On Remembrance Sunday, I attended the Conwy Town Council wreath laying ceremony where it was a humble privilege to join the Mayor, Councillors, members of the Royal British Legion, Veterans and the many Residents present, to pay my own respect and lay a wreath on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales. We then marched to St Mary's Church for the poignant commemorative service.
Devolution of Powers
The Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and the Secretary of State for Wales, the Rt Hon David Jones MP, recently visited the Senedd to announce a major step in the devolution of further powers to Wales. This follows a consultation reporting to the Silk Commission, where there was an overwhelming call for Wales to have the capability to start take responsibility for how it raises and spends our taxpayers money. Borrowing Powers, Stamp Duty Land Tax and Landfill Tax, are now devolved to the National Assembly for Wales. It was further stated that the people of Wales will now have the chance to have their say on the devolution of Income Tax powers also but this would be via a referendum to allow all residents living in Wales to have their say on such a major issue. Borrowing powers will allow the Welsh Government to raise monies required, in order to invest in much needed infrastructure, such as vital improvements to the A55, thereby allowing for greater access to investment in North Wales.
This week our debate focused on the need for a thorough inquiry into the NHS in Wales, similar to that as conducted by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh in England. Our call echoes those of Ann Clwyd MP and the Royal College of Surgeons, in order to identify the good and bad practice that can make the difference for our patients in Wales.
As the Shadow Minister for Local Government, I was very proud last week to launch our Community Rights Discussion Document. The Localism Act now granted Royal Assent by HM the Queen to the UK Gov, has provisions granted that allows local residents a greater say in how their communities are formed. The Community Right to Bid allows community groups to work together to preserve existing buildings and facilities such as a library, a public house, a local radio station and allows for a period of six months to raise collective bids to save or maintain these community assets. In Wales, especially in rural areas we have seen local services disappear and our local pubs closing at a rate of two every week, whereas in England where they already have the Right to Bid, 100 pubs have been saved. The document is available at www.janetfinchsaunders.org.uk and I would welcome your views.
Thank you once again, for taking the time to read my news from the Assembly and in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01492 871198 or Janet.Finch-Saunders@wales.gov.uk
Janet Finch-Saunders AM/AC
Shadow Minister for Local Government