Scotland and Wales Party Conference fringe meeting - electoral reform in the devolved regions
LDER will be holding a fringe meeting at the joint session of the Liberal Democrats Scottish and Welsh autumn conferences on 9 October at 12.55 pm, to compare progress in the two countries, and discuss opportunities for cross-country and cross-party cooperation to achieve more.
Scotland and Wales have enjoyed proportional representation for their parliaments since 1999. Both use the additional member system (AMS), with some members elected by FPTP in single-member constituencies, and others from regional lists so as to make the overall result approximately proportional between parties.
Separately, council elections in Scotland have been using the single transferable vote (STV) since 2007, thanks to the Liberal Democrat / Labour coalition agreement of 2003. Recently, the Islands and Electoral Reform Bills of 2018-19 have widened the options in designing council wards, making it easier to fit natural communities - a reform that was seen as particularly needed in the island councils.
Also recently (2017), the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) commissioned a report, A Parliament that works for Wales, chaired by Prof. Laura McAllister, that proposed a range of reforms. Some of these have now been implemented, including votes at 16. Two further major proposals are now under consideration: increasing the size of the Senedd from 60 to 90, and changing its electoral system from AMS to STV. The Senedd has also passed an Act allowing Welsh councils to opt for STV for their elections.
At the fringe on 9 October we will welcome Huw Irranca-Davies, a Labour member of the Senedd who has been closely involved in the implementation of the McAllister Report proposals. LDER Chair Denis Mollison will discuss the specific STV proposals of the McAllister Report in Wales and of the boundaries commission for revised council wards in Scotland, which both illustrate how a flexible approach can provide the best possible fit of wards to communities. Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, will relate these developments to possible reforms in England and at UK level. The fringe will be chaired by Wendy Chamberlain MP, President of LDER.
You will have to sign up for either of the conferences to attend the fringe, but we aim to post a report and possibly a recording of the event here in due course.