Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad - Y Bumed Senedd
Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee - Fifth Senedd08/02/2021
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|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Gareth Howells||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|P Gareth Williams||Clerc|
|Sarah Sargent||Ail Glerc|
|Stephen Davies||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
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.
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 the meeting. The meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and a Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. Aside from the procedural adaptation for conducting proceedings remotely, all other Standing Order requirements remain in place. We've got a full attendance at the committee today. Can I just ask if there are any declarations of interest? I don't see any declarations of interest. We can then move straight on to the agenda. I'll just remind Members that the usual housekeeping rules apply.
We move straight on to the Education (Student Support) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) Regulations 2021. This instrument makes amendments to several sets of regulations relating to student financial support. The instrument applies to academic years beginning on or after 1 August 2021 and amends the existing student financial support regulations to increase the amount of undergraduate and postgraduate student support, consolidate certain disabled student grants into a single new allowance, and to accommodate changes to the common aggregation hierarchy that is applied to the higher education classification of subjects coding framework. If I can go over to the Senedd lawyers, are there any issues? No, I don't see any. Any comments or observations from Members? No. Okay. Thank you for that.
We'll move on to item 2.2, which is the Partnership Arrangements (Amendment) and Regulated Services (Market Stability Reports) (Wales) Regulations 2021. These regulations are made under powers that are given to Welsh Ministers by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 in relation to local market stability reports. Part 2 of the regulations relates to the market stability report, including the information required within the report and the timing and form of its publication. Part 3 of the regulations requires local authorities and local health boards to enter into a partnership arrangement for carrying out the local authorities' functions relating to local market stability reports. The explanatory memorandum notes that the regulations are supported by a code of practice and statutory guidance, which we'll be considering at section 5.1 of the agenda. There are no points identified by the lawyers, but do Members have any comments or observations? There aren't any.
We move straight on to item 3, which is the Local Government (Coronavirus) (Postponement of Elections) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) Regulations 2021. Members have before them the report, the regulations, the explanatory memorandum, and we have a letter from the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd of 28 January 2021. These regulations amend the Local Government (Coronavirus) (Postponement of Elections) (Wales) Regulations 2020 and the Local Government (Coronavirus) (Postponement of Elections) (Wales) (No. 2) Regulations 2020. Under the 2020 regulations, postponement of elections for county and county borough councils or town and community councils that were due to take place between the period commencing on 16 March 2020 and ending on 31 January 2021 are required to be held between 1 February 2021 and 16 April 2021. These amendments made by these regulations further postpone by-elections so that postponed by-elections that were due to take place between those dates are now required to be held between 1 March 2021 and 6 May 2021. I know the lawyers have identified some merits points. Over to you, Gareth.
Diolch. There are three merits points. The first notes the breach of the 21-day rule and the second notes the lack of formal consultation. The third merits point notes that there is no equality impact assessment for these regulations. The Welsh Government's response to that last point was received on Friday. The Government says the regulations are a response to a public health emergency, so it has not been possible to produce and publish an equality impact assessment, but that an integrated impact assessment regarding the postponement of local government by-elections in Wales will be published in due course.
Okay. Thank you for that. Are there any other comments or observations from Members? No, I don't see any.
We move on to item 3.2, which is the Representation of the People (Amendment) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021. Again, we have the report, regulations and explanatory memorandum. These regulations make provision in relation to proxy voting at certain local government by-elections. Regulation 2 amends the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001 so as to provide applicants with additional grounds for applying for emergency proxy votes or for changing their nominated proxy at these by-elections. These additional grounds relate to persons who are unable to attend the polling station in person as a result of following relevant legislation, guidance or medical advice in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The provisions apply to local government by-elections that happen on or before 4 November 2021. There is one merits point identified. Over to the lawyers. Gareth.
There is just one merits point, noting there has been no formal consultation, but that the Welsh Government has sought the views of the Electoral Commission.
Okay. Thank you for that. Any other comments or observations? I don't see any.
We move on to item 3.3, the Nurse Staffing Levels (Extension of Situations) (Wales) Regulations 2021. Under section 25B of the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006, a local health board or NHS trust that provides nursing services in relation to those clinical settings specified in subsection 25B(3), namely adult acute medical in-patient wards and adult acute surgical in-patient wards, is under a duty to calculate and take steps to maintain nursing staffing levels and to inform patients of those nurse staffing levels. So, these regulations extend the situations to which the duty applies. One merits point has been identified. Over to you, Gareth.
