Category: Out and About

A Stronger Voice for Wales in a Changing Britain

You don’t have to be a constitutional expert to have your say on constitutional issues.

The National Assembly for Wales’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee has been looking at how Wales works with other Parliaments and Governments: the relationship between them, how well they work together and share ideas. By understanding current and past relationships, the Committee want to be able to recommend the best model of working for the future.

Different legislature buildings

But what sort of relationship does the people of Wales want our institution to have with other parliaments and governments?

Huw Irranca-Davies AM, Chair of the Committee will deliver a talk at this year’s National Eisteddfod focusing on what he will argue are the most profound constitutional challenges the people of Wales have faced for many generations, both as a nation – Wales – and as a family of nations within the United Kingdom. How Wales rises to those challenges will be the defining test of our generation.

The National Eisteddfod is of course a celebration of traditional Welsh culture and arts and language, but it is also a place where the identity of Wales and its people is constantly imagined and re-imagined. It is also where the politics and constitution of Wales – and Wales within the United Kingdom – have been hotly discussed and debated down the decades, on the Maes and off.

A UK which is negotiating its way out of membership of the EU. An England which is perhaps confused about its identity – or its multiple identities – and is experimenting with different forms of devolution in London and now in its grand metropolitan cities & regions. A Scotland which voted in one referendum to stay as part of the UK, with a government which toyed with the idea of a second referendum, yet has gone cool on the idea – at least for now. And the institutions of Northern Ireland in suspended animation with the threat of Direct Rule hanging over them. A Wales with a Scotland-style Reserved Powers Model finally, but with some expert commentators – and indeed the Welsh Government itself – arguing that the Wales Act in combination with the EU (Withdrawal) Bill risks rolling devolution backwards.

'Wales should not be afraid of leading the way in developing clear, succinct and understandable law'

In this turbulent, fast-changing environment, it is absolutely right to ask the fundamental question of how we ensure Wales has a strong voice right now, and a stronger voice in the future. In the midst of all the cacophony and clamour, the strongest possible voice for Wales in this union of nations is an absolute imperative.

Join us at this year’s Eisteddfod

Monday 7 August

Societies Pavilion 2

11.30 – 12.30

The Chair of the National Assembly for Wales’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, Huw Irranca-Davies AM, will talk about its ‘Stronger Voice for Wales’ inquiry.

This will be followed by an opportunity to meet Members of the Committee to talk about these issues which will become particularly important as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister set to meet in Bangor

The Assembly Committee responsible for scrutinising the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, will meet to examine the Welsh Government’s approach to economic development.

First Minister Carwyn Jones AM will be appearing before the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister from 10.00 until 12.00 on Friday, 14 July in the Management Centre at Bangor University.

FM Graphic EN

For this meeting the Committee will be focusing on the Welsh Government’s approach to developing the economy in Wales.

The Committee will also discuss other topical issues with the First Minister and would welcome suggestions of issues of major importance in North Wales to raise. If you would like something to be discussed, you can suggest a topic in advance.

The economy in Wales – an overview

Ahead of the development of a new Economic Strategy for Wales later in the year, the Committee will be raising issues of key importance with the First Minister. The strategy is being developed at a point when the Welsh economy faces a number of challenges, some of which are shared with the rest of the UK and some of which are unique to Wales:

  • Wales has the lowest Gross Value Added (GVA – a measure of economic output) per person.  Wales has a lower Gross Value Added (GVA) per person when compared with the other devolved nations and regions of England.
  • Many communities still struggle with the effects of deindustrialisation, and poverty and inequality are persistent challenges.
  • The short and longer-term impacts of Brexit on the economy remain highly uncertain.

Welsh economy: in numbers

The Welsh Government has developed and published a range of high-level indicators to monitor the overall performance of the Welsh economy. The rationale behind this is to reflect the outcomes most important to the people of Wales, and to give a more comprehensive picture than a single indicator can provide.

8 Key Economic indicators

The Welsh Government has made ‘prosperity for all’ a key priority in its Programme for Government 2016-2021. Two sections of this programme contain priorities which are critical to the success of the Welsh economy:

  • Prosperous and secure – including commitments relating to business and enterprise, inward investment, employment, and the rural economy.
  • United and connected – which includes measures to establish a National Infrastructure Commission, improve roads and public transport, improve digital connectivity, and promote a ‘fair’ society.

