Y Pwyllgor Deisebau

Petitions Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

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

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Alistair Davey Llywodraeth Cymru
Welsh Government
David Cartwright Perchennog cŵn sy'n rasio ar safle Valley Greyhounds
Owner of dogs that race at Valley Greyhounds
Julie Morgan Y Dirprwy Weinidog Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol
Deputy Minister for Social Services
Lord David Lipsey Greyhound Racing
Greyhound Racing
Malcolm Tams Stadiwm Valley Greyhounds
The Valley Greyhounds Stadium
Mark Bird Bwrdd Milgwn Prydain Fawr
Greyhound Board of Great Britain
Professor Madeleine Campbell Bwrdd Milgwn Prydain Fawr
Greyhound Board of Great Britain

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Gareth Price Clerc
Kayleigh Imperato Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Mared Llwyd Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Samiwel Davies Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Sian Thomas Ymchwilydd

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 yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 14:00.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 14:00.

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

Croeso cynnes i chi i gyd i gyfarfod y Pwyllgor Deisebau.

A very warm welcome to you all to this meeting of the Petitions Committee.

Can I welcome everybody to this hybrid meeting this afternoon of the Senedd Petitions Committee? And just as a reminder, this meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and the Record of Proceedings will be published as per usual. Aside from all other procedural adaptations for conducting proceedings in a hybrid format, all other Standing Orders remain in place. 

Item 1 on today's agenda is apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest. There have been no apologies received. And I remind committee members that they should declare or note any interests now or at the relevant point during today's proceedings. Luke Fletcher.

Diolch, Gadeirydd. I'd just like to declare an interest in relation to item 4. I'm a member of Greyhound Rescue Wales and have sponsored several events for Hope Rescue as well in the Senedd.

Thank you for that, Luke, and that is noted for the record.

2. Sesiwn dystiolaeth - P-06-1161 Casglu a chyhoeddi data fel mater o drefn o ran faint o fabanod/plant sy'n dychwelyd at ofal eu rhieni sydd wedi bod mewn gofal ar ddiwedd Lleoliad Rhiant a Phlentyn.
2. Evidence session - P-06-1161 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

Moving on, then, to item 2, an evidence session on P-06-1161, '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'. I'm delighted to welcome Julie Morgan, the Deputy Minister for Social Services, to the Petitions Committee today. The Minister will be giving evidence regarding the Welsh Government's policy position regarding care-experienced parents. Minister, we're very grateful to have you. You are the first Welsh Government Minister in front of our committee, so it's excellent to see you here. I do remind both you and your officials that this is a bilingual meeting, and questions can be asked or answered in the language of your choice. Before we do move on to questions from Members, could I ask you to introduce yourselves for the record, please? 

Diolch. I'm Julie Morgan, and I'm the Deputy Minister for Social Services in the Welsh Government.

Diolch. I'm Alistair Davey, deputy director, enabling people, health and social services group within Welsh Government.

Diolch yn fawr, both, for being here. As I've said, this is our final oral evidence session today on this petition. I think it's fair to say we've done some real deep scrutiny of this important petition. It's gone, perhaps, far wider than the original scope, and we're going to try and scrutinise you today about the position of the Welsh Government. If I can just start, Minister, with what I think is the gist of this petition, which is there is no data collected by Welsh Government. Throughout the extensive hearings that we've had, and evidence sessions that we've had, both with care-experienced parents themselves and charities and organisations who work with care-experienced parents, all the evidence that we've heard seems to suggest that care-experienced young people are more likely to have their own children removed into care, yet, in Wales, we don't collect any systematic data to confirm this. So, if I can just ask you first, Minister: why is it the case that the Welsh Government doesn't make sure that data about care-experienced parents is routinely collected and published, as the petition asks for?

Thank you very much. I want to say, first of all, how much I welcome the fact that you are doing this inquiry. I think it's absolutely a very important inquiry, and I acknowledge the point that you've made that there is not any routine data collected by the Welsh Government. I know that this is such an important subject, and I want to stress that one of the top priorities of the Government is young people in care—care-experienced young people. They are one of our top priorities, and we've got a plan about how we plan to transform the services for care-experienced young people. But, as the committee is aware, and as the Chair has said, data and outcomes about parent and child placements are not collected by Cafcass Cymru, and nor as part of Welsh Government official statistics.

We know from our investigations that the use of these placements is relatively small. Local authorities are responsible for the delivery and use of parent and child placements; they are the best people able to provide information about the number of placements and their effectiveness, particularly for care-experienced parents. And, as I've said in my correspondence to the committee, I would welcome greater exploration of the number of parents involved and of how effectively these services support care-experienced parents in order for them to keep caring for their own children with appropriate support.

So, I am happy to write to local authorities to ask that they undertake an audit of placements and evidence of effectiveness, or, as an alternative, we could consider whether this would be best achieved via a bit of bespoke research. So, I'm very happy to take this forward, but certainly acknowledge that the routine collecting is not taking place at the moment.


I thank the Minister for that answer. I don't want to commit to what the committee might say, and we'll obviously discuss and report back, certainly, on what you've said there, but we do welcome the commitment from the Government in terms of care-experienced parents, and we do note that and I think that we will, perhaps, make our own recommendation on whether it should be bespoke research or a letter from you to local authorities that would be the best way forward, and we will consider that in due course. I'll state these figures for the record, because I think that they are quite stark in what they say; if we just look at the system in general and children in care in general, in 2011, there were 5,410 children in Wales, and by 2021 that had increased to 7,265. So, it's good that the Welsh Government recognises the need to do something here.

Minister, you mentioned, as well, and I just want to state it for the record—I don't expect a direct response to this—you mentioned local authorities, and I just wanted to get the number out. The data collected in Swansea, when that was analysed, I believe that it was 35 per cent of care-experienced parents receiving leaving-care services in Swansea who actually had at least one child removed. So, we do welcome this. And from your initial response to my question, it's clear that you see that there would be a benefit to having this style of data collected for the Welsh Government and the decisions that you are going to make. 

Yes, absolutely. I think that it would be good progress. And, as I say, I welcome your investigation, which can move us on to get more information about this particular group of care-experienced parents. And I think, as you've already mentioned, we do know that the number of care-experienced children is growing and has been growing for some time. During the last year, it's the first time that we've now, in recent years, seen a slight reduction in the numbers, and that is part of our policy of trying to stop the number of care-experienced children increasing in Wales, because we do have a disproportionate number of care-experienced young people in Wales, compared to other comparable nations. So, we are very keen that we reduce the number and hence reduce the risk of children being taken into care from care-experienced parents, because we do see your inquiry as part of a much wider look at the whole of our care system, and that's something that we're working very hard on at the moment and we have got a number of plans about what we hope to achieve.

Thank you, Minister. I will pass on. I think that we may go on to some of those questions about the wider position shortly. But, before I do pass over to Buffy Williams in the Rhondda, I wonder if I could just press you a little bit further: would the Welsh Government consider collecting data on all care-experienced pregnancies and not just those, perhaps, in the mother-and-baby placements?

Well, I think I'd have to go away and think about that. Obviously, we would want to get as much data as we possibly can in but I think it is important to get that information, because it's only if we've got that information that we're able to see what the effect of being in care can be on a young person's life. Because we know—you've already given the figures—that a disproportionate number of care leavers do have children who also come into care themselves. Also, we do know that's also true for people with learning disabilities. So, it is important to have that information, so I think we can certainly go away and look at it, if that would be important to have for all care leavers.


I'm grateful for that, Minister, and perhaps, again, we might include that in our report. Or, if we don't, if you send a note before we release our report, depending on timings—. But I'm grateful for that. I will pass over now to Buffy in the Rhondda.

Diolch, Chair. Thank you, Minister, for joining us today. I and the Chair visited a group of young care leavers with Voices From Care, and I was dismayed at the stories and the life experience that they relayed to us. It was almost as if they had failed before they'd started when a health professional had gone to visit with them. They were treated as a higher risk from social services. It was quite alarming, actually, some of the stories that were relayed to us. Their parenting skills were called into question simply because they were care leavers. And it's something that resonated with me, when one of the young people said, 'I felt like I could've just given my child over as soon as I'd given birth, because there was no point in even trying.' No-one should be made to feel like that. So, is this a picture that you accept, that young people, young care leavers are feeling, when they're going into a professional setting? Because they came back to us and said they felt more at ease in the third sector than they did with professionals.

Thank you very much, Buffy, and I think that those voices that you heard, I absolutely acknowledge that they are there and that they exist. And we know that there is a stigma against young people who have been in care, and we've got to try and get rid of that stigma, because professionals are there to help families, are there to help young people. And I know that many people who need help would much prefer to have it from the third sector, and they want to have it from the third sector because the third sector is often closer in touch with young people than the statutory services. Also, I think there's the fear amongst young people, right from the beginning, that they don't want to be involved with social services because they think they'll take their children away from them. And we've just got to get away from that, because social services and the professionals should be there to aid and to help young people, and particularly young people who are pregnant, expecting a child, and it is awful if they think that they're already damned, you know, right from the beginning just because they happen to come from care. So, I absolutely agree with you: that is totally unacceptable. I am very keen that we use the third sector as much as we can, for the reasons that I've stated, and we have to do all we can to help, and that has to be built in before any children are born.

So, we have got a number of services that we have introduced in order to try to help young people in this situation. I don't know whether you were given examples of the Reflect services, or whether you've had any evidence from Reflect. I met a group of young mothers who'd already had children removed from their care, and Reflect aims to break the cycle of children being taken into the care system and to give the women the opportunity to develop new skills and responses that can help them create a more positive future. I was very impressed with the services that were being provided across Wales for Reflect. And the young people I spoke to—it was very moving—for the first time, some of them said, they actually felt that they had some hope of having a child and not having it removed, and that was because they were being treated with absolute respect. It was acknowledged that they needed support and they needed help, and very intensive help in terms of meeting with a key person once a week, discussing all that had happened to them in the past to try and come to terms with having lost their children. I think it was definitely a way of moving forward.

