Cyfarfod Llawn Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru 19.06.18

Cyfarfod Llawn Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru 19.06.18


Full_Verbatim
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Galw’r Aelodau i drefn.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Yr eitem gyntaf ar ein hagenda ni y prynhawn yma yw’r cwestiynau
i’r Prif Weinidog, a’r cwestiwn cyntaf, Neil McEvoy.
Neil McEvoy AM: First Minister, not so long ago you described it as odd that Wales doesn’t
have its ownó Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: You need to ask the
question on the order paper. Neil McEvoy AM: Excuse me; I do apologise.
It’s not on the order paper. Ah, here you go. Sorry.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Don’t blame the order paper, Mr McEvoy. [Laughter.]
Neil McEvoy AM: 1. A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am gymorth Lywodraeth Cymru ar
gyfer criced yng Nghymru? OAQ52353 Carwyn Jones AM: Via Sport Wales, we have
provided £537,000 this year to Cricket Wales to support the development of the game across
Wales. Neil McEvoy AM: Diolch, and thank you for
your patience there. Not so long ago, you described it as odd that Wales doesn’t have
its own national cricket team. And it seems more odd now that Ireland is a full test member
of the International Cricket Council, and Scotland is beating England in one-day internationals.
So, where is Wales? I think many people here find it bizarre that a team called England,
with no Welsh players, playing under the English flag, three lions on the shirt, can be described
as Welsh. Now, Glamorgan, who have had reservations about the Welsh team, are calling for someone
to produce a business plan to explore how to have a successful county side and national
side. So, will your Government support Glamorgan’s suggestion by commissioning a feasibility
study into a Welsh national cricket team, or will you let Welsh cricketers and fans
continue to be so badly represented by England? Carwyn Jones AM: Well, ultimately, it’s a
matter for Cricket Wales and for Glamorgan Cricket Club, and not for the Government.
There is no doubt that there would be a severe financial impact if we were suddenly to compete
in our own names. There’s a question mark as to whether Glamorgan would survive, whether
the stadium would be viable, and, indeed, what would happen in terms of the financial
support that Welsh cricket receives. I understand that there will be many who, in their hearts,
would like to see a Welsh cricket team, but, of course, there are financial realities here
that have to be observed and, for me, I think it’s best left to the cricketing authorities.
Russell George AM: First Minister, like many sports across Wales, cricket at grass-roots
and amateur level is coming under significant pressure, both financially and from a participation
perspective. Now, on the weekend, you may have seen that the Welsh Rugby Union announced
a pilot that would see junior rugby moved to the summer season. Now, whilst I certainly
acknowledge that some of the reasons put forward by the WRU are understandable, can I ask what
discussions your Government has had, or will be having over the coming weeks, to ensure
that the game of cricket in Wales is not significantly squeezed or harmed by this decision, as it
is surely in everyone’s interest that all sports in Wales, including cricket and rugby,
have their own space to thrive? Carwyn Jones AM: It was an issue that was
raised with me over the course of the weekend. There is significant overlap already between
the sports. There was a time when people would happily play rugby in the winter and cricket
in the summer, and the overlap wasn’t there; it certainly wasn’t there when I was in school,
when we played on sloping pitches with a dull ball and one padóthat was the way to learn
cricket, if I remember. But the serious point is this: it’s important that cricket is able
to appeal to young people, as young as possible. The situation has improved. I know, when my
son was younger, he could play football at six, rugby at seven, but cricket not until
11. That did change very quickly and he did take part in some cricket. What’s important
is that cricket continues to appeal to children at the youngest age possible, and, in fairness,
that is something that’s happening now. So, cricket should be able, to my mind, to hold
its own. Rhun ap Iorwerth AM: One of the most powerful
tools, surely, for encouraging youth cricket in Wales would be to have a national cricket
team that young people the length and breadth of the country could aspire to and find role
models in. You say that this is not a matter for Government. Let’s perhaps explore what
might be a matter for Government. You have a major events unit, for example, that funds
a host of events in order to put Wales on the map, in order to market Wales, in order
to bring economic benefit to Wales. Would Welsh Government look at the possibility of
even using major events funding to get the ball rolling on a national cricket team for
Wales, as, if you like, a permanent major event that could bring real national benefits?
Carwyn Jones AM: The major events funding is there for one-off events, not for continuous
revenue funding. But he is right to say, of course, that it’s a good way of showcasing
Wales. But we don’t just attract events to have Welsh teams in them, if I can put it
that way. We’ve just had the Volvo Ocean Race. There was Welsh participation, but there wasn’t
a Welsh team. The point was to bring the attention of the world to Cardiff Bay, and to Wales,
and to see what we could host. The same with the Champions Leagueóyes, there was Welsh
participation, clearly, but there were no Welsh teams in it. So, I think it’s hugely
important that we are able to showcase ourselves as a nation that can host major events. We’ve
done that incredibly successfully. We are by far the smallest nation, for example, to
host the Champions League, and Cardiff is the smallest city to host the Champions League.
We’ve done it, and there’s no reason why we can’t do it again. It shouldn’t just be tied
to whether or not there’s a Welsh team in the event as to whether we then support that
event. Mohammad Asghar (Oscar) AM: 2. Pa fesurau
y bydd Llywodraeth Cymru’n eu cyflwyno i atal creulondeb i anifeiliaid yn ystod y 12 mis
nesaf? OAQ52382 Carwyn Jones AM: The Wales animal health and
welfare framework implementation planósnappily titledósets out the framework group and Welsh
Government priorities for animal health and welfare, and the Cabinet Secretary will be
making a statement on companion animal welfare later today.
Mohammad Asghar (Oscar) AM: Thank you very much for the reply, Minister. Since May this
year, every abattoir in England is required to have CCTV cameras installed in all areas
where live animals are kept. Official vets will have unrestricted access to footage,
to reassure consumers that high welfare standards are being enforced. Does the First Minister
agree that this is an effective way to prevent animal cruelty, and when will the Welsh Government
make CCTV compulsory in our abattoirs in Wales? Carwyn Jones AM: Well, there are a number
of controls already in place in abattoirs. Official vets are present in every single
one of them. The larger abattoirs, which process the majority of animals, have CCTV, and official
vets are able to access footage if they suspect welfare standards are not being met. That
said, we are determined to improve standards and practices where it’s necessary and reasonable
to do so, and the £1.1 million food business investment funding package will assist small
and medium-sized slaughterhouses to improve their facilities, including the installation
of CCTV. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Cwestiynau nawr gan
arweinwyr y pleidiau. Arweinydd yr wrthblaid, Andrew R.T. Davies.
Andrew RT Davies AM: Thank you, Presiding Officer. First Minister, prostate cancer is
a cruel condition, which, if diagnosed early enough, has remarkable success ratesó90 per
cent plus. Regrettably, obviously, screening in some parts of the UK leaves a lot to be
desired. In particular here in Wales, regrettably, the ability to get access to the multiparametric
MRI scanner for four health boards is non-existent, and people do end up having to pay considerable
sums to have that scan undertaken. In England, for example, where that scan is available,
it has a 92 per cent detection rate. With the four health boards, which total 700,000
men within those health boards, unable to attract that type of screening, what commitment
can you give, as First Minister and as a Government, to roll out the screening so that, whatever
part of Wales you live in, you will have access to that screening, so that, if you do require
surgery or intervention, it can be done in a timely manner?
Carwyn Jones AM: An important question, and one that deserves a detailed answer, if I
may, Llywydd. I can say that health boards in Wales are able to offer multiparametric
scans, in line with the current guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care
Excellence. That guidance currently recommends the mpMRI for people with a negative biopsy,
to determine whether another biopsy is needed, and whether the management of a proven cancer
will benefit from staging of the tumour. The what’s called ‘PROMIS trial’ indicated that
people with suspected prostate cancer might benefit from having their mpMRI prior to biopsy.
NICE is reviewing its guidance and is expected to issue recommendations in the early part
of next year. In the meantime, evidence is being considered by the Wales urology board.
It’s fair to say there are different views among the clinicians about the implications
of recent evidence, with some health boards implementing elements of a revised approach.
What I can say is that, if NICE recommends pre-biopsy mpMRI for suspected prostate cancer,
then we would expect all health boards to amend their care pathways accordingly. In
the meantime, health boards will continue to consider the evidence and pathway reforms
through the Wales urology board. Andrew RT Davies AM: I thank you for that
detailed answer, First Minister. Regrettably, 10,000 men a year die from prostate canceróit’s
the biggest killer of men. And some universality around the screening programme must be a compunction
on the Government because, actually, cancer doesn’t rely on postcodesóit’s universal,
it is. On the bowel cancer screening programme that the Welsh Government have, it has been
called, at the moment, a very postcode lottery-driven screening programme. In particular, one in
four individuals were waiting in excess of eight weeks to have their screening procedure
diagnosed, and actually put into practice if intervention was required. Nine hundred
people a year die of bowel cancer here in Wales. If, ultimately, we had a better, more
robust screening system and a wider screening system that actually took into account 40
years and above, then we could drive those numbers down even further. Given that we know
the importance of screening and, in particular, bowel screening, what action is your Government
taking to shorten the waiting times that will remove that one in fouró25 per cent of peopleówaiting
in excess of eight weeks to get the results that they require, because it cannot be right
that, where the condition is treatable, just waiting too long on a waiting list has a detrimental
impact on your outcome? Carwyn Jones AM: With screening, it’s a question
of who you target for the screening, because you can’t screen everybody. Which elements
of the population are particularly susceptible to a particular type of cancer, because it’s
not physically possible to screen everybody? We want, of course, to see consistency across
the health boards. They’re able to access the new treatments fund, if that’s appropriate
for what they wish to take forward. What I can say is that, when we look at our urgent
suspected cancer route, for example, the vast majority of people started definitive treatment
within the target time of 62 daysó88.7 per centóand 96 per cent of patients who are
newly diagnosed with cancer not via the urgent route started definitive treatment within
the target time of 31 days, in March 2018. So, the vast majority of people do get the
treatment that they should get within the right amount of time. But, of course, we rely
on specialists in order to advise us to make sure that we can see how we can improve screening
where that’s necessary. Andrew RT Davies AM: Those improvements are
desperately needed. As I said, Bowel Cancer UK says it is a national crisis that one in
four people are waiting eight weeks or more for that screening process to be undertaken.
But what we do know from the weekend’s announcement that the UK Government made is that there
will be a considerable uplift in the spend available to the Welsh Government to spend
on health and social care here in Walesó[Interruption.] These screeningó. Well, I can hear the chuntering
from the Labour backbenchers, but the reality is that money is coming over to the Welsh
Government. Now, it is perfectly right, under the devolved
settlement, that you choose where to spend that money. From these benches, we believe
that that money should be spent in the fields of health and social care to make those improvements
in prostate, bowel and other treatments available to patients here in Wales. Now, will you commit
today to making sure that any money that is made available to the Welsh Government is
spent on those key areas, so that we can see the improvements that we desperately need
in diagnostic tests, waiting times and staff recruitment, which other parts of the UK that
are committed to delivering it in the health and social care budgets will see? We need
that commitment, First Minister. Will you make it?
Carwyn Jones AM: Well, the first thing we have to see is how much money we’ll actually
get, because there are two important points to make here: first of all, we have been informed
that that money, whatever money we get, will be the source of funding to deal with pay
increases. So, the lifting of the pay cap will have to be financed through any money
that we get via the source that he has mentioned. So, that’s the first thing to mention. There’s
no extra money on top of that. Secondly, of course, it’s never the case, is it, that we
get a lump sum of money to pay for a particular area, such as health or education? What happens
is, of course, as he knows, is that it’s delivered via the block grant. What we don’t know is
that, if we get the increase in health, whether we will then see decreases everywhere elseóin
local government, in education, in all those areas that are devolved. Now, those, of course,
are removed from the figure that he’s just mentioned. So, until we know firstly how much
money net there will actually beówe know about the £1.2 billionóand until we know,
of course, how much moneyówe’ve got a fair ideaóthat the pay deal will cost, we won’t
know how much money is available to spend. Until those factors are resolvedóand nobody
is able to do that yet because we don’t know what any increases or not in our block grant
will be in the autumnóand until we know the definitive net sum of money, it’s very difficult
to make any commitments at this stage. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Arweinydd grwp UKIP,
Caroline Jones. Caroline Jones AM: Diolch, Llywydd. First
Minister, the Prime Minister announced over the weekend that there would be a £20 billion
a year birthday present for the NHS in England. As a result of Barnett, Wales is expected
to receive £1.2 billion. On Sunday, a Welsh Government spokesman said that a decision
on the allocation of funding would be made by your Cabinet in the usual way. So, First
Minister, have you made that decision yet, and will you be using any extra moneys we
receive for health and social care? Carwyn Jones AM: Well, the only commitment
that we have made is that we will lift the pay capóunusually, because normally we don’t
make those promises before we know how much money is allocated. So, that will have to
be paid for from whichever sum of money we get from the UK Government; there’s no extra
money for it. And as I said in the answer earlier on, it’s not going to be £1.2 billion.
We don’t know whether there’ll be cuts elsewhere that will bring that figure down. Until we
know what the final figure is, it’s very difficult to give any commitments in terms of spending.
Caroline Jones AM: Thank you for that answer. My concern here is that mental health issues
account for around a quarter of all health problems, yet we’re spending as little as
over 11 per cent of the entire NHS Wales budget. We have seen a 100 per cent increase in demand
for child and adolescent mental health care services. We know that depression affects
22 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women over the age of 65. We’ve seen a large rise
in instances of self-harm, and each year around 300 people in Wales die from suicideóthis
is about twice the number of people killed in road accidents. We are clearly not doing
enough to tackle mental health in Wales. So, First Minister, will you commit to using some
of this additional money, whatever it may be, coming to Wales in order to ensure that
mental health funding is based upon a robust assessment of healthcare needs?
Carwyn Jones AM: Yes, and in particular, of course, to look at prevention. That’s hugely
important. With CAMHS, she is right to say that there was a significant increase in demand
for CAMHS and we met that demand by allocatingóif I rememberó£8 million a year towards CAMHS
in order for them to meet the demand that was there. Mental health, as she will know,
is a key priority for us in ‘Prosperity for All’. We want to make sure that mental health
is seen as something that is a priority for all governments in the future, and that will
shape any spending decisions that we take if there’s any extra money on the table.
Caroline Jones AM: Thank you for that answer, First Minister. As I’ve highlighted before,
many times, one in four of us will suffer from mental ill health. A friend or a work
colleague could be battling depression for yearsówe wouldn’t know about it, because,
unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues. We all have to be
more open about mental health: we wouldn’t try to hide a broken leg, but we will try
to hide depression. Sadly, as a result of stigma, many people end up taking their own
lives. If we recognise the signs and offer non-judgmental support, many lives could be
saved. So, First Minister, will you commit your Government to ensuring that as many people
as possible are trained as mental health first aiders, and will you look at adding the training
to the school curriculum and encourage large employers to have mental health first aiders
alongside the normal, required first aiders? Thank you.
Carwyn Jones AM: I’m not sure that first aid is the way to deal with it. That suggests
something that is acute, something that’s just arisen. I think it’s more long term than
that. I take the point that the leader of UKIP is making in terms of how we deal with
people who don’t exhibit any external signs of depression. I’ve seen it at close hand,
I’ve got a fair idea of how it operates in people, but it’s not always obvious to those
who are not familiar with the individual involved, and that is difficult, of course, because
the external signs are not there. If you break a leg, it’s obvious: the signs are there.
That’s why I want to make sure that when we look at mental health, we don’t just look
at it as a service designed to help people when they get into crisis, that we do look
at ways in which we can help young people particularlyóthat’s important, we have a
counsellor in each secondary school in Walesóbut at what more could be done, for example, to
look to help people who are not obviously in need of help. They are the people, quite
often, of course, that the system needs to identify. How that’s done, of course, we will
take forward with practitioners, to see how we can create a service where there is more
focus on prevention and less on dealing with symptoms when they become obvious.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Arweinydd Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood.
Leanne Wood AM: Diolch, Llywydd. Does the First Minister agree with the environmental
lawyers ClientEarth that the Welsh Government’s plans for air quality lack clarity and detail?
Carwyn Jones AM: Well, we are looking at air quality and how to improve it. I’m not going
to agree with a firm of lawyers, obviously, that are not Welsh Government lawyers, but
there is a challenge, of course, to improve air quality in the future.
Leanne Wood AM: Air pollution is responsible for 2,000 deaths per year in this country.
It’s a public health crisis, and it’s your Labour Government’s environmental legacy.
That’s why Plaid Cymru this week has launched a campaign, clean air week, and my colleague
Simon Thomas yesterday launched a comprehensive report on hydrogen’s role in the decarbonisation
of transport. Now, I would urge the First Minister to read this expert-led, in-depth
report and to take heed of its recommendations. First Minister, this crisis warrants urgent
action. Given that a road in Caerphilly is the most polluted outside of London, will
you support our calls for a clean air Act for Wales that would phase out the sale of
diesel and petrol-only vehicles by 2030? Carwyn Jones AM: I think that’s too early;
I don’t think the technology’s ready. I do look forward to a time when electric cars
become the norm. I don’t think the technology’s there now in terms of the range, but I think
it will become available very, very quickly. If I remember rightly, 2040 is the target
the UK Government has set, is, I think, probably pessimistic, but such is the development of
the technology in this field, I think we will get to a position where it will become a realistic
option. As somebody who has been driving a hybrid car, the battery in my car only gives
me a range of 28 miles. Now, that’s the problem. We need to make sure that the technology is
right to move ahead, in the way that she has describedóshe’s right.
In the meantime, what do we do? We can’t do nothing. Well, firstly, we need to make sure
that we remove areas where traffic is idling with engines onóthat affects air qualityóand,
of course, to see more modal shift, and that means, of course, moving ahead with the improvements
we’re going to see in our rail infrastructure, to make it more comfortable for people to
travel by train, in air-conditioned trains that are more frequent, and also, of course,
moving forward with the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 to make sure that where we see new
developmentsóat cycle paths, for exampleóthey’re an integral part of those developments, so
that people feel they don’t have to travel by car.
So, there are two things: first of all, creating that modal shift, and, secondly, of course,
looking to encourage ways to ensure that battery cars have a much longer range in the future,
and that it’s much easier to charge them, as well, than it is at the moment. I think
that’s when we can get the real change. Leanne Wood AM: I take it, then, from your
answer, that you disagree with Labour-led Cardiff council that has called for a ban
on polluting vehicles by 2030? Why is Labour so unable to be consistent on any single policy
area? The lack of urgency, willingness and the lack of being able to do things differently
is costing people’s lives. You can laugh and mutteróit is costing people’s lives.
Now, you have already lost a case against ClientEarth and you face further legal repercussions
if solutions aren’t found quickly. Let me once again emphasise the scale of the problem
here. Air in Cardiff and Port Talbot is more polluted than air in Birmingham and Manchester,
despite the huge differences in population. This is the environment that your Government
is creating for future generations. First Minister, as a very first step, you could
ensure that the planned automotive park in Ebbw Vale focuses on the development of hydrogen
and electric vehicles, putting Wales at the forefront of the clean transport revolution.
Will you at least do that? Carwyn Jones AM: I wonder if she or others
on the Plaid benches drive a hybrid car or an electric car? Silence. Well, practise what
you preachóthat’s what I would say. Simon Thomas AM: Try doing it in Aberystwyth.
When you put in the infrastructure, we will do it.
Carwyn Jones AM: Well, Simon Thomasó[Inaudible.] [Interruption.]
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Allow the First Minister to respond, please.
Carwyn Jones AM: Simon Thomas is right. He is right to say, ‘Try doing it for Aberystwyth.’
He’s quite right, I don’t dispute that all, which is why the technology isn’t ready yet.
But it does need to be moved forward. Of course, I notice that nobody even drives a hybridóit’s
something I’ve been doing for three years. Anyway, look, the point is this, isn’t it:
how do we create clean air? That’s an important point. Port Talbot has a steelworks in it,
and that means, inevitably, that the air quality there may not be as good as it would be in
places where that industrial operation isn’t there. But we need it to be there, and, in
fairness, Tata have made a great deal of effort and taken many strides in reducing their emissions
over the years, and that has had an effect on Port Talbot. Port Talbot also has a traffic
problem that is not easy to resolve, which will need to be looked at in the future. Cardiffówell,
yes, I think it’s right to say that it’s probably easier to drive an electric car in Cardiff
if people are commuting a short distance, and that’s something to encourage and the
infrastructure is beingó[Interruption.] Well, she makes the point about the ministerial
fleet when nobody in her own party is driving that kind of car, given the long distances.
[Interruption.] Yes, but I am not the one, am Ió? [Interruption.] I am not the one saying
that we should move to battery-operated cars as quickly as possible. They are.
Simon Thomas AM: Cardiff city council is. Carwyn Jones AM: Practise what you preach.
The second thing is, of courseóand in the short termóthat the way to do this is to
encourage more people out of their cars, and also, of course, to ensure that people are
able to use the public transport network as conveniently as possible. We are doing that,
despite the criticism that Plaid Cymru launched at the rail franchiseóthe only people who
criticised it. We will make sure that the whole of Wales has the best rail structure
in Britain. We’ve shown the way for the rest of Britain. It’s no longer any good for people
who use the Valleys lines services to travel on ancient trains with no air conditioning
and an unreliable service. That’s going to change. People will have the trains that they
deserve and people will be able to access the cycle routes that they deserve. People
will see, as we’ve taken powers now over buses, an integrated bus and train and light rail
network. That is what we offer the people of Walesóa real vision to plug that gap until
such time as the technology is available and the range is available for battery-powered
cars. Paul Davies AM: 3. A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog
amlinellu blaenoriaethau economaidd Llywodraeth Cymru ar gyfer Sir Benfro dros y 12 mis nesaf?
OAQ52340 Carwyn Jones AM: Maeír strategaeth genedlaethol
‘Ffyniant i Bawb’ aír cynllun gweithredu ar yr economi yn nodiír camau rydym niín
eu cymryd i wellaír economi aír amgylchedd busnes trwy Gymru gyfan.
Paul Davies AM: Brif Weinidog, fe gwrddais i ‚ busnes bach cymharol newydd yn ddiweddar
o’r enw Composites Cymru yn fy etholaeth i sy’n cynhyrchu partiau carbon ffibr i gerbydau,
ac mae’r busnes nawr yn edrych i ehangu i gynhyrchu pethau eraill hefyd. Rwyín siwr
y byddwch chiín cytuno ‚ fi ei bod hiín bwysig ein bod yn gwneud popeth y gallwn ni
i gefnogi busnes fel hyn, trwy sicrhau mynediad i gyllid er mwyn bod y busnes yn gallu ehangu
a bod yr economi lleol yn gallu elwa. Felly, a allwch chi ddweud wrthym ni beth mae Llywodraeth
Cymruín ei wneud i sicrhau bod busnesau bach, yn enwedig busnesau bach mewn ardaloedd gwledig,
yn gallu cael gafael ar gefnogaeth ariannol, fel eu bod yn gallu tyfu yn y dyfodol, a gwellaír
economi lleol? Carwyn Jones AM: Wel, wrth gwrs, rym ni wedi
ymrwymo i gefnogi busnesau bach ac SMEs, ac rym ni wedi buddsoddi £86 miliwn lan hyd
at 2020 i sicrhau bod busnesau’n cael hysbysrwydd a’r manylion sydd eisiau arnyn nhw, ac yn
cael canllawiau a hefyd yn cael cefnogaeth fusnes trwy’r rhaglen Busnes Cymru. Mae’n
bleser i weld bod cynnydd o 10.6 y cant o fusnesau yn sir Benfro ers 2011, ac, wrth
gwrs, mae’r buddsoddiad sydd wedi cael ei wneud yn y system fand eang wedi gwneud gwahaniaeth
mawr ynglyn ‚ sicrhau bod busnesau’n gallu sefyll mewn ardaloedd mwy gwledig ac nad ydynt
yn teimlo eu bod nhw’n gorfod symud i lefydd mwy trefol.
Vikki Howells AM: 4. Sut y bydd metro de Cymru yn gwella mynediad i drafnidiaeth gyhoeddus
yng Nghwm Cynon? OAQ52384 Carwyn Jones AM: Aberdare and the wider Cynon
Valley will benefit from an increase to four services per hour in 2022. More immediately,
the Sunday service trial that’s currently operational will be made permanent from December
2018. Vikki Howells AM: Thank you, First Minister.
I welcome those comments on the rail aspect of the metro, but I think it’s important to
note that, from its inception, the metro project has been promoted as an integrated transport
solution. The geography of the Valleys means that it’s often our most impoverished communities
that can be furthest away from the train links on the valley floor. So, for them to benefit
from better access to the jobs market, it is crucial that they’re served by strong bus
links that feed into those train services. So, First Minister, what reassurances can
the Welsh Government give that those bus links remain at the heart of the metro vision?
Carwyn Jones AM: Well, Members will know the frustration that many of us feel when constituents
come to us and say, ‘Is there anything you can do about this bus route that’s been cut?’
And the answer is, ‘Well, it’s nothing to do with Government. It’s all from the private
sector, apart from subsidised routes.’ Well, that has to come to an end, because, in most
parts of Wales, there’s effectively a private monopoly on bus services. They can do as they
see fit in terms of which routes they run. Now that we have responsibility and control
over the bus services in Wales, there’s the opportunity to create that integrated bus,
light rail and train system that we’ve wanted to see for a long times in Wales. She’s right
to say that there are many cross-Valleys routes, for example, that are not being served by
rail, but are important in terms of what they deliver through bus services. Now we can start
looking, from phases 2 and 3 and beyond, at a properly integrated public transport system
for the whole of Wales, and these are exciting times.
David Melding AM: First Minister, we’re already seeing, from the population statistics for
Rhondda Cynon Taf and Aberdare, being very important, that there’s an increase in population
of people who are between 30 and 40, as some people are relocating to those areas to purchased
family-sized housing. This is leading to a larger and more diverse social mix, which
itself regenerates areas like Aberdare. But an essential part of this, to rebuild on this
trend, is to ensure that the metro provides excellent transport, because a lot of younger
people do not want their lives ruled by the car and facing congestion points.
Carwyn Jones AM: They don’t; you’re quite right. They are more enlightened, I suppose,
than many of the generations older than them. We are looking, of courseóthe Member for
Llanelli has offered his strong support for that, I’m glad he considers he is a part of
the younger generation, but I’ll not comment on that. We are looking, of course, at a system
of half-price travel for young people, as well, to make it easier for them to access
the network that we will have in place, but the Member is quite right to point out that
we have to make sure, as we encourage people out of their cars, that we have a rail system
that is good enough to attract them onto the trains. For too long, they’ve had to put up
with uncomfortable trains with condensation running down the windows, with indifferent
punctuality. Those days must change, and they will change as a result of the new franchise.
Mick Antoniw AM: First Minister, the improvements to the service in Cynon valley will obviously
come through to Pontypridd, but are probably unlikely to go as far as providing benefits
to Pontyclun, where you have a population from Pencoed to the surrounding area of around
100,000. The main benefit that, probably, people in Pontyclun will see is that there
will be more trains going through Pontyclun, but not necessarily stopping in Pontyclun.
At the moment, there is one train an hour, two at peak times, normally of two carriages,
and there is incredible frustration in terms of people actually even being able to access
the service at all, because of the congestion. I wonder if this is something Welsh Government
would have a look at to ensure that, in this growing area, this vitally important area,
a part of my constituency, there will be very specific improvements to the rail service,
to the frequency of trains, the quality of trains and the number of carriages to enable
them to deliver people, whether it be from Pencoed through Pontyclun to Cardiff or vice
versa. Carwyn Jones AM: My daughter travels to Cardiff
on a Monday and a Tuesday. She is somebody who lobbies me constantly on this issue. She
sees the overcrowding on the trains. She gets on at Bridgend, but, of course, with the stops
at Pencoed and Llanharan, then at Pontyclun, she sees the overcrowding that takes place
there with a two-carriage train in the early morning. Bear in mind, of course, that the
last franchise was let on the basis that there would be no increase in the passenger numbers
at all. That was unfathomable thinking at the time. That is not what we’ve done this
time around. So, it does mean looking at more frequent services to serve his constituents.
It’ll mean, in time, as well, of course, looking at the old coke works line up to Beddau to
see whether that can be usedóprobably light railóto link back into the mainline to provide
a service for people at the stations from western Talbot Green, I suppose, onwards and
upwards up to Beddau. Llyr Gruffydd AM: 5. Pa gamau y mae Llywodraeth
Cymru’n eu cymryd i leihau lefelau ail-droseddu? OAQ52336
Carwyn Jones AM: Mae Llywodraeth Cymru a Gwasanaeth Carchardai a Phrawf Ei Mawrhydi yng Nghymru
wedi cydweithio i ddatblygu fframwaith ar y cyd i gefnogi newid cadarnhaol i bobl yng
Nghymru sydd ‚ risg o droseddu. Llyr Gruffydd AM: Mae bron pob darn o ymchwil
sydd wedi edrych ar faint carchardai wedi dangos bod carchardai llai yn cael gwell canlyniadau
i garcharorion a chymunedau o’u cymharu ‚ charchardai mawr, a rhai mawr iawn, superprisons, yn enwedig.
Felly, os ych chi o ddifrif ynglyn ‚ lleihau lefelau aildroseddu, a wnewch chi ymrwymo,
os a phan fydd y materion yma yn cael eu datganoli, i dorri cwys wahanol yng Nghymru ac i symud
oddi wrth y model yma a sicrhau nad oes yna ragor o garchardai mawr yn cael eu datblygu
yma yng Nghymru? Carwyn Jones AM: Gwnawn. Rwy’n credu bod yn
rhaid ystyried unwaith eto y system ddedfrydu a hefyd y system gyfiawnder yng Nghymru, yn
enwedig, wrth gwrs, y carchardai a hefyd sefydliadau i droseddwyr ifanc. So, mae hwn yn rhywbeth
yr ydym ni’n ei ystyried ar hyn o bryd, achos os ym ni’n mynd i weld datganoli’r system
gyfiawnder, wel yna, wrth gwrs, fe fydd yn rhaid cael polisi. Ond nid oes pwynt cael
polisi unwaith y mae’r datganoli wedi digwydd, mae’n rhaid ichi gael polisi o flaen llaw,
ac mae hwn yn rhywbeth rym ni fel Llywodraeth yn ei weld ac yn rhywbeth rydw i’n gwybod
y mae’r Gweinidog yn ei ystyried ac yn ei ddatblygu ar hyn o bryd.
Nick Ramsay AM: First Minister, I’m sure you would agree with me, key to low reoffending
rates is training prior to release. I recently opened a very successful jobs fair at Prescoed
open prison in my constituencyóit was hosted partially by Careers Walesówhere ex-offenders
had the opportunity to meet with employers, both local and from further afield, to see
how they could best apply valuable skills that they picked up whilst in prison. I thought
that this was a very worthwhile scheme. Prescoed has an excellent record of rehabilitation.
Can you tell usówhilst I appreciate that prisons aren’t devolvedówhat the Welsh Government
is doing to support organisations like Careers Wales, so that ex-offenders, whilst they are
in prison, do get that valuable opportunity to retrain so that upon release they can reintegrate
with society and give society back those skills that they picked up in prison?
