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Y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg

Children, Young People and Education Committee

18/10/2018

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Dawn Bowden AM
Hefin David AM
Janet Finch-Saunders AM
Julie Morgan AM
Llyr Gruffydd AM
Lynne Neagle AM Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Michelle Brown AM
Suzy Davies AM

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Huw Irranca-Davies AM Y Gweinidog Plant, Pobl Hŷn a Gofal Cymdeithasol
Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care
Owain Lloyd Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr, Is-adran Gofal Plant, Chwarae a Blynyddoedd Cynnar, Llywodraeth Cymru
Deputy Director, Childcare, Play and Early Years Division, Welsh Government
Tracy Hull Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol, Llywodraeth Cymru
Legal Services, Welsh Government

Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru a oedd yn bresennol

National Assembly for Wales Officials in Attendance

Lisa Salkeld Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Llinos Madeley Clerc
Clerk
Sarah Bartlett Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk

Cynnwys

Contents

1. Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau 1. Introductions, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest
3. Papurau i'w Nodi 3. Papers to Note
2. Bil Cyllido Gofal Plant (Cymru): Trafodion Cyfnod 2 2. Childcare Funding (Wales) Bill: Stage 2 Proceedings
4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i Benderfynu Gwahardd y Cyhoedd o'r Cyfarfod ac o'r Cyfarfod Cyfan ar 24 Hydref 4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Meeting and the Whole of the Meeting on 24 October
Grŵp 1: Gofyniad i ddarparu swm penodedig o ofal plant a gyllidir (Gwelliant 36) Group 1: Requirement to provide a specified amount of funded childcare (Amendment 36)
Grŵp 2: Ffïoedd ychwanegol (Gwelliannau 3, 20, 25, 32, 33) Group 2: Additional charges (Amendment 3, 20, 25, 32, 33)
Grŵp 3: Cymhwystra rhieni (Gwelliannau 4A, 4, 6, 7, 22, 24, 8) Group 3: Parental eligibility (Amendments 4A, 4, 6, 7, 22, 24, 8)
Grŵp 4: Darpariaeth gofal plant Cymraeg (Gwelliant 5) Group 4: Welsh language childcare provision (Amendment 5)
Grŵp 5: Cludo rhwng darparwyr (Gwelliant 19) Group 5: Transportation between providers (Amendment 19)
Grŵp 6: Offerynnau statudol: gofynion ar Weinidogion Cymru (Gwelliannau 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45) Group 6: Statutory instruments: requirements on Welsh Ministers (Amendments 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45)
Grŵp 7: Plant cymhwysol (Gwelliannau 11, 21, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23) Group 7: Qualifying children (Amendments 11, 21, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23)
Grŵp 8: Offerynnau statudol: newidiadau i weithdrefnau (Gwelliant 9) Group 8: Statutory instruments: changes to procedures (Amendment 9)
Grŵp 9: Categorïau o ddarparwyr gofal plant a gyllidir (Gwelliant 26, 27) Group 9: Categories of providers of funded childcare (Amendments 26, 27)
Grŵp 10: Trefniadau gweinyddol ar gyfer darparu gofal plant a gyllidir (Gwelliannau 28, 29, 30) Group 10: Administrative arrangements for the provision of funded childcare (Amendments 28, 29, 30)
Grŵp 11: Darparu gwybodaeth gan drydydd partïon (Gwelliant 1, 2) Group 11: Provision of information by third parties (Amendments 1, 2)
Grŵp 12: Adolygu a darpariaeth fachlud (Gwelliannau 31, 44) Group 12: Review and sunset provision (Amendments 31, 44)
Grŵp 13: Swyddogaethau a rhwymedigaethau awdurdodau lleol (Gwelliannau 10, 35) Group 13: Local authority functions and obligations (Amendments 10, 35)
Grŵp 14: Cynllunio’r gweithlu (Gwelliant 34) Group 14: Workforce planning (Amendment 34)
Grŵp 15: Cychwyn (Gwelliant 46) Group 15: Commencement (Amendment 46)

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The meeting began at 09:30.

1. Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau
1. Introductions, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Children, Young People and Education Committee. We have received no apologies for absence. Can I ask Members if they'd like to declare any interests, please? 

Apologies, my daughter benefits from the childcare offer, so I declare that as an interest.

2. Bil Cyllido Gofal Plant (Cymru): Trafodion Cyfnod 2
2. Childcare Funding (Wales) Bill: Stage 2 Proceedings

Item 2, then, today is Stage 2 of the Childcare Funding (Wales) Bill. I'm very pleased to welcome Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care; Owain Lloyd, deputy director, childcare, play and early years division; and Tracy Hull from legal services. Thank you for attending this morning.

I'm just going to run through the procedure for Members for the record. The purpose of the meeting is to undertake Stage 2 proceedings on the Childcare Funding (Wales) Bill. For these proceedings, Members should have copies of the marshalled list of amendments, the grouping of amendments for debate and the voting order for the amendments. 

The marshalled list of amendments is the list of all amendments tabled, marshalled into the order in which the sections appear in the Bill. The order in which we consider amendments will be the default order: sections 1 to 13 and the long title.

You will see from the groupings list that amendments have been grouped to facilitate debate. However, the order they're called and moved for a decision is dictated by the marshalled list. Members will need to follow the two papers, although I will advise Members when I call them whether they're being called to speak in the debate or to move their amendments for a decision.

There will be one debate on each group of amendments, and Members who wish to speak on a particular group should indicate in the usual way. I will call the Minister to speak on each group.

For the record, in accordance with the convention agreed by the Business Committee, as Chair, I will move amendments in the name of the Minister. For expediency, I will assume that the Minister wishes me to move all of his amendments, and I will do so at the appropriate time on the marshalled list. Minister, if you do not want a particular amendment to be moved, please indicate this at the appropriate point in the proceedings.

In line with our usual practice, legal advisers to the committee and the Minister are not expected to provide legal advice on the record. If Members wish to seek legal advice during proceedings, please do so by passing a note to the legal adviser, and, if necessary, we can adjourn. 

It is my intention to try and dispose of all of the amendments during today's meeting, but I will call a short break in proceedings at an appropriate time. Okay? Lovely. 

Grŵp 1: Gofyniad i ddarparu swm penodedig o ofal plant a gyllidir (Gwelliant 36)
Group 1: Requirement to provide a specified amount of funded childcare (Amendment 36)

So, we'll go on, then, to group 1, which relates to the requirement to provide a specified amount of funded childcare. The lead and only amendment in the group is amendment 36, in the name of Suzy Davies. I call on Suzy Davies to move amendment 36 and to speak on it.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 36 (Suzy Davies).

Amendment 36 (Suzy Davies) moved.

Thank you, Chair. I move amendment 36. The amendment has two main purposes, one of which speaks to the policy intention of the Bill and the other to the primary point of most of my other amendments during the course of this day, namely the glaring absence of any duties or obligations on the Welsh Government to make this statute deliver on its policy intention.

Both the points I'm about to make are a rejection of, I think, probably one of the most extremely disproportionate framework-nature Bills that I've seen since I've been an Assembly Member—it actually has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. It is framed in entirely permissive terms, with only one obligatory provision so far. It lacks definitions of core concepts, notably 'childcare' and 'care'. While it's an improvement on previous Bills, in as much as it recognises that Assembly Members should be allowed to scrutinise secondary legislation, it doesn't answer the repeated call by the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee on similar clearly inchoate Bills for the scrutiny of legislation to be through a superaffirmative procedure in the first instance, for the first iteration of regulations, when those regulations provide the initial level of certainty and clarity, which most of us would expect to be on the face of the Bill.

So, my first point: Minister, both our parties at the last Assembly election agreed to introduce 30 hours of free childcare. In fact, your offer was more detailed than ours—I'm more than happy to admit that—and it's your detailed offer that I'm trying to introduce onto the face of the Bill via amendment 36. It's the Welsh Conservatives here who are trying to fulfil your manifesto commitment for you. You didn't promise the electorate simply more childcare, in which case I think your draft would have been a bit nearer the mark than it currently is, and maybe waiting for that evaluation that we know of, even though it's after two and a half years, would probably have been—well, would have had a place anyway. But your offer was specific, and now you've got the chance to introduce that law that delivers that pledge, the law needs to be specific. I recognise that people's lifestyles and the value of money changes over time, and that's why my amendment—a bit unusually for me, actually—has got a Henry VIII clause in it, which allows for changes in the future. But you made a promise to the voters, and you should and you can—you can—keep it. A clear promise demands clear law, and that's what my amendment creates—clear law. 

The second point is also an old friend—the familiar battle between 'must' and 'may'. We are a modern legislature and we should draft for a modern audience. If you're seeking to allow Welsh Government at some point in the future to add or remove existing definitions, requirements or conditions that have become out of date, if you want to update the Bill to respond to the effect of other legislation, perhaps, then the inclusion of powers is a perfectly appropriate way to do that, as long as they're exercised via a procedure that the Assembly chooses. These are provisions where the use of the word 'may' is fine as far as I'm concerned. If, however, we're talking about actions that the Welsh Government will have to take in order to make the Bill function at all, about powers which, were they not exercised, would leave the Bill an empty vessel incapable of being relied upon by any party for anything, then they're not powers. We should be talking about duties: actions that 'must', not 'may', be taken to effectively complete the Bill. And so, section 1 is one of those sections:

'The Welsh Ministers may provide funding...for the purpose of securing the provision of childcare',

and so on. Well, you may or you may not introduce these regulations, and if you don't, what will the Bill achieve? You must be under a duty, I think, Minister, to provide funding, and that is the clarity that this amendment provides. I hope that you don't argue that this is how legislation has been drafted since time immemorial. The only tradition that I'm interested in in a twenty-first century common law system Parliament is clarity, and clarity of policy intention and clarity of contemporary legislative drafting can achieve it.

Thank you for your letter of yesterday, because I know you've attempted to deal with this second point. I'm pleased that you accept the principle behind it, and thank you for your offer to introduce something at Stage 3 to deal with it, but I'd like you to explain why you can't just simply accept my amendment at Stage 2, because I can only think of two reasons why not: either it's a rather immature reason, and I genuinely don't believe this would be—I know you're better than that—and that's the fact that this is an opposition amendment, and you can't possibly be seen to accept an opposition amendment; something from the Welsh Conservatives is politically uncomfortable. Or, is it because you're not prepared to commit now to a specific manifesto promise? And actually I'd say that's more politically uncomfortable.

09:35

Okay. Thank you, Suzy. Are there any other Members who want to speak? Llyr.

Ie, diolch yn fawr. Rydw i'n mynd i siarad yn Gymraeg, felly bydd rhai pobl angen offer cyfieithu. Ni fyddaf i'n cefnogi'r gwelliant penodol yma, oherwydd—nid fy mod i'n gwrthwynebu'r cynnig y mae'r Llywodraeth yn bwriadau dod ymlaen ag e, o safbwynt y 30 awr a 48 wythnos, ond nid yw hynny yn adlewyrchu'r cynnig a oedd ym maniffesto Plaid Cymru, felly yn amlwg rydw i'n meddwl bod cadw'r elfen o hyblygrwydd, fel sydd yna yn y Bil ar hyn o bryd, yn gwbl addas. Fe gofiwch chi, fel aelodau o'r pwyllgor, inni gael tystiolaeth gan Gomisiynydd Plant Cymru, ac eraill, a oedd yn awgrymu, er enghraifft, efallai y byddem ni am leihau'r cynnig er mwyn ailfuddsoddi’r adnoddau a fyddai'n cael eu harbed i ehangu'r bobl a fyddai'n gymwys i gael mynediad i'r cynnig a rhyw bethau. Felly, er bod elfen o'r gwelliant yn cynnig yr hyblygrwydd yna, nid wyf i'n teimlo bod angen rhoi'r 30 awr a'r 48 wythnos ar wyneb y Bil.

Yes, thank you very much. I am going to speak in Welsh, so some may need their interpretation equipment. I won't be supporting this specific amendment—not because I oppose the proposal that the Government intends to bring forward in terms of the 30 hours and 48 weeks, but that doesn't reflect the pledge in Plaid Cymru's manifesto, so I think keeping that element of flexibility as exists in the Bill at the moment is quite appropriate. You will, as committee members, recall that we took evidence from the Children's Commissioner for Wales and others who suggested that, for example, we may want to reduce the offer in order to reinvest the resources saved to enhance the number of people who would qualify for the offer. So, although there are elements of the amendment that do provide that flexibility, I don't feel that we need to put the 30 hours and the 48 weeks on the face of the Bill.

Thank you, Llyr. Are there other Members who'd like to speak? No. Can I call the Minister to speak, then?

Thank you very much, Chair, and Suzy, thank you for the way you've laid out the purpose behind your amendment and the policy intent with it, which is broadly what we understood as well, and also Llyr as well for your comments. We are alive to the concerns that have been expressed this morning, but also the concerns of this committee and of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee in terms of the need for there to be some duty on the face of the Bill. But, as Llyr has rightly pointed out, there is a question of balance here, particularly in line with the views of the committee if, in future, there is a desire to reshape the offer as well. I welcome the fact that you've acknowledged as well that in our manifesto commitment there was indeed great clarity, actually, on what the commitment was. There was great clarity, and it's not simply, by the way, the standard arguments that I have in terms of some of the problems we have with the amendment that you put forward, and I'll explain now. 

I don't think it's necessary or desirable to specify the number of hours, the number of weeks of childcare on the face of this Bill. It gives the inflexibility that Llyr referred to and, in fact, that this committee has talked about as well. It's getting the balance right. This was, of course, the approach that was taken in England. It was specified on the face of the Bill, but there are significant differences here. The approach taken in England was in relation to the Childcare Act 2016. We have a different policy and legislative context here in Wales. So, in this sense, it is important that we reflect here in our deliberations the legislative context here in Wales, which is different from the context in England under the Childcare Act 2016. So, in England, legislative provision regarding early years provision is specific in nature as local authorities discharge the duties in relation to individual children. So, they've written in the detail of it in the way that their childcare offer would be discharged in terms of individual children.

In Wales, we have a very different context. We have a general duty regarding sufficiency of childcare within Wales that overrides across all local authorities, our statutory providers. But I've tried to take on board the committee's views, and I am looking forward, with the will of the committee, to bringing forward an amendment during Stage 3, and you alluded to that in the letter that I've written out. We've tried to keep the committee informed at each stage of our thinking. If we bring forward this amendment, it will bring forward a duty on Welsh Ministers in relation to the provision of childcare for qualifying children, but we're going to try and get that balance right so we don't build an inflexibility into this. It's not a question of having a broad framework, but of actually giving the ability in future if we wanted to, based on the evidence, to modify and adapt the proposal in front of us.

So, the amendment that I'll be bringing forward will achieve the same purpose of putting this duty there on the Bill, but without the need for primary legislation to be amended by regulations, should it be necessary, for example, in future to vary the amount of childcare to be provided under section 1. So, I am planning to bring forward that amendment during Stage 3, which will achieve this purpose. I've written to the committee on this matter. 

So, on this basis, I wonder, Suzy, whether you would consider not moving this amendment, but working with us and working with the committee so that we can shape the right amendment to bring forward at Stage 3. And if that is the case, I'd welcome that. But if you are to move it, I would ask committee members, because of what we perceive as, one, the inapplicability to the Welsh legislative context and, secondly, the inflexibility that putting two specific duties on the face of this particular Bill would do, I would ask Members, on that aspect, to resist this amendment if it is moved.

09:40

Well, thank you very much for that. That's actually a really very helpful answer. I'm going to move it, even though I appreciate it'll fall, simply because I want that on the record.

But to answer your points, the first one about the comparison between this Bill and the one in England, to be honest, I don't really care about the Bill in England; I want us to make sure that we have a functioning statute here that is applicable in Wales.

And while I appreciate that you have a commitment to bring forward this definition, if you like, at a later point, the place for the commitment itself is on the face of the Bill. So, even though we won't be supporting this, I'm pleased about the Stage 3 changes you're going to make, which I will look at with some interest, because, of course, I'm hoping that they will do what I hope they will do as well.

I'm still going to push back on this issue of flexibility, though, because I've included in my amendment the Henry VIII power, which makes it flexible. And this is an opportunity for all politicians, really, to be able to show the Welsh public that, when they make a manifesto commitment, they can actually introduce it visibly into law. What you've done today, I think, is leave open the opportunity, shall I say, for people to think that perhaps the offer won't look like your manifesto commitment—I'm hoping that's wrong—but you could have avoided that by putting your intention immediately on the face of the Bill with the back-up power that you have here to change it by regulation. But, I thank you for your answer.

09:45

Thank you, Suzy. Suzy, you've indicated that you'd like to proceed to a vote on amendment 36. If amendment 36 is agreed, amendment 3 will fall. So, the question is that amendment 36 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Right. We have an objection, so we will now have a vote by show of hands. The question is that amendment 36 be agreed. Those in favour, please raise your hands. Those against. Okay, so there voted two in favour and five against. Amendment 36 is therefore not agreed.