So, I'm very supportive of the Reflect scheme that the Welsh Government is funding and has been funding across Wales since 2017-18. Last year, we worked with 290 parents, helping to support them to try to continue to look after their children or to be in a better position to keep their child when it was born. So, I think there are ways of dealing with this that will prepare young people for this situation and where the support can be built in right from the beginning.


Minister, do you think that care leavers have had that stigma attached to them and that social services and other professional bodies judge them as soon as they find out that they are care leavers? Do you think they have that element of being judged and then that stigma will stick with them right the way through their lives, because I think that that's just very, very sad?

I don't think it happens to all care leavers. I think that we are, as a state, sometimes successfully able to help care leavers grow up happily, healthily, with happy homes, and I think that the care system does provide that. But it doesn't do it for everybody, and I think there are care leavers who do feel that they are stigmatised and do feel that they are not treated the same as everybody else, and that, being from care, people judge them as being trouble. I have to acknowledge that there are children who are leaving care who are in that situation. It's not everybody, but, for those who are treated like that, we've got to try and do something about it. That's why I want to make sure that, to begin with, we don't bring so many children into care. Let's try and keep children home with their families, which gives them a better chance then of having their own children at home. That is our overwhelming aim in the Welsh Government. So, yes, I acknowledge that, probably, it does happen.

Thank you, Minister. Local authorities have stressed to us that removing a child from their parent is always the last resort, yet we heard from academics and organisations who have told us that care-experienced parents are deeply concerned at the numbers of routine assessments, monitoring, interventions and permanent compulsory separation that's happening to care leavers. What are your views on the difference in evidence, and are care-experienced parents more at risk of having their children removed, do you think?

I think that, in many cases, taking a child into care is seen as the last resort by the social workers and people who are involved at that particular point. But what I think is that a lot more help should be put in sooner and earlier so that families don't reach the situation where people say, 'Oh, it's inevitable. This is the last resort.' Because you can't say it's a last resort unless a lot of help has been put in beforehand, and I'm not sure we've got the evidence that that has been done. That is why we are funding certain areas of work to ensure that parents have a voice, for example. We are funding parental advocacy projects now, and we're putting in £1.5 million of funding in the 2022-23 financial year to increase the amount of parental advocacy. One of the best ways of providing advocacy, I believe, is through parents who have experienced the care system themselves, and who may have even experienced a child being taken away from them, being the advocates with the parents who are experiencing difficulties at the moment. So, we're putting this money into parental advocacy and we're working with third sector providers following what you've said—how important it is to work with the third sector—with NYAS, the National Youth Advocacy Service, with Tros Gynnal Plant and with the parent advocacy network, and that's to scale up our services on a regional footprint in order to make absolutely sure that there is someone there to speak up for the parents. I think that if we've got that in place, parental advocacy, that's going to make a huge difference in order to keep children at home. I think it's—. I can't believe that we can have so many children in care disproportionately compared to other places and say that every time it's a last resort. That can't be right; there must be a lot more that we can do, earlier on, to stop this happening. 


Thank you, Chair, and thank you, Deputy Minister, for coming today to today's evidence session. One of the things that we've come across when we've spoken with—it was a concern with Buffy there now, actually, but—when we've spoken with other evidence people coming in and everything is basically the lack of practical and emotional support that they've had. I was just wondering if that's something that chimes with you, really, if that's something that you're aware of, and how confident can we be that the support services are there, really, to help care-experienced parents who might be on the verge of having their children taken away, really. So, I'm just keen to know what your current view is, and then, if there is a failing, what more can be done by the Welsh Government to prioritise it. Thank you.

Yes. I don't think enough support probably is being given. We do provide a lot of support for care-experienced young people, and actually I'll ask Alistair, perhaps, if he can run through some of that support that we actually provide. But I don't think it can—. I don't think it is enough, and that is why we've increased our funding to this area of work, because we really want to make a difference, and we do have particular sums of money that are devoted to trying to help care-experienced young people in a practical way as well; we've got the St David's fund, which deals with practical things for care-experienced young people. Perhaps, Alistair, you could describe in more detail the St David's fund and the other funds that we provide.

Thank you, Minister. Yes, we provide a range of funding, particularly the St David's fund, which is a fund that allows young people to go through their corporate parenting body within their organisation to apply quite often for small sums of money. It's often called 'like the bank of mum and dad'—it can help people set up small businesses; it can help them with driving lessons, all manner of things that will provide them with support. We also put in place personal advisers, obviously, over the last few years, who work with the care-experienced, care leavers, to help them all the way up to 25 to get back into education or employment or training. We're still aware that 40 per cent of care leavers are not in employment, education or training, and obviously we now have the universal basic income that is about to be launched for care leavers, which will be very much looking at positive outcomes going forward. So, I think there are a range of things that we are doing in that space.

Yes. I think, Joel, you also referred to the emotional support as well, and whether we were able to give any of that. If I could just give a couple of examples of the emotional support that is given usually on a local authority level, in Swansea, Jig-So—. I don't know whether you've had any evidence from those before your committee. It's an early intervention multi-agency project with a dedicated team of midwives, family facilitators, nursery nurses, early language development workers, and this team works across Swansea to support the well-being of vulnerable and expectant parents from the 17 week of pregnancy through a child's infant years up until the age of two. Then, in Newport, Barnardo's Cymru and Newport City Council have a joint project that is called Baby and Me, and that works with expectant parents from week 12 of pregnancy right through until the baby is six months old, providing support to parents, and would-be parents who may be at increased risk of their children entering care do have support from this project. And then there's the Baby in Mind programme, run by Bridgend County Borough Council, which provides the parents of newborn babies with help and support. So, there are a number of projects, as I say, usually on a local authority level, that do provide emotional support and, as Alistair has listed, those that provide practical support. But I would be quite—. I could never say it was enough, I think, and that is why we are putting so much more money and effort in now.  


Yes, certainly. I think one of the things that came out of the 'Born into Care' report, back in 2019, was the high number of interim care orders that were being sought compared with England, and the lack of supervision orders. So, I think something we'd really want to look into is not just the numbers themselves, but in terms of what approaches we use to avoid going to care orders, particularly when some of them were being applied within seven days. So, using the range of examples that the Minister has given, I think as well we'd want to be working with all local authorities to look at their approaches, because we again would see interim care orders as the last resort.

Just to note as well, Minister, I think we took evidence from all of those projects that you've heard, either orally or written.

The clerking and research team, as they always do, have worked extremely hard, and Members are very grateful. Joel.

Thank you, Chair, and thank you, Deputy Minister and Alistair, for those responses. As the Chair mentioned, you mentioned a couple of local, third sector organisations, like Jig-So, and then there's Project Unity and Reflect. One of the things that came up time and time again was how valued these organisations were by care-experienced parents. But also another thing that kept coming up was a distrust then of local authority help or assistance, and one of the things that was coming up was this belief that the Welsh Government should look to set up a new advocacy service that was independent of local authorities, so then those who used it would be confident enough that it would be independent advice. One of the things, unfortunately, that came up was that sort of distrust then of authority, I suppose, authority figures, and, with care-experienced parents, their main interaction then with 'authority', in inverted commas, is the local authority, I suppose, and I was just wondering what your views were on that, then.

I think it is always better if advocacy services are independent, and I think that is the line that we've taken in the Welsh Government in developing advocacy services, and we've used the third sector for much of the advocacy services that we do fund, such as Tros Gynnal Plant and the youth advocacy service and the parent advocacy network. I think those are all third sector organisations. So, we do think it is better to have advocacy funded by independent bodies.

However, I think, Joel, you are referring again to the lack of trust in the local authorities, and that came up earlier in questioning, I think, from Buffy and from the Chair, and it is something that is said to me frequently, because I meet with a lot of young people. I've met with groups who have used those advocacy services, and I've met with groups from Reflect, and there is this distrust of social services, and we've just got to get over it, because social services must be there to support the young people. I think that they're—. I was a social worker myself many years ago, so I know there is the commitment there to help, and that is the whole purpose of being in social services. But this distrust has built up with some members of society, and we've got to get over that by ensuring that we want our local authorities to treat young people with respect, and to treat them as individuals, and not to have preformed ideas. I think that that is very important—that as a Welsh Government we pursue that.

Alistair, did you want to add to that?


Just to say, Minister, obviously voice is at the heart of our legislation. We introduced the national framework for advocacy back in 2016. On behalf of the Minister, I chair the fora that oversee the stats for that, to make sure that every child—because we have a commitment in Wales to the active offer—that every care-experienced child has access to an advocate, an independent advocate. We think this is a really important principle and we regularly review the type of issues that are coming up. But, as always, we can do more, and absolutely part of this is about making sure around attitudes and behaviours, and obviously one reason why the Government is looking at the national practice framework for social workers, to look at training, awareness, culture and behaviours.

And I'm sure the committee will be very interested to hear that, in September, we're holding a summit to directly hear from care-experienced young people about the issues that matter most to them, and I'm sure some of those people who come to that summit will be care-experienced young parents. So, I'm really looking forward to that, to hearing directly from them, and we're working with our partners, including Voices from Care. Voices from Care Cymru are helping us to organise that summit, so that will be a maximum, great opportunity to hear the views of care-experienced young people. So, I absolutely acknowledge there's a huge amount of work to do, and we are trying to address it.

You've pre-empted one of my questions later on, about how care-experienced parents and care leavers can engage in the process. We will also share the details of that summit with our contacts as well, if that is useful. Joel James, final question. Joel. 

