Tag: Law

Member Bills: How would you change the law?

There are two draws I’m particularly looking forward to at the moment: the first Member Bill ballot of the Fifth Assembly, and the 2019 Rugby World Cup draw. Before joining the National Assembly for Wales, I worked in Japan for two years, so I can confidently predict that the World Cup is going to be amazing.

Anyway- back to Member Bills. Most laws in Wales are proposed by the Welsh Government. But if an individual Member wins the Member Bill ballot (it’s a kind of raffle draw), they get an opportunity to introduce their own proposed law.

Anyone can suggest an idea to an Assembly Member about a proposal for a law. You have 5 Assembly Members: do you know who they are? Find out more about your Assembly Members.

The Assembly Member who wins the ballot will then be able to call for other Members to support their idea, through a vote. If their idea is supported, the Ballot winner will have 13 months in which to develop their proposed law, and present it to the Assembly for scrutiny and amendment.

During this process, the Ballot winner will normally be supported by a small team of people- including me- to develop their proposed law. We help to provide procedural, research and legal advice.

On 25 January 2017, we’ll find out which Member will be drawn in the ballot and have the opportunity to propose a new law, which could affect the lives of millions of people across Wales. Find out more about Member Bills.

By Tom Jackson, Clerk, Scrutiny Support Team

Leaving the European Union: Implications for Wales – International Law and Trade

Following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, the National Assembly for Wales is examining the implications for Wales.

The External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee has been tasked to ensure that the interests of Wales and its people are protected during the process of withdrawal. It is also responsible for making sure that the interests of Wales and its people are represented in any new relationship with the European Union, and with the countries that make up the United Kingdom.


Every week over the coming months, the Committee will be hosting a series of seminars focusing on different issues and inviting experts to share their knowledge and ideas, and help Members of the Committee understand how Wales will be affected by the referendum decision. You can follow the discussions on Twitter and Facebook using #BrexitinWales.

Once they have gathered this expertise and knowledge they will need the help of the people of Wales – to ask what their views and priorities are about our future outside of the European Union and what interests are most important to safeguard.

The first seminar took place on 19 September 2016 and focused on International Law and Trade.  You can watch the full session on SeneddTV.

International Law

What is International Law?

International law is the term used to describe the rules that govern relationships between nation-states on the world stage. They’ve grown up by custom and practice, or have been agreed between different countries. Some rules are regarded as binding all countries (e.g. some the rules on genocide), others only bind the countries that have agreed to them in treaties.

There are a number of international courts and tribunals which decide disputes between countries, including the International Court of Justice, which has the widest remit, and of course the Court of Justice of the European Union. But there is no police force or bailiffs similar enforcing court judgments at the international level.

Countries have an incentive to obey international law because they want other nations to comply with it towards them. Sometimes, however, countries breach international law because they feel there is a greater advantage to them in doing so than in obeying. When that happens, other countries have a range of legal and political options to try to persuade or “punish” the wrongdoer, including trade sanctions and even the use of force. The EU system for dealing with breaches by one member country is probably the most highly-developed in the world.

International Trade

As a member of the European Union, the United Kingdom is currently part of the European Single Market. The Single Market is a customs union. This means that countries have tariff-free access to other countries within the union. Members share a common external tariff and the responsibility for trade agreements with third party countries rests with the European Union. The Single Market goes deeper than this, providing for the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour between members of the Single Market. The UK’s future relationship with the Single Market is uncertain, and will be the subject of future negotiations.

You can read more about the options open to the United Kingdom by the National Assembly for Wales’s Research Team.

Although the Assembly can’t make laws about international trade, and the Welsh Government can’t enter into formal agreements with other countries, the Welsh Government is active in promoting Welsh exports and inward investment within our powers for economic development. The National Assembly for Wales makes sure that decisions about Welsh exports and inward investment are in the best interests of Wales and its people.

How important is international trade to Wales?

In June 2016 –

– 1,370 businesses were exporting goods from Wales

– 1,789 businesses were importing goods in to Wales

The last ten years of statistics on trade data for Wales, up to June 2016, show that:

– exports from Wales were valued at £12.1 billion – of which £4.7 billion were to the European Union and £7.3 billion outside of the European Union.

– imports into Wales were valued at £6.9 billion, of which £3.5 billion were from EU nations and £3.4 billion were from outside of the European Union.

– just under 40% of Welsh exports were to the European Union.

[HMRC’s regional trade statistics are the main source of trade data for Wales]

While the United Kingdom is a net importer of goods, Wales is a net exporter – with export values of up to twice as much as imports in recent years.

This means that Wales sells and trades more goods than it buys in.

It is essential that Wales’s voice is heard and represented in the discussions about trading outside of the single market, and that we fully understand the positive and negative opportunities of alternative trade models.

Next week, the Committee will be travelling to Brussels to meet with officials to monitor and influence the negotiations and obtain further expertise. On 3 October 2016, the Committee will meet again in the Senedd to hold a seminar that will look at the impact leaving the EU will have on funding, research and the European Investment Bank.

You can follow the discussions on Twitter and Facebook using #BrexitinWales.  To keep up to date on the work of the Committee follow @SeneddEAAL.

