Commission agrees its ambitions for the future
The Assembly Commission considered a number of significant strategic matters at its latest meeting.
Commissioners offered their unequivocal support for two major public engagement initiatives - the establishment of a Youth Parliament for Wales, supported and funded by the Assembly Commission, and the development of a Digital Information and News Task Force.
Commissioners want to ensure that the development of a new youth parliament is informed by the views of specialists in the field and a wide range of children and young people. So plans for a new youth parliament will build on work of the Campaign for a Young People’s Assembly for Wales (CYPAW)
The Commission will consult on plans for a Youth Parliament early in 2017 with a view to identifying the first youth parliamentarians in the second half of the year and the first meeting of the Youth Parliament in 2018.
Following the Llywydd’s announcement at the National Eisteddfod in August, the first meeting of the Digital News and Information Taskforce, chaired by Leighton Andrews, will start its work before the end of this month.
The taskforce will provide the Commission with new ideas about how the Assembly can deliver more engaging and accessible news and information about the work of the legislature.
In the light of the increase in volume in committee activity since the election, Commissioners agreed to reconfigure the space on the ground floor of Tŷ Hywel. This will leave the Assembly with five fully equipped committee rooms – three in the Senedd and two in Tŷ Hywel. The new accommodation will be ready from the start of the summer term.
The Commission also agreed to investigate a number of options in order to ensure that future accommodation needs can be met. This includes exploring the potential of leasing additional space in Cardiff Bay and the construction of a new office building. Initial discussions suggest that this might possibly be done without upfront capital investment. All options will require significant, detailed examination over the coming months and years.
The Commission agreed that the case for a larger Assembly is more compelling than ever and agreed that the work to explore the relevant issues further should be progressed on a cross-party basis, drawing on neutral, expert advice. Subject to the passing of the Wales Bill currently before Parliament, the power to legislate to increase the size of the institution and to reform the electoral system will be devolved to the Assembly. The Commission unanimously agreed that it will take this work forward, acting on behalf of the institution, and in the interests of democracy in Wales.
The Llywydd, Elin Jones AM, said:
“The Commission is taking the decisions necessary to make our parliament fit for the future – giving young people a voice in our democracy, communicating effectively with the public and fulfilling its statutory duty to enable the Assembly to undertake its legislative and scrutiny work.
“Repeated examination of the capacity of the Assembly has demonstrated that it is under powered and over-stretched given the scale of its law making and fiscal powers. The scale of the challenges we face mean that the Commission must have the courage to take decisive action. Should the Wales Bill pass, and the Assembly decide to exercise its new legislative powers in this area, we are determined to do what is necessary to equip our parliament with the capacity to deliver a strong and sustainable Welsh democracy.”