Promoted by Mark Ward-Jones on behalf of the Torfaen Constituency Labour Party at 27 Brunel Road, Fairwater, Cwmbran, Torfaen NP44 4QT.
The National Assembly for Wales is in dissolution. As the election short campaign begins, Lynne Neagle – the incumbent local AM running for re-election as Torfaen’s Labour candidate – has reflected on achievements of the past 5 years.
Headlines have been dominated lately by the steel crisis, which the Assembly was recalled last week to debate, and other key national issues which affect jobs and everyday lives.
Yet much of the Assembly’s work is also undertaken in weekly committees. The run up to dissolution has seen the production of committee legacy reports, identifying issues that need attention once the 5th Assembly is in place after May 5th 2016, and what they have achieved over this term.
The Health and Social Care Committee, which Lynne sits on, scrutinises policy in an area which covers nearly half of the Welsh Government spend each year. The Children, Young People and Education committee has undertaken an equally robust programme of legislative, policy and financial scrutiny; with one of the heaviest legislative bill schedules coming before it.
Lynne Neagle said:
“It’s been a pleasure and a challenge to sit on committee’s which deal with two of the biggest fields in devolution – health and education. On a weekly basis we scrutinise and take evidence from external stakeholders on the key aspects of government policy like NHS spending, ambulance response times and reforming the school curriculum.
Children, Young People and Education committee have had a particularly proactive legislative agenda, as we scrutinised and made changes to the Qualifications Wales, and School Standards and Organisation Bills before they came to the Senedd chamber. Going forward a key concern for me is continuing to campaign for and scrutinise an Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Bill, where we as a committee campaigned hard for a separate piece of legislation.
Creativity in responding to issues is a priority for me, and I was pleased to play a central role in the Health Committee’s inquiry in to the impact of New Psychoactive Substances in Wales; after constituents contacted me concerned about the increasing local popularity of ‘lethal highs’. Our inquiry recommended a change in the law, and since then Parliament has agreed the new Psychoactive Substances Bill due in force this month, as well as fantastic work by Gwent Police and Communities First on lesson plans.
Our legacy reports talk in detail about lessons learnt from evidence sessions and our overall approach to inquiries. We were the first term to experience the benefits, but also the challenging time frames, of dual inquiries looking at policy and legislation simultaneously as one committee.
Going forward there are a number of issues I want to pick up on – the ALN Bill, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and ambulance response times. All of these have been raised with me locally, and I want to use the experience I’ve gained over my years as an AM to ensure that we move forward progressively on these central issues.”