Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

Morgan warns over Tories' MP cuts

Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan said having fewer MPs would be "disastrous" for Wales

First Minister Rhodri Morgan says that Conservative plans to reduce the number of MPs would have a "catastrophic" impact on the Welsh assembly.

It would mean the assembly not being able to carry out responsibilities in health, education and other areas, and "tearing up the map of Wales," he said.

He was speaking at a news conference with Welsh Secretary Peter Hain.

The Welsh Conservatives said they were committed to Wales having a "powerful voice" at Westminster.

Accusing Conservative leader David Cameron of "short-term populism," Mr Morgan warned that the plans would result in constituencies which "take no account of existing community ties, local authority responsibilities or geographical boundaries".

It is quite clear, however, that it would not be possible to carry out the responsibilities with which the assembly is charged with only 45 members
First Minister Rhodri Morgan

Mr Morgan said the automatic links between parliamentary and assembly constituencies established in the Government of Wales Act would mean any reduction in the number of Welsh MPs would have a disastrous impact on the assembly.

Mr Morgan added: "The consequences of changes at Westminster would be disastrous, leaving the institution with only 45 members and unable to discharge the responsibilities which matter to Welsh voters on health, education, local government, economic development and so on.

"The Richard Commission concluded that its workload required 80 assembly members.

Boundary Commission

"We have always argued that, with careful management and smarter ways of working, it was possible to retain the membership at 60.

"It is quite clear, however, that it would not be possible to carry out the responsibilities with which the assembly is charged with only 45 members."

A Welsh Conservative Party spokesman said: "David Cameron is leading the debate about the cutting the cost of politics.

"And as part of that agenda we believe there is a strong case for reducing the overall number of UK MPs.

"We've not said which seats we'd cut, but we will ask the Boundary Commission to set out detailed proposals.

"What we are committed to ensuring is that Wales continues to have a powerful voice in the House of Commons."



SEE ALSO
All Wales Convention Q & A
13 Jan 09 |  Wales

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