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Cofnod y Trafodion
The Record of Proceedings

Dydd Mawrth, 6 Rhagfyr 2011
Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Cynnwys
Contents

Cwestiynau i’r Prif Weinidog
Questions to the First Minister

Datganiad a Chyhoeddiad Busnes
Business Statement and Announcement

Cynnig i Gymeradwyo Rheoliadau Strategaethau ar gyfer Gofalwyr (Cymru) 2011
Motion to Approve the Carers Strategies (Wales) Regulations 2011

Cynnig i Gymeradwyo Gorchymyn Caniatâd Cynllunio (Tynnu’n ôl Orchymyn Datblygu neu Orchymyn Datblygu Lleol) (Iawndal) (Cymru) 2012
Motion to Approve the Planning Permission (Withdrawal of Development Order or Local Development Order) (Compensation) (Wales) Order 2012

Cynnig i Gymeradwyo Rheoliadau Iechyd Meddwl (Cydgysylltu Gofal a Chynllunio Gofal a Thriniaeth) (Cymru) 2011
Motion to Approve the Mental Health (Care Co-ordination and Care and Treatment Planning) (Wales) Regulations 2011

Cynnig i Gymeradwyo Gorchymyn Mesur Diwydiant Cig Coch (Cymru) 2010 (Diwygio) 2011
Motion to Approve the Red Meat Industry (Wales) Measure 2010 (Amendment) Order 2011

Y Gyllideb Flynyddol/Derfynol
The Annual/Final Budget

Heriau Iechyd Cyhoeddus—Rheoli Tybaco
Public Health Challenges—Tobacco Control

Dadl Plaid Cymru: Tlodi Tanwydd
Plaid Cymru Debate: Fuel Poverty

Cyfnod Pleidleisio
Voting Time
www.g

Yn y golofn chwith, cofnodwyd y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y Siambr. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir cyfieithiad Saesneg o gyfraniadau yn y Gymraeg.
In the left-hand column, the proceedings are recorded in the language in which they were spoken in the Chamber. In addition, an English translation of Welsh speeches is included.

Cyfarfu’r Cynulliad am 1 p.m. gyda’r Llywydd (Rosemary Butler) yn y Gadair.
The Assembly met at 1 p.m. with the Presiding Officer (Rosemary Butler) in the Chair.

The Record

The Presiding Officer: Good afternoon. The National Assembly for Wales is now in session.

Cwestiynau i’r Prif Weinidog
Questions to the First Minister

The Record

Cytundebau Credyd Llog Uchel

High-interest Credit Agreements

1. Vaughan Gething: Pa drafodaethau y mae’r Prif Weinidog wedi’u cael gyda Llywodraeth y DU ynghylch rheoleiddio cytundebau credyd llog uchel. OAQ(4)0268(FM)

1. Vaughan Gething: What discussions has the First Minister had with the UK Government regarding the regulation of high interest credit agreements. OAQ(4)0268(FM)

The Record

The First Minister (Carwyn Jones): I have had no direct discussions. Regulation of credit agreements is not a devolved matter.  However, on 19 July, the UK Government announced it would commission research into how a cap on the total cost of credit would be looked at, particularly the high cost of credit and its effect on consumers.

Vaughan Gething: Thank you for that reply, First Minister. Although the matter of regulation is not devolved, the consequences are matters that certainly affect devolved services. We know that increasing numbers of people are turning to short-term high-interest credit agreements in order to make ends meet. This leads to thousands of people being forced into deep financial trouble. I am sure that you are aware of the Co-operative Party campaign through Parliament to introduce the regulation of these particular types of agreements. Can you confirm, First Minister, that the Welsh Government will take a view on whether to support the regulation of this type of short-term high-interest agreements?

The First Minister: We would absolutely support further protection and we welcome the UK Government’s decision to revisit its policy in this area and to commission new research as part of the consumer credit review.

Mark Isherwood: In this context, what discussions have you had with the UK Government regarding plans, if there are any, to curb legal unlicensed lenders, some of whom trade from places such as Malta, charging annual percentage rates running into six figures, including 130,000 per cent and more, and to curb lenders whose model is to lend multiple loans to householders on low incomes, where the cumulative weekly repayments can be anything up to 90 per cent of their gross and, in some cases, net incomes?

The First Minister: We fully support the work of the all-Wales illegal money lending unit, and, since its launch, the unit has helped over 1,800 victims of illegal money lending and 48 arrests of loan sharks have been made.

The Record

Keith Davies: Brif Weinidog, gwn eich bod yn rhannu fy nghefnogaeth i undebau credyd, fel y byddwch yn dangos drwy eich ymweliad ag undeb credyd ardal Llanelli yn y dyfodol agos. Ar yr adeg yma o’r flwyddyn, maent yn cael eu gwerthfawrogi oherwydd eu rôl wrth leihau pryderon am gost y Nadolig i bobl. Dros y 13 mlynedd diwethaf, mae undeb credyd Llanelli wedi darparu £12 miliwn mewn benthyciadau, gydag oddeutu £218,000 fis diwethaf wedi’i wario’n lleol. Gall undebau credyd nawr helpu’r rheini y mae ganddynt incwm isel i arbed yn rhwyddach drwy gynnig cyfrif cynilo gyda llog. Brif Weinidog, a wnewch chi ymuno gyda mi i groesawu rôl yr undeb credyd mewn darparu opsiynau amgen i drefniadau credyd llog uchel, a’r rôl dda a chwaraewyd gan undeb Llanelli?

Keith Davies: First Minister, I know that you share my support for credit unions, as you will demonstrate through your visit to the Llanelli credit union in the near future. At this time of year, they are appreciated even more because of their role in reducing people’s concerns about the cost of Christmas. Over the past 13 years, the Llanelli credit union has provided £12 million in loans, with some £218,000 provided last month, all spent locally. A credit union can now assist people on low incomes to save more easily by offering a savings account with interest. First Minister, will you join me in welcoming the role of credit unions in providing alternative options to high-interest credit agreements, and the positive role played by the union in Llanelli?

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr wyf yn edrych ymlaen at yr ymweliad ag undeb credyd Llanelli. Mae undebau credyd yn bwysig dros ben er mwyn sicrhau bod pobl yn gallu benthyg arian ar gyfradd sy’n rhesymol. Dyna pam yr ydym wedi cefnogi’r twf mewn undebau credyd drwy Gymru gyfan.

The First Minister: I am looking forward to the visit to the Llanelli credit union. Credit unions are extremely important in ensuring that people can borrow money at a reasonable rate. That is why we have supported the growth of credit unions throughout Wales.

Simon Thomas: Ategaf y galwadau i chi arwain y drafodaeth hon nid yn unig yng Nghymru, ond gyda Llywodraeth y Deyrnas Gyfunol. Mae’n bwysig ein bod ni’n gweld rheoleiddio yn y maes hwn, yn enwedig yng nghyd-destun normaleiddio’r benthyciadau llog uchel hyn, er enghraifft drwy’r ffôn symudol, sydd yn awr mor rhwydd. Mae pobl ifanc nawr yn meddwl bod benthyg arian dros dro ar ddiwedd y mis yn rhywbeth normal i’w wneud, dros y ffôn, neu ar-lein, ac nid ydynt yn sylweddoli cymaint yn fwy y maent yn ei dalu am y benthyciadau hyn a bod dewisiadau amgen ar gael, gan gynnwys dewisiadau sy’n cael eu cefnogi gan eich Llywodraeth chi. Felly, a gaf fi eich annog i arwain dadl gyhoeddus am y pwnc hwn?

Simon Thomas: I endorse the calls on you to lead this debate not only in Wales, but with the United Kingdom Government. It is important that we should see regulation in this area, particularly in the context of normalising high-interest loans, for example via mobile phones, which is now so easy. Young people now think that borrowing money at the end of the month is normal practice, and that it can be done over the phone or online. However, they do not realise how much more they are paying for these loans and that there are alternatives available, some of which are supported by your Government. Therefore, may I urge you to lead a public debate on this issue?

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr wyf yn ddigon hapus i wneud hynny. Mae’n bwysig dros ben bod pobl yn sylweddoli ei bod hi’n ddrud i fenthyg arian gan rai o’r cwmnïau cyfreithlon hyn, yn ogystal â rhai o’r ffynonellau anghyfreithlon.

The First Minister: I would be happy enough to do that. It is exceptionally important that people realise that taking out loans from these companies, some of which operate legally and some that do not, is an expensive thing to do.

The Record

Julie James: First Minister, I very much welcome your answers to the other speakers on this matter. Would you agree that it is also essential to continue to ensure that we have first-rate debt advice services to go with our campaign against these high-interest loans, some of which I noticed only last night on the television charged in excess of 4,000 per cent a year in interest?

The First Minister: Absolutely. It is important that people are able to access the advice that they need in order to avoid falling into debt to begin with, and, secondly, to be able to manage the debt if they do find themselves in that situation.

The Record

Tafarndai Cymru

Welsh Pubs

2. Nick Ramsay: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu ei strategaeth ar gyfer cefnogi tafarndai Cymru. OAQ(4)0267(FM)

2. Nick Ramsay: Will the First Minister outline his strategy for supporting Welsh pubs. OAQ(4)0267(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: The Pub is the Hub project, which was launched in September 2010, aims to support rural pubs. Support for small local businesses including local pubs is available through our regional centre service.

Nick Ramsay: First Minister, we may disagree on a number of things, and have done over the last few months, but one thing that I know that we both agree on is the need to support the Welsh pub industry. Your comments were well received when you spoke at the recent Campaign for Real Ale event, which I hosted at the Senedd. The event highlighted the importance of pubs to local communities. Often, the pub is the only facility left in some local villages, when all other local services have gone. In the wake of that CAMRA event, can you tell us whether you have had any further follow-up talks with CAMRA, or if you intend to, on how we can better support people in Wales running local pubs? Also, have you considered whether there are certain loopholes, such as planning loopholes, which could be closed so that when pubs are threatened with conversion or demolition, that does not happen?

The First Minister: I have not had any discussions since last week, but we are open to listen to what CAMRA has to say. I know that CAMRA lobbies extensively at Westminster. That has been less of the case historically in Wales, but I share your view that pubs are extremely important because they act as community facilities. When a pub goes, quite often, a village becomes a collection of houses.

Mick Antoniw: Following on from that question, First Minister, you will be aware of some of the historic and valued names that public houses have, which represent events that have occurred in communities or industry and many of which go back over several hundred years. It is quite sad to see pubs such as the White Hart Hotel in Pontypridd become Flicks and then the Soul Suite, and we have a preponderance of 'slugs and lettuces’ all over Wales. Does the First Minister think that there are things that we can do to protect the historic value of some of our pub names?

The First Minister: It is difficult to implement legislation in this regard. Quite often, with some licensed premises, a change of name is needed in order to keep them open because of the clientele that they then seek to attract; it is either that or closure. I would support the many historic pub names that we have in Wales, some of which are not that historic, but have become so over the past few years. They represent an important part of the tradition and history of our country.

The Record

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Brif Weinidog, dychwelaf at y pwynt olaf a wnaethoch yn eich ymateb i gwestiwn gwreiddiol Nick Ramsay, a sôn am yr effaith ar gymunedau pan maent yn colli’r gwasanaethau sylfaenol ac yn bodoli yn unig fel casgliad o dai, sy’n golygu nad oes fawr o ymdeimlad cymunedol na mannau i gyfarfod. Ddydd Gwener diwethaf, yr oeddwn yng Nghwm-du yn fy etholaeth i, lle mae’r dafarn leol hefyd yn lleoliad ar gyfer y siop leol a’r swyddfa bost, ac yn cael ei rhedeg gan Gymdeithas Cwm-du mewn cydweithrediad â’r landlordiaid, sef yr Ymddiriedolaeth Genedlaethol. A ydych yn meddwl bod y math hwnnw o batrwm, sy’n cael ei gynnal i raddau helaeth gan wirfoddolwyr, yn fath o batrwm a fyddai’n gallu cynnal gwasanaethau sylfaenol mewn cymunedau fel Cwm-du? Hefyd, estynnaf wahoddiad ichi ddod gyda mi i Gwm-du i weld y gwasanaeth drosoch eich hun.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: First Minister, I return to the last point you made in your response to Nick Ramsay’s original question, and to mention the effects on communities when they lose basic services and exist only as a collection of houses, which means that there is very little feeling of community or places to meet. Last Friday, I went to Cwmdu in my constituency, where the local pub is also home to the local shop and post office, and is run by Cymdeithas Cwmdu in collaboration with the landlords, the National Trust. Do you believe that this type of pattern, which is maintained to a large extent by volunteers, is the kind of pattern that could maintain basic services in communities such as Cwmdu? I also invite you to come with me to Cwmdu to see the place for yourself.

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr wyf yn adnabod y dafarn, sydd wedi’i chynnwys yn y llyfr ar dafarnau hanesyddol Cymru. Mae enghreifftiau eraill, fel y Farmers a’r Drovers, y Raven yn Llanarmon-yn-Iâl, a thafarn yn Llancarfan, os cofiaf, lle mae’r gymuned leol wedi cymryd y dafarn drosodd a sicrhau dyfodol iddi. Mae’n bwysig bod y gymuned leol yn defnyddio’r dafarn a bod y rhai sy’n ei rhedeg yn estyn croeso. Nid yw hynny’n digwydd o hyd ym mhob tafarn ac, oherwydd hynny, mae llawer o dafarnau’n cau.

The First Minister: I know of that pub, which is mentioned in the book on the historic taverns of Wales. There are other examples, such as the Farmers, the Drovers, the Raven in Llanarmon-yn-Iâl, and a pub in Llancarfan, I believe, where the local community has taken over the pubs in order to ensure that they have a future. It is important that the local community uses the pub and that those running them should be welcoming. That does not always happen in every pub, and as a result, many pubs are closing.

The Record

Rebecca Evans: First Minister, many pubs across mid and west Wales are struggling. Part of the problem is the beer tie, which keeps prices artificially high and prevents local microbreweries from selling their products. Will you explore how the beer tie can be relaxed in Wales to enable pubs to sell some of the excellent local beers and ciders that we produce?

The First Minister: There is no doubt that free houses are in a better position than tied houses at the moment. It can be difficult for some tied houses to make a reasonable profit. At one time, there were pub companies, or pubcos, as they were called, which were looking to sell pubs in order for them to become houses. That is less of an issue at the moment. Nevertheless, it is important to see commitment from the breweries that own pubs to ensure that they are thriving community hubs. I applaud one of the actions taken by the Conservative Government in the 1980s and 1990s when it broke the monopoly of the pubcos and allowed new beers in as guest beers. In the same way, I welcomed Gordon Brown’s announcement in his budget some years ago to make it far easier for microbreweries to thrive by cutting duty for smaller breweries.

The Record

The Presiding Officer: Thank you, First Minister. On that very positive note, we will now move on to questions from the party leaders.

The Record

Cwestiynau Heb Rybudd gan Arweinwyr y Pleidiau

Questions Without Notice from the Party Leaders

The Record

The Leader of the Opposition (Andrew R.T. Davies): First Minister, we had a referendum last March on further law-making powers for this institution. You said then that the point of the referendum was to give us the tools to do the job. Seven months after the election, we have had only one piece of legislation to scrutinise in Plenary. In your legislative statement, you promised that there would be three by December. In Scotland, six Bills have come before the Parliament. Why, therefore, has your Government been so slow in bringing legislation forward?

The First Minister: We have published a detailed legislative programme, which contains a number of Bills that will be taken through during the course of this Assembly.

Andrew R.T. Davies: First Minister, the question that I asked you was why you have been so slow in bringing them forward. According to the timetable for your own legislative programme, you were due to bring three Bills to Plenary by December, but we have received only one, which was presented last week. However, that is not the only area in which your Government has been slow to act. We have a review into microbusinesses, business rates, and another into city status. You supposedly went before the people of Wales in May this year with the most comprehensive manifesto—those were your words, not mine—that had been put before the people of Wales. However, all you seem to be doing is reviewing, dithering and delaying. Why are you keeping Welsh businesses waiting?

The First Minister: He seems to forget the £55 million that has been invested in small and medium-sized enterprises in Wales, the £90 million in a centrally retained capital fund, and the £1.4 billion that was announced yesterday for schools. Every time we come to the Chamber, the leader of the opposition continues with his line about health and the alleged £1 billion gap, which is something that his party used during the election campaign in May. However, despite spending twice as much as the party on this side of the Chamber, his party was still unsuccessful. When will he learn that he needs to be more than a one-trick pony?

Andrew R.T. Davies: First Minister, I have not mentioned health in the two questions that I put to you, but I am glad that you have mentioned health, because the health boards have indicated that there will be a £50 million deficit at the end of this financial year. Waiting times are going up. Therefore, if you want to talk about health, I am quite happy to do so time and again. I notice that there are representatives from the Royal College of Nursing in the public gallery. That organisation has noted that over half of its members wish to leave the Welsh NHS. [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order.

Andrew R.T. Davies: Why, First Minister, are you like the proverbial bad workman, who blames his tools for doing such a poor job? It is time that you acted and showed leadership in order to lead the people of Wales.

The First Minister: I will tell the leader of the opposition something: his party’s mantra, which he keeps repeating in the Chamber, cost the health spokesperson of his party his job when he lost his seat in May. I know that that was an advantage to him, because he finds himself where he is now. However, let me give him a challenge: one of the reasons why nurses in Wales are so worried is because of his party’s desire to cut the pay of nurses in Wales, thereby ensuring that nurses in Wales are paid less to do exactly the same job as those in England. This is something that was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week. I ask him now whether he will condemn the Chancellor of the Exchequer, stand up for Welsh nurses, and will he ensure that Welsh nurses are paid the same as every other nurse in the UK? [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order. You have had three questions. [Interruption.] Order. Will you please quieten down and listen to the leader of Plaid Cymru, Ieuan Wyn Jones?

The Leader of Plaid Cymru (Ieuan Wyn Jones): Yes, you might learn something by doing so. [Laughter.]

First Minister, as you know, during the current comprehensive spending review period, the Welsh block grant will reduce by 11.3 per cent, or, in real terms, £1.9 billion. We know that the Wales Audit Office has indicated that, as a result of those cuts, 21,000 jobs will be lost in the public sector in Wales. We know that, as a result of the economic crisis worsening since May, thousands more jobs will be lost in the private sector. If that was not bad enough, the autumn statement added even more gloom to the doom. First Minister, what assessment have you made in relation to the announcement of further public spending cuts by the Chancellor last week?

1.15 p.m.

The First Minister: One problem that we have is that we still do not know what the revenue consequentials of the statement will be. The UK Government cannot tell us. We have asked and asked the Treasury, but it seems unable to tell us how much will accrue, in terms of revenue consequentials, to Wales. I do not know whether the Treasury knows itself where the money is coming from. That is obviously holding us back.

In terms of investment in jobs, we have the £38.9 million consequential following the announcement on the freezing of council tax in England, the £90 million that was announced as part of the centrally retained capital fund, the £55 million that is going directly to small and medium-sized enterprises as a result of the announcement made by the Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science, and the £1.4 billion that was announced for schools yesterday. That is a substantial investment in the future of Wales, and it will help to retain and create many jobs.

 

Ieuan Wyn Jones: Of course, the £1.4 billion that was announced yesterday still depends on local authorities putting forward business cases for their schools. If those business cases are not satisfactory, the work will not go ahead. I believe that that is the position with regard to yesterday’s statement. The question that I asked you, First Minister, was this: what is the impact on Wales from the public spending cuts announced in the autumn statement? The Chancellor said in the statement that there would be further, substantial cuts to public spending in Wales in 2015 and 2016. He is saying that they will be on the same scale as the cuts that we have already faced. Therefore, in addition to the £1.9 billion that we have already lost as a result of the current cuts, we will lose another £800 million in 2015 and 2016. What assessment have you made of the impact of those cuts on your policies?

 

The First Minister: There is no doubt that there will be a negative impact. The leader of Plaid Cymru is correct in his assertions regarding the cuts that will be made to the Welsh budget over the next few years. It is true to say that, despite the efforts that this Government will make to reduce poverty, we are fighting against a tide coming the other way, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I come back to the point about regional pay. It was quite clear last week that the objective of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to ensure that people in Wales and some parts of England are paid less to do the same jobs as people in the south-east of England. That is unfair and inequitable, and something that we will fight tooth and nail on these benches.

  

Ieuan Wyn Jones: One way of approaching the cuts is to blame Westminster, which you have done. However, you also have a responsibility, because you are the First Minister of Wales. You said in the election that you would stand up for the people of Wales, but we have not seen much evidence of that so far. First Minister, as you have probably noticed, I have been questioning you every week on the economy, and I have been astonished and surprised at your Government’s failure to grasp the enormity of the crisis facing us. Let us try to put this in a nutshell. The Welsh economy will grow more slowly than at any time since the nineteenth century. Families will suffer job losses on a scale not seen since the 1980s. Our children and grandchildren will not have the life chances that we have had. Is it not time that we had a bold, ambitious and innovative Government fighting for the people of Wales? Does this exist within you, First Minister?

 

The First Minister: The leader of Plaid Cymru seems oblivious to the fact that £1.5 billion has been announced in support for business and jobs. I have already given him the opportunity to listen to what I just said. The reality of the situation is that there is a budget before the Assembly this afternoon for jobs and growth. I offer him the opportunity to move away from the place to which he has led his party, which will be voting with the Tories this afternoon. I can promise that I will take every opportunity, as will my party, to remind the people of Wales that, when the chips are down, Plaid will side with the Tories. [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order.

The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats (Kirsty Williams): First Minister, at the weekend, Sir Mansel Aylward, senior adviser to the NHS in Wales, said that he was 'depressed and disappointed’ at the limited progress of change that the health service had achieved in the past few years. Do you agree with him?

The First Minister: No; I think that the health service in Wales has moved forward and continues to provide an excellent service to the people.

Kirsty Williams: First Minister, Sir Mansel went on to say that,

'in the past we had plenty of money and perhaps we spent it wrongly’.

Now, when money is tight, his warning is stark: he says that, without reform,

'the richer would get better...the poorer would get poorer and their health would deteriorate’.

If statements like that do not inject a sense of urgency into the Welsh Government about reforming our health service, what will?

The First Minister: I see no evidence to support that, and I am not sure what you mean by 'reform’. If you mean reform along the lines of what is happening in England, I can tell you that we are not going to do that; that is not what the people of Wales voted for in May. Of course, we want to ensure that the health service delivers as locally and as effectively as possible, and that is what we will be looking to do over the course of the next year.

Kirsty Williams: What Professor Aylward is saying is that poor public services do poor people down the most. First Minister, this is not the first warning of this kind from a senior adviser; back in 2004, Sir Derek Wanless was commissioned by the then Minister for health to write a report on the state of the NHS in Wales. He said that things needed to change. He said then that

'Wales does not get as much out of its spending as it should’.

He said then that

'there is unacceptable variation in performance between NHS trusts’.

He said then that

'the overall conclusion is that the current position’

in the Welsh NHS

'is not sustainable’.

That was almost a decade ago. He also concluded that every person and every organisation had a leadership role to play. Is it not time that you, as First Minister, and your Government, showed some leadership in protecting the services that the most vulnerable in our society depend on most?

The First Minister: If it were true that the NHS was unsustainable 10 years ago, it would not be here now. Clearly, that is not correct. We have a fine record on the NHS: waiting lists are dropping, and when it comes to treatment, we do not have any hidden waiting lists, as has been admitted by the UK Government. We have a proud record of being able to provide a holistic service for our people, including free prescriptions, which we will keep. I do not believe that there is any evidence to suggest that the NHS is unsustainable now, just as I do not believe that there was any evidence to suggest that, 10 years ago, it would become unsustainable over the course of a decade.

The Record

Ymddygiad Annerbyniol mewn Gemau Pêl-droed Timau Iau a Hŷn

Unacceptable Behaviour at Junior and Senior Team Football Matches

3. William Graham: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu’r trafodaethau a gynhaliwyd rhwng Llywodraeth Cymru ac awdurdodau pêl-droed yng Nghymru ynghylch yr ymddygiad annerbyniol cynyddol mewn gemau pêl-droed timau iau a hŷn. OAQ(4)0270(FM)

3. William Graham: Will the First Minister outline discussions held between the Welsh Government and football authorities in Wales concerning the increase in unacceptable behaviour at junior and senior team football matches. OAQ(4)0270(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: I last met with the Football Association of Wales on 17 October. It is continually looking to improve standards of behaviour at all levels of football across Wales.

William Graham: Thank you for your answer, First Minister. You will know very well that football provides one of the most popular options for children to participate in regular outdoor exercise and hopefully, in time, to adopt a healthy lifestyle. It is clearly sad that some are being denied these opportunities because of the actions, as in nearly every case, of a few players and spectators. In your talks, if you have the opportunity, could you make this remark to see if these occasions can be minimised?

The First Minister: Yes, and the FAW does understand this. Its Fair Play scheme focuses on better player behaviour, and it is developing a Get Behind the Line campaign to improve parental behaviour on the touchlines.

Mike Hedges: There have been problems at football matches over decades; it is not a recent phenomenon. I speak as somebody who watches 40 to 50 local and junior football and rugby matches a year; in the last two or three years, I have not seen any problems at all. I do accept that problems exist, however. I say that it is not only in football, but that other sports have problems as well. I would ask the First Minister, when he next speaks to the Football Association of Wales, whether he can ask it to do more to try to get more neutral referees for these contests. An awful lot of the problems centre on the secretary or a supporter of one of the clubs refereeing a game in a manner that can only be described as highly biased, and that tends to lead to problems. I would invite him to ask the FAW to redouble its efforts in getting more neutral referees.

The First Minister: There is a difficulty in recruiting referees. It is something of a vicious circle in many ways. People are less inclined to act as referees the more they see abuse from the touchlines. As a result, it is quite often the case that people will step in. I can assure the Member for Swansea East that, as somebody who used to referee rugby in the Swansea district, no matter where you are from, the home crowd will always think you are biased.

The Record

Blaenoriaethau ar gyfer Chwaraeon a Hamdden Egnïol

Priorities for Sport and Active Recreation

4. Mohammad Asghar: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu blaenoriaethau Llywodraeth Cymru ar gyfer chwaraeon a hamdden egnïol yng Nghymru dros y 12 mis nesaf. OAQ(4)0263(FM)

4. Mohammad Asghar: Will the First Minister outline the Welsh Government’s priorities for sport and active recreation in Wales over the next 12 months. OAQ(4)0263(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: Our priorities for sport and active recreation, as set out in our programme for government, are to create more opportunities for people in Wales, and especially the younger generation, to take part in sport.

Mohammad Asghar: First Minister, I welcome reports that talks are ongoing concerning the possibility of bringing a National Football League US football game to Cardiff. During the 2010 Ryder Cup in Newport you were boasting that a lot of contacts were made with American sporting authorities and individuals. Will you tell the Chamber how many other sporting events you are planning to bring to Cardiff alongside NFL?

The First Minister: It is not just to Cardiff but to Wales as a whole. We are looking at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, the 2015 Ashes, 2014 Senior Open Championships, the first golf major in Wales, and the Commonwealth judo championships, and we are working with the Millennium Stadium to attract an NFL game to the site.

 

Christine Chapman: First Minister, you may be aware of the recent furore over the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event, which failed to include a single woman athlete on its short list. We know that just 2 per cent of mainstream media deal with women’s sport, which attracts only 0.5 per cent of corporate sponsorship. First Minister, would you agree that it is urgent that we do more over the next year to promote the profile of women’s sport?

The First Minister: Absolutely. I believe that we have a better story to tell in Wales. We know that many of our female athletes are in line, we hope, for medals at the next Olympic Games, particularly in sports where, over the years, we have not been particularly strong, like swimming—for many years we did not win medals in Commonwealth Games swimming competitions. We know that that was not the case at the last Games, and that it was the women’s swimming team that led the way.

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Elin Jones: Brif Weinidog, ers y newyddion fod y Gemau Olympaidd yn dod i Lundain, mae rhai o’r ffynonellau cyllido ar gyfer cynlluniau cyfalaf chwaraeon wedi eu rhewi, i bob pwrpas. Wrth i’r ffynonellau hyn ailagor, yn enwedig y Loteri, a ydych yn credu bod lle i gael cynllun cyfalaf chwaraeon ar gyfer Cymru gyfan, ac y dylai trac rhedeg amlbwrpas, hirddisgwyliedig yn Aberystwyth fod yn un o’r blaenoriaethau?

Elin Jones: First Minister, since it was announced that the Olympic Games are coming to London, some funding sources for capital schemes in sport have been frozen, to all extents and purposes. As these sources, especially the Lottery, open again, do you believe that there is scope for a capital scheme for sports covering the whole of Wales, and that Aberystwyth’s long-awaited, multi-purpose running track should be a priority?

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr wyf yn sicr y byddai hynny’n rhywbeth a fyddai’n cael ei gefnogi gan y gymuned yn Aberystwyth. Gwelsom y datganiad a wnaed ddoe yn Llundain ac yr ydym yn ystyried a ddaw unrhyw les i Gymru o ganlyniad i’r datganiad hwnnw.

The First Minister: I am sure that that would be welcomed by the community in Aberystwyth. We saw the announcement made yesterday in London, and we are considering whether there will be any benefits to Wales as a result.

The Record

Julie Morgan: I am pleased that the First Minister agrees that the Olympics will provide good sporting role models for women and girls, in particular. Will he be supporting role models like Hannah Mills, who has been selected for the Great Britain Olympic sailing team and who did her training on Llanishen reservoir, in my constituency of Cardiff North, which is sadly drained at the moment?

The First Minister: Indeed, and there are many others to whom I wish the best of luck for the Olympics in the middle part of next summer. Of course, I am pleased that so many of our women athletes are in a position where they will, realistically, expect to win a medal in August.

The Record

Aled Roberts: Brif Weinidog, dylech ychwanegu Cwpan Rygbi Cynghrair y Byd, sy’n dod i Wrecsam y flwyddyn nesaf, at eich rhestr. Er hynny, mae problem o ran cynnal gemau pêl droed rhyngwladol ar y Cae Ras gan nad yw’r stadiwm yn cyflawni amodau UEFA. A fydd eich Llywodraeth yn cefnogi ymgyrch gan Brifysgol Glyndŵr a’r clwb pêl-droed i wella’r adnoddau yn y stadiwm?

Aled Roberts: First Minister, you should add the Rugby League World Cup, coming to Wrexham next year, to your list. However, there is a problem with holding international football matches at the Racecourse, as the stadium fails to meet UEFA requirements. Will your Government support the Glyndŵr University and football club campaign to improve facilities at the stadium?

Y Prif Weinidog: Soniais am Gwpan Rygbi Cynghrair y Byd. Fel un sydd wedi anghofio bod y Crusaders wedi symud o Ben-y-bont ar Ogwr i Wrecsam—mae’n dal i fod yn dda gweld y tîm yn chwarae yn adran un y bencampwriaeth—os oes cynlluniau i wella’r Cae Ras a rhoi mwy o seddi yno, byddwn yn fodlon siarad am y peth gyda Phrifysgol Glyndŵr a’r cwmni sydd biau’r Cae Ras.

The First Minister: I mentioned the Rugby League World Cup. As one who has forgotten that the Crusaders moved from Bridgend to Wrexham—it is still good to see the team play in the championship 1—if there are plans to improve the Racecourse, in order to put in more seating, I would be willing to discuss them with the Glyndŵr University and the company that owns the Racecourse.

The Record

Diwydiant Amaeth

Agriculture Industry

5. Llyr Huws Gruffydd: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am gynlluniau ei Lywodraeth i gefnogi’r diwydiant amaeth. OAQ(4)0277(FM)

5. Llyr Huws Gruffydd: Will the First Minister make a statement on his Government’s plans to support the agriculture industry. OAQ(4)0277(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Fel y soniais yr wythnos diwethaf, yr wyf wedi ymrwymo’n gadarn i sicrhau dyfodol llewyrchus i amaethyddiaeth yng Nghymru.

The First Minister: As I said last week, I am firmly committed to securing a prosperous future for Welsh agriculture.  

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1.30 p.m.

Llyr Huws Gruffydd: Gyda TB mewn gwartheg yn broblem real ar draws y wlad, mae’n anghyfrifol fod Llywodraeth San Steffan wedi torri yn ôl ar weithgaredd labordai iechyd anifeiliaid yng Nghymru. Gan fod eich Llywodraeth yn dweud eich bod am sefyll cornel Cymru, pam na wnaethoch gyflwyno tystiolaeth i’r Pwyllgor Materion Cymreig, sydd wedi cynnal ymchwiliad ar y mater hwn a’i oblygiadau andwyol i Gymru?   

Llyr Huws Gruffydd: With bovine TB a real problem across the country, it is irresponsible that the Westminster Government has cut back on the activities of animal health laboratories in Wales. As your Government says that you want to stand up for Wales, why did you not present evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee, which has held an inquiry into this issue and its detrimental implications for Wales?

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr ydym wedi dweud ein barn ynglŷn â chau’r labordai hyn, ac yr ydym am sicrhau bod polisi yn cael ei sefydlu yng Nghymru sy’n delio â phob agwedd ar TB.

The First Minister: We have expressed our views about the closure of these laboratories, and we want to ensure that a policy is established in Wales that deals with all aspects of TB.

The Record

Antoinette Sandbach: First Minister, your Government’s decision to remove the less favoured area uplift within Glastir has been a matter of concern to the agricultural industry. You stated on 18 October in this Chamber that

'the changes have been forced upon us by the European Commission as it would not accept an LFA element. That is clear and a matter of public record.’

Therefore, can you explain why the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes has written to me specifically denying this point? Can you assure me that you will apologise to Welsh farmers for the confusion that your contradictory statements have caused?

The First Minister: No, because the reality is that this is what we were able to get past the European Commission. It is also important for the Conservative party to understand that every farmer in Wales will be in a position to benefit because of the changes. We have a good record of standing up for farmers in Wales, and we will carry on standing up for farmers in Wales despite the UK Government’s view, which is so different to ours, and so different to the interests of Welsh farmers.

 

William Powell: First Minister, the Deputy Minister last week announced the beginning of a reflection exercise on the future of European programmes from 2014 to 2020. What specific measures will be taken to publicise this decision, which we broadly welcome, to ensure that there is maximum participation in this important consultation, particularly from the widely dispersed farming community?

The First Minister: We have the records of every farmer who claims, and we also have a good record over the years of communicating with farmers. We have done it through Gwlad magazine, and we have been able to consult with farmers over time because many of them are known to us and are on the database of claimants.    