Thank you, Chair. Yes, as the Chair said, it's a final question. Again, one of the issues that was coming up repeatedly with the evidence-based sessions we've been having is that lack of suitable accommodation for mothers and children, those trying to stand on their own two feet, as they say, within the system, and how there's a lack of accommodation, and more often than not, if it's found, it's away from their support networks—they might be in quite isolated areas. I just wanted to know how—. And obviously I'm conscious there's room here for the local authorities to get involved, but I just wanted to know how or what action the Welsh Government's doing in terms of trying to facilitate there being more accommodation suitable for young parents within the care sector, care-experienced sector—not only temporary accommodation, but more longer term solutions as well, really. Thank you.

Yes, thank you, Joel. Obviously, when any person has a child, they need support, and they need support from their family, their friends, and they need a network to help them move through the really difficult years of bringing up children. I think it is very difficult to ensure that children, young people, do get that support because of the difficulties that there are in getting accommodation. So, I really feel that it is part of the wider situation, the wider housing situation, that there is a shortage of suitable accommodation.

So, I think this is something that the Welsh Government is trying to tackle in terms of providing more affordable housing, but I know through my constituency work, as I'm sure you all do, that housing, and trying to get housing near to your family, is one of the most difficult situations that we have. It's very, very difficult to get suitable housing. I know it varies from area to area, but certainly in my constituency, I have this as a constant issue. So, I do think this is a wider issue but a very important issue. Alistair has mentioned the advisers that we have to help guide young people, and one of the things that they do is to try to help with the important issue of accommodation. Alistair, did you want to come in?


I just thought I'd add, Minister, that on your behalf I sit on the housing group within Welsh Government and we're working through supported accommodation and have been for some while now, looking at the different approaches, both in terms of capacity and also models of care put in place around those. So, that's the piece of work that's ongoing and will be used to inform how we strengthen the programme for government commitment around strengthening corporate parenting. Relationships between social services and housing and supported accommodation will be at the heart of that. 

Thank you, Alistair and Minister. Can I just try to pick up, then, on specific accommodation in mother and baby units in Wales? Are there enough? What are we doing? What is the position from the Welsh Government on that? Do we have enough, or is there a programme that is seeking to address those issues?

I don't think we have a programme specifically for mother and baby units, I think our plan is to support young people with their families, if that is possible. It may not necessarily be the best way ahead for some young people to go into a mother and baby unit, and it may be that support on a more individual level would be the best way forward. So, I don't think we've got a specific plan of increasing the number of mother and baby units. Alistair, do you want to comment on that?

Thanks, Minister. I know we've done visits in the past to Carmarthenshire, and we know that they're doing a lot there on mother and baby units, but you're right, we've got to make sure that it is appropriate. Obviously, we're actively looking at ensuring that children remain with their families. We've written out to local authorities to ask for their plans, going forward, on a range of issues around looked-after children, and that would be one of the areas that I think we would like to look at to see what proposals are coming back. 

I'm conscious we've had a great deal of conversation here already, and it's of particular importance, given it's high up the Welsh Government's agenda. I just wonder, Minister, if you could spare us an extra five minutes, and perhaps we could go to a quarter to or ten to, if that's suitable for you and your officials. 

Diolch, Gadeirydd. The First Minister has personally committed to radical reforms. So, I think it's fair to say that this has put this particular topic high on the political agenda. I was just wondering if the Minister could tell us where we're at with those radical reforms as of today. Is there any indication as to what these reforms will look like?

Yes, it's at the top of the First Minister's priorities to radically reform the care for looked-after children and, indeed, for the social services provision in Wales. What we want to see is a system that actively helps people, which is there to move in at a very early stage to act in a preventative way, to look at the strengths in people—not to look for weaknesses in people but to look for the strengths and to build on the strengths, and to show the commitment for people to keep their children and, when they have the inevitable difficulties that people do have bringing up children, that we're able to put in support. So, we are starting on that transformation journey.

We also think it's very important that the help that is offered to care-experienced children is within the public sector, either within local authorities or with not-for-profit providers. That is quite a big transformation, but that is something that we're doing because that's what young people have told us, they don't believe people should be making excessive profits from the difficult circumstances that they happen to have ended up in. So, that is part of our transformation, and we are moving ahead with that. There is a board that is chaired by the chief social care officer and Alistair is part of that board. We've got different work streams, and we are getting to grips with the issue about what we mean for not-for-profit, and how private providers will respond to this particular agenda. So, I would say that, in that, we're deep in it.

The other support elements that we're giving, which I've already mentioned, are support for advocacy, support for family group conferencing, which is a way to try to ensure that the family tries to find a solution before the state intervenes. And so, there's a whole range of things we're doing that make up a package where support is the issue—keeping children at home, keeping families within their communities, and where the ethos of the statutory intervention is support and keeping people together. And that is what we've started on. We're committed to trying, by the end of this Senedd term—that's another four years—to remove private profit from the delivery of children's services. That is very challenging, because I think about 80 per cent of the provision is with the private sector. I would have said we've made a good start. 


Thank you for that, Minister. On a personal level, I welcome that commitment to pulling profit out of the care setting. You mentioned in your answer, or indicated in your answer, that there were discussions happening with young people around these reforms. How exactly are young people involved in shaping some of these reforms? Because I think it's key, really, that we involve the people who these reforms are going to affect. In particular, I was wondering how exactly young people are involved in the development of the new corporate parenting charter. Will it still be optional, for example, for organisations to sign up to the charter, and so on? 

I absolutely agree with you—it's absolutely essential that we do keep young people involved in all the discussions we have. Obviously, we fund Voices from Care, we fund Young Wales in Children in Wales, and these are all mechanisms by which we get information. And I've mentioned the care summit that we're having now because of all these changes in the care system. We want to get direct input. So, as I say, it's a commitment from the Government that young people are absolutely part of all these discussions, and I know you're more directly involved than me, Alistair, so I don't know if you want to talk about the involvement in the corporate parenting. 

That's right, Minister. Obviously, we have a corporate parenting group, and children and young people are actively involved through Voices on that. We also work with the leaving care teams in local authorities, so we try to pick up from the voices of children and young people there as well. We also, obviously, are heavily involved and have the voice of children through the Children's Commissioner for Wales's office as well, and the children's commissioner often sits on many of the groups that we have in place. I think as well one of the notions around the summit is that it will then lead to a series of discussions, workshops and seminars with young people, as we start to formulate and work with them on what they see as radical, and what they see as changing outcomes for them going forward. So, we see this as an ongoing programme, where we actively want to shape what we do through lived experience. 

Thank you, Alistair, and thank you, Minister. We will draw to a close there. Thanks, Luke, as well. It is just about 14:45. Just before we do sign off this first evidence session of today, could I perhaps—? Obviously, we will be writing a report on the petition in front of us that we've heard today. Part of that report will of course be the radical reforms. Would it be possible, Minister, for your officials to perhaps send a short report to the committee that could help inform our thinking about what we will say in terms of the reforms, and any suggestions that we may make? 

Do you mean a sort of summary of what the reforms are? 


Okay. We're very grateful for your encouragement and keen engagement with our committee as the first Minister and we hope future Ministers will be as keen to engage with us moving forward.

Minister, Alistair, thank you. This has been, as I've said, an important inquiry for the committee, and I think the questions from all Members today all boil down to one thing—not just listening to young people with care experience but actually allowing them to shape policy that benefits other people in similar positions. So, we will be reporting on this matter and we look forward to further reforms in the future. I'm sure we'll be scrutinising as individual Members as well.

There will be a Record of Proceedings, so if you could check that for factual accuracy, and if there is anything else you'd like to share with us, please do feel free to write into the committee. But Minister, Alistair, diolch yn fawr iawn. We're very grateful for your time today.

3. Deisebau newydd
3. New Petitions

We move on to item 3, new petitions. Item 3.1 is P-06-1271, 'Acquire the land from Network Rail on which ATR884 runs as a permissive path and arrange maintenance':

'Locally known as the Garw Valley Community Route this path has not been maintained for the last 8 years. It is a vital link out of a cul de sac valley and representations to the Local Authority and other bodies remain undetermined. There is a Single A Road out of the valley and the Community Route is the only other form of access and egress'

This was submitted by Rosanne Stirman with 330 signatures. I will bring Members in to discuss this petition. Joel James.

Thank you, Chair. I note that the Minister has written to Bridgend County Borough Council to discuss maintenance arrangements and plans for improvements, and so what I was thinking was if we can write back to the Minister, then, just so we can get kept updated of what that response is from the council, and then I'd imagine we could then look to close it, then, once we've had that response and that chance to debate that response then.

Thank you, Joel. Luke Fletcher, did you want to come in?

Diolch, Gadeirydd. I just want to agree with Joel there. I should probably mention that I know Roz. She's a former Plaid Cymru councillor for Llangeinor, and I know she's been working very hard and has been very determined to get this for the Garw valley—a place that I'm quite familiar with myself. I think Joel's suggestion is the right suggestion here, just to write back to the Minister and ask for that notification once she has received those updates.

Diolch yn fawr. I can see nodding from the Rhondda as well.

We'll move on to item 3.2, P-06-1272, 'Ban the use of "no pet clauses" in tenancy agreements in Wales':

'The number of people privately renting is increasing year-on-year—currently many are prohibited from keeping pets because of clauses in their tenancy agreements.

'The benefits of pet ownership should not be exclusive to homeowners. Those who rent should be equally as entitled to keep a pet as those who own.'

There is additional information in Members' packs and available to members of the public online. This was submitted by Sam Swash with 857 signatures. I will declare, for the records of interest, that I do know Sam well. He is from my own constituency of Alyn and Deeside. I too will declare for the record that, in the last Senedd, I published a report with a number of charities, both in the housing and homelessness sector and in the animal welfare sector, called a pet 'paw-licy'—which, for my sins, was my pun of the day at that particular day—which essentially was similar to the petition. So, on that note, I will remove myself, but I will ask Members to discuss a way forward for this petition. Luke Fletcher.

Diolch, Gadeirydd. I think, at some point, I'll have to find out if that title was your idea. But in terms of the petition in front of us, I should say that I submitted a Member's legislative proposal, earlier in this Senedd, calling exactly for this. I think the petitioner is right. I think you should equally be able to have a pet whether or not you are in rented accommodation or the housing market. I've had personal experience of this as well. Trying to find somewhere to rent in the Bridgend area with a dog is not particularly easy. I understand that the Minister has made her position clear, but I think we should write back to her to seek further clarification on the points raised specifically by the petitioner. I won't read all those points out now, as I know Members have them in their packs, but I do tend to agree with the petitioner's comments, which is that the Minister has completely failed to engage with the substantive demand of the petition, which is to ban the use of 'no pet clauses' in Welsh tenancy agreements, so I'd hope that members of the committee would agree with that.


Thank you, Luke. Any comments from Members? I can see they are nodding in agreement, and we will write back to the Minister, as suggested by Luke Fletcher.

Moving on, we'll do this one final petition before we have a quick technical break. Item 3.3, P-06-1276, 'Extend section 25B of the Nurse Staffing Levels Act (Wales) 2016'. 

'Nurses across Wales are short of 1,719 highly-skilled, life-saving staff members. This means nursing staff give NHS Wales 34,284 extra hours every single week—and it still isn’t enough. Research shows that where there are fewer nurses, patients are 26 per cent more likely to die overall rising to 29 per cent following complicated hospital stays. The Welsh Government should extend Section 25B of the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 to give the Welsh public the full team of nurses they desperately need.'

Again, there is additional information in Members' packs. This was submitted by Richard Jones, with 10,572 signatures, and I'll bring Buffy Williams in to discuss this petition.

Diolch, Chair. I'd like to thank the petitioner for bringing forward this petition. I've actually met with the Royal College of Nursing on more than one occasion, and they've highlighted the issues facing not just them, but the district nurses, the health visitors, the mental health teams, mental health support teams. So, this issue is so serious that I think we should maybe look to debate this on the Senedd floor, on the Chamber floor. I don't know how the other committee Members feel, and you, Chair, but I think that this warrants a debate, I really do.

Diolch yn fawr, Buffy. I can see both Members nodding in agreement, and I do agree myself. So, the committee will write to the Business Committee to request a debate on this petition, which has received over the threshold of 10,000 signatures.

Can I just ask—? It's likely that will be early next term rather than before the end of term. Are Members happy with that?

I think, given where we are in the Senedd term, it would be reasonable.

Okay, on that note, I'd like to propose a quick technical break, if Members are content. I can see they are, so we'll pause there and we'll be back very shortly to continue proceedings. So, we'll go into private session now.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 14:53 a 15:01.

The meeting adjourned between 14:53 and 15:01.

4. Sesiwn dystiolaeth - P-06-1253 Gwahardd rasio milgwn yng Nghymru
4. Evidence session - P-06-1253 Ban greyhound racing in Wales

Welcome back to the Senedd Petitions Committee. We have in front of us now our second evidence session and panel of today's proceedings. I will, therefore, jump straight to that evidence session, and we will go back to our item 3 after taking this evidence from the witnesses in front of us. So, it's the second oral session for this particular petition, P-06-1253, 'Ban greyhound racing in Wales'. Can I thank all the witnesses for joining us here in the Senedd, and online as well? This is a bilingual meeting this afternoon, and therefore questions or answers can be asked or answered in the language of your choice. I will ask the witnesses to introduce themselves for the record. Lord Lipsey, we will start with you.

Thank you very much, Chair. I'm David Lipsey—in other times, a Labour peer. It's a great privilege to be with you this afternoon, though I am with a certain amount of trepidation since I'm usually your side of the table and other people are suffering my questions. I just wanted to say a word about my own involvement, because it's perhaps the longest of anybody here. I was chair of the British Greyhound Racing Board, which was the predecessor of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain from 2004 to 2008. I then dipped out. I came back in in 2016 when the then Minister, Tracey Crouch, asked me to sort out a new deal between the bookmakers and the sport as to how much money they put in, and we found a new deal that gave greyhound racing an extra £2 million, most of it going to welfare—that's an increase of about a third. And then, to my absolute astonishment, only three months ago, I was asked to be a part-time chairman of Premier Greyhound Racing, which is going to be the body that takes all the broadcast pictures and commentary from greyhound tracks into the betting shops and for people to watch at home.

Why have I spent quite a lot of my life on this? I love the sport. It's a marvellous sport. And I love greyhound people. The contrast with Ascot tomorrow at £99 to get in and everybody wearing their top hats couldn't be greater. You get every type of human being in this sport, and that's wonderful. But most of all, I think, I love the animals. And I got in because I thought there was a problem with welfare, and it was a problem, if the sport was going to continue—and I sincerely hope and believe it will—that had to be tackled. And if I just look back over these years, I really find it difficult to exaggerate the transformation that has taken place. When I arrived at the BGRB, fewer than one greyhound in six, when they retired, was being rehomed. On the latest figures, 94 per cent are being rehomed. Deaths and injuries have all gone tumbling down, not through fluke but through the hard work of the GBGB and its advisers, and now there's an exciting further development to look forward to—and I'm sure Mark will speak on this—with the new plan that the GBGB has produced for greyhound welfare.

I should say the reason I took the job of being chair of Premier Greyhound Racing is that they are absolutely committed to welfare. I mean, it makes business sense, to tell you the truth, because otherwise somebody will come along and destroy the sport, but it also is deeply imbued in their philosophy. And some of the tracks that we already own—we own nine out of the 20 tracks and have media rights in five more—all these tracks are imbued with the philosophy of welfare first. As an example of this, we've just put £100,000 into greyhound research before we've earned a single penny. So, there is a complete commitment, I think, throughout the sport to getting welfare even further elevated to where it ought to be.


I thank Lord Lipsey for that. I'll ask other witnesses in front of us and online too to introduce themselves before moving on to questions from Members.

I'm Malcolm Tams, former owner of Valley Greyhound stadium.

I'm David Cartwright from Manmoel in the Sirhowy valley. I'm the owner of greyhounds that run at the Valley Greyhounds stadium. I'm not an employee of the Valley Greyhounds stadium at all, but I run the Valley Greyhounds stadium website, which, like most of greyhound racing, is crammed full of statistics. Greyhound racing must be the most statistics-laden sport going. And that is why I have become personally offended by many of the assertions made by the petitioners in this, because I have the statistics that can prove that a lot of the assertions made were wrong. And I know that the same will apply with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, and, in my case, the hundreds of thousands of data points that we have that means that this committee doesn't have to rely on assertions; it can ask us as well as the petitioners for the evidence to back up what we're saying, because you'll find that the evidence is always there. And I'm the one responsible, really, for that statistical evidence at the Valley Greyhounds stadium.

Okay. Thank you, David, and welcome. Just to note, as a committee, we do seek to form views based on evidence, and that's said for everybody in today's meeting. If I can perhaps go over to Zoom and to Madeleine.

Professor Madeleine Campbell 15:08:13

Hello. My name's Madeleine Campbell. I'm one of the independent directors of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain. I am a veterinary surgeon and I'm a specialist veterinary surgeon in animal welfare, science, ethics and law. I would like to make it very clear at the outset, please, that I'm giving evidence today in those independent roles, not in relation to either of my academic appointments or any other role that I hold. Thank you.

Thank you, Madeleine. That is noted for the Record of Proceedings too. Finally, to Mark.

Good afternoon. I'm Mark Bird and I'm the chief executive officer of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain and a proud owner of a retired greyhound. 

Welcome, Mark. Again, thank you, all, for being here. We said in private that it's a huge number of witnesses for quite a small session. So, we do have questions from Members now and I will start with those questions, but can I remind witnesses, perhaps, if you could agree with your other colleagues that we don't repeat ourselves, just so that we can get through today's session?

My first question, then, to start, today, and, Lord Lipsey, you've already hinted at some of this, but I'm perhaps looking to other witnesses in front of us: what is your response to this petition and what is the response of your organisations? I'm not sure who wants to go first there, but I'm happy to take anyone first. Lord Lipsey would like to—

Well, I was pointing at Mark, actually—

—seeing as he represents our sport.

I'm sure that the Senedd is aware that there have been petitions lodged with the English Government and also the Scottish Government as well. Certainly, as far as the English Government's concerned, there's been a Westminster Hall debate, which was in March, and the Government, through DEFRA, the Minister there actually pushed back on that petition, and that was in no small part to what the sport has done over the last few years, as Lord Lipsey has said. In terms of welfare reforms, we had the legislation in relation to greyhound racing reviewed in 2015, and since 2018, going back to David Cartwright's comments, we have been producing data on a yearly basis and, as you will all know, on data, you can then start to put into that data performance measures that we've met so far in relation to what we've set ourselves; there are no Government targets around the data. There were comments that were made, concerns that were made, and it was the GBGB, as the governing body, that set targets that were very much stretch targets, but we've met those over the last three years of producing that data.

I think, when it comes to a ban, my board is universal in the fact that, actually, it won't amount to too much at all, in the sense that, if you go for something like a phased ban, which I know that certainly Hope Rescue and others have said that they want to bring in, both in Wales, but also in England and even in Scotland, that will be the death knell of the industry and the sport. You've heard from some very passionate supporters of the sport and you know full well that, if a ban, be it phased or otherwise, is to come in, there will be huge implications to that. The sport has still the fifth highest spectator audiences around the country. In terms of its turnover, it's well over £2 billion-worth of money into the economy every year as well. For the Treasury alone, I think it stands at about £56 million.

