Although this specific aspect is reserved to Westminster, there are means, such as through the Speaker’s Committee at Westminster, through the Llywydd’s Committee here at the Senedd and through the Electoral Commission branch in Wales, to call for these arrangements to be changed. The Welsh Government needs to add its voice to this debate, as does the Senedd Commission. The other electoral reform Bill that is currently making its way through the Senedd, namely the elections and elected bodies Bill, also offers possibilities that my party will explore to the utmost in terms of how to progress this important matter.

I would suggest that a specific arrangement is needed for Senedd elections, as well as Westminster elections whilst we are part of that system too. It wouldn't be entirely unprecedented for the Welsh Government to venture into this area; the Welsh Government already contributes £441,000 towards the Wales Centre for Public Policy, and the Economic and Social Research Council has awarded a grant of £9 million over five years to support this work. But it's only the governing party that can access this resource at present. We must prepare to ensure that we have an appropriate arrangement in place to support work on policy by all parties in this place that is worthy of the people of Wales, so that every party can develop their vision and contribute something to a new Senedd.

In terms of the support available to parties to do their work at the Senedd, we need to look at those arrangements too. In contrast to the relative freedom that accompanies the Short funding at Westminster, which can be used for party political purposes, bearing in mind the inherent political nature of opposition party work, the arrangements in our Senedd are far more strict. It's a strange situation, too, where the Clerk, as the Commission's chief accounting officer to all intents and purposes, is personally responsible for the expenditure of each political group, which then calls, of course, for strict rules to give assurance that that money is being spent the right way.

The Reform Bill Committee recommendation that the Government, the Commission and the remuneration board should collaborate to review the arrangements before 2026 is a first step on this journey, which has been noted by the Counsel General in response, so I'd like to hear about his intentions in terms of responding to that specific recommendation. We must go much further and be more ambitious if we are to create a new and ambitious Senedd and enable the competition for seats to be a contest of ideas. We've already heard about the importance of manifestoes; we need to ensure that every party that stands in a Senedd election has that resource and isn't dependent on the number of Members of Parliament at Westminster.

I would like to hear from the Counsel General in terms of an assurance about driving this work forward, and if I hear those assurances, I won't push this to a vote today. But certainly, we would all agree that this is an issue that we need to look at for the sake of our democracy.

16:40

Diolch yn fawr iawn, Llywydd. I'm speaking to amendments 49 and 50, which are tabled in my name. The purpose of both amendment 49 and 50 is to introduce a review of the operation and effect of the new provisions in this Act relating to the Senedd itself, its Members, the Welsh Ministers and our voting system for general elections. It is a clear guiding framework.

As it stands, the Bill includes a provision regarding a review into the extent to which elements of a healthy democracy are present in Wales following the 2026 election cycle. While having such a review of democratic health is a fine sentiment, I agree with many of the experts who gave evidence to the Senedd reform committee that the phrase remains frustratingly vague and impossible in scope for any fundamentally relevant review to undertake. The illustrative list provided in the explanatory notes regarding what a healthy democracy could encompass is hardly exhaustive, and would not have any binding effect on the review itself. Simply put, without clear criteria any such review risks being an unfocused academic exercise, divorced from practical realities.

These amendments remedy that shortcoming by establishing a set of eight specific democratic principles that must guide and structure the reviews. These principles are derived from the highly respected 2017 expert panel on Assembly electoral reform, which drew on the collective expertise of the panel members, extensive academic research, and wider public debate on electoral reform. The eight principles cover crucial aspects like proportionality, Member accountability, Government effectiveness, voter choice, diversity of representation, integrity of boundaries, and simplicity for voters. Collectively, they provide a robust multifaceted framework to evaluate whether our new electoral rules are producing a representative legislature and accountable governance that ensures that there is voter equity and a sustainable system overall—the very cornerstones of a healthy democracy.

Amendment 49 requires this committee of the Senedd to conduct its review based on these eight principles, and amendment 50 mandates that a parallel review from Welsh Ministers should also adhere to the same criteria when examining the new provisions. Amendment 50 would go even further in strengthening the review process by requiring public consultation and engagement with key stakeholders, like the Electoral Commission and other political parties, and ensuring the findings are formally reported to the Senedd within six months of the 2026 election. The time frame and reporting period would ensure any review would capture and assess the full operation and effect of the new rules, from initial implementation through to their first usage in an election cycle. 

Before I close, I wish to speak to the lead amendment, amendment 9, and subsequent amendments 10, 11 and 12, as tabled by Darren Millar. These amendments, which would remove altogether the statutory review of the operation of the Act and the healthy democracy parameter, would represent a concerning step backwards for accountability and democratic oversight. While you bring up, Darren, really valid points about the need for clearer review criteria, which my amendments 49 and 50 directly address, scrapping the review entirely is an overreaction that risks insulating the substantial electoral reforms from any formalised scrutiny or public accountability. As I've said before, the Bill we are currently debating needs to represent a generation-defining opportunity, one we cannot afford to let slip or render unsustainable. I do urge the Member to consider how a more robust framework based upon these principles contained within my amendments will help ensure that Senedd reform is sustainable in the long term. 

