There's been a lot of Brexit drama this last couple of days. You might have noticed. Tonight (14 March) sees part three of the excitement as Parliament votes on if the UK should extend Article 50. Who knows what will happen between then and Brexit Day on 29 March? Not us. But what we do know is that this time next week we'll be in the midst of gofod3, our showcase third sector event. It'll feature discussions about pretty much everything of interest to the sector - including Brexit, of course. Find out more here, if you haven't already. If we don't see you at gofod3, we'll see you back here in two weeks. (Which should, in theory, be the day before Brexit...)

 

Brexit news

On Tuesday (12 March), UK Parliament voted against the Prime Minister's Brexit deal. On Wednesday, following an amendment, Parliament voted against leaving the Europe Union without a deal. It should be noted that this is not a legally binding commitment. Tonight (14 March) Parliament will vote on whether the UK should seek to extend Article 50. It is thought the Prime Minister might put her deal to the vote again next week. Prior to this, the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament held simultaneous debates, with both agreeing that a no-deal outcome would be unacceptable and an extension to Article 50 the best way to protect Wales, Scotland and the UK as a whole.

 

News from Welsh Government

The Second Supplementary Budget – the routine process through which the Welsh Government makes changes to its 2019-20 Budget – passed with 28 votes in favour. This concluded the two-year budget deal agreed with Plaid Cymru in October 2017. During Finance Questions, Nick Ramsay asked what discussions are taking place on extending the preventative agenda, focusing his questioning on the Future Generations Act. Rebecca Evans responded that meetings are being held with the Future Generations Commissioner on how to incorporate the Act into the budget and on a definition of ‘preventive spend’. She noted that a round table will be held in order to undertake a ‘Lessons Learned’ exercise. Vaughan Gething announced £2m to improve NHS services for people with learning disabilities as part of the Learning Disability: Improving Lives programme. Julie James and Hannah Blythyn agreed funding applications for councils in south-east Wales under the Targeted Regeneration Investment programme.

News from UK Government

Susan Elan Jones, MP for Clwyd South, has introduced the Charity Trustees (Time Off For Duties) Bill to the House of Commons, with the support of WCVA, NCVO, ACEVO and the Small Charities Coalition. The Bill seeks to amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 to give trustees the same status in law as a number of other voluntary roles in public life, such as magistrates and school governors, by allowing them to take a reasonable amount of time off work to discharge their duties. The Bill's second reading is scheduled for 22 March.

From the committees

The Equality and Human Rights Commission wrote to the Equality Committee regarding the use of impact assessments in Welsh Government budgets. The Petitions Committee considered a petition calling for a register of lobbyists. Committee chair David Rowlands noted that the Standards of Conducts Committee decided against recommending a lobbying register. Leanne Wood and Janet Finch-Saunders argued there is a lack of transparency in the system, with Ms Wood noting the European Parliament’s system, arguing that it is 'a lot more democratic than we are here'. The committee decided to write to the Standards Committee seeking further information. The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee held a session on the inquiry into how arts and culture can tackle poverty. Gareth Coles of Voluntary Arts Wales said that there is an 'awful lot' of creative and cultural activity taking place in every community across Wales, but it does not necessarily benefit from direct public subsidies. He said the closure of community buildings – such as libraries and pubs – presents a key barrier to participation. Mia Rees of Prince’s Trust Cymru raised concerns about bigger cultural institutions which young people often do not feel are for them.

News from the Senedd

Neil Hamilton has confirmed he will stand as UKIP’s candidate in the Newport West by-election. The Liberal Democrats confirmed their candidate as Ryan Jones.

Dates for your diary

Equality and Inclusion Programme stakeholder sessions 15 March, Cardiff; 19 March, Newtown; 20 March, Colwyn Bay: Looking at the equality objectives within the Strategic Equality Plan. More info here.

gofod3 21 March, Cardiff: Next week! Grab your place at the third sector showcase. Book here.