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The Assembly met at 13:31 with the Presiding Officer (Dame Rosemary Butler) in the Chair.
 
13:31
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
Good afternoon. The National Assembly for Wales is now in session.
 
The first item this afternoon are questions to the First Minister, and question 1 is Jenny Rathbone.
 
1. Questions to the First Minister
A Sustainable Steel Industry
 
13:31
Jenny RathboneBiography
1. What is the Welsh Government doing to support a sustainable steel industry in Wales? OAQ(4)2149(FM)
 
13:31
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
We recognise the importance of the steel industry to the economy of Wales. We’ve consistently raised with the UK Government the need to ensure that Welsh businesses can operate on a level playing field not only in the UK, but within the UK and global markets, and that of course also includes the need to do something to address the energy costs that many steel producers face.
 
13:31
Jenny RathboneBiography
Thank you, First Minister. Celsa Steel has written to me to say that there is a flood of imports coming into this country that do not even meet the sustainable steel standards, BES 6001. This is putting at risk the very important number of jobs in Cardiff—3,000 jobs in Celsa Steel alone. Now, the leader of Cardiff council is writing to all local authorities, to make sure that all procurement documents specify BES 6001, which is the required standard for safety reasons. Will the Welsh Government support the charter for British sustainable steel, and look at incorporating that standard for responsible sourcing into its own procurement policies?
 
13:32
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, we have made representations to the UK Government about the challenges that the steel industry is facing as a consequence of the growth of steel imports and concerns about responsible sustainable sourcing. We do welcome UK Steel’s charter for British sustainable steel. It does provide an opportunity to safeguard much high-value jobs, as well as to enable growth. But, in parallel, we also need to fully consider the impact such a charter would have on both private and public organisations, and we are looking at this in more detail.
 
13:33
William GrahamBiography
First Minister, I’m sure that, with me, you’ll welcome Tata Steel’s investment in the new £11 million heavy-gauge decoiler—the largest in Europe—which will make demand, or rather extend the demand for products, particularly from the Llanwern works. What, Minister, are you going to be able to do to help Tata—they’ve got 100 new products in the last few years, completely diversifying the manufacture of steel in Wales—to bring these products to the market and to make them competitive in the future?
 
13:33
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, we work very closely with Tata, of course. I’ve met with Tata on two occasions on my visits to India, and we’ve seen the investment that has come to Wales as a result. Tata know the challenges that they will face in the market over the next few years, and they are certainly meeting those challenges. We are fortunate that they are a company that believe in investing their way towards profit, rather than making cuts, and that is something to be acknowledged and welcomed. But, we’ll continue to work with Tata, of course, to make sure that steel production continues to be an important part of the Welsh economy.
 
13:34
Rhun ap IorwerthBiography
Does the First Minister perhaps see a comparison here with our call for procurement policy in the public sector to be strengthened, and that a commitment from the Government, and that the Government is seen to be committing to supporting industry, is important, and that adhering to, or insisting on having this standard—BES 6001—is a means by which the Government can demonstrate its commitment to support the steel industry in Wales?
 
13:34
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
In relation to how this would work across the United Kingdom as a whole, there’s no legal way to insist that people buy steel from Wales or, indeed, Britain. But, of course, it’s possible to ensure that there is a standard that all products should reach in order to be part of the procurement system here in Wales and in the United Kingdom.
 
13:35
David ReesBiography
First Minister, in your answer to the Member for Cardiff Central you highlighted the question of high energy costs. I met with the new hub director of strip products in Wales last week and he also indicated to the high costs of energy, which was one of the major issues of adding cost to the tonnage that they are selling in the marketplace. What discussions have you had with the UK Government and, perhaps, with the EU, particularly in light of the EU’s energy union consideration that they announced last week?
 
13:35
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
We’ve consistently raised concerns with the UK Government regarding the challenges that are impacting on energy-intensive industries in Wales. Most recently—last month, indeed—I wrote to Vince Cable, outlining the need to introduce support at the earliest opportunity and also to provide the industry with the confidence to continue investing in its long-term future and that all other avenues of support are fully explored. It is essential that action is taken sooner rather than later in order to make sure that our energy-intensive industries are able to compete on a level playing field.
 
