Further review of National Assembly business aims to improve scrutiny
23 January 2013
Members of the National Assembly for Wales will be asked to back plans to further restructure the way Wales’s law-making body carries out its business.
Since being elected to the post in 2011, the Assembly’s Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM, has led on the introduction of a series of changes to Assembly business, with the support of the Business Committee.
The impetus behind these changes has been the Presiding Officer’s drive to make scrutiny more effective and to create more opportunities for Members to raise matters of relevance to the electorate.
Those changes have included:
allowing more scope for opposition party leaders to scrutinise the First Minister;
restructuring the Committee system to make it more responsive to the issues coming before the Assembly. There are now five larger Committees which have a dual role of looking at both policy and legislation;
allowing more time for Individual Member’s Debates; and
providing more scope for backbench Assembly Members to bring forward legislation.
The Presiding Officer has now obtained the Business Committee’s agreement to shorten the notice period for questions to the First Minister and Ministers.
The aim is to introduce more topicality into Assembly business.
“The National Assembly for Wales is the body that represents the hopes and aspirations of the people for Wales,” said the Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM, who also chairs the Business Committee.
“Since being elected Presiding Officer, I have made changes to Assembly procedures, with the support of my colleagues on the Business Committee, aimed at making it more responsive to the issues faced by the people of Wales.
“The Business Committee felt that restructuring the way in which Assembly Members can bring forward questions, to the First Minister and his Cabinet, will allow business to become even more topical than at present.
“It is a simple mechanical change that allows Members to table questions closer to the Plenary session in which the question will be asked.”
Under the current system, oral questions to both the First Minister and other Cabinet Ministers, are tabled ten days in advance.
Under the proposed changes, this would be reduced to three days in the case of First Minister’s Questions and five days for questions to other Ministers.
The proposed changes will now go before a full Plenary meeting on 30 January, where Members will be asked approve the necessary changes to the Assembly’s Standing Orders.