Speed limits in Wales will be cut to a default 20mph in residential areas, as part of the government's plans for new laws over the next 12 months.

Mark Drakeford and his Cabinet plan to bring in five new bills in the first year of the new Senedd term and "transform Wales into stronger, greener and fairer country".

But opposition parties have criticised the government for not including details of a proposed Clean Air Act – one of Labour's manifesto pledges during spring's Senedd election campaign.

Among the plans announced today are new laws covering:

• Post-16 education reform, and the setting up of a new commission to improve the quality of further education and training.

• Agricultural support, replacing EU payment schemes that will no longer be available in Wales. Farmers who take action on the government's climate and nature emergencies will be rewarded and sustainable food production will be encouraged.

• Workers' rights, with a new 'social partnership council' set up to protect fair work principles and oversee responsible public spending.

• Tax-raising powers, making it easier for Welsh ministers to respond to "unexpected events" such as court judgements and tax changes in Westminster.

• Accessibility to Welsh laws on the historic environment, bringing together old and "increasingly convoluted" legislation on things like listed buildings into a "single and fully bilingual law which is easy to understand".

As well as those new bills, the government said it will push ahead with plans to introduce new regulations for Wales, including a move to cut speed limits to 20mph in residential areas, and ban pavement parking in most places.

New protections will also come into force for people living in private rented accommodation. The laws are designed to improve living standards, make contracts compulsory for all tenants, and prevent landlords making retaliatory evictions.

And new legislation will be introduced to the Senedd on support for students with additional learning needs.

'Ambitious and radical'

The first minister has described the government's new plans as "ambitious" and "only the start of the legislative journey in this Senedd".

Drakeford said the programme" also "sets out our longer term ambitions that require legislation," including banning some single-use plastics, bringing in a Clean Air Act, and improving building safety "to ensure another Grenfell [Tower disaster] never happens.”

In the Senedd, the government's counsel-general, Mick Antoniw, described a "distinctly Welsh programme" that formed an "essential part of our ambitious and radical programme for government".

He noted the "challenging" atmosphere of enacting new laws during the ongoing pandemic and warned that the UK government had launched "an unprecedented set of attacks on the powers and responsibilities" of the Senedd.

Opposition 'bemused' over lack of Clean Air Act plans

Opposition leader Andrew RT Davies disagreed with the minister's claims of attacks on devolution, and said it was "a regret" that legislation proposed by backbenchers in the previous Senedd term – on things like autism, mental health, animal welfare and sign language – were not included in the government's new plans.

He said food security should be "at the heart" of the new agriculture bill, and asked why the much-anticipated Clean Air Act did not feature more prominently in today's announcement.

"There is cross-party support to allow that legislation to see the light of day," Davies said. "So I am bemused at why, in the euphoria of the election victory, the government don't feel energised and empowered enough to come forward with a piece of legislation."

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All four parties that sit in the new Senedd backed a Clean Air Act in their election manifestos.

Plaid Cymru MS Rhys ab Owen said many people were "extremely disappointed" the government had not included it in today's plan.

"Why don't you get on with it? he asked the minister. "The Tories are more progressive than Welsh Government on this point. We need action. You mentioned prioritisation, well, we need action on the climate emergency now."

Antoniw said introducing the Act – first as a bill – was "an absolute commitment of this government" but said this would take time because "the tabling of a piece of legislation is really the end product of an enormous amount of work that takes place".

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