23 February 2017
Article by Philippa Watkins, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
The Public Health (Wales) Bill was laid before the Assembly on 7 November 2016, and introduced in plenary by the Minister for Social Services and Public Health on 8 November 2016. The Assembly will debate the general principles of the Bill on 28 February 2017.
The Health, Social Care and Sport Committee reported (PDF, 962KB) on its Stage One consideration of the general principles of the Public Health (Wales) Bill on 10 February 2017.
The Bill sets out a series of specific proposals in discrete areas of public health policy: tobacco and nicotine products; ‘special procedures’ (acupuncture, body piercing, electrolysis and tattooing); intimate piercing; health impact assessments; pharmaceutical services, and; provision of toilets.
Further information on the background to the Bill, an overview of its parts, a summary of financial implications, and a Welsh glossary are provided in the Research Service’s Bill Summary (PDF, 996KB).
The Public Health (Wales) Bill has been broadly welcomed, however a number of stakeholders have described it as a ‘missed opportunity’ to introduce measures to tackle some of the most significant public health issues, including obesity, physical inactivity, and loneliness and isolation. The Welsh Government has emphasised that the Public Health Bill will focus on specific areas where legislation is an appropriate tool, and that it sits alongside a ‘broader suite of actions’ for improving health (including other legislative action, public health services, programmes and campaigns).
The Health, Social Care and Sport Committee’s report calls on the Welsh Government to use all available levers, including opportunities presented by legislation and existing powers, to take action on obesity and other priority public health issues. The specific proposals included in the Bill are generally welcomed by the Committee. The Committee’s report sets out a number of recommendations aimed at strengthening the legislation. For example, the Committee wants to see the provisions about intimate piercing strengthened to protect young people up to the age of 18 (the Bill as introduced sets the age restriction for intimate piercing at 16).
The Assembly’s Finance Committee reported (PDF, 780KB) on the financial implications of the Bill on 10 February 2017. The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee considered the appropriateness of the provisions in the Bill about powers to make subordinate legislation. Its report (PDF, 702KB) was also published on 10 February 2017.
Subject to the Assembly agreeing the general principles of the Public Health (Wales) Bill, the Bill will proceed to Stage Two (detailed Committee consideration of the Bill and any proposed amendments). Stage Two proceedings are expected to be completed by 7 April 2017.
Public Heath (Wales) Bill (PDF, 996KB)