Neonatal Care at Glan Clwyd Hospital
 
13:36
Ann JonesBiography
2. Will the First Minister make a statement on progress to establish the sub-regional neonatal intensive care centre at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd? OAQ(4)2137(FM)
 
13:36
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Yes. I met with the chair and chief executive of the local health board yesterday. This was an issue we discussed. I expect the board to be in a position to submit the outline business case for the SuRNICC development by the autumn. The Minister for Health and Social Services will shortly be writing to Members—today, I believe—setting out the good progress already made by the health board.
 
13:36
Ann JonesBiography
Thank you very much for that, First Minister. I do welcome your total commitment to seeing that the neonatal centre is, in fact, as per the independent review, housed at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. At lunch time, I joined other north Wales Members to receive a petition from the people of north Wales on the removal of the consultant-led maternity services. Nearly 16,000 people signed that petition. I want to give thanks to the ‘Daily Post’ and to Marsha for organising that; they are sitting in the gallery to listen. Can I just say, First Minister, that when we met with the board, the board told us that there were some delays about the framework that was being used to do this neonatal centre at Glan Clwyd? Can you give me your assurances that you will not tolerate any delays that will hinder the progress of mothers and babies in a neonatal centre in Glan Clwyd?
 
13:37
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Indeed not. I can confirm to the Member, on top of what I’ve just said about the SuRNICC, that, as part of the meeting yesterday, I made it clear that I want to see consultant-led maternity services back at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd within 12 months, as was originally intended. It’s right to say that the department has to be rebuilt. It cannot be suddenly reopened overnight, but, nevertheless, it is imperative that the board works as quickly as possible to make sure that those services are restored in the shortest time possible.
 
13:38
Darren MillarBiography
First Minister, I too want to put on record my thanks to Marsha Davies of Little Miracles and, indeed, the ‘Daily Post’ for getting behind the campaign in north Wales. It is very clear that tens of thousands of people are unhappy with the health board’s decision. The petition today calls on the Welsh Government to intervene in the process to ensure that there is continuity of a doctor-led service in Glan Clwyd Hospital in that maternity unit. Will you give your response to that petition now?
 
13:38
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
There is a formal process here, where the community health council, for example, can write formally to request a Minister’s attention and possible intervention. They’ve not done that yet. They’ve sent a letter but they haven’t made that formal request, and we wait to see whether that request will be made. But, I think it is worth cautioning and to say that it simply isn’t possible to reopen the department as things stand at the moment, having looked at the issue very, very closely, or rather to continue with the service—the Member is right; to continue with the service—in the future. The reason is this: there are no trainees there. Trainees were withdrawn because they were complaining about the quality of the training they were getting there. Middle-grade doctors are not applying to go there. That’s why there are so many locums in place and agency doctors. I don’t believe it’s going to be possible for the department to be where we would want it to be without those issues being addressed, and we know, of course, of the difficulties that were addressed in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ report and the Steel report. The department has to be rebuilt in order for it to be sustainable in the future. We see, of course, what’s happened in Morecambe bay. We would want to avoid any suggestion of anything like that happening in the future in Wales, and that’s why the local health board have had to take action now.
 
13:39
Alun Ffred JonesBiography
You made your announcement on the intensive care centre for babies—the SuRNICC—in May of last year. Since then, the Betsi Cadwaladr health board has been awaiting confirmation from the Government on that decision. The letter from the Government arrived just a fortnight ago. That’s nine months after you had made your announcement and, very interestingly, it arrived just a few days after the announcement that the consultant-led service was to be withdrawn from Glan Clwyd. Why has it taken nine months for the Government to confirm that decision, and what is the timetable put in place for Betsi Cadwaladr to establish the centre?
 
13:40
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, the Member gives the impression that nothing had happened in the meantime. As I said, the Minister will be writing this afternoon to say what has happened in the meantime, to tell people that things have happened and to ensure that the SuRNICC is established within the timetable that we set out last year.
 