Carwyn Jones AM: Well, youth offending teams have played a significant role in reducing
reoffending amongst young people. They’ve looked to support prevention, early intervention
and diversion. As someone with significant experience in representing young people at
the sharp end in the courts, what I would find is, yes, they can quite often get released
from a young offenders’ institution, having had training, but they fall back into the
same peer group and into the same habits. So, yes, training is hugely importantóI very
much welcome what’s been done at Prescoedóbut also, of course, those teams will know that
it’s hugely important to move people away from a peer group that might have got them
into trouble in the first place, and often away from drugs as well, because the rate
of reoffending with people who have abused drugs is enormously high. So, I think it’s
a holistic approach that’s needed, but what he’s described as happening in his own constituency
is a hugely important part of that approach. Neil Hamilton AM: 6. Sut y mae Llywodraeth
Cymru’n cynorthwyo byrddau iechyd wrth gynllunio gofal iechyd yng Nghanolbarth a Gorllewin
Cymru? OAQ52383 Carwyn Jones AM: The ‘NHS Wales Planning Framework
2018/21’ sets out the principles that health boards should follow when developing their
integrated medium-term plans. We have also set out our vision for the future of health
and social care services in the long-term plan, ‘A Healthier Wales’, which was launched
last week. Neil Hamilton AM: I thank the First Minister
for that reply. As he knows, a significant part of Mid and West Wales is within the Betsi
Cadwaladr health board area. As of the end of March, there were 5,714 patients that were
waiting more than nine months for treatment in hospital. Under Betsi’s current plans,
many orthopaedic patients will still be waiting more than a year for treatment, and 4,200,
generally, will wait more than nine months to be treated, whereas in Powys, that nine-month
wait has actually been eliminated. Betsi also says that there’s a systemic deficit of 13,500
patient pathways on the basis of patient demand, so that must mean that they are not being
funded properly to provide a suitably comprehensive system of healthcare for the people of that
region. Is it acceptable to the Welsh Government that, under Betsi’s plans, this is a health
board that is actually planning to fail? Carwyn Jones AM: The health Secretary updated
Members last week on the progress made in some areas. He was also clear about the significant
challenges that do remain, and the support that will be in place for the next phase of
work. It’s right to say that some services have been de-escalated. Maternity services,
of course, in a very difficult place at one point, were de-escalated as a special measures
concern in February, and that demonstrates what can be achieved with focused action and
support, and that is the model that we plan to use in ensuring that there is further de-escalation
in the months to come. Angela Burns AM: Of course, we do know a little
bit better now what is happening in Betsi Cadwaladr, and what support the Welsh Government
is offering that health board, simply because we have raised it here so many times that
we’ve finally managed to get an answer. I wonder, now, First Minister, if you might
be able to enlighten us as to the types of levels of support that the Welsh Government
is offering the Hywel Dda health board, which, as you know, is in a form of special intervention.
They’ve already been in it for over two years. We don’t want to see their situation deteriorate
or continue for as long as the Betsi Cadwaladr health board situation has. Surely the objective
is that you go in, you give them the support, they put themselves right, and then they come
back out of special measures. That’s the way we should be running our health boards. So,
perhaps you can just give us an overview of what you’re doing for Hywel Dda health board,
because I’ve found it exceptionally difficult to try to get some real, clear, crystal-clear
answers on this matter from the Cabinet Secretary for health.
Carwyn Jones AM: Well, I can say that in 2015-16 and 2016-17, we did provide Hywel Dda with
additional non-recurrent funding of £14.4 million as short-term structural support in
recognition of the financial challenges facing the board. On 23 May, the health Secretary
announced the findings of a review that partially confirmed the view that Hywel Dda faces a
unique set of healthcare challenges that have contributed to the consistent deficits incurred
by the board and its predecessor organisations as well. As a result, £27 million of additional
recurrent funding has been released to the health board during this financial year. That
will place the health board on a sounder funding basis going forward, and of course it will
help the board to develop and transform services in the future.
Simon Thomas AM: I don’t know, First Minister, if you’ve had a chance to see the Public Services
Ombudsman for Wales’s report on the distressing case of Ellie and Chris James of Haverfordwest,
whose son died in Glangwili hospital. There were a host of failings described in that
ombudsman’s report, compounded by the decision to describe their son’s death as ‘stillborn’,
despite the fact that he had signs of life after being born, and that in itself was as
a result of several failings, including, for example, failing to monitor the heartbeat.
This happened in Glangwili, with a young mother being taken from Withybush to Glangwili. A
failure to escalateósomething we were told wouldn’t be happening when the services were
taken from Withybush to Glangwili, of course. I hope you’ll join with me in extending deepest
sympathies to the family and the circumstances that they have suffered. But, in particular,
I’d be interested to know what specific steps you’re taking in line with the ombudsman’s
conclusions that the health board should implement the recommendations of this report now, and
whether you’re taking any further direct action to ensure that, there, we have the highest
standards of neonatal care in our health board area.
Carwyn Jones AM: Nobody could fail to be moved by what these parents have gone through. Of
course I join him in expressing my enormous sympathy for what has happened to themóof
course. All of us, I’m sure, in this Chamber will more than empathise with the situation
that they find themselves in, of course. Well, what should be done as a result? First
of all, the ombudsman’s report was clear in its findings that the care provided was unacceptableóby
more than one hospital, but unacceptable. The health board has accepted the report’s
recommendations in full. They have sent their action plan to us. Officials will now monitor
the actions taken by the health board to ensure that the recommendations within the report
are implemented. There has already been a great deal of learning and improvement in
practice as a result of what is, of course, a very sad case, and we will ensure that that
continues. As part of the learning process, I can say that we expect all NHS organisations
to reflect on this case to identify any learning to improve patient care within their own respective
organisations as well. So, yes, Hywel Dda will take action. That action will be monitored
by us. Bethan Sayed AM: 7. A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog
roi’r wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am bolisi Llywodraeth Cymru ar y meini prawf ar gyfer dyfarnu grantiau
i gwmnÔau? OAQ52385 Carwyn Jones AM: Yes, the financial support
we provide to businesses plays a vital role in helping them to start, to sustain and grow,
and of course to enable them to deliver wider economic benefit. But businesses receiving
such support must satisfy grant terms and conditions, and any breaches may result in
the recovery of that grant. Bethan Sayed AM: Thank you for that answer.
You will know that Celtic Wealth Management had a grant from your Government for financial
services, but instead decided to use that money to rip off steelworkers in the Port
Talbot area, and other people with defined pension benefits. This effectively amounts
to cold calling and is something that is unethical. I’m wondering why it’s taken you seven months
to even comment on this in any way, shape or form, and why you are not taking decisive
action as a Government to root out the problem in relation to this particular firm. If you
go on their website, there is now no longer any information on it. There are 44 steelworkers
in my area taking class action against Celtic Wealth Management and other bodies that are
involved. If you are going to be delivering grants, why were you not able to check what
they were doing before you gave them that grant, and what are you now doing to ensure
that this particular company does not receive further money from this Government?
Carwyn Jones AM: Well, the subsequent practice by a business does not mean they were engaged
in that practice when the grant was received, but she’s right to say that, in 2014, Celtic
Wealth Management did receive an offer of financial support. If there has been a legal
mis-selling, that will be a breach of our conditions, and we will take action to recover
any money that we have given them. Now, the first thing that has to happen is, there has
to be an investigation, to my mind, by the Financial Conduct Authority and by the other
regulators. They’re responsible ultimately for enforcing the laws governing financial
services, but we will continue to examine the situation. As I say quite clearly, if
there is a breach of the conditions of the financial support that we have provided, we
will take action to recover that money. Suzy Davies AM: In your interim annual report
on grants management 2016-17, it states that the Permanent Secretary was to chair the improving
efficiency board with the aim ‘to reduce bureaucracy by identifying administrative
work which is of low value, or which could be undertaken less frequently or in a different
way or not at all.’ The work started in May last year and was
to complete in 2018 by being taken on at pace. Has that work now been completed? Have there
been any financial savings for your Government? And, if there have been, are they more or
less than you expected? And are you anticipating more applications for grants now that there’s
more money available to meet them? Carwyn Jones AM: Well, there’s less money,
because we get less money from the UK Conservative Government. So, it’s not as if there is a
sudden windfall of money that we can draw on in order to help businesses. But we continually
look to improve our offer to businesses in terms of grant funding, particularly through
removing duplication, because the temptation sometimes is to create a number of different
grant schemes in order that different applications are able to fit properly. Now, that can lead
to a proliferation of grant schemes in time, and the work that’s ongoing is looking at
slimming down, potentially, the number of grants that are available and simplifying
the way in which they’re applied for. Jane Hutt AM: First Minister, there are now
143 accredited employers paying the real living wage in Wales across the public, private and
third sectors, helping to address the pay and gender inequalities in the workplace.
With the Welsh public sector spending approximately £6 billion annually through procurement,
will you update the Assembly on the adoption of the code of practice on ethical employment
in supply chains, which commits companies to sign up to consider paying the real living
wage? Carwyn Jones AM: Well, I can say that 86 organisations
have already signed up to the code, which commits public, private and third sector organisations
to a set of actions that tackle illegal and unfair employment practices. The four supporting
guides that make up the code contain tools and advice to help put those commitments into
practice. They include, for example, tackling unfair employment practices and false self-employment,
tackling modern slavery and human rights abuses, implementing the living wage through procurement,
and blacklisting. All organisations that receive funding from Welsh Government either directly
or via grants or contracts are expected to sign up to the code.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Ac, yn olaf, cwestiwn 8. Lee Waters.
Lee Waters AM: 8. Pa gamau y mae Llywodraeth Cymru’n eu cymryd i sicrhau ei bod yn haws
cael gafael ar feddyginiaeth cwsg ar gyfer plant a phobl ifanc ‚ chyflyrau niwroddatblygiadol?
OAQ52380 Carwyn Jones AM: Currently there are no medicines
containing melatonin licensed in the UK for the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders
in children and young people. We are guided by the recommendations of the National Institute
for Health and Care Excellence and the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group.
Lee Waters AM: Thank you, First Minister. Families with children with neurodevelopmental
conditions often report that getting a child to sleep is one of the most stressful and
difficult times of the day. One constituent came to see me recently. They couldn’t settle
their son until four in the morning, causing chaos in the house and stress for the whole
family. When children do get to see a specialist, they’re often prescribed melatonin as a way
of settling them until they get into a routine, but that’s not currently licensed for children,
and GPs won’t prescribe it. Given that, in the Hywel Dda health board, there’s still
a waiting list of some 18 months to see a specialistóthough this is improvingóthis
does cause great stress for families who are unable to get help from primary care and unable
to get to see a specialist consultant. We must do better in offering them something,
First Minister, to help them and their families deal with this very difficult condition. Would
he look to see what is practicable within the constraints, and, even better, try and
remove some of the constraints? Carwyn Jones AM: The difficulty is that it’s
not licensed for use at the moment. Now, medicines licensing is not devolved. Once a medicine
is licensed, the use of it then is governed by NICE and the All Wales Medicines Strategy
Group, but, of course, for GPs, GPs are governedóI know Dai Lloyd is over thereóas I understand
it, by rules that tell them what they cannot prescribe, not what they can prescribe. So,
it is possible for a GP to prescribe melatonin; it’s a matter for individual prescribers.
There’s no restriction on GPs doing that, but, of course, any GP is going to ask the
question, ‘Well, is this something I should be doing? Is it something that I regard as
clinically safe?’ That’s inevitable, and they do take clinical responsibility for the medicines
that they prescribe. The British Medical Association does say to GPs that they should not prescribe
beyond their own knowledge or capabilityósensible adviceóand I can imagine GPs being nervous
about prescribing what appears to be a medicine unlicensed for use in children.
The next step has to be to look at evidence to make sure that it is licensed for use in
children, and then of course to move on from there. What I can say, however, is, in the
meantime, we have established a new service to assess, diagnose and provide ongoing support
for children and young people with neurodevelopmental conditions, and we are investing £2 million
a year to do so. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Diolch i’r Prif Weinidog.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Yr eitem nesaf, felly, yw’r datganiad a chyhoeddiad busnes, ac rydw
i’n galw ar arweinydd y ty i wneud y datganiad. Julie James.
Julie James AM: Diolch, Llywydd. The statement ‘The Best Start in Life: Making Early Years
Count’, has been withdrawn from today’s agenda. Timings for other items have been adjusted
accordingly. Business for the next three weeks is shown on the business statement and announcement,
found amongst the meeting papers available to Members electronically.
Andrew RT Davies AM: Leader of the house, could we have a statement either from the
First Minister, or a letter from the Permanent Secretary, outlining the way the operational
protocol was put in place for the QC-led inquiry? There have been various reports in the media
that I would suggest cause grave areas of concern and do need explaining. I do draw
the leader of the house’s attention to some of the comments that refer to:
‘Mr Bowen can only go as far as the permanent secretary will allow’
and ‘The permanent secretary, acting on behalf
of the First Minister’. Also, the advice that was given to civil service
employees last week on the intranet, obviously, that’s available to employees, in the Permanent
Secretary’s name and also the head of human resources and director of governance, also
causes grave concern, I would suggest. I’d be most grateful ifóand I’ll be guided by
you on this, who the appropriate person would be to address this, whether it’s the Permanent
Secretary herself, via a letter to Assembly Members, who could clarify some of these areas
so that we can have confidence, or the First Minister via a statement. I do hope that the
leader of the house will facilitate such response that can close off some of these areas of
concern that have been highlighted recently. Julie James AM: I’m more than happy to discuss
with the Permanent Secretary the best way of making sure that Assembly Members are fully
informed as to where we are with the inquiry and what the protocol entails.
Simon Thomas AM: Last week, leader of the house, I asked you whether we’d be likely
to discuss a legislative consent motion arising from the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
and you assured us that was highly unlikely. Since then, however, the Lords have voted
in favour of requiring the Secretary of State to pass primary legislation within a period
of six months following Royal Assent of the Billóthat’s the EU withdrawal Billóto place
on public authorities a duty to apply EU environmental principles after Brexit and setting up an
independent body with a purpose of ensuring compliance.
Now, those requirements and duties are precisely what was suggested in our amendments to our
still extant continuity Actólong title available. You told us at the time not to press, though
we did press, the amendments, but they were rejected by the Government on the basis that
you’d take the first legislative opportunity to do that yourself. But here we have the
Lordsó. Because public authorities are not defined as England only. This is the problem,
it just says ‘public authorities’, so it could easily be seen, in the context of an EU withdrawal
Bill that is England and Wales in terms of legislative application, as applying here
in Wales. So, we have the Lords suggesting that this should happen, we have the promise
from Welsh Government of doing another thing, and it strikes me that this is, in fact, something
that this place should assent to, except, of course, we can’t, because it’s all bound
up in agreements. If things are ping-ponged and then the Lords and the Government agree,
it doesn’t get back to the House of Commons, doesn’t get debated again, and, in effect,
having been assented to in the Lords, this is now part of the Bill, and us passing an
LCM is symbolicóor not passing it, as the case may be, is symbolic. But I would nevertheless
be interested to know whether the Government intends, in the interest of procedure but
also of visible transparency, to present an LCM to the Assembly so that we can have our
say on this debate. Plaid Cymru is particularly interested because
we tried to make the amendments, but I think other Members here are also interested in
some aspects of this. It just draws to attention this crazy way of trying to legislate for
devolved Governments and devolved Parliaments when you’re actually caught up with the most
archaic way possible that Westminster performs its legislative duties in ping-ponging back
and fore without the ability for anyone, really, to have a proper say in things that really
impinge on our powers. So, I would appreciate a statement on that now.
And, if I can turn to one other matter that’s happened this week, which I think is of great
relevance to the Assembly, the Assembly itself voted on a backbench debate, I think it was,
to support the legalisation of medical cannabis and the availability of that. We were ahead
of the debate in doing that, and recent events, of course, and a very particular familyóbut
other epileptic children, I know, are affected by this, and there’s been some very limited
prescribing of medical cannabis. The curious thing is that the UK leads the world in the
production, development and exporting of medicinal cannabis, and we can’t legislate to have it
available for patients ourselves. Cannabis can be a dangerous drug, and this is a separate
argument to whether we should decriminalise cannabis or not for the purposes of drug control,
but a powerful drugóall powerful drugsóhave medicinal effects, and if we can allow opiates
to be used on a prescription and led by a GP, then why on earth can’t we allow cannabis
or cannabinoids to be used in a similar way? Now, the UK Government has said that it will
set up an expert commission to do this, but this is an area that is devolved in terms
of prescription policy and in terms of payment. So, can we have a statement from the health
Cabinet Secretary in particular saying how Wales now can be part of this debate? It’s
one thing to have an expert panel in Londonówe want to be part of that, we want to know how
it applies in our communities, and, since we have voted as an Assembly, I assumed there
would be a lot of support for that to happen. Julie James AM: Yes, well, two very important
points. On the second point, the last, because it’s fresh in my mind, yes, it was very interesting,
wasn’t it, the swiftness that that agenda moved forward in the light of one particular
case, although, actually, I’m pretty sure all of us could highlight other casesóperhaps
not quite as stark, given what happenedóbut it certainly underlined it. And Simon Thomas
is rightówe all broadly took that view. I will discuss with the Cabinet Secretary where
we are and make sure that he updates Members in the most appropriate way, but I know it’s
a matter of great interest to a large number of us. It’s always interesting, isn’t it,
how one single case can suddenly grab the headlines and move a whole agenda forward
in that way. Anyway, that leads me on to the chaotic way
of governing that you mentioned earlier, and I couldn’t agree more. The LCM issue is a
live issue. We discussed it in Business Committee this morning, Llywydd, as you know. Our current
position is that it was made very clear on the floor of the House of Lords, and has been
made very clear to the Government, that there is no intention of legislating on behalf of
anyone other than England and English public authorities, but I completely agree that the
wording is less than optimal, shall we say, and the ping pong is also less than optimal.
I just wanted to be very clear that it was on the basis that we have that assurance that
we are not going ahead with an LCM, and not on any other basis. I think we’d also like
to make it very clearóand I know the Llywydd feels this as wellóthat we would have wanted
to take an LCM to state our view should it have been the case that we were not assured
that it was out of scope that they were going to do it for Wales. So, the principle is a
very important part of it here. But we are assured of thatówe’ve been assured of it
as a Government and, in fact, it was said as part of the debate. But I actually welcome
the opportunity to say now our position is that the LCM is not required because we have
been assured that they are not intending to legislate on behalf of Wales. In all other
circumstances, we would have wanted to allow this Parliament to make its point of view
known so that, by the time the Bill was ultimately passed, Members who were voting on that Bill
would be very clear what our view was, even if it wasn’t in time to affect a particular
section of the Bill. And I know the Llywydd agrees with that.
So, just to be very clear on that pointó. But I agree with you that this is not, obviously,
a very good way of dealing with what is the single most important thing that’s happened
probably in our generation; I couldn’t agree more. But just to be clear on the environmental
thing, the statement that I gave holds. We will bring forward legislation at the earliest
opportunity and, of course, should they legislate in that regard for Wales then that itself
would need an LCM, just to be clear, so there would be another opportunity. But the principle
is right, and we agree with Simon Thomas. Other than for the assurances, we would want
to make that point very clear as between Parliaments, but we have been given those assurances, and
on that basis we do not think an LCM is necessary. Julie Morgan AM: There are two issues I wanted
to raise, and the first one was the issue of progress on eliminating hepatitis C. I
think 12 months ago we had a very good cross-party debate about the aim of eliminating hepatitis
C in Wales by 2030, and the Government responded with a series of actions. I wondered if it
would be possible to have a statement outlining the progress that’s been made in the different
health boards on delivering those actions. That was the first one. And the second one
was, on the weekend, the UK Government designated 22 June Windrush Day, and I wondered if the
Government itself had any plans to mark that day.
Julie James AM: On that second one, I’m delighted to say that I’m hosting a Windrush celebration
in the millennium centre on the twenty-second, and I’d be very glad to see a large number
of Assembly Members there. Anyone who can get there will be very welcome indeed. It’s
a very important thing to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush generationóthe entire generation,
not just the people who came on the Windrush itself, of courseóto the culture and development
of Wales. They’ve had a very, very significant role in the culture and development of Wales
as a nation, and they certainly deserve to be celebrated for that.
In terms of hepatitis C, a patient notification exercise is currently being finalised in order
to reach out to patients who were diagnosed with hepatitis C at a time when the treatment
wasn’t available. A national specification for testing in community pharmacies is being
developed at the moment, and targets for our substance misuse services are being developed
in order to increase testing in those services. We’re currently engaged in negotiations with
the pharmaceutical industry to agree a new funding deal for hepatitis C treatments, and
we’re also engaged with counterparts in England to consider the details and potential benefits
for Wales before any final decision is made. I’m sure the health Secretary will update
us as soon as those negotiations are complete. The Member has being very assiduous in advancing
this for her patients, and I’m sure the health Secretary will keep her informed in particular.
Mohammad Asghar (Oscar) AM: Cabinet Secretary, may I ask for a statement from the Cabinet
Secretary for health on Welsh Government policy towards setting up fix rooms for drug addicts
in Wales? In November 2016, I raised this issue in the business statement following
the news that a pilot project was being set up in Glasgow. The business Secretary at the
time said that it was clearly a very important issue and she was sure a statement would be
forthcoming. Now, the chief executive of the charity The Wallich earlier this month said
that fix rooms for drug addicts would bring so many benefits that it would be ridiculous
not to have them now. Could we have a statement from the Cabinet Secretary and Welsh Government
on this very important issue? I want to know why there’s been silence for so long please.
Julie James AM: The Cabinet Secretary is indicating to me that we did publish a response, but
he’s also indicated to me that he’ll recirculate it to make sure Members are kept in that loop.
Dai Lloyd AM: Leader of the house, you may be aware that the Welsh Government last week
confirmed that over £36 million of public money has been spent on developing a business
park at Felindre in Swansea, yet despite being in public ownership for 20 years, Felindre
business park remains empty. You may also be aware of other parcels of land in South
Wales West that have been labelled as future business parks but remain emptyóland in Glynneath,
for example, just off the A465, owned by the Welsh Government but not even included within
Neath Port Talbot’s local development plan, or the infamous piece of land at Baglan, which
has been empty for so long that the Ministry of Justice thought that it could be used for
another purpose. It seems that there’s a major issue in terms of how the Welsh Government
is going about investing in these areas, how it goes about targeting sectors and attracting
companies to these sites, and how it ultimately is failing to develop jobs in these areas.
Now, with the Valleys taskforce looking to deliver even more land for business or industrial
use, we are looking at the potential of south Wales being flooded with available industrial
land, yet severely lacking in terms of ideas on how to fill them. So, would the Welsh Government
therefore commit to bringing forward a statement on how it plans to develop jobs on land that
it owns in Wales, and how it plans to move from a position whereby sites are empty to
a position whereby sites are actually providing quality employment for local people?
Julie James AM: Well, I don’t entirely agree with everything the Member said there, but
it’s a very important point, what the Welsh Government does with Welsh Government-owned
land. We have developed a whole set of data points to be able to identify public-owned
land, not just Welsh Government-owned land, because sometimes it’s important to assemble
sites in that way. And we have been working, as part of the Valleys taskforce, very much
on a project to make sure that we can do just that. The Cabinet Secretary for public services,
who’s in charge of the Valleys taskforce, will be updating Members on the Valleys taskforce,
which will include the issue of Welsh Government-owned land and what we can do in order to maximise
its benefits, as part of his update on the Valleys taskforce shortly.
David Rees AM: Cabinet Secretary, the Cabinet Secretary for health, well-being and sport
actually issued a written statement outlining the decision to change the boundaries for
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and Cwm Taf health boards. This has some important consequences
for my constituents and Neath Port Talbot Hospital, which is serviced by clinicians
from the Bridgend area, and also, many departments are linked and managed by the Bridgend side.
Now, we haven’t had an opportunity to question the Cabinet Secretary on this, and that very
important question on the details of finance. For example, how is the deficit going to be
allocated, how is the servicing and the funding for the different parts going to be worked
out? So, all those service agreements. Now, I appreciate that there are elements to be
discussed. Would it be possible to have an oral statement from the Cabinet Secretary,
so we can explore the opportunities as to who’s going to fund this? Because I attended
a carers event in Neath Port Talbot Hospital last week, and they’re fighting for £10,000
just to get some caring services going, and yet we may be talking of larger sums than
this just to do this management. Can we have that oral statement so that we can explore
the details of this proposal to ensure that, actually, it will, in the long term, continue
to deliver for the people in my constituency? Julie James AM: Llywydd, I’d just like to
point out that, obviously, that covers my own constituency as well, so Members should
be aware of that. The Government announced on 14 June that, from April next year, Cwm
Taf university health board will be responsible for healthcare services in the Bridgend county
borough council area, as Dai Rees has just said. Those are currently provided by ABMU,
and all the Assembly Members in the ABMU health board area, I know, have just received a communication
from the chief executive there about some of the arrangements. The Cabinet Secretary
has indicated to me that he’s happy to meet with interested Assembly Members to discuss
some of the issues and to tease out some of the specific details. I know a number of Assembly
Members have indicated a wish for that to happen, and so we’ll arrange for that meeting
to go forward as soon as possible. Mark Isherwood AM: I call for two statements.
Firstly, to add my voice to the voice of Simon Thomas earlier regarding the provision of
medicinal cannabis on prescription. We heard of the caseóit was well publicisedóof Billy
and Charlotte Caldwell. You may recall that, in January, I led a debate in the Assembly,
as chair of the cross-party group on neurological conditions, highlighting that this wasn’t
about one person, it was about multiple people, with multiple conditions, who were already
being forced to access cannabis illegally, rather than having individually distillated
prescriptions to meet their particular needs. After that debate, I hosted Billy and his
mother Charlotte in this Assembly, and they told us their story. We heard that Billy used
to suffer up to 100 seizures a day until he began treatment with cannabis oil, following
successful treatment in Los Angeles by a children’s epilepsy specialist, and he became virtually
seizure free. On return from Los Angeles, Charlotte told us, he became the first person
to be prescribed medicinal cannabis on the UK NHS. Charlotte has been campaigning for
medicinal cannabis from the NHS, recognising the desperation felt by many families fighting
to be afforded the same access that she fought so hard for. And she was adamant, and remains
adamant, that this is a separate issue entirely, and must not become confused with debates
over recreational use, or broader drug legalisationóa valid debate, many people may feel, but not
relevant to this debate. She contacted me again in May, after her doctor was summoned
to a meeting with Home Office officials, and told to desist writing his prescriptions.
After that, I wrote to the Home Secretary, urging him and his officials to urgently contact
her to find a resolution and a way forward. We heard that the UK Government has now set
out plans for an expert clinical panel to look at individual cases, and I know, in January,
I was calling on the Welsh Government to put in place preparations within the Welsh NHS
for potential prescription here. Adding to Simon Thomas’s comments, I would be grateful
for a detailed statement acknowledging the issue and detailing how the Welsh Government
proposes to address this, in alignment with the UK, but also in the devolved context,
and hopefully add its voice of support, a voice that sadly wasn’t fulsome when I led
the debate in January. Secondly, I want to add my voice to calls
by Andrew R.T. Davies earlier, in questions to the First Minister, regarding prostate
cancer diagnosis in Wales, and for a statement accordingly, on this date when Prostate Cancer
UK has produced figures following research they’ve carried out across the UK that don’t
put Wales in a particularly good light. More than 2,500 men are diagnosed with prostate
cancer each year in Wales; about 600 will die in Wales each year. I had a letter from
the Cabinet Secretary only last week, to a constituent, again saying he can’t see any
reason why a patient in north Wales with suspected prostate cancer should have to pay privately
for an mpMRI scan if they’ve been found to have a negative biopsy. I’ve repeatedly told
himóand I have numerous constituents who come to me who have gone to the community
health council stating they have had to pay and still haven’t had justice. The figures
referred to by Prostate Cancer UK were from a freedom of information request to health
bodies across the UK asking them about the use of the scans before biopsy. They found
that whereas across the UK only 13 per cent of health bodies were not providing it, the
figure in Wales was 50 per cent, and they said, 18 months after the promised trial first
proved that the mpMRI scans before a biopsy could radically boost detection of prostate
cancer, in their words, that ‘Wales is lagging behind other parts of the
UK in terms of making this breakthrough diagnostic available, putting Welsh men at a disadvantage.’
Well, let’s put some action behind the rhetoric about Wales leading the way and Wales wanting
to show the rest of the UK how things should be done. This shouldn’t be happening. We need
action pre biopsy, we need action pro biopsy and we need these men’s voices to be heard
at last. Julie James AM: Thank you, Mark Isherwood,
for both of those points. As you said yourself, they have already been aired today. The First
Minister gave a very long response to Andrew R.T. Daviesówell deserved on such an important
topicóand I’ve already indicated to Simon Thomas what the position on medical cannabis
is. I’m sure that we’ll take that forward as soon as possible.
Leanne Wood AM: I’m sure the leader of the house has seen the upsetting images of desperate
people slumped over park benches and in shop doorways following the use of various substances.
It’s not good for anyone, but it’s particularly bad for children to witness, I would argue.
Now, in the light of recent stories of high numbers of deaths from drug overdoses in some
of our former industrial towns, as well as incidents elsewhere, where the problem of
county lines drug dealing networks has been highlighted, I’d be grateful if we could receive
a statement from the Government addressing the following points: first of all, the extent
that local authorities and health services are able to cope with this issue, particularly
given that the county lines networks are exploiting vulnerable people often homeless people; secondly,
whether the Government supports the north Wales police and crime commissioner Arfon
Jones’s call for safer injecting rooms to be pilotedóinternational examples show that
these rooms save lives; thirdly, the extent that this Government is working with the non-devolved
criminal justice system to address this growing problem; and, fourthly, whether the Government
shares my view that we need to move away from seeing drug problems as criminal justice matters
and instead moving towards public health, as they view them in Portugal. I’d also be
grateful to know if the Government shares my concerns and lack of confidence in Westminster’s
ability to debate these matters in a rational way.
Julie James AM: On that last oneóstarting, again, as I always do, backwards, for some
reasonóI completely agree with you. Of course, the criminal justice system often makes the
situation worse, not better. In my own constituency, it’s obvious that particularly young people
who are caught up in this need assistance and not punishment. That’s very much part
of the debate about the role of the criminal justice system in this. We’re very much wanting
to catch the county lines perpetrators and not the people who are caught up in the substance
misuse. I couldn’t agree with her more. I also agree with the safer injection rooms.
There’s a very good project in Swansea, actually, that has done this. The Swansea drugs project
has done very good pilots on that and the outcome is plain to see for everyone.
Substance misuse is a real issue. I myself have just been talking to the multi-agency
safeguarding hub here in Cardiff about the best way to approach some of the multi-agency
issues. This is really complex. It crosses across devolved and non-devolved things but
it also crosses across a whole range of other issues. I think I’ve said this before, Llywydd,
in this Chamber, but the MASH here in Cardiff is well worth a visit if you haven’t visited
it to see what their multi-agency approach to this is, because it’s very obvious that
you need an approach to stop the organised crime part of it, you need a public health
approach for the substance misuse and you need a social response to some of the social
issues that allow people to fall into this situation. It’s a hugely complicated picture
and we do have a large number of multi-agency responses already.
