Trwy barhau i ddefnyddio'r wefan, rydych yn cytuno i osod nifer fechan o gwcis. Polisi cwcis

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Cofnod y Trafodion
The Record of Proceedings

Dydd Mawrth, 23 Hydref 2012
Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cynnwys
Contents

Ethol Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro
Election of Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer

Cwestiynau i’r Prif Weinidog
Questions to the First Minister

Cwestiwn Brys: Cymdeithas Lleiafrifoedd Ethnig Cymru Gyfan
Urgent Question: The All Wales Ethnic Minority Association

Datganiad a Chyhoeddiad Busnes
Business Statement and Announcement

Datganiad: Canlyniadau Ymgynghoriad 'Cynnal Cymru Fyw’
Statement: The Outcomes of the 'Sustaining a Living Wales’ Consultation

Datganiad: Ymateb Llywodraeth Cymru i 'Adolygu Ardrethi Busnes Cymru: Cymell Twf’
Statement: The Welsh Government’s Response to 'Business Rates Wales Review: Incentivising Growth’

Datganiad: Ad-drefnu Addysg Uwch
Statement: Higher Education Reconfiguration

Penderfyniad Ariannol ynghylch Bil Sgorio Hylendid Bwyd (Cymru)
Financial Resolution in relation to the Food Hygiene Rating (Wales) Bill

Cynnig i Gymeradwyo Egwyddorion Cyffredinol Bil Safonau a Threfniadaeth Ysgolion (Cymru)
Motion to Approve the General Principles of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill

Penderfyniad Ariannol ynghylch Bil Safonau a Threfniadaeth Ysgolion (Cymru)
Financial Resolution in relation to the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill

Y Strategaeth Amgylchedd Hanesyddol
The Historic Environment Strategy

Cyfnod Pleidleisio
Voting Time

Yn y golofn chwith, cofnodwyd y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi. Yn y golofn dde, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd.
In the left-hand column, the proceedings are recorded in the language in which they were spoken. The right-hand column contains a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation.

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.

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Y Llywydd: Prynhawn da. Galwaf Gynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru i drefn.

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

Ethol Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro
Election of Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer

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The Presiding Officer: In the absence of the Deputy Presiding Officer, I ask the Assembly to elect a temporary Deputy Presiding Officer for the duration of today’s Plenary meeting. Therefore, I invite nominations.

Angela Burns: I nominate Rhodri Glyn Thomas.

The Presiding Officer: I declare that Rhodri Glyn Thomas is elected temporary Deputy Presiding Officer for the duration of today’s meeting.

Cwestiynau i’r Prif Weinidog
Questions to the First Minister

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Gwella Canlyniadau Iechyd

Improving Health Outcomes

1. Paul Davies: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am yr hyn y mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn ei wneud i wella canlyniadau iechyd i bobl Cymru. OAQ(4)0724(FM)

1. Paul Davies: Will the First Minister make a statement on what the Welsh Government is doing to improve health outcomes for the people of Wales. OAQ(4)0724(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog (Carwyn Jones): Mae gwella ansawdd y gwasanaethau iechyd a chanlyniadau iechyd i gleifion yn flaenoriaeth allweddol.

The First Minister (Carwyn Jones): Improving the quality of health services and improving health outcomes for patients is a key priority.

Paul Davies: Rwy’n siŵr y bydd y Prif Weinidog yn cytuno â mi ei bod yn hollbwysig bod gwasanaethau craidd ar gael i bobl leol, er mwyn sicrhau bod canlyniadau iechyd yn gwella. Mae cynlluniau ad-drefnu Bwrdd Iechyd Lleol Hywel Dda yn cynnwys cau yr uned gofal arbennig i fabanod yn Ysbyty Llwynhelyg. Gallai cau’r uned hon roi bywydau mewn perygl ac, yn ogystal, achosi i adrannau fel pediatreg fod yn anghynaliadwy yn Ysbyty Llwynhelyg yn y dyfodol. Sut y bydd cau’r uned gofal arbennig i fabanod yn Ysbyty Llwynhelyg yn gwella canlyniadau iechyd ar gyfer plant yn sir Benfro?

Paul Davies: I am sure that the First Minister will agree with me that it is vital for core services to be available to local people to ensure that health outcomes improve. The reconfiguration plans of the Hywel Dda Local Health Board include the closure of the special care baby unit at Withybush Hospital. Closing that unit could put lives at risk and, in addition, could result in the unsustainability of other departments at Withybush, such as paediatrics, for the future. How will the closure of the special care baby unit at Withybush Hospital improve health outcomes for children in Pembrokeshire?

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae cyfle i bobl roi eu barn drwy’r ymgynghoriad sy’n digwydd ar hyn o bryd. Mae’n bwysig dros ben bod pobl yn cael y cyfle i roi eu barn tra bo’r ymgynghoriad ar agor.

The First Minister: There is an opportunity for people to put their views forward to the consultation under way. It is very important that people have that opportunity to express their views while the consultation is open.

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Mark Drakeford: The health impacts of the events in Cardiff on Friday afternoon will be profound and long lasting. Thank you for putting on record the immediate concerns of the Welsh Government for those who were caught up in them. Do you agree that, over the weeks and months to come, the contribution of core services in schools, social services, and housing will be vital in assisting individuals, families, and whole communities in Cardiff to deal with the health impacts of what has taken place?

The First Minister: I thank the Member for raising this issue. I am sure that we were all deeply shocked by the events that took place in Cardiff over the course of the end of last week, and, indeed, in Prestatyn. I know that Ann Jones, Julie Morgan, and Mark Drakeford have made their views known on these issues and have offered their condolences to the families involved. This was an exceptionally traumatic series of incidents, and, as a Government, we want to offer our deep condolences to those who have been affected, and of course to offer any help that we can for the future. There is a limit to what I can say, given that there are ongoing criminal proceedings. Nevertheless, I wish to put on record my thanks to all the emergency services that were involved for their response, and, indeed, to the wider community for its response and the support that it gave to the families who were affected.

Simon Thomas: First Minister, in the last year, according to South Wales Police’s regional crime intelligence unit, there has been an increase of 165% in offences involving mephedrone in Wales. This drug is now having a real effect on some of our young people. That same report has identified Llanelli as being the hotspot in Wales for the use of mephedrone, and your own constituency is at No. 3. As responsibility for drug prevention rests between the Minister for Local Government and Communities and the Minister for Health and Social Services, will you lead work in Government to ensure that a taskforce looks at the issue of the abuse of mephedrone in particular, and will you support local campaigns, such as that of the Llanelli Star, to get rid of the use of this drug, and to educate young people about its real dangers?

The First Minister: Indeed so. We work hard to ensure that people understand the dangers of all classes of drugs and to reduce their abuse. I visited a centre in the Glanymor ward of Llanelli, which provides help for those who wish to put drugs behind them, and I was exceptionally impressed with the work that is carried out there.

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Julie Morgan: The day after the incident in Cardiff last week, to which Mark Drakeford referred, I was able to visit the accident and emergency unit in the Heath hospital in Cardiff North, where all the victims had been taken. Will the First Minister join me in congratulating all the staff at the unit, including the ambulance staff, on the way in which they responded to what was a very traumatic situation? They implemented, for the first time on such a large scale, an emergency protocol in which all the trauma equipment was brought to the A&E department, which was closed to any other admissions.

The First Minister: Yes, I will. I praise, once again, the fantastic efforts of all the emergency services that were involved not just in the incident in Cardiff, but also in Prestatyn. It is impossible to predict an incident such as this, although I seem to recall a similar incident in Cardiff in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is very difficult to rationalise an incident such as this, but I have no doubt that the work that was carried out by all the emergency services helped to make a very difficult and dangerous position better, and to mitigate the effects of what happened that day. I am more than happy, as I am sure all Members are, to thank the emergency services for all the work that they have done.

Rebecca Evans: A new UK-wide report from Young Minds published today states that many GPs do not know how to support young people who self-harm, and that 80% of them said that they had not had enough training specific to self-harm. How will the Welsh Government seek to remedy that?

The First Minister: In order to address self-harm and suicide, in 2009, we launched 'Talk to me: A National Action Plan to Reduce Suicide and Self Harm in Wales 2008-2013’, and we are working closely with the Samaritans to co-ordinate suicide and self-harm prevention initiatives. In doing that, we believe that we can take a holistic approach to this very serious issue.

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Argymhellion Holtham

Holtham Recommendations

2. Simon Thomas: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am ei drafodaethau gydag Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru ynghylch argymhellion Holtham. OAQ(4)0732(FM)

2. Simon Thomas: Will the First Minister make a statement on his discussions with the Secretary of State for Wales with regard to the Holtham recommendations. OAQ(4)0732(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Caiff cyd-ddatganiad ei wneud yfory gan Lywodraeth Cymru a Llywodraeth y Deyrnas Unedig am y mater hwn.

The First Minister: A joint statement will be made tomorrow by the Welsh Government and the UK Government on this matter.

Simon Thomas:  Diolch am yr ateb hwnnw. Mae’n amlwg na fyddwch yn datgelu i mi yr hyn a gaiff ei ddatgelu yn y cyd-ddatganiad yfory, felly ni ofynnaf beth fydd yn y datganiad hwnnw. Fodd bynnag, gan fod Sue Essex wedi ymddiswyddo o’r comisiwn Silk presennol, a bydd angen ichi fel Plaid Lafur ailbenodi rhywun newydd i’r comisiwn hwnnw, a wnewch chi fanteisio ar y cyfle hwn i danlinellu cefnogaeth eich Llywodraeth chi, a’r Blaid Lafur yng Nghymru, i holl broses y comisiwn Silk?

Simon Thomas: Thank you for that reply. It is obvious that you will not be revealing to me what is to be disclosed in that joint statement tomorrow, so I will not ask about its contents. However, given that Sue Essex has resigned from the current Silk commission, and that you as a Labour Party will have to reappoint someone new to that commission, will you take this opportunity to underscore your Government’s support and that of the Labour Party in Wales for the whole Silk commission process?

Y Prif Weinidog: Gallaf wneud hynny’n gryf iawn. Proses Silk yw’r broses y mae arnom ni fel plaid, a phleidiau eraill, eisiau ei gweld. Rydym yn edrych ymlaen at weld casgliadau rhan 1 comisiwn Silk, ac yn y pen draw, at gasgliadau’r ail ran. Mae’r rhan fwyaf o’r Aelodau yn y Siambr hon eisiau gweld datganoli yn datblygu yn y dyfodol.

The First Minister: Yes, I can do that most strongly. The Silk process is the process that we, as a party, and that other parties wanted to see. We look forward to seeing the findings of part 1 of the Silk commission, and in due course, the findings of part 2. The majority of Members in this Chamber want to see devolution developing in the future.

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Nick Ramsay: Simon Thomas has very much stolen my thunder, as that was the question that I was going to ask. Following on from the Member’s question, I am sure that you would agree, First Minister, that it is very important that you reconfirm your support for the Silk commission, which to date has received cross-party support, given that there has been concern about the loss of one of the members of that commission. Will you tell us who the Labour Party’s new representative on that commission will be?

The First Minister: An announcement will be made on that very shortly, but I can say that it will be somebody very experienced indeed. We fully support the Silk process, and we look forward to the Silk recommendations’ being implemented—part 1 as soon as possible, or certainly after the next general election, and part 2 in due course, with the passage of a new Government of Wales Bill at the appropriate time.

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Cwestiynau Heb Rybudd gan Arweinwyr y Pleidiau

Questions Without Notice from the Party Leaders

The Leader of Plaid Cymru (Leanne Wood):  I want, first, to place on record Plaid Cymru’s condolences to all those families affected by the tragic events at the weekend in the north and the south of our country, and also to thank the emergency services. First Minister, your colleague, Chris Bryant, wrote an open letter to Cwm Taf Local Health Board expressing his concerns about the proposals to reduce A&E services in the south of Wales. He writes in the Rhondda Leader,

'Those at the top end of either Rhondda Valley…could well be facing a one-way journey to hospital of significantly more than an hour from when an ambulance was requested, which I regard as excessive and unacceptable.’

Can you tell us, First Minister, what you would regard as excessive and unacceptable, please?

The First Minister: He is a Member of Parliament representing his views in a consultation process, as he properly should.

Leanne Wood: First Minister, I asked what you think. He is a member of your party. Another of your colleagues, Peter Hain, said in last week’s Western Mail that local ambulance services are under desperate pressure, in a story in which he claimed that emergency response times are being missed because many stations in south Wales either remain closed or are open with virtually no staff. Is there any truth to Peter Hain’s accusations?

The First Minister: What we want to see—and we are talking about devolved issues and the Welsh Government here—is a health service that allows people access to services that are as local and as safe as possible.

Leanne Wood: First Minister, in an emergency situation, prompt treatment is the difference between life and death. Plaid Cymru wants to see our A&E network open and we would look to upgrade our ambulance services rather than keeping ambulance stations closed. The criticisms that I have outlined are very public criticisms of your Government policy from your own party, and show a clear gap between vision and delivery. How can you assure people that increased journey times to hospitals as a result of your Government’s reconfiguration in the health service is not going to put people at risk?

The First Minister: The leader of Plaid Cymru is confused about this, because we know that there are centres, in south Wales particularly, where people are taken if they have particular conditions. Or is she saying that if somebody has severe burns they should not be taken to Morriston Hospital, but to a local A&E unit? Prompt treatment is important, she is right, but prompt treatment by the right people is also important. Any doctor will tell you that.

The Leader of the Opposition (Andrew R.T. Davies): I, too, join in the sentiments expressed by many Members around the Chamber this afternoon about the pure evil that visited the streets of Cardiff on Friday and the consequences that it wrought on many innocent people as they went about their everyday lives, and also about the issue in north Wales over the tragic house fire that claimed four lives. I would like to take it a little further. Tragically, Wales has had a very bleak couple of weeks: we have had the abduction of April Jones, the abduction of the veterinary surgeon in north Wales, and these events over the weekend. Sadly, Wales was leading the headlines for all the wrong reasons on the weekend. We are a proud country and a country of communities that look after people, and I think it important that the message comes across from the Chamber today that, despite these horrors, we have much to be proud of in this country, we stand by people who fall on very difficult times, and these headlines are not a true picture of what Wales is about. I look forward to the First Minister joining in with those sentiments.

The First Minister: I do not think that the leader of the opposition has said anything that I could disagree with.

Andrew R.T. Davies: Thank you for that, First Minister. Yesterday, in Barry, we launched a proposal for high street regeneration. Many high streets across Wales are key civic pride indicators. If a high street is vibrant, people often form a view of what the community within that civic area feels about its high street and the businesses on it. What is your view, and what support is your Government giving to the many small businesses that are facing a very tough trading climate with declining footfalls and declining spending in their shops?

The First Minister: As the leader of the opposition knows, following my questions, there will be a statement on business rates from the Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science.

Andrew R.T. Davies: I am a little disappointed with that answer, First Minister, because my question was not just about offering support for business rates. The document that we brought forward yesterday, 'A Vision for the Welsh High Street’, touched on many examples of support, such as developing a night-time strategy, help with business rates, the planning process and general regeneration. A third of our council areas do not even have a high street manager to co-ordinate their approach to regeneration in their own areas. There is much in this document to be commended, and it has the backing of the Federation of Small Businesses and many other organisations. Could I commend it to you, First Minister, so that many of the easy hits that could be delivered, with key targets to help to regenerate our high streets and offer some respite from the current difficult financial trading conditions that many small businesses face, could be adopted by your Government? I would look forward to working with your Government to bring those into reality, so that we can help many of our small businesses, which make up 99% of the business community in Wales.

1.45 p.m.

The First Minister: We will study any proposal with interest. We need to understand that the major issue that faces the high street is the falling footfall, as the leader of the opposition says. Yes, business rates are an issue, I accept that, but we know that a lot of small shops are under pressure not just from supermarkets, but from the internet. Online sales are a serious issue for many small shops. There are some who have prospered because their online sales are far bigger than their high street sales and they are effectively able to use one in order to support the other. There are two issues that we need to understand. First, there are clearly some high streets that are doing better than others; Cowbridge, for example, is doing very well and its economic profile is higher than that of many other parts of Wales. Secondly, we are giving consideration to ensuring that the high street has a different mix of businesses in the future. We will never go back to the days when the high streets were full of shops. It just will not happen in the future because shopping habits have changed. That means, of course, that we need to look at how we can create a mix of cafes and business and retail outlets in order to ensure the vibrancy of our town centres in the future.

The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats (Kirsty Williams): First Minister, last week there was a great deal of concern expressed by not just Peter Hain, but staff of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust about the huge pressure that that organisation was under. What budget has been set for the ambulance trust this year?

The First Minister: As the leader of the Liberal Democrats knows, the draft budget statement has been put in place and there will be work done over the course of the next few months in terms of going through the budget in detail.

Kirsty Williams: As I am sure the First Minister knows, there is no distinct line in the Welsh budget for the Welsh ambulance trust. The reason why he cannot find the answer in his file is that, six months into this financial year, no budget has been set for the ambulance trust. The uncertainty as a result of that means that the Welsh ambulance trust is unable to meet the Government’s own response time targets and people are being put at risk. First Minister, is that any way to run an emergency service in the twenty-first century?

The First Minister: If the leader of the Liberal Democrats has any suggestion or any evidence that people are being put at risk, we, and the Welsh public, would like to see that. She also gives the impression that, somehow, no ambulances are running because there is no budget. The reality is that we have met our ambulance response times on most occasions during the course of the last year, and we continue to work to improve things where those targets, on occasion, fall short.

Kirsty Williams: The reality, First Minister, is that the Welsh ambulance trust missed your Government’s 65% target in the summer. I think we can be assured that, when the results are published next, it will have missed it again. The ambulance trust set a deadline of June this year to finalise budget discussions. This has not happened and the chair of the trust stated publicly at its board meeting on Friday that this was because of the intransigence of health boards and the unhelpfulness of your Minister. Will you now personally intervene to set a budget so that when the people of Wales ring 999, they get the response they deserve?

The First Minister: First, I do not accept that the response is a bad response. Secondly, if the person that you mention felt like saying that publicly, perhaps they would like to say that to Ministers personally, rather than saying it in a forum where Ministers are not present. Then we will test the rigorousness of that argument.

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Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol

Health and Social Services

3. Jenny Rathbone: Beth y mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn ei wneud i wella’r rhyngwyneb rhwng iechyd a gwasanaethau cymdeithasol. OAQ(4)0729(FM)

3. Jenny Rathbone: What is the Welsh Government doing to improve the interface between health and social services. OAQ(4)0729(FM)

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The First Minister: It will be reflected in the forthcoming social services Bill and will be an important part of our reform plans set out in our White Paper 'Sustainable Social Services’.

Jenny Rathbone: In my short debate last week on dementia, I outlined the problems faced by people with dementia and their families after a hospital stay. Many people stay in hospital long after their medical needs have been met because of the services that may or may not be available in the community. Will the First Minister tell us how health and social services are being encouraged to work together more seamlessly so that people can get the service they need, particularly at home, which is where they almost always want to be?

The First Minister: The social services Bill will contain proposed powers to help to promote the development of more integrated services in Wales. This will include powers relating to the creation of formal partnerships, pooled budgets and other flexibilities.

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William Graham: First Minister, will you outline your Government’s strategy to better co-ordinate the transition from child to adult services and remark on whether this is a priority for your Government?

The First Minister: We know that it is important that there is seamlessness between child and adult social services, and the social services Bill, as already outlined, will help to create that seamlessness. We also have the integrated services framework, which sets out our expectations on progress as to the future.

Lindsay Whittle: How will the new initiative Lles Cymru Wellbeing Wales contribute to a national strategy for health improvement and, in particular, mental health?

The First Minister: It is intended to supplement the work that is being done already in order to improve social services in Wales. With this, as with other things, the intention is to create a seamless link between different parts of social services and between social services and health.

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Twf Economaidd yn Islwyn

Economic Growth in Islwyn

4. Gwyn R. Price: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am yr hyn y mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn ei wneud i hybu twf economaidd yn Islwyn. OAQ(4)0727(FM)

4. Gwyn R. Price: Will the First Minister make a statement on what the Welsh Government is doing to encourage economic growth in Islwyn. OAQ(4)0727(FM)

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The First Minister: Yes, it is set out in the programme for government.

Gwyn R. Price: Thank you for that answer. First Minister, the emphasis that you place on growth and jobs is in stark contrast to the no-growth strategy that we see from the United Kingdom Government. Do you share my view that investment in education and training is the best route to sustainable growth and that that should be reflected in any budget for growth?

The First Minister: We know that investment in skills and training is vital for sustainable economic growth. That is why we have the Young Recruits programme, Jobs Growth Wales and the Pathways to Apprenticeships programme. If we look at the economic statistics for the last quarter—although I understand that it is one quarter and not enough to establish a trend—we see encouraging signs that the Welsh Government’s policies are having an effect.

Mohammad Asghar: Access to a fast internet connection is essential to the growth of businesses in Islwyn and other economically deprived areas of Wales. In a recent report, the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee said that the Welsh economy is being damaged by poor broadband provision and that

'latest figures show that the gap between Wales and the UK has widened’.

Given that the Welsh Government has a target to provide all Welsh businesses with access to next generation broadband by the middle of 2016, will the First Minister confirm that he is on track to meet that target, which will benefit the economy of areas such as Islwyn and south-east Wales?

The First Minister: Yes.

Jocelyn Davies: First Minister, I understand that Welsh Government officials have been in contact with the Real Crisps owners, and I know that their efforts are much appreciated. If redundancies result from the destruction of its Crumlin factory in Islwyn by arson, will you endeavour to put a retraining package in place for those workers who are affected?

The First Minister: The first objective is to make sure that people return to work at Real Crisps at the earliest possible opportunity. As you said, officials have been looking to support the staff affected by the incident. I know that officials continue to liaise with Careers Wales and Jobcentre Plus. Work is taking place at the moment between the company, us and the two aforementioned organisations to provide assistance to those who were working at the factory. However, our immediate priority is to make sure that the facility reopens at some point in the future. In the meantime, we will look to put in place as much support as we can in order to help people to bridge that gap.

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Cyllid Llywodraeth Lleol

Local Government Finances

5. Janet Finch-Saunders: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am gyllid Llywodraeth Leol yng Nghymru. OAQ(4)0721(FM)

5. Janet Finch-Saunders: Will the First Minister make a statement on Local Government finances in Wales. OAQ(4)0721(FM)

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The First Minister: Yes, a written statement was issued on 16 October.

Janet Finch-Saunders: It was reported by the BBC last week that local authorities are increasingly being put under strain due to the costs associated with the processing of freedom of information requests. Will the First Minister join me in saying that local authorities should be encouraged to do more to increase transparency, for example by publishing a great deal more online and publishing more of their expenditure, in order to minimise the effects of the burdens placed by freedom of information requests?

The First Minister: Of course, local authorities are able, as are all levels of government, to refuse freedom of information requests where it is assessed that the resources that would have to be devoted to satisfying those requests are excessive. That is something that this Government has to put in place from time to time, and local authorities are able to do that if they can justify doing so.

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Ieuan Wyn Jones: Brif Weinidog, fel y gwyddom, mae cynghorau sir yn wynebu toriadau llym yn eu cyllidebau. Mae angen rhoi mwy o gyngor i bobl oherwydd y newidiadau i’r wladwriaeth les ac oherwydd eu bod yn wynebu’r wasgfa economaidd fwyaf ers cenhedlaeth. Pam, felly, y mae’r Gweinidog Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau wedi brigdorri £10 miliwn o gyllidebau cynghorau sir ar gyfer rhoi grantiau ar gyfer cydweithio? Mewn gwirionedd, onid yw hynny’n cosbi cynghorau sydd eisoes yn cydweithio, ac felly onid ydyw’n annheg?

Ieuan Wyn Jones: First Minister, county councils, as we know, are facing harsh cuts in their budgets. We need to give more advice to people because of changes to the welfare system and because they are facing the greatest economic pressures for a generation. Why, then, has the Minister for Local Government and Communities top-sliced £10 million from the budgets of county councils in order to give grants for collaboration? Does that not actually penalise those councils that are already collaborating, and therefore is it not unfair?

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae’n bwysig dros ben bod incentive ar gael i sicrhau bod cynghorau’n gweithio gyda’i gilydd. O gofio hynny, mae twf o 1.5% yng nghyllideb llywodraeth leol, a chredaf fod hynny’n fwy na theg o ystyried sefyllfa ariannol Llywodraeth Cymru.

The First Minister: It is incredibly important that there should be an incentive available in order to ensure collaboration between councils. Bearing that in mind, local government has seen an increase of 1.5% in its budget, and I believe that that is more than fair given the financial position of the Welsh Government.

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Swyddogion Cymorth Cymunedol yr Heddlu

Police Community Support Officer

6. Mike Hedges: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog roi’r wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am ymrwymiad Llywodraeth Cymru i ariannu ac i hwyluso cyflogi 500 o Swyddogion Cymorth Cymunedol yr Heddlu newydd yng Nghymru. OAQ(4)0731(FM)

6. Mike Hedges: Will the First Minister provide an update on the Welsh Government’s commitment to fund and facilitate the employment of 500 new PCSOs in Wales. OAQ(4)0731(FM)

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The First Minister: Yes. More than 350 CSOs were deployed or in training by the end of last month, well ahead of schedule. All CSOs are expected to be deployed by September next year.

Mike Hedges: I would like to say how welcome that has been in my constituency. Morriston Hospital now has a PCSO who is there constantly, which brings an awful lot of support to patients and medical staff. Is there a difference between the Labour Government here, which is increasing the number of PCSOs, and the Government of the Conservatives and Liberals in London, which is cutting police numbers?

The First Minister: One of the main deterrents to crime is the presence of police officers in local communities, so that people can see them. They are an effective deterrent. We have done our bit in ensuring that we are financing CSOs. Experience teaches us that they are very popular in their local communities. It is a shame that police funding has been cut, and this will inevitably have an effect on front-line policing.

Byron Davies: First Minister, while I support your Government’s willingness to assist our police services where necessary, could you outline the consultation that you had with our four police forces in Wales in allocating PCSOs? For example, did any of the forces request any alternative funding options, rather than investing directly in PCSOs? There may be a danger of construing that the Government is dictating the operational needs of the police.

The First Minister: There are no difficulties with the police forces. This is a Government manifesto commitment that is being implemented. I know that all police forces in Wales would prefer to have a better settlement, particularly—[Inaudible.]

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Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Brif Weinidog, mae Plaid Cymru, wrth reswm, yn cefnogi’r swyddogion newydd hyn ac yn croesawu’r cyhoeddiad amdanynt. Serch hynny, mae’n rhaid ystyried y datblygiad hwn ochr yn ochr â’r lleihad yn nifer yr heddweision. Felly, nid yw hwn yn ychwanegiad pur o ran niferoedd. Hoffwn ofyn cwestiwn ichi am ardreth yr heddlu. O ystyried y sylwadau a wnaed am y pwysau sydd ar gyllidebau llywodraeth leol a’r ffaith nad yw eich Llywodraeth chi yn mynd i wneud i fyny am y golled pan fydd y cyfrifoldeb am fudd-daliadau’r dreth gyngor yn cael ei ddatganoli i Gymru, a ydych chi wedi gwneud asesiad o sut bydd hyn yn effeithio ar ardreth yr heddlu ac o ba symiau ychwanegol y bydd yn rhaid eu codi yn sgîl hynny?

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: First Minister, Plaid Cymru, quite naturally, supports the introduction of these new officers and welcomes the announcement. However, the development has to be viewed in parallel with the reduction taking place in the number of police officers. Therefore, it is not a real increase in numbers. I would like to ask you a question about the police precept. Considering the comments made about the pressures on local government budgets and the fact that your Government will not make up the deficit when responsibility for council tax benefits is devolved to Wales, have you carried out an assessment of how that will impact upon the police precept and of the additional sums that will have to be raised as a result?

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae cwestiwn datganoli’r heddlu yn un diddorol iawn, ac rwyf yn siŵr y bydd y pleidiau’n ystyried y mater hwn dros y misoedd nesaf. Fel Llywodraeth, byddwn yn ystyried y sefyllfa ariannol o ran datganoli’r heddlu, ac mae’n rhaid inni osgoi unrhyw sefyllfa lle byddai datganoli’n digwydd mewn unrhyw ran o Lywodraeth heb fod y gyllideb lawn yn dod yn sgîl hynny. Nid ydym wedi gweld hynny’n digwydd mewn perthynas â budd-daliadau’r dreth gyngor.

The First Minister: The issue of the devolution of the police is an interesting one, and one I am sure that parties will consider over the next few months. As a Government, we will consider the financial position in relation to the devolution of the police, and we must avoid any situation where devolution should take place in any part of Government without the full budget to accompany it. We have not seen that happening in the case of council tax benefits.

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Lefel y Ddyled Dŵr

Level of Water Debt

7. Mark Drakeford: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am lefel y ddyled dŵr yng Nghymru. OAQ(4)0728(FM)

7. Mark Drakeford: Will the First Minister make a statement on the level of water debt in Wales. OAQ(4)0728(FM)

The First Minister: Yes, water debt is the result of customers not paying their water bills, the cost of which has to be covered by all customers. Currently the cost of water debt adds approximately £15 to £20 to every customer’s bill.

Mark Drakeford: The level of water debt in Wales and across England has risen steadily as rises in prices have exceeded rises in wages and in benefits. Companies waste vast amounts of money every year in pursuing debt among customers who have no chance at all of paying their bills, and then writing it off. An affordable social tariff would be good for companies and customers. Are these ideas that you will be keeping in mind in the Welsh Government as a social tariff for water is being developed in Wales?

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2.00 p.m.

The First Minister: Yes, indeed. We are currently finalising our social tariff guidance, which we intend to publish in November. The guidance aims to reduce charges for water customers who have difficulties paying their bills. In addition, we are developing a consultation on bad debt regulations, which we intend to publish by the end of the year.

Andrew R.T. Davies: Debt comes in many forms, First Minister, whether it is in the public or private sector. One issue that all health boards are dealing with is the potential overspend that they might have in their budgets. Are you confident that those health boards will come in on budget and will not have a debt to carry over into the next financial year?

