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2017 Legislative Programme

The Welsh Government confirms it will introduce five Bills this year

First Minister Carwyn Jones has announced that minimum alcohol pricing, a ban on up-front letting agency fees and local government reforms are among the Welsh Government's legislative priorities for the year ahead.

Mr Jones said the Welsh Government will introduce five bills in the next 12 months, to tackle problem drinking, provide free childcare to parents of children aged three and four, protect tenants from unfair fees, require collaboration between councils, and reform regulations for registered social landlords.

The leaders of both the Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru described the legislative programme as underwhelming and unambitious, while the leader of UKIP said there was much his party could support.

In a statement to the Siambr yesterday, the First Minister outlined the following proposals:

Minimum alcohol pricing: Continuing his government’s focus on public health, Carwyn Jones said he will introduce legislation to set a minimum unit price for alcohol. Mr Jones said evidence shows a link between harmful drinking and the availability of cheap alcohol. The Scottish Parliament passed a similar Act in 2012 which has since faced a legal challenge from the Scottish Whisky Association with a Supreme Court appeal due to begin this summer.

Free childcare: The Welsh Government will legislate to introduce 30 hours’ free childcare for working parents of three- and four-year-olds by 2020 – a key pledge from Welsh Labour’s manifesto for the 2016 Assembly election.

Councils: Local government reform has returned to the legislative agenda after plans to merge the 22 councils in Wales were dropped only 12 months ago. Mr Jones said the latest bill will create mandatory and systematic working arrangements between councils.

Letting agency fees: The Welsh Government will bring forward a bill in the Assembly to protect tenants from unfair letting agency fees in the private-rented sector.

Registered Social Landlords: Mr Jones will also seek to reform regulatory controls for registered social landlords (RSLs) in Wales. In September 2016 the Office for National Statistics reclassified RSLs into the public sector. This means that without reform, private-sector borrowing by RSLs will count against the Welsh Government’s capital budget, severely restricting its ability to fund infrastructure projects.

Smacking ban: The First Minister said the Welsh Government will seek cross-party support for legislation to effectively ban the smacking of children. The planned bill – which would be introduced in the third year of this Assembly term following a consultation – would remove the defence of reasonable chastisement.

Brexit: Mr Jones said his government will keep the option of introducing a continuity bill, which would enshrine all EU regulations into Welsh law, on the table. The legislation would be introduced in the event of the Great Repeal Bill turning into a Westminster power grab over already devolved matters.

 Three bills introduced in the past 12 months – the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill, the Trade Union (Wales) Bill, and the Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill – will continue to progress through the National Assembly.

  • Do any of these bills affect your organisation? newsdirect wales offers bespoke monitoring of all Assembly proceedings. Call us on 029 2009 0693 to arrange a free trial.
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