Fiscal Framework / Welsh Government’s draft Budget 2021-22 – An Update from the Chair of the Finance Committee

I’m Llyr Gruffydd, a Member of the Senedd and the Chair of the Finance Committee.

The Finance Committee has a very important remit and is responsible for considering and reporting on proposals laid before the Senedd by Welsh Ministers containing the use of resources.

The Committee can also consider and report on any other matter related to or affecting financing, or expenditure from the Welsh Consolidated Fund.

One of the Committee’s functions is to scrutinise the Welsh Government’s budget which is approximately £18 billion a year. Wales receives its budget allocation from the UK Government which is determined by the Spending Review and any subsequent adjustments through the Barnett formula.

Whilst the Welsh Government is primarily funded by a block grant from the UK Government, in the past four years the devolution of tax powers, including Welsh Rates of Income Tax, Land Transaction Tax and Landfill Disposals Tax has meant that approximately 20 per cent of the Welsh Government’s spending is now funded from tax revenue.

Devolution of tax and borrowing powers to Wales

The Wales Act 2014 provided the legislative framework to devolve tax and borrowing powers to the Senedd and the Welsh Government. Part 2 of the 2014 Act deals with the devolution of financial powers. In order to enable the powers in the 2014 Act to be implemented an agreement was reached between the Welsh Government and the UK Government in the form of the Fiscal Framework.

This allowed the devolution of stamp duty land tax – now Land Transaction Tax in Wales, Landfill Tax – now Landfill Disposals Tax and the implementation of Welsh Rates of Income Tax.

Rows of terrace houses in the UK city of Cardiff

The Fiscal Framework also covers the Welsh Government’s borrowing limits, budget management tools, treatment of policy spill-over effects and implementation arrangements.

Given the Act has been in operation since 2014, it seems a pertinent time for the Committee to consider the Act and the operation and effectiveness of the Fiscal Framework. We have launched our consultation and further information is available on our website. We intend to start taking oral evidence in the autumn term.

Welsh Government’s Budget and the Welsh Economy

The last few years have seen significant uncertainty for the Welsh economy. The 2014 Act has provided the Welsh Government with the powers to vary tax and spending in Wales, which has increased its accountability to the people of Wales. In our report on the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget 2018-19, the Committee highlighted its intention to undertake a piece of work on the financial preparedness for leaving the EU.

At that time Brexit remained the biggest uncertainty on Wales’s economy. In September 2018 we published our report. Last year the Welsh Government’s draft Budget 2020-21 was impacted by the UK General Election and Brexit. The budget was delivered under “exceptional” circumstances, which impacted the ability of both the Welsh Government and other stakeholders to plan how to fund public services in Wales.

The upcoming Welsh Government draft budget will also be delayed as the Welsh Government does not have an indication of the total funding available until the UK Government publishes its Budget or Spending Review. We have not had any indication from the UK Government on when this will be.

I along with my counterparts in the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly have written to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, stressing the importance of the timing of the UK budget on the devolved governments’ budgets given that a delay at the UK level impacts the scrutiny process.

The Committee finds itself in a similar situation to last year where there is less time available for scrutiny. The Welsh Government’s draft Budget 2021-22, will inevitably be affected by the outbreak of Covid-19 and the end of the Brexit transition period, therefore the opportunity for robust scrutiny is even more pressing.

Earlier this year we undertook an online engagement exercise to seek views on where the Welsh Government should prioritise its spending, this provided an interesting snap shot of views. With participants highlighting health, education and climate change as being key areas of priority.

The Committee will be consulting on the Welsh Government’s draft Budget 2021-22 in the autumn term. Details will be available on our website and I would encourage you to share your views and fully engage with the scrutiny process to enable us to report in a robust, transparent and effective way.

An agile democracy working for the people of Wales during the Coronavirus pandemic

Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, the Senedd has led the way in innovation to ensure the people of Wales continue to be represented by their elected members, and that government is still subject to robust scrutiny.

First online meeting of the Senedd in April 2020.

From developing its own voting app for Members, to being the first UK legislature to hold virtual Plenary meetings, it has sought new solutions to the unprecedented challenges facing the Welsh Parliament.

When lockdown hit, the Senedd adapted quickly. It was the first UK parliament to hold a virtual Plenary meeting on 1 April with its first live-streamed session a week later.

Linking Members from all corners of the country was the first hurdle. Careful thought was needed to ensure seamless running of proceedings which would allow each Member the opportunity to speak in whichever language they chose.