The Record

Diogelwch Cymunedol yn Islwyn

Community Safety in Islwyn

6. Gwyn R. Price: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am ymdrechion Llywodraeth Cymru i wella diogelwch cymunedol yn Islwyn. OAQ(4)0274(FM)

6. Gwyn R. Price: Will the First Minister make a statement on Welsh Government efforts to improve community safety in Islwyn. OAQ(4)0274(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: We work closely with the community safety partnerships in Wales to ensure a joined-up, multi-agency approach to tackling crime, anti-social behaviour, substance misuse, youth offending, domestic abuse and violence against women.

Gwyn R. Price: First Minister, South Wales Police is facing cuts of 256 officers and 432 civilian police staff. Do you agree that these cuts will damage community safety in areas such as Islwyn?

The First Minister: Yes, I do. The fewer police there are on the streets, the more crime there is. We know from history that nothing deters people more from committing crime than seeing police officers in uniform. The fewer there are of them, the more likely it is that crime will increase.

Jocelyn Davies: First Minister, do you agree that community safety in Islwyn will not be improved by the creation of costly police commissioners? Will you be giving evidence to the newly announced commission on the future of policing that policing should be devolved?

The First Minister: That is something for the Silk commission to consider. We will give evidence as appropriate to the policing commission, but, nevertheless, it is an area that has been widely debated in the Chamber and one that needs to be considered by the Silk commission.

Mohammad Asghar: First Minister, in Islwyn and across Wales, arson attacks can do severe damage to safety in our communities. Will you provide an update on your administration’s response to the most recent statistics, which suggest an 11 per cent annual increase in arson attacks across Wales and an 8 per cent rise in call-outs related to arson? First Minister, how are you working with the various bodies to ensure that this worrying trend of a rising number of deliberate fires is not allowed to continue in our part of the world?

The First Minister: This is an area that is not devolved, but, nevertheless, I reiterate that we have given a commitment to recruit an extra 500 community support officers in Wales, and work is ongoing to begin that recruitment process. In fact, recruitment has begun in order to fulfil the pledge that we made to the people of Wales.  

The Record

Y Llywydd: Tynnwyd cwestiwn 7, OAQ(4)0266(FM), yn ôl.

The Presiding Officer: Question 7, OAQ(4)0266(FM), has been withdrawn.

Blaenoriaethau ar gyfer y De Ddwyrain

Priorities for South East Wales

8. Lynne Neagle: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu blaenoriaethau Llywodraeth Cymru ar gyfer y de ddwyrain dros dymor nesaf y Cynulliad. OAQ(4)0278(FM)

8. Lynne Neagle: Will the First Minister outline the Welsh Government’s priorities for South East Wales for the coming Assembly term. OAQ(4)0278(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: Our priorities are outlined in the programme for government.

Lynne Neagle: Thank you for that answer, First Minister. A report published in 2010 concluded that for every £1 invested in the Bookstart scheme the state sees a return of £25 in terms of the value to society. That report commended Bookstart’s role in ensuring that all children, no matter where they are from, have access to books. A statement of opinion that I tabled earlier this year in support of Bookstart received backing from Members from across the Chamber, despite the fact that Bookstart’s funding has been slashed by the Tories in England. I understand that resources are incredibly scarce at the moment, but will you join me in commending the success of Bookstart in Wales over the years, and will you look positively at continuing the funding for the programme beyond 2012?

The First Minister: Bookstart demonstrates how partnership working between Welsh Government departments, public libraries and health visitors can make a difference to children’s lives. It promotes one of our key priorities, which is improving literacy. I thank everyone who has been involved in Bookstart for ensuring that it has been a success.

William Graham: First Minister, will you recommit to your Government’s intention to create as many jobs as possible in south-east Wales, particularly following the closure of the hot strip mill at Llanwern, with a loss of 115 jobs? That is compounded by the 70 jobs lost the month before on construction products, and the 75 jobs lost at Hawker Siddeley Switchgear in Blackwood. Could I ask you to review the options for creating a further enterprise zone at Newport?

The First Minister: Unfortunately, having an enterprise zone in Newport would not have made any difference to the jobs at Tata Steel. I sympathise with the people who have lost their jobs, but, to be blunt, there is a depression in the market for steel across the world. Many jobs have also been lost on the continent of Europe, and that is why we are in constant touch with steel producers in Wales to ensure that we are able to offer help where it is required.

The Record

Cyfleusterau Hyfforddiant Milwrol

Military Training Facilities

9. William Powell: Pa drafodaethau y mae’r Prif Weinidog wedi’u cael am gyfleusterau hyfforddiant milwrol yng Nghymru. OAQ(4)0264(FM)

9. William Powell: What discussions has the First Minister had on military training facilities in Wales. OAQ(4)0264(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: I have had no direct discussions regarding training facilities. However, my officials are in constant discussions on wider matters.

William Powell: Thank you for that answer. From 1959 to 1965 the All Arms Junior Leaders’ Regiment was based in Tonfannau, Meirionethshire. As part of their training regime, they climbed Cadair Idris weekly. Over time, they erected a small hut near the summit, which stands to this day. Sadly, there is currently nothing on the site that marks their achievement, despite the hut being in regular use by climbers and ramblers. Will you join me in supporting calls for a bilingual memorial plaque to be placed at the site to commemorate the regiment’s lasting contribution to the wider area?

The First Minister: Yes, I would. I am more than happy, if you to write to me with further details, to consider what can be done to facilitate that.

Angela Burns: First Minister, as you will know, I have two large training grounds in my constituency—Castlemartin and Penally. At the moment, they are both doing a lot in terms of training our soldiers to go into theatres of war. Will you acknowledge the importance of those training grounds to the soldiers and their training, as well as to the local economy in Pembrokeshire, and the superb support given by the people of Pembrokeshire to our soldiers and to those training grounds? They are important to our local economy. This is an opportunity to bring two very important areas to your attention.

The First Minister: Yes, I know that they are important to the economy and I know that they do an excellent job in training many young men and women who find themselves in danger when they leave. That is something that we take very seriously. Castlemartin and Penally have been part of the economy of Pembrokeshire for many years. Castlemartin was there in the early 1960s, and was part of a controversy because German troops were based there. I cannot pretend that I remember that, but that was the case. I fully recognise the strong role that both establishments play in the economy of Pembrokeshire.

The Record

Argyfwng yr Ewro

Eurozone Crisis

10. David Melding: Pa asesiad y mae Uned Gyflawni’r Prif Weinidog wedi’i wneud o effaith argyfwng parth yr Ewro ar amcanion polisi economaidd Llywodraeth Cymru. OAQ(4)0269(FM)

10. David Melding: What assessment has the First Minister’s Delivery Unit made of the impact of the Eurozone crisis on the Welsh Government’s economic policy objectives. OAQ(4)0269(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: The eurozone crisis will continue to impact on economic growth in Wales and the UK, and thus on a range of Welsh Government objectives. We will continue to analyse the eurozone crisis on a regular basis and there are regular briefings on economic issues given to the Cabinet by the chief economist.

The Record

David Melding: First Minister, you may know that your party colleague Ed Balls was in Cardiff, and, indeed, south Wales more widely, last week, when he warned that Wales faces being hit disproportionately by the eurozone crisis. I wonder whether that is also your assessment and whether you will bring forward some sort of statement to say how you will modify some of your policies to ensure that we can head off, or at least mitigate, some of the worst implications of this incredible crisis.

The First Minister: I see no evidence to suggest that Wales will be disproportionately hit, but it is right to say that all countries in Europe, particularly those in the European Union, will be hit, whether or not they are in the eurozone. The great question that has to be considered on the part of the UK is this: should we see ourselves as a central part of the EU, although not necessarily of the eurozone, or should we stay on the sidelines? At the moment, my great worry is that the UK is perceived as being a bit player and not a central part of Europe, which is where we should be.

The Record

Alun Ffred Jones: I ddod â’r mater yn ôl i Gymru, mae gwariant ar gynlluniau i wella isadeiledd Cymru yn un o’r ffyrdd amlwg y gallwn eu defnyddio i gynyddu cyflogaeth a chefnogi cwmnïau yn y cyfnod anodd hwn. Mae datganiad y Canghellor wedi rhyddhau swm o tua £215 miliwn ar gyfer cynlluniau cyfalaf, ond, ar ei ben ei hun, ni fydd hynny’n ddigon. A yw eich Llywodraeth yn mynd i geisio uchafu’r swm hwnnw drwy ei ddefnyddio i ddenu arian o’r sector preifat neu a ydych yn mynd i’w ddefnyddio mewn ffordd wahanol?

Alun Ffred Jones: To return to Wales, expenditure on schemes to improve the infrastructure of Wales is one of the obvious ways that we can use to increase employment and support companies at this difficult time. The Chancellor’s statement has released a sum of about £215 million for capital schemes, but, on its own, that will not be enough. Will your Government try to maximise this sum by using it to attract funding from the private sector or are you going to use it in a different way?

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr ydym eisiau sicrhau—mae hwn yn rhywbeth y mae’r Trysorlys wedi siarad amdano—fod trafodaeth ynglŷn â phrosiectau mawr. Un o’r pethau y mae’r Trysorlys wedi eu dweud yw ei fod eisiau siarad gyda ni ynglŷn â’r M4. Yr ydym eisiau sicrhau, lle mae’n bosibl, fod arian ychwanegol yn dod i mewn, er enghraifft, drwy awdurdodau lleol, er mwyn sicrhau bod yr arian a gawsom yr wythnos diwethaf yn gallu cynyddu wrth dynnu ar ffynonellau eraill.

The First Minister: We want to ensure that—this is something that the Treasury has discussed—there is discussion about major projects. One of the things that the Treasury has said is that it wants to talk to us about the M4. We want to ensure that, where possible, we secure additional money, for example, through the local authorities, in order to ensure that the money that we received last week can be increased by drawing from other sources.

The Record

Eluned Parrott: First Minister, when you announced the establishment of the delivery unit on 13 July, you described part of its role as ensuring

'that all parts of the Welsh Government are playing their part to deliver the Welsh Government’s policy objectives against measureable and transparent targets.’

However, the economic policy section of the programme for government does not contain a single numerical target. Is the delivery unit now setting its own indicative targets, and have those been changed as a result of the continuing impact of the eurozone crisis?

The First Minister: No, what we published in our programme for government remains the same. Our aspirations are set out there, and we want the people of Wales to be able to measure us year-on-year against those aspirations.

The Record

Blaenoriaethau ar gyfer 2012

Priorities for 2012

11. Elin Jones: Beth yw prif flaenoriaethau’r Prif Weinidog ar gyfer 2012.  OAQ(4)0272(FM)

11. Elin Jones: What are the First Minister’s main priorities for 2012. OAQ(4)0272(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae’r blaenoriaethau hynny i’w gweld yn y rhaglen lywodraethu.

The First Minister: Those priorities can be seen in the programme for government.

Elin Jones: Dros yr wythnosau diwethaf, yr ydych wedi cyfeirio’n aml at brinder doctoriaid o fewn y gwasanaeth iechyd, yn enwedig yn ein hysbytai. Yr ydych wedi dweud eich bod yn bwriadu edrych dramor i gyflenwi’r prinder hwn yn y tymor byr. O feddwl am y tymor hirach, a ydych yn credu bod angen i’n hysgolion meddygol yng Nghymru hyfforddi mwy o’n pobl ifanc ar gyfer y gwasanaeth iechyd yn y dyfodol a bod gormod o enghreifftiau o hyd o fyfyrwyr chweched dosbarth galluog a deallus yn methu cael cyfweliad ar gyfer ysgol feddygol Caerdydd ac yn gorfod mynd tu allan i Gymru i hyfforddi i fod yn ddoctoriaid? A wnewch chi roi pwysau ar yr ysgol feddygol benodol honno i gynyddu’r ganran o bobl ifanc o Gymru sydd yn hyfforddi yno, fel ein bod yn gweld mwy o’n pobl ifanc yn mynd i mewn i’r gwasanaeth iechyd yn y dyfodol?

Elin Jones: Over the past weeks, you have often referred to a shortage of doctors within the health service, in particular in our hospitals. You have said that you intend to look abroad to address that shortage in the short term. In thinking about the longer term, do you believe that our medical schools in Wales need to train more of our young people for the health service in future and that there are still too many examples of able and intelligent sixth formers not being able to get an interview for the Cardiff school of medicine and having to go outside of Wales to train to be doctors? Will you put pressure on that specific school of medicine to increase the percentage of young people from Wales who train there, so that we see more of our young people entering the health service in future?

Y Prif Weinidog: Nid wyf yn credu bod ots o ble mae pobl yn dod cyn mynd i’r coleg. Yr hyn sydd yn bwysig yw eu bod yn sefyll yng Nghymru ar ôl cael eu hyfforddi. Mae’n bwysig dros ben bod hynny’n digwydd. Nid yw hyfforddi pobl o Gymru yng Nghaerdydd yn golygu eu bod yn mynd i aros yng Nghymru. Yr ydym yn gwybod y gellir trosglwyddo gradd mewn meddygyniaeth ar draws y byd. Yr hyn sydd yn bwysig yw ein bod yn sicrhau bod y rheini sydd yn hyfforddi yng Nghymru yn sefyll yng Nghymru a’n bod hefyd yn tynnu pobl o’r tu allan i Gymru i mewn i Gymru er mwyn sicrhau ein bod yn cael y gorau o ble bynnag y maent yn dod. Dyna nod yr ymgyrch a fydd yn cael ei lansio yn ystod dechrau’r flwyddyn nesaf.

The First Minister: I do not think that it matters where people come from before going to college. What is important is that they remain in Wales after being trained. It is very important indeed that that happens. Training people from Wales in Cardiff does not mean that they are going to stay in Wales. We know that a degree in medicine can be transferred to anywhere in the world. What is important is that we ensure that those trained in Wales remain in Wales and that we draw people in from outside of Wales to ensure that we get the best wherever they come from. That is the aim of the campaign that will be launched during the start of next year.

The Record

1.45 p.m.

Joyce Watson: First Minister, for many people in Wales the first priority in 2012 will be sorting through energy bills and working out how they will be able to pay them. I have a copy here of the report by the Office of Fair Trading on the off-grid energy market, which details unfair practices in the heating fuel industry. Has your Government had discussions with the Office of Fair Trading and the UK Government about stamping out overcharging and other dodgy practices in the industry that we have witnessed in west Wales, for example? What, if anything, can your Government do to support households in my region that rely on expensive fuels that are prone to steep price rises at very short notice during cold snaps?

The First Minister: There needs to be a reform of the energy market to make it far more transparent, because there are so many tariffs that people have to plough through, and it is very difficult for individual consumers to work out what is the best tariff for them. It is then important that those tariffs are simplified to make sure that people are fully able understand where their interests lie in terms of getting a better deal for their energy supply. That is something that the UK Government will need to take forward. Certainly it is important that we see a proper energy market perform in this country, so that the individual consumer knows where they stand.

Peter Black: First Minister, yesterday, you were at the opening of the Institute of Life Science 2 at Swansea University, which is a welcome development for the city and county of Swansea. You will know that some of the research scholars in that institute are currently funded through the Prince of Wales innovation scholarship, which your Government is bringing to an end. Clearly there is a need for something to replace that particular scheme. What sort of timetable are you now looking at in terms of coming up with an alternative so that we can continue to encourage the very valuable research that you were encouraging yesterday?

The First Minister: We understand the need to ensure that there is proper funding available with the Prince of Wales scheme coming to an end. We are looking to put alternatives in place as soon as possible.

Kenneth Skates: First Minister, an important issue that has come up in the media task and finish group has been the need to support the training of Welsh-language journalists in Wales. The wider media industry is generally going through a pretty tough time right now and it is vital that Welsh-language print and broadcast journalists get the training and work placements that they need to become fine journalists. Will the Welsh Government look into how this can be achieved, and also support Glyndŵr University, which is working with The Wrexham Leader newspaper and the National Council for the Training of Journalists in setting up the first industry-accredited journalism course for Welsh speakers in the UK?

The First Minister: Absolutely, and I very much welcome the initiative that Glyndŵr has put forward. There will always be a need to ensure that people are able to access news as easily as possible, and there will always be a need to ensure that people are able to access Welsh news as easily as possible. Certainly, many of us in this Chamber, if not all of us, will have concerns as to the future of news in Wales, given the very tough market conditions that exist.

The Record

Cefnogaeth i Bobl gyda Dementia

Support for People with Dementia

12. Mark Isherwood: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu cefnogaeth ei Lywodraeth i bobl gyda dementia yng Nghymru. OAQ(4)0276(FM)

12. Mark Isherwood: Will the First Minister outline his Government’s support for people with dementia in Wales. OAQ(4)0276(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: The national dementia vision for Wales highlights the support available for people with dementia and their carers.

Mark Isherwood: Thank you very much for that. I am sure that you will agree that early diagnosis is key, so that everyone with dementia can get the support and treatment that they need to live with the condition. What action is your Government proposing in response to the study produced by the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland, 'Mapping the Dementia Gap’, which found that diagnosis rates were 60 per cent in Northern Ireland, 50 per cent in Scotland, 39 per cent in England, and just 36 per cent in Wales? North Wales has almost the lowest figure in the UK, being 166 out of 169 areas.

The First Minister: What I can say is that we are committed to developing dementia care services and to developing the dementia action plan. Last year, we announced an extra £1.5 million in order to achieve that.

The Record

Cyfranogaeth mewn Chwaraeon

Participation in Sport

13. Keith Davies: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog roi’r wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am gynlluniau Llywodraeth Cymru i annog cyfranogaeth mewn chwaraeon yng Nghymru. OAQ(4)0273(FM)

13. Keith Davies: Will the First Minister give an update on the Welsh Government’s plans to encourage participation in sport in Wales. OAQ(4)0273(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae Llywodraeth Cymru’n parhau i fod yn ymrwymedig i hyrwyddo cyfleoedd am gyfranogaeth mewn chwaraeon, yn enwedig i bobl ifanc.

The First Minister: The Welsh Government remains committed to promoting opportunities for participation in sport, especially for young people.   

The Record

Keith Davies: Fel cefnogwr chwaraeon, yr wyf yn falch o berfformiad ac enw da Cymru, a wnaeth yn arbennig o dda yn Seland Newydd, er enghraifft. Bydd cystadleuaeth gyntaf y Gemau Olympaidd, sef pêl-droed i fenywod, yn cael ei chynnal yng Nghaerdydd, ac, yn ychwanegol at hyn, mae Cymru hefyd wedi’i dewis fel lleoliad  i wersylloedd hyfforddi. Yn lleol, mae clwb gymnasteg Llanelli yn buddsoddi yn ei gyfleusterau, ac mae bellach yn hyrwyddo cyfranogaeth i nifer o blant ifanc mewn chwaraeon. Beth mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn ei wneud i sicrhau y bydd etifeddiaeth y Gemau Olympaidd yn cefnogi ac annog chwaraeon yng nghymunedau Cymru a, gobeithio, yn datblygu enillwyr medalau’r dyfodol?

Keith Davies: As a sports fan, I am proud of the performance and the reputation of Wales, which did extremely well in New Zealand, for example. The first Olympic competition, which is women’s football, will be staged in Cardiff, and, in addition to that, Wales has also been selected as a training camp location. Locally, the Llanelli gymnastics club is investing in its facilities, and it now promotes participation to a number of young children in sport. What is the Welsh Government doing to ensure that the legacy of the Olympic Games will support and encourage sport in Welsh communities and, hopefully, the development of future medal-winners?

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae Chwaraeon Cymru yn paratoi strategaeth gymunedol ar hyn o bryd sy’n anelu at sicrhau mwy o gyfleoedd chwaraeon i bobl sy’n byw yn ein cymunedau, a hefyd i sicrhau clybiau chwaraeon cryfach.

The First Minister: Sport Wales is currently preparing a community strategy, which aims to ensure more sporting opportunities for people living in our communities, and also to secure stronger sporting clubs.

Suzy Davies: Er ei bod yn braf clywed y bydd hyfforddiant yn cael ei gynnal yno, mae’n drueni na fydd Abertawe yn cynnal cystadlaethau nofio yn ystod y Gemau Olympaidd. Fodd bynnag, mae manteision posibl i Gymru, gan y bydd pyllau nofio’r pentref Olympaidd yn cael eu datgymalu ar ôl y gemau ac yn cael eu hailadeiladu mewn lleoliadau eraill. A fydd Llywodraeth Cymru yn gwneud cais i ail-leoli un o’r pyllau hynny yng Nghymru?

Suzy Davies: Although it is good to hear that coaching will be happening there, it is disappointing to hear that Swansea will not be staging swimming competitions during the Olympic Games. However, there are possible benefits to Wales, given that the swimming pools in the Olympic village will be dismantled after the games and will be rebuilt elsewhere. Will the Welsh Government make a bid to relocate one of those pools in Wales?

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae hynny’n bwynt diddorol. Mae hynny’n rhywbeth y gwnawn ei ystyried, os bydd cyfle i gael pwll arall yng Nghymru. Rhaid hefyd, wrth gwrs, ystyried y cyfraniad y bydd yn rhaid inni ei wneud bob blwyddyn. Yr wyf yn credu bod hynny’n rhywbeth y gallwn edrych arno.

The First Minister: That is an interesting point. That is something that we will consider, if there is an opportunity to secure another pool for Wales. We must also, of course, consider the contribution that we would have to make every year. I think that that is something that we could look at.

The Record

Cefnogaeth i Bobl Hŷn

Support for Older People

14. Rebecca Evans: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am y gefnogaeth i bobl hŷn. OAQ(4)0275(FM)

14. Rebecca Evans: Will the First Minister make a statement on support for older people. OAQ(4)0275(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: We led the way with our internationally recognised strategy for older people. Through the extension of this strategy, we will continue to deliver our ambition for Wales to be a good place to grow older.

Rebecca Evans: Following the Commissioner for Older People in Wales’s report that found that some hospital care was shamefully inadequate, I welcome the introduction of the spot checks in hospitals to ensure dignity in care. How many spot checks have taken place and what are the findings of those spot checks?

The First Minister: The piloting of the dignity spot checks was conducted in October and November. The first two unannounced spot checks will take place in December and will be conducted by Health Inspectorate Wales. The spot checks have recently started; therefore, we will be able to analyse their findings as soon as there have been enough spot checks conducted.

Janet Finch-Saunders: Following the closure of Southern Cross care homes in July of this year, we asked for contingency plans to be put in place to avoid any potential future crisis. Today, concerns have been raised that even more care homes may be at risk in Wales. What action is the Welsh Government taking to protect the wellbeing of vulnerable older people who are in need of residential and nursing care in Wales, given that your budget endorses a real-term cut in health and social services?

The First Minister: The people of Wales decided that they did not want the kind of budget cuts that your party proposed, particularly in social services, which is an area that has been hammered over the border. I can assure the people of Wales that, in Gwenda Thomas, we have someone who will be monitoring the situation closely to ensure that the interests of older people are protected.

David Rees: Will you join me in congratulating Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council on its plans for an innovative approach to providing residential care for the elderly? In fact, the Member for Aberconwy may want to look at it, because it shows how it will work without having the worries of Southern Cross. Will the Welsh Government be looking at those plans to see whether they can be rolled out across other local authorities?

The First Minister: I always welcome the good work being done by the Labour-controlled Neath Port Talbot council. I would be very happy to see that good work being rolled out across the rest of Wales.

Lindsay Whittle: First Minister, you will be aware of the recently published Office for National Statistics findings that, last winter, there were 12 preventable deaths of older people per day, and that Wales was, once again, the worst performing region in England and Wales, with the highest figure on the excess winter mortality index. Considering that the London Government is cutting the winter fuel allowance for the elderly in Wales, what systems have been put in place in Wales to offset those cuts and to ensure that those figures are dramatically improved upon? Do you not agree that this democratically elected legislature of Wales is better placed to make decisions regarding the wellbeing of our citizens than that in England?

The First Minister: I am surprised to hear a Member of Plaid Cymru describe Wales as a region of England and Wales. That took me aback slightly, given the party of which he is a Member. In answer to his point, of course we take seriously the issue of the security of older people. We know that fuel poverty is going to be an issue this winter because of the extra cost of fuel. That is why we have ensured that Arbed will continue as a scheme that helps many people, particularly older people, to reduce their fuel costs over the course of this winter and many others.

The Record

Diwydiant Amaeth yn y Gorllewin

Agriculture Industry in West Wales

15. Paul Davies: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am y diwydiant amaeth yn y gorllewin. OAQ(4)0265(FM)

15. Paul Davies: Will the First Minister make a statement on the agricultural industry in West Wales. OAQ(4)0265(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr wyf yn cyfeirio’r Aelod at yr ateb a roddais i gwestiwn 5.

The First Minister: I refer the Member to my response to question 5.

Paul Davies: Un o brif flaenoriaethau ffermwyr yn fy etholaeth yw taclo TB mewn gwartheg, oherwydd mae’r clefyd hwn yn cael effaith ofnadwy ar y sector amaethyddiaeth. Yr wyf yn deall bod y panel annibynnol sydd yn adolygu’r polisi i ddelio â TB mewn gwartheg wedi cyfarfod am y tro diwethaf ar 11 Tachwedd. A all y Prif Weinidog ddweud wrthym pryd bydd ei Lywodraeth yn gwneud datganiad a phenderfyniad ar y ffordd ymlaen? Mae bron chwe mis wedi mynd heibio ers i Weinidog yr Amgylchedd a Datblygu Cynaliadwy ohirio’r polisi gwreiddiol.

Paul Davies: One of the main priorities for farmers in my constituency is to tackle bovine TB because that disease is having a huge impact on the agriculture sector. I understand that the independent panel reviewing the policy to deal with bovine TB met for the final time on 11 November. Can the First Minister tell us when his Government will make a statement and a decision on the way forward? It is almost six months now since the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development delayed the original policy.

Y Prif Weinidog: Bydd datganiad cyflawn yn cael ei wneud yn ystod misoedd cyntaf y flwyddyn nesaf.

The First Minister: A full statement will be made during the early months of next year.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Yng nghyd-destun y penderfyniad i gynnal arolwg arall o’r sefyllfa o ran TB, rhoddodd eich Llywodraeth a’r Gweinidog ar y pryd ymrwymiad na fyddai gohirio diangen ar y penderfyniad. A ydych yn cytuno, o ystyried ein bod bellach wedi cyrraedd diwedd y flwyddyn, a’ch bod wedi cael saith mis i edrych ar y mater hwn, fod y gohiriad wedi bod yn un go ddifrifol i’r diwydiant amaethyddol a’ch bod chi, fel Llywodraeth, wedi methu dod i benderfyniad ar y mater hwn? Y gwir yw nad oes tystiolaeth wyddonol newydd. Y cyfan yr ydych yn ceisio ei wneud yw gohirio’r penderfyniad oherwydd nad oes gennych y dewrder a oedd gan y cyn-Weinidog i wneud penderfyniad ar y clefyd hwn.  

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: In the context of the decision to hold another review of the position on TB, your Government and the Minister at the time made a commitment that there would not be any unnecessary deferral of that decision. Do you agree, considering that we have arrived at the end of the year, and that you have had seven months to look at this matter, that the delay has been quite serious for the agriculture industry and that you, as a Government, have failed to reach a decision on this matter? The truth of the matter is that there is no new scientific evidence. All you are trying to do is defer the decision because you do not have the courage that the former Minister had to make a decision on this disease.

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae’n rhyfedd bod rhywun sydd heb weld yr adroddiad yn dweud nad oes unrhyw dystiolaeth wyddonol newydd. Mae’r Gweinidog yn mynd i wneud datganiad ysgrifenedig ar y mater hwn yn ystod yr wythnos hon. Bydd datganiad cyflawn a phenderfyniad yn cael eu gwneud yn gynnar yn y flwyddyn newydd.

The First Minister: It is very strange for someone who has not seen the report to say that there is no new scientific evidence. The Minister will make a written statement on this matter during this week. There will be a full statement and a decision made early in the new year.

Datganiad a Chyhoeddiad Busnes
Business Statement and Announcement

The Record

The Minister for Finance and Leader of the House (Jane Hutt): There are no changes to report to this week’s planned business. Business for the next three weeks is as shown on the business statement and announcement, which can be found among the agenda papers that are available to Members electronically.

William Graham: Thank you for today’s statement, Leader of the House. Will you bring forward a statement in the Assembly’s next session regarding what I hope is progress with regard to the M4? The Minister will be well aware of continuing delays this morning. In his reply to questions on last week’s autumn statement, the Chancellor gave a clear indication that he would be open to negotiations on possible funding for infrastructure of this kind. The Minister will know that at least 17 similar schemes have been outlined in England. Commentators say that for every £1 spent on infrastructure at least £3 can be attracted to the economy. As this is the advent season, might the Minister give us some good news?

Jane Hutt: I thank William Graham for his question. The UK Government says that it will engage with the Welsh Government on improvements to the M4 in south-east Wales, but what does that mean? As you say, the M4 is a key link into and within the industrial metropolitan area of south Wales, which is home to two thirds of the Welsh population. It is subject to congestion and delay, which has been a long-running source of concern to the business sector in Wales. I confirm that the Welsh Government is exploring options to improve the M4 to promote growth and to ensure that there are substantial and sustainable economic benefits. I welcome the UK Government’s commitment to engaging with us and look forward to further discussions at the earliest opportunity.

Mick Antoniw: The coalition Government is proposing changes to employment law that will apply to Welsh workers as well as those in the rest of the UK. The changes involve protected conversations, where an employer may be able to call in a worker and, in confidence, say whatever they want to that person without any legal right for them to refer to what is said during the conversation. My concern is that this invites bullying: they are known as 'bullying meetings’. Does the Minister have the same concerns? Will representations be made on behalf of the Welsh workforce that there are serious concerns about going down this particular road, particularly in light of this Government’s anti-bullying policies?

2.00 p.m.

Jane Hutt: This follows up on a question that you raised with me last week. The Member for Pontypridd raises a serious issue, particularly as possible changes to employment law were mentioned again in the Chancellor’s statement last week. This area of so-called 'protected conversations’ instils great fear in a workforce that is already under threat in many ways. So, it is something that I am sure the Welsh Government will be looking into.

Simon Thomas: Could we have a statement from the Minister for environment on planning issues, particularly on the continuing application of minerals technical advice note 2 on open-cast coal development and the application of the 500m buffer zone? You will remember, Minister, that this place fought very hard to ensure a 500m buffer, so it is a bit strange therefore to see that Powys County Council is even considering an application for an extension of the Nant Helen open-cast mine that will take the mine to within 400m of a brand-new twenty-first century school in Penrhos, Ystradgynlais. It would be good to have a statement from the Minister on these matters so that we can see whether or not such an application should be properly called in and decided upon at a national level for the protection of local people and the schoolchildren who will be using that brand-new school.

Jane Hutt: I can assure Simon Thomas, on behalf of the Minister, that Powys County Council has to take its responsibilities very seriously in terms of that buffer agreement, which we worked hard to deliver. Clearly, in terms of any proposals for twenty-first century schools development, this would be at the sharp end of any discussion surrounding planning implications.

Rebecca Evans: Minister, January will mark 10 years since the Welsh Government signed up to the social model of disability, recognising that people are more disabled by inaccessible services and by other people’s attitudes than by their own impediments. There have been many important steps forward but there is still a long way to go. Will you allow time for a statement in the new year on how the social model is informing policy and practice across Government departments?

Jane Hutt: I thank Rebecca Evans for that question. As Minister for equalities, I would be very happy to consider making a statement. I remember, as will many Members here, that not only the Welsh Government, but the whole of the National Assembly for Wales, agreed in 2002 to adopt the social model of disability. Indeed, it has impacted and affected not only Welsh Government policies, but those of the National Assembly in terms of work done by the former Committee on Equality of Opportunity, chaired by Ann Jones, particularly on the needs of disabled young people. I am sure that Members across the Chamber would welcome a statement and update on the framework for action on independent living for disabled people, which I am taking forward with support from the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services. The Petitions Committee has also discussed this issue, and Disability Wales is very pleased that we are taking this forward.

Andrew R.T. Davies: Leader of the House, could we have a statement from the First Minister on how he proposes to take forward the initiative he announced in the press recently to establish an air link with China? The difference between our First Minister’s visit to China and the Scottish First Minister’s current visit to China could not be starker, in that the Scottish First Minister has secured a commitment from the Chinese state airline to visit Scotland in the new year and develop plans to establish a link. Has our First Minister just made a press announcement, or is there some substance behind his proposal?

Jane Hutt: I would have hoped that the leader of the opposition would have made a statement on his party’s support for the First Minister’s wish, plans and discussions around having that all-important link as a result of his visit to China. It is a serious issue in the context of the strong links that are being developed with the Chinese Government in terms of schools, higher education, industry and business.

Kirsty Williams: Leader of the House, it is clear from answers to written questions from the Minister for Local Government and Communities that an announcement on the reprioritisation of trunk road improvements is due in December. Therefore, I am disappointed that it is clear, from the business statement, that it is not the intention of the Minister to make that statement in the Chamber. I am sure that you will agree with me that many communities will be waiting with interest to see any changes that the Minister for Local Government and Communities will make to the trunk road programme. There is particular concern in my constituency about the improvements at Abernant on the A470, between Builth Wells and Erwood, where there is a great deal of concern and local gossip that the scheme has already been cancelled. I am sure that a statement on the floor of the Chamber would be most welcome, not only by the people living in Abernant, but by Assembly Members from all parties.

Jane Hutt: I can assure the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats that there will be a statement from the Minister for Local Government and Communities on the national transport plan, which will put all speculation to rest.

Cynnig i Gymeradwyo Rheoliadau Strategaethau ar gyfer Gofalwyr (Cymru) 2011
Motion to Approve the Carers Strategies (Wales) Regulations 2011

The Record

Cynnig NDM4868 Jane Hutt

Motion NDM4868 Jane Hutt

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 27.5:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales, in accordance with Standing Order 27.5:

Yn cymeradwyo bod y fersiwn ddrafft o’r Rheoliadau Strategaethau ar gyfer Gofalwyr (Cymru) 2011 yn cael ei llunio yn unol â’r fersiwn ddrafft a osodwyd yn y Swyddfa Gyflwyno ar 15 Tachwedd 2011.

Approves that the draft the Carers Strategies (Wales) Regulations 2011 is made in accordance with the draft laid in the Table Office on 15 November 2011.

The Record

The Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services (Gwenda Thomas): I move the motion.

