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Bill Sealing 24.04.24 (42 of 57)

Historic Act strengthens democracy in Wales

Deddf hanesyddol yn cryfhau democratiaeth yng Nghymru

Once-in-a-generation reforms to strengthen democracy in Wales have passed into law today (24 June) with the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Act gaining Royal Assent.

The landmark legislation, which was passed by a supermajority of Members of the Senedd in May, will create a modern, more effective Welsh Parliament to serve and represent people in Wales.

Under the new law, the Senedd will gain increased capacity to scrutinise policies, laws, spending plans, and hold the Welsh Government to account.

Key changes to be implemented in time for the 2026 Senedd elections include:

  • 96 Members of the Senedd, elected using a fully proportional, closed list system, with all candidates named on ballot papers.
  • A move to having 16 constituencies across Wales, each electing six Members of the Senedd.
  • All candidates to, and Members of, the Senedd will need to be resident in Wales.
  • Senedd elections will be held every four years from 2026 onwards.

There are also commitments to review the changes brought in by the Act after the 2026 election, and to consider the practical and legislative implications of job-sharing offices related to the Senedd.

First Minister Vaughan Gething said:

This is an historic moment for democracy in Wales. During 25 years of Welsh devolution the Senedd gained greater responsibilities, including law-making and tax-varying powers, but its capacity did not keep pace and that had to change.

These once-in-a-generation reforms will redress that imbalance to create a modern Senedd that better reflects 21st century Wales.

Counsel General Mick Antoniw said:

Wales is currently the most under-represented country in the UK. This landmark legislation will strengthen our democracy to better serve people in Wales, both in the Senedd and in our local communities across Wales.

It was forged in the fires of the Senedd’s scrutiny to ensure that our Welsh Parliament has the capacity it needs to examine laws, review spending plans, and ensure we deliver for the people of Wales.


Notes to editors

  • The Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill was introduced to the Senedd for scrutiny on 18 September 2023 and agreed by a supermajority (two-thirds) of Members of the Senedd on 8 May 2024. Further details on the Bill and stages of scrutiny are available here: Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill.
  • The Act realises the recommendations of the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform. The SPC’s report and recommendations were endorsed by a majority of Senedd Members in June 2022.
  • The 32 UK Parliament constituencies in Wales will be paired to create 16 Senedd constituencies for the 2026 Senedd election. Each of the constituencies will elect six Members of the Senedd. There will be a full boundary review after the 2026 Senedd election.
  • The maximum number of Welsh Ministers will rise from 12 to 17 (plus the First Minister and the Counsel General), with an option to increase this to 18 or 19 subject to a Senedd vote requiring a two-thirds majority.
  • The maximum number of Deputy Presiding Officers who can be elected by Members of the Senedd will be increased from one to two.
  • The Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales will be repurposed and renamed, to be known as the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru, with the functions necessary to undertake reviews of Senedd constituency boundaries.