Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Sunday, 9 November 2008

Assembly 'needs outside talent'

Jane Davidson explains her ideas to Felicity Evans on the Political Show Wales

Political parties should overcome their "tribalism" to encourage celebrities, sport stars and businesspeople to join the Welsh assembly, says a minister.

Jane Davidson, who will stand down at the next election in 2011, says new talent would freshen up the Senedd.

The environment minister wants 20 of the 60 seats available to those outside who could become AMs for a short time before returning to their day jobs.

The Pontypridd AM said it would be a form of secondment.

Ms Davidson, who has been an AM since Welsh devolution began in 1999, told the BBC's Politics Show Wales that a fluid approach to politics would help boost the range and appeal of the assembly.

Jane Davidson AM
I know of people who would like to work at the assembly, but would not be able to commit to four years as they value their day job
Environment Minister Jane Davidson

Of the 60 seats, 40 are in directly-elected constituencies, and the other 20 are allocated via lists drawn up by the parties to ensure the assembly has a degree of proportional representation.

But she called for the 20 list seats to be offered to people outside the political system.

"I know of people who would like to work at the assembly, but would not be able to commit to four years as they value their day job," she said.

"So it could be a type of secondment. There will still be a place for people who want to be career politicians, and they will be good at it.

"But not everybody is a career politician who wants to contribute towards life at the assembly.

"We should look at the idea that some people will want to spend time working with their own legislature and then take that experience to their working environment.

More attention

"Just as I will have spent a long time here in the legislature and then use that in helping some organisation when I leave. I hope that that kind of fluidity will become the norm in Wales.

"I'm increasingly concerned with the separation between professional politicians and everyone else. We have a small legislature and we need ways of bringing people in, not through traditional party routes, to the assembly, and then leave.

Senedd, Cardiff Bay
The Senedd in Cardiff Bay has been the AMs' debating chamber since 2006

Ms Davidson also expressed surprise how much interest her decision to quit had received in the media.

"When I announced that I was leaving, it attracted much more attention than I expected. People said to me, 'what's the scandal?'

"That was on the basis that politicians only leave politics if they die or are removed because of scandals.

"In Wales, why can't we look at the system we've got, and see if we can make it better."

Ms Davidson, who also wrote an article in the Western Mail expanding on her views, asked: "Can we put tribalism away and be big enough to be radical in the interests of our small, clever country?

"Could parties support the idea of using their own top-up lists not only to support equality, but to bring talented non-politicians into the Assembly eg top business people, entrepreneurs, successful principals of colleges, vice-chancellors of universities, environmentalists, third sector chief executives, sports stars, media stars the list goes on.

"I'm sure that many of Wales' most talented people would wish to contribute to the assembly; in fact they already do on a regular basis in numerous working groups, commissions and the like."

Ms Davidson said she felt the assembly's four-year fixed period deterred "those who are passionate about Wales and devolution but who feel that a four-year stint would be too long out of their job and who don't want to become professional politicians".

'Secondments' to Senedd idea
09 Nov 08 |  Wales


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific