A new law to reform bus services in Wales to ensure they meet the needs of the travelling public will be one of the Welsh Government’s legislative priorities in the year ahead, First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce today.
As part of the commitment to create a more equal Wales, the First Minister confirmed the Welsh Government will introduce a public transport bill to reform the planning and delivery of local bus services.
The bill will seek to reverse some of the negative impacts of de-regulation by enabling local authorities to franchise or run bus services directly.
It will be a key part of wider reforms to bus services and will help Ministers achieve their ambition of creating a truly integrated public transport network.
Ministers also will legislate to give the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds in local government elections as part of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill.
The bill will also strengthen local authority democracy, accountability and performance and establish a consistent mechanism for collaboration and joint working, including arrangements for transport.
This will empower local authorities to deliver modern, accessible, high-quality public services for – and with – the local communities they serve.
The Welsh Government will also legislate for:
- A GP indemnity bill, which will complement the current scheme introduced in April. The Bill will ensure all clinical negligence claims, whenever they are reported or incurred are covered
- A curriculum and assessment bill will set in statute the principles, freedoms and structures for Wales’ ground-breaking new curriculum, which will be rolled out from September 2022
- A tertiary education and training bill, which will set up the Tertiary Education and Research Commission to replace the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW). This will ensure the post-compulsory education and training system is better placed to bring the sector together to provide genuine life-long learning and skills development.
The Welsh Government will also introduce a bill to place social partnership on a statutory footing, to enshrine the current social partnership model in law and ensure the agreements reached are clearly enforceable. The bill will be introduced by the end of the current Assembly term.
Last week, the Housing Minister launched a consultation setting out a series of proposals to extend the notice period landlords have to give before they can take back possession of a property. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, a bill to address no fault evictions could be introduced.
Ministers will continue to work on plans to modernise the licensing system for taxis and private hire vehicles – but the Welsh Government will not legislate in this area during this Assembly term.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
“The Welsh Government I lead has a firm commitment to creating a more equal, fair and just society in Wales.
“This final chapter of our legislative programme will help us tackle inequality, promote collaboration in the delivery of public services and deliver significant improvements to our education system.
“This is a legislative programme which delivers progressive, positive change for the people of Wales.”
If the UK leaves the EU, further legislation may be needed to support the transition.
But specific bills, in agriculture and environmental principles and governance will not be taken forward in the final year of this legislative programme:
A Welsh agriculture bill will be most effective if it is prepared in this Assembly term but introduced in the next Assembly term. This is an opportunity to be ambitious and wide-ranging, going further than simply legislating for farm support schemes.
The Rural Affairs Minister launched Sustainable Farming and Our Land last week, which sets out ambitious proposals for the future, including paying farmers for the actions they take to respond to the climate emergency, reducing emissions and capturing carbon.
Using the results of this consultation, ministers will bring forward a white paper before the end of this Assembly.
Ministers have consulted on environmental principles and governance in the event of the UK leaving the EU. This is an important but complex area and the Welsh Government is committed to addressing the governance gaps, which will arise post-Brexit. The government is in ongoing dialogue with the UK government and the other administrations about the best way to achieve this – whether at a UK or Wales level.
It is important that whatever approach Wales takes, it must complement the existing accountability mechanisms, maintain and enhance Wales’ environment and respect Wales’ devolution settlement.