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Welsh Assembly meets remotely for the first time

The Senedd used Zoom to become the first major institution in the UK to embrace such technology.

Members of the Welsh Assembly meet for the weekly plenary session

The Welsh Assembly has become the first major democratic institution in the UK to meet remotely.

Members of the Senedd used Zoom video conferencing to meet virtually from across Wales for the weekly plenary session, which usually takes place in Cardiff.

They heard statements on Covid-19 from First Minister Mark Drakeford, health minister Vaughan Gething and Ken Skates, the minister for economy, transport and North Wales.

The Llywydd, Elin Jones AM, chairs a plenary session of the Welsh Assembly using Zoom video technology (Welsh Assembly/PA).
Elin Jones chairs the session (Welsh Assembly/PA).

Assembly members were then able to ask questions and scrutinise the Welsh Government’s plan to deal with the outbreak.

After the UK went into lockdown, the Assembly introduced a series of emergency measures to ensure that essential business relating to Covid-19 could carry on.

The virtual plenary was chaired by the Llywydd (Speaker), Elin Jones, and political parties had agreed to limit by proportion the numbers of members attending.

Ms Jones said: “This was a first for the Senedd and a first for any parliament in the UK.

“The innovative way in which proceedings were conducted reflect the Assembly’s determination to continue to fulfil its duty in allowing effective scrutiny to take place.

“Over the past few weeks, we have made several changes to the way the Senedd works in order to prioritise matters relating to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“It is vital that Welsh Government can continue to update members throughout this developing crisis, and for members to be able to hold the Government to account.”

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

Since the lockdown, the use of video conferencing technology, such as Zoom and Skype, has become a popular way for people working from home or self-isolating to keep in touch.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already been using Zoom for UK Cabinet meetings so ministers can take part while working remotely.

Westminster is in recess for the Easter holidays but there have been calls for Parliament to continue sitting with MPs using video conferencing.

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