I will discuss with Cabinet colleaguesó. Some of that is in my portfolio and some of
it is in others. I will discuss with Cabinet colleagues in terms of bringing forward some
statement on how we’re co-ordinating that across the Government, because it is a very
important point. Mike Hedges AM: Can I ask for a further update
on the Welsh Government action to support people working for Virgin Media in Swansea?
Has the Welsh Government taskforce been allowed access to talk to staff and provide details
of potential other employers? Can I ask a second question? As the Cabinet
Secretary’s well aware, living in the same area, there’s been huge success with the development
of Llandarcy, SA1, Swansea Vale and Baglan energy park within the former west Glamorgan
area. Is it not true that it is beneficial to try and develop one area at a time rather
than having them competing against each other, and isn’t Felindre next on the list?
Julie James AM: Yes, well, on that point, absolutely. It’s important to have a strategy,
as I said, across the public realm, to make sure that you do optimise the use of that
and that you don’t have competing priorities. What we don’t want to do is have a race over
competing investment in a particular area. It’s also important, as I said, to combine
the public realm so that you can do land combinations or building and land combinations, or road
network and land combinations. So, the Member is quite right to point that out.
In terms of Virgin, we have been assured as a Government that employees will have access
to time off and support to apply for other jobs, where that’s appropriate, to keep their
skills and talents in the area. The Cabinet Secretary assures me that we’ve had good co-operation
from Virgin. I will make sure to have a conversation with him to make sure that the pressure is
kept up so that we do make sure that the vast majority of those staff have their very highly
developed skills retained for the benefit of Wales’s economy.
Suzy Davies AM: I wonder whether I could ask for one or possibly two statements as this
covers two portfolio areas, please. I hope you’ll join me in congratulating Glasgow,
which has just become the first city in the UK to make emergency life-saving skills compulsory
on the secondary school curriculum there, something their director of public health
has been applauded for leading the way on there.
As it’s also the anniversary of the Cabinet Secretary’s statement on the out-of-hospital
cardiac arrest plan for Wales, I wonder whether we could have an update on that, covering
these four points specifically: the first is the role of co-responders, who were mentioned
in the statement a year ago. I’m still waiting for a letter from the ambulance trust promised
to me by the Cabinet Secretary to explain why more recent rumours were circulating that
the role of co-responders was going to be diminished rather than included. Could we
also hear an update on the number of schools that are now taking up emergency life-saving
skills voluntarily; the place and progression of emergency life-saving skills on the curriculum
that’s currently in developmentóI appreciate that that is not the Cabinet Secretary for
health; and also whether there’s been a big upsurge in the registration of defibrillators,
given that more and more organisations are themselves deciding to provide them? Thank
you. Julie James AM: I wasn’t aware of Glasgow,
but I’m obviously happy to congratulate them on that. That’s quite a complex area. I’ll
chase up why you haven’t had a response to the letter that you were promised, but I will
discuss with a range of Cabinet colleagues the best way to update the Chamber, Llywydd,
because that’s quite a complicated cross-Government piece.
Jack Sargeant AM: Firstly, I’d just like to take the opportunity to welcome Ysgol Bryn
Deva to the gallery upstairs. It’s actually my primary school, so it’s really great to
see them here today. I’d just like to move on, leader of the house,
to this weekend, and this weekend is, as many of you know, is the Great Get Together, a
day inspired by the late Jo Cox MP. I’ll be holding my own events in the constituency
in Alyn and Deeside, and I trust that all Members from across the Chamber will be supporting
them in their own communities as well, with that truly great event. Leader of the house,
this Saturday is International Women in Engineering Day. As a former engineer, I am keen to see
all of our future generations, including women, enter the industry of engineering and manufacturing.
A survey in 2017 indicated that 11 per cent of the UK engineering workforce is female.
Now, that’s up 2 per cent since 2015, but the UK as a whole still has the lowest percentage
of female engineering professionals within Europe.
I know that the Welsh Government is working extremely hard on this matter, but would the
leader of the house join me in paying tribute to those women within the engineering workforce
currently and those thinking about going into the engineering workforce and agree with me
that we need to do more to change perceptions and encourage young people, both male and
female, to consider engineering as a viable and rewarding career in the future?
Julie James AM: Absolutely. Well, in good tradition of doing everything backwards in
the order I’m asked in, that’s very much a matter after my own heart and very much a
soap box of mine. I do chair the Welsh Government’s women in STEMóalthough it should be ‘STEMC’
because it should have computer science on the endóboard, and we are working very hard
to make sure that we can get good role models out into schools to make sure that all our
young people, actually, not just women, take up engineering. We could certainly do across
the board with more engineers, but particularly more women engineers. I have discussed with
the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, as part of the economic action plan, what
we can do to reward companies that particularly target getting more women into STEM, and rewarding
the STEM careers as well. So, I’m delighted that Jack Sargeant has highlighted that issue,
because it’s a very important issue and, I know, dear to his heart as well.
I’m always delighted to welcome schools to our gallery, Llywydd. I think they were here
earlier. I think they’ve probably gone off for a tour now. They were sitting just opposite
me, and I certainly noticed them. There may be some still there. There was certainly a
whole school up there earlier. I’m always delighted to welcome them.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: They’re still here. Julie James AM: And it’s also great to be
able to highlight that it’s the Jo Cox Great Get Together weekend, and I do hope, Llywydd,
that a large number of communities across Wales will take that opportunity to get together
and to see that we do indeed have more in common than that which divides us.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: They’re behind you, Minister. [Laughter.]
Julie James AM: Oh, there we are. Good. Neil McEvoy AM: Leader of the Chamber, a couple
of week ago, I asked the First Minister some questions about the new Wales and borders
rail franchise, but he seemed to completely miss the point of my question. I asked specifically
whether the rail infrastructure itself on the core Valleys lines was being handed over
to a private company. I asked whether the Welsh Government had agreement from Network
Rail to hand over the infrastructure to private companies. I asked whether the staff in Network
Rail would be handed over to a private company also. Now, I don’t want to talk about the
trains or be told that you have some deal with the trade unions. I was asking for passengers
who want to know whether rail safety is being privatised by this Government in Wales, because
that went very badly last time, with the Hatfield disaster. So, the public really do need a
statement on this. Julie James AM: Rail safety was very much
a priority of the Cabinet Secretary in looking at the rail franchise, and he has included
it in a number of his statements, and there are many opportunities for you to question
him on it. But I will, Llywydd, make sure that the issue of rail safety is highlighted
the next time rail is discussed in the Chamber. Jane Hutt AM: Leader of the house, in Feburary,
Welsh Ministers stated they were considering making a screening direction to Biomass UK
No.2 Limited, developing the Barry incinerator, under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental
Impact Assessment) (Wales) Regulations 2017, citing that the characteristics of the development
fall within the EIA regulations. I’m curious what the delay is in progressing the screening.
Can the leader of the house find out from the environment Minister whether she would
disclose any correspondence with the developer on this matter since February?
Secondly, can I have a statement following the National Audit Office report, which concluded
that the Department for Work and Pensions has not achieved value for money on its early
implementation of universal credit? Last week, two disabled men won their cases, having lost
£175 as a result of universal creditóa week, that is. This is of great concern, of course,
because universal credit is now being rolled out in Wales.
Julie James AM: Yes. On that last point, I think we’re all very deeply concerned about
the fundamental flaws of universal credit, and we’re very disappointed that the UK Government
is persisting with the roll-out, given the National Audit Office’s really quite scathing
report about the effects that it has. Llywydd, many Members in this Chamber have highlighted
the issues with universal credit and the hardship that many of their constituents have, none
more assiduously than Jane Hutt. We’re very concerned that the high cost of administering
universal credit outweighs any of its perceived benefits, and we’re all aware of the number
of people who are really pushed towards food banks and so on, with the delays in the payment
and the various things that people have highlighted around the assessment process and so on. The
Minister for Housing and Regeneration has already written to the Secretary of State
for Work and Pensions to ask for her views on how alternative payment arrangements can
be offered to claimants on the basis of a much more informed choice to help those who
are most vulnerable. We know that the situation is very concerning indeed, and Rebecca Evansóthe
Minister who has responsibility for thatóis keeping a very close eye on it and has already
written on a number of occasions. I will investigate with her whether it’s worth writing again
in the light of this. In terms of the Barry biomass, I’m aware that
residents of Barry have been waiting a long time for the decision in respect of the environmental
impact assessment. We’re currently looking at the environmental information produced
by parties including the developer and the Docks Incinerator Action Group to inform a
way forward. I’m afraid I don’t have an exact timescale, but we are anticipating a decision
within the next few weeks. And I most certainly will ask the Minister to write to you with
regard to any correspondence with the developer that she’s had.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: We’re out of time on the statement, but two very succinct, quick
questions, Nick Ramsay. Nick Ramsay AM: Diolch, Llywydd. Leader of
the house, this lunch time I was pleased to host the Agricultural Law Association event
in the Senedd, attended by my colleague David Melding and a number of other AMs. The subject
was the devolution of taxation and the impact of primarily stamp dutyóland transaction
taxóon rural communities in Wales and the agricultural community. I wonder if we could
have an update from the Cabinet Secretary for Finance on the roll-out of tax devolution.
It strikes me that many people still aren’t really aware of the mechanics of that devolution.
We’re currently seeing issues with the LTT, but, obviously, next year we have the devolution
of partial income tax as well to Wales. So, I wonder if we can have an update on what
communication has happened between Welsh Government and people across Wales to make sure that
these changes are fully understood and appreciated. Nick Ramsay AM: Yes. Actually, we’re very
pleased with the way that the tax arrangements were implementedóthe historic tax arrangements
for Walesóbecause it was all done digitally. It was a very complex project and, actually,
there were no problems at all, which is always very pleasing, Llywydd.
The Cabinet Secretary for Finance is always very anxious to have occasions on which he
can wax eloquent about tax. I will certainly discuss with him when his next statement updating
the Chamber will be. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Equally succinct,
hopefully, Jenny Rathbone. Jenny Rathbone AM: At lunch time, the cross-party
group on gambling and the cross-party group on children and young people combined to hear
very important and rather disturbing evidence from Professor Samantha Thomas, based on the
research she’s done in Australia on the way the gambling industry is targeting children
and young people. And lest we think that this is a problem confined to Australia, she visited
two schools yesterday here, in the Vale of Glamorgan and Pontypridd, where the young
people were able to identify who all the gambling companies are, the colour of their logo, and
the jingles and the jokes they use in their advertising. And this is the way in which
the gambling industry is targeting children and young people. In Australia, they’ve now
banned advertising before the 8.30 p.m. watershed. I wondered if we could have a statement from
the relevant Welsh Minister as to what our policy is going to be to protect children
and young people from becoming gambling addicts. Julie James AM: Yes, I share the Member’s
concern about this, and we discussed it quite recently in the Chamber. The Cabinet Secretary
for health and I wrote to the Advertising Standards Authority, and we’ve had quite a
comprehensive response. Llywydd, I’ll investigate what the best way of sharing that with Members
is and make sure that it’s shared as soon as possible as it reiterates a number of the
issues that Jenny Rathbone’s just raised. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Diolch i arweinydd
y ty. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Before we progress,
can I just apologise to the Chamber for the musical accompaniment this afternoon? We think
we’ve identified the sourceóit’s wind related. I’m hoping that it will cease soon. [Interruption.]
No jokes. I shouldn’t have even mentioned that.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Felly, fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen iír datganiad gan Ysgrifennydd
y Cabinet dros Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol ar y cynllun gweithredu strategol ar gyfer
anhwylderauír sbectrwm awtistig. Fe wnaf fi alw ar yr Ysgrifennydd Cabinet i wneud
ei ddatganiadóVaughan Gething. Vaughan Gething AM: Diolch, Llywydd. The Welsh
Government re-affirmed our commitment to improve the lives of autistic people in November 2016
when we published the new autistic spectrum disorder action plan, backed by £13 million
of investment in new services. Today, we published the first annual report on the delivery of
the action plan. I am pleased to reflect the achievements of all those involved in responding
to the challenges we have set. The real progress made this year reflects on our vision for
delivery. Innovation and collaboration have helped to establish a strong basis for future
success. The most significant achievement this year
has been to establish a national integrated autism service, creating consistent support
for people with autism. It has been a time of great energy as new ways of working are
established between agencies working in partnership in what is a complex environment. There is
great pride in the achievement that the integrated autism service is open in Cardiff and Vale,
Cwm Taf, Gwent and Powys. It will be launched next week in north Wales and will open later
in this financial year in Western Bay and west Wales. I am very pleased to see that
we are receiving very positive feedback. This includes participants reporting that this
is the first time that they have felt listened to.
Vaughan Gething AM: The progress we are making would not be possible without the support
of the ASD national development team that is hosted by the Welsh Local Government Association.
It published its annual report today also, and I understand that a statement highlighting
that has gone around to Members from the WLGA. The team is working with regions to develop
the integrated service and to promote engagement and good practice across Wales. The team has
a long-established role in raising awareness of autism, publishing a wide range of resources
and information, which is freely available on their ASDinfoWales website.
Just two of the teamís notable achievements over the last year include the extension of
the Learning with Autism programme. In addition to the primary school scheme, the secondary
school and early years schemes have been launched and are being rolled out. Eighty schools have
now completed the primary school programme, with nearly 13,000 children becoming autism
superheroes. The Can You See Me? campaign is also being delivered, aimed at improving
awareness of autism in local communities. The campaign film and resources are being
rolled out in partnership with local parents, carers and businesses across Wales. Successes
so far include awards achieved by Merthyr Tydfil shopping centre and McArthurGlen Bridgend
shopping outlet, and training has been provided to Swansea City Association Football Club.
Although we are making good progress, we know that there is still much more to do. We continue
to look carefully at the issues that autistic people say matter most to them to inform future
action. Waiting times for assessment is a priority for many, and since 2015, we have
invested an additional £2 million a year in childrenís neurodevelopmental services,
introducing a new 26-week waiting time standard from referral to first-assessment appointment,
which we are now piloting. We want to make further progress, and this year, we are looking
at good practice in some areas that is already achieving results in reducing waiting times,
with the aim of replicating that success and good practice across Wales.
I understand that for parents of autistic children, the most pressing issue is often
to ensure that their child is receiving the right educational support to help them achieve
their full potential. Earlier this year, the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal
(Wales) Act 2018 was passed. That will pave the way for the transformation of support
for children with additional needs up to the age of 25, creating a unified legal framework
that will put learners and their parents at the centre of how to plan and meet their needs.
The reforms will also focus on skills development in the workforce to deliver effective support
for learners, and there will be easier access to specialist support, information and advice.
The new system will be rolled out in a phased approach from September 2020.
Over this Assembly term, we want to focus all our efforts on delivering the ASD strategic
action plan, embedding the new integrated service, and delivering on all our other commitments.
I have considered carefully the calls for autism legislation and the proposals contained
in the draft Assembly Member-led Autism (Wales) Bill. It is clear that we are all focused
on ensuring that we invest in autism services in the longer term. The difference between
us is in how we seek to achieve those aims. I do understand that the prospect of autism
legislation that is specific is attractive to many. It’s clear that the intention of
the draft legislation, as we have seen it, is to underpin existing duties and expectations
on public bodies to provide services and support for autistic people. Public bodies are, of
course, already required to provide needs-based services for people who require care and supportóautistic
people and their carers already have the same entitlement to access to services, just as
every other citizen in Wales. We are already delivering some much-needed
improvements in autism services. I don’t believe that costly and resource-intensive legislation
will bring additional benefits for autistic people beyond the practical commitments to
improve services that we are already completely committed to. In my view, it would be better
to invest time and money in ensuring that we deliver on our firm commitments and to
ensure that there is a focus on continuous improvement as the new services that we are
putting in place become established. To further support service improvement, I
intend to highlight the needs of autistic people and the requirement to meet those needs
across statutory services by introducing a code of practice on the delivery of autism
services. This is already being developed in partnership with autistic people. It will
provide clarity on the support that people with autism can expect to receive and provide
guidance on how services can adapt their practice to meet the individual needs of people with
autism. We will be consulting on our plans later this year, and I encourage everyone
to engage with that consultation to make sure we focus on the issues that really matter.
We will also update our delivery plan and reflect the feedback we receive on service
delivery. The calls for improvement in autism services
are not falling on deaf ears. We are taking action to achieve the improved outcomes that
everyone wants to see. We are raising awareness of autism across services, improving access
to assessment and diagnosis and putting in place additional specialist support in every
region of Wales. We will continue to listen, and I will keep an open mind on the potential
need for autism-specific legislation in the future, if it becomes clear through evaluation
that the improvements that we all want to see can only be delivered by taking this route.
Mark Isherwood AM: Thank you for your statement. I have to say the vast amount of autism-related
casework my office is handling and the personal stories from outside of north Wales we’re
receiving indicate that huge sums of money continue to be spent getting it, sadly, very,
very and sometimes tragically wrong. How do you respond to concerns raised with me that
one of the four integrated autism service, or IAS, areas where the service has been launched
are now saying they just want to become a diagnostic service and lose their support
worker function? Another area is already making representations that, despite already receiving
an extra £150,000 to £170,000 annually from local authorities and health boards on top
of their IAS funding, they can’t cope with the level of referrals they’re receiving,
and these are medical, not social referrals, not focused on prevention and intervention.
Concern has been expressed to me that the majority of people accessing current non-IAS
services will disappear or present in crisis. There is a concern about the lack of numbers
being picked up by the IAS and the lack of services from IAS to pick up the slack from
third sector bodies that, progressively, are losing local support, despite being supported
sometimes by hundreds of local members of the autism community.
You referred to the 26-week waiting time standard from referral to first-assessment appointment.
What measures have the Welsh Government put in place to take action when health boards
aren’t meeting that target? Is the waiting-time data being updated quarterly, and if not,
what action is the Welsh Government taking? How many autistic people have benefited from
employment as a result of the Getting Ahead 2 programme? Did the Welsh Government achieve
accreditation in the ‘positive about working with autism’ charter last year, and how is
it maintaining its accreditation this year and beyond?
How many people have accessed the integrated service in each of the four health boards
where the service was launched, which professionals have received awareness training, and what
are the priority areas, as we look forward, on that? Of course, in addition to awareness
training, which is often led by non-autistic people who are professionals in the medical
or caring professions, which have a medical focus, what action are you taking or will
you take to address the massive deficit in autism acceptance and equality training led
by trainers who are autistic people or members of the autism community, focused on autistic
and non-autistic people working together to overcome the disabling barriers in society?
Has the advisory group agreed a work plan? Will the Welsh Government publish that work
plan if it has? How is the Welsh Government responding to the recommendations contained
in the interim independent evaluation of its autism strategy and integrated autism service,
which found weaknesses and inconsistencies in both assessment and diagnostic services
for adults with autism and in support services for adults and children with autism? It said
‘Success requires a co-productive approach involving staff, service users and carers
in the design, implementation and evaluation of the IAS.’
But there are concerns about the top-down approach, which they said had ‘stifled this’.
With the service being launched in north Wales on 27 June, as you said, what action will
you be taking when you learn of stories that I raised last week, such as those of the judicial
review proceedings settled recently, prior to a full hearing, when Flintshire council
agreed to provide a formal apology and make a damages award after failing to assess and
meet the needs of an autistic young person with additional needs, and to take full account
of her parent carers’ needs? That’s just one case. I have I don’t know how many similar
casesóprimarily but not exclusively in Flintshireóat the moment. How would you respond to the Flintshire
parent who e-mailed me yesterday regarding the response to her Flintshire CAMHS complaint,
which said, ‘Your daughter doesn’t have an ongoing anxiety condition’, and was simply
an apology for poor communication, but they’d been forced to a private psychiatrist because
of lack of care, who has diagnosed the daughter with severe PTSD, depression and anxiety?
She says, ‘We’re now glad we’re getting treatment and a recommendation for home tutoring, thanks
to our private psychiatrist, but my daughter should have received this when she asked Flintshire
CAMHS for help six months ago.’ I’ve nearly finished, but a key issue is the
genderised issue. I’ve raised this many times, but I’m still almost daily receiving casework
where girls clearly requiring autism diagnoses are being told they couldn’t possibly have
a diagnosis. A letter, for instance, from the health board here:
‘It’s difficult to marry the description of difficulties given by some families with the
information from teaching staff who report no or minimal issues in the school environment.
This is not indicative of children with ASD’, when a wealth of national and international
research and evidence directly contradicts that, in relation to the masking and coping
strategies that many children, and particularly girls, adopt.
You say that calls for autism legislationó Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
No, I’m sorry. [Interruption.] Well, you’ve had several questions and you’re well into
six minutes, nearly, so if you can say it within the next 30 seconds, you can get your
last question in. Mark Isherwood AM: How can you possibly say
that unless you bring in statutory duties to provide the support from statutory services
that these people and countless others need, that you’re going to be able to meet their
needs with this service? Until and without enforcement of your existing legislation,
such as the social services and well-being Act, how can you possibly tell how well you’re
doing currently? Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Minister, and you don’t have to answer all that set of questions, or we’ll be here till
tomorrow. Vaughan Gething AM: Regrettably, I recognise
your point, Deputy Presiding Officer. I won’t be able to answer the more than a dozen different
points put, with respect to the Member and others who wish to respond. But, to be fair,
a number of those, the points raised, are individual ones, and there are some more general
ones. If the Member wants to write to me with the detail that he has set out, then I’ll
happily ensure that the appropriate person responds to him. And, of course, I will also
be at the cross-party group tomorrow to answer questions and have a conversation with people
there. I think there are a couple of points that
I’d make in response to what the Member said. Thinking about his final point about the need
for legislation or otherwise, actually, part of the answer is what you were saying about
the enforcement of existing duties that are already set out, and the challenge in making
those rights real. Part of what we are seeking to do in investing in the integrated service
is to make that real. It’s also what the code of practice is aimed at trying to highlight
and to try and make real for families. So, this isn’t a way of trying to say that we
think that you are wrong and the examples you are raising are not true. I recognise
that, for lots of families, this is a real and significant challenge for children and
adults with autism too. This is about how we actually make sure they really do get to
achieve their potential. I have some personal insight into this as well, from my own family,
so I do understand that this is not an easy challenge that should be glibly dismissed
or glossed over. That’s why, even in these most difficult financial times, we’ve invested
£13 million into the service. It’s why we should all take some pride in the roll-out
of the integrated service, and the feedback that we’re talking about is direct feedback
from families themselves about the difference that the service has already made, and that
is a real differenceóit is not simply something concocted or a work of fiction to try and
get through a challenge here. Our challenge, though, of course, is not just
about understanding what has been successful when the service has been rolled out, but
to understand how we try and adapt and apply that learning to the areas where the service
has not yet been rolled out. It is also, in accepting that there really is positive feedback
to the integrated service, to recognise that it isn’t perfectóno human service ever isóbut
to understand how, in those examples where the service has not met the needs of those
individuals and their families, we learn from that to inform improvement, because that is
the point: there will not be a standstill time. I will have more to say on waiting times
after the pilot has been completed, and I will of course make sure that that is publicly
available. My hope is that they become official statistics, in which case, they’ll be readily
available on a month-to-month basis for all Members to scrutinise. But, no doubt, we’ll
continue to discuss these general themes, not just today but for a significant period
of time to come, in particular as I expect that the Member will be producing his Bill
before we go into summer recess. Rhun ap Iorwerth AM: Gwnaf i dreio cadw fy
sylwadau iín fyr. Rydw i’n credu mai rhyw bedwar cwestiwn sydd gen i yn fan hyn. Ar
yr ystadegau sydd yn cael eu casglu, mae targed wedi cael ei sefydlu o 26 wythnos o aros am
asesiad cyntafómaeír data yn cael ei gasglu. Pa bryd a ydym niín mynd i gael y data yma
wediíi gyhoeddi, achos y mae unrhyw ddata sydd ar gael, rydw i’n meddwl, yn gorfod cael
ei gyhoeddi? Ar basioír Bil Anghenion Dysgu Ychwanegol
aír Tribiwnlys Addysg (Cymru), mae pryderon ynglyn ‚ diffyg adnoddau i gefnogiír Bil
yna wedi bod yn amlwg iawn. A all yr Ysgrifennydd Cabinet egluro pa adnoddau y maeír Llywodraeth
yn bwriadu eu darparu i gefnogi awdurdodau lleol wrth weithredu hyn?
Mae yna ddarn o ddeddfwriaeth yn dechrau’i thaith drwyír Cynulliad yma. Maeír datganiad
wedi gwrthod y syniad o ddeddfu, ac y mae cost yn un oír prif ddadleuon yn erbyn y
ddeddfwriaeth. A wnaiff yr Ysgrifennydd Cabinet dderbyn na fydd y ddeddfwriaeth ei hun yn
costio unrhyw beth? Hynny ydyw, maeír gost yn dod o unrhyw oblygiadau ariannol syín
dilyn o gynnwys y ddeddfwriaeth, a fyddai’n bennaf, mewn difrif, yn ymwneud ‚ sicrhau’r
hawl i wasanaethau yn y gyfraith. Os ydych chiín bwriadu cwrdd ‚ír amcanion hynny
drwy wellaír gwasanaeth, nid oes yna, mewn difrif, cost ychwanegol, ond o leiaf mi fyddai
cael gwarantau cyfreithiolóac yn fan hyn y mae deddfwriaeth yn ddefnyddiolóyn rhoi
rhywfaint o sicrwydd i grwp lleiafrifol nad eu gwasanaethau nhw fydd y cyntaf i fynd bob
tro y bydd awdurdodau lleol yn wynebu her ariannol.
Dyna dri, rydw i’n meddwl; felly, pedwar, nid ydyw’r datganiad yn sÙn unrhyw beth am
fyd cyflogaeth. Dim ond 16 y cant o oedolion sydd ag awtistiaeth sydd mewn gwaith llawn
amser cyflogedig. Dim ond 32 y cant sydd mewn unrhyw fath o waith cyflogedig. A all yr Ysgrifennydd
Cabinet ddarparu mwy o fanylion am sut yr ydych yn bwriadu gwyrdroi hyn, achos nid yw
blynyddoedd o bartneriaethau ac anogaeth ddim iíw gweld yn gweithio?
Vaughan Gething AM: Thank you for the questions. On your final point, there’s a recognition
that we seek to achieve a cultural change. This isn’t simply about families with people
with autism, but actually about the support they receive in the workplace and the attitudes
of different employers. Within the report published today, you see direct examples of
people who have been helped by the service to remain in employment if they are in employment,
or to seek employment as well. The challenge is how we don’t set up a service to fail,
but how this is part of wanting to change our national conversation and trying to change
the amount of practical support that is available to businesses and to their employees. But
I recognise that there is a significant road to travel here, just as there are in a number
of other areas, but that is part of the commitment that was set out in the integrated service.
I’ll deal with your point about waiting times now. The 26-week target: there will be more
information available internally, within the Government, this autumn as we look again at
the roll-out of the waiting time standards. We need to be certain, before we roll out
the target and we start publishing information, that it is robust and reliable. All of us
have had experience in the past of trying to roll out waiting time standards with them
not been available, and thenówhere they’ve not been ready in the robust way that they
should be, ratheróthat then causes a lack of confidence in what the figures are. I’m
not trying to hide the figures; Iím not trying to make sure that they only come out when
they look good for me. I’m really interested in making sure that they’re actually genuinely
reliable, because I expect there will be a variation in learning between different parts
of Wales. But I want to make sure that they are robust, that they can be relied upon,
and that they help to drive some improvement in measures that actually matter and have
real impact on families. On your point about the cost to legislation,
there is always a cost to legislation, not just a cost to this place in the mechanics
of running, but there’s a challenge here in terms of the cost and in terms of the time
and resource that is available to practitioners, to the policy team here centrally, and what
that then means in terms of diverting that attention to go into a legislative process
as opposed to being focused on improvement. Legislation won’t produce more money. We will
still have the sum of money that we have available to the Government, and we’ll still have to
make choices about that, together with our partners in other services. I’m most interested
in understanding for the people delivering the service and taking part in it the difference
it’s made, and what our real prospects are for delivering the sort of improvement that,
as I say, each of us in this room would want to see.
Your point about statutory servicesówe already have statutory requirements for ourselves,
the health service, local government and partners to achieve and to deliver on. We need to make
sure those are made real, and that’s part of the reason why I’m moving forward with
the code of practice, because I do recognise that there will be people who will understand
and who will tell their own story about what has happened, and about where their needs
have not been met in the way in which we envisaged the legislation would do. I think we have
to get that legislation right and make those rights real, and that would, could and should
make a real difference to those families as well.
Caroline Jones AM: Thank you for your statement, Cabinet Secretary, and for providing an advance
copy of the ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan: Annual report 2017/18′. I’m pleased
that the Welsh Government are investing in services and that progress is being made.
However, the evaluation of the integrated autism service and the autistic spectrum disorder
strategic action plan interim reports, by Dr Holtom and Dr Lloyd Jones from People and
Work, make it clear that there has been a failure to drive systemic change that has
helped create a postcode lottery of support for adults on the autism spectrum.
This is not news to any of us who have been campaigning for an autism Act. The Welsh Government
might have good intentions, but people living on the spectrum are not seeing delivery on
the ground. Despite the roll-out of the integrated autism service, many parts of Wales still
have no clear pathways to diagnosis. The interim report highlighted the fact that, although
funding has not been an issue when it comes to establishing the new integrated service,
the regional partnership boards had little capacity for developing the service.
The fact that the first integrated autism service was established appears to be down
to the hard work and dedication of the national ASD lead, but as the interim report highlights,
this is a lot of strain to place one person under. Success or failure shouldn’t rest upon
the actions of a single individual. Cabinet Secretary, what actions are you taking to
ensure that future roll-out plans are not reliant on a single individual, no matter
how talented? I recognise that one of the key achievements
of the strategic action plan was the introduction of the 26-week waiting-time target for neurodevelopmental
assessment. Cabinet Secretary, can you confirm that this target is being met by all health
boards? If not, do you have a timescale in place for when you expect all health boards
to meet their targets? Finally, Cabinet Secretary, while I remain
unconvinced that Wales does not need an autism Act, I am prepared to work with you in order
to deliver improved services for people in Wales on the autism spectrum, and hopefully
in 12 months’ time you will have convinced me that legislation was indeed unnecessary.
I look forward to seeing what progress can be made in the coming year. Diolch.
Vaughan Gething AM: Thank you for the comments. I think I’ve dealt with the challenges and
the points about waiting times already. I recognise what you say about your current
view on legislation, but being open to the possibility that if we may be able to make
sufficient improvement, the prospect of more legislation may not be something you would
support. I think there is a challenge here about the practical purpose of the legislation
that Paul Davies is minded to introduce. I would say it’s about a shared objective, about
improving services, about making sure there is greater certainty for families about the
support that they can expect, and to make sure that the needs of people with autism
are properly met. That is why the integrated service that operates
in four regions is important to us, because if you think about the practical services
we will need to deliver, the experiences of those families in those areas interacting
with the service, their awareness of the service, and equally the front-line staff that we will
need to deliver that serviceóto be fair, you made points about staff as well, and in
particular not relying on a single individual to deliver the whole service, and I recognise
that a service wholly reliant on an individual is not a sustainable model to roll out across
the country. We can, though, say that the integrated service is seeing a welcome increase
in autism expertise as more clinicians are being recruited. The model that we’ve provided
is actually more attractive to staff who want to come in to work in a way that is joined
up with other health and care professionals. Crucially, we’re seeing families respond to
that and recognising that they are having their needs listened to and met. As I said
earlier, that will not always be perfect, but it is a real improvement that we are delivering.