Finally, this is the last time I will be speaking in the Siambr on this Bill. Can I formally thank the Member in charge for his hard work on the Bill? Can I also thank Heledd Fychan and Darren Millar for their contributions in this debate, and also the members of the reform committee, to Sarah Murphy and to Dai Rees for his chairing? I wish to, if I may, just make three final statements. Firstly, I never expected to say this, but the most progressive and radical party in this Siambr on a better voting system is not Labour, it's not Plaid Cymru, it's the Conservatives. They have actually rejected first-past-the-post, standing up for the people of Wales to have a say in democracy and pushing for a more proportional system. So, thank you for your support. Secondly, we don't yet have a reason from Welsh Labour for why they are supporting the least proportional system, rejected by every single expert who came to the panel. We can, of course, make assumptions.

16:45

We're not rejecting the least proportional; the least proportional is STV, where polling the most votes doesn't get you the most seats. Just look at the Irish general election. 

Mike, you and I have been engaged in a Twitter exchange on that, and I'm not going to rehearse that in this Siambr. 

I want to just finish off this second point by commending, in my view, Welsh Labour, who have talked time after time about how they have stood up for the people of Wales, how they reject control from Westminster, and how they believe in devolution. So, I sincerely hope that Welsh Labour has not been influenced to reject flexible lists by Westminster. 

Thirdly, here is a girl from Wrexham whose mother in 1997 was part of the stakeholder group to set up the Welsh Assembly, and I am now standing up for what I feel to be a really modern, forward-looking Senedd. I have lost the argument, I realise that, but I regret nothing in putting on record my belief that we had the opportunity to create a really forward-looking Senedd that would make a difference to the people of Wales, much like my mother did 27 years ago. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Can I start by thanking all the speakers in this particular debate for the contributions that they've made? Many of them were very well thought out and they're based on concerns and principles. Some are, I think, feasible; some I think are not. But, put it this way—. I think, as far as Darren Millar's amendments 9 and 10—those are amendments that I cannot support. Given the significant constitutional changes that this Bill gives effect to, it is appropriate that a review is undertaken to evaluate the operation and effect of its provisions. The impact of the legislative and electoral changes provided for by the Bill will extend beyond the specific effect of the legislative provisions themselves, and it is important that the review also considers any wider impact on the elements of healthy democracy in Wales.

So, whilst I support the principle of amendment 19, I cannot accept that the purpose behind section 19 is to enable the next Senedd to determine whether a committee should undertake post-legislative scrutiny of this legislation. And that is because I remain of the view that it should be a matter for the next Senedd, and therefore the content of the motion should also be a matter for the next Senedd.

My concern with amendment 19 is that it is unnecessary and may have unintended consequences. I believe it is inconceivable that a Senedd committee would undertake a review of the legislation without taking such evidence. This is a standard practice for committees of the Senedd. Such an amendment may therefore call into question whether the Senedd would involve consultation and evidence gathering in carrying out such work unless expressly provided for. I would, however, be willing to work with the Member to see if a mutually acceptable amendment can be made.

I will also not be supporting amendment 16, as tabled by Heledd Fychan. As already noted, it would be a matter for the Senedd to consider the scope of any such review, and as such, I do not believe this amendment to be necessary. But I do recognise the importance of the matter raised by the amendment. Just looking at the amendment itself, which is basically:

'when carrying out a review of the extent to which the elements of a healthy democracy are present in Wales, the matters to be considered by the committee must include the support available for Members of the Senedd and each political party registered...and represented in the Senedd to carry out their roles'.

I think that is an important issue. I think it is one that is certainly worth exploring. I do not think, though, that it's appropriate for it to go in this Bill in that specific way, and particularly bearing in mind that it is predominantly a matter for the Senedd itself at that particular time. But I think there may be a way of taking it forward and I'm happy to explore that. So, I hope, maybe with that assurance, that it will be withdrawn, and I'm happy to sort of engage and to discuss, but I suspect it may be a much broader discussion that's required. But the principle that you've raised is indeed, I think, an important one.

In my response to recommendation 48 of the Reform Bill Committee, I said I would give further consideration to the matter of support for Members and political parties in conjunction with the Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd, the Senedd Commission, the Electoral Commission and registered political parties. So, I think that is probably the basis on which we can actually take this forward and discuss it further—that would be the appropriate way to do so.

I will also not be supporting Darren Millar's amendments 11 and 12. It is important to ensure that if a review is undertaken, then it is completed in good time to allow for the potential implementation of any recommendations in advance of the 2030 election. The timing requirement set out in this provision is to ensure that there is sufficient time for the committees to conduct and conclude its work, as well as sufficient time to consider the outcome of any Senedd committee report in advance of the 2030 election.

I won't be supporting Jane Dodds's amendment 49, as with Darren Millar’s amendment 19. While I remain of the view that the scope of the exact terms of the review should be a matter for the next Senedd, I am concerned that this amendment, again, might have unintended consequences. For example, the table of principles includes 'Boundaries', however the review would be expected to be undertaken at the start of the next Senedd, at the same point that the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru would be undertaking a full review of the 16 Senedd constituencies established for the 2026 election. While I cannot support amendment 49, again I'm happy to work with the Member to see if a mutually acceptable amendment might be achievable.

I will also not be supporting amendment 20 by Darren Millar, or amendment 50 by Jane Dodds. Given that the genesis of the proposals that form the backbone of this Bill emanated from work undertaken by the Senedd itself, I continue to believe that it is appropriate that the Senedd undertakes any post-legislative review and not Welsh Ministers. However, I will be supporting amendment 53, tabled by Darren Millar. Whilst Welsh Ministers will, by convention, always respond to Senedd committee reports, I am happy to support this amendment that would put such a requirement on the face of the Bill. Diolch.