The Presiding Officer: Order. We are talking about water debt.

Andrew R.T. Davies: Yes; but this is debt.

The First Minister: I am not aware that any local health board has failed to pay its water bills.

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Llyr Huws Gruffydd: Mae ystadegau diweddar yn dangos bod pob person yng Nghymru yn defnyddio, ar gyfartaledd, 149 litr o ddŵr bob dydd. Mae hynny’n cyfateb i bron 55,000 litr o ddŵr y flwyddyn. Yn y cyd-destun hwnnw, ac yng nghyd-destun y cwestiwn, beth mae’r Llywodraeth yn ei wneud i sicrhau bod lefelau defnydd dŵr yn gostwng yng Nghymru?

Llyr Huws Gruffydd: The latest statistics show that every individual in Wales uses, on average, 149 litres of water per day. That equates to almost 55,000 litres of water per annum. In that context, and in the context of the question, what is the Government doing to ensure that water usage levels are reduced in Wales?

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae strategaeth ddŵr i Gymru yn cael ei datblygu ar hyn o bryd, a fydd yn mynd allan i ymgynghoriad yng ngwanwyn y flwyddyn nesaf.

The First Minister: A water strategy for Wales is currently being developed, which will be published for consultation next spring.

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Trafnidiaeth Cyhoeddus Integredig

Integrated Public Transport

8. Rhodri Glyn Thomas: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am ddyfodol trafnidiaeth gyhoeddus integredig. OAQ(4)0725(FM)

8. Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Will the First Minister make a statement on the future of integrated public transport. OAQ(4)0725(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn parhau i fuddsoddi symiau sylweddol ym maes trafnidiaeth gyhoeddus integredig er mwyn cyflawni’r ymrwymiadau yn y cynllun trafnidiaeth cenedlaethol.

The First Minister: The Welsh Government continues to invest substantially in integrated public transport in order to deliver the commitments set out in the national transport plan.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Fel y gŵyr y Prif Weinidog, er mwyn sicrhau bod gennym system o drafnidiaeth gyhoeddus integredig, mae’n rhaid i nifer o bethau ddigwydd: cydweithio rhwng gwahanol gwmnïau sy’n darparu trafnidiaeth gyhoeddus, hysbysebu ac yn y blaen. A ydych yn derbyn bod Deddf Trafnidiaeth 1985 yn rhwystro Llywodraeth Cymru rhag gwneud hynny, ond yn caniatáu i hynny ddigwydd yn Llundain? Beth a wnewch i sicrhau diwygio Deddf Trafnidiaeth 1985 er mwyn eich galluogi i gyflwyno system drafnidiaeth gyhoeddus sy’n wirioneddol integredig yng Nghymru?

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: As the First Minister is aware, in order to ensure that we have an integrated public transport system, a number of things must happen: collaboration between the various companies running these services, advertising and so on. Do you accept that the Transport Act 1985 prevents the Welsh Government from doing this in Wales, while allowing it to happen in Westminster? What will you do to reform the Transport Act 1985 in order to allow you to introduce a fully integrated public transport system in Wales?

Y Prif Weinidog:  Mae hyn yn rhywbeth y gallwn ei ystyried fel rhan o ran 2 comisiwn Silk. Mae’n wir dweud bod rhwystrau wedi bod yn y gorffennol ynglŷn â beth y byddem am ei wneud fel Llywodraeth i ddatblygu system drafnidiaeth sy’n wir integredig yng Nghymru.

The First Minister: This is something that we can consider under part 2 of the Silk commission. It is true to say that there have been barriers in the past in terms of what we may want to do as a Government to develop a fully integrated transport system in Wales.

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David Rees: Transportation is an important factor in supporting people to access our changing health services in Wales, and the integration of transport systems will become a major part of that. Will the Welsh Government prioritise such systems that provide better services to improve access to health facilities?

The First Minister: Yes; as we seek to build a Welsh health service that has a number of centres of excellence, it is important that consideration is given to people’s ability to travel to them. That is very much in the minds of the Minister for Health and Social Services and the Minister for Local Government and Communities, who is responsible for transport.

Suzy Davies: The work on Swansea University’s new campus begins next year. What discussions has your Government had with the university and the City and County of Swansea Council about improving bus, rail and road links to the new campus in a way that will improve integrated transport in the South Wales West area generally?

The First Minister: I had informal discussions on this and a number of other matters when I visited the site to launch the new campus. These are things that will be discussed, no doubt, between the university and the local authority. Of course, the Swansea metro system already exists, which connects the university with the rest of the city, and indeed as far north as Morriston Hospital.

Eluned Parrott: According to the programme for government, active travel is a key part of your Government’s approach to integrated transport. However, your Government’s revenue budget for walking and cycling falls from £238,000 this year to £215,000 next year, and to zero the following year. How do you expect to deliver an active travel Bill with a zero revenue budget?

The First Minister: The active travel Bill is there to enable and encourage more people to walk and cycle in Wales. The Bill is due for introduction early next year. If there are any financial implications for the implementation of that Bill, they will be considered at the appropriate time.

Vaughan Gething: First Minister, I welcome your stated commitment to the concept of a south Wales metro, post electrification, particularly given the potential for passenger rail improvements in my constituency through east Cardiff—through St Mellons, Rumney and Splott. However, we know that rail infrastructure matters are not currently devolved. Have you discussed further investment, post electrification, in an integrated transport system with the Secretary of State for Wales? If so, does he support the case for more investment in a metro?

The First Minister: I have not discussed the issue of the metro with the Secretary of State for Wales. We want to see that delivered first of all. There have been discussions with the Secretary of State for Wales regarding Wrexham-Bidston and the north Wales main coastal line. He has expressed his preference, of course, and wishes to see those electrified, and we would seek to work with him in order for that to happen.

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Ailstrwythuro Gwasanaethau Iechyd

Restructuring of Health Services

9. Alun Ffred Jones: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am ailstrwythuro gwasanaethau iechyd yng ngogledd Cymru. OAQ(4)0722(FM)

9. Alun Ffred Jones: Will the First Minister make a statement on the restructuring of health services in north Wales. OAQ(4)0722(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae’r bwrdd iechyd yn ymgynghori ar ei gynigion i wella gwasanaethau yn yr ardal ar hyn o bryd.

The First Minister: The health board is currently consulting on its proposals for service improvement in the area.

Alun Ffred Jones: Rydych wedi dweud sawl gwaith mai diogelwch cleifion sydd wrth wraidd ad-drefnu gwasanaethau ysbytai, a bod creu canolfannau rhagoriaeth yn ganolog i’r newidiadau hyn—rydych wedi datgan hynny’r prynhawn yma. Yn ardal Bwrdd Iechyd Lleol Prifysgol Betsi Cadwaladr, y penderfyniad yw cadw tri ysbyty cyffredinol fel ag y maent, er bod rhai gwasanaethau’n cael eu cyflwyno o Loegr. Pa drafodaethau rydych wedi eu cael ag aelodau neu swyddogion y bwrdd am y newidiadau hyn, sydd fel pe baent yn mynd yn groes i’r syniadau rydych wedi bod yn sôn amdanynt?

Alun Ffred Jones: You have said many times that it is patient safety that is at the root of the reconfiguration of hospital services, and that the creation of centres of excellence is central to these changes—you have said that this afternoon. In the Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board area, the decision is to retain the three district general hospitals as they are, although some services will be provided in England. What discussions have you had with members or officials of the board with regard to these changes, which seem to be going against the ideas that you have been talking about?

Y Prif Weinidog: Dim o gwbl. Ein nod yw sicrhau bod gwasanaethau mor lleol ag y bo modd, mor ddiogel ag y bo modd ac mor dda ag y bo modd. Ar hyn o bryd, mae ymgynghoriadau yn digwydd, ac unwaith y bydd y broses honno’n dod i ben, bydd rôl i’r Llywodraeth wrth ystyried y sefyllfa.

The First Minister: Not at all. Our aim is to ensure that the services are as local as possible, as safe as possible and as good as possible. Consultations are currently ongoing, and once that process comes to an end, there will be a role for Government in considering the situation.

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Antoinette Sandbach: First Minister, you declined to answer my question last week on the proposals to transfer all level 3 neonatal services in north Wales to England. Unlike the Minister for health, however, you do not have any appeal functions in this matter. Will you at least recognise the fact that, given that Anglesey and Denbighshire have the highest infant mortality rates of any local authorities in Wales, closing existing neonatal services can only increase the risk to mothers and their babies in north Wales?

The First Minister: Does the Member not see that, by saying that, she makes the case for change? If it is, as she says, the case that the mortality rates are so high, keeping things exactly as they are is clearly not an option. That is blindingly obvious, I would suggest. However, I come back to the point that a consultation is taking place at the moment, and keeping things exactly as they are is unsatisfactory—it is a case that she herself has made so clearly.

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Aled Roberts: Brif Weinidog, dywedodd yr Athro Powell ar y BBC neithiwr ei fod yn poeni nad oes neb yn gwybod yn union beth fydd cost yr ad-drefnu hwn a bod cwestiwn mawr yn codi ynghylch a yw’r ad-drefnu’n fforddiadwy. Mae cynllun Betsi Cadwaladr ar hyn o bryd yn dibynnu ar £34 miliwn i ad-drefnu mewn pedair ardal leol yn y gogledd—nid ar draws y gogledd. A oes gan y Llywodraeth strategaeth i ymdrin â’r holl gostau hyn os yw’r cynlluniau’n cael eu derbyn?

Aled Roberts: First Minister, Professor Powell said on the BBC last night that he is concerned that no-one knows exactly how much this reconfiguration will cost and that there is a huge question mark over its affordability. The current Betsi Cadwaladr plan is dependent upon £34 million being available for reconfiguration in four local areas in north Wales—not right across the region. Does the Government have a strategy for dealing with all these costs if the plans are approved?

Y Prif Weinidog: Oes. Deallwn y bydd buddsoddiadau yn gorfod cael eu gwneud. Er enghraifft, ym Mwrdd Iechyd Lleol Hywel Dda, mae sôn am adeiladau newydd yn Aberaeron, Cross Hands ac ardaloedd eraill yn y gorllewin. Felly, mae’r Llywodraeth yn deall, er mwyn gwella’r gwasanaeth iechyd, y bydd rhaid buddsoddi yn y dyfodol.

The First Minister: Yes. We understand that investments will have to be made. For example, the Hywel Dda Local Health Board is talking about new builds in Aberaeron, Cross Hands and other parts of west Wales. Therefore, the Government does understand that there will have to be invesment in the future in order to improve the health service.

Materion Cydraddoldeb

Equality Issues

10. Peter Black: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am y ffordd y mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi ystyried materion sy’n ymwneud â chydraddoldeb wrth lunio’r gyllideb ddrafft. OAQ(4)0723(FM)

10. Peter Black: Will the First Minister make a statement on the way the Welsh Government has taken equality issues into account when formulating the draft budget. OAQ(4)0723(FM)

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The First Minister: Yes. The equality impact assessment of the draft budget was published on 8 October.

Peter Black: Thank you for that answer, First Minister. I welcome the equality impact assessment as a very important start in dealing with this. However, you will know that there are a number of weaknesses around that document; in particular, if you go through it, you will not find a single criticism of anything in the budget or any negative statement about the budget, despite, for example, the huge problems with disabled facility grants around the country, which I would have expected to see addressed.

I know that this is just the start, but those in the third sector in particular have given a clear indication that, whereas they want to see this equality impact assessment continue, there needs to be a more independent means of assessing it. In particular, it needs to look at what has changed in the budget as a result. Will you address those views and try to do better next time?

The First Minister: The Minister for Finance has announced the establishment of the budgetary advisory group for equality, and that group will seek to encourage and strengthen the focus on identifying and understanding the nature of inequalities in Wales.

Janet Finch-Saunders: First Minister, the Welsh Government’s Inclusive Design Note aims to put people at the heart of the design process in a way that ensures that our public buildings accommodate all users of all abilities. I understand that, as part of the 'Framework for Action on Independent Living’, the Inclusive Design Note will be promoted across all departments of the Welsh Government as an example of good practice, and I applaud that. What plans does the Welsh Government have to promote the Inclusive Design Note in other areas of the public sector, such as at the local authority level?

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The First Minister: We will seek to promote it as widely as possible in order for it to be as effective as possible.

Jocelyn Davies: You will no doubt recall voting in January 2002 for Pauline Jarman’s legislation for children to have a free second pair of glasses as a measure to mitigate their visual impairment. Is it your policy to continue with this excellent scheme? Can you explain why Mrs Jones in Hengoed has now been refused the second pair of glasses for her severely visually impaired little boy due to budget restrictions?

The First Minister: The Member would have to provide me with more details about Mrs Jones in Hengoed in order for me to investigate her concerns fully and properly.

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Blaenoriaethau

Priorities

11. William Graham: A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu blaenoriaethau Llywodraeth Cymru ar gyfer darparu gwasanaethau iechyd yn Nwyrain De Cymru. OAQ(4)0733(FM)

11. William Graham: Will the First Minister outline the Welsh Government’s priorities for the provision of health services within South Wales East. OAQ(4)0733(FM)

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The First Minister: Yes, they are in our programme for government and 'Together for Health’.

William Graham: I am grateful for the First Minister’s answer. Could I ask him to comment on a story that appeared in the South Wales Argus that a Welsh ambulance service worker claims that five ambulances covered the whole of Gwent one day last week? The source said:

'Paramedics are always offering to do overtime, but were told that there isn’t enough money… Rapid response crews are being put at risk when they arrive one or two hours before an ambulance, and family members get irate when the ambulances don’t arrive’.

This is a story that appears all too often. What does the First Minister propose to improve the ambulance service in Wales?

The First Minister: The Member is asking me to comment on an unnamed source being reported in a newspaper. Without any further, solid evidence it is impossible to give a response. If there is evidence that backs up that claim, and somebody willing to come forward to provide it—and they can provide it in an anonymous fashion, if they wish—we would, of course, be pleased to investigate that.

Lindsay Whittle: Following the recent mixed report on services in the Royal Gwent Hospital, how will the Welsh Government ensure that the health board takes action to improve those services identified as requiring improvement?

The First Minister: Of course, this is dealt with in the south Wales reconfiguration plans, which are presently being consulted upon. The aim for the Royal Gwent, as indeed for all hospitals, is to ensure a better, safer health service that is as local as possible.

The Presiding Officer: Question 12, OAQ(4)0726(FM), is withdrawn.

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Cefnogi Pobl Ifanc

Support Young People

13. David Rees: Pa gamau y mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn eu cymryd i gefnogi pobl ifanc nad ydynt mewn gwaith nac addysg. OAQ(4)0734(FM)

13. David Rees: What action is the Welsh Government taking to support young people not in work or education. OAQ(4)0734(FM)

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The First Minister: We have a range of employability and skills provision such as Jobs Growth Wales and the schemes that I referred to earlier, such as the Young Recruits programme.

David Rees: As a result of the drastic and disastrous economic policies of the UK Government, recent employment statistics show a rise in long-term unemployment for young people, even after some may have returned to education in order to improve their opportunities. However, in contrast, over the last six months we have seen over 1,700 young people here in Wales gain employment through the Jobs Growth Wales scheme. Do you agree that this is the right approach to help our young people find employment, and that we also need to encourage more businesses to take on young people who are following Pathway to Apprenticeship programmes in our colleges?

The First Minister: Yes, we do, but we are pleased with the progress that has been made with Pathways to Apprenticeships and Jobs Growth Wales. We are well on target to deliver what we said we would deliver, and to give our young people hope.

Mohammad Asghar: First Minister, I recently met with a local business leader from A4e, which acts as a prime contractor delivering the work programme on behalf of the UK Government. One of the issues raised as a barrier to young people in South Wales East getting off benefits and getting jobs in Newport was the difficulty in accessing convenient and direct transport links, which would enable people to get to work in a reasonable time. Will the First Minister commit his Government to addressing this issue with the aim of improving rail and bus services to Newport from deprived areas of South Wales East so that more of our young people can transfer from welfare to work?

The First Minister: We have a strong and historic commitment to improving public transport in Wales, as shown by the reopening of railway lines and the support given to bus services, not just across Wales but in different parts of Wales as well. I draw the Member’s attention back to Jobs Growth Wales, a scheme introduced to give young people hope and a scheme that his party failed to introduce in Government at a UK level. The difference is that his party talks and we deliver.

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2.15 p.m.

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Simon Thomas: Mae adroddiad gan y Joseph Rowntree Foundation y mis hwn yn tanlinellu pa mor anodd ydyw i bobl ifanc gael mynediad at y farchnad swyddi os na allant fforddio teithio ar drafnidiaeth gyhoeddus. Mae hynny’n broblem ar draws Cymru a dros Brydain i gyd. A oes rhywbeth penodol y gallwch chi ei wneud mewn Llywodraeth i helpu ein pobl ifanc i o leiaf gael mynediad at drafnidiaeth gyhoeddus ac i’w galluogi i fforddio teithio ar fysus ac ati er mwyn mynychu cyfweliadau a hyfforddiant? A oes rhywbeth pellach y gallwch ei wneud dros ein pobl ifanc yn y cyd-destun hwnnw?

Simon Thomas: The report published this month by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation underlines how difficult it is for young people to access the labour market if they cannot afford to use public transport. That is a problem the length and breadth of Wales and indeed across the UK. Is there anything specific that you could do in Government to assist our young people to at least be able to access public transport and to be able to afford to use buses and so on in order to attend interviews and training? Is there anything further that you could provide to our young people in that context?

Y Prif Weinidog: Byddwn yn edrych i gefnogi pobl ifanc fel y gallant deithio er mwyn mynychu cyfweliadau ac yn y blaen. Rhaid imi bwysleisio—nid i’r Aelod ar ochr honno’r Siambr—os bydd pobl ifainc yn colli budd-daliadau ac unrhyw incwm, sut fyddant yn gallu teithio i gyfweliadau? Dyna yw cynlluniau’r Ceidwadwyr a’r Rhyddfrydwyr hefyd, sydd eisiau sicrhau nad oes gan bobl ifanc unrhyw arian o gwbl. Sut fyddant yn gallu dod o hyd i swyddi os nad oes arian ganddynt i deithio?

The First Minister: We seek to support young people so that they can travel in order to attend interviews and so forth. I must point out—not to the Member on that side of the Chamber—that if young people lose their benefits and any income, how will they be able to travel to interviews? Those are the plans of the Conservatives and also the Liberal Democrats, who want to ensure that young people have no money at all. How will they be able to find jobs if they do not have any money to travel?

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The Presiding Officer: Question 14, OAQ(4)0720(FM), is withdrawn.

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Polisi Ynni

Energy Policy

15. Yr Arglwydd Elis-Thomas: Pa drafodaethau y mae Prif Weinidog Cymru wedi’u cael â Phrif Weinidog y DU ynglŷn â pholisi ynni. OAQ(4)0735(FM)

15. Lord Elis-Thomas: What discussions has the First Minister had with the UK Prime Minister in relation to energy policy. OAQ(4)0735(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Rwy wedi cael trafodaethau rheolaidd â’r Prif Weinidog am amrywiaeth eang o faterion polisi, ac yn enwedig am bolisi ynni.

The First Minister: I hold regular discussions with the Prime Minister on a wide range of policy matters, and particularly on energy policy.

Yr Arglwydd Elis-Thomas: A yw’n gwrando arnoch? Rwy’n ddiolchgar iawn i chi fel Llywodraeth am dderbyn argymhelliad 8 yn adroddiad ein pwyllgor a drafodwyd yr wythnos diwethaf, ac yn ddiolchgar am eich datganiad eich bod chi am ddarparu gwybodaeth am yr achos dros ddatganoli pwerau cydsynio a chymhellion ariannol ar wefan y Llywodraeth. A wnewch chi adrodd i’r Cynulliad hwn am ymateb Llywodraeth y Deyrnas Unedig i’r materion hyn? Hoffwn ddweud yn hollol glir nad wyf i, beth bynnag, yn barod i aros am adroddiad Silk i’r materion hyn gael eu datrys.

Lord Elis-Thomas: Is he listening to you? I am very grateful to you as a Government for accepting recommendation 8 in our committee report, which was discussed last week, and grateful for your statement that you are to provide information on the case for further devolution of energy consenting and financial incentive powers on the Government’s website. Will you report to this Assembly on the response of the UK Government to these issues? May I make it entirely clear that I am not ready to wait for the Silk commission’s report for these issues to be resolved?

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr ateb o hyd yw, 'Sefwch i ni gael rhan 2 o adroddiad Silk’. Fy marn i yw y dylai pobl Cymru gael rheolaeth dros eu hadnoddau, yn yr un ffordd â phobl yr Alban, Gogledd Iwerddon a hyd yn oed pobl Lloegr. Nid oes rheswm pam ddylai Cymru gael ei thrin fel rhyw is-wlad o ran trafodaethau yn ymwneud â pholisi ynni. Dylem gael rheolaeth dros bolisi ynni yng Nghymru er mwyn sicrhau’r lles economaidd mwyaf i’n pobl.

The First Minister: The answer, as always, is 'Await part 2 of the Silk report’. My view is that the people of Wales should have control over their resources, in the same way as the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and even England. There is no reason why Wales should be treated as some kind of annexe as regards discussions on energy policy. We should have control over energy policy in Wales in order to ensure the greatest economic benefit for our people.

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Antoinette Sandbach: First Minister, Welsh land is being used to import Scottish and Irish electricity, meaning land blight for people in Wales, who will have to have enormous pylons across their land, which will impact on local tourism. Given that you, or at least your officials, were present at energy network strategy group meetings, how can you justify the fact that your officials at those meetings did not speak up for Wales and defend those Welsh interests?

The First Minister: I cannot take lectures from the party opposite. The Member knows full well that this is a matter for the UK Government; it has nothing to do with the Welsh Government. If she says that there are blights, then it is up to her to explain to the public in her constituency why she feels there is such a blight and explain who is to blame for it. We hear it said many times—[Interruption.] I understand that she is not present at meetings with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister or indeed with any other UK Cabinet Minister. We have said many times that we want the people of Wales to have control over their own resources. That is the position that she and her party is resisting.

Cwestiwn Brys Cymdeithas Lleiafrifoedd Ethnig Cymru Gyfan
Urgent Question The All Wales Ethnic Minority Association

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The Presiding Officer: The next item of business is an urgent question on the action that the Welsh Government is taking following the findings of the Wales Audit Office report on the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association. I have received several requests for an urgent question on this subject today and also a request for an urgent debate on the matter. Members will be familiar with the urgent question procedure, but applications to request an urgent debate are much rarer. In fact, this is the first time ever that requests for both have been received on the same topic on the same day and so I should like to explain the approach that I have taken.

In both cases, the test that Standing Orders require me to apply is the same—that the matter is of urgent public importance. I am satisfied that this matter meets that test. In my view, though, it is not appropriate to allow both requests to cover much of the same ground in two different formats on the same day. I have, therefore, decided to allow the urgent question, but not the application to request an urgent debate. I want to make it clear to all Members that in doing so I am in no way seeking to constrain the Assembly’s ability to consider this important matter and to hold the Government to account. When taking the urgent question, I will ensure that all Members are called and that the Assembly will be able to put all the questions that it wishes to the Government.

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Peter Black: Pa gamau y mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn eu cymryd yn dilyn canfyddiadau adroddiad Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: Cydberthynas Llywodraeth Cymru â Chymdeithas Lleiafrifoedd Ethnig Cymru Gyfan. EAQ(4)0170(FIN)

Peter Black: What action is the Welsh Government taking following the findings of the Wales Audit Office Report: The Welsh Government’s relationship with the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association. EAQ(4)0170(FIN)

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The Minister for Finance and Leader of the House (Jane Hutt): The Welsh Government commissioned this report and accepted the recommendations. Work is already under way, led by the Permanent Secretary, to improve Welsh Goverment grants management. The report confirmed that there is no evidence that Ministers exerted inappropriate political influence over funding decisions. We look forward to receiving the Public Accounts Committee’s report.

Peter Black: Thank you for that answer, Minister. You will know that the Wales Audit Office has made it clear that this is now the nineteenth report in six years that has identified weaknesses in terms of the way that the Welsh Government is handling and managing grants to external organisations such as AWEMA. What confidence can we have that the Welsh Government is going to be able to address the issues raised by this current report, given the fact that you have failed to do anything to address the particular matters raised in the previous 18 reports? Can you give us an assurance and some detail as to how exactly the Welsh Government will be putting in place measures to deal with the issues raised by the new report, which will assure us that the lessons have been learnt this time?

Jane Hutt: When the report was published by the Wales Audit Office on Thursday, 18 October, it was received by the Public Accounts Committee. I understand that this report will follow the due process for Wales Audit Office value for money studies reports. As the Welsh Government respects that process, I would not want to pre-empt the work of the Public Accounts Committee or the outcomes of that work. However, I point to the action that we had already taken—the Permanent Secretary made this clear last week—prior to the publication of the WAO report, namely a grants management project that was established in 2010 and a centre of excellence that was created in order to develop corporate processes, procedures, tools and guidance for non-procured funding to ensure that we respond effectively to reports of this kind.

Paul Davies: Minister, while your Government has been cleared of political influence, the report has still charged you with political negligence. With regard to critical issues of funding, it is now time for more accountability and responsibility, and it is certainly time for due diligence. I notice that in last week’s press, a Government spokesperson said that the Government is acting on lessons learnt and is building on work to improve the future management of its grants management programme. Can you confirm on record that a fiasco like this will never happen again while you are the Minister for Finance? Do you take full responsibility for this public-funding disaster and shambles?

Jane Hutt: The report highlights some serious concerns. In relation to the Welsh Government’s relationship with organisations like AWEMA, we have, quite rightly, looked at the Wales Audit Office’s report; we have welcomed it and we have said that we would co-operate and implement the recommendations. We co-operated fully with the Wales Audit Office in the preparation of this report. Let me make this quite clear: it is the responsibility of the Permanent Secretary, as we see from the results of the Wales Audit Office report, to ensure that our grants management project is implemented fully. Also, as you will have seen, we undertook a due diligence exercise to check the health of the corporate governance and financial management of the organisations that we fund. We have taken responsibility to ensure that. I have answered all questions on this matter to ensure that the Welsh Government and the Permanent Secretary, who is leading on this, have delivered in terms of due diligence for this sector.

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Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Weinidog, mae’r fath beth â chyfrifoldeb gweinidogol, ac mae’r mater hwn yn gyfrifoldeb i’r Cabinet cyfan, ac ni ddylech geisio cuddio rhag y cyfrifoldeb hwnnw.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Minister, there is such a thing as ministerial responsibility, and this matter is the responsibility of the whole Cabinet, and you should not try to evade that responsibility.

Rwy’n credu bod Llywodraeth Cymru wedi dangos diffyg parch tuag at Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru drwy wrthod gwneud datganiad mewn ymateb i’r adroddiad hwn. Cawsoch yr adroddiad mewn digon o bryd i chi ei ystyried ac i wneud datganiad cyhoeddus ar eich ymateb chi iddo. Rydych wedi gadael nifer o fudiadau yn y sector gwirfoddol ac elusennol i lawr, a oedd eisiau clywed oddi wrth Lywodraeth Cymru na fyddai adwaith ar y berthynas rhyngddyn nhw â chi, fel Llywodraeth, o ganlyniad i’r adroddiad hwn. Bu i chi fethu â gwneud hynny hefyd.

I believe that the Welsh Government has demonstrated a lack of respect towards the Wales Audit Office by refusing to make a statement in response to this report. You received the report in sufficient time for you to consider it and make a public statement on your response to it. You have let down a number of organisations in the voluntary and charity sector that wanted to hear from the Welsh Government that there would be no impact on the relationship between them and you, as a Government, as a result of this report. You failed to do that too.

Rydych wedi cael eich gorfodi i ateb cwestiynau y prynhawn yma, oherwydd bod cwestiynau brys wedi eu gosod oherwydd nad ydych chi wedi bod yn barod i roi datganiad. Pryd gawn ni ddatganiad oddi wrthych, Weinidog, am adroddiad sy’n ymwneud â methiant Llywodraeth Cymru a’ch methiant chi? Pryd gawn ni’r datganiad hwnnw? Pryd gawn ni ddadl lawn yn y lle hwn ar y mater hwn, fel y gallwn gael y cyfle i graffu ar eich perfformiad chi, fel Llywodraeth, yn llawn?

You have been forced to answer questions this afternoon, because urgent questions have been tabled because you were not willing to come forward with a statement. When will we receive a full statement from you, Minister, on a report that appertains to a failure of the Welsh Government and a failure on your part? When will we have that statement? When will we have a full debate in this place on this matter so that we will have an opportunity to scrutinise your performance as a Government fully?

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Jane Hutt: I have made it very clear, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, that when the report was published by the Wales Audit Office last week, it was received by the Public Accounts Committee and that we followed due process for Wales Audit Office value for money studies reports. We respect that process. I do not want to pre-empt the work of the Public Accounts Committee, and when it will issue a report with recommendations, the Welsh Government will respond to it.

However, I will make an important point about the way in which we have protected the beneficiaries of those EU-funded AWEMA projects. We have met the commitment to continue their activities that previously received support from AWEMA-led projects. I have responded to many questions, and, indeed, have corresponded with Members who have raised legitimate questions about this, in terms of the funding. I remind Members here that the young people’s project and the employment project, which are led by other partner organisations, including YMCA, Supporting Others through Volunteer Action Wales and the Valleys Regional Equality Council, have helped 1,000 young people to raise their skills and aspirations, 580 unemployed and economically inactive people to secure employment and 1,400 employees to progress in work. Is the Member suggesting that that diligence that we have taken to ensure that those beneficiaries are protected is inappropriate?

Vaughan Gething: Minister, in all of the sorry affair of AWEMA, nothing can take away from the fact that the people with the ultimate responsibility for the collapse of AWEMA were the people who were running it as an organisation: the people who authorised payments for parking fines, who dismissed staff by text message and increased the chief executive’s salary. It has been especially disappointing to see the chief executive give a long interview when he accepted no responsibility whatsoever.

