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13 Feb 2023

Historic Environment (Wales) Bill takes another step on its passage through the Senedd

The Historic Environment (Wales) Bill has passed another important milestone on its way to becoming law. The Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee met on 13 February 2023 for Detailed Committee Consideration of the Bill. Under the Senedd’s Standing Orders, amendments to consolidation Bills may be proposed during this stage of scrutiny, and 52 amendments to the Bill were tabled.

James Evans, MS for Brecon and Radnorshire, tabled seven non-Government amendments — all connected in one way or another with a proposal to insert section 1 of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 into the Bill. After James Evans opened the debate on these amendments, Mick Antoniw MS, the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, responded on behalf of the Welsh Government. The Counsel General welcomed the opportunity afforded by the amendments to explain why the decision had been taken to exclude the 1973 Act from the consolidation from the outset. He reviewed the points he had already raised in his letter on the matter addressed to the Committee on 28 October 2022 and undertook to write to the Committee again with further information on the Welsh Government’s plans to review legislation for the marine historic environment. When these amendments came to a vote, all fell, so the amendments will not be made. 

The Counsel General had tabled 45 Welsh Government amendments to the Bill. A few made necessary corrections to a handful of minor errors or omissions that escaped the notice of the Bill team prior to introduction. The majority of the amendments, however, proposed changes to clarify the drafting, introduce greater consistency or refine the presentation of the law.

Some of the tabled amendments reflected changes to the Bill suggested by stakeholders. Amendments, for example, were proposed to the definition of a “listed building” to clarify that structures or artificial objects included within a listing must be ancillary to the listed building in line with case law. An amendment was also tabled to provide clarity about the conditions that may be imposed for recording a listed building. When speaking to the amendments, the Counsel General reiterated his ‘thanks to all the stakeholders who engaged with the committee's call for evidence and for the time and the consideration that they gave to their helpful responses’.

All 45 of the Welsh Government amendments passed without objection and will accordingly now be reflected in the Bill as it goes forward.

The Committee must now produce a report by 10 March that states whether in its view the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill should proceed to Detailed Senedd Consideration or to Final Stage. Detailed Senedd Consideration would permit amendments to be considered by the entire Senedd, while Final Stage would bring the concluding vote on the legislation.

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