Gwelliant 36: O blaid: 2, Yn erbyn: 5, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 36: For: 2, Against: 5, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 2: Ffïoedd ychwanegol (Gwelliannau 3, 20, 25, 32, 33)
Group 2: Additional charges (Amendment 3, 20, 25, 32, 33)

We'll move on, then, to group 2, which relates to additional charges. The lead amendment in the group is amendment 3 in the name of Llyr Gruffydd. I call on Llyr Gruffydd to move amendment 3 and to speak to his amendment and the other amendments in the group.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 3 (Llyr Gruffydd).

Amendment 3 (Llyr Gruffydd) moved.

Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd.  Mae gwelliant 3, wrth gwrs, yn deillio o argymhelliad 26 o adroddiad y pwyllgor yn dilyn Cyfnod 1 o graffu ar y Bil yma, sef, wrth gwrs, fod Llywodraeth Cymru yn dileu’r hawl i ddarparwyr i wneud cais am daliadau ychwanegol. Dyna oedd consensws y pwyllgor yma ychydig wythnosau yn ôl, a gobeithio, yn sicr, y bydd y consensws hwnnw’n dilyn ymlaen i gefnogi’r gwelliant yma heddiw.

Mi roedd y pwyllgor bryd hynny, rydw i’n siŵr y byddwch chi’n cofio, yn bryderus y gallai taliadau ychwanegol o hyd at £162.50 y mis olygu bod y cynnig gofal plant yn anfforddiadwy i’r rhieni hynny sydd ar y lefelau isaf o gyflog. Os yw e’n gynnig gofal am ddim, ac yn gynnig di-dâl, yna mi ddylai fe wneud beth mae’n dweud ar y tin, ac ni ddylai fod yna gostau ychwanegol ynghlwm ag ef. Barn y pwyllgor oedd y dylid codi’r gyfradd fesul awr sy’n cael ei thalu i ddarparwyr, yn hytrach na chaniatáu iddyn nhw godi am y costau ychwanegol yma.

Os nad yw gwelliant 3 yn cael ei basio, yna mi fyddaf yn cefnogi gwelliannau 20 a 25 gan Janet Finch-Saunders a fyddai’n sicrhau bod o leiaf y rhai sy’n gymwys am ginio ysgol am ddim ddim yn gorfod talu’r costau ychwanegol yna. Rydw i hefyd yn mynd i gefnogi gwelliannau 32 a 33. Rydw i’n meddwl ei bod hi’n gwbl addas o ran tryloywder fod y cyfraddau talu fesul awr, ac unrhyw resymeg y tu ôl i amrywio’r lefelau talu hynny, yn cael eu cyhoeddi’n gyson, a hefyd, felly, gyda’r ffioedd ychwanegol. Rydw i’n meddwl byddai cyhoeddi’n gyson faint mae darparwyr yn ei godi o’r ffioedd ychwanegol hyn yn rhoi’r darlun i ni o sut mae hwn yn gweithio ar lawr gwlad, a hefyd yn dangos yn glir a oes yna dueddiad, fel y mae rhai yn ofni y gallai fod, i’r darparwyr fod yn codi’r lefel uchaf posib o daliadau ychwanegol doed a ddelo. Felly, mi fyddwn ni’n gofyn i Aelodau i gefnogi yn sicr gwelliant 3, beth bynnag.

Thank you very much, Chair. Amendment 3, of course, emerges from recommendation 26 of the committee's report following Stage 1 scrutiny, namely that the Welsh Government do away with the ability of providers to apply for additional fees. This was a consensus of this committee a few weeks ago, and I hope that this consensus will stand and you will support this amendment today.

The committee at that point, as I'm sure you'll remember, was concerned that additional charges of up to £162.50 per month could mean that the childcare offer could be unaffordable to those parents on the lowest levels of income. If it is an offer of free childcare, then it should do what it says on the tin, and there should be no additional charges related to it. The committee's view was that the hourly rate paid to providers should be increased, rather than allowing them to charge for these additional fees.

If amendment 3 is not passed, then I will be supporting amendments 20 and 25 in the name of Janet Finch-Saunders, which would ensure that at least those who qualify for free school meals wouldn't have to pay these additional costs. I'm also going to be supporting amendments 32 and 33. I think it's quite appropriate in terms of transparency that the hourly rates, and any rationale underpinning varying those rates, should be made public and that should happen consistently, and so too with the additional fees. I think regularly announcing how much providers are charging in terms of additional fees would give us a picture of how this is working on the ground, and it would also clearly demonstrate whether there is a tendency, as some fear that there could be, for providers to be charging the highest level of additional fees, come what may. So, I would ask Members to support, certainly, amendment 3.

Thank you, Llyr. Are there other Members who would like to speak? Janet Finch-Saunders and then Dawn.

Thank you, Chairman, and good morning. I am tabling amendments 20, 25, 32 and 33. Amendments 20 and 25: these amendments allow for children who are eligible for free school meals to be given an exemption on extra charges for snacks and consumables. Amendment 25 defines the current eligibility for free school meals. We believe that no family should face additional barriers to free childcare if they have low incomes or are taking educational courses for employment. And these charges currently provide significant hurdles for them to cross.

During the Children, Young People and Education Committee's evidence, it soon became clear that charges for extra provisions during free childcare could actually bar some parents from taking up the offer. The Welsh Government's guidelines within the pilot areas allow childcare providers to charge fees to parents of up to £37.50 per week, amounting to £7.50 per day, based on the cost of three meals a day at £2 per meal and two snacks at 75p each. Should parents take up the full offer and be charged the full price per week, this would mean that families have to find roughly £1,800 extra a year.

Not only do Welsh employees have the lowest take-home pay in the UK at an average of nearly £27,000 per year, those in receipt of benefits eligible for free school meals will have extremely low incomes, meaning that £1,800 is simply unaffordable. It is therefore unsurprising that Care Inspectorate Wales noted that additional charges could make the offer unaffordable for some families who are on low incomes. Cwlwm also highlighted that, in one pilot area, nurseries had started to charge parents when they had not done so previously. Therefore, the Minister has subsequently published revised guidance to the pilot areas that states that providers should not charge parents more for additional elements than they charge those parents who don't accept the offer. Furthermore, parents are able to opt for packed meals, but only if the setting would normally allow this, though it is questionable how many childcare providers could provide this due to consideration of children with allergies.

If the Minister is serious about arrangements for additional charges being kept under review, it is important that those who the Bill focuses on are not barred from the workplace. As the explanatory memorandum again highlights, the primary purpose of this Bill is to support the Welsh economy by helping parents, particularly mothers, to return to work or, indeed, to increase the hours they work, which is intended to increase the size of our Welsh workforce. Without significant support, this aim would not be achieved.

This amendment also offers a compromise for the affordability of the offer from the Welsh Government's perspective. By limiting the application of this provision to children who are eligible for free school meals, the amendment both helps those who need to have additional support for free childcare and limits the expense of providing free meals.

Now, amendment 32: this amendment requests that the Welsh Government publishes and monitors the hourly rates paid for childcare and the foundation phase elements of the offer, and supports recommendation 22 of the Children, Young People and Education Committee. As currently enacted, the Welsh Government's 30 hour a week childcare is maintained on a dual stream—the foundation phase nursery and early years education, and the childcare offer, with at least 10 hours a week to be funded by early years provision through local government revenue support grants. As noted under amendment 19, such a dual setting can create unintended consequences, such as transportation between the providers offering childcare and early years education. However, of concern to the CYPE committee was that there was a difference between the hourly rates paid for non-maintained early years education and the rates the Welsh Government is intending to pay for the childcare offer.

The childcare offer grants providers £4.50 per hour for childcare—substantially more than what is paid to early years education and foundation phase nurseries. This differs from local authority to local authority, with the WLGA estimating that, where hourly rates are paid, this can range between £3 and £3.50. However, even the Welsh Government admitted that it's own data showed the lowest hourly rate paid was in fact £2.50, although Cwlwm, the umbrella representative of Wales's five largest childcare providers, quoted £1.49 in Gwynedd as the lowest it could find. Such variations could have a negative impact on early years education, and, through such disparity in payment, the WLGA admitted to the CYPE committee that concerns had already been raised in pilot areas that early years education could become crowded out because of the childcare element of the offer. The Minister yourself has admitted to the CYPE committee that there was a risk of this happening, and the Cabinet Secretary for Education is also investigating the possible impact of the childcare element of the offer, stating in evidence that

'We are looking closely at the possible impact on Foundation Phase provision—including structural and financial issues that might impact on effective delivery and the quality of provision'.

Given the risks of higher hourly rates of the childcare element of the offer in reducing the number of providers who run early years/foundation phase childcare settings, it is crucial that both the Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales can assess the impact of the offer at the earliest stage and to set in motion mechanisms to increase the consistency of hourly rates between the two elements.

Finally, amendment 33: amendment 33 requests that the Welsh Government publishes and monitors information relating to additional fees, including snacks. As explained under amendment 20, charges for extra provisions can prevent some parents from taking up the offer. Given the concerns of our committee about the barriers additional fees can cause, as well as recent work by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, on which I’ve sat, on overall barriers faced by parents to re-entering the workforce, it is necessary for the results of the review to be published for scrutiny purposes, and this amendment enables the Minister to formally review these implications. Therefore, I move those amendments.

09:55

Thank you, Chair. I just wanted some clarity, Minister, if I could, around access to the offer, following on from Llyr’s amendment in particular, because obviously from my point of view—and I apologise, I wasn't a member of the committee when you produced your report, so I wasn't involved in the discussion on that—I am concerned to ensure that we do maximise the number of parents that are able to take up the offer and that there should not be a barrier put in the way of them by finding that there are hidden and additional charges in the offer. And it does seem to me that the way around that, if that is the only way that we can move forward, is that there should be an option available so that it shouldn't be a compulsory element of access to the childcare offer. So, I just wonder if you could clarify if that’s your way of thinking in terms of these additional charges that may be considered.

Yes, thank you. Just to follow up on Dawn’s point, actually, because I think you've identified something pretty important here, Llyr's amendment in the group highlights what I think is a problem with this Bill being unclear about what is meant by 'childcare'. I think we could probably support amendment 3 on the basis of what we think 'childcare' means, but, from what you've said, that probably sounds a bit different from what you think 'childcare' means, and possibly from what the Minister thinks 'childcare' means. And I think, with Janet’s amendments 20 and 21, there’s a recognition that there could, or perhaps should, be a distinction between childcare and these ancillary provisions, these ancillary services, because, at the moment, a provider could legitimately argue that some of those things like snacks, and so forth, fall outside the definition of 'childcare' and therefore they should be allowed to charge for them. At least Janet’s amendments protect those children who'd be eligible for free school meals from being asked to pay for what, to me, look like extras, I have to say. So, I'm wondering if the Minister might, at Stage 3, consider the possibility of either attempting to define 'childcare' anew, or even by reference to a different piece of legislation—I don't mind, as long as we get some sort of definition.

I have a similar concern as well about the use of the undefined word 'care' in section 1(7)(b). So, perhaps if you could consider that issue as well, it might help with Dawn’s question as well.

Yes, thank you, Chair. Yes, I think the committee were concerned about these additional charges in particular because they might be an additional barrier. So, I’d welcome reassurance from the Minister that he would keep this firmly under review. Also, I do welcome the fact that there is the option for packed meals now, which means that parents don't have to necessarily pay. But I do think the committee was very concerned about this issue, so I hope that we can get some reassurance from the Minister on how we look at it in the future.

Thank you very much. Thank you to those moving these amendments, but also for the contributions as well; that’s been really helpful for me. Can I just say, as I respond to this, Suzy, you quite helpfully drew what is a distinction between the childcare element of the offer and those important but separate items, which are to do with transport and food, and so on? Now, these are critical in terms of affordability, and I hope to give some reassurance now how we're approaching this as a Government in our guidance that’s already out there and in the pilots that are already working to respond to some of the concerns. But that distinction, actually, is quite important, because what we haven't done is bring forward a rate that wraps up everything in its entirety and says, 'Here is the childcare offer—the 30 hours of childcare plus everything else together'. The implications of that would have been a different offer, and there would have been different financial implications as well, but I'll turn to that in a moment. 

This comes to the point, actually, with the possible unintended consequences of passing amendment 3 that Llyr has brought forward, because, actually, taking the whole cost in its entirety of providing childcare across what is a very diverse sector, with providers who provide in different ways—some who provide lunches, some who don't provide lunches, some who do additional add-ons and transport to events, and so on, and some who don't do that at all; they just provide childcare—providing the whole cost of providing childcare and everything else across a diverse sector would, ultimately, in line with this amendment, fall to Welsh Government. It could make the scheme unaffordable in the current financial climate, and that's one of the consequences of this. And it could make it potentially more complex for childcare providers, and I understand that Cwlwm have, indeed, been in contact with the committee recently as well, making that very point—the diversity of the sector, the different ways it's provided and the ability as well, I have to say, of parents to make decisions, then.

I was recently in north Wales visiting one provider in Anglesey, in Menai Bridge, where parents were coming to her but were making a choice as well to go to different providers, and that was quite interesting. So, there is an element here as well of parents making a definite choice to say, 'I want to go there because they do X, Y and Z, and go elsewhere', but it is a very complex sector. Individual providers offer different services. Some do not provide food. Some do not offer transport. If we were to allow for a single rate, we'd have to include all of this together, and it would be at the risk of overfunding some who don't provide those services and underfunding others, or only cover the cost of the care, as we've done within the offer, and leave the discretional matters to individual providers.

There is another alternative, which would be to provide multiple rates, varying by the service provided, differing by provider type and by location, to reflect the varied costs in providing things like transport or food. And, as I said, we must be mindful of the overall costs of the scheme to the Government. If all the costs fell to the state, ultimately we would have to face that decision of whether we provide less childcare than we're currently making available under the offer of 30 hours a week, 48 weeks a year. I'm not sure that this is anything that any of us want to actually do.

But the issue of these charges is something that we've grappled with as a Government in bringing this forward. We've looked at options for funding providers at a higher rate to cover some of the additional charges, as this amendment suggests. But we immediately run into problems and questions about either, as I said, limiting this offer, then, to fewer parents within the financial constraints we have, or to offering less time to those parents. So, it's been our intention in designing the offer to create a childcare offer that offers as much childcare as possible, to as many parents as possible, within the funding envelope we have available, and that's the crux of it. But I'll come to some of the points around how we deal with, if you like, the social justice aspects of this as well, because we're strong on that, I would say to Members. But that's the crux of it. 

By the way, if we were, for example, to increase the hourly rate from £4.50 to, say, £7.50 an hour, then our estimates of how much that would cost would be in the region of just short of an additional £40 million. I say to you that the implications of that for the offer, as it's currently shaped, are significant. We can't ignore them; we can't duck that. We can't ignore the very real circumstances as well that we're operating in. We are in a situation where, because of where we are with the block settlement to Welsh Government, we're roughly £800 million short of where we could have been if we weren't currently pursuing policies since 2010. Now, that does have an impact on the choices that we make.

But I know that this charging—and we've heard it again today—is a real concern for members of the committee. The results of the first year evaluation will be available in the coming month. We've arranged—I know committee members are aware—a confidential briefing for Members. We've brought that forward, with the independent company undertaking the evaluation, for next week. Now, I hope, within that, you'll be able to hear on some of these particular issues, as well as the wider offer, what we are hearing, and I hope there will be some reassurance, actually, because we are not picking up that this is not simply a major concern, but this is a concern. But you'll have that confidential briefing. 

In addition, by way of reassurance, let me just say what we've done already. We've published guidance to local authorities, strengthened guidance, on what the upper charging limit should be. This doesn't happen, by the way, in England; there is no upper limit. So, this helps ensure that any charges being made are within a reasonable range, if they are made at all. And it is very different to the position in England, as I say, where there's no upper limit. We will also publish revised guidance to strengthen our position on additional charges ahead of the full national roll-out, taking on board the concerns expressed by the committee and learning, by the way, from the findings of the evaluation, of which you'll hear some more on next week. 

Also, providers must take—must take—account of our guidelines, our existing guidelines, on additional charges. So, we've said, for example, Julie and Dawn, parents must have the option—they must have the option—of providing a packed meal rather than paying for a meal provided by a provider. Providers cannot say, 'You must pay additionally to eat at our establishment.' Some establishments don't provide at all and don't charge at all, but there must be an option of a packed lunch for a child to take it. Parents must also, within our existing guidance, be able to opt their child out of paid-for off-site activities. You cannot force that child and their family and say, 'Because you're coming to our facility, you must then pay additional to go off on this activity or participate in such activities.'

We've also made it clear—providers have been told—they're not to change parents any hourly top-up fees for three and four-year-olds within this offer who are accessing these services under the terms of the offer. If we find any provider in breach of this agreement—charging hourly top-up rates for example—we will take action. Ultimately, we can remove them from delivering this childcare offer. It's really crystal clear. We've also said to providers that they should not be treating parents receiving childcare under this offer any differently from other parents who access their services. They shouldn't charge parents who access the offer more for any additional elements than they charge parents who are not accessing the offer.

