First vote cast at virtual Plenary as National Assembly for Wales meets online
The first vote during a virtual parliamentary session of the National Assembly for Wales has taken place today, as the Senedd held its second Plenary session using video-conferencing.
The session this afternoon, Wednesday 8 April, allowed for 28 Members to participate in proceedings which included statements on the latest response to Coronavirus from the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, and Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affair, Lesley Griffiths AM. These were followed by a debate and a vote on Stage 1 of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill.
Since holding their first virtual Plenary session on 1 April, other parliaments have since contacted the Assembly to ask for advice on using the technology to hold their own meetings.
In response to restrictions to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, Assembly Business has been revised to prioritise matters relating to the crisis, and also to allow for other time-critical business. Today included the Stage 1 consideration of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill, which would lower the voting age to 16 years old in local government elections from 2021.
Members voted using weighted voting by roll call where Llywydd called a representative of each party group to cast votes on behalf of all members of the group, followed by independent members. The Llywydd then confirmed the result.
Attendance was allocated ensuring representation for each party: 12 Members could attend on behalf of Welsh Labour, 6 for Welsh Conservatives, 4 Plaid Cymru and 2 Brexit Party. Members who do not belong to a group were also entitled to attend.
The first virtual Plenary meeting was held successfully on Wednesday 1 April, with 16 Members contributing from across the country. This was the first time that parliamentary proceedings has been conducted by a Parliament in the UK via video-conferencing, and the first time in the world that it has been done bilingually with simultaneous translation.
Since restrictions were introduced to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, the National Assembly has been adapting its way of working to ensure debate and scrutiny can continue despite not being able to hold Plenary meetings in the Siambr. The changes has allowed Welsh Government Ministers the opportunity to update Members on the latest regarding the response to the Coronavirus crisis, and for Members to ask questions of the Government.
The meeting held today 8 April, extended the use of the video conferencing platform allowing for more members, for voting to take place and for the proceeding to be broadcast live on Senedd.tv