Tag: Assembly Bills

How are new laws made in Wales?

Senedd funnel

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

27 November 2019

Today Assembly Members are debating the Senedd and Elections Bill – which could introduce voting at 16 in Wales and change the name of the Assembly – as it continues its journey to becoming law.

But what happens next? How are new laws made in Wales?

Where does a new law come from?

Every new law starts as an idea to change how something works or to make something better. When a law first begins its journey, it’s called a Bill – it’s a draft version of the law.

How does a Bill become an Act?

A Bill must pass through four stages at the National Assembly and receive Royal Assent if it’s going to become an Act of the Assembly – a new Welsh Law.

The journey of a Bill: Stage 1

The Assembly Members you elect decide if Wales needs the new law.

The Bill starts its journey with a committee. Committees are small groups of Assembly Members who look at specific subjects.

The committee looking at the Bill meet with subject experts, who help shape the Bill. The committee might run a public consultation, where you could give your opinion.

You can find a list of consultations running now by visiting www.assembly.wales/consultations.

Stage 1 lets the committee collect evidence from everyone they speak to, and write it all into a report. This report will say if the committee agrees with the main aims of the Bill. It might also suggest changes to its wording.

Finally, Assembly Members debate in the Chamber all reports written about the Bill. They vote to decide if Wales needs this new law. If a majority of Assembly Members vote ‘no’, the Bill stops at this stage.

Stage 1: Assembly Members look at the basics. They meet and decide, in principle, if Wales needs the new law.

One or more committees look at the Bill and write Stage 1 reports.
Assembly Members debate in Plenary all reports written about the Bill.
Assembly Members vote in Plenary to decide if Wales need the new Law.

The journey of a Bill: Stage 2

Assembly Members meet in committee.

They look at the Bill, and make changes to the wording. Every Assembly Member can review the Bill, and suggest changes. They may see a way they could improve it. They might think it would be better if it also did something else or that it does too much and needs to be more specific.

Every change they suggest is an amendment.

The committee working on the Bill looks at all the amendments suggested by Assembly Members. They meet and discuss what the amendments would do to the Bill, and vote to decide if they should be included. An amendment is only included if a majority of the committee’s members vote that it should be.

Stage 2: Assembly Members shape the Bill: a small group of Assembly Members meet as a committee and look at suggestions to amend the Bill.

Every Assembly Member can suggest an amendment to the Bill.

The committee working on the Bill looks at what each amendment will do to the Bill.

The committee members vote on which amendments should be included in the Bill

Senedd chamber

The journey of a Bill: Stage 3

Assembly Members meet in Plenary. Plenary is a meeting of all Assembly Members in the Siambr, the debating chamber.

They look at the Bill, review suggestions and make final changes to its wording. Every Assembly Member can review the Bill, and suggest amendments. During Plenary, every Assembly Member who suggested an amendment can explain their amendment, and give their reasons for suggesting it. Other Assembly Members can explain whether they agree with the proposed amendment.

It’s important that every Assembly Member who wants to speak in Plenary is able to have their say. Sometimes, the Bill will need more work. There is an option for the Bill to have further amendments debated and voted on. We call these extra stages Further Stage 3, Report Stage and Further Report Stage.

Most Bills don’t go through these stages though. Once every Assembly Member in Plenary has debated and voted on the final amendment, the wording of the Bill is completed. The Bill now has its final wording and is ready to move to its final stage at the National Assembly.

Stage 3: Assembly Members refine the Bill. The Bill returns to the Chamber for Assembly Members to make final changes.

Every Assembly Member can suggest an amendment to discuss and debate in Plenary.

Assembly Members who proposed an amendment can explain why they suggested it.

Assembly Members vote on which amendments should be included in the final Bill.

The journey of a Bill: Stage 4

Assembly Members vote in Plenary to agree the final wording of the Bill. Once the Bill has reached Stage 4, its wording is final. Assembly Members can’t amend the Bill any further.

During the Stage 4 debate, Assembly Members look at the final text of the Bill, and decide if it should become a new law. After the debate, they vote – ‘should this Bill become an Act, a new Welsh Law?’ If a majority of Assembly Members vote against passing the Bill, the Bill falls. Nothing further can happen with the Bill once it has fallen. If a majority of Assembly Members vote in favour of passing the Bill, then it has successfully made its way through the National Assembly. It can go on to its final stop to become a new law (an Act of the Assembly) – as long as there is no legal challenge to it.

