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Senedd votes for Historic Environment (Wales) Bill to proceed to next scrutiny stage

There was unanimous agreement in the Senedd today that the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill should proceed as a consolidation Bill and progress to the next stage of scrutiny.

The debate was opened by Mick Antoniw MS, the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution. The Counsel General, who is responsible for the Welsh Government’s ambitious programme to improve the accessibility of Welsh Law, introduced the Bill a little more than six months ago. In his opening remarks, the Counsel General placed on record his thanks to the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee, its Chair and its staff for their careful scrutiny of the Bill and its supporting documentation. In its report on the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill, the Committee made fourteen recommendations, some of which related to the Bill and some of which concerned consolidation more broadly.  

The Counsel General limited his brief initial comments to matters of immediate concern to the progress of the Bill. He welcomed the Committee’s recommendation that the Bill should proceed as a consolidation Bill. He confirmed to the Senedd that all necessary Minister of the Crown consents for the Bill have been received. He also made some observations on implementation and accepted that a clear timetable is desirable as soon as possible. Since time was limited, the Counsel General undertook to write to the Committee on the other recommendations for the Welsh Government. 

The Committee Chair, Huw Irranca-Davies MS, and its members also spoke. They welcomed the Bill and thanked the Law Commission and stakeholders as well as the Counsel General and the Welsh Government for their constructive engagement in the scrutiny of the legislation. The Committee was satisfied that the Bill correctly and clearly consolidated the legislation in accordance with Standing Orders and reiterated their view that the Bill should progress to the Detailed Committee Consideration stage. While the Committee members raised some points about details of the Bill, they also addressed some of the general recommendations in their report that will impact on future consolidation projects. They made comments on stakeholder engagement and its contribution to the consolidation process, the incorporation of Senedd enactments into consolidated legislation and a Bill’s supporting documentation and its role in the Committee’s consideration of the scope of a Bill.

The Counsel General responded and undertook to reply in writing to questions that he had not covered. He also noted that all involved in the consolidation had been given much to reflect upon and learn from this first Initial Committee Consideration stage of a consolidation Bill.

You can watch the full debate on Senedd TV or read the transcript here.

Now that the Bill has passed the Senedd vote, the Detailed Committee Consideration stage begins on 18 January. During this stage, Government and non-Government amendments may be tabled to the Bill. The Welsh Government will use this stage to make any necessary corrections or refinements to the Bill that have been identified since introduction. The deadline for tabling Government amendments is 2 February and for non-Government amendments is 7 February. Detailed Committee Consideration is scheduled for 13 February.