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Cofnod y Trafodion
The Record of Proceedings

Dydd Mercher, 25Mai 2011
Wednesday, 25May2011

Cynnwys
Contents

Cwestiynau i’r Prif Weinidog
Questions to the First Minister

Cwestiwn Brys:Colli Swyddi yn y Swyddfa Basport yng Nghasnewydd
Urgent Question: Job Losses at the Passport Office in Newport

Datganiad a Chyhoeddiad Busnes
Business Statement and Announcement

Cynnig i Benodi Comisiwn y Cynulliad
Motion to Appoint the Assembly Commission

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 1.30 p.m. gyda’r Llywydd (Rosemary Butler) yn y Gadair.

The Assembly met at 1.30 p.m.with the Presiding Officer (Rosemary Butler) in the Chair.

The Record

Y Llywydd: Galwaf Gynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru i drefn.

The Presiding Officer: I call the National Assembly for Wales to order.

Cwestiynau i’r Prif Weinidog
Questions to the First Minister

The Record

Toriadau

Spending Cuts

1. Leanne Wood:A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu sut y mae’n bwriadu amddiffyn pobl Cymru rhag toriadau Llywodraeth y DU i wariant. OAQ(4)0012(FM)

1. Leanne Wood:Will the First Minister outline how he intends to protect the people of Wales from UK Government spending cuts. OAQ(4)0012(FM)

The Record

The First Minister (Carwyn Jones): We will continue to pursue our priorities as set out in the final budget in order to mitigate the impact of the UK Government’s spending cuts on the people of Wales.

Leanne Wood:We heard confirmation this week that 150 jobs are to be lost in the Newport passport office and, at the same time, the Equality and Human Rights Commission on Callaghan Square in Cardiff is facing 325 job losses after its budget was cut by two thirds. First Minister, this is the first question of the fourth National Assembly for Wales following elections where you promised to stand up for the people of Wales against the Tories’ spending cuts. Will you tell us how you intend to protect these threatened jobs, what will happen to those peoples whose rights are abused in future with no Equality and Human  Rights Commission to represent their cases, and how exactly you intend to stand up for the people of Wales against the Tory and Lib Dem coalition in London? You do not favour the Assembly having fiscal powers—

The Presiding Officer: Order.Please ask only one question.

Leanne Wood: Do you accept that, compared to Scotland, we have one hand tied behind our backs and that it will be very difficult for you to be the shield that you promised to be during the election campaign?

The First Minister: I must confess that I did not hear the part of your question that would have told me what I was not in favour of, but I will try to answer the question in any event. First, I regret very much the job losses that are being imposed by the UK Government. We made numerous representations to the UK Government regarding the passport office and I regret very much the loss of 150 jobs at that office. It is right to say that more jobs are being saved there than was originally intended by the UK Government and that is because of our intensive lobbying, as well as lobbying by the city council and many others. So, I welcome the fact that more jobs will be saved at the passport office, but I certainly do not welcome the fact that 150 jobs will be lost. We will do what we can through our budgets and priorities here to ensure that we protect the people of Wales as best we can.

The Presiding Officer:I remind Members to try to restrict themselves to one question.

Nick Ramsay: I am grateful to Leanne Wood for raising this question on spending cuts. I am sure, First Minister, that you are aware of a report in the news todayby John Appleby, a leading health think-tank economist from the King’s Fund. He has said that the budget cuts facing the NHS in Wales are greater than the cuts facing the NHS in other parts of the UK such as Northern Ireland and Scotland. In fact, as I am sure you are aware, we are looking at cuts in Northern Ireland of 2.2 per cent in real terms by 2014-15 and cuts in Scotland of 3.3 per cent, which are far less than the cuts of 11 per cent that your Government is proposing for the NHS in Wales. Would you agree, First Minister, that it is imperative that your Government looks at this situation again? Rather than it being necessary to protect Wales from UK Government spending cuts, do you agree with us that you should be protecting Wales from the cuts that your own Government is proposing to the NHS in Wales?

The First Minister: The problem, Nick, when you ask many questions, is that I will just pick one to answer. The answer that I am giving you is this: your party cut the Welsh budget and your party is the one that is not allowing us to spend as much we would want to on the health service. Here we have a party criticising us for not spending money, when it was that very party that took the money from us—£385 million was taken from the Welsh Government in end-year flexibility. Money that was voted for Wales by Parliament was pinched from the people of Wales. I do not accept the King’s Fund figures: they refer to an 11 per cent cut over four years, but the budget is for only three years and, therefore, I do not know where the fourth year comes from. The figures do not include social services spending and, for example, do not include the 20 per cent cuts in education and the huge cuts in spend on housing and social services that the party opposite would have imposed on the people of Wales had it been successful at the elections. However, as we know, three quarters of the people rejected it.

Lynne Neagle: During the recent election campaign I was struck by how genuinely fearful people are of the cuts that are on the way from this Tory-led Government. For instance, the decision to cut winter fuel payments this yearwill leave 700,000 pensioners in Wales worse off, including over 20,000 in Torfaen alone, and that is despite rising energy prices. Do you agree, First Minister, that while Welsh Labour in the Assembly is standing up for older people, defending free bus passes, social services and free prescriptions, this Tory-led Government is hitting vulnerable groups, like the elderly, hard? Do you not think that it is shocking that, after only one year of Tory rule at Westminster, an increasing number of people in Wales will have to choose between heating their homes this winter and putting food on the table?

The First Minister: It is remarkable that, in the general election campaign, the Conservative party said many times that it would not cut winter fuel payments, but it still did so. That was one of the first things that it did. Therefore, how can we measure its credibility in that regard? We will do what we can to protect our pensioners. We had the home energy efficiency scheme and we now have its successor programmes; we know that many people have benefited from that scheme and will continue to benefit from successor schemes in the future.

The Leader of Plaid Cymru (Ieuan Wyn Jones): On 23 May, Alex Salmond met the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When are you meeting him?

The First Minister: I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking for a meeting.

Ieuan Wyn Jones: Will you make it clear to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Wales has already been sold short by the UK Government? We know that Scotland has had a better Barnett settlement than Wales and we know that Alex Salmond is now seeking extra powers for Scotland and more borrowing powers on top of what it already has. He is also asking for corporation tax to be devolved and he is asking for responsibility for excise duty and alcohol duty. How much will you ask for when you meet the Chancellor?

The First Minister: I will approach these negotiations with an open mind; I will rule nothing out. I will be guided by what is best for the people of Wales. In terms of what is happening in Scotland, it is clear to me that we must pursue borrowing powers; otherwise we will be the only level of government in the whole of the UK without any borrowing powers. If there is a package on the table that is good for the people of Wales, I am interested in seeing it. We were promised, by the UK Government, a Calman-style process after the referendum in March. I will pursue that fervently with the UK Government over the course of the next few weeks and months.

Ieuan Wyn Jones: I am surprised that you are not able to tell us, First Minister, what your agenda is. Alex Salmond is able to tell us exactly what his agenda is. They already have powers to borrow £2 billion, but they now want powers to borrow £5 billion. He already has substantial fiscal responsibility, but he now wants control over corporation tax, excise duty and a settlement over North sea oil. If you say that you will stand up for Wales, let us have some substance in it. Will you tell the people of Wales today what your agenda will be when you meet the Chancellor?

The First Minister: The first priority is to ensure that part 1 of the Holtham review is implemented and that we get a deal in terms of the underfunding of Wales, whether that is through a Barnett floor or through addressing the £300 million per year shortfall that we know that Holtham has identified. We will then see what possibilities there are in terms of borrowing—that is the next stage. We will obviously keep an eye on what is happening in Scotland and Northern Ireland with regard to taxation. I will not put Wales at a disadvantage in relation to Scotland and Northern Ireland and it is imperative that the issue of funding for Wales is dealt with first, before moving on to other important issues, such as borrowing.

Julie Morgan: Given the long list of u-turns by the coalition Government in Westminster, what steps is the First Minister taking to persuade the coalition to rethink its proposed job cuts at Companies House in Gabalfa, in my constituency of Cardiff North, which includes the loss of 250 jobs, and the closure of the Nantgarw office in the Pontypridd constituency?

The First Minister: We have made representations to the UK Government with regard to these job losses. To put it bluntly, when you consider what has happened at the passport office, the driving centre in Cardiff and Companies House, you begin to wonder what the UK Government is doing to Wales. We are seeing all these job losses. We have made strong representations to the UK Government about these job losses and it remains the case that, by and large, those representations have not been taken up by the UK Government. We will do what we can to help those people who have been made redundant as a result of decisons made in Whitehall.

Joyce Watson: You will be aware, First Minister, that the UK Secretary of State for Transport announced last week that he will look again at the plans to close Milford Haven and Holyhead coastguard stations, and the plans to downgrade Swansea coastguard station. Under the weight of public anger, the cuts-obsessed administration in Westminster has yet again had to acknowledge that it has simply got it wrong. I am sure that the First Minister will welcome the latest u-turn. Does the First Minister agree that the UK Government’s policy on coastguards has been a mess from the start, from the top-down proposals and a lack of proper consultation to the cobbled-together after-the-fact risk assessment? What pressure will the Welsh Government be putting on the Westminster Government to start the whole process again, starting with listening to front-line staff and the communities that they serve to ensure that this life-saving service is improved, and not scrapped?

The First Minister: I welcome the move to re-examine this situation; although it is not a devolved area, it is nevertheless something that is important to the people of Wales. Great concern was expressed in this Chamber in the previous Assembly that people would be put at unnecessary risk because of the lack of cover during the day and particularly so at night, as there would have been no cover at all in Wales in the evening; the cover would have come from Southampton. That is unacceptable and I hope that this will be a genuine attempt to look once again at the need to provide an appropriate and safe coastguard service for the whole of Wales.