I welcome the fact that the Permanent Secretary is reviewing the governance of grant management schemes, and I welcome what you say about the money that is being spent effectively on the programmes that it was meant for. However, the report highlighted a number of fractious personal relationships, and the concern of Welsh Government officials about being accused of discrimination if they were to handle matters more robustly.

Can you confirm whether the race forum that you have set up is now successfully bringing together representatives from the black and Asian voluntary sector in a way that is useful and constructive, and delivering on those objectives? Can you also confirm whether Welsh Government staff are now in a position where concerns over discrimination, and accusations of discrimination, will not prevent robust and fair oversight of Welsh Government grant programmes?

2.30 p.m.

Jane Hutt: I am grateful to the Member for that very considered question. I will repeat again that the report makes clear that Ministers always acted in accordance with the advice they received from officials. Once the Welsh Government became aware of allegations of financial irregularities in AWEMA, in December 2011, it acted swiftly and decisively, and that is recognised in the Wales Audit Office report. I urge Members to read the whole report. I am very interested, for example, that the report states that:

'Media coverage and public commentary about AWEMA has contained unclear and misleading references to AWEMA’s public funding.’

This is a point that should be brought to people’s attention in response to this urgent question today. It is clear that any media coverage should be accurate, and we can put to rest any accusations against Ministers and the way in which they have dealt with this matter. It is a sensitive matter in terms of acknowledging the importance that we accord to the new Welsh Race Forum, and I am glad that Vaughan Gething asked me a question about that. The forum held its first meeting in February of this year. Some 22 organisations are represented on it, and it meets biannually. It will take a more strategic, co-ordinated and effective approach to ensuring that we successfully include people from different races, their families and communities, in all aspects of Welsh society. Indeed, at its first meeting, the new race forum welcomed the action that had been taken by the Welsh Government in setting it up. It is clear that we must now move forward, deliver on the recommendations of the WAO report, but, fundamentally, and as is the process for all other WAO reports, we must await the Public Accounts Committee’s review and recommendations for the Welsh Government.

Andrew R.T. Davies: Minister, you talk about accurate information. One thing that the report points out is the inaccurate information that the Welsh Government was providing at certain junctures throughout this whole sad episode. One part of the report features a flow chart of different ministerial responsibilities over the 10 years that this matter has been investigated; it includes all the great and the good of the Welsh Labour Party and the Welsh Labour Government. Can you honestly say that you have acted in the best interests of the Welsh taxpayer, as the Minister now with ultimate responsibility, given that over £0.5 million has been lost in this particular instance? The report clearly identifies failings in the systems of the Welsh Government and in the information that the Welsh Government has provided. Are you honestly saying that you, as the Minister with ultimate responsibility here and now, can enjoy confidence going forward to ensure that this mess never happens again?

Jane Hutt: I took the swift and decisive action to cease funding to AWEMA when we saw the outcome of the report that the Welsh Government instigated to look into this, as a result of allegations. The action that I took at that time, in terms of ceasing funding and then calling on—as the First Minister and the Permanent Secretary did—the WAO to undertake this value for money report, demonstrates our commitment then and now to ensuring that this should not happen again. However, there are, clearly, lessons to be learned, there are recommendations that we have accepted in full, and I think that there is a responsibility on this whole Chamber—led by the Public Accounts Committee—to ensure that we respond to this report appropriately. Referring back to Rhodri Glyn’s question, we have a responsibility to the third sector and to our equalities organisations in Wales to ensure that the due diligence health check—which I have taken forward in terms of the organisations that are funded under the advancing equality fund and the inclusion grant—has been undertaken, and that we are satisfied with the outcome of that.

Simon Thomas: Minister, it is a great pity that you did not take swift and decisive action to come to this Chamber and explain how the Government is responding to this audit report. I have read the report. It states that your Government misled Members in written questions during that period. It states that a meeting between Carl Sargeant and Dai Lloyd, discussing these various issues, was not acted upon. It states that public money has been misspent by AWEMA officials and trustees. Therefore, I have a simple question for you, Minister. Will you take civil legal action to reclaim that public money from those, as Vaughan Gething said, who misspent public money, on behalf of everyone in Wales?

Jane Hutt: The Welsh Government is still aiming to recover at least some of the money that is owed from the funds that remain in the hands of the liquidators. That is our clear intention. As you know, we also await not only police investigations, but investigations by the Charity Commission, in terms of the governance of AWEMA. That is the critical part for which we are not responsible, but on which where there are lessons to be learned in terms of how we can appropriately support organisations such as AWEMA to ensure that they have robust diligence with regard to their governance.

Mohammad Asghar: The more scrutiny we do of certain people involved in AWEMA’s affairs, the more questions that arise. The total failure of the Government in certain areas for so long is unbelievable. AWEMA squandered the money, misused the funds—£7 million and £3 million in the pipeline before the plug was pulled. Why did the Welsh Government turn a blind eye to AWEMA’s obvious failings and continue to allow public money to be squandered for so long by an organisation that was not fit for purpose? Secondly, why were the resignations of the chairman and two trustees, and their allegations of financial mismanagement, ignored in 2007? Finally—and this is a very important question, Minister—was it because of close links between the Malik family and the Labour Party?

Jane Hutt: I am astounded by that question; I do not think it warrants a response, other than to suggest that Mohammad Asghar reads the Wales Audit Office report. The report has confirmed—and I repeat this again for the record—that there is no evidence that Ministers exerted any inappropriate political influence over funding decisions, and that they always acted in accordance with advice from officials. Not only has the WAO made that comment and assertion as a result of its investigation as its key finding in terms of the role of Ministers, it also highlights that we took swift and robust action to suspend funding to AWEMA and protect those who are delivering programmes through AWEMA. On that point, I rest my case, Presiding Officer.

Jenny Rathbone: Unfortunately, in the AWEMA report, as indeed in the River Lodge report, there are well-documented examples of inaccurate information being given to local Assembly Members, who were aware of what was going in their own area, and of briefings to Ministers that were either inaccurate or biased in what they chose not to highlight. Will you tell us what is being done by the Government to ensure that Assembly Members are getting accurate responses to any queries and that Ministers are getting a full picture so that they are able to make decisions based on a full knowledge of the situation?

Jane Hutt: The WAO report highlights a number of recommendations, which we are going to act upon and respond to, but I would ask the Member to look again at the statement made by the Permanent Secretary. I am sure that he will come before the Public Accounts Committee to remind Members that we established a grants management project in 2010—a centre of excellence—to develop those corporate processes and procedures that I have described. I remind the Member again that the Permanent Secretary made it clear that:

'Grants form one of the Welsh Government’s most important mechanisms for delivering Ministerial priorities and are making a real difference to the lives of people in Wales.’

As a new Permanent Secretary, Derek Jones is determined to build on the work of the grants centre for excellence and improve capacity and capability in grants management. That, as well as implementing the recommendations of the report, will safeguard not only organisations, but this Government, in terms of its future implementation of the grants regime.

Mark Isherwood: Although, as the Minister notes, the report concludes that there is no evidence that Labour Ministers interfered to protect AWEMA, surely that is damning by faint praise. The report does say that the Welsh Government failed to heed a number of warnings about the way that Swansea-based AWEMA was run. Given that the same Government department was involved in these matters as was involved in some of the matters in Plas Madoc Communities First and Higher Shotton Communities First, among others, why have the previous failings of corporate governance identified in successive reports in finance, audit and human resources not been acted upon and why, in each case, were the whistleblowers penalised rather than protected?

Jane Hutt: I respect the Public Accounts Committee in terms of its role and responsibility to receive the report from the Wales Audit Office and I await its report.

The Presiding Officer: I have no other speakers. Thank you, Minister.

Datganiad a Chyhoeddiad Busnes
Business Statement and Announcement

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The Minister for Finance and Leader of the House (Jane Hutt): I have several changes to report to this week’s planned business, which affect business for tomorrow. I have reduced the time allocated for questions to the Counsel General in proportion to the number of questions tabled, and I will be making a statement to the Assembly on a joint statement with the UK Government on funding reform. The Business Committee has scheduled a motion to elect Members to committees, and business for the next three weeks is as shown on the business statement and announcement, which can be found among the agenda papers that are available to Members electronically.

William Graham: I thank the Leader of the House for her statement today. I would like to raise with her once again, and impress upon her colleague, the Minister with responsibility for transport, the troubles regarding the M4 motorway. Yesterday, during the morning rush hour, an accident between junctions 24 and 23a caused a massive tailback. As soon as that congestion had cleared, there was another accident, a vehicle fire, between the same two junctions. This caused travellers travelling in the opposite direction to slow down because of the smoke billowing across the motorway. During the evening rush hour, a lorry carrying a crane hit the bridge near junction 28, which required one lane to be closed, resulting in further tailbacks in the evening rush hour. Minister, you will be well aware how important the M4 is not only to Newport but south Wales generally, as the major avenue of economic progress, and interest in our economic development will wane unless we are able to assure people that the M4 motorway is open for business.

Jane Hutt: I am grateful to William Graham for raising this during the business statement once again, because it is key. Delivering strategic enhancements to the M4 around Newport is a key long-term priority for the Welsh Government and for the Minister with responsibility for transport. Now that the consultation on the M4 corridor enhancement measures has closed, detailed responses to that consultation are being considered, and the Minister will report back to the Assembly to provide an update on progress in due course.

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Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Weinidog, mae’n rhaid i mi ddweud unwaith yn rhagor nad wyf yn deall pam nad yw Llywodraeth Cymru yn barod i wneud datganiad neu gynnal dadl ar adroddiad sy’n ymwneud yn uniongyrchol a’ch perfformiad chi fel Llywodraeth. Dylai fod yn gyfrifoldeb i chi wneud hynny o ran cwrteisi i Aelodau Cynulliad ac i’r bobl yng Nghymru sydd wedi bod yn dangos diddordeb yn y mater hwn ac sydd wedi codi pryderon ynghylch y mater hwn dros gyfnod hir o amser.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Minister, I must once again state that I do not understand why the Welsh Government is not willing to make a statement or hold a debate on a report that directly appertains to your performance as a Government. It should be your responsibility to do so from the point of view of courtesy to Assembly Members and to the people of Wales who have been showing an interest in this matter and who have raised concerns about this matter over a long time.

Hoffwn hefyd ofyn i chi, Weinidog, yn wyneb y dystiolaeth gynyddol fod ail gartrefi—tai gwyliau—yn creu problemau economaidd gwirioneddol mewn nifer o ardaloedd yng Nghymru, yn enwedig ar yr arfordir, a chan fod gennym y gymhwysedd i ddeddfu yn y mater hwn o ran y dreth cyngor y gellir ei osod ar dai gwyliau, a ydych wedi rhoi ystyriaeth i ddechrau’r broses deddfwriaethol honno er mwyn inni fynd i’r afael â’r broblem hwn?

I would also like to ask you, Minister, whether, in light of the increasing evidence that second homes—holiday homes—are creating real economic problems in a number of areas in Wales, particularly coastal areas, and given that we have the competence to legislate on this matter in relation to the council tax that can be levied on holiday homes, you have given consideration to initiating the legislative process to get to grips with that problem?

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Jane Hutt: I have nothing to add to the response that I gave to the urgent question earlier this afternoon. On the second matter, that is a matter for the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage. I know that he will have noted that you have raised this in the Chamber this afternoon, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, and I am sure that he will want to respond to this in due course.

Paul Davies: Leader of the House, I would like to request two statements. First, I would like echo the comments of the Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr and, once again, press you on bringing forward a statement telling us what specific action the Welsh Government will be taking following the Wales Audit Office report into AWEMA. The way in which public money is spent should be a priority for any Government and should be at the top of its agenda. It is therefore only right and proper that the Welsh Government respond to this latest report, so that we can scrutinise these failings. Therefore, I once again urge the Minister, as the Minister responsible, to bring forward a statement as soon as possible.

2.45 p.m.

Secondly, leader of the House, I would be grateful if the Welsh Government could bring forward a debate, or if the Minister for Health and Social Services could at least bring forward a statement, on health service reconfiguration. I appreciate that the Government is not prepared to discuss these issues or to express its views during a consultation period, but I presume that you, as a Government, will be prepared to discuss these matters once the consultation period ends. As leader of the House, I would be grateful if you could please ensure that this place is able to debate the proposals once local health boards have dealt with the consultation responses and made their final decisions. These eventual changes could have a huge effect on the people of Wales and on our health service, and it is only right and proper that we as elected representatives have an opportunity to debate these issues and represent our constituents’ views. Therefore, I would be grateful if the leader of the House could confirm that time will be made available for a debate on health reconfiguration, or, at the very least, for a statement by the Minister for health so that we can fully scrutinise the final proposals.

Jane Hutt: While thanking Paul Davies for those questions, I would make the point that I also respect due process in the handling of not only the report that the Public Accounts Committee is currently considering but also the current and ongoing consultation on health reconfiguration. Up to this point, Members have taken the opportunity to raise questions with the Minister about the consultation, which is only right and proper, but it is clearly the time for us to focus on that, and, as part of due process, the Welsh Government’s response.

Eluned Parrott: Please could we have an indication from the Minister of whether any time could be set aside to discuss the Welsh ministerial code, and particularly the fact that this is the only legislature in the United Kingdom in which the head of the Government decides whether one of his Ministers has broken that code? I think that you will agree, Minister, that this is an important issue that speaks to the people of Wales’s fundamental ability to have confidence in this institution, and I would be very grateful if the Government were to set aside time to discuss it fully.

Jane Hutt: That is a matter for the First Minister.

Mark Isherwood: I call for a single statement, Minister. Earlier this month, on 8 October, Planning Inspectorate Wales announced its decision in respect of an appeal against a recent planning ruling made by officials in Flintshire. I call for a statement in the context of the Welsh Government’s approach to the Wales health impact assessment unit, because, while declining the proposed development, it expressed concerns that the impact on the wellbeing of people who might eventually live on the site, from the effects of noise and traffic pollution, had not been taken into account. It stated that a principal concern was the fact that no-one had properly appraised hazards that were acknowledged to be a concern for human health, and which were material to the case and its deliberations. Given that the Welsh Government’s development programme for the use of health impact assessments included the establishment of a Wales health impact assessment unit, we need a Welsh Government statement outlining when and how we can expect to see this process being made a requirement for all planning considerations that might have an impact on health and wellbeing.

  

Jane Hutt: I am sure that this is a matter that the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development is taking on board, in collaboration and partnership with the Minister for Health and Social Services. I am sure that they will want to look at this matter.

Peter Black: Minister, you have made much of due process and protocols this afternoon in relation to the AWEMA report, and yet when previous Wales Audit Office reports have come out, Ministers have made written statements or statements to the press about their content almost immediately. Examples include the River Lodge Hotel in Llangollen report, the Plas Madoc Communities First partnership report, and the Caldicot and Wentlooge levels report. Given that that precedent has been set, could you be more clear about which protocol you are referring to when you hide behind the skirts of civil servants on this particular issue? Will you now agree to bring forward a statement so that we can hold you and your Government to account on the contents of this report?

 

Jane Hutt: I have answered an urgent question on this matter this afternoon. I have nothing to add.

Darren Millar: Can we have a statement from the Minister for Health and Social Services on capacity issues within A&E departments in south Wales and particularly in the capital city? We talked earlier during questions to the First Minister about the problems experienced in Cardiff and the tragedies that happened over the weekend, and we know that the A&E department at the University Hospital of Wales was initially shut to anyone not involved in the incidents and the carnage that took place. To me, Minister, it sounds very worrying that the department did not seem able to cope with the volume of people coming in. One has to worry about the potential impact of an incident in future such as a train accident or serious traffic accident.

May I also ask for a statement from the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage on the future of Pisgah chapel in Loughor? Members will be aware that the chapel there is under threat of demolition as a result of dwindling funds from the Welsh Presbyterian church to maintain it and the fact that the lease is coming to an end. It is an important part of this country’s religious heritage given the association of the chapel with Evan Roberts, the leader of the 1904 religious revival in Wales, and I would be very grateful if the Minister could make a statement on that.

Jane Hutt: I am sure that Darren Millar did not wish to detract from the very important statements made by his leader and, indeed, across the Chamber about the way in which the emergency services responded on Friday. Indeed, the Member for Cardiff North visited the University Hospital of Wales and recognised the impact that the incident had on many public services, not only on those who were responding to it. I am sure that that is what the Chamber would want to recognise this afternoon as the key point.

On the second point, I think that it would be appropriate for you to write to the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage to explore any avenues that might be open, for the protection and preservation of that chapel.

Andrew R.T. Davies: Leader of the House, could we have two statements from the First Minister in relation to two commitments that he made some time ago now? One was to establish an air link to China. That got considerable press coverage at the time, following his visit to China. It would be very interesting to know what action the Welsh Government has undertaken to take that proposal forward. The second was his commitment to lobby to get Trident located here in Wales. It would be interesting to know what actions he has committed his Government to undertaking to keep Wales in the frame should Trident be relocated. Some six to eight months have now passed since that commitment was made, so it will be interesting to know how his Ministers are working to support it.

Jane Hutt: The Cardiff Airport taskforce, which the First Minister is leading and chairing, is already having an impact, with new routes starting, operated by the airlines that are already engaging. The airport taskforce is already making progress. This is the most appropriate way for the Welsh Government to work alongside, liaise with and challenge what is, of course, a privately owned facility that is a key part of the economic development and future of Wales.

I am not inclined to respond to the second question that the leader of the Welsh Conservatives asked, except to say that this is clearly not within our powers or within our intentions.

Nick Ramsay: Leader of the House, last week, we had urgent questions on the issue of asbestos in schools and specifically the temporary closure of Cwmcarn High School because asbestos was causing a problem there. It is very important that we have an update from your Government as soon as possible on how policy is being developed to deal with this unfolding problem of asbestos in our school stock. There are growing concerns among parents. Those fears need to be allayed as soon as possible. Shortly, I will be launching the Parents’ Right to Know campaign, which we hope will see a database being brought into being that will allow people to get information on asbestos in schools. I would be grateful for your views on that and I would like the Welsh Government to make a statement on it as soon as possible.

Jane Hutt: The Minister for Education and Skills told the Chamber last week that his department has written to all local authorities in Wales to confirm that they are undertaking their statutory duties in accordance with current legislation, and asking for their existing plans for the management of asbestos in schools to be reviewed accordingly. It also asked authorities to ensure that there are appropriate contingency plans in place for the continuing education of pupils affected by emergency school closures, such as that experienced by Cwmcarn school. Therefore, the Minister has taken action accordingly, as he indicated last week.

Datganiad: Canlyniadau Ymgynghoriad 'Cynnal Cymru Fyw’
Statement: The Outcomes of the 'Sustaining a Living Wales’ Consultation

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The Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development (John Griffiths): Earlier this year, I launched the Green Paper consultation, 'Sustaining a Living Wales’, on our proposals for ensuring that Wales has increasingly resilient and diverse ecosystems, while delivering economic and social wellbeing, now and for the longer term. Wales’s land, water, air and biodiversity are the resources on which we and everything else depend. Ecosystems provide us with the natural resources upon which we all rely. Our long-term aspiration is for natural resource management at each level to demonstrate our focus on sustainable development. By enhancing and managing our natural environment more holistically and by putting in place the structures, tools and evidence to support better decisions, we will not only secure our environmental wellbeing but maximise the economic and social benefits for the long term. That is what we mean by the ecosystem approach. An example of that can be seen in the Dovey valley, where the community has recognised the diversity of its natural beauty, heritage and wildlife and is using it to benefit local people, bringing jobs and safeguarding wildlife, with a new visitor centre in place.

The priority for the Welsh Government continues to be the creation of sustainable jobs and growth in these tough times, and our environmental wellbeing is clearly crucial to this aim. This is demonstrated by the 40,000 jobs that already employ people in the environment, low-carbon and renewable sectors in Wales and, crucially, by the growth in these areas. It also shows that, as a Government, our commitment to sustainable development—acting in the long-term interests of the people of Wales and ensuring that everything that we do supports economic, social and environmental wellbeing—means that we are well placed to deliver. Within my portfolio, the progress through investments in areas such as energy efficiency, waste, water and flood management, and in our approach to energy policy further highlight the strength of the connection between the economy and the environment.  

The 'Sustaining a Living Wales’ Green Paper sought views from a broad range of sectors. We received nearly 300 responses and a detailed report summarising them was published in September. They reflected the huge public interest in this area and broad support for what we are trying to achieve. They were overwhelmingly positive about the direction that we are proposing to take. Consultees acknowledged that this is a complex and challenging agenda, but a significant number acknowledged that a piecemeal approach to the decision making affecting natural resources will not help us to deliver the economic, social and environmental gains that we need. Respondents called on the Welsh Government to develop an integrated and more holistic approach, and that is precisely our aim.

In that respect, it is very pleasing that such a wide range of individuals and organisations in Wales positively support and want to help us to achieve our aspirations. The good range of responses from business showed significant support for our approach, recognising the opportunities that streamlining regulatory regimes could bring.

3.00 p.m.

There is a good deal of support to show that we are on the right path, particularly in relation to natural resource management and putting the ecosystem approach at its heart. We will ensure that all of our policies, legislation and plans, along with the bodies responsible for delivering them, integrate in their approach and join up. By building on what currently works well, and only changing those elements which do not, we will go with the grain for business and communities, and for what our natural resources can and cannot sustain. I believe that by coming together in this way we can solve multiple problems in much more effective ways. My department has already begun to use this approach. Our actions to date in taking this forward have already captured the interest of the rest of the UK and Europe, as to how these concepts are made a reality of day-to-day decisions.

Our programme for government sets out a commitment to develop a water strategy for Wales, and we aim to consult on this in early 2013. The strategy will focus on the sustainable management of our water and infrastructure for the benefit of Wales, its people, our economy and the environment. The establishment of the new natural resources body for Wales is central to the Welsh Government’s strategic vision for the environment and the management of Wales’s natural resources. The need for this new, integrated approach is a key part of our thinking about the new body, and it informs development of the second order to bring together the functions of the three legacy bodies. We are also adopting a co-production approach in the development of the new body’s performance framework, which will provide the basis for successful delivery in partnership with the Welsh Government.

The next phase of the natural resource management planning work is to put in place the legislative framework for the environment by delivering the environment Bill, and my intention is to issue a White Paper next year. In doing so, we will focus on engagement with the full range of partners and sectors so that we are clear about the challenges and potential conflicts and making the most of the synergies and opportunities. At the same time, we will ensure that the development of our approach to natural resource planning goes hand in hand with our wider strategic objectives, including our focus on the improvement of the planning system.

To conclude, in parallel, I want to make sure that we begin to see the benefits of this approach on the ground. We will be working on developing a series of demonstration projects that will exemplify the ecosystem approach and showcase the benefits it can bring. There are lessons that we want to draw upon from a broad range of activities across Wales and further afield. Through this, we can continue to lead the way in terms of integrating the ecosystem approach, and most importantly, putting the needs of future generations at the heart of our decision making, delivering truly sustainable development.

Russell George: I thank the Minister for bringing forward this statement. Setting a sound platform for the natural environment framework is vitally important if the Government is to succeed in achieving the wide range of outcomes that it has set for itself. I think that the responses to the consultation show that wider Welsh society is prepared to buy into your aspiration, but it wants more detail, and it specifically wants a clear understanding of the approach, which goes beyond mere technical definitions, and how the core principles of that approach are practically delivered on the ground. A key aspect of future work will be to engage with the widest possible range of stakeholders. The responses suggest a lack of clarity on the approach and what it means practically, in delivery terms. Therefore, Minister, how do you intend to tackle this issue? Will it be purely by demonstration projects alone, or will we see more detailed projects? Also, is it a process that you will take forward as a Government, or do you intend to leave it to the leadership of the new body to shape?

The spur for this new approach were the missed 2010 targets, and the Government now has its sights on the medium-term international targets for 2020 and the long-term targets for 2050. However, there are concerns that this new approach still does not give appropriate regard to halting and reversing biodiversity loss. Given that your predecessor told the previous environment committee’s inquiry into biodiversity loss that the new NEF would be the driver for this change, how do you intend to demonstrate that this remains a high priority? Will the enhancement or possible extension of protected sites be worked up in a natural resources management plan or will it come in the environment Bill?

While we eagerly anticipate the Government bringing forward its legislation, there is a recurring theme in the responses that the implementation of existing legislation and regulation must be improved and made to work better both in terms of the environment and in terms of business. How are you and your officials dealing with this specific issue of improving enforcement and compliance?

Some responses are right to point out that we must not reduce ecosystems to a series of marketable goods and services. It is important to have economic outcomes and benefits as a high priority in the new approach. Therefore, can the Minister tell me what role he envisages for the private sector in delivering ecosystem services, and can he tell me, where the private sector is delivering ecosystem services, that it will be properly recompensed for that delivery?

Finally, the role of natural sciences will be crucial in allowing us to have a proper understanding of how ecosystems are functioning in Wales. Given the complexity of ecosystems, the current gaps in scientific understanding and the links between ecosystems and the services that they provide, it will understandably take a considerable amount of time to identify and collate the necessary local and national indicators and datasets required to measure and, ultimately, to understand the long-term health and resilience of our ecosystems. Therefore, does the Minister have any indication of how long he believes that it will take to get all the necessary data in place to give us a clear picture of the current health of ecosystems in Wales?

John Griffiths: I thank Russell George for his recognition that there is widespread buy-in to the new ecosystems approach, which is shown by the responses to our consultation. I would like to assure him that we will have the widest possible engagement with stakeholders on an ongoing basis as we develop our approach and take policy and practice forward. The projects that will help demonstrate what we mean by our new approach to the natural resources management systems that we are developing in Wales are important, but they are at the start of demonstrating in practice what we mean. They will be rolled out across Wales as we go forward.

It is also important that we establish the right sort of framework, and much work is ongoing to achieve that at the moment. Again, we are looking to continue working with key stakeholders to further demonstrate what we mean and further develop that approach. It is clear that we have come a long way, working with our partners. The consultation has been extremely instructive in demonstrating the amount of support that exists in Wales for what we have set out, but we understand some of the requests for further detail, as the Member mentioned. There is a deal of impatience, and much of this of this is new and emerging thinking, so I can understand that. However, it is quite clear that we will take forward the new single body and 'Sustaining a Living Wales’ in tandem because they are both about joining up, integration, sustainable development, long-termism and greater effectiveness and efficiency. Therefore, they go together very well and that is why, in terms of the questions about the role of the Welsh Government and the single body, the Welsh Government sets policy, but the single body will be extremely important in term of delivering on that policy and further developing that new approach.

As for the questions on biodiversity, that will be a crucial test as to whether we can make the progress that we need to make; we recognise that. Regulation must be intelligent and proportionate and that is the approach that the single body will seek to take and that businesses in Wales very much expect, and rightly so. There is yet more to be done in terms of payment for ecosystem services and the benefit that that might bring to the private sector, so we will have to develop this and thrash it out as we go forward. Finally, I very much agree that the science—the evidence base—for this work and further work that we will see in Wales is absolutely crucial; we must continue to build that evidence base, because we rightly state, as a Government, that all our policy making and implementation must be firmly based on evidence.

Y Cofnod

Llyr Huws Gruffydd: Diolch, Weinidog, am eich datganiad heddiw. Mae’n glir, yn ôl yr ymatebion, fod sêl bendith i greu fframwaith newydd ac uchelgeisiol i amddiffyn amgylchedd naturiol Cymru ac i sicrhau rheolaeth yr adnoddau naturiol, yn seiliedig ar y dull ecosystemau.

Llyr Huws Gruffydd: Thank you, Minister, for your statement today. It is clear from the responses that there is support for the creation of a new and ambitious framework to protect the natural environment of Wales and to ensure the proper management of natural resources, based on the ecosystems approach.

Dyma fydd y newid mwyaf mewn cenhedlaeth i’r ffordd y mae’r amgylchedd yn cael ei reoli. Gyda’r cyfle hwnnw daw cyfrifoldeb a hoffwn danlinellu bod hwnnw’n gyfrifoldeb y bydd yn rhaid ei ysgwyddo ar draws Llywodraeth Cymru, heb ei adael i’ch adran chi yn unig i’w yrru ymlaen. Y tu hwnt i hynny, mae rôl i’r sector gyhoeddus ehangach ac i’r sector breifat, ac mae cyfleoedd i gyfrannu at y gwaith hwnnw, gan gynnwys cymunedau yn ehangach. Yr hyn yr ydym yn sôn amdano yw newid mewn gwerthoedd, ac mae hynny’n heriol iawn, yn enwedig pan fo llywodraeth yn gorfod arwain ar y newid hwnnw mewn gwerthoedd. Rwyf i’n un sydd yn edrych ymlaen at eich cefnogi chi ar y siwrnai honno.

This will be the most significant change in a generation to the way in which the environment is managed. With that opportunity comes a responsibility and I would like to highlight the fact that that is a responsibility that must be shared across the Welsh Government and not left to your department alone to drive forward. Beyond that, there is a role for the wider public sector and the private sector, and there are opportunities to contribute to that work, as there are for communities more generally. What we are talking about is a shift in values, which is extremely challenging, particularly when a government has to lead on that shift. I, for one, look forward to supporting you on that journey.

Mae’r ymgynghoriad wedi dangos bod pobl yn deall yr angen a’r manteision o roi gwerth ariannol i wasanaethau ecosystemau, ond fe fyddwn i’n adleisio rhai o’r gofidiau sydd wedi cael eu mynegi ynglŷn â rhoi pris ar bopeth. Yn sgîl hynny, beth fydd Llywodraeth Cymru yn ei wneud i sicrhau ein bod yn hyrwyddo, ac yn parhau i hyrwyddo, gwerth cynhenid natur a hawl foesol rhywogaethau i gydfodoli â ni, pa un a ydynt yn cyfrannu at wasanaethau ecosystemau ai peidio. Mae defnyddio prosiectau arddangos yn gyfrwng effeithiol i gael y neges drosodd. Mae ystadegau fel yr un a ddyfynnwyd y noson o’r blaen mewn cyfarfod y gwnaeth y ddau ohonom ei fynychu, ynglŷn â thwyni tywod Cymru—sydd yn werth hyd at £200 miliwn, mae’n debyg, pan ddaw hi’n fater o amddiffyn rhag llifogydd ar hyd arfordiroedd Cymru—yn helpu i ffocysu ac agor meddyliau pobl i’r gwerth cynhenid hwnnw. Hefyd, gallai Ymddiriedolaeth Bywyd Gwyllt Sir Drefaldwyn a’r gwaith sy’n digwydd ym Mhumlumon fod yn brosiect arddangos arbennig iawn, petaech yn barod i ystyried hynny.

