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Written Assembly Questions tabled on 23 August 2017 for answer on 30 August 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

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Further to WAQ74048 will the Cabinet Secretary explain why there is a reduction in the per year funding from £455,000 in 2016-17, to £515,000 in 2017-19, and list all the projects receiving the aforementioned funding? (WAQ74100)

Answer received on 31 August 2017

The Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure (Ken Skates): The Regional Tourism Engagement Fund (RTEF) and the Tourism Product Innovation Fund (TPIF) are both competitive schemes with project bids invited and assessed against the following criteria.

TPIF is a de minimis revenue fund to directly support tourism businesses working collaboratively with private sector trade partnerships to develop tourism product and marketing activity. Project proposals need to:

  • Be led by or on behalf of the tourism trade, sectorial partnerships, groups and consortia
  • Develop or enhance tourism products that have been identified as priorities within the tourism strategy and action plan
  • Be in line with Welsh Government's thematic 'years and meet the needs of one or more of Visit Wales' target market segments; and
  • Demonstrate the ability to have an impact in the market place over a longer period of time

     

RTEF is aimed at:

  • Supporting destinations across Wales to promote and develop distinctive, high quality visitor experiences through the delivery of their destination management plans
  • Increasing visitor numbers, visitor spend and improving the visitor experience
  • A key consideration for approving projects will be their ability to meet the strategic objectives of Welsh Government's tourism strategy 'A Partnership for Growth' and the ambitions of the thematic years including Year of Legends, Year of the Sea and the Wales Way.

 
The following links show all the projects supported across Wales in 2016-17 [12 projects in North Wales - £455k] and 2017-19 [11 projects in North Wales - £515k].  There will be a further tranche of funding available for 2017-19.

TPIF 2016/17
https://businesswales.gov.wales/sites/business-wales/files/tourism/TPIF%202016-2017%20Approved%20Project%20Summaries%20with%20Agreed%20Activity%20%28MA%20Summaries%29%20-%20EN.pdf
 
RTEF 2016/17
https://businesswales.gov.wales/sites/business-wales/files/tourism/Regional%20Engagement%20Tourism%20Fund%202016%202017%20Approved%20Project%20Summary%20-%20MA%20Summary%20-%20EN.pdf

TPIF 2017 – 2019
https://businesswales.gov.wales/sites/business-wales/files/tourism/TPIF_Projects_Recommended_for_Funding_2017-2019_-_EN.pdf

RTEF 2017 - 2019
https://businesswales.gov.wales/sites/business-wales/files/tourism/RTEF_Projects_Recommended_for_Funding_2017-2019_-_EN.pdf

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Further to WAQ74047 will the Cabinet Secretary give more details about the North Wales way (A55), the Coastal Way (A487), and the Cambrian Way (A470), and explain whether a route might be created for the A5? (WAQ74101)

Answer recieved on 24 August 2017

Ken Skates: As I announced earlier this year ‘The Wales Way’ will comprise the A55 Cultural Corridor to the north, the A487 to the West, and  the A470 through the heart of Wales.  My officials are currently conducting a period of engagement with key regional and local industry partners and stakeholders to ensure that each route represents the very best of the regions. These three key routes will act as a functional connecting device, and visitors will be actively encouraged to explore a number of other local routes, trails and experiences, one of which could be the A5.

Suzy Davies (South Wales West): Following news that Ruthin Castle Hotel, which received Welsh Government funding, has been prosecuted for failing to pay staff the minimum wage, will the Cabinet Secretary confirm what action will be taken by Welsh Government against companies that receive Welsh Government support but fail to pay at least the minimum wage? (WAQ74111)

Answer recieved on 25 August 2017

Ken Skates: All organisations and companies have a statutory obligation to comply with the relevant regulations and legislation applicable. All organisations in receipt of Welsh Government funding are required to sign up to terms and conditions, including compliance with legislation, associated with that funding.  Where those terms and conditions are breached the Welsh Government will consider, on a case by case basis, specific measures to address the breach, including the appropriateness of possible clawback.

