Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad
Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee04/10/2021
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Huw Irranca-Davies MS||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Jayne Bryant MS|
|Rhys ab Owen MS|
|Samuel Kurtz MS||Yn dirprwyo ar ran Peter Fox|
|Substitute for Peter Fox|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Ben Harris||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|Gareth Howells||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|Jennifer Cottle||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|P Gareth Williams||Clerc|
|Rachael Davies||Dirprwy Glerc|
|Sarah Sargent||Ail Glerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Mae hon yn fersiwn ddrafft o’r cofnod.
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. This is a draft version of the record.
Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 13:30.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 13:30.
Prynhawn da, good afternoon, a chroeso i chi i gyd—welcome to you all to this session today of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee. Welcome to those who are tuning in to this, either live or on recording. As per normal, we're on Senedd.tv, and the Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. Apart from all the procedural adaptations for conducting these proceedings remotely, all other Standing Order requirements remain in place. And we've had apologies in advance from Peter Fox, one of our regular members, but we're delighted to have Sam Kurtz with us today attending as a first-class substitute. So, you're very welcome, Sam; I hope you enjoy the afternoon with us here.
Thank you very much, Chair.
And if you do, we'll definitely have you back for more. So, if I could just ask Members to ensure that all your mobile devices are switched to silent. We're operating through both Welsh and English today, and interpretation is available during this afternoon's meeting, and, of course, the microphones are controlled by our operators who are unseen in the background, so you don't need to mute and unmute yourselves.
Which brings us very neatly to the first substantive item—that's item No. 2. And these are—. We begin with instruments that do raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. And we've got some made negative resolution instruments, the first of which is item 2.1 in your papers, which is SL(6)049, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Notification) (Wales) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2021, and this instrument makes amendments to the regulations under the Health Protection (Notification) (Wales) Regulations 2010, including in relation to the countries on the red list and in relation to the provisions for coronavirus testing. Members and people listening in to this will be familiar with the fact that these instruments come in front of us quite regularly, but our Senedd lawyers have identified three merits points for reporting.
So, could I invite Jayne or Sam or Rhys, I believe—. Sorry, no, could I invite, first of all, Gareth, if you'd like to make any comments about these three merits points?
Diolch. The only point really to make, I'd like to note, is that these regulations create partial alignment with other parts of the UK as regards the rules on international travel, and other regulations were made on Friday that further align international travel rules in Wales with other parts of the United Kingdom. Those other regulations get rid of the green list and the amber list countries and remove the need for fully vaccinated travellers to have a test, a negative test, before returning to Wales from a non-red list country. So, once those regulations are in force as well, then there is much greater alignment in the travel rules across the UK.
Thank you very much for that, Gareth, and for people watching in who might be curious as to why we're doing these retrospectively, that is what we do when we're dealing with these particular pieces of legislation, and we then make sure that they're properly in order in terms of technical and merits issues, and whether they raise any other points of interest. So, it's not unusual that we look at them in retrospect. We'll come to the other ones, as Gareth said.
Jayne and Rhys and Sam, are you content with the report? You are. Okay. Thank you very much, and thank you for that, Gareth. So, we're happy to agree the reporting points there.
That brings us to item 2.2, SL(6)052, the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Extension of Period of Protection from Eviction) (No. 3) (Wales) Regulations 2021. And these, of course, provide protection from eviction—sorry, section 81 and Schedule 29 to the Act provide protection from eviction by increasing the notice period a landlord is required to give a tenant when seeking possession, and this particular instrument extends the period during which the increased notice must be given to tenants up until 31 December 2021 from the previous end date of 30 September 2021, and this will apply to tenancies granted under the Rent Act 1977 and the Housing Acts 1985, 1988 and 1996. And, Gareth, I'm going to hand back to you for a moment because you've identified several merits points for reporting—six merits points for reporting.
And on three of those, they ask the Welsh Government to provide a bit more information about the impact these regulations are having on landlords. While the Government has provided information on the impact on tenants, the draft report asked the Welsh Government to set out its assessments of the impact on landlords. These points have been raised on previous occasions when previous regulations extended the protection for tenants. So, the Welsh Government is asked to set out its explanation again, but this time according to the circumstances as they stand today, and Welsh Government has not yet responded.
Okay. Thank you for that. Could I ask committee members—are you happy to agree the reporting points? Yes. Okay. Thank you very much for that. Thank you, Gareth.
We'll go on to, then—. We go on next to the affirmative resolution instruments under item 2.3. And there we have—. First of all we have SL(6)050, the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2021. This amends the provision of the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) Regulations 2014, which determine which persons from abroad are eligible for the allocation of housing accommodation under Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996, or for housing assistance under Schedule 2 to the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, and this particular instrument in front of us extends the eligibility for allocation of housing and housing assistance provided by local authorities. And, Gareth, your lawyers have identified one merits point for reporting.