You mentioned the interim evaluation report. Again, it honestly reflects that there were
differing visions and priorities at the start, but those are largely resolved, and each region
where the service is rolled out is proud of their achievements and recognise they’ve made
a real difference. That’s the point. We want a service that won’t just be something that
a politician can stand up and celebrate and wave around an annual report, but a service
that people would recongiseóthe people who work in that service, the people who interact
with that service and take part in the services that are provided would recogniseóas making
a real difference, the difference that all of us wish to see for these families.
Jenny Rathbone AM: Thank you very much for your report. It’s very heartwarming to know
that there’s good work going on with our schools to ensure that they are as inclusive as possible.
Where possible, we need to be including young people with autism into mainstream schools,
but where it’s not possible we obviously need to ensure that we have excellent services
for those with the greatest disabilities. So, I think that’s definitely to be welcomed.
I just wanted to ask you about the services available for adults on the autistic spectrum.
One of the voluntary organisations that works with people with autism is Autism Spectrum
Connections Cymru, which is based in the city centre of Cardiff in my constituency. They
mainly support people with Asperger’s. They’ve had hundreds of referrals, mainly from Cardiff
and the Vale, but also from other south-east Wales local authorities. I think, whilst assessment
is important, support services are also important. One of the examples that was given in the
ASD development team’s annual report was support to ensure that employers and employees, where
the employee has autism, understand the needs of each other. There was a case study there
that was very good that was done by Cardiff and the Vale and I’m sure there’s a lot more
work needed to be done there. But, I think my main question really is: how
integrated is the national integrated autism service in relation to prudent healthcare
and operating both with people who have autism as well as the voluntary organisations who
support them? What role does the voluntary sector play in delivering the autism strategic
action plan? How does the autistic spectrum development team decide which voluntary groups
they work with and which ones they fund? Because Autism Spectrum Connections Cymru doesn’t
receive any funding at all, even though they’re obviously supporting hundreds of people.
Vaughan Gething AM: You raise an interesting point. I think the real examples in the national
ASD development team report will see a range of different age ranges in there, from children
to teenagers to adults and older adults as well. It’s about how they’ve been helped at
various different points through their life stage, and actually lots of people go through
life without having a diagnosis and the potential support that can mean. Lots of people manage
to cope, but it’s about what coping looks like that’s actually still allowing someone
to achieve their potential. There’s a challenge there about having a diagnosis that they will
find difficult later in life as well. The challenge about how integrated the service
is, though, is still about understanding the needs of the population and understanding
how those needs are met. I’m sure there will be a variety of third
sector groups that will be providing services and support and, as ever, there is a challenge
about how those services are run, funded and then signposted between different people.
Lots of people in the third sector don’t look for money, they look for acknowledgement of
what they do and that they’re part of being the answer. I couldn’t comment on the particular
organisation referred to and the fact they aren’t funded through the service. If you
want to have a specific conversation about that, I’d be happy to do so, but I don’t want
to get into a more general point, because what I don’t want is that there’s somehowósometimes,
when you announce money around a service, it’s as if people want to bid into that service
as opposed to how do we make the whole service work to meet the needs of the population.
That’s what I’m most interested in. If you think the particular group that you referred
to could be part of that answer, then I’m happy to have a conversation with you about
that. Paul Davies AM: As the Cabinet Secretary has
said today, he is, of course, aware of my intention to bring forward primary legislation
to help improve the lives of people living with autism in Wales, and I’m very disappointed
that the Cabinet Secretary in his statement today is currently ruling out the need for
primary legislation. I would urge him to reconsider his position, because it’s clear from the
two consultations I’ve held that there is overwhelming support for a Bill, and I hope,
therefore, that he and the Welsh Government will reconsider their position and engage
through the legislative process and help deliver an autism Bill that this institution and the
autism community can be proud of. Now, I accept that the Welsh Government has
made some progress in some areas, although I think it’s clear that the Welsh Government’s
introduction of a code confirms the fact that the current strategy clearly isn’t meeting
the needs of the autism community. The autism community has overwhelmingly made it clear
that they favour legislation, given their responses to my consultation. Therefore, does
the Cabinet Secretary at the very least agree that the views of service users in Wales must
be at the heart of any direction of travel for autism services in the future?
The Cabinet Secretary has today made it clear that he intends to introduce a code, and,
of course, the problem with introducing a code is that it can always be revoked and
it cannot be changed or amended by this Parliament once it is presented to this place. However,
my proposed autism Bill will enable Members to amend the legislation through the legislative
process, and an Act will ensure a level of permanence to the delivery of services, as
well as giving autism a statutory identity. And so perhaps the Cabinet Secretary can tell
us how he believes a code will address these concerns and how a code will deliver the improvements
in services that the autism community wants to see.
And, finally, Deputy Presiding Officer, given that the Government does not believe in currently
introducing legislation, can he confirm that the Government will therefore be giving its
backbenchers a free vote when my Bill travels through the legislative process, given that
some of his colleagues have been supportive of placing services on a statutory footing?
Vaughan Gething AM: On the final point, any legislation that comes through this place,
the Government won’t, at this early stage, be negotiating or outlining how we’ll look
to work with members of our own group, with members who support the Government. We’d need
to see the detail of any legislation and to take a view on it, Paul, and it’s important
that we do that. I don’t think people would agree with the fiction that there’s somehow
not a view on it, and I’m being honest about this. We’ve had an honest disagreement about
the right way forward to improve the lives of people with autism, and we can continue
to disagree, but I don’t want to set out that level of disagreement or the nature of it
in a way that isn’t honest. I don’t want to try to say something here that you and I know
that I wouldn’t really agree to do and support. Part of our challenge is that, the legislation
in England, I can’t see any real evidence that it’s led to a significant and sustainable
improvement in services. And so I’m looking for whether legislation will really deliver
and deliver the sort of improvements you and I both want to see, and be a better way to
do that than the path we’ve set out with the resources we have already made available.
I think lots of people have a lack of faith that politicians will deliver on their promises
and sometimes that leads to people saying, ‘Change the law and that will make sure that
services happen.’ Actually, it still requires a variety of different decisions to be made,
and that includes the budget choices we made, and it includes the work we’ve already done
with different partners to deliver the four integrated services that are making a real
and positive difference to families in those four parts of the country, and that we are
committed to rolling out. And, in terms of a code and the point and
the purpose, well, you know as well as I, because we’ve had these conversations in the
past, that the code is about trying to make sure that we deliver on the responsibilities
that actually exist already within statute, to make sure that they’re real rather than
illusory or simply talked about and pointed to in a piece of legislation but not made
real for people. And I know from my previous lifeóI’m a lawyer in recovery as opposed
to a lawyer who’s been dragged back into it, looking at my poor, misfortunate colleague
Jeremy Miles. I used to be a lawyer, and so I’m well aware that, in dealing with the law,
the rights that people have are only real if you can enforce them. And what does that
mean? And it’s always better to help to give people advice so they can actually deal with
their rights and responsibilities in a way that doesn’t require the involvement of lawyers.
There’s a challenge there about making sure that it’s a real way of working, and the culture
change that we talk aboutóthat’s what we’re trying to deliver and make sure that that
leads to an improvement in service. And on your point about whether people should
be at the centre of our direction of travel, yes, that’s absolutely rightóyou see that
in a range of different areas across the Government, a range of different activities. That’s why,
in my initial statement, I made it clear that people with autism are part of helping us
to draft the code that we’re looking to. So, we’ll continue to involve people with autism,
we’ll continue to listen to them, their real lived experience, to make sure that the shared
objectives we have are being delivered upon. That’s the aim and objective of this Government,
and that will continue to guide us in our approach to services and any future debate
about legislation. Neil McEvoy AM: There have been so many good
questions raised today, some good points made. I want to focus on two things, really. Generally,
this Government makes policies sound goodóthe lovely buzz wordsóbut the reality at the
sharp end and the front line is somewhat different. I wanted to focus firstly on integrated autism
services and referrals. Because, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, there have been none; in Powys,
there have been none; in Cardiff, 10; and, in Gwent, 130. So, the first thing is: how
do you explain the disparity in that, and what can be done to improve matters? Secondly,
the autism-aware businesses, which sounds really good on paperóit sounds good listening
to it in the Chamber, but I wondered if you’d outline to everybody in the Chamber, and the
public, exactly what you have to do to become an autism-aware business.
Vaughan Gething AM: There’s training and support provided to businesses to become autism aware.
I’ll happily send a note from the annual report about those businesses that have done it,
the ones that I’ve mentioned in my statement, and the sort of training that they’ve undertaken
to become autism-aware businesses. And, again, it will depend on the nature of the business,
about those people and what they’re doing in their interaction. So, I’ll happily send
a note onó Neil McEvoy AM: Will you give way?
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: No. There’s no giving way on a statement.
Vaughan Gething AM: I’ll happily send a noteó[Interruption.] Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
No, there’s no giving way on a statement. Vaughan Gething AM: I’ll happily send a note
on what that looks like, rather than getting into a row on an important issue across the
Chamber. And I don’t quite recognise the figures that you’ve quoted on the activity of the
integrated autism services. In the report that’s been published today you can see the
nature and the range of different activity that’s undertaken by each of those integrated
services. And so, in each area, you’ll find people coming in to the service, being supported,
and achieving different outcomes. I am a little puzzled about the figures that he’s provided.
If he wants to write to me, setting out where he’s got those from, I’ll happily respond
to him and make sure that there is a level of priority about that too.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Thank you very much, Cabinet Secretary.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Item 4 on the agenda this afternoon is the
statement by the leader of the house, ‘Refugee WeekóWales, a Nation of Sanctuary’. And I
call on the leader of the house, Julie James. Julie James AM: Thank you, Deputy Presiding
Officer. This week is Refugee Week, a celebration of the contribution that refugees make to
our society, and an event to encourage better understanding between communities. This year
is the twentieth anniversary of its launch, and Refugee Week organisers are asking people
to take part by doing one simple act to support refugees. This can be as simple as having
a conversation with a neighbour who is seeking sanctuary, or learning a few words of the
language from a refugeeís country of origin. All of us here in this Chamber could do one
very important, simple thing, and that is to show our support for refugees and asylum
seekers in Wales by embracing the concept of Wales as a nation of sanctuary.
I hope that some of you were able to hear from the wonderful Oasis World Choir before
Plenary today. The choir is comprised of refugees and asylum seekers from across the globe,
and they have come here today as part of Refugee Week. Some of them were in the gallery earlieróI
think they’re probably not anymore. But I am sure that Members will want to join me
in welcoming them here to the Senedd. The Welsh Governmentís ‘Nation of SanctuaryóRefugee
and Asylum Seeker Plan’ has been developed in response to the recommendations made by
the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee report, ‘”I used to be someone”:
Refugees and asylum seekers in Wales’. The plan is currently out for consultation. It
has been co-produced by the Welsh Government, refugee support organisations, public sector
organisations, and, most importantly, asylum seekers and refugees themselves. We are fully
committed to doing everything we can in Wales to support people seeking sanctuary to rebuild
their lives and fulfil their potential. Wales is a welcoming nation. It is immediately
apparent from talking with people seeking sanctuary and those who support them that
most refugees who come to Wales are extremely grateful for the support they receive here.
We can be proud of that fact. Nevertheless, we still have much to do to ensure refugees
and asylum seekers can integrate effectively and rebuild their lives. As a Government,
we are committed to equality of opportunity and upholding human rights. We believe in
the fair treatment of every person, especially those who are most marginalised and have most
difficulty accessing the help they need to meet their basic needs.
Julie James AM: The Welsh Government firmly believes that the integration of refugees
and asylum seekers should begin on day one of their arrival. This approach is essential
in ensuring the best possible outcomes for individuals and communities. We know there
is strong public support for recent arrivals to learn English or Welshóor both, bearing
in mind that many refugees have excellent language skillsóand we want to support them
to do this. Supporting volunteering schemes for asylum seekers and refugees would contribute
to Welsh society whilst also supporting language acquisition, improving mental health and increasing
the employability of individuals. We are aiming for a holistic approach, where the actions
in the plan complement each other to achieve overall positive change for refugees and asylum
seekers. It is important to emphasise that integration
of people seeking sanctuary is not all about one-sided giving. Refugees bring a wealth
of experience and a range of skills and abilities to Wales. The NHS in Wales has benefited from
the Welsh Government-funded Wales asylum-seeking and refugee doctors group. This is delivered
by the Wales Deanery and Displaced People in Action, supporting refugee doctors to have
their existing medical qualifications recognised and find employment in the NHS. This scheme
is estimated to have saved taxpayers at least £25 million over the last 15 years, empowered
refugees to utilise their skills to give back to Wales, and saved countless lives too.
Some of the issues raised by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee
inquiry in 2017 can only be resolved by the Home Office. It is no secret that we are often
frustrated by the UK Government’s decisions in relation to asylum and migration matters,
but we have to accept that these matters are not devolved to Wales. Nevertheless, we have
advocated for increasing financial support for asylum seekers awaiting decisions, additional
money for local authorities who support asylum seekers in their area and improved asylum
accommodation standards, amongst other issues. Unfortunately, to say the least, the UK Government
does not appear to have incorporated our recommendations in the design of their forthcoming asylum
accommodation contracts or significantly increased financial support in the asylum system. We
will do what we can to mitigate the negative effects of UK Government policies on community
integration in Wales and will seek to work constructively with the Home Office to identify
and raise concerns where they arise. Our nation of sanctuary plan focuses on proposals
within the devolved areas that the Welsh Government can influence. The plan outlines the breadth
of work that we are undertaking to ensure that the inequalities experienced by refugees
and asylum seekers are reduced, their access to opportunities increased, and that relations
between these communities and wider society are improved.
We have prioritised the key issues that refugees and asylum seekers talked to us about during
preparatory work for this consultation. This includes ensuring individuals can access information
and advice to help them orientate themselves to new surroundings, supporting opportunities
to learn the language and to find employment, findings ways to avoid destitution, and improving
access to health services. In developing the actions we have sought to
prevent the most harmful problems experienced by refugees and asylum seekers in Wales. These
include homelessness, mental health conditions, poor accommodation and the risk of destitution.
We have already made some encouraging progress in some of these areas but there is much work
still to be done to improve outcomes. We are continuing to consider improvements
that we can make to support those seeking sanctuary, including looking at extending
eligibility for education grants and concessionary transport to asylum seekers. These are complex
and delicate areas, where a rush to extend eligibility could have unintended consequences
for asylum applications. We also need the UK Government to recognise our desire to ensure
that all members of Welsh society can integrate, and agree not to undermine this intention
by placing Welsh Government funding streams on the list of prohibited public funds in
the immigration rules. We are committed to the principle of extending entitlement in
the interests of community integration and personal well-being, but we need to work through
potential issues carefully to ensure that we make things better for people at risk of
destitution and not worse. Our work continues in respect of our support
for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. While we were ultimately not asked by the
UK Government to welcome as many children to Wales under the Dubs scheme as we planned
for, we have been able to provide safety and a fresh start for a small number and we wish
them well in their lives here. Together with the Minister for Children, Older People and
Social Care and with our counterpart Ministers in the Scottish Government, we have lobbied
the UK Government regularly on a range of matters about these children. The replies
we have received have not been as positive, proactive or as helpful as we would have liked,
I’m sorry to say, Deputy Presiding Officer. Nevertheless, we have made progress on the
actions recommended by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee in relation
to these children and we will continue to do so.
As I mentioned, the nation of sanctuary plan is currently out for consultation and the
plan will continue to be developed and be amended to reflect the responses and suggestions
received when the consultation period closes next Monday, 25 June. The plan comprises actions
that we are seeking to take in the remainder of this Assembly term. Therefore, it forms
an important part of a long-term aim for Wales to be a true nation of sanctuary for refugees
and asylum seekers. There is a Refugee Week stand in the Oriel
this week, including a new film produced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission,
and an opportunity for members of the public to state what simple act they can do to support
people seeking sanctuary in Wales. I was very pleased that we were able to do that this
lunchtime together, Deputy Presiding Officer. I urge you all to visit the stand and include
your own act. I would also like to thank the members of the Oasis World Choir who came
here today to sing for us. Let us demonstrate to them how democracy can work to benefit
all the residents of a nation, and that Wales, a small nation, punches above its weight when
it comes to providing sanctuary. Diolch. Mark Isherwood AM: Thanks very much for your
statement in Refugee Week. I don’t think you’re going to find any real disagreement with the
information and the sentiments that you’ve expressed. You say that all of us in the Chamber
here should do one simple thing to show our support for refugees and asylum seekers by
embracing the concept of Wales as a nation of sanctuary. I’m pleased that I ensured that
that was in our 2016 Welsh Conservative manifesto as a commitment and, as you might recall,
I sponsored and hosted the Sanctuary in the Senedd event at the back end of 2016 accordingly.
You referred to support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. When we had a statement
in November 2016, it was the time that we’d heard that the horrible Jungle camp in Calais
was closing down, and that the British and French Governments were registering unaccompanied
children who were hoping to join relatives in the UK. I then asked whether the Welsh
Government had any indication of whether those figures provided were accurate, or how many
of those children had come, or were coming, to Wales. I’m wondering whether you have any
more up-to-date information now, 18 months down the road, over whetheróand in what volume
or what numberóthose children arrived here, and what particular support they might have
received. You refer to integration of refugees and asylum
seekers. Again, you might be aware that early last month I hosted an event in the Assembly
called ‘Let us integrate through music and art’, put on by the North Wales Association
for Multicultural Integration, of which I’m honorary president, and Cwmbran-based KIRAN,
Knowledge-based Intercommunity Relationship and Awareness Network, born, they say, out
of necessity to have an engaged community where members have knowledge of different
sociocultural backgrounds. Only two weeks ago, I had a meeting here with the Welsh Refugee
Council, the North Wales Association for Multicultural Integration and the charity CAIS, who are
working in partnership to break down barriers and increase understanding of each other’s
cultures. So, in terms of supporting the integration message, how are you engaging with these trailblazing
organisations that are doing their own bit and increasingly building a joined-up network
themselves to deliver that integration message in practice in our communities, on our streets
and in our rural areas too across Wales? Sadly, as you know, some refugees and asylum
seekers become victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, and I know I’m slightly
going off piste here, but there are a number of charities again working in this area, including
Haven of Light in north Wales, who are having a modern slavery forum on 12 October. So,
in terms of this agenda, how are you engaging not just with the commissioner but with the
other agencies working together, statutory and third sector, regarding the particular
refugee and asylum seeker issues applying to this group of victims?
My final question relates to acceptance of refugees. The figures published for refugees
resettled in Wales last year show that Merthyr Tydfil and Neath Port Talbot were the only
councils that accepted no refugees, in the figures they provided. Carmarthenshire was
highest with 51, and Swansea with 33. In north Wales, Denbighshire had 21, but falling to
five in Flintshire and only two in Conwy. So, how are you helping local authorities
establish this understanding and awareness of the critical mass and the will to ensure,
perhaps, a better distribution, so that the lead established in one part of Wales can
be replicated elsewhere? Thank you. Julie James AM: Thank you for that series
of questions. I don’t have the exact number here, so I’ll write to the Member about the
exact number of children who were under the Dubs scheme. But there were some serious issues
around why we weren’t able to take as many as we would like and I’ll make sure that the
Member has a communication about the exact number.
We have worked extremely hard to make sure that we work together with our stakeholders
to ensure that we have as integrated a set of responses as possible. We’ve delivered
on the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee inquiry recommendation to train
social workers, for example, in the age assessment of children and young people, and, earlier
this year, five sessions were held across Wales and nearly 100 social workers and advocates
have been trained. There’s a toolkit that accompanied the training, which has been revised
and will be published soon, as a result of our engagement with stakeholders as we work
very hard to make sure that we have as much as possible a seamless response.
We also work very hard to make sure that we do integrate learning from the modern slavery
action plan, and of course Wales has been at the forefront of having the modern slavery
co-ordinator, and we have our regional co-ordinators working hard as well to ensure that we have
as up-to-date a stakeholder plan as possible. But in the end, migration and asylum policy
is not devolved to the Welsh Government. Many of the solutions to many of the difficulties
faced by asylum seekers and refugees have to be found by the Home Office. The real issue
for us is how to reduce the impact and prevalence of destitution, the non-devolved welfare system
and asylum decisions and eligibility for funding, all of which are real driving factors behind
those living in this situation. We’re very disappointed at the lack of co-operation
on the new accommodation contract, for example. Just very recently, we’ve been having to lobby
the UK Government yet again, along with Scotland, because the UK Government has not wanted us
to set up a panel of experts to help inform decisions on the accommodation strategy, Deputy
Presiding Officer. So, we are very disappointed with that because we think that saying it’s
commercially confidential is clearly not the right way forward for that. One of the big
issues with integration is ensuring that asylum seekers and refugees are placed in accommodation
in the right communities with the right support around them.
The Member did raise why there is patchy take-up in the stats that he quoted, but, of course,
they’re not the ongoing stats. Neath Port Talbot, for example, has taken a large number
of people in the past. And there are issues around the funding as well, because only around
55 per cent of the funding is available and there’s a big issue with the Barnett formula
and the way that some of the schemes have been put together so that Wales, Scotland
and Northern Ireland don’t access some of the funding that is available. So, we have
worked very hard to make sure that the UK Government understands that, sometimes, the
juxtaposition of several policies has unintended consequences for people in this category.
Si‚n Gwenllian AM: Maeír nod o greu cenedl noddfa yng Nghymru yn un y mae Plaid Cymru
yn ei gefnogi, wrth gwrs, ac yn ei gefnogi yn llwyr ac yn ymgyrchu drosto, ond rwyín
credu ei bod hiín bwysig cydnabod bod yna nifer o rwystrauín bodoli wrth geisio gwiredduír
uchelgais. Mae llawer oír rhwystrau hyn yn deillio oír ffordd y maeír drafodaeth gyhoeddus
ar fudo wedi cael ei llywioóyn rhy aml, rhagfarn, camwybodaeth a chanfyddiadau anghywir sydd
yn llywioír ddeialog. Maeín rhaid i unrhyw gynllun i integreiddio ceiswyr lloched a ffoaduriaid,
ac i greu cenedl noddfa, gydnabod hynny a cheisio creuír newid diwylliannol yn ogystal
‚ír newid gwleidyddol. Felly, a fedrwch chi amlinellu beth y mae eich Llywodraeth
chi yn ei wneud i gywiroír rhagfarn aír canfyddiadau anghywir?
Maeír datganiad heddiw yn cydnabod bod llawer oír problemau syín wynebu ffoaduriaid a
cheiswyr lloches yn dod o ganlyniad i faterion syín deillio oír Swyddfa Gartref. Er enghraifft,
rym niín gwybod bod fisas wedi cael eu gwrthod i dros 2,000 o ddoctoriaid yn unol ‚ pholisi
mudoír Deyrnas Unedig. Yn anffodus, maeích plaid chi wedi gwrthod caniat·u i Lywodraeth
Cymru gyhoeddi fisas yn seiliedig ar anghenion gweithlu Cymru. O gofioír angen dybryd am
ddoctoriaid, a ydych chiín fodlon ailystyried y safbwynt yma?
Maeír newidiadau i fudd-daliadau a chyflwyno credyd cynhwysol yn cael effaith pellgyrhaeddol
ar fywydau ffoaduriaid. Maeír Welsh Refugee Coalition yn dweud bod eisiau ceisio ffyrdd
i liniaru effeithiau negyddol diwygio lles ar ffoaduriaid, yn ogystal ‚ monitro hynny.
Mi fyddwch yn gwybodórydych chi wedi fy nghlywed sawl gwaith yn dadlauóy byddai datganoli
elfennau o weinydduír gyfundrefn les yn ein galluogi ni yng Nghymru i liniaru rhai elfennau
ac i greu diwylliant mwy dyngarol. Felly, a gaf i ofyn ichi eto i edrych yn ofalus ar
y posibiliadau a dysgu gwersi gan yr Alban? Rydw i’n credu y byddai ffoaduriaid a cheiswyr
lloches yn gwerthfawrogi ymrwymiad gan eich Llywodraeth chi heddiw i ystyried, o leiaf,
y posibilrwydd ac i ddod ag adroddiad llawn gerbron y Cynulliad sydd yn edrych yn fanwl
ar y manteision a’r anfanteision. Nid ydym ni wedi cael y dadansoddiad trwyadl yna cyn
belled, ac rydw i’n meddwl y byddai fo’n fuddiol iawn i gael hynny.
Mae eich datganiad yn sÙn am lety ar gyfer ffoaduriaid, ac ar hyn o bryd mae’r Swyddfa
Gartref wrthi’n penderfynu pa ddarparwr preifat fydd yn darparu llety i geiswyr lloches yng
Nghymru ar gyfer y 10 mlynedd nesaf. A fedrwch chi amlinellu beth mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn
bwriadu ei wneud i sicrhau bod safon y llety yn cael ei wella, a bod y darparwr ei hun
yn cael ei ddal yn gwbl atebol ar gyfer cyfnod y cytundeb yn ei gyfanrwydd? Rydym ni’n gwybod
bod digartrefedd, yn anffodus, yn broblem fawr ymhlith ffoaduriaid a cheiswyr lloches,
a’r wythnos ddiwethaf, fe gyhoeddodd Crisis ei gynllun uchelgeisiol i roi terfyn ar ddigartrefedd
yn y Deyrnas Unedig. Mae rhan o’r cynllun yn sÙn am fudwyr a’r newidiadau deddfwriaethol
penodol sydd eu hangen. A fedrwch chi ymrwymo i edrych yn fanwl ar argymhellion Crisis gan
lobÔo am y newidiadau y maen nhw am eu gweld yn yr ardaloedd sydd ddim wedi eu datganoli?
Ac yn olaf, rydw i eisiau trafod dileu’r grant MEAG i awdurdodau lleolóy grant pwysig yma,
y grant addysg cyflawni ar gyfer lleiafrifoedd ethnig. Mae hwn yn hanfodol i sicrhau bod
sgiliau iaith yn cael eu dysgu mewn ffordd briodol i blant sydd ddim yn siarad Cymraeg
na Saesneg, ond mae diflaniad y grant yma am ei gwneud hi’n anodd iawn i blant ffoaduriaid
a cheiswyr lloches ddysgu dwy iaith ein gwlad ni. Felly, fy nghwestiwn i ydy: onid oes angen
atgyfodi’r MEAG? Wedi’r cyfan, mae sgiliau iaith yn hanfodol er mwyn integreiddio ffoaduriaid
a cheiswyr lloches yn llawn yn ein cenedl noddfa, a hynny, yn y pen draw, ydy’r ffordd
orau o ddileu rhagfarn a bod yn groesawgar yng ngwir ystyr y gair.
Julie James AM: Thank you for that. There’s a range of different issues raised there.
Obviously, the whole point of Refugee Week is to combat some of the media representations.
I entirely agree with Si‚n Gwenllian that a large part of the problem has been some
of theóI don’t know how to describe itóhysteria and hyperbole. Its really very detrimental
reporting, and entirely untrue, usually. I think I’m prepared to say that it’s completely
untrue, in most instances, around perceptions about asylum seekers and refugees. Actually,
poll after poll has shown that many members of the public can’t tell the difference between
the words ‘migrant’, ‘asylum seeker’, ‘refugee’ and so on, which shows in itself some of the
hysteria that’s been around this situation, and there’s a wider debate to be had about
the whole issue of migration in that context as well. But anyway, that’s the
whole point of this week, really, and that’s why we’re having this statement and it’s why
we’re highlighting it. Because, Deputy Presiding Officer, we really do want to highlight the
huge benefits that people who are, after all, fleeing the most appalling circumstancesóthat
the skills and talents that they bring to our society and our culture are to be applauded
and recognised. That is entirely the point of this, and I concur with her on that.
As I say, we do have a programme for recognising doctors’ qualifications. I chair the faith
forum here in Wales on behalf of the First Ministeróhe chairs it and I co-chair it with
him and, often, I’m the chair in practice. We had a very vigorous debate about how we
could extend that programme out into other health clinicians, and, actually, all asylum
seekers and refugees who have professional qualifications that are required in our country.
And anyway, we want to enable people to use their skills to the maximum advantage. I don’t
agree that we should be trying to take over immigration policy in terms of extending visas,
but I do agree that we should be lobbying the UKówe have done very successfullyóaround
not having ridiculous policies about restricting the migrationónever mind asylum seekers and
refugeesóof people with essential skills for our NHS and other areas of our economy.
It doesn’t make any sense at all. In terms of the administration of welfare,
Deputy Presiding Officer, I fear that you are going to cut me off short if I start going
into all of the detailed arguments on that, but it’s suffice to say that we are not convinced
that we would be able to mitigate some of the worst effects of the welfare system simply
by administering it slightly differently. We will be looking in detail at the Crisis
report, but we have had a very successful collaboration with the Asylum Rights Programme,
delivered by the Welsh Refugee Council in consortia, which includes Tros Gynnal Plant,
east Bawso, Asylum Justice, the City of Sanctuary, and Displaced People in Action project. So,
we have had a good, co-ordinated piece across Wales, which has seen, we hope, the culmination
of this very good plan in response to the committee’s report, and I will just remind,
Deputy Presiding Officer, everyone in Wales that the consultation finishes next Monday.
John Griffiths AM: Leader of the house, in terms of the Equality, Local Government and
Communities Committee report and the responses Welsh Government has made, I wonder if you
could provide further detail and assurance with regard to a few matters.
Firstly, the community cohesion plan: the response from Welsh Government was that that
would be published in summer 2017 and would include specific actions in terms of more
positive narrative around refugees and asylum seekers who’ve settled here in Wales. So,
given that date of summer 2017 and the fact that it hasn’t yet been published, I wonder
whether you could tell me when it will be published and what steps the Welsh Government
is taking in regard to that need for a more positive narrative here in Wales.
And with regard to the guardianship service, I know that there is currently a consultation
on action to explore opinions on establishing such a service, and I wonder again what time
frame there is for that work, and at what point the Government will be in a position
to clarify whether there will be such a scheme. On accommodation, leader of the house, there
was a lot of concern around the right-to-rent checks, which I know you’re very much alive
to, and the fact that that could lead to discrimination. We call for an immediate assessment of the
impact of the UK Immigration Act, and, indeed, the need for that assessment was accepted,
so I wonder whether it has taken place, and if not, when it will take place, and also
when the right-to-rent checks are expected to be introduced here in Wales, because we’re
not yet aware of that. Just two final matters quickly, Dirprwy Lywyddó
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Very quickly, please.
John Griffiths AM: Very quickly. The draft consultation plan doesn’t always include time
frames for delivery, so I wonder whether the finalised plan will have clear dates for delivery
of each action, and whether there will be Welsh Government funding allocated to the
commitments made in the draft action plan. Diolch.