13:40
Aled RobertsBiography
First Minister, during a meeting with Members from north Wales, the health board said that it wasn’t possible to maintain three units across north Wales. Now, I accept your confirmation of the situation in Glan Clwyd, although I do think that the community health council has made the point that they expect the Minister to become involved in the situation. But, can you give us a guarantee this afternoon that there will be three units in north Wales in a year’s time, rather than allowing the health board to perhaps decide at that point to close a unit either in Wrexham or in Bangor?
 
13:41
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, that’s not the intention. May I say that nothing formal has come from the community health council requesting that the Minister should intervene? If that does come, if that letter arrives, then that will, of course, be considered. They have sent a letter, but not a formal letter in that regard. If they want to do that, then they are very free to do so. As I’ve said before, when the SuRNICC itself is established, there will be changes in the other departments. That’s going to happen; everyone is expecting that to happen. So, there will be some changes regardless in other department, bearing in mind what the SuRNICC will be doing in future. But, what’s important is that we have a department, such as the SuRNICC, in Glan Clwyd to ensure, in line with calls made by Members, that more babies are born in Wales rather than in Arrowe Park.
 
Questions Without Notice from the Party Leaders
 
13:42
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
We now move to questions from the party leaders. First this afternoon is the leader of the opposition, Andrew R.T. Davies.
 
13:42
Andrew R.T. DaviesBiographyThe Leader of the Opposition
Thank you, Presiding Officer. First Minister, is the smart way to access North America through Cardiff Airport?
 
13:42
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
It depends how much time you have.
 
13:42
Andrew R.T. DaviesBiography
I’m sorry that you gave such a short answer, because a major advertising campaign at the moment says that the smart way to access North America, as we can see in the adverts this morning, is through Cardiff Airport and Aer Lingus. You have invested £80 million as a Government in that airport. Surely, if you’re going on a trade mission to one of our most important markets, you should be advertising the connectivity that we do have and do enjoy via the Aer Lingus route to North America. Why on earth didn’t you make use of that so that you could promote the airport and support the airport management in developing this route?
 
13:43
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, it would have meant me leaving a day before and staying a day after. That was part of the issue. We always look not just at the Aer Lingus link but also at the KLM link via Schiphol to see whether that’s feasible, but the reality is that the timescale was so squeezed that it wasn’t possible to do it. For example, when I arrived in Washington on Wednesday afternoon at 3.00 p.m., I was then hosting an event at 5.30 p.m. on Capitol Hill. So, the timescale was very very squeezed, but where it is possible and feasible to do it, of course, Cardiff Airport would be the first choice.
 
13:43
Andrew R.T. DaviesBiography
I think that answer’s really disappointing, First Minister, because it was a trade mission, you were promoting St David’s Day and one of the key requirements of business, as you and your Ministers point out, is connectivity and the ability to get from A to B in as quick a fashion as possible. You’re in fact saying that what Cardiff Airport are doing just isn’t good enough if you’re on business or have a tight timescale. Will you commit today to backing up the investment, which, in fairness, you’ve made in the airport, of £80 million and make sure that as many trips as possible on business that you undertake will go from Cardiff Airport, because there is great connectivity via KLM to Schiphol—Schiphol been one of the major gateways in Europe—or via the Aer Lingus option, for which, only 10 days ago, the airport along with Aer Lingus had a major promotional event here in Cardiff, promoting it as a means for business and leisure? Yet, you undermined that campaign with your visit to North America just last weekend.
 
13:44
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
It was not possible to get to North America in the time allowed and back again without spending more time there at taxpayers’ expense. That was the reality of it. I will always try and use Cardiff. I will be using Cardiff in a fortnight’s time when I travel once again. I always use Cardiff when it’s possible to do that, but, given the fact that it was such a tight squeeze in terms of the timescale that I had in North America, it wasn’t possible to consider that option at that stage, but it’s always the first choice and I would encourage more people to use our airport. He’s very generous—he says we’ve invested £80 million in the airport; I don’t think it’s quite as much as that, but nevertheless, I’m glad that he acknowledges the fact that the airport has received significant investment, and he acknowledges the fact that the airport has attracted more business. It is all the more ironic given the fact that his party would happily have seen the airport close.
 
