The National Assembly For Wales


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Assembly People: Anna, Welsh Language Tutor

Shwmae! I’m Anna, and I was appointed Welsh Language Tutor for Assembly Commission staff in November 2014.

I offer one to one mentoring sessions, formal lessons and more informal learning activities to learners on all levels, from beginners to those who are more advanced.

In this new post, it has been a pleasure to meet so many members of Assembly Commission staff who are enthusiastic about learning to speak Welsh. It is a joy to hear those learners using Welsh freely around the offices at Tŷ Hywel and in the Senedd.

One of the highlights for me so far was being greeted spontaneously in Welsh in song by Assembly officials as I entered the building one miserable January morning. During the previous day, I had held a session on greeting and guiding in Welsh with them. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and it was the inspiration for this video in which they star:

 

Another highlight has been teaching the canteen staff to serve in Welsh. It is a thrill for me to hear them use the phrases they have learnt at work, and I always look forward to my sessions with the team as they always bring so much fun with them.

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Assembly canteen staff each holding up a card to complete the phrase: ‘Schmae! Dyn ni’n dysgu gweini yn Gymraeg.’

Here are some handy phrases that they have learnt that may be useful to us all to get us through the day at work:

coffi gwyn                      white coffee

coffi du                          black coffee

coffi gwyn bach              small white coffee

coffi du bach                  small black coffee

coffi gwyn mawr             large white coffee

coffi du mawr                 large black coffee

Ga i helpu?                     May I help?

Dyna chi                         There you are

Diolch                            Thank you

Croeso                           You’re welcome

Pysgod a Sglods             Fish and Chips

Brechdan                        Sandwich

Bara brown                     Brown bread

Bara gwyn                       White bread

One thing that has struck me since I started in this post in November is how difficult it can be for learners to have an opportunity to speak Welsh outside the classroom. Therefore, I’d like to use the space that I have left to call on all Welsh speakers to give our learners a chance – turning to English can undermine their confidence that they can communicate in Welsh. So, Welsh speakers and Welsh learners, give it a go!

Pob lwc!

Watch Anna teaching Dewi the Dragon some key Welsh phrases in this short video:


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A Look at the Local Government (Wales) Bill

Originally posted on In Brief:

17 February 2015

Article by Alys Thomas and Rhys Iorwerth, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

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A previous blogpost has set out the background as the Welsh Government embarks on reforming local government in Wales. This blogpost looks in more detail at potential issues around the Local Government (Wales) Bill, which is the first legislative step in that process.

(For more information on the Bill itself, the Research Service has just published a summary of its main provisions.)

Voluntary merger and uncertainty about the map

The Bill was introduced by the Welsh Government on 26 January 2015, and in essence it has two primary aims:

  • To enable local authorities who have made successful bids to merge voluntarily to do so;
  • To enable preparatory work to begin for new local authority areas that will be created by compulsory mergers via a second Bill.

One immediate question to ask is whether…

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February is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month

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In the UK, LGBT History Month is marked and celebrated during the month of February to coincide with the 2003 abolition of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which banned “promoting homosexuality” to minors.

Amongst those marking LGBT History Month will be the National Assembly. The National Assembly is delighted to be ranked fourth in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2015 of the top LGB-friendly organisations in the UK. We are also very proud to be named as the Top Public Sector Employer in Wales for LGB people for the second year running.

LGBT History Month Photocall

The National Assembly LGBT staff network has prepared this article to highlight how LGBT rights in the UK have evolved since 1988.

Here are eight reasons that LGBT people are better off in 2015:

  • Section 28 was repealed in 2003 for England and Wales and in Scotland in 2000;
  • Gay people have been able to serve in the military since 2000;
  • In 2001 an equal age of sexual consent was introduced in the UK;
  • Since 2003 it has been against the law for an employer to sack a person for being gay;
  • Since 2005 transgender people have received legal recognition as members of the sex appropriate to their gender, allowing them to acquire a new birth certificate and full recognition of this gender in regards to other laws;
  • Since 2005 it has been possible for gay couples to jointly adopt children. Since 2009, a lesbian couple who have a child can have both the birth mother and her partner named on the birth certificate;
  • Since 2007 it has been illegal for a shop, hotel or another business to ban you from being served because you were gay;
  • Since 2014 it is possible for same-sex couples in England, Wales and Scotland to marry.

While there is still work to be done, in 1988 it would probably have been unimaginable to think that LGB people would be able to serve in the military, jointly adopt children and marry. Add to that other advancements, like the extension of the single public Equality Duty to cover LGBT people in 2010, and 2015 and beyond looks like a better place.

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OUT-NAW

 


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Senedd building named as one of Cardiff’s top three visitor attractions

Live in Wales and haven’t visited the Senedd yet? Hannah Bower, one of our Front of House staff, outlines why you should…

Recently named as one of Cardiff’s top three things to do as recommended by a local, the Senedd building offers an array of activities for people of all ages and interests. From politics to architecture, from art to artisan welsh products, the Senedd has something for everyone.

Have a look around

To start your Senedd visit a tour of the building is undoubtedly the best way to find your bearings. The friendly and informative tour guides take you on a journey through the history of the surrounding area, the architecture of the Richard Rogers designed building, and the political process that takes places here. The guides’ expert knowledge can accommodate all interests and groups of all sizes. Best of all, the tours are completely free.