Stage 4: Assembly Members cast a final vote on the Bill: a successful Bill completes its journey through the National Assembly.

Assembly Members debate the final wording of the Bill.

A final vote takes place to agree the final wording of the Bill.

If the Bill doesn’t pass this stage, it falls.

Royal Assent

The Queen grants Royal Assent to the Bill. It’s a formal agreement that the Bill can become an Act of the Assembly and Welsh law. To get to this stage, Assembly Members have written, scrutinised, amended and voted on the Bill. They have spoken to experts on the subject, and you may have had your own say by responding to a committee consultation.

The Queen grants Royal Assent to all Bills that successfully make it through all four stages at the National Assembly. Royal Assent is a formal agreement the Bill can become an Act of the Assembly. All primary laws made by all the Parliaments and the Assemblies of the UK must receive Royal Assent.

You can see the laws we’ve made in Wales since 2016, and how we made them by visiting www.assembly.wales/acts.

Royal Assent: the final stop on the journey where the Bill becomes an Act of the Assembly.

The Queen grants Royal Assent to the Bill.
The Bill becomes an Act of the Assembly.

A paper Bill

Assembly name change and votes at 16: The Senedd and Elections Bill reaches Stage 3

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

13 November 2019

Today Assembly Members are debating the Senedd and Elections Bill – which could introduce voting at 16 in Wales and change the name of the Assembly – as it reaches Stage 3 of its journey to becoming law.

But what does that mean? And what happens next?

Where does a new law come from?

Every new law starts as an idea to change how something works or to make something better. When a law first begins its journey, it’s called a Bill – it’s a draft version of the law.

How does a Bill become an Act?

A Bill must pass through four stages at the National Assembly and receive Royal Assent if it’s going to become an Act of the Assembly – a new Welsh Law.

The journey of a Bill: Stage 1

The Assembly Members you elect decide if Wales needs the new law.

The Bill starts its journey with a committee. Committees are small groups of Assembly Members who look at specific subjects.

The committee looking at the Bill meet with subject experts, who help shape the Bill. The committee might run a public consultation, where you could give your opinion.

You can find a list of consultations running now by visiting www.assembly.wales/consultations.

Stage 1 lets the committee collect evidence from everyone they speak to, and write it all into a report. This report will say if the committee agrees with the main aims of the Bill. It might also suggest changes to its wording.

Finally, Assembly Members debate in the Chamber all reports written about the Bill. They vote to decide if Wales needs this new law. If a majority of Assembly Members vote ‘no’, the Bill stops at this stage.

Stage 1: Assembly Members look at the basics. They meet and decide, in principle, if Wales needs the new law.

One or more committees look at the Bill and write Stage 1 reports.
Assembly Members debate in Plenary all reports written about the Bill.
Assembly Members vote in Plenary to decide if Wales need the new Law.

The journey of a Bill: Stage 2

Assembly Members meet in committee.

They look at the Bill, and make changes to the wording. Every Assembly Member can review the Bill, and suggest changes. They may see a way they could improve it. They might think it would be better if it also did something else or that it does too much and needs to be more specific.

Every change they suggest is an amendment.

The committee working on the Bill looks at all the amendments suggested by Assembly Members. They meet and discuss what the amendments would do to the Bill, and vote to decide if they should be included. An amendment is only included if a majority of the committee’s members vote that it should be.

Stage 2: Assembly Members shape the Bill: a small group of Assembly Members meet as a committee and look at suggestions to amend the Bill.

Every Assembly Member can suggest an amendment to the Bill.

The committee working on the Bill looks at what each amendment will do to the Bill.

The committee members vote on which amendments should be included in the Bill

The journey of a Bill: Stage 3

Assembly Members meet in Plenary. Plenary is a meeting of all Assembly Members in the Siambr, the debating chamber.

They look at the Bill, review suggestions and make final changes to its wording. Every Assembly Member can review the Bill, and suggest amendments. During Plenary, every Assembly Member who suggested an amendment can explain their amendment, and give their reasons for suggesting it. Other Assembly Members can explain whether they agree with the proposed amendment.

It’s important that every Assembly Member who wants to speak in Plenary is able to have their say. Sometimes, the Bill will need more work. There is an option for the Bill to have further amendments debated and voted on. We call these extra stages Further Stage 3, Report Stage and Further Report Stage.

Most Bills don’t go through these stages though. Once every Assembly Member in Plenary has debated and voted on the final amendment, the wording of the Bill is completed. The Bill now has its final wording and is ready to move to its final stage at the National Assembly.