But it's not just about the money, it's actually about the dogs as the athletes, but also their welfare as well. And I think, certainly over the last few years—and we're not complacent about this—but, certainly, over the last few years, we've seen huge strides, as Lord Lipsey said, in terms of the amount of dogs that are being homed, but also the amount of dogs that are actually being put to sleep. And, for us, if it's dog racing today, what's the next area that we'll be concentrating on as well? Dogs are used as sources of entertainment, they're used for recreation, and I think it might not just be greyhound racing, it'll be other sports as well. We are fundamentally sure that what we're doing is the right thing by the dogs. Welfare is central to everything that we're doing.


Okay. Can I thank you, Mark, for that? You mentioned the Westminster Hall debate in Westminster. We are fully aware of that debate, and that too will inform some of our thinking into where we take this, and we do hope, as a committee, that we will debate it on the floor of the Senedd as well, given the number of signatures to this petition, as you would expect us to. Are there any further comments on what Mark said? Lord Lipsey.

I'd just like to add half a sentence here: yes, the petition got a vast number of signatures. When you look in detail, it's surprising how large, amongst that number, were people signing who didn't live in Wales or, indeed, in the United Kingdom, and I think that just shows people will always sign a petition very quickly, but not necessarily think through the implications. I'll tell you one implication: at the moment, 8,000 or 9,000 dogs a year are being rehomed. What will happen with all those people who want to own a dog and, at the moment, they rehome a greyhound? Will they be going to the puppy farms? Will that be good for dog welfare? Will they be buying the kind of dogs that have those distortions on their face? You know, these things really have to be thought through. And with no greyhounds there will be many people left without one of the greatest pets—I've had two myself—one of the greatest pets you can possibly have, and going down the thing that will cause much more cruelty.

Okay. Thank you, Lord Lipsey. I'll move on to questions from Luke Fletcher.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. I'd actually agree with the point that Lord Lipsey said in terms of greyhounds as pets. I haven't had the pleasure of having one myself, but my grandfather had them when I was growing up; I've got a whippet—it's not too far away. But I wanted to just come back on a point on the welfare side of stuff, because I have no doubt, no matter what side of the debate you are on this, the welfare of those greyhounds is central.

I want to just think back to the previous session we had, the previous evidence session. I think this might be a question more for Mark, by the way. We had Greyhound Rescue Wales and Almost Home Dog Rescue mention about the greyhound rehoming scheme, and that it wasn't accessible to every rescue and rehoming centre. We had Greyhound Rescue Wales tell us that they were notified within 24 hours of their position changing, that they were no longer part of the scheme, and Almost Home Dog Rescue being invited to the scheme, but being told that they could only be part of the scheme so long as they didn't say anything negative about racing. I was just wondering if you could explain that position, because I think there's an element here where you might not necessarily agree with their position, but if they are willing to provide care for those greyhounds, then surely that trumps everything. I know Greyhound Rescue Wales, for example, has very high welfare standards.


Yes, certainly. We, as you know, were funding Hope Rescue and Greyhound Rescue Wales for some time under the greyhound retirement scheme. But the board have always been very clear about why would we actually be—. And you're absolutely right, the welfare of the greyhounds is paramount here, but why would we be funding people who are actually fundamentally opposed to the sport and using the money that we were sending for the homing of those dogs to be used, ultimately, against us? It's the same when you talk about charities still wanting to work around greyhound welfare, but at the same time being opposed to the sport as well. So, as a board, we took a decision that we couldn't continue to fund those homing centres that were advocating that there should be a ban on greyhound racing and paying them for the retirement scheme as well.

Of course, I take the point. On a regular basis, day to day, in this place, I don't necessarily agree with every single Member of the Chamber—I think Joel can attest to that—but where there's a shared goal, we work together on it. Is that something that GBGB would ever reconsider?

We will always review our position in relation to this, and it's the same with the new welfare strategy. As we keep saying, it's a living document. We've spoken to charities who have wanted to take part in the GRS, but because they are fundamentally opposed to greyhound racing, we've had to say 'no'. That doesn't mean to say that we can't work with them in other ways, and, as I said, we can review the situation.

Professor Madeleine Campbell 15:17:18

Thank you. It was really just to pick up on what Mark said, that within this new five-year welfare strategy that we published, there is a lot of working alongside charities, particularly those with expertise in homing. When you look at the most recent figures, you can see that there was no dog this year or, in fact, the preceding two years that was put down because a home couldn't be found for it.

Thank you. Actually, I will get to my first set of questions eventually. There was something in the welfare strategy that is of interest and, I think, quite important, because I must say, reading through the new welfare strategy, it is ambitious, in all fairness. I believe it was in the recent strategy, but please correct me if I'm wrong in saying this, that you yourselves acknowledged that it can't fully be realised unless there is sufficient long-term funding coming from the bookmaking industry. I'm just interested to know if this isn't forthcoming from the bookmaking industry, are there other areas where you could find that funding, and if you can't find that funding, what does that mean for the plan? I'm not sure if Lord Lipsey would be able to come in on this as well, but I'll stick with Mark first.

You're absolutely right, Luke. As much as what we are doing is ambitious and it's a five-year plan, and unlike horse racing, which has a statutory levy, we work on a voluntary contribution from bookmakers—. That's not the only income that we get, because we also get income from the tracks for the streaming of their racing as well. But in terms of the bookmakers, what we are advocating with the strategy is that—. And it will increase in terms of what we're actually asking, and we're negotiating with bookmakers at the moment. I have every optimistic view that we will get that money because, based on the welfare strategy, why wouldn't the bookmakers want to sign up to that? If you look at what's currently going on with the Government review in relation to gambling, then, for them, this is very much a good news story. If it doesn't come, it doesn't mean, in any way, that we want to cut back on what the welfare strategy is all about. We will look to see if we can get funding in another way.

Two of the biggest bookmakers, Coral and Ladbrokes, are part of Entain, which is one of the companies that are in my joint venture, and they wouldn't be signing up to it if they weren't signing up also to the company's ambition to get welfare moving forward. This is where we will be working very closely with the GBGB. The truth is that the biggest obstacle to getting welfare better, for a very long time, has been the amount of money. As I said, I got the bookmaker levy up a good bit, but it needs more money. More money needs a more prosperous sport; it needs British greyhound racing being a product that sells not only in Britain, but around the world. And the more money that comes in, the more my company will be prepared to divert it towards welfare causes. So, that's a win-win situation: more prosperous greyhound racing equals better welfare for greyhounds.


Thank you for that, Lord Lipsey. If I could move on to the question that I was supposed to ask right at the start, the track's new owner has announced his intention to obtain a GBGB licence by January 2024, and that will result in more frequent opening. What impact would this have? I'm not sure who would be best placed on this. Would it perhaps be Malcolm on this one?

The impact is of a benefit to the community and a benefit to the welfare of the greyhounds, because under the new rules we'll have a vet on site permanently, the facilities will all have been upgraded—the work is carrying on now. Caerphilly council is 100 per cent behind the track. The local community loves it. I listened to your debate about welfare. I just couldn't believe what I was hearing. It don't happen at that track. I asked Hope Rescue for evidence of the 200 dogs, 'Give me the year marks, and we'll cross-reference them', and they wouldn't give us it.

Looking at 2024, then, because that's when the licence comes in. In the interim period, would we be able to expect then that the track would be fully compliant with the rules set out by GBGB, so the voluntary code of practice, for example, for the welfare of greyhounds?

It would be a staged thing. We might be ready in six months' time.

Yes. So, then we could also think from that, then—

We would comply everything—

And, as well, I think you might have indicated that there is already a database in place. If there isn't, then that would be—

We've already got a database, yes. 

Okay, thank you. Of course, when Valley becomes a GBGB track, we are likely to see an intensification of the racing, so more racing happening on a weekly basis.

Yes, but Caerphilly council's got bigger ideas for the area. There's a hotel to be built there; there are visitor centres to be built there because we're right opposite the sport of excellence facility; we're right behind the hospital. If there was another use for the land, we'd be looking at it, but there's no other use for the land. They want it as a greyhound stadium.

So, if we stick with that, then, that there's an intensification of the racing, has any work been done relating to the number of potential injuries, fatalities and surplus greyhounds? What I mean by this—sorry, to just be clear here—what I mean by this is in the sense of the capacity locally to deal with those injuries, because we know that there's a shortage of vets at the moment.

We'll be opening our own rehoming centre; not a rescue centre, a rehoming centre. We're in the middle of purchasing a place now and we will then open it as a charity and run it ourselves.

And you're confident that that will be able to deal with all the potential surplus without any support at all from the—

No problem at all. We're looking at a place, and an offer has gone in for a place.

Okay. And on that point of capacity locally to deal with further injuries from the track, has that been considered at all?

Well, we're looking at the future when we don't know what it is. You're surmising there's going to be more injuries, but we don't know, there might be less.

But, surely you'd want to prepare for that just in case of a worst-case scenario that there are more injuries.

We will be prepared by opening a rehoming centre.

Okay. I can see Mark wants to come in at this point too.

I think I might help on that just in terms of one of the positives of coming under the GBGB regulations, that there hasn't in the past, as Luke quite rightly pointed out, been enough orthopaedic centres specialising in greyhounds. One of the things that we can do looking forward now is we can correlate that across not just Wales, but also across England and Scotland as well. So, the idea that if a dog is injured at the Valley, it won't necessarily be treated locally—[Inaudible.]—it may well go somewhere else to be treated where there's a specialism around things like orthopaedics. So, it isn't solely reliant on the Valley dealing with everything itself; the greyhound board can take some responsibility on that as well.

We lost you briefly there, but I think we got the gist of what you were trying to say. Professor Campbell.

