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Joe Atkinson takes a look at what’s happening in the National Assembly for Wales this week.

Renewed Focus on the Environment

The renewed political focus on climate change following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report on the impacts of man-made global warming has been palpable in the Assembly, with calls for the intensification of efforts to move towards more sustainable policies. After Labour backbencher Lee Waters led a short debate on moving towards 100% renewable energy last week, Plaid Cymru will use their opposition debate on Wednesday to call on the government to take widespread action, such as through the banning of fracking and abandoning the M4 relief road black route plan. Wednesday will also see a debate on the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee’s report on low-carbon housing, while environment minister Hannah Blythyn will make a statement on Wales’ recycling performance on Tuesday afternoon.

Land Management Inquiry Begins

The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee will begin a new inquiry into land management post-Brexit on Wednesday, to the backdrop of criticisms from the Welsh Conservatives over comments made by rural affairs secretary Lesley Griffiths to the Farmers’ Guardian last week. The Tories’ rural affairs spokesperson Andrew RT Davies claimed the government’s ‘Brexit and Our Land’ consultation is a “farce” after Ms Griffiths said she would go ahead with plans to abolish direct payments even if most farmers were found to oppose this.

Update on Health Service Transformation

On Tuesday afternoon, the health secretary Vaughan Gething will update AMs on how the Welsh Government’s £100m health transformation fund is being used to change the way health and social services are delivered in Wales. The fund has been designed to facilitate delivery of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care in Wales published in January, which recommended that services should be centred around individuals and be delivered closer to home.

New Plaid Spokespeople

Adam Price undertook a significant reshuffle of his frontbench team last week following his election as leader in September. Only external affairs spokesperson Steffan Lewis has retained his previous brief, with high profile portfolios such as the economy, health, education and the environment changing hands. Helen Mary Jones, the party’s newest AM, has been given the health and social services brief, while former leader Leanne Wood will speak on housing and social justice. Mr Price said his new shadow cabinet would deliver a “radical and transformative” programme for government if elected in 2021. Expect to see plenty of Plaid AMs speaking on subjects for the first time as they find their feet.

Detailed Draft Budget to be Published

The Welsh Government is set to publish its detailed draft budget on Tuesday, which will provide a line-by-line breakdown of its spending plans for 2019-20. The First Minister has been urged to rethink cuts to local government announced in the budget, and is meeting Labour council leaders this week to discuss their concerns. The Conservatives, who have expressed concerns over cuts to councils in north Wales in particular, have accused the Welsh Government of “cronyism” for only listening to the views of Labour local authorities.

Featured photo: SD-Pictures via Pixabay 

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