And, as I mentioned, if we listen to the sector itself, Cwlwm and others, what they say in their response to the recent Stage 1 deliberations—they say clearly we shouldn't be telling providers what they can and cannot do. This is a diverse sector. I know it as a parent who's brought three children up myself; there are different offers out there. It's not an entirely one-size-fits-all statutory provision sector, it's a very diverse sector out there. They say quite clearly, you know, that we shouldn't be telling them what they can and cannot do in terms of additional charges. So, there is a fine balance to be struck here. 

Now, amendments 20 and 25 by Janet, if I could turn to them, they relate to excluding the parents of children who could potentially be eligible for free school meals from paying additional charges. I would refer the committee again, and Janet again, to the work we're doing around monitoring the hourly rate. We've already made that commitment; we are monitoring the hourly rate. The very clear guidance that we've issued to providers about additional charges, some of which I've re-emphasised and put on the record again now—and this is live, by the way, for Members. I know I keep repeating this. We're not seeking to see what this might look like; it's happening now on the ground. This amendment, I would suggest, would be quite difficult to administer and potentially burdensome as well, by the way, on local authorities and on providers and parents. So, I would resist that amendment, but I understand the spirit of it.

The purpose of amendments 32 and 33 by Janet is to require Welsh Ministers to publish reports on the hourly rates and reports on additional charges. Now, I am reluctant to support amendments that would place what we would feel would be unnecessary and onerous duties and more bureaucracy and bureaucratic requirements on Welsh Ministers where I don't actually see real benefit of them, beyond what we're doing already, to the people who are being served by this offer. Certainly, in terms of additional charges, we would be heavily reliant on third parties to provide the information to inform these reports, so they have then a burden. We'd have no way of guaranteeing the accuracy or the reliability of the data coming forward, unless we were to put even more stipulations on the quality of that information. 

Whilst I cannot support amendments 32 and 33, I hope the committee will be reassured by the fact that real, live, ongoing evaluation of the offer, some of which you will hear about next week, will enable us to gauge what's happening across the childcare sector in respect of these concerns in relation to additional charges, and so that we can take action if appropriate. So, for those reasons, Chair, that I've outlined, I won't be supporting amendments 3, 20, 25, 32 or 33.

In respect of the comments on the foundation phase and the childcare offer, just to reassure Members, those discussions between myself and the Cabinet Secretary for Education are live. They've been ongoing since we were piloting the offer. The Cabinet Secretary for Education is very aware of this. This does bring us on to the issue of co-location, and I know we might deal with this in subsequent amendments, Chair, so I won't rehearse arguments here, but we have strengthened the guidance to local authorities only in recent weeks over the drive towards co-location, wherever that is possible, and we've also used the £60 million capital funding that we announced within the last few weeks—month—with specific guidelines around that that should be used primarily to drive co-location to avoid the problems of lifting children up, transporting them somewhere else and dropping them down into a childcare setting out of a foundation phase, because we recognise that trying to actually co-locate foundation phase and childcare for most people will be the right solution. 

But I will go away and explore further, in response to the committee's views here, how we might be able to meet some of what's said out in amendment 32—Janet's amendment—relating to the hourly rate, making information about the rate more public, more transparent and maybe with a view to bringing forward something in Stage 3, either by form of an amendment or by form of additional clarity, and I'm happy to work with the committee on that. This would help us, actually, with transparency of the offer. So, I'm happy to work with that, providing a way forward.

Given the work that I've outlined that is being done to monitor carefully what's happening on the ground, given the fact that this is a live offer, that we can see what's happening right now, the work we're doing in terms of additional charges, the clarity, our commitment to keep the hourly rate under review—which we've always committed to and I re-state that today—our very clear, explicit guidance to providers on what's reasonable to charge parents, the fact we're going to strengthen that guidance as well as we go to full roll-out, I would ask Members who've moved these amendments to consider not moving these amendments, work with us as we come forward to Stage 3 there, so that we can, in a constructive way, give the clarity that's needed. But I've put my views clearly on record. We understand the concerns of the committee, we're acting on those concerns already, and we might be able to do a little bit more. 

10:10

Diolch yn fawr, Weinidog, am yr ymateb cynhwysfawr yna. Awgrym yn adroddiad y pwyllgor, wrth gwrs, oedd y byddem ni efallai'n gallu ymgorffori'r costau ychwanegol oddi fewn i'r gyfradd fesul awr y mae'r darparwyr yn ei derbyn. Nid oes dim byd yn y gwelliant sy'n dweud bod yn rhaid i chi ei wneud e fel yna, felly mae yna opsiynau eraill. Rwy'n clywed beth rydych yn ei ddweud ynglŷn ag efallai creu cyfundrefn sydd ychydig yn fwy dyrys, ond mae yna egwyddor sylfaenol fan hyn. Pan ŷm ni'n cael ein trafodaethau ar draws llawr y Siambr neu fwrdd y pwyllgor yma ynglŷn ag uchafswm cyflog pobl sydd yn gymwys i'r cynnig yma, rŷch yn ein hatgoffa ni, wrth gwrs, fod mwyafrif llethol y bobl sydd yn gymwys ben arall y sbectrwm cyflog—hynny yw, ymhlith y bobl dlotaf sydd mewn gwaith—ac mae tlodi mewn gwaith yn nodwedd sydd yn fwyfwy amlwg o fewn yr economi ac o fewn cymdeithas yng Nghymru heddiw. Rheini, wrth gwrs, yw'r union bobl a fydd yn ei chael hi'n anoddaf i fedru cwrdd â'r costau ychwanegol yma, ac felly nhw fydd y bobl fwyaf tebygol i beidio â manteisio mewn nifer o sefyllfaoedd, rydw i'n siŵr, ar y cynnig yma, fel y clywom ni'n gynharach. Hynny yw, mae'n mynd i fod, i nifer o bobl, bron iawn yn £2,000 y flwyddyn am gynnig gofal plant sydd i fod yn gynnig gofal plant am ddim. 

Y risg arall, wrth gwrs, yw y byddai, efallai, plant yn cael eu tynnu allan o weithgarwch oherwydd y gost, a hynny yn ychwanegu at stigma tlodi, sydd yn rhywbeth rydw i'n eich clywed chi a Gweinidogion eraill yn y Llywodraeth yn dweud eich bod chi'n awyddus i'w daclo a'i herio yn gyson yn y Siambr yna. Mi wnaethoch chi wrthddweud eich hunan ychydig yn eich ymateb, oherwydd mewn ymateb i'r gwelliant ynglŷn â chyhoeddi faint o gostau ychwanegol sydd yn cael eu codi, mi ddywedoch chi y byddai hynny'n fiwrocrataidd—rydw i'n deall y consern; byddwn ni'n ei alw yn dryloywder, nid yn fiwrocratiaeth efallai—ac roeddech chi'n cwestiynnu pa mor ddibynnol a pha mor gywir byddai'r data yna. Ond, ar yr un pryd, rydych chi'n trio tawelu ein meddyliau ni drwy ddweud eich bod chi yn mynd i gadw llygad ar faint o gostau ychwanegol sydd yn cael eu codi. Wel, allwch chi ddim ei chael hi'r ddwy ffordd, hyd y gwelaf i. Felly, fe fyddaf i yn symud gwelliant 3, ac, fel y dywedais i, yn cefnogi gwelliannau eraill yn y grŵp yma.  

I thank the Minister for that comprehensive response. The suggestion in the committee's report was that we would perhaps be able to incorporate the additional costs within the hourly rate that providers receive. There's nothing in the amendment that says you have to do it that way, so there are other options. I hear what you say about maybe creating a system that is a bit more complicated but there is a fundamental principle here. When we have our discussions in the Chamber or around this committee table about the maximum salary of people who are eligible for this offer, you remind us that the majority of people who are eligible are at the other end of the salary spectrum—that is, among the poorest people who are in work—and in-work poverty is a more obvious characteristic of the economy and in society in Wales today. They, of course, are the exact people who will find it most difficult to meet these additional costs and therefore they will be the most likely people to not take advantage in a number of situations, I'm sure, of this offer, as we heard earlier. That is, it's going to be, for a number of people, almost £2,000 a year for a childcare offer that is supposed to be a free childcare offer. 

The other risk, of course, is that children might be withdrawn from activities because of the cost, and that could add to the stigma of poverty, which is something that I hear you and other Ministers in the Government say that you're eager to tackle and challenge consistently in the Chamber. You did contradict yourself rather, in your response, because in response to the amendment on publishing how many additional costs are being levied, you said that that would be bureaucratic—I understand that concern; I would call it transparent, rather than bureaucratic—and you did question how reliable and accurate the data would be. But, at the same time, you're trying to calm our minds by saying that you're going to keep under review how many additional costs are going to be levied. Well, you can't have it both ways, as far as I can see. So, I will be moving amendment 3, and, as I said, I will be supporting the other amendments in this group. 

10:15

Thank you, Llyr. The question then is that amendment 3 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Thank you. I'll therefore take a vote by show of hands. The question is that amendment 3 be agreed. Those in favour, please raise your hands. Those against. There voted six against and four [correction: one] in favour. Amendment 3 therefore falls. 

Gwelliant 3: O blaid: 1, Yn erbyn: 6, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 3: For: 1, Against: 6, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 3: Cymhwystra rhieni (Gwelliannau 4A, 4, 6, 7, 22, 24, 8)
Group 3: Parental eligibility (Amendments 4A, 4, 6, 7, 22, 24, 8)

We'll move on now then to group 3, which relates to parental eligibility. The lead amendment in the group is amendment 4 in the name of Llyr Gruffydd. I call on Llyr to move amendment 4 and to speak to his amendments and the other amendments in this group. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 4 (Llyr Gruffydd, gyda chefnogaeth Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 4 (Llyr Gruffydd, supported by Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. Mae gwelliant 4 a gwelliannau 6 ac 8, sydd yn welliannau canlyniadol, yn deillio o argymhelliad 7 o adroddiad y pwyllgor yma wrth graffu'r Bil yng Nghyfnod 1, sef, wrth gwrs, fod y Bil yn cael ei ddiwygio i ymestyn ei ddarpariaethau y tu hwnt i rieni sy'n gweithio ac i gynnwys rhieni sy'n ceisio gwaith drwy ymgymryd ag addysg a hyfforddiant sy'n gysylltiedig â sicrhau cyflogaeth. Hynny yw, pam ddylai pobl sy'n gweithio cael gofal plant am ddim tra bod pobl eraill sy'n trio dod o hyd i waith drwy hyfforddiant a gwella eu sgiliau ddim yn cael yr un cyfle? Mae'n egwyddor digon hawdd i'w deall. Rwy'n gwybod y bydd y Gweinidog yn trio rhoi sicrwydd i ni fel pwyllgor bod y rhaglen PaCE yn bodoli, ond rŷm ni hefyd fel pwyllgor wrth gwrs wedi clywed bod yna gwestiynau mawr ynglŷn â dyfodol y rhaglen yna o 2020 ymlaen, gan ei bod hi wrth gwrs yn ddibynnol ar ariannu o'r Undeb Ewropeaidd.

Ni fyddaf yn cefnogi gwelliant 4A na gwelliant 24, sydd yn welliant canlyniadol. Rydw i'n hapus i adael y diffiniad o beth yw addysg a hyfforddiant i'r Gweinidog.

Mae gwelliant 7 yn y grŵp yma—. Mae gen i broblem sylfaenol gyda chwpl sy'n ennill £200,000, fel y mae'r Gweinidog yn ei wybod, yn cael cynnig gofal am ddim tra bod y rhai tlotaf yn y gymdeithas—hynny yw, boed eu bod nhw allan o waith neu mewn addysg a hyfforddiant wrth gwrs, fel y mae'r gwelliant arall yn ei danlinellu—yn gorfod talu am yr un cyfle i'w plant. Ymgais yw'r gwelliant yma i gael y Llywodraeth i feddwl eto am y lefel yna o enillion. Rydw i'n meddwl bod angen adolygu hynny. Mi ddylai fe fod yn is, ac, os oes yna arbedion yn dod yn sgil hynny, yna byddai rhywun yn gobeithio y byddai modd defnyddio hynny i leddfu, efallai, ar y costau ychwanegol ychydig, neu i ehangu'r cynnig i grwpiau eraill. Mae'r pwyllgor wedi cefnogi'r alwad yma, wrth gwrs, oherwydd fe gefnogwyd argymhelliad 31 yn adroddiad y pwyllgor, i adolygu'r cap incwm o £100,000 fesul rhiant. Rwy'n hyderus felly y bydd Aelodau yn cefnogi'r gwelliant penodol hwnnw. 

Rydw i'n hapus i gefnogi gwelliannau 22—gwelliant 22, mae'n ddrwg gen i—gan Janet Finch-Saunders, am fod yr angen am gyfnodau esemptio dros dro yn gwbl resymol yn fy marn i. 

Thank you very much, Chair. Amendment 4 and amendments 6 and 8, which are consequential amendments, emerge from recommendation 7 of this committee's report as we scrutinised the Bill at Stage 1, namely of course that the Bill should be amended to extend its provisions beyond working parents to include parents who are seeking employment by undertaking education and training with the purpose of securing employment. That is, why should people who work receive free childcare while others who are trying to find work through education and improving their skills not have the same opportunity? It's an easily understood principle. I know that the Minister will try and give us an assurance as a committee that the parents, childcare and employment programme is in existence, but we as a committee have also heard that there are major questions about the future of that programme from 2020 onwards, as it does of course rely on European funding. 

I won't be supporting amendment 4A or amendment 24, which is consequential. I am happy to leave the definition of what education and training is to the Minister.

Amendment 7 in this group—. I do have a fundamental problem with a couple earning £200,000, as the Minister knows, being able to access free childcare whilst the poorest in our communities—be they out of work or in education and training, as the other amendment highlights—do have to pay for that same opportunity for their children. This amendment is an attempt to get the Government to think again about that level of earnings. I do think we need to review that. It should be lower. If there are to be savings as a result of that then one would hope that that could be used to alleviate some of the additional costs a little or to expand the offer to other groups. The committee has supported this demand, because recommendation 31 of the committee's report was supported, which was to review the cap of £100,000 per parent. I am therefore confident that Members will support that specific amendment.

I'm happy to support amendments 22—or amendment 22, rather—by Janet Finch-Saunders, because the need for temporary exemptions is entirely reasonable in my view. 

Thank you, Chair. I have tabled amendment 4A, which is an amendment to Llyr's amendment 4, along with amendments 22 and 24. Amendment 4A actually enhances Llyr Gruffydd AM's amendment 4, which broadens the eligibility criteria for parents. It also supports recommendation 7 of the CYPE committee, which asked for the Bill to include parents seeking work through undertaking education and training linked to securing employment. The amendment limits the eligibility of the offer to parents who are undertaking courses to secure employment for at least 16 hours per week for at least 10 weeks. The Bill as it stands requires parents to be working at least 16 hours per week in order to be eligible for free childcare. So, therefore, it is appropriate that, should entitlement be extended to those in education or training, this should also be at least 16 hours of education or training per week. The 10-week limit is proposed to ensure that that scheme is proportionate and to minimise the administrative burden that may arise should parents be engaged in shorter courses. It was clear from evidence submitted to the committee that there was strong opposition to the limitation of the Bill to working parents only. In particular, the Children's Commissioner for Wales stated that she remains unconvinced that there was an evidence base to limit the application of the offer to working parents only. Both the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers and Save the Children were aware of similar views within their evidence, noting that limiting the Bill's reach could exasperate the achievement gaps, and remain unfulfilled in its potential to help prevent children in poverty falling behind early.

Amendment 22 covers parents who dip in and out of the current eligibility criteria and helps with applying a grace period. Both NASUWT and Chwarae Teg called for this to be included, as volatile job markets could leave parents without entitlement to the offer.

The CYPE committee subsequently voiced its concerns about the lack of clarity from the information provided by the Welsh Government in the Minister's evidence. Specifically, the committee warned that it was not clear whether a requirement to have a temporary exclusion period would be stated through the Bill. So, therefore, it is a disappointment that the Minister has failed to accept the recommendation of our committee to place this grace period on the face of the Bill. In your response to the committee, you continue to retain your belief that details such as this were better accommodated within an administrative scheme, instead relegating your own promises to an initial framework administrative scheme before Stage 3 of the Bill is reached.

Amendment 24 is, of course, consequential to amendment 4 and just defines the term 'academic year'. 

10:20

Thank you, Chair. I think the committee did have a lot of discussion about how important it was for parents who were undertaking education and training to have the opportunity of help, because, obviously, education and training is a step towards work, and I think we found it was very difficult to, actually, divide those two things. So, there was a lot of sympathy in the committee for extending this to education and training. But I wonder now if the Minister, when he responds, could go through what exactly is available for education and training at the moment, so that we do know the extent of that sort of provision, and whether he would look, in the future, at any gaps that arise, because, as I say, this is one of the key things I think that the committee felt very strongly about.