The consultation has demonstrated that people understand the needs and benefits of placing a financial value on ecosystem services, but I would echo some of the concerns that have been expressed in relation to putting a price on everything. In the light of that, what will the Welsh Government do to ensure that we promote, and continue to promote, the inherent value of nature and the moral right of species to co-exist with us, whether they contribute to ecosystem services or not. Using identifier projects is an effective way of getting that message across. Statistics such as the one quoted the other evening in a meeting that we both attended on Welsh sand dunes—which are worth up to £200 million per annum when it comes to flood protection in Welsh coastal areas—are a help in focusing people’s minds and in opening their minds to the inherent value that we are talking about. Also, the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust and the work taking place in Plynlimon could be an exemplar project, if you were willing to consider that.

Rydych wedi cyfeirio at y ffocws ar y system gynllunio. Rwy’n siŵr nad oes angen pwysleisio y bydd y Bil cynllunio a’r newidiadau arfaethedig i’r drefn honno yn gwbl ganolog a chwbl allweddol. Rydych yn ymwybodol o fy nheimladau i ynglŷn â’r angen i edrych yn radical ar y newidiadau o fewn y drefn honno. Mae lefel anghynaliadwy datblygu, sydd, yn fy marn i, yn gwbl anorganig, yn cael ei gyrru gan broses y cynlluniau datblygu lleol.

You have referred to the focus that will be given to the planning system. I am sure that I do not need to emphasise how entirely central and how crucial the planning Bill and the proposed changes to the planning system will be. You are aware of my feelings in terms of the need to take a radical view of the changes within that regime. The unsustainable level of development, which, in my view, is entirely inorganic, is driven by the local development plan process.

Cyfeirioch chi hefyd at y fframwaith perfformiad wrth sôn am y corff newydd a fydd yn rheoli adnoddau naturiol Cymru. Efallai y gallech chi ymhelaethu ychydig ar ba ffyn mesur y byddwch yn eu defnyddio i fesur llwyddiant y corff hwnnw, yn enwedig o safbwynt atal a gwrthdroi colli bioamrywiaeth, sy’n destun gofid i nifer, fel rydym wedi clywed yn barod.

You also referred to the performance framework in talking about the new body that will manage the natural resources of Wales. Perhaps you could provide further details on the yardsticks you will use in assessing the success of that body, particularly in terms of the prevention and reversal of biodiversity loss, which is a cause of concern for many, as we have already heard.

3.15 p.m.

Yn olaf, trof at un pwynt a godwyd eisoes. Cyfeiriasoch at ddyletswyddau’r tri chorff a fydd yn cael eu huno, a’r ffaith y bydd y dyletswyddau hynny’n cael eu crynhoi. Mae gofid y bydd dyletswyddau Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru yn cael eu gwanhau a’u cyfyngu yn yr ail Orchymyn arfaethedig, gyda golwg ar y ffaith nad yw Deddf Cyrff Cyhoeddus 2011 yn caniatáu gwanhau’r dyletswyddau presennol. A wnewch chi ei gwneud yn glir heddiw y bydd holl ddyletswyddau presennol Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru yn cael eu cynnwys yn nyletswyddau’r corff newydd?

Finally, I turn to one point that has already been raised. You referred to the duties of the three bodies that are to be merged. There is concern that the duties of the Countryside Council for Wales will be diluted and limited by the second proposed Order, with a view to the fact that the Public Bodies Act 2011 does not allow the dilution of current duties. Will you make it clear today that all the current duties of the Countryside Council for Wales will be included in the duties of the new body?

Y Cofnod

John Griffiths: Again, it is very encouraging to hear a Member express his support for this very important set of policy developments, and recognise that the response to the consultation demonstrated widespread support across Wales for the approach that the Welsh Government is taking to these matters. I very much agree that, as far as the Welsh Government is concerned, if we are to make a success of this direction of travel, it has to be a matter of all Government departments buying into that direction of travel and supporting it. Obviously, sustainable development is the central organising principle of the Welsh Government, under our sustainable development scheme. The sustainable development Bill that we are taking forward will seek to give the Welsh Government and the devolved public sector in Wales a duty to have sustainable development as the central organising principle. There will be systems involved that will ensure that that is observed right across the organisations that are subject to that duty. That will be very significant and important indeed.

However, it is very much a matter of shifting values. We recognise that that is always difficult for Government to achieve, in terms of communities and people. It takes time. We understand that we will have to work at these policies over a sustained period of time, but the consultation and responses were again very encouraging, in terms of the number of partners that will be aiding that effort. I also very much agree that there is an inherent value in nature and biodiversity. We should never overlook that, and we should not seek to talk about nature in terms of monetary values that can be assigned to different aspects of it. In recognising that ecosystems services and nature can have monetary value, if it is right to express it in that way, we should also recognise that it has inherent value. Plynlimon is a good example of the success of the ecosystems approach, and it is a clear example that we can use. Planning is crucial, but it is very useful that sustainable development is at the very heart of our planning system, including local development plans. Therefore, there is much on which we can build.

Finally, we will work through the best ways of monitoring, supervising and assessing the success of the single body, including on the matter of biodiversity. I assure the Member that the duties of the Countryside Council for Wales and the two other legacy bodies will be transferred to the new body by way of the second Order.

Aled Roberts: On behalf of my colleague William Powell, I thank the Minister for his statement. I will try not to show my ignorance on this subject too blatantly.

I will not repeat the comments that have already been made. Russell George and Llyr Huws Gruffydd have indicated that, while the consultation responses were positive overall, some of them indicated that there was confusion or a lack of understanding with regard to the practical application of this policy. I note the fact that you have indicated that there will be demonstrator projects, which I welcome. Given the fact that it has been a main plank of Welsh Government policy for some years now, how do you expect the consultation and this wider framework to relate to the ongoing work with regard to the new planning Bill? More importantly, considering the assurances given, particularly by your predecessor, and the fact that we have not moved as quickly as we might have hoped at the outset, how will your department make a stronger case within Government over the coming years to ensure that we see real progress on this issue?

There is obviously a widely held view emerging from the consultation that much of the ecosystem and landscape hold a value beyond the purely economic. What role do you therefore see for bodies such as Cadw and local authorities in the practical application of the ecosystems approach, and what discussions have you had with your colleagues, the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage and the Minister for Local Government and Communities, to facilitate this?

Finally, the wording of the initial consultation appeared to create an element of doubt about the role that protected sites will play over the longer term. Can you take this opportunity today to confirm that protected sites will survive and continue to receive the backing of Welsh Government in the important role that they currently play?

John Griffiths: I thank Aled Roberts for that contribution and for those questions. I do recognise that it is important that we have projects in place to demonstrate what we mean by this new approach. Indeed, we can point to existing work to demonstrate the approach that we seek to take forward. One example of that, as I mentioned in my statement, is that of the Dyfi valley biosphere, which I have visited. It is a clear example of a community looking at an area of land that was quite barren, and rather than seeking to conserve it, which I guess many people would think is often the approach to areas of community land, local people wanted to develop it, in terms of ecosystem services and sustainable development. They did that as a local community. They created much greater biodiversity and a much more attractive area of land by diverting a watercourse so that the land was partly flooded. At the same time, they attracted many more visitors, which brought economic benefits and created jobs. Of course, they were also able to enjoy that area of land, as a community, much more than had been the case hitherto. So, I think that it clearly hit the social, economic and environmental benefits required for sustainable development. So, there are examples in Wales that we can point to and spread.

As I said earlier, planning is extremely important, and that has been recognised in some of the recommendations made by the independent advisory group in terms of taking forward a framework for planning in Wales with a strong spatial element. So, we clearly look at areas of land and decide what is best placed where and where appropriate infrastructure can be sited, for example. There is clearly a strong relationship between the work that we are doing under 'Sustaining a Living Wales’ and our planning developments.

Yes, landscapes do have an inherent value, but they are also important in sustainable development terms. For example, there is an obvious economic benefit to landscape in terms of the visitors that it attracts to Wales, and there is an obvious quality of life for local people who can enjoy looking at, walking in and using that landscape.

I accept that Cadw and other bodies are very much part of this agenda, and we will continue to work closely with them, as we have up to now. Clearly, I work with Ministers right across the Welsh Government so that we make the necessary connections.

Finally, it has always been important that we look at designations and protection for particular parts of Wales, and that will continue to be our approach as we go forward with this work.

Antoinette Sandbach: Thank you, Minister, for the statement. The ecosystems approach being pursued by the Welsh Government has much to commend it, although I know that some of the consultation responses highlighted large areas of concern about the interpretation and how that was going to be applied and delivered.

I wonder if I could raise a few questions with you. You referred to 40,000 working people in your statement; can you confirm whether that figure, which seems a bit low to me, includes those in the farming and forestry sector? It seems that, if you are looking at an ecosystems approach, you should be looking at all of the working people who deliver environmental goods and services. Given that, what prominence will you be giving to the role of forestry in terms of locking up carbon? In terms of Glastir and the agri-environment scheme, responses to the consultation warned about over-reliance on Glastir to achieve the desired outcomes, so can you confirm what assurances you have received from the Deputy Minister that, following the many changes to the scheme, you will be able to deliver the level of participation needed from landowners? Is it your intention to transfer the oversight of Glastir to the natural resources body? The business case mentioned that. If so, when? Finally, I know that, if my colleague Julie Morgan was here, she would be raising the marine environment with you, because that is a particular interest of hers. [Interruption.] Sorry—I mean Julie James. I apologise to Julie Morgan, who is of course here. It was Julie James that I was thinking of.

I heard evidence recently that your nine civil servants in the marine department do not sit with the fisheries department. Given your new, integrated approach, will you be ensuring that there is a merging, so that marine and fisheries staff sit and work together? The marine conservation zone consultation demonstrated clearly the consequences of civil servants not talking to each other. Finally, in terms of stakeholders, I heard what you said earlier, but will you confirm that you will listen as well as engage?

John Griffiths: I begin by assuring Antoinette Sandbach that I am always in listening and engagement mode, and will continue to be so, around these issues and everything else within my portfolio. I also assure her that we are very much joined up across Welsh Government on these matters, and that applies to fisheries and marine environment policy. I recently discussed these matters with the Deputy Minister, for example. That also applies to Glastir. It is clear that Glastir is a big step in helping us take forward ecosystem services, and we are very pleased that we have those opportunities.

The role of forestry is important and has been the subject of much discussion. Forestry provides a great deal for us in Wales in terms of private industry, carbon capture, health and community use, tourism—it is very much a deliverer of cross-cutting benefits and it will have a prominent place as we go forward with the single body and policy.

When it comes to the jobs that are involved in the green economy, it is possible to define it in all sorts of ways. However, what is very clear is that the great natural environment that we have in Wales is the base for everything that we have of value, and everything that we hope for in terms of our policies for the future. Sustaining jobs in general is a big part of those benefits, but we also know that the only growth that we have seen recently is around the green economy, so it is absolutely vital that we drive the green economy forward, however you define it.

Datganiad: Ymateb Llywodraeth Cymru i 'Adolygu Ardrethi Busnes Cymru: Cymell Twf’
Statement: The Welsh Government’s Response to 'Business Rates Wales Review: Incentivising Growth’

Y Cofnod

The Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science (Edwina Hart): I am delighted to have this opportunity to respond to the business rates review. I gave the task and finish group a very clear remit to find out whether the business rates regime could be used as a lever for economic growth. The group has produced a comprehensive picture of the business rates landscape in Wales, and I am pleased today to be responding positively to the recommendations within the report.

3.30 p.m.

However, we must remind ourselves at the outset that business rates are not a cure-all for the current economic difficulties that we face; they are just one lever. I will therefore seek to link this with cross-cutting Government work on several areas. Professor Brian Morgan’s engagement over the summer has generated an interesting debate, and I welcome Members’ input into this process. Your contributions to me and the group have been important and timely. I want businesses to feel the benefits on the ground, and we will take action now, and over the next year, to respond positively.

There are 19 recommendations, and our response is overwhelmingly positive. I will focus on the headlines in this statement, but I am also publishing a supporting written document, which I believe Members have received, and I hope that that will be useful for the tone of the discussion on today’s statement.

I wish to turn to the main recommendation of the report, namely the devolution of business rates and the local retention of business rates. Devolving business rates would provide the policy flexibility to enable business rates to support economic development and growth. The Silk commission needs to consider business rates as part of the whole funding settlement. Our aim is to secure a comprehensive set of financial reforms for Wales that would include fairer funding and effective borrowing arrangements.

Other key recommendations that we are moving forward on include pressing the UK Government for the continuation of the small business rate relief scheme, and proposing innovative changes to the empty property rates regime, based on the recommendations of the report. A significant recommendation was for a targeted scheme for business rate relief in enterprise zones. The consequential allocation from the UK Government for Wales for business rate incentives in enterprise zones limited our ability to have an attractive incentive. I have therefore decided to match the UK Government consequential with £10 million from the Welsh Government so that we can deliver effectively for the people and businesses of Wales.

This scheme will become available in all seven Welsh enterprise zones. Even though I am doubling the amount, resources remain limited, and targeting is essential to ensure that we achieve best value and impact. The scheme will focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, with priority placed on those businesses that are new-starts or are expanding and increasing the size of their permanent workforce. Our business rates incentive in our enterprise zones will compare favourably with those on offer in England and Scotland, offering relief in all of our zones, supporting a wide range of SMEs, and targeted at incentivising jobs and growth. It will be operational from January. Between now and opening for applications, we will fine-tune the targeting of the scheme with each enterprise zone board. Details of the criteria, and the operation of the scheme, will be available prior to the launch on our website and through the usual business channels.

Another important recommendation was for renewable energy. I am pleased to announce a scheme today that is aimed at renewable energy producers. As a Government, we are committed to pursuing an ambitious sustainability and low-carbon agenda, and a vibrant energy and environment sector in Wales. Businesses that are solely concerned with the generation of heat and/or power from renewable sources, and are new-starts or are increasing the size of their permanent workforce, could qualify for a share of the £1.5 million per annum funding under the scheme. By supporting new investment from renewable energy producers, the scheme will be supporting the expansion of the sector and Wales’s renewable capacity. It sends an important message that Wales is a good place to invest. Applications for the scheme will open in January 2013, and details of the criteria will be available through our normal business channels prior to the launch. In addition, the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development has written to the UK Government to propose improving the relief that is available for businesses that invest in renewable energy.

I am also pleased to support the recommendation on regenerating town centres, by announcing start-up funding for business improvement districts. These will encourage businesses to come together and support themselves to improve their offer. The Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage and I will jointly fund a £200,000 fund to encourage the development of business improvement districts in Wales over the next three years.

Turning to other recommendations, I will ensure that our revamped websites will improve the accessibility of information on key business rates issues. We have been discussing local discretionary powers to issue rate relief with the Welsh Local Government Association, and we intend to write to local authorities to remind them of their powers in this regard. The Valuation Office Agency is being asked to review its guidance on material changes in circumstances. We will also undertake a number of actions in relation to other recommendations over the next year.

If the UK Government fails to examine ways to improve the current empty property rates regime, we will examine what we can do in this regard. If business rates are devolved, we will consider the model of the local retention of rates. We will monitor the effectiveness of tax incremental financing across the UK, and I have asked the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development to look at how the playing field between out-of-town and town-centre parking could be levelled. Additionally, although not raised in the report, the First Minister and I are concerned about the rising costs for energy-intensive industries. We will look to see if there are any ways of supporting these with the costs that they face.

Finally, the recommendation to examine charity relief has generated, as you will understand as AMs, a lot of debate and I recognise the concerns raised by the charities and the retail sector. This is a very sensitive issue, and we need to consider the concerns. Therefore, I have asked Professor Brian Morgan, supported by Juliet Luporini, to lead on this work and I have extended the remit to consider reliefs for social enterprises and credit unions, as there have been representations from those sectors as well.

I am sure that Members will be pleased that we have been able to respond in such a positive and comprehensive way to the recommendations in the review, but much has happened since the review was published. Last week, I met Professor Morgan to discuss a range of issues. As a result, I have asked the task and finish group to undertake a number of other important actions, including coming up with innovative proposals to encourage new development through rate relief, following the response from the construction sector panel, and examining the effectiveness of recently introduced schemes in Northern Ireland and Scotland to bring empty properties back into use. I have also asked the task and finish group to look at these approaches and whether they would work in Wales. Also, last week, the UK Government postponed the revaluation exercise due to come into force in England in 2015 until 2017. I have asked Professor Morgan and the group to look at the issues and provide me with advice on this particular issue.

I want to do what is right for Wales. This response offers a sound basis upon which to develop business rates policy to make some immediate improvements within existing constraints and looks longer term to creating a business rate system in Wales that gives real policy flexibility.

Nick Ramsay: I thank the Minister for her statement, which has been a long time coming; we were originally promised this statement before the summer. Notwithstanding that, I am pleased that we have it now. Also, I appreciate your initial comment that while business rates may not be a cure for all ills, you do now recognise that they are a lever. The Welsh Conservatives believe that they are a very important lever, and one which my party has been saying the Government should have been using for some time, certainly in terms of providing rate relief for small businesses.

There is a mixture of positive and negative in this statement. On the positive side, I am pleased that you say that devolving business rates would provide policy flexibility; that is certainly in line with the recommendations in the report and I agree with that. I was not entirely sure whether you did: you seemed to be saying that that will now be passed on to the Silk commission. I appreciate that it has a role to play, but local authorities and the Assembly would benefit from a little more clarity on whether you think that the devolution of business rates would provide the benefits that I think it would.

On the issue of business rate incentives in enterprise zones, that again is something for which we have been calling for a long time; it is obvious that that has to happen. As you said, we have to have competitiveness between the Welsh enterprise zone model and the Scottish and the English zone model. Clearly, rate relief within those areas is essential and I welcome the £10 million match funding, which I suppose is what it would be called, that the Welsh Government is putting into that. It is obvious that without business rate incentivisation here, we will lose out compared with England and Scotland.

I am disappointed with the downgrading—and I use that word carefully—of the issue of the local retention of rates. I say 'downgrading’ because this was one of the key recommendations of Professor Morgan’s report—the idea that local authorities should be able to keep a proportion of the business rates that they raise in order to increase accountability, support businesses and encourage local authorities to provide more support for businesses so that money is generated in their areas. That was key to Professor Morgan’s report, but it seemed to be somewhere low down in your statement; in fact, where it did appear, you said that you will consider it. I do not think that is clear enough; I would like far greater clarity on whether we believe in the local retention of rates or not. I certainly do, and I believe that it was an interesting and necessary aspect of Professor Morgan’s report, notwithstanding the fact that you would have to alter the revenue support grant funding mechanism for local government to ensure that local authorities did not lose out. I think that more work needs to be done on that and perhaps you could liaise with the Minister for Local Government and Communities to see that it is implemented. When are you considering telling us in the Chamber exactly what your views are on the local retention of rates?

You mentioned the monitoring of tax increment financing across the UK. I am not as concerned about that as I am about the local retention of rates. Monitoring is an interesting word—a bit like 'consultation’ or 'commissioners’; perhaps it is a new buzz word that has popped up, dare I say it, if there is going to be a delay in coming to a decision on that. I would be interested to know how long you think that this monitoring will take. I see that the Minister is smiling at that comment. I am not sure how the word 'monitoring’ crept in there; perhaps it was discussed before. I would be grateful if you could tell us when that monitoring will come to an end and when a decision will be taken.

Finally, Presiding Officer, because I know you have indulged me with time, the Minister mentioned the important matter of charity shops. It is a difficult one, and I think that we all recognise that. It is easy to say that there need to be changes, but there has been a discussion by all parties about how those changes may operate. It is a sensitive issue, but something needs to change and my party has made that clear over the last couple of days. You have now passed it back to Professor Morgan for his consideration. Therefore, it has come from Professor Morgan to you and it has now gone back to the task and finish group. I assume that it will come back to you. Can you tell us when that will happen, when you will make a decision and when you will put a new framework in place so that we have a much fairer playing field for charity shops and other shops in our town centres?

Edwina Hart: I thank Nick Ramsay for his contribution. There is common ground in relation to the need to look at business rates and how they can be utilised to help and assist businesses in Wales. I have always recognised the importance of business rates, which is why I decided that there should be a review. The independently minded chair and panel, who would not necessarily give you the answers that you wanted, have consulted widely to ensure that we have the information required to make the decisions. I thank you for your positive comments.

I am keen on certain areas, but we have the mechanism of the Silk commission now to look at issues. We are all content about what Silk is doing across parties, therefore, I looked at it in that particular context. In terms of the enterprise zones, yes, it is now a £20 million pot, which is a good start in terms of the cash needed to develop things.

The local retention issue, based on the English model, is one of the areas that we will look at further, and that is quite important for us. You have listed some other areas that we are continuing to monitor, so that we can look to see how things will pan out. There are different things going on in the UK and people might prefer what the Scots are doing or what is going on in Northern Ireland, so we have to keep abreast of all that.

You are quite right about the charity shops issue, which has engendered an awful lot of correspondence. Many retail outlets started off by asking, 'What’s going on? I’m only next door and I am employing people and paying national insurance contributions, so why is the benefit there?’ Therefore, a discussion has begun, and I am conscious that, within the overall business rates issue, there needs to be a more specific look at some of the charity shop stuff. I want to give a commitment to the voluntary sector that this will be looked at. I very much hope that the work that Professor Brian Morgan will be undertaking will be done quite quickly. I will speak to him and update Members. However, I want to say to Members that, while this is my response, there are other issues that will emerge from business rates, and I would be delighted if Members wanted to participate in any further discussions with Professor Morgan as the policy develops across the UK, if it would be of help and of interest to them.

Mike Hedges: First, I want to mention business improvement districts and, as the Minister is aware, there is a very successful one in Swansea. Will any of the additional £200,000 that you have or that will be made available be available for business improvement districts that are currently in existence, such as the one in Swansea, or will it only be available for new business improvement districts?

Secondly, rate relief is wonderful, but a number of companies are on rate-rent payments, and when they get their rates reduced to zero, all that happens is that the people who are renting them the buildings make additional profits. What can be done to ensure that any rate relief given is passed on to the companies or businesses concerned?

My third question is on empty property rates, which I have always felt to be massively unfair. I hold the same view on this as I do on empty properties. It is a 'can’t rent, won’t rent’ or a 'can’t sell, won’t sell’ scenario. What can be done to help those who have, through no fault of their own, found their businesses to be incapable of carrying on but who still have to pay the rates on the buildings that they have vacated? It seems incredibly unfair that people who have tried to run a business and failed face a financial penalty.

 

3.45 p.m.

Finally, I urge caution on the local retention of rates. The increase in business rates over the last 10 years has varied dramatically, from 6.3% in Ynys Môn to 79.9% in Wrexham, and from £14 million in Merthyr to £169 million in Cardiff. If local retention had happened and the respective areas had been able to keep 10%, that would have moved money away from north-west Wales to south-east Wales. Unless additional moneys can be made available to local authorities to allow them to balance that out, I cannot see how we can stop this movement of money from one part of Wales to another; perhaps the Minister can explain.

Edwina Hart: I thank the Member for Swansea East for his contribution. In his last few points, he illustrated the difficulty of dealing with the whole issue of business rates. The Member has an excellent understanding, with his background in local government, of the realities of how a change in one area impacts on the rest of Wales with regard to how we deal with the business rates issue. That applies to local retention in particular; there will be issues with regard to the impact on the rest of Wales, and these are matters that have been raised with me.

There is concern about empty properties and how to deal with them. There are obviously issues with which the UK Government can help. However, as I indicated in my statement, if not, we will be looking at how we can deal with some of the empty property issues here. If we have to do so, Brian Morgan’s group can carry on looking at those issues.

With regard to business improvement districts, it was envisaged that these would be for new people, because we have had a tremendous amount of interest, as a result of the Swansea district, in what we can do in those particular areas. With regard to rate relief, we are back to the usual issues. However, I assure the Member that all of these issues are still up for discussion if they have not been resolved in my statement, because I recognise that this is a very large and complex issue for us to deal with.

Y Cofnod

Alun Ffred Jones: Diolch am y datganiad. Yn fyr iawn, roeddwn yn rhannu ansicrwydd Nick Ramsay ynglŷn â datganoli ardrethi busnes. Nid yw’n eglur o’r datganiad a ydych o blaid hynny yn gyfan gwbl ai peidio, felly byddwn yn gofyn i chi eto: a fyddwch yn dadlau o blaid datganoli ardrethi busnes i Gymru a sut fyddwch yn gwneud hynny?

Alun Ffred Jones: Thank you for the statement. Briefly, I shared Nick Ramsay’s uncertainty about the devolution of business rates. It is not clear from the statement whether you are entirely in favour of that or not, therefore I would ask you again: would you argue for the devolution of business rates to Wales and how would you go about that?

O ran yr argymhellion am y parthau menter, lle mae £20 miliwn yn mynd i fod ar gael i roi goddefiad ardrethi i fusnesau, sut fyddwch yn sicrhau na fydd yr ardaloedd hynny’n sugno busnesau i mewn o lefydd eraill yng Nghymru, sef yr hyn ddigwyddodd y tro diwethaf i hyn gael ei drio? A oes unrhyw anawsterau o ran pwerau ynglŷn â hyn? A fydd angen caniatâd o San Steffan, er enghraifft, ac a fydd unrhyw effaith ar y grant bloc yn hynny o beth?

With regard to recommendations on the enterprise zones, where £20 million will be available to give rate relief to businesses, how will you ensure that those zones will not draw in businesses from other parts of Wales, which is what happened the last time that this was tried? Are there any difficulties in terms of powers in this regard? Will we need permission from Westminster, for example, and will there be any effect on the block grant in that regard?

Mae’r cynllun a’r cyhoeddiadau ynglŷn â helpu cynlluniau ynni adnewyddadwy i’w croesawu’n fawr. Edrychaf ymlaen at ddarllen y manylion am y rheiny. Yn anffodus, ni fyddant yn cael llawer o effaith oni bai ein bod yn gwneud newidiadau i’r broses gynllunio i’w chael yn eglur a thryloyw, a hefyd yn gwneud gwelliannau sylweddol i’r rhwydwaith dosbarthu sy’n gallu delio gyda chynlluniau fel hyn mewn ardaloedd gwledig.

The scheme and the announcements regarding assisting renewable energy schemes are to be greatly welcomed. I look forward to reading the detail about those. Unfortunately, they will not have much effect unless we make changes to the planning process to make it clear and transparent, and also make substantial improvements to the distribution network that can deal with such schemes in rural areas.

Mae cyfeiriadau yn y datganiad at faes llafur y flwyddyn sydd i ddod.

There are references in the statement to the field of work for the year to come.

Y Cofnod

In your statement, you mention a level playing field between out-of-town and town-centre parking. However, the real issue is that Wales is the cheapest place in the UK in which to build and operate a supermarket. I do not know how we ended up here, with pressures on our in-town private businesses while the multinational chains have it easy on the periphery. Fundamentally, will you undertake a review of the revaluation process? There is mention of revaluation here, but will you review its process rather than its timing? How can it be right that potential profits can be part of the valuation of some sectors while there is no figure at all in the valuation for big companies and multinationals? That is simply unfair, especially for businesses in the tourism industry. However, I thank you for the statement. There are plenty of things to be commended in that statement.

Edwina Hart: Thank you for your contribution, Alun Ffred Jones. I very much welcome your welcome with regard to renewable energy schemes. You alluded to some of the planning processes, and my colleague, the Minister responsible, is sitting in the Chamber at this time. He and I have had several discussions on that particular issue, and he has been particularly supportive of the innovation of the renewable energy scheme that we are introducing under business rates. The point about supermarkets was well made. We understand and we have been discussing that issue, because it is clear that there are concerns about the impact certain things have on town centres in particular. I think that there is consensus across the Chamber on the importance of maintaining our town centres. Even if they are not necessarily full of shops, it is important that they are a hub for people to go into and to be able to do some of their business in.

 

In terms of enterprise zones, it will be a targeted scheme, ensuring the best use of resources. The scheme will be focused on SMEs, which I think is good, and will target those businesses that are starting up, which is also important, or which are increasing the number of their personnel. So, we are going to target in that regard, and it is entirely within our ability and powers to do so.

In terms of the revaluation process, I have indicated that I will look in detail at the UK Government’s decision last week. I hear what you are telling me about how the scheme currently works, and I am more than happy for Professor Morgan to pick up on those points, because I think that somewhere along line we will have another report from Professor Morgan on which I can then report to Plenary.

 

In terms of the devolution of business rates, I am very content with the proposition contained in Professor Morgan’s report. I am simply outlining the way that that needs to be taken forward. We will be leaving it, as a Government, to the Silk commission proposals.

Julie Morgan: I welcome what the Minister has told us today. I particularly welcome further consultation with the charity-shop sector, bringing in the credit unions and social enterprises, but will she ensure that the working group that looks at the issues related to charity shops takes into account the good causes they support, often on behalf of the statutory sector, and the fact that they provide a place in which to recycle clothes and goods and provide a cheap sales outlet for the public? Could she ensure that there is someone who can work on these issues to ensure that the wider good that is done by the charity sector is taken into account?

Edwina Hart: I do not think that anyone disputes the wider good that is done by the charity sector, but we also have to recognise that there have been concerns expressed to us about how small retailers regard the fact that they are in a high street surrounded by charity shops. They have to pay full business rates, and charity shops do not. When you look at some of the charity shops, the point has been made to me that they look really good and like any other retail outlet. It is not that there is anything wrong with that, but, as it has been drawn to our attention, we have to discuss it.