Professor Madeleine Campbell 15:24:50

Thank you. Just to build a little more on what Mark was saying there, it is a clear work stream within GBGB's welfare strategy to do with building a network of veterinary centres close to each track, and those with very specialist skills, to which registered greyhounds can be referred in the case of injury. And, of course, also, once a track is one of the GBGB licensed tracks, then it will benefit from the training that is provided for staff, for veterinarians, and for those looking after the greyhounds, which all contributes to injured dogs being very promptly and appropriately dealt with.


I wonder if I could just quickly pop in with something. As I mentioned before, I'm the owner of some racing greyhounds up at Valley. As with virtually all the owners of greyhounds that are running at the Valley Greyhounds stadium at the moment, I'm not a posh bloke—I'm just a local government worker pushing a pen around an office during the week, and I join the ice cream ladies and the retired railway workers and so on who are the other owners.

Greyhound racing has a very long history in south Wales, going back nearly a century, but mainly of independent greyhound racing—'flapping', as we call it—and people like me owning one or two dogs and racing them. That used to be a great, cheap way for people to be able to be involved in sport and to have a flutter at the weekend and that sort of thing. Nowadays, it has become extremely expensive. The cost of racing greyhounds has gone up very sharply in recent years and, for ordinary people like me, my dogs cost more than my car. Now, admittedly, my car is no great shakes, but it's a very significant investment for somebody like me.

The great thing about the chance for the track to become GBGB licensed is not only about the facilities and the track itself. The racing surface there at the moment, the actual surface of the track, is absolutely excellent. There will be minor modifications to the track, probably shortening the run-ups to the bends at the track, which will make it safer. But the big boon is that there will be vets on site to inspect dogs before they run. My dogs will undergo a proper veterinary inspection so you don't run the danger of an amateur like me running a dog with some injury that I wasn't aware of. They're checked afterwards. There's immediate response if there is any problem with a dog during a race or during a trial at the track.

So, for somebody like me, who might be worried about the welfare of their big personal investment, the chance for the track to become GBGB licensed gives me so much more security for my dogs and being able to be confident about the welfare standards at the track, which has already had an excellent welfare record for an independent flapping track where, basically, it's amateur owners there. We now have the chance where we'll also be able to meet the top professional standards on top of that, which gives an owner like me all the more assurance.

I'm conscious of time, Chair. Some of my earliest memories were of greyhound racing, actually at Valley, I think, come to think of it, Malcolm, so I'm sure you're glad to hear that. But the key point, I think, that I was asking about in terms of the capacity locally to deal with additional injuries—I thank Mark and Madeleine for responding to that one. I am conscious of time, though. I do have another supplementary, but I'll pass back to you, Chair, just so that we can make some progress, and, potentially, there might be another opportunity to come in later.

We might be able to come back in at the end, depending on time. Malcolm, you mentioned Caerphilly council; I'm going to propose that the committee writes to Caerphilly council to get their views outlined in writing.

[Inaudible.]—here for you. It's in the masterplan and everything. We've brought in copies.

Well thought ahead. We'll take that from you on the way out.

We've got eight copies for you to share out.

Excellent. Thank you. I'll fly over to the Rhondda and Buffy Williams.

Diolch, Chair. I'd like to thank the panel for coming in and joining us today. My question will be to Mark. What impact would a ban on greyhound racing in Wales have, both on dog welfare, but also social and economic impacts?

The difference at the moment, as Malcolm and David both know, is that it's a hobbyist track. David used the word 'amateur'; I'm sure he's got a lot more knowledge than I would ever have. However, if it becomes a GBGB licensed track, then it means that there'll be more money coming into the local economy. So, let's not talk about the ban yet—let's talk about what it would bring in terms of regulation. So, you have to have an entire workforce there, which would be vets, paddock staff, you'd have track staff as well. All of that would come with the track being registered with the GBGB. And again, as I said, it's still the fifth biggest spectator sport, so again, depending on the infrastructure around where it's based, you could have more people going along for a night's entertainment, to go and watch the dog racing.

The ban would obviously do away with that, and you'd have a glut of dogs that would then be seeking homes. Going back to Luke's comment about what would happen if there were more injuries, well, what would happen with the current population of greyhounds that are down there if they suddenly were having to have homes found for them? I don't think Hope would be able to cope with that. So, again, I think ethically the GBGB would come in and try and help the current track owners with that. I don't think a ban is the way forward. I think it's more a question of the Welsh Government looking at what you've got there at the moment, but also what it could become. And if it can become that, then I don't think people would be wanting a ban in the same way. I think the problem is one of timing at the moment as far as the Welsh Government's concerned. 


If the ban was in place, it's not stopping anything, really. Because a lot of trainers are travelling across the border and racing at Perry Barr, Swindon and other tracks around the country. We would help those people and they would come to the Valley. So, instead of the great distances they're travelling with dogs at the moment, they'd be travelling 15 miles to the Valley.

Thank you for that, and thank you, Buffy. Professor Madeleine, and then I've got a short supplementary, and then I'll bring Joel in. Madeleine.

Professor Madeleine Campbell 15:31:56

Thank you. Also, just to add that, within the GBGB welfare strategy, there's a lot of emphasis, as there has been in animal welfare science for the last, probably, five to 10 years, not only on the negative aspects of animal welfare, but also on positive aspects—[Inaudible.]—current discussions about sentience that there are positive things we need to do to increase a dog's experience across its lifetime, and again, bringing a track under GBGB licensing facilitates all of that.

Thank you, Professor. We did just lose you there, but again, I think we got the gist of what you were saying. Can I just ask, before I bring Joel in for questions—? Mark, I think I head correctly—you said it was the fifth-largest spectator sport, and then, just touching on what Malcolm said, it's very popular with the locals. Do we have figures of attendance at the track?

Yes. On average we get 100 to 150 people every time we race. There's one other thing I'd like to mention. We've been inspected by Caerphilly council eight times in the last 12 months, and the report is in here—they found nothing wrong with the track whatsoever. They brought an independent vet who inspected all the greyhounds and found them to be in good welfare conditions, totally in contrast to what was said by Hope—totally.

On the number of people who are going, I was at Hove on Friday, and on a Saturday night, Hove will have 700 to 800 spectators present. It's a very large local facility. I should also say it's a large employer. They're a GBGB track, they've got 81 employees, nearly all of them—I met quite a lot of them—have been there all their working lives, and the general manager herself started at the very bottom, and has got herself promoted up to be the general manager, which is a big job, running 100 people. So, we shouldn't forget the impact on human welfare in just thinking about the greyhound welfare. Greyhound welfare comes first for us, but human welfare is important, too. 

Thank you, Lord Lipsey. We will take the report, and take that into consideration as well, so we do appreciate that. Joel James. 

Thank you, Chair. I was just wondering if I could just beg your indulgence and go slightly off topic with one question. Obviously, there's been a lot of talk about welfare and improving animal welfare. Obviously you mentioned there about the vet on site when they're racing, and everything, but I just wondered if you could just go into a bit more detail about that—what other steps in terms of improving animal welfare. Because some of the evidence we've taken has outlined quite appalling animal welfare, and appalling treatment of animals, really, in terms of not just at the tracks themselves but then in terms of the owners and people who breed greyhounds. And I was just wondering if you could go into a bit more detail about that, if that's okay. I must confess I've not had the chance to read the professor's report yet about what you're intending to do, but I just want to get some idea of, when you say 'improve animal welfare', ultimately, what do you mean by that, really. Thank you. 


For all the respectable rehoming centres, it isn't just a question of driving up in your car, shoving the greyhound in the boot and taking it home; you're asked a great many questions about what your home is like. I met somebody the other night who was denied a greyhound to rehome because his garden was 120 ft long, the back doors were made of glass, and there was a fear that the greyhounds might gallop up the garden and smash themselves. So, great trouble is taken with rehoming. We get very few reports of rehomed dogs being maltreated. The truth is that they're so lovable and so easy-going, compared with so many dogs, that I don't find this unexpected. This bond of love appears immediately. 

With regard to that, then, obviously that's about welfare after the event, after the racing. What steps are you looking to do in terms of improving the welfare in current races? Also, you mentioned about vetting for rehoming; do you then vet trainers and runners and that sort of thing?

Thank you, Joel. I'll bring Professor Campbell in there, just to touch on your first point, and perhaps on that second point as well.

Professor Madeleine Campbell 15:36:47

Thank you. Maybe I can just give you a little bit of a flavour of the welfare strategy in answer to your question. GBGB, as you no doubt know, strictly speaking only has to regulate the period of life of a greyhound for which it is racing, but in this welfare strategy, we've chosen very deliberately to consider the welfare across the entirety of a greyhound's life, actually from the point of genetics, so before they're born, the early years stage through into the years in which they're racing and then the years in which they get homed after racing. So, it's a very holistic view of a dog's experience of welfare across its lifetime, which covers the elements you just mentioned—for example, what's going on during breeding, the training of the people who are caring for the dog. There is a big area within the strategy about providing educational opportunities, not only for veterinarians working with greyhounds as specialists in that area, but also, for example, for owners, for breeders, for those who will go on to home greyhounds. That covers all kinds of things, or example nutrition and what one can do early in a dog's life to ensure that, after it finishes racing, it can be most easily and happily homed at the point of retirement.

It's a really holistic view. It employs what is known as the five domains model of animal welfare, which is a very established model of animal welfare, developed by Professor Mellor and his team in New Zealand, and we've used that as our framework for considering all of it. Importantly, in the course of all of this, and written into the strategy, we have enlisted the help of external experts, for example in areas like genetics, which might help to improve resilience, in areas like nutrition, in areas about continuing professional development for veterinarians on how best to deal with track-side injuries and to transport dogs. We've got external experts helping us to deliver the strategy in all of those kinds of areas. So, that hopefully just gives you some indication of how we're addressing things broadly, as you asked. 