16:55

Diolch, Llywydd. Can I just thank the Minister for his acceptance of at least one of my amendments in this group? Just turning very briefly to Heledd Fychan's comments, I totally and completely support the need for a review of the funding mechanisms available for policy development for political parties in Wales at a national level. It's quite clear that the Short money short-changes political parties in Wales to allow them to do that work, and therefore we need to address that anomaly, and I was very pleased to hear the Counsel General suggest that he is happy to work with you—and I hope, with me, and every political party in Wales—in order to address that anomaly, so that we can get it right for the future. I do note that, obviously, the remuneration board has indicated that it is prepared to consider these matters as well, and hopefully we can make some progress on the matter.

Amendments 49 and 50—. If I can just say to Jane Dodds, who I think has done a cracking job as well, by the way, in terms of putting forward her party's views throughout this legislative process—it's not that we don't want a review of the implementation of the Act, Jane Dodds, which is what you suggested in your comments. We're not wanting to scrap it. We're simply suggesting that to tie the hands and bind the hands of a future Senedd in terms of the timescale and when and how that review should be conducted is inappropriate. That's what we were told as a Reform Bill Committee, and you accepted the recommendations of that committee report as well, which included a recommendation to take this section out of the Bill. We're trying to give effect to that on the balance of the evidence we receive. But we were told, weren't we, by the academics who gave evidence to the Reform Bill Committee, that these provisions were, and I quote, 'quirky', 'unusual', 'strange' and an 'anomaly' in parliamentary practice. It's for that reason that I want to see them out of the Bill.

Now, I take on board what the Counsel General said, and that is that the genesis—. I love the word 'genesis', by the way, as you might imagine. [Laughter.] The genesis of this whole reform programme was indeed from the Senedd itself. I understand that. But we all know that this particular Bill is quite different than many of the recommendations of the work of previous Senedd committees. So, it's a Welsh Government Bill. It's been produced by the Welsh Government without direct consultation with all parties in this Senedd. I appreciate there was a deal done between at least two individuals in the Senedd in order to agree some of the terms in this Bill. But there are bits that haven't been the subject of discussion by the wider Senedd up until the production of this Bill, and that's why I say this is a Government Bill, it's not a Senedd Bill, and it's therefore appropriate for Government to be doing these sorts of reviews, not just the Senedd, which undoubtedly would undertake one post the next Senedd elections in any case.

You've repeatedly said that the terms of the committee's work et cetera should be a matter for the Senedd, and yet you've laid down two prescriptions on the face of the Bill already about what constitutes a healthy democracy, and you've given a clear timetable. That, to me, doesn't look like you're trying to get the Senedd to set the terms of the work of this committee at all. It sounds to me as though the Government is insisting that something must be done, and as I say, I think that's detrimental, potentially, to the scrutiny capacity of this Senedd that this Bill seeks to improve, because you're already requiring two committees, shortly after the next Senedd elections, to be established, even if negotiations and discussions are still ongoing between political parties about other scrutiny committees, which, as I said, after the last 2021 elections took many months to resolve.

So, I will be pushing all of my amendments to the vote. I would be happy to work with the Minister if none of my amendments progress—and indeed Jane Dodds—to come up with something that is better, if this part is going to stay on the face of the Bill, which does set out, perhaps, some clearer parameters in terms of the way that any review might be conducted. But as I say, I'm trying to give force to the implementation of the recommendations in the Stage 1 report, which were agreed by Members of all parties in this Senedd, and it is disappointing that the Counsel General is resisting that. Thank you.

17:00

Gwelliant 9, felly: os derbynnir gwelliant 9, bydd gwelliannau 10, 19, 116, 11, 12, 49 a 53 yn methu. Y cwestiwn yw: a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 9? A oes unrhyw wrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad. Felly, gymerwn ni bleidlais ar welliant 9. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 15, neb yn ymatal, 39 yn erbyn. Mae gwelliant 9 wedi ei wrthod.

Amendment 9, therefore: if amendment 9 is agreed, amendments 10, 19, 116, 11, 12, 49 and 53 fall. The question is that amendment 9 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] There are objections. We will therefore move to a vote on amendment 9. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 15, no abstentions, and 39 against. Therefore, amendment 9 in not agreed.

Gwelliant 9: O blaid: 15, Yn erbyn: 39, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 9: For: 15, Against: 39, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 10 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 10 (Darren Millar) moved.

Ydy, gan Darren Millar. A oes gwrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad i welliant 10, felly gymerwn ni bleidlais ar welliant 10. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 15, neb yn ymatal, 39 yn erbyn. Mae gwelliant 10 wedi ei wrthod.

It is, by Darren Millar. Are there any objections? [Objection.] There are objections to amendment 10. We will therefore move to a vote on amendment 10. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 15, no abstentions, 39 against. Therefore, amendment 10 in not agreed.

Gwelliant 10: O blaid: 15, Yn erbyn: 39, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 10: For: 15, Against: 39, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Yw gwelliant 19 yn cael ei symud, Darren Millar?

Amendment 19—is it moved, Darren Millar?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 19 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 19 (Darren Millar) moved.

Ydy. Oes yna wrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae gwrthwynebiad. Felly, pleidlais ar welliant 19. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 14, neb yn ymatal, 40 yn erbyn. Ac felly mae gwelliant 19 wedi ei wrthod.

It is. Are there any objections? [Objection.] There are objections. We will move to a vote on amendment 19. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 14, no abstentions, and 40 against. Therefore, amendment 19 in not agreed.

Gwelliant 19: O blaid: 14, Yn erbyn: 40, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 19: For: 14, Against: 40, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Gwelliant 116, Heledd Fychan—yn cael ei symud? 