Continue reading “The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister set to meet in Bangor”

Stakeholder event on the establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission for Wales

Stakeholder event on the establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission for Wales

On 17 November 2016, the Economy Infrastructure and Skills (EIS) Committee invited a wide range of stakeholders to consider some of the key issues around the establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission for Wales (NICW).

The NICW – which will be established next year – is currently subject to a consultation by the Welsh Government to confirm its remit and governance arrangements. The EIS Committee’s work on the NICW is intended to inform and contribute to the consultation.

This piece of work was recommended to the committee by a number of bodies during the Committee’s summer consultation on its future work programme.

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What happened?

Members of the Committee and stakeholders – from the business, environmental and social sectors – discussed three key areas on which the committee is focusing:

  • How should the NICW be established?
    What should be the structure, status, remit and governance arrangements for a National Infrastructure Commission?
  • How should the NICW operate in practice?
    How should it work with the Welsh Government, and what is the nature of the relationship with the UK National Infrastructure Commission?
  • How should the NICW address sustainable development and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act?
    Should the Commission adopt sustainable development as its central organising principle, in line with Welsh Government priorities? How should the Well-being of Future Generations Act affect the work of the Welsh Commission?

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Thanks for the participants

Russell George AM, chair of the EIS Committee, thanked contributors for sharing their expertise. He said:

“When we consulted with stakeholders over the summer, the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales was a big theme – which is why we as a committee have chosen to make it our first substantial piece of work.

“We are keen to look at international examples of best practice, but also to hear what particular needs we have here in Wales, and how best the Commission might meet them. The Commission will have a big influence on how Wales develops – so we have timed the Committee’s work to feed in to the Welsh Government’s consultation.”

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What happens next?

The Committee took evidence from the construction and engineering sector on 17 November, and heard from the UK Infrastructure Commission, representatives of the city regions, and Minister Ken Skates early in December. It has also written to other infrastructure bodies around the World to gather examples of good practice.

The Committee intends to contribute to the Welsh Government’s consultation (which closes on 9 January) and will publish a report early in the New Year.

Financing the Future – Changes to the way money is raised and spent in Wales

Simon Thomas AC/AMHow can we ensure the Welsh public sector is equipped with the right financial skills? Simon Thomas AM, Chair of the Assembly’s Finance Committee, recently spoke at the Wales Audit Office ‘Finance for the Future’ event.

In the ever changing landscape of finance in Wales, it has never been more important to have home grown, talented professionals working collaboratively to effectively scrutinise spending in Wales.

On 1 November I was invited to speak at Finance for the Future 2016, by the Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas. This conference saw the launch of an innovative new scheme to increase skills of the public sector in the field of finance with the aim of providing sustainable public services for the future.

More photos from Finance for the Future 2016 are available on Facebook

I spoke at the conference in my role as Chair of the Finance Committee at the National Assembly for Wales. The Finance Committee is a cross party Committee which is primarily responsible for reporting on spending by the Welsh Government Ministers. We are also responsible for the oversight of the Wales Audit Office and the Auditor General, it was the previous Finance Committee that approved the funding for widening the Financial Trainee Scheme launched at the conference on 1 November 2016.

My speech in full is available to read here:

When talking to the trainees I was keen to stress the changes to fiscal devolution as we enter an important period in Welsh devolution, with the introduction of the first taxes to Wales in 800 years, the role of the Finance Committee in ensuring effective scrutiny and instilling public confidence is even more important. I explained how, as a Committee, we are currently scrutinising the ‘Land Transaction Tax and Anti Avoidance of Devolved Taxes Bill’ which will replace Stamp Duty Land Tax and we are expecting the ‘Landfill Disposal Tax Bill’ shortly.

These two taxes combined with the devolution of a portion of income tax will enable the Welsh Government to raise approximately £3 billion, making a more direct relationship between money raised and spent in Wales.  This change in fiscal power is driving my desire to see us nurture home grown talent to an even greater extent.