Dai Lloyd (South Wales West): Will the Cabinet Secretary outline what discussions he has had with Cardiff Airport management and Flybe airlines with regards to the Cardiff-London City airport route, and what action he has taken to try to protect a direct service between the two cities? (WAQ74117)

Answer received on 31 August 2017

Ken Skates: The Cardiff to London air link is operated by Flybe as a commercial service with Cardiff Airport. I have not been part of these confidential discussions between the airline and airport, and it would not be appropriate for me to do so. The airport is run at arms length from the Welsh Government as a commercial business. Discussions between the airport and airlines operating from Cardiff are a matter for the individual parties.
It will be disappointing to see the end of this service, which has provided a quick and convenient link between Cardiff and London City airports for the past year. Wales needs more, not fewer, links with the rest of the UK, which is our largest trading partner.
Flybe and Cardiff Airport have both been clear that one reason for the cancellation of this service is the impact of the UK Government’s Air Passenger Duty on shorter flights. We have repeatedly called on the UK Government to devolve Air Passenger Duty to Wales. This call has been repeatedly denied. We will though continue to pursue devolution of Air Passenger Duty to Wales.
 
Suzy Davies (South Wales West): Will the Cabinet Secretary set out the criteria used by his department to provide financial information relating to the Wales Screen Fund in response to WAQ74054, and explain why the same criteria could not be used to ascertain the value to the local economy of business rate support provided as part of the Port Talbot enterprise zone in response to WAQ74054? (WAQ74118)

Answer received on 31 August 2017

Ken Skates: The criteria used to assess Screen Fund application include investment / spend, jobs, supply chain benefit and growth potential. We were able to provide the financial information you requested in relation to the Wales Screen Fund as the Welsh spend confirmed to have been delivered by companies was readily available in our records; it is monitored by officials as part of the conditions of funding.

Individual scheme criteria for reporting have been developed to deliver information and objectives appropriate to different areas of support in responding to relevant needs and opportunities and take account local economic conditions as well as ensuring commercial confidentiality. In Port Talbot for example, it was important to target the rates mechanism to support options for growth and diversification within the steel industry supply chain, in effect allowing the company to free up cash flow to invest in expansion and development of their business. 

As a result and as I have stated previously, we do not directly attribute numbers of jobs created to the Enterprise Zones Business Rates Scheme (EZBRS). Job creation is not a requirement of the Scheme, and where jobs are created or sustained in the Zones, these are likely to be attributable to a range of factors including the wider suite of support that is available to businesses in the Zones. For example, support mechanisms such as Business Wales, Repayable Business Finance and the Finance Wales Reduced Lending Scheme. So whilst data is gathered on jobs and reported bi annually from businesses which have received EZBRS funding, these jobs are not recorded as being directly attributable to the EZBRS support and are reported under the gross impact of Government interventions.

Please find attached link for your information:

http://gov.wales/topics/businessandeconomy/growing-the-economy/enterprisezones/?lang=en

 

Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): At the time of drafting, was the official or officials that drafted the paper on balance sheet classification of the Circuit of Wales for cabinet on 27 June aware that the Government guarantee in question did not commence until construction of the facilities was complete? (WAQ74104)

Answer received on 7 September 2017

Ken Skates: I will write to you as soon as possible and a copy of my letter will be published on the internet.
 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Did the Welsh Government commission Regeneris Consulting to evaluate the economic impact figures provided by the Heads of the Valleys Development Company's own independent advisers; and will the Cabinet Secretary publish this study as part of the information he will release this summer? (WAQ74105)

Answer received on 1 September 2017

Ken Skates: Regeneris were engaged to undertake a review of the economic impact evidence presented by the developer on the proposed Circuit of Wales. Their remit was to test and comment upon the robustness of the evidence produced in support of the proposals, and where feasible, illustrate the effect of changing key assumptions on the overall results. A summary of the report will be published later this summer.
 
Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): At the time of drafting, was the official or officials that drafted the paper on the balance sheet classification of the Circuit of Wales for cabinet on 27 June aware that the contracts were drawn up using SoPC Version 4, as advised by HM Treasury? (WAQ74106)

Answer received on 1 September 2017

Ken Skates: The documents submitted in support of the application identified that the construction would utilise the “SOPCO 4 construction contract framework”. A copy of the construction contract was made available to, and reviewed, by the Welsh Government external due diligence team. The use of this contract has however had no bearing on the advice given to Cabinet on the balance sheet classification

 

Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Will the Welsh Government will publish the paper that went to cabinet on 27 June on the question of balance sheet classification? (WAQ74107)

Answer received on 1 September 2017

Ken Skates: The advice provided to Cabinet by officials will not be published, in common with normal practice, but the minutes of Cabinet have been published on the Welsh Government website.

 

Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Will the Cabinet Secretary point to those sections of ESA10 and GMDD that justify the Welsh Government's decision to exclude private equity in making its assessment of the balance of risks borne by the private and public sector in the Circuit of Wales project's most recent proposal? (WAQ74108)

Answer received on 7 September 2017

Ken Skates: I will write to you as soon as possible and a copy of my letter will be published on the internet.

 

Suzy Davies (South Wales West): Will the Cabinet Secretary provide details of when he or Welsh Government officials last discussed Felindre Business Park with Swansea Council, what the outcome of this meeting was, and what stage the scheme is currently at? (WAQ74109)

Answer received on 31 August 2017

Ken Skates: Infrastructure and strategic landscaping works have been completed at the business park to create twelve fully serviced development plots for sale. Swansea Council has appointed marketing agents and an official met with a council officer on 25/08/17 to review marketing proposals.

 

Suzy Davies (South Wales West): Will the Cabinet Secretary detail what assessment Welsh Government has made of the demand for a Cardiff to London flight service? (WAQ74110)

Answer received on 31 August 2017

Ken Skates: The Cardiff to London air link is operated by Flybe as a commercial service. I have commissioned external aviation specialists to undertake route analysis and forecasting to determine the future demand for this service. However, the recent announcement that the commercially operated service is being discontinued demonstrates it is not commercially viable whilst burdened with Air Passenger Duty applied to both the outbound and return legs of the journey.
It will be disappointing to see the end of this service, which has provided a quick and convenient link between Cardiff and London City airports for the past year. Wales needs more, not fewer, links with the rest of the UK, which is our largest trading partner.
Flybe and Cardiff Airport have both been clear that one reason for the cancellation of this service is the impact of the UK Government’s Air Passenger Duty on shorter flights. We have repeatedly called on the UK Government to devolve Air Passenger Duty to Wales. This call has been repeatedly denied. We will though continue to pursue devolution of Air Passenger Duty to Wales.

 

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on Welsh Government representation in the USA, specifically outlining the last 3 years' costs and also confirm the number of staff, their respective roles and office locations? (WAQ74112)

Answer received on 31 August 2017

Ken Skates: The Welsh Government has representation in 5 US locations, shown in the table below.  Where staff are locally engaged the Welsh Government equivalent grade is shown.  Staff work in collaboration with Wales-based staff and assist in opening doors, identifying and maintaining relationships and economic lead generation. They undertake a range of relationship building, information gathering and profile raising activity with both governments and businesses alike.