The other issue I just wanted to raise was—. I personally believe, strongly, in universal provision and believe that it would be great if we could have universal provision, but I understand that that there are financial restraints on doing what we may want to do. This is universal provision for all those who are working, and I feel I accept that way of proceeding, and that we don't exclude people who earn above a certain amount, because I think we all know that universal-type benefits are the most successful type of benefits. And you really want people to have a buy-in into the state, whatever their income, because I think that helps make people feel that they belong and support the society that we have. So, I wouldn't be maintaining that there should be any cap on the income of people who receive this. I'd rather like to think that we could extend it to others, and that if the Minister's not able to do that now, today, he would commit to looking at this in the future, and particularly the education and training part.

Thank you, Chair. Yes, I absolutely agree with Julie Morgan on the issue of universal benefits, and I think that is one of the ways in which we can remove stigma from people, actually, when everybody's entitled to a particular benefit. And Julie's also covered much of what I wanted to ask in relation to education and training, because I think I'm absolutely behind Llyr in terms of what he's trying to achieve with this. Although, I have to say that I—

Indeed, yes. But what I have to say is that I was approached recently by a constituent who was in just this situation, about wanting to access childcare to get into training to get back into work, and was able to access finances for childcare, but it was a bit of a minefield to get through it and find it and eventually receive it. So, my question is whether this can be looked at in the future, as part of this provision, but, for now, whether we can be making it far simpler and clearer for people. Because there is provision already out there for people to access support for childcare when they're training, but trying to find it and access it is really quite difficult. I know that's not part of the Bill, but if I could ask the Minister if he could take this back and look at a way in which the Government could simplify the information available to people who are trying to access childcare when they're in training. I think that would be enormously helpful.

10:25

Thank you, again, to those who've moved these amendments and also for the other contributions from the committee. You've rightly pointed out that the amendments within this group relate to the eligibility for the offer—the eligibility criteria—and they are closely aligned with some of the committee's recommendations about opening up the scope of the offer to parents in education and training in particular, but other aspects as well. As I've signaled before, I'm not only aware of but also sympathetic to those arguments, and the challenges that all parents in very different circumstances face in accessing affordable childcare when they need it.

I've said previously, in my response to the committee, that this childcare offer is specifically targeted at working parents of three and four-year-old children, but we do indeed have a number—not simply PaCE—of other childcare support programmes, which I'll detail in a moment, which are in place for parents who are in training or in education, and for other parents who just need support to return to work with some element of childcare. But I would say, in prefacing my detailed remarks, that the work of the committee to date has helped to highlight for me, and for my officials, that the various programmes for parents in education and in training are not as visible—Dawn's point—as they need to be. We can work on that, we can do things on that quite practically—that the support actually is out there, and I'll turn to Julie's point on that in my remarks as well.

I said in my response to the committee during Stage 1 that I would commission a piece of internal work to examine how we can do away with some of the confusion about what support is available for different categories of parent. Dawn, rightly, makes this point—I've had this from other AMs as well—of people who've found support, but they struggled to find it, or, at least, there were two, three or four different places they went to to actually find the support that they needed, which didn't fall within this offer, but was outwith this offer. They found the support, but the struggle of actually finding it—. So, I really would welcome the opportunity, actually, to come back to committee with a subsequent piece of work. If the committee was willing to look at this—it's entirely in the gift of the committee—to look at that sort of mapping and the landscape of childcare provision in its entirety beyond this offer, I'd be more than happy to engage with that, because I think it'd be of assistance to us within Government as well.

If I can turn to—. I did set out in my response to the 'Work it Out' report that I don't think that the answer to some of these questions is to try to stretch this offer to cover everything, as the amendments seek to do. But we will look carefully at what the research and what the evidence is telling us about additional actions we need to take to support other groups of parents with their childcare costs in the future.

This group of amendments does go to the heart of the eligibility criteria. So, 4A, 4 and 6 in particular are about opening up the scope of the offer to include qualifying children of parents in education and training. I touched on the range of programmes that are already in place to provide support to other categories of parents, and they include PaCE, but they also, of course, include Flying Start. Flying Start, let's not forget, is for parents and families in particular areas, which this committee has highlighted before, but it includes 2.5 hours of childcare for five days a week, and that is not particularly for parents in work—it's for parents who are out of work as well. We also have work-based learning support for non-employed learners, we have the financial contingency fund for individuals attending further education, and the childcare grant to students in higher education.

Let me turn to PaCE first of all. PaCE is a £13.5 million project, jointly funded by the Welsh Government and the European social fund—jointly funded. It targets its services to economically inactive parents right across Wales who consider childcare to be the main barrier for them accessing training or employment opportunities. And to give you an idea of the scale of what it does at the moment, PaCE has worked, since July 2015, with over 3,400 parents. It's helped over 1,100 of those into work. Five hundred and ninety parents have received financial support through PaCE for their children to access registered childcare, and this support has enabled parents to undertake training, work experience, volunteering opportunities, to increase their confidence and their employability skills and improve their chances of moving into sustainable employment.

10:30

That's really interesting; I didn't—[Inaudible.]—actually. But you mentioned that this is jointly funded through EU funding, which leaves it vulnerable post Brexit. Is there a possibility, then, looking further ahead, that PaCE could disappear and that this Bill, down the line, might be able to accommodate it via amendment?

Suzy, you have astutely anticipated both what I'm going to say, but also some of the work we've been doing as well. I'll come right back to that in a moment. 

Thank you, it was a great intervention.

I just want to add a couple of details here, which may help the committee. PaCE has paid out now over £400,000 in childcare costs, not only supporting parents prepare for work, but also helping them make the transition into employment for the first few weeks of their employment. There's an evaluation to consider the impact of PaCE that has been commissioned. The first report is due to be published later this year, which will be of interest to the committee, and it will include feedback from parents on how PaCE supported them into work, and how childcare was addressed to meet their needs and help them back into work. We do have discussions, live time and ongoing, that we've instigated with the Welsh European Funding Office regarding extending the PaCE project beyond 2020, and the evaluation findings will form part of that consideration.

The committee might be aware as well that, in the responding to the equalities committee, we responded to six recommendations relating to PaCE and we accepted all of them, and that included the aspects of futureproofing the support within PaCE, or something beyond PaCE, in terms of parents who are in education and training.

Flying Start, I mentioned—that itself provides quality childcare to parents of eligible two and three-year-olds, for two and a half hours a day, five days a week, for 39 weeks of the year. The financial contingency fund provides help to students in further education who need help with childcare costs. Lone parents are one of the priority groups with funding within this particular package, and in 2016-17, 901 awards were made to student parents to help with childcare costs, which amounted to £2.7 million of funding.

Full and part-time students in higher education who have dependent children under 15 can access the childcare grant. This is worth up to £161 per week for the first child, or £274 a week for two or more children. But I touched—. Even saying all of that, the points that have been made by Julie and others on the gaps—I really would welcome further work by the committee on this, and our commitment is there as a Government to engage with the committee's work in looking at whether there are gaps beyond this that we haven't seen. It will be a worthwhile exercise to do it, and probably the childcare offer is adding to the provision, but it might give us the opportunity to look at whether there's something that we're missing.

In terms of amendments 4A, 4 and 6, and consequential amendments 24 and 8, we won't be supporting them, on the basis that this offer has always been about working parents. We are providing, as I've said, support with childcare costs for other categories of parents through different schemes. We'll most definitely be looking at ways in which we can communicate and raise awareness of what's out there. There is indeed something for everyone, we believe.

We don't intend to support amendment 7, because this amendment makes no difference in terms of practical effect from what we have in the Bill already, so we don't consider it necessary. The upper earnings threshold is a fundamental part of the eligibility criteria, and as such details of the cap will have to specified in regulations under section 1 in order for the eligibility checks to be made. But if I can just expand briefly, because the interesting discussion on committee this morning about the attractiveness of universality, or actually making it more specific in terms of some forms of means testing—it's always a moot point, but two of the committee members have raised this morning this issue of how, generally speaking, there is more support for offers like this if there is some universality, and I had this discussion with Assembly Members when we were taking this offer forward, and also with fellow Ministers: would it be possible, money allowing, that we could have an element of universality within it? So, we've done it not in terms of younger age groups, but in terms of the offer generally—this offer—that it is universality in terms of the offer available to those within that earnings thing. The evidence, as I said before Llyr—and you'll see the evaluation results as they come forward—is not that we have super affluent, mega rich families yachting out of Cardiff Bay who are taking account—. The don't need to, quite frankly. It is being taken up by those families who are below the median wage in Wales. So, I don't believe that the offer is going to provide a large subsidy for Wales's high-earning families, and the evidence, in fact, from the early implementation, the early implementer authorities, suggests that in each and every early implementer local authority, in each and every one, around 60 per cent of those parents who are accessing the offer earn less than £26,000, which is the average salary for Wales. It's doing what we intended it to do, and that's the real, live evaluation of what we're having.

When our evaluators come and speak to members of the committee on 24 October, they'll be able to share more about it and Members will be able to quiz them more about what they found and how the offer is. I have to say, hearing it first hand, it is changing people's lives for the better, it is going to lower income families, and it means that people have more money in their pockets directly because of it.

We have, though, considered—and I've said this to the committee before—a range of options for the upper earnings cap, including from having no cap whatsoever, an absolutely universal offer, to lowering the cap to £80,000, £60,000 or whatever. And it is true that some savings, some savings, could be gained from having a lower cap. However, it would mean that the eligibility criteria for the Government-funded childcare offer here in Wales would be different from the criteria in England. It could put us in that situation where parents in Wales couldn't access something that those across the border can, and that's a pertinent point to this. We could look at setting a lower earnings cap here in Wales in future. We've had those discussions, Llyr, with HMRC already, and whilst we know that it could cost us a bit more in terms of managing the agency contract—and we don't know how much at the moment, but a little bit more—it's by no means off the table as an option for the future, if we think it's the right way to go here in Wales and if the evidence shows us this and if this committee says to me a year down the line, two years down the line, 'Have a rethink, Minister. Can we make a cost-effective case for lowering the cap?' We can do that. So, I've said all along that, if there are lessons to be learnt that we can take on board from the first year of implementation, or when we come to the full roll-out of Wales, we'll of course review those eligibility criteria with a view to making the necessary changes.

I've been very clear throughout this Bill with the scrutiny that the offer is aimed at working parents. I'm committed to commissioning a piece of internal work to map out what support there is for different categories of parents, and I've brought to the attention of Members a range of other sources of support.

I've missed something—thank you very much, Owain. Amendment 22 is related to the temporary exemption period, the period of time a person would continue to benefit from the offer despite falling out of eligibility. I provided a note to the committee on this during Stage 1. I think, and I remain of the belief, that the administrative scheme is the best place for administrative matters to be dealt with. That isn't to say that I don't want Assembly Members to have a say on these issues. I've offered to bring the scheme forward to the committee in the spring so that we can discuss this further. So, on this basis, I would urge Members not to support amendment 22.

So, with those comments, Chair, I hope I've given a fairly comprehensive answer to the many points that were raised.

10:35

Yes, thank you, Chair. I'm heartened by the Minister being open-minded in relation to the cap, and I hear a lot of the comments that he and others have made, and I think they're very valid. I'm still going to move my amendment, but I think that, actually, I'm glad that that is still a live discussion and a live consideration in terms of the Government's thinking in the longer term or medium term at least.

You mentioned that you are going to be looking to map the landscape of provision that's out there for different groups. Actually, I'm a bit more worried now that we are actually deliberating on legislation here and you're telling us that you haven't mapped some of that provision that's out there. I may have misunderstood—. Do you want to correct me? Sorry—

Sorry, with the Chair's dispensation—. No, it's not that we haven't mapped it; we think, actually, that we've got good coverage, but we would be interested, subsequent to this offer, as this offer is rolled out, in actually looking across the piece. In fact we would encourage the committee, if it was so minded, to look at that as well. It's not that we think that there are gaps, but I think it's right that the Government always says, 'Let's look and see if we can find any.' But we think we've got good coverage, as I've laid out in my remarks in response to these amendments.

10:40

Okay. I'm still a bit nervous, but there we are. Okay. I hear what you're saying.

Julie Morgan rightly urged the Government to look at the gaps. I'm urging the Government to fill the gaps, really. That's the point I'm trying to make here. I hear what the Minister's saying about the reassurances that we do have—PaCE, Flying Start, work-based learning support, the financial contingency fund, the childcare grant—well, if all that is out there, why are we afraid of formally extending the offer to those in training and education? Because clearly a lot of those bases are already covered, and if you're telling us that there is quite a bit of provision out there, then surely it isn't such a leap of faith to formally extend it on the face of this Bill. Do you want to intervene again?

Llyr, thank you very much. Just to clarify, some of the offers I described actually go not only way beyond this offer, but way beyond the three and four-year-olds as well. So that's why actually incorporating them into a wider offer to do with this not only takes us beyond the offer, but mutates it significantly into other age groups. But they're already out there.

Okay. What I'm really struggling with here is that we have a Cabinet Secretary who's responsible for this Bill who has declared publicly that he supports extending the provision to those in education and training; we have a Minister, by the fact of his personal support for universal provision, who clearly then would support extending it to those in education and training; we have Assembly Members, by virtue of their support for the recommendation, asking for it to be extended to those in education and training, now seemingly arguing against extending it to those in education and training, and I think that says a lot about where this Government is at the moment on this particular issue. If you believe in it, support it, and I would urge you to support Plaid Cymru's amendment to extend the provision of free childcare to those in education and training. 

Thank you, Llyr. Before disposing of amendment 4 we'll deal with the amendment to that amendment. Janet, do you wish to move amendment 4A?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 4A (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 4A (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

Thank you. The question, then, is that amendment 4A be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] I will therefore take a vote by show of hands. The question is that amendment 4A be agreed. All those in favour please raise your hands. All those against. Anyone abstaining? No. All right, okay. So there voted three in favour, five against, so amendment 4A falls. 

Gwelliant 4A: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 5, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 4A: For: 3, Against: 5, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Llyr, you said that you want to proceed to a vote on amendment 4. The question is that amendment 4 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] I'll therefore take a vote by show of hands. The question is that amendment 4 be agreed. All those in favour. All those against. Right, okay. So, as there's a tied vote—there voted four in favour, four against—I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii). So, amendment 4 is not agreed. 

Gwelliant 4: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 4: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 4: Darpariaeth gofal plant Cymraeg (Gwelliant 5)
Group 4: Welsh language childcare provision (Amendment 5)

We move on, then, to group 4, which relates to Welsh language childcare provision. The lead and only amendment in the group is amendment 5 in the name of Llyr Gruffydd, who I call on to move amendment 5 and to speak to it.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 5 (Llyr Gruffydd).

Amendment 5 (Llyr Gruffydd) moved.

Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. Bwriad gwelliant 5, wrth gwrs, yw sicrhau bod darpariaeth gofal plant cyfrwng Cymraeg ar gael fel rhan o'r cynnig gofal plant ym mhob rhan o Gymru. Mi oedd argymhelliad 37 y pwyllgor yn ein hadroddiad ni yn gwbl ddi-flewyn ar dafod yn hyn o beth. Mae Aelodau wedi gwneud eu dymuniad yn glir fod Llywodraeth Cymru, yn unol ag argymhellion Comisiynydd y Gymraeg, yn gweithio i integreiddio'r cynnig gofal plant gyda strategaeth 2050, ac yn defnyddio'r cynlluniau strategol Cymraeg mewn addysg i bennu targedau mewn perthynas â darpariaeth gofal plant cyfrwng Cymraeg.

Mae'r drafodaeth o gwmpas y cynlluniau strategol Cymraeg mewn addysg yn fyw iawn ar hyn o bryd, wrth gwrs, felly mae hwn yn eithaf amserol, byddwn i'n tybio. Mi ddylai'r cynnig gofal plant, yn fy marn i, fod yn greiddiol i'r cynlluniau strategol hynny, oherwydd dyna sy'n creu'r pipeline o ddisgyblion yn dod drwyddo i ysgolion cynradd ac yna ysgolion uwchradd a fyddai'n rhoi'r hyder wedyn i'r awdurdodau lleol fuddsoddi mewn addysg Gymraeg a thwf addysg Gymraeg ar draws Cymru.

Mae'r cynnig gofal plant, yn fy marn i, yn gorfod bod yn greiddiol i'r targed o 1 filiwn o siaradwyr Cymraeg erbyn 2050 oherwydd os nad yw rhieni'n dewis darpariaeth cyn-ysgol cyfrwng Cymraeg i'w plant, yna'r tebygrwydd llethol yw na fyddan nhw wedyn, wrth gwrs, yn dilyn drwyddo i fynychu ysgolion a chael addysg Gymraeg. Ac, o safbwynt y Gymraeg, y tebygrwydd wedyn yw y byddan nhw wedi eu colli am byth.

Felly, rwyf eisiau clywed gan y Gweinidog y bore yma lefel ei ymrwymiad ef i sicrhau darpariaeth cyfrwng Cymraeg ar draws Cymru yng nghyd-destun y cynnig yma. A ydyw e’n cefnogi cynnwys creu targedau o ran darpariaeth cyn-ysgol yn y cynlluniau strategol fel un modd o sbarduno’r twf sydd ei angen i gyrraedd nod y Llywodraeth? Ac os yw e, neu os nad yw e, sut mae e’n gweld y Bil a'r polisi gofal plant yma yn cyfrannu'n rhagweithiol—a dyna sy’n bwysig, yn rhagweithiol—tuag at y nod hwnnw?

