Y Pwyllgor Deisebau

Petitions Committee

15/11/2021

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Buffy Williams MS
Jack Sargeant MS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Joel James MS
Luke Fletcher MS

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Jonathan Rhys Williams Deisebydd
Petitioner

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Gareth Price Clerc
Clerk
Kayleigh Imperato Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Mared Llwyd 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 14:00.

The committee met by video-conference.

The meeting began at 14:00.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau a dirprwyon
1. Introductions, apologies and substitutions

Croeso cynnes ichi i gyd i gyfarfod y Pwyllgor Deisebau.

Welcome, everyone, to this meeting of the Petitions Committee.

This meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and all participants will be joining by video-conference. The meeting is bilingual, and translation is available for Members and members of the public. A Record of Proceedings will also be published following today's meeting. Aside from the procedural adaptations relating to conducting business remotely, all other Standing Order requirements remain in place. 

Item 1 is apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest. I have received no apologies for today's committee, and I do welcome all Members. I remind Members that they should note any declarations of interest either now or at the relevant point during today's proceedings.

2. Sesiwn Dystiolaeth - P-06-1224 Dylunio cynllun peilot Incwm Sylfaenol Cyffredinol 'Ymadawyr Gofal a Mwy' sy'n cynnwys amrywiaeth o bobl
2. Evidence Session - P-06-1224 Design a 'Care Leavers Plus' Universal Basic Income pilot that includes a range of people

Item 2 on the agenda. A very exciting day for the committee—our first evidence session as a new committee in the sixth Senedd, and we are going to take evidence on petition P-06-1224, 'Design a "Care Leavers Plus" Universal Basic Income pilot that includes a range of people’. I welcome Jonathan Rhys Williams, the lead petitioner and co-founder of UBI Lab Cymru to the meeting. Again, Jonathan, I would just remind you it is a bilingual meeting, and you may answer or be asked questions in the language of your choice. Just for the record, again, will you introduce yourself?

My name is Jonathan Williams, co-founder of UBI Lab Cymru, which is a volunteer-led organisation campaigning for the introduction of a universal basic income in Wales.

Diolch yn fawr, Jonathan, for that. If I can start, we took a keen interest as a committee in this petition itself. I will note for the record, Clerk, that I've actually led a debate in the previous Senedd calling for a pilot on an universal basic income. So, I should note that for the record. But if I could start the questions today, Jonathan, quite simply, why did you start this petition, and what do you hope to achieve through the petitions process? 

I’d like to begin, actually, by thanking you personally for leading that debate. It was quite a moment, I think, for the campaign, and I think it’s really taken off since then. So, I think you deserve a lot of credit for that, Chair. I’d also like to thank those on the committee today who signed our pledge for UBI, because I think that was instrumental in the Welsh Government making the announcement that they’ll be running a basic income pilot.

In terms of the petition itself, really, I think, why we did it—it was in response to the Welsh Government announcing that they would be running a pilot. What came from that, shortly after the announcement, was that it would be focused on care leavers. And whilst, of course, it’s an excellent policy for care leavers, as they are a cohort of people that have often been failed by the state, we think that, in order for us to really understand what the pilot would look like if it were to be rolled out in Wales—and I think that's what pilots should be doing, for us to understand what they would look like—we think it should be more wide ranging, more comprehensive, more ambitious in measuring a range of people, such as children, the employed, unemployed, pensioners, in a particular geographic location, so that, like I say, we can understand what that would look like if it were rolled out tomorrow. I think if you’re looking at a single cohort of people, the issue with that is that it’s not reflective of the population itself. And so that’s why we did it.

Okay. Thank you, Jonathan. Joel James, if I can bring you in next.

Thank you, Chair, and thank you, Jonathan, for attending today's Petition's Committee. I just wanted to quickly ask you a brief question, because I know last month there was the Welsh affairs select committee, and part of that was Charlotte Pickles, who is director of Reform. Apologies here, as you've probably heard it before, but I'll just quote it out anyway for the committee. In the meeting, she said:

'It is a great pilot to do because we know that care leavers are a really vulnerable group. We know that on the whole their outcomes are desperately poor and nowhere close to where we would want them to be, so why not trial temporary additional support for this group to help them get on their feet? However, do not call it a UBI. It is not a UBI. It is not going to tell you anything about a UBI.'

So, the question there is, really: should it be called a UBI?

14:05

The difficulty with pilots is that they will never be UBI, because in order for it to be UBI, it has to measure everyone, and it's impossible to do that with a pilot. You can have something that's close to a UBI by having a range of people and trying to make it as reflective as possible of society, but it's not a universal basic income pilot, I think that's fair to say. It is a basic income pilot, and it's providing a basic level of income to a particular group of people.

To answer the second part of your question, there will be lessons that we can learn from any type of pilot, because, of course, you will no doubt see, as we have in a number of pilots across the globe, a significant improvement in physical and mental well-being, for example. And there have been other benefits, such as an increase in labour activity. There are other benefits such as improved school performance, if you're looking at the pilot in Namibia, for example. So, there will be things that we can learn, but in order for us to really understand what it could look like, then it needs to be a bit more comprehensive, in my view, hence why we set up this petition.

Okay. Thanks, Jonathan. I think that answers Joel's question there. Luke Fletcher.

Diolch, Gadeirydd, and welcome, of course, Jonathan. I should probably say for clarity that I was one of the Members who signed the UBI pledge, so I just want to make sure that's on the record there.

Following on from some of your comments in terms of Joel's question, I read an article by Dr John Ball for the Institute of Welsh Affairs not too long ago now, and in that article—and I quote from that article—he says:

'It is not UBI, it is a welfare replacement scheme and because of this may well be destined to be another UBI failure.'

Of course, he was referencing the current plans put forward by the Welsh Government. He argues that that a flawed trial would risk setting back the course of UBI. Would you share those concerns? I gather, from your previous answer, that you might share those concerns.

Yes. And thanks again, Luke, for signing the pledge—we really appreciate that. The IWA article actually followed on from an article I wrote a couple of weeks before it in relation to this pilot, and in that article, I shared my concerns with this. Like I said, it's difficult with a single group of people to really measure what impacts the policy could have, because you're leaving out so many different cohorts of people. For example, if you're not giving it to parents of children, then you're not going to be able to understand what impact it would have on school performance and educational attainment. And when we have, for example, the highest levels of child poverty in Wales in the UK, and there's a direct correlation with poverty and educational attainment and school performance, then it's a missed opportunity, isn't it, by not measuring those types of things.

But I do think that by looking at care leavers—and I think it should be said that care leavers are an incredibly vulnerable group of people. As a trainee solicitor, I worked on claims on behalf of care leavers. I've seen the adversity first-hand that they have been through that has led them into the care system. I think Barnardo's wrote a report that said that 46 per cent of care leavers have mental health issues. I think that if you're looking at a particularly vulnerable group of people in order to demonstrate that a policy works, it is essentially flawed then before you even start. Like I said, there will still be things that you can measure, but I do worry that if, for example, this policy doesn't show the positive results that we would expect, the detractors of the policy will use that as ammunition and as a stick to beat the policy with, really. And we've seen, for example, from Peter Fox's comments in the Daily Mail, in the piece he wrote, some of the language he used about the policy, which I don't know if the committee has seen, but it wasn't the best, to say the least. So, I do worry that it could set it back significantly. When we've come so far in such a short space of time, I think that would be a travesty.