Thank you, Professor. I'm conscious of time. We were originally scheduled to finish in 50 seconds, or just less. I'd be grateful if witnesses could extend their stay until a quarter to, if that seems reasonable. It seems it does. Okay. Joel. 

Thank you, Chair. Apologies for going off topic there. Obviously, we're debating the petition title, which is about banning the sport, and then obviously some people say, 'Well, actually, no, you don't need to ban it, you need to regulate it.' But, surely, the sport is regulated. Is that an argument that you recognise in the sense that there needs to be more regulation in this sport, or you saying that, 'Actually, no, we're talking about animal welfare, which is highly regulated as it is. As a sport, we're highly regulated.' And conversely, is there too much regulation, do you think, or could you see a situation where too much regulation would have an adverse impact, then, on the race in general, or on the race at the Valley track as well?


Well, I happen to believe that the regulation is best carried out by a body stemming from greyhound racing itself, that knows what goes on in greyhound racing itself and knows where any bodies are buried, rather than by an external regulator. Having been a regulator myself, I could give you lots of examples of regulators who haven't got a clue what's going on. Whether any changes are needed to statute in this area, I don't know. I don't believe we're anywhere near the state where that becomes the most salient business. I believe GBGB has done a spectacular job under Mark's leadership, and I believe that if we avoid the threats of bans—to be frank, there isn't really a threat of a ban in the UK; as both the Minister and shadow Minister made it clear, they're against a ban—if we avoid the threat of bans and if we were back here in 10 years' time, I'm quite sure that you would find it very difficult to find any weaknesses in what we were doing to get our sport thoroughly modernised, up-to-date and greyhound-friendly. 

Thank you, Lord Lipsey. Mark, I'll bring you in there, and then we'll try and fit one last question from Luke.

Joel, I certainly don't think we need to pull off from more regulation. I think we've got sufficient regulation in some areas, but to give you an example, the review of racing greyhound regulations should have taken place in 2020; they were last looked at in 2015. And we're pushing with DEFRA at the moment, because under the current regulations, greyhounds, as part of their identification, as part of integrity in relation to their racing, they have to have tattooed ears, which I'm sure some of your Members already know. We actually think that's quite abhorrent and that it is quite cruel, because the pups are tattooed when they're young, and we don't want to see that. As a sport, we've gathered around both people who own dogs, people who train dogs and also, certainly, ourselves as the regulator, and we've been pushing DEFRA to do that review so that we could do away with tattooing dogs' ears, because we simply don't agree with it. So, in terms of pushing regulation, we are being as active as I suppose other groups are as well about trying to improve things. 

Thank you, Mark. I am now extremely checking the time but, Luke, perhaps one final question, or if it's not able to be answered today, we can follow it up in writing. 

Yes, of course. I'm grateful to the panel for staying was it the additional 10 minutes on top? I just want to come back to something that was said earlier, if I can cast your minds back to probably the beginning of this session around the track bends. I think at Valley, in particular, from memory one of the advertisements around Valley is that there's a particularly sticky bend that unseats some of the more sure-footed greyhounds. If Valley was to become a GBGB track, is there work that is going to be taking place to perhaps make that bend a bit smoother, or potentially looking at J-bends, for example? I think they've been looked at in Australia. 

Could I butt in quickly on that? This is something I'm very sensitive about, which, again, is that this committee must ask for evidence to back up these assertions, because that assertion from the petitioner is wrong. There is no statistical evidence to suggest that any bend at the Valley is particularly dangerous or anything. In fact, there's nothing to suggest that the bends are more dangerous than dogs running on the flat, and we have the statistics to prove that and to be able to demonstrate that. So, you must be very careful about just accepting aspersions cast by the petitioners here if they don't provide the statistical evidence to back it up. 

Just to come back there, you're saying that I'm wrong in saying that that was used by Valley track in an advertisement, because that's where I've had that information.

It's absolutely without foundation. Absolutely without foundation. Ask the petitioners to provide the evidence to back up their assertion, because I could not find anywhere any evidence that their assertion was correct. 

Okay. Mark, you wanted—. Sorry, Malcolm, I think you wanted to briefly say something. 

Yes. With it becoming a GBGB track, bends will become smoother, because the simple reason is there will be an outside hare not an inside hare, so the track will be altered slightly to accommodate the outside hare.


Okay. Well, thank you. Buffy—. I'm just conscious Members have got to go elsewhere, so perhaps if you're very quick, but perhaps we will follow up the answer in writing to Buffy's question, because I'm conscious of time.

Just really quickly, Chair, I'd like to agree with what Luke said about the sticky bend in Valley track, because actually I was tagged in that tweet, and it's come straight from—it looks like—Valley track. I can actually send that into you if you want, because I was tagged it, saying that there is a sticky bend there. So, yes, I will agree with what Luke has said, because it looks like he was actually tagged in it as well and it is information directly from, it looks like, Valley track.

Well, I'm conscious that we haven't got the tweet in front of us either, so perhaps we can pick that up after this session and get that formal response.

The shape of the track is all in here—the distances, the bends. If you've studied a little bit of physics, you can see the bend is exactly the same as anywhere in the country. There's no difference.

It might be worth me, just very quickly as well, by the way—. We'll leave this document for the committee to have a look at. I should make it clear that I, not an employee of the GBGB or of Valley Greyhounds, put together this document. The statistics in it are also mine. So, I'm the one who has to bear responsibility for anything said in it and whatever. But don't be afraid to come back to me if you need clarification of anything that's in it.

Thank you, David, and I think you've pre-empted what I was about to say, because, of course, we'll take your document and the report in front of you. 

I will thank Members and witnesses for today's session, both online and in front of us. Thank you for making the journey across to us. If we do have further questions, then we will, of course, be in touch. If you do have further comments to make to us, then please do get in touch with the clerking teams as well. We will send you a Record of Proceedings to check for factual accuracy, and, of course, if that needs to be altered then please do so.

I would suggest that we go into private session now, just so I can get my papers back together to where we were before we went into this session, but just to say thanks to witnesses again. It's a first—. We've had a Minister in front of this committee for the first time, and I think it's the first time we've had a lord in front of us as well, so I'm delighted that we were able to—. Diolch yn fawr. Thank you all.

Thank you for our reception.

And we'll go into private session now until 3.50 p.m. Back at 3.50 p.m.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 15:48 a 15:50.

The meeting adjourned between 15:48 and 15:50.

3. Deisebau newydd: parhad
3. New Petitions: continuation

Welcome back to the Senedd Petitions Committee again. We've just finished our evidence session for P-06-1253, 'Ban greyhound racing in Wales', which was item 4 on today's agenda. I did say previously that we would jump back to item 3, starting with new petitions 3.4 on the agenda, which is where we broke to take evidence earlier in this session. So, item 3.4 on today's agenda: P-06-1278, 'Introduce parenting lessons and basic life skills for High School pupils'.

'Mounting pressures due to the pandemic have led to an increase in child abuse cases. In 2020/21, there were over 24.8 thousand child abuse offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 2.9 thousand offences when compared with the previous reporting year. One way to support future generations to become parents would be through a curriculum which provides lessons on parent responsibilities, looking after a home, money management, basic first aid, physical and mental health and preparing nutritious meals on a budget.'

There is further additional information available to Members and members of the public. This was submitted by Danielle Diver, with 258 signatures. I will bring Members in to discuss this petition and any actions they may wish to take. Joel James.

Thank you, Chair. I've got to admit I'm quite supportive of the basic premise of this in terms of delivering those life skills and those basic life lessons, but what I note from the Minister's response with the new curriculum is that he's put that onus very much on the schools to decide what to do there, and I sense there is a reluctance for him to tell them what to do, and there's an opportunity for the schools themselves to identify the life skill lessons that they want to teach the students. I definitely think that's something we can go back and highlight to the petitioner, thanking her for raising such an important petition, and then also, because of the emotive nature of it as well with the child abuse statistics, just to reiterate, then, that that is being allowed within the curriculum, but ultimately it's up to the schools, then, to decide what to do.

Thank you, Joel, for that, and I can see Members are in agreement with your suggestion, and we will take forward and action that. I think it's worth noting as well that in the last, in the previous Senedd, the new curriculum was scrutinised very heavily, and obviously that was the outcome of that piece of legislation, which is for schools and local authorities to take a lead on such matters.

Moving on to 3.5: P-06-1279, 'End inconsistency in Covid guidance. Let schools have the same flexibility as cinemas or stadiums'.

'If parents can attend the rugby or the cinema with a Covid pass they should be able to attend a school concert or event. Current Covid-19 guidance for schools recommends that close interactions between adults, staff and learners is reduced. As a result, schools don't have the flexibility to invite parents/carers into school. This is despite theatres, cinemas and rugby stadiums all being open for business. I am asking the Welsh Government to reconsider the guidance for schools.'

This was submitted by Catherine Anne Stone, with 421 signatures. I'll bring Members in to discuss this petition now. Luke Fletcher.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. I think this petition is a victim of the very quickly changing nature of the COVID pandemic. It seems that this isn't relevant any more as there are no COVID-19 restrictions, so as a result of that, I'd like to propose that we thank the petitioner and close it.

Thank you, Luke. I can see Members agree. Moving on to 3.6: P-06-1280, 'Cancel AS and A Level exams within Wales for the summer of 2022'.

'I feel that exams within Wales should be cancelled for the summer of 2022 as the Covid 19 pandemic has meant that pupils teaching time has been affected on various amounts of different occasions during the school year. I also feel that if exams were to go ahead it would have a dramatic effect on pupils' mental health and anxiety and at a time where teenager suicide is at its highest. I personally believe alongside hundreds of other pupils that exams should be cancelled for the summer of 2022.'