The Record

Mae’n bleser cael cyflwyno’r rheoliadau ar strategaethau ar gyfer gofalwyr Cymru heddiw. Mae’r rheoliadau hyn yn gweithredu Mesur Strategaethau ar gyfer Gofalwyr (Cymru) 2010. Cymeradwywyd y Mesur hwnnw gan y Cynulliad a chafodd Gymeradwyaeth Frenhinol tua diwedd 2010. Cawsom gefnogaeth ar draws y pleidiau wrth inni baratoi’r Mesur. Mae hynny’n sicr yn beth da o safbwynt gofalwyr. Mae’n bwysig bod gofalwyr yn gwybod ein bod wedi ymrwymo i’w cefnogi.

It gives me great pleasure to bring forward these regulations on strategies for the carers of Wales today. These regulations implement the Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure 2010. The Measure was approved by the Assembly and received Royal Approval towards the end of 2010. We received cross-party support as we prepared the Measure, and that is certainly a positive from the point of view of carers. It is important that carers know that we are committed to supporting them.

The Record

These regulations will ensure that carers’ information and consultation needs are met, which is an issue that has repeatedly been raised with me by carers as an area of vital importance to them. You will know that the Measure places a duty on designated authorities to prepare, publish and implement a strategy for the benefit of unpaid carers. These strategies will need to set out how information and guidance will be provided to carers that will assist them in carrying out their caring role effectively. They will also set out how carers will be consulted and involved in decisions affecting them and those they care for.

Carers have told me that the Measure needs first to be rolled out to the health service, as they were struggling to engage with it. Therefore, the first designated authorities are the local health boards, Velindre NHS Trust, the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust and local authority social services. The health boards are expected to work with key partner authorities in designing and delivering these strategies, including social services and voluntary organisations representing carers.

The health boards have been made the lead authorities so that they are responsible for co-ordinating the development of local strategies. I believe that this ownership will help to ensure that strategies make a real impact in terms of engaging carers with the health service. Given the health boards’ status as lead authorities, I have also decided to allocate the funding to support the Measure’s implementations to them, but with a clear requirement that they work together with their partner authorities and that funding is shared accordingly. As I have set out here, and in 'Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action’, my commitment to joint working is clear. Carers undoubtedly benefit when the organisations that provide services to them work together.  

Since 15 November, you have had the opportunity to read the regulations in draft, together with the accompanying explanatory memorandum and regulatory impact assessment. I hope that you agree that these regulations will bring benefit to carers. On 28 November, the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee considered these regulations. It has since written to me regarding the production of strategies in English and Welsh as it wishes to ensure parity across the two languages. I accept the spirit behind the committee’s recommendation, and I will be bringing forward amending regulations to address the issue in due course.

The regulations are deliberately prescriptive. I want the designated authorities to be absolutely clear about what is required of them. Indeed, many of the organisations have asked for clarity on what is required of them. The guidance is also clear in its assistance to organisations. Carers need to know what they can expect, and I believe that the regulations and guidance do much to achieve that.

David Melding: I would like to put on record the thanks of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee to the Deputy Minister for responding to our request that the regulations be strengthened so that there was no real possibility of these strategies, which will take some time to formulate and to be consulted upon, not being bilingual. As we are dealing with major public agencies here, either separately or jointly, we felt that they would always have the capacity to produce material bilingually. Therefore, the usual phrase 'whenever practical’ in reference to the requirement for things to be bilingual would not be appropriate in this case. I am quite happy with the way that the Deputy Minister has indicated she will now resolve this problem. Therefore, we see no difficulty with these regulations now being approved if that is the will of the Assembly.

William Graham: I rise to support the motion. I am grateful to the Deputy Minister for bringing it to us today. I note that the regulations are derived from the Measure that received Royal Approval on 10 November 2010. I am grateful to the Deputy Minister for the extensive consultation that she has undertaken in the past few months. It is a sobering thought to note with regard to the purpose and intended effect of the legislation that, since May last year, the number of unpaid carers in Wales has increased by 8 per cent to more than 370,000. The comprehensive guidance document has been well publicised, and I note that the regulations will mean that the policy intention of the National Assembly for Wales in passing the Measure is given full effect. The information and consultation needs of young carers were also agreed, and I note that the cost for the next financial year is to be some £80,000. I also welcome the post-implementation review, which the Deputy Minister said could be after an 18-month period.

The Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services (Gwenda Thomas): Thank you for those contributions to this debate. I endorse what you say about young carers. We are happy that this Measure clearly takes into account the needs of young carers. Indeed, there is a separate chapter that spells out what young carers can expect and clear funding commitments with regard to young carers. It is pleasing to note that there continues to be so much support in the Chamber for carers and recognition of the important work they do. Over the next several months, the designated authorities will be getting under way work to train staff in all aspects of the Measure, regulations and guidance, and consulting carers and third sector organisations on the development of these strategies. The regulations require that the designated authorities submit their local strategies to me by 31 October next year. Once I have approved them, the work of implementing them and getting the support to carers that they need can really begin.

The Presiding Officer: The proposal is to agree the motion. Are there any objections? I see that there are none. Therefore, the proposal is agreed in accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.

Cynnig i Gymeradwyo Gorchymyn Caniatâd Cynllunio (Tynnu’n ôl Orchymyn Datblygu neu Orchymyn Datblygu Lleol) (Iawndal) (Cymru) 2012
Motion to Approve the Planning Permission (Withdrawal of Development Order or Local Development Order) (Compensation) (Wales) Order 2012

The Record

Cynnig NDM4869 Jane Hutt

Motion NDM4869 Jane Hutt

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 27.5:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales, in accordance with Standing Order 27.5:

Yn cymeradwyo bod y fersiwn ddrafft o’r Gorchymyn Caniatâd Cynllunio (Tynnu’n ôl Orchymyn Datblygu neu Orchymyn Datblygu Lleol) (Iawndal) (Cymru) 2012 yn cael ei llunio yn unol â’r fersiwn ddrafft a osodwyd yn y Swyddfa Gyflwyno ar 15 Tachwedd 2011.

Approves that the draft the Planning Permission (Withdrawal of Development Order or Local Development Order) (Compensation) (Wales) Order 2012 is made in accordance with the draft laid in the Table Office on 15 November 2011.

The Record

The Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development (John Griffiths): I move the motion.

This draft Orders seeks the approval of the National Assembly for Wales for a small technical element of a suite of interlinked Orders and regulations enabling the use of local development Orders and deals particularly with compensation matters. Such local development Orders would remove the requirement for planning permission for locally specified developments. I consider that they could be a useful vehicle for local planning authorities to assist local economic and community developments that reflect local circumstances. In particular, local development Orders offer the potential for growth. By exempting certain developments from the need to obtain specific planning permission, these Orders can offer considerable benefits to business. Businesses are able to proceed with the development permitted without needing to apply for specific planning permission, thereby saving on application costs and time delays. Importantly, a local development order can provide businesses with the certainty that a particular development is acceptable in planning terms and can be undertaken without the need for a planning application to be submitted. I commend this Order to the Assembly.

2.15 p.m.

The Presiding Officer: I have no speakers on this item, therefore there is no debate for you to reply to, Minister. The proposal is to agree the motion. Does any Member object? I see that there is no objection. Therefore, the proposal is agreed in accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.

Cynnig i Gymeradwyo Rheoliadau Iechyd Meddwl (Cydgysylltu Gofal a Chynllunio Gofal a Thriniaeth) (Cymru) 2011
Motion to Approve the Mental Health (Care Co-ordination and Care and Treatment Planning) (Wales) Regulations 2011

The Record

Cynnig NDM4867 Jane Hutt

Motion NDM4867 Jane Hutt

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 27.5:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales, in accordance with Standing Order 27.5:

Yn cymeradwyo bod y fersiwn ddrafft o’r Gorchymyn Rheoliadau Iechyd Meddwl (Cydgysylltu Gofal a Chynllunio Gofal a Thriniaeth) (Cymru) 2011 yn cael ei llunio yn unol â’r fersiwn ddrafft a osodwyd yn y Swyddfa Gyflwyno ar 8 Tachwedd 2011.

Approves that the draft The Mental Health (Care Co-ordination and Care and Treatment Planning) (Wales) Regulations 2011 is made in accordance with the draft laid in the Table Office on 8 November 2011.

The Record

The Minister for Health and Social Services (Lesley Griffiths): I move the motion.

The regulations, which have been laid before the Assembly for your consideration today, are being introduced under the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010, which was agreed by the Assembly in November 2010 and received Royal Approval in December 2010. These regulations are being made under Part 2 of the Measure, which will come into force fully on 6 June 2012. Part 2 of the Measure will introduce provisions that ensure that all individuals accepted into secondary mental health services in Wales have a dedicated care co-ordinator and a care and treatment plan, and that service providers, local health boards and local authorities act in a co-ordinated manner to improve the effectiveness of the mental health services that they provide. The regulations that we are debating today deal with a wide range of matters in relation to this part of the Measure and set out requirements ranging from which professionals can be care co-ordinators and the format and content of care and treatment plans, to the information that must be provided to individuals when they are discharged from secondary mental health services.

These regulations were subject to a full 12-week formal consultation exercise earlier in the year. My officials met around 600 service users, carers, mental health professionals and others during the consultation period at a range of events, and well over 100 comprehensive and detailed written responses were received. Some significant changes have been made to these regulations as a result of that consultation process. For example, we have added further professionals to the list of those who can be care co-ordinators. The form and content of the care and treatment plan that services will be required to adopt, which is contained in Schedule 2 to the regulations, has also been fundamentally revised and differs from that which was originally proposed. The language that is used is now less formal and revisions have been made to link more clearly the planned outcomes for an individual with the mental health services to be provided, with a view to achieving those outcomes. We have also amended the transitional arrangements so that services will be required to ensure that all individuals, regardless of age, will be required to have a care and treatment plan within 60 days of these provisions coming into force.

We have listened carefully to what stakeholders had to say and I am very grateful to all of those individuals and organisations who found the time to participate. I believe that this legislation has been greatly improved as a result of their expertise and input.

I also remind Members that the Welsh Government is currently consulting on a code of practice, which will underpin Parts 2 and 3 of the Measure. This will provide services with practical guidance in carrying out their functions under this legislation. It will also inform service users and their carers of what this legislation means for them. It is expected that the final version of this code will be laid before the Assembly in the spring. I commend these regulations to the National Assembly.

William Graham: I support the motion today and I am grateful to the Minister for the extensive consultation that she has undertaken. Clearly, it is right that all relevant patients should have the support of a dedicated care co-ordinator and receive a plan that is relevant to their needs, regularly reviewed and updated as appropriate throughout the duration of their treatment. I am also grateful to the Minister for agreeing to section 48 in terms of publishing a report on the findings of the review in due course.

The Record

Elin Jones: Diolchaf i’r Gweinidog am gyflwyno’r rheoliadau hyn y prynhawn yma. Bydd Plaid Cymru yn eu cefnogi, ond hoffwn wneud ambell sylw ynglŷn â’r diffyg cynnwys yn y rheoliadau am wasanaeth yn newis iaith y claf. Mae adran 4 yn cyfeirio at ofynion i gydgysylltwyr gofal o dan y rheoliadau, ond nid oes cyfeiriad yma nac yn unrhyw le arall yn y rheoliadau at yr angen i’r cydgysylltwyr gofal allu siarad Cymraeg os yw’r claf am wneud hynny wrth dderbyn triniaeth. Mae digon o dystiolaeth ar gael am ddiffygion y gwasanaeth Cymraeg sy’n bodoli o fewn y sector iechyd meddwl, am yr angen a’r galw am y gwasanaeth hwnnw, ac am y ffaith nad yw’r angen na’r galw hwnnw’n cael ei ddiwallu. Mae’n debyg eich bod wedi cael argymhellion gan y grŵp gorchwyl a gorffen ar brif ffrydio’r Gymraeg yn ystod yr ymgynghoriad ar y rheoliadau hyn. Yn ôl yr argymhellion hynny, yr oedd y grŵp am weld cyfeiriad penodol at wasanaeth Cymraeg yn y ddeddfwriaeth. Serch hynny, nid ydych wedi derbyn yr argymhellion hynny. Yr oedd eich datganiad yn dweud eich bod wedi derbyn nifer o’r argymhellion a wnaed, a’ch bod wedi gwella’r ddeddfwriaeth drwy’r broses ymgynghori. Hoffwn wybod pam y gwrthodwyd yr argymhellion ynghylch cyfeirio at yr angen am wasanaeth Cymraeg yn y ddeddfwriaeth. Byddai’n ddefnyddiol pe gallech ateb y cwestiwn hwnnw.

 

Elin Jones: I thank the Minister for introducing these regulations this afternoon. Plaid Cymru will support them, but I would like to make a few comments about the lack of content in the regulations on services in the patient’s chosen language. Section 4 refers to the requirements for care co-ordinators under the regulations, but there is no mention here or anywhere else in the regulations that these care co-ordinators need to be able to communicate through the medium of Welsh where that is the patient’s choice in receiving treatment. There is plenty of evidence of the deficiencies of Welsh-language services within the mental health sector, and the demand for that service, and the fact that that demand is currently not being met. It is likely that you received recommendations from the task and finish group on mainstreaming the Welsh language during the consultation on these regulations. Those recommendations stated that the group wanted a specific reference to Welsh-language services in the legislation. Despite this, you did not accept that recommendation. In your statement, you said that you had accepted a number of the recommendations made, and that you had improved the legislation through the consultation process. I would like to know why you rejected the recommendations on placing in the legislation the need for Welsh-medium services. It would be useful if you could answer that question.

Yr ydych wedi sôn am yr ymgynghoriad yr ydych yn ei gynnal ar hyn o bryd ar y cod ymarfer. Hoffwn glywed heddiw mai eich bwriad yw rhoi arweiniad clir fel Gweinidog yn y cod ymarfer—gan na fydd y fath arweiniad yn cael ei gynnwys yn y ddeddfwriaeth—eich bod am weld y rheoliadau’n cael eu gweithredu, gydag anghenion iaith defnyddwyr yn cael eu diwallu drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg, yn ogystal â’r Saesneg. Mae angen cadw mewn cof mai mater o hawl unigolyn bregus i gael gwasanaeth ymatebol a phriodol yw hwn, nid mater o’r iaith Gymraeg yn gyffredinol. Yn fy marn i, byddai’n well pe bai’r mater hwn wedi’i ddiffinio’n glir o fewn y rheoliadau. Fodd bynnag, yn absenoldeb hynny, a wnewch chi roi sicrwydd y bydd y cod ymarfer yn rhoi cyfle ichi wneud yn iawn am y diffyg hwnnw?

You have mentioned the consultation that you are currently carrying out on the code of practice. I would like to hear you saying today that it is your intention to give a clear direction, as Minister, in the code of practice—as such direction will not be included in the legislation—that you want to see the regulations being implemented, with the linguistic needs of users being met through the medium of Welsh as well as English. We need to bear in mind that this is a matter of a vulnerable individual’s right to an appropriate and responsive service, not an issue of the Welsh language more generally. In my view, it would have been better had this been clearly defined within the regulations. However, in the absence of such a definition, will you give an assurance that the code of practice will give you an opportunity to put right that deficiency?

The Record

Julie James: I also rise to support these regulations, and I am delighted to see them. The explanatory note says that the regulations will support the refocusing of care and treatment planning around relevant patients, and will involve them in decision-making around their care and treatment. Better outcomes are expected from that process for the patients. I am delighted that the regulations make it even clearer that there should be space for each person suffering with a mental illness to discuss their eight life areas and to ensure that they are properly reflected in their care and treatment plans. All of the evidence shows that, when service users have a holistic, recovery-focused care plan, which includes space to set goals in all areas of life, they are far more likely to make progress in their recovery. I am delighted that the regulations encourage more cohesive and focused cross-discipline working among mental health and social care professionals across the service, and I very much welcome the regulations in their entirety.

The Minister for Health and Social Services (Lesley Griffiths): I thank Members for their support. I will address the two specific questions raised. Elin Jones raised the issue of the Welsh language. We want to ensure that mental health services are culturally and linguistically appropriate for the populations that they serve. The guidance that we have issued to service providers, and the guidance that we will be issuing in future, makes it very clear that this is the case. In relation to the Welsh language, Members will be aware that the Government has a task and finish group on the Welsh language and mental health, which reports to my colleague Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services. The group has been involved in the development of the code of practice that will underpin this part of the Measure. The draft code sets out our expectations in relation to the provision of services in the Welsh language. The guiding principles of that draft code state that mental health services in Wales must be underpinned by the principle that the Welsh and English languages shall be treated on an equitable basis. The draft code says that people in Wales should, where possible, be given the option of assessment, treatment and provision of information in Welsh. It also says that all possible steps should be taken to ensure that services are available for Welsh speakers in the language that best meets their individual needs, and that services are suitably developed and supported to be delivered through the medium of English and Welsh. Local health boards and local authorities should promote bilingual services. These should already be available, and capacity for providing bilingual services should be increased where there is a shortfall of Welsh-speaking staff. The onus is on health boards and local authorities to provide the appropriate service, rather than on an individual having to ask for it. I give you the assurance that we will continue to work with the task and finish group in developing the final version of the code, but I hope that you will agree that the expectations that we have set out leave no doubt about the importance that we place on this issue. I am sure that the Deputy Minister has also heard your comments, Elin.

In relation to Julie James’s point, the fact that we are now considering these eight areas of life has been very much welcomed. Again, the draft code of practice, which is currently out for consultation, contains detailed guidance on how each of the areas of life should be considered in the assessment, and we will continue to engage with service providers as we take this forward.

The Presiding Officer: The proposal is to agree the motion. Does any Member object? I see that there are no objections. The motion is therefore agreed in accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.

Cynnig i Gymeradwyo Gorchymyn Mesur Diwydiant Cig Coch (Cymru) 2010 (Diwygio) 2011
Motion to Approve the Red Meat Industry (Wales) Measure 2010 (Amendment) Order 2011

The Record

Cynnig NDM4866 Jane Hutt

Motion NDM4866 Jane Hutt

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 27.5:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales, in accordance with Standing Order 27.5:

Yn cymeradwyo bod y fersiwn ddrafft o’r Gorchymyn Mesur Diwydiant Cig Coch (Cymru) 2010 (Diwygio) 2011 yn cael ei llunio yn unol â’r fersiwn ddrafft a osodwyd yn y Swyddfa Gyflwyno ar 8 Tachwedd 2011.

Approves that the draft The Red Meat Industry (Wales) Measure 2010 (Amendment) Order 2011 is made in accordance with the draft laid in the Table Office on 8 November 2011.

The Record

The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and European Programmes (Alun Davies): I move the motion.

Members will know how important the red meat industry is to Wales. Red meat contributes some 39 per cent of Wales’s total agricultural output, and 25 per cent of the total levy on sheep collected in Great Britain. A thriving red meat industry is vital to Wales and important to the UK as a whole.

The draft Order before Members today is a key part of the red meat levy regime in Wales. However, before I deal with the specific provisions of the draft Order, I would like to give Members some background information on why the draft Order is before us today. The purpose of Red Meat Industry (Wales) Measure 2010 was to give powers to Welsh Ministers to develop, promote and market the red meat industry in Wales, to include raising a levy on the red meat sector. At present, the red meat levy is set by the Welsh Levy Board, but when the Measure comes fully into force on 1 April 2012, the power to set the levy will be vested in Welsh Ministers and the Welsh Levy Board will be abolished.

The draft Order before Members today is to be made using powers contained in that Measure. The relevant powers to make the draft Order were commenced in part after the Measure received Royal Approval and in part by the Red Meat Industry (Wales) Measure 2010 (Commencement, Transitional and Saving Provisions) Order 2011, which came into force for the purposes of a draft Order on 28 November 2011. The Measure provides that Welsh Ministers can, by Order, amend the provisions set out in the Measure, but can only do so in accordance with the affirmative procedure. I am therefore asking Members today to approve the draft Order that has been laid before the Assembly.

The purpose of the draft Order before us today is to amend the maximum levy rates that can be set by Welsh Ministers in relation to the cattle, sheep and pig sector. The current maximum levy rates are set out in the Schedule to the Measure, but for reasons that I shall come to, these maximum rates are too low. The draft Order will amend the Schedule to the Measure to increase those rates. The maximum levy rates have remained unchanged since 2001. Just last year, it was necessary for Welsh Ministers to approve a Welsh producers levy rate in excess of the maximum set out in the Welsh Levy Board Order 2008. The new maximums are envisaged to take into account inflationary increases over the next 10 years. Welsh Ministers will set the levy rates annually. Any increases in rates will only take place following industry advice. It is not practical to set a new maximum levy rate in legislation every year, and that is why the draft Order, we hope, is planning for the future. I therefore ask Members to approve the draft Order today.

Antoinette Sandbach: I am grateful to the Deputy Minister for bringing the draft Order forward. It is quite clear from the Radcliffe review that there was clear support for the levy, in effect, to be made the responsibility of the Assembly rather than elsewhere. Clearly, the abattoir business is extremely important to the Welsh red meat industry, and there are some concerns about the levies that will be applied. In these very difficult times, when costs on businesses are mounting, I would ask the Deputy Minister to bear in mind that, even though he is giving himself the power to set rates above the rate of inflation, he is building that capacity in effectively for 10 years. I know that he has visited many abattoirs—in Llanrwst and elsewhere in north Wales—and I ask that he take into account that it is vital that small and medium-sized abattoirs, in particular, face a minimal increase in costs. I support the draft regulations as they have been brought forward.

2.30 p.m.

The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes (Alun Davies): I thank the Conservative spokesperson for those words and I commend the motion to the Chamber.

The Presiding Officer: The proposal is to agree the motion. Does any Member object? I see that there are no objections. The proposal is therefore agreed in accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.

Y Gyllideb Flynyddol/Derfynol
The Annual/Final Budget

The Record

Cynnig NDM4870 Jane Hutt

Motion NDM4870 Jane Hutt

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 20.25:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales, in accordance with Standing Order 20.25:

Yn cymeradwyo’r Gyllideb Flynyddol ar gyfer y flwyddyn ariannol 2012-13, a osodwyd yn y Swyddfa Gyflwyno gan y Gweinidog Cyllid ac Arweinydd y Tŷ ar 29 Tachwedd 2011.

Approves the Annual Budget for the financial year 2012-2013 laid in the Table Office by the Minister for Finance and Leader of the House on 29 November 2011.

The Record

The Minister for Finance and Leader of the House (Jane Hutt): I move the motion.

I open this final budget debate for 2012-13 in the most daunting economic and financial times for this country. In response to the Chancellor’s statement last week, the Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded that there has been no period like this in the last 60 years. It gives me no pleasure to draw the obvious conclusion that the Chancellor’s model of recovery, via his deep deficit reduction plan, is not working. He presumed that there would be export-led growth, with private investment stepping in to provide jobs as the public sector was cut back. That is not happening. Unemployment levels are expected to rise over and above the 9 per cent that we now face in Wales and be consistently 1 per cent higher than previous forecasts suggest. Few of us envisaged how badly things could deteriorate in just 10 months. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that growth will be less than 1 per cent this year and next. We are perilously close to another recession.   

The UK Government is now pursuing an approach that mirrors the measures that we have been taking for some time: increased investment in early years, education and skills, and using capital infrastructure to assist economic recovery.

There were some positive new steps announced in the Chancellor’s statement last week, such as the commitment to work with us to improve the M4, the decision to defer the fuel duty increase and the extension of the business rates relief scheme. We have also received additional infrastructure investment consequentials that we can use to help grow our economy and protect jobs. However, while this additional investment is welcome, the UK Government’s plans for the economy still fall well short of what we need.

By 2014-15, our capital budget will be 38 per cent lower in real terms than in 2009-10.  However, I look forward to continued inter-governmental discussions with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the UK Government Minister for infrastructure in the new year, and I am meeting Scottish Ministers later this week to consider how we can best alleviate this position.

Through the budget scrutiny process and our discussions with the opposition parties, it is clear that the focus that we have given to this budget for growth and jobs has been right. It is an approach that has been further endorsed by the Office for Budget Responsibility. We all agree that focusing on the economic recovery and seeking to cushion Wales from the current economic storm is vital. In recent weeks, we have announced three complementary packages to stimulate the economy—packages designed to get the economy moving and support sustainable growth. We have announced £55 million of new investment in Welsh small and medium-sized enterprises this year to support business growth, an additional £87 million of capital investment over the next two years across Wales, and an economic stimulus package of £38.9 million that we were able to agree with the Welsh Liberal Democrats. Also, the Minister for Education and Skills announced yesterday the major £1.4 billion twenty-first century schools programme of investment for our schools.

We have progressed the local government borrowing initiative, whereby we are increasing the revenue support to local authorities, enabling them to increase their borrowing prudentially to finance highways improvement schemes, and are considering how best we can utilise borrowing activities in the housing sector. Together with the infrastructure investment initiatives recently announced, and with the development of a Wales infrastructure investment plan, these packages will boost economic recovery and support our public services, generating immediate benefits for our economy while complementing our long-term aims.

Simon Thomas: Will you give way?

Jane Hutt: No. If you raise the point in the debate, I will respond.  

It is essential in these unprecedented, challenging financial times that we have a budget that will stimulate jobs and growth for Wales. We do not all agree on how to achieve those ends, but I believe that there is something in this budget that every Member should be able to support. It has been the Welsh Government’s priority over recent weeks to explore these areas and secure a stable budget for Wales to our published timetable. It is essential that that timetable is met so that local authorities and local health boards can set their own budgets, and, crucially, to give the private sector the confidence and stability to plan its future investment programmes.

We have increased our planned investment in the NHS by £288 million over the next three years. I recognise that there are concerns about the pressures that the NHS faces, but I am confident that this level of investment, accompanied by a range of efficiency and service improvement initiatives, will help us to deliver the NHS that we all aspire to.

I also believe that it is our shared responsibility to address the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Wales who are hardest hit by the economic crisis. We remain committed to the best possible start for our children. I have previously outlined our plans to invest £55 million in doubling the number of children who benefit from Flying Start to 36,000. It is a scheme that goes beyond simply providing free childcare support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and offers support to the whole family as well as jobs and training prospects for the parents. During this expansion, we will need in excess of 1,000 additional childcare workers to deliver the childcare element of the programme. These will be welcome job opportunities for people working in some of our most disadvantaged communities.

 

In discussion with the Welsh Liberal Democrats, we have agreed that we could go further still and provide a higher level of support once these children are in the school system. I am pleased to include a new grant—the pupil deprivation grant—in the final budget, which will direct support to children that need it most. With an additional £20 million, we will be able to provide direct support to schools of £450 for every child eligible for free school meals. I am pleased that 70,000 children in primary and secondary schools the length and breadth of Wales will benefit as a result of this policy.

Due to our careful financial management, we are funding this enhanced support on top of the protection that is already included in funding for schools in the education and skills main expenditure group and the local government and communities MEG. This funding is vital to lay the foundations for our future economic success.

I have always been clear that an investment in schools and health is an investment in the future of our economy and society. However, the budget also contains direct support for the economy. The budget for business, enterprise, technology and science will be maintained at previously planned levels. That sees the revenue support growing over the budget period. We will also be supporting a £75 million investment in new apprenticeships through the Job Growth Wales scheme. These are significant investments.  

It is also why I am announcing the extension of the small business rates relief scheme by a further six months to March 2013, in line with the UK Government’s recent announcement. Our decision to extend the scheme means that well over half of business properties in Wales will benefit from this relief, which clearly demonstrates our commitment to sustaining business and enterprise through the continuing difficult economic conditions.

Since the UK coalition Government’s budget in June of last year, we have warned that budgets were being cut too far and too fast. We advised that the most responsible thing that we can all do in times such as this is to provide an economic stimulus wherever we can. We have played our part in deficit reduction, but we have always believed that there is a middle ground, where we can reduce the debt without stalling the economy. What I put to you today is a budget for growth and jobs that responds to the deeply troubling and alarming times that we are living in. I believe that we can govern responsibly with our commitment to social justice and economic renewal, which is the grain of values of elected representatives and parties across this Chamber, and the commitment of this Welsh Government. I commend this budget to you.

The Record

Paul Davies: Yr wyf yn ddiolchgar am y cyfle i ymateb i gyllideb y Llywodraeth y prynhawn yma. Yr wyf am ei gwneud yn glir o’r cychwyn fy mod yn derbyn bod Llywodraeth Cymru wedi gosod y gyllideb hon mewn amgylchiadau ariannol anodd iawn. Yr wyf yn siŵr ein bod i gyd yn cytuno ein bod yn wynebu cyfnod economaidd anodd iawn, nid yn unig yng Nghymru ond hefyd ar draws y Deyrnas Unedig. Yr wyf yn siŵr ein bod i gyd yn cydnabod bod yn rhaid delio â’r ddyled a’r diffyg cenedlaethol, ac felly mae penderfyniadau anodd yn gorfod cael eu gwneud. Felly, mae’n hollbwysig bod Llywodraeth Cymru yn gosod cyllideb synhwyrol. Yr ydym ni ar yr ochr hon i’r Siambr yn credu y dylai Llywodraeth Cymru ganolbwyntio arian trethdalwyr ar iechyd, addysg a’r economi. Mae angen inni sicrhau bod pob £1 yn cael ei gwario yn effeithiol gan gyflawni canlyniadau real i bobl Cymru. Dyna’r her i’r Llywodraeth. Yn anffodus, nid yw’r gyllideb hon yn cwrdd ag angenion pobl Cymru, felly nid yw’n syndod y bydd y Ceidwadwyr Cymreig yn gwrthwynebu’r gyllideb hon fel ag y mae.

Paul Davies: I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to the Government’s budget this afternoon. Let me make it clear from the outset that I accept that the Welsh Government laid this budget in very difficult financial circumstances. I am sure that we all agree that we are facing a very difficult economic period, not only in Wales but throughout the UK. I am sure that we all recognise that we have to deal with the national debt and deficit, and therefore difficult decisions have to be made. Therefore, it is crucial that the Welsh Government should lay a sensible budget. We on this side of the Chamber believe that the Welsh Government should concentrate taxpayers’ money on health, education and the economy. We need to ensure that every £1 is spent effectively and achieves real outcomes for the people of Wales. That is the challenge for the Government. Unfortunately, this budget does not meet the needs of the people of Wales, therefore it will come as no surprise that the Welsh Conservatives will oppose this budget as it stands.

The Record

I am extremely disappointed that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have decided to support the Government’s budget—which includes supporting the Welsh Government’s NHS cuts. The budget will rip hundreds of millions of pounds out of our health service, at a time when waiting-time targets are already being missed and vacancies are not being filled. In 2012-13 alone, £75 million will be cut from the NHS in real terms. Based on the 2010 average starting salary, that would pay for over 3,500 registered nurses. Based on average costs of approximately £8,000, that would pay for over 9,000 coronary bypass operations. Based on the lower cost estimate of £4,000, that would pay for over 18,000 cycles of IVF. It is very sad indeed that, while their Westminster colleagues protect the health budget in England, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have chosen not to prioritise the NHS in Wales.

It is also interesting that the Government continues to be in denial over the real cuts to the health service. In cash terms, the health service budget is being increased, but, in real terms, the budget is being cut by 6.6 per cent over the next three years. Clearly, the Government believes that sufficient funding is being made available. The First Minister said on 30 November 2010:

'The point is that we have ensured that there is enough money available for the health service over the next three years’.

However, a few months later an additional £65 million was made available to deal with soaring waiting lists. Clearly, not enough money is being made available. Wales will now be the only part of the United Kingdom not to see a real-terms increase for the health service.

The insufficient funding of the health service has been acknowledged by committees and by backbench Members of the Government’s own party. In a written statement on the final budget last week, the Minister for Finance said:

'We have considered the evidence and feedback from Assembly Committees as well as partners in local government, business, trade unions and the Third Sector.’

Clearly, she has not taken any notice of the Chair of the Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee, the Member for Cardiff West, who has, in a letter to the Finance Committee, expressed concerns about whether funding allocations for the health service will be sufficient to address the challenges that it faces. She has also ignored the Finance Committee’s recommendations, which state that

'we share the Health and Social Care Committee’s serious concerns about whether the overall level and individual allocations of funding will be sufficient to address the funding difficulties which LHBs have already identified in the current year and to deliver the level of savings required by their funding allocation.’

The difficulties facing LHBs were confirmed last week. Figures obtained by the BBC showed that only one LHB in Wales will break even by the end of March. It is clear that the Government has no contingency plans in its final budget to deal with those very worrying pressures.

As I explained a few weeks ago, one of the Welsh Government’s flagship health policies is also in disarray. It is clear that the policy on extending GPs’ opening hours is in turmoil. The Minister for Finance believes that the First Minister and the Minister for health are singing from the same hymn sheet on this. However, that is simply not the case. The First Minister has said that there will be no cost to extending GPs’ opening hours, but the Minister for health has said that detailed costs are being developed. It is worrying that the Minister for Finance holds the Welsh Government’s purse strings, yet has no idea whether or not the Welsh Government will need to spend money on her party’s flagship policy. This saga is something straight out of Yes Minister.

Minister, you have told us that this budget is a budget for growth and jobs. However, the final budget provides no extra help on business rates, which would be one direct way of supporting small businesses to grow. Unfortunately, Wales is in the bottom three in the UK league table on business birth rates. We need to support small businesses to develop now, and help with business rates is one important step to support business growth in Wales. In relation to capital funding, I hope that the Minister will welcome the Chancellor’s autumn statement last week.

2.45 p.m.

The Welsh Government will, of course, now receive a capital consequential of £216 million over the next three years as a result of that statement, and the people of Wales will now expect the Welsh Government to get on with the job and start taking responsibility for its spending. Clearly, the Welsh Ministers have levers at their disposal and now have additional funding to invest in our nation’s infrastructure and to drive economic growth in Wales.

On education, the final budget states that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds will receive an additional £20 million this year and an indicative figure of £20 million has been allocated until 2015 through a pupil deprivation grant. However, it is not clear whether this is an actual pupil premium or not. The Lib Dems, of course, say that it is and call it that, while the Government calls it a pupil deprivation grant. If it is a pupil premium, the Welsh Government has committed to a policy that it clearly opposed, because, earlier this year, the Minister for education said,

'A pupil premium allocated by central diktat is not therefore our favoured method of delegation.’

What is also clear is that the Liberal Democrats have sold out very cheaply on this policy, because in discussions with us during the budget process, they made it clear that a policy such as this would cost in the region of £40 million in the first year. Indeed, the Welsh Liberal Democrat manifesto budgets for an increasing cost to the pupil premium policy of £33.6 million in year one, £84.1 million in year two, £135 million in year three and £185 million in year four. The Welsh Government has, therefore, committed itself to deliver a policy that it clearly opposed, but with only a fraction of the funding. The Minister for education can laugh as much as he likes; that is the reality.

