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15/07/2016

Important committee chairs elected as politics calms down at the National Assembly for Wales

 

May's Welsh Assembly election resulted in a degree of political upheaval, with a newly elected UKIP group finding its feet and a minority Welsh Labour group attempting to assert its right to govern. Now that Welsh politics is settling down Assembly Members have had the opportunity to elect colleagues to chair important scrutiny committees.

It is important to note that the last Welsh Government reformed the committee system so that chairs of committees should be elected by secret ballot, rather than merely being appointed by the five party leaders. This has put greater power in the hands of backbench members who will often feel differently to those who lead their political group.

Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee
Chairman - Mark Reckless AM (UKIP)

Bio: Seen by many as a climate sceptic, Mr Reckless was elected unopposed to his role (at least two chairmanships going to UKIP due to proportionality rules). He has years of parliamentary experience, having originally been elected to Westminster as a Conservative MP for an English constituency prior to defecting to UKIP, but will still be finding his feet as a newly elected Assembly Member for the South Wales East region.

Following his appointment a petition calling for UKIP to stop chairing the committee gained over seven thousand signatures, forcing Mr Reckless to say that he believed human activity was ‘likely' to be behind the forces of climate change. However, his Welsh party leader Nathan Gill AM MEP said in 2015 that UKIP ‘don't agree that man is responsible for changing the climate'.

The committee itself, under Mr Reckless' stewardship, will play an important role in assessing the impact of last year's Planning (Wales) Act and scrutinising any forthcoming legislation that seeks to make changes to the planning regime in Wales.

Committee remit: "The Committee was established on 28 June 2016 to examine legislation and hold the Welsh Government to account by scrutinising expenditure, administration and policy matters, encompassing (but not restricted to): climate change; energy; natural resources management;planning; animal welfare and agriculture."

Other committee members
Jayne Bryant AM, Sian Gwenllian AM, Vikki Howells AM, Huw Irranca-Davies AM, David Melding AM, Jenny Rathbone AM, Simon Thomas AM (Clerk - Alun Davidson)


Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee

Chairperson - Russell George AM (Conservative)

Bio: Elected in May 2011, Mr George's committee will be responsible for scrutinising plans for a new £1bn M4 relief road and the work of the independent commission set up to assess the suitability of the government's favoured ‘black route'. Prior to life at the Welsh Assembly Mr George had served as a town councillor and school governor.

Whilst strongly opposed to the construction of on-shore wind farms he has also promoted other key infrastructure projects for his mid-Wales constituency like the Newtown Bypass, which is currently under construction. He also serves as the Welsh Conservative's Shadow Minister for Economy and Transport.

Committee remit: "The Committee was established on 28 June 2016 to examine legislation and hold the Welsh Government to account by scrutinising expenditure, administration and policy matters, encompassing (but not restricted to): economic development; transport; infrastructure; employment; skills; and research and development, including technology and science."

Other committee members
Hannah Blythyn AM, Hefin David AM, Vikki Howells AM, Mark Isherwood AM, Jeremy Miles AM, Adam Price AM, David Rowlands AM (Clerk - Gareth Price)


Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee

Chairman - John Griffiths AM (Labour)

Bio: Mr Griffiths is an experienced member of the Assembly, having held the Newport East constituency since 1999 and also serving as a Deputy Minister in previous Labour governments.

His task will now will be to steer the committee towards scrutinising Welsh Government on flagship policies relating to social housebuilding and local government reorganisation.

Committee Remit: "The Committee was established on 28 June 2016 to examine legislation and hold the Welsh Government to account by scrutinising expenditure, administration and policy matters encompassing (but not restricted to): local government; housing, community regeneration, cohesion and safety; tackling poverty; equality of opportunity and human rights."

Other committee Members
Gareth Bennett AM, Janet Finch-Saunders AM, Sian Gwenllian AM, Bethan Jenkins AM, Rhianon Passmore AM, Jenny Rathbone AM, Joyce Watson AM (Clerk - Sarah Beasley)

For more information on how the work of these National Assembly committees could affect your projects or the services Remarkable's dedicated Welsh team have to offer, please contact Will Morgan by 029 2167 0468 or will.morgan@remarkablegroup.co.uk .

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