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Written Assembly Questions tabled on 14 March 2016 for answer on 21 March 2016

R - Signifies the Member has declared an interest.
W - Signifies that the question was tabled in Welsh.

(Self-identifying Question no. shown in brackets)

Written Questions must be tabled at least five working days before they are to be answered. In practice, Ministers aim to answer within seven/eight days but are not bound to do so. Answers are published in the language in which they are provided, with a translation into English of responses provided in Welsh.

To ask the First Minister

Simon Thomas (Mid and West Wales): Will the First Minister make a statement on challenging the Welsh language commissioner on two of the Welsh Government's Welsh-language standards? (WAQ70037)

Answer received on 24 March 2016

The First Minister (Carwyn Jones): 

The Welsh Government welcomes the introduction of Welsh Language Standards that will be implemented from 30 March 2016.  The Welsh Language Commissioner is wholly independent in imposing standards on organisations, and under the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 those standards must be reasonable and proportionate.  After very careful consideration of the implications of implementing the 164 standards imposed on the Welsh Ministers by the Commissioner, we have decided to challenge two standards: Standards 40 and 144.  Standard 40 requires the Welsh Government to publish all documents for public use bilingually.  We currently prioritise documents for translation in order to ensure we make the best use of our finite translation resource.  We've requested that we continue to prioritise documents for translation for a specific period.  Standard 144 requires all audio announcements made in the workplace to be broadcast with the Welsh message announced first.  We're seeking to exempt a small number of emergency announcements, and emergency drill announcements from this requirement in the interest of staff and visitor safety.  We await the Commissioner's determination. 

 

To ask the Minister for Natural Resources

Simon Thomas (Mid and West Wales): Will the Minister confirm that he is confident the 'thresholds' identified in the commissioned Fishing Intensity Study conducted by Bangor School of Ocean Sciences in 2014 are scientifically reliable indicators of levels of scallop dredging activity below which no harms to conservation status of the Cardigan Bay special conservation area would occur? (WAQ70038)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

The Minister for Natural Resources (Carl Sargeant):  The Bangor School of Ocean Sciences study investigated the impacts from levels of scallop fishing on a particular habitat (non Annex 1 feature) in Cardigan Bay SAC. It proposes thresholds to manage these impacts sustainably. While those thresholds do not link directly to the determination of conservation status of site features, the thresholds identified in the study could be used as part of a wider evidential assessment, in a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA), to assess the impacts arising from scallop dredging activity and any effect on the site integrity of the Cardigan Bay SAC.

 

Janet Haworth (North Wales): Will the Minister clarify whether the impact of the Dolgarrog Hydro Power Station has ever formed part of a flood evaluation of the River Conwy and if so could a copy of the evaluation please be made available? (WAQ70039)

Answer received on 18 March 2016

The Minister for Natural Resources (Carl Sargeant): A power station has been present at Dolgarrog since 1907, with the current form first being established in 1952 through the North Wales Hydro-electric Power Act. Dolgarrog Power Station was first issued with a Licence of Right to Abstract Water on the 25th October 1965. 

With regard to your question about the impact of Dolgarrog power station on the flood alleviation scheme appraisal, the downstream model limit for the scheme was the bridge at Tal y Cafn.  An assessment will have been included in the model for this but it will not have included the operational rules of the power station.  The model includes what is called a downstream tidal boundary to simulate changing water levels in the river.  This has used a combination of historical levels measured at Tal y Cafn and tidal levels in Conwy.  This method provides a good assessment in the model of the effects of high flows in the Conwy and tidal changes.  The new model build that Natural Resources Wales (NRW) are progressing with will re-evaluate these 'lateral inflows' in the model bringing them up to current day standards.

NRW have contacted RWE Npower and they have confirmed that on Boxing Day the outflow of the station was approximately 12 cubic meters per second.  To put this into context, within the main Conwy we estimate the main river was flowing in excess of 550-600 cubic meters per second on Boxing Day.  Therefore NRW do not believe that this would have an impact on water levels some 7km upstream.

NRW have also recently published a Flood Risk Management Plan (FRMP) for Western Wales, which covers the Conwy catchment. This is available on the NRW website.

 

To ask the Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport

 

Simon Thomas (Mid and West Wales): What progress has been made on improvements to the A477 to the east of the Kilgetty roundabout? (WAQ70036)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

The Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport (Edwina Hart): Resurfacing work began on 11 March and is programmed be completed before Easter. 

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister provide details of all correspondence between the Welsh Government and Conwy County Borough Council regarding bus services to the Conwy valley since 1st September 2015? (WAQ70040)

Answer received on 18 March 2016

The Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport (Edwina Hart):  My officials have had discussions with Conwy County Borough Council and have provided assistance in securing bus services in the Conwy Valley.

 

Russell George (Montgomeryshire): Will the Minister confirm how the Welsh Government is a) supporting Powys County Council in its communities capital grant applications for 2016/17 in relation to i) the local transport fund; ii) road safety; and iii) safe routes in the communities; and b) the timescale for a decision on these funding applications? (WAQ70041)

Answer received on 18 March 2016

Edwina Hart: I expect to announce funding allocations for local transport grants shortly.

 

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): What support and funding does the Welsh Government offer to not-for-profit businesses? (WAQ70042)

Answer received on 18 March 2016

Edwina Hart: Support is available for social enterprises through Social Business Wales, which operates alongside the mainstream Business Wales service and provide specialist business support to social businesses with ambitions to grow.  A range of funding is available, such as, the newly launched Social Enterprise Assist Fund.

