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Draft Wales Bill debated in Senedd

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Clarity and coherence needed: Andrew RT Davies

Clarity and coherence
needed: Andrew RT Davies

CROSS PARTY concerns about the draft Wales Bill were expressed during a debate at the Senedd on Tuesday (Nov 3).

Carwyn Jones, who has previously described the draft Bill as giving ‘great cause for concern,’ said that the proposals went ‘straight to the heart’ of what the Assembly does, and can do in years to come.

Mr Jones said that he had recently had a ‘constructive’ meeting with the Secretary of State for Wales, who had been ‘better appraised’ regarding the difficulties of the bill in it’s current form.

“At the heart of the difficulties with the bill is the failure to create a separate jurisdiction,” he added, pointing out that the Lord Chief Justice had said that separate Welsh jurisdiction was possible without a separate judicial system.

Among the issues that Mr Jones said his party had with the draft Bill was the division between what is and isn’t devolved. Using Milford Haven as an example, he pointed out that devolving port control according to turnover ‘acted as a disincentive’ to the Welsh Government, because investing to improve ports could see control over them returned to the UK Government.

Another example given was that of open-cast mining, which is legislated by Whitehall, while land restoration falls under the Welsh Government’s remit.

Mr Jones also criticized the Minister of the Crown Consents over Welsh laws, which he described as a ‘relic.’ He claimed that as a result, the Welsh Government would no longer have recourse to the Supreme Court, and that the Welsh Government would be unable to modify any function of reserved authority, or any UK government function, even if it were devolved.

Andrew RT Davies also said that he had concerns over the draft Bill, although he described it as largely positive. Mr Davies said that it was ‘vital’ for the Assembly to work cross-party to make the Bill clearer and deliver what was requested by every county in Wales in the 2011 referendum.

He pointed out that there was a ‘lot of good’ in the draft Bill, including legislation powers over energy and ports as well as increased devolution of local government and Assembly elections. “Instead of focusing on the negative, we should concentrate on the positive,” he added.

“I, along with my colleagues on this side, do have issues and concerns around the consenting process, because ultimately, what we don’t want to do is move backwards.

“What we want is clarity and coherence in the settlement. It will serve no one if all we end up doing is muddying the waters.”

In response to Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas asking whether this meant he was willing to reconsider his opposition to a separate Welsh jurisdiction, Mr Davies said that he had always been open minded about this, but might need to be persuaded that the timing was currently right. However, he added, it may help improve the clarity of the Bill.

Leanne Wood said that a reserved powers settlement without separate jurisdiction was ‘complex and restrictive,’ and that there seemed to be cross-party agreement on this point.

The Plaid Cymru leader criticized the Secretary of State for Wales for blaming Westminster opposition parties, Plaid Cymru, and ‘Welsh Nationalist academic and lawyers’ for opposition to the draft Bill, without taking any responsibility himself.

She added that Labour’s position was ‘problematic’ due to some Welsh MPs agreeing that certain powers should not be devolved.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams said: “The status quo of Welsh devolution cannot stand. The fact our laws regularly end up in the Supreme Court is evidence enough that the current system is not fit for purpose.

“Devolution must work properly and efficiently for the people of Wales. Yet, the draft Wales Bill risks taking us back to a situation where the National Assembly will have its actions thwarted by Westminster. That clearly is not acceptable.

“Without the Liberal Democrats in government, I fear the momentum on this issue could be lost. We can’t allow that to happen. The Tories are, I hope, slowly waking up the fact that this bill is a long way off being ready. My Welsh Liberal Democrat colleagues in Westminster will be leading on amending the bill to ensure that there is clarity regarding the division of responsibilities between Wales and Westminster.

“It’s disappointing that, during the St David’s Day process, the Tories and Labour once again blocked progress on devolving policing and youth justice. The Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to ensure that decision making is brought closer to local people.”

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Moving the Welsh Economy Forward: “A Team Wales recovery, built by all of us” – Economy Minister

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THE WELSH GOVERNMENT will pursue a progressive economic policy that focuses on better jobs, narrowing the skills divide and tackling poverty, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, will say today.

At a hybrid Economic Summit, the Minister has invited businesses, trades unions and local government leaders to discuss how Wales can create a stronger, fairer, greener economic future.

In setting out his vision to move the Welsh economy forward, the Minister will commit to extending a Team Wales model to offer ‘as much certainty as possible’ for businesses facing a volatile recovery.  

He will promise a new era of partnership to strengthen regional economic development, a delivery plan to back the everyday economy and wide ranging support for workers in a fast changing economy.

The Welsh Government will work with unions and business to develop it’s ‘something for something’ approach so that Welsh public money is wedded to action on fair work, decarbonisation and skills.

The Minister will also start a conversation about the long term demographic challenge facing the Welsh economy. The proportion of the population aged 16 to 64 years old in Wales has been decreasing year-on-year since mid-2008 – and could be just 58% of the population by 2043.

In response, Welsh Ministers’ approach will be geared towards creating an economy where more young people feel confident about planning their future in Wales thus supporting job creation and more dynamic local economies.

The Welsh Government will set out a vision of what makes Wales an attractive place to live, study, work and invest – including the quality of life in an inclusive, open and green nation.

The Welsh Government will also call on the Chancellor to demonstrate the UK Government’s ambition for Wales by honouring promises made on EU successor funds, backing major renewables such as tidal energy and investing in Welsh research and development.

Later, the Minister will visit a family-run business that’s received Welsh Government support to grow, before delivering a speech to a predominantly virtual audience of business, trades unions and local government leaders and other partners at Transport for Wales’ new HQ in Pontypridd.