The Record

Rhaglen Dechrau’n Deg

Flying Start Programme

2. Jenny Rathbone:A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu amserlenni Llywodraeth Cymru ar gyfer ymestyn y rhaglen Dechrau’n Deg. OAQ(4)0002(FM)

2. Jenny Rathbone:Will the First Minister outline the Welsh Government’s timescales for extending the Flying Start programme. OAQ(4)0002(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: We are committed, as you know, to doubling the reach of Flying Start during this Assembly term, so that in the region of 36,000 children and their families can access the support it provides. I will set out our plans for delivering this expansion in due course.

Jenny Rathbone:In particular, I urge the Welsh Government to address the extremely disadvantaged area in the east of Pentwyn ward. It is the largest ward in Wales and it includes two super output areas of deprivation that are in the top 10 per cent on the index of deprivation. There is no Communities First or Flying Start programme in the area, which has significant levels of unemployment, poverty, depression and addiction, all of which are toxic for babies and toddlers. Although there are voluntary organisations such as Izzy Wizzy playgroup, which does a great job of supporting families, we know from all the evidence derived from Flying Start that that professional support, collaboration and integrated service can really make a difference to children and ensure that they do much better when they start school.   

The First Minister:Having seen Flying Start in action across Wales, I know that it has an enormously beneficial effect on many families and that it benefits those who need help the most. That is why we are committed to expanding the number of families that benefit from the scheme.

Angela Burns: Your Government states that Flying Start will improve the outcomes for children in areas of significant deprivation. However, an evaluation report published last year identified a gap in capturing quantifiable evidence of such outcomes in order to ensure that we are on the right track. What assessment have you made of this programme in each individual area? Given that the mantra of your new Government is 'delivery, delivery, delivery’, do you not think that it would be better to be able to capture such outcomes to ensure that we are not wasting our money, and that we are using it to the best of our abilities to maximise the value that we get for the Welsh pound?

The First Minister: 'Flying Start is a waste of money’; that is news as far as we are concerned on this side of Chamber. An investment of £148 million has been made in Flying Start. The programme currently supports 18,000 children annually from birth until they are three years of age, which is 13 per cent of the age group in Wales. Over 250 childcare settings are in place to support children in Wales through Flying Start. Many of those childcare facilities have been developed in areas of Wales where no childcare provision existed previously. Early evaluation evidence shows that Flying Start is having a real and positive impact on children and their families, which is certainly the evidence that I see as I go around Wales and see Flying Start in action. It is a scheme of which we are proud.

1.45 p.m.

Lindsay Whittle:Plaid Cymru recognises that adequate and affordable childcare is essential to tackling child poverty, and we acknowledge the promise to double the number of children benefiting from Flying Start. However, will the First Minister acknowledge that, in some Flying Start areas, health visitors are responsible for 110 children each, while in non-Flying-Start areas, they are responsible for 300 children each? How does the First Minister propose to address this inequality in what health visitors have to deal with? I am sure that, like me, he will recognise the excellent, but sometimes onerous, work that all health visitors throughout Wales tackle on our behalf.

The First Minister: I join with you in that, but it is important to realise that Flying Start is designed for those who need that help the most; that is why a different level of health visitors is available under Flying Start. We know that those health visitors are helping children who need a boost and an early start and are providing help for their parents.

The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats (Kirsty Williams): First Minister, earlier this week, BBC Wales published its own version of school league tables. Your Government spokesperson said that the information

'does not reflect what any school improvement professional or teacher would recognise as an informed and rounded view of school performance.’

My group would support moves to improve the information available to parents, and your Minister has responded by announcing a national system of banding for schools. Can you tell the Assembly what information would be included in that banding?

The First Minister: That is what we are looking at, but what is important is that there is a measure of progression in schools. What the figures published by the BBC do not show is how schools are progressing over a period of time. The Government has no objection to parents receiving information about the schools that their children attend, but we do not support or accept the idea that simple league tables, looking purely at examination results, provide a rounded picture of how a school is performing. We will produce data sets that can be used to measure progress in schools in Wales.

Kirsty Williams: Thank you for the acknowledgement that we need to provide better information to parents, First Minister. If that information is not the value-added data that form the basis of league tables in England or the school family data released by the BBC this week, I will ask you again: how will the banding system be developed, what data will it include and, just as importantly, when will you publish that information?

The First Minister: There will be a system. We are working now on the data that should be included in that system in order to provide the fullest possible picture for parents. What the BBC has published does not provide a rounded picture of how schools are doing or how they have progressed over the last few years. We need to ensure—and we will do so—that the measurement system that we put in place is fair and rounded and that it enables progress to be measured over time, while rejecting the simplistic formula of league tables based on examination results.

Kirsty Williams: It is clear that you cannot halt the tide of information that parents are now demanding, any more than a court can stop people tweeting. BBC Wales has said that it intends to reveal more information next week and parents are making decisions now about the secondary schools that their children will attend. While I would agree that simplistic league tables are not the answer, do you not agree that the need to put good-quality information in the public domain is now becoming even more urgent? When will you bring forward these proposals? Is this not the first job for your delivery unit?

The First Minister: Yes, that is one of the things that we want to do, but in order to ensure that the data being put before parents are rounded, of a good quality and auditable, it is important that we get those data right. Nevertheless, it is a priority for us to produce that system of measuring progress as quickly as possible in order that parents may be as informed as possible as to the progress of schools in Wales.

The Record

Gwasanaethau Rheilffyrdd

Rail Services

3. Sandy Mewies:A fydd y Prif Weinidog yn ystyried yr effaith bosibl ar wasanaethau rheilffyrdd yng Nghymru yn sgîl adroddiad McNulty. OAQ(4)0007(FM)

3. Sandy Mewies:Will the First Minister be considering the potential impact on rail services in Wales resulting from the McNulty report. OAQ(4)0007(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: I will. The Government is interested in the McNulty report and will be discussing with the UK Government how we can respond to its recommendations and ensure that Wales is fully taken into account.

Sandy Mewies: Thank you for that response. It is suggested that routes in Wales should be part of a move towards a more devolved and decentralised structure for the operation of National Rail, while changes to franchising—to include longer periods of operation and an alignment with infrastructure providers—are also on the table. Will the Government carefully monitor any proposals for change to ensure that passengers benefit from better services and that additional responsibilitiesare not hindered by a lack of cash?

The First Minister: That is the key to it: we need to ensure that any responsibility that we take on board over the next five years does not come at a cost. If there is a budget, we will examine a number of responsibilities that we would look to take on over the course of the next five years. However, it is important that Wales does not lose out with regard to rail services—we have seen rail services being re-established over the past few years. It is important that we see electrification of the rail line as far as Swansea and that the UK Government understands that the mainline does not end at Cardiff.

Mark Isherwood: The McNulty report, which was published last Thursday, made a number of recommendations to deliver savings. The report was commissioned by the previous Labour Government when it found that the railway in the UK was 30 per cent more expensive than its equivalent in other countries. The recommendations were made to make savings, but this week saw the launch of the second north/south express train service from Holyhead to Cardiff. Why is the Welsh Government subsidising,to the tune of £100,000 a week, a second premier express service that leaves Holyhead just 15 minutes after the general servicein the morning? Why, in consequence, is the premier service able to undercut the general service fares, on advance purchase, by 50 per cent or more? Those rates are not available to people using the general service.

The First Minister: You are referring to two different services, but I would have thought that you would welcome anything that reduces journey times between north and south Wales—particularly train services. The cost of railway services in Britain is not exactly a ringing endorsement of privatisation. We know that railway services in Britain are more expensive than almost everywhere else in the world. Privatisation was meant to deliver better value for passengers but it clearly has a long way to go.

Jocelyn Davies: The report explores the barriers not only to the ability to cut costs but also to an efficient, cost-effective and expanding rail network, and calls on the Government to provide clarity of policy. I understand that your Government is reviewing the programme of schemes within the transport plan. The previous plan committed to a detailed feasibility study on hourly services from Ebbw Vale to both Cardiff and Newport. Will you commit to publicising that study when it is available and to providing clarity of policy on extending the Ebbw Vale link to Newport?

The First Minister: I understand that work has been carried out on Gaer junction to make sure that trains can go towards Newport and not just towards Cardiff. Work needed to be carried out there. We will now need to consider the feasibility of reintroducing a passenger service to Newport. These are difficult times, in financial terms, but the structural changes will soon be in place to enable the service to run. The next step is to see whether that can be done over the next few years.

David Rees: The McNulty report emphasises value for money, specifically with regard to ticket pricing and rolling stock. However, as all railway users know, the journey starts and ends at the railway station. The previous Assembly’s Committee on Equality of Opportunity highlighted concerns about access to several stations throughout Wales, including Port Talbot Parkway in my constituency. I am pleased to report that, after a campaign spearheaded by our MP, Dr Hywel Francis, and my predecessor, Dr Brian Gibbons, plans have been unveiled for an investment of over £7 million to revamp the station under the station improvement programme established by the Welsh Government. The proposed station improvements, combined with recent investment to modernise the infrastructure and signalling, will cater for growing passenger demand and encourage sustainable travel, while opening up opportunities for investment—

The Presiding Officer: Order. Can you move to a question, please?

David Rees: Can you confirm that this will continue so that passengers from all parts of Wales can access the rail system?Do you agree that the UK Government’s failure to electrify the mainline to Swansea does not support the opening up of these opportunities?

The First Minister: I very much regret the failure of the UK Government to electrify the line as far as Swansea. A scheme is being put forward for Port Talbot Parkway that includes accessibility across platforms, with a new bridge, a new lift structure and a major strategic park-and-ride facility, together with improved passenger facilities. That is also happening in other parts of Wales—improved accessibility is being put in place in Bridgend station, which, from a parochial point of view, I very much welcome.