Amendment 116—Heledd Fychan, is it moved? 

Na, dyw e ddim yn cael ei symud, ac felly, os nad oes yna wrthwynebiad i hynny, fydd yna ddim pleidlais ar welliant 116.

It is not moved. So, if there is no objection to that, we will not vote on amendment 116.

Ni chynigiwyd gwelliant 116 (Heledd Fychan).

Amendment 116 (Heledd Fychan) not moved.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 11 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 11 (Darren Millar) moved.

Mae'n cael ei symud. Oes gwrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, gwrthwynebiad. Felly, pleidlais ar welliant 11. Agor y bleidlais. Pleidlais Luke Fletcher yn llafar eto.

It's moved. Is there any objection? [Objection.] There is objection. Therefore, we will move to a vote on amendment 11. Luke Fletcher's vote orally again.

Yn erbyn. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 15, neb yn ymatal, 39 yn erbyn. Ac felly mae gwelliant 11 yn cael ei wrthod.

Close the vote. In favour 15, no abstentions, 39 against. Therefore, amendment 11 in not agreed.

Gwelliant 11: O blaid: 15, Yn erbyn: 39, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 11: For: 15, Against: 39, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Gwelliant 12, Darren Millar—yn cael ei symud?

Amendment 12 is next. Darren Millar, is it moved?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 12 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 12 (Darren Millar) moved.

Ydy. Gwelliant 12—a oes gwrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad. Felly, gymerwn ni bleidlais ar welliant 12. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 15, neb yn ymatal, 39 yn erbyn. Ac mae gwelliant 12 wedi ei wrthod.

It is. Amendment 12—are there any objections? [Objection.] There are. We will move to a vote on amendment 12. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 15, no abstentions, 39 against. Therefore, amendment 12 in not agreed.

Gwelliant 12: O blaid: 15, Yn erbyn: 39, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 12: For: 15, Against: 39, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Jane Dodds, gwelliant 49—yn cael ei symud?

Jane Dodds, amendment 49—is it moved?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 49 (Jane Dodds).

Amendment 49 (Jane Dodds) moved.

Ydy. Oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 49? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad. Felly, gymerwn ni bleidlais ar welliant 49. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 1, neb yn ymatal, 53 yn erbyn. Ac felly mae gwelliant 49 wedi ei wrthod.

It is moved. Are there any objections to amendment 49? [Objection.] There are. We will move to a vote on amendment 49. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 1, no abstentions, and 53 against. Therefore, amendment 49 in not agreed.

Gwelliant 49: O blaid: 1, Yn erbyn: 53, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 49: For: 1, Against: 53, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Tynnwyd gwelliant 13 yn ôl.

Amendment 13 withdrawn.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 53 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 53 (Darren Millar) moved.

Mae'n cael ei symud. Gwrthwynebiad i welliant 53—oes yna? Nac oes. Felly, mae gwelliant 53 wedi ei dderbyn.

It is moved. Are there any objections to amendment 53? There are none. Therefore, amendment 53 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 20 (Darren Millar).

Amendment 20 (Darren Millar) moved.

Mae'n cael ei symud. A oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 20? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad i welliant 20. Felly, pleidlais. Agor y bleidlais ar welliant 20. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 15, neb yn ymatal, 39 yn erbyn. Felly, gwelliant 20 wedi'i wrthod.

Are there any objections to amendment 20? [Objection.] There are objections to amendment 20. So, we'll move to vote. Open the vote on amendment 20. Close the vote. In favour 15, no abstentions, and 39 against. Therefore amendment 20 is not agreed.

17:05

Gwelliant 20: O blaid: 15, Yn erbyn: 39, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 20: For: 15, Against: 39, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Gwelliant 50. Yn cael ei symud, Jane Dodds? 

Amendment 50. Is it moved, Jane Dodds?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 50 (Jane Dodds).

Amendment 50 (Jane Dodds) moved.

Ydy. Oes gwrthwynebiad i welliant 50? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, gwrthwynebiad. Felly fe wnawn ni gymryd pleidlais. Agor y bleidlais ar welliant 50. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid un, neb yn ymatal, 53 yn erbyn. Mae gwelliant 50 wedi'i wrthod. 

It is. Are there any objections to amendment 50? [Objection.] There are. We will therefore move to a vote on amendment 50. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour one, no abstentions, and 53 against. Therefore, amendment 50 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 50: O blaid: 1, Yn erbyn: 53, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 50: For: 1, Against: 53, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Cwnsler Cyffredinol, gwelliant 80. Yn cael ei gynnig?

Counsel General, amendment 80. Is it moved?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 80 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 80 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy, mae'n cael ei gynnig. Oes gwrthwynebiad? Nac oes. Felly, gwelliant 80 wedi'i dderbyn.

It is moved. Are there any objections? There are none. Therefore, amendment 80 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Grŵp 18: Pŵer i osod terfynau gwariant ymgyrchoedd etholiadol y Senedd mewn cysylltiad ag adran 1 a Rhan 2 o Fil Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau) (Gwelliannau 81, 82, 83, 85, 86)
Group 18: Power to set Senedd election campaign expenditure limits in connection with section 1 and Part 2 of the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill (Amendments 81, 82, 83, 85, 86)

Sy'n dod â ni nawr at grŵp 18. Mae'r grŵp yma'n ymwneud â phŵer i osod terfynau gwariant ymgyrchoedd etholiadol y Senedd mewn cysylltiad ag adran 1 a Rhan 2 o'r Bil. Felly, gwelliant 81 yw'r prif welliant, a'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol i gyflwyno'r gwelliant. 