Minister, during the debate on the draft budget a few weeks ago, you said,

'We have responded to concerns, questions and evidence of need, and to difficult and different political priorities.’

Minister, I cannot accept that view. Not a single additional penny has been given to the NHS in this final budget. In its current form, we believe that this budget will not address the aspirations of the people of Wales or the needs of communities across the country. It is simply not fit for purpose. It is clear from committee reports that Members from all political parties have huge concerns with regard to this budget, and I again urge Members to be true to your concerns, to do the right thing and vote against this budget. Let us prioritise and draw up a budget that will meet the needs of the people of Wales.

The Record

Ieuan Wyn Jones: Yr wyf innau hefyd yn cydnabod bod y gyllideb hon yn cael ei chynllunio mewn cyfnod argyfyngus o safbwynt yr economi ac o safbwynt arian cyhoeddus. Yr oeddem i gyd yn ymwybodol, pan luniwyd y gyllideb, fod y Llywodraeth yn wynebu toriad o £1.9 biliwn ar draws y cyfnod gwariant tan 2014, sef gostyngiad o 11.3 y cant mewn termau real yn ei chyllideb. Mae hynny’n golygu bod toriadau enfawr yn gorfod digwydd nid yn unig yn y gwasanaeth iechyd, ond yn y gwasanaeth addysg a phob gwasanaeth arall y mae’r Llywodraeth yn ei ddarparu. Yr hyn sydd yn bwysig, yng nghyd-destun y sefyllfa anodd honno, yw a yw’r Llywodraeth wedi blaenoriaethu ei gwariant yn iawn.

Ieuan Wyn Jones: I also recognise the fact that this budget is being planned in a critical period for the economy and for public spending. We were all aware, when the budget was drafted, that the Government was facing a cut of £1.9 billion across the period of expenditure until 2014, which is a reduction of 11.3 per cent in real terms in its budget. That means that there are to be huge cuts not only in the health service, but in education and every other service delivered by the Government. What is important, in the context of that difficult situation, is whether the Government has prioritised its expenditure correctly.

Un o’r pethau yr wyf eisiau canolbwyntio arnynt, cyn sôn am yr hyn yr oedd Plaid Cymru wedi gofyn amdano yn y gyllideb—sef stimwlws economaidd sylweddol yn wyneb y problemau hyn—yw un o’r pethau y cyfeiriodd Paul Davies atynt, sef problemau yn y gwasanaeth iechyd. Mae Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru wedi dweud bod y prawf sy’n wynebu’r Llywodraeth ar wariant yn y gwasanaeth iechyd yn enfawr, gan fod y gwasanaeth iechyd yng Nghymru yn derbyn y setliad mwyaf anodd yn y Deyrnas Gyfunol. Mae’n dweud y bydd bwlch cyllido yn y cyd-destun hwn o rhwng £440 miliwn a £570 miliwn erbyn 2013-14. Wrth gwrs, nid ydym yn cytuno â’r Blaid Geidwadol fod rhaid cynnal y gwariant mewn termau real oherwydd byddai hynny’n golygu toriadau enfawr—llawer iawn mwy—yn y gwasanaeth addysg, llywodraeth leol ac yn y blaen. Er mai eu blaenoriaeth nhw oedd y gwasanaeth iechyd—

One of the things that I want to concentrate on, before discussing what Plaid Cymru had asked for in the budget—namely a significant economic stimulus in the face of these problems—is one of the things to which Paul Davies referred, that is, problems in the health service. The Wales Audit Office has said that the challenge facing the Government in terms of expenditure in the health service is huge, because the health service in Wales has received the most difficult settlement in the United Kingdom, and states that there will be a funding gap in this context of between £440 million and £570 million by 2013-14. Of course, we do not agree with the Conservative Party that expenditure in real terms needs to be maintained because that would mean huge cuts—far greater cuts—in education, local government and so on. Although their priority was the health service—

The Record

Nick Ramsay: Thank you for giving way. On the basis of what you have just said, can you be clear that that means that you believe in the real terms cuts to the Welsh NHS that are happening under this Government?

Ieuan Wyn Jones: It is pretty obvious, is it not? The figures speak for themselves. Although there is a small cash increase in the health budget for the period, we have to accept that, in real terms, there is a cut. That cut has been identified by the Wales Audit Office, and I think that everybody agrees that that is the case. The problem for your party is that, had the Government protected the health service in real terms, that would have meant cuts in the education budget far in excess of what we are facing, as well as in local authorities—there would be severe cuts in all the areas that they service. In a sense, it is a case of priorities. The Conservatives decided what their priorities were, and other parties have other priorities. It is important to place that on the record. The issue is that, whichever way you look at it, the health service is facing pressures. Both the Health and Social Care Committee and the Finance Committee had concerns about whether or not it was adequate. We welcomed the assurance that the Minister gave that she will return to the Finance Committee halfway through the next financial year and explain how the health service is managing within the financial envelope.

The Record

Yr hyn yr ydym yn ei wybod, fel mae Paul Davies eisoes wedi cyfeirio ato, yw bod pob un o’r byrddau iechyd, ar wahân i un, yn wynebu gorwario eleni. Felly, os ydynt yn wynebu gorwario eleni ac y bydd llai o arian y flwyddyn nesaf eto, sut yr ydym i wybod y byddant yn gallu byw o fewn yr amlen ariannol y maent wedi ei chael? Mae’n rhaid inni ddweud, felly, ein bod yn rhannu pryderon y Pwyllgor Iechyd a Gofal Cymdeithasol a’r Pwyllgor Cyllid ynglŷn â’r arian sydd wedi cael ei neilltuo i’r gwasanaeth iechyd.

What we do know, as Paul Davies has already mentioned, is that each health board, with one exception, is facing an overspend this year. Therefore, if they are facing an overspend this year and there will be less money available again next year, how are we to know that they will be able to live within their financial means? We have to say, therefore, that we share the concerns of the Health and Social Care Committee and the Finance Committee about the funding allocated to the health service.

Wrth gwrs, y cwestiwn mawr yr oeddem ni ym Mhlaid Cymru yn ei ofyn oedd sut y mae’r Llywodraeth hon yn ymateb i’r argyfwng economaidd sy’n wynebu Cymru. Yr ydym yn edrych ar hynny nid yn unig yng nghyd-destun yr hyn sy’n digwydd yng ngwledydd Prydain, ond yr hyn sy’n digwydd ar draws y byd. Yr ydym i gyd yn gwybod bod uwchgynhadledd yn cael ei chynnal ddiwedd yr wythnos hon sy’n mynd i drio mynd i’r afael â’r problemau mawr sy’n wynebu parth yr ewro. Yr ydym hyd yn oed erbyn hyn yn wynebu sefyllfa lle gallai Ffrainc a’r Almaen golli eu statws credyd AAA. Ni fyddwn erioed wedi credu y byddai hynny’n gallu digwydd yn ein hoes ni, ond dyna ni, mae hynny’n bosibl. Yr oedd hyd yn oed y Gweinidog Cyllid yn cydnabod y gallem fod mewn dirwasgiad yn chwarter cyntaf y flwyddyn nesaf. Yr hyn y mae hynny’n ei olygu felly yw, os nad yw’r Llywodraeth yn San Steffan yn fodlon rhoi blaenoriaeth i’r economi, beth mae’r Llywodraeth hon yn mynd i’w wneud? Yn anffodus, nid oeddem yn teimlo bod y Llywodraeth hon wedi ymateb yn ddigonol i’r argyfwng economaidd sy’n wynebu pobl Cymru.

Of course, the big question that we in Plaid Cymru were asking was how this Government is responding to the economic crisis facing Wales. We are looking at that not only in the context of what is happening in the UK, but what is happening on a global level. We all know that a summit is being held at the end of this week that will endeavour to deal with the huge problems facing the eurozone. We are now even facing a situation where France and Germany could lose their AAA credit rating. I would never have believed that that would be possible in our lifetimes, but it is now a real possibility. Even the Minister for Finance recognised that we could be in recession in the first quarter of next year. What that means is that if the Government in Westminster is not willing to prioritise the economy, what is the Government here going to do? Unfortunately, we did not feel that the Government here had responded adequately to the economic crisis facing the people of Wales.

Cyfeiriodd y Gweinidog Cyllid at yr arian sydd wedi ei neilltuo mewn nifer o wahanol feysydd, ond wrth gwrs mae angen bod yn uchelgeisiol pan mae Llywodraeth yn wynebu argyfwng o’r fath. Edrychwch, er enghraifft, ar yr hyn y mae’r Llywodraeth wedi ei gyhoeddi; hynny yw, cynllun cyfalaf llynedd o £104 miliwn ac mae wedi cytuno bod £90 miliwn arall ar gael o’r arian canolog y mae wedi ei gadw yn ôl. Dyna ichi £194 miliwn i’w wario ar isadeiledd. Fodd bynnag, nid yw hynny’n ddigon uchelgeisiol. Os gwrandawn ar Gerry Holtham, er enghraifft, dywedodd ym mis Mehefin eleni nad edrych am ryw £100 miliwn fan hyn a fan acw sydd eisiau ei wneud, ond bod yn uchelgeisiol. Yr oedd yn gofyn pam yr oedd pobl Cymru drwy’r amser yn gorfod dibynnu ar yr arian bach hwnnw yn hytrach na’r £2.6 biliwn yr oedd yn credu y dylai’r Llywodraeth fod yn gallu ei wario.

The Minister for Finance did refer to the funding allocated in a number of different areas, but of course there is a need to be ambitious when Government is facing a crisis such as this. Look, for example, at what the Government has announced; that is, last year’s capital programme of £104 million and it has agreed that there should be another £90 million made available from its central reserves. So, that is £194 million being spent on infrastructure. However, that is not ambitious enough. If we listen to Gerry Holtham, for example, he said in June of this year that we should not be looking at £100 million here and £100 million there, but that we should be ambitious. He was asking why the people of Wales had to depend on those small sums of money rather than the £2.6 billion that he believed the Government should be able to spend.

Yr ydym wedi dweud, wrth gwrs, o fewn cynllun tebyg i gynllun Adeiladu dros Gymru, fod modd gwneud hynny. Fodd bynnag, o ble y daw’r syniadau hyn gan y Llywodraeth? A yw’r Llywodraeth o ddifrif yn credu bod modd codi’r math hwnnw o arian, oherwydd, hyd y gwn i, nid oes unrhyw beth pellach gan y Gweinidog i’w adrodd? Oni bai ein bod yn uchelgeisiol, yna, yn sicr, bydd swyddi’n cael eu colli ym mhob sector yng Nghymru. Bydd Alun Ffred Jones, os caiff gyfle i siarad yn y ddadl hon, yn gallu cyfeirio’n fwy penodol at y cynllun gwarchod swyddi busnesau bach yr ydym hefyd wedi’i argymell yn ein trafodaethau gyda’r Llywodraeth.

We have said, of course, that, in a scheme similar to the Build for Wales programme, that is possible. However, from where are these ideas emerging from Government? Does the Government seriously believe that it is possible to raise that kind of money, because, as far as I know, the Minister has nothing further to report? Unless we are ambitious in this regard, jobs will certainly be lost in all sectors in Wales. Alun Ffred Jones, if he has an opportunity to contribute to this debate, will make more specific reference to the small business job protection scheme that we recommended in our discussions with Government.

Derbyniwn fod y Llywodraeth wedi cytuno i barhau â’r rhaglen y mae’r Trysorlys yn talu amdani hyd at ddiwedd mis Mawrth 2013, a da iawn hynny. Wrth gwrs, mae hynny’n helpu busnesau bach sydd â gwerth ardrethol o hyd at £12,000. Teimlwn y dylid ychwanegu at hynny. Byddai’n cynllun ni wedi helpu 80 y cant o fusnesau yng Nghymru—credaf y byddai wedi rhoi arian sylweddol iddynt ac wedi arbed swyddi.

We accept that the Government has agreed to continue with the programme that the Treasury is paying for up until the end of March 2013, and we are very pleased about that. Of course, that helps small businesses with a rateable value of up to £12,000. We believe that that value should be increased. Our scheme would have helped 80 per cent of businesses in Wales—I believe it would have provided significant funds for them and would have safeguarded jobs.

Credwn fod angen cynnydd yng nghyllideb y Gweinidog Busnes, Menter, Technoleg a Gwyddoniaeth, a fyddai’n golygu y gallem helpu’r parthau menter a’r sector gweithgynhyrchu. Mae’r sectorau twf hyn, wrth gwrs, yn hanfodol i’n diwydiant a’n diwylliant. Credwn hefyd fod angen helpu pobl ifanc i gael gwaith, drwy ychwanegu at y rhaglen recriwtiaid newydd. Teimlwn fod angen rhoi llawer iawn mwy o gymorth i gyflogwyr sy’n cyflogi pobl ifanc, a byddai’r rhaglen honno o help mawr.

We believe that we need to increase the budget of the Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science, which would mean that we could help the enterprise zones and the manufacturing sector. These growth sectors are, of course, crucial for our industries and our culture. We also believe that we need to assist young people to find work, by adding to the young recruits programme. We feel that a lot more assistance needs to be provided to employers who employ young people, and that programme would be of great assistance.

Mae ymateb y Llywodraeth, felly, wedi bod yn hynod o siomedig. Ni chredaf fod y Llywodraeth wedi deall maint yr argyfwng sy’n ein hwynebu. Gobeithiwn, felly, y bydd cyfle i symud hyn yn ei flaen wrth inni gynnal trafodaethau yn y misoedd a’r blynyddoedd sydd i ddod. Blaenoriaeth Plaid Cymru yn ein trafodaethau â’r Llywodraeth oedd sicrhau stimwlws economaidd sylweddol iawn i bobl Cymru. Gan nad yw’r hyn a gynigir yn cyflawni’r gofyniad hwnnw, bydd Plaid Cymru yn pleidleisio yn erbyn y gyllideb heddiw.

Therefore, the Government’s response has been extremely disappointing. I do not think that the Government has understood the scale of the crisis facing us. We hope, therefore, that there will be an opportunity to progress this as we hold negotiations in the ensuing months and years. The priority for Plaid Cymru in our negotiations with Government was to ensure an economic stimulus that would be significant for the people of Wales. Therefore, given that what is proposed does not fulfil that requirement, Plaid Cymru will vote against this budget today.

The Record

Peter Black: The Welsh Liberal Democrats will be supporting this budget today and we will be casting our votes accordingly. There are a number of reasons for doing that. The first is that we are a responsible party that recognises that it would be inconceivable for the Welsh public sector not to have some certainty as to its budgets for the next year and to be able to plan for it. We felt that any further uncertainty in terms of those budgets would be counter-productive and would undermine the need to invest in and deliver those services over the coming year.

Secondly, we recognise the economic context within which the Government must work and that difficult decisions have had to be made. As such, we support the general thrust of the budget to try to protect key services across the board, rather than seeking to ring-fence one particular service, which the Conservatives outlined would have been their approach. Having said that, we see our role over the next 12 months as one of scrutinising how Ministers allocate and spend the amounts that they have been given in this budget. We remain an opposition party with a duty to continue to hold the Government to account.

This budget delivers the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ main manifesto pledge. We have secured an additional £20 million investment in schools, in a year when the overall budget has fallen by £430 million. That is a total fund of £32 million being paid directly to schools at a rate of £450 for each pupil on free school meals in May next year, which is repeated in the budget for two subsequent years. The costing in our manifesto—and Paul Davies referred to this—for year one of the scheme was £33 million. We are therefore pleased that what is being achieved is very close to that costing in terms of the amount of money going to schools as part of this pupil deprivation grant.

Therefore, the rumblings here of 'selling out cheaply’ need to be reconsidered, particularly given that, in 2006, when Plaid Cymru settled on the budget in similar circumstances, it settled for £11 million in a year when the budget increased by £590 million. The contrast there is stark and shows that this is not just a good deal for the Welsh Liberal Democrats, but for pupils, particularly poorer pupils, around Wales, for education and for the Welsh public sector. [Interruption.]—I have already said that, Rhodri.

3.00 p.m.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats—

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: It is a good deal for the Lib Dems.

Peter Black: I have said that, Rhodri. [Laughter.]

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have also been able to influence the way in which the £38.9 million Barnett consequential from the UK Government’s freezing of council tax is spent. I am pleased that this is focused on economic renewal and investment, in particular the nearly £5 million for the young recruits programme, which Ieuan Wyn Jones referred to earlier, and the £3 million for Skills Growth Wales. The sum of £9.26 million for schools is allocated across Wales, not according to a bidding process, but on a formula basis, so that every part of Wales will benefit from that money. There is also £18 million for housing, which, if utilised correctly, could generate additional money from other sectors of the economy and boost that amount of money.

I note that the Minister has announced an extension of the business rates relief scheme, in line with the UK Government, helping businesses across Wales with one of their core costs. We will also be working with the Welsh Government to ensure that the £216 million allocation from the autumn statement, and any revenue consequential, will also focus on similar areas. We believe that that is a good deal for business in Wales in terms of the additional money for business rates relief, and we hope that we will be able to add to that as part of further negotiations around those moneys.

As a result of the deal we have made with the Welsh Government, this budget concentrates much more on investment to boost the economy and helping the poorest pupils fulfil their potential. That very much reflects the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ priorities as well, and it is the main reason why we are happy to support the budget today. Paul Davies, in response to this budget, said that he is disappointed at our support for it. Does he really want to reject the more than £600,000 that will go to schools in his constituency as a result of the deal that has been struck here? The Conservatives’ plan to ring-fence the NHS budget would mean huge cuts elsewhere. Their manifesto said that it would mean a 20 per cent cut to the education budget. We have increased investment in education, ensuring not only that the poorest pupils will benefit from this budget, but that the funding gap between England and Wales, which currently stands at £604 per pupil, will be further eroded as a result of this additional investment. Our policy in the election was clear: we would not ring-fence the NHS budget; instead we wanted the Government to tackle inefficiency and look at smarter ways of working, such as community pharmacies. I believe and hope that the Minister is working in that way, but we will certainly continue to scrutinise her on that. We accept that there have been real-term cuts, but the money that is currently in the NHS can be better spent and can deliver better outcomes for people. We believe that the way forward at this stage is to ensure that that happens.

The problem for the Conservatives in this is that they were in disarray from the start on this budget. They have been flip-flopping even on the additional £38.9 million that came from Westminster. At one stage, they were demanding it be spent on the NHS, then they were asking for it to be used to freeze council tax, and then they were back to demanding it was spent on health. How can they expect to be taken seriously when they are not even sure themselves how this money should be spent?

Andrew R.T. Davies: You know full well that the only call we have made is for that money to be used for a council tax freeze. You might well disagree with that, but that is the only call we have made in relation to the additional money that the Chancellor has sent down. You know that.

Peter Black: Andrew, you may say that now, but that did not feature in your spokesperson’s speech. In fact, the whole thrust of your spokesperson’s speech was that the additional money that was available should go to the NHS. You cannot make up your mind—do you want the money to go to the NHS or do you want it to go towards freezing council tax? I do not think that is possible. What the Welsh Liberal Democrats have been able to achieve, with five Assembly Members, is to deliver our chief manifesto policy. What the Conservatives have been able to achieve, with 14 Assembly Members, is absolutely nothing. You have no influence and you are just shouting the odds because of that. I hope, Presiding Officer, that the budget in front of us today will be recognised as one that is suitable to deliver what Wales needs at this moment in time. Yes, we all want more money; yes, we want more money for the economy; and yes, we want more money for education and health, but we have to work with the money allocated as part of our block grant. With that in mind, what we have here is the best possible deal for pupils in Wales, which invests in our economy by investing in skills, education and training, and we have been able to put that additional money into apprenticeships, Skills Wales and capital investment.

Lynne Neagle: This budget cannot be viewed in isolation from the wider economic context in which we find ourselves. Let us be blunt: these are truly terrifying economic times. The eurozone is in crisis; according to some, it is on the brink of collapse. At a UK level, we face an economic situation that is unrelentingly bleak. The revised forecast of the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Chancellor’s pre-budget statement surely represented the final nail in the coffin for Osborne economics and for that received Tory wisdom that you can cut your way out of a crisis, no matter the damage to the economy or to people’s income and lives. The evidence that this strategy is in tatters is all around us; whether you look at flatlining economic growth, the chronic lack of a plan to kick-start the economy, growth predictions slashed, public sector job losses upscaled, consumer confidence plummeting and millions of workers so incensed by the Government’s attacks on them that they felt moved to strike last week, many for the first time in their lives. Worst of all, we see record numbers of young people out of work; 73 per cent more young people in my constituency alone are out of work. It is nothing less than a national tragedy.

When this economic storm was brewing, we talked a lot about the need to avoid a situation like the one we saw in the 1980s, when an entire generation was left to wither on the vine by a callous generation of Tories that cared little and did even less. However, the awful truth is that we face a youth unemployment crisis that is potentially more serious than the dreadful legacy left by Mrs Thatcher’s Government.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas rose

Lynne Neagle: I give way to Rhodri Glyn Thomas.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: I am grateful, Lynne. I do not disagree with anything that you have said. However, do you see anything in the budget that has been put before us this afternoon that will stimulate the economy, or that will defend and create jobs in Wales?

Lynne Neagle: There is plenty in this budget that will do those things, and I will describe them in the rest of my speech.

In serious times, saying 'I told you so’ is not good enough. There is, therefore, a heavy burden of responsibility on this Welsh Government and the Assembly to demonstrate that there is a better way to deliver a fair budget for Wales; a budget that protects the most vulnerable in society; that shields them from the worst of the cuts that are in no way down to them; that gives young people the chance to work so cruelly robbed of them when the Future Jobs fund was scrapped; that provides a real kick-start to the Welsh economy when nothing credible is forthcoming from Westminster; that delivers a fair deal to local government instead of making them bear the brunt of the cuts; and a budget that protects Welsh students from the trebling of tuition fees and the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance.

Of course, we will face immense challenges. We have had to prioritise and make difficult and sometimes heart-wrenching decisions. I do not pretend that this is a perfect budget; how could it be in these economic circumstances? It is true that we face massive challenges in the years ahead in areas like health and social services as demand for services increases and resources are stretched. There is no doubt that in areas like housing, where budgets are under pressure, we have long-term challenges, such as a lack of supply, overcrowding and homelessness. These problems were there before the crisis and have not gone away. They make innovations like co-operative housing schemes and empty homes initiatives a necessity rather than a choice. It is also right that we, as an institution, up our game and scrutinise with a fine-toothed comb every penny of money that this Government spends.

In my role as a member of the Health and Social Care Committee, I have already been involved in tough questioning, for example over the ring-fencing of mental health spending and the financial accountability of health boards. I will continue to fight unrelentingly to ensure that the specialist and critical care centre that my constituents were promised in March is delivered by this Welsh Government. However, it is no good the Tories just saying that they would ring-fence health spending. Robbing Peter to pay Paul—dragging money out of classrooms and into hospital wards—is not a proper policy; it is nothing more than a typical Tory con trick.

I welcome the fact that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have been able to join us in supporting this budget, despite the misgivings that they will naturally have as a party of opposition, unlike Plaid Cymru, which has chosen to side with the party that is, frankly, decimating Wales. The Welsh Lib Dems must recognise, as we do on this side of the Chamber, that we have made the best of an incredibly difficult situation. Given those circumstances and the hand that we have been dealt by the Tories in Westminster, I believe that this Welsh Government has made the right choices, delivered the best possible deal for Wales, and I am proud to support this budget today.

Mark Isherwood: Speaking in the budget debate seven years ago, I warned that,

'the economic reality was that Wales was living on the never-never, and that if Gordon Brown kept increasing public spending faster than economic growth as more than a short-term measure, there would be a day of reckoning for us all. That is why the International Monetary Fund criticised the Treasury’s approach to public finances and called for fiscal consolidation, meaning spending cuts or tax increases, in 2005.’

That is why the UK was the last G20 economy out of recession, why we went into recession with the biggest budget deficit of any developed economy, and why we came out with the biggest budget deficit of any developed country with the exception of Ireland.

Keynesian economics advocates deficit spending when an economy is suffering, but it also advocates cutting back on Government outlay in the boom times. It was Labour’s failure to do this that has denied the current UK Government a ceiling to borrow without jeopardising our AAA credit rating, shackling homeowners and business with higher interest rates and generating bigger, externally imposed cuts.

 

Mark Drakeford: I wonder whether you would like to identify for us the one occasion during the time that Gordon Brown was Chancellor when the Conservative party put that proposition to him.

Mark Isherwood: I prefer truth with the economy rather than economy with the truth. [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order.

Mark Isherwood: Labour left the UK with the biggest peacetime budget deficit in a century, double any previous deficit, larger even than that of Greece, and the largest of any major economy. During the late 1980s and much of the 1990s, Wales was successful in attracting inward investment, regularly gaining around 15 per cent of the inward investment and associated jobs coming to the UK. However, since devolution, Wales has lost large portions of its foreign manufacturing employment and output, with record youth unemployment, rising since 2005.

George Osborne’s autumn budget announced £30 billion for massive infrastructure investments. The UK Government wants to create thousands of jobs while improving services, increasing the UK’s ability to grow and improve the economy in the long term. A total of £216 million will be coming to Wales, together with significant revenue funding. Plans such as this inspire confidence in the UK’s current ability to repay loans, which is responsible in part for the excellent credit rates the UK is currently receiving. The only thing threatening such a plan would be a UK Labour Government gaining control of the Treasury before the plans can be fully realised. No party should sell its soul to the political devil, but the Liberal Democrats have signed up to Welsh Labour’s massive NHS cuts. [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order.

Mark Isherwood: I can smell the sulphur from here.

The NHS in Wales now faces the toughest settlement in the UK, with a significant funding gap in this financial year and beyond. Without tackling the Welsh Government’s school funding postcode lottery, the pupil deprivation grant that was the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ price for supporting the budget cannot deliver the pupil-centred approach required to tackle failure in underachieving schools. Muppets; it does not compute, does it? [Laughter.]

Welsh Labour’s refusal to implement a council tax freeze, despite being given £39 million by the UK Government to do this, ignores the fact that disposable household income in Wales is lower than that of any other UK nation and that wages in Wales are 15.3 per cent lower than those in England. [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order. I am trying to listen to what Mark Isherwood is saying. Please can you give him some due respect and try to listen to what he is saying fairly quietly.

Mark Isherwood: Thank you, Presiding Officer.

However, given that they had already stated they would be doing this, I called during the draft budget debate for consideration to be given to investing part of this amount in housing. After all, since devolution, the Welsh Government has already cut the supply of new social affordable housing by 60 per cent, and its extra cut to the social housing grant now is therefore a further 50 per cent cut to an already diminished budget. As Community Housing Cymru said, it believes that

3.15 p.m.

'if this additional money was invested in affordable housing, not only would it provide much needed homes for those on growing waiting lists, but it would also act as an economic stimulus for the Welsh economy.’

It added that it can more than double Welsh Government investment in social housing, and therefore the number of additional housing units, to help to tackle the long-term housing supply crisis. Therefore, I welcome the additional £9.26 million allocated to affordable homes in the economic stimulus package. However, I am concerned by the Welsh Government’s statement—

The Presiding Officer: Order. Can you wind up, please?

Mark Isherwood: This will deliver only 134 further affordable homes, despite it also stating that this will lever in private finance. Community Housing Cymru has shown—

The Presiding Officer: Order. Can you wind up, please?

Mark Isherwood: This sum should be delivering triple that number—

The Presiding Officer: Order. Time is up.

Mark Isherwood: If success was measured by expenditure, post-devolution Wales would be booming, but as Oscar Wilde said—

The Presiding Officer: Order. Your time is up. [Laughter.]

We have several more speakers this afternoon and I would like to be able to hear what they are saying.

The Record

Alun Ffred Jones: Mae cefndir y gyllideb hon yn wybyddus i bawb, a’r rhagolygon o ran diweithdra yn y sector cyhoeddus a’r sector preifat yn ddu iawn. Mae Lynne Neagle yn iawn i dynnu sylw at sefyllfa pobl ifanc sy’n chwilio am waith yn y cyd-destun hwn o bob math o gefndiroedd. Wrth ymweld â busnes lleol—cwmni dim-am-elw sy’n cyflogi 17 o bobl ifanc gan mwyaf—cefais fy nharo gan faint ohonynt a oedd wedi bod yn y coleg ac wedi graddio ond wedi gorfod mynd yn syth i weithio mewn archfarchnadoedd yn llwytho silffoedd. Yr oedd gan y bobl hyn raddau, ac yr oeddent yn llwytho silffoedd mewn archfarchnadoedd. Oni bai bod y cwmni hwn wedi symud i’r ardal ac wedi recriwtio yn lleol, mae’n debyg mai yno y bydden nhw, yn cymryd lle’r bobl hynny y byddai gwaith o’r fath yn fwy at eu dant. Dyna yw’r realiti sy’n wynebu pobl ym mhob rhan o Gymru.

Alun Ffred Jones: The background to this budget is known to all, and the prospects for employment in the private and public sectors are very bleak. Lynne Neagle is right to draw attention to the position of young people seeking work in all sorts of backgrounds in this context. In visiting a local business—a not-for-profit company employing 17 mainly young people—I was struck by how many of them had been to college and graduated but had then had to go directly to work in supermarkets filling shelves. These were graduates who were filling shelves in supermarkets. Were it not for the fact that the company had moved into the area and recruited locally, it is quite likely that that is where they would still be, taking the place of people for whom such work would be more to their taste. So, that is the reality facing people in every part of Wales.

Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi condemnio’n gyson bolisïau cyllidol Llywodraeth San Steffan, ac mae’r Prif Weinidog wedi condemnio’n ddi-flewyn-ar-dafod y Torïaid a’r Rhyddfrydwyr Democrataidd am danseilio hyder yn yr economi drwy dorri gwariant cyhoeddus. Yr oedd yn condemnio’r ddwy blaid yn gyfartal, ond yn fwy diweddar mae wedi canolbwyntio ar y Torïaid, am resymau gweddol amlwg. Cytunaf 100 y cant â’r condemniad hwnnw. Fodd bynnag, y gwir amdani yw bod pobl—hyd yn oed y rhai mewn gwaith—yn amharod i wario. Mae’r banciau’n amharod i fenthyg ond yn barod iawn i hawlio benthyciadau yn ôl. Mae busnesau bach ar hyd a lled Cymru yn gwegian, ac mae canol ein trefi yn gwegian.

The Welsh Government has consistently condemned the financial policies of the Westminster Government, and the First Minister has condemned the Tories and the Liberal Democrats for undermining confidence in the economy by cutting public spending. He condemned both equally, but, more recently, he has been focusing on the Tories, for quite obvious reasons. I agree 100 per cent with that condemnation. However, the truth of the matter is that people—even those in work—have become unwilling to spend. The banks are unwilling to lend money but very willing to claim their loans back. Small businesses throughout Wales are suffering, and our town centres are suffering.

Yr oeddwn mewn siop cigydd yng nghanol tref yn ddiweddar. Bu’r busnes yn llwyddiannus dros y blynyddoedd, ac mae’n dal i gyflogi wyth neu naw o bobl brofiadol a gwybodus sy’n falch o’r gwaith y maent yn ei wneud—y math o fusnes y byddem i gyd yn falch o’i gael yn ein trefi. Yr oedd y cigydd yn pledio arnaf am gefnogaeth i fusnesau bach, gan nad oedd am golli’i staff. Ond, y gwir amdani, yn y cyd-destun sydd ohoni a’r gystadleuaeth o du archfarchnadoedd y tu allan i’r trefi, yw bod canol ein trefi yn gwegian ac mae angen cefnogaeth ar y busnesau yno. Dyna pam yr oeddem, yn ein trafodaethau gyda’r Llywodraeth, yn galw am ddyblygu cynllun bonws Llywodraeth yr Alban, sy’n fwy hael na lefelau rhyddhad ardrethi presennol Cymru. Fel y dywedodd Ieuan Wyn Jones, byddai hynny wedi gweld mwy o ryddhad graddoledig ar ardrethi i fusnesau Cymru gyda gwerth trethiannol o hyd at £18,000. Mae’r cynllun presennol yn rhoi rhyddhad i fusnesau â gwerth trethiannol o hyd at £12,000. Felly, gellid gwarchod a chreu miloedd a swyddi a chynnal canol ein trefi a chyflogwyr a busnesau lleol—sef mwyafrif busnesau Cymru.

I was in a butcher’s shop in the middle of a town recently. The business had been very successful, and it still employs eight or nine experienced and knowledgeable people who are proud of the work that they do—the sort of business that we would all be proud to have in our towns. The butcher was pleading with me for support for small businesses, because he does not want to lose his staff. However, the truth of the matter is that, in the current climate and given the competition from out-of-town supermarkets, our town centres are suffering and those businesses require support. That is why we, in our negotiations with the Government, called for the replication of the Scottish Government’s bonus scheme, which is more generous than Wales’s rate relief scheme. As Ieuan Wyn Jones said, that would provide more incremental relief for Welsh businesses with a rateable value of up to £18,000. The current scheme gives rate relief to businesses with a value of up to £12,000. In that way, we could safeguard and create jobs and support our town centres and local employers and businesses—the majority of businesses in Wales.

Fel y dywedodd Ieuan, byddai hyn wedi dod ag 8,000 o fusnesau bach i mewn i gynllun o’r fath. Wrth gwrs, byddai pris i’w dalu am hynny, ond yn yr amser caled ac anodd sydd ohoni, mae rhoi arian uniongyrchol i fusnesau—er mai mesur dros dro ydyw—yn ffordd wirioneddol effeithiol o gynnal cyflogaeth a rhoi hyder yn ôl i nifer o fusnesau sydd yn ystyried eu dyfodol ar hyn o bryd. Os ydym yn colli mwy ohonynt, bydd yr effaith nid yn unig yn effaith economaidd, ond yn effaith gymdeithasol, wrth ichi greu trefi sydd wedi mynd yn lleoedd nad oes neb am eu gweld. Mae hynny’n tanseilio hyder cymunedau. Dyna oedd ein blaenoriaeth ni, ond, yn anffodus, nid dyna oedd blaenoriaeth y Llywodraeth. Dyna’i dewis a dewis y Rhyddfrydwyr Democrataidd, sy’n rhan o’r Llywodraeth sy’n torri arian cyhoeddus yn San Steffan.