13:45
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
We now move to the leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood.
 
13:45
Leanne WoodBiographyThe Leader of Plaid Cymru
Diolch, Lywydd. First Minister, there can be no greater responsibility for public bodies than the protection of children from abuse and sexual exploitation. In Downing Street today, the Prime Minister is holding a summit on combating the sexual exploitation of children. The proposals made will have implications for Wales, as many of the matters are led by the Home Office on behalf of England and Wales. Are there representatives from the Welsh Government, Welsh public services, and, most importantly of all, advocates on behalf of Welsh victims and survivors at that summit today?
 
13:46
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
The leader of Plaid Cymru makes the assumption that these matters are not devolved; it’s not quite as clear as that. There are some areas where it appears to us that matters are devolved. There’s no difference in terms of the objective of course. When it comes to child protection, we shouldn’t automatically assume that because the Home Office is dealing with it, it’s not devolved. That’s why we are bringing legislative consent motions like the one today in order to ensure that the Assembly’s viewpoint is heard. Now, on that basis, we have said, and we will always say, that where something is taken forward on an England-and-Wales basis, there needs to be Welsh representation. We’ve done that, of course, quite recently, and it’s imperative that the Home Office listens to that.
 
13:46
Leanne WoodBiography
Thank you, First Minister, and I know that you’ve called on the Home Office to include Welsh voices in this process, including the inquiry into child sexual exploitation, which is a non-devolved matter, although I accept the points you make on other aspects of this being devolved. Now, among the Prime Minister’s proposals today is the creation of a criminal offence of wilful neglect in England and Wales, which could impact on teachers, councillors and social workers. What assessment have you made of the impact of these proposals on Welsh public services, and were you consulted on them?
 
13:47
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
We take the view that this is a devolved matter. The view of the UK Government is that it isn’t, which brings us, I suppose, forward to the St David’s Day process and what happens beyond that with the reserved powers model. But that is the view that we’ve taken. That’s why we bring forward LCMs in this area, so that the UK Government is able to legislate. We would expect, once they legislate, or during the course of the period of legislation, that there is full consultation not just with Welsh Government, but, where appropriate, with the National Assembly itself, and of course, with those bodies in Wales which might be required to fulfil certain duties as a result of that legislation.
 
13:47
Leanne WoodBiography
Thank you. It’s disappointing from my perspective that Welsh voices are not being heard adequately in this process. It’s a criminal offence that we’re talking about, and criminal justice is not devolved. I understand that the inquiry on child sexual exploitation held a listening meeting in Wales recently and another is due this week. As there is little in the way of a direct Welsh voice in the inquiry itself, are you satisfied that if concerns are raised regarding Welsh public bodies, the Welsh Government will be properly informed, and that you’ll be in a position to intervene if you need to? Are you of the view that the process does enough to protect past victims and survivors of abuse in Wales today?
 
13:48
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Yes, I think it’s certainly the case. Well, two things: first of all, it’s absolutely imperative that, where legislation is taken forward on an England-and-Wales basis, Wales is fully involved; secondly, do I believe that as much protection is in place as can be? There’s always the scope for more, and this is why it’s proposed that this offence should be taken forward. I would say one thing, however. Criminal justice is not devolved, but criminal law is potentially devolved. If it’s the case that we can’t create criminal offences, then amendment 66 today is out of competence, and I don’t believe that, necessarily, and I’m sure she doesn’t believe that either; otherwise, we wouldn’t be voting on it.
 
I have always taken the view, and indeed, the Supreme Court in the ruling on the Agricultural Sector (Wales) Bill took the view, that, where we can show that something is partially within competence, then we have the ability to legislate. I would argue that, for example, when it comes to child protection, it is within a devolved field and it is open to us to create criminal offences in that devolved field, should we see fit. It’s important to make that distinction between the criminal law on the one hand, where the present settlement is silent, and criminal justice on the other, where the settlement says clearly that it’s not devolved. There’s nothing to stop the Assembly, to my mind, passing criminal law, or creating criminal offences in areas where we can show that that area is at least partially devolved.
 
