PETER AND RHODRI'S RED HERRING

A lot of attention has been given by the Western Mail to the joint press event held yesterday by Peter Hain and Rhodri Morgan.

According to their interpretation of the proposal by the Conservatives to cut down on the number of Welsh MPS, there would be a knock-on effect for the Assembly unless new legislation was introduced to change the way its members are elected.

The logic is that as the Government of Wales Act requires that the constituencies from which the 40 directly-elected AMs are chosen are identical to the ones used to send MPs to Westminster, both of them argued that this could result in an Assembly with just 30 constituency AMs and only 15 AMs from the top-up list.

I assume this calculation has been made because the 2006 Government of Wales act states that "the total number of seats for the Assembly electoral regions must be one half of the total number of the Assembly constituencies".

The Secretary of State for Wales then went on to state that "With the Richard Commission saying that the workload required 80 members, to turn the argument the other way around and actually reduce the number of Assembly members would be very, very serious..."

So taking that logic to its conclusion, then we would need roughly 53 parliamentary constituencies in Wales to enable the Richard Commission vision of having 80 members of the Assembly sitting in Cardiff Bay!

This would require a new Act of Parliament to enable this unlikely scenario to happen.

However, one would assume that any incoming Conservative Government, in changing the number of MPs across the UK, would also make legislative provision for changes to the Government of Wales Act to enable the regional list calculation to change accordingly i.e. this would allow for the reduction in the number of MPs whilst maintaining the current number of AMs, as has happened in Scotland.

Of course, if the reductions in MPs were to be made and the link maintained between Westminster and Cardiff Bay constituencies, this could mean that there would be 30 first past the post AMs elected and a further 30 from the regional lists.

I wonder what that would do to Labour's election prospects in any future Assembly election?