As Ieuan said, this would have brought an additional 8,000 small businesses into such a scheme. Of course, there would be a price to pay for that, but in the difficult and hard times that we face, giving money directly to businesses—even though an interim measure—would be a truly effective means of sustaining employment and giving confidence back to businesses currently considering their future. If we lose more of them, the impact will not only be economic but social as well, as we create towns that become places that people do not want to see. That undermines the confidence of communities. That was our priority, but, unfortunately, it was not the Government’s priority. That is the Government’s choice, and the choice of the Liberal Democrats, who are part of the Government that is cutting public spending in Westminster.

Fodd bynnag, ar ôl gwneud ein ple ar ran busnesau bach yng Nghymru, byddai’n od iawn inni gefnogi cyllideb nad yw’n rhoi’r flaenoriaeth honno, ynghyd â rhaglen gyfalaf a fyddai, mewn gwirionedd, yn gwneud gwahaniaeth i gwmnïau ledled Cymru. Ein blaenoriaeth yw ceisio sicrhau cyflogaeth a chynnal busnesau bach ym mhob tref a phentref yng Nghymru. Byddwn yn dal i ddadlau o blaid hynny ar bob cyfle yn y Siambr yn y dyfodol.

However, having made our plea on behalf of small businesses in Wales, it would be very odd for us then to support a budget that does not give that priority, together with a capital programme that would make a real difference to companies across Wales. Our priority is to try to secure employment and sustain small businesses in every town and village in Wales. We will make that argument at every opportunity in the Chamber in the future.

The Record

Kirsty Williams: Back in May, with an inconclusive election result, we knew that Labour would form a Government, but we also knew that it would take at least two parties working together in the national interest to ensure that Wales had a budget—a budget that ensures the delivery of essential services that we and all of the people of Wales rely upon. Back in May, there was talk from all sides of stability and humility, and about putting aside tribalism. Those words have, by and large, already been forgotten by some of the people who uttered them, and certainly by their parties. I said then that stability would be possible only if parties worked together. That means give and take from all. That is why I am proud to back the budget today. This is a budget that begins to deliver on the key policy that the Welsh Liberal Democrats put forward to the people of Wales in May. It is a budget that avoids a crisis in these most dire of economic times, and a budget that gives this institution some credibility after the establishment of the hard-fought-for Silk commission, which looks to give this institution greater fiscal responsibility.

When money is tight, you have to be clear about your priorities. Our priority is to ensure that the most disadvantaged children in this country get the help they need. It is clear for all to see that the economies of Wales, the UK and the world are in desperate need of support. That is why I said that the Welsh Liberal Democrats would not back any budget that did not progress towards closing the funding gap between schools in England and Wales, starting with the poorest children first, nor would we vote for a budget that neglected the need to tackle unemployment and boost the economy. Those were our priorities in the election and they were our priorities as we approached these budget negotiations. In this budget, we have agreed an economic stimulus package to help boost the economy, protect jobs in these difficult times, and get people back into training. We have negotiated with the Government to ensure additional funding for schools to improve the attainment of pupils from the poorest backgrounds. I do not think that we need to apologise for that deal.

I know that many in the Chamber and the media will be unable to view this budget without considering the political implications and what it will mean for the various parties here. I am less interested in the politics. However, let me make it clear for Paul Davies’s sake: I do not know how it works in the Tory party, Paul, but no man in London tells me what to do in this Chamber. [ASSEMBLY MEMBERS: 'Oh.’] This budget is a case of the Welsh Liberal Democrats getting the very best deal that we can for the people of Wales. Investing in our education system is the best way to break the cycle of poverty, poor health and a weak economy. Currently, only one in five of our children on free school meals goes on to get five good GCSEs including English and mathematics. That might have been good enough in the past, but it is not good enough in the current global economy and it will not be good enough for the Welsh economy of the future.

The economy needs short-term support, and this budget provides just that. However, the Welsh economy needs long-term support too. Pupil by pupil, school by school, community by community, we must begin to break the link between poverty and attainment that has dogged our education system for far too long, and that has dogged our economy and our economic performance for far too long. That is why my party will not just be happy, but will be proud, to back this budget today.

Mike Hedges: I speak as someone else who is very proud to support a Labour Government budget for jobs and growth. However, I would first like to talk about the background to the budget. We are facing problems with the euro. One thing that we should all do is congratulate Gordon Brown and Tony Blair for keeping us out of the euro, when at least two parties in this Chamber wanted us to join it.

We are now facing a Conservative and Lib Dem Government that is cutting too deep and too fast, and we are suffering the repercussions. You can grow your way out of recession, or you can cut and cut and cut, and make the recession worse and worse. That appears to be the decision that has been made at Westminster—to cut and cut and make matters worse and worse. We have seen severe cuts to the Welsh budget, particularly to the capital budget. People are saying that this and that should not be cut; perhaps they should take it up with the Conservative-led Government in London, which is making sure that those cuts are coming to Wales.

   

This is a budget to stimulate the economy. I am very pleased that we have a far better settlement for local government than is the case in England. When we had the resolution last month, I was equally disappointed that more money was wanted for every sector apart from local government. I think that this extra money for local government could give local authorities an opportunity to engage in prudential borrowing. That means that we could get more capital work done in Wales, and I hope that local government will take the opportunity to borrow prudentially in order to fulfil capital expenditure.

We have seen targeted support for the Welsh economy. In Swansea, we have seen two lots of investment in life science, which has gone into enterprise zones—£10 million is a huge investment in something that is at the forefront of technology, something that is a growth sector and something that will take Wales forward. Yesterday, we saw a commitment to a substantial school building programme. I welcome the extra money for education. We have had a downward spiral of expenditure by local authorities in Wales for the last 10 years. A total of 43.4 per cent of local authority revenue was spent on education in 2001-02. That figure had dropped to 38 per cent by 2010-11, which was even less than the 38.1 per cent seen in 2009-10. What we have seen is local authorities run by independents, Liberal Democrats and so on in Wales taking money out of education and putting it into a whole range of other services. Those are the facts of the matter. I would hope that people would be very much in favour of putting more money into education. I also hope that this will turn around what has been happening in Wales, with money being taken out of education.

I have spent several weeks sitting on the Finance Committee scrutinising the draft budget. One thing that we noticed was that there was a total lack of alternatives. If we are going to be a mature democracy, people should have ideas to put forward. Perhaps that is why we have a Finance Committee—for those ideas to be put forward. Regarding NHS spending in Wales, however much was in the budget, the Conservatives would have asked for more. If the USA can spend 16.2 per cent of its GDP on health, there is plenty more money that can be put into it, and it is always possible to ask for more. The Conservatives have also supported regional pay, which can only be to the disadvantage of the people of Wales.

This is a budget that is good for Wales in the context of where we are now, which is a position that has been set by the national Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government, and the cuts that it has brought in. It needs to re-examine the whole issue and look at what is happening. Osborne has discovered that 'Osborne 1’ has not worked; he has started on 'Osborne 1.5’, but he now needs to start on 'Osborne 2’. We need to be in a situation in which the national Government in Westminster puts enough money into the public sector in Wales so that we do not have to talk about whether we should cut here or there, but about a good quality public sector.  

    

Angela Burns: I would like to ask for some clarity, Mike. I am not sure whether you just said that the Finance Committee should take budget proposals from other people, and that you had not had a chance to compare them. If that is the case, I would be absolutely delighted to do so.

3.30 p.m.

Mike Hedges: In the Finance Committee, when we were putting questions to Ministers and others, I would have thought that one of the questions from the other parties would have been why there was not more money being put into health, economic development or education, and why the Minister had decided to put money into one thing rather than another. That was an opportunity to test the Minister with regard to the policies being put out by the other parties. That is what I expected, and I was very surprised that that did not happen. I hope that it can happen in the future, because that is how to take it forward, rather than having deals done later on and a situation in which we only know what is going to happen when we read it in the Western Mail or see it on the BBC.

Nick Ramsay: Follow that. It is always interesting to listen to Mike Hedges’s musings on the euro and Gordon Brown’s involvement in it. You made the point, Mike, that you have to grow your way out of recession. Yes, you do have to grow your way out of recession, but the point is that you cannot borrow your way out of recession. That is why we are in the position we are in now, because half of the Liberal Democrats—those in London—have taken the decisions necessary to help us to get out of the mess that Gordon Brown, as the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer, left us in.

I heard the shrieks of relief from Kirsty Williams and the Liberal Democrats during Paul’s opening contribution to this debate and, at the same time, the deafening silence from the Labour backbenches—I thought that that spoke volumes. Clearly, the message from the Labour mothership to its backbenchers today has been, 'Keep quiet; let’s get their support for this vote and make sure that we get what we want out of this and then do what we like afterwards’.

I understand quite well why the Liberal Democrats have ended up in the position that they have and I understand why they have taken the decisions that they have—we have local government elections fast approaching next year. It always amuses me when a leader of a political party says that she has not taken a decision for political reasons. The electorate will decide why they think people in this Chamber have made the decisions that they have. Do you know what? I really hope that you are right, Kirsty, I really do. Having listened to the rather pessimistic contribution from the Member for Torfaen, I think that we need a bit of optimism in this debate. We all accept that we are in a very difficult situation, not because of the actions of people here, it must be said, but largely because of the actions of the Labour Party at Westminster and the absolute shambles that it left the British economy in. Thank goodness that that is being dealt with.

Turning to Plaid Cymru’s comments, I am pleased that Ieuan Wyn Jones said that the NHS should not be a priority. He said that that was his party’s decision, that the health service should not be a priority. He was quite candid about it. We have made it quite clear in our contributions from this side of the Chamber that we think that it should be a priority. I have to say, at a time when the economy is in the situation that it is, people will be looking increasingly to the NHS for help over the next few years, because there will not be so much money available for private health schemes and the like. For the current Welsh Government to take money out of the health service at this time is scandalous—I made that point in the run-up to the Assembly elections, and I make it again now.

I will just mention the issue raised by a few Members about the £38 million that was originally due for the council tax freeze. I find that quite interesting also, because that was thrown into the pot during the budget discussions. As far as I was aware, we were going to discuss that anyway. Given the decision by the Welsh Government not to allow council tax payers in Wales to have that money at their disposal—we were quite candid about the fact that that would have been a far better use of that money—the Government did, to its credit, say that it would like us all to have an input into how this money is spent. I find it bizarre that that money has now popped up again and was put on the table. You cannot spend the same money twice, but, clearly, you can promise it twice and expect everybody to be grateful for it.

As you probably have detected, I cannot support this budget. I really do hope that I am wrong, but I think that this budget has been made out of desperation more than out of any thought for how the people of Wales would benefit from a stable position. I agree with what the Liberal Democrats said earlier, that Wales needs a budget. We all know that and, ultimately, we had to have one. Given that the Labour Party is the party with the largest number of Members here, I do not think that it is a surprise to people outside that you have had an input into that budget. We need to be clear that this is very much your budget. As I said, I hope that I am wrong and that the Liberal Democrats will not live to regret the decision that they have made today.

The Record

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Dywedodd y Gweinidog wrth gyflwyno’r gyllideb hon i ni y prynhawn yma fod rhywbeth ynddi y gallem i gyd gytuno ag ef. Mae’n anodd anghytuno â’r datganiad hwnnw. Mae pethau yn y gyllideb y byddwn i gyd yn cytuno â hwy. Gwnaethom, fel plaid, pan oeddem mewn Llywodraeth, gytuno â rhan helaeth o ddarpariaethau’r gyllideb hon, ac nid ydym yn tynnu’n ôl o’r sefyllfa honno y prynhawn yma. Fodd bynnag, y cwestiwn mawr o ran y gyllideb hon yw: pa fath o sefyllfa sy’n ein hwynebu yng Nghymru ar hyn o bryd? Beth yw’r blaenoriaethau ar gyfer y gyllideb hon yng Nghymru? Mae hwnnw’n gwestiwn y dylai pob un o’r pleidiau sy’n cyfrannu at y drafodaeth hon ei wynebu.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: The Minister said in presenting this budget to us this afternoon that there was something in it that we could all agree with. It is difficult to disagree with that statement. There are things in the budget that we would all agree with. As a party, when we were in Government, we agreed to the provisions in this budget in large part, and we do not withdraw from that position this afternoon. However, the big question in relation to this budget is: what kind of situation faces us in Wales now? What are the priorities for this budget in Wales? That is a question that every party contributing to this debate should address.

Nid wyf yn anghytuno yn sylfaenol â’r cytundeb y mae’r Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol wedi llwyddo i’w gyrraedd â’r Llywodraeth. Mae dadleuon digon cryf dros y pwyslais y y maent yn ei osod ar addysg, hyfforddiant a chefnogi’r bobl fwyaf difreintiedig yn ein cymdeithas i sicrhau y cânt fynediad i’r gwasanaethau addysg hynny. Er hynny, ai dyna’r flaenoriaeth y dyddiau hyn yng Nghymru?

I do not fundamentally disagree with the agreement that the Liberal Democrats have managed to reach with the Government. There are quite strong arguments for the emphasis that they place on education, training and supporting the most deprived people in our society to ensure that they can access those education services. However, is that the priority these days in Wales?

Mae dadl gryf yn cael ei chyflwyno gan y Blaid Geidwadol ynglŷn â diogelu’r gyllideb ar gyfer gwasanaethau iechyd. Mae rhai ohonom wedi dadlau dros y gwasanaeth iechyd cenedlaethol am flynyddoedd. Nid yw hynny wedi bod yn flaenoriaeth i’r Blaid Geidwadol dros y blynyddoedd. Fodd bynnag, deallais o’r hyn a ddywedodd Nick Ramsay mai’r rheswm y maent am ddiogelu gwasanaethau’r gwasanaeth iechyd cenedlaethol yn awr yw bod llai o bobl yn gallu fforddio mynd yn breifat bellach oherwydd y sefyllfa economaidd. Felly, mae’n rhaid iddynt ddiogelu’r gwasanaeth iechyd cenedlaethol gan y bydd llawer o aelodau’r Blaid Geidwadol yn gorfod dibynnu ar y gwasanaethau hynny’n awr. Mae’n debyg bod popeth yn iawn pan nad oedd ond pobl gyffredin, gymharol dlawd yn dibynnu ar y gwasanaethau hynny. Y cwestiwn y mae’n rhaid i’r Blaid Geidwadol ei wynebu yw: ai dyna’r flaenoriaeth ar hyn o bryd? Dyna’r broblem sylfaenol sydd gennyf ac sydd gan grŵp Plaid Cymru â’r gyllideb sy’n cael ei chyflwyno ger ein bron y prynhawn yma.

A strong argument is being put forward by the Conservative party about safeguarding the budget for health services. Some of us have been arguing for the national health service for years. That has not been a priority for the Conservative party over the years. However, I understood from what Nick Ramsay said that the reason why they now want to safeguard services in the national health service is that fewer people can afford to go private because of the economic situation. Therefore, they have to safeguard the national health service as many more members of the Conservative party will have to depend upon those services now. It seems that everything was okay when only ordinary, relatively poor people had to depend upon those services. The question that the Conservative party has to face is: is that the priority at the moment? That is the fundamental problem that I and the Plaid Cymru group have with the budget that has been put before us this afternoon.

Mae’n gyllideb ddigon derbyniol. Pe bai’r sefyllfa yn sefyllfa arferol, a’r math o sefyllfa sydd wedi wynebu’r Cynulliad a gwahanol Lywodraethau dros y 12 mlynedd diwethaf, byddai’r gyllideb hon yn ddigon derbyniol, ond nid dyna yw’r sefyllfa. Y sefyllfa sy’n ein hwynebu yw economi sy’n hynod fregus—sefyllfa lle, yn ôl y dystiolaeth a gyflwynwyd yn ddiweddar, y mae mwy o fusnesau yn cau yng Nghymru ar hyn o bryd nag sy’n cael eu creu. A oes unrhyw beth yn y gyllideb hon i alluogi busnesau i sefydlu eu hunain yng Nghymru? A oes unrhyw beth yn y gyllideb hon sy’n mynd i ddiogelu busnesau sy’n wynebu cau yn y dyfodol agos yng Nghymru? Nac oes.

It is an acceptable enough budget. If the situation were a normal situation, and the kind of situation that has faced the Assembly and various Governments over the past 12 years, this budget would be acceptable enough, but that is not the situation. The situation facing us is an economy that is very fragile—a situation where, according to the evidence presented recently, more businesses are closing in Wales at the moment than are being created. Is there anything in this budget to enable businesses to establish themselves in Wales? Is there anything in this budget that will safeguard businesses that are facing imminent closure in Wales? No, there is not.

O ran y Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, a oes unrhyw beth yn y gyllideb hon sy’n mynd i ganiatáu i’r bobl yr ydych yn rhoi mynediad iddynt i addysg a hyfforddiant gael swyddi? Dyna’r cwestiwn sylfaenol.  

In terms of the Liberal Democrats, is there anything in this budget that will allow the people to whom you are giving access to training and education to get jobs? That is the fundamental question.

The Record

Jenny Rathbone: Do you think that your leader’s intervention describing the Welsh economy as 'on its knees’ helps Welsh businesses?

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: It is a question of reality, is it not?

Jenny Rathbone: It is.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Presumably, you prefer to ignore the kind of economic pressures that are facing us at the moment, because this budget totally ignores the economic pressures that are facing us at the moment—there is no investment in the economy, no stimulus to the economy, no attempt to create jobs in Wales. We offered you a policy in Build for Wales that would allow an investment to create jobs and you refused it.

Joyce Watson and Jenny Rathbone rose

The Presiding Officer: Order. Please take your seats.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: There are several people who want to intervene now, but I think that I am running out of time.

The Presiding Officer: You are. [Laughter.]

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: I am quite happy to take interventions all afternoon. However, the Government has to face a simple question: is this budget geared towards facing the economic situation in Wales at the moment? Is the budget about creating jobs, investment or about giving hope to the people of Wales in this particular situation? Unfortunately, the answer is, 'No, it is business as usual’. This situation is not business as usual—it is a situation that requires a Government that is prepared to face the situation and prepared to put a budget before us that would enable us to give the people of Wales some hope.

Janet Finch-Saunders: I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate. Despite certain recent alliances, I wish to reassure the people of Wales that it is the Welsh Conservatives who will continue to fight for what is fair and what is right.

We are now in a situation where hardworking families in the rest of the United Kingdom will benefit from a freeze in council tax. The United Kingdom Government has given £38 million to the Welsh Government to freeze council tax in Wales, yet it has failed to pass this money on to our council tax payers.

 

Julie James: Will you take an intervention?

Janet Finch-Saunders: No. In the interests of transparency and accountability, I feel that this money should be used as it was intended. Despite the Welsh Government being given this money by the United Kingdom Government to freeze council tax—that is what the money was for—Welsh families and pensioners will suffer from yet another squeeze on incomes. Research by the Welsh Conservatives shows that average band D council tax has risen by a staggering 135 per cent since Labour took over the responsibility for council tax levels in 1997.

Peter Black rose

The Presiding Officer: Order. Are you taking an intervention?

Janet Finch-Saunders: No. Moreover, the rate of council tax increase in Wales is 26 per cent higher than the rate of increase in England. We need to stem the rising tide of council tax in Wales, and our party remains committed to freezing council tax. The money that has been mooted in the budget regarding economic development, as my colleague Nick Ramsay mentioned, has been mentioned twice and is money that has been rebranded, repackaged and gift-wrapped at an appropriate time to disguise the fact that it has come from the United Kingdom Government.

    

While I welcome the slight reprieve on the business rates, this budget does not go anywhere near far enough to support our small businesses. How sad is it that Wales is now in the bottom three out of 12 of the United Kingdom league table of business start-up rates? Support to help small businesses to develop should always be at the top of any budget agenda. The Federation of Small Businesses says that business rates, rent and wage bills are the largest outgoings that small businesses face. Help with business rates, an effective tool that the Welsh Government has at its disposal, would ensure that our small businesses can focus on expansion, staff training and improving their business for the benefit of the Welsh economy, but you have only given our business fraternity a slight reprieve. That is why the Welsh Conservatives are committed to the abolition of business rates for small businesses with a rateable value of up to £12,000. When you consider the positives that have come out of the autumn statement by the UK Government, there is £216 million and revenue, as Mark Isherwood has indicated, that could go some way to help in that initiative.

Yet again, it is the Welsh Conservatives that reinforce the need to invest in health services for the people of Wales. Unfortunately, healthcare in Wales falls well short of what we would like to see. A 6.5 per cent real-terms cut in the health budget by the parties opposite will clearly not resolve this. In our alternative budget in 2010, the Welsh Conservatives set out how we would have protected health spending in real terms to 2014-15.

Welsh Labour’s complacency and disregard of the McKinsey report means that it has failed to tackle the rising demands on the Welsh NHS early on. A year ago last month, the First Minister assured Wales that enough money was available for the health service for the next three years. This year, it has already had to inject an emergency £288 million into health services. How does the Welsh Labour Government think that the health service can continue to cope when facing such large cuts in spending on health? The McKinsey report warned that a £1.9 billion funding gap would open up in health spending by 2014 due to increased demand, ageing, cost inflation and a reduction in spending. Labour has chosen to ignore those warnings, and the McKinsey report as a whole.

3.45 p.m.

Our ageing population in Wales means that we have to refocus our health services to care for that change in demographic. We have already highlighted the issues surrounding dementia care in Wales in the Chamber this year. We have examined the need for more specialist nurses and occupational therapists and the need for an integrated, co-ordinated communications system across health and social services. Those have not been purely the concerns of the Welsh Conservatives, but were, at one point, across the parties in the Chamber—

The Presiding Officer: Order. Will you wind up, please?

Janet Finch-Saunders: The Welsh Conservatives have presented the case for a cancer drugs fund, and a national cancer plan. The £3.3 million cost—

The Presiding Officer: Order. I meant for you to finish. Your time is up; wind up immediately.

Janet Finch-Saunders: What about the health of our people? The people of Wales who deserve the very best from their Government—

The Presiding Officer: Order. Your microphone is now switched off. I call on the Minister to reply to the debate.

The Minister for Finance and Leader of the House (Jane Hutt): This is an important debate. As Lynne Neagle said, the Welsh Government has heavy responsibilities in setting the budget today. That heavy responsibility also lies with every Member in the Chamber today. It was disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, that the Welsh Conservatives have decided not to play their part in recognising the challenges that we face, apart from Mark Isherwood—I was glad to hear—who welcomed the social housing uplift that we made with the £38.9 million economic stimulus package. It was disappointing that Paul Davies did not welcome the business rate relief announcement that I made in my opening statement this afternoon. I met the Chief Secretary to the Treasury earlier this year to say that we would like the business rate relief package to be extended and described the impact that that would have on small businesses, as recognised by Alun Ffred Jones and Plaid Cymru Members. I hope that the Welsh Conservatives will now also welcome that.

Of course this is a budget about priorities: it is a budget where we have had to balance social justice and economic recovery and renewal. The Welsh Conservatives’ justification for voting against the budget for growth and jobs appears to be very thin indeed. It would not impress those who would have lost out if the Welsh Government and the Assembly had considered the Welsh Conservatives’ budget proposals of last year. It is worth reminding ourselves what those proposals were. Last year, the Welsh Conservatives wanted to inflict a 30 per cent cut on the economy department’s budget, a 20 per cent cut on spending on education, a 25 per cent cut on environment, sustainability and social housing and they wanted to abolish Communities First—cutting the funding to our most deprived and disadvantaged communities.

However, this year, Paul Davies said that they were committed to working with other parties in the interest of obtaining a budget that helps and supports communities the length and breadth of our country. This year, the Conservatives called on us to use the £38.9 million economic stimulus package, which we received from the UK Government, to freeze council tax—Janet Finch-Saunders has referred to it—despite the fact that our council tax bills are 20 per cent lower than those in England. Last year, they wanted us to cut the budget for local government communities departments by 12.5 per cent, recognising that that cut in funding would have pushed council tax bills up, if we had even considered debating the Welsh Conservatives’ budget of last year. How does that, as Paul Davies said, do what is required to meet the needs of the people of Wales? As Mike Hedges said and the auditor general recognised, our local government settlement, which will be tabled by the Minister tomorrow, is the fairest settlement among those of all the administrations in the UK.

I want to move to the issue of the national health service and respond to the Welsh Conservatives on this point. Despite the fact that the Welsh Government’s budget is being massively cut by the Conservative-led UK Government in London, we are increasing investment in the NHS in cash terms by 2.3 per cent next year, 2012-13, over previous plans outlined in last year’s budget. That is an increase of nearly £124 million. That is as a result of us looking at and listening to the concerns raised during scrutiny surrounding the NHS. I also repeat my commitment to the leader of Plaid Cymru to come back and account for and respond to issues in terms of pressures on the NHS. The overall NHS delivery budget will rise from the level set in last year’s budget by more than 2 per cent in 2012-13 and 2013-14, with a similar level of additional investment in 2014-15. This is about us responding to the pressures, injecting additional resources on a recurrent basis as well as time-limited support for transition while looking at the NHS’s record of delivering efficiencies. Let us look at those additional allocations. In this budget, we are investing an additional £239 million to place the NHS on a sustainable financial footing and £48.5 million to increase capacity to deal with a significant increase in the demand for orthopaedic treatment.

It is important, in responding to the leader of Plaid Cymru, to recognise that we have made strides and that we have listened in terms of scrutiny and the opportunity to respond to the worsening economic situation that we all face, which has particularly worsened since our February budget. We have not only sought to maintain investment in vital public services, but continued to invest in economic measures. We have worked with our partners across Wales to ensure that we maximise our capital expenditure. We have switched revenue resources to capital and we have made significant progress in finding other innovative ways to boost capital expenditure that will see us using all the levers available to us. We will develop the Wales infrastructure investment plan on which I updated Members recently. Through the plan, we will make clear what we are spending, where we are spending it and what we will spend it on. That will be a mechanism to assist us in prioritising our investment. It will be important for the private sector, which will also want to know that we are a responsible Assembly delivering a plan that enables it to have clarity for its investment decisions.

In addition, there are opportunities to provide that uplift for enterprise zones in the economic stimulus package and also to provide an offer to young recruits in terms of the further 1,800 apprenticeship places that we have. I recognise that Alun Ffred Jones referred clearly and understandably to the pressures facing small businesses, but we also know how much the construction sector values the fact that we are investing a further £1.4 billion in our twenty-first century schools programme. We saw that investment in his constituency, where a school is being rebuilt with Welsh Government money and support from Gwynedd Council, and construction workers and apprentices are benefiting, which will benefit the community and the local businesses in that supply chain.

We have spent the last two months talking to a range of partners about how we can best respond to the challenges that we face. We spent a large portion of that time listening and consulting, and I thank all the parties in the Assembly for the way in which they have engaged in this work. I have to say that 99 per cent of this budget reflects the allocations that were made to the Welsh Government as approved in February’s budget. Rhodri Glyn Thomas made that point following the spending review. Therefore, there has been little room for manoeuvre in terms of this budget, but we have been determined, as a Welsh Government, to deliver on our programme for government, with a budget for growth and jobs that delivers those opportunities for our young people. Each year, 4,000 young people will benefit from Jobs Growth Wales.

The Presiding Officer: Order. Will you take an intervention?

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: I am grateful, Minister, that you have accepted the intervention. I accept the point that you are making, that there is little room within the budget itself to make changes. However, do you accept the point that Gerry Holtham and others have made, that you can use money from within the budget to draw down additional money that could make a considerable difference? Have you considered our Build for Wales policy? If you refuse that, do you have another option that you are going to put before us?

Jane Hutt: I fully endorse every point that you have made, Rhodri Glyn, because not only is Gerry Holtham coming in to help us, as you know, to deliver on the Wales infrastructure investment plan, but he is also going to work with and, I am sure, engage with you as well, in terms of opportunities for innovative funding vehicles. In fact, I am meeting the Scottish Minister for Transport and Infrastructure on Thursday to discuss the ways in which they are going forward. We can learn from Scotland, as we are in terms of housing opportunities and levering in private finance, and also making sure that the local authorities assisted borrowing route, which Carl Sargeant and I are now progressing, and which was welcomed yesterday at the local government partnership council, is being taken forward.

So, it is important that we recognise that, with the little room for manoeuvre that we had, and with that openness in consultation, we have reached a point where, with the support of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, we have delivered a pupil deprivation grant that I cannot believe anyone in this Chamber would not sign up to. This money is going to the poorest pupils in the schools in the constituencies of Members across the whole of the Chamber. In terms of being held to account, I say quite clearly to Peter Black, Kirsty Williams, Paul Davies and Ieuan Wyn Jones, yes, we will be held to account for this budget.

Finally, Aneurin Bevan said in 1952 in his book In Place of Fear,

'Parliamentary democracy is essentially government by discussion. But if discussion is not quickly followed by resolute and decisive action, then the vitality of democracy declines. If the deed follows too tardily on the word then the word turns sour.’

I appeal to you today across this Chamber to back this budget for the people of Wales, the businesses of Wales, local government and the NHS. The deed now is for us to move this budget for approval.

The Presiding Officer: The proposal is to agree the motion. Does any Member object? I see that there are objections, and the motion is therefore deferred until voting time.

Gohiriwyd y pleidleisio tan y cyfnod pleidleisio.
Voting deferred until voting time.

Daeth y Dirprwy Lywydd (David Melding) i’r Gadair am 3.58 p.m.
The Deputy Presiding Officer (David Melding) took the Chair at 3.58 p.m.

Heriau Iechyd Cyhoeddus—Rheoli Tybaco
Public Health Challenges—Tobacco Control

The Record

The Deputy Presiding Officer: I have selected amendment 1 in the name of Jocelyn Davies and amendment 2 in the name of Peter Black.

The Record

Cynnig NDM4871 Jane Hutt

Motion NDM4871 Jane Hutt

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:

1. Yn ystyried Cynllun Gweithredu Cymru ar Reoli Tybaco;

1. Considers the draft Tobacco Control Action Plan for Wales;

2. Yn nodi amcanion y cynllun sef:

2. Notes its aims to:

a) lleihau’r niwed i iechyd y cyhoedd a achosir gan ysmygu yng Nghymru, yn arbennig amddiffyn plant rhag effeithiau niweidiol tybaco; a

a) reduce the harm to public health caused by smoking in Wales, in particular protecting children from the harmful effects of tobacco; and

b) lleihau amlder ysmygu yn ein cymunedau mwyaf amddifad gan fod ysmygu yn un o brif achosion y bwlch mewn disgwyliad oes rhwng pobl gyfoethog a phobl dlawd; ac

b) reduce smoking prevalence amongst our most deprived communities as it is a leading cause for the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor; and

3. Yn nodi y bydd Llywodraeth Cymru yn ystyried cyflwyno deddfwriaeth, os dengys tystiolaeth fod yr ymgyrch i ostwng ysmygu mewn ceir sy’n cario pobl ifanc dan oed yn methu â sicrhau gostyngiad sylweddol yn y graddau y mae pobl yn dod i gysylltiad â mwg ail-law.

3. Notes that the Welsh Government will consider bringing forward legislation, if evidence shows the campaign to reduce smoking in cars carrying minors fails to achieve a significant reduction in exposure to second hand smoke.

The Record

The Minister for Health and Social Services (Lesley Griffiths): I move the motion.

I fully support the motion presented at Plenary today. Smoking is the major leading preventable cause of illness and premature death in Wales, causing around 6,000 deaths each year. Reducing the number of smokers in Wales has been a great public health success, from post-war levels of over 80 per cent of adult men to around a quarter of the population today. Due to the success of the 2007 ban on smoking in all enclosed public places and workplaces, fewer people in Wales are exposed to second-hand smoke. These shifts in smoking patterns have saved lives, reduced heart disease, cancers and a range of other adverse health outcomes for both adults and children. They have reduced the burden of illness for individuals, families and communities and saved costs for the NHS and the wider economy.  

I am proud of what we have achieved so far; however, I believe that there is also a lot more work to be done, so the Welsh Government has developed a tobacco control action plan for Wales. We have worked closely with key stakeholders to consider how we can build on our existing programme of measures to discourage young people from starting to smoke, to support smokers who want to give up, and to promote smoke-free environments.  

The draft tobacco control action plan aims to drive down smoking prevalence levels to 16 per cent by 2020. I recognise that this is very challenging, but we need to protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco, and reduce inequalities in health, as people living in our most disadvantaged communities are far more likely to smoke, which significantly lowers life expectancy.

4.00 p.m.

A public consultation was held on the draft plan earlier this year, and a total of 79 responses were received from a variety of stakeholders. The majority of respondents supported the plan. Many welcomed the use of long-term, multi-tiered policies and programmes, and many endorsed the importance of engaging a variety of key stakeholders in tobacco control. The plan that I am presenting to you today has been revised following the consultation, and the actions amended in the light of the comments received.

The ultimate vision in the plan is for a smoke-free society for Wales, in which the harm from tobacco is eradicated. To achieve this vision, the plan focuses on four strategic areas: leadership in tobacco control; reducing the uptake of tobacco use, particularly among children and young people; reducing smoking prevalence levels; and reducing exposure to second-hand smoke. Leadership action will be necessary at all levels to drive forward change and reduce smoking prevalence levels. The action plan includes a commitment by the Welsh Government to establish a tobacco control delivery board, which will oversee the implementation of the plan. We are committed to taking strong action to reduce the uptake of tobacco, particularly among children and young people, given that we know that most smokers started by the time they are 13, and that young people can quickly develop a dependence on nicotine.

The number of children and young people who smoke in Wales has, in fact, decreased significantly in the past decade. We can be proud of this achievement, but we can do even more to bring a smoke-free future for all of our children a step closer. The Welsh Government will continue to place pressure on the UK Government on non-devolved issues. The draft action plan recognises the influence that tobacco-related imagery has on encouraging young people to take up smoking. My officials have been working with the Department of Health to explore whether plain packaging of tobacco products has the potential to bring about a significant public health benefit.

The Welsh Government remains committed to making regulations to remove the display of tobacco products at the point of sale as soon as the legal challenge to equivalent regulations in England is resolved. That will build on our recent success in laying regulations to ban the sale of tobacco from vending machines, which will come into force next February. This legislation is an important part of our wider efforts to safeguard children and young people from the dangers of smoking.

The plan details further action to protect the health of the public from the dangers of second-hand smoke. It reflects our manifesto commitment to consider amending the smoke-free regulations to ban smoking in areas of hospital grounds. It also reflects the concerns that the First Minister and I have about children still being exposed to second-hand smoke in cars. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of smoking, and with no escape from second-hand smoke, they are more likely to develop long-term conditions such as asthma at an early age.