Thank you very much, Chair. The purpose of amendment 5, of course, is to ensure that Welsh-medium childcare provision is available as part of the childcare offer in all parts of Wales. Recommendation 37 made by this committee in our report was entirely clear in this regard. Members have made their wishes clear that the Welsh Government, in accordance with the recommendations of the Welsh Language Commissioner, should work to integrate the childcare offer with the Cymraeg 2050 strategy, and use Welsh in education strategic plans to set targets in relation to Welsh-medium childcare provision.

The discussion around the WESPs is a live issue now, of course, so this is quite timely, I would have thought. The childcare offer, in my view, should be at the heart of those Welsh in education strategic plans because that's what creates the pipeline of pupils coming through to primary schools and then on to secondary schools that would give the local authorities the confidence to invest in Welsh-medium education and the growth of Welsh-medium education across Wales. 

The childcare offer, in my view, has to be at the heart of that target of 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050 because if parents don't choose pre-school Welsh-medium provision for their children, then the overwhelming likelihood is that they won't, then, follow through to attend Welsh-medium schools and access Welsh-medium education. And the likelihood then is that they will be lost to the Welsh language.

So, I want to hear from the Minister this morning the level of his commitment to ensuring Welsh-medium provision across Wales in the context of this offer. Does he support the creation of targets in terms of pre-school provision in the strategic plans as one way of getting that growth that we need to reach the Government's targets? And if he does, or if he doesn't, how does he see this Bill and this childcare policy contributing proactively—and that’s important, proactively—to that target?

10:45

Yes, thank you Chair. Just very briefly. We'll be supporting this amendment, but I wonder, actually, if both Llyr and the Minister would respond to my observation that, when we have the words here, 'provision of childcare involving the use of Welsh language'—sorry,

'meets the needs of qualifying children for whom the provision of childcare involving the use of the Welsh language is required.'

That actually covers all children in Wales these days. Obviously, there's a question of degree, depending where these children are from, but I'm hoping that the amendment doesn't suggest that only some settings require Welsh language when all of them do, in an appropriate manner.

Thank you, Suzy. Are there any other Members who wish to speak? No? Can I call the Minister, then?

Thank you, Chair. First of all, can I just say to Llyr I have an enormous amount of sympathy for what you're trying to achieve with this amendment and fully agree that securing the availability of Welsh-medium childcare is vital as part of realising the ambition that we have in Cymraeg 2050? But, curiously, picking up on Suzy's point, for a couple of reasons, we don't believe this amendment quite hits the mark in its current form, but it is an area where I would like to work with Llyr and the committee, and also with the Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, to see if we can find a constructive way forward and get this right. Very interestingly at the moment, in Bridgend in my area, the local authority has grasped the opportunity of the development of the childcare offer and some of the capital funding that we've put behind it as well and is pulling it into how they develop their vision, which we need to do in Bridgend, of growing Welsh as a living community language.

So, let me say a couple of things here. First of all, we have duties already on local authorities in terms of the planning and delivery of provision across the early years. And under the Childcare Act 2006, local authorities, of course, must have regard to the needs of parents for childcare involving the Welsh language in ensuring sufficiency of childcare provision in their areas. Under the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013, local authorities are also required to set out in their Welsh in education strategic plans—the WESPs that Llyr has referred to—how they will improve both in the planning of provision for and the standards of Welsh-medium education in their area. And as I mentioned, it’s great to see, not just in Bridgend but in other areas, how people now are looking to use this as part of that wider landscape of driving forward Welsh language provision. But we know that the reality is that there isn't enough Welsh-medium capacity, so that's why, as a Government, we're investing now in the expansion of the Welsh-medium childcare sector, Welsh language training for the childcare sector, and greater data collection and analysis around the demand for and the capacity to provide Welsh-medium childcare, and we're engaging, by the way, with Welsh-medium childcare organisations in doing this as well. So we're engaging with the sector.

Through the early implementation, we're looking to test further where the gaps exist, because we know they are there, and from this, we can look, then, to work with those organisations out there, the umbrella organisations and direct providers, to build the capacity in the market. In the meantime, Welsh Government has awarded Mudiad Meithrin an extra £1 million a year over the next two years to establish new settings in areas where there's a lack of Welsh-medium provision. The first group of these new settings are due to open during this academic year, and we've committed to increasing the number of Welsh-medium nursery groups by 150 over the next decade. Back in the summer, I announced a £60 million capital grant programme for 2018-21. A key aim of this programme is to support the expansion of Welsh-medium provision in line with the Cymraeg 2050 strategy.

So, coming back to Llyr's amendment, there is already significant work in hand. It's important we harness that and build on what's there. I will need to speak with my Cabinet colleague Eluned Morgan who has the portfolio responsibility for the local authority WESPs. And I know that there's an advisory board currently looking at WESPs, and it's started to consider how to strengthen the links between the planning of Welsh-medium children provision and statutory education. So, I'd be keen to see what more we can do within this space.  

So, if I can, I'd like to take this issue away and discuss in more detail with Llyr and the committee, and the Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, what more we can do in this space, because it is really important that families who want Welsh-medium early years provision are able to access it. And it is important for our ambition as a Government to see the language thrive, so it could be that we bring back a different amendment during Stage 3, or it could be that, after discussion, we find a different way to take forward things quite constructively and explicitly, in line with what I've been saying about the work streams that are already going on.

So, I'm not content to support amendment 5 for the reasons I've laid out, and some of it is to do with the reasons that Suzy has flagged up. But I do want to work with Llyr and the committee on this basis, so I'd ask on this basis—I know I ask this regularly—whether you'd consider not moving it, and then work with us to see if it might be possible to bring forward an amendment, or further reassurances and clarification around the work streams for Stage 3. 

10:50

Diolch i bawb am eu cyfraniad ac i'r Gweinidog, yn enwedig. Jest i ymateb i gwestiwn Suzy Davies, fy mwriad i yw sicrhau bod y ddarpariaeth ar gael ym mhob rhan o Gymru, a bod mynediad gan bobl sy'n dymuno cael gofal plant cyfrwng Cymraeg, eu bod nhw'n gallu cael hynny. Felly, rydw i'n hyderus y byddai'r cynnig yn caniatáu i hynny ddigwydd. 

Mi gyfeiriodd y Gweinidog at y £1 filiwn ychwanegol i'r Mudiad Meithrin. Rwy'n ymwybodol iawn o hynny, oherwydd Plaid Cymru, fel rhan o'r cytundeb cyllideb, a sicrhaodd fod hynny yn digwydd, wrth gwrs, Mae'r Gweinidog yn dweud ei fod e am siarad â'r Gweinidog arall, Eluned Morgan. Wel, mae'r gwelliant yma wedi ei osod ers rhai wythnosau; rydw i'n siŵr y byddech chi wedi gallu llwyddo i gael sgwrs erbyn hyn. Ond rydw i yn clywed yr hyn rŷch chi'n ei ddweud, a'r cynnig i weithio gyda fi a'r pwyllgor i edrych ar, efallai, ddod â gwelliant arall ger bron yng Nghyfnod 3. 

I fi, mae rhywbeth fel hyn yn brawf diamwys o ymrwymiad Llywodraeth Cymru i'r targed o 1 filiwn o siaradwyr Cymraeg erbyn 2050. Mae mynd i'r afael â chreu'r ddarpariaeth o ofal cyfrwng Cymraeg i'r grŵp oedran yma yn benodol yn rhyw fath o litmus test i fi, o safbwynt pa mor o ddifrif mae'r Llywodraeth ynglŷn â'r agenda yna. Byddai methu â sicrhau'r ddarpariaeth, i fi, yn golygu, yn syml iawn, ein bod ni'n methu cwrdd â'r targed yn yr hirdymor. Ond yn ysbryd y cynnig gan y Gweinidog, mi fyddaf i'n barod i beidio â symud y gwelliant yma heddiw, gan obeithio'n fawr y gallwn ni ddod i ryw drefniant neu gytundeb ynglŷn â gwelliant efallai a fydd yn gallu cyflawni'r hyn rydw i am ei weld yn cael ei gyflawni yn fwy effeithiol. 

Thank you to everyone for their contribution and the Minister, especially. Just to respond to Suzy Davies's question, my intention is to ensure that provision is available in all parts of Wales, and that access is available to everyone who wants Welsh-medium provision, that they can have that. So, I'm confident that the offer or proposal would allow that to happen. 

The Minister referred to the additional £1 million for Mudiad Meithrin. I'm very aware of that, because it was Plaid Cymru, as part of the budgetary agreement, that ensured that that happened, of course. The Minister said that he wants to talk to the other Minister, Eluned Morgan. Well, this amendment has been tabled for some weeks; I'm sure you would have been able to have a conversation by now. But I do hear what you say, and the offer to work with me and the committee to look at possibly bringing forward another amendment at Stage 3. 

To me, something like this is a clear test of the Welsh Government's commitment to the target of 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050. Tackling the creation of provision of Welsh-medium care for this age group specifically is a litmus test for me in terms of how seriously the Welsh Government takes this agenda. Failing to ensure the provision would mean to me, very simply, that we wouldn't be able to meet that target in the long term. But, in the spirit of the offer by the Minister, I will be ready not to move this amendment today, hoping greatly that we can come to some arrangement or agreement regarding an amendment that could deliver what I want to see being delivered more effectively.  

Thank you, Llyr. You have already moved the amendment, so I need to ask whether any Member objects to the withdrawal of amendment 5. No, there's no objection, then that amendment is withdrawn. 

Tynnwyd gwelliant 5 yn ôl gyda chaniatâd y pwyllgor.

Amendment 5 withdrawn by leave of the committee.

Grŵp 5: Cludo rhwng darparwyr (Gwelliant 19)
Group 5: Transportation between providers (Amendment 19)

On to group 5, then: transportation between providers. The lead and only amendment in the group is amendment 19 in the name of Janet Finch-Saunders, who I call to move amendment 19 and to speak to her amendment. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 19 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 19 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

Thank you, Chair. This amendment asks for further information on children's transport between childcare providers, and limits the impact of having to transport children from one childcare setting to another. In evidence to the Children, Young People and Education Committee, a number of organisations raised concerns about the negative impact of moving children between sites that provide childcare and sites that provide early years education. Specifically, Chwarae Teg explained that, in some local authorities, support for the delivery of the early years education is there in a non-maintained setting, but that is not the case in all areas. This means some parents will have to move children between two childcare providers in one day, again thus limiting the offer's reach.

Both Estyn and the Welsh Local Government Association have realised it is important to investigate the transportation of children, with some partnership working being undertaken in parts of Wales. Yet, Estyn have admitted they were not observing the movement of children from one site to another, and the Minister's evidence clearly shows a patchy picture of transport for children across Wales: either parents were organising their own handovers or, indeed, some childcare providers were finding ways to link up with different settings. The Minister himself also noted that there should be a focus, in future, on increasing co-location and collaboration in maintained and non-maintained settings. This amendment, therefore, requests further information on his intentions about transport between these settings. 

10:55

Thank you, Janet. Are there other Members who'd like to speak? Julie Morgan.

Yes. Obviously, I think the proposal for more co-location is a good move forward. I think that moving the children between different places, certainly if they're multiple moves, is not a good idea for the consistency and for support of the children. But I'm also very concerned about the environmental impacts of moving the children because we want to do all we possibly can to stop cars being used, and, really, one of the things is to minimise that. I think if the children walk between one other setting and—I don't think that's quite so bad, really, to have a walk. But in terms of having co-location, I would support the idea that we go forward on that basis of at least improving the number of co-located places.

Thank you, Chair. Right at the outset, let me just make clear, I've said repeatedly all along that I will take steps, wherever I can, to make sure that this offer is as seamless as possible for the benefit of parents and children, including, by the way, the environmental benefits that Julie has just referred to, absolutely. It's not an unhealthy thing, where there isn't co-location of facilities, for children to be organised to walk to a neighbouring facility, and we see it happening. But, ideally, what we want, as we roll this offer out, is to increase significantly the proportion where this is delivered in a co-located premises, wherever possible. I just don't think that placing a duty on the Welsh Ministers to minimise the impact of transporting children between providers is the necessary, or appropriate, way to tackle the issue. Curiously, this often arises, just on the flip-side of this, as a result of local or specific family circumstances outside the remit of Government. It's sometimes, by the way, parents who would actually choose to use different providers for different things, including wraparound care or extra-hours care beyond. I'll turn back to that in a moment, but we do want to encourage more co-location.

The need to transport children isn't something that arises in every setting or in every part of Wales. In fact, we have some providers already who provide the foundation phase and the childcare offer in the same setting seamlessly. But it is a feature of the services offered in some locations, and, in part, it's arisen as a result of market pressure. Childcare providers are responding to what parents have historically asked for. So, curiously, the patchiness that you refer to—it's patchy because it's reflective of a historically quite diverse sector, and it's different in rural Ceredigion to what it is in Blaenau Gwent, to what it is in Cardiff. Some will be provided all on one site, with the foundation phase and childcare; in some, it'll not be possible to do it, but we think we can do more. So, I fully appreciate that this situation has arisen, in part, because of the way that we've historically approached, as well, education and childcare, because, in some parts of Wales, education can only be accessed in specific settings. It's something that I and the Cabinet Secretary for Education are very keen to address jointly.

So, we've already issued revised guidance to local authorities in light of what we'd heard from the committee, and also what we'd heard from providers directly as well. We issued that revised guidance to local authorities in September, we've made it clear in that guidance that we want to see more flexibility in the delivery arrangements for early education. If we allow more childcare providers to offer this, for example, this could increase the options for single-site provision. So, co-located facilities don't entirely need to be in educational facilities. Co-located facilities in, for example, parts of rural Wales could be on an independent provider's site, providing the foundation phase and also the elements; it could be both ways. We're keen to encourage that, and we strengthened that in the guidance, and, by the way, we're also having these discussions with individual local authorities as well, who have different patterns of historic provision and the way they organise it.

Alongside this, back in July this year, I announced a £60 million capital grant programme, spread over the three years until 2021. The primary purpose of this funding, Julie, is indeed to facilitate and support co-location of early education and childcare provision wherever possible. There will be places where it can't be done, but wherever possible. It makes it clear that that's what that £60 million is primarily aimed at. It's in line with out 'Prosperity for All' commitment to, I quote, introduce a new model of 

'Community Learning Centres which provide extended services with childcare, parenting support, family learning and community access to facilities built around the school day.'

And I'll be able to share more information with the committee about the outcome of that grant programme early in the new year. We're quite positive about the take-up of that and the way it's being shaped at the moment and the way it's reshaping the offer. 

But, through guidance and the sharing of good practice, we are encouraging local authorities and providers to think innovatively about how they might be able to deliver this offer. There are many good models out there, and I've offered as well—and I reiterate that offer today—to make the opportunity available to members of the committee to see some of them in practice. In many ways, this offer is now making both statutory and non-statutory providers think again about their delivery model and how best to offer children the best possible experiences and to do that in a seamless way. 

But it is important to remember that, sometimes, parents may want or need to use more than one provider for different parts of the offer. It's their choice. Think of parents, for example, who work late or work early shifts or on weekends. It is important that there is sufficient flexibility and choice within both the sector and the offer to accommodate the needs of those parents as well. This is not a one-size-fits-all rigid box of an offer, and it's based on a historically diverse sector. Some of that is to the advantage of parents. So, I've outlined my plans to work with the Cabinet Secretary for Education to see where we can better align the early education and the childcare elements of the offer. I've explained how we're encouraging more co-location, through the capital grant programme, and let's not forget that there does need to be sufficient flexibility in terms of provision, to meet very diverse family circumstances and working patterns.

One thing that may be of interest to the committee is I visited Finland back in August. They have a very well-known model and it's come from a very different historical base and it is actually a provided, one-location provision, but it's interesting how that is changing in light of this discussion. I was struck by the increasing diversity now of provision that exists there in Finland, and that's growing—how providers are meeting the complex needs of working parents. I spoke to providers who are now providing, outside of the state sector, 24-hour childcare provision for those who work shifts through the night. Now, we don't see that in Wales at the moment, as far as I know, but that's quite interesting. So, the flexibility is important in an ever-changing world. Co-location is critically important to how we roll this offer, but it can't and won't be the answer in every single situation. So, on this basis, again, I'd ask the Member to consider not moving this amendment or withdrawing it, because of the work that we are doing extensively to promote co-location, but also to keep that important element—flexibility—for parents as well.

11:00

Okay. I stand by the amendment and I'd like to move to a vote.

Okay, thank you very much. The question is that amendment 19 be agreed then. Does any Member object? [Objection.] I'll therefore take a vote by show of hands. All those in favour of amendment 19. All those against. So, there voted four in favour, four against. As it's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment in accordance with Standing Orders, and amendment 19 falls.

