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Comisiwn y Cynulliad
Assembly Commission

NAFWC 2010
Minutes of 19 May 2010 meeting

Date: 19 May 2010
Time: 7:45
Venue: Conference room 4B

Present:
Llywydd, Chair
Lorraine Barrett AM (Labour)
Peter Black AM (Liberal Democrats)
William Graham AM (Conservatives)

Officials present:
Claire Clancy, Chief Executive and Clerk
Dianne Bevan, Chief Operating Officer
Keith Bush, Director of Legal Services
Adrian Crompton, Director of Assembly Business
Ian Summers, Head of Corporate Unit
Aled Eirug, Constitutional Adviser
Gwyn Griffiths, Senior Legal Adviser - item 2
Craig Stephenson, Head of Change Programme - item 2
Helen Birtwhistle, Head of External Communications - item 4
Helen Finlayson, Secretariat

Independent Advisers:
None

Observers:
None

Others:
Arwel Ellis Owen, Chair of the Independent Review Panel on Bilingual Services - item 2

1. Introduction

Apologies
Apologies were received from Chris Franks AM (Plaid Cymru)

Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest.

Minutes of meeting - 18 March 2010
The minutes were formally agreed.

Matters arising from the meeting on 18 March 2010
There were no matters arising.

2. Report of the Independent Review Panel on Bilingual Services
Arwel Ellis Owen introduced paper two, noting that the Panel had been grateful for the opportunity to review the Assembly’s bilingual services, and to make recommendations on ways that the Assembly could enhance its bilingual engagement with citizens and Members.  He praised the outstanding work of External Communications, the Members’ Research Service and the Translation and Reporting Service.  He also highlighted recommendations that the Commission should consider developing a language strategy and a Citizen’s Cofnod, and that the Commission should seek to ensure that new media and technologies are utilised to support the provision of truly bilingual services.  He thanked the clerking team for the support that they had given to the Panel.

Keith Bush reminded the Commission of the nature of the differences that had arisen with the Welsh Language Board when the Commission initially proposed an arrangement for publication of the Record of Proceedings, corresponding to what is now the Panel’s recommendation four.  The Commission and the Board had taken different views on the status and meaning of the Assembly’s Welsh Language Scheme and there was no reason why these should have changed fundamentally.

He referred, however, to the significance of developments that had occurred in the meantime, including: the Panel’s thorough and impartial examination of the proposed arrangements; the engagement of the Board in that process; the approach of the date when the Assembly’s Welsh Language Scheme was due for review; the impact of the Proposed Welsh Language Measure on the Board and on Language Schemes; and the proposal that the Commission should seek to use the Assembly’s recently-acquired legislative competence on the Welsh language to place the duties of the Assembly and of the Commission on a sound statutory basis.

The Board would no doubt be responding to the Panel’s recommendations and their views would need to be taken into account.  But he was confident that the means were available to implement those recommendations lawfully and hoped that in view of the changed circumstances the Commission and the Board could work together constructively in developing the sound statutory basis which would be in everyone’s interest.

The Commission discussed and accepted the recommendations in the report, and the proposed responses set out in annex two of the paper.  The Commission also agreed the implementation timetable outlined in the report, the proposed legislative approach and the draft press release.  The Commission noted the proposed implementation approach via the Change Programme, and thanked members of the Panel for their hard work and valuable report.

3. Assembly Members’ Support Staff: terms and conditions, and standard contract
Dianne Bevan introduced paper three, highlighting the proposed consultation with Members and their Support Staff on aspects of the employment relationship.  She emphasised that the main proposals set out included the adoption of a standard contract of employment by all Members and changes to the pay structure, all of which were recommended by the report of the Independent Panel on Financial Support for Members ("Getting it Right for Wales”, July 2009).  Commissioners emphasised the need for thorough and timely consultation, taking into account the role of Members as employers and the concerns of support staff.

The Commission discussed the proposals outlined in the report and agreed that consultation with Members, Members’ Support Staff and Trade Union Representatives should begin as soon as possible.

4. Wales Governance Centre
Helen Birtwhistle introduced paper four, noting that further discussions had been held with the Wales Governance Centre to develop a partnership approach.  Claire Clancy highlighted the broader uses for the Pierhead, including Member-sponsored events, Commission events and partnership working.

The Commission discussed the issues raised in the paper, and agreed to support the proposals in principle.

5. Nominations for Trustees of the Members’ Pension Scheme
The Commission agreed to propose a motion to elect Gareth Jones AM and John Griffiths AM as Trustees of the Members’ Pension Scheme.

6. Matters to note
The Commission noted the report of the Assembly Commission Audit Committee and the paper on the Ten Year Anniversary Events.

The Commission noted its congratulations to the Chief Executive and the staff of the Assembly on the achievement of the Investors in People Gold Award, the highest level achievable.  The Commission recognised the considerable work and commitment that led to the Assembly becoming the first UK legislature to achieve the accreditation.

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