Wales politics

Secret ballot for assembly committee chairs, presiding officer announces

A committee hearing from the last Assembly term
Image caption A committee hearing from the last assembly term

AMs will choose who will chair assembly committee in a secret ballot, Presiding Officer Elin Jones has announced.

Previously party groups or leaders chose which individuals chaired committees - a system that led to internal disputes.

This included the removal of Lord Elis-Thomas as environment committee chair after he criticised Leanne Wood.

The move follows calls for reform and brings the assembly into line with Westminster.

There, MPs elect the chairs of select committees.

Ms Jones said: "The business committee's decision to allow a secret ballot to elect assembly chairs is in keeping with my pledge as Llywydd [presiding officer] to safeguard the interests of all assembly members and treat them all equally.

"The decision not only demonstrates the business committee's commitment to upholding that principle, but also its intention to pursue procedural reform where necessary to ensure that the people of Wales get the democracy they demand and deserve."

Nick Ramsay, Conservative AM for Monmouth who himself has been sacked from a committee chairmanship in the past, tweeted that the move was a "step forward in strengthening scrutiny".

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