The Record

Biliau

Bills

4. Yr Arglwydd Elis-Thomas:Pa filiau yn rhaglen ddeddfu Llywodraeth Cymru am 2011-12 y mae yn bwriadu eu cyhoeddi ar ffurf biliau drafft ar gyfer craffu cyn Cyfnod 1, ac a wnaiff ddatganiad. OAQ(4)0009(FM)

4. Lord Elis-Thomas:Which Bills in the Welsh Government’s legislative programme does the First Minister intend to publish as draft Bills for scrutiny before Stage 1, and will he make a statement. OAQ(4)0009(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Yrydym wrthi ar hyn o bryd yn penderfynu pa Filiau fydd yn cael eu rhoi gerbron y Cynulliad dros y misoedd nesaf. Gwneir datganiad ynglŷn â hynny yn ystod yr wythnosau nesaf.

The First Minister: We are in the process of deciding which Bills will be put before the Assembly over the next few months. There will be a statement on this in the coming weeks.

Yr Arglwydd Elis-Thomas: Hoffwn yngyntaf longyfarch y Prif Weinidog ar enwi ei Lywodraeth yn 'Llywodraeth Cymru’. A yw’n fodlon arwain ymgyrch i ennyn diddordeb y cyhoedd yn y Biliau newydd a ddaw inni drwy gael ymgynghori helaethach ymlaen llaw gydag unigolion a grwpiau? A yw’n cytuno y byddai cael pwyllgorau craffu cryf yn y Cynulliad yn helpu’r Llywodraeth i ddeddfu’n gywir ac yn addas?

Lord Elis-Thomas: I would first like to congratulate the First Minister on naming his Government the 'Welsh Government’. Is he willing to lead a campaign to engender the public’s interest in the new Bills that will come to us by having broader consultation beforehand with individuals and groups? Does he agree that having strong scrutiny committees in the Assembly would assist the Government to legislate accurately and appropriately?

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae’n bwysig cael system graffu er mwyn sicrhau bod deddfwriaeth yn gryf ac yn gadarn, ac yr ydym wedi bod yn llwyddiannus dros ben wrth wneud hynny dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf. Yr wyf yn edrych ymlaen at weld y Biliau a fydd yn dod gerbron y Cynulliad yn cael eu hystyried yn fanwl dros y blynyddoedd i ddod.

The First Minister: It is important to have a scrutiny system in order to ensure that legislation is strong and robust, and we have been successful in achieving that over the last few years. I look forward to seeing the Bills that will come before the Assembly being scrutinised in great detail over the coming years.

The Record

Janet Finch-Saunders:First Minister, as you are probably aware, the Welsh Conservatives are committed to appointing a Minister for north Wales. The previous Welsh Government made certain commitments to hold Cabinet meetings in north Wales, but that did not happen. Given the failure to appoint a Minister for north Wales, will the Welsh Government be bringing forward any legislation to ensure that people in north Wales have a greater involvement in this political process?

The First Minister: Two Cabinet Ministers—Lesley Griffiths and Carl Sargeant—represent north Wales constituencies, and that is two more than in the UK Cabinet. [Laughter.] Therefore, north Wales representation here is far stronger and better than in Whitehall. We have shown our dedication to the north of Wales in the fact that we now have many hundreds of civil servants based there; at one time, there were very few based there. We now have two Cabinet Ministers from north Wales, so it is right to say that there is no one Minister for north Wales—there are, in fact, two.

The Record

Materion Iechyd Meddwl

Mental Health Issues

5. Kenneth Skates:Pa gynlluniau sydd gan Lywodraeth Cymru i godi ymwybyddiaeth o faterion iechyd meddwl ymysg cyflogwyr a gweithwyr. OAQ(4)0006(FM)

5. Kenneth Skates:What plans does the Welsh Government have to raise awareness of mental health issues amongst employers and employees. OAQ(4)0006(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: The Welsh Government provides advice and support to employers in Wales through the Healthy Working Wales programme, which is based on the evidence that good work is beneficial for both mental and physical wellbeing.

Kenneth Skates:One of devolution’s most important achievements over the past decade is the sharp focus that the Assembly has placed on improving mental health in north Wales. Indeed, in Wrexham, a crucial £32 million integrated mental health unit is nearing completion, and it will be used by many of my constituents. In light of recent economic difficulties and because one in six people experience depression, anxiety or stress in the workplace, the issue is more important than ever. Therefore, what efforts are you making, in conjunction with Mind Cymru and other mental health charities, to help people suffering from such problems gain and, crucially, retain long-term employment?

The First Minister: As part of Healthy Working Wales, we have recently supported the engagement of employers in Mind Cymru’s taking care of business initiative, which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues among employers and employees. Other initiatives are also being put in place, such as a new employee website that is part of Healthy Working Wales, launched as a pilot initiative last February.

Andrew R.T. Davies: During the discussions on the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010 by this institution, one of the anomalies highlighted was the lack of consistent data across the seven local health boards on access to, and provision of, mental health services. Will you make a commitment today, along with your new Minister for Health and Social Services and delivery unit, to work with local health boards to provide those data on a consistent basis, so that people who need to access these services can be confident that their LHBs are performing at the top of their game?

The First Minister: Yes.

The Record

2.00 p.m.

 

Blaenoriaethau

Priorities

6. Angela Burns:A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu blaenoriaethau Llywodraeth Cymru ar gyfer y Pedwerydd Cynulliad.  OAQ(4)0016(FM)

6. Angela Burns:Will the First Minister outline the Welsh Government’s priorities for the Fourth Assembly. OAQ(4)0016(FM)

9. Simon Thomas:Pryd y bydd y Prif Weinidog yn cyhoeddi ei raglen ar gyfer Llywodraeth gyda thargedau cyflawni penodol. OAQ(4)0011(FM)

9. Simon Thomas:When will the First Ministerannounce his programme for government with specific targets for delivery. OAQ(4)0011(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: We will take the necessary steps to implement the commitments in our manifesto over this Assembly, and, to that end, I will make a statement after the Whitsun recess.

Angela Burns: I would be interested to understand how the commitment that you made in your manifesto to

'review what entrepreneurial support is needed by start-up and small firms...with real potential to thrive & grow, and how we can embed an entrepreneurial culture in Wales’

chimes with the much vaunted, much waited for and much non-implemented economic renewal programme, of which it was said it

'is not a policy document gathering dust on a shelf, but a plan for action that is already underway’.

First Minister, the key word used there is 'action’. When will businesses in Wales start to see action rather than stop and start? Will you be taking the economic renewal programme forward, or will we have to wait for yet another consultation?

The First Minister: We have the Council for Economic Renewal, which has been very much welcomed by all organisations that represent businesses, and has been proactive in delivering for businesses. We need to ensure that support is in place for businesses not just when they start up, but in that difficult first one or two years of their lives, when they need support perhaps more than they do at any other time. That is why we will constantly revise our economic delivery programme, in order to provide the best programme for the people of Wales.

The Record

Simon Thomas:Brif Weinidog, mae’n siŵr y byddwch yn cytuno bod diffygion sylfaenol yn rhai o’n gwasanaethau cyhoeddus. Er enghraifft, mae un o bob pedwar plentyn yn gadael yr ysgol gynradd heb y sgiliau sylfaenol angenrheidiol. Felly, pryd y byddwch yn cyhoeddi rhaglen lywodraethol lawn, y bydd y cyhoedd yn gallu craffu arni, ac yn esbonio sut y byddwch yn cyrraedd eich nod o gyflawni a gwella adnoddau a gwasanaethau cyhoeddus Cymru? Pryd y sefydlwchgomisiwn annibynnol i helpu’ch Llywodraeth yn y dasg hon?

Simon Thomas:First Minister, I am sure that you would agree that there are fundamental deficiencies in some of our public services. For example, one in four children leaves primary school without the necessary basic skills. Therefore, when will you publish a full programme for government, which the public will be able to scrutinise, and explain how you will achieve your aim of delivering and improving resources and public services in Wales? When will you establish an independent commission to assist your Government in this task?

Y Prif Weinidog: Rhaid inni gofio, o ran y Llywodraeth ddiwethaf, fodblwyddyn wedi mynd heibio cyn i gynllun gweithredu gael ei gyhoeddi. Ni fydd mor hir â hynny y tro hwn, ac yr ydym yn gweithio yn awr i sicrhau bod cynllun gweithredu ar gael i’r cyhoedd cyn gynted ag y bo modd, a’i bod yn bosibl i’r cyhoedd fesur yr hyn sydd ynddo. Byddwn yn ystyried hyn dros weddill tymor yr haf.

The First Minister:We must remember, with regard to the last Government, that a year elapsed before a delivery plan was published. It will not take so long this time, and we are working now to ensure that a delivery plan will be available to the public as soon as possible, and that it will be possible for the public to measure what it contains. We will be considering this over the remainder of the summer term.

The Record

Christine Chapman: First Minister, I am keen to know whether you will make it a priority to look at the Welsh ambulance service. I know that our Welsh Labour manifesto contains plans to improve the performance of the service, and I welcome our plans to improve response times. However, we also need to look at how the service responds to complaints. I have recently been alerted to the fact that a serious complaint was left on the desk of a complaint officer for four months while the officer was on sick leave. I am sure that you will agree that that is unacceptable. First Minister, can we ensure that ensuring that that sort of thing does not happen again is a priority for the fourth Assembly?

The First Minister: If you could provide me with further details on the allegation that you make, we will be able to investigate it more fully.

