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Moving into the final phase

November 5th 2010

 When Assembly Members returned this week it was clear that the life of this Assembly is drawing to a close. There will now be a frenetic period of completion which will need to achieve a number of things by next March. In particular, the Welsh Assembly Government has to achieve four significant things in a relatively short space

 The first priority is the one that has dominated politics for weeks, and that is the cash. Now that it has an idea of the resources it will receive, the Welsh Assembly Government must lay a draft budget be for e the Assembly setting out the amounts of resources and cash which the Government proposes to use for the next financial year (and provisional amounts for the subsequent two years) no later than 17 November.  The debate on the draft budget must then take place in the Assembly no later than the 18 January 2011. Amendments may be tabled at this stage, provided they do not alter the overall amounts proposed within the draft budget. Following this stage, WAG must then table the annual budget motion on or be for e 1 February 2011.

 The second priority for WAG is to complete its programme of government. The One Wales Delivery Plan is due to be updated shortly and will show in forensic detail both what has been achieved and also what still needs to be done be for e the Assembly is dissolved at the end of March. Labour and Plaid will want to see this all ticked off be for e that point so that they can go to the electorate and say they have delivered on their promises.

 A third aspect is the legislative programme of the Welsh Assembly Government, which also needs completing. A major step forward happened this week when two Measures completed their passage through the Senedd, namely the Proposed Waste (Wales) Measure and the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010, both of which have formed part of the narrative of this entire Assembly. Thankfully the Welsh Language Measure is also virtually at the final democratic stage too, but there remain several significant items of legislation to complete and the Welsh Assembly Government has still to introduce two promised Measures on School Standards and Housing to the Assembly as well as a Legislative Competence Order on organ transplantation. Again, there is an end March deadline on passing these items through the Assembly.

 Finally, another long standing matter is being brought to a conclusion next week. It may have taken a long time to get to this point, but next Tuesday the National Assembly will debate The National Assembly for Wales Referendum (Assembly Act Provisions) (Referendum Question, Date of Referendum Etc.) Order 2010 and the necessary and consequential The National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) (Amendment of Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006) Order 2010. Both items will then need to go to Westminster and will not become law until they have received Royal Assent. As you’ve guessed by now, these are the legal instruments that will trigger the referendum on Assembly powers on March 3rd.

So that’s one down next week, three to go. We’re in for a busy few months, and that’s without the political jostling and the referendum campaign itself.

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