14:10

Can I just move you on? The current proposal is 250 care leavers—it's being pitched at 250 care leavers within the current Welsh Government proposal. You've discussed some of your key areas where you think it should be—a geographical location, perhaps with children, perhaps with a number of different people. Can you just expand on what that actually looks like? What is your proposal to expand the pilot, and what are the key principles? Do you have a number in mind? Is it another 250 people? Is it 50 children and 50 people within work? Single mothers, perhaps? Can you expand a little bit for the committee on that?

It's probably worth saying first and foremost that I'm a lawyer by trade and a campaigner as well, so I'm not an economist or a statistician, but I have a keen interest in the policy, quite clearly. My view would be for it to be led by, for example, the Welsh index of multiple deprivation, to pick one of the lowest super-output areas there—so, a ward, for example—and for you to run it in that particular area to see whether or not it has an impact on poverty, on entrepreneurship, on school performance and that type of thing. For example, I think Rhyl is in the top two in the Welsh index of multiple deprivation, so somewhere like that could be looked at. Malcolm Torry in a report recently about the Welsh pilot suggested that Wrexham would be an ideal site. I think that, by having that geographical location, you then see the community impacts of that, and you have the feedback loops because people are spending money in the local economy, which creates jobs and so on and so forth. You lose all of that by having a single cohort, because this will be spread across Wales, of course.

In terms of numbers, I'm not precious about numbers. I think that if you have, for example, around 1,000 people in a particular area, then that would be enough, but I think it's also important that you have a controlled group as well. So, you have 1,000 people in, let’s say, for example, somewhere in Rhyl, in a ward in Rhyl, and you have another 1,000 people in a different ward or different borough that is similar to Rhyl, in order to understand the differences between the people who are receiving it and the people who are not receiving it. That's how I would do it.

In terms of how much you would pay them, I know the minimum income standard recommended by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is around £213. If you can do it lower than that but then removing some of the subsistence benefits like universal credit, that would be my preference because I think, if you maintain a significant amount of benefits where you have to go to the job centre, for example, to receive them, you lose the emancipatory effects of a basic income. People having the autonomy to find meaningful work, rather than going to the job centre and finding a job just to tick a box, I think that you lose a lot of what the policy is all about there. So, that would be my preference to do it. There are other ways in which you could do it where you maintain, for example, all benefits, but you remove the personal tax allowance, for example, and pay people £60. That would significantly reduce poverty, but, of course, you've still got the problem then of people jumping through hoops in order to get the benefits that they're already on, like universal credit. So, my preference would be to remove some of those means-tested benefits, and give a basic income, so you haven't got to jump through hoops then.

Thank for that, Jonathan. I don't want to jump too much into benefits, because I know Luke's going to pick some of that up. I won't say in the committee, but my comments on the welfare system are quite clear outside of this committee as an individual Member.

I just want to pick up on one of the points. You talked about means testing, and the point about universal basic income, as I understand it, is that it's not means tested, it goes to everybody. But some opponents do argue, within a universal basic income, that that extra additional funding can provide a disincentive for people to seek employment. I don't believe that; I'm just wondering if that's your understanding, or are there trials out there that have proved, actually, productivity does go up and so on?

So, it's a common assertion made by people that people would be lazy and no longer work. It's a myth. The Finnish pilot has completely done away with that myth. Labour activity improved, it was marginal, but it didn't go backwards, which is what a lot of people say. The Stockton trial, which is one of the most recent trials, in California, that improved labour activity by, I think it was, 12 per cent or something like that. So, people were 12 per cent more likely to find full-time employment. So, it's a complete myth; it's not actual fact, and people use it to—.

14:15

And I can see Joel. I've tempted Joel to come in on this point. Joel.

Thank you, Chair. It was just to touch upon what Jonathan said, because I know he specifically referenced the Finnish trial there. Now, I was under the impression, from reading the reports there, that it was considered sort of a failure in Finland, because it had revealed an increased negative social attitude towards paid work—I think that's taken from the report—and it did not encourage people to actively seek work, and obviously that's contradictory to what you've just said there. But I'm also conscious that within Canada they trialled it, and this is quoted now from the report, and it says it provided

'a disincentive to get people back on track'

and discouraged people from becoming 'independent contributors to the economy'. And I think that's one of the concerns that I've expressed in the Chamber about the UBI. Obviously, we can have that debate over whether or not this should be called a UBI, and you've said it yourself here. But then, obviously, in Seattle and Denver, it was found that when people lost their jobs whilst receiving UBI, they then didn't bother looking for a new one because the UBI then just supplemented their income. I was just wondering about that, really, because what I'm conscious of with what you're proposing is that it's not just care leavers, it's care leavers plus and you're looking at, say, the unemployed and there are the employed, there are children there. I'm conscious of what Jack said, obviously, when he quoted how some people then just view this as sort of like a faux panacea. One of the concerns that I have is that we see all the politicians saying, 'We need to bring in a universal basic income', but in the long run it doesn't actually help people. It gives people money, it might give them that short-term stability, but it doesn't provide, in the long term, what a proper, well-paying job does, if that makes sense.

In terms of the Ontario project, that was finished early because there was a change in Government, and it was ideological why they got rid of that. In terms of the Finnish pilot, as in I mentioned, there was an improvement in labour activity. In terms of the Denver pilot, there was an improvement in labour activity. What's interesting, I think, particularly when I'm talking to a group of politicians, is that there was significant increase in trust in government as well in the Finnish pilot, and particularly now, when we're trying to recover from COVID and there's a lot of scepticism out there, I think that's a good thing.

In addition to that, I think, throughout all of these pilots, you will have seen a significant improvement in physical and mental well-being, and that's been consistent throughout. People don't factor these things in, I don't think, that when you have that significant improvement in physical and mental well-being, there is a reduction in the amount of people that are using health services. So, that will save the state a significant amount of money, but it'll also be a very good thing when we have this backlog due to COVID. So, fewer people using health services means that you can deal with that backlog a lot quicker. So, there are a number of benefits to this.

Like I said earlier on, entrepreneurship is another benefit. We've seen consistently that it has increased entrepreneurship. In Namibia, for example, there was a significant increase. It wasn't a UBI, but just to touch on it, with the COVID stimulus cheques in America that were used as part of the recovery there, which were direct cash payments to people's banks, there was a huge spike in small to medium enterprises being set up in poorer areas, in particular in black communities. So, the benefits are out there for people to see and that's why we're calling for this pilot to be more ambitious, so that we can point to these benefits happening in the UK.

14:20

Diolch, Gadeirydd. There was an important point I just wanted to pick up on there, Jonathan, in terms of we know how much a UBI will cost, for example, the pilot that UBI Lab Wales has proposed has an estimated cost of £120 million, but there is one element, which again you touched on in your contribution there, that we are unclear on, which is where the savings are. Do you know whether or not those calculations have been made? Because I always find it a red herring when we talk about the cost of things without actually considering the savings, because once you consider the savings, of course, the cost of whatever pilot or policy you put in place is vastly reduced and in some cases is covered.

