Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru strike Senedd co-operation deal

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on November 23rd 2021, 12:03am

Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru have agreed a co-operation deal in the Senedd [Welsh Parliament] which will last “for the coming three years”.

Agreed over the weekend, the deal - which covers several key issues - includes plans to extend the Senedd.

Both parties have supported an expansion of the Welsh Parliament from its 60 current members to "80 to 100 members". Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru have also backed the introduction of a voting system “which is as proportional - or more - than the current one” and agreed to introduce gender quotas into law.

It is understood that the deal is not a coalition between Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru, and no members of the centre-left Welsh nationalist party will enter government.

The draft Senedd Reform Bill is to be introduced to the Senedd “12 to 18 months” after a cross-party group has finished drawing up policies for it.

Welsh Labour leader and the country’s first minister, Mark Drakeford, has said that the deal had to be made, given that Welsh Labour had no overall majority in the Senedd and was therefore left unable to deal with "challenging and ambitious issues".

Welsh Labour was the largest party at the recent Senedd election in May this year, having taken 30 of the 60 seats available. Plaid Cymru won 13, with the Welsh Conservatives occupying 16.

The co-operation agreement has come under fire from the Welsh Conservatives, who criticised its “absence of solutions to fix the NHS…or improve the economy in Wales”.

A Welsh Conservative Party spokesperson said: “Labour's latest deal with the nationalists does not deliver on the priorities of working families across Wales and will only cause constitutional chaos that risks holding back our economic recovery.”

Several policy areas, including energy and the environment, are accounted for in the agreement. It includes plans to seek independent advice on bringing forward Wales’ net zero target date to 2035, compared to the 2050 target set out by the UK government. Both parties also aim to work toward the creation of a Welsh publicly owned energy company called Ynni Cymru over the next two years, to help “expand community-owned renewable energy generation”.

For Welsh agriculture, it will only be after 2025 that reforms to post-EU farm subsidies in Wales are introduced. Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru have agreed that there will be a “transition period” as the farm payments system is changed, to ensure that stability payments “continue to be a feature of the Sustainable Farming Scheme during and beyond this Senedd term”.

The deal also pledges that the Welsh government will work more closely with farmers to help improve water and air quality.

As part of the deal, an independent review will be launched into the local government section 19 and Natural Resources Wales reports which covered the flooding that hit South Wales during Storm Dennis in February 2020. The wider deal also promises to invest more into local flood management and mitigation measures.

Transport was also covered in the agreement, with both parties pledging to approach Transport for Wales to “explore the development of transport links between North and South Wales”.

For education, the deal indicated that Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru would actively explore changing the school year and school day, and that new laws around Welsh language education are to be introduced. There was also a promise to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils and extend the free childcare offer for two-year-old children.

Elsewhere, Welsh language standards will be extended to more public bodies, a new Welsh government culture strategy will be launched, and local tourism taxes will be brought in.

In the housing sector, the two parties will explore proposals for rent controls to help make properties more affordable, housing law will be reformed to help bring an end to homelessness, and there will be changes to council tax. There will also be a cap introduced on second homes and holiday homes, and reforms made to building safety regulations.

In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the deal also included a commitment to work toward parity of "reward and recognition" for health and social care workers.

Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
November 23rd 2021, 12:03am

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