Plaid Cymru asked for the motion to be amended so that it calls on the Welsh Government to introduce legislation in this Assembly term on smoking in cars carrying minors, rather than note that legislating will be considered. I oppose that amendment. The Welsh Government is already committed to launching a three-year media campaign in January to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking in cars carrying children. My officials will be evaluating data on children’s exposure to second-hand smoke throughout the campaign to enable me to assess reductions in exposure. We are committed to taking tough action, and if evidence shows the campaign to reduce smoking in cars carrying minors does not achieve a significant reduction in exposure to second-hand smoke, we will consider legislation during the current term.

I support the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ amendment on improving the take-up of smoking cessation schemes to reduce the harm to public health caused by smoking. There are few healthcare interventions more associated with greater health gains than those supporting smoking cessation. The draft action plan highlights the importance of helping smokers to quit. The Welsh Government will commission an independent review of all smoking cessation activity in Wales, which will identify the improvements that could be made to existing cessation services and the further support necessary to assist attempts to quit. Easy access to effective, appropriate resources will be vital if we are to achieve the plan’s 16 per cent smoking prevalence target.

I want to see the proportion of smokers accessing NHS smoking cessation services in Wales increase to 5 per cent of the adult smoking population per annum, as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. It is also important that greater support is available for smokers undergoing elective surgery. Health boards should increase the number of smokers receiving cessation support services prior to elective surgery to a minimum of 20 per cent.

The delivery of the plan will require a multi-sector approach, and there are a range of actions for key partners to implement. Public Health Wales will play a leading role in developing and implementing a systematic approach to training on brief intervention for smoking cessation for all health professionals, and will establish a comprehensive national smoking cessation database. At a local level, each local authority is tasked with developing a comprehensive tobacco control action plan and is being encouraged to introduce smoke-free policies for children’s playgrounds. Trading standards officers will continue test-purchasing exercises to tackle under-age sales, and local health boards are required to consider their own in-house smoking cessation services as well as those provided by pharmacies. Local health boards should also consider the advice given by dental providers.

I commend this tobacco control action plan for Wales. I hope that Members will support its aim of reducing the harm caused by smoking in Wales. In particular, I hope that it protects children and reduces inequalities in health.

The Record

Gwelliant 1 Jocelyn Davies

Amendment 1 Jocelyn Davies

Ym mhwynt 3, dileu 'Yn nodi y bydd Llywodraeth Cymru'n ystyried cyflwyno deddfwriaeth’ a rhoi yn ei le 'Yn galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i gyflwyno deddfwriaeth yn y tymor Cynulliad hwn’.

In point 3 delete 'Notes that the Welsh Government will consider bringing forward legislation' and replace with 'Calls on the Welsh Government to introduce legislation in this Assembly term’.

The Record

Elin Jones: Cynigiaf welliant 1 yn enw Jocelyn Davies.

Elin Jones: I move amendment 1 in the name of Jocelyn Davies.

Mae’r cynllun gweithredu yn llawn cynigion ymarferol i fynd i’r afael â’r amcanion i leihau nifer y bobl ifanc sy’n ysmygu, i leihau nifer yr oedolion sy’n ysmygu, a lleihau amlygiad i fwg ail-law. Fodd bynnag, mae’r heriau hyn yn parhau i fod yn sylweddol iawn. Mae’r targed i leihau nifer yr ysmygwyr yn y boblogaeth o 23 y cant i 20 y cant erbyn 2016, ac i 16 y cant erbyn 2020, yn sylweddol iawn. Yn ymarferol, mae hynny’n golygu y bydd o leiaf 140,000 yn llai o bobl yn ysmygu yn 2020 o gymharu â’r nifer presennol. Mae hynny’n ofyn sylweddol.

Today’s action plan is full of practical proposals to achieve the objective of reducing the number of young people who smoke, to reduce the number of adults who smoke, and to reduce second-hand smoke inhalation. However, the challenges continue to be significant ones. The target to reduce the number of smokers in the population from 23 per cent to 20 per cent by 2016, and to 16 per cent by 2020 is ambitious. On a practical level, it will mean 140,000 fewer smokers in 2020 as compared with the current figure. That is a big ask.

Yn ogystal â hynny, fel y soniodd y Gweinidog, mae’r cynllun yn cynnwys targed i gynyddu canran yr ysmygwyr sy’n cymryd rhan mewn gwasanaethau rhoi’r gorau i ysmygu i 5 y cant. Mae hyn yn golygu y bydd tua 28,000 o ysmygwyr yn cymryd rhan, ond a oes capasiti i ddarparu’r gwasanaeth hwn i 28,000 o bobl? Ar hyn o bryd, mae’r gwasanaeth rhoi’r gorau i ysmygu yn dilyn model sydd ag opsiynau cyfyng iawn ar gael i’r unigolyn. Nid yw mynychu sesiynau grŵp at ddant pawb, felly mae angen edrych ar ystod eang iawn o wasanaethau i gefnogi pobl sydd am roi’r gorau i ysmygu. Mae targedau’r cynllun hwn, felly, yn gymeradwy, er yn uchelgeisiol. Fodd bynnag, mae’r uchelgais yn gymeradwy, ac mae’r dyhead i weld llai o ysmygu ymhlith ein pobl ifanc a phobl mewn cymunedau tlotach—er mwyn lleihau’r anghyfartaledd iechyd sy’n cael ei achosi—hefyd yn gymeradwy.

In addition, as the Minister said, the plan contains a target to increase the number of smokers who participate in smoking cessation schemes to 5 per cent. That equates to the participation of some 28,000 people, but is there the capacity to provide this service to 28,000 people? At the moment, the smoking cessation service follows a model with limited options for the individual. Attending group sessions does not suit everyone, therefore we need to look at a broad range of services to support those who want to stop smoking. The action plan’s targets, therefore, are laudable, although ambitious. However, that ambition is also laudable, and the desire to see a reduction in the number of young people who smoke and people in poorer communities—in order to reduce the health inequalities that follow as a result of smoking—is also to be commended.

Mae tipyn yn gyffredin rhwng dyheadau Plaid Cymru a’r hyn sydd yng nghynllun gweithredu’r Llywodraeth, felly ni fyddaf yn ailadrodd pethau yn ormodol. Byddaf yn canolbwyntio ar rai o’r gwahaniaethau sydd yn ein blaenoriaethau. Yn gyntaf—ac mae ein gwelliant yn cyfeirio at hyn—mae Plaid Cymru yn credu y dylai’r Llywodraeth ddechrau yn awr ar y gwaith o ymgynghori ar wahardd ysmygu mewn ceir sydd â phlant yn teithio ynddynt. Mae arolwg ASH Cymru o fis Mawrth eleni yn dangos bod tua 80 y cant o bobl Cymru o blaid gwahardd ysmygu mewn ceir sydd â phlant ynddynt. Mae’r dystiolaeth a gyflwynwyd gan Gymdeithas Feddygol Prydain yn ddiweddar yn nodi bod dwysedd y tocsinau mewn car sy’n cynnwys mwg oherwydd ysmygu 11 gwaith yn waeth nag a fyddai mewn tŷ tafarn. Peidied neb â cheisio dweud bod hynny’n llesol i iechyd plentyn. Mae’n iawn, felly, i wladwriaeth ystyried ymyrryd i warchod iechyd y plentyn, nad yw mewn sefyllfa i warchod ei iechyd ei hun yn y sefyllfa honno. Nid oes gennyf amheuaeth y prynhawn yma na fydd ambell e-bost yn dod ataf yn beirniadu fy nghefnogaeth i ddeddfwriaeth wahardd o’r math hwn, gan fod rhai’n credu bod deddfwriaeth o’r fath yn ymyrryd â hawl yr unigolyn—yr oedolyn—i ysmygu. I mi, ac i Blaid Cymru, mae hawl y plentyn i gael mesurau i warchod ei iechyd goruwch hawl unrhyw oedolyn i ysmygu.

Plaid Cymru’s aspirations and the Government’s action plan have a lot in common, so I will not rehearse the arguments too much. I will concentrate on some of the differences that exist in our priorities. First—and our amendment refers to this—Plaid Cymru believes that the Government should open a consultation on banning smoking in cars carrying children now. The ASH Wales survey from March this year shows that some 80 per cent of people in Wales are in favour of banning smoking in cars carrying children. The evidence supplied by the British Medical Association recently notes that the intensity of toxins in a car containing cigarette smoke is 11 times worse than it would be in a pub. So, let no-one say that this does not harm a child’s health. It is right, therefore, that a state should consider intervening in order to protect the health of a child, who is not in a position to protect his or her own health in that situation. I have no doubt that I will receive an e-mail or two criticising my support for such banning legislation, because some people believe that this would interfere with the right of the individual—the adult—to smoke. For me, and for Plaid Cymru, the right of the child to measures to protect health is over and above the right of any adult to smoke.

Yn hyn o beth, gobeithiaf ein bod ni a’r Llywodraeth yn gytûn. Fodd bynnag, efallai fod gennym farn wahanol o ran amseriad y ddeddfwriaeth honno. Cred Plaid Cymru y gall y Llywodraeth gychwyn ar yr ymgynghori ar ddeddfwriaeth o’r fath yn awr. I mi, mae’n fwy o flaenoriaeth gwarchod ein plant rhag mwg sigaréts mewn ceir na deddfu nawr ar wahardd tyllu croen ymysg pobl ifanc dan 16 oed.

In that regard, I hope that we and the Government are agreed. However, we might differ on the timing of such legislation. Plaid Cymru believes that the Government could start consulting on this legislation now. For me, it is more of a priority to safeguard our children from second-hand smoke in cars than it is to legislate on banning piercings for children under the age of 16.

Mae’r Llywodraeth yn bwriadu cynnal rhaglen sy’n hyrwyddo peidio ag ysmygu mewn ceir â phlant, fel y mae’r Gweinidog wedi amlinellu, ac, os nad yw honno’n llwyddiannus, ystyried deddfwriaeth. Nid wyf yn siŵr ai’r bwriad yw dweud wrth ysmygwyr os byddant yn para i ysmygu mewn ceir ar ôl inni ddweud wrthynt am beidio, y byddwn yn eu gwahardd rhag gwneud hynny yn y dyfodol. Nid wyf yn siŵr a yw’r neges honno’n glir ac yn debygol o fod yn llwyddiannus ymysg ysmygwyr. Efallai y bydd yr ymgyrch iechyd cyhoeddus hon yn lleihau rhywfaint o ysmygu mewn ceir, ond a yw’r Llywodraeth yn credu y bydd yn dod â’r arfer hwnnw i ben yn llwyr? Credaf fod hynny’n annhebygol iawn. Felly, mae’r gwelliant hwn yn gofyn i’r Llywodraeth ymrwymo i gyflwyno deddfwriaeth yn ystod y Cynulliad hwn, a gobeithiaf y caiff gefnogaeth ar draws y Siambr.

The Government intends to run a promotional programme encouraging people to not smoke in cars carrying children, as outlined by the Minister, and, if that is not successful, they will then consider introducing legislation. I am not sure whether the intention here is to tell smokers that if they continue to smoke in cars after we have told them not to do so, we will then introduce a ban. I am not sure if that message will hit home and be successful among smokers. This public health campaign may well reduce the prevalence of smoking in cars somewhat, but does the Government really believe that it will bring an end to that practice entirely? I think that that is most unlikely. Therefore, this amendment asks the Government to commit to introducing legislation during this Assembly, and I very much hope that it will be supported across the Chamber.

The Record

Gwelliant 2 Peter Black

Amendment 2 Peter Black

Ychwanegu pwynt newydd ar ddiwedd y cynnig:

Add as a new point at end of motion:

Yn credu y dylai Llywodraeth Cymru ganolbwyntio ar gynyddu’r niferoedd sy’n manteisio ar gynlluniau rhoi’r gorau i ysmygu er mwyn lleihau’r niwed i iechyd y cyhoedd a achosir gan ysmygu.

Believes that the Welsh Government should focus its attention on improving the take-up of smoking cessation schemes in order to reduce the harm to public health caused by smoking.

The Record

Kirsty Williams: I move amendment 2 in the name of Peter Black.

The amendment focuses on the need to increase the opportunities to help people who smoke to stop as being the most effective way of making a difference to not only those individuals’ health, but the health of those who they live and associate with.

The arguments for why we need people to either not start smoking in the first place or to quit if they have started are well rehearsed and known by all. The individual effect is well known, but with regard to the global effect of smoking on the Welsh NHS, the figures are considerable. Some 20 per cent of our admissions to hospitals are for smoking-related diseases. We are spending approximately £386 million a year on treating smoking-related diseases in the NHS. Having just followed the debate on the budget, if there was a more effective way of spending our money in the NHS, surely it would be on the relatively inexpensive interventions of trying to assist people from starting to smoke in the first place rather than continuing to treat the end effects. However, it is easy to say, 'Let us encourage people to stop smoking’, but it is much harder to do that if you are an individual with an addiction to nicotine.

I welcome the Government’s acceptance of the amendment today and the commitment made by the Minister to a cessation support review. However, when does she envisage this review starting? When will it conclude? When will we see some actionable results as a result of that review? It seems to me that although the smoking cessation schemes that are available undoubtedly work for some, they are quite narrow in their approach. They rely very much on group work, which is useful for some people, but it actually works against plans to help other groups quit. For instance, young people can be put off from attending a group that they would perceive as being populated by old people, people whom they would not have anything in common with. We have a particular challenge in getting those younger people to stop.

4.15 p.m.

The Minister also made note of her desire to see smoking cessation schemes work hand in hand with elective patients. Of course, that is very welcome indeed. However, very few of our district general hospitals that carry out elective work or any type of NHS intervention have smoking cessation programmes based within the hospital. I appreciate that, if you are unwell in hospital, the last thing you feel you need on top of the pressure that you already feel is an approach to you to stop smoking. However, what better place to begin to have that conversation about the effects of smoking on your health? As I said, very few of our hospitals have schemes available based within the hospital in order to work with patients on wards to get them to begin this journey of giving up.

Medical research shows that, as soon as you give up, your body has an amazing ability to start to repair the damage. Blood pressure drops within hours of the last cigarette and breathing function can improve rapidly. People can improve their health the moment they give up, and they are never too old to give up. We just need the Government to be bold and to focus particularly on this aspect of the smoking cessation plan, which I think would probably be more beneficial than all the legislation in the world in encouraging people to give up this very difficult addiction.

The Record

Keith Davies: Dylwn ddatgan buddiant: mae fy ngwraig yn ysmygu yn ei char hi, ond nid yn fy un i. Fel y dywedodd y Gweinidog, cymerwyd camau mawr dros y 50 mlynedd diwethaf. Yr oedd dros 90 y cant o ddynion a nifer o fenywod yn ysmygu adeg yr ail ryfel byd. Mae hynny wedi dod i lawr i chwarter y boblogaeth yn awr. Cyfeiriodd Elin Jones yn gynharach at y targedau sydd gennym i ostwng hynny i 16 y cant erbyn 2020, ac efallai i gael cymdeithas ddi-fwg yn y pen draw.

Keith Davies: I should declare an interest: my wife smokes in her car, but she does not smoke in mine. As the Minister said, huge steps have been taken in the past 50 years. Some 90 per cent of men and a number of women smoked at the time of the second world war. That has now reduced to a quarter of the population. Elin Jones referred earlier to the targets that we have to reduce this further to 16 per cent by 2020 and perhaps have a smoke-free society at the end of it all.

Mae wyth o weithredoedd angenrheidiol yn y cynllun gweithredu ar reoli tybaco a fydd yn ein helpu i gyrraedd y targed drwy leoli gwelliannau mewn mannau gweithredu pellach. Mae hyn yn adeiladu ar y rhaglen gyfredol i rwystro pobl ifanc rhag dechrau ysmygu ac annog y rhai sydd eisiau rhoi’r gorau iddi. Fel y dywedodd y Gweinidog, mae bron i 6,000 o bobl yn marw yng Nghymru bob blwyddyn o ganlyniad i ysmygu. Mae bron i hanner yr ysmygwyr tymor hir yn marw yn ganol oed neu’n dioddef o iechyd gwael neu leihad mewn ansawdd bywyd. Mae gwir angen gweithredu pellach. Ychwanegir at y brys gan y ffaith bod 20 y cant o dderbyniadau ysbyty a diwrnodau gwely yng Nghymru yn digwydd oherwydd pobl yn dioddef o glefydau yn ymwneud ag ysmygu. Yr oedd arweinydd y Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol yn sôn am yr effaith ar y gwasanaeth iechyd.

There are eight complsory steps in the tobacco control action plan that will help to achieve the targets by locating improvements in further action areas. This builds on the current programme to prevent young people from smoking and encourage people to give up. As the Minister said, nearly 6,000 people a year in Wales die because of smoking. Nearly half of long-term smokers die in middle age or suffer from poor health or a diminution in quality of life. We desperately need further action. The urgency has been exacerbated by the fact that 20 per cent of hospital admissions and bed days are as a result of people with smoking-related diseases. The leader of the Liberal Democrats referred to the effect on the health service.

Fodd bynnag, mae ffordd ymlaen, gan fod 70 y cant o ysmygwyr eisiau rhoi’r gorau iddi. Gwelwyd bod agwedd y Llywodraeth yn adlewyrchu pwysigrwydd y mater. Yn ddeddfwriaethol, mae enw da gan y Blaid Lafur. Gwaharddwyd ysmygu mewn mannau cyhoeddus eisoes, ac mae cynllun i ymgynghori ar ddeddfwriaeth bellach i wahardd ysmygu ar dir ysbytai lle bydd lefelau uchel o fwg a lle bydd pobl yn casglu, mewn mannau chwarae i blant ac, os oes eisiau, mewn ceir sy’n cario plant. Gwaharddwyd gwerthiant tybaco mewn peiriannau gwerthu, i ddechrau y flwyddyn nesaf, fel y dywedodd y Gweinidog, am fod nifer fawr o blant dan 18 oed yn prynu sigarets o’r peiriannau hyn, yn enwedig merched ifanc y dyddiau hyn.

However, there is a way forward, because 70 per cent of smokers want to give up. We have seen that the attitude of the Government underlines the importance of this issue. Legislatively, the Labour Party has a good reputation. Smoking in public places has already been banned, and we now have a consultation on further legislation to ban smoking within hospital grounds where there are high levels of smoke and where people congregate, in children’s playgrounds and, if necessary, in cars carrying children. Tobacco sales from vending machines will be banned from early next year, as the Minister said, because a huge number of children under 18, particularly young girls these days, buy cigarettes from machines.

Yn ystod y Cynulliad diwethaf, gwariwyd £190 miliwn ar iechyd cyhoeddus, a chafwyd ymrwymiad maniffesto ar gyfer y Cynulliad hwn i gael ymgyrch iechyd blynyddol. Bydd hyn, wedi’i ariannu gan Lywodraeth Cymru, yn arwain at hyfforddiant ymyrraeth cryno i broffesiynau gofal iechyd i gefnogi rhoi’r gorau i ysmygu. Enghreifftiau pendant yw’r rhain o bwysleisio pwysigrwydd y mater. O safbwynt lleol, dengys ffigurau iechyd cenedlaethol Cymru fod dros 20 y cant o bobl sir Gâr yn ysmygu, o gymharu â chyfartaledd cenedlaethol o 24 y cant. Cafwyd 500 o dderbyniadau ysbyty yn Llanelli yn 2009-10 oherwydd clefydau anadlol. Dengys ffigurau ASH mai ysmygu sy’n achosi 35 y cant o farwolaethau anadlol. Mae ffigurau rhyngwladol yn dangos mai clefydau anadlol a achosir yn bennaf gan ysmygu yw’r pedwerydd ar y rhestr o achosion mwyaf cyffredin am farwolaethau. O ganlyniad, yr wyf yn cefnogi datganiad y Llywodraeth y dylem ddatblygu cynlluniau gweithredu eang ar gyfer ardaloedd awdurdodau lleol. Bydd hyn yn ystyried data a gwybodaeth leol ac yn creu canlyniadau priodol a mesuradwy.

During the last Assembly term, £190 million was spent on public health, and there was a manifesto commitment for this Assembly for a public health campaign. Funded by the Welsh Government, this will lead to brief intervention training for health professionals to support smoking cessation. These are specific examples of the urgency of the situation. From a local perspective, national health figures for Wales show that more than 20 per cent of people in Carmarthenshire smoke, compared with the national figure of 24 per cent. There were 500 hospital admissions in Llanelli in 2009-10 because of respiratory diseases. ASH figures show that smoking causes 35 per cent of respiratory deaths. International figures show that respiratory diseases caused by smoking are the fourth most common cause of death. As a result, I support the Government’s statement that we should develop broad action plans for local authority areas. This will be based on local data and information, and will lead to better and measurable outcomes.

Dengys ffigurau Sefydliad Prydeinig yr Ysgyfaint fod lefelau salwch anadlol ymysg y tlotaf yng Nghymru yn 22 y cant, sef dwywaith y lefel a geir ymysg pobl gyfoethog. Mae ysmygu yn ffactor cyfrannol mawr i hyn. Amcan Llywodraeth Cymru yn y cynllun gweithredu, yn ogystal ag amddiffyn pobl ifanc, yw lleihau anghydraddoldebau iechyd fel bod hyd oes disgwyliedig yr un fath mewn ardaloedd cyfoethog a thlawd.

British Lung Foundation figures show that respiratory disease levels among the poorest people in Wales stand at 22 per cent—twice the level among the richest people. Smoking is a large contributory factor in this. The Welsh Government’s aim in the action plan, as well as to safeguard young people, is to reduce health inequalities so that life expectancy is the same in both rich and poor areas.

Mae 'Canlyniadau iechyd tecach i bawb’ yn dangos bod nifer o ardaloedd lle mae angen gweithredu i gynnwys iechyd ym mhob polisi a hybu iechyd. Mae ymrwymiad y Llywodraeth i waredu tlodi plant a hyrwyddo Dechrau’n Deg yn enghraifft dda o weithredu o’r fath. O ran Dechrau’n Deg, cafwyd ymrwymiad i gynyddu nifer y plant a’u teuluoedd a fydd yn manteisio ar y rhaglen o 18,000 i 36,000 yn ystod y Cynulliad hwn. Dyma un o’r pum prif ymrwymiad er mwyn sicrhau dyfodol tecach yng Nghymru.

'Fairer health outcomes for all’ shows that action is needed to include health and health promotion in all policies in a number of areas. The Government’s commitment to end child poverty and to promote Flying Start is a good example of such action. With Flying Start, a commitment was made to increase the number of children and families benefiting from the programme from 18,000 to 36,000 during this Assembly. That is one of the five main commitments for securing a fairer future in Wales.

Mae hwn yn fater sy’n bwysig i mi, gan fy mod yn gyn athro. Fel aelod o’r Pwyllgor Plant a Phobl Ifanc, hoffwn sicrhau gostyngiad yn nifer y plant sy’n dioddef o effeithiau ysmygu. Felly, yr wyf yn falch bod hwn hefyd yn bwysig i’r Llywodraeth. Yr wyf yn croesawu datblygiad yr ymgyrch o ran ysmygu mewn ceir a dylem ystyried opsiynau deddfwriaethol oni cheir gostyngiad yn nifer y plant sy’n anadlu mwg ail-law mewn ceir yn y tair blynedd nesaf.

This issue is important for me, as a former teacher. As a member of the Children and Young People Committee, I would like to see a reduction in the number of children who suffer from the effects of smoking. Therefore, I am pleased that this is important for the Government, too. I welcome the development of the campaign on smoking in cars, and we should consider legislative options if there is no reduction in the number of children inhaling the smoke of others in cars over the next three years.

The Record

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Order. Please conclude now.

The Record

Keith Davies: Ceir 156,000 o achosion bob blwyddyn o salwch mewn plant wedi’u hachosi gan ysmygu goddefol yn ôl Coleg Brenhinol y Ffisigwyr. Mae hefyd yn gyfrifol am tua 40 marwolaeth sydyn y flwyddyn ymysg babanod. Yr wyf yn falch o gefnogi’r Llywodraeth.

Keith Davies: There are 156,000 cases every year of ill health in children caused by passive smoking, according to the Royal College of Physicians. It is also responsible for some 40 sudden deaths every year among infants. I am pleased to support the Government.

The Record

William Graham: In supporting this motion, I think that it is worth recording yet again that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Wales. There are over 6,000 smoking-related deaths in Wales each year. The reality is that smoking kills more people each year than the following preventable causes of death combined: obesity, alcohol, traffic accidents and illegal drugs.

About half of all lifelong smokers will die prematurely, losing on average about 10 years of their life. There is a disproportionate adverse impact upon the health and lives of those affected by a passive smoking environment. It is clear that premature death, combined with the associated decline in health and possible inabilities, contributes to the poverty and poor lifestyles experienced by many families of smokers. Furthermore, it places unnecessary pressures upon scarce NHS resources.

However, we must accept that smoking is a matter of personal choice. It is a choice that is often made in childhood, arising from peer pressure or an attempt to copy adult behaviour. There have been initiatives directed at encouraging people not to smoke and to assist them to stop smoking. I am supportive of a recommendation by ASH that we need a tobacco delivery plan that is monitored through published targets and a board of experts and which will enable us to reinforce how we tackle these issues as they arise, not reflect upon the failure of previous policies. It is vital that we ensure that we provide a smoke-free environment for our children—in their homes, in their family vehicles and their playgrounds.

We must respond to the fact that the majority of adult smokers began smoking in childhood. It is, therefore, essential to reduce the number of children smoking in order to reduce the adult smoking rate in the future. I believe that it is necessary to legislate to make it illegal for adults to purchase tobacco on behalf of children. The number of people who smoke in Wales challenges us to demonstrate the personal and family benefits of not smoking, together with the positive impact that this would have upon our NHS services.

It is worth reflecting that, within 20 minutes of stopping smoking, a person’s blood pressure and pulse return to normal. After eight hours, the levels of carbon monoxide and nicotine in the blood have reduced by 50 per cent. After 24 hours, carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body, the lungs start to clear and a person’s chance of a heart attack decreases measurably. After 48 hours, the nicotine has left the body and, after 72 hours, breathing becomes easier and energy levels increase.

A nation is judged not only on the quality of care that it provides for those who require assistance, but also on its provision to ensure that all people can live in a safe and healthy environment. This tobacco delivery plan highlights the challenges that we face in providing that environment.

Sandy Mewies: William Graham has done a very good job of reminding people why it is a good thing to stop smoking and why people should be encouraged not to start smoking. British Lung Foundation research shows that lung cancer is still the biggest cancer killer in Wales. It kills far more people than any other cancer, and survival rates are alarmingly low. An illustration of this is that the five-year survival rate for lung cancer is just 7 per cent, while the average for all cancers is 49 per cent. I come from a family that smoked. That may be the reason why I am only 4 foot 11 inches tall, and it is almost certainly the reason why I suffer from asthma, as did my sister. I also had a brother who died from lung cancer. Therefore, you have to think about these things when you think about what we are doing. This is self-inflicted—there is no doubt about that. I speak as a former smoker myself, and there is nothing worse than a reformed smoker. The same is probably true of a reformed drinker, though I do not know about that. We really have to get these messages across.

We all welcome the success that we have had in Wales in reducing the number of smokers by banning smoking in all enclosed public spaces and workplaces, and in stating why we need to continue the drive to reduce the numbers of people who smoke. I pay tribute to the British Lung Foundation for the many events that it has held here and for encouraging us to do this. I also thank our former colleague Val Lloyd, who raised this issue again and again, and played an important part in what happened.

At the start of this Assembly term, I put down a statement of opinion supporting the British Lung Foundation in its drive to improve the lung health of people in Wales and to protect children from the damage caused by tobacco. The statement said that we would like to see Wales continue to lead the UK in putting children’s health first. I think that this is still a shared objective, although we may see slightly different ways of getting there. I was very pleased that the statement received support across the political spectrum. More importantly, however, I was delighted when the Minister for health announced soon afterwards that, as part of its drive for improving public health, the Welsh Government had identified the need to further reduce smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.

As part of that announcement, it was also stated that the Welsh Government will look at legislation to ban smoking in cars where children are passengers if the awareness campaign launched in the new year fails to achieve a significant reduction in exposure to second-hand smoke. I think that that is very important. I welcome the steps that are being taken, including the research that is being undertaken to estimate how many children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars. It is unacceptable to allow children—and Assembly Members; look at Keith—to be exposed to the dangers of smoking, including passive smoking. Therefore, I for one welcome this action.

The BLF carried out its own survey, which revealed that more than half of children in the UK are exposed to cigarette smoke in a car. Also, 300,000 children in the UK go to their GP each year with illnesses related to passive smoking. Therefore, joking aside, this situation is serious and avoidable. I would agree with the British Lung Foundation, which recognises that awareness-raising is a very important first step. However, legislation must remain an option, and we should not shirk from adopting legislation if, in the end, it becomes necessary.

Lindsay Whittle: This is a really interesting and important debate. We all know that any reduction in the numbers of people who smoke will not only benefit the individuals, but will also benefit the NHS, through savings made by having to treat fewer people with smoking-related illnesses. Of course, it will also benefit the economy, which we have heard a lot about today, through reducing the number of working days lost through absence from work. The plan refers to working with academic bodies to carry out research. That is fine, but according to the research of which I have been made aware, it is not easy to identify any particular health promotion activity as being the direct cause of stopping people from smoking. I fear that people usually stop smoking because of the price of cigarettes; however, the black market that we have today is beating us as well.

We should focus first on the impact of passive smoking on children’s health and, secondly, we should focus on efforts to prevent children from starting to smoke. We know that the younger that people start smoking, the harder it is for them to quit. As for the problems of adults smoking in cars when children are passengers, I cannot accept, as stated in the delivery programme, that we should wait three years to find out whether children’s exposure to second-hand smoke starts to decline. We should take strong action now to pave the way for the banning of smoking in cars carrying children. Other countries have done it, so why not Wales? We have had debates about stopping the piercing of children and we have had debates about stopping the smacking of children, but it seems that it is okay to expose them to the possible danger of lung cancer. I really cannot get my head around that.

4.30 p.m.

I am not a total anti-smoking fascist; I do not support a ban on people smoking in their own cars, because that would perhaps be a step too far. They know the dangers of smoking, but their children do not and they are the ones who we have to protect. Apart from the fact that it is a health hazard inflicted upon children, driving while smoking is an obvious example of perhaps driving without due care and attention. If you can be pulled over by the police for eating a sandwich while driving, maybe the same should apply to smoking. By focusing our attention on children, we stand a better chance of hitting the target of reducing the number of adults who smoke in the long term. For now, however, we should not be talking about a target of 16 per cent of the population smoking by 2020. That overall figure hides the very wide gap between smoking rates in lower-income households and in higher-income households. We should instead aim in particular to reduce the percentage of people who smoke in the more deprived areas of Wales, because health levels in those areas, as we know, are much poorer.

Trying to reduce smoking levels is nothing new; some of us will remember as far back as the mid-1980s and the Heartbeat Wales campaign, which had reducing smoking as one of its main aims. It had limited success. I believe that by involving schools in helping to prevent children from taking up smoking, by making it illegal for children to be exposed to smoking in road vehicles, and by focusing on attempts to significantly reduce smoking among lower-income households, the Welsh Government, in partnership with those agencies mentioned in the tobacco control action plan, can play an important part in improving the health of our nation. This is an extremely important debate; please do not miss this opportunity to help to save the lives of young children. Many will remember watching, as young children years ago, an entertainer called Roy Castle on television. He died as a result of passive smoking.

Julie Morgan: I also welcome this important debate, and I hope that we will be able to build on the great achievements that have already been made in the Assembly.

I want to focus on two points. First, I welcome the Government’s commitment to review the exemption for residential mental health units under the Smoke-free Premises etc. (Wales) Regulations 2007. I am also pleased that a task and finish group is being set up to look at the mental health service in relation to smoking.

Many have said today that smoking is the greatest cause of preventable illness in the UK. Those who have mental health problems smoke significantly more than the rest of the population. In fact, the highest levels of smoking in any population group are among in-patients in mental health units, where up to 70 per cent smoke. Those who have a mental illness already experience considerable health inequalities, and the high death rate among people with mental health problems is, in large part, due to their increased smoking levels. It therefore seems completely wrong to me that they should be given fewer opportunities than the rest of the population to benefit from smoke-free premises and from smoking cessation programmes. I hope that the Government will decide to remove the exemption and give help and support to mental health in-patient units to give those patients the opportunities that our policies have given to the rest of the population. Therefore, looking at the issues related to mental health patients is an important part of the action plan.

There is a similar issue with prisons, but, of course, responsibility for prisons is not devolved, so we perhaps do not have a say in that. We have to recognise, however, that the Welsh health service does provide a service to prisoners in Wales, and it is a big issue that prisons are not smoke free. I have visited prisons in Canada that were smoke free, and, from talking to the staff there, I understand that the transition to prisons being smoke-free happened much more easily than anticipated. Of course, we may not have a say over that.

Angela Burns: I have a question, because, to be honest, I am absolutely conflicted on this issue. With reference to the two types of institution that you mentioned and the examples that you have cited, were the prisoners and/or the patients in mental health institutions still able, if they chose—because this is about the choice of the adult as well—to go off to have a cigarette somewhere or were the prisons that you mentioned smoke-free zones because prisoners did not have the opportunity to get out to have a smoke?

Julie Morgan: The particular prison that I visited was completely smoke-free. There was nowhere that you could smoke. Therefore, it involved a huge cultural change for prisoners and there was a big issue about how the people who were looking after the prisoners dealt with it. However, they were fully in support of it and thought that it was something that we could consider here.

The second point that I wanted to make was on the smoking cessation programme. I welcome the commissioning of an independent review of that programme. I know that it is very hard to stop smoking and we have to ensure that the help that we provide is targeted and clear, that people know where to go for help, and that there is a uniform path that people can take to get help. It has already been said that the target of a reduction to 16 per cent by 2020 is ambitious. I know that the Bevan Foundation has said that that requires that 17,000 people a year quit. Therefore, a huge amount of help is needed. Young people in particular need to be targeted with well-trained peer health promoters, with a strong online presence and a website targeted at them.

It is important that help is available at the time the smoker decides to quit. I understand that, after phoning to ask for help, it can be eight weeks before you get help on a programme. Efforts should be made to try to reduce that wait and perhaps, when the Minister responds, she could say whether there is any way of doing that.

In conclusion, there has been a great deal of progress, but we still have a way to go. Someone said earlier on that we should be bold. I think that we should continue to be bold.

 

The Minister for Health and Social Services (Lesley Griffiths): I thank Members for their contributions. It has been a very interesting and supportive debate. The tobacco control action plan is a key element in achieving the vision of a healthy Wales set out in 'Our Healthy Future’ and reflects the onus on prevention contained within the five-year vision for the NHS in 'Together for Health’. The plan also builds on the programme of measures to discourage young people from starting to smoke, to support smokers who want to give up, and to promote smoke-free environments. It sets a vision of a smoke-free Wales in which the harm from tobacco is eradicated and, in particular, it aims to protect children from tobacco harm. It also aims to reduce health inequalities.