Stage 3: Assembly Members refine the Bill. The Bill returns to the Chamber for Assembly Members to make final changes.

Every Assembly Member can suggest an amendment to discuss and debate in Plenary.

Assembly Members who proposed an amendment can explain why they suggested it.

Assembly Members vote on which amendments should be included in the final Bill.

The journey of a Bill: Stage 4

Assembly Members vote in Plenary to agree the final wording of the Bill. Once the Bill has reached Stage 4, its wording is final. Assembly Members can’t amend the Bill any further.

During the Stage 4 debate, Assembly Members look at the final text of the Bill, and decide if it should become a new law. After the debate, they vote – ‘should this Bill become an Act, a new Welsh Law?’ If a majority of Assembly Members vote against passing the Bill, the Bill falls. Nothing further can happen with the Bill once it has fallen. If a majority of Assembly Members vote in favour of passing the Bill, then it has successfully made its way through the National Assembly. It can go on to its final stop to become a new law (an Act of the Assembly) – as long as there is no legal challenge to it.

Stage 4: Assembly Members cast a final vote on the Bill: a successful Bill completes its journey through the National Assembly.

Assembly Members debate the final wording of the Bill.

A final vote takes place to agree the final wording of the Bill.

If the Bill doesn’t pass this stage, it falls.

Royal Assent

The Queen grants Royal Assent to the Bill. It’s a formal agreement that the Bill can become an Act of the Assembly and Welsh law. To get to this stage, Assembly Members have written, scrutinised, amended and voted on the Bill. They have spoken to experts on the subject, and you may have had your own say by responding to a committee consultation.

The Queen grants Royal Assent to all Bills that successfully make it through all four stages at the National Assembly. Royal Assent is a formal agreement the Bill can become an Act of the Assembly. All primary laws made by all the Parliaments and the Assemblies of the UK must receive Royal Assent.

You can see the laws we’ve made in Wales since 2016, and how we made them by visiting www.assembly.wales/acts.

Royal Assent: the final stop on the journey where the Bill becomes an Act of the Assembly.

The Queen grants Royal Assent to the Bill.
The Bill becomes an Act of the Assembly.

Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill

Update on the Bill by the Member in Charge – Simon Thomas AM, Chair of the Finance Committee

On 17 July 2018, the Assembly agreed the Financial Resolution for the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill.

This is a significant milestone for the Bill, as we can now progress to Stage 2 proceedings on the Bill – the disposal of amendments.

As many people who have followed this Bill will know, it represents a significant amount of work undertaken over a number of years by the Finance Committee of this Assembly and the previous Assembly.

The Ombudsman has a crucial role in representing the people of Wales when they have received poor service or been treated unfairly by public services.
Our main policy intent for the Bill, is to:

  • improve social justice and equal opportunities;
  • protect the most vulnerable in our society;
  • drive improvement in public services and complaints-handling.

If the Bill becomes law, it will extend the powers of the Ombudsman and make the role more responsive to the people of Wales.

It will do this by making it easier for people to complain.

The Bill removes the requirement for a complaint to be made in writing. By allowing the Ombudsman to accept oral complaints, it will allow the more vulnerable members of society to engage with the Ombudsman, creating a fairer and equitable Wales.

Concerned person making a phonecall

The Bill includes provision for the Ombudsman to conduct own initiative investigations – this power will enable widespread systematic maladministration or service failure to be addressed coherently. It will allow the Ombudsman to be more responsive allowing the Ombudsman to investigate matters reported anonymously and again strengthen the citizen’s voice.

The Bill aims to drive improvements in public services and in complaint-handling. It will also expand the Ombudsman’s powers to investigate private healthcare providers where patients have commissioned private treatment alongside that provided by the NHS.

The Assembly’s decision to agree the Financial Resolution means the Assembly has now been given authorisation, in principle, to spend money as a consequence of the Bill.

Whilst there are costs associated with the Bill, we believe there is potential for the Bill to realise cost savings to the wider public sector, with the majority of savings likely to come from provisions that drive improvement in public services, such as reduced compensation claims for the bodies in jurisdiction. Hence, wider efficiency gains.

Busy hospital ward

The Assembly is now able to consider detailed amendments to the Bill. As the Member in Charge (and on behalf of the Finance Committee) I will be tabling a number of amendments which I believe will strengthen the Bill.