Yes, and that figure of £120 million, it doesn't take into consideration—. It's a gross figure, it doesn't take into consideration that you're removing a significant amount of benefits, so you'd save on those immediately if you do indeed remove those benefits. Of course, there are savings to the health services, as I've mentioned already, and there is money being pumped back into the economy. People who are on lower incomes tend to spend the money on food, basic necessities, so there are VAT receipts there. That creates employment, so you have further income taxes as well. So, there is a range of benefits to it economically as well as socially. And I think that's what really we need to be talking about now. I don't know if anybody's going to talk about where you get the money from, but there are a number of ways in which you could do that, which I can expand on if you'd like, or I can wait for somebody to ask me that question.

We've got some other questions, but let's perhaps come back to that at the end. Luke, I'll stay with you.

Diolch, Gadeirydd. Dwi'n bwriadu gofyn y cwestiwn yma yn Gymraeg, os caf fi. Mae yna elfen bwysig i'r peilot ond hefyd i UBI yn y pen draw. Oherwydd bod y pwerau sydd o gwmpas lles heb eu datganoli eto, byddai unrhyw beilot angen cytundeb rhwng Llywodraeth Cymru a Llywodraeth y Deyrnas Unedig, ac mae hyn yn enwedig o bwysig wrth inni feddwl am y bobl sy'n cael taliadau lles, yn enwedig credyd cynhwysol. Beth yw'r canlyniad delfrydol i chi a UBI Lab Cymru wrth ystyried hyn, wrth ystyried cael y cytundeb hwnnw rhwng Llywodraeth Cymru a Llywodraeth y Deyrnas Unedig?

Thank you, Chair. I'm going to ask this question in Welsh, if I may. There's an important element to this pilot, but also to UBI ultimately. Because the powers around welfare are not devolved yet, any pilot will need an agreement between the UK and Welsh Governments, and this is particularly important as we think about the people who receive welfare payments, particularly universal credit. What's the ideal outcome for you and UBI Lab Wales in considering that and considering having that agreement between the Welsh Government and the UK Government?

Thanks, Luke. I'd like to answer that question in Welsh, but I don't know the terminology—I can't remember the terminology, at least for Government and all the rest of it. So, I won't embarrass myself.

It should have been said at the top, really, that of course at the moment, what we're proposing, we can't do it, because we don't have the necessary powers to do it. And you would need the Department for Work and Pension's agreement, you would need Her Majesty's Revenue and Custom's agreement. I think it's important that the Welsh Affairs Committee, which I attended a couple of weeks ago, are looking into this and giving it serious consideration, but the Welsh Government need to make the case. It's plain and simple, really. I think they need to ask, at least, the DWP and HMRC if they would engage in this, or at least give them the administrative powers to be able to do this. So, for example, if participant No. 1 was on universal credit, they would have the authority then to change that to a basic income and top it up a little bit more, for example. So, the ideal situation would be for the Welsh Government to at least try and make the case for it. I think that's all we're really asking. I made that point in the Institute of Welsh Affairs article that I wrote a couple of months ago, in that if they make the case to the UK Government and they're rebuffed, then at least they can say they tried. But, the difficulty is that no-one knows if they have tried at the moment. And I think, if they came out and explained that, that would be the ideal situation.

Okay, well that certainly gives the committee something to think about. Just to add to that, you've mentioned the absolute ideal situation of the Welsh Government trying; is it the case, am I right in thinking, that given what you've just said—and we can't pre-empt the response from the UK Government, but if that wasn't a positive response—is it the petition's ambition to push the pilot as far as it can within the powers that the Welsh Government currently does have?

14:25

Yes, absolutely. I appreciate and, again, we set this out at the lab quite clearly that we understand why the Welsh Government are doing what they're doing at the moment because it's within their gift to do it. It's not within their gift at the moment to run a more ambitious pilot. But, as I mentioned just now, the issue is that it doesn't appear that they're making the case at least for that. And if they are rebuffed by the UK Government, then we'll focus our attention as a campaigning organisation on the UK Government and try and pressure them to allow us the powers. But at the moment, the focus is on the Welsh Government because we want them to make the case first, at least. But, of course, we want this to be the best pilot it could possibly be, because if it isn't then it could be doomed, and the issue with that is that it would set the policy back significantly. And as I mentioned, when we've come—and I'll repeat this—when we've come so far in a short space of time, it really would be a travesty; it really, really would be.

Would it still be worth going ahead with the pilot if it was restricted to just care leavers?

Hi, Buffy. Thanks again for signing the pledge as well. I know you were one of the names on there. Yes, we shouldn't not do it. We should still do the pilot, and I think—well, I hope that we've been clear about that when we've been campaigning. It's certainly worth doing; as I mentioned earlier, there'll be lessons to learn from it. Hopefully we'll see that significant improvement in mental and physical well-being, which again will add to the body of evidence that we have globally as well. But there are other things that we could be measuring—like I said, school performance, entrepreneurship—that I don't think that this would necessarily test, and that's why we're pushing. But, yes, in terms of your question, they should still do it regardless.

Okay. And what questions should we be asking other experts?

I suppose the modelling is fundamental here, really. I think, looking at all of the evidence that you have at the moment—so, for example, Autonomy have done a report with the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Malcolm Torry's drafted a report, Compass have done their own models on it—there are a number of models out there and it's trying to find out which is the best and digging into the detail. As I mentioned, I'm not an economist or a statistician; I like to read them because I'm a bit of a nerd. But other than that, that's what you should be asking them: what models could be done within the parameters that the Welsh Government could do it in? And provided the DWP, of course, give the green light to be a bit more comprehensive with the pilot.

Thank you for that. Just before we close—we are going to wrap up shortly—I've just got one final question from me. This has just come to light really, given the time when we are, coming up to White Ribbon Day, ending male violence against women, and I've written a report—I'll put that for the record—on how I believe a universal basic income could help women who may be in abusive relationships through financial control. Am I correct in saying that a universal basic income would give financial independence to such women? Would that be a positive thing and is that perhaps something where the Government could have an extra angle to look at during the development of this policy?

Absolutely. A universal basic income is paid to the individual rather than the household, so immediately you're taking that control element away from the abuser, who may receive the benefits to his or her bank account. So, I think it would certainly give autonomy to women to make those difficult decisions by having that financial support; there's no doubt about that. There's a range of things that you could, like I said, measure, and that's why we're calling for a more comprehensive pilot, because I think otherwise it's a missed opportunity. But certainly, giving women the autonomy to leave abusive partners is certainly something that would be beneficial if it were rolled out.

Thanks for that. Joel, I noticed you wanted to come in.

Yes. Thank you, Chair. It was just to touch upon that, really, and obviously I was thinking about it when Jonathan was answering, as he mentioned there the hope that UBI would help women escape abusive partnerships. How would that come down, in the sense of—? You know, if there are joint bank accounts, or even if they were working as well, husbands or boyfriends could have access to those accounts. So, how would that differ in terms of universal basic income? Or are you foreseeing that they would have to specifically set up a bank account themselves to have access to this basic income? What are the logistics there, then? I wanted just to pick your brains about that, really, just to see how that would differ to, say, any other benefit that they might receive, if that makes sense.

14:30

Yes, absolutely. So, it would differ in that, at the moment, universal credit, if you're a couple, for example, is paid into a single bank account, and it's paid to that household. So, what this would do is—. A central feature of a universal basic income is that it's paid to the individual, so you would remove that control from that abusive partner of having authority over that bank account by it going directly to the person. 