Thorough testing was carried out of various platforms and applications to develop a system to support a bilingual audio feed in English or Welsh, allowing Members to contribute, and for viewers to watch, in which ever language they choose, and which allows the contributors to move smoothly from one language to the other without impacting on the flow of proceedings.

This has prompted many public and private organisations to approach the Senedd Commission for advice and guidance on conducting their own bilingual meetings.

The same technology was applied to Senedd committee meetings, with the Welsh Youth Parliament also using the system to meet with the First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS, and Welsh Government ministers.

Welsh Youth Parliament meeting with the First Minister of Wales and Minister for Health and Social Care

With the easing of lockdown restrictions came the move to a hybrid Plenary model, allowing 20 Members to meet safely in the Siambr in the Senedd building and the remaining 40 to join online.

While block voting for Members had been used initially, new technology was introduced to allow each Member to vote individually on important legislation and regulations.

A voting app was developed uniquely by the Senedd’s expert IT staff with software designed by the in-house app development team. After an extensive trial period involving thousands of simulated votes, it was used for the first-time during Plenary on 8 July.

Since adopting these new developments, the Senedd has been sharing its experience and knowledge with other legislatures, including the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament and as far afield as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Llywydd of the Senedd, Elin Jones MS, said:

The Senedd has always developed and adopted new technology to match the expectations of a modern society, and to ensure people understand and can help to shape the work being carried out on their behalf.

I am proud of what our in-house ICT team and partners have achieved under very difficult circumstances, enabling the Senedd to continue holding the Welsh Government to account by scrutinising the decisions ministers have taken during this pandemic

The new challenge of combining virtual and the physical presence of Members under strict social distancing rules during the hybrid Plenary required developing new approaches which integrated two separate technology systems to maintain the order of proceedings.

Manon Antoniazzi, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Senedd said:

At each stage we have worked hard to ensure the integrity of Senedd proceedings so that both Members and the people of Wales can be sure every step taken conforms to our high standards and the values and principles which guide the institution.

We needed a system Members could easily access, which was reliable and secure, and which allowed proceedings to flow as smoothly as possible.

The feedback we have had from Members and the public has been overwhelmingly positive and there is much we can take from these experiences to help shape how the Senedd, and other parliaments, can work in the future.

Developing an app to allows MSs’ to vote individually on important issues including legislation, changes to regulations and debates from wherever they are, electronically, has been an important step.

Mark Neilson, Head of ICT and Broadcasting said:

Like many organisations around the world, the Coronavirus lockdown has presented a number of challenges to overcome. But it has also accelerated testing and experimenting of systems and tools which, under normal circumstances, may have taken years to come to fruition.

Developing the right services to enable the Senedd to meet, first virtually, and then in a hybrid way, and ensuring they attain our high standards for reliability and security has been a challenge.

In developing the voting app, of paramount importance was reliability and security, which is why we worked with the UK National Cyber Security Centre early on to mitigate the possibility of outside interference with Senedd proceedings.

The Senedd will continue to meet in a hybrid format while continually assessing the potential for relaxing restrictions in accordance with advice from the Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and other partner organisations.

Exiting the European Union – An Update from the Chair of the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee

Following the declaration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, Senedd committees, like so many other organisations, moved the emphasis of their work to focus on responding to the crisis.

For the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee, this meant pausing some of our planned work while we found new ways of working.

External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee meeting via Zoom

The past ten weeks have given us the chance to adjust our working practices in line with Welsh Government guidelines and revise our work programme to reflect the wider situation.

While responding to the pandemic remains the Government’s number one priority, we must not forget that the UK is in a period of transition in exiting the European Union, and that as things currently stand we will have exited with or without a trade deal on 1 January 2021. For this reason, the Committee remains focussed on its remit to examine the implications for Wales of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

In order to achieve this, the Committee met remotely and informally in April to agree a way forward, and since then has held two remote formal meetings to discuss on-going work streams such as the UK Trade Bill, the UK-EU future relationship negotiations, and the trade continuity programme.

The Trade Bill 2019-21 is progressing though UK Parliament, and the Committee is preparing to report on the associated legislative consent memorandum in early July, building on its work on the previous iteration of the Trade Bill in March 2018 and March 2019.

We held our first virtual broadcast meeting on 2 June 2020 where we questioned the Counsel General and Minister for European Transition on the role that Welsh Government is able to play in the future relationship negotiations, and how the Welsh Government is preparing for the end of the transition period (if you missed it, you can watch a recording on Senedd.tv or read the transcript).