In terms of charity shops, the point has been made to me that, when you have very localised charities that are raising money, say, for a local hospice, and they have a handful of shops, those are perhaps different from some of the very big charities that operate across the country. We will make sure that we get a good group in to talk to the members of the group that are taking this forward. We will make it a very transparent process, and I will bring the report that comes from Professor Morgan here, for discussion in a statement, if that would be helpful, before I make any further decisions or recommendations on this matter.

  

Eluned Parrott: I, too, would like to thank the Minister for the statement today and for publishing the responses to the headline recommendations. I am very glad that you feel positively disposed towards this very helpful report. I am also grateful for your expressed intention to approach this policy area in a collaborative spirit.

I very much welcome the seedcorn funding for business improvement districts announced today. I think that that was an issue that was raised in the Enterprise and Business Committee’s report into town-centre regeneration last year. I think that it will be a helpful opportunity in many cases. I am also glad to see that there will be rate relief in enterprise zones, although I would welcome more detail on how the targeting criteria will be developed. For example, how will you assess a company’s potential for growth other than just its expressed intention and wish to grow?

I also welcome your commitment to improve access to information on business rates through the Welsh Government’s website. I get quite a lot of case work about support with business rates, and I would be keen to hear whether there are other ways in which you will be promoting existing hardship schemes and assistance programmes that are within your power.

Nick Ramsay has already mentioned the local retention of rates and tax increment financing, and I, too, would like to emphasise the importance of these as an opportunity. I note the great complexity of the situation, as raised by Mike Hedges a little earlier, but that does not mean that it is an opportunity that we should not pursue fully.

With regard to some specific issues on the responses document, you tie together recommendations 4, 5, 6 and 7 under the heading 'empty property rates’, but recommendation 7 was more to do with the problem that arises when a business improves its existing premises and then is hit with huge rate increases. We saw cases of rate increases of some 200% when we visited Narberth as a committee last year. Therefore, I also ask you to comment on that as a separate issue.

You also mentioned a response from the construction sector panel in both your statement and your responses document. Given the weight that you have given to that, perhaps you would be prepared to share it with Members.

I note that, as Nick Ramsay has already mentioned, you say in your statement that business rates are not a panacea, but it is the No.1 issue that small businesses raise, certainly when I meet them. I think they would be a little disappointed that it has taken so long to produce this response today and that so many of the actions outlined in it are still for the future. I recognise that many of these issues are tied to responses from Westminster and from the Silk commission, but I would welcome more clarity on what it is that the Welsh Government is asking for from both of those places.

Edwina Hart: Thank you very much for your contribution and for a number of the points that you have made. I will certainly take another look at recommendation 7 in light of your comments about how those recommendations have been tied together. It is certainly not my intention to obfuscate on these matters; it is just a way of trying to take these matters forward in a logical manner with the Silk commission and things on which I have to write to the UK Government. Therefore, I would be delighted to pick up all of those points in a further statement. Whether I will be able to report to the Chamber before Christmas depends on when Brian Morgan will be able to complete his report on charities, but I hope that he will be able to do so quite quickly.

We are often accused in Government of not giving sufficient weight to the views of committees, but I think that we have done so in terms of the seedcorn funding that we have given for business improvement districts. Both the Minister next to me and I feel very strongly that they are an exceptionally useful vehicle for dealing with the regeneration of towns, because it is a bottom-up approach and is about people joining together. The fact is that we are not implementing it—they want to do it, which is very important.

With regard to the enterprise zones, I will certainly share with Members the detail of all of the schemes that I have announced today. I will do that as early as possible and ask you for any comments that you think might be helpful before I publish them fully for business and they go live. There might be a small window of opportunity to enable me to do that, and I am more than happy to share that information.

You are quite right to ask, when there are queries, what the websites are like. We certainly have to do some improvements to the Welsh Government website, but, as I indicated previously, we will also have to do some work with the WLGA on how it deals with these issues on a practical level in local authorities, what is on its website, and also with regard to the importance of having the right person to speak to within the organisation who understands business rates. There is nothing worse than being pushed from pillar to post in terms of your understanding as a business. However, you are absolutely right about some of the other points, such as incremental retention. We will return to those, and I will be more than happy to provide updates in any way that I can to keep the broad consensus that we have on business rates in the Chamber.

Antoinette Sandbach: In the spirit of that broad consensus, Minister, I would like to highlight to you that rural communities are particularly dependent on their high streets. I am sure that you are aware of many market towns not only in north Wales but across the whole of Wales. Your response does not specifically mention rural communities; there were recommendations and, in particular, Professor Morgan referred to the value of targeted support for business rate relief in rural communities. So, will you commit to looking at that and will you also consider splitting the multiplier between larger and smaller businesses in terms of distinguishing those who are more able to pay, as it were?

Edwina Hart: I am certainly more than happy to take on board the Member’s comments about doing further work. I am particularly aware that high streets are very important to rural communities. I was very pleased to pick up the points of Kirsty Williams, I think, on the local growth zone issues that emerged from Powys. I am currently giving them consideration in the broadest sense of the word, looking at my business rates report and other initiatives in Wales, on which I will be reporting to the Assembly. Hopefully, that will give an illustration of what we might do elsewhere within rural Wales. However, I would certainly be pleased to pick up the points that you have raised with me for further discussion with Professor Morgan.

4.00 p.m.

Mick Antoniw: First, I thank Professor Morgan and his team for the considerable efforts that they made, particularly in coming to my constituency of Pontypridd to meet with businesses. I think that the response from businesses has shown that they regard Government as listening carefully on something that is important to them.

You have covered most of my points. Just one area to expand upon a little, perhaps, is the imbalance between out-of-town developments and town centres, particularly the big retail parks. There are two aspects to this, the first being the difference between them in rateable charges, compared with turnover. The second aspect, which is the big issue and is commented on in the report, is the differential that is created by the capacity of the big retail parks to offer free parking, as opposed to town centres where there are often contractual arrangements already in place for paid parking, often with private developers. I wonder whether that is a matter that will be given some serious consideration.

Edwina Hart: I thank the Member for Pontypridd for his comments on this. They are matters that will be given serious consideration, and I have already raised them with my colleague who has responsibility for planning. These are among the key issues that are raised with me when I am out and about, given the perceived unfairness—and perhaps the reality of the unfairness.

Russell George: Sorry if I have missed your answer on this, Minister, but I was not clear on how Powys local growth zones fit into your proposals today. Could you just clarify that, please?

Edwina Hart: I was giving an illustration of the Powys local growth zones in the discussion about how you revitalise such communities within rural areas. Following on from Antoinette Sandbach’s contribution, I indicated that I had looked at Powys local growth zones and at what I am doing in that respect. Some of the issues that have been raised in the business rates report, on help and wider issues, will also help to formulate and develop that policy. It might also be useful in the discussion about how we can help small and medium-sized enterprises in those areas.

Daeth y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro (Rhodri Glyn Thomas) i’r Gadair am 4.02 p.m.
The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer (Rhodri Glyn Thomas) took the Chair at 4.02 p.m.

Datganiad: Ad-drefnu Addysg Uwch
Statement:  Reconfiguration

Y Cofnod

The Minister for Education and Skills (Leighton Andrews): On 6 August, I announced the start of a statutory consultation on the dissolution of the University of Wales, Newport HE Corporation and Cardiff Metropolitan University HE Corporation. I allowed 16 weeks for responses, rather than the statutory 12 weeks, in recognition that we were beginning the process before the beginning of a new academic year. On 1 October, I wrote to all consultees, noting that the consultation would be paused until additional information had been made available, following a request from lawyers representing Cardiff Metropolitan University. I now wish to update Members on the next steps and to clarify any misconceptions about the consultation process, following a series of misleading statements made in media interviews.

We will provide to all consultees as soon as possible answers to questions, which Cardiff Metropolitan University’s lawyers have requested. The information will be made available on the Welsh Government website. I have not yet made a decision on either of the two options on which the Government is consulting. I will not be doing so until after the consultation, when all responses, information and evidence that I receive have been given full consideration.

In the meantime, I am disappointed that I have to correct a number of recent misleading statements made by representatives of Cardiff Metropolitan University. The chair of Cardiff Metropolitan University said that she had only had the opportunity to meet me on one occasion. In fact, the most recent planned meeting, scheduled for 1 October, was cancelled on 21 September at the request of the university. The chair of Cardiff Metropolitan University also claimed that the director of skills,  and lifelong learning and Professor Sir Steve Smith had threatened Cardiff Metropolitan University that, if they did not merge by 2014, they would suffer 'a thousand cuts’ from the funding body. I am afraid that that statement is quite untrue.

Professor Sir Steve Smith, current vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter and a previous chair of Universities UK has written to me to clarify the content of the meeting referred to by the chair of Cardiff Metropolitan University. I published Professor Smith’s letter yesterday. In addition, Cardiff Metropolitan University claims to have supplied the Welsh Government with a business case of its own. The university has submitted a presentation setting out ideas for the future, but in no sense does that document represent a business case.

I have also heard reference to the Wales Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee. For the benefit of Members who were not here during the third Assembly, I should like to remind the Chamber that the Wales Audit Office said in 2009 that previous discussions between the University of Glamorgan and UWIC

'broke down in an atmosphere of some rancour’.

The Audit Committee, the predecessor of the current Public Accounts Committee, in reviewing the WAO report, said:

'We were struck by the difficulty that the Assembly Government and HEFCW had in terms of bending institutions’ minds to the Assembly Government’s ways of thinking; we likened it to herding cats’.

There is form here. We cannot allow HE policy to be determined by the personal rivalries and animosities of senior executives and governors.

There has been a succession of reports over the last decade, culminating in the report by Professor Sir Steve Smith published in July this year, which point the way to merger to create a single post-1992 institution in south-east Wales. These reports form part of the evidence that has informed the development of the strategic outline case, which I published as part of the consultation, in line with the Treasury’s five-case model for developing a business case.

Importantly, the strategic outline case draws on a body of evidence that has long been available publicly, as well as the discussions that I had between March and May this year with the chairs and vice-chancellors of Cardiff Metropolitan, Glamorgan and Newport, together with the principal and interim chair of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, on the options for creating a single metropolitan university in south-east Wales. Importantly, discussions also took place with staff and student representatives, and not just with the senior management of those institutions.  

I have welcomed the discussions that the University of Wales, Newport and the University of Glamorgan have already begun, with a view to creating an institution with an enhanced applied research capacity, a focus on business engagement and employability, and improved access opportunities for local learners. I am conscious that these discussions between the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport appear to be developing well.

If, at the end of the present consultation, my decision is to proceed with option B, which is the merger of the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport, it is almost inevitable that the sustainability of Cardiff Metropolitan University as part of a reconfigured HE sector in Wales would have to be reconsidered in the near future. I stress that I have taken no decisions at this stage.

I continue to believe that HEFCW’s recommendations for south-east Wales, leading to a single strong post-1992 university alongside a leading research-intensive institution, are the way forward.

Angela Burns: Minister, I read your statement with a great deal of interest and it has made me, personally, very sad. I think that it is terribly unbecoming of a Minister, and the fact that you, who are so deft at handling extremely difficult situations, have engaged in a public spat and used this place and this statement to publicly tell off officials from Cardiff Metropolitan for words they did say, but in meetings in which neither you nor I were present—or any other Assembly Member here, to my knowledge—is entirely inappropriate.

I do not really have much more to say because this is tit-for-tat, and I do not wish to get involved in it. I am well aware that Cardiff Metropolitan hold a very different view of the course of events. What has really ruined this awful situation is how the whole episode has been handled. You talk, Minister, of a business case or a succession of reports that have culminated in a report by Sir Steve Smith. We have debated those reports in the Chamber before, and they are not so very clear cut. Trust has been lost as a result of the HEFCW documentation in October of last year, in which there were e-mails from your department   asking HEFCW to enhance and sex up its report.

Trust has been lost because of the revolving-doors policy of people and positions within the  sector in Wales. The way to earn that trust back would be to publish a clear business case, Minister, showing exactly how the dissolution of a prime university here in Wales will enhance the case for a three-university merger. You know very well that our position has always been to favour a programme of voluntary collaboration. We believe that education provision should be based on demand and academic excellence and that it should not necessarily be centralised, with the power wielded by Government itself. This whole situation is deeply regrettable. We need a business case that deals with what is going to happen to the staff, the buildings, all the courses, the debt in these organisations and the pensions of these various organisations. There are all these unanswered questions, and we need those answers and a very clear strategic direction set out for what will happen in south-east Wales. That would be a very good step forward.

However, you are the Minister, and you should be well above the debate that has gone on in the newspapers recently, the comments by Sir Steve Smith, the letters, the involvement of the Wales Audit Office and anything that the governors and the staff of UWIC have said. All the people involved there are big enough to fight their own battles. You are supposed to be and must be totally impartial in this. You keep saying—and you have said several times in this statement—that you have yet to make up your mind. Engaging in this sort of statement absolutely does not help the situation with regard to transparency and trust.

Leighton Andrews: I am afraid that I thought that that contribution by the opposition spokesperson was ridiculous. Yesterday, I published the letter to me from Professor Sir Steve Smith, commenting on the meeting that he had had with Cardiff Metropolitan University. He is a distinguished figure in  and it is not acceptable that either he or the director of my department responsible for  policy should be traduced on the BBC in the way they were by representatives of Cardiff Metropolitan University. I want to repeat the sentence from Professor Sir Steve Smith’s letter to me:

'I am afraid that the Chair’s comments are simply wrong.’

I make no apology for standing up for people who have given good independent advice to this Government or for standing up for my officials. In response to the issues that the Member raised, I have to say to her that we are following the Treasury five-case model for developing a business case. We have published a strategic outline case, which explains the arguments for the merged institution. The approach that we are taking is entirely appropriate. I wish to say to her that I am very pleased to say that we have recently seen a merger concluded in the south-west of Wales without campus closures and without compulsory redundancies. That demonstrates the capability in Wales to move forward on this agenda—and the agenda, of course, is not my agenda. It is one that goes back to the earliest days of the Assembly, to the days before I even entered the Assembly, when reports of Assembly committees called for the further consolidation and reconfiguration of the  sector.

The One Wales Government agreed as a Cabinet to a statement in support of HEFCW’s  strategy, which said that no university in Wales should be below the median for  institutions in the UK by 2013. That was a very important statement. It was a manifesto commitment of the incoming Government that we wanted to see the  sector in Wales based on a smaller number of stronger universities. We are implementing the manifesto on which we were elected, and we have made it clear that we will follow the appropriate consultative mechanisms and develop the business case in the appropriate way.

4.15 p.m.

David Rees: Thank you for your statement, Minister. It is important that we get clarity on some of the points that were raised in public around this issue. You have correctly stated in your statement that there have been several reports over recent years—in response to independent inquiries or reviews in 2002, 2005 and 2011—that have outlined the need for a single post-1992 institution in south-east Wales, to avoid a spiral of decline in that sector. Professor Steve Smith concludes in his report to the Welsh Government that the spiral would become a reality unless that single university is created in south-east Wales.

In south-west Wales, we have seen the successful merger of my previous institution, Swansea Metropolitan University, and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. There was a focus, at the time, on the mission statements of those two institutions. Can you confirm that the three institutions that we are talking about—they are all post-1992 institutions, so I would assume they would have had the same mission statements—will have similar mission statements, so that any collaboration or merger would ensure that those mission statements are not diluted in any way? We also questioned the concept of creeping marginalisation, which, for those who are not aware, is a possible closure of programmes that have become least cost-effective in the view of institutions, usually the most expensive and usually science and engineering-based programmes. Can you clarify, in relation Cardiff Metropolitan University—the one that is staying outside of these talks at the moment—how many programmes have closed over the last five years as a consequence of this creeping marginalisation? What impact has this had on the student experience and student outcomes within that institution? I assume that Newport and Glamorgan universities will be looking carefully at such issues in their discussions.

You mentioned in your statement that you would look at option B. If option B is the end result, will you be ensuring that discussions that take place between Newport and Glamorgan universities are flexible enough to allow the expansion of that partnership to include a future partner, such as Cardiff Metropolitan University, if it then moves into that situation? I take the view that the long-term viability of an institution that will become the size of Cardiff Metropolitan University, if it stays alone, will be difficult. I want to see a strong university producing high-quality education, applied research and professional development for both staff and students, and contributing to the wider social, economic and cultural agendas.

Leighton Andrews: I thank my colleague the Member for Aberavon for his comments. He brings considerable experience of this sector to his contribution. I think that it is too early for me to be able to make any comment on mission statements for the new institution. However, as we develop the strategic outline case, we will be working through a whole series of issues that will allow us to identify the complementarity of the different institutions and the challenges that the new institution would face. So, we will work through those.

He asked specific questions on forced closures. Certainly, during the course of the discussions that I have had with student and staff representatives, staff representatives at Cardiff Metropolitan University have told me that, in recent years, the university has lost over 170 jobs, including 70 academic posts, and that some of the decisions that have been made have resulted in closure of specific departments, such as engineering. Students from other departments in that institution have been lobbying me and others about the fact that they have lost lecturers during the lifetime of their courses. So, these are issues that Cardiff Metropolitan University has already been dealing with.

In respect of the future and should the decision ultimately be for option B and a merger between the University of Wales, Newport and the University of Glamorgan initially, as I said in my statement, it seems to me that it is almost inevitable that there will be questions asked about the future of Cardiff Metropolitan University in that context. In a previous statement in the Assembly in July, I said that I thought that the Government would expect HEFCW to plan ahead for funding a research-intensive institution in south-east Wales and, ultimately, a single post-1992 institution. So, I think that there are very difficult issues for the institutions to consider. As I say, I have not made a final decision on these matters.

Simon Thomas: I thank the Minister for his statement today, although I sense that he really wanted to make it in a television studio rather than the Chamber. I am not particularly interested in raking over old coals or in tit-for-tat allegations between a Minister and a former senior police officer; I think that that is a road that is paved with poor examples, and recent ones at that.

Let me start, however, with where I agree with the Minister. I very much support, and the Party of Wales very much supports, the Glamorgan-Newport talks that are ongoing, and we want to see reconfiguration within the  sector in Wales, but we want to see that achieved through reorganising universities in principle so that we can concentrate on front-line teaching and research, get rid of bureaucratic duplication and concentrate on voluntary mergers. I very much agree with the Minister when he says that HE policy in Wales should not be determined by personal rivalries and animosities; I think that that applies to Ministers as much as it does to the sector. I accept what the Minister says, namely that the merger of Newport and Glamorgan will leave Cardiff Metropolitan University in a more exposed position. Ultimately, that is a decision for Cardiff Metropolitan University, but it is undoubtedly true. It is why we in Plaid Cymru want to see a south-east Wales merger achieved if at all possible by voluntary means.

It is worth pointing out, however, that that does not leave Cardiff Metropolitan University in a more exposed position than Glyndŵr University in the north-east, because, as a well-timed interview with the outgoing HEFCW chief, Phil Gummett, in the Western Mail today points out, the situation in north-east Wales is also unresolved as regards reconfiguration. We have heard nothing from the Minister or the Labour Party on north-east Wales reconfiguration for quite some time.

The Minister says that he has not yet made a decision, yet he told us on 17 July that he only expected HEFCW to support two  institutions in south-east Wales by 2015-16: Cardiff and a new merged metropolitan university. He has just re-emphasised that in his response to David Rees. Some would argue that that means that his mind is made up, and I would say that the tone of his statement today also showed that his mind is made up. I want to ask the Minister whether he has not fettered his discretion in this regard and whether he has had advice from his officials regarding the exercise of his discretion on any future decisions that will need to be taken.

Plaid Cymru feels strongly that any mergers should be directed by strategic considerations of the shape of the Welsh  system and should be done on a national basis. On that basis, I was a little disappointed by Phil Gummett’s interview in the Western Mail today; I thought that he had a parochial, narrow view of Wales and a paucity of ideas regarding Welsh institutions. However, he said one thing that I think is relevant and important to re-emphasise now and this was specifically with regard to reconfiguration:

'there’s always more than one solution...we want the universities to come forward themselves.’

That is Plaid Cymru—The Party of Wales’s position, by the way. Therefore, I ask the Minister today whether he will allow another solution to develop, and, in particular, whether he will allow the Glamorgan-Newport reconfiguration to take place, for Cardiff Metropolitan University to re-evaluate its situation following that reconfiguration and, if necessary, use methods of arbitration to try to achieve a much more satisfactory outcome to which all parties can agree. I believe strongly, and the Party of Wales believes strongly, that taking legal steps that force university mergers to take place would give Wales and the Welsh  sector a poor international image, after some recent unfortunate international stories in that sector. I also believe that it would threaten the independence of the HE sector in Wales, and I am unhappy with that.

I will conclude by saying that there is a series of popular Nintendo games, if I may draw the attention of the Minister to it, featuring Professor Layton, where the player cannot go any further with the game until a puzzle is solved. We are in such a maze now. We need to solve the puzzle of why the Minister, based on a judgment call by HEFCW, thinks that we must legislate to abolish a successful university. The Minister must provide us with the tools to solve the puzzle—please do, Minister—that is to say a proper published business case. Otherwise, he will be in danger of exercising his powers in the dark, but, more importantly, asking this Parliament to exercise and legislate in the dark.

Leighton Andrews: I have never played a Nintendo game, so I cannot comment on the aside by the Member.

However, I welcome his commitment to ensuring that the priorities in this whole debate are front-line teaching and research. Those are our priorities as well, and I welcome his remarks in that regard. I confirm that we have not made a decision on either of the options that are before us at present—option A and option B. We will continue the consultation, having drawn together the relevant information that has been requested by lawyers acting for Cardiff Metropolitan University. We are going through the appropriate process, which is the development of the business case in the way that the Treasury demands. We have begun that with the strategic outline case. Clearly, before any final merger was to take place, there would need to be a fully finished business plan, and we will bring that forward.

In respect of what I have said with regard to HEFCW supporting only two institutions, that does not necessarily mean that there would not be another institution. It would just be our expectation that HEFCW would not support it. Therefore, I think that we have some clarity here, in terms of how we are moving these issues forward, but we retain an open mind on the choices. Our broad preference, as we have previously expressed, is that we think that Wales would benefit from a single, post-1992 institution, alongside a strong research-intensive institution, of the kind that we have in Cardiff University.

The Member also asked about north-east Wales. The reason that we have not said anything on this recently is because we have established a review group, chaired by Professor Sir Adrian Webb, which is looking at the options for north-east Wales and its needs as a region. When that reports to us, as it will next year, we will come back to this Chamber.

Aled Roberts: Minister, as someone who has given evidence to the north-east Wales panel, I very much welcome the approach taken in north-east Wales, which is to seek to engage with stakeholders and, more importantly, with Glyndŵr University itself in respect of what everyone in the region perceives as the best way forward. The difficulty that we have in this case is that, while the Government may have followed the Treasury model, from day one, engagement on reconfiguration in south-east Wales has not been good. As Simon Thomas outlined, we started off with a situation where there was a clear statement of intent given on 17 July that gave an idea as to the Government’s preferred approach to reconfiguration—that is, the creation of one post-1992 institution in south-east Wales. Since then, too much of the debate has been going on through the media than through proper engagement with the stakeholders themselves.

In response to questions, you mentioned that you are currently developing the business case, as the Treasury model suggests. The difficulty here is that people are clearly not convinced. I do not think that it is just a case of the Cardiff Metropolitan University executives not being convinced. You will be aware that a student survey at the Cardiff Metropolitan University indicated that 89% of the students there have concerns or are directly opposed to the merger. Although it may be the Welsh Government’s manifesto commitment to create one post-1992 institution and to move towards reconfiguration of  generally in Wales, the reality is—and I recognise that I speak for a party that has five Assembly Members—that the Government does not have a majority in this Chamber. Therefore, the Government needs to convince the other parties in the Chamber that what is being offered is a proper way forward for  in south-east Wales.

 

Much of your policy appears to have been based on previous committee papers here, including those prepared by HEFCW. In today’s Western Mail, Phil Gummett outlines the case comparing Wales with Manchester. Of course, Manchester covers 47 square miles. Wales is slightly bigger, at 8,000 square miles. We also have to ask about the direction of travel in England, because it does not, as HEFCW would have us believe, lead to a situation in which there is one traditional and one post-1992 university in most city regions. In fact, the majority of city regions in England have more than the two institutions that we are referring to today.

4.30 p.m.

There needs to be more direct engagement with stakeholders than with television channels and newspaper editors. I have information before me that HEFCW was not willing to discuss reconfiguration in a meeting with Cardiff Metropolitan University on 9 October, yet we have a two-page newspaper article in today’s Western Mail in which Professor Gummett explains the basis of his views for reconfiguration. That is clearly not the best way forward. I understand the Government’s predicament, but the reality is that we need to be convinced as opposition parties about the case being put forward. More importantly, however, the governing body, staff and students of Cardiff Metropolitan University need to hear that evidence, and that is clearly not the case currently.

Leighton Andrews: I have to disagree with the Member on so many different points. In meetings, staff representatives from Cardiff Metropolitan University have been very clear about the stance that we are taking, and I think that it is fair to say that the UCU has supported the approach that we have been taking.

I think that the Member needs to reflect on the fact that we have been discussing the reconfiguration of  in south-east Wales for a decade. Proposals for a merger between UWIC and the University of Glamorgan were brought forward by UWIC and the University of Glamorgan back in 2003. This debate has taken a number of forms over a decade. It is not that we are relying on reports by others; there have been many participants in this debate, including the institutions themselves at different stages.

I would agree with him; I am happy to be involved in direct engagement with stakeholders. It was not I who cancelled the most recent meeting planned with Cardiff Metropolitan University, nor have I been on the airwaves making comments about the merger process. I am doing what is right as a Minister: using the proper channels of accountability to the Assembly and making statements in the Assembly so that Members can question me on them. That is the appropriate way for us to take this forward. However, we have been engaged with the institutions over the last 12 months—not since July of this year—in discussing these issues, so I think that we go back some time.

I will, however, stand up for my officials and for our independent adviser when they are unfairly attacked in media interviews. It would be entirely wrong for a Minister to run away from protecting officials or advisers when they were being unfairly attacked in media interviews. In respect of the interview with Professor Gummett, it was, as I understand it, essentially his exit interview. As people know, he is leaving HEFCW for retirement after a distinguished career there, and I wish him well in his retirement.

In respect of the meeting held between HEFCW and Cardiff Metropolitan University on 9 October, it would have been entirely inappropriate for them to have discussed reconfiguration, and the governing body of Cardiff Metropolitan University is well aware of that, as is the vice-chancellor. That was part of HEFCW’s institutional review, as I understand it. It would have been entirely inappropriate for them to have engaged in discussions on the dissolution order. Such discussions are appropriately to be held between the institutions involved and us as the Government.

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Y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro: Rydym eisoes wedi mynd dros yr amser a ddynodwyd ar gyfer y datganiad hwn, ond rwy’n derbyn ei fod yn ddatganiad o ddiddordeb neilltuol i lawer o Aelodau. Mae chwe Aelod arall wedi gofyn am gyfle i godi cwestiwn—rwy’n pwysleisio’r gair 'cwestiwn’—ar y pwnc hwn. Yr argraff rwyf wedi ei chael hyd yn hyn yw bod atebion y Gweinidog yn fwy cryno na chwestiynau’r llefaryddion. Rwy’n gofyn i’r Gweinidog fod hyd yn oed yn fwy cryno gyda’r atebion i’r cwestiynau sy’n dod ac yn gofyn i’r sawl sy’n gofyn cwestiwn fod yn gwbl benodol.

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: We are already out of time for this statement, but I do accept that it is a statement of exceptional interest to many Members. Six other Members have asked for an opportunity to raise a question—and I emphasise, 'a question’—on this issue. The impression that I get so far is that the Minister’s responses are more succinct than the questions from spokespersons. I ask the Minister to be even more succinct with the questions to come, and ask those who are asking the questions to be entirely specific.

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Mark Drakeford: Minister, do you share my concern that there is a real danger now for students and staff at Cardiff Metropolitan University that merger talks between the University of Wales, Newport and the University of Glamorgan will gather momentum to such an extent that the interests of Cardiff Metropolitan University will be excluded, and that by the time the authorities there arrive at the negotiating table, they will be in a far weaker position to promote and defend the very real achievements of that institution and to have its proper concerns addressed?

Leighton Andrews: My colleague the Member for Cardiff West is right to note the progress in the discussions between the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport, as I understand from what I have heard informally. There is, however, from our point of view as a Government, a process that we have to follow, and that process involves consultation on the two options that are before us. The issue is that we need to continue to take evidence and to develop that strategic outline case towards a full business case, and then ultimately to make a judgment between the two options. However, I imagine that what he has said here in the Chamber today will have been heard by those outside, including by those in Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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Yr Arglwydd Elis-Thomas: Rwy’n datgan diddordeb fel canghellor Prifysgol Bangor. A fyddai’r Gweinidog yn cytuno ein bod mewn sefyllfa resynus nad yw corff rheoli prifysgol yn fodlon canolbwyntio ar ei ddyletswydd gofal dros wariant cyhoeddus priodol a dros addysg ac ymchwil yn y sefydliad, gan ganolbwyntio yn hytrach ar ddadl gyhoeddus drwy’r cyfryngau ynglŷn â’i safle a’i statws ei hunan, ac nad yw ymyrraeth wleidyddol gan unrhyw blaid yn y lle hwn yn helpu’r sefyllfa chwaith?

Lord Elis-Thomas: I declare an interest as the chancellor of Bangor University. Would the Minister agree that we are in a deplorable situation where the governing body of a university is not willing to concentrate on its duty of care for appropriate public expenditure and for education and research within the institution, and is concentrating instead on a public debate conducted through the media on its own position and status, and that political intervention by any party in this place does not help the situation in any way?

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Leighton Andrews: I say to the Member that I certainly agree that we should avoid this debate being conducted on a political basis. What we need to do is to try to ensure that this debate is conducted on the basis of the evidence and the wider interests of  in Wales and those students, both current and future, who will be participants in it. I certainly do not think that the interviews conducted recently in the media have been helpful to the process. I would not in any way wish to prevent any institution making its case through the media. All that I would ask is that they do not distort the facts.