Which brings us now to group 18. The amendments in this group relate to a power to set Senedd election campaign expenditure limits in connection with section 1 and Part 2 of the Bill. So, amendment 81 is the lead amendment—Counsel General.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 81 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 81 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Diolch, Llywydd. In changing the electoral system to one where political parties submit lists of candidates, and independents stand as individual candidates in their own right, it will be necessary to review and update the existing system of election campaign expenditure, which currently reflects our mixed Member system.

As is currently the case in Senedd regional elections, expenditure incurred in respect of party list constituency candidates in the new system should be treated as incurred by the party. In turn, campaign expenditure incurred by parties are regularly regulated by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, including those in respect of Senedd elections in paragraph 6 and Schedule 9.

Amendment 81 is the substantive amendment in this group, and it gives Welsh Ministers the ability to make provision by way of regulations to amend the relevant provisions of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 in connection with section 1 and Part 2 of this Bill.

This power is necessary to ensure that the system of campaign expenses for Senedd elections reflects that there will be 16 Senedd constituencies returning six Members each ahead of the 2026 Senedd election, rather than the current provisions in respect of 40 first-past-the-post constituencies, each returning a single Member, and five regions returning four Members each.

Now, I recognise the importance of transparency and integrity in implementing the rules that govern how political parties can spend money on campaigning in advance of elections. That is why this power to amend the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act can only—can only—be exercised with the consent of the Electoral Commission.

Furthermore, amendment 83 specifies that regulations made under this section must be made via the affirmative procedure. This approach provides clear and robust checks and safeguards for the exercise of the power, ensuring the role of the politically independent Electoral Commission and the will of the Senedd are respected in setting out the changes to the regime for election campaign expenses.

The power provided by amendment 81 is only to allow for the immediate and necessary changes to be made. However, it is important to note that the role of the Electoral Commission also continues after these changes will have been made. The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act already grants Welsh Ministers the power to amend campaign expenditure limits to give effect to inflationary changes without a recommendation of the Electoral Commission, but any future change that goes beyond that limited exception can only be made on a recommendation of the Electoral Commission.

Individual candidate expenditure limits will continue to be regulated through the conduct Order, and, as the regulations are developed in respect of the changes to party campaign expenses, I will ensure that there is consistency, where appropriate, between candidate and party expenditure limits.

Amendments 82, 85 and 86 are consequential and technical amendments associated with amendment 81. Amendment 82 omits section 21(3)(b), which is no longer needed because amendment 81 includes the power to make incidental, supplementary, consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision.

Amendments 85 and 86 set out that the provisions in the Bill that relate to the power to amend the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 do not come into force on the day after the Bill receives Royal Assent, but rather they do not come into force until two months after the Bill has received Royal Assent. Diolch, Llywydd.

17:10

Diolch, Llywydd. These amendments are significant. They introduce a significant new section into the Bill in relation to campaign expenditure, which has not been subject to committee scrutiny. To bring them forward at such a late stage is wholly unacceptable, as is expecting any Member in this Senedd to vote on them today. Just yesterday, the Minister was railing against some of my amendments because they sought to introduce new sections into the Bill, and yet here, today, the Minister is seeking everybody in this Chamber to give him our support in inserting a very significant new section into the Bill. So, if it's good for defeating my amendments, the argument is the same for yours: what's good for the goose is good for the gander, Counsel General.

So, I'd urge the Welsh Government to withdraw these amendments so that Members can be given the opportunity to give them detailed consideration before Stage 3 proceedings, because it may well be that these are entirely appropriate arrangements that this new section seeks to introduce. But we cannot possibly support anything that amounts to a last-minute amendment that has not benefited from any proper scrutiny either by Members of this Senedd or other interested stakeholders, and, frankly, it makes a mockery of the Senedd to table such significant amendments in this way without any prior discussion with party spokespersons. The whole purpose of this Bill, we are told, is to improve scrutiny, and yet the Minister has avoided scrutiny in respect of this whole new separate section that is suddenly being introduced into this Bill at the last minute. So, we'll be voting against this set of amendments.

I offer this to the Minister: I'm very happy to have discussions with him in order that I can better understand the implications of this new section and how it will work, and whether it is consistent with similar powers for Scottish Ministers, UK Ministers as well. But I do think that the Reform Bill Committee needs to be able to consider this matter, take advice, and report back to this Committee of the Whole Senedd at Stage 3, before any decision on these amendments is taken. And that's notwithstanding the assurances that the Minister has given, that no changes could be made without the support of the Electoral Commission or without an affirmative procedure, which, I understand, these amendments seek to make any future changes subject to. So, thank you.

Diolch, Llywydd. Mae’n bwysig bod yna allu i wneud newidiadau rhesymol a chymesur o ran terfynau gwariant pleidiau yn etholiadau Senedd Cymru at y dyfodol, yn enwedig wrth ystyried bydd y pleidiau yn gyfrifol am wariant ar draws 16 etholaeth neu restr newydd, a bod y trefniadau yn gallu esblygu.

Mae'r datblygiadau, wrth gwrs, dros yr wythnos neu ddwy diwethaf, yn y ras i olynu’r Prif Weinidog wedi amlygu pwysigrwydd tryloywder ac atebolrwydd pan fo’n dod i faterion yn ymwneud â gwariant yn ystod ymgyrchoedd. Rydym yn croesawu’r ffaith bydd defnydd o'r pŵer yn cael ei ddefnyddio gyda throsolwg y Comisiwn Etholiadol a thrwy’r weithdrefn gadarnhaol, neu'r affirmative procedure, fydd yn rhoi rôl bendant i‘r Senedd hon, felly mi fyddwn ni'n cefnogi'r gwelliannau yma.

