Assembly Voice: 13 July 2017

Armed Forces Day gives us the opportunity to reflect on how much we owe those who serve and who have served in our armed forces, protecting the freedoms that are so important to us. It was good to join so many residents from all across Cynon for RCT’s Armed Forces Day at the start of July, which this year was hosted by Aberdare Park. There were plenty of activities for all the family, and a stunning parachute display by the Red Devils. This had been preceded by a march from Tegfan, where a service took place to commemorate its use as a military hospital during the First World War. The message of Armed Forces Day is all the more poignant, coinciding as it does with the 100th anniversary of the First World War. I had earlier asked the First Minister how the Welsh Government can best support service personnel and their families. There will be a review of the work of local councils’ Armed Forces Champions, and I look forward to following the outcome of this.

After twelve months sitting on the Welsh Assembly’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee, I have moved to become a member of the influential Public Accounts Committee. This scrutinises how public bodies in Wales spend money. I enjoyed my role on the Climate Change Committee, and contributing to enquiries covering land management, bovine TB, marine and forestry policy, but am looking forward to the challenges that will be involved in examining public spending across all areas of government. To give a flavour of the work of Public Accounts, current inquiries relate to housing authorities, further education colleges and how we use medicines.

I was drawn to lead a ‘short debate’ in the Senedd a few weeks ago. Whilst these are not binding on government, they give AMs the chance to explore in depth just about any policy area. I chose as my theme the varied nature of poverty in Wales. If you would like a copy of my speech, email me at [email protected] or watch it on my Facebook page (@VikkiHowellsAM).