The merits point notes that the explanatory memorandum to these regulations is in English only. This has been an occasional issue with other regulations recently. The Government has responded by saying that more and more explanatory memorandums are being laid bilingually, but, at the moment, translating Brexit and coronavirus documents is being given priority.
Okay. So, we note that. Are there any other comments or observations from Members? Okay.
In which case, we move on to items 3.4 and 3.5, which are the two items that are to be debated in tomorrow's Plenary. These are the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Restrictions) (Amendment) (No. 4) (Wales) Regulations 2021. These regulations amend the existing regulations. According to the explanatory memorandum, the amendments are being made in the light of advice received from the Joint Biosecurity Centre relating to the new strain of coronavirus first identified in South Africa in December 2020. The regulations were made on 28 January and came into force on 29 January. Again, merits points—Gareth.
There are just two familiar merits points, which note the Welsh Government position that any interference with human rights remains justified, and that there has been no formal consultation.
Okay, the common points there. Any comments or observations from Members? I don't see any.
So, we move on to the next item, which is the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2021, which again makes amendments to the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020. The amendments include changes in relation to exercise and extended households, as well as consequential and other minor changes to ensure consistency with the new provisions. The regulations were made on 29 January and came into force on 30 January. Merits points identified—Gareth.
There are two merits points, related to human rights and lack of formal consultation. With regard to human rights, it is noted that these regulations ease restrictions slightly in some contexts, which means less interference with people's human rights.
Okay. Thank you, Gareth. Any comments or observations from Members? Again, I don't see any.
We move on to item 4.1, which is the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2021. We considered this instrument at our meeting on 25 January, we laid a report the same day, and we've now had the Government response. Any comments from you, Gareth? No. Any comments from Members? No.
We move on to the next set of these, which are the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel, Pre-Departure Testing and Operator Liability) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2021. Again, we considered these regulations at our meeting on 25 January, we laid our report, and we've now had the Government response, which is there for Members to note. Are there any comments or observations? No.
We move on to item 5. We move on to the code of practice and guidance under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. This document relates to market stability reports. Part 1 of the document is a code of practice for local authorities on the exercise of their functions in relation to market stability reports. Part 2 of the document is statutory guidance for local authorities and local health boards on partnership working through regional partnership boards, to prepare and publish market stability reports. I don't think there are any merits or technical points identified. Any comments or observations from Members? No.
We move on, then, to the Food and Drink (Miscellaneous Amendments Relating to Food and Wine Composition, Information and Labelling) Regulations 2021. The Welsh Government statement gives notification that it has consented to the making of these regulations. The statement notes that the regulations amend relevant retained direct EU legislation concerning food information to consumers, to address deficiencies in retained EU law arising from the UK's departure from the EU. The statement notes that consent was given for reasons including efficiency and expediency. Any comments from you, Gareth, on this?
Only to note that these regulations will change some of the things we actually see on food labels in the future. For example, we will see references to the UK, rather than references to the EU.
Okay. Thank you for that. Any comments or observations? No.
In which case, we move on to item 7. We have a letter from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on scrutiny of Welsh Government regulations and compliance with the public sector equality duty. We've had the letter from the Rev Ruth Coombs, head of the EHRC in Wales, which relates specifically to our consideration of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 and the publication of the relevant children's rights impact assessment. In our report on the regulations, we noted that the Welsh Government said that the relevant documents were to be published, and I think she's referring to the lack of equality impact assessments for these particular regulations. Can I suggest we review these in private session? Is that agreed? Okay.
We move on to item 7.2. We have a letter from the Minister for Housing and Local Government on the Welsh Elections (Coronavirus) Bill, where she responds, really, to our report on the Welsh Elections (Coronavirus) Bill. I think it's worth noting the thanks she expresses for turning round what was a very comprehensive report in 24 hours. And I think we ought to, again, ourselves just note the work put in by the officials, the team, who enabled that to actually happen—a very detailed and comprehensive report. It's a remarkable turnaround of work. So, we can note that. But any other comments perhaps we can defer to private session. Thank you.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42 (vi) a (ix).
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.
That brings us on to moving into private session. 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 to move into private session? That's agreed. Okay. So, we move into private session now.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 09:45.
The public part of the meeting ended at 09:45.