13:50
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
We now move to the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and this afternoon the questions will be asked by Aled Roberts.
 
13:50
Aled RobertsBiography
First Minister, in 2012, clinicians within the Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board raised concerns about the ophthalmology service. They referred to a number of cases that had led to unnecessary harm to patients. When did the Welsh Government become aware of the nature of those concerns?
 
13:50
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, first of all, we expect all patients to be seen in accordance with their own clinical priorities. I know that the health board has been trying to manage some of the problems that have arisen over the past two years, and there is an action plan in place to deal with this issue. There is a pilot, I understand, within the board itself to improve matters, and of course it is possible that the pilot will be successful and so there will be an opportunity to improve things in relation to some of the problems that have arisen there over the past year or two.
 
13:51
Aled RobertsBiography
Betsi Cadwaladr university health board, from an ombudsman’s report going back to May last year, is putting the sight of thousands of patients at risk because of a failure to ensure that people are seen in a timely manner. I accept that there’s a pilot scheme, but the pilot scheme covers 300 patients, and figures suggest that there are currently 7,000 patients waiting more than 50% beyond the clinically safe waiting time in ophthalmology. There are 33,000 patients waiting more than 50% beyond the waiting times in services overall. What is your Government doing to ensure that, across Wales, people have access to timely follow-up appointments to ensure that their sight is protected, certainly in ophthalmology?
 
13:51
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, there is an action plan in place to reduce the number of patients waiting over their target time. You would expect, of course, patients to be seen in order of clinical priority and, indeed, within the waiting-time targets. More generally across Wales, ophthalmology is one of the first priorities of the NHS Wales national planned care board, and we did bring together in January all the ophthalmologists in Wales to share best practice and to launch a specific, clinically led improvement plan for ophthalmology.
 
13:52
Aled RobertsBiography
When the RNIB reported last year that this was a growing problem, Government Ministers dismissed the report because of methodology problems, but I think the disclosures today as far as Betsi Cadwaladr is concerned make it very clear that the RNIB were spot on. Let us be clear: the reports today in north Wales confirm that, in some cases, people have gone blind unnecessarily, and cancers have remained untreated, not because they cannot be treated, but because the NHS in Wales currently presides over a system that makes them wait too long. When will you be able, as a Government, to give us cast-iron guarantees that no Welsh patient will actually go blind merely because of waiting times?
 
13:53
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, that would be unacceptable. There is no reason in trying to defend the situation if that is the case. I can say that the chief medical officer did visit with the RNIB recently to meet patients and to listen to their concerns, and we do expect that the ophthalmic planned care plan should deliver the sustainable ophthalmic services in the future that people would expect.
 
13:53
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
We now move back to questions on the paper. Question 3 is from David Rees.
 
Economic Growth
 
13:53
David ReesBiography
3. Will the First Minister make a statement on plans for economic growth in the South Wales West region for the remainder of the Assembly term? OAQ(4)2151(FM)
 
13:53
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Yes, our plans for economic growth and sustainable jobs are set out in the programme for government.
 
13:53
David ReesBiography
Thank you for that answer, First Minister. As you’re aware, transportation is a critical element of economic growth. From what I understand, one of the reasons for doing the trialled part-time closure of junction 41 was because of the pinch-point in the flow of traffic going westwards of there, but the consequence of that is heavy congestion on the roads. Local residents have actually had difficulty in getting to work, and some have actually been threatened with dismissal as a consequence of the delays they’ve experienced by unsympathetic employers, and the economic retail aspect of Port Talbot town has taken a hit. I accept that you’ve indicated that the trial will continue until the end of March and the data will be collected after that point, but, after that point, will you look at the opportunity to actually suspend the trial to see if the economic growth of the town can get back to the situation it was in before?
 
