Wales politics

Let MPs serve in Welsh government, accountants say

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Media captionDr Rebecca Rumbul of Cardiff University says it would be confusing for voters

MPs could serve as Welsh government ministers in a bid to widen the talent pool, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales says.

The move would also ease the "growing burden" on politicians in Cardiff Bay as more power is devolved, the group's Wales director Martin Warren said.

Peers serving in the UK cabinet have set the precedent, he added.

Parties in the assembly have questioned the idea on the grounds of democracy and accountability.

'Small country'

The accountants' organisation said scrutiny of Welsh legislation was suffering due to "significant workloads for politicians shifting from Westminster to Cardiff Bay".

If it proved difficult to increase the number of AMs from the present 60, a bigger role could be given to the 40 MPs from Wales as their role in Parliament diminished, Mr Warren said.

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Media captionMartin Warren says MPs could offer 'greater talents' to the assembly

He suggested letting the first minister appoint MPs to the Welsh cabinet, or inviting MPs to serve on assembly committees, in both cases reducing the demands on the time of politicians in Cardiff Bay.

Another idea put forward was the creation of a non-political body of professionals who could advise on and scrutinise policy.

"Wales is a small country with limited resources and making best use of those resources within a democratic framework to achieve for Wales must surely be an objective that crosses all political borders," said Mr Warren.

'Anti-democratic'

Dr Rebecca Rumbul, politics lecturer at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Cardiff University, said involving MPs in assembly business might be "confusing" to voters.

Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black was also doubtful, claiming MPs "won't be able to do either job properly".

Image caption Could MP Owen Smith (centre) serve in the cabinet of First Minister Carwyn Jones (right)?

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: "After 17 years of the same old, tired ideas in a Labour-run Wales, our country needs a change.

"May's election is the chance to choose the Welsh Conservatives and secure new ministers, fresh ideas and a brighter future."

For Plaid Cymru, former presiding officer Lord Elis-Thomas said it was "a completely anti-democratic idea".

"The notion that people could come down to Cardiff, turn up and be ministers without having been elected takes us back to a pre-democratic period, and certainly before the assembly was in existence," he told BBC Radio Cymru.

"If anyone is suggesting something like this, we'd need to have a referendum immediately."

A Welsh government spokesman said: "Ministers are selected from the membership of the democratically elected National Assembly and we see no need to change this."

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