These amendments have been developed through careful consideration of the recommendations made by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee in its stage 1 report on the Bill. In addition, I’ve had a number of constructive meetings with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance to discuss other areas of the Bill to ensure the Welsh Government is able to support the Bill.

Work is currently taking place to draft amendments which will be considered by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee. Once again, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the drafting and development of this Bill, which has taken another step closer to becoming law.

It is more important than ever that public services deliver for the people of Wales and that the Ombudsman is empowered to ensure that our services are citizen-centred.


For more information please visit the Bill’s webpage

Information of Legislative process

Follow the Committee on Twitter @SeneddFinance

 

Member Bills: How would you change the law?

There are two draws I’m particularly looking forward to at the moment: the first Member Bill ballot of the Fifth Assembly, and the 2019 Rugby World Cup draw. Before joining the National Assembly for Wales, I worked in Japan for two years, so I can confidently predict that the World Cup is going to be amazing.

Anyway- back to Member Bills. Most laws in Wales are proposed by the Welsh Government. But if an individual Member wins the Member Bill ballot (it’s a kind of raffle draw), they get an opportunity to introduce their own proposed law.

Anyone can suggest an idea to an Assembly Member about a proposal for a law. You have 5 Assembly Members: do you know who they are? Find out more about your Assembly Members.

The Assembly Member who wins the ballot will then be able to call for other Members to support their idea, through a vote. If their idea is supported, the Ballot winner will have 13 months in which to develop their proposed law, and present it to the Assembly for scrutiny and amendment.

During this process, the Ballot winner will normally be supported by a small team of people- including me- to develop their proposed law. We help to provide procedural, research and legal advice.

On 25 January 2017, we’ll find out which Member will be drawn in the ballot and have the opportunity to propose a new law, which could affect the lives of millions of people across Wales. Find out more about Member Bills.

By Tom Jackson, Clerk, Scrutiny Support Team

Public Health (Wales) Bill: Tattooing, body modification and intimate piercing

Article by Amy Clifton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service, In Brief blog.

On Tuesday, 8 December 2015 the Assembly will debate the Public Health (Wales) Bill in Plenary. The Health and Social Care Committee, tasked with scrutinising the legislative proposal, issued a Report on the Bill last week and made a number of recommendations and suggested amendments.

At the start of the consultation, the Assembly’s Outreach team conducted a national survey to ask the people of Wales what they thought of the Welsh Government proposals relating to e-cigarettes, special procedures and intimate piercing.

Much of the attention surrounding the Public Health (Wales) Bill has focused on e-cigarettes. However another interesting area of the Bill concerns special procedures and intimate piercing (Parts 3 and 4 of the Bill).

Special procedures

The Bill as drafted would create a mandatory licensing scheme for practitioners and businesses carrying out special procedures in Wales. The special procedures currently included are acupuncture, electrolysis, body piercing and tattooing, although the Bill would also allow Welsh Ministers to amend this list through secondary legislation.

Many stakeholders indicated in their evidence to the Committee that there is currently a significant lack of quality control within the tattoo and piercing industries. The Committee heard alarming reports that many procedures are being done by people with little, if any, knowledge of anatomy, infection control or healing processes.

Stakeholders also highlighted additional procedures they believe should be included the Bill. These included body modification (scarification, dermal implants, branding and tongue splitting), injection of liquid into the body (botox or dermal fillers), and laser treatments (tattoo removal or hair removal).

The Assembly Outreach team made a short video, interviewing practitioners across Wales:

Tattoo artists in the video express particular concern about branding, scarification, ‘extreme body modification’ (such as tongue splitting and penis splitting) and dermal implants. They explain that scarification (where a section of the skin is removed to leave a scar) is often performed dangerously.

The tattooists also say that branding is being done with blowtorches and bent coat hangers, and adapted soldering irons, and describe concerns about dermal implants, such as inserting horns and stars under the skin:

Inserting foreign objects into your body is not a good thing without some sort of legislative weight behind it to say, ‘That’s unsafe’, or, ‘Is the material safe?’ or ‘Has it been checked?’; ‘Is it sterile? Have you autoclaved it before you put it in there? Where did you get it from? Has this come out of a five-penny ball machine round the corner?’

Intimate piercing

The Bill proposes to set an age restriction of 16 years old for intimate piercing. It defines the intimate body parts as the anus, breast, buttock, natal cleft, penis, perineum, pubic mound, scrotum and vulva.