13:54
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
I can say to the Member that the current trial period, as he said, runs until the end of this month. A decision will be taken before the end of the trial on whether to continue the temporary closures, based on the evidence to date. A decision will then be taken in May, following analysis of the full trial data, including discussion obviously with Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council as well as to whether to proceed with public consultation—and it is ‘whether’—for a full permanent closure order. So, the next stage is to take the decision on whether the closure should remain or not while the evidence is being assessed.
 
13:55
Byron DaviesBiography
First Minister, I’m sure that you agree with me that the quicker we establish clear governance and budgetary arrangements for the city regions, the faster we can support economic growth, just as we are seeing across the UK in other city regions. With that in mind, can you outline a timescale when we will see the governance and budgetary arrangements for the city regions and a clear line on their objectives?
 
13:55
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
I’d argue that’s happening now. Sir Terry Matthews in the Swansea city region is being very dynamic and constructive in developing a vision that is bold and deliverable for the benefit of the city, and indeed for Wales as a whole. I do very much welcome the progress made by the board, and the vision they have set out for Swansea.
 
13:55
Bethan JenkinsBiography
First Minister, clearly, there’s a great deal of anger in Port Talbot about the closure of junction 41. Also, I wonder whether you can tell us what is happening with the marketing of the brownfield sites around the area where the peripheral distributor road is, which is now Harbour Way, because I think that many people think that isn’t leading to a great deal of development. I think the local people would be better able to understand what your Government is trying to do in the context of junction 41 if they knew exactly what’s in the pipeline with the development of businesses along that road.
 
13:56
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
The road itself is something that has been of great benefit to the town, by providing a bypass to the south of the town, and also by opening up large areas of land. We see developments taking place at the moment, and we hope, by working with some of the landowners, such as ABP and so on, that we’ll see development increasing in the long run.
 
International Human Rights Obligations
 
13:56
Jocelyn DaviesBiography
4. How is the Welsh Government meeting its international human rights obligations? OAQ(4)2139(FM)
 
13:57
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
We’re fully committed to meeting those obligations, and we work closely with bodies such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and account for our progress through formal reporting channels.
 
13:57
Jocelyn DaviesBiography
I’m very pleased to hear that you’re committed to meeting those obligations, because as you’ll know, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has been unequivocal in saying that physical punishment of children must be prohibited for countries to meet those human rights obligations. So, First Minister, when will Wales stop being in breach?
 
13:57
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
I don’t accept that Wales is in breach, but the point she tries to make, of course, is in relation to the vote later on this afternoon. She and I are not necessarily in different positions over the principle here, but in different positions in terms of the potential implementation. I think it’s important, first of all, for parties to declare in their manifestos what they plan to do with regard to the defence of reasonable chastisement, and secondly to have a full consultation with the public on this as to how that would work. I think that is a more sensible way forward. It can be done in a short space of time—there’s no question about that—to take forward a principle that I know many Members are keen to move forward with.
 
13:58
Gwenda ThomasBiography
First Minister, will you agree with me that the inclusive policy-making model developed by the Welsh Government requires that all policy and legislation is developed so that it meets the identified needs of individuals and communities, placing a citizen focus based on the principles of human rights—fairness, respect, equality and dignity—at the centre of all our policy actions? Will you also agree with me that the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 has an approach to social services that has, at its core, all of these factors?
 
13:58
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Indeed, I would agree with the Member on both counts, and I’m grateful to her for the work that she put in in taking the Bill through when it became an Act. Inclusive policy making is fundamental to successful policy making. It’s at the heart of the Act, as the Member has said, and it’s underpinned the development of the regulations that build upon the framework of the Act. That is what we’ll continue to do as that process develops.
 
13:59
Mohammad AsgharBiography
First Minister, in November last year, the Wales UNCRC monitoring group published a briefing to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. They expressed concern that there was insufficient focus on children’s human rights in governmental policy and legislation, and a lack of transparency and accountability in public expenditure for children and young people. What action will the Welsh Government take to ensure Wales meets its international human rights obligations with regard to the children?
 
