The National Assembly For Wales

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Legislation in the Fourth Assembly … the story so far

The first major piece of housing legislation for Wales (created through devolved powers) is likely to receive Royal Assent this month.

Bute_esplanade_by_Walt_Jabsco

Image by Walt Jabsco on Flickr

The Housing (Wales) Act will be the sixteenth Act passed by the National Assembly for Wales to receive Royal Assent since 2011.

The range of legislation passed by the Assembly is broad, and ranges from Active Travel to Public Audit.

Following the ‘yes’ vote in the 2011 Wales devolution referendum, the National Assembly for Wales has had primary law making powers. This means it can make laws on all subjects within its competence, without first needing permission from the UK parliament.

More information about the legislation process

Fourteen of the Acts passed by the National Assembly for Wales so far were introduced by the Welsh Government. One of the Acts was introduced by the Assembly Commission (the National Assembly for Wales (Official Languages) Act), and one by an individual Assembly Member (the Mobile Homes (Wales) Act).

Information about individual Acts

A further six Bills are currently at different stages of the National Assembly for Wales’ legislative process. Three of these Bills were introduced by the Welsh Government, and three by individual Assembly Members. One of these Bills (the Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill) has been passed by the National Assembly for Wales, but has been referred to the Supreme Court by the Counsel General to the Welsh Government.

Access further information about the individual Bills currently being considered by the Assembly

Ahead of the next National Assembly for Wales elections in May 2016, the volume of legislation being considered by the Assembly is likely to only increase. It is anticipated that one individual Assembly Member will introduce a Bill, and the Welsh Government’s Legislative Programme for 2014-15 sets out a further ten Bills that it intends to introduce.

Keep up to date with Assembly legislation on our Legislation pages

Pierhead


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Cadw Open Doors 2014

Pierhead

 On 20 September 2014 the National Assembly for Wales will open its doors to the public as part of Cadw’s annual Open Doors event. Hundreds of attractions across Wales will be offering free entry, activities or events throughout September, with some unique buildings even allowing public access for the first time.

Visitors to the Assembly estate will take a journey through time, discovering the history of Cardiff Bay and the National Assembly for Wales, with access to some areas not usually open to the public.

The tour will cover the three buildings within Assembly estate:

  • The Senedd, a modern parliamentary building, one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable buildings in Wales and home of the debating chamber of the Assembly;
  • The Pierhead, a historic late Victorian building which is now a museum and exhibition centre, and;
  • Ty Hywel, the original home of the Assembly’s debating chamber alongside offices of both Assembly Members and staff.

Date: 20 September 2:00pm

Booking is essential as we can only offer a limited number of places on this exclusive behind the scenes tour.

Please call 0845 0105500 or 01492 523 200 to book your place.

Address: National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff bay, Cardiff, CF99 1NA
Travel information: The bendy bus leaves from Cardiff Queen Street Station and Cardiff Central station every 10 minutes. Train services are every 12 minutes from Cardiff Central Station to Cardiff Bay Station. The station is a few minutes’ walk from the Senedd and the Pierhead building. Leave the M4 at junction 33, follow the A4232 to Cardiff bay and follow signposts to National Assembly for Wales. By Bike/foot, the Taff Trail from Brecon through Cardiff city centre to Cardiff bay ends at the oval basin outside the Senedd.

If you can’t make it on 20 September you can still visit the Senedd and Pierhead buildings which are open to the public seven days a week. You can have a cup of coffee in the Senedd Oriel on the upper level, and go into the public galleries from the Neuadd on the centre level. And it is not just visitors that come to see and enjoy the Senedd – we also have performers, singers, exhibitions and all sorts of activities happening regularly.

Cadw Open Doors is an annual celebration of the architecture and heritage of Wales and is part of European Heritage Days, which take place in 50 European countries each year in September.

For more information, including other participating attractions around Wales, please see the Cadw website:

http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/opendoors/?lang=en

Style: "DEP 18:03:09 04"

 


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Behind the scenes – Senedd #LightsOut

By Sonam Patel, Corporate Events Team

World War 1 #LightsOut Remembrance Event, Senedd,  4 August 2014 #WalesRemembers. Photo by Jon Pountney / #LightsOut - Digwyddiad Cofio’r Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf, y Senedd, 4 Awst 2014 #CymrunCofio. Llun gan Jon Pountney

Photo by Jon Poutney

The Senedd, the home of the National Assembly for Wales, took part in the national #LightsOut event on Monday 4 August. The Senedd turned its lights off between the hours of 22:00-23:00, leaving only a single light for this symbolic act of reflection and hope to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War. The National Assembly for Wales decided to take part in the #LightsOut event alongside national landmarks across the UK, not only to share participation but to show its respect, admiration and gratitude to those lost in the conflict 100 years ago.

 

The Senedd

This is how the Senedd usually looks at night. Image from Flickr by identity chris is. Licensed under Creative Commons.

 

The logistical set-up for this event was fairly straightforward, requiring the Senedd lights to be set to a timer and turned off at 21.59. With the help of Martin Hunt, the Technical Director of the Wales Millennium Centre, I set up a single spotlight in the middle of the Neuadd to shine out into Cardiff Bay at 22.00 precisely.  Jason Allan, Head of Security, then accompanied us to the outside of the Senedd where we were able to see the impact of the spotlight against the darkness of the Senedd interior. A small crowd had gathered outside to take photographs and people spoke about the significance of the light. There was a lovely atmosphere and it was great to see the BBC and St Davids Hotel had joined us in the Bay in shining a single light. Jason and Martin then returned to the Senedd to turn off the light at 23:00 leaving me to share photos of the event with our followers on Twitter and Facebook.