The Leader of the Opposition (Paul Davies):First Minister, you made it clear during the election campaign that your priorities would be to protect hospitals, schools and skills. However, as my colleague Nick Ramsay said earlier, an independent report published today showed that the cuts to the Welsh NHS will be far greater than those in any other part of the United Kingdom, and that will have a huge impact on hospitals. In light of the report, will the First Minister and the Government reconsider cutting the NHS budget by £1 billion over the next three years?

The First Minister: We will not follow your party’s suggestion of sacking a fifth of teachers in Wales, or its suggestion of closing a fifth of schools in Wales, or its suggestion of wrecking the housing budget in Wales and putting people in bad housing, thereby worsening their health and causing them to need the health service even more. We will not follow your party’s suggestion of cutting social services in Wales, which would result in people becoming ever more reliant on the health service. If you are concerned about the financial settlement that the Assembly and the Welsh Government have received, take it up with your colleagues at Westminster.

Paul Davies: It is interesting that the First Minister wants to talk about everything apart from the NHS. As a result of the funding uncertainties, the future of specialist baby units and children’s wards at some of our hospitals remains unclear. I understand that Dr Chris Jones, medical director for NHS Wales, has admitted that small maternity units in Wales are not safe or sustainable. Does the First Minister agree that Welsh children deserve the best start in life? What assurances can he give to the people of Wales that the maternity services currently under threat will be guaranteed?

The First Minister: There is a contradiction in what you said, because it depends on what the royal colleges have to say about delivering a safe service. Ministers will always be guided by what the experts say is needed to deliver the best possible service to the people of Wales. Your party and colleagues would do well to remember that, because they oppose almost everything that is done with regard to the health service.

Let us return to the accusation that I do not want to discuss the health service: you do not want to discuss schools, social services or housing. We heard your previous leader say, live on television, that he would cut the schools budget by 20 per cent. That was on 17 November 2010. Watch it: the rest of us have seen it. You can try to deny it as much as you want, but that is what he said. That would have meant that a fifth of all teachers and a fifth of all schools would have gone and the destruction of the education system. That was the priority of your party. That is exactly what your previous leader said.

Paul Davies: There is no guarantee, then, for maternity services in Wales.

As the First Minister knows, nurses and front-line staff do a fantastic job in our hospitals, sometimes in difficult circumstances, and they play an essential role in the Welsh NHS. The decision to cut health spending will no doubt put pressure on the number of front-line staff in the NHS. During the election campaign, my party was absolutely clear about our pledge to maintain the number of whole-time equivalent registered nurses working in NHS Wales. Indeed, the new Minister for health signed up to the Royal College of Nursing’s 'Nursing Matters’ pledge to maintain the number of whole-time equivalent registered nurses working in the NHS Wales. Will the First Minister therefore promise to fulfil this commitment and honour the pledge that his Minister for health made to the Royal College of Nursing and confirm that there will be no reduction in the number of front-line, whole-time equivalent nurses during this Assembly?

The First Minister: We are looking to preserve the number of nurses. What a shame that that is not happening in England, where your party is in power. East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust will shed more than 1,000 full-time equivalent staff, including 50 doctors and dental staff—[Interruption.] I know that it hurts you to hear it. That is along with some 270 nurses, midwives and health visitors. The Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is to lose 682 full-time equivalent posts. The University Hospital of North Staffordshire is to lose 1,349 full-time posts. We have seen what happens when the party opposite gets into power: it destroys the health service. We will protect it.

The Presiding Officer: Order. When a Member asks a question, it would be useful were that Member to remain quiet during the reply. Members might consider that.

The Record

Bethan Jenkins: Brif Weinidog, fel y datganwyd eisoes, yr ydych wedi addo sefyll cornel Cymru yn wyneb toriadau San Steffan, a fydd yn her fawr ynddo’i hun. Byddwch yn ymwybodol bod dyfodol darlledu a’r cyfryngau’n ehangach yn bwysig i Gymru a’r Cynulliad. O ystyried y newyddion syfrdanol y bore yma ynghylch toriadau posibl gan Lundain i raglenni BBC Cymru, yn ogystal â’r ansicrwydd o ran sefyllfa S4C, a wnewch ofyn i’r Adran Diwylliant, y Cyfryngau a Chwaraeon ddatganoli darlledu i Gymru fel y gallwn amddiffyn rhaglenni Cymru yma yng Nghymru?

Bethan Jenkins: First Minister, as has already been stated, you have pledged to stand up for Wales in the face of cuts from Westminster, which will be a huge challenge in itself. You will also be aware that the future of broadcasting and the media more generally is important for Wales and the Assembly. Given the shocking news this morning about possible cuts from London in BBC Wales programmes, as well as the uncertainty surrounding S4C’s position, will you ask the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to devolve broadcasting to Wales so that we can protect Welsh programmes here in Wales?

Y Prif Weinidog: Nid heb yr arian—dyna’r hyn sydd yn bwysig. Rhannaf eich pryderon. Nid yw’n dderbyniol gweld toriadau o 20 y cant i BBC Cymru. O ran y toriadau, deallaf fod sôn mai BBCWales Today ac un rhaglen o Week In Week Out yn unig a ddarlledir yn Saesneg am wleidyddiaeth Cymru. Ni fydd darlledu o’r cynadleddau—ni fydd camerâu ynddynt—ac ni ddarlledir Dragon’s Eye na’r Politics Show. Nid yw hynny’n dderbyniol. Rhaid sicrhau bod y BBC yn rhoi i bobl Cymru y gwasanaeth y dylent ei gael i sicrhau eu bod yn gwybod am yr hyn sy’n digwydd yn eu gwlad eu hunain.

The First Minister: Not without the funding—that is what is important. I share your concerns. It is not acceptable to see cuts of 20 per cent in BBC Wales. With regard to the cuts, I understand that it has been mentioned that onlyBBCWales Today and one programme of Week In Week Out would be broadcast in English about Welsh politics. The conferences will not be brodcast—there will not be cameras there—and Dragon’s Eye and the Politics Show will not be broadcast. That is not acceptable. We must ensure that the BBC gives the people of Wales the service that they should receive in order to ensure that they know about what is happening in their own country.

The Record

Antoinette Sandbach: First Minister, you will be aware from the recent election campaign that we would have found an extra £106 million by funding schools directly. Rural schools in north Wales have suffered from underfunding for many years, and the funding gap between the amount spent on pupils in Wales and that spent on pupils in England now stands at £604. The average rural primary school loses £106,000 a year in funding, while the average secondary school loses £500,000. That underfunding threatens the heart of so many rural communities, and I highlight the seven Denbighshire primary schools that now face closure or restructuring. Can you confirm when your Government will deliver on your Minister for education’s commitment, made in May of last year, to see more money reaching schools on the front line?

The First Minister: I am stunned by that question, because we know that a cut in education spending was a major plank of the Conservatives’ manifesto. The question was whether that cut was going to be 12, 15 or 20 per cent. Their leader said that it was going to be 20 per cent. In the back-of-a-fag-packet calculation that was the alternative budget it was 12 per cent. Then it became 15 per cent. It was all over the place. One thing that we know for sure is that the party opposite would cut spending on education; the Conservatives have said so many times and have made a virtue of it. With regard to a difference of £604 per head in expenditure between Wales and England, a substantial chunk of that is what is being paid in rent for schools under private finance initiative contracts. We are the only party to put in place a formula to decrease any spending gap that exists between Wales and England—and we will keep that promise as a Government—rather than standing up, as the party opposite did, to say, 'Vote for us, we will cut spending on schools’.

The Record

Gofalwyr

Carers

7. Rebecca Evans: Sut y bydd Llywodraeth Cymru yn ceisio diwallu anghenion gofalwyr yng Nghymru. OAQ(4)0003(FM)

7. Rebecca Evans: How will the Welsh Government seek to meet the needs of carers in Wales. OAQ(4)0003(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: We will fulfil our commitment to fully implement the Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure 2010 and to refresh the Welsh Government’s carers strategy to improve the lives of carers and ensure that their concerns are properly addressed.

Rebecca Evans: Thank you for your answer, First Minister. Wales has the highest proportion of family and unpaid carers in the UK. Two thirds of people aged over 50 regularly care for family members and friends, and Age Cymru has found that 30 per cent of those people have health conditions that make it difficult for them to undertake caring responsibilities. Will the Welsh Government build on the positive steps of the Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure 2010 by providing greater provision for older carers, particularly respite care?

The First Minister: We will certainly be considering these issues as we refresh our carers strategy, which will focus on securing better outcomes for carers. We understand that many things need to be examined in order to provide better support for carers.

Darren Millar: In addition to the Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure 2010, my party made a commitment during the election campaign to introduce a carers’ right to respite to give carers a break from the hard work that they do to look after their loved ones, often with little or no support. I recognise that there is cross-party agreement in the Chamber on the need to support carers. What action will your Government be taking to ensure that there is adequate respite available for those carers who simply need a break from time to time?

The First Minister: You raise an important point. We are currently consulting on the recommendations of a research report on respite care in Wales. I have already mentioned the fact that we are looking to refresh our carers strategy. We will be considering these issues carefully in due course. The consultation closes on 5 June, so we hope to be able to take forward some recommendations fairly soon.

The Record

Alun Ffred Jones: Mae croeso cyffredinol wedi bod i Fesur Strategaethau Gofalwyr (Cymru) 2010, ond mae consýrn, sydd wedi cael ei fynegi eisoes y prynhawn yma, ynghylch yr effeithiau ar lawr gwlad, lle mae’r gefnogaeth i ofalwyr yn edwino. Mae’r broblem o ran gofal seibiant yn un real iawn sy’n wynebu gofalwyr o ddydd i ddydd. Mae’n berffaith deg eich bod yn dweud bod rhaid cael strategaeth i edrych ar ôl gofalwyr a’u buddiannau. Fodd bynnag, os nad oes gofal seibiant ar gael ar gyfer gofalwyr, y gwir amdani yw nafydd y strategaeth yn dda i ddim. Beth mae’r Llywodraeth yn bwriadu ei wneud i geisio diogelu gofal seibiant, sydd mor bwysig i ofalwyr?