Mick Antoniw: Minister, I declare an interest, first, because the University of Glamorgan is based in my constituency, and secondly, as a visiting fellow of the University of Wales, Newport. The way in which these two institutions have so far worked together has been honourable, which is why it was of considerable concern to me that, in the public debate that has emerged, the suggestion was made that Glamorgan was responsible for strangling progress. From what I can see, there is no foundation for that whatsoever. I heard the debates, and I was taken by surprise by some of the things that were being said. What is being suggested raises serious issues of the quality and judgment of governance of Cardiff Metropolitan University. I now have serious concerns, while the progress takes place with regard to negotiations between Newport and Glamorgan, about the potential isolation of Cardiff Metropolitan University. How do you envisage that that impasse is going to be overcome?

Leighton Andrews: Again, I am not going to make any judgment between the two options that are before us, but clearly a merger of the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport would produce a powerful institution that had its base in two of the cities of south Wales, and that would be an important development in itself. It is clear that the University of Glamorgan group has a strong presence, not only in in the Member’s constituency, but through its association with the further education college in Merthyr Tydfil and in the centre of Cardiff with the Atrium building and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. So, one understands the strength of the footprint that the new institution would have. However, we have not made a decision, as a Government, on the options. We will continue to explore the issues with the stakeholders and to develop a full business case.

Eluned Parrott: Minister, you say that you cannot allow  policy to be determined by personal rivalries and animosities; you are quite right. I would expect it to be based on a credible business case, which ought to contain an assessment of the costs, benefits and threats of the different options presented. I assume that this information must have been developed in advance of the strategic outline case for reconfiguration, so that we have evidence-based policy rather than policy-based evidence. What assessments have your officials made of the costs and cost-savings of reconfiguration? What assessments did you make of the likely number of job losses as a result? If this credible business case exists, on what date will you publish it?

Leighton Andrews: I think that that is very silly. We have just seen a very successful merger take place in south-west Wales without compulsory redundancies and campus closures. Members might have heard the vice-chancellor of Swansea Metropolitan University talking about that in some detail last week. The reality is that we are following the Treasury model for development of a business case and we are at the stage of a strategic outline case. If we were to progress to a recommendation on either of the mergers, we would develop the next stage of those arguments in more detail. The appropriate way to take this forward is in line with the Treasury model. I have seen some extraordinary figures quoted in the media as to the cost of any of these mergers. I suggest that people look at the experience of the merger that has recently taken place in south-west Wales.

Jenny Rathbone: I welcome the Minister’s decision to publish the information requested by Cardiff Metropolitan University, so that we can all read it, because I agree that some of the debate has not been very helpful. However, it is difficult to see how any forced merger would serve the interests of existing or future students of any of these universities, because of the likely impact that a public row would have on the future recruitment of students to Welsh universities. Therefore, I would welcome a toning down of the discussions and an attempt to reach conciliation on this matter.

The fact that we have been endeavouring to get a single post-1992 institution in south-east Wales since 2003 is not, in itself, an argument for it being the right decision. Flogging a dead horse is not always a good idea, although I am not saying that that is necessarily the case here. I look forward to seeing the information that the Minister will publish. However, I am concerned that we have a dialogue of the death going on in south-east Wales at the moment. I am interested in the model that has been developed at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, which has amalgamated with the University of Glamorgan without losing its name, its chair of governors or, indeed, its sense of identity. That is one possible way forward if there really is a strong business case for a single post-1992 institution in south-east Wales. I wonder if there is any possibility of developing that out of the not-very-fruitful negotiations and discussions so far.

4.45 p.m.

Leighton Andrews: I do not think that we are at the stage of negotiations: we are carrying out a consultation exercise. The example of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is a very specific one. There is no question that the relationship between the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the University of Glamorgan has contributed to the royal Welsh college being able to develop an iconic, splendid new building in the centre of Cardiff, which is the envy of many institutions around the UK. There have been changes to its chair of governors during the period that it has been within the University of Glamorgan group. We have said all along that in any move to a new post-1992 institution in south-east Wales, it is important that we seek to do what we can to protect, for example, the civic identity of Newport—I pick that example because it is an obvious and clear example. There may be other ways in which we can develop other issues, and if the Member has any ideas, then we would of course be willing to hear them.

My preference is very much for a voluntary merger to take place, but, at the end of the day, we have to make real judgments in this place, as a Government, as to where we put public support, through the  Funding Council for Wales. We must also make real judgments as a Government as to how the  sector in Wales develops. I repeat that it was the Audit Committee of this Assembly—the predecessor of the current Public Accounts Committee—that said that the Welsh Government and HEFCW should be more robust in this process.

Mark Isherwood: The Minister’s dismissal of my colleague, the shadow education minister, Angela Burns, and of my Liberal Democrat colleague over there, as 'ridiculous’ or 'silly’ is perhaps more indicative of his whole approach to this issue, and perhaps others outside will hear how you respond to those who raise considered matters regarding a serious issue.

How do you continue to argue that smaller will automatically deliver stronger universities and independent bodies? The report by Sir Deian Hopkin, a distinguished academic, four years ago advised Ministers against merging Cardiff Metropolitan University, the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport,

'in light of the lessons learnt from mergers and the lack of agreement on the strength of the business case’,

and in light of evidence, which I now have, compiled by the Assembly research service, which shows that comparing the size of each university against the three different league table rankings does not show any clear relationship that universities with a small number of students have higher rankings in university league tables. I will give two short examples—

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: Order. You are well out of time, Mark.

Mark Isherwood: Okay. My final question is this: how would you respond to research regarding the north-east Wales consultation, which I have also taken part in, which demonstrates that HEFCW is currently investing 3.84 times more cash per person in south-east Wales, and 3.46 times in south-west Wales than in mid and north-east Wales? That obviously generates a significant economic multiplier effect in those parts that they are missing out on in the north-east.

Leighton Andrews: The Member needs to follow the logic through of what he has just said in respect of north-east Wales. We have established a review for north-east Wales, but if he wishes to give evidence to that review, I would welcome that; other Members have given evidence on that subject as well. The purpose of the review is to look at how we strengthen the delivery of  in north-east Wales, including research, which is an important issue. The Member quotes from previous reports and I would say to him that the most recent report from Professor Sir Steve Smith has clearly made the case, yet again, for a merger in south-east Wales. I suspect that if people look at these issues with a cool head, they will draw similar conclusions.

Penderfyniad Ariannol ynghylch Bil Sgorio Hylendid Bwyd (Cymru)
Financial Resolution in relation to the Food Hygiene Rating (Wales) Bill

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Cynnig NNDM5065 Jane Hutt

Motion NNDM5065 Jane Hutt

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, at ddibenion unrhyw ddarpariaethau sy’n deillio o Fil Sgorio Hylendid Bwyd (Cymru), yn cytuno i unrhyw gynnydd mewn gwariant o’r math y cyfeirwyd ato yn Rheol Sefydlog 26.69(ii) sy’n codi o ganlyniad i’r Bil.

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales, for the purposes of any provisions resulting from the Food Hygiene Rating (Wales) Bill, agrees to any increase in expenditure of a kind referred to in Standing Order 26.69(ii), arising in consequence of the Bill.

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The Minister for Health and Social Services (Lesley Griffiths): I move the motion.

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Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Nid oes unrhyw un wedi mynegi diddordeb i siarad, felly nid oes dadl i ymateb iddi. Y cynnig felly yw ein bod yn cytuno ar y cynnig. A oes unrhyw Aelod yn gwrthwynebu? Gwelaf nad oes gwrthwynebiad. Mae’r cynnig, felly, wedi’i dderbyn, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog Rhif 12.36.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Nobody has indicated an interest to speak, therefore there is no debate to reply to. The proposal therefore is to agree the motion. Does any Member object? I see that there is no objection. Therefore, the proposal is agreed in accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Motion agreed.

Cynnig i Gymeradwyo Egwyddorion Cyffredinol Bil Safonau a Threfniadaeth Ysgolion (Cymru)
Motion to Approve the General Principles of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill

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Cynnig NDM5070 Leighton Andrews

Motion NDM5070 Leighton Andrews

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 26.11:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales in accordance with Standing Order 26.11:

Yn cytuno i egwyddorion cyffredinol Bil Safonau a Threfniadaeth Ysgolion (Cymru).

Gosodwyd Bil Safonau a Threfniadaeth Ysgolion (Cymru) a’r Memorandwm Esboniadol gerbron y Cynulliad ar 23 Ebrill 2012.

Agrees to the general principles of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill.

The School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill and Explanatory Memorandum were laid before the Assembly on 23 April 2012.

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The Minister for Education and Skills (Leighton Andrews): I move the motion.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to open the debate on the general principles of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill, which I introduced in April of this year. As Members will be aware, education is at the heart of this Welsh Government’s programme for government, and the proposals within this first education Bill are aimed at strengthening school standards, improving the way that schools are organised and reducing complexity in the system.

I am grateful to Christine Chapman and members of the Children and Young People Committee, and to David Melding and members of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, for their careful and thorough scrutiny. I am also grateful for evidence provided by witnesses during the Stage 1 committee sessions. I also welcome, and am encouraged by, the general consensus in favour of the Bill.

I would like to address some of the points raised by the committees. A number of the issues raised in the reports are very valid and I aim to respond positively to the majority of them, to give Members undertakings in relation to these where I can at this stage, and to explain where recommendations, as a matter of policy or practicality, could not be delivered.

I am pleased to see that there was broad support for the move to consolidate and clarify existing legislation in respect of intervention in schools. In response to the Children and Young People Committee’s recommendations, I can confirm that I will be issuing statutory guidance to local authorities setting out the key sources of information that might indicate that grounds for intervention exist. The guidance will make clear that local authorities and Welsh Ministers are expected to consider the full range of quantitative and qualitative evidence available in determining whether a warning notice is justified. However, I do not intend to prescribe the weight that should be attached to any particular form of evidence, as that is best done on the facts of each case.

In respect of intervention in local authorities, I agree that the explanatory memorandum would benefit from a comprehensive explanation of the powers of direction and when they might appropriately be exercised. This, I will provide. The question of my providing guidance as to the meaning of the term 'adequate’ has come up. A court would apply the plain and ordinary meaning of the word, which is 'satisfactory and acceptable’. What would constitute 'satisfactory and acceptable’ would depend on all of the circumstances of a case. As such, I consider that providing guidance on this would be neither helpful nor appropriate.

There must be a consistent and reasonable approach to intervention, and so the Welsh Government, in conjunction with the Welsh Local Government Association and the main regulators, is developing a protocol on intervention in local authorities. I will have due regard to that protocol and so do not propose to issue guidance on how Ministers should exercise these functions.

Moving on to school improvement guidance, again I welcome the general consensus of committee members in favour of this provision in the Bill. I also agree that the issues raised in the report in terms of these provisions have some merit, particularly the references to the consultation requirements in the Bill. I propose, therefore, to bring forward a Government amendment at a later stage to require Welsh Ministers to consult with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales on any draft school improvement guidance.

At the same time, I would also like to reassure Members that I am fully committed to consulting widely on the statutory school improvement guidance. An example of this is our close working with a practitioner-led quality assurance group and Estyn to develop the high-quality teaching resources website, successfully launched last month.

I am also pleased to see that the fundamental principles of the school organisation proposals in the Bill have been widely supported. It is perhaps inevitable that there is some disagreement around the operation of the local determination panels. I have considered carefully the committee’s recommendations on this matter. On the subject of independent decision making, I am satisfied that the principle is already embedded in the Bill, but will consider in what way this can be further enhanced.

I agree with the recommendation to review the operation and cost of local determination panels and I would want to rectify any operational problems identified as soon as possible. Putting more detail in the Bill on the operation of LDPs would slow this process, in the same way as changing how LPDs work would require time-consuming amendment to primary legislation. While I will be publishing more of the sort of detail requested by the committee, I will be doing so in the statutory code, as I think that this is a more appropriate place for it.

One of the things specifically mentioned in the code is the possibility of local authorities collaborating regionally to deliver local determination panels. I recognise that there are advantages to such a model, including greater scope for the development of experience and expertise among LDP members and clerks, and a larger group of individuals from which to choose, who would have no connection to a proposal. The code, which will be issued for consultation tomorrow, should provide some reassurance in relation to these matters.

I cannot accept the recommendations from the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee that Welsh Ministers’ powers to make directions by Order should be subject to Assembly procedures. These powers are executive in nature, allowing Welsh Ministers to act swiftly where there are specific gaps in provision or wasteful over-provision. They do not change the law and should not need to be subject to legislative scrutiny. Making Members aware of the exercise of these powers is a different matter, and I have already discussed before committee how I might do so. To remove any confusion in relation to that matter, I am considering a Government amendment to remove the need to make these directions by way of an Order.

In relation to Welsh in education strategic plans, I welcome the support of the Children and Young People Committee for making these plans statutory. This is the first time the Welsh Government has proposed legislation that relates specifically to Welsh-medium education. We are therefore determined to get this right and to ensure that these plans are effective. With that in mind, I accept both of the committee recommendations in principle. I do this because local authorities, in preparing their Welsh in education strategic plans, will use information obtained through parental surveys of demand for Welsh-medium education. Where such demand has been identified, the WESP will set out how the local authority will ensure that sufficient Welsh-medium school places will be provided to meet this demand. To support this, the Bill will then require local authorities to take all reasonable steps to implement the actions set out in their Welsh in education strategic plans.

With regard to their financing, any costs likely to arise from any new demand identified for Welsh-medium education would, of necessity, be explored and determined in the process of drawing up the plan. As a matter of prudence, local authorities would ensure that plans for future expansion would correspond with applications for twenty-first century schools funding, as well as the use of the local authority’s own unhypothecated funding. Therefore, while I believe that the Bill fundamentally delivers the spirit of the committee’s recommendations, given the dependencies in relation to capital funding and statutory and planning approvals, it would not be prudent to go further than this and to place an absolute duty on local authorities.

In respect of parents meetings, I understand why the committee has recommended that the number of parents of registered pupils required to trigger a parents meeting should be expressed by way of a sliding scale and, on reflection, I agree that the current system is not quite right. I have considered further, as recommended, and feel that a sliding scale is also not right and would prove both confusing and difficult to administer, especially given the fluctuation in school rolls. Therefore, I have instructed my officials to explore alternate proposals, with a view to bringing forward a Government amendment to reshape the trigger points.

Turning to the free breakfast initiative, I am pleased that the Children and Young People Committee recognises the importance of this initiative and that it welcomes the legislative proposals in this area. Taking into account the committee’s views, I will ensure that the guidance to support the operation of the initiative sets out a range of factors, including level of demand, facilities, staffing and pupil and parental need that should be considered by a local authority when determining—on a case by case basis, reflecting on specific local issues— whether the provision of a free school breakfast service is unreasonable.

In opening, I have picked up on some of the main recommendations of the report and have discussed them. However, I confirm that all of the recommendations made have been carefully considered and will be acted on as appropriate.

In conclusion, I thank the committees for their constructive engagement and ideas for improving the Bill, and I am greatly encouraged by the support shown for the Bill by stakeholders during the Stage 1 committee sessions. I urge Members to take the same view and to support the Bill today.

Christine Chapman: I am pleased to be able to contribute to today’s debate on behalf of the Children and Young People Committee. The committee’s role was to consider and report on the general principles of the Bill, and our report was laid before the Assembly on 12 October. I would like to thank all those who contributed to our work by submitting evidence.

Turning to the committee’s consideration of the general principles, there was broad support for the main aims of the Bill in the evidence that we received. That said, we recognise and, in some cases, share the concerns raised in evidence about some of the provisions in the Bill. I will deal with these in turn, and I am aware of the Minister’s comments on these.

5.00 p.m.

First, on an overarching point, we recognise the existing statutory duty on Welsh Ministers to have regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child when legislating. However, in view of the strong evidence received, and in order to actively demonstrate the Government’s commitment to the agenda on the rights of children and young persons, we recommend that the Bill include an explicit reference to the UNCRC.

On standards, regarding the provisions on intervention, the committee recognises the benefits of bringing together the law in this area. This will ensure clarity and consistency across local authorities and the wider school community. However, that said, it is clear from the evidence received that confusion remains regarding the grounds for intervention set out in the Bill and, although I have heard the Minister’s comments on this, we seek to address this by recommending that the Minister include specific detail in guidance on the grounds.

On the powers of intervention, we accept the need to ensure that local authorities and Welsh Ministers have the necessary range of powers to enable them to intervene effectively when required. Again, in response to the concerns raised in evidence about the extent of these powers, we recommend that the Minister provide additional information and advice on how and when certain powers can be exercised.

On the school improvement guidance, the majority of those giving evidence supported the introduction of statutory guidance on school improvement, at least in principle. We welcome the aim of the guidance. Where best practice exists in schools, it is right that it is utilised for the wider benefit of pupils, where appropriate. We share the views of respondents that the involvement of the teaching profession and other education experts in drawing up the guidance will be key to ensuring its success. While the Bill requires Welsh Ministers to consult relevant school authorities on the draft guidance, given Estyn’s wider role of promoting the spread of good practice, we recommend that it be named as a statutory consultee.

In relation to Part 3 of the Bill on school organisation, there was broad support in evidence for a statutory code on school organisation, which will, we hope, ensure clarity and consistency for all involved in such proposals. While the Bill includes a general requirement for the Minister to consult on the draft code, we share the views of respondents about the importance of full and meaningful consultation on what will inevitably be a key document.

Moving on to the reform of existing arrangements for determining school organisation proposals, this is the area that raised particular concern among respondents. Like most of those giving evidence, we accept the need to reform the current arrangements. The categorisation of objectors provided for in the Bill seems to present a viable alternative to the existing single objector system. While we are content with the principle of categorisation, in view of the evidence, we recommend that the Minister give further consideration to the weighting given to specific groups of objectors, as outlined in our report.

We agree with the Minister that, where possible, decisions on school organisation proposals are best taken at a local level. However, it was clear from the evidence presented that most respondents had reservations, and, in some cases, serious reservations, about the use of local determination panels as a means of delivering this policy. In order for a system of local decision making to work, it must be, and be seen to be, fair, independent and to make impartial decisions that hold up to public scrutiny. The evidence we received suggested that, as currently drafted, the provisions in relation to LDPs do not provide adequately for these.

Given that we did not receive evidence of a viable alternative, and in the event that the Minister decides to pursue the LDP model, we recommend that the Bill be amended to ensure that the principle of independence is enshrined within the legislation, and that further provision be made in the Bill for the operation of LDPs. In view of our concerns, we recommend in our report that the Minister undertake to review of the operation of LDPs at the earliest opportunity, but, again, I note his comments.

Moving on to the Welsh-in-education strategic plans, we share the support provided in evidence for the introduction of statutory plans to improve the planning for Welsh-medium education. Although the Bill provides for the improved planning and standards of Welsh-medium education, it does not explicitly provide for improved access to Welsh-medium education. Neither does it ensure that any increased demand for Welsh-medium provision that may arise as a result of improved assessment of demand is met. Again, we recommend that the Minister give consideration to addressing this issue ahead of Stage 2.

On the miscellaneous school functions, as outlined by the Minister, Part 5 of the Bill makes provision for free school breakfasts and school-based counselling, with the aim of ensuring that these services continue following the transfer of funding from specific ring-fenced grants to the revenue support grant. While we welcome the move to legislate in these areas with a view to safeguarding these services, like many respondents, we are concerned about the effect of the transfer of funding on the level and quality of free school breakfast provision and school-based counselling provision. In order to help avoid this, in the case of free school breakfasts, we recommend that the Minister consider including in guidance the circumstances in which a local authority can determine that it would be unreasonable to make such provision.

Finally, on the financial implications of the Bill, in relation to local determination panels, we heard compelling evidence to suggest that the Minister has underestimated the costs associated with LDPs. Given the nature of the decisions to be made by these panels, and the potential complexity of cases and level of objections, the committee believes that the time and resources implications associated with their operation will be greater than has been anticipated. In his evidence to us, the Minister estimated the total cost of the Bill as £20 million, of which £0.8 million is available to meet the implementation cost of provisions other than those relating to free school breakfasts and school-based counselling. This figure includes the implementation cost—

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: Order. Can you draw your contribution to a close?

Christine Chapman: This figure includes the implementation cost of the school improvement guidance, estimated at £1.7 million for one priority policy area.

In conclusion, we agree with the principles of the Bill, and we hope that the Minister will accept the conclusions and recommendations contained in our report and, where necessary, bring forward amendments at Stage 2.

Y Cofnod

Simon Thomas: Siaradaf yn y ddadl ar ran aelodau’r Pwyllgor Materion Cyfansoddiadol a Deddfwriaethol, a’r Cadeirydd, David Melding, nad yw’n gallu bod yn bresennol heddiw. Fel y gwyddoch, mae cylch gwaith y pwyllgor yn cynnwys adrodd ar ddarpariaethau ym Miliau’r Cynulliad sy’n rhoi pwerau i Weinidogion Cymru wneud is-ddeddfwriaethau. Hynny yw, nid ydym yn adrodd ar y polisiau ond ar y pwerau sydd yn y Bil. Dyna sylwedd ein cyfraniad fel pwyllgor i’r ddadl heddiw.  

Simon Thomas: I speak in this debate on behalf of the members of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, and the Chair, David Melding, who is unable to be present today. As you will know, the remit of the committee includes reporting on provisions in Assembly Bills that give powers to Welsh Ministers to make subordinate legislation. That is, we do not report on the policies but on the powers in the Bill. That is the substance of our contribution as a committee to the debate today.

Hoffwn ddweud ar y cychwyn nad yw’r pwyllgor yn gweld unrhyw reswm pam na ddylai’r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol gytuno ar egwyddorion cyffredinol y Bil, ond roedd gennym rai argymhellion ynglŷn â phwerau’r Gweinidog yn y Bil.

I would like to say at the outset that the committee does not see any reason why the National Assembly should not agree the general principles of the Bill, but we had some recommendations relating to the Minister’s powers in the Bill.

Mae’r Bil yn cynnwys nifer o ddarpariaethau is-ddeddfu, ond roedd y pwyllgor yn fodlon nad yw’n cynnwys darpariaethau anarferol nac anfoddhaol mewn perthynas â’r pwerau hyn. Mae nifer o’r pwerau yn cael eu trosglwyddo o Ddeddfau eraill.

The Bill includes a number of subordinate legislation provisions, but the committee was satisfied that it does not contain any unusual or unsatisfactory provisions in relation to these powers. A number of the powers are transferred from other Acts.

Roedd y pwyllgor hefyd yn fodlon yn gyffredinol bod cydbwysedd priodol rhwng lefel y manylder ar wyneb y Bil a’r pwerau is-ddeddfu y mae’n eu rhoi i Weinidogion Cymru. Fodd bynnag, hoffwn dynnu sylw’r Cynulliad at rai agweddau ar y Bil, y cyntaf ynglŷn â threfniadaeth ysgolion sef y cod ar drefniadaeth ysgolion yn adrannau 38 a 39 y Bil. Er bod y pwyllgor yn credu bod y defnydd o’r weithdrefn negyddol ddyrchafedig yn adran 39, sy’n ymwneud â chyhoeddi cod statudol ar drefniadaeth ysgol, yn briodol, teimlai’r Aelodau fod y trefniadau ymgynghori a nodwyd yn y Bil yn annigonol. Hynny yw, roedd anghysonderau rhwng y gofynion ymgynghori a nodir yn adran 39 a’r rhai a nodir yn adran 34. Felly, byddem yn pwyso ar y Llywodraeth a’r Cynulliad ystyried cysoni y trefniadau ymghori yn y ddwy adran honno o’r Bil. Mae hynny’n adlewychu argymhelliad gan y Pwyllgor Plant a Phobl Ifanc.

The committee was also generally content that there is an appropriate balance between the level of detail on the face of the Bill and the subordinate legislation powers that it gives to Welsh Ministers. However, I would like to draw the Assembly’s attention to some aspects of the Bill, the first being in relation to school organisation, namely the code on school organisation in sections 38 and 39 of the Bill. Although the committee believes that the use of the enhanced negative procedure in section 39, which relates to the issuing of a statutory code on school organisation, is appropriate, Members feel that the consultation arrangements set out in the Bill are insufficient. That is, there were inconsistencies between the consultation requirements set out in section 39 and those set out in section 34. Therefore, we would urge the Government and the Assembly to consider making the consultation arrangements in the two sections of the Bill consistent. That reflects a recommendation of the Children and Young People Committee.

Gan droi at bwerau dirprwyedig na fyddant yn cael eu harfer drwy offeryn statudol, a’r pwerau i wneud Gorchmynion yn y Bil, yn enwedig yn adran 58(2) ac adran 67(2), roedd y pwyllgor yn pryderu bod modd i’r Gweinidog arfer y pwerau hyn yn uniongyrchol yn hytrach na drwy offeryn statudol. Rwy’n sylwi bod y Gweinidog wedi cyfeirio at ein pryder wrth agor y drafodaeth heddiw ac yn dweud ei fod yn ystyried yn dileu’r hyn o’r Bil. Mae hynny’n anffodus gan ein bod ni fel pwyllgor am graffu yn ehangach ar y pwerau sydd yn cael eu harfer gan y Gweinidog, ond mae’n ymddangos bod ymateb y Gweinidog yw dileu o’r Bil unrhyw gyfeiriad at y pwerau hyn. Rwyf yn gobeithio nad dyna’r sefyllfa, a bod modd i’r Gweindog ailystyried hyn yn rhinwedd adroddiad y pwyllgor.

Turning to the issue of delegated powers that are not to be exercised by statutory instrument, and the powers to make Orders in the Bill, particularly in sections 58(2) and 67(2), the committee was concerned that the Minister could exercise these powers directly rather than through statutory instrument. I note that, in opening today’s debate, the Minister referred to our concern and said that he is considering removing this from the Bill. That is unfortunate because we, as a committee, were looking to undertake wider scrutiny of the powers exercised by the Minister, but it now seems that the Minister’s response is to remove from the Bill any reference to these powers. I hope that that is not the position and that the Minister will reconsider this by virtue of the committee’s report.

Roedd y pwyllgor yn cydnabod bod gan y Gweinidog y pwerau hyn ar hyn o bryd o dan Ddeddf Safonau a Fframwaith Ysgolion 1998. Fodd bynnag, mae’n bwysig i nodi hefyd bod o leiaf un o’r pwerau—sef y pŵer yn adran 58(2)—yn ymwneud â chyfarwyddo awrdurdodau i newid ysgolion. Credaf fod hynny’n bŵer eithaf grymus, ac mae’n rhywbeth hoffem wedi gweld y Cynulliad yn cael craffu arno, yn hytrach na’i fod yn bŵer i’r Gweinidog arfer yn uniongyrchol.

The committee recognises that the Minister has these powers at present under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. However, it is also important to note that at least one of these powers—that in section 58(2)—relates to directing authorities to alter schools. I believe that that is a quite substantial power, and it is something that we would have liked to see the Assembly able to scrutinise, rather than it being a power to be exercised directly by the Minister.

Roedd y pwyllgor hefyd yn cyfeirio at y diffyg yn y memorandwm esboniadol o ran gwybodaeth ynghylch y pwerau yn baragraff 34 o Atodlen 5 yn ymwneud â throsglywddo tir ysgol. Rydym yn gobeithio bydd y Llywodraeth yn paratoi fersiwn ddiwygiedig o’r memorandwm, felly, cyn ein bod yn cwblhau ein trafodion pellach. Roedd y pwyllgor hefyd am osod cyswllt ar wyneb y Bil rhwng penderfyniad Gweinidogion Cymru i newid y dyddiad pan fydd ysgol yn cael ei chategoreiddio’n ysgol fach a’r manylion sy’n deilio o gyfrifiad ysgolion yn uniongyrchol. Dylai fod rhywbeth ar wyneb y Bil ynghylch hynny.

The committee also referred to the deficit in the explanatory memorandum in relation to information on the powers contained in paragraph 34 of Schedule 5 relating to the transfer of school land. We hope that the Government will prepare a revised version of the memorandum, therefore, before we conclude our further discussions. The committee also wanted to set out a link on the face of the Bill between the decision of Welsh Ministers to change the date at which a school is categorised as a small school and the details that emerge directly from the school census. There should be something on the face of the Bill about that.

Roedd y pwyllgor yn croesawu’r tabl o darddiadau a ddarparwyd gan y Gweinidog i’r pwyllgor yn uniongyrchol, sydd yn nodi o ba le yn y gwahanol Deddfau mae’r pwerau sydd gan y Gweindiog yn y Bil yn deillio. Rydym yn croesawu hynny. Mae’n rhywbeth ein bod, fel pwyllgor, wedi eisiau bod yn gweld mewn sawl darpariaeth ddeddfwriaethol. Byddem hefyd o’r farn byddai’n briodol darparu tabl o’r fath ar gyfer pob Bil fydd yn dod gerbron y Cynulliad.

The committee welcomed the table of derivations provided by the Minister to the committee directly, noting from where in the various Acts the powers the Minister has in the Bill derive. We welcome that. It is something that we, as a committee, have wanted to see in a number of legislative provisions. We are also of the opinion that it would be appropriate to provide such a table for all Bills that come before this Assembly.

Gyda hynny, a chyda’r casgliad nad ydym yn gweld rheswm gwrthwynebu derbyn egwyddorion cyffredinol y Bil, mae’r pwyllgor wedi adrodd.

With that, and with the conclusion that we do not see any reason to reject the general principles of the Bill, the committee has reported.

Y Cofnod

Angela Burns: The Welsh Conservatives support the general principles of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill and look forward to contributing to the further drafting of the proposed legislation. This Bill attempts to cover a rather eclectic range of provisions, from giving the Minister the tools he requires in order to force through improvements in failing schools to giving local authorities the ability to flex the pricing of school meals. Given that the Bill is so wide-ranging, it is impossible to deal with every concern here, so I will simply touch on some key areas.

