The National Assembly For Wales

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Have your say on digital democracy in the UK


The UK Parliament’s Commission on Digital Democracy is investigating the opportunities digital technology can bring for parliamentary democracy in the UK. It will make recommendations in January 2015 and welcomes views from everyone.

The Commission is currently asking for views on the its third theme: Representation.

Questions they are asking:

Elected representatives

What will democracy look like in 15 – 20 years?

Will the digital era lead to pressure for more direct democracy, such as crowd-sourcing, referendums and citizens’ initiatives?

How can MPs make better use of the internet and social media to represent their constituents – and how can constituents use these tools to ensure they are being represented in the way they wish?

Does social media enhance the local link for MPs, or undermine it by involving them in more national and international discussions?

Information about politics

How can online provision of information about elections be improved, including details of where to vote, how to vote and the results?

The news media is changing rapidly – and the ways that people consume information, including news, is changing fast too. Will objective information about the political process continue to be easily available, and even if it is, will citizens be willing to seek it out?

Political campaigning

Can we expect continuous election campaigning through digital channels – what would citizens feel about that and would it undermine or strengthen representative democracy?

Note: The Commission will be consulting separately on the issue of online voting in elections in September, but if you have thoughts you wish to share before then, they would still be pleased to hear from you.

To have your say, visit their website,  email or post on any of their social media channels before 31 July.


What’s happening in Wales?

Since the launch of our e-democracy strategy in 2010 the Assembly has put effective use of technology at the heart of everything we do.

Assembly Members make use of technology to access papers, communicate with each other and cast their vote in the Chamber. They tweet, Facebook, link-in and YouTube practically everything they do! The people of Wales can submit and sign petitions via our website and tell us their views via social media and web-chats. They can also watch proceedings live or on demand on Senedd.TV, our dedicated channel for broadcasting Assembly business, or search for key words in our bilingual Record of Proceedings. And thanks to the work we have done on Machine Translation with Microsoft, people all over the world can now translate text between English and Welsh in Microsoft Office, simply by clicking ‘translate’.

Following the Democratic Deficit events held in Wales last year the National Assembly for Wales’s Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler AM, also made recommendations for the Assembly which focused on what support can be provided to emerging digital platforms in covering our work.

Looking to the future, the Assembly plans to:

  • work with digital and hyperlocal media and partner organisations to create a journalism hub in the Senedd that could provide content to new digital channels;
  • make it easier to report the Assembly’s work by providing better communications facilities on the Senedd estate;
  • make the Assembly’s data more open and accessible;
  • ensure that Assembly Members are fully informed about how best to use the communication tools now available in this digital age.

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What are ‘legal highs’?

Originally posted on In Brief:

30 July 2014

Article by Philippa Watkins, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Legal highs have become seen as an emerging threat following the rapid growth in use of the drug mephedrone (meow meow, m-cat) in 2009.

The umbrella term ‘legal highs’ has been used in reference to a variety of substances, including prescription drugs such as tranquillisers, but commonly refers to ‘new psychoactive substances’ – drugs which have been synthesised to produce the same or similar effects as illegal drugs. Because they are newly created, and their chemical composition may be slightly different to that of banned substances, new psychoactive substances are not automatically controlled under drugs legislation (in the UK, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971).

Widely available via the internet and on the high street, their ease of availability, along with what may be a low price and high purity compared with illegal drugs, are thought to…

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Assembly People: Morgan Reeves, Facilities Customer Services Support


I applied for the Apprenticeship Scheme in The National Assembly while still in school, after hearing a lot about the organisation and decided this offered a huge opportunity not to be missed. On receiving the application form, I firstly felt a sense of maturity as this was the first job I had ever applied for. After initially a little anxious, I found the application form quite a confidence booster as for a change I was bigging myself up!

After receiving a request to attend the assessment centre, I attended the red brick building of Tŷ Hywel with high hopes. The assessment centre programme was challenging but also rewarding at the same time as it provided an opportunity for me to sell myself to the assessors including one which was to be my potential line manager. A memorable part of the whole assessment day was the chance to have a tour of the prestigious Senedd building, which to this day still retains the same prestigious feeling as I walk through it.

After being successful at the assessment centre I was asked to attend an interview. On arriving at the National Assembly for Wales on the day of my interview I felt nervous but also proud that I had reached this stage. At first I feared the interview would be very formal and quite daunting – this was not the case, the interviewers helped me flourish and were listening intently to my every word.

Following the interview I was thrilled to be informed that I had been accepted into The National Assembly of Wales Apprenticeship Scheme. Prior to starting work, we were invited to meet our future line mangers and Heads of Service a few weeks before and this allowed us to familiarise ourselves with some of the people we would be working with and also to get to know about our roles within the organisation. On that day, I also learnt that I was to be a member of the Sustainability Team while also playing a big part within the Facilities Management side of the department.

At first I didn’t quite understand what my role would undertake, but after meeting with my line manager and future Head of Service this gave me a better understanding. I have since worked within the same department for over a year, I have grown up mentally and matured beyond my teenage years! This opportunity has enabled me to develop myself both personally and professionally with the making of a bright future ahead.


Assembly People is a series of blog and video submissions by different staff members explaining their roles at the Assembly.