Elin Jones spoke to the Plaid Cymru amendment, and I think that, basically, what you are asking is why the Government is focusing on an awareness campaign on smoking in cars carrying children rather than going straight for a ban. Evaluations of smoking-cessation-focused mass media campaigns have indicated that such campaigns can build knowledge, educate the public, change key beliefs and attitudes, and increase calls to quit lines. Therefore, that can all contribute, along with other tobacco control programme elements, to overall decreases in tobacco consumption and increases in smoking cessation. Legislation to ban smoking in cars carrying children will be considered later in this five-year Assembly term if smoking levels do not reduce as a result of the campaign. I wish to make it very clear that I am not ruling out legislation, but I want to assess the impact of the campaign before making a commitment to introduce costly legislation.

Nick Ramsay: While I have sympathy with the idea of banning smoking in cars carrying a child, Minister, would you agree that on this point the Government motion has got it right? This sort of legislation would have greater cross-border implications than many other issues that have been dealt with. In travelling in a car in the area along the border between Wales and England, you could be both breaking the law and then not breaking the law within a short space of time. I think, therefore, that the motion has got this right, although I agree that there is a pressing need to do something about this issue of smoking in cars.

Lesley Griffiths: I agree with Nick Ramsay: the Government motion has got it right. As I said, I am not ruling legislation out, but I want to assess the impact of the campaign initially.

Kirsty Williams and Julie Morgan mentioned the smoking cessation database. I will be instructing my officials in the new year to set this up, and the implementation board will oversee and report back to me on progress.

Kirsty Williams: Will you give timescales as to when you expect that reporting back to happen? As you can imagine, there is a great deal of pressure to do things differently in the NHS. If we are spending money on cessation schemes that are not working, then we need to put that resource into measures that do work for people. When can we expect to hear from you about the results of that review and the reporting back?

Lesley Griffiths: Since I have been in post in this portfolio I have been looking at all the different programmes that we have and pulling them together. So, when we set up this implementation board early in the new year, I would expect it to report to me within six months. I commit to come back to the Chamber or to issue a written statement to Members to explain its progress.

Kirsty also referred to cessation programmes within the NHS setting, that is, for patients in hospital. I appreciate what you say about patients who are unwell, but I think that the NHS should be leading the way on this. When patients go in for elective surgery, when you look at what medication the patient is on and whether they are suitable for a general anaesthetic, that is the right time to look at this. It is a good time to make that positive step.

  

Keith Davies referred to young people and stopping them from smoking in the first place. We have several programmes through which young people can access help, such as the ASSIST peer support programme. In 2010, only 3 per cent of 13 to 14-year-old boys, and 6 per cent of girls in that age group, reported to be smoking weekly. So, we have seen a significant reduction in the prevalence of smoking among both girls and boys aged 15 to 16 since 1998, which shows that our programmes are working. You also referred to extending the smoking ban in hospital grounds. Again, this is an area where I think that the NHS should be an exemplar and leading the way. I would also like to perhaps consider a smoking ban in the grounds of GPs’ surgeries.

Several Members, including Sandy Mewies, Lindsay Whittle and William Graham, talked about why we should do more to assist people who want to stop smoking and to prevent the take-up of smoking in the first place. You all referred to the benefits that the NHS would achieve if we saw a reduction in the prevalence of smoking.

Sandy talked poignantly about the issues that you and your brother and sister faced in having parents who smoked. I am not going to refer to your height at all—I have no idea whether that was significant—and, like you, I would like to pay tribute to our former colleague, Val Lloyd, for all the work that she did on this issue during her time in this place.

Julie Morgan referred to smoke-free residential mental health units, and we need to look at that group of people within health inequalities and address that. You also referred to prisons, which is a reserved matter, as you say. However, I mentioned in my opening speech that my officials work closely with the UK Government, because there are certain aspects of tobacco control that are not devolved to us, and we will be looking at issues around that.

I thank the many health professionals, community organisations and members of the public who played an important part in developing the draft action plan during the consultation process. We have set a challenging target to reduce smoking prevalence in Wales, but those levels have already been achieved in other parts of the world, such as Australia and California. Our key stakeholders will have to deliver action at a local level if we are to drive down smoking prevalence in Wales. A separate delivery plan has been prepared that summarises all the actions for tobacco control and includes lead responsibility and timescales for stakeholders. That will facilitate clear and unambiguous accountability, and will assist the tobacco control implementation board to monitor progress and report to me on meeting the milestone of 20 per cent prevalence by 2016.

Several Members mentioned that the target of 16 per cent prevalence by 2020 is an ambitious target. I recognise that the number of quitters will have to increase significantly to achieve those targets, but it will be a significant step towards a smoke-free future for Wales.

4.45 p.m.

The Deputy Presiding Officer: The question is that amendment 1 be agreed. Are there any objections? I see that there are. Therefore, voting on this item will be deferred until voting time.

Gohiriwyd y pleidleisio tan y cyfnod pleidleisio.
Voting deferred until voting time.

Dadl Plaid Cymru
Plaid Cymru Debate

Tlodi Tanwydd
Fuel Poverty

The Record

The Deputy Presiding Officer: I have selected amendments 1, 2 and 3 in the name of William Graham and amendment 4 in the name of Peter Black.

The Record

Cynnig NDM4872 Jocelyn Davies

Motion NDM4872 Jocelyn Davies

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:

1. Yn gresynu wrth y nifer uwch o farwolaethau yn y gaeaf oherwydd y cynnydd yn nifer y bobl sy’n dioddef o dlodi tanwydd.

1. Regrets the rise in excess winter deaths due to increased fuel poverty.

2. Yn annog Llywodraeth Cymru i ddefnyddio’r holl bwerau sydd ganddi y gaeaf hwn i leihau nifer y marwolaethau yn y gaeaf.

2. Urges the Welsh Government to use all the powers at its disposal this winter to minimise winter deaths.

3. Yn galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i adolygu ei strategaeth tlodi tanwydd yn sgil cynnydd diweddar mewn prisiau tanwydd, gan ganolbwyntio ar:

3. Calls on the Welsh government to revise its fuel poverty strategy in light of recent energy price rises, focusing on:

a. Ôl-ffitio stoc tai Cymru; a

a. Retro-fitting of the Welsh housing stock; and

b. Mynd i’r afael â diffyg sicrwydd mewn perthynas ag ynni drwy fuddsoddi mewn ynni adnewyddadwy, a buddsoddi mewn datblygu 'sgiliau gwyrdd’ y sector adeiladu yng Nghymru, fel y cofnodwyd mewn papur diweddar 'Skills for Eco-Refurbishment’.

b. Tackling energy insecurity through investment in renewable energy, and investment in developing the 'green skills’ of the Welsh construction sector, as laid out in a recent paper 'Skills for Eco-Refurbishment’.

Yr Arglwydd Elis-Thomas: Cynigiaf y cynnig.

Lord Elis-Thomas: I move the motion.

Byddaf yn canolbwyntio’n bennaf ar yr argymhelliad i greu swyddi gwyrdd i ymateb i’r sefyllfa tlodi tanwydd a chyflwr y stoc tai yng Nghymru. Mae’r cynnig hwn yn un ymarferol sy’n edrych ar yr argyfwng economaidd presennol o safbwynt y cyfleoedd sy’n cael eu cynnig a’r heriadau sy’n ein hwynebu.

I will be concentrating mainly on the recommendation to create green jobs in order to respond to the issue of fuel poverty and the condition of the housing stock in Wales. This motion is a practical one that looks at the current economic crisis from the point of view of the opportunities provided and the challenges that are facing us.

Tynnaf eich sylw at y gwaith a gomisiynais fel llefarydd gan Dr Calvin Jones o Brifysgol Caerdydd. Bydd ef yn adnabyddus i chi am iddo roi tystiolaeth i’n pwyllgor fel arbenigwr ar bolisi ynni. Mae ei waith yn canolbwyntio’n arbennig ar y math o raglen ymarferol y gellid ei defnyddio er mwyn creu swyddi.

I draw your attention to the work that I commissioned as spokesperson from Dr Calvin Jones of Cardiff University. He will be well-known to you because he gave evidence to our committee as an expert on energy policy. His work concentrates particularly on the kind of practical programme that could be put in place in order to generate jobs.

Mae swyddi gwyrdd yn werth mwy yn y tymor hir na swyddi confensiynol, oherwydd eu bod yn swyddi sy’n newid y modd y mae’r economi yn gweithio. Mae’n bwysig ein bod yn sylweddoli nad yw stimwlws economaidd o werth parhaol yn y sefyllfa bresennol os nad yw’n un gwyrdd. O ran yr argymhelliad er mwyn delio â’r pwysau presennol o ran polisi ynni, mae ymateb drwy geisio creu swyddi gwyrdd yn allweddol.

Green jobs are of greater value in the long term than conventional jobs, because they are jobs that change the way in which the economy operates. It is important that we realise that economic stimulus is not of permanent value in the current situation unless it is a green stimulus. In talking of a recommendation to deal with the current pressures in terms of energy policy, responding by endeavouring to create green jobs is of crucial importance.

Os edrychwn ar y sefyllfa yng Nghymru, ac eithrio gogledd-ddwyrain Lloegr, mae gennym yr economi ranbarthol sy’n dibynnu fwyaf ar ddwysedd carbon o fewn y Deyrnas Unedig ac Ewrop. Mae hynny’n cynnwys ein systemau cynhyrchu a’n dibyniaeth ar geir ar gyfer gwaith ac adloniant. Hefyd, yn ein heconomi ni, mae’r stoc tai yn ein cymdeithas mewn cyflwr gwael o hyd a chafwyd amcangyfrif bod hyd at 40 y cant o boblogaeth Cymru yn wynebu tlodi tanwydd.

If we look at the situation in Wales, with the exception of the north-east of England, we have the regional economy that is most dependent on carbon intensity in the UK and Europe. That includes our production systems and our dependence on cars for work and leisure. Also, in our economy, the housing stock in our society is still in a poor condition and it is estimated that up to 40 per cent of the population of Wales are facing fuel poverty.

Mantais creu swyddi gwyrdd i ddelio â sefyllfa’r stoc tai yw bod ymyraethau o’r fath sy’n chwilio am arbedion ynni ac effeithlonrwydd ynni yn dibynnu ar lafur. Pan ydych yn mynd ati i drwsio eiddo mae’n rhaid gwneud hynny, yn amlwg, lle mae’r tai. Felly, mae pwyslais ar gynlluniau ymarferol yn ein dinasoedd mawr, y Cymoedd, a phentrefi a threfi gwledig. Mewn gwirionedd, yr hyn yr ydym yn galw amdano yw ymgais i ddatblygu sgiliau i gyfateb i raglenni Arbed a rhaglenni blaenorol y Llywodraeth.

The great advantage of creating green jobs to deal with the situation in our housing stock is that such interventions in seeking energy savings and energy efficiency are dependent on labour. When you start to retrofit properties, you have to do that, obviously, where the houses are. Therefore, there is an emphasis on practical plans in our large cities, the Valleys, and rural towns and villages. In reality, what we are calling for is an attempt to develop skills that are suitable for the Arbed schemes and the previous schemes put forward by the Government.

Gwendid sefyllfa’r diwydiant adeiladu yng Nghymru yw bod nifer fawr o gwmnïau bach heb y gallu technegol a rheolaethol i ymdopi â’r agenda werdd. Mae cyfle yn y sefyllfa hon i wneud hynny drwy gryfhau a chynyddu sgiliau’r diwydiant adeiladu yng Nghymru a rhoi cymwysterau i bobl mewn sgiliau gwyrdd ar gyfer newid amgylchiadau tai pobl yng Nghymru drwy gynllun fel hwn.

The problem at the moment in the construction sector in Wales is that we have a number of small companies that do not have the technical and regulatory ability to cope with the green agenda. There is an opportunity in this situation to proceed by strengthening and increasing the skills of the construction industry in Wales and to provide qualifications in green skills in order to change the housing circumstances of people in Wales through such schemes.

Yr wyf wedi trafod y cynllun hwn gyda Dr Calvin Jones wrth gomisiynu’r gwaith ac ar ôl derbyn ei adroddiad—mae’r adroddiad ar gael fel papur atodol i’r drafodaeth hon—yn ogystal â thrafod y cynllun gyda’r sector addysg bellach yng Nghymru. Mae’r prif goleg yn y gogledd y mae gennyf gysylltiad ag ef, sef Coleg Llandrillo—sy’n cynnwys Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor ac a fydd yn uno â Choleg Menai cyn hir—yn awyddus i weld cynllun o’r fath yn cael ei weithredu. Mae’r coleg hwnnw o’r farn y gallai colegau addysg bellach drwy Gymru gyfrannu at gynllun o’r fath, yn ogystal â Chanolfan y Dechnoleg Amgen ger Machynlleth, sydd eisoes yn darparu dosbarthiadau a hyfforddiant ar lefel uchel a chyrsiau tymor byr yn yr holl faes o baratoi ar gyfer yr economi werdd.

I discussed this scheme with Dr Calvin Jones when commissioning the work and on receiving his report—the report is available as an appendix to the papers for today’s debate—and I have discussed it with the further education sector in Wales. The main college in north Wales with which I have a strong connection, namely Coleg Llandrillo, which includes Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and is soon to merge with Coleg Menai, is eager to see the implementation of this kind of scheme. The college is of the opinion that FE colleges throughout Wales could contribute to such a programme. The same is true of the Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth, which already provides classes and training at a high level as well as short-term courses in this whole area of preparing for a green economy.

Mae cost y cynllun hwn yn hollol ymarferol a fforddiadwy. Byddai sicrhau 1,000 o gredydau neu o bersonau wedi eu credydu ar gyfer gwaith o’r natur hon yn costio £5.1 miliwn y flwyddyn yn ôl argymhellion Dr Calvin Jones. Felly, yr wyf yn gobeithio y bydd y Llywodraeth a’r Gweinidog yn gallu ystyried y cynllun hwn o fewn y cyllid a ddaw inni o’r Deyrnas Unedig oherwydd dosrannu’r gyllideb. Nid ydym yn gwybod eto, fel y clywsom yn gynharach heddiw, faint fydd y cyllid hwnnw, ond yr wyf yn gobeithio y bydd modd rhoi blaenoriaeth i gynllun fel hwn. Mae’r Gweinidog wedi derbyn copi o’r cynllun ac yr wyf yn edrych ymlaen at ei ymateb. Felly, mae’n dda gennyf gael agor y ddadl hon.

The cost of the scheme is entirely practical and affordable. Ensuring 1,000 credits or accredited persons for work of this kind would cost £5.1 million per annum according to the recommendations of Dr Calvin Jones. Therefore, I hope that the Government and the Minister will be able to consider this scheme within the funds that will come to us from the United Kingdom because of the budgetary consequentials. We do not yet know, as we heard earlier today, what the level of that funding will be, but I hope that it will be possible to prioritise schemes such as this one. The Minister has received a copy of the scheme and I look forward to hearing his response. Therefore, I am pleased to be able to open this debate.

Gwelliant 1 William Graham

Amendment 1 William Graham

Ychwanegu is-bwynt newydd ar ddiwedd pwynt 3:

Add new sub point at end of point 3:

yr hyn sy’n achosi mwy o dlodi tanwydd ymysg cartrefi gwledig;

the causes of higher fuel poverty amongst rural households;

Gwelliant 2 William Graham

Amendment 2 William Graham

Ychwanegu is-bwynt newydd ar ddiwedd pwynt 3:

Add new sub point at end of point 3:

cartrefi sy’n dlawd iawn o ran tanwydd nad ydynt yn gymwys ar gyfer Gwelliannau i’r Cartref o dan gynllun 'Nyth’ Llywodraeth Cymru;

severe fuel poor households not eligible for Home Improvements under the Welsh Government’s 'Nest’ scheme;

Gwelliant 3 William Graham

Amendment 3 William Graham

Ychwanegu pwynt newydd ar ddiwedd y cynnig:

Add new point at end of motion:

Yn galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i ymgorffori cynllun gweithredu’r Siarter Tlodi Tanwydd yn ei Strategaeth Tlodi Tanwydd.

Calls on the Welsh Government to incorporate the Fuel Poverty Charter action plan in its Fuel Poverty Strategy.

The Record

Mark Isherwood: I move amendments 1, 2 and 3 in the name of William Graham.

The 2008 Living in Wales survey reported 332,000 fuel poor households in Wales, 26 per cent of all households, and an increase of 198,000 households since 2004. National Energy Action Cymru now estimates that over 390,000 households are in fuel poverty in Wales, with a further 530,000 households at risk of becoming fuel poor.

 

Fuel poverty in rural areas is caused by a number of complex and interlinked factors compounded by a lack of independent information and formal assistance in off-gas-grid areas. Although urban fuel poverty generally aligns with social poverty, rural fuel poverty is more closely associated with the quality of housing stock and/or the household characteristics. It is difficult to engage successfully with often sparsely located rural communities, with community boundaries that do not always adhere to Government statistical geographical output areas. Furthermore, owing to the often isolated physical location of rural households, or their reluctance to admit that there is a problem, area-based deprivation indicators do not easily identify rural fuel poverty.

I have therefore moved amendment 1, which calls on the Welsh Government to revise its fuel poverty strategy, focusing on the

'the causes of higher fuel poverty amongst rural households’,

and also engaging with the private and voluntary sectors. It should be noted that NEA Cymru has been working with Calor Gas to assist off-grid households facing fuel poverty and to deliver the rural Welsh energy advisorship programme. In fact, I am sponsoring the 10 January report launch of the year two findings of this off-gas project and urge Members to attend.

One in five fuel poor households in Wales are now severely fuel poor, spending over 20 per cent of their income to stay warm. The link between fuel poverty and winter deaths is well established. New figures revealing a higher rate of people dying in winter in Wales than England should be cause for the Welsh Labour Government to revise its fuel poverty strategy.

The Office for National Statistics study found that there were 1,900 excess winter deaths in Wales last winter, up from 1,690 the previous year. In addition, Wales has the highest winter mortality rate compared with all England’s regions. Further to that, under-65s in Wales had the highest excess winter mortality rate of any group in any region, when usually this applies to people aged 85 and over.

Seventy per cent of fuel poor households contain someone who works and, while those on the lowest incomes remain most susceptible to fuel poverty, there is also a much higher incidence in other income bands. I have therefore moved amendment 2, which calls on the Welsh Government to revise its fuel poverty strategy, focusing on,

'severe fuel poor households not eligible for Home Improvements under the Welsh Government’s "Nest” scheme’.

The UK Government is seeking to address the long-term causes of fuel poverty through its green deal energy efficiency programme. The energy company obligation, which is part of the green deal, will provide £1.3 billion each year for low-income households and those in hard-to-heat properties and, on 23 November, the UK Government launched its consultation on this. It is vital that the Welsh Government engages with this consultation to ensure that fuel poor households in Wales receive their full and fair share of this funding.

It is therefore a concern that the Welsh Government’s fuel poverty ministerial advisory group has not met since August 2010, despite parallel groups in Scotland and England continuing. The warm home discount scheme is providing up to 2 million UK homes with a £120 discount on electricity bills. Unlike the winter fuel payment, this is targeted specifically at the fuel poor. Reduced winter fuel payments still provide £200 for those aged 60 to 79, and £300 for those aged 80 or older. UK Ministers have also permanently increased the cold weather payment from £8.50 to £25 for each week of very cold weather, which the previous UK Government had not planned to do.

David Rees: I have two points to raise. First, do you recognise that the drop in winter fuel payments will have an impact on certain individuals who are fuel poor? Secondly, the cold winter payments are calculated based on readings at weather stations located at certain points in Wales, and the temperatures in the Afan valley in particular, but also other valley areas, are not reflected in the temperature that is measured at St Athan.

Mark Isherwood: I would certainly support any efforts to ensure that the technology is identifying the need, but I personally favour targeting the areas where the need is greatest, and where people are genuinely living in fuel poverty. That is a matter for the UK Government; all that we can do is present our views.

The fuel poverty coalition believes that no-one in Wales should have to live in a cold home.

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Order. Conclude, please.

Mark Isherwood: Sorry?

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Conclude, please.

Mark Isherwood: All right. It developed a fuel poverty charter to put the fuel poverty agenda back on track, calling for a detailed action plan setting out how and when—

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Order. You must finish now, Mark.

I call on William Powell to move amendment 4, tabled in the name of Peter Black.

The Record

Gwelliant 4 Peter Black

Amendment 4 Peter Black

Ychwanegu pwynt newydd ar ddiwedd y cynnig:

Add as new point at end of motion:

Yn nodi bod llai o bobl wedi manteisio ar y brechlynnau ffliw tymhorol ymysg y grwpiau 'mewn perygl’ o dan 65 oed, ac felly’n galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i roi mesurau ar waith i gynyddu’r niferoedd sy’n cael y brechlyn ffliw tymhorol er mwyn atal un o brif achosion marwolaethau diangen dros y gaeaf.

Notes that there has been a decreased take-up of the seasonal flu vaccines for 'at risk' groups under the age of 65, and therefore calls on the Welsh Government to put measures in place to increase the take-up of the seasonal flu vaccine to prevent one of the main causes of excess winter deaths.

The Record

William Powell: I move amendment 4 in the name of Peter Black.

I am very pleased to be taking part in this important debate here today. We shall be supporting amendments 1, 2 and 3 in the name of William Graham. Fuel poverty is fast becoming the issue of our time, with over 40 per cent of households in Wales living in fuel poor homes. The impact on households that suffer from fuel poverty can be extreme, with cold housing contributing to poor attainment among school pupils, poor health, and a rise in winter mortality rates. Twenty per cent of households in Wales are spending £1 in every £5 that they have on fuel to stay warm in winter. The Welsh Government has yet to reach its target of taking all vulnerable households out of fuel poverty, and that was set for 2010.

We have concerns about the current Nest scheme, especially given that new estimates suggest that 74 per cent of households in severe fuel poverty will not qualify for the help that they need. Fuel poverty is no longer confined to those on means-tested benefits. Households all across Wales, including those with two working adults, are now suffering from fuel poverty, and more must be done to assist them. We urge the Welsh Government to reassess the way it allocates funding in certain circumstances to help those in most need at the time when they are in need. There was also a lack of emergency funding in certain situations. For example, we are familiar with the boiler scrappage scheme, which has much to commend it, but if an old boiler breaks down unexpectedly, there is no coverage, as I understand it, for a replacement boiler to be put in place. We need to address that inconsistency. Mobilising emergency help is very important for the vulnerable during the winter period. They need the help when they are in a crisis situation.

Not only has fuel poverty not disappeared, but it is on the increase, as we have heard. The Welsh Government must continue to address the ways in which it deals with fuel poverty and excess winter deaths. While looking at housing, which is clearly one important aspect of this, we must also take on board other ways in which we can improve the nation’s health. While we support the Arbed scheme, which we see has gained an additional £3 million in funding as a result of the budget today, there are other concerns regarding those who live in fuel poverty, and other ways in which the Government can take urgent action. Last year, for example, we saw that there were less than 50 per cent of at-risk adults under the age of 65 vaccinated with the winter flu jab. Flu contributes to excess winter deaths and is more prevalent among those in poor quality housing. While improving homes must be priority, preventing death and ill-health in the most vulnerable is imperative. That can be addressed relatively swiftly, which is why we have tabled our amendment today.

5.00 p.m.

This year, we saw the Government piloting a scheme to increase the take-up of vaccines by allowing community pharmacies to administer them in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Blaenau Gwent, where take-up rates have historically been low. Yet, as many colleagues will be aware, the pilot programme was not fully supported by GPs, who feared that they would be left with a lot of stock that had already been paid for but was not used. I therefore urge the Minister to commit to work with his colleague the Minister for Health and Social Services to urge doctors and community pharmacies to adopt a more joined-up approach in the campaign for the take-up of winter flu vaccines. We must endeavour to reach the World Health Organization target of 75 per cent of those at risk to be vaccinated. Use of community pharmacies can remove pressure from doctors’ surgeries and allow otherwise healthy patients to access the jab there, outside office hours, given that GP surgeries might be less convenient for them.

We are happy to support the motion and all of the Conservatives’ amendments. Anything that we can do to help Welsh families in this time of hardship must be done. Making homes warmer, safer and dryer for the winter months is a major priority for a healthier and more productive Wales.

The Record

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Hoffwn, yn y lle cyntaf, ategu yn llwyr yr hyn a ddywedodd Dafydd Elis-Thomas wrth agor y drafodaeth hon. Mae’r potensial ar gyfer creu swyddi gwyrdd yn botensial gwirioneddol y mae’n rhaid inni geisio’i wireddu yng Nghymru. Ar ben hynny, yr ydym ar y blaen yn y gwaith o gynhyrchu ynni adnewyddadwy, a gobeithiwn y byddwn yn y sefyllfa cyn bo hir lle byddwn yn cynhyrchu mwy nag sydd ei angen arnom ni ein hunain.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: First of all, I would like to endorse fully what Dafydd Elis-Thomas said in opening the debate. The potential for creating green jobs is a real potential and is one that we must try to fulfil in Wales. Additionally, we are ahead of the game regarding the production of renewable energy, and we hope to be in a situation shortly where we will be producing more energy than we need ourselves.

Rhaid imi, serch hynny, fynegi pryder sydd wedi’i godi gan Blaid Cymru ers degawdau bellach. Er ein bod yn aml yn barod iawn i rannu’n hadnoddau naturiol gyda rhannau eraill o’r Deyrnas Unedig, ac, yn wir, i’w hallforio, nid ydym bob amser yn cael y gydnabyddiaeth ariannol haeddiannol am hynny. Gobeithiaf y bydd y Llywodraeth yma yng Nghaerdydd yn sicrhau, os gallwn wneud y gorau o’r cyfleoedd sydd gennym i ddefnyddio’n hadnoddau naturiol i greu ynni adnewyddadwy, y byddwn yn cael ein had-dalu yn gywir, fel ein bod yn gallu ei fuddsoddi yn yr economi, a sicrhau ei fod yn mynd at anghenion y bobl dlotaf yn ein cymdeithas.

However, I must express the concern that has been raised by Plaid Cymru for decades. While we are often very willing to share our natural resources with other parts of the United Kingdom, and, indeed, to export those resources, we are not always given the financial recognition that we deserve for doing so. I hope that the Government in Cardiff will ensure that, if we can make the most of the opportunities that we have to use our natural resources to generate renewable energy, we are properly reimbursed, so that we can invest it in the economy, and ensure that it goes to the poorest people in our society.

Mae tlodi tanwydd yn effeithio’n fwy ar Gymru nag ar rannau eraill o’r Deyrnas Unedig. Yng Nghymru, mae incwm y pen yn is nag mewn rhannau eraill o’r Deyrnas Unedig, ac yr ydym hefyd yn talu tua 10 y cant yn fwy ar gyfartaledd am ein hynni. Mae ein stoc tai, at ei gilydd, yn hŷn ac o ansawdd gwaeth nag mewn rhannau eraill o’r Deyrnas Unedig, ac mae canran y tai sy’n agos at y rhwydwaith ynni yn is yng Nghymru nag mewn rhanbarthau eraill. Mae gennym hefyd boblogaeth sy’n heneiddio, yn ogystal â chanran uwch o bobl ag anabledd.

Fuel poverty impacts more upon Wales than other parts of the United Kingdom. In Wales, income per capita is lower than in other parts of the United Kingdom, and we also pay around 10 per cent more on average for our energy. Our housing stock is generally older and is of poorer quality than in other parts of the United Kingdom, and the percentage of homes close to the energy network is lower in Wales than in other regions. We also have an ageing population, as well as a higher percentage of people with a disability.

Felly, mae hon yn broblem wirioneddol yng Nghymru, ac, fel sydd newydd ei amlinellu gan William Powell, mae’n broblem sy’n cael effaith andwyol ar ansawdd bywyd pobl. Rhannaf rai, os nad y mwyafrif, o’r pryderon a gododd William Powell ynglŷn â’r math o gynlluniau sydd ar gael ar hyn o bryd i fynd i’r afael â’r problemau hyn. Rhaid inni sicrhau bod y bobl dlotaf yn ein cymunedau yn gallu manteisio ar y cynlluniau hyn. Mae llawer o gynlluniau, er enghraifft, sy’n cynnig canran ddigon hael o’r gost o sicrhau bod tai yn cael eu hinsiwleiddio a bod modd ceisio arbed ynni. Fodd bynnag, os nad ydych mewn sefyllfa i dalu’r gost sylfaenol yn y lle cyntaf, ni allwch fanteisio ar y cynigion hynny. Tan yn ddiweddar iawn, yr oedd cyfle i bobl yng Nghymru, fel mewn rhannau eraill o’r Deyrnas Unedig, fuddsoddi mewn ynni solar. Byddai hynny’n gostwng cost tanwydd. Wrth gwrs, yr oedd cost gosod y paneli solar hynny yn y lle cyntaf yn eithaf drud, er bod yr ad-daliad yn un sylweddol. Hyd yn oed i’r bobl hynny a oedd yn manteisio ar gynigion cymdeithasau tai a chynghorau i wneud y gwaith hwnnw drostynt, mae’r ffaith bod y tariff bellach wedi ei ostwng yn sylweddol iawn yn golygu, o bosibl, na fyddant yn gallu manteisio ar gael paneli solar ar eu tai, hyd yn oed yn rhad ac am ddim, i ostwng eu dibyniaeth ar ynni a gostwng y gost sylfaenol.

Therefore, this is a real problem in Wales, and, as William Powell has just outlined, it is a problem that has a detrimental effect on people’s quality of life. I share some, if not the majority, of the concerns raised by William Powell regarding the type of schemes that are now available to address these problems. We need to ensure that the poorest people within our communities are able to benefit from these schemes. There are many schemes that, for example, pay quite a generous proportion of the cost of insulating homes to save energy. However, if you are not in a position to pay the basic cost in the first place, you cannot take advantage of such offers. Until very recently, people in Wales, as in other parts of the UK, could invest in solar energy. That would reduce fuel costs. Of course, the cost of installing solar panels in the first place was quite high, even though the sum reimbursed was significant. Even for those people taking advantage of housing association and council schemes to do that work for them, the fact that the tariff has been significantly reduced could mean that they will not be able to take advantage of having solar panels installed, even when that is free of charge, in order to reduce dependency on energy and to reduce fuel costs.

Amcangyfrifir bod 26 y cant o boblogaeth Cymru eisoes mewn sefyllfa o dlodi tanwydd. Pan ydych yn ystyried bod cost tanwydd yn codi tuag 20 y cant ar gyfartaledd ar hyn o bryd, mae’r ganran honno’n mynd i godi’n sylweddol. Fel y dywedodd Dafydd, mae potensial enfawr yn y maes hwn, ond mae problemau gwirioneddol hefyd yn bodoli. Y cyfrifoldeb sydd arnom oll, ond yn bennaf ar y Llywodraeth, yw sicrhau bod y bobl dlotaf yn ein cymdeithas yn cael eu gwarchod rhag y costau mawr hyn.

It is estimated that 26 per cent of the population of Wales is already in fuel poverty. Given that the cost of fuel is increasing by some 20 per cent at the moment, that figure will increase significantly. As Dafydd said, there is huge potential in this area, but real problems also exist. The responsibility for each and every one of us, but mainly for the Government, is to ensure that the poorest in society are safeguarded from these huge costs.

Keith Davies: Efallai am y tro cyntaf, yr wyf yn mynd i gytuno â nifer o sylwadau Rhodri Glyn a William Powell. Dylem edrych ar yr hyn sy’n digwydd ar hyn o bryd, ac nid ar y dyfodol, oherwydd mae’r gaeaf wedi cyrraedd, gyda’r pwysau a’r effeithiau a ddaw gyda Nadolig gwyn i’r henoed a’r rhai sy’n byw mewn tlodi tanwydd.

Keith Davies: For what might be the first time, I will agree with a number of the points made by Rhodri Glyn and William Powell. We should look at what is currently happening, and not to the future, because winter is upon us, with the pressure and effects of a white Christmas for the elderly and those in fuel poverty.

Bythefnos yn ôl, cyhoeddwyd datganiad gan y Gweinidog Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau ynghylch trefniadau i gadw’n gynnes yn ystod y gaeaf. Mae’r Gweinidog Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol hefyd yn annog cynllunio ar gyfer y tywydd oer sydd ar ddod. Cafwyd nifer o ymgyrchoedd i wneud hynny. Yn gyntaf, rhaid nodi gweithred y Llywodraeth i ddileu, cymaint â phosibl, tlodi tanwydd o bob cartref erbyn 2018. Ers 2007, mae’r Llywodraeth wedi gwario £86.5 miliwn ar gynllun effeithlonrwydd ynni cartref. Er bod y setliad cyllid a gafwyd gan Lywodraeth San Steffan wedi bod yn dynn iawn, fel y clywsom yn gynharach, mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi amddiffyn y cyllid hwnnw.

A fortnight ago, the Minister for Local Government and Communities made a statement on arrangements for keeping warm this winter. The Minister for Health and Social Services is also encouraging planning for the imminent cold weather. There have been a number of campaigns to that effect. First, we must note the Government’s action to eradicate fuel poverty, as much as possible, from all homes by 2018. Since 2007, the Government has spent £86.5 million on a home energy efficiency scheme. Although the financial settlement from the Westminster Government is very tight, as we heard earlier on, the Welsh Government is safeguarding that funding.

Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi gwneud ymrwymiad i gefnogi’r rhai sydd ar incwm isel neu sy’n agored i niwed i leihau eu biliau gwres drwy gynyddu effeithlonrwydd ynni yn y cartref. Erbyn heddiw, darparwyd cymorth i wella 100,000 o dai yng Nghymru. Yn Lloegr, cafwyd toriadau i wariant effeithlonrwydd ynni, sydd â chanlyniadau i’r rhai mewn tlodi tanwydd ac sy’n agored i niwed. Drwy ddileu Consumer Focus, er enghraifft, cafwyd gwared ar hawl y bobl sydd mewn tlodi tanwydd i gael rhywun i siarad drostynt.

The Welsh Government is commited to supporting those on low incomes or who are vulnerable to reduce heating bills by increasing energy efficiency in homes. To date, assistance has been provided to improve 100,000 homes in Wales. In England, there have been cuts to energy efficiency spending, affecting those living in fuel poverty and the vulnerable. By abolishing Consumer Focus, for example, the body speaking on behalf of people in fuel poverty has been abolished.

