Labour MPs in Wales have expressed opposition towards the Welsh Government's plan to expand the Senedd. 

Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda, announced on Sunday that his local party branch had voted to oppose the expansion, which will see the number of Senedd members increase from 60 to 96.

"Although we support reform in principle, the Rhondda Labour Party voted unanimously last night against the present proposals for reform of the Senedd," the MP wrote on Twitter.

Asked for clarification, Mr Bryant said: "We object to electing six representatives in each 200,000 constituency on closed lists.

"It will make MSs much less connected to local people."

Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris, meanwhile, has said she is "not keen" on the plan to elect 96 Senedd members, though she does "see the need" for a larger Welsh parliament.

Last month, the First Minister and Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price set out their proposals for a reformed Senedd.

The plans involve pairing each of our 32 Parliamentary constituencies to create 16 Senedd constituences, with each of the 16 electing six MSs to represent their area - 96 members in total.

Seats will be allocated using the D’Hondt method - the voting system already used for regional Senedd seats - in which voters choose from set party lists of pre-selected and ranked candidates ("closed lists").


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Chris Bryant, who has sat as Rhondda MP since 2001, said that there are "other, better" proportional voting systems, expressing opposition to "large, six-member seats" and closed lists.

A more preferable voting system, Mr Bryant said, would be "top up lists".

The National understands that the MP believes that the number of Senedd members should be closer to 80, instead of 96.

Wales has the lowest number of parliamentarians of all the devolved nations. 

Northern Ireland - which has a population of 1.8million, compared with 3.1m in Wales - elects 90 members to its Legislative Assembly, and there are 129 members of the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking to the BBC's Any Questions? programme this weekend, Labour MP Carolyn Harris said: "There's never going to be a good time to ask for more politicians, but we are at point where we are losing politicians from every other parliament we're involved with - we're losing eight MPs from Westminster, as of next year, and we've lost any representation at the European parliament, for obvious reasons.

"One of the benefits of having parliamentarians at the House of Commons is that what we do is scrutinised by the House of Lords - and amended by the House of Lords.

"We've been able to stop some really dangerous pieces of legislation at the House of Lords.

"We haven't got that in the Senedd, and if we're going to have real scrutiny of the work that's being done there - if we are to hold ministers to account, for the things we think they're doing wrong - then we need more members.

"I'll put my hands up and say that I'm not overly keen on having 96 members of the Senedd, but I can see the need for having more members of the Senedd, in order to make it a place which functions, and is open for scrutiny."


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Mounting his own defence of the Senedd reform plans, Ben Lake, Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion, said: "[More politicians] is probably not a vote-winner, but there are many things in life that are the right thing to do, that are not popular at the time.

"Let's not forget that when the Senedd was established back in the late nineties, it had far fewer responsibilities.

"Back in the early stage of the Senedd, every decision that it made had to be signed off in London - so you had that double level of scrutiny.

"I appreciate it's not going to be popular, but if you want good, robust scrutiny in parliament, you need to have elected representatives that are able to do that.

"I sit on one committee in Westminster, and I'm able to dedicate all of my time to looking through those papers, looking through those reports - and I'd like to think I do a pretty decent job at scrutinising the decisions of the government.

"You look at a typical Senedd member, and they'll be on two or three [committees].

"I want them to be able to do a proper job."

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