Wales

David Cameron: Welsh assembly election reform on track

  • 7 August 2012
  • From the section Wales

Proposals to reform Welsh assembly elections are still on track, says Prime Minister David Cameron, despite a UK coalition dispute with the Lib Dems.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan wants to cut the number of directly elected AMs or change the size of constituencies.

But the Welsh government has called for clarity on the plan after the row in the coalition over Lords reform.

On a visit to Monmouthshire, Mr Cameron said talks on the make-up of Welsh electoral seats would continue.

Asked whether Mrs Gillan's Green Paper proposals were "dead in the water", he responded: "No, there's a consultation under way about the shape of the Welsh constituencies and how many are directly elected and how many are proportionally elected.

"That consultation is under way and I look forward to hearing the views of all the parties and then, of course a decision will have to be made."

Mr Cameron also said he did not not accept claims that his party had broken an agreement with the Liberal Democrats.

Plans to reform the House of Lords were abandoned after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg claimed the Conservatives "broke the coalition contract".

'Gummed up'

Mr Cameron said he did not want the UK government "gummed up" debating reform instead of dealing with the economy.

He spoke about the row as he visited an outdoor education centre on Tuesday as part of an tour to promote sport around the UK.

On Monday, Mr Clegg accused the Conservatives of breaking the coalition contract by not supporting plans to create a mainly elected House of Lords.

As a result, he said Lib Dem MPs could not now support Conservative-driven changes to Commons boundaries in 2015.

The move would have cut the number of MPs in Wales from 40 to 30.

Mr Cameron told BBC Wales he would be challenging every MP to support the plans, but that "every party will have to make up its own mind how it votes."

David Cameron at an outdoor education centre in Monmouthshire

Mr Cameron has already been in Scotland and Northern Ireland over the past week as part of his tour.

As Team GB continues to land Olympics medals, he wants to encourage children to take up sport.

At the outdoor education centre outside Gilwern, Mr Cameron mucked in with teenagers involved in character building challenges, as part of the UK government's National Citizen Service.

He helped young people scaling a climbing wall by anchoring a safety rope attached to their harnesses.

Chaperoned

He offered advice to more teenagers as they scaled a 30ft (9m) wire and wood ladder as part of a team building exercise.

Later Mr Cameron sat and quizzed the participants about the benefits of the programme.

Rebecca Tapia, 16, from Ealing, west London, said she had been on a gruelling 12-mile hike since arriving last Friday.

Mr Cameron asked her what she thought of the scheme, Rebecca said: "It was not as bad as I thought it would be. I thought that I was going to die or something."

Mr Cameron said, to loud laughter: "That would not have been good for the programme."

TV adventurer Bear Grylls, the UK's chief scout, was also a surprise addition to the visit and chaperoned Mr Cameron on the tour.

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