Alun Ffred Jones: The Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure 2010 has been generally welcomed, but there is concern, which has already been expressed this afternoon, about the effects on the ground, where support for carers is diminishing. The problem with regard to respite care is a very real one that faces carers daily. It is perfectly fair for you to say that we need a strategy to look after carers and their interests. However, if respite care is not available for carers, the truth is that the strategy will be good for nothing. What does the Government intend to do to try to safeguard respite care, which is so important to carers?

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae gofal seibiant yn rhan o’r strategaeth a rhan o’r pecyn y bydd yn rhaid inni ei roi ar waith i helpu gofalwyr. Mae rhai gofalwyr mewn sefyllfa lle mae’n anodd iawn cael help iddynt, ac mae’n rhaid inni sicrhau bod help ar gael. Bydd hyn yn rhan o’r adolygiad a fydd yn digwydd dros yr wythnosau a’r misoedd nesaf.

The First Minister: Respite care is part of the strategy and of the package that we will need to put in place to help carers. Some carers are in a position where it is very difficult to get help for them, and we must ensure that help is available. This will be part of the review that will be taking place over the next few weeks and months.

2.15 p.m.

Polisi Ynni

Energy Policy

8. Rhodri Glyn Thomas:Pa drafodaethau y mae’r Prif Weinidog wedi’u cael gyda Llywodraeth y DU ynghylch polisi ynni. OAQ(4)0008(FM)

8. Rhodri Glyn Thomas:What discussions has the First Minister had with the UK Government regarding energy policy.OAQ(4)0008(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr wyf yn siarad yn rheolaidd â Llywodraeth y DU ar amrywiaeth o faterion, gan gynnwys pynciau pwysig sy’n ymwneud â pholisi ynni.

The First Minister: I speak frequently to the UK Government on a range of issues including important topics relating to energy policy.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Yr wyf yn siŵr eich bod yn ymwybodol bod fy nghydweithiwr Jonathan Edwards wedi derbyn ymrwymiad gan y Gweinidog sydd â chyfrifoldeb am ddatganoli, Greg Clark, y byddai’n barod iawn i gwrdd â Jonathan—a chi, efallai—i drafod polisi ynni a datganoli mwy o bwerau dros bolisi ynni i Gymru. Yr oedd yn rhan o’ch maniffesto—yr oedd ar dudalen 98, rhag ofn nad ydych wedi cael cyfle i ddarllen y maniffesto. Yr wyf yn siŵr, pe baech yn gofyn yn garedig i Jonathan, y byddai’n falch iawn o fynd â chi i gwrdd â Greg Clark er mwyn ichi drafod y mater pwysig hwn o ddatganoli pwerau ynni i Gymru.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas:I am sure that you are aware that my colleague Jonathan Edwards has been given a commitment by the Minister with responsibility for devolution, Greg Clark, that he would be very happy to meet Jonathan—and you, perhaps—to discuss energy policy and the devolution of further powers in the field of energy to Wales. It was part of your manifesto—it was on page 98, in case you have not had the opportunity to read the manifesto. I am sure that, if you ask Jonathan kindly, he will be more than happy to take you to meet Greg Clark so that you can discuss this important issue of devolving energy powers to Wales.

Y Prif Weinidog: Os yw hynny’n gywir, yr wyf yn ei groesawu. Os yw hynny’n gywir, nid yw ef yn gytûn gyda rhai o’r Gweinidogion eraill yn Llywodraeth y Deyrnas Unedig. Yr wyf wedi codi’r pwnc hwn yn ddiweddar—yn ystod yr wythnos diwethaf—gydag un Gweinidog a ddywedodd nad oedd hyn yn cael ei ystyried gan Lywodraeth y Deyrnas Unedig ar hyn o bryd. Fodd bynnag, cytunaf fod yn rhaid inni sicrhau bod mwy o bwerau dros ynni yn cael eu datganoli i Gymru. Byddwn yn ceisio sicrhau bod y pwerau hynny yn dod i Gymru dros y pum mlynedd nesaf.

The First Minister: If that is correct, I welcome it. If that is correct, he is not in agreement with some of the other United Kingdom Government Ministers. I have raised this topic recently—during the past week—with one Minister, who said that this is not something that the United Kingdom Government is considering at present. However, I agree that we must ensure that more powers over energy are devolved to Wales. We will aim to ensure that those powers come to Wales over the next five years.

The Record

Russell George:First Minister, you undoubtedly heard the protest outside the Senedd yesterday with more than 1,500 people from mid Wales coming to make a statement to us as Assembly Members and to you and your Government that they are not prepared to be railroaded into having an unnecessary and unwanted onshore windfarm development. The current proposals on the table for my constituency have a cross-border dimension and could mean lines of 50 metre-high pylons carrying electricity cables from Montgomeryshire to Shropshire. The Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Charles Hendry, has made it clear that community groups opposed to onshore windfarm developments should not be forced but rather that they should be engaged and consulted in order to ensure that planning and environmental policies have full buy-in. Do you agree with this sensible approach and, if so, will you make a commitment to a thorough and public review of technical advice note 8?

The First Minister: If the Minister for energy has said that then he is in some legal trouble, because he is the decision-making Minister. This is not a matter for the Welsh Assembly Government. The Welsh Assembly Government’s only role is to examine the issue of the substation should it be called in or become the subject of an appeal. The decision on the windfarm is entirely a matter for UK Ministers and the independent planning commission, and it is a matter that you need to take up with them. If a UK Minister has apparently prejudiced himself in taking that decision, that is a very serious matter.  

With regard to TAN 8, all TANs are reviewed over time. However, I think that it is important to point out that, if there were no TAN 8, there would be no control at all over windfarms. If the English planning guidance was somehow brought into place in Wales, windfarms could be built absolutely anywhere rather than within the strategic search areas only. It is a fact that, in England, you can build a windfarm pretty much anywhere provided you can meet certain criteria. I cannot comment on the planning application with regard to the substation, as Members will know. However, windfarms are a matter for the independent planning commission and, ultimately, for the UK Government. Our view is that the powers relating to that should be devolved to Wales, but that view is not shared by the UK Government.

William Powell:Within the scope of any review of TAN 8, what proposals do you have to develop the skills available to communities throughout Wales, and particularly in mid and west Wales, to implement small-scale renewable energy schemes that would be acceptable to those communities?

The First Minister: There are some very good schemes. For example, Carno is one community that has benefited mightily from wind turbines. I know from speaking to people there that they take what I suppose is, in some ways, an unusual view with regard to the wind turbines located there. We need to ensure that there is a mix of energy provision in this country. If we do not generate energy, we will have to import more, and there is an issue there with regard to energy security. However, there is expertise across Wales. Companies from across Wales have been developing microgeneration systems. We are fortunate to have centres such as the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, which is a world leader in providing advice to people who want to generate energy within their own homes or on a small scale in their own communities.

The Record

Polisïau ar gyfer Amddiffyn Plant

Policies for the Protection of Children

10. Peter Black: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am ei bolisïau ar gyfer amddiffyn plant. OAQ(4)0017(FM)

10. Peter Black: Will the First Minister make a statement on his policies for the protection of children. OAQ(4)0017(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: Safeguarding and protecting children is a key priority for the Welsh Government. 'Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action’ sets out our vision for high-quality, responsivesocial care services that will further strengthen the arrangements to safeguard and protect children in Wales.

Peter Black: You will be aware of the proposal by ChildLine to close the Swansea call centre and move that operation to Cardiff as a purely online operation. You may also be aware that that will lead to the loss of several hundred volunteers to the service. This call centre is being closed down in the south Wales area despite the fact that ChildLine failed to answer 100 per cent of its calls. It will also remove a fundraising base, and possibly any school liaison that takes place between ChildLine and schools in the Swansea area. Given the huge concern in the Swansea area about this proposal, will you ask the Minister for children to discuss this proposal with ChildLine and make representations to it about retaining this base in Swansea, where it has been very much welcomed for a long time and is a valuable asset to the area?

The First Minister: I will ask the Minister to write to you on this point. The NSPCC is responsible for this decision. I understand that it is looking to relocate from Swansea to Cardiff to a new centre that will provide only online counselling. It affects 17 members of staff in Swansea and approximately 143 active volunteers there. We have supported ChildLine Wales in years gone by, and grant applications are currently being sought. It is clearly of concern in Swansea, and I will ask the Minister to write to you.

Kenneth Skates: Many parents understand that the task of being a parent does not end when a child reaches 18 years of age. Tragically, this is the case for many cared-for children and it is often the reason why so many cared-for children, upon reaching adulthood, sadly end up in prison or turn to crime, drugs or alcohol, and why a significant number tragically commit suicide. The concept of corporate parenting is gaining a footing in Wales, but perhaps we could do more in three crucial areas. First, we could continue contact between such individuals and carers beyond 18 years of age; secondly, we could improve employment and training support; and thirdly, we could help children to find accommodation upon reaching 18 years of age. Will you commit to examining the support provided for care leavers in these areas and the abrupt landing into adult life that is faced by many looked-after children?

The First Minister: This has been a problem for many years. We have extended the corporate parent’s responsibility beyond the age of 18 in respect of children in full-time education. However, we want to achieve more, and this is a priority for us. We know that looked-after children, in particular, do very much worse than the general population in terms of academic achievement. You will know that we are looking to develop further the help that we can offer to make sure that that gap is closed.