Julie James AM: We have made a lot of progress in the last year, but we are very frustrated,
as I said earlier on: the UK Government’s refusal to share details of the contractsóof
the forthcoming asylum accommodation support contractsóbecause, as John Griffiths has
rightly pointed out, the accommodation system is crucial to ensuring the well-being of those
claiming asylum. And, of course, the system will inevitably impact on Welsh public services
and asylum seekers living here because of all of the issues that arise as a result,
including poor mental health, poor integration and so on. We have made a number of attempts
to gain access to the contracts, but we’ve not been successful. That doesn’t mean we’ve
given up, we are continuing to lobby very strongly on that.
We’ve also raised a number of the committee’s recommendations with the UK Government where
responsibility lies wholly, or partly, with them. And there will be some improvements
in the future: that includes equality training for the asylum accommodation providers that
we’re very pleased to see be included; a complaints process that is independent of the accommodation
provider; and some additional advice during a move-on period for new refugees. But we
haven’t been successful in all of the areas, as I’ve said a number of times.
So, therefore, we are looking to see how we can reduce the impact and prevalence of destitution
in a non-devolved welfare system. We’ve taken some time to develop the new plan, as John
Griffiths pointed out, to ensure that we co-produce the plan with refugees and asylum seekers,
and the organisations that support them, to ensure that the plan will actually make a
real difference to well-being. I’m reluctant to commit to a very definitive timescale,
but I understand that that’s gone very well, and that we hope to publish something reasonably
soon. It is very important that that plan means something to the organisations that
contribute to it. I don’t want to cut that process short; I think that’s very important
indeed. And, of course, we’d very much like it to have realistic, impactful outcomes.
So, I will be ensuring that those exist, and I’m sure that the committee will take a very
close interest in that. I’m very happy to discuss that with the committee, as we go
along. The last thing I wanted to say is that we
have funded a series of focus groups with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and
young people to understand more about their views and experiences of the services they’ve
received. That report will also be published soon and will help inform our future work,
including the work on the plan. So, we hope to work very closely with the committee in
the future. David J Rowlands AM: Britain has a proud tradition
of welcoming refugees, from the Huguenots in the seventeenth century to the Ugandan
Asians in the 1970s. We shouldóindeed, mustómaintain that tradition. The problem we have today
is that the distinction between true asylum seekers and economic migrants has become blurred.
This is especially true for the general public. We therefore have an unfair backlash on true
refugees, for instance those fleeing the war in Syria, to whom we have a huge moral obligation
to take in our fair share, because we allowed ourselves to get involved with the uprising
against Assad, and whilst we would, of course, not uphold his form of regime, it has become
clear that any type of regime is preferable to the wholesale carnage and destruction that
has ensued from the west’s involvement in yet another country of the middle east.
For hundreds of years, we have taken in refugees, but these have been numbered in tens of thousands
per year. These people were easily accommodated and integrated into our society. The Ugandan
Asians are a prime example of this. However, over the last decade, we have been faced with
accommodating hundreds of thousands each year, which, of course, impacts on our ability to
provide all the infrastructure and societal needs of these people, which again impacts
on those who most desperately need our aid. This is not just a concern here in the United
Kingdom. Social unrest and economic stress is being felt throughout Europe in the face
of unprecedented migration levels. The inability to discern between true asylum seekers and
economic migrants is causing disruption and opposition in such countries as Germany, Italy,
Belgium and Spain. We must, therefore, have proper border controls
so that we can truly assess those who have a desperate and proper need for asylum, but
with stricter controls on those who come here for economic reasons. UKIP of course supports
all the measures proposed in this statement. We recognise the trauma that many of these
displaced people have experienced and we acknowledge the necessity to provide interventions to
help make these people welcome, comforted and fully integrated into our Welsh society.
So, I just have one question for you, leader of the house, which is: what work is being
done to make the distinction between asylum seekers and refugees and economic migrants
to the public in general? Julie James AM: Well, I’m glad you support
the principle, but I fundamentally disagree with your argument, I have to say. Refugee
Week, as I said, started in the UK in 1998 as a direct reaction to hostility in the media
and society in general towards refugees and asylum seekers. It’s now one of the leading
UK initiatives working to counter this negative climate, as I said to Si‚n Gwenllian earlier,
defending the importance of sanctuary and the benefits it can bring to both refugees
and host communities, and it’s widely celebrated in many other countriesóAustralia and the
United States, for example, and France held their first Refugee Week in 2016, so it’s
a spreading good-news story. I simply don’t likeó. Well, first of all,
the statistics that David Rowlands quotes are just not something we recognise here in
Wales. Migration here is tiny. As somebody who has spent most of my life abroad because
my family were economic migrants, where my father sought work around the world in order
to give a better life to his family, I simply cannot find it in my heart to say that somebody
fleeing war is a proper refugee, but somebody fleeing starvation or grinding poverty is
not. So, Deputy Presiding Officer, I cannot agree with a single thing, other than the
general support, that David Rowlands said. Jane Hutt AM: Can I welcome the statement,
during Welsh Refugee Week, on the Welsh Government consultation, ‘Nation of SanctuaryóRefugee
and Asylum Seeker Plan’? The fact that this plan has been co-produced with the Welsh Refugee
Council and other partners is an indication of the forward-looking inclusive approach
taken by the Welsh Government, drawing, in large part, from the recommendations of the
Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee report.
This year, we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the NHS, and I’m pleased
you’ve drawn attention to early action I took as health and social services Minister to
support the Welsh refugee doctors programmeóthe refugee doctors wanted to contribute their
skills to the NHS. As a result of a pioneering training, language and support scheme, their
skills were soon put to use, resulting in over 85 refugee doctors registered with the
General Medical Council, practising over the past 16 years. What a contribution. Leader
of the house, will you join me in congratulating these doctors, working across the NHS in the
UK, as a result of this initiative, due, in no small part, to Aled Edwards of Cyt˚n who
came to me and said, ‘We can do this, Jane’, and we did?
But also, can we, across the Chamber, thank all those in our constituencies who supported
the Syrian refugee scheme, with my town of Barry providing a welcome and support to families
over the past three yearsófamilies who are now settling and contributing to this community
with their skills and talents? I’d particularly like to thank the voluntary Rainbow group,
a black and minority ethnic group, who provide friendship and personal and social support
to BAME women in the Vale of Glamorgan. But I am concerned to understand whether the Welsh
Government is getting due respect and co-operation in terms of the integration of these families
into our communities from the Home Office, who are obviously leading that scheme. I’d
be grateful for your response to that. Also, leader of the house, you’ll be aware of community
initiatives across Wales, such as Croeso Llantwit, which is following Croeso Narberth, welcoming
a Syrian refugee family to Llantwit Major. Finally, as patron of Bawso, I do want to
acknowledge the work that’s carried out by this specialist charity, supporting women
escaping violence, including refugee women. Julie James AM: Yes, of course, I’m very happy
to acknowledge the work across Wales of a large number of organisations who have worked
very hard to co-produce our plans with us, and who, of course, work daily to make sure
that refugee and asylum-seeking people across Wales are integrated. The Croeso movement,
we hope, will spread even further; it’s a great initiative. But, as I said, there are
a large number of other organisations who’ve worked carefully with us, because we very
much want this plan to be something co-produced with the communities, so that it really is
meaningful to them. We’re very grateful to the committee for producing
its comprehensive reports, and we’ve worked very carefully through the recommendations
with the communities in order to support them. There are a number of very specific things
that we can say. I’ve said something about the disappointment around the accommodation,
but we will be working with local authority partners to make sure that where we can intervene,
we do, and that people do live in accommodation that’s fit for purpose. As I said, there are
a number of other improvements around the complaints process and so on that can be put
in place. We also recognise the real issue with destitution,
and so we’ve put a number of advice services in place to assist people to find the help
that they need. I would, Deputy Presiding Officer, like to say again to the UK Government
that we very much want them to not place Welsh Government funds on the list of ‘no recourse
to public funds’ scheme, so that, here in Wales, we can make sure that we do not have
destitute refugee and asylum-seeking people on our doorstep and that we can extend our
public funding to them appropriately. Joyce Watson AM: I think the first thing that
I want to say today is that I’m sure some of us have seen the scenes in America where
children are being literally ripped out of the arms of their parents and the damage that
is being done to both the parents, but also to the children, and to the nation. So, with
respect, I would ask if you will condemn those actions. I’m also pleased that we don’t follow
those actions here in Wales. It is absolutely appalling, it is absolutely inhumane and I
cannot believeóand I’m sure nobody else can hereóthat you can have a President of one
of the richest countries in the world actually standing up and saying that that is an acceptable
form of behaviour. So, thank you for allowing me time to say that today.
It is in that vein, I suppose, that I rise here today. There is an article in The Guardian,
and I have a copy hereóit’s not rubbish, so maybe I can hold it upóand it’s a study
about suicide that has happened because the system is so slow when it comes to processingóvery
oftenóminors. They are told quite clearly that at the age of 17 and a half, if they’re
not settled, that they would have to leave the country, and they’ve already been through
hugely traumatic situations where they have suffered both physically and mentally to get
to the stage that they are. They then find that all their hopes and dreams are somehow
dashed by the system’s inability to cope with them. I know that the system isn’t down to
us, so my question is this, particularly focusing on two groups, and one of them is the unaccompanied
minors who find themselves destitute, very often, and then they become desperate, and
then they harm themselves, and then, finally, they take their own lives. And that has happened
here in Wales as well. I remember going to the Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for
Refugees, and giving a keynote speech while they were remembering one of their own, and
the devastating impact that it had had on those people, as a group, who’d done everything
they could to assist that individual into a life worth living.
The other group that I’m very keen to focus on is thoseóand they are, more or less, womenówho
find themselves victims of sexual violence and rape, and all that goes with that, but
it isn’t exclusively women: some males are also subject to that. I note, in your statement,
that there is a scoping exercise that will ascertain the key difficulties that are faced
by asylum seekers and refugees who have experienced that, so that you can take some action. I
look forward, leader of the house, to the outcome of that. And have you any indication
whatsoever of when we could expect the results of some of those scoping exercises?
Julie James AM: Joyce Watson raises a number of very important issues. As I’ve said, we’ve
had five sessions across Wales, and nearly 100 social workers and advocates have been
trained in age assessment of children and young people, so that we do not have some
of the miscarriages of justice that we have seen in the system. We’ll be publishing a
series of information and advice resources that will assist social workers to support
unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people, to advise on current and potential
foster carers, and to advise the children and young people themselves. This meets the
commitment to produce that information in the UK Government four-nation safeguarding
strategy for unaccompanied asylum-seeker children, to which the Welsh Government has contributed.
I know the Member has a real concern around the modern slavery issue here, as well as
people particularly fleeing sexual violence, who are often captured by people who are very
exploitative in that regard. We funded a series of focus groups with unaccompanied
asylum-seeking children and young people, to understand more about their views and experiences
of the services they’ve received in Wales. As I said earlier to John Griffiths, that
report will be published soon, and will help inform our future work, including the final
refugees and asylum seekers delivery plan. We’ve also supported the delivery of training
to current and future foster carers of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, as we seek to ensure
that children have the best possible experience. I share Joyce Watson’s horror at some of the
scenes that we saw in the United States. We’ve been working very hard to ensure that the
UK takes very seriously that, as part of the Brexit process, we stay part of the protocols
in Europe that allow family reunification, because that is a very significant part of
what our membership of the European Union has brought, and I really, very much, want
to keep hold of that, if at all possible. Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Julie Morgan. Julie Morgan AM: Thank you very much, Deputy
Presiding Officer, and thank you very much for calling me to speak on this very important
consultation, which I hope will move us to being truly a nation of sanctuary for refugees
and asylum seekers, but I don’t think we should ever underestimate the amount of daily racism
and prejudice that asylum seekers and refugees do face. I support very strongly that this
plan is being made in conjunction with refugees and asylum seekers; I think that’s absolutely
crucial. And I think it’s a very important message that the leader of the house gave,
that it’s all our responsibility to make people feel welcome. Great examples of that have
been mentioned. I know that Narberth and Llantwit Major have been mentioned today, and I know
that Hay, Brecon and Talgarth’s City of Sanctuary group has been doing events all over Powys
in village halls, giving refugees a day out in the countryside to make them feel welcome,
and that’s been very successful. But it is, as the leader of the house said, not a one-way
system because we do gain so much from people who have come here to our country.
I wondered if the leader of the house could update us about whether there has ever been
any progress about asylum seekers being able to work, because one of the biggest issues
that I’ve faced with asylum seekers is sometimes their inability to take up a job because of
the policy from the Westminster Government. Many people have said to me, ‘All I want to
do is work’, and they haven’t been able to do that.
The Welsh Government-funded initiative that Jane Hutt put forward about doctors getting
their qualifications is absolutely great. I was very pleased that the leader of the
house said that this could perhaps be considered for all other qualifications. So, I don’t
know whether there are any actual plans to do that. If there are, perhaps you could tell
us the details. Then the other issue that I feel very concerned
about is asylum-seeking young people who want to go to university, because these asylum
claims drag on for years sometimes. I’ve had lots of examples of young asylum seekers,
or children who are asylum seekers, who have not been able to take up places in university
because they haven’t been able to get funding. So, I don’t know if there’s any progress on
that, or anything that the Government can do.
I’d just like to end by mentioning a great initiative in Llanishen High School in my
constituency, which has just been awarded School of Sanctuary status. Sian Owens, a
member of staff there, has spearheaded a fantastic awareness-raising programme where the young
people have gone and spoken to different groups, have learnt about what happens in detention
centres, and have received training from HOPE not hate. It really seems a fantastic initiative,
and I’m sure she’ll want to join me in congratulating them on what they’ve done.
Julie James AM: Yes, that’s a really great initiative. The more that can be encouraged
to ensure that young people have a mutual understanding of how they got to be where
they are, and what they bring to the classroom, the better.
She asked a number of questions, which I can just quickly say something about. We are very
interested in looking at schemes to recognise other qualifications, but actually what we
want to do first is see if we can extend the medical one to other clinicians, and then
extend it out. I’m due to have conversations with various Cabinet Secretaries about how
we can take that forward as part of the work that we were doing, because I’m very keen
that we should allow people to make the full contribution that they can make to our society.
In terms of the work, we haven’t made any headway, I’m sorry to say, about allowing
asylum seekers to work, but there is even an issue with volunteering, because you’re
only allowed to volunteer with a charity. In large parts of rural Wales, if you can’t
volunteer with a business, then you’re not really going to be able to volunteer at all.
So, I’ve made that point forcibly a number of times to UK Government Ministers, and we
are hopeful that they will at least look at that bit of it. But there’s no meeting of
minds on the subject of work in general. In terms of what asylum seekers give backóand
after all, Deputy Presiding Officer, this is a celebration of refugees and asylum seekers,
and we’ve hit a somewhat doleful note with some of the problemsóI will just highlight
that, in my own constituency, as well as in many others that many Members have already
mentioned, there is a brilliant asylum seekers’ writing project. They write the most incredible
stories and poems, sometimes about their experiences, but sometimes just general things. It really
is a great scheme. I have a number of books that, for a small donation to a charity of
my choice, I can share with you. You can just read them in my room if you’re not prepared
to put your hand in your pocket for the charity, but I do have a large supply of them, should
Members want to take advantage of that, because I support that project.
I just want to say this: Refugee Week is an umbrella festival. The events have a wide
range of arts, voluntary, faith and refugee community organisations, school student groups
and more, and they include arts festivals, exhibitions, film screenings, theatre and
dance performances, concerts, football tournaments and public talks, as well as creative and
educational activities in schools. So, Deputy Presiding Officer, despite the gloom and despondency
that we seem to have been experiencing, which I understand entirely, I do want to emphasise
that this is a festival of a celebration of the contribution that refugees and asylum
seekers make to our society. Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Finally, Bethan Sayed. Bethan Sayed AM: Thank you. I wasn’t going
to speak and then I felt that I wanted to, because I’ve done quite a lot of work in this
area, and when somebody mentioned earlier ‘these people’ I suddenly thought of the fact
that they’re not just ‘these people’, they have names: Ahin Ahmed, Ibrahim Saba are just
some of the ones that I’ve met. I think that, sometimes, we talk about people without considering
that they are actually humans in our society, and I think that’s how we need to frame the
debate, and that they have so much to give to us as well. So, the positivity I would
like to bring is not only that we help them, but they can help us, be it through new cultures,
be it through new ways of living, new rituals that we can learn about, new foods or new
tastes, and I think that’s something that we should all take away from those who come
to Wales. I think it’s important, would you not agree
with me, that organisations such as Bloom in Swansea and the Swansea Humanitarian Aid
Response Project are worth mentioning? Because there are many unsung heroes in all of thisóvolunteers
who are either retired or young people who are juggling, helping asylum seekers by translating,
just trying to be as supportive as they possibly can, and delivering goods to others. I visited
an asylum seeker last week and her pram was falling to pieces. Within five minutes of
me asking on Facebook, somebody had delivered me a pram and I took it to her on Saturday.
This was a really expensive piece of goods that she would just not have been able to
have afforded if it wasn’t for the hospitality of somebody that I knew. So, I think that’s
the positive that comes from all of this. The only issues that I had was wanting to
raise with you some questions with regard to the Syrian resettlement scheme. That’s
coming to an end soon, so I’m just wondering whether you know that there’s going to be
sufficient follow through, and because those funding streams are coming to an end that
we know that those Syrian refugees are not going to be left isolated, and are going to
have the support mechanisms around them. I would also say that the housing allocations
are simply not up to scratch at the moment. I’m visiting families who are on top of hills,
pushing prams, without access to bus routes, and they feel isolated. They’re in the house
all day, and do you know what? I think that the UK Government want that to happen, quite
often. They want them to stay in their houses, isolated, because they don’t want them to
make friends, they don’t want them to feel part of a community, because that serves them
when they come to the decision to deport them, quite often. Perhaps I’m cynical, but I think
that has something to do with the allocations and where those houses are. So, I would urge
you to use all the influence that you have in relation to that.
For example, in Neath Port Talbot, we simply don’t have anywhere that sells halal food.
They’ve got to take the trip to Swansea to find that food. I’ve written to Tesco, I’ve
written to different outlets in Neath Port Talbot, asking if they can provide halal food,
and they simply say no, they don’t have the demand. Well, if that’s the case, how are
they accommodating those very people who are the most vulnerable, who will only eat that
food in their everyday lives? The thing I wanted to finish on was this:
I was shocked the other day, again visiting a family, who said that her children were
refused a school uniform grant because they weren’t Syrian refugees. Allegedly there’s
no two-tier system, but if her children who are from a different country are deemed not
as important as Syrian refugees, then that’s going to create tension between refugees and
asylum seekers that we simply do not need in an age where they already feel persecuted.
So, if you could do anything in relation to sending updated guidance to schools, I would
be very grateful for that. Julie James AM: On that one, if you want to
write to me with the specific details, I can do something about that. We do not like the
two-tier system, Deputy Presiding Officer. The Welsh Government is doing everything it
can to minimise the discrepancies by ensuring that all refugees are eligible for Welsh Government
schemes in Wales. So, we’re doing our best. A two-tier system has been put in place by
the UK Government, but we’re doing our best to make sure that that doesn’t happen.
I’m afraid I share Bethan Sayed’s cynicism about the accommodation strategy. I think
it’s both a money-saving thing and a thing that forces people not to integrate as well
as they might. A large part of what we do is attempting to make sure that that doesn’t
happen, so it’s a little bit of a push-shove thing.
But I just wanted to go back to what she started with, really, Deputy Presiding Officer, because
Bloom and SHARP are two organisations I’m very familiar with in the Swansea area, but
there are, right across Wales, and it is absolutely heartening that when you do put an appeal
out on social media or one of those puts a little list up of things that they particularly
need for a family, the people of Wales are incredibly generous in their response to that.
It always brings a smile to my heart, anyway, to see that happening, because after all,
Deputy Presiding Officer, we really are a nation of sanctuary.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Thank you very much.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Item 5 on the agenda this afternoon is a statement
by the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs on companion animal welfare.
I call on the Cabinet Secretary, Lesley Griffiths. Lesley Griffiths AM: Thank you, Deputy Presiding
Officer. I’m pleased to have this opportunity to update Members on what we’re doing to continue
to improve standards of animal welfare in Wales. In this statement, I will be focusing
on companion animals, or pets. Lesley Griffiths AM: Animal welfare is a priority
for the Welsh Government and the Wales animal health and welfare framework group. Under
the Animal Welfare Act 2006, there is a duty of care on all owners and keepers of animals
to ensure their welfare needs are met, whether on a permanent or temporary basis. We will
not tolerate the ill treatment of animals, and those who commit the worst acts of cruelty
should face tough punishments. This is why we have agreed to work with the UK Government
to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years.
We are also working with the UK Government and other devolved administrations to ensure
animals are recognised as sentient after we leave the EU. Our position is clear: we fully
agree animals are sentient beings and the possibility of that not being reflected in
legislation is a concern. In 2016, the Royal Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals Cymru made a case for the introduction of an animal offender register
in Wales. A task and finish group was established and engagement with stakeholders undertaken.
Careful consideration of the evidence was carried out and the group recently submitted
its draft report to me, with the final version due by summer recess. Due to the absence of
practical solutions that would enable the creation of such a register and the lack of
UK-based evidence to support the impact that some stakeholders believe one would have,
the group does not recommend the development of a register at this time.
I am grateful to the members of the task and finish group for carrying out this work, and
in particular RSPCA Cymru, the leading third sector prosecutor of animal welfare cases
in Wales. I read the recommendations of the 2014 Wooler report with interest and, in particular,
the recommendation for the RSPCA inspectorate to receive statutory status under the Animal
Welfare Act 2006. I have asked RSPCA Cymru to consider this recommendation and to provide
me with evidence of whether it would be workable in Wales.
We’ve introduced a number of pieces of legislation in recent years that underline our commitment
to continue improving standards of animal health and welfare in Wales. We’ve introduced
a welfare-focused licensing scheme for licensed dog breeders and the requirement for dogs
to be microchipped. We’ve banned the cosmetic docking of dogs’ tails and the use of electronic
shock collars on cats and dogs, and I am proud that Wales was the first UK nation to implement
such a ban. As part of our ongoing commitment to raising
standards of responsible animal ownership, I’ve asked for the microchipping regulations,
which have now been in force for two years, to be reviewed. Research will be undertaken
into levels of compliance and enforcement, and whether more needs to be done to ensure
traceability. I’ve also asked for consideration to be given to whether there would be a benefit
to extending the regulations to include other species, including cats. The introduction
of the Welsh dog breeding regulations led the way in addressing welfare concerns at
dog breeding establishments in Wales. This was the first and remains the only legislation
of its kind in the UK. In 2017, a survey carried out by local authorities,
in partnership with the Welsh Government, served as an opportunity to assess the standards
currently applied in Wales. Further projects under the partnership will be progressed this
year. In Wales, we demand high standards from our licensed breeders and sourcing a healthy
puppy that can be seen with its mother, or rehoming an animal from a reputable animal
welfare establishment, is the first fundamental step towards being a responsible owner. Yet
the illegal importation of puppies, driven by huge demand, continues to be a problem.
We already work closely with operational partners and stakeholders to deal with illegal imports,
but more needs to be done. Potential owners must be informed of the poor conditions often
endured by these animals, as well as the disease risks they may pose. I believe the potential
banning of third-party sales is worthy of investigation and I will be discussing options
with officials. Education is a key aspect of this.
Potential and existing pet owners must consider the future when deciding whether or not to
own an animal, including how to meet its welfare needs and the costs associated with doing
so. However, I do understand peopleís circumstances can change. I would like to explore what veterinary
provision, assistance and advice is available to people who need help in caring for their
pets. This could be during times of illness or emergency, such as fleeing from a violent
household. I would like to see a collaborative approach, with information readily available
for people when they need it. Officials will discuss how this can be approached with Animal
Welfare Network Wales. Partnership working is a fundamental aspect
of improving standards, and we are fortunate to have a knowledgeable and dedicated animal
welfare sector here in Wales. Many of these organisations have worked and continue to
work closely with the Welsh Government as members of the animal welfare network group.
We have recently worked with the network to review our existing species-specific codes
of practice, as well as supporting the development of a new, voluntary code of practice for sanctuaries.
The purpose of the codes is to explain what a person needs to do to meet the standards
of care the law requires. It is my intention to lay the revised codes of practice for horses
and dogs before summer recess, and for a consultation on the revised cat code to commence in the
autumn. I will also be asking the network to review the rabbit code, and to identify
if there is a need to introduce any new codes, such as for racing greyhounds, primates and
other exotic pets. Embedding a culture of responsible ownership
cannot be achieved in isolation, and I am grateful for the dedication and passion shown
towards animals in Wales. There is always more that can be done but we are proud, as
a nation, to be leading the way in raising standards of animal welfare.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Thank you. Paul Davies.
Paul Davies AM: Thank you, Deputy Presiding Officer, and can I thank the Cabinet Secretary
for her statement this afternoon? I believe it’s important that animal welfare is a priority
for any Welsh Government, and I’m also pleased that there are plenty of discussions taking
place at Westminster around driving up animal standards. Indeed, it’s good to see that Governments
at both ends of the M4 are committing to this agenda.
Of course, the draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill 2017 would
increase the maximum penalty for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years’ imprisonment,
and it would ensure that animals are defined in UK law as sentient beings. Of course, I’m
pleased that today’s statement confirms the Welsh Government support for this Bill, therefore
perhaps the Cabinet Secretary could confirm whether it’s still her intention to bring
forward a legislative consent motion in the National Assembly to allow this obligation
to extend to Welsh Government Ministers. And perhaps she could also provide an update on
what discussions she’s had with UK Government counterparts on this specific Bill, given
its impact on Wales. The Cabinet Secretary will be aware of the
UK Government’s recent consultation to introduce a ban on third-party puppy sales, which would
mean pet shops and pet dealers cannot sell puppies unless they have bred them themselves.
I note that today’s statement confirms that the potential banning of third-party sales
is worthy of investigation, and that the Cabinet Secretary will be discussing options with
officials. I’m sure the Welsh Government is also monitoring the outcomes of the UK Government’s
consultation, but perhaps she can tell us a bit more about the options she has so far
discussed with her officials. Of course, a ban on third-party sales of puppies
goes some way to tackling the puppy trade in the UK, but there’s scope here to look
at a range of measures to tackle this problem, such as perhaps tightening regulations around
the breeding and selling of puppies. I note from today’s statement that in 2017 a survey
was carried out by local authorities in partnership with the Welsh Government, which served as
an opportunity to assess the standards currently applied in Wales, and that further projects
under that partnership will be progressed this year. Given that we are now roughly half
way through this Assembly, perhaps the Cabinet Secretary could give an assessment of the
effectiveness of the current dog breeding regulations and also expand on what type of
partnership projects will be carried out this year.
Now, this afternoon’s statement tells us that the current microchipping regulations will
be reviewed and perhaps extended to other species, such as cats, and I wonder if the
Cabinet Secretary could tell us what initial discussions she’s had with cat welfare organisations
and the animal welfare sector more generally at this stage about this review, and the impact
of extending the regulations to other species. One of the more difficult issues that I believe
needs tackling is in relation to the scale of unlicensed activity and the rise in the
online sale of pets in Wales, as the invisibility of this trading system has resulted in many
online sellers being able to avoid pet breeding and vending legislation, and it crucially
pays no regard to an animal’s welfare. Therefore, whilst I’m pleased that today’s statement
looks at a series of measures around animal welfare, perhaps she could tell us a bit more
about the specific action that her department intends to take in relation to the buying
and selling of animals and, in particular, online trading.
Now, another important animal welfare campaign that has gained significant attention recently
is in relation to sanctuaries, and the Cabinet Secretary will be aware of the YouGov poll
for RSPCA Cymru in 2017, which found that 83 per cent of the public in Wales believe
the Welsh Government should make animal sanctuary owners obtain a licence and be inspected to
set up or operate such premises. It’s clear that there’s an appetite for the Welsh Government
to do something here. I accept that today’s statement confirms the development of a new
voluntary code of practice for sanctuaries. However, I’d be grateful if she could give
us her initial thoughts on how animal welfare establishments should be monitored to ensure
that they are meeting the highest possible welfare standards, and perhaps in the first
instance she would consider providing a clear-cut definition of the phrase ‘animal welfare establishment’
so that there can be no ambiguity in talking about what sorts of establishments any new
codes would apply to and to ensure that all sanctuaries are included within this definition.
Of course, today’s statement confirms that the Welsh Government has committed to looking
at reviewing a range of codes of practice for companion animals, and I’m pleased that
more work will be done in the autumn as it’s crucial that all codes are kept up to date
and extended where they need to be and that they are considered alongside other portfolio
areas, as often animal welfare guidance can have an impact on other Government policies,
such as health and housing. Therefore, in closing, Deputy Presiding Officer,
can I thank the Cabinet Secretary for her statement? I look forward to scrutinising
the Welsh Government’s progress on its animal welfare policies as they develop. Thank you.
Lesley Griffiths AM: I thank Paul Davies for that series of questions. You started off
around the draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill, and I
made our view very clear in my statement, and I mentioned that we are working with the
UK Government, because I think it’s really important that we do maintain a comparative
sentencing regime across England and Wales. I think that’s important so that the enforcement
agencies have clarity, the courts have clarity and also the public have that clarity. So,
I think it’s very important that we do work together with the UK Government in relation
to that. You asked me if I will confirm that I’m bringing
forward a legislative consent motion, and I do confirm that I will be bringing forward
an LCM for those aspects of the Bill that obviously then apply to Wales. I’ve had discussions
around this both with the Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, and also with Lord Gardiner, who’s a Minister with responsibility
for animal welfare. You talked about third-party sales of puppies,
and you’ll be aware of the campaign around Lucy’s law. I know there’s an event here at
the Senedd, I think it’s next month, that Eluned Morgan is sponsoring and I’ll be speaking
at it. Certainly, the petition that’s associated with the campaign has gained over 100,000
signatures. That was debated in Parliament and I’ve asked officials to look at the regulations,
because they only apply to England. There are specific conditions on dog breeding that
are included. There’s a requirement that a puppy can only be shown to a prospective purchaser
if it’s together with its biological mother, and I think that’s something that is very
worthy of consideration. I know that a call for evidence has recently closed, so we’ll
be looking at that very carefully. You mentioned the microchipping regulations,
which I said I was going to have reviewed. They’ve been introduced now and been in force
for over two years, so I think it is the appropriate time for them to be reviewed, and I think
it’s time that we also consider whether other animals should be microchipped. Certainly,
I’ve had a lot of representation around cats being microchipped, so I’ve asked officials
to look into that for me. I think the point you raised about sanctuaries
was very pertinent, and the definition of an animal welfare establishment, and that
will be part of the scrutiny process that we’re going to go through. I want to ensure
that consideration is given to whether the code would be suitable for use as a statutory
document. I think it’s important that it has that status. So, again, I’m working with the
animal welfare network to support their development of a voluntary code of practice for animal
welfare establishments and sanctuaries, and I’ll obviously keep Members updated.