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Enterprise and Business Committee – Inquiry into Tourism

Representatives across the tourism industry in Wales were given an opportunity to meet with Assembly Members to discuss and assess progress made by the Welsh Government towards achieving its Programme for Government commitments relating to tourism. This was part of the Enterprise and Business Committee Inquiry into Tourism.


The events, which were held at Oriel y Parc in St. David’s and the National Museum Cardiff, were broken into two focused discussions, with ideas and views shared between the two areas via Twitter Board.


The group discussions in Oriel y Parc was facilitated by Joyce Watson AM, Suzy Davies AM and Julie Morgan AM, with group discussions in Cardiff facilitated by Keith Davies AM, William Graham AM and Eluned Parrott AM.

The discussions focused on (but were not limited to) some of the following themes:

  • The clarity and strength of Wales’s tourism “brand”;
  • The effectiveness of Welsh Government attempts to maximise the value of the domestic and international tourism market;
  • Performance of Visit Wales compared with tourism development agencies in the rest of the UK;
  • The work of Visit Britain as it relates to Wales, and the extent of coordination between Visit Britain and Visit Wales;
  • The extent to which the marketing and development of tourism in Wales makes the most of Wales’s cultural, historical and natural assets; and
  • The impact of major events on Wales’s tourism economy, and the success of Welsh Government attempts to maximise this.


The group discussions lasted for 45 minutes, with a short feedback session at the end to re-cap.

A note of the main discussion points from the events will soon be published on the link here.

You can also watch the Committee evidence sessions online via

The Committee hopes to produce a report with recommendations to the Welsh Government in the next term, following a final meeting with representatives from the North Wales tourism industry. The conclusions of the events will help inform the report and recommendations. You will be able to see the full report here when it has been completed.

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Your Assembly – Your say, your Way: Presiding Officer unveils National Assembly Charter for youth engagement


Today (16 July) the National Assembly will make a commitment to the young people of Wales. Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler AM, will, along with the leaders of the Assembly’s four political parties, sign a Young Person’s Charter. It will commit the Assembly to ensuring that every young person in Wales has the opportunity to contribute to the Assembly’s work. Dame Rosemary explains why this is such an important step in the development of devolution in Wales.

None of us should look at the young people of Wales and simply see them as the adults of the future.

They are people whose current needs and experiences should be listened to, and those needs ought to play an important role in terms of influencing the decision-makers that affect all our lives.

Eighty-six per cent of young people responding to our consultation said that they were interested in the things that effect them or their community, yet we have seen too many elections where the younger demographic have chosen, in large numbers, to exempt themselves from the democratic process.

I believe that’s because they can be put off politics at a young age. It’s at this stage when many appear to reach the conclusion that those who are making the key decisions that affect their lives don’t listen to their views – and never will.

I want to see a Wales where every child and young person in Wales feels that they have the opportunity to participate in the work of the National Assembly for Wales.

As Presiding Officer, I have made increasing the level of youth engagement with the work that myself and my colleagues do at the Senedd one of my top priorities for the Fourth Assembly.

And that’s why, along with the four party leaders in the Assembly, I am making this important commitment to the young people of Wales today.

Recently the National Assembly consulted young people, from all over Wales, about how we could encourage and support them to get involved in what we do here at the Assembly.

We had a fantastic response to the consultation, receiving three thousand responses – the biggest ever response to an Assembly consultation of any sort.

The responses told us that there is a huge appetite from young people across Wales to have their say on the issues that matter to them. And that we can help by ensuring they have opportunities to do this by participating in Assembly business.

In response to the consultation, the Assembly has agreed a new vision for youth engagement. We want the Assembly to be seen as a world leader in youth engagement. It is important that young people can have their opinions, on the issues that matter to them, heard and valued at the heart of the Welsh democracy.

Our approach to this has three key parts:

  • Reaching out – the Assembly will make sure that, wherever they are and whatever their background, young people in Wales can learn about the work the Assembly is doing so they can decide how it is relevant to their passions and interests.
  • Enabling debate – the Assembly will provide a variety of ways for young people to take part in our work which are fun, inspiring and tailored to their needs.
  • Feedback – the Assembly will explain to young people how their contributions are making a difference so that they and others are inspired to engage further.

We’ll do this by building on the fantastic achievements of a team of people we have who inform young people about the Assembly, how it works and how they can get involved. We see up to 20,000 young people a year, and we want to see more. Central to our efforts will be our determination to involve young people from harder-to-reach groups, and offering more engagement outside the school environment.

To achieve this, we recognise the need to strengthen our relationships with organisations who work with children and young people outside the classroom.

The internal challenge is ensuring that in everything we do as an Assembly, we make the language, forums and platforms we use to communicate our work interesting, useful, and accessible to young people. This means, amongst other things, making the most of our online presence by using our youth website and social media channels as a hub of information and discussion when appropriate

This work is underpinned by a new Charter which forms our contract with the young people of Wales. It sets out what young people can expect from the Assembly, and what we expect from them. I was delighted that the leaders of all the political parties in the Assembly have agreed to join me in signing the Charter.

I believe the approach that I am launching today is a vital step towards ensuring our work reaches the future citizens of Wales and ensuring that they feel that their voices matter.

Children and Young People Engagement Charter


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