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Joe Atkinson takes a look at 5 talking points from the Senedd in the week ahead.

Fall-out from ‘crunch’ Brexit talks

The European Council meets on Wednesday for what have been billed as “crunch” Brexit talks that could pave the way to an agreement on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was in Brussels on Sunday to hold discussions with the EU’s negotiator Michel Barnier, who later tweeted that “some key issues remain open”, such as the Irish border. Keep an eye out for Welsh reaction to the outcomes of the summit, which could tip the UK closer to a no-deal Brexit, an outcome that has been strongly opposed by First Minister Carwyn Jones and his government.

Pressure over broadband roll-out

Julie James, the government’s chief whip and leader of the house, has come under pressure recently over delays in the roll-out of the second phase of the Superfast Cymru initiative. Don’t expect opposition AMs to miss the irony that Tuesday’s ministerial statement providing an update on the roll-out has itself been delayed by a week to accommodate other business. Ms James will also be facing scrutiny from the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee on Wednesday on her portfolio responsibilities over digital matters.

Business delayed due to ‘packed’ schedule

As well as the broadband statement, the chief whip has also postponed Vaughan Gething’s statement on ambulance waiting times – for the second time – to make way for statements on the right to independent living of people with disabilities and Adoption Week. The government took criticism last week for cancelling an oral statement on its new out-of-hours cardiac arrest plan, with Julie James citing a “packed” slate of upcoming business as the reason for cancellations and delays, leading AMs to question whether enough scrutiny is being given to major announcements.

Committee to scrutinise childcare legislation

The Childcare Funding (Wales) Bill will undergo the second stage of Assembly scrutiny at the hands of the Children, Young People and Education Committee on Thursday. The Bill would facilitate the delivery of the Welsh Government’s manifesto pledge of 30 hours of free childcare for working parents of three- and four-year-olds for 48 weeks of the year. There has been resistance from opposition AMs, most notably Plaid’s spokesperson Llyr Gruffydd, to the offer’s exclusion of non-working parents and those who are seeking employment or are in education or training. Committee members are able to propose amendments to the Bill, which are then debated and voted on. Given that Labour AMs make up half the membership of policy committees, it’s highly unlikely the Bill will see significant changes.

A busy Wednesday for Lee Waters

We’ve all had one of those days at work which never seems to end, so spare a thought for Lee Waters on Wednesday. The Llanelli AM starts the day by attending a two-hour session of the Economy Committee from 10am, then in plenary he’ll be contributing to a members’ debate tabled in his name on the foundational economy. We suspect he’ll also contribute to the debate on the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee’s report on the future of industry, given that he regularly speaks on automation, before leading his own short debate on driving Wales towards 100% renewable energy. We wonder if he’ll make it the full set by tabling a topical question and 90-second statement…

Pictured: Lee Waters AM has a very busy Wednesday lined up (National Assembly for Wales via Flickr)

Featured image: GregMontani via Flickr 

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