Bethan Sayed AM: Thank you for the statement here today. I have to say that I’m disappointed
about the part in the statement with regard to the animal offender register here in Wales,
especially given that you’ve made a statement without giving us any background information
as to what actually happened as part of that review. I’m particularly disappointed to read
that you think that, because there’s a lack of UK-based evidence, that’s something that
cannot be then progressed. There’s plenty of international evidence, and I wonder what
work has been done in that regard. For example, there’s a state-wide open register in Tennessee;
in New York, there’s a closed register for pet shops and animal sanctuaries and they
must reference this before selling or passing on animals; Orange county animal registeróagain,
in Americaóis maintained by the sheriff’s office, and anyone convicted must submit information
to that office, and anyone transferring ownership must check registry prior to any change in
ownership. I mean, if we haven’t got an animal abuse register in any other part of the UK,
it’d be difficult to have evidence based on practice because it doesn’t exist. That’s
exactly why people like myself were calling for a Wales-first, so that we could look into
this, and also for UK law enforcement agencies to be able to use this particular information
to profile people who would potentially abuse animals and then go on to abuse people in
real life. I mean, this is really important, and I think it is a real missed opportunity,
and I’d like to see the evidence that supports the conclusion. It’s really hard to comment
without seeing anything today. With regard to various animal welfare codes,
you mentioned quite a few in your statement, but you failed to mention the game bird code.
When will this be reviewed? In conversations that I’ve had with the League Against Cruel
Sports, this is not monitored at the moment. They would like to meet with you to discuss
game bird welfare, so I’m wondering whether you would take up that offer to meet with
them, because I feel that it is missing from these codes and it’s just as important as
codes for horses and for cats. In relation to cross-government work, I can’t
see anything in this statement in relation to how you’re working with the housing sector.
I raised with the Minister, Rebecca Evans, the statements that landlords are putting
out: ‘No pets, no DSS’. We are seeing a rise in landlords that are refusing tenants with
pets because, potentially, they’ve had problems in the past. You say a lot in these statements
about how we make people better carers for the pets that they have, but when they do
have pets, they’re often discriminated against, and those pets are really vital to their mental
health, to how they operate in society. And so it’s good to say, ‘Well, we have to look
after the animals’ on one stage, but what about how animals can help humans? I think
that’s something that isn’t really in this statement enough here today.
I’d also concur with the comments made by Paul Davies in relation to online selling.
We are seeing a myriad of different people selling various animals online, and it does
seem to be something that isn’t regulated, isn’t monitored, isn’t something that anybody
has a handle on. I think the welfare of animals is key here, because people are often breeding
animals, they then realise they can’t cope and then sell them in these ways that seem
easy for them to offload the burden that they see that these animals provide on them, but,
also, potentially, they’re not doing it in the most ethical way. So, I’d urge you to
look at that further too. Lesley Griffiths AM: Thank you, Bethan Sayed,
for those questions. I absolutely recognise that you would be disappointed. I did stress
that I’d only had the draft report and I will bring forward a substantive response to that
piece of work before summer recess, probably in the form of a written statement, but I
know you’ve taken a keen interest in the animal offender register, so I absolutely understand
why you want to see the evidence. As I say, I’ve only had the draft report, but there
was some positive actionsóthere were several positive actions, actuallyówithin the report
that I think are worthy of further work, so that piece of work will be undertaken now,
and, as I say, I do commit to bringing a full, substantive response before the summer recess.
I, just today, discussed the link between people who abuse animals and domestic abuse
with the violence against women national advisors. I also had a presentation from Dr Freda Scott-Park.
She is doing significant work with veterinary practices to ensure that, where they see non-accidental
injury of animalsóthat perhaps there is a link with domestic abuse. So, there is a big
piece of work right across the UK being done, but I thinkó. You know, I have to listen
to what the task and finish group have said, but there are other things that we can bring
forward aside from the register. You asked about the code of practice in relation
to game birds, and I’ve agreed with DEFRA and the other devolved administrations that
we’ll work together to review and revise the code of practice. I don’t have a timeline
for that specifically, but there is a commitment that we will do that. If you want to send
me a letter around the group that you want me to meet, I’d be very happy to look at that,
diary permitting. I haven’t had a specific conversation with
the Minister for housing around landlords, but I think it is obviously something that
we need to consider. I heard you say that you’d mentioned it to the Minister, and I’ll
certainly pick up on that. In relation to online sellingóand I’m sorry
I didn’t answer Paul Davies’s question about thatóI was actually shocked at the amount
of purchasing of pets online that goes on, and I’ve asked officials to look at this.
You’re right; it’s not regulated, it’s not monitored in the way that we would want. So,
that is a piece of work that we need to do, and unfortunately, there is a market for it,
and that market, even just in the two years I’ve been in post, seems to have increased,
which is obviously of concern. Vikki Howells AM: Thank you, Cabinet Secretary;
there’s lots to welcome in your very important statement today. First, I’d like to seek some
clarification on a number of points. On the possibility of introducing Lucy’s law to ban
third-party puppy sales, I welcome your comments about discussing options with officials. We
know on welfare grounds that there’s a growing chorus of recognition that it’s a good step,
and I’d like to place on record a tribute to the work of Friends of the Animals Wales
and its inspirational founder, Eileen Jones, and also to Rhondda Cynon Taf council that
was the first council in the UK to pass a motion condemning third-party sales. I know
lots of AMs have already asked you questions about this, but how would you engage with
third-party expertise that there is out there on this subject in order to take the issue
forward? Secondly, I note your comments about the difficulties
in establishing an animal offender register. I wonder if you’d also be able to say a little
about tackling dog fighting. You may have seen the recent case with five people being
charged for offences relating to dog fighting in Wales and in the east midlands. How else
can the Welsh Government help to tackle this abominable cruelty?
And finally, the comments around support at difficult times for owners are also important,
and in particular help for people in accessing veterinary services. We’ve spoken frequently
about the rising numbers of people using food banks in Wales. I understand the Trussell
Trust now accepts pet food, and the Cabinet Secretary will know the first food bank for
pets was, in fact, set up in Wales. Would the Welsh Government also look into feeding
companion animals as part of the review? Lesley Griffiths AM: Thank you, Vikki Howells,
for those questions. I’ll certainly join her in paying tribute to Eileen Jones and RCT
council. There is a huge amount of work going on in relation to third-party sales, and I’ve
asked the network to have a look particularly at this aspect of animal health and welfare.
You asked about dog fighting, which is obviously horrific and illegal, and we work very closely
with the police. If anybody has any evidence of this, that’s where they should go in the
first instance. In relation to the animal offender register,
you will have heard my answers to Bethan Sayed, and, as I said, there are several recommendations
within the draft report that I do think are worthy of further consideration. Even though
the advice to me is not to bring a register forward at this time, I think the points that
Bethan raised around looking at the evidence in detailóI certainly will do that. I’ve
literally just had the draft report, so I haven’t had the opportunity to do that yet,
but I will do before I bring forward a statement in the summer.
I mentioned in my opening statement that I think we need to look at people who are struggling;
circumstances do change. I mentioned about women fleeing from a violent household, and
I had a discussion with the advisers today. So, I think we need to work with Dogs Trust;
I know they help. We, actually, as a Government, have had two inquiries in the last few months
about fostering pets urgently, and obviously we don’t have the facilities to do that. So,
it’s about working with charities and with the third sector to see if that’s available.
Gareth Bennett AM: Thanks to the Minister for today’s statement. I agree with the sentiments
underlying the statement. The majority of households that have pets
have dogs, and there are several issues over the welfare of dogs, one obvious one being:
in today’s society, are they getting enough exercise and general stimulation? These days,
a lot of households contain couples who are both out working during the day, so this can
be a problem. So, we have to be sure that people purchasing dogs are involved in an
appropriate lifestyle for owning dogs. If dogs are short of stimulation, they can exhibit
behavioural problems such as anxiety, in some cases, or in others, aggression. They would
then need to be dealt with through training classes. Now, training classes are mandatory
for the owners of dogs purchased from a lot of rescue centres, but they’re not mandatory
for dogs purchased through other means like private sellers. I’m not saying that it has
to be mandatory, but do we need, perhaps, to publicise more the benefits of putting
dogs through training classes and do we need to do more to educate dog owners as to the
welfare and costs of keeping their animals? I note that education is one of the themes
in your statement today. The microchipping regulations that were introduced
for dogs you say are being reviewed. It seems sensible to introduce that with the increase
in incidents of dognapping, particularly of expensive breeds. You mentioned that you are
looking at whether there is a good case for the microchipping scheme to be extended to
cats. I would think that there probably is a good case for it, but I know that you responded
already to that when Paul Davies raised it, so you may not be able to say more on that
issue today. Can I mention horses? There isn’t much detail
in today’s statement about horses, although I know that there is a revised code of practice
that’s going on. We know that the fly-tipping of sick and injured horses is at an all-time
high, so this is a major issue. Indeed, the RSPCA claims that there is a horse crisis
going on. One of the problems being that horses are relatively cheap to buy, but expensive
to care for. So, one way of addressing it is to go back to the education angleóagain,
is there more that we can do to educate prospective horse owners about the cost and welfare of
keeping horses? On a more parochial level, there’s the case of people who have a single
horse. Horses are actually herd animals, so keeping a horse all on its own is perhaps
not a good idea for the animal’s welfare. Now, there’s a case that I know ofóa couple
of people near me who live two doors down from each other and each own a single horse.
One of those horses in particular looks most forlorn and they’d probably be better off
keeping the horses together in the same field. So, I suppose we’re going back, again, to
the issue of education. Are there any more specifics that we can do to promote education
about the welfare of companion animals? Lesley Griffiths AM: Thank you for those questions.
I think you raise a very important point about individuals becoming dog ownersóthat was
the one you spoke about. I think it is good for health and well-being. I’ve attended the
education classes that Dogs Trust run, for instance, and as you say, it’s mandatory if
you get your pet from one of these establishments. I don’t think we would look at making it mandatory,
but I think we do need to be able to publicise it and I’d be very happy to see if we could
put it on the website. There’s nothing further I can say around microchipping,
but I think you’re right; there is a good case for looking at microchipping cats, so
that’s a piece of work that’s being undertaken at the current time.
You asked about the code of practice for the welfare of horses. The animal welfare network
group reviewed and revised that code of practice in 2016. We also had a 12-week public consultation
on the revised one last October and I published the summary of responses to the consultation
just last month. We will be revising the code of practice and publishing it before the summer
recess this year. In relation to horses, interestingly, I went
out for half a day with the RSPCA and every case that we visited, bar one, was in relation
to the welfare of horses. I think you mentioned education in relation to people keeping dogs
and horses, and I’ve had those discussions with the Cabinet Secretary for Education,
because we did look at whether we could put something in the curriculum, but you’ll appreciate
that the curriculum is pretty full. I think there is an issue around education, and again,
we publish a great deal of information on our website and I always look at what we can
do to publicise it further. Mick Antoniw AM: Cabinet Secretary, just a
couple of slight variations on the issue of animal welfare. There’s been a tendency to
regard the welfare of animals, particularly in terms of medical fees, as something of
a luxury, in the sense that value added tax is charged. We know that, for many people,
the welfare of their animals is often dependent upon whether they can actually afford to gain
access to medical services. I think it’s well worth putting on record the fantastic work
of bodies like the PDSA, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, and, in my constituency,
Hope Rescue in Taff Street in Pontypriddóthe work they do in terms of dog and animal welfare.
You mentioned that you, of course, have had discussions with your counterparts in the
UK Government in terms of joint approaches. It seems to me that the issue of the regulation
of veterinary fees is something that ought to be looked at. It seems to me there’s very
little clarity about veterinary fees. They seem to be largely unregulated, they seem
to be increasing by about 12 per cent per annum, and then, on top of that, there’s a
20 per cent VAT charge. Of course, if you’re a commercial operatoróif you’re a farmer,
for exampleóyou can get back the VAT that you pay out, but if you’re a pet owner, obviously,
you can’t. I really wonder whether, in terms of domestic pets and for animal welfare purposes,
the issue of reducing VAT on veterinary bills, or perhaps even removing them altogether,
is something that at least should be considered, should be discussed, but that there should
be things also that Welsh Government and perhaps our counterparts could do in ensuring far
greater clarity of veterinary fees for pet owners.
Lesley Griffiths AM: Thank you. Mick Antoniw raises a very interesting point, and I’m meeting
with the British Veterinary Association next week, and it’s something that I’ll be very
happy to raise with them. I’ve not had discussions around that with my UK counterparts, but I’ll
certainly speak to the BVA first to see what they would advise, but I’d be very happy to
look at any joint approach that would help people in respect of veterinary fees.
David Melding AM: Thank you, Deputy Presiding Officer. Cabinet Secretary, can I welcome
the statement? I think the principle of responsible ownership that is mentioned towards the end
of your statement is key, but I do think that more needs to be done with it. Several Members,
including Gareth Bennett, have mentioned the need for education, and it is, after all,
pet owners who are going to be able to deliver the maximum level of animal welfare. No matter
how good our laws and regulations are, it is human behaviour here that is key.
I have to say, a couple of months ago, I visited Cardiff Dogs Home, and can I take this opportunity
to commend their excellent workóit’s a remarkably hopeful place, which is perhaps not what I
was expectingóand also the friends of Cardiff Dogs Home as well, who exercise the animals
twice daily, and, indeed, that’s what I did do as part of my visit? But, anyway, the staff
and volunteers there were talking to me about the problems they often have with dogs being
abandoned, because they were acquired in the first place, irresponsibly, as fashion accessoriesóthis
sounds remarkable, but I assure you it goes onóand then, after six months or so, the
novelty of having this fashion accessory, which you’re showing off to your friends or
whatever, wears and the realities of taking care of a sentient animal with a range of
quite obvious needs means that they grow indifferent or even callous and the animals often get
abandoned, and literally get abandonedódriven many miles and then thrown out of a car. So,
that’s the first point. The second point, and, again, a couple of
people have mentioned this, but I want to refer you to the work of the charity Cats
Protection, which has highlighted the problem of pets being given up when people move into
rented accommodation. They also mention that when people go into some form of care accommodation,
it’s often automatically the case that they have to give up their petsóin this case,
catsóand these animals are often older animals that cannot be rehoused very easily. I think
landlords and those running various forms of care accommodation, sheltered or whateveróresidential
homesómany of them can be quite easily made appropriate for companion animals. I think
those in rented accommodationóindeed, I live in a condominium, and we have a presumption
that you can have a pet unless there are very strong reasons not to have the pet, and that
is a much better way of operating. It would be fairer, as well, which would cover people
in some form of rented accommodation as well. I think that’s a real issue, and I commend
the charity for raising that matter. Lesley Griffiths AM: Thank you, David Melding,
for those questions and comments, and I’ll certainly join him in paying tribute to Cardiff
Dogs Home. I’ve visited several of these establishments since I’ve been in post, and the dedication
of both the staff and the volunteers is incredible. I remember going to the Dogs Trust in Bridgend
just before Christmas, and there were a lot of dogs there then, and you can imagineó.
You raised the point about fashion accessories and people getting rid of pets after six months,
and it’s the same, obviously, with Christmas. A lot of people have pets at Christmas and
then a few months lateró. But I remember going to this one in Bridgend, and every dog
had a Christmas stocking full of presents. The dedication of these people is just incredible.
In relation to the issue around landlords, I see the Minister for housing is in the Chamber
now, so she will have heard that, and obviously Bethan Sayed raised it with me also, and I
will certainly have a discussion with Rebecca Evans around this. I, too, live in rented
accommodation here in Cardiff, and it’s exactly the same. You are allowed a pet unlessóyou
know, you have to make a case if not. So, I think there is a huge amount of work that
we can do with landlords to make sure that the situations that you just described don’t
happen. Joyce Watson AM: I’m not going to repeat,
obviously, everything that people have said, but I particularly want to support what David
Melding has said about, particularly, people who have had animals for a long time, and
those animals are ageing, and are being subject, really, to a death sentence, because nobody
will take them on. But I also want to focus on the whole intention
of what we’re trying to do. What we’re trying to do is advising people how to look after
their animals in the right and most appropriate way. Yet, I did a very quick survey myself,
and found that not many people knew we were doing this. They didn’t actually know anything
about this code of practice for companion animals amongst the general public, and I
think that we need to do a piece of work, whether it’s us or others.
But there is an area I want to focus on, and Vikki Howells has alluded to it, and that
is dog fighting. Dog fighting isn’t only bad for the animals, which of course it clearly
is, but it is a whole network wrapped up, very often, with criminal activity, betting,
drinking and also drug taking. It is very prevalent, I have been informed, in certain
areas of Wales, and we really ought to be tackling this head on, because it is one of
the worst crimes against the animal, and it has almost, in some places, become quite acceptable
behaviour. This is going to sound odd, but I’m going
to bring in another area that I think we ought to think about when we’re thinking about animal
welfare. We also need to think about what we buy in our pet shops that might affect
the ecology elsewhere, and I’m talking particularly here about tropical fish and whether we need
to do a little bit of work aroundóbecause there is evidence coming outóthe major damage
to coral reefs because people are just simply going in to grab the fish that exist there,
for people to somehow sit and look at in their tanks at home. The evidence has really come
out of that Disney film, Finding Nemo, and people’s children wanting a fish that looks
just like that. So, there is a wider debate here, when we look at animal welfare, about
the destruction that, very often, what we buy is affecting communities, quite seriously,
elsewhere. Lesley Griffiths AM: Thank you, Joyce Watson,
for raising those three points. Around the codes of practice, we have a partnership approach
in relation to our codes of practice and how we worked with the animal welfare network
group to develop a communications plan to raise awareness of the codes of practice,
so I’m very disappointed to hear you say that. So, I think there’s a piece of work, certainly,
I can do and we can do as Welsh Government, but I’m sure some of our partners will be
very happy to help us. But, certainly, we have them on the Welsh Government website.
They can be downloaded, they can be available as paper documents, and, also, you can get
them on CD-ROM. I know that my officials have worked with stakeholders such as welfare organisations,
pet shops, for instance, and veterinary surgeries to make sure that we distribute those codes
of practice and raise awareness of them. I know that the RSPCA, in particular, have been
very keen to use them as part of their enforcement activity to encourage the improvement of standards
where welfare issues have been identified. Around dog fighting, you’re absolutely right:
it’s a criminal activity. I did have a discussion around dog fighting when I spent some time
with the rural crime team up in north Wales, and I’m due to spend a further day with them
in August. So, again, I’ll raise it. I didn’t think it was as widespread as you sort of
implied, but I’m very happy to have a further discussion with them around that.
I don’t think I’ve done anything in relation to tropical fish, so if the Member doesn’t
mind, I’ll have a discussion with my officials and I’ll drop you a note in relation to that.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Thank you very much, Cabinet Secretary.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Item 6 on the agenda this afternoon has been
withdrawn. Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Item 7 is the Environmental Protection (Microbeads) (Wales) Regulations 2018, and I call on the
Minister for Environment to introduce the regulationsóHannah Blythyn.
Hannah Blythyn AM: Thank you, Deputy Presiding Officer. The regulations that have been laid
before the Assembly for your consideration today are the Environmental Protection (Microbeads)
(Wales) Regulations 2018. These regulations have been introduced under powers contained
in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act
2008. Under these regulations it will be an offence in Wales, from 30 June 2018 onwards,
for anyone to manufacture any rinse-off personal care products that use plastic microbeads
as an ingredient. It will also be on offence in Wales from that date to supply or offer
to supply any rinse-off personal care products that contain plastic microbeads.
Welsh local authorities will be responsible for enforcing these regulations, and this
enforcement role will be carried out in line with the published guidance. These regulations
introduce an enforcement regime that includes civil and criminal sanctions, such as variable
monetary penalties, compliance notices and stop notices. Civil sanctions provide flexibility
and allow local authorities, when enforcing the ban, to distinguish between those who
are striving to comply and those who disregard the law. These regulations provide for anyone
who has a civil sanction imposed on them to appeal to the first-tier tribunal.
I met with marine stakeholders on 7 June, who impressed on me how important this ban
is, and through our public consultation exercise, the introduction of this ban received widespread
support. Deputy Presiding Officer, I commend these regulations to the National Assembly.
David Melding AM: Can I say we are very keen to support these regulations that ban microbeads
from personal hygiene products? These regulations have already been passed, and indeed they
come into effect today in England and Scotland. So, we’re pleased to see the Welsh Government
following that course of action. So, at least, in the UK, we’ll have a consistent approach.
I do believe this is a welcome and significant step, but it is only the first step. We need
a shift in public policy towards the responsible use of plastic products and the banning of
single-use plastic products. The condition of our watercourses: we heard evidence in
the climate change committee only a couple of weeks ago, from a leading academic in Cardiff
University, about the level of plastic pollution that is now being recorded in the sampling
of Welsh rivers, and then getting into the animals. As far as our seas are concerned,
the amount of plastic material that is enteringóand a lot of it enters via wash-off, and also
from fibres that are washed out of clothes as wellóthere’s so much work we’re going
to have to do, but, of course, every significant journey requires the first step. I do think
that one of the most remarkable changes in the last couple of years is how the public
now are really pushing us, and we need to be imaginative in how we use regulations and
our changes in law to deliver the quality environment that people deserve and future
generations deserve. So, we are keen to support today’s regulations.
Simon Thomas AM: Bydd Plaid Cymru hefyd yn cefnogi’r rheoliadau hyn heddiw. Mae’n bwysig
i ddweud, serch hynny, ein bod ni o’r farn y dylid mynd ymhellach ynglyn ‚ rheoli plastig
o bob mathómicro a macro. Dyma’r rheoliadau sydd, fel sydd wedi cael ei amlinellu, yn
ymwneud ‚ deunyddiau sy’n cael eu golchi i ffwrdd o’r corff, a’u defnyddio ar gyfer
glendid personol, ond mae hynny yn gadael nifer o bethauómae eli haul, er enghraifft,
yn rhywbeth efallai y bydd modd o hyd iddo gynnwys y microbelenni yma. Mae wedi ei amcangyfrif
bod yna rhwng 4,000 a 7,500 o dunellau o’r microblastigau yma yn cael eu defnyddio bob
blwyddyn yn Ewrop, yn yr Undeb Ewropeaidd. Felly, mae yn dasg i fynd i’r afael ‚’r
plastig ymaótasg sydd yn dechrau gyda rheoliadau fel hyn ond, yn fy marn i, sydd yn gorfod
cynnwys gwaharddiad ehangach ar microblastigau, gan gynnwys rhai sydd mewn deunyddiau glanhau
o gwmpas y ty, ac ati. Rydym ni’n dal i bwyso am lefi ar ddefnydd o blastig un defnydd,
ac wrth gwrs mae’r posibiliad am gynllun ernes ar boteli yn rhywbeth i’w groesawu hefyd.
Mi wnes i ddoe ymweld ‚ siop arallómae yna nifer o siopau diblastig yn datblygu dros
Gymru nawr, sydd yn dangos bod y cyhoedd o flaen y gwleidyddion, mewn ffordd, achos os
yw busnesau yn mynd ar Ùl y cwsmeriaid, mae’n amlwg bod pobl yn mynegi diddordeb mewn hyn.
Mae’r siop yma, La Vida Verde, yn Llandrindod, lle mae ganddyn nhw yr hen boteli pop gyda
30c o ernes arnyn nhwóblaendal. Felly, fe gewch chi 30c yn Ùl am fynd ‚’r pop yn
Ùl, sydd ddim yn ddigon o chwyddiant yn fy marn i. Rydw i’n credu yr oedd 5c ar gael
pan oeddwn i’n chwilio’r gwlis am y poteli pop yma. Ond mae’n dangos bod pobl yn barod
ar gyfer hyn. Mae hefyd yn wir i ddweud, er bod gennym ni
ailgylchu da yng Nghymru, dim ond 44 y cant o’r 35 miliwn o boteli plastig sy’n cael eu
prynu bob dyddóbob dydd; mae hynny bron yn un botel blastig i bob oedolynódim ond 44
y cant o’r rheini sy’n eu hailgylchu, ac mae modd defnyddio cynllun blaendal i gynyddu’r
ailgylchu i bron 80 y cant yn y maes yma. Felly, rydym ni’n edrych ymlaen at glywed
mwy am y drafodaeth sydd rhwng y Llywodraeth fan hyn a Llywodraeth San Steffan ynglyn ‚ chyflwyno
cynllun o’r math. Fe soniodd David Melding am yr ymchwil ym
Mhrifysgol Caerdydd am y microblastigau sydd yn yr amgylcheddóymchwil syfrdanol, a dweud
y gwir. Rydw i jest eisiau dyfynnu ychydig o hynny. Fe glywon ni gan yr Athro Steve Ormerod
am ymchwil ar yr afon Irwell, sydd ym Manceinion, lle canfuwyd 0.5 miliwn o ddarnau microblastig
fesul metr sgw‚r. Fesul metr sgw‚r, 0.5 miliwn. Mae ymchwil pellach wedyn yng Nghaerdydd
ac yn yr afon Taf sydd yn dangos bod microblastigau yn mynd i mewn i’r gadwyn fwyd ac yn ymbresenoli
mewn adar wedi’u dodwy gan wyauówyau wedi’u dodwy gan adar, dylwn i ddweud.
Simon Thomas AM: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Simon Thomas AM: Gwnes i bron ateb y cwestiwn yn fanna. Na, yr wyau sydd wedi’u dodwy gan
adar, sydd yn dangos bod gyda ni yng Nghymru’r lefel uchaf o microblastigau yn yr wyau eu
hunainórydym ni’n sÙn am blastig bach, bach, bach, wrth gwrs, fan hynóyn yr wyau eu hunain
yng ngorllewin Ewrop. Mae jest yn dangos bod hwn bellach yn treiddio drwy’n systemau dwr
ni, yn treiddio drwy’r gadwyn fwyd, ac yn cael effaith, achos bob tro mae’r microblastig
yn teithio, wrth gwrs, mae’n gallu cario llygredd, afiechyd, germau, mae’n gallu cario pob math
o bethau gyda fe, ac wedyn ymbresenoli ynom ni a’r bywyd gwyllt, ac ati.
Rydw i’n deall bod y rheoliadau yn ymwneud ‚ microbelenniórhywbeth rydym ni’n benodol
yn ei roi mewn cynnyrchóac mae lot o’r ymchwil yma yn sÙn am y microblastigau sydd yn deillio
o blastig sydd yn torri lawr a thorri lawr ac yn treulio i lawr i faint bach iawn, ond
mae’n wir i ddweud bod yn rhaid i ni fynd i’r afael ym mhob ffordd bosib ‚’r plastig
di-angenóa dyna beth sy’n bwysig, di-angen, yn yr ystyr yma. Mae modd cadw eich hunain
yn l‚n heb blastig. Rydw i’n credu bod y neges yna yn mynd yn gryf iawn wrth basio’r
rheoliadau yma y prynhawn yma. Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Thank you very much. I call on the Minister for Environment to reply to the debate.
Hannah Blythyn AM: Thank you, Deputy Presiding Officer. I’d like to thank both David Melding
and Simon Thomas for their contributions to this debate, and for the support shown right
across the Chamber for the microbeads ban. The ban is designed to protect the marine
environment from further pollution, foster consumer confidence in the products they buy,
will not harm the environment, and will support businesses by setting a level playing field.
Hannah Blythyn AM: On 5 June, at the Volvo Ocean summit, I was proud to sign the UN environment
clean seas plastics pledge on behalf of the Welsh Government. The introduction of this
microbeads ban legislation supports this pledge and is part of a wider package of actions
already under way by the Welsh Government, and through partnership working, to reduce
levels of plastic pollution entering our seas and oceans.
Both David Melding and Simon Thomas were absolutely right to point out that, as we welcome this
legislation, it is just one step on the road to phasing out single-use and unnecessary
plastics. I think, Simon, you particularly touched on microbeads in other products and
also microplastics. In terms of other products, we are looking at a UK level to inform our
approach to reducing pollution from microbeads in other products and gathering that evidence
on the environmental impacts to inform further action to reduce the use of products containing
microbeads. Microplastics is another issue that is there
on the horizon that is getting quite a bit of attention and I’ve asked officials to do
some work on that, with a view to advising me on what we could and should be doing on
that issue. Like you said, this is just one step, one piece of a very large jigsaw that
we need to put together to take the action that we need. We were talking about startling
figures and during the Volvo Ocean Race, the figure I learnt from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
was that if we don’t take action on plastics, there’ll be more plastic than fish in the
oceans by 2050. That is a truly startling statistic.
So, as I said, we are committed to taking forward action on our route-map to tackle
plastics. We’re not only looking at actually increasing recycling and phasing out single-use
plastics, but we’re actually looking in terms of recycled content, the value of it, and
the design of manufactured products within Wales, coupled with the work we’re doing in
terms of a tax on single-use plastic and the DRS scheme, which I hope to update Members
on shortly in this place, and also the possibility for what we could take forward on a Wales-wide
basis too. I’ve always said I’ll give consideration to a tax, levy or charge on single-use beverage
containers. So, it’s one step in a whole suite of measures to tackle the scourge of unnecessary
and single-use plastics. So, to conclude, Llywydd, I welcome the support
of Assembly Members to move to approve these regulations. Diolch yn fawr.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Y cwestiwn yw: a ddylid derbyn y cynnig? A oes unrhyw Aelod
yn gwrthwynebu. Nag oes. Felly, derbynnir y cynnig yn unol ‚ Rheol Sefydlog 12.36.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Yr eitem nesaf yw’r ddadl Cyfnod 4 ar Fil Iechyd y Cyhoedd (Isafbris
am Alcohol) (Cymru). Cyn inni fwrw ymlaen ‚’r trafodion, rwy’n deall bod angen i’r
Bil gael cydsyniad Ei Mawrhydi a Dug Cernyw. Felly, yn unol ‚ Rheol Sefydlog 26.67, rhaid
i Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol hysbysu ddynodi cydsyniad cyn
inni allu cynnal y ddadl hon. Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet, a allwch chi gadarnhau y cafwyd
y cydsyniadau gofynnol? A allwch chi gadarnhau? Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Can you confirm that
theó Vaughan Gething AM: Llywydd, I have it in
command from Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Cornwall to acquaint the Assembly
that Her Majesty and the Duke, having been informed of the purport of the Public Health
(Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill, have given their consent to this Bill.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Diolch i’r Ysgrifennydd Cabinet, sy’n ein caniat·u ni i symud ymlaen
i’r ddadl ar Gyfnod 4 Bil Iechyd y Cyhoedd (Isafbris am Alcohol) (Cymru). Rwy’n galw
ar yr Ysgrifennydd Cabinet i wneud ei gyfraniadóVaughan Gething.
Vaughan Gething AM: Thank you, Llywydd. I’m very pleased to move the motion and open the
Stage 4 debate for the Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill.
We have of course been working on this Bill for a number of years. We first consulted
on minimum pricing for alcohol in 2014, as part of the public health White Paper, and
I would like to start by thanking my ministerial colleagues Mark Drakeford and Rebecca Evans
for their work to shape and develop this landmark legislation. I’d like to thank Assembly Members
for their support and for the scrutiny that has taken place during the passage of the
Bill. In particular, I’d like to thank the three committeesóthe Health, Social Care
and Sport Committee, the Finance Committee and the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs
Committeeófor their scrutiny. I’d also like to thank external stakeholders for their continued
engagement since the introduction of the Bill last October, but also in terms of their previous
contributions, including their responses to the consultation on a draft Bill in 2015 that
I led as the then Deputy Minister. This Bill is specifically concerned with the
protection of life and health. It provides for a minimum price for the sale and supply
of alcohol in Wales and will make it an offence for alcohol to be sold or supplied by retailers
from qualifying premises below that price. The minimum price for the supply of alcohol
in Wales will be calculated by a multiplier of the minimum unit price that will be specified
in regulations, the percentage strength of the alcohol and its volume. It will not increase
the price of every alcoholic drink, only those currently sold below the applicable minimum
price. The legislation will also put in place a series
of offences and penalties relating to the new system. It provides additional powers
and duties for local authorities to enable them to enforce the minimum pricing system.