Location2014-152015-162016-17
Atlanta-1x MB11x MB1
Chicago1x MB11x MB11x MB1
New York3x MB13x MB12x MB1
San Francisco1x MB11x MB11x MB1
Washington1x EB2
1x MB3
1x SCS1
1x EB2
1x MB1 (S)
1x MB3
1x SCS1
1x EB2
1x MB1 (S)
1x MB3

SCS – Senior Civil Service
EB – Executive Band
MB – Management Band
(S) – one year secondment

The total operating costs for the Welsh Government representation in the USA is as follows

2014-152015-162016-17
625,809.02589,260.79618,947.97

 

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on the construction of the new five mile lane in the Vale of Glamorgan, specifically confirming the start date, budget and estimated completion date? (WAQ74114)

Answer received on 31 August 2017

Ken Skates:  The A4226 (Five Mile Lane) connects Barry at the Weycock Cross roundabout with the Sycamore Cross junction on the A48, and comprises an essential part of the highway network leading to the St Athan and Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zones. We have provided a transport grant of £25.8m to the Vale of Glamorgan for on line improvements to this road.

The appointment of a contractor for the design and build of this road is expected this autumn with construction expected in the new year. The estimated completion date is summer 2019.
 
You can find more details about the scheme on the Vale of Glamorgan Council planning portal using the following link
 http://vogonline.planning-register.co.uk/PlaRecord.aspx?AppNo=2016/00305/RG3&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

 

To ask the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport

Angela Burns (Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire): Will the Cabinet Secretary detail one-year and five-year cancer survival rates for Wales between 2011 and 2016 and, if these statistics are not available yet, provide information on their release date? (WAQ74103)

Answer received on 31 August 2017

The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport (Vaughan Gething): Cancer survival statistics are produced and published by the Wales Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU) and can be found at:
http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk/home

The latest survival statistics will be published on 28 September.

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): How is the Cabinet Secretary working with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to ensure that the closed wards across north Wales are reopened as a matter of priority, with particular reference to those at Llandudno and Colwyn Bay? (WAQ74115)

Answer received on 31 August 2017

Vaughan Gething: This is a clinical matter for the health board. I would expect the wards to be re-opened only when it is safe to do so.

 

To ask the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): Will the Cabinet Secretary confirm how many applicants applied for the position of chair for Hybu Cig Cymru and confirm how many of those applicants were formally interviewed for the position? (WAQ74113)

Answer received on 31 August 2017

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs (Lesley Griffiths): 20 applications were received for the position of Chair of Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales. Five candidates were invited to interview. One subsequently withdrew, leaving four applicants who were formally interviewed.

 

To ask the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Under Rent Smart Wales, how many landlords have been awarded a licence, and what is the maximum length of time an applicant has waited for a licence card? (WAQ74116)

Answer to follow.

To ask the Cabinet Secretary for Education

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on the financial support available to students studying for a postgraduate diploma, and explain why a postgraduate loan is not available to individuals undertaking a Legal Practice Course in 2017/18? (WAQ74102)

Answer recieved on 25 August 2017

The Cabinet Secretary for Education (Kirsty Williams): In 2017/18, students wanting to study a post graduate course will be entitled to apply for a loan of up to £10,280 as a contribution to the costs of undertaking a postgraduate qualification.

In order to be eligible for student support, a student must be enrolled on a course that has been designated for the purposes of student support funding.  There are two routes to designation.  Automatic designation applies to courses of higher education provided by ‘recognised educational’ institutions as specified in the Welsh student support regulations. A recognised educational institution will qualify for automatic designation of its full-time higher education courses that satisfy the conditions set out in the Welsh student support regulations.  Specific course designation is available to other providers that can demonstrate they meet specific criteria, relating to, for example, financial viability and quality standards.  We have published designation policies for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.  Alternative providers can apply for the designation of postgraduate Master’s courses, including legal practice courses, enabling eligible students to apply for support to study courses provided by them.

In order to have their courses designated, providers must submit an application which satisfies the specified criteria.  If a postgraduate course has not been awarded specific designation for Wales, students will not be able to apply for the postgraduate loan.  The Welsh Government has received applications from a number of providers for designation of postgraduate courses, including the LLM.  These are being processed as quickly as possible and we have recently awarded specific designation to several such courses.

 

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