Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad - Y Bumed Senedd

Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee - Fifth Senedd

08/03/2021

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Carwyn Jones MS
Dai Lloyd MS
David Melding MS
Mick Antoniw MS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Aled Evans Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Gareth Howells Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Katie Wyatt Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
P Gareth Williams Clerc
Clerk
Sarah Sargent Ail Glerc
Second Clerk

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.

Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The committee met by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:30. 

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introduction, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

I welcome Members to this virtual meeting of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee. In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I've determined that the public are excluded from the meeting in order to protect public health. In accordance with Standing Order 34.21, notice of this decision was included in the published agenda for this meeting. The meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and the Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. Aside from the procedural adaptations for conducting proceedings remotely, all other Standing Order requirements remain in place. We have a full committee in attendance today. Can I ask if there are any declarations of interest? I don't see any declarations of interest, so we can move straight on to the agenda.

2. Offerynnau nad ydynt yn cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 na 21.3
2. Instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3

On to item 2, and we have eight statutory instruments that are all scheduled for debate in Plenary on Tuesday 16 March. These are items 2.1 to 2.8 on the agenda, so we have 2.1 to 2.4, which consist of the South West Wales Corporate Joint Committee Regulations 2021, the North Wales Corporate Joint Committee Regulations 2021, the Mid Wales Corporate Joint Committee Regulations 2021, and the South East Wales Corporate Joint Committee Regulations 2021.

Section 74 of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 enables the Welsh Ministers to use regulations to establish corporate joint committees. These bodies corporate are established in order to exercise certain functions specified in the regulations that establish them, in relation to an area comprising the areas of the local authorities that comprise the membership of the corporate joint committee. So, where a corporate joint committee is given functions in relation to strategic planning, a national park authority may also have membership of the committee. So, these regulations being considered today—as I say, items 2.1 to 2.4—establish the bodies corporate for these areas. There haven't been any reporting points that have been identified by the lawyers. I think that's right—is it, Gareth? Okay. So, you've had the relevant papers in front of you. Are there any comments or observations anyone wishes to make? No. Okay, thank you for that.

Then we move on to item 2.5, which is the Equality Act 2010 (Public Authorities subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty) (Wales) Order 2021. This Order amends Part 2 of Schedule 19 to the Equality Act 2010 by adding corporate joint committees established by regulations made under Part 5 of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 to the list of relevant Welsh authorities subject to the public sector equality duty under section 149(1) of the Act. Again, there are no reporting points that have been identified by the lawyers. Is that right, Gareth? Yes. Any comments or observations on that from the Members? I don't see any.

Let's move on to item 2.6, then, which is the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004 (Amendment) (Local Government Bodies in Wales) Order 2021. This Order adds corporate joint committees established by regulations made under Part 5 of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 to the list in section 12(1) of the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004, which lists the local government bodies in Wales to which Part 2 of the 2004 Act applies. The Order also makes some minor and consequential and supplementary provisions. Again, there have been no reporting points identified. Any comments or observations from Members? No.

In which case, we move on to item 2.7, which is the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019 (Amendment of Schedule 3) Regulations 2021. These regulations amend Schedule 3 to the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019. Schedule 3 sets out the bodies and other persons who are listed authorities for the purpose of the Act and are therefore within the remit of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. Again, there have been no reporting points identified. Any comments or observations from the Members? No. Thank you for that, then.

We move on to the next item, which is the Corporate Joint Committees (General) (Wales) Regulations 2021. These regulations introduce a number of general provisions in relation to corporate joint committees established under Part 5 of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021. Again, no reporting points have been identified. Any comments or observations from Members? I see none.

09:35
3. Offerynnau sy'n cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt i’r Senedd o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3
3. Instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3

That takes us on to item 3, and we go straight on to the Local Land Charges (Fees) (Wales) Rules 2021. Members have before them the report, the regulations and the explanatory memorandum. These rules prescribe the fees payable to the chief land registrar for various services relating to local land charges affecting land in Wales. Over to the lawyers—Gareth.

Diolch. There is one merits point. The power to make these regulations was originally vested in the Lord Chancellor and that power has been transferred to the Welsh Ministers—fine. But the Lord Chancellor's power was subject to Treasury approval, so the merits point asked the Welsh Government to confirm that, in transferring this power to the Welsh Ministers, the requirement for Treasury approval has fallen away. The Government responded on Friday to say that Treasury consent is not needed—and I agree with that—but the response cites the Government of Wales Act 1998 as authority. I believe that the correct authority is in the Government of Wales Act 2006 and Members may wish to clarify that point with the Welsh Government, but we get to the same place in the end: Treasury consent is not needed for these regulations.

Okay. We can seek that clarification. I don't think there's anything else we need to do on it. Any other comments or observations from Members? Okay, thank you for that.

If we move on to a set of three regulations, which are down as items 3.2 to 3.4, these are also scheduled to be debated in Plenary on 16 March. We start with the Assessment of Accommodation Needs of Gypsies and Travellers (Extension of Review Period) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Order 2021. Section 101 of the 2014 Act makes provision for the assessment of accommodation needs by a local housing authority of Gypsies and Travellers residing in or resorting to its area. Section 101(3) of the Act sets out the meaning of the review period, which is the period during which the assessment must be carried out. The first review period under section 101(3)(a) of the Act was the period from 25 February 2015 to 24 February 2016. Under section 101(3)(b) of the Act, all subsequent assessments were to take place during each subsequent period of five years. Now, due to the impacts of coronavirus, the review period that otherwise would've come to an end on 24 February 2021 is extended by one year. This Order amends the meaning of 'review period' in section 101(3) of the Act, so that the review period following the review period under paragraph (a) is increased from five to six years, but thereafter, the review period is five years. There has been a merits point identified—Gareth.