Thank you, Llywydd. It is important that there is an ability to make reasonable and proportionate changes to parties' expenditure limits with regard to future Senedd elections, particularly considering that the parties will be responsible for expenditure across 16 new constituencies or lists, and that these arrangements can evolve.  

Developments, of course, over the last week or two, in the race to succeed the First Minister have highlighted the importance of transparency and accountability when it comes to matters related to campaign expenditure. We welcome the fact that the exercise of this power will be overseen by the Electoral Commission and through the affirmative procedure, which will give this Senedd a clear role, so we will be supporting these amendments.

Just by way of response, I think the amendments in this group are really there to ensure the system of campaign expenditure for Senedd elections just reflects the new electoral arrangements that are provided for by the Bill. Amendments 81 and 83 provide incredibly robust safeguards for the exercise of the power. I think it's an essential part of the Bill and I urge Members to support these amendments.

Gwelliant 81. Os gwrthodir gwelliant 81, bydd gwelliannau 83, 85 a 86 yn methu. Y cwestiwn yw: a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 81? A oes gwrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad. Fe gymerwn ni bleidlais, felly, ar welliant 81. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 40, neb yn ymatal, 14 yn erbyn. Gwelliant 81 wedi'i wrthod.

Amendment 81. If amendment 81 is not agreed, amendments 83, 85 and 86 will fall. The question is that amendment 81 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] There is objection. We will therefore move to a vote on amendment 81. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 40, no abstentions, and 14 against. Therefore, amendment 81 is not agreed.

17:15

Gwelliant 81: O blaid: 40, Yn erbyn: 14, Ymatal: 0

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 81: For: 40, Against: 14, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been agreed

Gwelliant 82, Cwnsler Cyffredinol. Yn cael ei symud? 

Amendment 82, Counsel General. Is it moved? 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 82 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 82 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy. A oes yna wrthwynebiad i welliant 82? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes mae yna. Felly pleidlais ar welliant 82. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. 

It is moved. Is there any objection to amendment 82? [Objection.] Yes, there is objection. A vote on amendment 82. Open the vote. Close the vote. 

I love it when that Member then starts to look around innocently, as if it was nothing to do with him. [Laughter.] 

Cau'r bleidlais, felly. O blaid 40, ymatal neb, 14 yn erbyn. Felly, mae gwelliant 82 wedi ei dderbyn. 

Close the vote. In favour 40, no abstentions, and 14 against. Therefore amendment 82 is agreed. 

Gwelliant 82: O blaid: 40, Yn erbyn: 14, Ymatal: 0

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 82: For: 40, Against: 14, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been agreed

Gwelliant 83. Yn cael ei gynnig gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol? 

Amendment 83. Is it moved by the Counsel General? 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 83 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 83 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy, mae'n cael y cynnig. A oes yna wrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad. Pleidlais ar welliant 83, felly. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 40, neb yn ymatal, 14 yn erbyn. Ac felly gwelliant 83 wedi ei dderbyn. 

It is. Are there any objections? [Objection.] There are objections. We'll move to a vote on amendment 83. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 40, no abstentions, 14 against. Therefore amendment 83 is agreed. 

Gwelliant 83: O blaid: 40, Yn erbyn: 14, Ymatal: 0

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 83: For: 40, Against: 14, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been agreed

Grŵp 19: Darpariaeth drosiannol pe bai etholiad cyffredinol eithriadol yn arwain at beidio â chynnal etholiad cyffredinol cyffredin 2026 (Gwelliannau 84, 87, 88)
Group 19: Transitional provision in the case that an extraordinary general election resulted in the 2026 ordinary general election not being held (Amendments 84, 87, 88)

Grŵp 19 yw'r grŵp nesaf, y grŵp olaf y prynhawn yma. Mae'r grŵp yma yn ymwneud â darpariaeth drosiannol pe bai etholiad cyffredinol eithriadol yn arwain at beidio â chynnal etholiad cyffredinol cyffredin 2026. Gwelliant 84 yw'r prif welliant. Cwnsler Cyffredinol i gynnig y gwelliant yma.

Group 19 is our next group of amendments, and it's the final group of amendments. The amendments relate to transitional provision in the case that an extraordinary general election resulted in the 2026 ordinary general election not being held. Amendment 84 is the lead amendment. Counsel General to move the amendment.  

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 84 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 84 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Diolch, Llywydd. I’d ask Members to support amendments 84, 87 and 88, which are, as has been said, transitional amendments, provided for a circumstance where the scheduled election in 2026 did not go ahead because an extraordinary general election was held in the six months prior to May 2026. In such circumstances, amendment 84 clarifies that the date of the subsequent scheduled ordinary general election would still be May 2030.

Similarly, amendments 87 and 88 provide that section 3 of the Bill, which changes the frequency of Senedd elections to once every four years, would come into force following the first general election held after 7 November 2025. This thereby provides for the circumstance of an extraordinary general election occurring up to six months prior to the scheduled election in May 2026. Diolch, Llywydd. 

