Reflecting on last week in the Assembly, there was a very significant announcement regarding the creation of committees. The six specialist committees – including Finance, Public Accounts and Petitions – remain and seven ‘Combined Policy & Legislation’ committees are set to be created.
These include a new committee on Culture, Broadcasting and the Welsh Language which is very timely given the implementation of Welsh Language Standards and BBC Charter Renewal. The Environment Committee will now have a greater focus on Rural Affairs. In line with Welsh Government portfolios, the Health & Social Care Committee will be broadened to give it a remit for sport. The Business Committee have also proposed a ‘Reserve Committee’ which will have the capacity to react rapidly to emerging issues and conduct inquiries in short order. This responsiveness was missing in the last Assembly. Further analysis of the Committee changes is set out in this blog post.
In a related development, AMs will be elected to Committee Chairmanships by a secret ballot although the Business Committee (of Party Whips) will agree which party gets which committee.
Rumours have been circulating that UKIP may be in the running for the Chairmanship of the Environment, Climate Change & Rural Affairs Committee. This may prove very contentious given UKIP’s denial of climate change and the close relationship between the agricultural sector and the EU.
The new committee structure and voting procedures are set to be approved on Tuesday.
Otherwise next week, the dust may be settling on the Referendum result, but the debate is far from over the in the Senedd. AMs will be discussing the outcome in a debate in Government time on Tuesday afternoon. It is also likely to feature heavily at FMQs.
The last item of business on Tuesday will be a proposal by the Welsh Government to change the name of the National Assembly for Wales to the Welsh Parliament ‘at the earliest opportunity’ and unofficially until the legislative change is made. This is likely to attract widespread support so best get practicing the new name.
Also of note is Plaid’s Opposition debate where they will seek support for the introduction of the Single Transferable Vote to all elections except General and European Parliament elections. To make progress in this area would be very significant for Plaid. The current electoral set up makes it nigh on impossible for any party besides Labour to control the Welsh Government. The introduction of STV could change that. Plaid are in a strong position at the moment to mount such a challenge and should seek to capitalise on this quickly.
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