There have long been calls for the Welsh Government to do more to address the damage and health
harms caused by the excessive consumption of alcohol, and this legislation does exactly
that. Because when it comes to consumption, we know that the price of alcohol matters.
By using price as a lever in this way, we can target and reduce the amount of alcohol
being consumed by hazardous and harmful drinkers, whilst minimising the impacts on more moderate
drinkers. This will help to improve a number of key health outcomes, including reducing
the number of alcohol-related deaths and alcohol-related hospital admissions. And it’s the formula
on the face of the Bill that enables us to target cheap alcohol that is high in strength
and high in volumeóthe type of alcohol that is disproportionately consumed by hazardous
and harmful drinkers. It’s worth noting that hazardous and harmful drinkers make up 28
per cent of the drinker population, according to research undertaken this year by the University
of Sheffield, but they consume 75 per cent of all alcohol sold.
During the passage of this Bill, many have cited the data on alcohol-related harms in
Wales, and it always makes for difficult reading, and so it should. I want to repeat some of
it here today. There were over 500 alcohol-related deaths in Wales last year alone and over 54,000
alcohol-related hospital admissions last year alone. Direct healthcare costs attributable
to alcohol amount to an estimated £159 million in the last year alone. But even more of an
issue is the devastation that lies behind those figuresóthe families, the communities
and consequences for NHS staff and support services, as they all cope with the aftermath
of alcohol-related death, disease and harm every day.
This legislation provides us with an opportunity to make a significant difference. It gives
us a chance to do more to address alcohol-related harm and, ultimately, gives us a chance to
do more to try and save lives. Since we introduced the Bill to the Assembly last October, we’ve
heard from a range of different public health experts and service providers. Many have recognised
the difference that this legislation could make.
In written evidence to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, the Welsh NHS Confederation
stated that ‘There is compelling evidence, both from across
the UK and internationally, that introducing a MUP in Wales would lead to significant improvements
in health and well-being of the population.’ And in oral evidence to the Health, Social
Care and Sport Committee, the Cardiff and Vale University Local Health Board representative
argued that ‘minimum unit pricing is an absolutely critical
piece of a jigsaw, without which many of the other interventions we provide and the work
that we do don’t achieve their full benefit.’ Alcohol Research UK have noted that the
‘benefits will accrue more in poorer communities….Those communities are less resilient to alcohol
problems.’ That said, there is no doubt that this Bill
is novel and experimental. Only Scotland has introduced a minimum price for alcohol in
this way, with their legislation for minimum pricing coming into force on 1 May this year.
The experimental nature of this legislation is exacly why we have included a sunset clause
and review provisions in the Bill, and those provisions have been widely endorsed. But
I would like to use today’s opportunity to reiterate that the review provisions in the
legislation will be underpinned by a robust five-year evaluation, and I will continue
to update Members as we take that work forward. I also intend to consult on the proposed level
of the minimum unit price as soon as possible and, again, I will continue to update Assembly
Members on our plans for this consultation and associated timings.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Angela Burns. Angela Burns AM: Thank you, Presiding Officer,
although I don’t know why I should thank you in some ways because this Bill makes me despair.
It is here that we have yet another example of Welsh Government rushing through shoddily
constructed legislation in pursuit of a policy objective that none would argue with. Indeed,
the Welsh Conservatives had a commitment to enacting measures in our last manifesto to
tackle the prevalence of inappropriate alcohol use.
However, during all the committee phases and Stage 3, you have failed to impress, Cabinet
Secretary, with your reasoning for refusing to ensure that there is greater clarity of,
and clear measurement within, this Bill. You have refused to put the minimum unit price
on the face of the Bill. There’s no statutory starting point, and therefore the Bill can
be seen as an incomplete piece of legislation. It leaves manufacturers in limbo, business
in a quandary and does nothing to reassure ordinary people that you are not intending
to be punitive, with devastating results for those on low incomes who have every right
to enjoy alcohol as much as those whose wallets will feel less of an impact.
During evidence gathering in the Scottish Parliament’s deliberations, strong evidence
was heard that poorer drinkers will be affected disproportionately by minimum unit pricing,
and concerns were raised in our evidence sessions along the same lines. Whilst on the subject
of the Bill in Scotland, it does seem extraordinary to me that you were prepared to wait and see
how the judicial challenge would pan out but you are not prepared to wait and learn from
Scotland’s experience with implementation of this novel legislation. That surely would
have been helpful, given the raft of unintended consequences that could flow from this Bill,
such as the issues of cross-border trade. Unlike Scotland, in Wales, our border with
England is porous, is long and densely populated, with high levels of cross-border traffic,
but these concerns were brushed aside. I also remain unconvinced that the potential
for unlicensed, smuggled and counterfeit alcohol was properly explored. But my biggest concern
is that you could be replacing one addiction with another. A number of charities, including
some working with the homeless, and others working with alcoholism and substance abuse,
have highlighted the dangers of minimum unit pricing as a blunt, punitive instrument. There’s
a lot of talk about evidence in relation to this legislation, but little evidence to suggest
that these concerns have been allayed or even properly examined. Indeed, the health committee
heard evidence from users of an alcohol recovery centre who said that higher prices could push
drinkers towards other, more harmful substances. Additionally, the Huggard Centre, a Cardiff-based
homeless charity that many of you will be aware of, warned that raising price alone
for legal drugs such as alcohol may simply change one addiction for another and condemn
people to a more entrenched and desperate life on the streetsótheir words, not mine.
Consider, last week, the images we saw of young people on the drug Spice, which can
be bought now for small change. How can we be convinced that putting up alcohol prices
won’t simply push more of the poorest in society towards substances like Spice?
The Welsh Conservatives are deeply sceptical that current drug and alcohol rehabilitation
services will be enough to help those affected. Addiction is a mental illness, and we all
know the issues that exist with the provision of mental health services. With north Wales
losing the last of their residential detoxification beds and the third sector highlighting cuts
to service provision elsewhere, additional support services do not look likely, and we
would like to have your reassurance again that you will provide those.
In short, Cabinet Secretary, this is a sound policy objective, but I would never have brought
such a poor quality Bill to the floor of this Chamber. It is simply not joined up, and the
only thingóthe only thingóthat has rescued this Bill from an abstention by the Welsh
Conservatives is the sunset clause, but even there, Cabinet Secretary, I issue a warning:
you have rejected call after call by members of the opposition for rigorous monitoring
of the effects of the Bill on areas ranging from the Bill’s impact on addiction support
services, on age groups, to the effect on those with small incomes. Nor are there commitments
to measure the effects on domestic violence, on substitution, on alcohol-related hospital
admissions, to name just a few of the consequences that we, the Welsh Conservatives, have raised
at every stage of this Bill’s passage. But this sunset clause will be reviewed and
voted on in the future by the Assembly of that day, and that Assembly, those Members,
will judge you harshly if you do not collect credible, consistent, outcome-focused evidence
that would enable proper scrutiny and sound judgment when reviewing the Public Health
(Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill. Rhun ap Iorwerth AM: Bil iechyd y cyhoedd
ydy hwn. Mae gwarchod, hybu a gwella iechyd y cyhoedd, siawns, yn un oín prif ddyletswyddau
ni. Mae arfau yn y frwydr yn erbyn smygu yn rhai mae pobl yn disgwyl i ni eu defnyddio
erbyn hyn, ac maen nhw’n cefnogi hynny. Maeín anodd dychmygu, erbyn hyn, gwrthwynebiad i
waharddiad ar ysmygu dan do erbyn hyn, ac nid oedd gweithredu y ddeddf honno yn anodd
achos mi dderbyniodd pobl beth oedd y pwrpasómae mwg ail law yn ddrwg i chi, ac mae pobl yn
gwybod hynny. Rhun ap Iorwerth AM: Nid ydym ni cweit yn
yr un lle efo’r Bil yma eto. Mae yna amheuon, a waeth i ni beidio ag anwybyddu rheini, ynglyn
‚ pham ein bod ni yn gwneud hyn, pa mor effeithiol fydd hyn, ac nid ydy’r dystiolaeth
gennym ni yn llawn. Ond mae’r dystiolaeth yn gryf bod defnyddio cymhellion ariannolóhynny
ydy, newid prisiau diodyddóyn effeithio ar faint mae pobl yn ei yfed, ac rydw i’n cefnogi
hynny fel mater o egwyddor, ac mae o wedi bod yn rhan o faniffesto Plaid Cymru ers rhai
blynyddoedd. Trethi y byddwn ni’n dewis eu defnyddio, fel
rydw i wedi’i ddweud o’r blaen, ond nid ydy’r pwerau gennym ni. Rydw i’n gobeithio y byddan
nhw rhyw ddydd, ond, yn absenoldeb hynny, mae gosod isafbris yr uned yn opsiwn sydd
ar gael i ni. Felly, ar Ùl llwyddo i gryfhau’r Bil gwreiddiol mewn sawl ffordd yn ei daith
drwy’r Cynulliad, mi bleidleisiwn ni o blaid y Bil yma heddiw iddo ddod yn Ddeddf. Rydym
ni wedi’i gryfhau o mewn sawl ffordd drwy ddylanwadu ar y sgrwtini fydd yna o’r Ddeddf
yma gan y Cynulliad i werthuso ei effeithlonrwydd. Mae’n hanfodol rwan bod y Llywodraeth yn dod
‚ thystiolaeth gwbl glir i ni ynglyn ‚ lefel briodol yr isafbris, ac rydw i’n gresynu bod
rhuthr taith y Mesur hwn wedi methu ‚ chaniat·uír math o sgrwtini y byddwn i wedi dymuno ei
gael ar y pris hwnnw, ond mi fydd yna gyfle eto drwy’r rheoliadau i ni allu edrych ar
y dystiolaeth honno, ac mi fydd mesur a gwerthuso yn hanfodol er mwyn i ni ddod ‚ phobl Cymru
efo ni ar y daith. Rydym ni hefyd wedi mynnu bod yna, ar wyneb y Bil, ymrwymiad i ddysgu
ac addysgu pobl ynglyn ‚ pham bod y ddeddfwriaeth yma yn gallu bod yn rhan o’r swÓt o arfau
sydd gennym ni i helpu ag iechyd y cyhoedd. Mae yna wendid yma yn y Ddeddf, ac rydw i’n
gresynu eto bod y Llywodraeth wedi methu ‚ chefnogi hynny, i edrych ar sut i atal elwa ar y Ddeddf
yma wrth i f‚n-werthwyr orfod gwerthu diodydd am brisiau uwch. Mi fyddwn ni wedi dymuno
gweld rhywbeth mewn deddfwriaeth a fyddai’n sicrhau bod yna arian yn dod yn sgil y ddeddfwriaeth
yma er mwyn gallu cael ei wario ar daclo camddefnydd alcohol a rhoi triniaeth i’r rheini sydd yn
camddefnyddio ac yn goryfed. Mi fyddwn ni’n gorfod edrych rwan ar lefi wirfoddol, ond
rydw i yn credu bod yna gyfle wedi cael ei golli yma, ac, yn sicr, mi fyddaf i yn y dyfodol,
wrth i ni sgrwtineiddio a chwilio am ffyrdd i gryfhau hyn, yn chwilio am ffyrdd i sicrhau
nad oes yna elwa yn digwydd. Rydym ni wedi clywed droeon bryderon y byddai
pobl ar incwm is yn cael eu taro’n annheg, ac rydw i wedi meddwl llawer iawn am hyn.
Wrth gwrs, mae’n sgandal mai pobl incwm is sydd fwyaf tebyg o ddioddef salwch yn deillio
o gamddefnydd alcohol: mae’n enghraifft o’r annhegwch cymdeithasol, yr anghysondeb mewn
cyfleon y mae’n rhaid i ni fynd i’r afael ‚ nhw drwy ystod eang o fentrau polisi.
Ond beth am yr effaith ar bobl sy’n goryfed rwan, yr ofnau y bydd yfwyr cymedrol ar incwm
is yn dioddef, a hynny’n annheg o ran y gost ariannol? Rydw i’n gobeithio, drwy’r rhaglen
o addysgu a ddaw law yn llaw efo’r Ddeddf yma, y bydd poblómwy a mwy o bobl, dros amseróyn
gweld bod modd iddyn nhw addasu eu harferion yfed mewn ffordd sydd yn golygu na fydd cosb
ariannol. Rydw i’n gobeithio y bydd diwydiant yn ymateb drwy ostwng cynnwys alcohol, er
enghraifft. Mi all bobl yfed diod efo cynnwys is o alcohol neu yfed rhywfaint yn llai. Oherwydd
mae yna neges rwan drwy’r darn yma o ddeddfwriaeth na allwn ni ystyried alcohol fel rhywbeth
benign. Ond, yn bennaf oll, gadewch i ni weld hwn
fel mesur ar gyfer ein plant ni. Rydw i’n gobeithio y bydd y Ddeddf yma yn arf a
all arwain at lai o bobl ifanc Cymru yn dechrau goryfed, yn y modd mae rheolau llym ym maes
ysmygu wedi arwain, heb os, at ostyngiad yn nifer ysmygwyr ifanc. Iechyd Cymry’r dyfodol
sydd wirioneddol yn y fantol yn fan hyn. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Galwaf ar Ysgrifennydd
y Cabinet i ymateb iír ddadl. Vaughan Gething. Vaughan Gething AM: Diolch, Llywydd. I want
to start by, again, thanking Members not just for contributions in the debate but for the
scrutiny of the Bill as well. And, in understanding some of the concerns that Angela Burns has
raised today, the tone of those concerns is different from the conversations we’ve had,
but, to be fair, she has raised a number of concerns during the passage of the Bill, both
in committee and around it as well. So, they’re not new concerns, and I’m happy to acknowledge
that. There is something that we need to do in persuading
Members that we’re listening to what’s happening, not just in getting a Bill passed on trust,
but in then acting in that way afterwards. And that is why, as I said in my opening statement,
we have an evaluation plan. We’ll need to listen. We’re happy to share information and
work with the committee, which will continue to scrutinise what is happening, in addition
to the sunset clause. Because I, of course, acknowledge this is a genuinely novel piece
of legislation and we will want to be persuaded there is evidence it’s made the real difference
to the health of the country that we think it will do. But I don’t accept the suggestion
made that this is a rushed piece of legislation. We first consulted on this issue in 2014,
and it’s gone through proper and appropriate scrutiny during its time in the Assembly.
Of course, the Bill does place a duty on Ministers to take steps to promote awareness of the
commencement of the legislation, and that includes promoting awareness of the health
risks of excessive alcohol consumption and how this Bill and minimum unit pricing is
intended to reduce that. That’s why I was pleased to work with Rhun ap Iowerth to bring
forward amendments that we supported at Stage 3 to include those provisions in the Bill.
And I also want to recognise that the commitment to minimum unit pricing has, of course, appeared
in the last two Plaid Cymru manifestos. But I want to end by re-emphasising that this
legislation will not stand on its own. The legislation takes a targeted approach to a
very real and evident problem in Wales today, and it will be supported by a range of additional
action being taking forward to support those in need, in particular those areas that form
part of the Welsh Government’s wider substance misuse strategy, and I recognise the points
made about how people, who we hope will seek help in larger numbers, need to be supported.
But this Bill addresses the reality that Wales, like so many other western countries, has
a problem with cheap, strong and readily available alcohol. This legislation is part of helping
us to make an important contribution to addressing this issue and improving public health, and
I ask Members to vote for it today. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Diolch i’r Ysgrifennydd
Cabinet. Yn unol ‚ Rheol Sefydlog 26.50C, rhaid cynnal pleidlais wedi’i chofnodi ar
gynigion Cyfnod 4. Felly, rydw i’n gohirioír bleidlais ar y cynnig tan y cyfnod pleidleisio.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Mae hynny’n dod ‚ ni at yr eitem nesaf, sef y ddadl ar ddwy flynedd
ers refferendwm yr Undeb Ewropeaidd. Rydw iín galw ar y Prif Weinidog.
Carwyn Jones AM: Llywydd, rwyín croesawuír cyfle hwn i agor y ddadl yn enwír Llywodraeth,
wrth gofioír ffaith fod dwy flynedd wedi mynd heibio ers inni weld y refferendwm a’r
ganlyniad i adael yr Undeb Ewropeaidd. Rwyín credu ei fod yn wir i ddweud bod 23 Mehefin
2016 yn cael ei ystyried fel dyddiad pwysig iawn yn hanes y wlad hon. Dyna, wrth gwrs,
pryd gafodd y penderfyniad ei wneud i newid y berthynas rhyngom ni aír Undeb Ewropeaidd.
Carwyn Jones AM: We are not in this Chamber, Llywydd, this afternoon to debate that decision.
As I’ve always said, it’s our responsibility to focus our efforts to deliver the right
form of Brexit, not to argue over the fact of Brexit. So, this afternoon, Llywydd, I
want to open this debate by discussing the right form of Brexit for Wales.
We’ve spent a lot of time in this Chamber and in detailed inter-governmental negotiations
discussing constitutional issues to make sure the withdrawal Bill genuinely recognises shared
governance and respects devolution. Although that was vitally important, this perhaps is
not the Brexit issue the people we represent expected us to focus on. While constitutional
issues fascinate many, the majority of people will want us to concentrate on bread and butter
issues. People in Wales are concerned about whether companies in Wales will take similar
decisions to that taken by Jaguar Land Rover and move production from the UK amid the uncertainty
created by the UK Government on Brexit. What matters most is that securing the right form
of Brexit safeguards the economy, the jobs and well-being of the people of Wales and,
indeed, the whole of the UK. Llywydd, all the evidence suggests that in the short to
medium term, securing the right Brexit to achieve this requires continued close integration
with the economies of our EU neighbours. Carwyn Jones AM: In our White Paper agreed
with Plaid Cymru, ‘Securing Wales’ Future’, we set out a Welsh plan for Brexit. We set
out clearly how the right Brexit for Wales requires agreement for participation in the
single market and a customs union. That was our position 17 months ago and no evidence
has emerged to challenge our conclusion. Llywydd, in that document, we were clear that this
might involve UK membership of the European Free Trade Association and, through that,
the European Economic Area or a bespoke agreement to secure full and unfettered access to the
single market. Now, clearly, participation in the EEA or EFTA would not, on its own,
be sufficient, and that’s why the Government will not support amendment 4. There’s no contradiction,
as suggested by that amendment, because we also need to be part of a customs union and
we need barrier-free access for agriculture and fisheries, but it’s telling that the European
Commission has openly discussed a Norway-plus model for the UK.
So, in January 2017, we set out a viable informed position based on evidence and we’ve stuck
to it. Because, Llywydd, the evidence is clear and compelling: nearly £3 in every £4 earned
by Welsh businesses from overseas exports depend on our relationship with our EU partners.
The latest statistics published on 7 June show that Welsh exports to EU countries increased
by £649 million, or 7 per cent, over the last year. The EU is and will continue to
be our most important trading area. Through the EU, we also access free trade agreements
with more than 70 countries. With a hard Brexit, it would take decades to replicate that.
Businesses up and down Wales are working hard to grow their export markets, demonstrating
that Wales is an open and outward-looking country, but these efforts risk being undermined
by the chaotic approach to the negotiations by the UK Government. We are, of course, a
little over nine months beforeóas a defaultówe leave the EU on 29 March 2019. You would have
thought that, at this point, the UK Government would have a clear strategy in place. Instead,
we have chaos and confusion on the vital question of our future economic relationship with our
biggest and most influential market. On an almost weekly basis, we get a new statement
from a Cabinet Member on some element of the deal that they want, only for that to be contradicted
or toned down a day later. Two years after the referendum, this is simply not good enough.
In her Mansion House speech, the Prime Minister acknowledged that, for many sectors, particularly
goods, the interests of industry within the UK require continued regulatory alignment
with the single market and a frictionless relationship with the customs union. This
alignment on both elements is essential for the frictionless borders that businesses up
and down Wales need to make and to sell their goods. Only last week, the retiring president
of the Confederation of British Industry said that without a customs union, entire manufacturing
sectors that rely on just-in-time supply chains will simply disappearóhis words, not mine.
Llywydd, we in Wales know about the devastating effect of wholesale closures of key industries
and we should have no trust whatsoever in those who are prepared to risk such an outcome
in pursuit of an abstract ideological set of priorities. Yet the UK Government remains
committed to their red lines that the UK will leave the single market and the customs union,
even though these issues were never raised specifically in the referendum.
On the customs union, it’s becoming increasingly clear, even to the UK Government, that their
two alternative proposals to resolve the conundrum of how to retain an invisible border, both
land and sea, between the UK and Ireland are still to be free to have different customs
regimes. Well, that simply does not work. You cannot have one entity in the customs
union and one entity out of the customs union and an open land border between them. Two
weeks ago, the UK Government published their technical paper on the proposed temporary
customs arrangement, designed to provide clarity to their postionóthe so-called backstop.
Now, I understand that the original title for this was the ‘customs and regulatory alignment
period’ówould you believe that acronymówhich would’ve given rise to what is, perhaps, a
more appropriate description of the situation. But they had to drop this title, because while
the paper proposes that the current customs arrangements remain in place, it’s silent
on the regulatory alignment required to achieve frictionless borders other than to say that
this will be subject, and I quote, ‘to further proposals’.
Following a tussle over who it is in the Cabinet who has hold of the steering wheel as the
Brexit car careers towards the cliff edge, these arrangements are proposed to be time
limited. So, instead of clarity, we had a half-baked solution to half of the problem,
with the prospect of a self-imposed cliff edge. And the response from the European Commission?
Well, they say key questions are unanswered. They say that this doesn’t cover regulatory
controls leading to a hard border and questions as to whether this is a backstop, given the
proposal is time limited. Well, that’s not good enough. The UK is having to put all its
efforts into keeping its own troops in line, and is simply ignoring the fact that it is
the EU we need to be negotiating with, not with Dominic Grieve and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
So, two years after the EU referendum, there is no viable proposal on customs, despite
the implications for Northern Ireland, no clarity on alignment of the single market
and no sign of the trade deals that we were told the world would be lining up to give
us. We have silence and delay, confusion and chaos, when we need serious answers. Throw
into the mix the abandonment of collective responsibilities, where Cabinet Ministers
are seemingly free to air views that not only contradict, but are contemptuous of UK Government
policy, and you have a potent mix that undermines the UK negotiating position and risks a hard
Brexit that will result in lower investment, fewer jobs and depressed living standards,
where a senior member of the UK Cabinet suggests that his own Prime Minister should be replaced
with Donald Trump, and that person is still in the Cabinet.
That’s why, Llywydd, the Government will not support amendment 1 proposed by Paul Davies,
or amendment 2 proposed by Caroline Jones. The UK Government needs to deliver a clear
position, and one that does not risk our future economic prosperity. Nor will the Government
support amendment 3. The Cabinet Secretary for Finance has written to all Assembly Members,
I trust, on this matter, addressing the many misconceptions regarding the inter-governmental
agreement. Now, Llywydd, we hear a lot about how inflexible
the EU-27 are, but the European Commission has been clear that if the UK Government moves
away from its red lines, a much more generous deal can be negotiated. So, the UK Government
needs to face up to realities and face down the Brexit lunatic fringe. The UK needs leadership
on the most important issue of the day, and deserves better. We have the opportunity,
with this debate this afternoon, to call on the UK Government to go back to the drawing
board, to rub out the red lines. Wales, and the whole UK, needs a Government that will
argue for a dynamic and positive relationship with the single market, where the UK makes
a positive commitment to working with the EU-27 to retain alignment with the single
market as a regulatory space, and a new, durable customs union with the EU.
Llywydd, ‘Securing Wales’ Future’ still provides the best basis for securing the right Brexit
for Wales and, indeed, the whole of the UK. There is no evidenceóthere is literally no
evidenceóthat has been adduced to support any other outcome being better than being
in the customs union. So, Llywydd, I invite this Assembly to reiterate its support for
the approach that we have outlined. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Rwyf wedi dethol
y pedwar gwelliant i’r cynnig. Os derbynnir gwelliant 1, caiff gwelliant 2 ei ddad-ddethol.
Galwaf ar Mark Isherwood i gynnig gwelliant 1, a gyflwynwyd yn enw Paul Davies. Mark Isherwood.
Mark Isherwood AM: Diolch, Llywydd. In a joint statement after the people of Wales and the
UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June 2016, the Presidents of the European Commission,
European Council and European Parliament said, and I quote,
‘We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British
people as soon as possible…. We hope to have the UK as a close partner of the EU also
in the future.’ Now, contrary to offensive claims repeatedly
made here that the people did not know what they were voting for, the well-publicised
arguments for Brexit at the time were all about taking back control of our money, borders,
laws and trade. I, in fact, checked the press this morning on the day of the referendum
to see what they were saying. The Prime Minister has made it clear since that, instead of a
hard Brexit, she seeks the greatest possible access to the EU through a new, comprehensive,
bold and ambitious free trade agreement. As she said, we’re leaving the EU, delivering
on the decision made by the British people in the referendum:
‘We’re committed to getting the best Brexit deal for people, delivering control of our
money, borders and laws, while building a new deep and special partnership with the
EU.’ In contrast, this Welsh Government motion
asks us to support the approach endorsed by Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru, which would
deliver none of these things, and a Brexit in name only. Further, as I said here last
month, the think tank Open Europe told the external affairs committee in Brusselsóand
I quoteó’It would be strange if the UK was in the customs union. The EU would negotiate
trade agreements with third parties without the UK at the table.’ If the UK is in the
single market, they said, it would have to accept all the rules without being able to
vote on them. Whilst claiming to respect the referendum
result, both the Labour Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru have spent the last two years
preaching doom and gloom, whilst promoting approaches that would undermine it. They claimed
that the agreement secured by the UK Government last December, enabling both sides to move
on to the next phase of Brexit talks, would never happen, that the Brexit transition period
secured by the UK Government would never be agreed, before then taking the credit for
it, and, excepting Mr Drakeford, that a way forward allowing this Assembly to give legislative
consent to the UK withdrawal Bill would never be secured. Each time, they were wrong, yet
they’re doing it again as they seek to undermine current negotiations on the UKís future relationship
with the EU, by giving away all our negotiating cards at the outset, and incentivising the
EU side to drive a hard bargain. Our amendment 1, thereforeó[Interruption.]
Surely if you say to the other side, ‘If you refuse to come to an agreement with us, we’ll
fix it over here afterwards to ensure that we don’t actually leave at all’óit’s something
along those lines. Our amendment 1 therefore ‘Recognises that the UK Government is delivering
on the decision made in the EU referendum to leave the EU and that its position in negotiations
with the EU should not be undermined.’ For centuries, our enemies have sought to
divide and destroy us, and as Scottish Conservative MP Ross Thomson said last week,
‘all the SNP cares about is grievance and independence’.
Well, the same applies to Plaid Cymru, where their spoiler approach would have disrupted
the UKís internal market, in which 80 per cent of UK goods and services are traded,
destroyed jobs, and driven investment from Wales. As the Prime Minister said in March,
the agreement we reach with the EU must respect the referendum, it must endure, it must protect
peopleís jobs and security, it must be consistentó[Interruption.] I’ll take one intervention.
Lee Waters AM: Just in terms of your point about enemies causing problems and disruption,
can I just remind you it’s the Foreign Secretary who has said that these negotiations would
be better handled if Donald Trump was in charge? So, he should be directing his ire at his
own side, rather than these benches. Mark Isherwood AM: Was it 79 or 80 Labour
MPs that defied the Labour whip in the Commons last week over the withdrawal Bill?
It must endure. It must protect people’s jobs and security. It must be consistent with the
kind of country we want to be as we leave: a modern, open, outward-looking, tolerant,
European democracy. And in doing all of these things, it must strengthen our union of nations
and our union of people. The EU, itself, of course, has two added incentives: the £39
billion it will receive if it agrees a trade deal, and the importance of access to the
UK. For example, the external affairs committee heard that 10 to 15 per cent of the GDP of
Germanyís 16 states is exposed to the UK market.
Labourís position would mean continuing to follow a swathe of EU rules with absolutely
no say in them. This breaks Labourís Brexit promises, and does not respect the referendum
result. Seventy per cent of Labour UK constituencies voted ‘leave’, and they want to see the result
of the referendum honoured. People outside the Parliaments across the UK are getting
a little tired of parliamentary games. They want to know when theyíre going to get Brexit,
when it will be delivered and when it will be done. They don’t want to hear the same
old stuff, the same old speech from the same old First Minister, month after month, year
after year. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Galwaf ar Neil Hamilton
i gynnig gwelliant 2, a gyflwynwyd yn enw Caroline Jones. Neil Hamilton.
Neil Hamilton AM: Diolch, Llywydd. I beg to move the amendment standing in the name of
Caroline Jones. Just over two years ago, the Government published, at the taxpayers’ expense,
a glossy 16-page document, which went to every house in the country, predicting the end of
the world if the British people had the temerity to vote for national self-government. David
Cameron made speeches up and down the land warning of the dire consequences, assuming
the role of the fat boy in The Pickwick Papers, who said,
‘I wants to make your flesh creep’. The whole of the business and media establishment,
Government, the civil service, were devoted to trying to browbeat the British people into
voting to stay in the EU, and yet 17.4 million peopleóthe largest democratic vote ever in
the United Kingdomóvoted to leave the EU. And in Wales, where a majority of the people
voted to leave, the votes were highest in Valleys seats like Blaenau Gwent, which I
think holds the prize for the highest percentage of ‘leave’ voters: two thirds voted to leave.
Now, here, Ió[Interruption.] Here, I join the First Minister in that part of his speech
where he referred to Neil Hamilton AM: where he referred to the
shambolic negotiations that have been conducted by Theresa May and her Ministers in the last
two years. This indicates a total lack of preparation on the part of the UK Government
for life post Brexit, which is, I think, a betrayal of what those 17.4 million people
voted for. Theresa May is one of those people for whom her indecision is final because the
Government ping-pongs around day in and day out, as the First Minister has eloquently
described. I never thought I would say this about anybody, but actually Theresa May makes
John Major look like a paragon of decisiveness. At the end of two years, nearly, since we
had that vote, the upshot is that we’re about to become just a non-voting member of the
EU, it seems. I’d like to quote from an article that was
just a few days ago published by Daniel Hannan, a Conservative Member of the European Parliament,
where he said, ‘The United Kingdom is inching toward an open-ended
transition period that will leave almost everything as it is. Brussels will continue to run our
agriculture, our fisheries, our overseas trade, our employment laws. We shall continue to
pump our squillions across the Channel. Our laws will remain subject to Euro-judges. Only
one signicant thing will change: we shall lose our representation in the EU institutions
and, with it, our ability to block harmful new laws. Why is Britain…contemplating a
form of thraldom that none of the EUís other neighbours…would dream of accepting? Is
it sheer ineptness, or do some of our officials actively want it?’
I think the answer to those questions is ‘both’. I give way.
