With Brexit leading to a legislative logjam, the past year has been one of the busiest since Wales gained primary law-making powers. Here we look at the Acts passed since the summer, the Bills currently before the Assembly and what might be on the legislative agenda in the year ahead.
The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Act 2018, which provides for a minimum price for the sale and supply of alcohol, received Royal Assent on August 9. In a written statement on February 15, Health Minister Vaughan Gething announced that the preferred minimum unit price will be 50p after a consultation. The next step will involve the Welsh Government laying regulations, specifying the minimum unit price, before the National Assembly for Wales.
The Childcare Funding (Wales) Act 2019 received Royal Assent on January 30. The legislation underpins Welsh Labour’s 2016 manifesto promise to provide 30 hours a week of government-funded early education and childcare to working parents of three- and four-year-olds in Wales for up to 48 weeks a year.
The Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill, which would rename the National Assembly as the Senedd and lower the minimum voting age to 16, was introduced by Elin Jones, chair of the Assembly Commission, on February 12. AMs on the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee will shortly begin stage 1 scrutiny of the Bill before reporting to the Assembly by the end of June.
Jeremy Miles introduced the Legislation (Wales) Bill, which aims to make Welsh law more accessible, on December 3. The Counsel General said it was a significant moment in the evolution of the Welsh legislature because, for the first time, a Bill about the law itself was being introduced. The Bill is made up of two parts: Part 1 includes an obligation to consolidate and codify Welsh law; and Part 2 contains provisions around the interpretation of Welsh legislation. The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee is due to publish its stage 1 report on the Bill by March 26.
If passed, the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill, which was introduced by the Finance Committee, will give the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales the power to accept oral complaints and undertake own-initiative investigations. Stage 3 proceedings will take place in the Senedd on March 13, with stage 4 scheduled for March 20.
AMs will debate amendments to the Renting Homes (Fees.) (Wales) Bill, which would prohibit landlords and letting agents from charging fees to tenants, during stage 3 proceedings on March 19.
The National Assembly rejected the Autism (Wales) Bill, which was introduced by Welsh Conservative group leader Paul Davies, during a vote on the Bill’s general principles on January 16.
Older People’s Rights
After winning a legislative ballot, Darren Millar proposed introducing a member bill on older people’s rights. However, the Conservative AM for Clwyd West’s proposals fell at the first hurdle as the National Assembly voted against the introduction of the Bill on January 23.
During First Minister’s Questions on February 12, Mark Drakeford confirmed that the Welsh Government still intends to bring forward a proposal to remove the defence of reasonable chastisement.
In a written statement on February 1, Eluned Morgan – the Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language – announced that the Welsh Government had abandoned plans for a Welsh Language Bill.
In a statement on the 2018-19 legislative programme, then-First Minister Carwyn Jones announced the Welsh Government’s intention to bring forward a Bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses.
Health and Social Care
Proposed legislation to establish a duty of quality for the NHS in Wales and a duty of candour for health and social care has yet to be introduced in the National Assembly.
Plans for a Local Government and Elections Bill, which would reform council electoral arrangements and extend the franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds, have been on the backburner since the Welsh Government abandoned contentious merger proposals in June. A working group, involving council leaders, which is looking at opportunities for joint working, is due to complete its work over the summer.
The Welsh Government has launched a consultation on the legislative framework for the new curriculum.
In his 2018 Labour leadership manifesto, Mark Drakeford pledged to bring forward a Social Partnership Bill to put ethical standards of employment and the pursuit of equality at the core of public service delivery.
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