Mohammad Asghar: Research suggests that, as many children grow older, childhood dreams increasingly fade away. A new report from the Prince’s Trust and the Royal Bank of Scotland found that, by the time that children become young people, as many as 16 per cent believe that few or none of their goals are achievable. This needs to be addressed as a matter of priority, and the Welsh Government must ensure that our children are equipped with the right skills and self-confidence so that, as they grow up, they continue to believe that they can fulfil their potential in life, particularly in Wales. What priority will your new administration give to this issue to ensure that our children are protected from this aspiration gap in this part of the world?

The First Minister: I will give you three examples. First, we will introduce a Wales jobs fund to ensure that, each year, 4,000 young people can have access to training opportunities, which we take seriously; we will keep the education maintenance allowance to provide such support for students in college, which enables them to stay in college; and thirdly, we will not increase tuition fees, as your party would want to do, so that many young people do not have their ambitions wrecked because they cannot afford to go to university. That is certainly not something that we will be introducing in Wales.   

The Record

Llyr Huws Gruffydd: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ysgrifennu at ChildLine i’w annog i sicrhau na fydd y newidiadau sydd yn digwydd i’w wasanaethau yn lleihau’r ddarpariaeth cyfrwng Cymraeg, ac y bydd unrhyw ddulliau amgen a gaiff eu datblygu i gysylltu â ChildLine hefyd ar gael yn yr iaith Gymraeg?

Llyr Huws Gruffydd: Will the First Minister write to ChildLine to encourage it to ensure that the proposed changes to its service do not decrease the level of Welsh-medium provision, and that any alternative methods which are developed to contact ChildLine are also available in Welsh?

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr wyf yn eich sicrhau bod hyn yn rhan o’r trafodaethau sy’n cael eu cynnal rhwng y Dirprwy Weinidog a ChildLine. Byddaf hefyd yn sicrhau eich bod yn cael copi o unrhyw lythyr a gaiff ei ysgrifennu at Peter Black ar y cwestiwn yr oeddech yn ei ofyn.

The First Minister: I assure you that this matter will form part of the discussions between the Deputy Minister and ChildLine. I will also ensure that you receive a copy of any letters that are sent to Peter Black that relate to the question that you have asked.

Y Gymraeg

Welsh Language

11. Suzy Davies: Beth yw blaenoriaethau Llywodraeth Cymru mewn perthynas â defnyddio’r Gymraeg. OAQ(4)0019(FM)

11. Suzy Davies: What are the Welsh Government’s priorities in relation to the use of the Welsh language. OAQ(4)0019(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Y flaenoriaeth gyntaf yw gweithredu Mesur y Gymraeg (Cymru) 2011 gan ddechrau gyda phenodi comisiynydd y Gymraeg, gweithredu ein strategaeth addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg a chyhoeddi a gweithredu strategaeth iaith ar gyfer cynyddu’r defnydd o’r Gymraeg.

The First Minister: The first priority is to implement the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011, beginning with the appointment of the Welsh language commissioner, to implement our Welsh-medium education strategy, and to publish and implement a Welsh language strategy to increase the use of Welsh.

Suzy Davies: Yn ystod yr etholiad, bydd llawer ohonom yn y Siambr wedi addo cefnogi gwahanol sefydliadau, gan gynnwys y Gymdeithas Genedlaethol i Blant Byddar a Chymdeithas Genedlaethol Awtistiaeth Cymru, a agorodd gangen newydd yn eich etholaeth chi yr wythnos diwethaf.Mae’r ddau sefydliad hyn yn cynrychioli pobl sydd ag anawsterau cyfathrebu.Yr oedd y Llywodraeth flaenorol yn derbyn bod siaradwyr Cymraeg sydd â phroblemau iechyd meddwl yn cael mynediad anghyson i wasanaethau Cymraeg. Pa gamau y bydd y Prif Weinidog yn eu cymryd i sicrhau bod y grŵp gorchwyl a gorffen ar strategaeth iaith Gymraeg yn y maes iechyd a gwasanaethau cymdeithasol yn gweithio’n agos gyda’r holl sefydliadau sy’n cynrychioli pobl ag anawsterau cyfathrebu—nid yn unig y rhai sy’n cynrychioli pobl â phroblemau iechyd meddwl—er mwyn sicrhau bod y rhai sydd angen, yn hytrach na dim ond y rhai sy’n dewis,darpariaeth yn yr iaith Gymraeg yn cael y gwasanaeth y mae ganddynt hawl iddo?

Suzy Davies: During the election, many of us in the Chamber will have promised to support various institutions, including the National Deaf Children’s Society and the National Autistic Society Cymru, which opened a new branch in your constituency last week. These two institutions represent people with communication problems. The previous Government accepted that Welsh speakers with mental health problems had inconsistent access to services through the medium of Welsh. What action will the First Minister take to ensure that the task and finish group on a Welsh-language strategy for health and social services will work closely with all institutions that represent people with communication difficulties—not only those that represent people with mental health problems—in order to ensure that those who need to access provision through the medium of Welsh, rather than those who simply choose to do so, receive the service to which they are entitled?    

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae gwaith yn mynd rhagddo ar hyn o bryd ar fersiwn derfynol y strategaeth, gan gynnwys y rhaglen weithredu. Mae’n bwysig bod unrhyw strategaeth yn edrych ar sut y gellir gwella gwasanaeth yn y dyfodol. Bydd hyn yn rhywbeth y byddwn yn edrych arno er mwyn sicrhau bod y gwelliant hwnnw’n digwydd.

The First Minister: Work is currently under way on the final version of the strategy, including the implementation programme. It is important that any strategy looks at ways in which the service can be improved in the future. That is something that we will look at in order to ensure that that improvement happens.

Blaenoriaethau

Priorities

12. Andrew R.T. Davies: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu ei flaenoriaethau ar gyfer cymunedau Canol De Cymru. OAQ(4)0010(FM)

12. Andrew R.T. Davies: Will the First Minister outline his priorities for the communities of South Wales Central. OAQ(4)0010(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: The priority is to implement the programme set out in our manifesto for the benefit of all communities, including those of South Wales Central.  

Andrew R.T. Davies: One of the commitments in your manifesto was to set up a delivery unit that would oversee Government delivery, and, hopefully, improve public services. You gave an interview that was published in Saturday’s Western Mail, in which you highlighted the fact that there was no easy way for you to calibrate how the delivery unit would work. Will you give an assurance that that delivery unit will be led by the civil service, and not by special advisers, that it will work with Ministers rather than against them, and that it will allow Ministers to perform their function in delivering the services in their portfolio area?

The First Minister: It will be staffed by civil servants, and it will look to ensure that departments deliver in accordance with the priorities that they have set themselves.

The Record

Diogelwch Cymunedol

Community Safety

13. Mike Hedges: Pa gynlluniau sydd gan Lywodraeth Cymru i wella lefelau diogelwch cymunedol yng Nghymru. OAQ(4)0001(FM)

13. Mike Hedges: What plans does the Welsh Government have to improve levels of community safety in Wales. OAQ(4)0001(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: We work closely with the community safety partnerships to ensure that a joined-up approach is taken to tackling crime, anti-social behaviour, substance misuse, youth offending and violence against women.

Mike Hedges: Does the First Minister think that it will be more difficult to keep our communities safe following the large cuts in funding for policing implemented by the Tories and their little helpers in Westminster?  

The First Minister: 'Yes’ is the simple answer, and the reason for that it is simple:if there are fewer police officers on the street, there is less of a deterrent to prevent people from committing crimes. Reduced police numbers lead to an increase in crime levels.That has been the case throughout human history.

Mark Isherwood: You will recognise that Alistair Darling’s final budget introduced a cut of £540 million in funding for policing, and that the cuts that have been announced since then would equate to or even exceed those legacy cuts forced on the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government in Westminster. To get back to the question, instead of back to the futureparty political point-scoring, which avoids proper consideration of the record of this Government over 12 years, do you agree that community safety partnerships, at the strategic level, must have direct and equal partnership with third sector organisations, such as Victim Support, Neighbourhood Watch, substance misuse charities and community and social enterprises working in rehabilitation?

2.30 p.m.

The First Minister: We want people to work together, but the reality is that your party has now been in Government for a year. It is easy for you to say that everything is the fault of the previous Government, but it has not been in Government since May of last year. We have said that we will introduce 500 police community support officers and pay for them. We know that PCSOs are important to the communities that they represent; it is a real shame that your party is so soft on crime.

Cwestiwn Brys
Urgent Question

ColliSwyddi yn y Swyddfa Basport yng Nghasnewydd
Job Losses at the Passport Office in Newport

The Record

Lindsay Whittle: Pa drafodaethau y mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi’u cael ynghylch y 150 o swyddi a gollwyd yn y Swyddfa Basbort yng Nghasnewydd. EAQ(4)0020(FM)

Lindsay Whittle: What discussions has the Welsh Government had regarding the 150 jobs lost at the Passport Office in Newport.EAQ(4)0020(FM)

The Record

The First Minister: During the course of the last Assembly, letters were sent to the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Wales, the UK Minister of State for Immigration and the leader of Newport City Council. In November 2010, written evidence was presented to the Welsh Affairs Committee at Westminster on the likely impact of job losses and a formal response was issued during the consultation period in January of this year. I must acknowledge the cross-party support that was offered in the Chamber in terms of supporting the continuation of the passport office. I also acknowledge the strong support of Newport City Council because it also wanted to ensure that the passport office was kept open with its current staffing levels. It does now appear however that Wales will be the only nation in the UK without a fully-fledged passport office and that 150 jobs will be lost there. Yes, more will be saved than the original intention would have allowed for, but nevertheless, this is an exceptionally sad day, not just for Wales, but also for the people who work in that office. We have gone from having a fully-fledged passport office to a much smaller operation and 150 people will lose their jobs. I very much regret that.

