Wales politics

Senedd politicians to meet face-to-face for first time since March

The Senedd Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Senedd chamber has not been used since March

The Welsh Parliament will use the Senedd chamber for the first time since March next week when it holds its first hybrid session.

Up to 20 Members of the Senedd (MSs) will be able to meet in Cardiff Bay, while the remaining 40 can take part through Zoom.

They have been meeting virtually during lockdown, but some have wanted to meet in person.

Presiding officer Elin Jones said it was a "timely" move.

The hybrid arrangements will be used the last two sessions of debates at the Senedd this term - 8 and 15 July.

If it's a success, it's likely to stay after recess.

Image caption Members of the Senedd have met on Zoom since lockdown began

Changes to the rules mean members can also now vote remotely - in the virtual Senedd party groups have been voting in blocks.

Hybrid arrangements had been put in place in the UK parliament in London, before they were ended earlier this month.

Only 20 MSs will be allowed in the chamber because of social distancing guidelines. How that will be allocated has yet to be announced.

Labour's Hefin David had been among MSs calling for hybrid sittings - including Welsh Conservative Andrew RT Davies and the Brexit Party's Mandy Jones.

He said: "I welcome this announcement and will be looking to attend in person. This will enhance scrutiny of Welsh Government and is in line with the wider lifting of restrictions we are seeing across our communities"

Presiding officer Elin Jones said: "We have tested the practicality of the hybrid Senedd and feel that it is timely for us to move to this model.

"The hybrid Senedd will adhere to social distancing guidelines as long as they are in place whilst enabling all Members to take part either virtually or in person."

The Senedd building remains closed to the public.

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