During my speech I talked about new obligations surrounding the ‘Well-being of Future Generations Act’. The last Assembly saw the introduction of the Act which aims to make public bodies listed in the Act, such as Health Boards and Local Authorities, think more about:

  • planning for the long-term,
  • working better with people and communities,
  • looking to prevent problems

As the Auditor General has such a key role in the implementation of this Act, I felt it was important to explain the process to the trainees. The Auditor General is required to report on how public bodies have applied the sustainable development principle in the way they set their objectives and the steps they take to meet those objectives. He is required to deliver this report to the National Assembly for Wales at least once in every five year electoral cycle.

With the progression of devolution in Wales, the introduction of the ‘Well-Being of Future Generations Act’ and the ‘Environment Act (Wales) 2016’ the importance of effective scrutiny by talented, home grown professionals can not be underestimated. That is why I am grateful to the Auditor General for not only for inviting me to speak at the conference of financial trainees, but for ensuring the development and progression of this scheme.

You can find out more about the the Assembly’s Finance Committee by visiting assembly.wales/seneddfinance. You can also follow the committee on Twitter – @SeneddFinance.

The Wales Audit Office supports the Welsh Auditor General as the public sector watchdog for Wales. Their aim is to ensure that the people of Wales know whether public money is being managed wisely and that public bodies in Wales understand how to improve outcomes. Find out more about their work at www.wao.gov.uk

Pride Cymru 2016

Blog by co-chairs of OUT-NAW, the National Assembly for Wales’ LGBT workplace network.

Wow, didn’t Wales put on an excellent display of LGBT diversity and inclusion for this year’s Pride Cymru weekend? With charity cycle rides, a rugby 7s tournament, venues hosting LGBT choirs, rainbow flags all over the city, a huge parade through Cardiff city centre and, once again, this was followed by the main event at Cooper’s Field.  Year on year, Pride Cymru gets bigger and better and we’re extremely proud to be part of the celebration which has clearly developed into one of Cardiff’s annual signature events.

As most people in Wales would expect, the National Assembly played its part once again. In addition to taking our outreach bus to Cooper’s field and flying the rainbow flags across our estate, this year we were delighted to be able to illuminate the Senedd with rainbow colours throughout the weekend.

We also took part in the parade for the first time. Joined by network members, Allies, role models, Management Board members, partners and family members, we couldn’t have expected more support. One of the first to volunteer was a huge advocate for equality and diversity, our Chief Executive, Claire Clancy.  We were all proud to stand shoulder to shoulder on the parade to show our commitment to the creation of a safe, fair and inclusive Wales.

NAfW at Pride
OUT-NAW members at the Pride Cymru march
Pride Banner etc
OUT-NAW members and the public enjoying the Pride Cymru march

Of course, our contribution on Cooper’s Field had to link back to democracy but this year we made it much more fun. Lots of people posed for photographs in our Senedd selfie frame which we tweeted throughout the day.  We were delighted to see new network member, Hannah Blythyn AM, before she spoke on the main stage.  In addition to our #KnowYourAM campaign and the consultation for our new diversity plan, many young people enthusiastically took part in the Children, Young People and Education Committee’s consultation on youth work.  Their views will feed into the Committee’s consideration and is exactly what our youth engagement strategy is designed to do – place young people’s views at the heart of the Assembly’s considerations.

Iestyn on bus
Young people taking part in the Youth Work inquiry

As Stonewall’s best public sector LGBT-inclusive workplace in Wales and third best organisation in the UK, we have assisted organisations in Wales and beyond with advice, resources, coaching and mentoring once again. That is what we should do to help create more and more inclusive workplaces where LGBT staff can be themselves and it’s important to us that we continue to do that. Of note this year is that a number of approaches have been made from beyond Wales’ border. We think it’s pretty exciting that others are taking notice of what Wales is doing and we’re always happy to help those who are trying to enter or improve their performance in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

What has been different this year is the development of our networks beyond the expected. Members of OUT-NAW, our LGBT workplace network, are now using their skills and experience to help others. Whether that’s with the Scouts who now have a presence at Pride Cymru through the efforts of one of our network members, one of our Allies joining the board of trustees for Chwarae Teg, LGBT committees at the Law Society or national unions, through to making links to the South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus’ (SWGMC) charity work. Three members of OUT-NAW volunteer with Out and Proud, a project for LGBT+ young people in South Wales.  Hearing about the work of Out and Proud, realising that they operate on a shoe-string and couldn’t survive without willing volunteers, we decided to take action by using our own social connections and they are now the beneficiaries as the SWGMC’s nominated charity.

