Wales

Incongruous, inconsistent, irrational

  • 31 January 2013
  • From the section Wales
  • comments

Henry Englehart thinks so and so does Ukip MEP, John Bufton. This is just a stab in the dark but I'm guessing quite a few of you who comment on this blog think so too.

Think what? That Wales is over-governed.

David Cameron's plans to help those of the over-governed persuasion in a small way by cutting the number of Welsh MPs from 40 to 30 bit the dust this week - and so too, therefore, did any ideas about changing the way Assembly Members are elected.

Tory MPs who didn't like the idea are relieved. Labour MPs utterly jubilant. Catch up with who said what about THAT vote over on David Cornock's blog.

But hold on.

"The notion that Wales has a divine right to 40 MPs is preposterous" says the man who heads up the Welsh Governance Centre. Wales, says Richard Wyn Jones, "has too many politicians in the wrong place. The situation is incongruous, inconsistent and irrational."

So who does watch over us?

Some facts:

In Wales, there are 1264 councillors, which is just about one for every 1830 electors overall.

In Scotland - where you may suggest they have more than us of most things - there are fewer councillors. In all there are 1222 councillors, which is one for something like 3180 electors.

Then there are some 8000 community councillors, 4 MEPs, 40 MPs, 60 AMs (too many I hear some of you shout! Not enough say those who want to improve the quality of the scrutiny of ever more significant laws) and of 875 'communities' in Wales, 735 have a council.

Then there are the AGSBs. You know them, they're the Assembly Government Sponsored Bodies, who used to be knows as the ASPBs, the Assembly Sponsored Public Bodies - or if you're old enough, quangos. Whatever you might call them, they're non-elected and charged with responsibilities for public services.

Add 7 Health Boards and then stop counting. You could probably come up with more but you get the point.

So is Wales over-governed? Or does it have the right number of politicians in the wrong places? Or the right number of the wrong people? Or ... actually, is it about right?

One theory goes like this: that most countries have ended up with first house sizes that correspond to the cube root of their populations. They end up with assemblies or parliaments of that size because, the argument goes, the cube root of the population is the optimal size.

What's the cube root of 3 million?

I'm told it's 144.

You'd like that, wouldn't you?

Tune in to @The Wales Report on BBC 1 Wales on Sunday night to find our more. Make sure you have your calculator with you.