So they would have to open up their own individual bank account.

Yes, potentially. So, again, you'd have to look at the detail, but I should imagine that that would be the case, yes—that you'd have a bank account for that individual, or it might be on a card, for example, or something like that. I know in India they run something where it's put on a card, and it was contactless. So, yes, that's how you do it—you pay to the individual. 

Thanks, Jonathan. I think that's a very important question from Joel, and perhaps that's something where committee can seek to find out more from Welsh Government on the proposed pilot. Any other questions from Members for Jonathan? No.

Jonathan, that's been very useful. It's been a short but really useful evidence session, so I do thank you for that. You have got the opportunity now, if there's anything that you'd like to say further. However, if there isn't, by all means get in touch in the meantime, before our next evidence session or before we do, hopefully, report in late December, early January. But I will mention now there will be a transcript of this session that will be sent to you; if you could check that for factual accuracy. Again, if there is stuff that you feel you should have said and perhaps haven't, by all means, we are all ears. We hope as a committee to influence Government policy and I hope that's come across today. You've certainly helped us as a committee.

We look forward to our next session on 29 November, which will include the future generations commissioner and some other organisations regarding the basic income. So, this has certainly helped us, I'm sure, and we'll discuss your evidence later on. But if there is something to say now, then please do so. 

No, other than I hope the Welsh Government really take into consideration your report and the suggestions that are made, so that they don't miss this huge opportunity that they have at the moment to roll out a comprehensive pilot. Also, thanks, everyone, for the invitation, and to those of you who've supported our campaign to date, we really appreciate it.

Well, diolch yn fawr, Jonathan. We hope that too, as a committee, I'm sure. Many thanks for that, and our wonderful clerking team will be in touch shortly. Thanks for submitting, and we were pleased to take evidence for the first time as a committee in the sixth Senedd. Diolch.

Dim problem. Diolch yn fawr, pawb. Hwyl fawr. 

No problem. Thank you very much, everyone. Goodbye.

Okay. I thank Members for that. It was a good session, and we will discuss that later on in private session. 

3. Deisebau newydd
3. New Petitions

Moving on to item 3, new petitions, on the agenda, I'll go to 3.1, P-06-1185, 'Introduce a minimum 3 year residency requirement for all Senedd Election candidates'.

'There have been several high profile cases of Senedd candidates standing or being elected, despite having never lived in Wales.

'We propose Elected members of the Senedd should be required to have lived in Wales for a minimum of 3 years prior to candidacy, in order that they understand the communities they seek to represent.

'We believe parachuting of candidates from outside of Wales, into the Senedd, undermines the quality and integrity of Welsh politics and must be prevented.'

This was submitted by James Davies, with 2,682 signatures. I will look to Members to discuss any actions, and I'll go to Joel James. 

14:35

Yes, thank you, Chair. I'm conscious you mentioned the two of them being linked together, with the next petition. I'll be honest, I don't particularly like petitions like this, because I've never felt that where someone lives determines how good you are as an elected representative. I'm conscious that some people might say, 'Well, you need to know the issues of where you're standing', and there are issues there. For example, we've seen it before where a candidate who—. I'm only using this, Buffy, as an example because it's near me in the Rhondda, so, as I was saying, ideally you want someone born and bred in the Rhondda who will know the issues, and it's the same in Pontypridd, it's the same—. But, they could still be terrible Members of Parliament or terrible Members of the Senedd, or whatever, and I'd rather have a good one who's from England or Scotland than a bad one who lives right next door to me, you know? And I don't like this attitude of putting a residency limit, especially in the way this has been done, I think. It's made reference to high-profile candidates, and everything. It's almost as if they don't necessarily agree with their politics rather than where they come from, and that's why they don't want them standing. 

If it was up to me, I would just thank the petitioner and close it, but I am conscious of that review that the Welsh Government's doing—you know, the constitutional review going forward. If this is something that the committee is mindful of, just to pass it on to them, I'd be supportive of that. I just don't like the nature of these petitions, if I'm honest. 

Okay, thank you for that, Joel. Luke, you wanted to come in too. 

Diolch, Gadeirydd. I just want to pick up on something that Joel said there, and I hope it provides some clarity. From my understanding of the petitions, they're not saying that if you're English, you shouldn't be allowed to stand in the Welsh Parliament. It's talking about a residency period for living in Wales, and I do agree that that is quite important. Having lived in the communities and grown up in the communities, I think you're best placed to represent those communities. And that, of course, is extended to people who might have come from England or Scotland, as Joel pointed out, and have lived in those communities for a while. So, I just want to make the point that this isn't talking about excluding English or Scottish people from standing for Parliament, because if they've called Wales their home, then it's their home, and they should have the right to stand there as well as any other Welsh person.

I would agree with Joel's suggestion, however, that we pass this on to the committee on Senedd reform, because I think this would be quite an important thing for them to consider, amongst other matters as well, as we look to shape the Senedd for the future.   

Okay. Joel, you wanted to come in and then I'll bring Buffy in. 

Thank you, Chair, and it was just to touch upon what Luke said. I'm cynical maybe, but the thing that stuck out with me is that it says in the petition text, 

'We believe parachuting of candidates from outside of Wales, into the Senedd, undermines the quality and integrity of Welsh politics and must be prevented.'

And I think that can only be taken one way, really, because why a three-year residency limit? Why not a five-year residency? Why not just a one-year residency? And that's what I don't like about these petitions, and that's why I'm not supportive of it. But I'm conscious of where we are, that they're looking into the constitutional arrangements of it—again, something I'm not necessarily supportive of—and there's an avenue there where this could be properly investigated, should people think that way. 

Okay, thanks, Joel. Buffy, I'll bring you in and then we'll move to actioning the petition. 

Just to say I agree with what Luke said. I think we need better clarity on this. So, I think we need to write to Ministers and have better clarity on this, I really do. 

Thank you, Buffy. So, there was the suggestion to write to the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd Reform, which I think we're all in agreement with, even if we don't necessarily all share the same views on the petition itself. So, if we could action that, clerking team. I also think we can make them aware of this, but we can close the petition on that basis, and I can see agreement there. 

Moving on to 3.2, P-06-1186, 'Prevent anyone who hasn't lived in Wales for at least 6 months from standing in Senedd elections'. This was submitted by Owen Sullivan with 143 signatures. I'm conscious of the discussion we've just had, which surrounds many of the same points here. So, I'll propose as Chair the same action for this petition as the previous one, 3.1. Do Members agree? They are in agreement. Great.

So, item 3.3, P-06-1206, 'Review Welsh General Practice Access standards in light of pandemic'.

'GPs in Wales have been set an unachievable target of answering 90% of calls within 2 minutes in order to receive full funding. This is nigh on impossible to achieve under normal circumstances but due to increased demand and staff shortages this is unrealistic during a pandemic.'

Additional details were sent with this petition, and there was a link for Members to read prior to the committee. This was submitted by Michele Richards, with 516 signatures, and I'll ask Members to discuss any actions they wish to take on this. Luke.