Gwelliant 19: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 19: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 20 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 20 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

The question is that amendment 20 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Right. We'll have a vote then. The question is that amendment 20 be agreed. All those in favour. All those againist. So, there voted four in favour, four against. As it's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative against the amendment, and amendment 20 falls.

Gwelliant 20: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 20: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 6: Offerynnau statudol: gofynion ar Weinidogion Cymru (Gwelliannau 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45)
Group 6: Statutory instruments: requirements on Welsh Ministers (Amendments 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45)

We'll move on, then, to group 6, which relates to statutory instrument requirements on Welsh Ministers. The lead amendment in the group is amendment 37 in the name of Suzy Davies. I call on Suzy Davies to move the amendment and to speak to the amendments in the group. 

11:05

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 37 (Suzy Davies).

Amendment 37 (Suzy Davies) moved.

Thank you, Chair. I move amendment 37 as the lead amendment. These are the fun amendments, everybody. All the amendments in this group have been tabled to achieve the same objective, and that is to replace powers for Welsh Ministers with duties upon them, where the change is necessary to make the Bill function as a piece of law. Earlier you mentioned that there were some compulsory actions in the guidance that you've issued, but this is not about that in particular; this is about the operability of this piece of the Bill itself. Just as an example, in response in the group 3 debate, you actually said that regulations will have to be introduced to determine eligibility criteria under section 1—not 'might' but 'will' have to. So, there's an acceptance that some of these are de facto duties rather than permissive powers. 

So, as I argued in the debate on group 1, there is a distinction between powers that give Welsh Ministers flexibility to add or remove or change details in a Bill, or even later regulations actually in order to keep the legislation up to date, and steps that have to be overtaken to overcome the problems inherent in framework Bills that contain no instruction on the face of the Bill about how any relevant parties are expected to comply with it. 

Can I just begin by saying that there are permissive powers in the Bill that are fine as they are? Welsh Ministers still have a great deal of discretion in what they can introduce through regulation, and, of course, I've taken into account the fact that you're happy with the affirmative scrutiny procedure. So, I've only sought to amend those powers that, should they not be exercised, will leave holes in the Bill, causing a problem with its usability.

I'm also aware that there are some other amendments today that cover some of my concerns, so I didn't bring forward my own amendments on that, but if they fall today I may want to have a look at them again at Stage 3. And, of course, I'm also conscious that there's this relationship with HMRC that dictates that there'll be occasions where, even though I may have some concerns, the provisions for powers rather than duties may have to go unamended. If there are any of those caught in this group, then I'm very happy to take guidance from you, Minister, on that, as long as you can explain why the relationship with HMRC is material.

So, section 1, I suspect, is unaffected by this HMRC consideration, and amendments 37, 38, 39 and 40 simply fulfil my objective of obliging Welsh Ministers to take certain actions to make the Bill work rather than merely allowing them to. So, if you look at section 1(2)(a), (b), (c), (d) and, indeed, subsection (6), even if they are amended somewhere else today, it's clear that if Welsh Ministers don't introduce regulations to describe a qualifying child, the conditions they have to meet to qualify, the persistence of those conditions, and to define who is a partner and what is to be considered paid work, then we will have no idea at all about who is entitled to this free childcare. It's a problem easily remedied—we can oblige rather than permit Welsh Ministers to introduce those regulations. I'm not attempting to prescribe their contents, but Welsh Ministers must commit to introducing those regulations to provide the understanding of who's affected by this Bill and who is not, and that is a certainty that is currently missing from the face of the Bill.

Amendment 41—I think that's included in this, isn't it—also replaces a power with a duty to introduce regulations setting out how the administration and operation of section 1 will work. Again, no suggested prescription for you on content, but, if you choose, Minister, not to set out the processes required for facilitating the operation of section 1, no-one's going to know whether they're complying with it or not. So, amendment 42 applies that same requirement on Welsh Ministers should they exercise their powers under sections 3 to 7. I think these sections are affected by the relationship of HMRC, so I'm not attempting to change those, but if Welsh Ministers do exercise those powers in sections 3 to 7, they must be clear about what they expect third parties to do as a result of them, hence that duty to be clear.

Amendment 43 amends section 6, which deals with the reviews of or appeals to tribunals to challenge decisions about eligibility. I'm pleased to see section 6, actually, because I think we should be avoiding judicial review territory wherever we can when we talk about legislation from this place. But, again, there is no obligation on Welsh Ministers to introduce regulations governing access to the process of review, of appeal. So, this amendment simply resolves that. 

Slightly differently, amendment 45 just refers back to what I said earlier about contemporary  drafting. In section 11, we have the commitment on use of the affirmative procedure to introduce regulations. They 'may not' be made unless they're laid before and approved by the Assembly. And here I would struggle to argue that the use of the word 'may' is ambiguous and it could mean 'might' rather than 'must', but, for consistency with other amendments in this groups, let's just use the modern, clear, easily understandable 'must'. Happily, this semantic issue doesn't arise in the Welsh version, which is excellent.

11:10

Diolch, Gadeirydd. Mi fyddaf i'n cefnogi pob gwelliant yn y grŵp yma, heblaw 45. Nid wyf i'n meddwl bod ei angen e, fy hunan. Rydw i'n meddwl bod y geiriad gwreiddiol yn ddigon clir, ac, fel rŷm ni wedi clywed, mae e hyd yn oed yn gliriach yn y Gymraeg, ac felly nid oes angen gwelliant yn y Gymraeg. Felly, rydw i'n hapus i gefnogi'r gwelliannau eraill, am y rhesymau mae Suzy wedi esbonio, ond nid gwelliant 45.

Thank you, Chair. I will be supporting all amendments in this group, with the exception of 45. I don't think it's necessary, myself. I think the original wording is sufficiently clear, and as we've heard, it's even clearer in Welsh, and therefore we don't need an amendment to the Welsh. So, I'm happy to support the other amendments, for the reasons that Suzy has outlined, but not amendment 45.

Are there any other Members who want to speak? No. Can I call the Minister, then?

Thank you, Chair. I'm really disappointed that everybody isn't chipping in on this set of fun amendments. [Laughter.] This is our meat and drink. Thank you, Suzy.

Many of the amendments in this group propose replacing the word 'may' on the face of the Bill with the word 'must', and I can see it fits with Suzy's other amendment, No. 36, which would impose a very specific duty on the Welsh Ministers. Just to say, by way of context, the use of the word 'may' is often more appropriate than 'must', and that's why 'may' as opposed to 'must' features on the face of the Bill as it's currently drafted. The intention of your amendments 37, 38, 39, 41 and 43 would appear to be to constrain the flexibility that the Welsh Ministers have to use their regulation-making powers in the Bill. They don't actually do anything to ensure anything about the content of the regulations, so we're not clear on why else they would be required.

There is some duplication between amendments 37 and 39, which the Member might recognise, where both require regulations to be made under subsection (6). Amendment 38, we believe, is slightly ambiguous in terms of what it requires of regulations. I would like to understand a little bit more about the intended effect, although it's been helpful to hear in your opening remarks about amendments 41 and 43 in particular, but also 42, because we're not quite clear on that. We would argue strongly, as Llyr has just pointed out as well, amendment 45, again, doesn't achieve a change in legal effect. It's not necessary.

Now, I can see where you're going with amendment 40, but I don't see what's to be gained by defining in regulations under this Bill what is meant by 'care'. Subordinate legislation under section 1 will detail very clearly the conditions a parent or a partner of a parent will need to meet in order to qualify for funding under this offer, and I should be clear, as well, that this covers parents and guardians who are acting in loco parentis, such as kinship carers or foster carers, but that will be clearly laid out within subordinate legislation under section 1. So, I don't consider it necessary to place this additional requirement in the Bill, so I wouldn't be supporting this amendment, and, for the reasons I've outlined, despite the way you've introduced them, I won't be supporting this group of fun amendments. However, I am actually interested in having further discussions before Stage 3 with the Member about the purpose being pursued in some of these amendments, but particularly in relation to amendments 41 and 43, if she could explain a little bit more what she's trying to do with those.

Absolutely. Thank you for the answer. I'll sprinkle a little bit of glitter on these to see if I can make them more attractive to you. I hope, actually, that I've explained why I haven't just been through this Bill and changed every 'may' into a 'must', because I haven't done that. I've been very specific about the areas that I've chosen, and, with regard to amendment 42, which I think is one you wanted some explanation on—. Sections 3 to 7, which will be affected by amendment 42, I have no intention at all of compelling you to introduce regulations under sections 3 to 7, because I think these are the sections that are affected by your relationship with HMRC, and therefore there may be some things that I don't understand, so I'm quite happy to do that. My point was that if you do decide to exercise some powers under sections 3 to 7, you must be clear to the third parties involved what they are to do as a result. So, if you do introduce regulations, they have to be clear.

Was it amendment 41 you were asking about? I'm sorry, you went through them and you distinguished between them. I'm trying to distinguish sections 3 to 7 from sections 1 and 2. It's sections 1 and 2 that worry me the most, because if you don't introduce regulations, those sections make no sense. They're inoperable. That's the purpose behind these amendments. So, I'm not telling you what should be in those regulations, but you just have to bring some regulations forward for those sections to become operable at all. That's one of the problems with framework Bills.

11:15

Thank you. That's really helpful for us. It might be helpful to clarify that some of the aspects you were referring to will be very clearly laid out in things like the memorandum with HMRC. We would be more than happy to make available that memorandum, which lays it out in black and white as well. But I reiterate my offer: I think there's something within what you are saying that we need a bit more discussion of, I think, to get to grips with taking the spirit of it and making it real. 

Yes, I'm very happy to have those discussions with you, because I accept that, in actually choosing where I'm turning 'may' into 'must', I may have got it slightly wrong as well, because I don't know the details of the arrangement with HMRC. But I don't think section 1 is about HMRC. So, as far as those amendments are concerned, I really urge Members to consider supporting these, otherwise we are left with a situation where there is a discretion left with the Minister about whether he's going to fill in the holes in this Bill, or not. I know that's not your intention, but the place of a commitment isn't within this committee room, it's on the face of the Bill, and actually just changing 'may' to 'must' solves the problem? So, I'm hoping that's not going to be too controversial for you. 

Amendment 45: I accept that's me dancing on the head of a pin a little bit, but it's after that consistency, and, actually, one of the more general points I'd like to make in the course of this particular Bill's passage is that modern drafting is not a terrible thing and actually what we need in a common law interpretive legal system is clarity, not too much space for interpretability. And the word 'may' is ambiguous. There are occasions where it's helpful for it to be ambiguous, and there are occasions when it absolutely must not be ambiguous. And I tried my best to distinguish between the two in these amendments. By all means, I accept that you, perhaps, disagree and that I've got it wrong in some places, but that's what I'm trying to do. If the committee would take that on board in deciding how they're going to vote on this group, I'd be very grateful, notwithstanding what you might want to say about 45, which I accept. 

It's probably—well, you are a Welsh speaker, so you're okay; you can answer this, I hope. The point that seems to have been made is that the words 'may' and 'must' cause some confusion. 

But in the Welsh version of this, the word is the same. 

Only on one occasion, and when we're expressing things in the negative. So, we're not talking about 'may' and 'must'; it's about 'may not' and 'must not'. 

I understand. I just had visions of somebody waving the Welsh version and saying, 'It says "must"'.

But, actually, you put an important point here, because of course the English and the Welsh statutes have equal effect, and when there's ambiguity in one, you will look to the other if it's clearer. Actually, the head of this pin is now getting smaller [Laughter.] Maybe it's for another day, Chair. 

Suzy, do you wish to proceed to a vote on amendment 37?

Okay. The question is that amendment 37 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Right, we'll go to a vote, then. All those in favour of amendment 37. All those against So, there voted four in favour, four against. As there is a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative against the amendment in accordance with Standing Orders, and amendment 37 falls. 

Gwelliant 37: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 37: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 6 (Llyr Gruffydd).

Amendment 6 (Llyr Gruffydd) moved.

The question is that amendment 6 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] There is an objection, so we will vote. The question is that amendment 6 be agreed. All those in favour.

Can we just clarify that?

11:20

No, that's fine. 

Right. So, there voted one in favour, seven against, and there was one abstention. Was that an abstention? 

No, it wasn't an abstention. Okay, so amendment 6 falls.

Gwelliant 6: O blaid: 1, Yn erbyn: 7, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 6: For: 1, Against: 7, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

I think we will now take a 10-minute break until 11.30 a.m.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 11:20 ac 11:31.

The meeting adjourned between 11:20 and 11:31.

11:30
Grŵp 7: Plant cymhwysol (Gwelliannau 11, 21, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23)
Group 7: Qualifying children (Amendments 11, 21, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23)

Welcome back, everyone. We are moving on to group 7, which relates to qualifying children. The lead amendment in the group is amendment 11 in the Minister's name. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 11 (Huw Irranca-Davies).

Amendment 11 (Huw Irranca-Davies) moved.

I move amendment 11 in the Minister's name and call on the Minister to speak to his amendment and the other amendments in the group. 

Thank you, Chair. I've brought forward these Government amendments in direct response to the observations made by this committee, and also by the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, during Stage 1. I believe they help to clarify the intended effect of the Bill, which we've discussed earlier, by providing more information, in particular, about the children who will benefit from the offer, whilst maintaining the element of flexibility we've also referred to. So, I've listened carefully to what this committee and the CLA committee said about the balance of what's on the face of the Bill and what's left to subordinate legislation.

The CLA committee, in particular, asked me to consider placing more detail on the face of the Bill about an eligible child or an eligible parent. Now, we've looked in detail at both options. We've concluded it wouldn't be either desirable or appropriate to spell out on the face of the Bill who's an eligible parent, and for very good reasons. The eligibility of a parent depends on things like their employment status, as you will know, but there are also exceptions that are laid out to this, particularly if a parent is in receipt of particular benefits. Now, I don't want to put a future National Assembly or future Welsh Government in the position of having to amend primary legislation each and every time the Department of Work and Pensions makes changes to the benefits system. I'm sure this will never ever happen, that a Government at the UK level will make some arbitrary change to the benefits, but it will affect this—if we've got it on the face of the Bill, that could be quite a thing. So, I want a Bill that will be able to stand the test of time and the tendency of the UK Government, of whatever colour, quite frankly, to tinker with the welfare state and then affect us having to come back for primary legislation. However, I do agree that we can do more, in response to the committee's observations, to define an eligible child, although I believe—I continue to believe—there's a strong case for placing most of the operational detail in regulations and in the administrative scheme, rather than on the face of the Bill.

So, the purpose, therefore, of Government amendment 11, is to make the policy intention clearer to leave it beyond any doubt that the target age for the children we want to benefit from this childcare offer are those under compulsory school age—and we've done that deliberately, because of the observations of many on this committee about futureproofing the Bill and where it could go in future. So, this amendment provides that reassurance, whilst maintaining the degree of flexibility to accommodate any slight adjustments that may be required in light of evidence emerging from the evaluation reports in the future, or to accommodate the policy aspirations of future administrations. 

Amendment 12 is also aimed to ensure that the conditions a child will have to meet in order to qualify for Government-funded childcare are made more explicit on the face of the Bill, one of those conditions being that they live in Wales. Amendment 18 will enable regulations to be made that expand on the provision added by amendment 12 and which set out the criteria for deciding whether or not a child is 'in Wales'. So, this amendment, coupled with amendment 11, I believe strikes the right balance in addressing the observations of the committees.

The other Government amendments in this group are consequential upon amendments 11 and 12—they're largely technical in nature. Amendment 13 will ensure that the regulation-making powers under section 1 are sufficiently broad to capture the range of conditions that will have to be met by a qualifying child. I hope that's helpful, Chair.

11:35

Thank you. These amendments I've tabled—amendments 21 and 23—seek to place the age of the qualifying child on the face of the Bill. While the explanatory memorandum clearly outlines that three and four-year-old children would be entitled to free childcare, which is the Government's intention, the Bill declines to place the age of the child clearly within its provisions, instead leaving it to secondary legislation.

It is understandable to leave the child's age to regulations, especially as evidence from the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee inquiry into parenting and employment highlights the need for the childcare offer to be extended to nought to two-year-olds to ensure higher employment rates. However, if the Minister is looking for a reduction in the risk of confusion to parents and providers through similar eligibility criteria to England's offer, then the age must also be similar at first, with a power to change it at a later date. The UK Government's Childcare Act 2016 provides the same definition of three to four-year-olds. By using this amendment to the Childcare Funding (Wales) Bill, the Welsh Government will have parity for parents across the border. 

We recognise that the Minister has tabled an amendment to state that funding will only be available to those under compulsory school age. However, this brings us no further forward to a transparent piece of legislation as it is, again, left to secondary legislation. Furthermore, in the meantime, before regulations are passed, parents who do want to take up this offer will be no clearer as to their own eligibility. This, therefore, stalls the intention of the Bill to support the Welsh economy.

Okay, thank you. Just a couple of questions, Minister. Subject to what Janet Finch-Saunders has said about clarity in her particular amendments, I'm grateful that you've brought forward some further clarity on the face of the Bill and have left the rest to regulation, as you said. Once again, I just want to reiterate that point: you must introduce those regulations, not just 'may', otherwise we've still got a lack of completeness.