Diolch, Llywydd. Yn gyntaf, hoffwn ddiolch i bawb sydd wedi cyfrannu at y ddadl bwysig hon ddoe a heddiw. Fel y soniais ar ddechrau’r trafodion ddoe, bydd y Bil sydd ger ein bron heddiw yn cael effaith wirioneddol drawsnewidiol a grymusol ar dirwedd democratiaeth Cymru, ac mi ydw i'n gobeithio y bydd hyd yn oed y rhai sy'n ansicr neu'n gwrthwynebu yn dod yn y pen draw i werthfawrogi gwerth cadarnhaol y diwygiadau y cytunwyd arnynt heddiw.

Rydym yn cydnabod nad yw’r Bil hwn yn berffaith, a byddwn yn parhau i roi ger bron dadleuon dros fireinio pellach, yn enwedig o ran y system bleidleisio. Dwi'n gobeithio does yna ddim amheuaeth o ran beth ydy barn Plaid Cymru ar hynny yn dilyn y ddadl yma. Ond dyna yw democratiaeth—cydweithio a chyfaddawdu trawsbleidiol adeiladol, sydd wedi bod yn angenrheidiol i ddatblygu'r darn hwn o deddfwriaeth. Gallwn hefyd ddweud, yn gwbl bendant, chwarter canrif ers i'r Senedd hon ddechrau gweithredu, bydd y Bil yma yn sicrhau ei bod, o’r diwedd, yn dod i oed, yn unol ag ewyllys democrataidd diamwys pobl Cymru.

Gan droi at sylwedd y gwelliannau yn y grŵp hwn, rydym yn cytuno â rhesymeg y Llywodraeth dros wneud darpariaethau trosiannol pe bai etholiad cyffredinol eithriadol yn cael ei gynnal cyn 6 Ebrill 2026, ac felly byddwn yn cefnogi’r gwelliannau yma. Diolch.

Thank you, Llywydd. First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to this important debate yesterday and today. As I mentioned at the beginning of proceedings yesterday, the Bill before us today will have a genuinely transformative and powerful impact on Wales’s democratic landscape, and I do hope that even those who are unsure or who oppose it will ultimately come to appreciate the positive value of the reforms agreed today.

We do acknowledge that this Bill isn’t perfect, and we will continue to make the case for further refinement of it, particularly as regards the electoral system. I hope there can be no doubt as to what Plaid Cymru's view on the electoral system is as a result of this debate. But that is democracy—it's about constructive cross-party collaboration and compromise, which has been vital to develop this piece of legislation. We can also say with certainty, a quarter of a century since this Senedd started its work, that this Bill will ensure that it is finally coming of age, in accordance with the unambiguous democratic will of the people of Wales.

Turning to the substance of the amendments in this group, we agree with the Government’s rationale for making the transitional provision if an extraordinary general election were held before 6 April 2026, and we will, therefore, be supporting these amendments. Thank you. 

Diolch, Llywydd. Yet again, we've got another set of amendments that have not been the subject of discussion or scrutiny by this Senedd that have been tabled by the Government this week. I don't know whether the Welsh Government is predicting that it's going to collapse within the six months before the next Senedd elections, but that's what it appears to be trying to put a safeguard in place for with these particular amendments. And what I will say is this: bring the collapse on earlier if you can, because we're ready to go street to street in combat with you as far as any election campaign is concerned.

17:20

I'm looking forward to the general election, Mike, particularly in Clwyd North. Particularly in Clwyd North.

So, as far as I can see, applying the provisions of this Bill to elections that could be less than 16 months after Royal Assent would be unacceptable. The Reform Bill Committee heard throughout Stage 1 that the timescales to complete everything in time for the Senedd elections in 2026 were already tight, and that evidence was provided by the Counsel General himself, who acknowledged that there were very tight timescales, and that it might be quite difficult to get everything in place for the Senedd elections in April 2026, and yet here we see him trying to wind the clock back again, like Marty McFly, to November 2025 instead. So, how on earth you think you're going to be able to do all of the work required, and all of the other stakeholders to do all of their work that's required, prior to an election that could be as early as November 2025 is beyond me, and you've given me absolutely no information this afternoon that gives me any confidence that those timescales could actually be met.

We heard from lots of different witnesses in the Reform Bill Committee Stage 1 process. They all raised concerns about timescales, but said they could probably just about meet them for an April 2026 election. They all highlighted the Gould principle, saying that the legislation should be in place and the arrangements should all be known, both primary legislation and, of course, the secondary legislation, should all have to be in place six months before an election, and ideally a lot earlier. The Electoral Commission said that it was absolutely necessary in order to have the clarity and time to plan, give sufficient time for campaigners and electoral administrators to understand and implement any changes, and of course, very importantly, to educate the public and inform them about the new voting arrangements.

The Member in charge acknowledged these challenges. He gave us a timetable, which was published in the Stage 1 committee report, and it shows how difficult, with the timetable that the Counsel General gave us, it was going to be to hit the April 2026 target for implementation. And yet now, if we stick November into that mix, there's no way that all of the work in the Counsel General's own timetable could possibly be met.

So, this is a problem. We will not be supporting these amendments today. It would put huge pressure on everybody—election administrators, regulators, political parties—and it would be detrimental to helping the public understand and appreciate the reforms, why they're being implemented, and the way that that's going to change the nature of the voting system.