14:40

Diolch, Gadeirydd. I just wanted to make the point here that I recognise Welsh Government has extended the funding to help compensate for the issues around the pandemic in this particular petition, and I'm conscious as well that the BMA general practice committee have been party to those negotiations as well. I think, in terms of what the petition is asking, it has been somewhat addressed by the Welsh Government extending that funding. So, I would suggest that we, of course, thank the petitioner and close the petition on that point, as I think that a lot of it has been addressed so far. Of course, there will be scope, I think, for us as Members to come back to this on an individual basis outside this committee to scrutinise how well that funding was used and how effective it was, but, for the time being, I think we should look to close the petition and thank the petitioner.

Okay, thanks for that suggestion. I can see Members are in agreement with that.

So, moving on to 3.4, P-06-1207, 'Start referring to Welsh cities and towns by their Welsh names'. 

'The Senedd, and other bodies, should start using Welsh terms if they want to successfully increase the use of the Welsh language, they must set an example to others. Instead of referring to Caerdydd by it’s English given name, 'Cardiff', use it’s Welsh name instead. After all, speaking Welsh in Wales is no longer a crime - is it not?

'“Do as I say, not as I do” it’s time to lead by example'

This was submitted by Madison Lorraine, with 108 signatures. And I'm sure, as Madison could say, I'm currently learning Welsh.

Dwi'n dysgu siarad Cymraeg.

I'm learning to speak Welsh.

So, that's my little bit, and I'll ask Members to discuss this topic. Buffy.

First, I'd like to thank the petitioner. This is a really important issue. I note that Cadw and the Welsh Language Commissioner are already undertaking significant work on this issue, so I suggest we note this petition and then close this petition.

Okay, thank you, Buffy. Joel, you wanted to come in, and I'll bring Luke in just afterwards.

Thank you, Chair. Obviously, I declare an interest here in the sense that, being an RCT councillor—I just want to refer to something—I used to sit on the Welsh language steering committee there, and this caused no end of debate there, because what we were finding was that we had the Welsh Language Commissioner and various academics based in Bangor sending us a document of what we needed to now call our place names and street names in Wales, based on academic standards or whatever. What we were finding was that these names weren't taking into account local variations or local dialects or local spellings. For example, where I live now, I represent the village of Efail Isaf. There are two ways of spelling it: you spell it either as two words or one word—you know, 'Efail Isaf', or you join them together. When we were building the bypass—well, when the council was building the bypass—they decided to bring all new signage, and so they changed 'Efail Isaf' from the two words down to one. Now, that's caused no end of debate in my area, because some people were saying, 'Well, actually, yes, that's correct now—that's what it's called,' and then you had other people saying, 'Well, actually, no, it's always been called "Efail Isaf". It might sound similar but there are two separate meanings if you split the words'. And that's the fundamental issue I have with this, in the sense of having this top-down approach. I don't particularly like it. It doesn't take into account local variations.

And another thing—I'm going to get on my high horse here, so apologies for this—I don't particularly like is the message it sends when we say that the Welsh and English languages have equal status. Because what I'm seeing, again in my council capacity, is, for example, we have new housing estates being built and they've all got to have Welsh street names. I've got no issue with that, but what's happening now is that we've got the old English street names being made bilingual. So, we have people going around taking down 'Queen's Drive' and 'St Anne's Drive' and all that, and then putting a brand new sign up that has it in Welsh, and underneath that, it has it in English, which I think is a pointless exercise and I don't particularly like it. What will happen is that at some point in the future, that will just become a Welsh language street name, and that's what I don't necessarily like. It's saying now, 'From now on, this is a Welsh language street name' without any say whatsoever from the people who live there or whatever. And we're having issues where the street name has been changed into a Welsh language one, but they're still referring to it as the old English language street name, so that's causing no end of confusion, especially with delivery drivers and everything. Sorry, this has touched a nerve with me. It's just, again, like with the previous petition, I don't like why it's been submitted.

14:45

Diolch, Gadeirydd. If I could pick up on Joel's last point there in terms of bilingual street names eventually becoming Welsh language-only street names, for me, that's ideal. I mean, when we talk about street names in Wales, there's a lot of meaning when we talk about Welsh language street names, the stories behind them. And an ideal example, although it's not a street, it's still an ideal example, is Llyn Bochlwyd, which was changed to Lake Australia, well, there's a story behind Llyn Bochlwyd; if I remember off the top of my head, it's relating to how a deer jumped into the lake to hide from hunters—I won't go into the full story now, because I might actually be telling the wrong story. But there's a point here, and at a time, as well, when we have, for example, houses in north and west Wales that have had long-standing Welsh names changed to English names—you know, some great examples of some really old, traditional Welsh names turning into 'Summer House' or something like that, which is ironic in its own way, I think this actual petition is quite apt. For me, it's important that we don't forget that the Welsh language was here far before the English language and every Welsh language street name tells a story.

The particular examples that Joel might've used there, they could've been examples of when street names were being made way before legislation on Welsh language was brought into force. I would be interested, on a personal level and I hope that the committee would agree with this, in what the Welsh Language Commissioner's views would be on this, not just for my own benefit, but it would be useful, I think, to be able to feed this back to the petitioner as well. I think it's important that we do remember that the Welsh language has a history in Wales and a lot of the streets in Wales and Welsh language names have a lot of history behind them and there's a reason and a story there and I think it's important that we recognise that and remember that.

Sorry, Chair, but if I can just cut in there, I agree with what Luke said there, but also, the English language has had its impact in Wales, has its story to tell. It's the same with street names, you know, we have like 'King's Street' or 'Queen's Avenue' or 'Queen's Drive', there's a story behind that, then, and why that was specifically—. You know, it's like 'Boulevard de Nantes' in Cardiff; I don't see the point of having that, then, in Welsh, because there's a reason why that was called Boulevard de Nantes. That's just my own opinion. And again, with the Welsh Language Commissioner, I've said it before, I don't like that top-down approach. I think Luke has touched upon that as well with Lake Australia, you know, someone's decided to take it upon themselves to say, 'Well, no, no, from now on, this is what it's going to be called' without any real thought to local opinion, and that's what just doesn't sit right with me.

Thanks. So, there was—. Luke, very quickly because we're—

Very quickly, because I understand that we're running tight on time here. There is a point there, of course, that there are some Welsh language street names that are being changed to English. My own street of Pant Glas, for example, the translation became 'Green Valley' and that's now being used on Google, for example. And that changing of street names through Google into English names is what drives a lot of that cultural shift, really, to start referring to them as their English names. So, I think it's important that we recognise that and that we do legislate to ensure that those Welsh language names are the only ones that are being used, rather than making them bilingual just for that point. Sorry, Chair, I took some time there.

14:50

I'll indulge you, don't worry, Luke. So, there was a suggestion there from Luke to write to the Welsh Language Commissioner on this. I can see nodding in agreement with that so, yes, okay, we'll action that and move forward.

Item 3.5, P-06-1210, 'Stop the Welsh Government introducing a blanket 20mph speed limit'.

'Speed limits should be set by local authorities and should be only 20mph where necessary.'

This was submitted by Stephen R Matthews with 161 signatures. I'd like to invite Members to discuss this further. Joel.

Yes, thank you, Chair. I speak as someone whose ward has benefited from the introduction of 20 mph. I think there are positives, but again I do have some concerns about the blanket ban of it. I don't necessarily think we need to stop it, because we've had a Welsh election and one of the manifesto pledges was to introduce this. I think it is broadly supported, but I definitely think there's scope to try and find more information about the logistics of it in terms of those exemptions they have talked about, but then also about the funding and how it is going to be funded and how traffic calming measures are going to be funded, what sort of extra money is being provided for that. I'm definitely keen to find more information on that. 

