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  1. Nick Powell

Cameron blocks spying on Assembly Members

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been told it can't spy on Assembly Members Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

The Prime Minister has reasserted the rule that the security services cannot spy on MPs and confirmed that the same principle protects AMs and members of other devolved parliaments.

David Cameron's ruling follows a court case in July, when it emerged that GCHQ guidance had been revised and that AMs were no longer protected by the so-called 'Wilson Doctrine'.

It was named after the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who decided in 1966 that MPs could not be spied on. However, in a letter to the Assembly's Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler, Mr Cameron makes clear that he could give special permission in exceptional circumstances.

The Prime Minister will be consulted should there ever be a proposal to target any UK Parliamentarian ... This applies to Members of the House of Commons, ... the House of Lords, the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Welsh Assembly and UK Members of the European Parliament.

– Prime minister David Cameron MP

In a concession to the fact that policing is devolved in Scotland but not Wales, the Prime Minister adds that if the spying was to be carried out by Police Scotland, he wouldn't be consulted. It would be entirely up to the Scottish Government whether to over-ride the 'Wilson Doctrine'.


Labour's adopting Plaid's ideas, claims leader

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has said that although legislation is not the only requirement for tackling Wales health and education problems, she's pleased that the Welsh Government has adopted what she claims are some of her parties policies in those fields.

The Qualifications Wales Bill will introduce the independent exam regulating body that Plaid Cymru has called for, although the Labour government will need to do a lot more to convince people that it has the measures in place to drive up standards when it comes to the Welsh education system.

The establishment of a Welsh Treasury through the Tax Collection and Management Bill is a significant move. There is great symbolism in establishing this function, which goes beyond the essential role it will have in administering the devolved taxes and borrowing powers. All self-respecting Parliaments must have the ability to vary taxes. Unlike Scotland, it has taken Wales fifteen years to establish this important symbolic function.

Plaid Cymru very much welcomes the establishment of a Welsh Treasury. For the first time, future Welsh Governments will have acquired the extra economic levers needed for job creation, although the powers proposed in the Wales Bill are limited and will not yet lead to a government that is properly accountable to the people of Wales.”--

– Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM

AMs asked to approve Welsh tax collection

Laws that will pave the way for the Welsh Government collecting its own taxes and enabling councils to merge into larger local authorities have been announced in the Senedd. The First Minister set out the legislative programme, the principal laws that AMs will be asked to during the next 12 months.

The Welsh Government says its planning bill will "simplify rather than frustrate" development. A public health bill won't be introduced until next summer but could now include minimum pricing for alcohol, following the recent Supreme Court judgement on the extent of the Assembly's powers.

When I announced this Government’s ambitious five year legislative programme I set out our plans to address many of the issues the people of Wales care deeply about, such as improving public services despite the difficult financial situation.

We are now halfway through the programme, and while we have already achieved many of our goals, the ten bills I am announcing today continue our commitment, with legislation that will really make a difference to the people of Wales.

This legislative programme also sees us take action on two major areas of reform, putting in place the measures needed for local authority mergers and entering a new phase of the devolution story by preparing for our new tax-raising powers.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

The 10 bills announced today are:

  • *Planning Bill *to reform and simplify the current planning system
  • *Qualifications Bill *to establish an independent body for the regulation and quality assurance of non-degree level qualifications
  • Additional Learning Needs Bill will be the sixth and final education bill of this Assembly
  • Local Government Bill** will prepare the ground for reforming local authorities in Wales through a series of mergers**
  • *Renting Homes Bill *to provide a new legal relationship between landlords and tenants
  • Social Services Regulation & Inspection Bill to raise the quality of care and support
  • *Environment Bill *for the sustainable management of natural resources
  • Heritage Bill** to improve protection of listed buildings and ancient monuments**
  • Public Health Bill -a consultation on its contents has just closed
  • Tax Collection & Management Bill will create a tax system


Cwm Taf: Royal Glamorgan A&E 'very busy'

Cwm Taf health board has tweeted to advise patients that A&E services at Royal Glamorgan are under pressure.

It has asked those with minor injuries to visit Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda instead, which is just under 10 miles away.

It comes ahead of a debate by Assembly Members later on how to prepare the Welsh NHS for another busy winter.

AMs debate how to prepare Welsh NHS for busy winter

Assembly Members will debate how to prepare the Welsh NHS for winter Credit: PA

A debate will be held in the Senedd later on how to prepare the Welsh Health Service for another busy winter.

Last week David Sissling, the Chief Executive, revealed to the Public Accounts Committee that the service was only just catching up with the backlog of cancelled operations caused by last winter's surge in demand.

In October, Hywel Dda Health Board outlined plans to stop some non-urgent operations over winter months.

  1. Owain Phillips

Proposal for number of AMs to rise from 60 to 100

While councils grapple with diminishing budgets, there are calls tonight to increase the number of Assembly Members to scrutinise Welsh legislation.

According to an independent report, 100 members are required to hold the Welsh Government to account.

That's amid claims the current 60 member chamber is overstreched.

But, with estimates placing the bill for the extra politicians in the bay at over £10m, the plan has also been hit with criticism.

What do you think about the idea to have more AMs?

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Your views: 'More teachers and doctors - not politicians'

A report published today by the Electoral Reform Society Cymru and the UK's Changing Union project suggested increasing the number of Welsh Assembly Members from 60 to 100.

We asked on Twitter this morning: 'Does Wales need more Assembly Members?'

Here are some of your responses:

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