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5 things to look out for in the Senedd this week - 25 June 2018

A decision on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, scrutiny of Welsh Government ministers, and calls for a hydrogen-powered future...

1. Government ministers face scrutiny

It’s a busy week for Mark Drakeford in particular, as he attends the Finance Committee to give evidence on the first supplementary budget for 2018-19. The finance secretary will return to the committee for scrutiny on its inquiry into preparations for replacing EU funding in Wales. Sandwiched between Prof Drakeford’s sessions will be another session on EU funding with Lesley Griffiths, who will focus on her energy, planning and rural affairs portfolio. Elsewhere, the education secretary, Kirsty Williams, faces a scrutiny session at the hands of the Children, Young People and Education Committee, and the health secretary, Vaughan Gething, will face questions on suicide prevention from the Health Committee.

2. Proposals to ban new leasehold houses

Mick Antoniw, the Labour AM for Pontypridd, will lead a debate on his proposed bill to abolish the building of leasehold houses in Wales. In the motion for debate, Mr Antoniw discusses the importance of improving consumer awareness of the implications of leasehold properties to current leaseholders. Buying a leasehold property means you are buying the right to live in the property for a set number of years from a freeholder, who owns the property and the land beneath it. This means that the freeholder, effectively the landlord, can charge leaseholders for costs such as maintenance to the land around the property and can limit renovations.

3. Tidal Lagoon decision imminent?

It now seems to be a matter of when, and not if, the UK Government will turn down proposals for a tidal lagoon at Swansea Bay. Widespread reports indicate that the project, which has received backing across the Siambr, will be rejected by UK ministers on the basis of cost. Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies told Sunday Politics Wales that he, his Assembly group and local Conservative parties in Wales support the lagoon but reiterated that it is for the UK Government to ultimately decide its fate. Speculation if rife that the decision could be announced today, but how often have we heard that?

4. Plaid call for a hydrogen-powered revolution

Plaid Cymru will ramp up calls for investment in hydrogen technology this week as they lead an opposition debate on the subject. Last week, the party launched a report on the potential for hydrogen energy to contribute to the decarbonisation of the transport sector by 2030, noting the possibility of applying the technology to trains for the new Wales and Borders rail franchise. At FMQs, the First Minister expressed his doubts over the readiness of technology to meet the challenges of the future by 2030 but expect Plaid to maintain pressure on the government nonetheless.

5. Short debate on the Welsh Baccalaureate

UKIP’s Neil Hamilton has questioned the Welsh Baccalaureate in the past and now he’s got his own short debate on the qualification, pondering whether it offers “education or indoctrination”. Mr Hamilton has asserted that the Welsh Bacc is not politically neutral and has been designed to present a left-leaning view of the world, on issues such as climate change and international cooperation. Expect a partisan debate and a firm rebuttal from the education secretary in this one.

Photo: Swansea Bay, the site of the proposed tidal lagoon. Credit (Andrew Owen via Flickr)

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