Okay, so the Deputy Minister has been clear that there will be some exemption process within there, so as a committee we can write to find out that information, if Members agree. Yes, thank you. Cheers. Thanks, Joel.

Item 3.6, P-06-1211, 'Remove the average speed cameras and 50mph speed limit on the M4 between Newport and Cardiff'.

'The government is pressing ahead with the installation of average speed cameras and a new 50mph speed limit on the M4 between Newport and Cardiff. They claim to reduce accidents, pollution and ease congestion. We...demand the immediate reversal of this policy. The investment should go into green initiatives that benefit not restrict the public. The best way to ease congestion is to increase supply (such as building additional lanes or bypass road), not reduce demand— damaging the economy.'

This was submitted by Michael Slade with 145 signatures. Again, I'll invite Members to discuss this petition. Luke, please.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. I think we should note the petitioner's concerns, but there is an element there where the petitioner talks about increasing capacity on roads—there is evidence out there to suggest that that wouldn't be the solution, through the induced demand theory. I also recognise as well, of course, Welsh Government's ambition and the core tenets of their transport strategy being around clean air and the environment. We've seen that the Welsh Government have no plans to remove the average speed cameras at present. I think, again, this would be down to us as Members to take up, if we so please. I'm personally in agreement with the Welsh Government on this. On that basis, I would like to potentially close the petition, if Members agree, but of course thank the petitioner and ensure that his comments are noted.

Thank you, Luke. So, there's been a suggestion to close this petition and a plea for individual Members in the Senedd to take this up within the Chamber. Members are in agreement. 

So, moving on to 3.7, P-06-1213, 'Ban leisure use of Seadoo/jet ski in Cymru. Except in strictly controlled designated areas'.

'Our wildlife and their habitats are already under savage attack from creeping civilisation, resource exploitation, pollution and climate change. To allow the uncontrolled use of these noisy, dangerous, polluting leisure vehicles, to add to that damage is irresponsible! They offer no other service to mankind other than a fleeting spasm of excitement. This is both wasteful and irresponsible.'

This was submitted by Richard Jenkins, with 1,432 signatures. I'll invite Members to discuss this topic. Buffy.

Firstly, I'd like to thank the petitioner. There is already a consultation under way on this and this will be published in around three months' time. So, I think that we should wait and see what the consultation says, and in the meantime, write to the Welsh Local Government Association and see if there has been any co-ordination between maritime and local authorities on this subject. But, I think that we should leave the petition open. I don't think that we should close this petition. 

14:55

Okay. Thank you, Buffy. Any other comments from Members? I can see you nodding in agreement. Okay, so, thanks for the suggestion, Buffy, and the clerking team will certainly take that forward on our behalf. 

4. Y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am ddeisebau blaenorol
4. Updates to previous petitions

Item 4 on today's agenda: updates to previous petitions. Item 4.1, P-05-912, 'Supporting Families with Sudden and Unexpected Death in Children and Young Adults'. This was submitted by Rhian Mannings, with 5,682 signatures, and it was something that we debated just less than two weeks ago now. I will invite Members to discuss this petition, and I will bring in Joel James, please.

Thank you, Chair. Yes, as you said, we had the debate in the Chamber a couple of weeks back—no, last week, sorry—to hear all the experiences. I thought that you, Chair, spoke brilliantly about it as well. I definitely think that that got everybody's attention who was listening to the debate, and you managed to secure media coverage of it as well.

It is an extremely important issue, and I have got to admit that I was quite pleased with the response of the Welsh Government—to work closely with Rhian Mannings, and its wish to get this sorted, really. I suppose that it's down to us, maybe as individual Members, to hold the Government to account on that, to make sure that that does happen. 

I note from the report that one of the suggestions, now, is just to thank the petitioner and to congratulate them, and to close it then and use it as a sort of successful case to go forward. I think that, yes, that's a very good suggestion, and I'm supportive of that. 

Thank you for your kind words there, Joel, and I think that everyone spoke well in that debate, right across the Chamber, and the Minister. So, I think that you are correct. I think that I would like to put on the record, for all of the committee and the previous committee under the chairship of Janet Finch-Saunders as well, our thanks to Rhian Mannings, especially, for the inspirational work that she has done.

Of course, we will, if Rhian accepts our offer, make this a case study of what the petitions process is about for the people of Wales—to make a good, positive change for the people of Wales in times that there is no light for certain people. Hopefully, we can offer that sense of light and warmth in the darkest and coldest of their times. But, I would also like to put on record, from the members of the committee, our thanks to Mared and our clerking team, and the team behind the scenes, for what they have done to secure that support. Without them, it simply wouldn't be possible.

Moving on to item 4.2, P-05-1078, 'Increase funding for mental health services and improve waiting times for people needing help in crisis. We need a change!' This was submitted by Laura Williams, with 5,159 signatures, and I will invite Members to discuss it. Luke.

Diolch, Gadeirydd. I think that it's important for us to recognise now that it will take some time for the Welsh Government's approach to providing 24-hour appropriate support or response to people suffering from mental health—it will take time for that to embed properly. I think that it's important, actually, that we write to both the Chair of the Finance Committee and the Chair of the health committee, to ask that the evidence and correspondence that we have collated in relation to this petition is considered in any future scrutiny of the Welsh Government's mental health policies. 

I would just like, as well, to take the opportunity to thank Laura for sharing her experiences. I think that it is very important that we get these examples and these case studies, so that we can then better tailor services for those who are going to be using them. Of course, I'd like to thank her as well for championing other people who are struggling to access appropriate mental health support, and representing them via the Petitions Committee.

Having said that, of course, as I said at the start of my contribution, it will take time for the Welsh Government's approach now to embed properly, and so I think, for the time—. Well, I think, actually, the time now has come, really, to, of course, thank Laura for submitting the petition, and to close that petition as well. 

15:00

Thank you, Luke, and I can see Members don't want to add anything further to that and agree with your comments. I would agree with you as well—I do want to put on record our thanks to Laura for, again, another inspirational—someone using their own personal experiences. And I certainly will, as an individual Member, as many of us will, be looking at this closely. I think my views are very close to the petitioner's views on the current state of the services. So, I will certainly be keeping a close eye on that, and I commit to doing that. But, thank you, Laura. And we wish her every—best wishes in the future.

Item 4.3, 'Introduce Personal Health Budgets and Personalised Care in Wales'. This was submitted by Rhys Bowler with 779 signatures. I'll now invite Members to discuss this petition and any actions. Buffy Williams. 

Firstly, I'd like to thank the petitioner. I've read the letters that he submitted and they were very personal letters. I know the previous health Minister has made a commitment to looking at different options, and there's also been a working group set up. I think we should write to the new health Minister and find out what exactly is going on and get an update then on this issue. I think it's really important that we do this. 

Thank you for that, Buffy. I can see nodding from Members on the screen. Yes, I am in agreement too; we should write to the new health Minister in the Welsh Government and seek that update. 

Item 4.4, P-05-1161, 'Routine collection and publication of data of how many babies/children return to their care experienced parents care at the end of a Parent and Child Placement'. This was submitted by Nicola Jones with 60 signatures, and I'll invite Members to discuss the petition. I look at Joel James. 

