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Written Assembly Questions tabled on 13 July 2017 for answer on 20 July 2017

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 Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure

 

Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Further to WAQ73739 what date after the receipt of the draft due diligence reports and after consultation with HM Treasury did the full extent of Welsh Government exposure became apparent? (WAQ73849)
 
Answer recieved on 26 July 2017

The Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure (Ken Skates): The Welsh Government assessment of potential exposure has evolved in light of the development of the Circuit of Wales proposal and expert advice provided by a number of parties, including through the recent due diligence exercise and advice from HM Treasury. 
 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Further to WAQ73740 when was the balance sheet classification of the proposal presented by the Heads of the Valleys Development Company in February 2017 first discussed with: a) HM Teasury and b) ONS? (WAQ73850)
 
Answer recieved on 26 July 2017

Ken Skates: Officials have been engaged in discussions about iterations of the Circuit of Wales proposal with the HMT classification team since March 2016 and most recently in June 2017. The ONS does not provide formal classification advice on potential developments, but on final contracts. However, they work collaboratively with Welsh Government officials to ensure policy decisions are fully informed.

 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Further to WAQ73740, have a) HM Treasury and b) ONS, told the Welsh Government that there was a significant risk that the Circuit of Wales proposal was classified on the balance sheet? (WAQ73851)
 
Answer recieved on 26 July 2017

Ken Skates: The assessment of the classification risk relating to the Circuit of Wales was undertaken by Welsh Government officials based on advice from HM Treasury. 

 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Further to WAQ73741, did the Heads of the Valleys Development Company agree with the Welsh Government's assessment of the balance sheet classification issue at the pre-arranged post-decision meeting? (WAQ73852)
 
Answer recieved on 26 July 2017

Ken Skates: Welsh Government officials have discussed the basis for the assessment of classification of risk with representatives of the Circuit of Wales.  They accepted the rationale for Welsh Government’s assessment of the risk.  

 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Further to WAQ73743, is it the Welsh Government's assessment that the proportion of risk borne by the public and private sector in this proposal is in the ratio of 210:163? (WAQ73853)
 
Answer recieved on 26 July 2017

Ken Skates: The Welsh Government believes that there is a significant risk that the proposed guarantee would equate to more than 50% of project risk, with the result that the Circuit of Wales's debt could be classified to the public sector.
 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Further to WAQ73776, will the Cabinet Secretary confirm that special advisers in the Welsh Government did not have access to the commercially confidential information in question? (WAQ73854)
 
Answer recieved on 26 July 2017

Ken Skates: Special Advisers have access to a range of confidential information in order to allow them to carry out their functions. The handling of such information, including disclosure, is covered by the Special Adviser Code of Conduct.

 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Further to WAQ73771 when during March 2016 did a proposal first emerge that required a 100 per cent Welsh Government guarantee of the £357 million investment in the Circuit of Wales? (WAQ73855)
 
Answer recieved on 26 July 2017

Ken Skates: I will write to the Assembly Member about the information requested, and will place a copy of my letter in the library.

 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Did the Welsh Government make a counter proposal during January 2016, in response to a proposal for a 100 per cent Government guarantee by the Heads of the Valleys Development Company; and will the Cabinet Secretary publish details? (WAQ73856)
 
Answer recieved on 26 July 2017

Ken Skates: I will write to the Assembly Member about the information requested, and will place a copy of my letter in the library.
 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Did the Welsh Government at any point question the assessment of the balance sheet classification issue made by Ernst and Young in its October 2016 report on the Circuit of Wales? (WAQ73857)
 
Answer recieved on 26 July 2017

Ken Skates: Welsh Government’s final assessment of the balance sheet classification and associated risk was informed by discussions with ONS and HMT, not a report made by the Heads of the Valley Development Company, or its advisors.  It is also worth noting that the report produced by Ernst and Young in October 2016 considered a funding structure for the project that was different to the model submitted to Welsh Government in February 2017.

 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Further to WAQ73768, does the Welsh Government have figures which show the proportionate share of the public and private sector in the underwriting of the risk associated with the Circuit of Wales project? (WAQ73858)
 
Answer recieved on 26 July 2017

Ken Skates: My response to WAQ73853 refers.

 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Further to WAQ73764, what number of jobs did the Welsh Government's economic impact assessment referred to predict for the Circuit of Wales project? (WAQ73859)
 
Answer recieved on 26 July 2017

Ken Skates: The employment information presented to WIDAB in June 2014 included a total of 304 direct FTEs (49 full time permanent employees plus temporary staff for events equating to 255 FTEs.)  
 
Lynne Neagle (Torfaen): What plans does the Cabinet Secretary have to review the impact of the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008 on children, young people and families in Wales? (WAQ73860)

Answer received on 19 July 2017

Ken Skates:  At this stage, I do not intend to review the Measure.

The Learner Travel Statutory Provision and Operational Guidance, which sets out the legislative and policy framework governing the provision of learner travel in Wales , is  subject to ongoing review as a matter of course.  The Guidance was last substantially reviewed in 2014 and children and young people were consulted as part of that process.  My officials maintain a regular dialogue with local authorities for the purpose of assessing the impacts of the learner travel legislation and guidance.  The Guidance is issued to local authorities who have responsibility for the operational delivery of learner travel in their area. My officials will be reviewing the Guidance shortly in the light of the Additional Learning Needs legislation and subsequent guidance to ensure a consistent approach.

 

To ask the Cabinet Secretary for Education

Llyr Gruffydd (North Wales): Will the Cabinet Secretary provide an update on any progress in relation to Welsh-medium teaching resources to support reformed qualifications, following the summit she held on the matter on 26 April? (WAQ73861)

Answer received on 19 July 2017

The Cabinet Secretary for Education (Kirsty Williams): The summit brought together key stakeholders from the education, media and creative sectors to look at ways in which they could work together in future to provide resources in Welsh and English to support the teaching and learning of the new curriculum and qualifications. The summit looked at addressing the issue in the long term. My officials are considering the issues and suggestions raised at the summit and will be consulting further with relevant stakeholders in the autumn. Regular discussions are also being held with the current main textbook publishers to look at future requirements and ways of working.

In the immediate term, to support the newly reformed qualifications, Welsh Government has worked with WJEC and Qualifications Wales to identify the resources and support required to introduce the reformed qualifications. A list of support and resources has been published on Qualifications Wales's website. 
http://qualificationswales.org/qualifications/gcses/resources-to-support-new-gcses-and-a-levels/?lang=en&

My officials have worked with WJEC to improve on the production timescales of Welsh-medium versions of textbooks which are developed commercially by publishers in England to support WJEC qualifications. Through the grant funding that Welsh Government provides to WJEC 30  Welsh-medium textbooks have been published since April 2016  - 14  of these since April 2017.

New working practices were introduced earlier in the year and have helped to reduce the difference in timescales between the availability of textbooks in English and Welsh, e.g. GCSE Geography textbook was published within four months of the English version being available.

In other instances draft versions of the textbooks have been made available on the WJEC's secure website before free copies of printed versions are distributed to schools.  This ensures that the content is available at a much earlier date for teachers and learners. WJEC have also developed new digital resources to fill any gaps and these are available on resources section of the WJEC's website.

As I have previously stated I am not happy with the current situation however all parties  involved are following all avenues to ensure teachers and learners have access to supplementary resources. 

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