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5 things to look out for in the Senedd this week - 2 July 2018

The NHS' 70th birthday, developments in the Plaid leadership debate, and calls for "woolly maggots" to return to Welsh hillsides...

1. Many happy returns for the NHS?

The health secretary, Vaughan Gething, will make a statement to plenary on Tuesday to mark 70 years of the National Health Service, though it remains to be seen whether the anniversary will coincide with a policy announcement as the service continues its struggle to cope with the pressure of increasing demand. The NHS was launched on Monday 5th July 1948 by Labour health minister Aneurin Bevan, perhaps one of Wales’ most famous political sons. The week will be marked by a series of events across Wales and the UK, including a thanksgiving service at Llandaff Cathedral on Wednesday attended by the first person born in the NHS and the Prince of Wales.

2. This week in Brexit

The counsel general, Jeremy Miles, will make a statement to plenary on Tuesday regarding the UK Government’s Supreme Court challenge to Scotland’s EU continuity bill. The Welsh Government had been ready to pass a continuity bill of its own before reaching an agreement with UK ministers on changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill, now an act of parliament. There will also be focus on the impact of Brexit on the fishing industry, with the Welsh Government tabling a debate for Tuesday afternoon on the subject, while the rural affairs secretary Lesley Griffiths will be giving evidence as part of the climate change committee’s inquiry into Brexit and fisheries on Wednesday morning. Before all that, Mark Drakeford and Rebecca Evans, who share responsibility for the Brexit brief within the Welsh Government, will be scrutinised by the external affairs committee this afternoon.

3. Carwyn Jones faces tourism grilling

The committee for the scrutiny of the first minister meets at the Old College in Aberystwyth to quiz Carwyn Jones on the Welsh tourism industry. The committee, which meets once per Assembly term with the remit of scrutinising Mr Jones on specific topics, will also ask questions on topical matters. Expect the first minister to face questions on the Welsh Government’s investment in Cardiff Airport and its relationship with Qatar Airways, as well as funding for tourism sites and the development of tourist routes across Wales.

4. Plaid leadership battle to commence?

After the drama of Andrew RT Davies’s resignation as Welsh Conservative leader last week, we now have three Welsh political parties at varying stages of choosing a new leader; Labour, the Tories and UKIP. However, the headlines could be made by Plaid Cymru this week, after the highly regarded Adam Price called for a male and female co-leadership of the party. Mr Price, who has been backed to challenge the incumbent Leanne Wood for the leadership, claimed the party has resorted to “predictable, plodding politics”, but warned against ousting Ms Wood, claiming that this would leave a “toxic residue of bitterness and recrimination”. Rhun ap Iorwerth, another leadership contender, wrote an article for Nation.Cymru calling for the party to “lead the charge for a new Welsh nation”, adding that he is considering Ms Wood’s invitation for a debate on the leadership.

5. Calls to bring sheep back to Welsh uplands

This week’s party opposition debate comes from UKIP, whose motion states that “sheep, which has previously been referred to as woolly maggots, should be returned to Welsh hillsides”. The party highlight the damage to Welsh uplands, wildlife and environment caused by the decision to remove grazing rights and calls on the Welsh Government to incentivise the repopulation of upland areas with livestock. Upland farming has been cited as an area at risk due to Brexit, with the impacts of loss of farming subsidies and tariffs on exports cited.

Photo: UKIP are calling for sheep to be reintroduced to Welsh hillsides (Andrew Sweeney via Flickr)

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