Mark Drakeford has pledged to build a government in Wales that is constructive and co-operative, and has hinted future plans for the nation may include a form of basic income for citizens.

The Senedd convened this afternoon for the first time since last week's national elections to confirm Mr Drakeford's nomination as first minister and decide which members would serve as presiding officer (Llywydd) and deputy presiding officer.

In his first speech of the new Welsh Parliament term, Mr Drakeford promised the Senedd that Welsh Labour would "govern in a way that seeks consensus and will take account of new and bold ideas, wherever those ideas come from".

Milford Mercury: Some Senedd members sat in the chamber for today's session. Picture: Senedd.tvSome Senedd members sat in the chamber for today's session. Picture:

Those ideas "that could lead to a better future for the people of Wales" ranged from clean air "to a basic income" and measures "to ensure that young people are not priced out of Welsh-speaking communities," he told Senedd colleagues.

Wales would put a social partnership into law and use it "to make Wales a place truly fit for future generations," he added.


Following an "exceptional" election overshadowed by coronavirus, Mr Drakeford vowed to lead a government "that listens and will work collaboratively with others where there is common ground to be found".

He also said the Welsh Government would work "in partnership" with other UK administrations "wherever those relationships are conducted with parity, esteem and respect".

Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies said he agreed with the potential for "consensus-building," where required, and said it was "vitally important" the government tackled the "big job" of the pandemic's effects on education, the economy, and the health service.

"We give our commitment as an opposition to work constructively, where we can, but we will fulfil our duty as an opposition to hold the government to account on its actions," he added.

Milford Mercury: Most Senedd members watched the proceedings remotely via Zoom. Picture: Senedd.tvMost Senedd members watched the proceedings remotely via Zoom. Picture:

Adam Price, the Plaid Cymru leader, said his party would "continue to build a case for independence and continue to scrutinise constructively – but robustly – on the Welsh Government's response to Covid".

The make-up of the new Senedd is "perfectly balanced between government and opposition," he said, and the election results – that delivered a majority of Senedd members who were pro-devolution – showed the population of Wales had "put its faith in a Welsh government and a Welsh Senedd to make the important decisions about their lives".

Amid warnings that "the Westminster attacks on devolution are only beginning," Mr Price said political cooperation in the Senedd was "not just desirable, but necessary".

The Senedd chamber welcomed some members for this afternoon's session, but the majority of MSs were following proceedings remotely via Zoom.

The session began with elections for the positions of presiding officer and deputy presiding officer.

Milford Mercury: Elin Jones was re-elected as Llywydd (presiding officer) of the Senedd. Picture: Senedd.tvElin Jones was re-elected as Llywydd (presiding officer) of the Senedd. Picture:

The former role went to Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru's MS for Ceredigion, who also served as Llywydd in the previous Senedd term, after a 35-25 vote in her favour over other the other nominee, the Welsh Conservatives' Russell George, MS for Montgomeryshire.

Ms Jones said she would "embolden scrutiny of government, ensure enhanced opportunites for backbench contributions from all parties, and examine all sorts of ways in which we can work in new, innovative ways".

Her new deputy will be Labour MS David Rees, who represents the Aberavon constituency, after he defeated Caerphilly MS Hefin David – also Welsh Labour – by 35 votes to 24.

Mr Rees told colleagues they should value youth and diversity and "build a Senedd for generations to come".

Following today's session, the Queen will now give royal assent to Mr Drakeford's nomination and, once that is confirmed, the Welsh Labour leader will put together his cabinet for the next term.