Thank you, Chair. And I know, when we discussed this previously, there was some—not confusion, but we just basically needed a bit more understanding of what the petitioner wanted from us with the petition, and I am grateful to the research department for doing that scoping paper. And it's raised quite a few interesting issues in terms of—hang on, where's my notes—issues such as why care-experienced parents are overrepresented in the care and child protection proceedings. I definitely think there's probably more to look more into, really. I know one of the recommendations is whether or not the committee could accept the scoping paper, which I hope we do, and then take direct evidence from care-experienced parents and local authorities and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service amongst others. I definitely think that's probably something to do. I think it would be quite interesting to do, actually, as well. 

Thank you for that suggestion, Joel. Are Members in agreement? I know, Luke, you were keen, when this last came to the committee; I can see you nodding there. Okay, so I think what we'll do, we will accept the recommendation, we'll thank the research team for preparing the scoping paper for us, and we will look at pushing that forward into our future work programme as a committee for some time in the new year when we do that. And I think it is key, actually, that we do seek, first-hand, from care-experienced parents and some of the bodies that you suggested as well. 

Moving on, item 4.5, P-05-949, 'SAVE COWBRIDGE OLD GIRLS’ SCHOOL FROM DEMOLITION'. This was submitted by Sara Pedersen with 5,541 signatures, and I'll invite Members to discuss this petition. Can I bring Luke in, please?

Diolch, Cadeirydd. I understand this petition has been discussed several times in committee already, and we've corresponded with the Welsh Government several times on this. However, I am also aware that the previous committee had referred this petition for debate in the previous Senedd, although it wasn't prioritised towards the end of the previous Senedd because of the COVID pandemic. I am conscious as well, of course, that this petition has reached the threshold for a debate in the Chamber. So, I would be minded to recommend that we do refer this petition for debate in the Chamber, as we do set these thresholds out, and, when petitions meet them, I think it's important that we hold our end of the bargain up and follow through with the targets that we've set. I'm conscious of other members on this committee who might have a different view; I know Joel, of course, might want to come in on this. 

15:05

Yes. Thank you, Chair. I'd just like to agree with Luke there and to put this to debate. Obviously, I've mentioned in previous meetings that I've been contacted by this group, and, subsequently, since the last Petitions Committee meeting, I've actually met them on site. And it's so frustrating that we have this building here, which has played such an important role in the early education of female students here. And one of the interesting facts here: it had its own purpose-built laboratories for secondary school girls—the first in the UK to do it, I think. And it also had its own boarding accommodation, so those girls who were too poor to travel to school could stay there and still get the education for free.

And it's just so frustrating that, yet again, we've got important community buildings here, where you've got the local community trying to protect it and meeting with the developers to come up with solutions that see the site saved but then still used for the housing that the developers want, and there's just frustration that there doesn't seem to be any wiggle room. I'm conscious of what the Minister has said, that Cadw have said 'no', but, when you look at all the evidence, all the historic societies are saying, 'Can you please look at this again because we think you are wrong?' And it touches upon what I've said previously about that top-down approach. I don't want to badmouth academics, but there are some academics in a room, or whatever, looking at the blueprints and that, and saying, 'Oh, you know, no', and there's no accountability on that decision, and that's what frustrates me.

When we're looking at—. Again, if you look to England, they're bringing in the Localism Act 2011, which gives communities a greater say in trying to purchase these buildings and to protect them. It's just so frustrating when you've got a well-organised community campaign—it's not against the housing proposals being built; they just want to save the building. And they've even gone out and got housing plans drafted up for the developers. And if I remember rightly, from looking at them, they would provide more housing on site. But there's just no interaction whatsoever between them anymore, I don't think. So, I would be supportive of this going to debate—I think it's quite important. And if it does, I'd probably be talking not just on this, but I'd be talking about other examples that we're getting, where the local community is just being bypassed and not listened to.

Okay. Thank you, Joel, for that. Buffy, do you have any particular view? Mared first. Sorry, Buffy.

I know you've got—. I just wanted to clarify a point Luke mentioned earlier about debates. In the standards for petitions, it's about that the committee should consider referring petitions for debate if they reach the number; it's not automatic. So, it's just to clarify that, in case it's confusing for people who watch.

Thank you. I will bring Luke back in, and then I'll bring you in, Buffy. Luke.

Sorry, I just wanted to thank Mared for that clarification. That was my understanding of it, of course, as well—my point, of course, being that it is important that we at least refer; whether the Business Committee then agrees with us is another matter. But I think it's important that we stick to our end of the bargain at least, and refer.

I just wanted to say that I agree with what Luke said at the beginning—I totally support Luke's take on this.

Okay. Well, thank you for that. I must say that, as Chair—but I can see I'm outvoted on this one, so it's fine—I'm unsure as to what a debate will secure, given the Minister's crystal-clear response and the new change in Government. But I will take the committee's lead, as the Chair should, at this time, so we can refer to debate on this particular issue.

Item 4.6, P-05-895, 'Rosa's Legacy: introduce a scheme to help people access veterinary care for their companion animals'. This was submitted by Linda Joyce Jones with 95 signatures. And again, I will ask Members to discuss this petition and any actions. Buffy Williams.

Thank you, Chair. Firstly, I'd like to thank the petitioner. I know that the animal welfare plan, the Welsh Government's animal welfare plan, was released on 4 November, but there's still an awful lot of work to be done in this area. So, I think we need to write to the Minister one more time, again, just for clarity on this, and to put the petitioner's points across. Because there are so many people out there whose animals, whose pets, are so important to them. They bring so much joy to people's lives. I think it's really important that we get clarity on this subject. 

15:10

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Can I say I agree with Buffy there? I think we should definitely write to the Minister one more time. There is a lot of work that still needs to be done on the animal welfare plan. This is one of them, which I happen to agree with, but that's on a personal level. Some of the work around greyhound welfare that I've been undertaking, relating to the animal welfare plan—. I am conscious, however—. I'm asking if this can be in addition to Buffy's suggestion; I hope she doesn't mind me adding to her suggestion. I am conscious we have written to the Welsh Government four times, and that we ourselves, as a committee, have considered this petition six times. I think now that the animal welfare plan has been released by Welsh Government it falls on us now, as individual Members in the Senedd, outside of this committee, to now scrutinise it and push for those improvements. So, I would also like to add the suggestion that we thank the petitioner and close the petition. 

Well, I would agree with both of those, and I can see nodding elsewhere as well. So, okay, we'll take both of those points. We will write that one final time, but we will thank the petitioner as well, and feed back that information to the petitioner. And, of course, members not only of the committee, but Members of the Senedd and members of the public, will be able to see that correspondence and use it as they see fit in due course. 

Item 4.7, P-05-1040, 'Introduce a moratorium on the approval any new large scale waste incinerators in Wales'. And this was submitted by Amanda Jenner with 938 signatures. And I'll ask Members—. Joel James. 

Thank you, Chair. Just to say, like the last time we debated this petition, I believe that I know the petitioner, Amanda, and I just wanted to touch upon—. Because I know that she was calling for a moratorium on the approval of any new large scale waste incinerators, and I'm conscious of the 'Beyond Recycling' strategy that the Welsh Government has launched now, which addresses that, I believe. And, from looking at the notes, it seems the petitioner hasn't made any further comments when we've gone back to her about that. So, I think that we should welcome the further information that we've received and the clarification regarding the process, and then maybe look to congratulate the petitioner on a successful outcome and to close the petition. 