Lindsay Whittle: Thank you, First Minister, for that honest answer. I can speak with some passion about being unemployed, because I have spent two periods of my life unemployed under both a Labour and a Conservative Government, so I do not like either of you. [Laughter.] If you have not been unemployed, you will not know the indignity of signing on from a dole queue, the indignity of standing there or of queuing up in a post office with your giro, as it was then, so that all of your neighbours can see that you are the unemployed person in the village. Indeed—

The Presiding Officer: Order.This is to question the First Minister; will you come to the question as soon as you can, please?

Lindsay Whittle: We know that the First Minister of Scotland met the Chancellor on 23 May to discuss financial affairs for Scotland and, on 24 May, Irish Ministers met him to discuss the devolution of powers to Northern Ireland to raise corporation tax—both of those events are critical to the future of the economic portfolios of those two nations. I recognise that AMs from all parties have done their best, but ultimately we need to hear from you, First Minister, what will be done to provide more finances to protect Welsh jobs. The Celtic nations are knocking on doors in London, they are meeting around tables and we are not even shouting through the letterbox. I understand that you have a meeting on 8 June. Why is Wales last?

The First Minister: The meeting on 8 June is a joint ministerial committee meeting, not a meeting between the Chancellor and me. We have not heard back from the Treasury yet about a meeting, but I anticipate that we will have a meeting soon; that much is true. I discussed the issue of the passport office with the Secretary of State on Friday and my concerns were made very clear. I had a further discussion with the Secretary of State on Monday on this issue. We have, not just in Government, but across parties in this Chamber, made our position very clear, as indeed have Newport City Council and politicians of all parties outside this Chamber. I am sure that we will join with the workers at the passport office in expressing great regret, and indeed anger,at the partial closure of the passport office and the failure of the UK Government to maintain a fully-fledged passport office in Wales.

John Griffiths: Thank you for also allowing me to ask a question on this important matter, Llywydd. First Minister, it is clear that a strong campaign has been waged in Newport by the Public and Commercial Services Union, local politicians and the local authority. You also played a major part in that campaign, which was partly successful, but, sadly, we have still lost 150 jobs, which will have considerable detrimental effects on the local city centre, the local economy and the workers and families involved. Will you make the case to the UK Government very strongly, as I know that you have been doing, that the relocation of UK Government jobs to areas such as Newport was done for good reasons, namely the relative economic and social needs in those areas, and that we can ill-afford to lose the jobs that were relocated for those good reasons? We have many more UK Government jobs in the Newport area; we would like to retain those jobs and we would like to see further jobs relocated there. Will you make those points to the UK Government as forcibly as possible?

The First Minister: Those points have been made on many occasions to a number of Ministers within the UK Government, including the Prime Minister. The robustness of the case that was put forward by the union, management, Newport City Council and by us as the Government before the elections was there for all to see. There were good reasons for maintaining the current staffing levels and responsibilities at the Newport passport office. However, despite the strength of that case, UK Ministers have decided in their wisdom to halve the number of people working there.

Mohammad Asghar: While the loss of jobs is very disappointing, I am pleased that at least 150 positions have been safeguarded in Newport and that face-to-face customer service is to be maintained in the same office. It is important that we remember that a presence has been maintained, despite the economic legacy that the Westminster Government inherited last year from your Government. Will you join me in welcoming the local campaign in support of maintaining the presence of the passport office, as well as intense lobbying from the Wales Office and politicians from all political parties, including yours and ours, at the same time in Newport?

The First Minister: I am afraid that I cannot join you in rejoicing at the loss of 150 jobs; I just cannot do it. It is right to say that fewer jobs are being lost than was originally proposed by UK Ministers. Nevertheless, 150 jobs are being lost in Newport and 150 well-paid jobs are being lost to Wales. Other passport offices have not been affected. I cannot accept that the economic legacy, as you put it, of the last UK Labour Government has led directly to the closure or half-closure of the Newport passport office. If that were the case, why are other passport offices not seeing job losses—not that I wish that on them? Why are other passport offices not being closed? Why has Newport been singled out? I acknowledge that there has been cross-party support for the workers at the passport office, but this is a difficult day for Newport and for Wales.

Kirsty Williams: I begin by expressing my regret to the 150 staff who will lose their jobs as a result of this decision and I join the First Minister in congratulating all of those who have campaigned so hard in recent months to try to save all the jobs, especially those from the local authority. Will the First Minister outline what assistance the Welsh Government will be able to put in place for those individuals who will be made redundant? Will he also outline what assistance the Welsh Government can give to Newport council as it works with the Identity and Passport Service to find new premises for the passport office before its lease runs out in 2013, which will be crucial to maintaining the rest of the jobs and the front-office services? Will the First Minister also outline how he believes that his economic renewal strategy will create new opportunities for people in Newport so that we do not have to rely on poaching public sector jobs from other parts of the UK and other communities, and can grow new jobs and new opportunities for Welsh workers in Newport?

The First Minister: I do not accept that 300 jobs in the Newport passport office have been poached from somewhere else. The people of Wales are entitled to a share of public sector jobs, as are other parts of the UK. We are not looking to poach jobs from somewhere else. All that we are asking is that the 300 jobs that were in Newport remain in Newport—that is it. We are not looking for jobs to be transferred from elsewhere, which would create problems elsewhere. We want to ensure two things. The first is for the passport office to be able to secure new premises. There is no doubt that savings could be made if new, smaller premises were found—that was the case before the announcement. It is a shame that the UK Government did not wait until new premises were found because savings could have been made by simply moving offices. Everyone understands that much. However, the decision had to be taken before that, for some reason. Secondly, we will do what we can to help those who will lose their jobs. We have experience of dealing with this, in offering the Team Wales approach to those being made redundant. We will now explore what we are able to offer to those who will lose their jobs.

Andrew R.T. Davies: While I am also disappointed that not all the jobs were saved in Newport, the announcement on Monday was a dramatic improvement on some of the stories that were being put around that all the jobs would be lost. There will be a fully bilingual service available in Newport and there will be face-to-face contact with the 47,000 to 50,000 applicants who choose to go into the office on a year-by-year basis. The fact that a constructive campaign was put together by local politicians in Newport council, trade unions, the Wales Office—by Cheryl Gillan and David Jones, in particular—and the Welsh Government shows that Wales can hold its own, by providing an opportunity for a public service to be developed. The First Minister is wrong to say that other areas are not suffering the same consequences as a result of the reorganisation of the passport service: Durham and Northern Ireland are two examples of places where reorganisation is also being undertaken. Could the First Minister give confirmation today that his Government is well placed to bid for public sector jobs to come to Wales when reorganisation goes on in the public sector across the United Kingdom? I also seek assurances, along with the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, that offers of help will be made to Newport City Council to ensure that it is well placed to offer training and support to anyone who is looking for it in the Newport area?

The First Minister: The stories that were being circulated about the closure of the passport office came from UK Ministers. They did not come from us or some fanciful story in a newspaper. [Interruption.] Are you saying that it is the union’s fault? It is PCS’s fault, apparently. It is like watching someone with hobnail boots running over a ballet dancing floor. It is not the fault of PCS that jobs are being lost; it is the fault of a decision taken by the UK Government. You cannot blame the union for it. It is not the workers’ fault that the jobs are being lost. The reality of the situation is that 150 jobs are being lost to Wales and to Newport. It is unbelievable that Andrew R.T. Davies would suggest that it is the fault of PCS and the workers.

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 this afternoon’s business. Business for the next three weeks is as set out in the draft business statement and announcement that is to be found in the Plenary agenda papers that are available to Members electronically.

The Record

Paul Davies: Mae nifer o’m hetholwyr wedi cysylltu â mi yn ddiweddar yn poeni am y ffaith bod y bwrdd iechyd lleol sy’n gyfrifol am fy ardal i yn gwrthod triniaeth cataracts i bobl ar un llygad os ydynt wedi cael triniaeth ar y llygad arall. Yn naturiol, gall gwrthod triniaeth fel hon achosi problemau iechyd yn y tymor hir a chael effaith negyddol ar ansawdd bywyd pobl. Yr wyf yn siŵr bod Arweinydd y Tŷ yn cytuno â mi fod hon yn sefyllfa annerbyniol. O dan yr amgylchiadau, a wnaiff hi ofyn i’r Gweinidog Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol wneud datganiad ar y mater hwn cyn gynted â phosibl?

Paul Davies:Many of my constituents have contacted me recently expressing concern that the local health board in my area is refusing cataract treatment to people who have already had treatment on their other eye. Naturally, the refusal of such treatment can cause health problems in the long term and have a negative impact on the quality of people’s lives. I am sure that the Leader of the House would agree that this situation is unacceptable. In these circumstances, will she ask the Minister for Health and Social Services to make a statement on this matter as soon as possible?

The Record

Jane Hutt: I am sure that the leader of the Welsh Conservatives will recognise that this is a matter for Hywel Dda Local Health Board. I hope that you have raised this with the board. I am sure that the Minister, if she considers this matter, will come back to you.

2.45 p.m.

Joyce Watson: The recent furore over the UK Secretary of State for Justice’s comments about rape has not only raised serious questions about how the Westminster Government treats what is always a heinous and violent crime, but also about how much effect the proposals for reducing sentences for rapists will have, given that rape is still a massively unreported crime that goes unsentenced in most cases. His comments also raised concern about the UK Government’s priorities with regard to funding for services that support rape victims. In light of this, will the Minister consider allocating time so that the Assembly can debate the implication of UK Government cuts on services here in Wales that help victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence?