Now, given that this is the final group of amendments, and it's my last opportunity to speak in this set of debates too, I do want to thank the Counsel General for the way that he's positively engaged on a number of amendments that we have tabled as a Welsh Conservative group at this Stage 2 set of debates. We've had a lot of political knockabout, understandably, in this Chamber, but there's some serious work that has been done, and I hope that everybody in this Chamber understands and appreciates that whilst we, as I said at the outset of these debates, have a principled opposition to the reforms, we have tried to be constructive and we have tried to work with others in order to kick what is a very significant Bill, which is going to bring significant changes to the voting system and our constitution, into much better shape than it is. It's still not in the sort of shape that we think is right, and we will still go on, of course, to try and seek further amendments at the Stage 3 process, but we recognise the arithmetic in the Senedd for reform, and that's why we've tried to engage in a positive way.

And I want to thank also other Members from other political parties for the positive engagement we've had with them, particularly Heledd Fychan and Jane Dodds, because it is important that every Bill that goes through this Senedd has proper scrutiny, and I think we've shown that this Senedd has the ability to scrutinise legislation—without extra Members, by the way—in a very effective way. So, thank you.

Just on the first point, just in terms of the amendments, obviously I'm seeking support for these amendments. They are really to cover a potential exceptional circumstance, which is probably not going to happen, but it is appropriate in legislation that it is there, and it is catered for. I can give you assurance I am confident that the timescales will be met, and I am very confident that the Gould principle will be met. This legislation represents a decade of work and the fulfilment, I think, of commission after commission. The amount of expertise and input that there has been, really, from across Wales, has been really important and has led to this legislation where it is now. It is also important, I think, to thank all the officials, and the lawyers, for the considerable expertise that has gone into this legislation. Again, I would also thank all those who've contributed from all political parties. I recognise, indeed, that we have a certain amount of political knockabout and discussion, some of which has been quite entertaining, but, at the heart of it, there's been a lot of very constructive engagement, and I am grateful for that. So, I'm happy to proceed to a vote, Llywydd.

17:25

Cyn i ni symud i'r gyfres o bleidleisiau olaf sydd gyda ni y prynhawn yma, mae'n bosibl fy mod i wedi camddweud ar welliant 81. Rhag ofn fy mod i wedi, fe wnaf i gadarnhau bod gwelliant 81 wedi'i wrthod. Gwelliant 84—[Torri ar draws.] Wel, dwi'n meddwl ei bod hi'n amlwg fy mod i wedi camddweud nawr, ac mae gwelliant 81, ar gyfer y record, wedi'i dderbyn.

Before we move to the final series of votes for this afternoon, I may have misspoken on amendment 81. In case I did, I will confirm that amendment 81 was not agreed. Amendment 84—[Interruption.] Well, I think it's clear that I did just misspeak, therefore amendment 81, for the record, is agreed.

On the third attempt, I got it right.

Gwelliant 84, felly, sydd nesaf. Y cwestiwn yw: a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 84? A oes unrhyw wrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad. Felly, fe gymerwn ni bleidlais ar welliant 84. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 39, neb yn ymatal, 15 yn erbyn. Mae gwelliant 84 wedi'i dderbyn.

Amendment 84, therefore, is next. The question is that amendment 84 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] There is objection. Therefore, we'll move to a move on amendment 84. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 39, no abstentions and 15 against. Therefore, amendment 84 is agreed.

Gwelliant 84: O blaid: 39, Yn erbyn: 15, Ymatal: 0

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 84: For: 39, Against: 15, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been agreed

Gwelliant 85, ydy e'n cael ei symud gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol?

Amendment 85, is it moved by the Counsel General?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 85 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 85 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy. Felly, oes yna wrthwynebiad i welliant 85? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad. Felly, fe wnawn ni gymryd pleidlais ar welliant 85. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 42, neb yn ymatal, 12 yn erbyn. Felly, mae gwelliant 85 wedi'i dderbyn.

It is. Are there any objections to amendment 85? [Objection.] There are. We will, therefore, move to a vote on amendment 85. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 42, no abstentions and 12 against. And therefore, amendment 85 is agreed. 

Gwelliant 85: O blaid: 42, Yn erbyn: 12, Ymatal: 0

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 85: For: 42, Against: 12, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been agreed

Ydy gwelliant 86 yn cael ei symud gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol?

Amendment 86, is it moved by the Counsel General?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 86 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 86 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy. Oes gwrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad. Felly, pleidlais ar welliant 86. Agor y bleidlais. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 40, neb yn ymatal, 14 yn erbyn. Mae gwelliant 86 wedi'i dderbyn.

It is. Are there any objections? [Objection.] There are objections. Therefore, we will vote on amendment 86. Open the vote. Close the vote. In favour 40, no abstentions and 14 against. Therefore, amendment 86 is agreed.

Gwelliant 86: O blaid: 40, Yn erbyn: 14, Ymatal: 0

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 86: For: 40, Against: 14, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been agreed

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 87 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 87 (Mick Antoniw) moved.

Ydy, mae'n cael ei symud. Oes gwrthwynebiad? [Gwrthwynebiad.] Oes, mae yna wrthwynebiad. Agor y bleidlais ar welliant 87. Cau'r bleidlais. O blaid 40, neb yn ymatal, 14 yn erbyn. Mae gwelliant 87 wedi'i dderbyn.

It is moved. Are there any objections? [Objection.] There are objections. Open the vote on amendment 87. Close the vote. In favour 40, no abstentions and 14 against. Therefore, amendment 87 is agreed.

Gwelliant 87: O blaid: 40, Yn erbyn: 14, Ymatal: 0

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 87: For: 40, Against: 14, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been agreed

Gwelliant 88, ydy e'n cael ei symud gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol?

Amendment 88, is it moved by the Counsel General?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 88 (Mick Antoniw).

Amendment 88 (Mick Antoniw) moved.