Again, I can see agreement with that. So, diolch yn fawr, Joel. It was a successful petition. Again, it's a good outcome for the petitions process. I do thank the petitioner for submitting it, those who signed it, but also the backroom team of our committee for their good work, again, on this petition.

Item 4.8, P-05-1112, 'Help Welsh Communities Buy Community Assets: Implement Part 5 Chapter 3 of the Localism Act 2011', submitted by Daniel Evans with 655 signatures. And I look to Members to discuss this petition. Luke Fletcher.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. I'm just going to be safe here and say I might know Dan—it may be a completely different Dan Evans who is in Bridgend—so just in case it's one of them, I'll be safe. I looked through the correspondence that we had with Welsh Government last night, and I have it in front of me right here now, and, of course, in September, as a committee—well, a new committee then—we wrote to the Welsh Government to request an update on where they were with the research on this topic. And the Minister responded saying that, and I'm quoting here, there will soon be an internal meeting to discuss the report, and that she anticipated that this would be followed by a meeting

'with external partners including the WLGA, One Voice Wales and third sector representatives.'

I hope the committee would agree, but I think we should request an update from the Minister following those meetings, I think, if they've already happened, on how she intends to take this forward, and keep the petition open, of course, pending a response from the Minister. 

Diolch, Luke. And I see nodding in agreement with that suggestion. Joel. 

Yes. Thank you, Chair. It touches upon what I said earlier about the previous commission—petition, sorry. And I note in the report that, in England, they've had 10 years of this legislation, and it's just a bit frustrating, personally, that it's still not coming through. But it looks like it's getting that way, and so I just support what Luke said there and what he's proposed, and I think it's definitely something—. Because it's the whole thing about devolution, I suppose: it's about empowering local communities, and that's something I believe in, whether—I'm conscious of my views about the Senedd—whether or not it happens through the body that's here that's another matter, and I won’t go into that. But, it’s all about empowering local communities, and I definitely think this is a way to go about doing it.

15:15

Okay, I think there's agreement on the action taken there as well. So, thanks for that.

Item 4.9, P-06-1160, ‘Require local Welsh exam centres to accept home-educated students for public exams’, and this was submitted by Claire Woolley with 393 signatures, and I’ll invite Members to discuss this petition. And I’ll bring in Buffy Williams.

Thank you, Chair. I’d like to write to the Minister one more time on this petition, if we could, please, just to have complete clarity, because I actually don’t think the Minister is answering the question that’s being asked. There are lots and lots and lots of different reasons why children are home schooled, and I don't think it’s fair that parents are penalised by having to pay for exams if children are home schooled for specific reasons. So, I think we need to write to the Minister one more time and get clarity on this petition, if we could, please.

Okay. Thank you, Buffy. There's been a suggestion to write to the Minister, and I can see all Members nodding in agreement and agreeing with the strength of feeling you delivered there. 

Item 4.10, P-06-1163, ‘Extend the postgraduate STEMM bursary to all MSc students in Wales’, and this was submitted by Rachel Wrathall with 88 signatures, and I look to Members to discuss this petition, and I'll bring in Joel James.

Thank you, Chair, and thank you for allowing us to talk about such an important issue as well. There does seem an element of frustration that the Government just aren’t moving on this one, but I definitely think it’s something to keep pushing at, and I know one of the recommendations is to refer to the children and young person’s committee in the Senedd, and I definitely think that’s a must. I think we need to keep pushing on this. It’s an important issue, and we just need to keep plugging away at it. So, I hope you don’t mind, Chair, if that’s what we can do with it.

Thank you, Joel. I too, for the record, have brought this particular petition and another example of something similar to this happening to the Minister on the floor of the Senedd in my role as a Member of this Senedd. So, I am, too, keen, and I do have a strength of feeling about this particular petition. So, I agree with Joel. I think we should perhaps send it to the Chair of the Children, Young People, and Education Committee, through there, and ask them to look at this particular issue during their scrutiny of the tertiary, education and research Bill. I know Buffy’s a member of that committee, so I’m sure she could fly the flag for petitions when they do scrutinise that particular Bill, and we can bring it back to committee and see where we are after Stage 1 of the scrutiny by the Children, Young People, and Education Committee.

Moving on, item 4.11, P-06-1178, ‘Free school meals for all pupils in Wales’, and I’ll invite Members to discuss—.Oh, I apologise, I jumped ahead just slightly, so I do send my apologies to Adam Johannes, with 980 signatures, but I will now invite Members to discuss this petition, and I’ll bring in Luke.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Of course, this is an important subject that’s quite close to my heart as well, as somebody was in receipt of free school meals when I was a kid. I think there’s a fundamental thing here. Whilst benefits aren’t devolved, and my view on what should happen in terms of the welfare state in the Welsh context is quite clear—. Whilst those benefits aren’t devolved, free school meals is one of the few tools that Welsh Government have to directly impact children living in poverty.

I understand some of the comments made by the Minister relating to the cost of free school meals. Again, as I mentioned earlier in the UBI evidence session, sometimes I think that’s a red herring, because there are inherent savings in some of these policies that aren’t considered in that cost. I do think there’s an important thing here though, for us as a Petitions Committee, and that is that the petitioner’s views and examples that he’s submitted have been recognised by the Minister and will be used in this review. I think that's a positive thing that we should be very happy about, and I hope we can congratulate the petitioner on that point. And, of course, we know that the eligibility review is happening right now. I'd be minded—and I hope members of the committee would agree—to keep this petition open for the time being, so that we can see the outcome of that eligibility review, so that we have a more complete story to tell the petitioner here and, hopefully, will be able to show where his examples have been used in that review.

Ultimately, I do think now it is down to us as Members of the Senedd to push this further. Of course, my own party has held a debate on this several times in the Chamber, and I will of course be continuously scrutinising Welsh Government, as I said, as somebody who was in receipt of free school meals when I was a kid. But I think, just to wrap up, in terms of my suggestion, I would like to keep the petition open for the time being, pending the release of the recommendations from the review, so we can feed that back to the petitioner, and, of course, congratulate the petitioner on his examples being recognised by Welsh Government.

15:20

Okay. Diolch yn fawr, Luke, and I can see nodding in agreement. Are there any other comments? No. So, I'll take silence as an agreement of your suggestion, Luke. Okay.

5. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod ar gyfer eitem 6.
5. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public from item 6 of the meeting.

Cynnig:

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

Motion:

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.

Motion moved.

Okay, that concludes today's public business. We will now go into a private session to consider, as I suggested before, the evidence we heard from Jonathan, the co-founder of the Universal Basic Income Lab Cymru, on our petition on universal basic income and to discuss how we will take that forward into the next session on 29 November, where the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales will be in front of the committee giving evidence, along with some other bodies and organisations who are interested in these proposals.

So, I do therefore propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix), that the committee resolves to meet in private for the next item, item 6. Are Members content? I can see they are. So, diolch yn fawr for that. As I said, the committee will next meet on 29 November. I thank all Members today for their contributions. I thank our teams behind the scenes, as always, and I, of course, thank Jonathan for his time this afternoon. So, diolch yn fawr, and see you all in Plenary tomorrow. Cheers.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 15:22.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 15:22.