 

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): How much has been spent on consultancy work to date, in relation to completing the Cardiff bay link road? (WAQ70050)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Edwina Hart: We have paid our Employer's Agent, WSP, £495,762 (excluding VAT) for their work leading up to appointment of the main contractor and supervision of the project to date. This is less than 1% of the total estimated budget for the scheme, and we expect the final figure to remain well within typical cost parameters for projects of this type. This is usually between 4% and 6% depending on the complexity of the project, and is comparable with our other large road schemes.

 

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): How much has been spent on consultancy work for improving the A55 in North Wales? (WAQ70051)

Answer received on 18 March 2016

Edwina Hart: This information is not held centrally.

 

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): How has the Welsh Government contributed towards plans for the Swansea bay tidal lagoon? (WAQ70052)

Answer received on 18 March 2016

Edwina Hart: My Officials have worked with the developer and other partners, and continue to do so, to ensure that the economic benefits of this significant project are maximised for Wales and the Welsh supply chain.  I have written to the UK Government to seek assurances that this project will receive the necessary support.

 

William Graham (South Wales East): What Welsh Government initiatives are in place to help Welsh SMEs to increase manufacturing? (WAQ70055)

William Graham (South Wales East): What Welsh Government financial support is available for Welsh manufacturers? (WAQ70056)

Answer received on 18 March 2016

Edwina Hart: The Welsh Government has a number of initiatives and financial support schemes that are available to viable Welsh manufacturers and SMEs seeking to expand or become more competitive. Information on available support can be accessed through the Business Wales service.

 

William Graham (South Wales East): How is the Welsh Government promoting Wales as a centre for life sciences? (WAQ70057)

Answer received on 18 March 2016

Edwina Hart: We are committed to growing the Life Science sector in Wales. The establishment of The Life Sciences Hub Wales has provided the sector with a central resource to connect and concentrate Life Sciences in Wales and its international partnerships have significantly raised the reputation of Wales internationally. This complements our ongoing work to develop a strong Brand for Life Science in Wales, which has an international reputation; to this end the Welsh Government trade missions to Medica has consistently been the largest single sector trade event for Wales for the past 3 years.  The dedicated Life Science Investment Fund, the only fund of its kind, has also further raised Wales' global profile by securing considerable levels of co-investment in to Wales.

 

William Graham (South Wales East): What work has the Welsh Government done to better integrate bus and rail services in Wales? (WAQ70058)

Answer received on 18 March 2016

Edwina Hart: I recognise the importance of an effective, affordable and fully integrated public transport system across Wales.  Our public transport plans are outlined in the National Transport Finance Plan. 

To ask the Minister for Finance and Government Business

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): What is the Welsh Government doing to tackle the issue of late payments for SMEs in Wales? (WAQ70043)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

The Minister for Finance and Government Business (Jane Hutt): Principal six of the Wales Procurement Policy Statement is in place to address the issue of fair payment for suppliers to public sector contracts. Simplified and standardised approaches in procurement are actively promoted to minimise complexity and requirements for suppliers to this end. Guidance on adoption of Project Bank Accounts is in place and currently being piloted across Wales to ensure the issue of late payment is being addressed throughout the supply chain servicing public sector contracts. To date this approach has focussed on construction related contracts but now Welsh Government's own Business Wales contract is the first service contract to pilot this approach, ensuring all suppliers are paid on time.

 

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): What percentage of businesses in Welsh Government procurement contracts have been paid within 10 days? (WAQ70044)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Jane Hutt: The Welsh Government have paid 96% of all correctly rendered invoices within 10 days during the financial year 2015-16 and to date. The data held on the Welsh Government payment performance does not differentiate between those invoices received against procurement contracts only.

 

To ask the Minister for Health and Social Services

Jocelyn Davies (South Wales East): What assessment has been made of the waiting times for elective surgery for people with inflammatory bowel disease? (WAQ70045)

Jocelyn Davies (South Wales East): What is the current referral waiting time for gastroenterology within each of the seven health boards? (WAQ70046) 

Answer received on 24 March 2016

The Minister for Health and Social Services (Mark Drakeford):

All people should be receive treatment in order of clinical priority and within Welsh Government targets, which is for 95% to wait less than 26 weeks from receipt of the referral in the hospital to the start of treatment, including the waiting time for specified diagnostic tests and therapies, with a maximum wait of 36 weeks to allow for clinically complex cases.

Referral to treatment times information is available at https://statswales.wales.gov.uk/Catalogue/Health-and-Social-Care/NHS-Hospital-Waiting-Times/Referral-to-Treatment

 

Jocelyn Davies (South Wales East): What progress is being made towards every patient with inflammatory bowel disease in Wales being recorded on a) a local searchable database and b) the UK wide registry for IBD patients? (WAQ70047)

Jocelyn Davies (South Wales East): Has the Minister investigated the use of the UK IBD registry in order to get an accurate number of those living with inflammatory bowel disease in Wales? (WAQ70048)

Jocelyn Davies (South Wales East): Does the Minister support the introduction of an inflammatory bowel disease registry of patients in Wales? (WAQ70049)

Answer received on 24 March 2016

Mark Drakeford:

The Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) and British Society of Gastroenterology are working with health boards to encourage sign up to the UK IBD registry and the Welsh Government is monitoring progress.

IBD services will use the registry to collect patient data to continue to evaluate outcomes and improve patient care.

 

Lindsay Whittle (South Wales East): How much was spent last year by NHS Wales on biological treatments for those with inflammatory bowel disease? (WAQ70053)

Answer received on 24 March 2016

Mark Drakeford: The Welsh Government does not hold this information.

Lindsay Whittle (South Wales East): How many people with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis are currently being treated with biologic drugs? (WAQ70054)

Answer received on 24 March 2016

Mark Drakeford: The Welsh Government does not hold this information.

 

 

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