O fewn 12 mlynedd, amcangyfrifir y bydd bron un o bob tri pherson yng Nghymru yn 60 oed neu’n hŷn. Erbyn 2031, bydd nifer y bobl sy’n 75 oed wedi cynyddu 76 y cant. Cyflwynodd Llywodraeth Lafur flaenorol y Deyrnas Unedig daliad tanwydd gaeaf. Fodd bynnag, mae’r cynnydd yn y taliadau hyn wedi cael ei ddileu. Eleni, bydd y taliad di-dreth blynyddol i helpu pobl i dalu am eu gwres dros fisoedd y gaeaf yn disgyn o £250 i £200 i’r rhai dros 60 oed, ac o £400 i £300 i’r rhai dros 80 oed. O ystyried effeithiau’r tywydd oer, mae angen pwysleisio effeithiau negyddol y camau uchod gan Lywodraeth y Deyrnas Unedig.

In 12 years, it is estimated that nearly one in three people in Wales will be aged 60 or above. By 2031, the number of people aged 75 will have increased by 76 per cent. The previous Labour Government in the UK introduced a winter fuel payment. However, the increase in that payment has been abolished. This year, the annual tax-free payment to help people pay for heating over the winter months will fall from £250 to £200 for the over 60s, and from £400 to £300 for the over 80s. Bearing in mind the effects of cold weather, the negative impacts of these steps taken by the UK Government must be emphasised.

Ar gyfartaledd, ceir 27,000 o farwolaethau bob flwyddyn yn y Deyrnas Unedig yn ystod y gaeaf, gydag 80 y cant ohonynt yn cael eu hystyried yn gysylltiedig â’r tywydd oer. Mae pobl hŷn, yn arbennig, mewn perygl, gan nad ydynt yn teimlo’r oerfel nes bod tymheredd eu cyrff yn disgyn. Mae mynd i’r afael â thlodi tanwydd yn parhau i fod yn brif amcan Llywodraeth Cymru. Y prif amcan yw dileu tlodi tanwydd erbyn 2018. Mae’r Llywodraeth hon yn gweithredu i helpu, er nad yw’n gallu rheoli ffactorau allanol fel incwm isel a phrisiau tanwydd. Prisiau tanwydd yw’r ffactor sy’n cael yr effaith fwyaf ar dlodi tanwydd. Beth mae Llywodraeth San Steffan yn ei wneud am hyn? Dim. Beth sydd gan y Llywodraeth hon i helpu? Mae gennym raglen Arbed i annog buddsoddiad cyfalaf ac i annog cwmnïau cyflenwi i chwarae rhan. Erbyn hyn, mae 6,000 o dai wedi manteisio ar y rhaglen, ac mae’r Llywodraeth wedi rhoi £3 miliwn yn ychwanegol o’r £38.9 miliwn o becyn ysgogiad ariannol, fel y soniodd William Powell gynharach.

On average, there are 27,000 winter deaths every year in the UK, 80 per cent of which are considered to be related to cold weather. Older people are particularly vulnerable, as they do not feel the cold until their body temperature falls. Addressing fuel poverty remains a priority for the Welsh Government. The main objective is to eradicate fuel poverty by 2018. The Government here is taking action to help, although it cannot control external factors such as low income and the price of fuel. The price of fuel is the biggest factor in fuel poverty. What is the Westminster Government doing about this? Nothing. What does this Government have to help? We have the Arbed programme, to encourage capital investment and to encourage suppliers to become part of this. To date, 6,000 homes have benefited and the Government has given £3 million of the £38.9 million financial stimulus package, as William Powell said earlier.

Rhan arall o waith y Llywodraeth yw’r rhaglen effeithlonrwydd ynni cartref, sef y cynllun gwaredu bwyleri, sydd wedi darparu gwelliannau i 25,000 o gartrefi. Gwariwyd £2.5 miliwn ar y rhaglen eleni. Hefyd, lansiwyd rhaglen Nyth gyda chyllid blynyddol o £18 miliwn. Mae’r rhaglen yn darparu cyngor a chefnogaeth i bawb yng Nghymru i leihau eu biliau tanwydd. Yr oedd datblygu rhaglen newydd a gwell i leihau tlodi tanwydd, a fydd yn targedu tai tlawd o ran tanwydd, yn brif weithred strategaeth tlodi tanwydd y Llywodraeth a gyhoeddwyd yn 2010. Gall Nyth yn awr ymateb yn gyflym ac, yn yr achosion gwaethaf, gall gyflawni’r gwaith o fewn pum diwrnod. Dengys y sawl enghraifft uchod fod Llywodraeth Cymru yn ymrwymedig i leihau tlodi tanwydd a chyrraedd y targed o’i ddileu erbyn 2018. Yr wyf yn hapus i gefnogi cynnig Plaid Cymru i adeiladu ar y camau sydd gennym eisoes.

Another action taken by the Government is the home energy efficiency scheme, or the boiler scrappage scheme, which has provided improvements in 25,000 homes. A sum of £2.5 million has been spent on that scheme this year. Also, the Nest programme was launched, with an annual budget of £18 million. That programme provides advice and assistance for everyone in Wales in order to reduce fuel bills. The development of a new and better programme to reduce fuel poverty, targeting fuel poor homes, was the Government’s main fuel poverty strategy announced in 2010. Nest can now respond quickly and, in the worst cases, carry out the work within five days. These examples demonstrate that the Welsh Government is committed to reducing fuel poverty and to reaching the target of eradication by 2018. I am happy to support the Plaid Cymru motion to build on the steps currently in place.

The Record

Vaughan Gething: As with others, I am pleased to contribute to the debate today. We all recognise that fuel poverty is a serious and complicated issue that is affected by low household income, rising fuel prices and the energy efficiency of each individual home. Although this body cannot guarantee people’s income levels or global fuel prices, we certainly can take steps to address fuel poverty by making homes more energy efficient. I welcome the Government’s commitment to supporting vulnerable people on low incomes to reduce their heating bills by increasing energy efficiency.

We have already heard from a number of people that approximately 26 per cent of households in Wales are already in fuel poverty. The recent announcement by fuel companies that they will increase their energy prices is likely to cost the average Welsh household approximately £190 a year. So, by the time we next look at our figures, we are likely to see even more households in fuel poverty. That was certainly the message produced in a recent study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Although any price rises are frustrating for most of us, including those of us in the Chamber, many people are forced to live in cold and damp conditions in their homes. It really can be a matter of life and death, as is set out in the motion. Last year, the figures that I saw said that there are approximately 1,900 excess winter deaths in Wales.

We cannot avoid the impact of UK Government cuts. Cuts to benefits and, in particular, winter fuel allowances for pensioners mean that it really will be an additional struggle for many households that are already fuel poor to keep warm this winter. A chilling statistic is that, during cold spells, the poorest pensioners are likely to cut their food spending by 7 per cent in order to heat their homes. There really are choices about whether to eat or to put on the heating. Although the risk from fuel poverty and cold-related ill health apply to all people, older households and families with children are obviously the most vulnerable.

Energy efficiency measures can make a huge difference and help people keep their heating costs down. However, it is also a sad fact that many homes that already have energy efficiency measures and that are already living in fuel poverty are likely to spend any savings on heating their homes. Far too many of the poorest households in fuel poverty already underheat their homes. So, energy efficiency gains are then taken up in exactly the same way by actually heating their homes to what we would consider to be a decent level.

New homes are already more energy efficient, with the potential to be more so once building regulations are devolved. The biggest challenge that we face, as many of us know, is in the existing old housing stock, where most households in fuel poverty already live. I have many of those households in my consistency, as will many others. There are large areas of poorer owner-occupiers who already struggle to keep their homes warm.

The home energy efficiency scheme has already invested over £3 million in my constituency of Cardiff South and Penarth, helping well over 6,000 homes to be more energy efficient. We know that the Arbed scheme has seen an investment of some £60 million.

5.15 p.m.

However, there is still a real issue to do with the attitude of energy suppliers and whether we should have to ask them what their best rate is. I have recently confronted this with house moves and the like. When you look at the tariff to see whether you can understand it yourself, I find that I have to look very carefully and I still do not really understand it. I understand the total at the bottom of the page and what I am being asked to pay, but I could not honestly tell you what the rest of the bill means. I do not think that I am the only person in the Chamber who thinks that, and so many people who already live in fuel poverty will find an additional burden in trying to find what the best deal is. At present, there is no obligation on fuel companies to provide the best deal. Could you imagine walking into a shop and there being three or four different prices for the same goods and being told, 'I will sell you this at the highest possible price and you have to try to find out what the best price is’?

I want to say a small word about the energy company obligation, the Green Deal. It could be a really positive thing, but there are still a number of concerns and problems with the way it has been set out. In particular, the ability energy suppliers will have to disconnect customers who cannot maintain payments is a real concern. I would rather see that money being targeted at our poorest households than at those with the ability to borrow money. As well as tackling the complexity of the energy targets that we already have, many others can do something practical in our constituencies by running energy advice surgeries. I will be running one again on 16 December in Splott, which is an area of significant fuel poverty.

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Order. Conclude now, please.

Vaughan Gething: I look forward to working with Government to undertake more action on behalf of our constituents.

Russell George: I thank Plaid for this debate today. I think that we would all agree that, compared to last year, we have had an incredibly mild autumn—possibly one of the warmest on record. However, the temperature over the past two days has certainly focused our minds on the problems that lie ahead for a third of Welsh homes. I would like to focus my contribution on rural fuel poverty, as figures from National Energy Action Cymru show that fuel poverty is twice as prevalent in rural areas as in urban areas in Wales. There is a range of underlying contributing factors, which are complex, interlinked and often misunderstood by Government. It is difficult to engage successfully with rural communities, which are often sparsely located. Owing to the often isolated physical locations of rural households or their reluctance to admit there is a problem, area-based deprivation indicators do not easily identify rural fuel poverty.

One of the key challenges is the number of households in rural areas that are off the gas network. Around 206,000 homes—16 per cent of homes in Wales—are off the gas grid, and most of these are in rural areas. Of that number, more than half are in fuel poverty. Those householders rely on fuel such as heating oil, LPG, coal or wood to heat their homes. Some might say that, given the behaviour of some of the big six energy companies in the on-grid sector, they are perhaps better off staying off-grid. However, households that are off the grid generally pay more to heat their homes than those on the grid. For example, last winter, those households that rely on heating oil experienced very large increases in the cost of filling their tanks as the price of oil rose steeply. We saw an increase of 100 per cent in just a few weeks.

The fact that there is no energy regulator for off-grid fuels is an added problem. It allows poor customer service and dubious price practices to thrive. There have been difficulties with the Government support schemes. To date, a number of those schemes have not been particularly effective in reaching rural off-grid areas. I know from what others have already said today that there are issues with regard to the Nest scheme, and I certainly have a great deal of case work on such issues in my constituency office. There needs to be a co-ordinated approach across all sectors, encompassing social as well as technical solutions. The best way to achieve that, as Mark Isherwood alluded to, would be to incorporate the fuel poverty charter action plan in the current fuel strategy.

There also needs to be strong collaboration with private businesses in the sector. Calor’s rural fuel poverty programme is a good example of businesses working directly at a local level and applying bespoke solutions to fit specific community and householder needs, rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach.

Finally, there needs to be more encouragement for off-grid householders to take up microgeneration opportunities. These households could make ideal early-adopters of bespoke and community microgeneration initiatives, providing that the right economic model can be found, especially for those on low incomes.

David Rees: I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate, although I must admit that most of what I was going to say has been said already by my colleagues. Keith Davies has already mentioned the fact that people are looking forward to Christmas and the festive season, and some are even looking forward to snow and a white Christmas, but there are many families who do not look forward to that, because of the bitter cold that it brings. I ask everyone here today to go home one bitterly cold night and switch off the heating, do not put your fires on, sit in your kitchen with perhaps one gas burner on and see how it feels for a night. You should experience how that feels. We might be aware of the problem, but we do not experience it because we are fortunate. However, some people experience that every night. That is what we need to address. We need to tackle those issues.

We have to accept that fuel poverty has an impact on health. The situations in which many of our people live unfortunately cause problems. There are three root causes: low incomes, poor housing and high energy prices. We usually find that those on low incomes reside in some of the worst housing and cannot afford the necessary investment to improve energy efficiency in their homes. They are suffering throughout this process.

There are some factors that we can deal with. Vaughan Gething and Keith Davies have already mentioned the Arbed and Nest schemes, and the action that the Government has taken to improve fuel efficiency in people’s homes. However, there are outside influences that we cannot do anything about, unfortunately, such as the continuing increase in fuel prices, Westminster Government welfare cuts, which I will come on to in a minute, stagnating wages—we heard in the autumn statement that public sector wages will stagnate further—and we have also seen the feed-in tariff being cut. That does not affect only those who can afford solar panels; it also affects community projects that were relying upon those—community projects that were working for some of the poorest communities in Wales. They have been stopped because it is no longer viable to take on those projects.

I would like to make a couple of points on the changes to welfare benefits. Professor Steve Fothergill of Sheffield Hallam University has undertaken a review of the impact of the welfare changes. We might want to think about the effect that this will have. The recommendation is that 30,000 people will be taken out of the benefits system. Those who might have been just above the level of fuel poverty will lose income and fall below that level. There will be an increase in the number of people being hit by fuel poverty because of these welfare reforms. Do not hide that and try to say that it is about saving money or that is has to be done to make things fair; it is hitting vulnerable people. It is the party on the other side of the Chamber that is doing this. We cannot forget that.

Vaughan also mentioned tariffs. We have to encourage the fuel companies to look at the tariffs and the information that they present. I am pleased that British Gas has started to take that on board. It is reducing the number of tariffs that it is offering. Unfortunately, a consequence of that is that it is getting rid of its cheapest tariff. However, it is a start, because I, for one, do not know which is the cheapest tariff for me. Vaughan was quite right to say that it is very difficult to work your way through all of those tariffs. We need to address this and we need to work with the UK Government to improve this situation.

Simon Thomas: On your point about the availability of tariffs, as your colleague Vaughan Gething said, the cheapest tariffs are available only to those with internet access and a bank account that can take direct debits. They are not the poorest people in our society.

David Rees: I agree absolutely, and that is why we need to look at what the tariffs offer and to whom they are offered. It is important, but we have to work with the UK Government on that, because it is a matter of working with the energy companies to do that.

I have one final point. We have forgotten one thing today: we must say a big 'thank you’ to many charities, groups and individuals who work tirelessly in those communities to help people who are in fuel poverty. Without some of those people, there would be many more falling under the line, and, unfortunately, many more paying the ultimate price of death in the winter.

Jenny Rathbone: My quarrel with the Conservatives is that when they talk about health, they are talking about hospitals. They never stop going on about how we are not spending enough money on health, by which they mean hospitals, when they should be focusing on the causes of ill health, one of which is fuel poverty. Therefore, if the Conservatives here are worried about people’s health, they should talk to the Conservative UK Government about why it cut the winter fuel allowance from £400 to £300 for the over 80s, and from £250 to £200 for the over 60s. That allowance has been proven to be one of the most effective measures for ensuring that elderly people spend money on keeping themselves warm in the winter. The consequence of not keeping warm in the winter is that those people turn up in hospital. That cut, and the 50 per cent cut in the feed-in tariff, is a huge disbenefit to the population at large, and particularly to those who are struggling with increased fuel bills.

 

I would like to commend a project that has been funded by Arbed. I had the pleasure of visiting the project yesterday with the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development and the Minister for Finance. The project is in Bryn Celyn in Pentwyn, which is one of the poorest areas in Wales in terms of income poverty. Like many housing estates, it now has mixed ownership. Some properties are privately owned and some are tenanted. It is a very good example of the Welsh Government working with the private sector and local authorities to deliver warm homes for everyone on that estate: £2.2 million is ensuring that all of those homes are being insulated on the outside, as there are no cavity walls to insulate. Together with new boilers, that means that there will be a massive improvement in the energy efficiency of these homes, and therefore a reduction in fuel bills. The residents to whom we spoke were hugely enthusiastic about this scheme and how it has improved the look of the area, as well as energy efficiency. That is the way forward in tackling climate change.

 

In the budget debate earlier, Rhodri Glyn Thomas wanted to know what the Welsh Government was doing to create jobs. This scheme is creating jobs. We spoke to apprentices—plasterers, labourers and so forth—whose jobs have been created as a result of this fantastic Arbed scheme. They are learning new skills, and they are going to be guaranteed further work as a result of the Arbed scheme. I am ever hopeful that we will be able to use the Arbed scheme to insulate all of the homes in this area of high deprivation. These are the homes that will be affected most by rising fuel prices. Therefore, I very much commend the Arbed project, and I hope that we will be able to continue it.

 

The Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development (John Griffiths): I will start by welcoming what I believe to be a very important and timely debate, and the opportunity to discuss excess winter deaths and the actions that the Welsh Government is taking to help tackle fuel poverty in Wales. I would like to thank all Members who have contributed for the points that they made.

To provide some context for the debate, in Wales, the provisional figure for excess winter deaths in 2010-11 is 1,900. That is an increase on the previous winter, when the number of additional deaths was 1,690, but it is a decrease on 2008-09 figure of 2,470. There is a graph that shows considerable fluctuation from year to year. When we talk about excess winter deaths, it is important to understand what we mean by this term. The term 'excess deaths’ refers to the difference between the number of deaths in winter months compared to in summer months. We might expect that, in the UK, with our relatively mild climate, we would have lower rates of excess deaths than countries that experience prolonged 'deep freeze’ conditions, such as Russia or the Scandinavian countries.

5.30 p.m.

However, that is not the case; those countries have significantly lower levels of excess winter deaths than the UK. Just to give Members a wider context, higher rates of excess winter deaths occur in countries such as Portugal and Spain. Obviously, there are some counterintuitive elements to what happens in particular countries. It is thought, in fact, that part of the paradox is that, in countries that have prolonged deep-freeze winters that are much more predictable, their populations are much more geared up to the winter conditions, and the predictability of those winters makes it easier to change personal behaviour and to make structural adaptations.

Clearly, when it comes to excess winter deaths, the picture is a complex one, but whichever way you look at it, living in a cold home is an important factor, as are outdoor temperatures, behaviour and the level of disease, particularly influenza.

In his recent interim report for the UK Government, Professor John Hills looked at fuel poverty, and he uses a figure of around 10 per cent of excess winter deaths possibly being attributable to fuel poverty. Obviously, the points that Members made about fuel price rises are relevant—I meet with the energy companies regularly, and I have made the sorts of points that Members have mentioned, about the need for much simpler and easier to understand tariffs, the need to do more to address fuel poverty, and making it easy to switch suppliers. Of course, Ofgem is very relevant to these issues as well. I will continue to make those points.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: I am grateful to you for giving way. Minister, have you considered discussions with your counterparts at Westminster on the possibility of ensuring that energy companies do not have the ability to cut off people’s supply, and to place upon them the same kind of restrictions that apply to the water industry, so that supplies cannot be cut off?

John Griffiths: I can confirm that such discussions have taken place, and they will continue. The disparity with the situation for the water industry is informative. Those discussions will go on and, as ever, there are many issues involved. If we could be clearer and more intelligent in identifying people who are in fuel poverty, it would very much help in addressing the issues. Whatever the cause of fuel poverty, we must do all we can to address the issues, and whatever the wider causes of excess winter deaths, we must address those as well.

In terms of the fuel poverty coalition, we are very pleased to work with it in moving forward. We have revised our fuel poverty strategy; I am working with my colleague Carl Sargeant to ensure that we integrate fuel poverty into the general effort to tackle poverty. Placing fuel poverty at the centre of Welsh Government action is going to be very important indeed.

Nest is a very important aspect of addressing these issues. It is expected to help 15,000 households a year with advice and support to help to reduce fuel bills and to help with around 4,000 packages to make homes more energy efficient. Compared to the old home energy efficiency scheme, the new scheme is very much about all-encompassing assistance that provides advice and support and a referral for everybody who makes contact with it. It is also about rural areas and properties that are off mains gas. So, it has widened the help available, which will address issues that Members have mentioned. It is still early days for Nest, but already, over 3,000 households have been referred for energy improvement packages, and more than 700 households that were not eligible for energy improvement packages have been referred to other schemes, such as free or subsidised loft and cavity wall insulation.

I was very pleased that many Members mentioned the Arbed scheme, as it is very significant to our efforts. I have been very pleased to visit Arbed schemes, as Jenny Rathbone mentioned. I was very impressed indeed when householders told me of the benefits to the whole area in terms of the uplift that it gives people to have improved properties, but also in terms of help with fuel bills and help with warmer houses, and people told me directly of the benefit to their health of living in warmer homes. If their fuel bills are lower, it frees up money to spend on other things and helps the local economy. It helps to address climate change. It is a benefit to small and medium-sized enterprises and is working up green skills. Therefore, it addresses many of our greatest priorities.

Dafydd Elis-Thomas mentioned green skills, Dr Calvin Jones’s report and organisations such as the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth. We are pleased to look at developments in Wales, look at reports and see how we can incorporate those into policy. We have a number of important initiatives, such as the delivering low-carbon skills project, Pathways to Apprenticeships incorporating green skills, and the green business skills forum, so there is much happening on this front.

 

While this winter is an important aspect of our efforts, I am pleased to report to Members that we have seen improvements in the uptake of the flu vaccine compared with the previous year. As of 23 November, the take-up of the vaccine is higher than at the same point in 2010. That is the case for people aged over 65 and also for those groups that are particularly vulnerable. Therefore, we have improvements that address the amendment put down to this motion. I will work with colleagues in the health department in taking matters forward, as suggested by Members.

Dirprwy Lywydd, I see that my time is rapidly drawing to an end—[Laughter.] What I meant was that my time in responding to this debate is coming to an end. We will continue to prioritise all our efforts and work to tackle fuel poverty and excess winter deaths in Wales.

Leanne Wood: We have been talking about fuel poverty and excess winter deaths since I was first elected to this Assembly in 2003. I know from conducting research in 2003 that it had been talked about considerably before that time as well. According to 2008 figures, 26 per cent of households in Wales were in fuel poverty. Let us be in no doubt, fuel poverty causes illness, pushing costs on to the health service—a point that was well made by Jenny Rathbone—and it causes death. If illness and death along with fuel poverty on the part of more than a quarter of Welsh households is not enough to take radical action, let me give you some more reasons: high unemployment, poor quality housing stock, climate change and peak oil are all good reasons to introduce a comprehensive home retrofitting programme. Retrofitting homes is a labour intensive activity and the skills required to carry out this work are currently limited. The proposal in Dr Calvin Jones’s paper to upskill people is a first vital step of a mass refurbishment programme.

I will now address the remarks of the speakers in the debate. Mark Isherwood talked of winter fuel payments and put forward the Tories’ position on targeting. Needless to say, we fundamentally disagree with the Tories on that. We do not think that cutting winter fuel payments and benefits will help people in fuel poverty.

William Powell talked about how many households in fuel poverty do not qualify for help under existing schemes. I agree with that, and that is why this whole policy area needs a rethink. With energy prices rising fast, more people who do not qualify for help now will fall into fuel poverty in the future. Therefore, we need a much more comprehensive programme of retrofitting now, which should be available to a much wider group of households.      

Rhodri Glyn Thomas emphasised Wales’s potential for the creation of green jobs and our amazing potential for renewable energy. He argued that the benefits should be realised by people in Wales, which they are not at the moment. Rhodri, as have others, has pointed out the need for those on the lowest incomes to benefit from cheaper energy as our renewable energy production increases. This will be more difficult to achieve now that the feed-in tariff has been substantially reduced.

Keith Davies talked about the millions of pounds that have already been spent on fuel poverty measures, but the numbers of fuel poor increase with every price increase. So, I am sure that we could all agree that the price rises at recent levels are totally unsustainable. Yes, Keith, we can agree that the latest cuts by the Westminster Government will make the situation even worse.

Vaughan Gething further developed that argument in outlining the reasons as to why the situation will get worse. He outlined the problems that people face from the energy companies. I have my own views about the appropriateness or otherwise of public utilities being run by private companies, but that is a debate that we will have to keep for another day.

Russell George talked about the additional difficulties faced by householders in rural areas who are off-grid. Those arguments are well made and accepted by Plaid Cymru. He also said that more needs to be done to encourage home microgeneration, but he failed to mention that his Government in London has cut the feed-in tariff, which will make that prospect much more difficult.

David Rees outlined the reality of fuel poverty and the real effects that it has on real people. He also referred to Professor Fothergill’s report on the effects of benefit cuts, which is well worth a read if Members have not already done so.

Jenny Rathbone mentioned that the Arbed scheme has created jobs. It has created jobs and it is a good scheme—it was a 'One Wales’ scheme—but it is not a new scheme. The point that we have been making about an economic stimulus is that we need new jobs and new programmes now.

The Minister mentioned that possibly 10 per cent of excess winter deaths are caused by fuel poverty. I am sure that everyone would agree that that is 10 per cent too much. No-one should be dying of cold and damp in Wales in 2011.

Plaid Cymru is grateful for all the contributions to this debate and the levels of consensus around the issues and the potential solutions. The paper prepared by Dr Calvin Jones and presented by my colleague Dafydd Elis-Thomas provides a concrete solution to make a start in turning around the scourge of fuel poverty in Wales. There is much more to do on this agenda and this will not be the last time that you will hear Plaid Cymru talk about fuel poverty. I hope that having brought forward this debate, Members will make sure that this issue remains a political priority over the next few months as the winter threatens to bite hard.

The Deputy Presiding Officer: The proposal is that the motion without amendment be agreed. Is there any objection? I see that there is. Therefore, voting on this item will be deferred until voting time. Do three Members wish for the bell to be rung? I see that no-one does, so we will move straight to voting time.

Gohiriwyd y pleidleisio tan y cyfnod pleidleisio.
Voting deferred until voting time.

Cyfnod Pleidleisio
Voting Time

Cynnig NDM4870: O blaid 34, Ymatal 0, Yn erbyn 22.
Motion NDM4870: For 34, Abstain 0, Against 22.

The Record

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Black, Peter
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Keith
Drakeford, Mark
Evans, Rebecca
Gething, Vaughan
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
James, Julie
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Parrott, Eluned
Powell, William
Price, Gwyn R.
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Roberts, Aled
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Watson, Joyce
Williams, Kirsty

Asghar, Mohammad
Burns, Angela
Davies, Andrew R.T
Davies, Byron
Davies, Jocelyn
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord
Jones, Alun Ffred
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Graham, William
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Isherwood, Mark
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Ramsay, Nick
Sandbach, Antoinette
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn
Thomas, Simon
Whittle, Lindsay
Wood, Leanne

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.

Gwelliant 1 i NDM4871: O blaid 11, Ymatal 2, Yn erbyn 42.
Amendment 1 to NDM4871: For 11, Abstain 2, Against 42.

The Record

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Davies, Jocelyn
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord
Graham, William
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Jones, Alun Ffred
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn
Thomas, Simon
Whittle, Lindsay
Wood, Leanne

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Black, Peter
Burns, Angela
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Byron
Davies, Keith
Davies, Paul
Drakeford, Mark
Evans, Rebecca
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Gething, Vaughan
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
Isherwood, Mark
James, Julie
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Parrott, Eluned
Powell, William
Price, Gwyn R.
Ramsay, Nick
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Roberts, Aled
Sandbach, Antoinette
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Watson, Joyce
Williams, Kirsty

Ymataliodd yr Aelodau canlynol:
The following Members abstained:

Asghar, Mohammad
Davies, Andrew R.T.

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant.
Amendment not agreed.

Gwelliant 2 i NDM4871: O blaid 43, Ymatal 1, Yn erbyn 12.
Amendment 2 to NDM4871: For 43, Abstain 1, Against 12.

The Record

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Black, Peter
Burns, Angela
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Byron
Davies, Keith
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Drakeford, Mark
Evans, Rebecca
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Gething, Vaughan
Graham, William
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
Isherwood, Mark
James, Julie
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Parrott, Eluned
Powell, William
Price, Gwyn R.
Davies, Andrew R.T.
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Roberts, Aled
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Watson, Joyce
Williams, Kirsty

Asghar, Mohammad
Davies, Jocelyn
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Jones, Alun Ffred
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Sandbach, Antoinette
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn
Thomas, Simon
Whittle, Lindsay
Wood, Leanne

Ymataliodd yr Aelod canlynol:
The following Member abstained:

Ramsay, Nick

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant.
Amendment agreed.

Cynnig NDM4871 fel y’i diwygiwyd:

Motion NDM4871 as amended:

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:

1. Yn ystyried Cynllun Gweithredu Cymru ar Reoli Tybaco;

1. Considers the draft Tobacco Control Action Plan for Wales;

2. Yn nodi amcanion y cynllun sef:

2. Notes its aims to:

a) lleihau’r niwed i iechyd y cyhoedd a achosir gan ysmygu yng Nghymru, yn arbennig amddiffyn plant rhag effeithiau niweidiol tybaco; a

a) reduce the harm to public health caused by smoking in Wales, in particular protecting children from the harmful effects of tobacco; and

b) lleihau amlder ysmygu yn ein cymunedau mwyaf amddifad gan fod ysmygu yn un o brif achosion y bwlch mewn disgwyliad oes rhwng pobl gyfoethog a phobl dlawd; ac

b) reduce smoking prevalence amongst our most deprived communities as it is a leading cause for the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor; and

3. Yn nodi y bydd Llywodraeth Cymru yn ystyried cyflwyno deddfwriaeth, os dengys tystiolaeth fod yr ymgyrch i ostwng ysmygu mewn ceir sy'n cario pobl ifanc dan oed yn methu â sicrhau gostyngiad sylweddol yn y graddau y mae pobl yn dod i gysylltiad â mwg ail-law.

3. Notes that the Welsh Government will consider bringing forward legislation, if evidence shows the campaign to reduce smoking in cars carrying minors fails to achieve a significant reduction in exposure to second hand smoke.

4. Yn credu y dylai Llywodraeth Cymru ganolbwyntio ar gynyddu’r niferoedd sy’n manteisio ar gynlluniau rhoi’r gorau i ysmygu er mwyn lleihau’r niwed i iechyd y cyhoedd a achosir gan ysmygu.

4. Believes that the Welsh Government should focus its attention on improving the take-up of smoking cessation schemes in order to reduce the harm to public health caused by smoking.

Cynnig NDM4871 fel y’i diwygiwyd: O blaid 53, Ymatal 1, Yn erbyn 2.
Motion NDM4871 as amended: For 53, Abstain 1, Against 2.

The Record

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Black, Peter
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Andrew R.T
Davies, Byron
Davies, Jocelyn
Davies, Keith
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Drakeford, Mark
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord
Evans, Rebecca
Jones, Alun Ffred
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Gething, Vaughan
Graham, William
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
Isherwood, Mark
James, Julie
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Parrott, Eluned
Powell, William
Price, Gwyn R.
Ramsay, Nick
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Roberts, Aled
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn
Thomas, Simon
Watson, Joyce
Whittle, Lindsay
Williams, Kirsty
Wood, Leanne

Asghar, Mohammad
Sandbach, Antoinette

Ymataliodd yr Aelod canlynol:
The following Member abstained:

Burns, Angela

The Record

Derbyniwyd cynnig NDM4871 fel y’i diwygiwyd.
Motion NDM4871 as amended agreed.

Cynnig NDM4872: O blaid 50, Ymatal 0, Yn erbyn 6.
Motion NDM4872: For 50, Abstain 0, Against 6.

The Record

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Burns, Angela
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Andrew R.T.
Davies, Byron
Davies, Jocelyn
Davies, Keith
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Drakeford, Mark
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord
Evans, Rebecca
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Gething, Vaughan
Graham, William
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
Isherwood, Mark
Jones, Alun Ffred
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
James, Julie
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Price, Gwyn R.
Ramsay, Nick
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Sandbach, Antoinette
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn
Thomas, Simon
Watson, Joyce
Whittle, Lindsay
Wood, Leanne

Asghar, Mohammad
Black, Peter
Parrott, Eluned
Powell, William
Roberts, Aled
Williams, Kirsty

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.

The Record

The Deputy Presiding Officer: That concludes today’s business.

Daeth y cyfarfod i ben am 5.45 p.m.
The meeting ended at 5.45 p.m.

Aelodau a’u Pleidiau
Members and their Parties

Andrews, Leighton (Llafur - Labour)
Antoniw, Mick (Llafur - Labour)
Asghar, Mohammad (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Black, Peter (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru - Welsh Liberal Democrats)
Burns, Angela (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Butler, Rosemary (Llafur - Labour)
Chapman, Christine (Llafur - Labour)
Cuthbert, Jeff (Llafur - Labour)
Davies, Alun (Llafur - Labour)
Davies, Andrew R.T. (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Davies, Byron (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Davies, Jocelyn (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Davies, Keith (Llafur - Labour)
Davies, Paul (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Davies, Suzy (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Drakeford, Mark (Llafur - Labour)
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Evans, Rebecca (Llafur - Labour)
Finch-Saunders, Janet (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
George, Russell (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Gething, Vaughan (Llafur - Labour)
Graham, William (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Gregory, Janice (Llafur - Labour)
Griffiths, John (Llafur - Labour)
Griffiths, Lesley (Llafur - Labour)
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Hart, Edwina (Llafur - Labour)
Hedges, Mike (Llafur - Labour)
Hutt, Jane (Llafur - Labour)
Isherwood, Mark (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
James, Julie (Llafur - Labour)
Jenkins, Bethan (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Jones, Alun Ffred (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Jones, Ann (Llafur - Labour)
Jones, Carwyn (Llafur - Labour)
Jones, Elin (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Lewis, Huw (Llafur - Labour)
Melding, David (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Mewies, Sandy (Llafur - Labour)
Millar, Darren (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Morgan, Julie (Llafur - Labour)
Neagle, Lynne (Llafur - Labour)
Parrott, Eluned (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru - Welsh Liberal Democrats)
Powell, William (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru - Welsh Liberal Democrats)
Price, Gwyn R. (Llafur - Labour)
Ramsay, Nick (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Rathbone, Jenny (Llafur - Labour)
Rees, David (Llafur - Labour)
Roberts, Aled (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru - Welsh Liberal Democrats)
Sandbach, Antoinette (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Sargeant, Carl (Llafur - Labour)
Skates, Kenneth (Llafur - Labour)
Thomas, Gwenda (Llafur - Labour)
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Thomas, Simon (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Watson, Joyce (Llafur - Labour)
Whittle, Lindsay (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Williams, Kirsty (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru - Welsh Liberal Democrats)
Wood, Leanne (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)

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