Lee Waters AM: Thank you very much. It’s ironic to have you quoting back at us that we’re
going to end up with the worst of all worlds, because that’s exactly what the ‘remain’ campaign
warned would happen, but we were assured by you and Nigel Farage that this would be a
cinchóit would sort out all these trade deals within 24 hours. We said this was nonsense.
You were the one who sold people that pup, and you are the ones who should be apologising
for this con trick. Neil Hamilton AM: I’m certainly not going
to apologise for the Government’s failure in a negotiation of which I have had no part.
If Nigel Farage and I had been in charge of the negotiations, the outcome would have been
very different indeed. [Interruption.] So, I accept the implied compliment from the Member
for Llanelli. It’s extraordinary that the Government has
not played a stronger hand in these negotiations because the truth of the matter is that the
EU sells every year £135 billion more goods to us than we sell to them. Trading goods,
of course, is covered by the single market legislation, whereas in trading services,
where it’s the other way around, the UK sells to the EU £92 billion-worth of services more
than they sell to us. The single market does not exist in financial services, so we do
not get the benefit of the single market to the same extent as the EU. That should have
been enormously powerful bargaining counter in the hands of the British Government, but
they’ve completely blown it. They’ve made no preparation for no deal. We’ve got a situation
now where budget payments are going to continue to be made, but not linked to a trade deal,
which is what should have happened right at the start, and the security guarantee that
the Government has given to the EU is unconditional without getting anything in return. As a negotiating
ploy, they have absolutely failed. The EU has entered these negotiations as a hostile
power determined to make them fail to help us remain inside the EU.
The Labour Party’s position is absolutely incoherent because they want us to leave the
single market but actually stay in the customs union to make it impossible for us to do free
trade deals with the rest of the world. I’ll finish on this point: Theresa May started
these negotiations, saying that no deal would be better than a bad deal. Well, unfortunately,
we will be leaving these negotiations with the bad deal. The Conservative Party, I think,
has a lot to answer for in these negotiations, because a house divided against itself cannot
stand. The result has been, actually, a betrayal of the British people.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Galwaf ar Leanne Wood i gynnig gwelliannau 3 a 4 a gyflwynwyd
yn enw Rhun ap Iorwerth. Leanne Wood. Leanne Wood AM: Diolch, Llywydd. The Government’s
motion is one I can agree with. The Welsh White Paper offers the most comprehensive
analysis of Brexit’s effect on Wales, and this was, in large part, due to the excellent
work of my colleague, Steffan Lewis. Why, then, has the Welsh Government failed to stick
to it? On powers, on the European Economic Area, and on a range of other issues,
Leanne Wood AM: Why, then, has the Welsh Government failed to stick to it on powers, on the EEA
and on a range of other issues? Labour is pursuing a Brexit that aligns more with the
Conservatives than the White Paper co-authored with Plaid Cymru. At the very least, Labour
are enabling or facilitating an extreme Tory Brexit.
An anniversary is a time for reflection, to look back to the referendum and to the campaign.
The campaign in Wales for Remain lacked serious attention from the key players, and I’ll illustrate
this point with one example. In the months before the 2016 Assembly election, in anticipation
of the EU referendum, I approached the First Minister with a proposal. I outlined a simple
but effective plan to put in place the infrastructure for a Welsh Remain campaign made up of representatives
of Welsh civic society. I proposed that the trade unions should form the core of this
group. With their vast reach and interest in a Remain vote, I knew that a cross-party
civic group could leverage the influence of the unions, of charities, of church groups
and so on to reach the people who were critical to reach for the referendum vote.
During this period, you will remember, I’m sure, that we were also gearing up for the
National Assembly elections, which happened just a month before the EU referendum. Many
of us opposed the idea that the two ballots should be held so close together. However,
once it became clear that that timeline was unmoveable, I turned my focus to the task
in hand. My offer to the First Minister was a genuine
one: join with me to build a civic society organisation to campaign for a Remain vote.
It was always going to be difficult to advocate for the status quo. We needed to organise,
organise, organise. I was told by the First Minister that the trade unions were too busy
campaigning and fundraising for Labour for the Assembly election. The First Minister
refused to use his greatest campaigning tool, the unions and others, for the national good.
The First Minister was confident that Leave would not win. ‘Look at all the other referendums’,
he said. Well, look where we ended up. They failed to use the office of the First Minister
to pull together a successful campaign, like we did in 2011 and in 1997. Had you done that,
we might have had a different result, and I wonder if you regret that now.
Until recently, I’d believed that there was a remote chance that Labour would support
policies that would see Wales take the least damaging path when it came to our exit from
the European Union. Following votes on our membership of the single market and their
deal with the Tories on our Assembly’s powers, it’s clear that that isn’t going to be the
case. That takes me on to Plaid Cymru’s first amendment.
Lee Waters AM: Would the Member give way? Leanne Wood AM: The Government’s claim that
they remain committed to the White Paper is a claim that they’ve made again today, and
I want to remind them of the exact wording. On page 20 the White Paper says any attempt
to claw back powers will be ‘firmly resisted’. When we agreed to co-author this paper, we
did not consider firm resistance to amount to an agreement with the Conservative Westminster
Government that sees powers in 24 to 26 policy areas clawed back, and herein lies the problem.
The wording of the White Paper remains something that I am committed to. The Welsh Government,
however, has pursued policies that are not reflective of it.
Let’s take Labour’s position on the single market. As reflected in the second Plaid Cymru
amendment, the majority of Labour MPs chose to abstain on a key amendment to the EU withdrawal
Bill that would have kept Wales in the single market. Now, I accept that the First Minister
may say that he is committed to a future where Wales participates in the single market.
Lee Waters AM: Will the Member give way? Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Are you giving way,
Leanne Wood? Leanne Wood AM: The actions of his party do
not reflect that. He says one thing and does another, and for this reason, Plaid Cymru
will be pressing both of our amendments to a vote, and we will be doing that to reflect
the fact that, although we remain supportive of the White Paper, the actions of the Labour
Party indicate that they are not. So, I therefore formally move both the Plaid Cymru amendments,
3 and 4. Diolch yn fawr. Jenny Rathbone AM: Thank you, Presiding Officer.
The last few years have not produced a solution that is going to give the people of Wales
who voted to leave what they wanted, which was control of their own destiny. The White
Paper that was published two years ago was the most comprehensive strategy
Jenny Rathbone AM: was the most comprehensive strategy laid out to indicate what was needed,
but clearly we don’t have the powers that we would like to control what the UK Government
has got up to. So, we’re now in the situation where we are mere months away from what looks
like an inevitable departure from the EU. The external affairs committee took evidence
a couple of weeks ago from Professor John Bell, who is a leading legal expert based
at Cambridge University. I think that what he had to say made it very clear to me that
those who are campaigning for a second referendum to be put to the people of the United Kingdom
are running out of time. Because, it is simply not possible for us to reverse a process that
was started with the article 50 trigger, unless we also go through the process of consulting
with the European Parliament and with the 27 other members of the European Union.
So, according to Professor Bell, the very last date that a referendum could be held
is this November, because otherwise there is not time for the European Parliament to
deliberate on whether they approve of that, were we to reverse the decision that was taken
two years ago. Also, it would require us to obtain an unanimous vote by the other 27 Governments,
which would mean a huge lobbying exercise with all these Governments that have frankly
lost faith in us because of the way in which we’ve turned away from Europe. So, I would
argue that D-day of 31 December 2020 looks inevitable.
I would like to confine the rest of my remarks to the bread and butter issues that the First
Minister referred to, which is what most people are concerned about, rather than the minutiae
of the constitutional issue that leaving the European Union poses.
I think the hubris from the Prime Minister over the weekend, indicating that a lot of
money could be invested in the national health service as a result of a Brexit dividend,
is pure fantasy, because we have already spent most of the money that we might get back from
the European Union. We’re going to need it to set up the new agencies, the new regulatory
agenciesówe’ve currently relied on that work to be done by the EU institutions, and it’s
obviously much cheaper to do it in conjunction with another 27 countries than it is to do
it on our own. I want to look at the biggest bread and butter
issue, which is food, and the substantial impact that Brexit has already had on the
amount of money that households are having to pay for food, simply because of the deterioration
in the value of the pound. The UK imports approximately 40 per cent of the food we consume
as a nation, and nearly all of it is from the European Union. We import £9 billion-worth
of vegetables and fruit from Europe, compared with £1 billion-worth of fruit and vegetables
that are grown in the United Kingdom. Ninety-five per cent of our fruit comes from abroad and
half our vegetables are imported. If we were to not be able to stay in a customs union,
that would lead to a massive spike in the price of vegetables and fruit, because of
the tariffs that would be imposed inevitably if we were to move to WTO arrangements.
Looking ahead, though, we have opportunities to shape our future, because we currently
subsidise all the foodstuffs we eat too much ofóanimal protein, fat, oils and sugaróand
very few of the things we need to eat more of, mainly horticulture. So, we don’t even
know at the moment whether the pillar 1 payments will continue to be paid, which is currently
80 per cent of all farm subsidies. What would be the impact on our food production if pillar
1 payments are no longer made, Jenny Rathbone AM: pillar 1 payments are no
longer made, and how are we going to ensure that we are still able to feed our population
a healthy diet in the event of things going badly wrong in our relationship with Europe,
which we are still going to be part of whatever happens? These are the major issues that we
now face and we need to start planning for. Simon Thomas AM: Jest i godi lle roedd Jenny
Rathbone wedi bennu gyda rhai o’r ffigurau sy’n effeithio ar Gymru os ydym ni yn parhau
i adael yn y ffordd fwyaf caled, fel sydd yn yn debyg o ddigwydd gyda penderfyniadau
San Steffan gan y ddwy blaid ar hyn o bryd. Byddwn yn colli gymaint ‚ £5 biliwn oddi
ar economi Cymru. Mae nifer ohonom ni yn cofio mynd mewn i ystafell ddirgel draw yn Caspian
Point i ddarllen dadansoddiad y Llywodraeth ei hun o’r effaith ar Gymru. Fe fyddwn ni
yn gadael y farchnad sengl lle byddai’r cwymp yn GDP Cymru bron yn 10 y cant, ac hyd yn
oed yn 5 y cant o dan rhyw fath o gytundeb masnach rydd, ac hyd yn oed pe byddem ni’n
aros yn y farchnad sengl fe fyddai yn cwympo 1.5 y cant, oherwydd yr ardaloedd a wnaeth
bleidleisio gryfaf dros Brexit, a dweud y gwir, yw’r ardaloedd sydd yn mynd i ddioddef
fwyaf o’r cynlluniau Brexit presennol sydd gan Llywodraeth San Steffan.
Mae’n wir bod yna sawl argoeliad o beth a fyddai’n digwydd pe bai’r wlad wedi pleidleisio
dros Brexit wedi bod yn anghywir, ond mae’n ffaith, fel roedd Jenny Rathbone yn cyfeirio
ato, fod banc Lloegr wedi dweud ein bod ni £900 fesul ty yn y Deyrnas Gyfunol yn waeth
off nawr heb bod Brexit wedi digwydd, ac mae hynny yn adlewyrchu, wrth gwrs, y bunt a chryfder
y bunt. Mae’r farchnad sengl yn hollbwysig i Gymru,
ac oherwydd hynny yr undeb ardollau hefyd. Mae 61 y cant o allforion yn mynd yn syth
i weddill yr Undeb Ewropeaidd, ac mae hynny yn cymharu ‚ llai na hanner dros y Deyrnas
Gyfunol i gyd. Ac os ydym ni’n edrych ar dwf, mae economi Lloegr am dyfu 1.7 y cant eleni,
ac economi Cymru ond i dyfu 1.3 y cant, tra bod Iwerddon yn yr eurozone yn tyfu 5.7 y
cant eleni. Mae hynny yn wir yn gyffredinol. Felly, mae’r penderfyniad i adael yn mynd
i gael effaith andwyol iawn ar ein dinasyddion mwyaf difreintiedig, a swydd y Cynulliad a
swydd Llywodraeth Cymru yw amddiffyn ein pobl mwyaf bregus ynglyn ‚ phenderfyniadau yn
sgÓl Brexit. Dyna pam rwy’n siomedig nid gymaint gyda’r cynnig sydd ger bron heddiw,
achos fel ddywedodd Leanne Wood byddem yn gallu cefnogi geiriad y cynnig, ond gweithredoedd
y Blaid Lafur ers y bleidlais sydd wedi mynd fwyfwy ansicr, ac yn fwyfwy yn dueddol o fod
yn fydwraig i Brexit caled y blaid Geidwadol. Simon Thomas AM: When you vote for something
as disruptive as Brexit, you have to be careful what you wish for. I don’t think many of us
expected that a Brexit vote would end up with a Prime Minister under the title of ‘Taking
back control’ appearing on The Andrew Marr Show and saying, ‘Parliament can’t tell the
Government what to do’, which is precisely what Parliaments are supposed to tell Government
and has been since 1688 and has been since we had what the English like to call ‘the
glorious revolution’, but I’m sure the Irish don’t.
But we have to bear in mindó. [Interruption.] In a second, if I may. We have to bear in
mind as well this line that we are strengthening the union. How do you strengthen the unionówhich,
of course, Plaid Cymru is not necessarily in favour of, anyway, but nevertheless let’s
look at these argumentsóhow do you strengthen the union when what you’re doing is impoverishing
the weakest parts of that union, and when you know that the union itself has not delivered
regional policy that addresses that? But the European Union, of course, has done that,
but we’re moving out of that. Just on that point, I’ll give way.
Jenny Rathbone AM: I just want to point out that the UK Parliament has told the UK Government
what to do. It has very clearly said that it will not tolerate a hard Brexit, and that
we have to acknowledge. Simon Thomas AM: I’m not sure if I completely
agree because we’ll wait and see what happens tomorrow with the further iteration of this
process. What I was referring to, however, was the idea that the Prime Minister can actually
get away with saying something as radical as that. I’m very interested in this
Simon Thomas AM: I’m very interested in this because I have a Westminster and a Wales view
in these sorts of things sometimes, and I just look at it from the idea of parliamentary
sovereignty and taking back control and all the other things we were told by Mr Isherwood,
and the reality is that the UK as a structure and as a Government in the UK is completely
and utterly incapable of dealing with the biggest peacetime issue that we’ve seen for
a century. It’s completely and utterly incapable of doing it. And that strikes me as something
that leads to all sorts of contentious things that could flow on from that, including the
future of the union itself. Now, Plaid Cymru is not here to defend the union, but we are
here to defend our communities and we are here to stop anything happening in the next
year or two that will take away from those communities the ability for them to control
their futures and for them to have a realistic economic state in those futures. I’ll conclude,
if I may, Llywydd, with a simple quote, which I think reflects very well on what the Labour
Party’s been doing over the last 18 months, and it says this:
‘When the history books come to be written, and the path to Brexit analysed, Jeremy Corbyn’s
role will be seen as crucial.’ That was in the Daily Mail. [Laughter.]
Mick Antoniw AM: I don’t intend to go over a lot of the statistics and the ground that
we continually debate in this Chamber. So, there are two areas I wanted to focus on.
One is what I call the ‘conspiracy of incompetence’, which I believe has taken over the Government,
and the other is a more serious point in respect of the undermining of parliamentary democracy.
in July 2016, David Davis said that, within two years, the UK could negotiate a free-trade
area massively larger than the EU. And he was followed by Liam Fox in July 2017, who
saidóthe International Trade Secretary said that negotiating a new British trade deal
with the EU would be one of the easiest in history.
We get to a stage now where the only things we seem to have agreed is that there’s a £39
million divorce bill, Northern Ireland is going to be in chaos, and the biggest danger
that we face is absolutely no deal, and you wonder how we can get to a situation where
a Government is bringing us so close to a dangerous no-deal situation. You can almost
put it down to a conspiracy of incompetence, where you can almost see the hardline Brexiteers
saying, ‘The more incompetent we can be, the more likely we’re going to get what we actually
want to achieve.’ That might sound as though that’s really a bit of speculation, but then
you have to actually listen to the actual words that came from Boris Johnson, one of
the senior players in this, the Foreign Secretary. These are the actual words from Boris Johnson.
Here we go: ‘You’ve got to face the fact there may now
be a meltdown. Okay? I don’t want anybody to panic during the meltdown. No panic. Pro
bono publico, no bloody panic. It’s going to be all right in the end.’
And then he followed it on by saying, I am increasingly admiring of Donald Trump.
I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness. Imagine Trump
doing Brexit’. This is from our Foreign Secretary. Well,
the reality is that we don’t need Donald Trump, because we’ve got our own Trump trio of Theresa
May, David Davis and Boris Johnson. When I was reading this, I saw a tweet that came
through that said that even Baldrick had a plan. [Laughter.]
Coming on to the point of undermining parliamentary democracy, the whole article 50 case was actually
about the UK Government wanting to bypass Parliament, diminishing the actual role of
Parliament. Even the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in the format it came in to us was about Government
bypassing Parliament through the creation of Henry VIII powers and centralising Government.
Of course, the Grieve amendment, which is coming up tomorrow, is again an extremely
important matter, because this is about the fundamentals of giving Parliament a voice,
and one would have suspected that the whole purpose of the Brexit referendum, as we were
told, was about actually restoring parliamentary democracy.
Lord Hailsham in the House of Lords said the Government’s offer
‘not only fails to deliver the promised meaningful vote…but is far worse…as the Government
are seeking to make the promised meaningful vote impossible…It deliberately removes
the possibility’. And we see the response to this in the papers
is that people who speak in such ways of talking about supporting parliamentary democracy are
called ‘traitors’. They’re called ‘enemies of the people’. We risk, I believe, a collapse
of parliamentary democracy if the Grieve amendment or some subsequent amendment is not approved
that gives Parliament a voice. And it is a total irony, isn’t it, that we could end up
Mick Antoniw AM: that we could end up with a situation where, as a result of the loss
of parliamentary sovereignty, we risk having fewer powers in Parliament than if we’d remained
in the European Union? There is, in my view, a significant threat to the rule of law. There
is an undermining of parliamentary democracy. I believe the only way out of this is that
we actually need a general election. We need a Government that actually has a new mandate,
because at the moment all we actually have is a Government whose sole motivation, whose
sole rationale for existence, is self-preservation, and that is not putting the interests of the
nation first. David Rees AM: Can I start by perhaps reminding
people I think unfortunately the UK will be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 because Theresa
May will hang on to power and will undoubtedly take us out, because she’s made that abundantly
clear? But the question is on what terms we leave, and that’s the biggest question for
all of us in our political careers, I think, coming ahead.
Now, as Chair of the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee I’ve had
the opportunity to actually see the complexities and the complications that we have faced over
the last two years and will face in the future, and the potential consequences we must overcome
because of these complexities. Can I put at this point on record the excellent work done
by the Commission staff in always presenting us as Members with information as to the goings
on both in Westminster and Europe so that we can have an understanding of some of the
issues that are being raised throughout this whole process?
For our communities across Wales, and the whole of the UK, it’s vital that we do leave
the EU with the very best deal available to us, and for me, there’s no doubt that no deal
on 29 March is a disastrous one for everyone. The noises coming from Brussels unfortunately
over the last couple of days are that diplomats of the EU’s 27 are prepared for a statement
after next week’s council meeting that will express a view that a no deal scenario is
now a real possibility, particularly as the UK Government has continued to fail to produce
a White Paper on its position on the future of the EU, and on any relationships. I hope
they’re wrong. I really do hope they’re wrong on this, and that statement doesn’t happen.
The stakes are far too high for everyone to simply walk away into the unknown of WTO rules.
This uncertainty could become a reality. Just go and ask your businesses in your local constituencies
if you don’t believe me. Mark Reckless AM: Will the Member give way?
The Member says he wants a good deal, but he says he cannot conceive under any circumstances
of walking away. How could any business negotiate with another business in his constituency
and hope to get a good deal if the other side knows they’ll accept what they’re given, whatever?
Mark Reckless AM: I’ll come on to this. It’s a very interesting point. It’s clear to me
that the current Government has no negotiating skills whatsoever, is actually going into
the negotiations not understanding that negotiation is a two-way process, and you have to understand
both sides’ arguments and where both sides wish to get to. It is clear that the UK Government
doesn’t understand that and is going into this thinking that it has the sole given right
to actually dictate the way it wants, and not recognising the other side’s position.
That is not the way to negotiate, and in fact they might want to go to the trade unions
and learn a bit about negotiations. Now, the hard fact is Theresa May actually
fails to stand up to the hard Brexiteers in her own party, as has already been mentioned,
those in her Cabinet in particular. So there’s a very real possibility that she cannot get
a deal because they will not allow her to have one. That’s going to be catastrophic
for the rest of us. It will mean lower export figures, lower growth, lower investment, fewer
jobs, plus falling incomes. That’s what our constituents may face as a consequence of
that. Terrible news for Wales, and let’s be honestóit’s terrible news for the whole of
the UK, every part of the UK. Now, let’s be clear. I’ve heard twice already
today about the fact that, if we raise these issues, we are moaning and trying to derail
the Brexit process. It’s not about derailing. It’s about getting the right deal for our
people, the ones we represent. Failure to speak up is a failure to do our job. It is
important that we ensure that the Brexit that will happen is done to give us the best options.
People’s determination to protect the future of the UK outside of the EU should not be
confused or misunderstood as an intent to subvert it. It’s just a smokescreen to hide
the failures of a Tory Government. The challenge of building a path that offers a strong future
outside the EU has been made more difficult by the failures of the UK Government, the
weakness and the lack of a coherent strategy. It’s damaging the UK.
David Rees AM: It’s damaging the UK, it’s making us a laughing stock, to be honest,
and there’s no good in that. They don’t have a strategy in place, they don’t have ideas,
they haven’t told the EU what they want to try and achieve. What would you expect? If
I went into negotiations, I’d know exactly what I wanted to try and do. The EU has told
us what their negotiating stance is; they’re not hiding it. We are. There we go.
We’ve seen throughout the discussions and we heard today from Neil Hamilton, ‘Shift
the blame to the EU.’ Well, I’m sorry to say, ‘Shift the blame to the Tories, because they’re
the ones that are failing.’ The EU have been clear from day 1 what they want and what their
target is, the Tories are just trying to protect and hide because they haven’t got a clue what
they want. It’s important that we address this matter. Mick Antoniw has also said that
tomorrow will be another interesting question when the debate comes back to the Tory party,
‘Do you accept a meaningful vote or not?’ It’s chaos up there; it is total chaos and
we are the ones paying the price. There’s a long way to go in these negotiations,
there’s a lot of work to be done and just to quote a famous person, Michel Barnier,
because we all talk about him, ‘The clock is ticking’, and the lack of negotiating skills
is not helping us whatsoever. Compromise and pragmatism are required and, inevitably, both
sides will have to give way in certain areasóthat’s what negotiating means. Their job is to come
to an agreed outcome that protects jobs and provides security for future generations of
the UK and of the EU, and I second that: both sides need to look at it.
Llywydd, I’ve often stated that, on 23 June 2016, the British people voted to leave the
EU; they did not vote to leave Europe. The question put to them was about the EU. They
certainly did not vote to see us disadvantaged because the political elite in London failed
to negotiate a good deal. Lee Waters AM: I’m moved to contribute briefly
to this debate by the comments made by the leader of Plaid Cymru that she had her own
cunning plan, two years ago, to create a campaign and approached the First Minister to do so.
I have no knowledge of that conversation, but I’m surprised that it’s taken her two
years to reveal this cunning plan. I would say this: she and I both sat on the
steering committee in 2011 of the Yes for Wales cross-party devolution campaign, and
it was hard enough in that campaign to get civil society and the churches and charities
that she talked about to work together in any effective, meaningful way, and I was on
that committee partly as a representative of civil society. It’s a seductive fantasy,
I think, that she’s basing this argument on. Since then, the lobbying Act was passed, which
put the fear of God into charitable organisations that they could take part in a referendum
campaign. I was part of some early conversations about nine months before the referendum, with
a loose group of civil society organisations to see if there was some appetite to do something
similar for the EU referendum and there really wasn’t any will to do it. I’m as critical
as anybody of the Remain campaign and as frustrated as she is in the result, but it is a seductive
fallacy to suggest that the result that happened could’ve been saved had we all come together
on a campaign. Leanne Wood AM: Will you take an intervention?
Lee Waters AM: I will give her the courtesy that she denied me, yes.
Leanne Wood AM: Do you think leadership has got anything to do with this and were trade
unions bound by the same legislation that you’re talking about?
Lee Waters AM: The trade unions were bound by the same legislation. Of course it’s about
leadership and of course there are questions for us all to answer about the way that that
referendum was conducted, and the timing of it was clearly unfortunate, but I think this
is fantasy politics. And also, it misunderstands the depth of feeling amongst her own constituents
about what that referendum was about, and, ‘If only a couple of well-meaning worthies
came together and got a little campaign going, all would’ve been well’óI wish that was so.
I really don’t believe it is so. I’m surprised it’s taken her two years to reveal that and
I think it’s dangerous thinking to try and dig this up now to try and score political
points to suggest that she had the answer all along. It’s nonsense.
I would say, the leaders of that Brexit vote, the foreign Secretary, David Davis and Liam
Fox are the ones now leading this negotiation to follow through the words that we all said
were nonsense, but we should be holding them to account. The White Paper that we negotiated
jointly between Labour and Plaid Cymru was a good moment, I think, in us looking at our
common interests and I’m sorry that we’re now starting to turn on each other. We should
be turning our fire on the Tories who made promises we knew they wouldn’t keep. And,
instead of coming up with fantasyó[Interruption.] I’m finishing at this pointófantasy versions
of history that all would’ve been well, I think, come on, we need to do better than
that and turn our fire on those people who made promises that are now falling apart.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Galwaf ar y Prif Weinidog i ymateb i’r ddadl.
Carwyn Jones AM: The fundamental problem with the question of Brexit is this, isn’t it Llywydd,
that, back in 2016, people were asked to vote for an idea and not a plan.
Carwyn Jones AM: and not a plan. We had a referendum in 1997, we had another referendum
in 2011, where if people so chose, they could look at a document that would tell them what
would happen if they voted ‘Yes’. There was no question about, there was no ambiguityóit
was there written down in black and white. But the problem is that people were asked
to vote for an idea, and there will be very different interpretations of that vote in
this Chamberóof course there are. None of them can be proven or disproven, because the
problem is there are some that are very, very hard Brexiteers who are almost like religious
fundamentalists that take the view, ‘You must take all of this literallyópeople wanted
to leave everything with an Europe in it’. I’m also slightly exaggerating there. And
there will be others who are far more pragmatic, as we are, who look to get a Brexit that works
for Wales. That’s the fundamental problem hereóthat the vote itself, the question itself,
was flawed in terms of what people were being asked to do.
Now, I listened to what Mark Isherwood had to say. It is this case that people did not
raise with me the issue of the single market or the customs union; they didn’t know what
they were. All they knew was what the European Union did, and even then they weren’t sure
because people said to me, ‘I want to make sure that we get out of the European Convention
on Human Rights’, which has nothing to do with the European Union. So, it wasn’t the
most well-informed referendum in that sense. I don’t suppose there’s any referendum that’s
particularly well-informed, because people always vote for reasons that have nothing
to do with the referendum. I heard more people telling me that they wanted to kick the Tories
than said to me they wanted to leave the EU. That’s the reality of any referendum.
Mark Isherwood also saidó. [Interruption.] Yes, of course.
Mark Reckless AM: Isn’t the reality Carwyn Jones AM: maybe made it up as he went
along, he couldn’t contradict it. But, the reality is, is he really saying that the US
is waiting there to do a deal with the UK on terms that are favourable to the UK? I
don’t believe that. The rhetoric, surely, of the US President shows otherwise.
I listened to what Leanne Wood said. I’ll just remind her that she and I, on this issue,
are on the same side. She reminds me of somebody rugby team who runs around the pitch trying
to tackle members of her own side, rather than focusing on the opposition over there.
They are the opposition over there. They are the people who are trying to deny a sensible
Brexit to the people of Wales. [Interruption.] In a second, I’ll let you in. In a second,
okay. I
said to her at the time I thought it was naive to have a cross-party campaign in the middle
of an election. We spent all our time knocking lumps out of each other as part of the democratic
process, the electorate aren’t going to buy it that we’re suddenly all friends. It doesn’t
work that way. The timing was wrong. She is right, I said to David Cameron, don’t have
the referendum in June, have it in the autumn so the elections are out of the way. [Interruption.]
If I’ve got time, Llywydd. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Yes.
David J Rowlands AM: Thank you. Well, I hope, First Minister, you’re not going to disillusion
me now, because I’ve just heard from Plaid Cymru that the fact that the Remainers lost
the referendum lies squarely on the shoulders of the First Minister.
Carwyn Jones AM: The reality is David Cameron bears a lot of responsibility, I’m afraid,
because I said to him, ‘Don’t hold it in June, hold it in September’. He thought he’d win
the referendum as he had in Scotland. That was the problem. He was still riding on what
had happened in Scotland and as a result there was complacency there. It was something that
I did say to him at the time. But I have to say to the leader of Plaid Cymru that she
is suggesting that the focus should have been on fighting the EU referendum after the election
was over. Her focus in the first week was doing a deal with the Tories and UKIP to get
herself elected as First Minister. [Interruption.] I haven’t got time, unfortunately.
There are two more points that I have to make. First of all, Jenny Randerson made theóI
beg your pardon, Jenny Rathbone made the point that we are not ready to deal with a customs
union. Ports are not ready, I made the point last week. Nothing has been done in the ports
to facilitate the movement of goods through the
ports and the UK Government will blame the ports, I’ve no doubt about that, if there
are delays in those ports. Simon Thomas makes a perfectly correct point when he sayd that
in the campaign for the referendum, it was said time and time again, it was always the
UK Parliament, we weren’t mentioned, power must return to Parliament, except when Parliament
doesn’t agree with us. That’s the Brexiteer message
If you want to look for an interpretation of where people stand, people were offered
the chance last year to vote for a hard Brexit as proposed by the Prime Minister and the
people said ‘No thanks.’ They said, ‘We want something different, we don’t want a Brexit
the Conservative Party proposed.’ It’s time now for some realism. It’s time now for some
humility on behalf of the Conservative Party in London. But, above all, it’s time for us
to see leadership in London as we have in Wales to deliver a sensible Brexit, which
is what I believe the people of Wales voted for.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Y cwestiwn yw: a ddylid derbyn gwelliant 1? A oes unrhyw Aelod
yn gwrthwynebu. [Gwrthwynebiad.] Gohiriaf y bleidlais, felly, ar yr eitem gyfan tan
y cyfnod pleidleisio. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Dyma ni’n cyrraedd
y cyfnod pleidleisio, oni bai fod tri Aelod yn dymuno i fi ganu’r gloch.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Gwelliant 4. Galwaf am bleidlais ar welliant 4, a gyflwynwyd yn
enw Rhun ap Iorwerth. Agor y bleidlais. Cau’r bleidlais. O blaid wyth, neb yn ymatal, 43
yn erbyn. Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Galwaf nawr am bleidlais
ar y cynnig. Agor y bleidlais. Cau’r bleidlais. O blaid 36, neb yn ymatal, 15 yn erbyn. Derbyniwyd
y cynnig. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: A dyna ddiwedd ar
ein trafodion am y dydd.

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