Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad

Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee

28/06/2021

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Jack Sargeant MS Cadeirydd Dros Dro
Temporary Chair
Mark Isherwood MS
Rhys ab Owen MS

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Gareth Howells Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
P Gareth Williams Clerc
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 10:30.

The committee met by video-conference.

The meeting began at 10:30. 

1. Cynnig i ethol Cadeirydd dros dro o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.22
1. Motion to elect a temporary Chair under Standing Order 17.22

Good morning. The first item of business for today's meeting is the election of a temporary Chair. I would therefore like to invite nominations from committee members for a temporary Chair to be elected under Standing Order 17.22.

Thank you. I declare Jack Sargeant elected.

Penodwyd Jack Sargeant yn Gadeirydd dros dro.

Jack Sargeant was appointed temporary Chair.

2. Cyflwyniadau, ymddiheuriadau a dirprwyon
2. Introductions, apologies and substitutions

Diolch yn fawr, Clerk and Members. Moving on to item 2, introduction, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest, can I welcome Members to the first meeting of the newly named and reconstituted Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee? You may wish to note, for the record, that following a resolution in Plenary on 23 June 2021, the Interim Subordinate Legislation Committee became this committee, in its full title, the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee.

In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I have determined that the public are excluded from the meeting in order to protect public health. This meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and the 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 today. No apologies have been received for today's meeting. If I can just move on to some housekeeping arrangements before we start today, Members, can you ensure all your mobile devices are either switched off or switched to silent? The Senedd does operate through the medium of both the Welsh and English languages, and interpretation is available throughout this morning's meeting. And, finally, Members are reminded that the sound operator will control all your microphones and therefore you do not need to unmute and mute yourself again throughout the public part of this meeting.

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

Item 3, instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. Item 3.1, SL(6)013, the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Extension of Period of Protection from Eviction) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2021. Section 81 of, and Schedule 29 to the Coronavirus Act 2020 provide protection from eviction by increasing the notice period a landlord is required to give a tenant when seeking possession. These regulations extend the period during which increased notice must be given to tenants until 30 September 2021, from the previous end date of 30 June 2021. This will apply to tenancies granted under the Rent Act 1977 and the housing Acts of 1985, 1988 and 1996. The Senedd lawyers have identified six merits points for reporting. Can I invite Gareth to make a comment on that, please?

Diolch. The main issue raised in the draft report relates to human rights and justification for these regulations. The explanatory memorandum explains a lot about risks to tenants and how they need extra protection during the pandemic, but there is little about the impact on landlords. These regulations, and their predecessors, restrict the ability of landlords to take possession of their own property, so there's interference with their property under human rights law, and interference like that requires justification. So, the draft report asks the Welsh Government to provide a bit more information on the balancing act it carried out when considering things, not just from the perspective of tenants, but from the perspective of landlords as well. That isn't to say that the Welsh Government has got the balance wrong; it's just that there is little information available on the balancing exercise that the Welsh Government did carry out, and the Welsh Government has not yet responded.

Okay, thank you, Gareth. Diolch for that. Members, any comments or observations on those points? Mark.

I'll just comment on particularly the closing comments in the brief, asking what action the Welsh Government has taken to mitigate the economic effects of the regulations on landlords. The Welsh Government did launch its tenancy saver loan scheme, I believe, last August, and landlords were grateful for that, but asked if it could go further, because my understanding was it has to be triggered by the tenant, and clearly tenants with perhaps the most complex issues may be the least likely to trigger that where the loan would be against them, ultimately, rather than the landlord. So, the landlords were also asking whether a mechanism could be introduced that they could trigger where the tenant was getting into serious arrears but was unwilling or unable to trigger the scheme themselves. So, just a bit of context to that content.

10:35

Fine. So, can I ask Members to confirm that they agree the reporting points made? Excellent, thank you.

Item 3.2: SL(6)012, the Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2021. This instrument amends the Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) Regulations 2009, which make provision for interest to be charged on, and for the repayment of, income contingent student loans in England and Wales. This instrument has been made as a composite instrument, meaning it has been made by both Welsh Ministers and the Secretary of State, and laid before both this Senedd and the United Kingdom Parliament. Senedd lawyers have identified one merits point for reporting, which notes that this instrument may be made in English only. Gareth, can I invite you to comment on that further?

Diolch. Yes, just to add to that, because the Welsh Ministers and the UK Government Ministers have the same policy here, they've made the regulations in the same document, which is then laid before both the Senedd and the UK Parliament, and because it's laid before the UK Parliament, these types of regulations are therefore made in English only, which is a reporting point under Standing Orders.

Diolch for that. Members, any observations or comments? No. Great. Can I ask Members to confirm they agree to all the reporting points made? Excellent, thank you.

Item 3.3: SL(6)014, the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 13) Regulations 2021. This instrument amends the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020—the principal regulations dealing with COVID—to replace regulation 16. The new regulation 16 requires the person responsible for the regulated premises to take up an updated four-step approach as set out in the new regulation. The instrument also makes amendments to Schedule 1 to the principal regulations, which sets out the restrictions and requirements that currently have effect in Wales as an alert level 1 area. Senedd lawyers have identified two merits points for reporting and, again, I'll invite Gareth to speak on those points.

Thank you. Nothing further to add to what is in the draft report.

Thank you, Gareth. Members, any comments or observations? No. I'll ask Members to confirm they agree to the reporting points. Excellent.

4. Offerynnau sy'n cynnwys 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

Item 4 on the agenda is instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3, which have been previously considered. Item 4.1: SL(6)008, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel, Operator Liability and Public Health Information to Travellers) (Wales) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No.2) Regulations 2021. The committee considered this instrument at its meeting on 14 June and laid its report on the same day. Members are invited to note the Welsh Government response to the report, which has since been received. Any comments from Gareth—either Gareth or Members?

Diolch. Could I just say that the Welsh Government response is a very helpful explanation? Without this explanation, it was difficult to work out the rationale behind the regulations, though it would have been helpful if this information had been included in the explanatory memorandum in the first place because it would have provided helpful and important context.

Any further comments from Members? Excellent. We'll note your additional response and hope that can be included in any future regulations or changes.

Thank you, Members, thank you, clerking team, and thank you to the public who are watching. I will therefore call this meeting to an end now. The committee will likely meet again next Monday, 5 July, although that will be confirmed to Members when the arrangements have been made. So, diolch yn fawr iawn and have a good day.

10:40

Daeth y cyfarfod i ben am 10:40.

The meeting ended at 10:40.