By Mark Isherwood

MS for North Wales

Responding in the Senedd to the Social Justice Minister’s Statement on Afghanistan, I emphasised the importance of providing refuge to Afghans forced to leave their home country, including those who risked their lives working closely with the British military and the UK Government in Afghanistan, questioned the Minister over sites being considered in Wales for the rehousing of Afghans, and called on her to ensure engagement with local communities to minimise opposition and maximise understanding and support.

Having recently visited farm owners Einion and Elliw Jones at Mynydd Mostyn farm in Trelogan, whose innovative and hugely popular milk vending machine business supplying fresh milk and milkshakes is under threat after Flintshire planning officers said the site was not lawful, I raised their case with the First Minister in the Senedd and asked him how he will ensure that Local Planning Authorities understand and comply with Welsh Government policy.

Responding to the Statement by the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership on the ‘Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill’, I called on her to ensure that quality, value, price and community benefit remain at the centre of public procurement in Wales.

Speaking in the debate on Universal Credit, I called on the Welsh Government to invest the additional billions it has received from the UK Government in consequence of Covid-19 in “building back better, lifting people out of poverty, preventing them from spending a life dependent on welfare” and stated that “Universal credit provides a safety net, but is not designed to trap people in welfare”.

Challenging the Finance Minister over the Welsh Government’s Land Transaction Tax, I stressed that it is penalising small and medium businesses and quoted a constituent who wanted to purchase a currently unhabitable house, renovate it as a holiday let and ‘bolster the economy’, but was put off by Wales’ higher rates.

As Chair of the Welsh Parliament’s Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee (PAPAC), I had a useful preparatory meeting with the Auditor General for Wales and the Committee’s Clerking Team ahead of PAPAC’s meetings this Senedd term.

Other engagements included British Veterinary Association Welsh Branch virtual briefing on animal health and welfare, British Polio Fellowship AGM and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Senedd Branch AGM.

As Wales Species Champion for the Curlew, I also attended a Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust in Wales event at Rhug Estate, Corwen, looking at how the Trust’s 80 years of research and approach can help reverse biodiversity decline.

If you need my help, email or call 0300 200 7219.