Speaking ahead of the summit, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “The Welsh Government is taking bold action to build a stronger, fairer, greener Welsh economy. It has taken a Team Wales effort to keep Wales safe and we will deliver a Team Wales Recovery, built by all of us. 

“A strong Welsh recovery will be based on the principles of fair work and sustainability as we invest in the industries and services of the future.

“As we face the headwinds of Brexit, I am determined that our credible plans will offer as much certainty as possible to help businesses plan ahead. 

“A new era of partnership for stronger regions, a young person’s guarantee, a plan to back our everyday economy and collaboration with world leading, advanced manufacturing. This is the cause for optimism for the future we are building in Wales.

“My ambition is to make Wales a place where more young people feel confident in planning their future here. You don’t have to get out to get on, make your future here in Wales.”

The Welsh Government’s approach includes:

  • Investing in our people – through the Young Person’s Guarantee and a strong employability and skills offer, including Apprenticeships;
  • Supporting those furthest away from the Labour market to find work. The upcoming Employability Strategy will highlight the support available for individuals, particularly those most impacted by the pandemic and furthest away from the labour market;
  • Accelerating the adaptation to new skills which are required for skilled, secure jobs, not least in the area of low carbon. The current recruitment challenge has also shown there is a need for some quick action on skills in certain sectors;
  • Exploring how we retain our graduates and talent in Wales by building strong linkages with universities, and between universities and businesses;
  • Support start-ups, including graduate start-ups, with possible incentives in some areas;
  • Ensure we have firms grounded in Wales who can provide future opportunities;
  • Wales can also benefit from the opportunities for far greater remote working and flexible commuting options.
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Welsh Conservatives pay tribute to murdered MP, Sir David Amess

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THE WELSH CONSERVATIVES have released a statement following the murder of serving Member of Parliament, Sir David Amess on Friday (Oct 15).

Paul Davies MS said: “We are horrified by the death of Sir David Amess.

“Sir David was a much-respected and well-liked MP who cared deeply about serving his constituents, something he had done with distinction for nearly four decades.

“One of the longest-serving Members of Parliament, his contribution to public life was vast and he will be sorely missed by those in Southend and in the Conservative Party.

Paul Davies MS said: “We are horrified by the death of Sir David Amess (Pictured)

“Sadly, this shocking and abhorrent incident once again highlights the dangers that public servants can face, all of whom should be able to conduct such duties helping those they represent in safety.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends. May he rest in peace.”

Stephen Crabb MP took to social media to say: “Love and prayers for the family of Sir David Amess MP this afternoon. Just devastating. Funny, wise, compassionate, and such a good friend to so many of us.

“It was a delight to interview Sir David Amess back in May for a virtual book launch for his autobiography. So much warmth, humanity and love of the job he did so assiduously for almost 40 years. Parliament has lost one of its finest today.”

The MP for Southend West was stabbed at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex. He was there for one of his regular Friday meetings with his constituents.

Just 15 minutes before the attack, the 69-year-old was standing on the church steps, chatting and laughing with locals.

At around 12:05 PM, Sir David walked into the church alongside two female members of his staff to meet some more constituents.

Local councillor John Lamb said that it was then that the attacker emerged from a small group of waiting constituents and attacked Sir David, stabbing him several times.

“I’m told that when he went in for his surgery there were people waiting to see him, and one of them literally got a knife out and just began stabbing him,” Mr Lamb said.

Police arrived at the scene in Eastwood Road North within minutes where they found the MP with multiple injuries and arrested a man.

“We knew it must be very serious because the paramedics had been working on Sir David for over two and a half hours and they hadn’t got him on the way to hospital,” Mr Lamb told the PA news agency.

At 14:13 an air ambulance arrived at a nearby sports ground to move him to hospital. However, members of his team began to fear the worst as paramedics remained at the scene.

Shortly before 15:00, Essex Police said Sir David had died.

At a press conference later Chief Constable BJ Harrington said officers and paramedics had worked extremely hard to save the MP.

Questions are now being raised about security arrangements for politicians working in their constituencies.

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Ambitious Attitude at Choose2Reuse

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LEE WATERS MS has spoken of how impressed he is with Llanelli based Choose2Reuse CIC who are doing their bit for the environment, community and for the local economy.

Llanelli’s Member of the Senedd, who is also Deputy Minister for Climate Change, recently revisited the social enterprise to meet with Tanya Igic and Tony Holmes co-founders of Choose2Reuse at their units in Trostre Industrial Park.

The local MS was keen to learn more about how Choose2Reuse operate and how its work helps the local environment. Mr Waters discussed future plans the founders have for Choose2Reuse.

Although the organisation already have number of clothing banks, they are hoping to place many more of the same with local shops and charitable organisations. They also have a smaller clothing bins/drums to go inside shop premises.

Lee Waters MS commented: “Choose2Reuse are already exporting 100-150 tonnes of recycled goods abroad each month and prevent them from ending up in a landfill site. It is great to know unused goods from our local community are being recycled and helping local and people all across the world”.

Tanya Igic said: “It was great that Lee could come to our Trostre site and see the work we are doing. We have had several constructive conversations and I am excited about what the future holds. We have ambition to develop our projects and I am glad our local MS can see that.”

Waters MS went on the comment: “We all have to do our bit to recycle the products we have. We must learn to either re-use items ourselves or give them to people who will. The Welsh Government has ambitious climate change targets, including reaching net zero Carbon emissions by 2050. Organizations such as Choose2Reuse will greatly help get closer to achieving our aims. “

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