#SeneddSwansea: Law in Wales

Jane Williams, Associate Professor at Swansea University’s College of Law, attended our lunchtime seminar during #SeneddSwansea last week. Here’s what she thought about the event…

Fascinating seminar at Swansea University’s College of Law and Criminology, with the National Assembly for Wales’ Deputy Presiding Officer, David Melding AM and Director of Legal Services, Elisabeth Jones, during #SeneddSwansea.

Students and researchers in law and politics, legal practitioners and other guests joined in discussions chaired by the College’s Jane Williams and Keith Bush Q.C. Ranging over really important and challenging issues, discussions spanned the legal, constitutional, political and civic  aspects of devolution: access to justice, accessibility of Welsh law, characteristics of law-making for Wales, political participation, civic education, voting and the electoral system, access to information, a separate jurisdiction and ‘what makes good law’.

Reflections on the past and informed imagining of the future – excellent discussion on all this, and lunch, in just two hours! Thanks to our esteemed guests and all who helped make it happen and who joined us today. Determined to do this sort of thing more often!

Deputy Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, David Melding AM, and Elisabeth Jones, Director of legal services, present a seminar on matters relevant to those thinking of practicing law in Wales and broader constitutional and policy themes.

Equality and Diversity week – The Magna Carta is 800 years old!

Monday 15 June marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, a document that is viewed by many as part of the foundation of the rights, representations, liberties, and very democracy that we enjoy today.

The Magna Carta can be understood as an important, early human rights document that was key to the development of rights as we understand them, such as a right to justice and a fair trial.

To explore further what human rights mean in the context of everyday life, how they affect people and why they are so important take a walk down dignity drive, a simple interactive guide to the Human Right Act from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

More information on the anniversary of the Magna Carta can be found on the official website marking the occasion.

Renting Homes (Wales) Bill: Chair’s blog, 21 May 2015

Christine Chapman, Committee Chair

We have now finished taking oral evidence from witnesses. We are grateful to everyone who has taken the time to assist us in our consideration of the Bill so far – it has been a very interesting process.

In our meeting this week we heard from the Housing Law Practitioners Association. We also questioned the Minister about the Bill for the second and final time. This was an opportunity for us to ask the Minister about the main points that have emerged during our evidence sessions. Finally, we discussed all the evidence we have heard over the course of our inquiry and agreed on the matters to be included in our Stage 1 report. We will now prepare our report, which we will publish by 26 June.

If you missed the meeting or would like to watch it again, you can do so on Senedd.tv:
Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee meeting, 20 May 2015.

Keep an eye on #RentingHomesBill for more updates.

How to get involved and keep up-to date with the Committee’s work

Chair’s Blog: Renting Homes (Wales) Bill

Christine Chapman in Committee

We are now more than half way through our evidence gathering. We began with a session with the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, as the Member in charge of the Bill, on 22 April. The following week, on 30 April, we heard from the Law Society, Welsh Tenants, the NUS Cymru and Let Down in Wales.

Last week, on 6 May, the Chartered Institute of Housing, Community Housing Cymru, the WLGA, Cymorth Cymru, Tai Pawb and the Residential Property Tribunal came along to our meeting to share their views on the Bill.

This week, we will be hearing from landlord and letting agent representatives, as well as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Citizens Advice Cymru and Shelter Cymru.

Our evidence gathering will conclude on 20 May, when we’ll hear from the Housing Law Practitioners Association, as well as the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty for the second time.

In addition to the oral evidence heard during our formal committee meetings, in coming to a view on the Bill we will also take into account the 41 responses received to the public consultation, and the range of views and comments that were expressed during the stakeholder event held back in March.

Our next meeting is on Thursday 14 May. You can watch it live on Senedd.tv

How to get involved and keep up-to date with the Committee’s work

The Assembly supports Stonewall’s ‘It gets better…today’ campaign

The Assembly is proud to support Stonewall’s ‘It gets better….today’ campaign which tells lesbian, gay and bisexual young people that they don’t have to wait for their lives to improve – they can be great now. We are lucky to live in a country where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have protections within the law. Through the dedication of individual activists and organisations such as Stonewall, we have seen the repeal of section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools, the introduction of civil partnerships, the Gender Recognition Act, openly gay people serving in the military, adoption rights and the ability to report homophobia and transphobia as a hate crime.

We are a diverse, tolerant nation where LGBT people enjoy more rights and protections than ever before. We can celebrate the achievements that have been made and remember if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, you have the right to be yourself and to be proud of who you are.  

In the National Assembly, we will continue to fight for LGBT equality and to combat homophobia and transphobia. We all deserve to be happy, to be free from bullying, and to live in a world that celebrates diversity.

If you believe you have experienced homophobia or transphobia please remember that you do not have to suffer in silence. There are organisations that can help. Stonewall, Safer Wales and the Police (North Wales, South Wales, Dyfed Powys, and Gwent) all have mechanisms in place to help you report homophobia and transphobia as hate crimes.

To mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) and to show our support for Stonewall’s campaign, our Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler, AM, our Commissioner with responsibility for equality, Sandy Mewies, AM, and a number of Assembly Members from across Wales have recorded a video stated their commitment to LGBT equality. Click here for more information.