Jane Hutt: We are all aware of this issue, and I am sure that we have all been contacted by constituents with concerns about the Secretary of State for Justice’s comments. We also recognise that many of our magistrates’ courts and specialist domestic violence courts are being closed by the Secretary of State for Justice. It is, therefore, welcome that there is cross-party support for reopening those courts that are under threat. The key point is that the Welsh Government is committed to tackling domestic abuse and all forms of violence against women. The Minister for Local Government and Communities is already considering options for his Plenary time to bring a full discussion on this issue to the Chamber, and to consider the serious implications of the decisions taken by the UK Government to cut spending where the most vulnerable in society will be hardest hit.

The Record

Llyr Huws Gruffydd: Yng ngoleuni’r adroddiadau yr ydym wedi eu clywed heddiw am doriadau sylweddol posibl i ddarpariaeth BBC Cymru, a’r posibilrwydd wedyn na fyddai’r BBC yn cyflawni ei ddyletswyddau cyhoeddus o safbwynt adlewyrchu bywyd diwylliannol a gwleidyddol Cymru, gofynnaf am ddatganiad ynglŷn a’r trafodaethau diweddar y mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi’u cynnal gyda Llywodraeth y Deyrnas Unedig ynglŷn â darlledu cyhoeddus yng Nghymru.

Llyr Huws Gruffydd:In light of today’s reports about significant potential cuts to BBC Wales provision, and the possibility that the BBC would not be fulfilling its public responsibilities with regard to reflecting the political and cultural life of Wales, I ask for a statement on recent discussions between the Welsh Government and the UK Government on public broadcasting in Wales.

Hefyd, mae Clwb Pêl-droed Wrecsam ar fin dod o dan reolaeth y gymuned leol drwy Ymddiriedolaeth Cefnogwyr Wrecsam. A oes modd cael datganiad gan Lywodraeth Cymru ynglŷn â darparu cefnogaeth ariannol i ddatblygu’r Cae Ras i safon ryngwladol ar gyfer pêl-droed a rygbi yn y gogledd?

Also, Wrexham Football Club is about to come under local community control through the Wrexham Supporters Trust. Could we have a statement from the Welsh Government on the provision of financial support for the development of the Racecourse to an international standard for football and rugby in north Wales?

The Record

Jane Hutt:You will know that the First Minister responded to the first issue in his questions and that he has called for top-level talks with the Westminster Government on the future of broadcasting following those reported cuts within BBC Wales. The scale of cuts currently being considered by the corporation underlines the need for us to be fully involved at all stages. The First Minister is also writing to the UKSecretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, to seek a meeting to review programming by BBC Wales, ITV Wales and S4C.

The second issue that you raised in relation to Wrexham FC, its supporters and the Racecourse itself is a matter for the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, and I am sure that he will be looking at that issue.

Kirsty Williams:Will you ask your colleague the Minister for Health and Social Services to make a statement on the provision of maternal and fetal medicine services in Wales, particularly in south-east Wales? Women could reasonably have expected to receive services at the Llanfoist suite at Nevill Hall Hospital, but my understanding is that, following the retirement of an eminent obstetrician from that unit, women whose health and the health of their unborn children are potentially at risk have been finding it very difficult to find appointments to be seen by the specialist staff there. I am sure that you would agree that this is an area that deserves the urgent attention of the Minister for health.  

Jane Hutt: As I said in response to an earlier question about a specific issue affecting a local area and hospital, this is a matter for the local health board. The Minister is in close touch with the chairs and chief executives of the health board, as is her chief executive. She will be looking carefully at this case that has come about as a result of staff changes and the loss of the specialist that you mentioned.

Mark Isherwood: I welcome you back to this role, Minister. I call for Welsh Government statements on two matters, the first of which is on independent living for disabled people. When I spoke at the launch of the Independent Living NOW! campaign at a Disability Wales conference, we heard from disabled people who said that they wanted the freedom to choose to be in control of their own lives. Two months ago, when Disability Wales was at the Assembly to launch its manifesto for independent living, we heard about the importance of giving disabled people more choice and control over their lives. Now we understand that, this week, Disability Wales has told a Westminster inquiry that the lack of a Welsh strategy on independent living disadvantages disabled people, and that Wales trails the rest of the UK in helping disabled people to live independently in the community. I urge you to ensure that a statement is made on the matter.

Secondly, and finally, I call for a statement on the future of Communities First, the Welsh Government’s flagship programme for improving the prospects of people living in the most disadvantaged communities. The second phase of the programme will come to an end next year and we know that, in your budget to 2014, big cuts will be made to Communities First from 2012. The Minister, in his past and present post, has told us that officials are looking at the next phase of Communities First. Events have been arranged with Communities First co-ordinators to discuss its future and there are further worrying allegations and investigations into Communities First—it was not just Plas Madoc apparently; there was another case not very far from the Minister’s area of representation. Could we therefore have a statement on Communities First, so that Members and the communities of Wales know what is coming next and what is going on currently in Communities First areas?

Jane Hutt: I am surprised that you have raised only two matters with me this afternoon, Mark; I am glad to have just those two and I will answer them carefully. Communities First is a matter for the Minister for Local Government and Communities, and I am sure that you will seek to raise these issues with him in questions; many of the issues that have been raised with me are issues that should be raised in oral questions to Ministers. It is important to take the opportunity to take stock of Communities First. It is a pioneering initiative that demonstrates the commitment of the Welsh Labour Government to investing in our most disadvantaged communities. The positive results of that investment are reflected across Wales.

Your first point falls within my new ministerial responsibilities. As a result of the work of the previous UK Labour Government, we have the Equality Act 2010. We are the first nation in the UK to have consulted successfully on the Act; as a result of that consultation, a specific duty in relation to disability has been placed on public authorities, including us. Under that specific disability duty, we will look at the importance of independent living, and I will meet with representatives of Disability Wales to discuss those issues.

The Record

Mark Drakeford: Weinidog, a wnewch ystyried neilltuo amser am ddatganiad ar gwmni Southern Cross Healthcare, ac effaith y problemau sy’n wynebu’r cwmni hwnnw ar greu gwasanaethau preswyl i’r henoed yng Nghymru?

Mark Drakeford: Minister, will you consider making time for a statement on Southern Cross Healthcare, and the impact of the problems facing that company on the provision of residential services for the elderly in Wales?

The Record

Jane Hutt: I know that the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, and her officials have been keeping a close eye on the situation with regard to Southern Cross Healthcare. In fact, I met the Deputy Minister before the election because of the great concerns about what happened, and the impact on residents was at the forefront of our discussions. There is ongoing dialogue between the Welsh Government, the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru and Southern Cross Healthcare, in order to ensure that there is sound communication and an understanding of developments. Indeed, as I said, a key priority is to protect care-home residents and to ensure their wellbeing. I understand that that is under  consideration, and that there is stability and sustainability with regard to Southern Cross Healthcare at the moment. We will come back to you to inform you of any developments.

Bethan Jenkins: I want to ask for a statement on the Welsh Government’s discussions with the UK Minister for energy on devolving responsibility for energy generation schemes of more than 50 MW. That follows on from what my colleague Rhodri Glyn Thomas was talking about earlier. Specifically, could we receive information based on discussions on powers to retrospectively call in applications that have been approved but not yet completed? I ask this at this particular juncture as it appears that Prenergy Power, which is proposing to develop the world’s largest biomass plant at Port Talbot, has changed hands once more, this time going to Continental Wind Partners, and we are no closer to resolving this difficult issue as it affects Port Talbot. I would like the information from you in a statement when your colleagues have met with UK Government Ministers on this issue.

Jane Hutt:I will come back to you. As I said, we are committed to having these discussions.

Janet Finch-Saunders: Minister, will you ask the Minister for Health and Social Services to make a statement on the proposed funding arrangements for Llandudno General Hospital, and for that to include the much-anticipated and costed enhancement project?

Jane Hutt: This is an issue about which there will be concerns, and questions will be asked of the Minister. Questionsessions with the Minister in Plenary are the appropriate opportunity for raising such matters, though they may also be raised in correspondence. I am sure that you have already done so, Janet, but you may also contact the relevant local health board.

Byron Davies: I would reiterate and further emphasise the issue of the possible closure of the ChildLine call centre in Swansea. Swansea has had enough of seeing important services downgraded and moved to Cardiff. Will you raise the matter with Government colleagues and bring forward a statement on this important issue for South Wales West?

Jane Hutt: In answer to questions, the First Minister promised to share all of the correspondence on this matter. The decision has been taken by NSPCC. We need to ensure that any correspondence entered into and representations made are shared openly with Members.

Cynnig i Benodi Comisiwn y Cynulliad
Motion to Appoint the Assembly Commission

The Record

Cynnig NDM4723 Rosemary Butler

Motion NDM4723 Rosemary Butler

Cynnig bod y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 7.1, yn penodi Sandy Mewies (Llafur), Rhodri Glyn Thomas (Plaid Cymru), Angela Burns (Ceidwadwyr) a Peter Black (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol) yn aelodau o Gomisiwn y Cynulliad.

To propose that the National Assembly, in accordance with Standing Order 7.1, appoints Sandy Mewies (Labour), Rhodri Glyn Thomas (Plaid Cymru), Angela Burns (Conservatives) and Peter Black (Liberal Democrats) as members of the Assembly Commission.

The Record

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

The Presiding Officer:I see that no Members wish to speak to the motion. The question is that the motion be agreed. Are there any objections? I see that there are none. In accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36, I therefore declare the motion agreed. That brings today’s business to a close.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Motion agreed.

Daeth y cyfarfod i ben am 2.58 p.m.
The meeting ended at 2.58 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 Dafydd (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)
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)
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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