Making that link between our various networks has seen a wider benefit to the LGBT community and that is something to be very proud of. The young people themselves feel they’re supported not only by our volunteers but by the wider LGBT community too.  It was wonderful and moving to see them empowered to speak about their gender and sexuality issues at a recent South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus concert where hundreds of pounds were raised.  Equally inspiring was seeing them at the Assembly’s outreach bus during Pride Cymru and taking part in democratic processes through our consultation on youth services.  We need young people to feed their views into the heart of Welsh democracy and doing so from a minority viewpoint is so important.  After all, the Assembly represents all the communities of Wales so a diversity of views helps create a full and rounded picture of the issues under consideration.

So this brings us to the end of a busy year for OUT-NAW. While we are delighted to have introduced gender-neutral toilets for staff and visitors across our estate in Cardiff Bay this year, there is always more to do to help shape an inclusive democracy.  We take that responsibility seriously and we’re looking forward to the year ahead.

For another fantastic year, we would like to take this opportunity to thank OUT-NAW members, our Allies, the Assembly’s political leadership, our Management Board and the Diversity and Inclusion team, particularly Ross Davies for his drive, determination, skills and experience of LGBT diversity. He is a constant source of advice and guidance, ensuring that we take the right steps towards a more inclusive workplace.

Jayelle Robinson-Larkin and Craig Stephenson

Cyd-Gadeiryddion / Co-Chairs

OUT NAW logo
Out-Naw logo

View this post in Welsh

Proud to be marching with the Assembly at Pride Cymru

by Claire Clancy, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Assembly

Photograph of Claire Clancy wearing a rainbow garland to prepare for Pride Cymru
Claire Clancy preparing for Pride Cymru

This Saturday I will be joining members and fellow allies of OUT-NAW, our LGBT workplace network, in marching in the Pride Cymru parade through Cardiff. Although we have been attending Pride for many years, this is the first time that the Assembly has been part of the parade and I am delighted to be joining colleagues in promoting and encouraging LGBT equality.

I think it is important that the Assembly is represented at events such as this to show that we are committed to being an inclusive organisation. We are very proud of our success in the Stonewall Workplace Index, where we have been ranked as the third best LGBT-inclusive organisation in the UK.

I will be joined in the parade by other members of the Management Board as well as staff from across the organisation.

If you are in the city centre, please wave and support us. Also, if you are attending Pride don’t forget to visit the Assembly Outreach bus.

I would also like to wish the Assembly’s rugby team good luck in the Enfys 7’s LGBT-inclusive tournament this weekend. I’m sure they would be grateful of your support this weekend too.

The Llywydd’s press release provides more information on our Pride Cymru celebrations.

Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee – Stakeholder Introduction Event

The newly formed Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee of the National Assembly for Wales recently welcomed stakeholders to Cardiff to participate in an introduction event.

The purpose of the event was to give stakeholders the opportunity to meet new Members of the Committee and to speak to them about their priorities and aspirations for the Committee.

Individuals from organisations such as Careers Wales, Federation of Small Businesses, Arriva Trains Wales, Network Rail and Colegau Cymru arrived at the Senedd to view the Committee’s meeting first of all. This was an opportunity to see the Committee Members question the new Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates AM and to listen to his priorities and the content of his portfolio.

Following the Committee Meeting, stakeholders and Committee Members met at the Urdd Centre, where an event under a ‘speed-networking’ format took place.

Everyone were allocated to a table with people from different sectors and Assembly Members from the Committee.

There were discussions during the event around different aspects of the Committees remit.

They discussed that the Committee needed to look into various options for taking forward changes to business rates and also need to consider city regions, their purpose and what levers will they be given to succeed.

Discussions around transport included looking into the Government’s preparations for the next Welsh Rail Franchise and considering what improvements have been made to integrated public transport.

When discussing skills questions were raised around whether Wales is training the right people for the right skills. There was also a discussion around the Welsh Government’s budget reduction to Careers Wales and the impact of this on their role and remit.

The Committee will now take into consideration the points raised during the event in order to inform and shape their work for the next five years.

If you’d like further information about the Committee, or would like to keep up to date with their work, you can visit the Committee’s webpage.

You can also follow the Committee on twitter @SeneddEIS