On 16 June 2020, the Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language will appear before the Committee to discuss the Welsh Government’s involvement in the UK Government’s proposed programme of free trade agreements, in particular those with the USA and with Japan.

This meeting will be held via video conference and will be available to watch on senedd.tv both live and after the event.

As well as our role in scrutinising the Welsh Government, we cannot forget the impact of these negotiations on Wales more broadly.

To fully understand the implications for Wales of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, we must understand how Welsh businesses and organisations are preparing for the end of the transition period, particularly in the light of the impact of coronavirus.

Social distancing and travel restrictions mean that we can no longer hold the conference-style meeting that we had planned with stakeholders, but we hope to explore other ways to engage in the weeks ahead.

More information about this and all our work streams will be given on our website.

Championing equality at the Assembly

Assembly Members celebrating International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. The campaign is raising awareness of how all our actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on society. Together, each one of us can help create a gender-equal world.

Equality at our core

The Senedd

We’re proud champions of equality at the National Assembly for Wales. Established in 1999, the Assembly had the principle of equal opportunities at its core.

The laws and rules that govern the Assembly have specific requirements that our work should be conducted “with due regard to the principle that there should be equality of opportunity for all people.”

Leading the way

As a legislature, we’ve led the way with equality. In 2003, we became the first legislature in the world to achieve a gender balance with 30 women and 30 men. Currently, 47% of AMs are female. The proportion has never fallen below 40%.

Globally the average percentage of women in national parliaments is 24%. The Assembly has always held a higher proportion of women Members than the House of Commons, Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Women hold some of the most senior roles at the Assembly. Our Presiding Officer is Elin Jones AM. The role is similar to Speakers and Presiding Officers in parliaments across the world, although responsibilities vary from country to country. Ann Jones AM is the Deputy Presiding Officer.

Manon Antoniazzi is the Chief Executive and Clerk of the Assembly. 60% of senior managers in the Assembly are women.

Giving a platform to young people

The Welsh Youth Parliament gives a platform to young people to have their voices heard and debate issues of importance. Equality and inclusivity, are at its core. Young people aged 11-18 make up the 60 Members of the Welsh Youth Parliament, 58% are young women.

Welsh Youth Parliament with the Llywydd

Our work

We investigate issues relating to gender equality including parenting and work; violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and ensuring diverse representation in local government.

You can keep up-to-date with the work of the Assembly by following us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You can also visit us.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Guest blog by Ann Jones AM.

Ann Jones AM and the panel

The National Assembly for Wales holds an annual event each March to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual, and I feel really proud that we’ve committed to taking equality seriously at the Assembly since it was established 20 years ago.

I’m one of the original Assembly Members voted in for the first time in 1999. This has provided me with a good overview of the Assembly and the way it works. I can truly say that it is committed to the principles of #EachforEqual. We have a legal duty to promote equality and it’s become ingrained in our culture to do so, not because we have to, but because we want to.

International recognition

In 2003, the Assembly achieved international recognition for becoming the first legislature worldwide to achieve gender parity, and in being the first to have more women than men in 2006. We currently have 47 percent women Members and continue to strive for an equal balance.

When I was voted in by my peers for the role of Deputy Presiding Officer in 2016, I saw an opportunity to showcase the work of women. Hosting events like our International Women’s Day celebrations and hearing from such inspiring women always reminds me of why I’m so passionate about promoting and supporting women in politics. It’s not always easy, and this year’s theme #EachforEqual emphasises the importance of equality throughout our society.

Inspirational talks

It was a pleasure to listen to such inspirational women at our event. Our speakers were Charlie Morgan, co-founder Warrior Women Events; Angel Ezeadum, Member of the Welsh Youth Parliament and Sophie Rae, founder of Ripple Living.

Charlie Morgan, co-founder Warrior Women Events
Angel Ezeadum, Member of the Welsh Youth Parliament
Sophie Rae, founder of Ripple Living

Their talks were incredibly empowering and thought-provoking, and I’m grateful to them for sharing their stories with us. I was also pleased to welcome Betsan Powys to chair the event.

Betsan Powys and event speakers

We welcomed a mix of people to the Pierhead and it was a good opportunity to speak to people who might not have engaged with us before. I encourage you to stay in touch. Speak to your Assembly Members about the topics that are important to you. Visit us at the Senedd and you can keep up-to-date on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

What’s next?

