In a Senedd debate led by Mark Isherwood AM, Conservative Members called on the Welsh Government to give more support to the estimated 34,000 people in Wales living with autism.
But the bill was subsequently voted down by Labour, including its Cabinet Secretaries for health and public health. Twenty four Members voted for the motion and 27 opposed it.
Welsh Conservative Mark Isherwood AM first called for the Bill to be introduced during an Individual Members Debate in 2015.
The First Minister Carwyn Jones has previously gone on record as saying he would “actively consider” such a bill and even pointed to 2016 as a date when such a legislation might be brought forward.
During yesterday’s debate, Members delivered impassioned arguments on why ministers should bring forward specific autism legislation that already exists in England and Northern Ireland.
They cited the fact that under current Welsh Government legislation, people with autism lack a legal identity – which has led to people not receiving adequate professional support from public services – placing them at a disadvantage to the rest of society.
Speaking after the debate, Mark Isherwood AM said:
“Today’s vote is obviously a significant blow to the 136,000 people affected by autism in Wales – the passion of whom was evident by those who sat in the gallery to watch the debate.
“Despite Labour having voted down the bill today, we know that there are members who recognise the need for this legislation but were not allowed to demonstrate this owing to the Labour whip on this vote.
“We will continue to fight for this bill in the Chamber, for the sake of those who continue not receive the support and recognition they both need and deserve.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Secretary for Health, Angela Burns AM, said:
“While it was disappointing to see Labour blocking today’s much-needed Bill, it was gratifying to see so many other Members from different parties achieving consensus on this issue.
“It cannot be right that the needs of such a significant portion of the population go unmet and it’s high time that Labour acknowledged this.
“It is vital that we continue to drive this Bill forward, so that Wales can reassert itself as a vanguard of autism.”
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