Whilst there is support for the principle of an age restriction, many stakeholders believe that 18 would be a more appropriate minimum age limit for intimate areas. For example, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) believes that 18 would be a more appropriate age restriction, as this is in line with the minimum age for tattooing, and reflects the level of maturity needed to make such decisions. Stakeholders also reasoned that an individual aged 16 is still growing and therefore the risk of damage to skin is greater. It was also noted that intimate body piercings require a higher standard of aftercare than tattoos, as they are potentially more susceptible to infection.

Dr Ncube supports a higher age limit, noting that there are long term implications with genital piercing. He gave a case study example of a father with a genital piercing, who was playing with his daughter, and his daughter accidentally kicked him.

The trauma that was caused by the genital piercing resulted in the formation of gangrene in his penis. It’s a condition called Fournier’s condition. Because of that, the scarring that occurred was profound. So, genital piercing is attended with considerable risks, and it’s not just the piercing alone that is important, but it’s the long-term implications of it.

There was also a strong message from stakeholders, including Public Health Wales, that tongue piercing should be included in this part of the Bill, with witnesses describing a high risk of complications, harm and infection.

Plenary debate

You can watch the debate on the Public Health (Wales) Bill live on senedd.tv or catch-up at a later date. For more information on the work of the Committee, visit their website on www.assembly.wales/seneddhealth

How should the National Assembly for Wales be run in the 5th Assembly?

Senedd during Plenary showing AMs in their seats

Have you ever wondered why a Bill was scrutinised by a particular committee and not another? Do you think the number of AMs who sit on Assembly committees is appropriate? Does the way Assembly business is timetabled allow you to fully engage in the way you’d like?

The Business Committee is chaired by the Presiding Officer, and is made up of Assembly Members from each of the political groups represented in the Assembly.

After the Assembly election in May next year, the new Business Committee will need to take a number of key decisions, including:

  • The weekly timetable, sets out when committees can meet, when party groups can meet and which Ministers answer questions for each Plenary session in the Senedd Chamber.
  • The Business Committee also plays a procedural role and can recommend amending Standing Orders, which set out the rules and requirements for the way the Assembly conducts its Business, to change the practice and procedures of the Assembly. For example, in January 2013, Standing Orders were changed to shorten the deadlines for tabling questions to the First Minister and Welsh Ministers so as to allow Members to table more topical questions. A tracked version of the Standing Orders (PDF, 1.33MB) that have been changed during the Fourth Assembly is available on the Assembly’s website.
  • The Presiding Officer and Business Committee have also introduced procedural reforms since its establishment including regular Individual Member Debates and an opportunity for party leaders and party spokespeople to ask questions without notice during questions to Ministers.

The current committee has decided to launch a consultation to review what has been successful and what hasn’t over the past five years to help inform the decisions of the new committee. If you have any views on the above, and have any specific examples (good or bad) you would like to raise with us, we would love to hear from you. You can do this by e-mailing SeneddBusiness@assembly.wales.

If you would like to know more about the consultation, please visit the Business Committee’s legacy report consultation page. Here you will find the consultation’s terms of reference and information about how you can contribute. The consultation will close on Friday 13 November. Your comments will be considered by the Committee and will help form its legacy report.

How to find out more and get involved

Chair’s Blog: #WelshTax stakeholder event

I’m Jocelyn Davies, the Chair of the Finance Committee (@SeneddFinance). This term the Committee are busy working on the Tax Collection and Management (Wales) Bill. The Bill was introduced into the Assembly on 13 July 2015 and the Committee has until 27 November 2015 to look at the ‘general principles’ or the main aims of the Bill.

Stakeholder Event: 23 September 2015

Last week the Committee held a very useful and informative stakeholder event at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay on the Tax Collection and Management (Wales) Bill.

Jocelyn Davies speaking at a workshop

The purpose of the event was to give people interested the opportunity to share their views on the Bill with Committee members. The session involved roundtable discussions with participants and Members, and a feedback session at the end.

People speaking at the workshop

The Committee was privileged to speak to so many high calibre professionals and hear their views, which will be invaluable for the Committee’s upcoming formal scrutiny sessions with witnesses including HMRC, Revenue Scotland and Natural Resources Wales.

I would like to thank all of those involved in making the event a success, this type of engagement is quite a new approach for the Committee and I personally found it very helpful in terms of understanding the issues and getting a wide range of views in an informal setting. We have produced a note of the meeting if you would like to read it.

How to get involved and keep up-to date