Let me start by clarifying whether we really need new law. I do not believe that it is the Government’s role to overburden the citizen with law in order to drive through policy. Although I believe that education has suffered grievously because of a decade of poor policy initiatives from the Welsh Government, poor planning and delivery from the Welsh Government and, ultimately, a decade of poor performance from the Welsh Government, it is not the only poor performer. I find it regrettable but understandable that the Minister has to repeal, refine and add to the current legislation in order to be able to force through school improvements because some local authorities do not choose to use their current powers to ensure that all the children of Wales receive a consistently high standard of education. Our failing schools are a scandal, and education in Wales has become patchy and, in places, incoherent. The sacred duty of ensuring that every child has the absolute best chances of an education that will help to set them up for their life ahead falls not only to the Government, but to local authorities, as well as individual schools.

5.15 p.m.

In the explanatory memorandum, there is an acceptance of systemic failure, with some schools and local authority education services in need of significant improvement. It was crystal clear from almost all the witnesses that the Children and Young People Committee listened to that some local authorities are not dealing with performance issues in a number of schools.

The Welsh Conservatives do have some reservations, which we will seek to address with the Government during the next stages of this Bill. An overall concern that we have is that, while the intent of this Bill is laudable, it does best in Ministers’ substantial powers. For example, section 58 of the Bill allows Ministers to direct local authorities, by Order, to establish, alter or discontinue primary and secondary schools. 'By Order’ means that the Minister has the power to act without accounting to anyone for that action. This potentially places school organisation at the whim of the Government and the opinion of civil servants, rather than in the hands of local people. I am pleased, therefore, that both the Children and Young People Committee and the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee have expressed their anxiety about this type of power.

I will briefly touch on a few specific areas of concern, given the time that we have. With regard to Part 2, Chapter 1, on intervention in the conduct of maintained schools, we would like further clarity on the grounds for intervention. I know, Minister, that you touched on that in your statement, but we remain concerned as to the effectiveness of, for example, the secondary school banding system. We have further concerns that the Minister is proposing to use the banding system as a means of assessing whether there are grounds for intervention. We wonder how this will affect primary schools, especially as the banding proposals being formulated for primary schools appear to exclude significant numbers of schools. How will the Minister be able to judge on comparators? Minister, we surveyed every single primary school in Wales this year about the banding proposals. Over a third of schools responded—a high return by any standards—and only 1.2% believed that banding primary schools would be a beneficial measure of school performance.

Leighton Andrews: Would she like to explain to the Chamber what banding system she told primary schools they were going to have?

Angela Burns: Minister, I would be very happy to send you a copy of our survey and then you can see for yourself the exact questions that we asked. In fact, I would be happy to publish it to the entire Chamber.

We note Estyn’s preference for using the all-Wales core data set as a consistent measure for analysis and the identification of a poorly performing school, and the Welsh Conservatives will be assessing this suggestion further.

We would like further clarification of how the new Bill will affect the workings of regional school improvement consortia, as well as local authorities. We are concerned, in relation to school improvement guidance, that this Bill should not be used to centralise educational methodology, and that pedagogy should not be driven by civil servants but by the latest thinking and by the evidence of educationalists. We are concerned about the Government’s capability to issue and revise school guidance in a timely manner. We do not want our children left further behind, and even the best initiatives become bogged down. Minister, I noted your comment that you were talking about liaising with Estyn on this. That is very welcome, but again, we have to look at the timescales.

I am conscious, temporary Deputy Presiding Officer, that I am probably beginning to run out of time, so I will go to my final point. With regard to the whole school organisation proposal, we would like to make it very clear that the Welsh Conservatives will resist any agenda that might seek to use the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill to restructure sixth-form education out of schools. This Bill gives Ministers powers far in excess of those provided for in the Learning and Skills Act 2000 and, while I fully acknowledge the current Minister’s stated intention that that is not his intent, there will be other Ministers, and a power, once given, will be difficult to retract.

Jocelyn Davies: As you know, Minister, when the Bill was announced, the Party of Wales voiced support for it, as we readily recognised the need to raise standards and to reduce bureaucracy in schools. However, we do have some areas of concern, and that expressed by Chris Chapman on the rights of the child is one, with the use of banding to determine school intervention is another. Many stakeholders also expressed concern about the use of banding in the determination of the need for intervention, especially about embedding banding in legislation. Therefore, perhaps the Minister will take this opportunity to explain the range of factors that will be taken into consideration before a decision to intervene is made, namely the criteria and the information. I am disappointed that the Minister will not set out how those factors should be weighted by local authorities.

Another concern is the statutory guidance on school improvement. We feel that a balance must be struck between the necessity of raising standards and the autonomy of schools. No Minister wants to be in the position of micromanaging individual schools. That must be guarded against. However, the message that poor performance will not be tolerated must be loud and clear, because this has gone on for far too long.

We also want to be satisfied that the Welsh in education strategic plans are sufficiently robust. It is a fact that the Welsh Government’s target of getting 25% of seven-year-olds receiving Welsh-medium education by 2015 will not be met without more Welsh-medium schools opening, and it appears that demand far outstrips the supply. This legislation is an opportunity to assist with that, so perhaps the Minister will explain what he will do if the target is not met.

It will come as no surprise for you to hear, Minister, that another area of concern is the local determination panels. You already know that an expert in the field of educational law has described the proposals as 'hugely flawed’, likely to be 'expensive’ and not to meet the aims, a 'kangaroo court’ of local worthies constantly facing judicial review—in his words—and 'an absolute shocker’. Why are you making no changes now that you have reflected on his evidence? I am disappointed that you do not intend to modify your proposals in light of that. I warn the Minister that even if he is minded to ignore the evidence, I do not think that we will follow his lead. Again, I am disappointed that he feels that it would be time consuming to table amendments, but I will study the draft code that he mentioned earlier today.

When the Minister later attended the committee, he was at great pains to stress that his role in school closures is not quasi-judicial, despite considerable pressure by the committee to get him to admit that it is. In his response today, I would be grateful if he will set out his reasons for that stance and explain how it is fundamentally different from the role of, say, the Minister for health in hospital reconfiguration, which the whole Government argued just a few weeks ago was of a quasi-judicial nature, which prevented it from voting. Therefore, perhaps he could put on the record today the difference between those two decision-making processes, as it would be interesting to know.

In closing, we are generally supportive of the aims and principles of this legislation, but we have significant concerns about specific parts of it.

Aled Roberts: This is a very different debate to the previous discussion regarding the statement on . I think that there is cross-party support for the efforts of the Minister in seeking to raise school standards and, more importantly, broad support for this measure. I agree with many of the comments that Angela Burns made, that this can be seen as a consolidating measure to a large degree, but the evidence that we received as a committee made it clear that consolidation and clarification were being used as an excuse, in some quarters, to explain away why intervention had not previously taken place.

That being said, we, as committee members, need to welcome the Minister’s response today. Our 19 recommendations were based on evidence that we took from 23 witnesses in person and on the written evidence of another 27 witnesses. The committee was happy that we had reached those recommendations on the basis of the evidence that we had heard.

Given that committee members attended a training session last week on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, I should also underline the fact that some mention was made in that session of the Government perhaps adopting the same tactic as local authorities have often adopted in equality assessments, namely of one line stating that the assessment has had regard to all the measures concerned being enough to satisfy the test. It would have sent a very strong message if the Government had made it explicit that it had had regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and had stated that on the face of the Bill, given that it certainly affects the rights of children and young people.

Minister, you have addressed many of the specific concerns that I had about the committee recommendations and, to give you credit, you have accepted many of those recommendations. You said at the time that you would have regard to the evidence that was placed before the committee and, to be fair, that has occurred today, as I see it. However, there will be instances in which we may need to have regard to the detail in the code et cetera, when the committee sees that.

My main concerns are in two areas. The first relates to the point that Christine Chapman made about the actual costs. From the evidence that the committee heard, it is fair to say that we are not convinced as to how detailed or specific an assessment has been made of the costs. You will be aware that, out of the relevant £20 million, £19.2 million is accounted for by the free school breakfasts initiative and school-based counselling. We were not convinced about the remainder, the £800,000 or so. During the committee stage, you estimated that £1.7 million would be required for the school improvement guidance, and you anticipated that some of the savings achieved by local authorities through related processes could be redirected. However, I have to say that we remain to be convinced of that particular situation. I wonder whether, in the forthcoming months, you could release evidence of the costs that you have, so that we can be reassured.   

I also welcome your comments on the Welsh in education strategic plans. We had very clear evidence from Parents for Welsh Medium Education, or RhAG, and from Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg of the fact that there were instances in which authorities were planning but not providing once those plans were in place. My own experience this month is that there have been instances in which the county that I live in assesses demand but then does not respond to it. We still have a situation in which children are being refused entry to Welsh-medium schools, mainly in anglicised areas, because of the failure of local authorities to answer that demand. I also have a letter from the same authority indicating that, because there is no capital funding available until 2020, it will not be in a position to do so, and I am sure that that is not a position that you would accept yourself, Minister. However, it is certainly the case that that still appears to be the mentality within local government.  

In brief, I believe that you have listened to the evidence and, more importantly, to the committee’s recommendations, and I give you credit for that.

Suzy Davies: Members will be aware that the Minister for education has been very busy this year. We are looking forward to another consultation tomorrow, by the sounds of it. If Government departments were to be subject to banding, I am sure that his would score very highly on any criteria that require him to spend so much Government time in the Chamber. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why we hear comparatively little from other Ministers.

He is responsible for policy that affects the personal future of individuals, as well as their collective contribution to families, communities and the prosperity of Wales. Strengthening school standards is, justifiably, a priority for us all. As that is the central aim of the Minister’s Bill, the Welsh Conservatives can agree with him on the general principles. I also look forward to hearing when he might be revisiting the school curriculum. Surely, that is a complementary ingredient in fulfilling that aim. If schools do not constantly evaluate their performance and seek improvement, the local authority should intervene benevolently to assist them. If local education authorities fail to act, the Minister is quite right to ask why and to prompt them. However, there is a difference between a Minister insisting on a local education authority fulfilling its obligations to improve, and telling it how that should be done to the extent that he can direct it to close schools or sixth forms. It is inconsistent that this Bill can embrace the idea of local determination of a school’s future in Chapter 3, while at the same time retaining the Minister’s power to order a local authority to publish closure proposals in section 58. Therefore, I reject the Minister’s earlier comments regarding the observations of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee and refer Members to the points made by Angela Burns and Simon Thomas on that section.

5.30 p.m.

I also ask Members and the Minister to consider Angela Burns’s comments on chapter 5 and the proposals for restructuring sixth forms. I understand that post-16 education is funded differently from under-16 education. In fact, the direct funding of schools is something that we in the Welsh Conservatives rather approve of, but we believe in direct funding backed by improved local autonomy.

Chapter 5’s proposals for restructuring sixth-form education are not primarily about consolidation. Sections 72, 73, 74 and 78 give the Minister new powers with regard to sixth-form education. I therefore ask Members to consider again the aim of this legislation. Any reorganisation must be about improving standards, so you may wish to ask whether the creation of these new powers helps to fulfil that aim, or whether it is just evidence that the Minister believes that direct funding should mean direct control. So much for decisions made at a local level.

From a political point of view, the Minister is of course entitled to argue that the foundation schools will not improve standards in schools and to make policy on that basis. Section 40 repeats the Minister’s ban on new foundation schools, but there is no reference in the explanatory memorandum as to why. One of my criticisms of this Bill generally is that the opportunity to consolidate existing legislation has not been used as an opportunity to look again at the need for that legislation. Chapter 3 may be a restating of existing powers, including section 58, but that makes it no less controversial and ripe for review.

Perhaps I picked a bad example with foundation schools; perhaps the Minister has reviewed the existing legislation and remains determined to set his face against new foundation schools, in which case, why has he not removed the inconsistency in section 44, which commits local authorities to establish new foundation special schools. Needless to say, I would much prefer him to remove the inconsistency in section 40.

It is now perhaps my turn to admit to what might be seen as an inconsistency of my own, namely my support for the principle of placing Welsh in education strategic plans on a statutory footing, because I do not favour unnecessary legislation. However, it is a source of disappointment to me that LEAs, in the absence of freer schools, have not taken the opportunity to take control of this agenda, thereby leaving it open to the Minister to fill the vacuum. I would have preferred it if he had not had to do so.

Perhaps one reason the LEAs have been reluctant to take the lead in this matter is the issue of money. I remain unconvinced that we have complete clarity about how much these Welsh in education plans will cost and how much of that cost will need to be borne by local education authorities. Demand for good-quality Welsh-medium education is rising, and I am not sure that the financial information that we have has taken that into account.

Finally, I fully support the concerns raised about the local determination panels by Christine Chapman and Jocelyn Davies, along with their cost implications. Because of those concerns, my concerns about the Welsh in education plans and my suspicion that money available for school counselling has been woefully underestimated, I will not support the financial resolution in relation to this Bill that follows this debate.

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Y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro: Galwaf ar y Gweinidog i ymateb i’r ddadl. Mae ganddo chwe munud i wneud hynny.

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: I call on the Minister to reply to the debate. He has six minutes in which to do so.

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The Minister for Education and Skills (Leighton Andrews): As I have six minutes to respond to all of the points, I will not be able to get into the full detail of what everybody has contributed. However, I will start by welcoming the support that has been given to the general principles of the Bill. Clearly, there will be points of detail that, as we progress through these procedures, we shall argue about, but I think that I have today conveyed the Government’s desire to take on board many of the recommendations made by the different committees.

Turning to the question on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, there is now a duty as a result of the Measure that was passed in the last Assembly—I was the Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning, as it was, when the Measure finally went through. So, I am very clear that there are responsibilities on all Ministers and that this legislation simply acts within the context of the Measure that we have drawn up. However, I will agree to put specific reference to the requirements of the UNCRC in the explanatory memorandum to the Bill.

A number of Members raised the question of the guidance on school intervention. The difficulty that I think we have is that there have been powers on school intervention that local authorities have not, on the whole, implemented. There is a tension here between wanting things to be done at a local level and then requiring local authorities to fulfil the obligations and responsibilities that they have. I am afraid that is what we are seeking to do here. We are seeking to give real clarity to the nature of the intervention, and the statutory guidance on intervention in schools will make it clear that local authorities will be expected to consider the full range of qualitative and quantitative information, not just banding information, to form a complete picture of a school’s performance.

In respect of the guidance, it will also set out the overriding purpose of all the powers of intervention, including direction powers and the circumstances where those powers are best used. So, I think that we have understood the concerns of the committee, but we are trying to approach some of those issues in a different way. In respect of the types of persons to be consulted on the draft revised school organisation code—one of the number of issues raised by my colleague the Member for Cynon Valley—in response to the committee report I am likely to bring forward an amendment that specifies some of those with whom consultation must be conducted, but I do not expect that to be absolutely exhaustive, and there will be further consultation on the code. It may be that I will also bring forward minor changes in respect of the category of objectors.

Jocelyn Davies on behalf of Plaid Cymru raised questions in relation to the local development plans. She referred to the evidence by a legal expert to the committee, and I did, when I attended the committee, respond, in more detail than I will have time now to do, as to why I did not agree with many of his observations. It was not because I do not respect his experience in some of these issues; I just think that he has misinterpreted the nature of the final decision that will be required to be made by LDPs, which is very much of the kind of decision that a Minister has to take. I am not a lawyer, and I will not get into a discussion as to the meaning of 'quasi-judicial’ while I am on my feet in this Chamber at this present time, but I am sure that the Member will return to it when we get back to committee. There are plenty of lawyers in the Chamber who, I am sure, can follow through on that debate.

In respect of the proposals on Welsh in education strategic plans, I will start by saying that I think these are the most radical proposals on Welsh-medium education that have ever been made in Wales. I believe that they will make a fundamental difference to the availability of Welsh-medium education, and particularly the insistence that we place in this Bill on the measurement of demand. That will make serious development possible. These proposals have received significant support from Rhieni dros Addysg Gymraeg and other pressure groups that have worked long and hard in the field of Welsh-medium education. What is important is to get the principle established within the legislation about the requirement on local authorities to measure demand. We can, as we move forward in our progress on the Bill, look at the detail of what happens if they fail to implement this, as the Liberal Democrat spokesperson referred to in respect of some authorities. Again, there is a tension between wanting things to be done locally but having to hold local authorities’ feet to the fire sometimes to make sure that these things actually happen. That is a tension.

A number of colleagues raised questions about the Order-making powers. There is a very clear distinction between the role of a Minister and what is appropriate for full debate in the context of the Assembly. Would it be right, for example, for every school closure proposal under our present arrangements to come before this Assembly for a vote? I do not believe that it would. The process is too long as it is. That would just introduce a new element of uncertainty. We have to be clear: there are certain functions that are rightly executive functions that should be carried out by Ministers, and we are accountable under law to operate on the basis of due process and to act in a reasonable way.

In respect of the finance, we will have a financial resolution coming forward, and I am confident about the costings, but we can revisit those in the course of the discussion on the Bill.

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Y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro: Y cwestiwn yw a ddylid derbyn y cynnig. A oes unrhyw wrthwynebiad? Gwelaf nad oes, felly derbyniwyd y cynnig yn unol â Rheol Sefydlof Rhif 12.36.

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: The question is that the motion be agreed. Is there any objection? I see not, and therefore the motion is agreed in accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.

Penderfyniad Ariannol ynghylch Bil Safonau a Threfniadaeth Ysgolion (Cymru)
Financial Resolution in relation to the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill

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Cynnig NDM5071 Jane Hutt

Motion NDM5071 Jane Hutt

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, at ddibenion unrhyw ddarpariaethau sy’n deillio o Fil Safonau a Threfniadaeth Ysgolion (Cymru), yn cytuno i unrhyw gynnydd mewn gwariant o’r math y cyfeirwyd ato yn Rheol Sefydlog 26.69(ii) sy’n codi o ganlyniad i’r Bil.

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales, for the purposes of any provisions resulting from the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill, agrees to any increase in expenditure of a kind referred to in Standing Order 26.69(ii), arising in consequence of the Bill.

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Y Gweinidog Addysg a Sgiliau (Leighton Andrews): Cynigiaf y cynnig.

The Minister for Education and Skills (Leighton Andrews): I move the motion.

Y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro: Nid oes neb wedi mynegi diddordeb i siarad, felly nid oes angen ymateb. Y cwestiwn yw a ddylid derbyn y cynnig. A oes unrhyw wrthwynebiad? Gwelaf fod gwrthwynebiad, felly gohiriaf y bleidlais ar yr eitem hon tan y cyfnod pleidleisio.

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: Nobody has indicated a desire to speak, therefore there is no need to reply. The proposal therefore is to agree the motion. Is there any objection? I see that there is objection, therefore I will defer all voting on this item until voting time.

Gohiriwyd y pleidleisio tan y cyfnod pleidleisio.
Voting deferred until voting time.

Y Strategaeth Amgylchedd Hanesyddol
The Historic Environment Strategy

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Y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro: Rwyf wedi dethol gwelliannau 1, 3 a 4 yn enw Aled Roberts a gwelliannau 5, 6 a 7 yn enw William Graham. Tynnwyd gwelliant 2 yn ôl.

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: I have selected amendments 1, 3 and 4 in the name of Aled Roberts and amendments 5, 6 and 7 in the name of William Graham. Amendment 2 has been withdrawn.

Cynnig NDM5069 Jane Hutt

Motion NDM5069 Jane Hutt

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru yn:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:

Nodi Strategaeth Amgylchedd Hanesyddol Cymru, sy’n gwireddu ymrwymiad a wnaed gan Lywodraeth Cymru ym mis Ionawr 2012 ac sy’n nodi dyheadau Llywodraeth Cymru o dan y Rhaglen Lywodraethu i ddarparu amgylchedd hanesyddol yng Nghymru sydd ar gael i’w fwynhau yn awr a chan genedlaethau’r dyfodol ac sy’n cael ei ddiogelu’n dda.

Notes the Historic Environment Strategy for Wales, which honours a commitment made by the Welsh Government in January 2012 and sets out Welsh Government aspirations under the Programme for Government to provide an accessible, enjoyable and well protected historic environment now and for future generations in Wales.

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The Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage (Huw Lewis): I move the motion.

In January this year, I set out my initial priorities for the historic environment in Wales. That statement kick-started an extensive consultation with people and organisations interested or involved in the Welsh historic environment. Through seven workshops and a major public conference, we have been able to get a good picture of the concerns and aspirations of people engaged with this agenda and what they need from the historic environment to make their lives and the place where they live and work better for them.

The historic environment in Wales, as we all know, is rich and varied. It is a unique resource, which makes our landscapes and towns distinctive and special. It helps us to understand and care about our place in history, and, crucially, it delivers real and tangible benefits for our people and our communities. Our heritage has been forged and crafted by the people of Wales and my priorities and vision for that legacy are aimed at delivering policies and practical action, focused on people’s wellbeing, enhancing their life chances and increasing the environment for economic growth.

Significantly, this is, of course, the first Welsh Government to have powers to develop primary legislation and we have stated our intention to introduce a heritage Bill for Wales in 2014-15. Our programme of consultations will help to shape the content of that heritage Bill, but there are many issues that do not require legislation, and these can be developed more quickly.

This strategy outlines my overall priorities for the historic environment and the actions I propose to take to realise its potential for our people and communities. In some cases, the work has already begun; in others, we will need to research the options before taking further action. In all cases, I am looking for key players in the sector to pull together, to maximise impact and to make best use of valuable resources and expertise.

My strategic priorities are marshalled under four headlines. The first is heritage protection and sustainable development. The current systems governing all of this have been in place for over 40 years and are considered by many to be complex, lacking in transparency and inconsistently applied in practice. The heritage Bill will provide a long-overdue opportunity to provide Wales with a simpler, more coherent framework for heritage protection. However, we will not wait for legislation to take important new steps to move with the times, producing new policy guidance and proactively promoting good practice through specimen projects.

One area in which I am especially eager to see progress is on the conversion of listed religious buildings for other uses. My officials in Cadw are already scoping out an exercise to promote good practice examples of sensitive conversion and to produce guidance for local authorities in considering applications for listed building consent for listed chapels and churches. Connections are being made across my portfolio and some exciting heritage-led regeneration projects are being developed to exemplify this approach.

Historic character and fabric is becoming increasingly appreciated, certainly by me, for its contribution to the distinctiveness and liveability of places. This approach can be played out on a large scale in a townscape, but I am also pleased to be overseeing this approach on a more human scale. Heritage cottage, a small terraced house in Cwmdare, now sits alongside Caerphilly and Caernarfon castles in the Cadw portfolio of monuments in state care. Unlike those castles, we have the opportunity to renovate this little house to make it fit for contemporary living while retaining its essential character.

5.45 p.m.

My second headline priority is skills and learning opportunities, which will enhance the employability and confidence of people, especially young people, through apprenticeships, training placements and support for informal and family learning, as well as formal education from the foundation phase to postgraduate study. Heritage has the potential to provide people of all ages with opportunities to learn and build their confidence in stimulating and informal environments. There are many encouraging examples to build on, such as Cadw’s recent cauldrons and furnaces project over the summer, which saw over 26,000 young people developing creative performance and organisational skills. I hope that some Members will have had the opportunity to see the film that outlines the achievements of this project and hear the stories of the young people themselves.

Thirdly, I want to encourage people to understand and enjoy their heritage and the sights that still resonate with the stories of those who have been here before us. Developing new and broader audiences is a priority, and we will develop new approaches to engaging people and build on proven successes, such as black history month, the festival of archaeology and heritage open doors. While archaeology seems to appeal to people of all ages, some aspects of heritage tend to attract what is, let us say, an older audience. This is good news, as the sector benefits from the knowledge and experience of thousands of older volunteers. However, the fresh perspectives and imagination of young people would also add value to the sector. In 2013, I intend to start a process to encourage Welsh young people to work with us to produce their own historic environment strategy and to give us their ideas on how to protect and present our heritage sites.

My fourth and final headline priority is the economy and economic benefit. Heritage and the historic environment already support around 30,000 jobs across Wales, which include craftspeople, professionals and technical specialists. Heritage is also a major factor in our tourism economy. Heritage is everywhere in Wales, so the economic benefit from tourism is spread across the whole country. However, the whole country will also benefit if we ensure that our major assets—our heritage icons, if you like—have the product and the profile to attract an international audience. Our EU-funded heritage tourism project is making a difference, but we are still a long way from fully exploiting the incredible tapestry of heritage assets up and down the country. I am proposing a festival of Welsh history as just one way that we can work together to maximise impact.

I also want to increase the number of building professionals and craftspeople who really know how traditional buildings work in Wales. I want Cadw and other heritage bodies to work together to develop training opportunities to open up careers in heritage conservation and higher-level building and construction skills to more Welsh young people. The Deputy Minister for Skills and I held a joint summit in the spring to explore these issues and we are developing an action plan to stimulate both supply and demand for higher-skilled craftspeople.

So, what now? In launching my strategy today, I am setting out my headline priorities and some specific and practical actions to be pursued both by my officials and the bodies that we, as a Government, fund. We are entering an important new phase of heritage management, when resources are under pressure and traditional delivery systems and structures may prove to be ill equipped to face the future. Our plan of action must be realistic as to what can be delivered, but also resourceful in its pursuit of partners and new ways of achieving our goals. We will ensure that there is close working between portfolios in Government. There are synergies between the strategic objectives that I have outlined here and every other portfolio in the Government.

The heritage of Wales is unique and precious; we all know that. We still have the resources and the ideas to be a lot more ambitious for that Welsh heritage. Through new legislation, imaginative strategic plans and partnerships that deliver on the ground, the Welsh Government and its partners have the potential, and the will, to pursue this agenda, which does justice to that special heritage.

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Gwelliant 1—Aled Roberts

Amendment 1—Aled Roberts

Mewnosod fel pwynt 1 newydd:

Insert as new point 1:

Nodi y gall hyrwyddo a rheoli ein hamgylchedd hanesyddol yn ofalus roi hwb pwysig i economi Cymru.

Notes that the careful management and promotion of our historic environment can provide an important stimulus for the Welsh economy.

Gwelliant 3—Aled Roberts

Amendment 3—Aled Roberts

Ychwanegu pwynt newydd ar ddiwedd y cynnig:

Add as new point at end of motion:

Galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i gyhoeddi Cynlluniau Gweithredu unigol yn cynnwys y mesurau o lwyddiant cyn gynted â phosibl.

Calls on the Welsh Government to publish each constituent Action Plan with success measures at the earliest opportunity.

Gwelliant 4—Aled Roberts

Amendment 4—Aled Roberts

Ychwanegu pwynt newydd ar ddiwedd y cynnig:

Add as new point at end of motion:

Galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i ddarparu diweddariad blynyddol i Gynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru ar y Prif Gynllun Gweithredu.

Calls on the Welsh Government to provide the National Assembly for Wales with an annual update on the Headline Action Plan.

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Peter Black: I move amendments 1, 3 and 4 in the name of Aled Roberts.

We have withdrawn amendment 2, simply, because the headline action plan, which was not available at the time of tabling, was published this morning. Therefore, there is no point in asking for the Minister to publish that in the future. I am pleased that that action plan has now been published.

The strategy that we are debating today is distinguished by its very attractive photographs.

Simon Thomas: Not of the Minister, surely? [Laughter.]  

Peter Black: No, not of the Minister.

The photographs show the richness of Wales’s heritage and, particularly, of our historic environment. Fortunately, the headline action plan does deal with some of the detail and the work that needed to be done that was not, I do not think, present in the strategy. I very much welcome the fact that that is now available and I welcome the direction of travel that the Minister has indicated through the headline action plan.

I particularly welcome the issue on records, information and archives. The Minister says that he wants to generate options for improving public access to records and information relating to the historic environment, including the assessment of the potential for unified and shared records and access to unpublished archaeological reports. The way that people access the historical environment and their appreciation and understanding of it very much depends on that sort of access, and I think that that should be an important part of the strategy that the Minister is taking forward.

 

However, apart from that, we get the general impression—this is not the Minister’s fault; this is an issue of resources more than anything else—that we are managing decline. There is a general retrenchment in terms of the approach to the historic environment in Wales, in the sense that we have a number of very important historic monuments that we are doing our best to preserve with the resources that we have. There is a huge reservoir, if you like, of historic monuments around Wales—chapels, for example, and other historic buildings, many of which are grade I listed—that are being allowed to fall into decay and decline simply because the resources are not there to maintain them, because there is no use for them or because, in many instances, local councils are far too timid in how they approach their conservation and preservation.  

David Rees: Do you agree, therefore, that part of the resources that we need to look at is the creation of skills in heritage development, so that we can redevelop those buildings to their original standard?

Peter Black: Absolutely. I am all in favour of developing skills. I know that preservation and conservation is a particular skill set that needs to be developed. The issue, of course, is that, with the resources that are available, the people who develop those skills will not necessarily find employment, unless you also invest substantially in using those skills to preserve these buildings. However, certainly, the skill set is an important part of this strategy.

 

My view is that we need to change the law. We need to find a way of protecting buildings that have social and cultural significance, rather than just architectural significance. Also, we need to find a way of protecting important community assets that are very much falling into disrepair. There are two examples in my city of Swansea. When the Minister made his statement, I referred to Libanus Chapel on the Cwmbwrla roundabout, which was burnt down and which is now, effectively, a shell—only half the building is still there, but it is still listed as grade I. Another very famous example in Swansea is the Palace Theatre, which is currently sitting at the top of High Street with what looks like a small jungle growing out of its roof and windows. It is a building that is very much falling into disrepair. When I raised this issue with the Minister I was told, quite correctly, that it is a matter for the local council to pursue. However, the local council is not doing that, because it feels that if it takes enforcement action it will end up with a bill to bring that building back into a proper state of repair. Therefore, there is clearly an issue there that needs to be addressed.

Before I end my contribution, I would like to refer to the amendments, particularly those tabled by the Conservatives in relation to Cadw and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. It is my view that the royal commission needs to remain independent of Government and I agree that there are advantages to Cadw becoming more independent of Government. They both have a role to play. I am concerned about talks regarding merging those two bodies, particularly if they are merged into Government, because I think that doing that will mean losing some major benefits, not least the charitable status of the ancient monuments body. That archive needs to be preserved, but it needs to be preserved outside Government, and I would certainly be very uneasy about a merger, at this stage, on those terms.