Yes, just the one point, which notes there's been no consultation, and it sets out the Government's reasons for that, which is that these regulations needed to be made urgently.
Thank you, Gareth. So, we've had the explanation, the response there. Are committee members happy to agree the reporting points? Thank you very much.
Okay, we move on to, then, item 2.4, which is SL(6)053, the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 17) Regulations 2021. As you can get from that long title there, this is one of a series. Now, this instrument amends the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No.5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 to require certain premises to take reasonable measures to ensure that persons aged 18 years or over are only present on those premises if they have evidence in relation to their COVID vaccine or to testing. In relation to a person that has completed a course of doses of an authorised vaccine, this evidence must be provided by or on behalf of Welsh Ministers, the UK Government, the Scottish Ministers or a Northern Ireland department, and it's what is commonly referred to as a COVID pass.
Now, Gareth, you've identified four merits points for reporting.
And could I just note, as regards the fourth of those merits points, the draft report asked the Welsh Government to set out the evidence it relies on to make these regulations. The explanatory memorandum says that the Welsh Government has taken into account scientific evidence, so the merits point probes that a bit more. Also, the merits point asked the Welsh Government to confirm how it will monitor the effectiveness of the COVID pass system. The Government response was received this morning, and the Welsh Government refers to advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, SAGE, which says that certificates of health status should be seen as part of a package of measures to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. So, the COVID pass system is part of a suite of measures that includes vaccination, social distancing, track and trace, et cetera. And the response adds that, for higher risk venues, the COVID pass system is, as the Government says, a practical and easily implementable measure that can help these businesses operate more safely.
And, finally, the response says that the Welsh Government is working on a plan as to how to evaluate the effectiveness of the COVID pass system.
Thank you, Gareth. If Members haven't seen it, that was a piece of supplementary information that came through this morning, or within the last couple of hours, which has been circulated to Members. I think it'll be of great—. It helps us in terms of our merits and technical response to the Bill. We've flushed out something more of an explanation. It'll probably help wider across Senedd Members tomorrow in terms of the debate on this issue as well. Any comments, or are you happy to agree the reporting points there? Yes, all happy to agree the reporting points. Thank you very much.
Gareth, can I just check one thing? Because this is being debated tomorrow in the Senedd—yes, it is tomorrow—what we've received will be available to Members for the debate tomorrow as well, obviously? Or Sarah—I wonder, sorry, Sarah or Gareth—we'll be able to report on this in time for wider Members across the Senedd to use within the debate, yes?
Chair, we'll include the Government response in the committee's report, which will be laid this afternoon, and it will also be published as a stand-alone document.
That's great, thank you very much for that. That's wonderful.
So, if I could just flag one point that I missed earlier on when we were looking at item 2.3, I forgot to mention that the Plenary debate in respect of SL(6)050, the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2021, will take place on Tuesday 12 October, so just to read that in so that everybody's aware.
Okay. That brings us on, then, to item 3, which is, as normal, the papers to note. There are some interesting papers here that we have in front of us. Some of them are straightforward and some I think we might want to return to in private session, so I'll just ask Members to note them for now and hopefully to agree to put any further discussion into that private session later.
The first one is item 3.1, correspondence from the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution on the postponement of the inter-ministerial group for elections and registration meeting. It's a fairly straightforward piece of correspondence. Are you happy to note that? Thank you very much.
Then we have item 3.2, correspondence from the Minister for Climate Change—response to the committee's report on the legislative consent memoranda on the Environment Bill, which of course we debated last week in the Senedd. So, if I could ask you to note that letter, which responds to the committee's report on the Welsh Government's legislative consent memorandum, and we might want to come back to that if Members have got any points to raise in our private session later. Are we happy to note? We are. Thank you very much.
Then, interestingly, we have correspondence from the president of Welsh Tribunals on the third annual report of the president of Welsh Tribunals. If you're happy to note that for now, I suspect we will return to that for some discussion later on. Happy to note? Yes indeed, thank you.
And then we move to item 3.4, which is the written statement by the Welsh Government—update on the development of the justice system and the legal sector in Wales. It's quite an extensive statement there covering a wide range of aspects, but again, if you're happy to note it, we'll return to it in private later. Happy to note? Thank you very much.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
And then, we're now going to move to private session, and as I always explain to anybody who watches this on recording, what we do now as a committee is go into private session to deal with some of those items of correspondence we've just dealt with, but also reports that are in front of us for future reporting in public. So, you'll have to excuse us now while we disappear.
So, colleagues, if I could ask you under Standing Order 17.42 that you're happy now to exclude the public for the remainder of our meeting today. We are, and we will move into private. We'll take a few seconds until I'm told officially we are in private.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 13:44.
The public part of the meeting ended at 13:44.