Incongruous, inconsistent, irrational


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.

Betsan Powys Article written by Betsan Powys Betsan Powys Former political editor, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    #84 'those people on benefits probably percentage wise in relation to their income pay more taxes than you.'
    Possibly. But, economics not ethics.
    God may have looked lovingly on the widow and her mite, but the tax gatherer seeking funds for a new aqueduct would prefer 10% off a millionaire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    It's not a moral argument, Alf. It's an economic argument. If you had polio at 6 and had been in an iron-lung for 60 years, I am happy that my taxes would support you but you would still be unlikely to make a positive economic contribution.
    Also, your #82 is interesting, but relates to Middlesborough and Scotland. As Woodsey reminds me, Wales is different.
    I look forward to the relevant study

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    What about your sneering comment I have debunked in 82. Incidentally those people on benefits probably percentage wise in relation to their income pay more taxes than you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    81 Alf: Chinese economics: everybody taking in each other's washing. The services have to be paid for. You can't pay for a state benefit by taxing another benefit. You are just moving labels on the jam jars. Somebody has to put money in. If someone has never had a job, they have never earned money, so they can't pay for anything. Try: dole =
    £25 or dole= £50 but pay £25 income tax and NI

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Actually Boxer you sneering comment about third generation unemployed families has been proven to be a myth and a lie spread by the Government at Westminster and people like you.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    boxer. I'd have thought even you would have realised that the unemployed and sick along with Pensioners pay tax on their benefits. That is of course with all the other taxes the same as the rich incomers pay and yourself of course. Such as VAT on food etc. That was a rather demeaning and sneering comment to make. try saying that to those people in posh Tory ares relying on foodbaanks now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    #68 'So it must be Retired people selling their homes for big money and buying cheaper ones here.'
    That's economics. That frees up space so those that work in the SE can buy a home there.
    ' Then taking advantage of our Services ' So, how come 'Our', Alf. They sure weren't paid for by the third-generation unemployed prevalent locally. Probably paid out of the taxes of the incomers (see Barnett).

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    72 LAG A couple of things
    1 We are governed by a wide range of groups few of whom are elected by us - as an example would be your local health trust. At last count the WG has 29 AGSB we used to call them quango's - can anyone name all 29?
    2 factually you are incorrect in your assertion re political representation - still don't allow facts to get in the way of your thoughts

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    No problem seen or perceived. Just hopeful of good rugby on a successful tour, and witness rugby once again promote international harmony through the sport as 'The British and Irish Lions' tour

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    You could have a problem there will be Welsh Speakers and those other Celtic extremists Ireland and Scotland

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    69 Woodsey - Just out of interest how do you know that Celticace "looks to London"? Or is that just a throw away line from you?

    PS there is a much more important match tomorrow. In Leeds. Lets hope that the Bluebirds win and yes, of course, I hope that Wales win to

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Not supporting the lions then?
    Too many English in the team?

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    If I look to Cardiff and regard myself as Welsh I'm extreme? If you look to London and regard yourself as British and not Welsh then you are not extreme. Don't see the logic. So a Scot who regards himself as Scottish and looks to Edinburgh is extreme. My being Welsh goes further than just going to Cardiff twice a year to watch the rugby, being a born & bred taff

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Wales has virtually the lowest number of political representatives per head of population in the Western World.

    I can't recall ever reading a more poorly researched article on the BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    You comment suggests that Wales is the only Country in the UK where people don't attempt to work. So are you saying everybody in the rest of the UK has a better work ethic? There needs to be some cuts in Public Spending but transferring to the Private Sector has proved costly to the Public e,g. Utilities, Railway, Toll Bridges and Banks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Again extreme thinking, I look to good governance, where ever it's located. I shall of course be supporting Wales tomorrow, being a born and bred Taff.
    Supporting the Lions this summer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Good on you for being a English Speaking Brit. I'm a Welsh speaking Welshman living in the South Wales Valleys. You look to London I look to Cardiff. Hope who ever you support in the Rugby tomorrow wins. Good Luck!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    54. Boxer.. I am trying to introduce a little reality. The proportion of Welsh speakers is reduced by inward movement of English speaker. It can't be to work because there isn't any. So it must be Retired people selling their homes for big money and buying cheaper ones here. Then taking advantage of our Services that are already at breaking point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    In days of FAT you can spend money,and no one realises,as the growth/tax income covers the bills.hpwever in LEAN days then things are different. The problem in this region of UK,is that not everybody works,or even attenpts to work,and creates a surplus in economic terms/pays taxes. We need huge reductions in public spending,and transfer reponsibility to people to pay for services.No Tax =No Vote.


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