Yes. There are two merits points. The first notes that there's been no formal consultation, but also recognises the engagement events that have taken place in respect of the Order. The second merits point relates to the extension of the review period under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. Originally, local housing authorities were required to assess the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers by 24 February 2021—that deadline is extended until 24 February 2022. But the Order implements that extension only from 18 March 2021—that is when the Order comes into force. So, the fact that the Order comes into force on 18 March means that the extension does not apply until then, which means that local housing authorities that have not met the original deadline of 24 February are currently in breach of that duty and will remain in breach until 18 March, when the extension actually takes effect. And the Order and the explanatory memorandum are transparent about this. They recognise the issue, and so the draft report does not suggest asking for a Government response. 

09:40

Okay. So, there's an omission there, with a period of approximately six weeks as a lacuna there, but I think it's just a question of noting that, and the Government position on it. Any other comments or observations? Okay.

If we can move on, then, to item 3.3, which is the Corporate Joint Committees (Amendment of Schedule 6 to the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011) Regulations 2021. The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 makes provision for the specification of standards of conduct in relation to the Welsh language. Schedule 6 lists the persons and organisations to which the 2011 Measure applies and sets out the potentially applicable standards. These regulations amend Schedule 6 by adding corporate joint committees established under Part 5 of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021. There are some technical and merits points, if I can go over to Gareth, now, for a report?

There are two technical points and one merits point. The technical points note that the subject heading to the regulations should include the subject 'local government' as well as the subject 'Welsh language'. The second technical point notes that, where the preamble refers to the procedure that applies to these regulations, the preamble cites the wrong section of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021. And the merits point is also about procedure. The explanatory memorandum refers to the procedure being set out in the Government of Wales Act 2006, but the procedure is actually set out in the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021, and the Government has not yet responded to these points. 

Okay. So, we're awaiting that particular response. Any other comments or observations from Members? No. Moving on to item 3.4, then, the Corporate Joint Committees (Transport Functions) (Wales) Regulations 2021. Members, again, have the report, the regulations and the explanatory memorandum. These regulations modify the Transport Act 2000 in cases where a corporate joint committee has been established by regulations, and the function of developing policies, under section 108 of the 2000 Act, has been conferred on the corporate joint committee. The modifications require the corporate joint committee to develop transport policies and establish a regional transport plan for its area. We can, again, go over to the lawyers for a report. 

There is one merits point similar to the previous point. The subject heading to these regulations should also include the subject 'transport', because these regulations are all about the transport functions of corporate joint committees. 

Okay. So, we note that point. Any other comments or observations? I don't see any. On to item 3.5, then, the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2021. And, again, we have the report, the regulations and the explanatory memorandum. We have a letter from the First Minister of 26 February 2021, and, of course, the written statement of 26 February 2021. This instrument makes amendments to the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 in relation to extended households, civil marriage ceremonies and formations of civil partnerships. The regulations were made on 26 February, and came in to force on 27 February, and the Plenary debate is scheduled for tomorrow, that is for 9 March. A number of merits points identified, Gareth? 

Yes. Three familiar merits points relating to justification for any potential interference of human rights. There's been no formal consultation and no regulatory impact assessment.  

Okay. We note that. Any other comments or observations? I don't see any. 

4. Offerynnau sy'n codi materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt i'r Senedd o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3—trafodwyd yn flaenorol
4. Instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3—previously considered

We move on to, then, item 4.1, the Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2021, and Members have the report and the Welsh Government response. We considered these regulations on 22 February, and our report was laid the same day. We're now invited to note the Welsh Government response, which has been received, and Members will be aware that a motion to annul these regulations obviously came up at the Plenary last week, and that the motion was not approved. Are there any comments, Gareth, from your side? Any other comments or observations from Members? I don't see any. 

So, we move on to item 4.2, which is the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2021. Again, a report and a Welsh Government response have been received. We considered these regulations on 1 March and we laid our report that day. So, basically, we're just noting the response that's been received. The Plenary debate in respect of these regulations will take place tomorrow, 9 March. Any comments from the lawyers? I don't see any. Any comments from Members? No.

In which case we move on to item 4.3, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2021, and very much the same there again—we have the report and the Welsh Government response. We considered these regulations on 1 March. We laid our report that day. Again, we note the Welsh Government response. Any other comments or observations? I don't see any.

So, we move on to item 4.4, the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2021. Very much the same there—the report and the Welsh Government response, which have been circulated to Members. We're now just formally invited to note that response from Welsh Government. I don't see any desire for comments or observations from Members.

09:45
5. Papurau i'w nodi
5. Papers to note

In which case, we move on to item 5. We have a number of papers to note. A number of items are correspondence—items 5.1 to 5.6. We have the letter from the Minister for Housing and Local Government with regard to the implementation of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021. We have the letter from the chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority on the Office for the Internal Market. At 5.3 we have the letter from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs. Item 5.4, the letter from the Minister for Housing and Local Government. That is on the British-Irish Council digital inclusion work sector ministerial meeting. And, at 5. 5, a letter from the Llywydd with regard to Standing Orders for a consolidation Bill. Are Members satisfied for these papers to be raised in private session if there are any issues that occur on them? Otherwise we note them. Thank you for that. Sorry, item 5.6—I should have included the correspondence from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs with regard to the Agricultural Products, Food and Drink (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. We agree to defer that to private session as well.

6. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
6. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi) a (ix).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi) and (ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Okay, that brings us to item 6. So, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi) and (ix), I invite the committee to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting. Do Members agree? Thank you very much. We move into private session now.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 09:48.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 09:48.