The other thing I wanted to ask you is: in amendment 12, in speaking to us now you just referred to a child who lives in Wales. Actually, the amendment says 'a child in Wales'. I wonder if you can just explain what 'a child in Wales' actually means.

Diolch. Byddaf yn cefnogi gwelliannau'r Llywodraeth yn y grŵp yma—ni fyddaf yn cefnogi gwelliannau 21 a 23. Buaswn i eisiau gweld, yn amlwg, y cynnig gofal plant yn cael ei estyn i oedrannau eraill yn y pen draw, ac rŷm ni wedi clywed, fel pwyllgor, y dystiolaeth efallai mai targedu'r rhai sy'n flwydd oed ddylem ni fod yn ei wneud, ac nid y rhai tair oed—yn sicr, dyna'r dystiolaeth y mae pwyllgor arall wedi'i chlywed yn eithaf cryf. Felly, mae cadw'r elfen yna o hyblygrwydd yn bwysig, yn fy marn i, ac rwy'n teimlo bod gwelliannau'r Llywodraeth yn cynnig yr hyblygrwydd yna, heb fod angen inni fod yn explicit ar wyneb y Bil ynglŷn ag unrhyw oedran ac wedyn rhoi cymal yn dweud y gallwn ni newid hwnnw hefyd—rydw i jest ddim yn gweld yr angen i wneud hynny. Felly, byddwn i yn ategu'r ffaith ein bod ni'n hapus i gefnogi gwelliannau'r Llywodraeth yn y grŵp yma a phleidleisio yn erbyn 21 a 23.

Thank you. I'll be supporting the Government's amendments in this group—I won't be supporting amendments 21 and 23. I would like to see, obviously, the childcare offer being extended to other ages, ultimately, and we've heard, as a committee, the evidence that perhaps we should be targeting one-year-olds, not three-year-olds—certainly, that's the evidence that another committee has heard quite strongly. So, keeping that element of flexibility is very important, in my opinion. I feel that the Government's amendments do offer that flexibility, without us needing to be explicit on the face of the Bill in terms of any age and then putting in clauses saying that we can change that—I don't think that we need to do that. So, I would echo the fact that we're happy to support the Government amendments in this context and vote against amendments 21 and 23.

Thank you, Llyr. If there are no other Members who wish to speak, I call the Minister.

Thank you very much, Chair, and thanks to Janet for moving her amendments as well—it's been quite helpful to us. What we intend by our amendments in this group is that they strike that balance that Llyr's just referred to between putting more detail on the face of the Bill in response to both committees' request, but without tying the hands of this and also future administrations in terms of things like the precise age for qualifying children. They do this by avoiding any need to amend the primary legislation through regulations in future. I would, therefore, reiterate my call on the committee to support the Government amendments. We think we've got the balance right.

Janet's amendments 21 and 23, in seeking to insert provisions into this Bill—even with the explanation that I've heard, I still don't believe that they're necessary, and let me explain why. The arrangements for making applications and a declaration in relation to a qualifying child are going to be detailed in regulations under section 1 of the Bill—they will be there in regulations. Our offer is available at any point for the school term after a child turns three. This is the offer in Wales: any time after the child turns three. The alignment to the school term unites the education and childcare aspects of the offer, so, if the parent is eligible at the start of that term, the child can access the offer from the start of the term, and, if the parent becomes eligible within the term, then the child can access the offer immediately—immediately. Now, this is different to the English offer. We don't want to be the same as the English offer. In the English offer, the parent has to be eligible from a point in advance of the start of the first term in order for the child to access the offer in that term at all. That's the cut-off. Ours is more flexible. So, given that our offer is more flexible, the amendments, what they're seeking to do—what it seems that they're seeking to do, that provision—is unnecessary and actually not desirable. So, on that basis, we can't see the reason to support amendment 21 or the consequential amendment 23. But, in light of the earlier remarks—.

Oh, on the aspect of—the other point raised—. The regulations do give us power to clarify, for example, what 'a child in Wales' is—Suzy's point. So, even if a parent chooses to take up regulated childcare across the border in England, we can clarify that within regulations, so we can come back to that without coming back to the primary legislation.

We think we've got the balance right in the amendments in my name from 11 through to 18—getting that balance right between putting more on the face of the Bill about a qualifying child and maintaining that flexibility for the age to be varied in regulations, which I think is what the committee has been desirous of. 

11:40

Is it all right if I ask you to take an intervention—? Just on that very last point, because your amendment 11, where you just refer to a qualifying child being under compulsory school age, obviously that can be anything from zero to three or four, five, whatever it is these days. Presumably, then, the other regulations—which I'm asking that you should introduce them, but I'm not telling you what they should say—they can qualify that and, of course, that can change over the years. That's the point you're making. 

Very much—in line with the views expressed by the committee of the ability to revisit this offer at some time and to come back to do it in a way that is manageable and that doesn't need us to find a legislative slot to do it on the main floor of the Senedd. I think that's what we're trying to do here. So, we're trying to accommodate—. And, yes, they'll be there within those regulations. So, they wouldn't be hidden away somewhere, and, based on the evidence of what comes forward, this committee, I'm sure, will be bringing forward ideas on future changes. 

But it's not your intention, at this stage, that nought to four-year-olds would have—

Thank you, Suzy. What these amendments allow us to do is to take forward the offer with HMRC and to also bring some additional clarity to what these children are that may access the offer, but it doesn't tie the hands—we'll be able to modify that within regulations. 

Thank you. Minister, do you want to move to a vote on amendment 11? 

Right. The question is that amendment 11 be agreed. Does any Member object? Amendment 11 is therefore agreed. 

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 21 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 21 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

The question is that amendment 21 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] There is an objection, so I'll take a vote. All those in favour of amendment 21. All those against. Anyone abstaining. Okay, so there voted three in favour and five against. So, amendment 21 is not agreed. 

Gwelliant 21: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 5, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 21: For: 3, Against: 5, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 12 (Huw Irranca-Davies).

Amendment 12 (Huw Irranca-Davies) moved.

I move amendment 12 in the name of the Minister. The question is that amendment 12 be agreed. Does any Member object? Amendment 12 is therefore agreed. 

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 13 (Huw Irranca-Davies).

Amendment 13 (Huw Irranca-Davies) moved.

I move amendment 13 in the name of the Minister. The question is that amendment 13 be agreed. Does any Member object? Amendment 13 is agreed.  

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 14 (Huw Irranca-Davies).

Amendment 14 (Huw Irranca-Davies) moved.

I move amendment 14 in the name of the Minister. The question is that amendment 14 be agreed. Does any Member object? Amendment 14 is therefore agreed. 

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 15 (Huw Irranca-Davies).

Amendment 15 (Huw Irranca-Davies) moved.

I move amendment 15 in the name of the Minister. The question is that amendment 15 be agreed. Does any Member object? Amendment 15 is therefore agreed. 

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 16 (Huw Irranca-Davies).

Amendment 16 (Huw Irranca-Davies) moved.

I move amendment 16 in the name of the Minister. The question is that amendment 16 be agreed. Does any Member object? No. Okay. Amendment 16 is therefore agreed. 

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

11:45

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 7 (Llyr Gruffydd).

Amendment 7 (Llyr Gruffydd) moved.

Thank you. The question is that amendment 7 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] There is an objection, so I will take a vote. The question is that amendment 7 be agreed. All those in favour. All those against. There voted one in favour, six [correction: seven] against, and amendment 7 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 7: O blaid: 1, Yn erbyn: 7, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 7: For: 1, Against: 7, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 17 (Huw Irranca-Davies).

Amendment 17 (Huw Irranca-Davies) moved.

I move amendment 17 in the name of the Minister. The question is that amendment 17 be agreed. Does any Member object? Amendment 17 is agreed.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 38 (Suzy Davies).

Amendment 38 (Suzy Davies) moved.

Thank you. The question is that amendment 38 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] There is an objection, so the question is that amendment 38 be agreed. All those in favour. All those against. So, there voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative—that is, against the amendment in accordance with Standing Orders. 

Gwelliant 38: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 38: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 39 (Suzy Davies).

Amendment 39 (Suzy Davies) moved.

Thank you. The question is that amendment 39 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Thank you. We'll take a vote, then. The question is that amendment 39 be agreed. All those in favour. All those against. So, there voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative—that is, against the amendment, and amendment 39 falls. 

Gwelliant 39: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 39: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 18 (Huw Irranca-Davies).

Amendment 18 (Huw Irranca-Davies) moved.

I move amendment 18 in the name of the Minister. The question is that amendment 18 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Right, there is an objection, so we will take a vote. All those in favour of amendment 18. All those against. So, there voted five in favour, three against, and amendment 18 is agreed. 

Gwelliant 18: O blaid: 5, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 18: For: 5, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been agreed

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 22 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 22 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

Thank you. The question is that amendment 22 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Right, there is an objection. So, all those in favour of amendment 22, please raise your hands. All those against. So, there voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Orders. 

Gwelliant 22: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 22: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 23 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 23 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

Thank you. The question is that amendment 23 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Okay. Can I ask, then: all those in favour of amendment 23? All those against. So, there voted three in favour, five against, and the amendment in not agreed.

Gwelliant 23: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 5, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 23: For: 3, Against: 5, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 24 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 24 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

Thank you. The question is that amendment 24 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Okay, there's an objection. The question is that amendment 24 be agreed. All those in favour. All those against. So, there voted three in favour, five against, and amendment 24 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 24: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 5, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 24: For: 3, Against: 5, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 25 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 25 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

Thank you. The question is that amendment 25 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Thank you. Let's take a vote, then. The question is that amendment 25 be agreed. All those in favour. All those against. So, there voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Orders, and the amendment falls.

Gwelliant 25: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 25: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 8 (Llyr Gruffydd).

Amendment 8 (Llyr Gruffydd) moved.

Thank you. The question is that amendment 8 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Thank you. Right, we'll take a vote, then, on that. The question is that amendment 8 be agreed. All those in favour. All those against. Okay, there voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Orders.

Gwelliant 8: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 8: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 40 (Suzy Davies).

Amendment 40 (Suzy Davies) moved.

Thank you. The question is that amendment 40 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Okay, we have an objection. Can I ask, then: all those in favour of amendment 40? All those against. So, there voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Orders, and amendment 40 falls.

11:50

Gwelliant 40: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 40: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 8: Offerynnau statudol: newidiadau i weithdrefnau (Gwelliant 9)
Group 8: Statutory instruments: changes to procedures (Amendment 9)

That takes us on to group 8, which relates to changes to procedure with respect to statutory instruments. The lead and only amendment in the group is amendment 9 in the name of Llyr Gruffydd, who I call on to move amendment 9 and to speak to the amendment. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 9 (Llyr Gruffydd).

Amendment 9 (Llyr Gruffydd) moved.

Diolch, Gadeirydd. Rwy'n cynnig gwelliant 9. Mi fyddwch chi wedi sylwi yng nghwrs y trafodaethau hyd yma fy mod wedi bod yn hapus i adael elfennau o ddiffinio plant sy'n gymhwysol ac yn y blaen oddi ar wyneb y Bil a'i adael e i reoliadau i'w bennu fe. Wel, mae hwn yn uniongyrchol, felly, yn rhan o'r rheswm am hynny, i bob pwrpas, oherwydd mae'r gwelliant yma'n deillio o argymhelliad 12 a oedd yn adroddiad Cyfnod 1 y pwyllgor, sef ein bod ni'n galw am ddiwygio'r Bil i ddarparu y dylai'r rheoliadau a wneir o dan adran 1 fod yn destun gweithdrefn uwchgadarnhaol, yn hytrach na'r weithdrefn gadarnhaol. Ac, yn ail, y dylid gwneud unrhyw newid i reoliadau a wnaed o dan adran 1 gan ddefnyddio'r weithdrefn uwchgadarnhaol hefyd. 

Am fod cymaint o'r manylion yn cael eu gadael i reoliadau, ac oherwydd ehangder y pwerau sy'n cael eu ceisio yn y rheoliadau gan Weinidogion, mae angen—fel y mae'r Pwyllgor Materion Cyfansoddiadol a Deddfwriaethol wedi ei amlygu yn eu hadroddiad nhw ar y Bil—gwrthbwyso hynny. Casgliad y pwyllgor yw mai'r weithdrefn uwchgadarnhaol yw'r ffordd addas i wneud hynny, ac rydw i eisiau nodi fy mod i'n fodlon â'r weithdrefn gadarnhaol o safbwynt adran 2 i'r Bil, ond nid adran 1 yn benodol. 

Mi fyddai'r weithdrefn uwchgadarnhaol yn golygu proses graffu fanylach, ac mae'n un o'r pethau creiddiol, rydw i'n meddwl, y mae aelodau'r pwyllgor yma wedi bod ymbalfalu ynddo: yr anghyswllt yma, neu'r pellter yma rhwng y Bil ei hun a pholisi'r Llywodraeth. Ac rydw i'n meddwl bod gofyn, felly, am y broses uwchgadarnhaol yma wrth i'r Llywodraeth roi'r polisi ar waith drwy'r rheoliadau. Mi fyddai e'n golygu, wrth gwrs, ymgynghori â rhanddeiliaid, mi fyddai e'n golygu gosod drafft o'r rheoliadau o flaen y Cynulliad a datganiad gan y Gweinidog, ond mi fyddai'n broses glir a thryloyw, a fyddai'n help i sicrhau bod y rheoliadau nid yn unig yn addas i bwrpas ond eu bod nhw wedi cael eu craffu yn y modd mwyaf trylwyr cyn eu bod nhw'n cael eu rhoi ar waith.

Thank you, Chair. I move amendment 9. You will have noticed during the course of deliberations this morning that I've been happy to leave elements of qualified children and so on from the face of the Bill and to leave it to regulation. Well, this is a direct part of the reason for that, because this amendment emerges from recommendation 12 in our committee's Stage 1 report, namely that we call for amendment of the Bill to ensure that regulations made under section 1 should be subject to the superaffirmative procedure, rather than the affirmative procedure. And, secondly, that any changes to regulations made under section 1 should be made using the superaffirmative procedure too. 

Because so much of the detail is left to regulation, and because of the scope of the powers sought in regulations for Ministers, then as the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee has highlighted in its report on the Bill, we need a counterbalance to that. The committee's conclusion is that the superaffirmative procedure is the appropriate means of achieving that, and I want to note that I am content with the affirmative procedure in terms of section 2 of the Bill, but not section 1 specifically.

The superaffirmative procedure would mean a more detailed scrutiny process, and it's one of those core elements, I think, that members of this committee have been grappling with: this disconnect, or this distance between the Bill itself and the Government's policy. And I think, therefore, we do need the superaffirmative procedure in this case, as the Government implements its policy through the regulations. It would mean, of course, consultation with stakeholders, it would mean laying draft regulations before the Assembly, and it would require a statement from the Minister, but it would be a clear and transparent process and would help to ensure that the regulations were not only fit for purpose, but that they had been properly scrutinised in the most thorough manner before they're implemented. 

Yes, just briefly, we'll be supporting this amendment. It's just to reiterate the point that, where there are regulations being introduced for the first time of a nature where, actually, many of us would have preferred to see detail on the face of the Bill in the first place, then it's been a long-standing position of the CLAC committee that the superaffirmative is used in that first introduction. I must admit, I'm more relaxed about it being affirmative if there are any subsequent changes, but for the first introduction, I completely agree with Llyr. 

Okay. Are there any other Members? Can I call the Minister, then?

Thank you, Chair. As mentioned, the amendment that we've got in front of us isn't dissimilar, in effect, from the recommendation that the CLA Committee made in respect of the superaffirmative procedure, and I think that recommendation in part was driven by the other concerns about a lack of detail on the face of the Bill. Now, as we've just discussed in a previous group of amendments, I've tried to respond to what both committees have said in respect of that level of detail, bringing forward amendments to provide some more meat on the bone in terms of, for example, 'qualifying child'. And amendments 11 and 12, which we have previously discussed, are particularly intended to address those concerns about there not being enough detail on the face of the Bill. But I remain of the opinion that I don't think the procedure set out in this amendment can be justified for what is, in essence, a technical Bill about the delivery agent for the offer. The detailed eligibility criteria, as we've explained consistently, will be set out in subordinate legislation, but moreover, we've actually been really, really open and clear about the eligibility criteria for this offer. They've been shared with the committee as part of the explanatory memorandum for the Bill, but actually they're out there right now, in the open, for all to see. And indeed, they provide the basis for the live early implementation of the offer. So, this is different from other aspects of introducing legislation, where you can't see what it'll look like. It's out there explicitly, not only in black and white, but in delivery as well.

We have, as a Welsh Government, made significant efforts to engage with parents, providers and local authorities about the offer. We are continually evaluating and ensuring that lessons learnt from the early implementation continue to influence and inform aspects of the longer term policy. But also, as I've mentioned previously, I've made the arrangements for members of this committee to see, at an early point, the embargoed briefing on the findings of the year 1 evaluation, and I think some of those findings will also give reassurance on how this is working in practice.