As we celebrate 20 years of devolution in Wales, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. With the next Assembly elections being held in 2021, we’ll see for the first time votes extended to 16 an 17 year olds as part of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill. I’m so excited about allowing even more of Wales’ population to have their voices heard. We’ll also be changing our name from the National Assembly for Wales to Senedd Cymru, Welsh Parliament as we reflect its ever evolving responsibilities.

Celebrating Dydd Miwsig Cymru 2020

It’s Dydd Miwsig Cymru (or Welsh Language Music Day!), an annual event celebrated across Wales to raise awareness of Welsh language music.

This year, members of staff at the National Assembly for Wales are taking the opportunity to join in with Welsh Language Music Day, as part of our continued commitment to promoting the use of the Welsh language across the organisation.

We’ve been snapping selfies, making playlists and blasting Welsh language music across the Estate.

Here’s a little bit of what we’ve been up to:

Dydd Miwsig Cymru Selfies

Thank you to staff and Members who’ve taken the time to tell us their favourite Welsh songs and pose for a photo – there’s a lot of love for Welsh music here!

Playlists – what’s your favourite?

Thanks to the Welsh Youth Parliament, our learners and Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, Bethan Sayed AM, for submitting their playlists of their favourite Welsh music.

We’ve also included the Llywydd’s playlist from 2018 which features some of her favourite tracks!

Welsh Youth Parliament

Bethan Sayed AM, Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee

Songs for Learners

Y Llwydd

Cartographic Imaginaries: Interpreting Literary Atlas

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

An exhibition sponsored by Bethan Sayed AM
Senedd & Pierhead
8 January  – 20 February

‘Cartographic Imaginaries’ presents a collection of commissioned artwork in response to twelve English language novels set in Wales. These form part of the wider Literary Atlas of Wales project, which investigates how books and maps help us understand the spatial nature of the human condition. More specifically it explores how English language novels set in Wales contribute to our understanding of the real-and-imagined nature of the country, its history, and its communities.

In the commission brief, artists were invited to “play with traditional notions of cartographic mapping, and to explore the possibilities of visually communicating the relations between ‘page’ and ‘place’, as well as ‘books’ and ‘maps’.”

Through diverse approaches, each work proves that just as there is no single way to read a book or to know a place; each creates and inhabits its own unique ‘cartographic imaginary’. Yet together, the works embrace multiple voices that speak of the richness of writing, thinking, and inhabiting “real-and-imagined” Wales.

Concrete Ribbon Road by Joni Smith

Artist and Novel

John Abell: Revenant – Tristan Hughes (2008)

Iwan Bala: Twenty Thousand Saints – Fflur Dafydd (2008)

Valerie Coffin Price: Price The Rebecca Rioter – Amy Dillwyn (1880)

Liz Lake: Shifts – Christopher Meredith (1988)

Richard Monahan: Aberystwyth Mon Amour – Malcom Pryce (2009)

George Sfougaras: The Hiding Place – Trezza Azzopardi (2000)

Joni Smith: Mr Vogel – Lloyd Jones (2004)

Amy Sterly: Pigeon – Alys Conran (2016)

Locus: Sheepshagger by Niall Griffiths (2002)

Rhian Thomas: Border Country by Raymond Williams (1960)

Seán Vicary: The Owl Service by Alan Garner (1967)

Cardiff University Student Project Strike for a Kingdom by Menna Gallie (1959

Hiraeth for Beginners
by John Abell

Visit the exhibition in the Senedd and Pierhead before sharing your own artwork and stories as part of a collaborative activity in the Senedd.

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How are new laws made in Wales?

Senedd funnel

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

27 November 2019

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 a 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.

The committee collects evidence from everyone they speak to, and write it all into a report. This report will say if they 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.

Access to banking in Wales [Infographic]

Have you noticed that its getting increasingly harder to find a bank, or cashpoint when you need one?

Here’s why:

Wales lost 43% of its bank branches between January 2015 and August 2019.

A total of 239 in all.

What’s more, 10% of our free ATMs have disappeared in the last year.

Access to banking and free cash machines in Wales is not a new concern, however the scale of closures continues to increase at an alarming rate.

You told us in a recent survey how losing your local bank branch or cashpoint is affecting you, your community and businesses in the local area.

You can see some of the feedback from the survey in the infographic below.

Urgent action needed

The findings of an inquiry into access to banking in Wales have been published. Calling for urgent action from the Welsh Government to protect our valuable banking network and champion Welsh consumers at a UK level.

If you’d like to read the full report on access to banking in Wales, you can download it here.