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Gwelliant 5—William Graham

Amendment 5—William Graham

Ychwanegu pwynt newydd ar ddiwedd y cynnig:

Add as new point at end of motion:

Cydnabod rôl werthfawr y sector cyhoeddus, y sector preifat a’r trydydd sector wrth warchod a hyrwyddo ein hamgylchedd hanesyddol.

Recognises the valuable role played by the public, private and third sector in protecting and promoting our historic environment.

Gwelliant 6—William Graham

Amendment 6—William Graham

Ychwanegu pwynt newydd ar ddiwedd y cynnig:

Add as new point at end of motion:

Galw ar y Gweinidog i gydnabod mai’r ffordd orau y gall Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru gynorthwyo Llywodraeth Cymru gyda’i strategaeth yw drwy aros yn annibynnol.

Calls on the Minister to recognise that the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales can best assist the Welsh Government with its strategy by remaining independent.

Gwelliant 7—William Graham

Amendment 7—William Graham

Ychwanegu pwynt newydd ar ddiwedd y cynnig:

Add as new point at end of motion:

Galw ar y Gweinidog i ystyried y manteision a’r anfanteision sy’n gysylltiedig â CADW yn mynd yn fwy annibynnol ar Lywodraeth Cymru.

Calls on the Minister to consider the advantages and disadvantages of CADW becoming more independent of the Welsh Government.

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Suzy Davies: I move amendments 5, 6 and 7 in the name of William Graham.

I thank the Minister for the update on his original strategy. While we may have a considerable number of common aims for our historic environment, the detailed mechanism for delivery is an area where, regrettably, we may disagree. Accordingly, it is not a simple matter to note that you are honouring a commitment, which are the words that you use in the motion, so we cannot support it. Your assertion a year or so ago that rural heritage is safe and well under Glastir gives me no comfort that the commitment is that clear.

I am not going to argue about the potential of our heritage assets and skills for regeneration—and I include the regeneration of our high streets in that comment—and I am not going to argue about how welcome it is to breathe life purposefully into heritage sites with arts, community action and planning changes. I look forward to seeing exactly how you expect the heritage Bill—following on from Peter Black’s comments regarding the Palace Theatre—to prioritise the use of locally important buildings and exactly how you expect the stop-the-rot campaign to support and compel the private owners of such buildings to fulfil those responsibilities, because I suspect that how you intend to meet those expectations may be an area on which we do not agree.

I will also not argue about the educational and economic importance of heritage tourism, but I do hope that you can help me to understand how I can identify what is left of the £19 million convergence investment in the heritage tourism project in the Welsh Government’s draft budget. I am very happy for you to write to me with details of that, if you would prefer to do so, Minister. As the heritage tourism project is coming to an end in 2014, I would be grateful if you could tell us whether we can expect an interim evaluation report on the effect of the project in convergence areas and how you are supporting progress in areas where convergence funding cannot be used.

I also will not argue that the approach and delivery mechanisms for the historic environment have been largely static for many years. That is what brings me to Cadw. The current system of heritage protection dates back to the 1970s—although, of course, Cadw was not involved in that initially—and it is considered by many to be complex and lacking transparency, as you have said. Therefore, there is good reason for the Welsh Government to provide strategic direction on this. However, there is a difference between the Government setting the strategic direction and hogging all of the delivery as well. For all of the warm words in the strategy about the third sector and partnerships, it is clear from the new arts and heritage framework that you expect Cadw to be the lead player.

While it is true that Cadw is the custodian of a number of sites, what makes it the best organisation to commission arts activities on those sites? If the Arts Council of Wales, for example, was given that responsibility and the money to do so, it would be free to expand this idea to non-Cadw sites to fulfil your requirement that it improves access to the arts. Alternatively, why not accelerate your work on a third sector alliance? I agree with you about volunteer power, Minister. If properly constituted, this alliance could be a serious partner, or even a lead partner, and not just for delivering your policy, but for working in other partnerships, taking responsibility and leveraging—I know that you like that word, Minister—finance for high-quality work outside the Government programme. Would that not be a little more twenty-first century than a desire to increase Cadw capacity through additional posts, building the internal capacity of the organisation, reflecting the business development needs of the organisation? Cadw is a part of the Government, and the Government has plenty on its plate without empire building.

A few weeks ago, I spoke in a debate regarding whether the Welsh Government should consider an independent exam regulator, and I gave examples of the growing global recognition of the importance of independence in holding organisations and governments to account.

6.00 p.m.

As the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee consultation showed, there are serious concerns about the possibility of a merger between Cadw and the royal commission on this very issue of independence. The royal commission’s independence does not jeopardise its ability to assist Government with the delivery of policy. I ask the Minister to acknowledge that today. Merger would also leave Cadw with the sole allocation of the Government budget on the historic environment.  

Finally, Minister, I ask you to respond to the suggestion that some of the functions of Cadw would be better safeguarded by taking them outside Government into an arm’s-length body, perhaps with the royal commission and other partners, and I thank Peter Black for his comments. If we value the arm’s-length principle for the arts council, to avoid any suggestion of political interference in the arts, do we not need not to apply that principle to the body or bodies responsible for the recording and interpreting of our history?

Mick Antoniw: I very much welcome the Minister’s paper outlining a vision for the protection, development and integration of our historic buildings and institutions into a national economic, social and educational strategy—a sort of integrated historic monuments spatial plan. I certainly look forward to seeing the legislation.

We have such an incredible historic legacy in Wales that it is a shame that we do not shout out more often and louder to our communities and internationally about what we have to offer. Within 100m of my constituency office in Pontypridd, there is the world-famous Pontypridd bridge of 1756, an arched single-span footbridge spanning the river Taff, which has statutory protection as a scheduled ancient monument.

Just down the road is a monument to social history, the birthplace of Evan James who composed the Welsh national anthem, and a few hundred yards further down is Capel Rhondda in Hopkinstown where the internationally renowned Cwm Rhondda was composed and first sung. Just a few more yards down the road from there is the Hetty winding gear, which I visited a few weeks ago. The Hetty pit closed in 1983, but it houses an 1875 winding engine built by Barker and Cope of Kidsgrove, Staffordshire. It is the oldest surviving steam engine of its type in the UK, lovingly restored by volunteers and run on compressed air. Efforts are now under way to seek funding to restore the Hetty engine house to make it accessible to tourists and schoolchildren.

Further down is the Rhondda Heritage Park. At the other end of my constituency, there is Taff’s Well thermal spring, the only thermal spring in Wales drawing water from 400m below at a temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. Over in Tonyrefail, there is the Tonyrefail corn mill, which started at the same time that James Cook and the crew of HMS Endeavour were setting foot in Australia, and at the same time that Marie Antoinette was marrying the prince who later became Louis XVI of France. I have not even mentioned Llantrisant and Dr William Price.

I hope that a heritage spatial plan will emerge from this strategy, which will form part of a broader strategy to promote the economic, tourism and educational benefits of the incredible legacy that we have. I also hope that a greater focus will emerge in our schools, educational system and communities on our real history, not the history of kings and queens, but the people’s history—the history of survival and of the way in which people struggled to create the society that we currently live in.

Y Cofnod

Alun Ffred Jones: Diolch yn fawr am y cyfle i ddweud gair neu ddau yn y ddadl hon. Nid wyf yn anghytuno â fawr ddim a ddywedodd y Gweinidog. Roeddwn yn gwrando ar gyfraniad Mick Antoniw pan ddywedodd ei fod yn gobeithio y bydd y strategaeth hon yn troi mewn i ryw fath o 'historic spatial plan’.  Rwy’n gobeithio y bydd y spatial plan hwn yn cael gwell lwc na’r spatial plan diwethaf a gafodd ei gyhoeddi gan y Llywodraeth.

Alun Ffred Jones: Thank you very much for the opportunity to say a few words in this debate. I do not disagree with virtually anything that the Minister said. I listened to Mick Antoniw’s contribution and he said that he hoped that this strategy would become some sort of 'historic spatial plan’. Let us hope that this spatial plan will have a little more luck than the previous spatial plan that was published by the Government.

I droi at yr hyn sydd wedi cael ei ddweud yn y ddadl, nid oes angen pwysleisio fod gennym yng Nghymru dirlun hanesyddol cwbl arbennig a diddorol, ac mae pob math o ffeithiau, fel y ffaith bod gennym 600 o gestyll— mwy o gestyll y filltir sgwâr nag unrhyw wlad arall yn Ewrop, yn ôl y sôn. Mae’n dreftadaeth werthfawr iawn inni yn economaidd, heb sôn am ddim byd arall. Ym mis Medi 2010, cyhoeddwyd dogfen 'Gwerthfawrogi Amgylchedd Hanesyddol Cymru’. Mae ffigurau yn y ddogfen, a dyfynnwyd un ohonynt gan y Gweinidog heddiw: mae 30,000 o swyddi llawn amser yn gysylltiedig â’n tirlun hanesyddol a’n treftadaeth hanesyddol. Mae’n gyfrifol am drosiant o tua £1.8 biliwn ac yn gwneud cyfraniad sylweddol tuag at ein GVA ni. Mae symiau sylweddol o arian yn cael eu gwario ar gynnal a chadw ac adfer yr adeiladau hyn a’r tirlun hwn. Roeddwn yn falch iawn o glywed y Gweinidog yn sôn am yr angen a phwysigrwydd datblygu sgiliau yn y maes hwn. Yn anffodus, ychydig iawn o gwmnïau sydd gennym sy’n arbenigo yn y maes; felly mae llawer o’r budd ariannol sy’n dod o’r prosesau hyn yn mynd allan o Gymru oherwydd y diffyg arbenigedd hwnnw. Mae hwnnw’n un peth y buaswn yn hoffi clywed sylwadau’r Gweinidog arno’r prynhawn yma.

To turn to what has been said in the debate, there is no need to emphasise the fact that we in Wales have a unique and interesting historic environment, and there are all sorts of facts such as that we have 600 castles—more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe, apparently. Our heritage is very valuable to us economically, never mind anything else. In September 2010, 'Valuing the Welsh Historic Environment’ was published. The document contains figures, one of which was quoted by the Minister today: 30,000 full-time jobs are related to our historic environment and heritage. It accounts for a turnover of about £1.8 billion and makes a significant contribution to our GVA. Significant sums of money are spent on the maintenance and restoration of these buildings and this landscape. I was very pleased to hear the Minister mention the need for, and importance of, developing skills in this area. Unfortunately, we have very few companies that specialise in this area; therefore a great deal of the financial benefit emerging from these processes leaves Wales because of that lack of expertise. That is one thing that I would like to hear the Minister’s comments on this afternoon.

Mae’r diwydiant twristiaeth yn elwa’n fawr hefyd o’n treftadaeth ni. Mae naw o bob 10 o bobl sy’n dod yma ar eu gwyliau yn ymweld â rhyw safle hanesyddol neu’i gilydd. Mae 2.5 miliwn o ymwelwyr a phobl o Gymru yn ymweld â’n safleoedd hanesyddol bob blwyddyn, felly maent yn rhan eithriadol o bwysig o’n bywydau ni a’n heconomi.

The tourism industry benefits greatly from our heritage. Nine in 10 of those who come here on holiday visit some historic site or other. There are 2.5 million visitors and people from Wales who visit our historic sites every year, therefore, they are an exceptionally important part of our lives and economy.

Y Cofnod

Perhaps our problem is not getting people to visit the sites when they come to Wales, but getting them to come here in the first place. That is why Plaid Cymru—The Party of Wales launched the idea of a homecoming festival that would link all of Wales’s tourist events together under one banner to highlight what we have to offer. The purpose of a homecoming festival, or call it what you will, just like the Scottish event in 2009, is that it would be part of a wider overall economic strategy, encompassing not just tourism, but inward investment. A targeted campaign to bring people home to Wales as part of a tourism drive would provide major social and economic benefits. I buy entirely into the Minister’s vision of using heritage as part of regeneration and the tourism offer. Therefore, there is no real difference of opinion on that.

There is certainly huge potential for attracting this Welsh diaspora to come back to Wales on holiday, to settle and to bring their businesses and their skills with them. Our people are our greatest resource and we have lost too many of them. Therefore, I think that a festival of some sort along these lines could certainly bring huge benefits to Wales. We must sell Wales to the world as a great place to live and work, and our heritage sector with its multiple attractions is an excellent sector to lead this. Therefore, the historic environment strategy for Wales is very important because the maintenance of these sites and the promotion of the Welsh history they represent feed directly not just into tourism, but people’s perceptions of Wales worldwide. I warmly welcome the Minister’s remarks this afternoon.

Christine Chapman: I would like to start by welcoming the Minister’s ambitious vision for the Welsh historic environment outlined in the strategy. I want to make a number of points. As the Minister notes, our historic environment allows us to explore and appreciate the wonders of the ordinary in our past to help us reclaim the heroes and heroines from 'below the hooves of history’ to use Raphael Samuel’s memorable phrase. Therefore, I also welcome the references contained in the strategy to the heritage cottage in Cwmdare in my constituency. I am delighted that the Minister was able to visit the cottage some months ago. Having been involved in the discussions to help maintain this property, I was delighted when Cadw made the decision to take it on, as the interior structure is basically unaltered since it was built in 1854.

Exploring the heritage of this time capsule cottage will give us a greater understanding of the industrial history of the south Wales Valleys at a time when king coal allowed Valleys communities to play a key role in the world economy. I hope that the heritage cottage will also allow us to develop a deeper appreciation of the domestic sphere of working class communities and the role of women in particular. Angela John suggests that the history of Welsh women has been rendered inconspicuous among more dominant themes that focus on paid work, political and religious nonconformity, rugby and male-voice choirs, despite, as Dot Jones points out, the fact that mortality rates of women in the home were greater than those of men in the pit at the turn of the twentieth century in places like the Rhondda valleys. Hopefully, Minister, we can work to rectify this omission.

My other point is that focusing on our heritage offers us a number of economic opportunities. I am thinking in particular of the potential of heritage-related skills and apprenticeships and the role of heritage tourism. I welcome the recent statement from the Minister for business on faith tourism. Of course, the strategy refers to working collaboratively with a range of partners, but I would be keen, Minister, for more information on how you will work with our partners in the academic sector who have established global reputations, which can be used to further raise the profile of Wales. I note Alun Ffred Jones’s comments about raising the profile of Wales internationally. For this point, I am thinking of Swansea University’s Professor Chris Williams who is, I understand, currently promoting Wales in the US through his work on Richard Burton’s diaries. I think that this development will enhance the campaign to get a star for Richard Burton on the Hollywood walk of fame. I think that all this will help to raise the profile of Wales abroad.

Finally, I also welcome the recognition of the role of other organisations. Yesterday, it was really good for the Minister for health to open the new hospital in the Cynon valley, Ysbyty Cwm Cynon. I know that the new, state-of-the-art hospital has incorporated aspects of the heritage of the health services that have served the Cynon valley so well over the years and now we are bringing that forward into this new facility. I would also like to praise the holistic approach taken by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council. For example, reflecting the heritage of Aberdare is a key theme in town centre regeneration. I also want to mention the new community primary school in Abercynon, which will be open next September. I visited the site last week and I have been assured that the new building will reflect the well-loved history of the old school and the locality. I think that this will ensure that future generations of local schoolchildren will be able to appreciate and understand their past and it will allow them to use their historic environment to better define their future.

Janet Finch-Saunders: I very much welcome this strategy. The historic environment in Wales should be a great source of pride and potential for us all. I agree with many of the contributions, but in particular with Mick Antoniw AM and the reference that he made to how proud we should be of our historic environment and our ancient monuments and buildings. I also agreed with Alun Ffred Jones when he mentioned our amazing historical castles and the emphasis that he placed on historical tourism. At present, the historic environment sector supports over 30,000 jobs, contributes around £1 billion in output and accounts for £840 million of Wales’s national gross value added. The figures suggest that there are just under 30,000 listed buildings in Wales—I do have some concerns regarding the conservation areas and listing—with 528 conservation areas. For those of you who are not aware, there have been some recent controversies in my own constituency in the media regarding conservation areas, which have thrown into light some problems with regard to the listing regime and conservation in more general terms. I would be grateful if the Minister could outline whether he will be addressing the points that he made earlier around an acknowledgement of the inconsistency and lack of transparency when it comes to issues such as hearings and concerns regarding these issues.

6.15 p.m.

Amendment 5 recognises the valuable role played by the public, private and third sectors in protecting and promoting our historic environment and, again, I have some minor concerns about whether the strategy fully recognises the invaluable role played by the private and third sectors in promoting the historic environment in Wales. There are over 500 societies and voluntary organisations in Wales with a keen interest in the history and heritage aspects of our country. A good example is the National Trust under the direction of Justin Albert, who is breathing new life into Europe’s largest conservation body, while placing a new emphasis on the uniquely Welsh dimensions of many activities. I was recently privileged to see, along with Antoinette Sandbach AM, the excellent work of the National Trust and CAIS in relation to the intermediate labour market initiative at first hand. That was a really good example of true partnership working at its best. If the Welsh Government strategy is to work in an age of declining public resources, it must embrace the work of all sectors in the most comprehensive and innovative manner.

Amendment 6

'Calls on the Minister to recognise that the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales can best assist the Welsh Government with its strategy by remaining independent.’

I and my Welsh Conservative colleagues have grave concerns regarding the Minister’s suggestion of overhauling the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales in a way that potentially threatens its independent status. Concerns have been raised as to the lack of a business case or of any real risk assessment on this. It is much too important an issue to look at on an ad-hoc basis. The royal commission provides an archiving and academic service and has been in existence for some 104 years. It is really important to the people of Wales, and it is not clear that steps to save money on overheads through its incorporation with a larger body would provide true value for money for the taxpayer. It is clear that the royal commission’s arm’s-length status enables it to operate freely, in a more structured manner and to the highest professional standards.

Amendment 7

'Calls on the Minister to consider the advantages and disadvantages of CADW becoming more independent of the Welsh Government.’

Cadw is undoubtedly an asset to the historic environment in Wales that performs a vital public function, and we are not taking anything away from that, but concerns need to be raised about the prioritisation of Cadw above all other bodies and all other custodians of the historic environment in Wales. Our vision and our ambitions for the historic environment in Wales cannot begin and end with Cadw. I know that I am not alone in that view. There is no substitute for a plural historic environment sector that encompasses amateur enthusiasts, expert academics, volunteers and entrepreneurs. I urge the Welsh Government to give full consideration to the advantages and disadvantages of Cadw before it becomes independent of the Government.

I am pleased to have contributed to this debate. In Wales, we have the opportunity to take the resources of the past while making them deliver for our future. Our castles, ancient monuments and historic buildings are our true national treasures and have an immense potential to be of great benefit to our communities, even today, in the twenty-first century—

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: Order. I have to stop you there, Janet.

The Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage (Huw Lewis): I thank Assembly Members for their comments and suggestions on how to develop this agenda. It is useful to have those thoughts on record in Plenary today to help inform the development of the action plan and the implementation of this strategy. Peter Black, rather pessimistically, I think, referred to this sector as being one that manages decline; I hope that I am not quoting him out of context too much. He is, perhaps, right to say that there is an atmosphere that needs to be corrected around this agenda. For instance, there is the nervousness of local authorities around built heritage, in particular. Replacing the idea that the built heritage of Wales can be more of a liability than an asset with the confidence to take on challenges is a key part of this agenda.

I will address two items. There is specific mention in the strategy of the needs and opportunities that we must face up to, in terms of Wales’s chapels. We will have more announcements to make along those lines later in this Assembly. I also draw Peter’s attention to the suggestion that we set up an all-Wales buildings preservation trust, so that there is a robust third-sector arm in every Welsh community that is ready—resources allowing—to step in and make the case, both in terms of the argument and the financial packages that such built heritage needs.

Several Welsh Conservative Members, as well as Peter Black, have raised the issue of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, and the status of Cadw alongside it. Regarding Cadw, we have already had experience of it as an executive agency. Therefore, a more independent structure, as it has been termed here this afternoon, has already been tried. In 2003, a review of the historic environment in Wales called for a champion for the sector and a strategy for the historic environment. Since Cadw became a division of the Welsh Government, I believe that it has had an enviable and exemplary record. In terms of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, no decision has been made, and I certainly do not want to pre-empt the advice that I will receive from my working group, which is looking into the future of the royal commission. This is not the time for a full-scale debate on this issue, although it is worth reminding Members that the royal commission is a Welsh Government sponsored body. Therefore, in that sense, it is not an independent organisation, as such. For those reasons, I urge Members to reject amendments 6 and 7.

 

Mick Antoniw was quite correct to point to the underlying spirit beneath the document that is being published today. He has put his finger right on it. This is about the integration of this agenda with the needs and potential of the communities within which such precious pieces of heritage are embedded. These needs and potential are both economic and educational. Alun Ffred Jones was quite right to value the skills and economic aspects of this agenda. If time allowed, I would love to expand upon that. However, this will be an emerging agenda that I hope Members will take great interest in, and one that will ensure that Wales’s communities can do well by the heritage with which they are blessed.

Chris Chapman is also right to recognise that there is a shift in emphasis here towards a new recognition and valuing of people’s heritage. Heritage cottage is just one small example of this. Beyond this strategy, I hope to recognise much more fully—in terms of my portfolio working—the social history of Wales’s people: Wales’s women, of course, the people’s movements that were driven, often as an example to the world, by Welsh people, the trade unions, the chapels and non-conformism, the Chartist movements, and so on. Where, exactly, do we tell the story of the movements of the people of Wales and their struggles over time? It is difficult to put your finger on exactly where that story is showcased. That is an element of our working that needs correction. In summary, I strongly believe that this approach, as outlined here today, provides the best opportunity of preserving our heritage for the future. The days are gone whereby we might want to keep these sites for a privileged few or just for dedicated enthusiasts. Indeed, if they are to survive, we need to understand their value and care about their future, across all of our communities. If people are going to care about heritage, they need to have positive, relevant and contemporary experiences and, of course, the opportunity to be involved in charting the future for our past.

Y Cofnod

Y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro: Y cwestiwn yw a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 1. A oes gwrthwynebiad? Gwelaf nad oes. Yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog Rhif 12.36, felly, caiff gwelliant 1 ei dderbyn.

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: The question is that amendment 1 be agreed. Is there any objection? I see that there is none. In accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36, therefore, amendment 1 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd gwelliant 1.
Amendment 1 agreed.

Tynnwyd gwelliant 2 yn ôl.
Amendment 2 withdrawn.

Y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro: Y cwestiwn yw a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 3. A oes gwrthwynebiad? Gwelaf nad oes. Yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog Rhif 12.36, felly, caiff gwelliant 3 ei dderbyn.

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: The question is that amendment 3 be agreed. Is there any objection? I see that there is none. In accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36, therefore, amendment 3 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd gwelliant 3.
Amendment 3 agreed.

Y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro: Y cwestiwn yw a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 4. A oes gwrthwynebiad? Gwelaf nad oes. Yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog Rhif 12.36, felly, caiff gwelliant 4 ei dderbyn.

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: The question is that amendment 4 be agreed. Is there any objection? I see that there is none. In accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36, therefore, amendment 4 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd gwelliant 4.
Amendment 4 agreed.

Y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro: Y cwestiwn yw a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 5. A oes gwrthwynebiad? Gwelaf nad oes. Yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog Rhif 12.36, felly, caiff gwelliant 5 ei dderbyn.

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: The question is that amendment 5 be agreed. Is there any objection? I see that there is none. In accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36, therefore, amendment 5 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd gwelliant 5.
Amendment 5 agreed.

Y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro: Y cwestiwn yw a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 6. A oes gwrthwynebiad? Gwelaf fod. Felly, gohiriaf bob pleidlais arall ar yr eitem hon tan y cyfnod pleidleisio. Cytunwyd y dylid cynnal y cyfnod pleidleisio ar ôl yr eitem olaf o fusnes. Oni bai bod tri Aelod yn dymuno imi ganu’r gloch, symudwn yn syth at y cyfnod pleidleisio.

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: The question is that amendment 6 be agreed. Is there any objection? I see that there is. Therefore, I defer all other votes on this item until voting time. It has been agreed that voting time will take place after the last item of business. Unless three Members wish me to ring the bell, we will move straight to voting time.

Gohiriwyd y pleidleisio tan y cyfnod pleidleisio.

Voting deferred until voting time.

Cyfnod Pleidleisio
Voting Time

Cynnig NDM5071: O blaid 39, Ymatal 0, Yn erbyn 13.
Motion NDM5071: For 39, Abstain 0, Against 13.

Y Cofnod

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Black, Peter
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Jocelyn
Drakeford, Mark
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord
Evans, Rebecca
Gething, Vaughan
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
Jones, Alun Ffred
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Parrott, Eluned
Powell, William
Price, Gwyn R.
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Roberts, Aled
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Thomas, Simon
Watson, Joyce
Williams, Kirsty

Asghar, Mohammad
Burns, Angela
Davies, Andrew R.T.
Davies, Byron
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Graham, William
Isherwood, Mark
Millar, Darren
Ramsay, Nick
Sandbach, Antoinette

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.

Gwelliant 6 i NDM5069: O blaid 18, Ymatal 6, Yn erbyn 27.
Amendment to NDM5069: For 18, Abstain 6, Against 27.

Y Cofnod

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Asghar, Mohammad
Black, Peter
Burns, Angela
Davies, Andrew R.T.
Davies, Byron
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Graham, William
Isherwood, Mark
Millar, Darren
Parrott, Eluned
Powell, William
Ramsay, Nick
Roberts, Aled
Sandbach, Antoinette
Williams, Kirsty

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Drakeford, Mark
Evans, Rebecca
Gething, Vaughan
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Price, Gwyn R.
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Watson, Joyce

Ymataliodd yr Aelodau canlynol:
The following Members abstained:

Davies, Jocelyn
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Thomas, Simon

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant.
Amendment not agreed.

Gwelliant 7 i NDM5069: O blaid 19, Ymatal 0, Yn erbyn 33.
Amendment 7 to NDM5069: For 19, Abstain 0, Against 33.

Y Cofnod

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Asghar, Mohammad
Black, Peter
Burns, Angela
Davies, Andrew R.T.
Davies, Byron
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Graham, William
Isherwood, Mark
Jones, Elin
Millar, Darren
Parrott, Eluned
Powell, William
Ramsay, Nick
Roberts, Aled
Sandbach, Antoinette
Williams, Kirsty

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Jocelyn
Drakeford, Mark
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord
Evans, Rebecca
Gething, Vaughan
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
Jones, Alun Ffred
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Price, Gwyn R.
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Thomas, Simon
Watson, Joyce

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant.
Amendment not agreed.

6.30 p.m.

Cynnig NDM5069 fel y’i diwygiwyd:

Motion NDM5069 as amended:

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru yn:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:

1. Nodi y gall hyrwyddo a rheoli ein hamgylchedd hanesyddol yn ofalus roi hwb pwysig i economi Cymru.

1. Notes that the careful management and promotion of our historic environment can provide an important stimulus for the Welsh economy.

2. Nodi Strategaeth Amgylchedd Hanesyddol Cymru, sy’n gwireddu ymrwymiad a wnaed gan Lywodraeth Cymru ym mis Ionawr 2012 ac sy’n nodi dyheadau Llywodraeth Cymru o dan y Rhaglen Lywodraethu i ddarparu amgylchedd hanesyddol yng Nghymru sydd ar gael i’w fwynhau yn awr a chan genedlaethau’r dyfodol ac sy’n cael ei ddiogelu’n dda.

2. Notes the Historic Environment Strategy for Wales, which honours a commitment made by the Welsh Government in January 2012 and sets out Welsh Government aspirations under the Programme for Government to provide an accessible, enjoyable and well protected historic environment now and for future generations in Wales.

3. Galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i gyhoeddi Cynlluniau Gweithredu unigol yn cynnwys y mesurau o lwyddiant cyn gynted â phosibl.

3. Calls on the Welsh Government to publish each constituent Action Plan with success measures at the earliest opportunity.

4. Galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i ddarparu diweddariad blynyddol i Gynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru ar y Prif Gynllun Gweithredu.

4. Calls on the Welsh Government to provide the National Assembly for Wales with an annual update on the Headline Action Plan.

5. Cydnabod rôl werthfawr y sector cyhoeddus, y sector preifat a’r trydydd sector wrth warchod a hyrwyddo ein hamgylchedd hanesyddol.

5. Recognises the valuable role played by the public, private and third sector in protecting and promoting our historic environment.

Cynnig NDM5069 fel y’i diwygiwyd: O blaid 39, Ymatal 0, Yn erbyn 13.
Motion NDM5069 as amended: For 39, Abstain 0, Against 13.

Y Cofnod

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Black, Peter
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Jocelyn
Drakeford, Mark
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord
Evans, Rebecca
Gething, Vaughan
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
Jones, Alun Ffred
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Parrott, Eluned
Powell, William
Price, Gwyn R.
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Roberts, Aled
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Thomas, Simon
Watson, Joyce
Williams, Kirsty

Asghar, Mohammad
Burns, Angela
Davies, Andrew R.T.
Davies, Byron
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Graham, William
Isherwood, Mark
Millar, Darren
Ramsay, Nick
Sandbach, Antoinette

Derbyniwyd cynnig NDM5069 fel y’i diwygiwyd.
Motion NDM5069 as amended agreed.

Y Cofnod

Y Dirprwy Lywydd Dros Dro: Dyna ddiwedd y trafodion am heddiw.

The Temporary Deputy Presiding Officer: That is the end of today’s proceedings.

Daeth y cyfarfod i ben am 6.30 p.m.
The meeting ended at 6.30 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 (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 Annibynnol - Independent Plaid Cymru)
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)
Parrott, Eluned (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru - Welsh Liberal Democrats)
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)
Roberts, Aled (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru - Welsh Liberal Democrats)
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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