Mick Antoniw MS, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution
On 7 November 2023, His Majesty the King formally opened the new session of the UK Parliament and outlined the UK Government’s proposed legislation for the new session.
Further information on the content of the King’s Speech was subsequently made available in a publication from the Prime Minister’s Office. The Secretary of State for Wales issued a written statement on 8 November setting out the Bills intended to extend and apply to Wales.
Prior to the King’s Speech, the UK Government provided Welsh Government with a list of indicative topics likely be legislated on in the new Parliamentary Session, and varying forms of engagement have taken place at official level on a range of the potential areas of legislation.
The last Parliamentary session resulted in several Acts of Parliament being passed on devolved matters without the consent of the Senedd, showing a lack of respect for the will of the Senedd and the Sewel Convention as reflected in section 107(6) of the Government of Wales Act 2006. I have made clear to UK Government Ministers that that approach must not continue, and I take some encouragement from the improved engagement we have seen on this new legislative programme to date.
Our fundamental position remains that primary legislation in devolved areas should be enacted by the Senedd. However, the Welsh Government also remains of the view that there can be circumstances when it is sensible for provision, which is in the Senedd’s legislative competence, to be included in UK Parliamentary Bills, with the explicit consent of the Senedd. The Minister for Climate Change has recently written to the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee and the Local Government and Housing Committee to outline our work with UK Government to outlaw blanket “no DSS” and “no Children” practices in residential lettings in Wales. The First Minister also confirmed in Plenary our engagement with UK Government on proposals for leasehold reform. We will continue to work with UK Government where doing so is consistent with our principles.
Six of the Bills mentioned in the King’s Speech and supporting documentation are carried over from the last session. We have already laid legislative consent memoranda in relation to three of those — the Data Protection and Digital Information (No.2) Bill, the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill and the Victims and Prisoners Bill. We will continue to engage with UK Government to ensure the devolved interests and concerns in relation to each of those Bills are addressed.
I look forward to sharing further information about relevant Bills when it is possible to do so, and to working with the Senedd on legislative consent processes throughout this new Parliamentary session.