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Joe Atkinson runs down the main developments we expect in the Assembly this week. 

Debate over Cardiff Bay mud dumping

The debate over the dumping of mud dredged from the Hinckley Point nuclear power station has gathered steam over the last month and is due to come to a head this week. Campaigners agreed to discontinue legal action against EDF after securing an Assembly vote on the issue last week. The debate is scheduled for Wednesday, with the motion for debate asking the Assembly to instruct Natural Resources Wales to suspend the marine licence enabling the dumping to go ahead. The motion also calls for more detailed and transparent to be published, and for NRW to engage with stakeholders and communities affected by the dumping.

AMs will debate suspending the marine licence allowing dredging of mud from Hinckley Point power station (Photo: Robert Cutts via Flickr)

Focus on disabled people’s rights

Also on Wednesday, the newest member of the Assembly, Helen Mary Jones, will lead a debate proposing the introduction of legislation to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons into Welsh law. The rights of disabled people are on the agenda elsewhere, as the Petitions Committee host an evidence session on Tuesday on a petition calling for premises to be given access certificate numbers, in a similar manner to food hygiene ratings. Meanwhile in the Health Committee, AMs will continue to discuss Paul Davies’s proposed Autism (Wales) Bill, which has so far received a mixed reception, with the bill being credited for seeking to put autism services on a statutory footing, but critics claiming it could create a “disability hierarchy”.

Assembly reform progress

The journey towards the Welsh Parliament will take one step forward on Wednesday as AMs debate the Welsh Parliament and Elections (Wales) Bill. The legislation proposes changing the Assembly’s name to the Welsh Parliament / Senedd Cymru, lowering the minimum voting age in elections to 16, and reforming the rules around who can be an AM. Under the new legislation, peers such as Welsh Government ministers Lord Elis-Thomas and Baroness Morgan would need to take a formal leave of absence for the House of Lords to be a member of the Welsh Parliament.

First Minister contest kicks off

The three candidates to be next First Minister were confirmed on Friday, as the starting gun was fired in the Welsh Labour leadership race. Mark Drakeford, Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan will contest the vote, with the winner announced on Thursday 6th December. Ballots go out the Welsh Labour members on Friday 9th November, and for the first time the leader will be decided by a one member, one vote system after members voted to move away from the electoral college system. Perhaps we’ll see the first signs of a contest between the candidates this week, who have up until now have put on a united front within government.

Brexit preparations scrutinised

The External Affairs Committee are holding evidence sessions with representatives of the ports, health and food sectors on Monday afternoon to discuss their respective preparedness for Brexit. Expect discussion over to what extent these sectors are geared up for a no-deal Brexit, which government ministers have warned is becoming more likely as time ticks down to March 2019.

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