ON TUESDAY (July 6), Wales’s Counsel-General, Mick Anontiw, set out the Welsh Government’s Legislative timetable for the next twelve months.
In the first year of this Senedd, the Welsh Government will introduce five new Bills from the autumn onwards.
The five bills will legislate for:
· A new system for post-16 education and training in Wales.
· A new agriculture Bill will create a new system of farm payments in Wales. The new payments system will reward farmers for their response to the climate and nature emergencies as well as supporting them to produce Welsh food in a sustainable way.
· The rights of workers will be ensured by the Social Partnership and Public Procurement Bill. The Bill will also lead to more socially responsible public procurement.
· There will be a Bill to enable changes to devolved taxes to respond quickly to unexpected events which could have a significant impact on Welsh revenues.
· And the government will introduce its first consolidation Bill, to make the law in Wales more accessible. It will bring together a mass of very old, complicated legislation relating to listed buildings and the historic environment, to create a single and fully bilingual law which is easy to understand.
The Welsh Government will also bring forward new regulations – sometimes called subordinate legislation – to make 20mph the default speed limit in residential areas and ban pavement parking wherever possible.
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act will be implemented. The Act aims to extend tenants’ rights, prevent retaliatory eviction, ensure homes are better places to live, and require that tenants are given written contracts.
And legislation will also be introduced to give more support to learners up to the age of 25 with additional learning needs.
Counsel General, Mick Antoniw said: “Our focus will be on delivering our legislative programme that is founded on our distinctively Welsh values.
“We will ensure that the new laws work to benefit the people of Wales in their daily lives. In terms of their rights at work, their ability to rent a home and making our streets safer for everyone.”
The Welsh Government faces heavy lobbying over the Agriculture Bill. After running roughshod over the farming industry, its proposals have already run into heavy criticism. The Welsh Government recently booted its promise to review the controversial regulations over NVZ pollution into the long grass.
The first meeting of the Committee due to consider the regulations will not happen until September at the earliest.
On that Committee, Rural Affairs will compete for time with the Economy brief, headed by the publicity-hungry Vaughan Gething. Wales’s part-time rural affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, shows little appetite for scrutiny of her controversial and scientifically dubious choice of policy.
The change likely to affect most people’s lives will be the proposal for a 20mph national speed limit in residential areas.
Entirely absent from the proposals was the Clean Air Act Labour promised to introduce in the last Senedd term but never got round to.
In the 2018 Welsh Labour leadership campaign, the now First Minister, Mark Drakeford, promised to deliver a Clean Air Act but since taking office his government has failed to make good on that commitment.
The Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Janet Finch-Saunders MS said: “Labour’s failure to bring forward a Clean Air Act in the government’s legislative programme is deeply disappointing and is another broken promise to people and communities across Wales.
“Air pollution contributes to over 2,000 premature deaths in Wales but regrettably we have a government in Cardiff Bay that can’t even muster enough energy to deliver on one of the First Minister’s very own leadership manifesto commitments.
“Five towns and cities in Wales have reported illegal and dangerous levels of air pollution over recent years, and the Welsh Conservatives have long advocated for the swift implementation of a Clean Air Act to allow future generations to lead healthier lives.
“Labour’s inaction will cost lives in Wales and it’s turning into a national scandal.”
Speaking in the Senedd debate on the Legislative Programme for Plaid Cymru, Rhys ab Owen noted that, on the introduction of a Clean Air Act, the Conservatives were more radical than the Labour Government.
Plaid’s spokesperson on the Constitution continued: “The truth, Counsel General, is that your plan is light on detail and is weak.
“It’s no surprise; in the Scottish Parliament, in the previous Parliament, they passed 63 pieces of legislation, and we only passed 17.
“You have a mandate now—you have the mandate to act radically to intervene in the housing market, to provide social care and to take steps to tackle child poverty, which is a national embarrassment, and should embarrass you as a Government too.
“There is a clear mandate for you now to introduce radical changes. Don’t miss that opportunity.”
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