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Welsh Liberal Democrats Announce Legislative Priorities

2011 Ebrill 25 11:13 AM

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, Kirsty Williams has unveiled the Welsh Liberal Democrats' legislative priorities for the 4th Assembly term.

Following the successful referendum, Wales now has direct law-making powers for the first time. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have identified five key areas in which they would need to legislate in order to implement priority manifesto committments.

These include:

  • A Local Economies Bill to help drive the economic recovery and create jobs.
  • A Teaching Standards Bill to put in place new streamlined structures for the training and development of teachers.
  • A Health Spending Bill to establish an independent waste watchdog to examine the way money in the health service is spent.
  • A Public Transport Bill to create Joint Transport Authorities and re-regulate bus services.
  • A Community Bill of Rights and Localism Bill to strengthen the powers the ability of local authorities to deliver public services by giving them a power of general competence and introduce fair votes for local elections.

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

"This will be the first National Assembly with direct law making powers. Welsh Liberal Democrats were proud to play our part in the referendum campaign that ensured for the first time in over 600 years that laws that effect only Wales will now be made only in Wales.

"Now we have those powers, politicians must explain to voters how those powers will be used to improve life for people up and down Wales.

"We should not legislate for the sake of it but neither should we be afraid of using the new powers that we have where this is necessary.

"For the first time, Wales now has the powers to re-regulate the buses to improve bus services.

"For the first time, we can now legislate to improve the training and quality of teaching and to create a health spending watch dog to root out waste in our NHS.

"For the first time, we can transfer powers back to local communities.

"Welsh Liberal Democrats will use these powers to ensure that Wales can do better."

Notes to editors

1. Welsh Liberal Democrats Legislative Priorities for the 4th Assembly

Local Economies Bill

The Local Economies Bill would help drive a Welsh the economic recovery and create local jobs and developing local economies. The Bill would:

  • Introduce Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to allow Councils to fund big regeneration projects from future business rate income (as in Scotland and England).
  • Create Economic Development Zones, to help businesses set up in deprived areas.
  • Reform business rates.

Teaching Standards Bill

The Teaching Standards Bill would put in place new streamlined structures for the training and development of teachers, driving up standards and challenging our teachers so we deliver for our children. This Bill would:

  • Abolish the General Teaching Council for Wales so that its budget could be reallocated towards teacher training and establish a duty on the Education Minister to make provision for the discipline and registration of teachers.
  • Guarantee teachers the right to a sabbatical year off.
  • Strengthen the powers available to teachers to tackle bad discipline in the class room.
  • Create a new streamlined National Curriculum.

Health Spending Bill

The Health Spending Bill would:

  • Establish, on a statutory basis, the Office of Health Spending, an independent waste watchdog that would examine the way money in the Health Service is spent and report in public.

Public Transport Bill

The Public Transport Bill would:

  • Create up to eight Joint Transport Authorities, represented and owned by two or three neighbouring local authorities with common transport network interests and responsible for all local transport functions.
  • Re-regulate buses to so that Joint Transport Authorities can ensure that all of their communities are served.
  • Improve the accessibility, safety and community information available at rail stations.

Community Bill of Rights and Localism Bill

The Community Bill of Rights would:

  • Develop a "Community Right to Buy" to give community councils the right to bid to take over services that local authorities are closing, such as leisure centres or libraries.
  • Make it easier for Community Councils to establish housing or small energy development, providing local services and providing an income for the council.
  • Re-assert the role of community councils as leaders of communities with a power of general competence.
  • Strengthen the ability of local authorities to deliver public services by giving them a power of general competence.
  • Protect town centres by requiring local authorities to conduct impact assessment on out-of-town retail centres and supermarkets.
  • Create a new planning use for second homes and HMOs.
  • Give protection to buildings that are of importance for social and cultural reasons, (such as the Vulcan pub in Cardiff or Port Talbot Custom House).
  • Introduce the Single Transferable Vote election system for local elections.
  • Introduce an element of direct elections for the National Parks.