Public Affairs Cymru: ‘Serious concern’ about slashing number of Senedd meetings
A decision to move from weekly to fortnightly Senedd committee meetings will ‘reduce the voice of Wales at large’.
The is the concern of Public Affairs Cymru, an organisation that represents public affairs professionals in Wales, who believe that such a significant change requires more discussion and consultation.
Senedd committees have previously met weekly, covering a range of devolved areas such as business, finance, education, culture and standards of conduct.
A move to fortnightly meetings is one of the reforms agreed to by the Business Committee which is tasked with finding the most effective ways to manage Senedd proceedings.
A statement released by the public affairs body states: “Public Affairs Cymru has expressed serious concern about the reduction of Senedd Committee meetings agreed by the Senedd’s Business Committee.
“This decision was seemingly taken without external consultation and to many will only have come to light when highlighted by Alun Davies MS.”
“Committees serve both to scrutinise the work of Welsh Government and also to expose all MSs to new ideas from specialists in their field.
“Slashing the number of meetings each Committee holds will reduce both constructive criticism and diversity of thought in our Welsh democracy.”
Public Affairs Cymru is calling for weekly meetings to be retained and say that any future changes should require comprehensive consultation.
Concerns have previously been raised by Alun Davies, the Labour MS for Blaenau Gwent.
In a recent blog post, he said: “At a stroke, the time available to scrutinise and hold the government to account is halved.
“This is important. The Finance Committee has already written to say that it will be unable to deliver on its statutory obligations to scrutinise the government’s budget.
“For other committees with a larger legislative load the time and space available for policy scrutiny will be reduced still further.”
He called for committees to be given a far greater say over their own timetables, deciding when they meet and how they carry out scrutiny.
Senedd committees are made up of members from different parties, each with an appointed chair.