The National Assembly for Wales is very proud to have participated in this unique event and over the next four years will be hosting a series of lectures, debates and exhibitions to mark the centenary of the Great War and its impact on the people of Wales.

 

 

 

Y Senedd

Image from Flickr by blogdroed. Licensed under Creative Commons.


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Assembly People: Annette Millett, Committee Team Support

My role within the Assembly is to support the Clerks and the Deputy Clerk of the Children, Young People and Education Committee.

I help to provide professional, impartial support and advice to the Committees in managing their business effectively and to policy divisions in their dealings with Committees.

I support the Clerks in preparing for meetings. Prior to the meeting day I will prepare the Committee room for the formal proceedings the following day. On the day of meetings my role is to meet and brief witnesses before their evidence giving sessions ensuring they fully understand how to use the translation equipment and how the meeting will run.

I support the management of public consultations; formal and informal evidence gathering; the production and publication of committee outputs (including reports); the wider communication of a committee’s work; and support the scrutiny of legislation.

 

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


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The Senedd: words from visitors

Image from Flickr by astronomy_blog. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

Image from Flickr by astronomy_blog. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

As well as being the seat of devolution in Wales, the Senedd is also open year round as a visitor attraction. You can have a tour around the building and learn about politics in Wales from one of the tour guides, or you can attend Plenary or a committee meeting. There are events and exhibitions on all year round, so we get plenty of visitors who come for all sorts of reasons.

Recently we finished our visitor guestbook, and took the opportunity to read through some of the messages people had left. It’s a good way to understand what people really enjoy about their visits to the Senedd.

 

We had a lot of positive comments:

“I love the open feel of this building!” – Andrea, Iowa, USA.

“Staff cyfeillgar dros ben”  – Pedr, Caerdydd.

“Better than on TV!” – Carole, North Wales.

“Very friendly and informative staff.” – Claire, Stoke-on-trent.

“Hooray for democracy!” – Rob, Isle of Wight.

“Great that the seat of Welsh govn. Is open to all to explore and learn.” – Leanne, Cwmbran.

“Love this place, love this country.” Laurence, Bath.

“Beautiful building with a warm welcome from staff. Thanks.” – Simon, Farnham.

“Hands down the best Senedd I’ve been to.” – Sharon, Cyprus.

“I couldn’t give higher praises!” Helmina, Finland.

“Makes me proud to be Welsh.” Andrew, Pontypridd.

 

There were some in particular for the facilities:

“Really nice toilets!” – Raynor, Bangor.

 

 

 

And as with all things, there were people who didn’t enjoy their visits so much, for various reasons:

“Waste of money.  Another un-needed tear of Government.” – Sarah, Bridgend.

“Clean the water staining on the glass. Have pride in your assembly.” – Richard, London.

“Satisfactory.  It was good but a bit boring.” Savannah, aged 10, Cardiff.

“Not bad, not bad at all, in fact, it was ok.” – R, England.

“Why was no one at work today?” Mrs. Stephenson, Taxpayer, Mid Wales.

 

There were other comments that didn’t seem to be related to much, but were still nice to read:

“May peace and love be with you all.” – Dan, a Peace Pilgrim.

“Came to see my daddy’s dragon. Had a lovely day.” Katie, Blaina.

 

Image from Flickr by Just Ard. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

Image from Flickr by Just Ard. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

 

We had a couple of comments about the mace:

Glad to see the mace is well looked after.” – Jill, Sydney.

“It was great, but I didn’t get to touch the gold thing.” Jason, Birmingham.

 

The overall winners seemed to be our tour guides Richard and Gareth, who won scores of fans:

“The children hadn’t realised politics could be so much fun!  What a wonderful tour led by Gareth!” – Anon. Rhyl.

“Merci a Richard pour la visite. **heart emoticon** ” Emeline, France.

“Gareth is very nice and handsome.  I will remember him all my life long.” – Pauline, Nantes.

 

It’s also humbling to be reminded how much more developed our democratic system is than in some other countries:

“Impressed by your transparency!” – Anna, Ukraine.

“Compared to ours, it’s perfect.” – Ben, Tunisia.

 

Image from Flickr by plumandjello. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

Image from Flickr by plumandjello. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

 

We take a lot of pride in the Senedd as being the heart of Welsh democracy, but also as a building that is open to the public. Organisations and community groups are welcome to hold events in the Senedd as long as they can get sponsorship from an Assembly Member, which means we get a great spread of events and exhibitions in the building.

If you would like to see what’s currently on at the Senedd, please visit our calendar for more information.

If you’re interested in holding an event at the Senedd, please visit our Events Information pages

If you’re unable to make it to Cardiff Bay to visit the Assembly, you can always look around the building through our Virtual Tour.

Or have a look at the #senedd hashtag through images on Flickr

 

OTHER WAYS TO CONNECT WITH US:

Senedd Facebook

National Assembly for Wales Facebook

@assemblywales on Twitter

 

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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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