But we've also heard directly from thousands of parents since we've launched our Talk Childcare campaign, so this is very different from introducing a bold new piece of legislation where nobody knows what's going on. It's out there and we know that parents are telling us that finding affordable, available, accessible childcare is one of the biggest challenges facing families in Wales—the logistics of juggling work and early education childcare is far from easy. We've also had extensive engagement with childcare providers and the umbrella organisations representing the sector. We're actually in the early stages of phase 2 of the Talk Childcare campaign, which will focus on engaging directly with providers. And, of course, we continue to work closely with the early implementer local authorities as they are actually there delivering this offer, based on what we have already made clear about eligibility criteria.

So, I'm not convinced that we need to consult on subordinate legislation and to put more powers of scrutiny there, under section 1, given that (1) I'm going to be placing more detail on the face of the Bill about what we mean by an 'eligible child', and I think that has been welcomed by those introducing the motion, as well as the committee. That addresses, by the way, one of CLAC's fundamental concerns as well. We're already into early implementation of the offer, so this is, in effect, a national consultation and a test of the offer. We aren't embarking on something completely new here. We're already taking reasonable steps to evaluate the offer. There is ongoing constructive engagement with key stakeholders, including through the stakeholder reference group, and also, I am exploring building into the Bill a requirement to review the effectiveness of the Bill, perhaps three years after full roll-out in 2023, which will give additional clarification.

So, with those clarifications, including the amendments I've brought forward to place more detail on the face of the Bill, that I've set out how we've engaged with the sector, the ongoing engagement work and my clear intention to examine further how to review the effectiveness of this offer, I'd ask Members to consider that and not move the amendments or to resist these amendments, if pushed, because this is not coming from a blank sheet—we're out there doing the offer now and it's down in black and white.

11:55

Diolch, Weinidog, a diolch, Gadeirydd. Rydw i’n clywed beth mae’r Gweinidog yn ei ddweud, ac nid wyf yn amau bod llawer o’r elfennau yma yn digwydd, ac os ydyn nhw’n digwydd, felly, byddwn i’n awgrym nad oes eisiau bod yn ofn symud i’r gyfundrefn uwchgadarnhaol, oherwydd mi fyddai hynny’n sicrhau bod hynny’n parhau i ddigwydd yn y dyfodol. Fy ngofid i yw—mae’r Gweinidog presennol yn rhoi sicrwydd i ni, wel, nid oes yna unrhyw sicrwydd y bydd hynny’n wir yn y dyfodol. Rydw i yn teimlo bod yr hyn mae’r Pwyllgor Materion Cyfansoddiadol a Deddfwriaethol yn ei godi’n gyson, fel yr oedd Suzy Davies yn ei ddweud yn y cyd-destun yma, yn ddilys, a byddwn i’n siomedig petai’r Llywodraeth yn symud oddi wrth gyfle i gael craffu helaethach ac atebolrwydd helaethach.

Thank you, Minister, and thank you, Chair. I hear what the Minister says, and I don't doubt that a lot of the elements are happening, and if they are happening, then I would suggest that we shouldn't be afraid to move to the superaffirmative procedure, because that would ensure that that would continue to happen in the future. My concern is—the current Minister is giving us an assurance, well, there's no assurance that that would be true in the future. I do feel that what the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee does raise consistently, as Suzy Davies says, is valid, and I would be very disappointed if the Government moved away from an opportunity to have greater scrutiny and greater accountability.

Thank you, Llyr. So, you wish to proceed to a vote, then, on amendment 9. The question is that amendment 9 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] There is an objection, so we will take a vote. The question is that amendment 9 be agreed. All those in favour. All those against. So, there voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Orders, and amendment 9 falls.

Gwelliant 9: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 9: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 41 (Suzy Davies).

Amendment 41 (Suzy Davies) moved.

The question is that amendment 41 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] We have an objection, so we will take a vote. The question is that amendment 41 be agreed. Those in favour. Those against. So, there voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Orders, and amendment 41 falls.

Gwelliant 41: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 41: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 42 (Suzy Davies).

Amendment 42 (Suzy Davies) moved.

The question is that amendment 42 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Thank you. The question is that amendment 42 be agreed. Those in favour. Those against. There voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Orders. 

12:00

Gwelliant 42: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 42: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 9: Categorïau o ddarparwyr gofal plant a gyllidir (Gwelliant 26, 27)
Group 9: Categories of providers of funded childcare (Amendments 26, 27)

That takes us on, then, to group 9, which relates to the categories of providers of funded childcare. The lead amendment in the group is amendment 26 in the name of Janet Finch-Saunders. I call on Janet to move her amendment and to speak to her amendment and the other amendment in this group.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 26 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 26 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

Thank you, Chair. These amendments seek to clarify whether the Welsh Government is going to extend its childcare offer to childcare providers such as grandparents and schools. Currently, the Bill doesn't detail who is able to provide the childcare element of the offer. The pilot offer only allows providers who are registered with Care Inspectorate Wales and relatives, for example, grandparents, are unable to register because of the Child Minding and Day Care Exceptions (Wales) Order 2010, which limits child minding to those who are not parents, foster parents or a relative of the child. Whilst the Minister is committed to a review of the exceptions Order as well as confirming that, from September 2018, registered child minders can receive funding for the care of a child who is a relative, this care, however, cannot be provided in the home of the child, and grandparents therefore who do not or are not registered with Care Inspectorate Wales to care for other children are still ineligible for assistance, and they still cannot register if they only look after their own relatives. We believe that it's desirable to enable unregistered childcare providers who are family members to care for children under the scheme, as this could help even to promote the Welsh language, in addition to providing income for grandparents and other family members whilst recognising and affirming their role.

Furthermore, amendment 27 seeks to determine some clarity on the Minister's commitment to review an exemption on schools providing childcare.

Diolch yn fawr. Mi fyddaf i'n pleidleisio yn erbyn gwelliant 26 ond o blaid 27. Rydw i'n sicr yn cydnabod y rôl bwysig a gwerthfawr iawn mae perthnasau plant yn ei chwarae o safbwynt gofal, ac wrth gwrs nid oes dim byd yn y Bil yma a fydd yn newid unrhyw sefyllfa lle mae yna berthnasau yn darparu'r gofal yna ar hyn o bryd. Ond at ddiben y gwelliant penodol yma, rydw i'n meddwl y byddai symud o sefyllfa lle mae'n ofynnol i ddarparwyr fod wedi'u cofrestru yn sefydlu cynsail annerbyniol. Os ŷch chi am dderbyn tal am ddarparu gofal, yna mae'n gwbl resymol, yn fy marn i, i ddisgwyl eich bod chi wedi'ch cofrestru ac yn cwrdd â'r safonau a'r gofynion sy'n rhoi sicrwydd bod yr hyn ŷch chi'n ei gynnig yn addas ac o'r ansawdd gorau. I fi, mae ysgolion, wrth gwrs, yn gallu cwrdd â'r gofynion hynny, neu mewn sefyllfa dipyn yn fwy tebygol o fod yn cwrdd â'r gofynion hynny. Felly, byddai sicrhau bod modd i ysgolion ddarparu cynnig yn gwneud synnwyr yn fy marn i, ac felly dyna pam y byddaf yn cefnogi gwelliant 27.

Thank you very much. I will be voting against amendment 26, but in favour of 27. I certainly recognise the important and valuable role that children's relatives play in terms of care, and there's nothing in this Bill that would change any situation where relatives provide that care at the moment. But in terms of this particular amendment, I think moving away from a situation where it's a requirement for providers to be registered would establish an unacceptable precedent. If you are to receive payment for care, then it's entirely reasonable, in my view, that you should expect to be registered and meet the standards and requirements that ensure that what you do provide is appropriate and of the best possible quality. For me, schools can meet those requirements, or are more likely to be able to meet those requirements, so ensuring that schools could provide an offer would make sense in my view, and that's why I will be supporting amendment 27.

Yes, I'd be grateful if the Minister, in his response, could clarify the position of grandparents, relatives like grandparents, because I think we all know in Wales there are thousands and thousands of particularly grandparents caring for their grandchildren. It happened with my own children and in every situation, obviously, it's not needed—the money is not something that is sought. But we know that in many cases it would be appropriate, so I'd like the Minister to clarify how he's going to address those points.

Thank you, Julie. Can I call the Minister then? Sorry—do you want to come in?

Thank you, Chair. I think I can address all of the points that have been raised there. First of all, we have, in response to Llyr's points, we've been very clear right from the outset of this programme about who can provide childcare under the terms of the offer. It is only registered providers who can deliver the childcare offer for the reasons that you raise. We need some benchmark of quality in terms of registered providers, but also the fact that they have their premises seen, as well. We do, by the way, see registered providers who are grandparents, and I've visited some of these, in terraced houses, where they have lovely facilities within their terraced provision, and they look after two, three, four, five children—sometimes their own grandchildren as well.

We actually listened to the committee very early on and we met with organisations such as the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, who I think gave evidence to the committee as well at some point very early on. But we've met with individual providers, so we've shifted the ground already, in line with, by the way, not having it on the face of the Bill, but actually having it within regulations. And our administration scheme, we've already tweaked the scheme so that we do, indeed, allow grandparents who are registered child minders to avail themselves of the childcare offer, to provide childcare under this offer, whether or not they provide care for their own grandchildren. So, unlike other offers—at this moment in time, but we'll evaluate it—we haven't stipulated, 'Well, you can provide for your own grandchildren, but you must have two or three or four other children as well.' We've just said, 'If you're a registered child minder, even if you're related, then you can provide it because you've been inspected, you are a registered child minder.' We believe firmly that we stick to this fundamental principle to ensure that providers being funded under the terms of the offer meet those certain quality standards. This provides us with the assurance that the funding used for the childcare offer is being spent on childcare that meets our requirements, including those of quality.

In terms of schools, schools can provide the offer, as long as they're registered with CIW as a childcare provider. And, in fact, some are doing this. CIW can provide advice directly to schools on how they can register within this. So, that opportunity is already there, and perhaps one of the things that we do need to do is encourage more schools to look at this offer as part of their provision within school premises and co-located premises. Where we draw the line is for those outside of a registered provision. So, providers, even those who, for example—

12:05

We're not talking about relatives now, we're talking about registration. I think I've raised with you before the issue of qualified nannies who aren't able to register. Now they're excluded from this, are they?

You literally stole the words out of my mouth. Literally.

Literally. If those nannies and the facility in which they're providing are registered, then they are fine, but providers, for example, who sign up to voluntary approval schemes—and we'd encourage that—but a voluntary approval scheme is not the same as full registration; it simply isn't. And that includes the ones run by nannies that are run by CIW but with nannies. They're good schemes, it brings up the standard and it's great that people are voluntarily going into that, but it's not the same as being registered and inspected. So, therefore, they cannot be part of this offer; just to be crystal clear on that.

I mentioned that we've already flexed the rules around relatives, but it is important to keep in mind that child minding and day care are already defined within other pieces of legislation. What we don't want to get into is the business of replicating those definitions within this context, within the context of this Bill; it's unnecessary. It does raise the risk that those definitions could fall out of sync in the future. We've mentioned previously about good drafting of legislation; what we don't want to do is to create new definitions within this legislation when they already exist elsewhere. So, we can't see what would be gained from these regulation-making powers in amendments 26 and 27, which would be stating and defining categories of providers that are already stated and defined within other legislation. So, on that basis, we can't support those amendments.

But I hope, from what I've said, that committee can agree that we've actually, as a Government, already listened and learned from evidence presented to this committee, and our pilots in the early implementer authorities, and from discussions that we've had with providers, not least in the way we responded to the concerns raised over relatives who are registered providers. We've already changed that and modified our approach to it, and we'll continue to learn, of course, as the pilots roll out and the full roll-out happens.

Okay. The question is that amendment 26 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Okay. We'll take a vote. The question is that amendment 26 be agreed. All those in favour. All those against. So, there voted three in favour, five against. Amendment 26 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 26: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 5, Ymatal: 0

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 26: For: 3, Against: 5, Abstain: 0

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 27 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 27 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

The question is that amendment 27 be agreed. Does any Member object? We'll take a vote, then. The question is that amendment 27 be agreed. All those in favour. All those against.

Sorry. I'd like to register that I—. No, sorry, I was in favour. Sorry, I got confused. [Laughter.] I was against one and in favour of the other. I've done that. Sorry.

Right. There voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Orders, and amendment 27 falls.

12:10

Gwelliant 27: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 27: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 10: Trefniadau gweinyddol ar gyfer darparu gofal plant a gyllidir (Gwelliannau 28, 29, 30)
Group 10: Administrative arrangements for the provision of funded childcare (Amendments 28, 29, 30)

That takes us to group 10, which relates to administrative arrangements for the provision of funded childcare. The lead amendment in the group is amendment 28 in the name of Janet Finch-Saunders, who I call to move amendment 28 and to speak to her amendments and the other amendments in the group.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 28 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 28 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

Thank you. Amendment 28 is to help clarify who will be responsible for delivering the childcare offer. The Bill is currently silent on whether it will be the Welsh Government at a central level or local authorities. While the Bill’s regulatory impact assessment mentions that, without the need for legislation, the implementation model delivered by local authorities at the pilot stage could be rolled out nationally, the explanatory memorandum states legislation is needed to create one national application and eligibility checking system, avoiding any differences. Furthermore, the Welsh Government has indicated that its preferred option is to use HMRC as a vehicle to receive and check applications.  

With regard to amendments 29 and 30 currently, the Minister intends for the administrative scheme providing childcare to sit outside the Bill. However, to do so would exclude some important details, including ages, hours of the offer, how parents can access the childcare offer, and conditions that providers need to meet. Of grave concern is the administrative scheme outlined by the Minister will have no legal status and no scrutiny procedure for the National Assembly for Wales.

Both amendments cover conditions providers must meet—amendment 30—and how they are to be funded—amendment 29—which are currently left to be determined under the administrative scheme. Some stakeholders who gave evidence to the Children, Young People and Education Committee expressed concern about who would be able to provide the childcare, how payments would be made, and at what hourly rate.

Thank you, Janet. Are there any other Members who wish to speak? Can I call the Minister, then?

Thank you, Chair. In terms of amendment 28, we don't see what's to be gained by restating a duty that local authorities already have in respect of ensuring that sufficient childcare is available within their areas. The existing duty we have, in fact, is actually broader, as it also requires local authorities to have regard to the need for childcare suitable for, for example, disabled children and for childcare using the Welsh language.

Amendment 29 seems to be seeking to bring within the scope of subordinate legislation much of the operational detail that we are planning to include within the administrative scheme. Part of the learning from the roll-out of this offer, that's where the administrative scheme gives us the important flexibility to adjust and review arrangements, operational arrangements, as we go. But this isn't going to be invisible to Members: we've made that commitment, to bring it forward in framework during the passage of the Bill, and also, we would really welcome further scrutiny of the scheme in full in the spring as well, when it's brought forward in full.

In terms of amendment 30, I'd like to reiterate what I said previously, about the need for providers to be registered and inspected to take part in the offer. We've always been clear about this, and our reasons for this. And I think we also need to keep in mind that there are already a suite of standards that childcare providers are required to comply with. These are fully detailed in the national minimum standards, and they were only revised back in April 2016.

One final point in relation to this as well is that I will be bringing forward an amendment for Stage 3, placing a duty on Welsh Ministers in relation to the funding of childcare for qualifying children of working parents and the terms of this offer. So, we're trying to give the right balance here of what goes on the Bill, but also what stays within operational detail within the administrative scheme. Given that I don't see the need to bring such matters of operational and administrative detail within the scope of regulations, and that I intend to bring the administrative scheme to this committee in the spring, we won't be supporting amendments 28, 29 and 30.

Okay. The question is that amendment 28 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] We'll take a vote, then. All those in favour of amendment 28. All those against. There voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative against the amendment in accordance with Standing Orders. 

12:15

Gwelliant 28: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 28: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 29 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 29 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

The question is that amendment 29 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Okay, we'll have a vote. All those in favour of amendment 29, please raise your hands. All those against. There voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative against the amendment in accordance with Standing Orders. 

Gwelliant 29: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 29: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 30 (Janet Finch-Saunders).

Amendment 30 (Janet Finch-Saunders) moved.

The question is that amendment 30 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Thank you. We'll take a vote, then. All those in favour of amendment 30, please raise your hands. All those against. So, there voted four in favour, four against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative against the amendment, and amendment 30 falls.   

Gwelliant 30: O blaid: 4, Yn erbyn: 4, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei phleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 30: For: 4, Against: 4, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used her casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 11: Darparu gwybodaeth gan drydydd partïon (Gwelliant 1, 2)
Group 11: Provision of information by third parties (Amendments 1, 2)

That takes us on to group 11, which relates to provision of information by third parties. The lead amendment in the group is amendment 1 in the name of the Minister. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 1 (Huw Irranca-Davies).

Amendment 1 (Huw Irranca-Davies) moved.