1. ITV Report

Tory anger as Welsh Government blocks backbench bills on Autism and Older People

Although he's leader of the opposition, Paul Davies introduced his Autism Bill as an individual AM. Photo: Senedd TV

The Conservatives have accused the Welsh government of "tribalism" and having the approach to politics "of an authoritarian regime" after Labour AMs were whipped to vote down backbench proposals two weeks running.

Both were proposed by Conservative AMs - Paul Davies had put forward a bill to improve support for people with Autism and Darren Millar's bill would have strengthened the rights of older people.

Although both men are senior figures - Mr Davies is Leader of the Tory assemble members - they had introduced their legislation as individual AMs, after winning the opportunity in a ballot.

Following his bill's defeat, Mr Davies used his weekly chance to question the First Minister to urge a change in the Welsh Government's approach.

Last week, we saw tribalism from your party and your government for tribalism's sake in this place, when you voted against the Autism Bill.

Having failed to work with me, your party voted down a vital piece of legislation that would have delivered real improvements to the lives of people with autism.

There is a wider issue at play here, First Minister—a growing culture within your ranks not to engage with proposals that come from opposite benches.

– Welsh Conservative Leader Paul Davies AM

Members of this Assembly have unrivalled access to ministers who are in the government ... I absolutely refute the suggestion that we do not respond, and respond positively, to ideas that other members of this Assembly bring forward for examination.

But when a backbench member of this Assembly succeeds in a ballot and brings forward a bill, it is for that member to provide the information necessary for the Assembly to scrutinise those proposals.

– First Minister Mark Drakeford AM
First minister Mark Drakeford suggested that Paul Davies should have been better prepared before he tried to convince the Assembly to change the law on autism. Credit: Senedd TV

In the debate on his bill to protect the rights of older people, Darren Millar urged the Welsh government to take "a historic opportunity".

We've got an opportunity to develop legislation that will result in practical improvements in the decision making and delivery of public services, that will raise awareness of older people's rights and give them recognition and status, and that will empower those hundreds of thousands of older people across Wales to access those rights,

– Darren Millar, Conservative AM for Clwyd West

But the Welsh Government argued that it was not the right time to legislate.

While I strongly support the sentiments behind this Bill, the time is not right for this particular bit of legislation. When we do legislate, we should do that holistically for the whole of society and in a way that identifies the needs of all disadvantaged groups.

– Social Services Minister Julie Morgan AM

After his bill was voted down, Mr Millar angrily referred to the Welsh Government as a "regime".

This is not the way politics should be handled in this country, and it’s not the footing that the First Minister should start on with his new Government. It’s a tribal attitude and it is holding Wales back.

The Welsh Government does not have a monopoly on good ideas. Both this Bill - and last week’s Autism Bill - are non-contentious proposals which had widespread cross party and stakeholder support.

We are supposed to be a democracy where the ideas of all elected representatives, regardless of their party politics, can be treated with respect, but in Wales, under this regime, that clearly isn’t the case.

– Darren Millar, AM for Clwyd West
Darran Millar was furious at the defeat of his bill on the rights of older people. Credit: Senedd TV