If you are looking for refreshments after your tour, grab a coffee or a cake and take a seat in the Senedd café. The breath-taking bay views are unrivalled in all seasons, watch boats sailing on the waters, see the hustle and bustle of Mermaid Quay and take in the innovative architecture of the building itself.

Senedd

After your coffee you can browse the Senedd shop for local produce, souvenirs and gifts. Pick up Welsh whisky, Melin Tregwynt products and Senedd branded souvenirs as mementos of your visit.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays you can come and see the action as it happens. Plenary takes place from 13:30 kicking off with First Minister’s Questions every Tuesday during business weeks. Watch the drama unfold in the Chamber as Welsh legislation is debated and created. If you prefer something more intimate, committee meetings take place throughout the week and can be viewed from the public viewing galleries.

During your Senedd visit, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit The Pierhead next door. The building’s gothic revival architecture contrasts the Senedd building beautifully. Completed in 1897 the distinctive red building is now an exhibition centre run by the National Assembly for Wales, and is also open to the public.

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Watch a short film in the main hall showing the story of Cardiff through the ages. Visit the old Dock Masters office to learn about the building’s history and walk through the Futures Gallery where temporary exhibitions are on show. Come and see Building Bridges – Here to Listen an exhibition by the children’s charity Barnados which is currently on display.

Get involved

The Senedd also offers an inspirational space where events and exhibitions are regularly held. The Green Green Grass of Home photography exhibition is currently on display upstairs in the Oriel and upcoming events include a performances by the Pontarddulais Male Voice Choir on 24 February. You could even organise your own event.

Seneddoriel

If you’re looking to experience Welsh culture from it’s industrial past to it’s progressive political future, there’s no better place than the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay.

 


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Finance Committee – Visit to Edinburgh

In December 2014 four committee Members, Jocelyn Davies, Committee Chair, Alun Fred Jones, Christine Chapman and Julie Morgan, visited Scotland to look at the fiscal changes taking place in Scotland–

The Wales Bill which is currently being considered by the UK Parliament will give the Assembly new tax and borrowing powers. As these powers are similar to the model set out in the Scotland Act 2012, the Assembly’s Finance Committee decided to visit the Scottish Parliament to find out more about tax devolution, tax collection and budgetary changes that have arisen as a result of the Scotland Act.

The power devolved to Wales will include stamp duty land tax and landfill tax, and (subject to a referendum) some income tax powers. The Bill will also give the Assembly greater borrowing powers.

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Meeting with Members of the Scottish Finance Committee and the Scottish Parliament’s Research Service (SPICE)

The Member’s first meeting was with their Scottish counterparts, including Kenneth Gibson, Convener (equivalent to the Chair), Malcolm Chisholm and Jean Urquhart. Members learnt more about the Scottish Budget process and discussed the changes made in Scotland since the passing of the Scotland Act.

The Committee also had informal discussions with the Scottish Parliament’s Research Service, who provide support to Members of the Scottish Finance Committee.

In the afternoon Members met with John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy and Jane Hutt AM, Minister for Finance and Government Business. Following this there was an informal discussion Scottish Government Officials who had worked on the various tax legislation in Scotland.

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Committee Chair, Jocelyn Davies AM said:

“The visit has been very informative in our preparations for our future work on tax devolution. It is important to reflect on Scotland’s experience during this very important time of fiscal devolution.”

How to get involved and keep up-to date

Committee’s homepage for information on current inquiries and legislation the Committee is considering

Follow @SeneddFinance for all the latest information


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Public Accounts Committee meets Irish counterparts

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PAC Chair Darren Millar AM with Huw Vaughan Thomas, Auditor General for Wales, and Committee Members Alun Ffred Jones AM, Julie Morgan AM and Aled Roberts AM outside Leinster House

On Wednesday 19 November 2014, four Members of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee flew to Dublin to meet their counterparts in the Dáil Éireann – part of the Committee’s on-going work to improve its ways of working. They were accompanied by the Auditor General for Wales, who regularly meets his Irish counterpart, the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The Dáil and Seanad Éireann are the two Houses of the Oireachtas, which meet in Leinster House. Upon arrival in Dublin, Assembly Members joined their counterparts at Leinster House for a working dinner to share experiences and priorities with the Teachtaí Dála, or TDs, who sat on the Public Accounts Committee.

On Thursday 20 December, the Members returned to Leinster House to hold a private meeting with the Committee, followed by observing the Committee meeting in public session. They also were shown around Leinster House, and given an introduction to the workings of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The discussions between the Committees brought out the common themes in their work, and the challenges they both face. The two Public Accounts Committees were similar in many ways – like the Assembly’s PAC, the Dail’s is chaired by a member of the opposition – but this is by tradition, rather than statute – as it is in Wales.

In recent years Ireland has seen a dramatic reduction in public spending, making the role of the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee in ensuring value for money is being achieved all the more important, and challenging. The scale of the cuts was different, but Assembly Members and TDs all recognised the public’s ever greater expectations that taxpayer’s money be spent prudently and appropriately.

The TDs were interested that the National Assembly’s PAC had recently undertaken its own inquiries, in addition to those initiated by the Auditor General’s Value for Money studies – as an example, the PAC published a report on its inquiry on Senior Management Pay earlier in November.

The Dáil’s PAC was keen to do similar work but had been unable to do so with their existing standing orders. The National Assembly’s PAC will be providing further information on this new programme of work, to help assist their colleagues broaden their work.

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Meeting John McGuinness TD, Chair of the Dáil’s PAC

 

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