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Trains, planes and Budget Deals

Your guide to the this week's events in Cardiff Bay.

If this week was an 80s comedy film, it would be Trains, Planes and Budget Deals.

The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee meets on Monday. They’ll wave through the usual raft of regulations before moving on to a private briefing on the UK Government’s EU Reform Agenda. Last week, we saw the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland write to the Prime Minister (David Cameron) asking him consider the ramifications of holding a referendum on EU membership six weeks after elections to the devolved administrations. The impact of a June referendum could be particularly keenly felt through the Welsh Assembly election campaign as many people in Wales get their political information from London-based media which will make it particularly difficult for a Wales-specific political debate to be had as the EU campaign hots up. The PM was having none of it. Speaking at PMQs last week he said “I think people are perfectly capable of making up their minds.” He’s clearly not adding Sturgeon, Jones and Foster to the list of leaders he has to win over this month…

On Tuesday, Cardiff Airport is back on the agenda as the Public Accounts Committee take evidence from Simon Jones, Chair of the Welsh Government’s holding company. Unusually, the Committee will hold a second session on Thursday morning to take further evidence from the Welsh Government.

Back to Tuesday afternoon the First Minister (Carwyn Jones) will be up at FMQs. This is followed by votes on the Welsh Language Standards and final sign off on the Historic Environment Bill. Minister for Finance (Jane Hutt) is then up for a lengthy debate on the Draft Budget 2016-17. Expect health funding and cuts to the higher education sector to dominate.

On Wednesday morning, Children, Young People and Education will be considering mental health services for young people while the Communities, Equality and Local Government Party will take evidence form Minister for Public Services (Leighton Andrews) on his Draft Local Government Bill.

On Wednesday afternoon, Jane Hutt is back up for Finance Questions while Leighton Andrews will be answering AMs’ questions at Public Service Questions. This is follow by a veritable variety pack of debates. There’s a cross member motion on local bank branch closures, a Committee debate on supply teaching and Plaid debates on procurement of the Wales & Border rail franchise and major sporting events.

The Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill will also get its Stage 4 reading, becoming only the second member-proposed Bill of this Assembly to make it on to the statute books. Paying attention at the back? When this goes through, there will be just two Bills left for AMs to conclude – Public Health and Tax Collection & Management.

The day rounds off with a short debate on rural schools from Kirsty Williams (Brecon & Radnorshire)(LD).

On Thursday morning, the Environment & Sustainability Committee will meet in private to consider their draft report into A Smarter Energy Future for Wales and hold a workshop on climate change.

The Health & Social Care Committee will also meet in private to consider initiatives to tackle abuse of psychoactive substances and evidence previously presented by the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales.

The Enterprise & Business Committee will continue their never ending journey of discovery on rail services in Wales calling at inadequate links, franchising difficulties and terminating with evidence from transport regulations bodies, Network rail and Transport Scotland.

Also on Thursday, BBC Question Time rolls into Wales with a programme from the highly marginal seat of Llanelli.

Want to know more about any of this? newsdirect wales is a dedicated political monitoring company and we'll be tuned in all week. Give us a call on 029 2009 0693.

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