13:59
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
We’ve done that through the Measure, but let’s remember that we were the first nation to have a children’s commissioner, and that is evidence of the commitment given not just by those who were in Government at the time, but all parties in this Chamber, to the importance of developing the right kind of opportunities and protection for children. I think that is something that we can take great pleasure from. That’s not enough, of itself, of course. In the future, we’ll build on the Measure, and, of course, we look to ensure that what is now being planned at Westminster, in terms of the criminal law, is something that would fit appropriately with what has been done here in terms of the establishment of the children’s commissioner and the Measure in the past.
 
Professor Graham Donaldson’s Report
 
14:00
Simon ThomasBiography
5. What steps will the First Minister take to implement the recommendations of Professor Graham Donaldson's report? OAQ(4)2144(FM)
 
14:00
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Professor Donaldson has set out an exciting vision for the future of learning in Wales. Of course, he has contacted those who work in the profession and parents and others to seek their views. The details of those will be announced tomorrow, and further details on the plans for implementation will follow in the summer.
 
14:01
Simon ThomasBiography
Thank you, First Minister. I agree with you that this is an exciting report and an extremely thorough report that has been given a general welcome from the profession, from parents and from everyone who’s interested in education in Wales.
 
One of the things that has happened, however, in the meantime, is that many people have been pressing for the addition of more elements to the curriculum, and fear that some things may have been missed, perhaps, in Professor Donaldson’r report. But, for me, the advantage of the report and its recommendations is that it leaves scope for some flexibility and innovation and leadership from teachers and professionals in the area, and it’s very positive to see something like that established in Wales without the heavy hand of any Government weighing down on the process. So, will you remain firmly to those principles to trust in the profession, with the support and training necessary, to lead our young people through these exciting new steps so that they can be world leaders in education too?
 
14:02
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Of course, there’s a balance to be struck here, isn’t there? First, of course, it’s important that there is a framework within which teachers can teach, and also a framework for what subjects are available, and, at the same time, to let teachers use their professional skills in order to teach. We understand that. One of the problems, of course, is that there are so many comments about what should be in the curriculum there’s no room in the curriculum for everything. So, part of the consultation that will take place over the summer will consider what should be in the curriculum and what perhaps can’t be included in the curriculum at present. But this is a very exciting time, I have to say. It’s something entirely new for Wales. There is an opportunity here for us to ensure that we have a curriculum in future that is very robust for our young people.
 
14:02
John GriffithsBiography
First Minister, in terms of that balance that you mention and frameworks, I wonder if you would agree with me that we must encourage our young people to develop their physical abilities and a love of physical activity and sport for confidence, achievement, quality of life and good health. And would you further agree that that can be effectively achieved through a physical literacy framework that would put physical activity at the core of our curriculum?
 
14:03
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
We know the importance of physical activity. He and I share a love of sport; he has been more successful of late than myself, as my shape will show, in terms of being able to carry that through. But, yes, it is important that we develop the whole character of an individual; that much is true. The question, then, is: how do we fit in physical activity to the curriculum and try and get that balance right?
 
14:03
Paul DaviesBiography
In his statement of last week, the education Minister said that he would hold a conversation with the public on the Donaldson recommendations that will include a series of events across Wales where he would seek the views of the education profession, businesses, parents, children and young people. Can you tell us what kind of events the Minister is considering here? Following on from Simon Thomas’s questions, can you also give us an assurance that these events will be meaningful and will take everyone’s views into account?
 
14:04
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, as I said earlier, the details about the activities that will take place will be revealed tomorrow and Members can then see what the plans are for the future.
 
14:04
William PowellBiography
First Minister, as a parent, school governor, and, indeed, qualified teacher, I was pleased to see that my former union, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, welcomed strongly the recommendations and the breadth and depth of Professor Donaldson’s report. I concur, particularly, with the renewed emphasis that there is upon the individual focused learning experience that must be at the very heart of teaching in our schools. One concern, however, that has been expressed in some quarters is how that greater breadth of the curriculum is to be delivered in some parts of rural Wales, where the size of schools makes it more challenging to have that full breadth of the curriculum. What reassurance can you offer that the needs of a broad curriculum will also be delivered for pupils across rural Wales?