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Friday, October 25, 2013

Fewer holidays? Yes, please!

Following on from the independent report arguing that we need 100 Assembly Members so as to ensure adequate scrutiny of the Welsh Government and its legislation, the Welsh Tories have offered a more parsimonious approach. They want the Assembly to have fewer 'holidays' and to sit for more sessions each week.

Putting aside the fact that for the most part, recess is a working break from Assembly meetings, involving numerous meetings, surgeries and other opportunities to meet constituents, I do tend to agree with the Conservatives on this.

There is not enough time for the Committees and Plenary to consider all the business in front of them and as a result we are taking short cuts on legislation and not properly holding Ministers to account. There is no possibility of getting additional AMs at the moment so additional sitting time is the obvious way forward.

However, there is another side to this, and that is if we are to use Plenary meetings to their maximum effect and force the Government to face up to the reality of not having a majority then the whips need to ensure that they get all Assembly Members to turn out for votes.

That does not happen at the moment and as a result the Labour Government are often let off the hook. Further, it would also help cross-opposition working if the Conservatives could get their own members voting the same way on key issues.
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