This was submitted by Azeem Khan, with 146 signatures. Again, I would invite Members to discuss this petition. Buffy Williams.


Diolch, Chair. I'd like to thank the petitioner for bringing this petition forward. It's been a very trying time for teaching staff and pupils, but, as the A-levels and AS-levels started on 16 May, I don't think there's anything further that the committee can actually do with this petition. So, in light of that, I'd like to thank the petitioner and close this petition.

Thank you, Buffy. Any further comments from Members? No. They're in agreement. And again, just to put on record, I think Members do recognise the serious challenges our future generations have had and, of course, we wish them well with their studies and exams, now and in the future. 

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

Okay. Moving on, then, to item 5 on today's agenda. So, we will move to updates to previous petitions. Item 5.1, 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. We have considered this now for the fifth time, I think, in this committee. I'll bring Members in to discuss this further, with Buffy Williams.

Thank you, Chair. I can see that the Local Government and Housing Committee have agreed to undertake an inquiry on the community assets, and are currently taking consultation on this. I know you said that, the petition, we've looked at this five times now. I am tempted to say 'close the petition', but I would like to know the outcome of the committee's findings. So, I don't know if we could—. Whether or not we close the petition and then we have this information as Members, because I know that other Members in this Chamber are looking to take this onto the Chamber floor so we have the information, or should we keep this petition open and have a discussion on it again in committee.

I can hear Members saying to me we should keep it open, with your agreement, Buffy. And I can see nodding all round. 

We will do that. 

Moving on, 5.2, P-06-1163, 'Extend the postgraduate STEMM bursary to all MSc students in Wales', submitted by Rachel Wrathall, with 88 signatures. Again, I will bring Members in to discuss this petition, and it's a petition I think this committee is reviewing for the fourth time, now, and it's one, actually, that I spent some time in the Senedd Chamber discussing with the Ministers too. So, I will bring in Members to discuss this petition and any actions they wish to take. Luke Fletcher.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. I think this will be a similar outcome, in terms of what we decide today, hopefully, to what Buffy's just proposed for the previous petition. I think, in the previous committee, we had noted that the passing of the Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Bill 2021 would be an opportunity for a rethink around the way bursaries are distributed. The Bill is in Stage 2 at the moment. I think Stage 3 is being discussed on Tuesday 21 June. It will be a long session in the Chamber for us, but I'd like to see where we head with that before we close this petition, just so we can go back with a solid answer to the petitioner.

Okay. I can see Members nodding in agreement with Luke as well. So, we'll move on.

Item 5.3, P-06-1184, 'Immediately ban the use of toxic lead in all ammunition in Wales... lead is killing our wildlife!', submitted by Robert Curtis, with 4,052 signatures. And again, I invite Members to discuss this petition and any actions they may wish to take. Joel James.

Thank you, Chair. And just for the record, as highlighted before, I'm a member of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. Obviously, this petition has come up before, and I know previously we said as a committee that we would keep a watching brief as the Health and Safety Executive are currently undertaking a consultation, which I think is due to end in November, and so maybe it might be wise for us to look back at this, then, later in the year, then, to come to a final decision.

Thank you, Joel. And again, I can see Members are in agreement.

Item 5.4, P-06-1212, 'Mark Allen's Law - we want throwline stations around all open water sites in Wales'. This was submitted by Leeanne Elizabeth Bartley, with 11,027 signatures.

I just want to give Members—and put on the record, really—an update of what we have been doing as a committee with regard to this particular petition. Both my colleagues Luke Fletcher and Joel James joined me and our team behind us here at the Pontsticill reservoir near Merthyr Tydfil—and thanks to Dŵr Cymru for hosting us there—where we learnt a little bit about the challenges to do with water safety at our sites across Wales and about what they are doing to try and educate, I think, members of the public about the dangers of swimming in open water and, obviously, cold-water shock. Again, we thought it was a really informative meeting; I don't know whether other Members have additional words to add.

We two, myself and Buffy Williams, met with families who have lost loved ones in a private session with the Senedd engagement team, where we heard, again, stories of what happened, tragically, to their loved ones, and also some of the outcomes that they would like to see as a result of this petition. And all of this, again, will inform the committee's work, so we hope to draft a short report on the back of all the information gathered, both on the visits to the reservoir, both the informal engagement sessions that we've had and too the evidence sessions that we received. And I believe that we're still collecting some written evidence from other witnesses who want to provide evidence to the committee. And this will all inform our work as we go to debate it in the Senedd Chamber in due course. So, I wanted to use this meeting today as an opportunity to provide an update, as I was conscious that we haven't put something on the record for a while. Do Members want to add more to that? Luke Fletcher.


Diolch, Cadeirydd. I don't think there's much more, really, to add on to what you've said. Just, in terms of some of the stories that we've heard from those families who have been affected by this, I just wanted to reiterate my thanks to them for being so open to sharing with us. It can't be easy to do it, but it's been very valuable to our inquiry, I think, and I just wanted to put my thanks to them on the record again.

I can see nodding from all Members, and I think we all echo the words of Luke Fletcher there, where we do recognise how difficult this is for so many, but, of course, turning tragedy into something positive is a respectable ambition. And these people are—I think I've said to them before—they are inspirational people and we are lucky to have met with those individuals. So, we're very grateful for their engagement and we will continue to engage as time goes on.

Okay. Item 5.5, P-06-1228, 'Give secondary teachers a bonus for marking and standardizing summer 2021 official assessments'. This was submitted by Lisa M. Williams, with 1,252 signatures. Again, I'll invite Members to discuss this petition. Luke Fletcher.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. It seems to me that the Minister's initial response gave no indication of changing their position on introducing an additional payment. But I noted from the papers that Qualifications Wales have recently produced a report, which I hope that Members agree, raises some interesting questions. So, I'd be interested in proposing that we write back to the Minister to seek a further response to answer some of those questions in light of that Qualifications Wales report.

Diolch yn fawr, Luke. I can see that Members are agreed. They are. 

Item 5.6, P-06-1235, 'Ensure appropriate provision of services and support for people with Acquired Brain Injury in Wales'. This was submitted by Dr Claire Williams, with 443 signatures. I'll invite Members to discuss this petition and any actions that they may wish to take. Joel James.

Thank you, Chair. Obviously, this petition has come before a previous committee, raising quite an important issue. I note that we have had a response from the Minister, but the petitioner has come back with further comments. And what I think might be best, then, is if we write to the Minister, highlighting his comments, seeking a response. But then to also, maybe, just to highlight the group, the south Wales acquired brain injury forum, with the Minister, to see if there's an opportunity for closer involvement there, really. Then, obviously, once we get the response, we share it with the petitioner and then also share the petitioner's response with the Minister as well, so we just keep a dialogue open, really. And then, we just probably might note that increased dialogue, and then it might be the case that we look to close the petition then.


Okay. Thank you, Joel. So, the suggestion there is to write one final time, but also forward the response, so the Minister has the response from the petitioner as well, and then we'll bring it back to committee following that response. Agreed? Yes.

Item 5.7, P-06-1241, 'Welsh government to meet with a wider audience of unpaid carers'. This was submitted by Mike O'Brien, with 133 signatures. I'll bring Buffy Williams in to lead the discussion. Buffy.

Diolch, Chair, and I'd like to thank the petitioner again for all the work he's done on this subject and in bringing the petition forward. I'm not really sure where else the Petitions Committee can go with this petition, and I think it would be, now, for Members to highlight this on the Chamber floor and to continue to fight for people with lived experience, for carers. So, I think we should now close this petition. I really appreciate all the work that unpaid carers do; I know they do a sterling job. And, like I said, I think now Members can take it upon ourselves to speak about this on the Chamber floor and make sure that we continually hammer home how important it is that we value our unpaid carers.

Thank you, Chair, and, yes, it's just to highlight, as before, that the petitioner has been in contact with myself, and I've met him a couple of times, and we've had that dialogue. And I agree with Buffy, I think it's probably the most we can do now as a committee, and it's up to us as individual Members to carry on raising the issues that they're raising, really. That's hopefully something I'd like to try and keep doing—you know, time permitting—and everything seems to get on top of us at the moment, but it's a well worthwhile subject that needs further attention, I think. But I think Buffy's right in this instance here.

Thank you, Joel, and, yes, agreement from myself and Luke too.

Item 5.8, P-06-1248, 'Change Standing Orders and admissibility criteria for petitions,' and this was submitted by Bryan Dredge, with 116 signatures. We now have had a response from the Llywydd to the committee's letter, and it is clear that the Llywydd reiterates the views of the committee, I feel, that local councillors are democratic bodies in their own right and that should be the appropriate way to challenge local decisions. As Chair, I do feel pleased that we have confidence in the committee, in the Senedd Petitions Committee, as an effective way to raise awareness of issues and also challenge and shape policy decisions made in Wales. But I also think it is crucial, isn't it, that we acknowledge our own limitations and our own remit as well. I don't think these changes would be appropriate, and it also risks entangling the petitions process as a whole in the role of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

On that note, I would like to thank Bryan Dredge for submitting the petition, but close the petition on that basis. And also, encourage members of the public to engage with their newly elected local councillors on local issues, who, I'm sure, now are fully engaged with work in their own local communities, and they will be best placed to take some of the decisions raised in the particular petition. Are Members in agreement? They are.

6. Papur i'w nodi
6. Paper to note

Item 6, just one paper to note: 6.1, P-06-1181, 'Sea bottom trawling is killing our marine wildlife...Stop bulldozing our seas!' Are Members content to note? They are. Excellent. Okay. So that concludes today's public business.

7. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod hwn
7. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of this meeting


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.

Motion moved.

We will now go into private session for the final time this afternoon and we'll discuss all the evidence we've heard, both from the Deputy Minister from Welsh Government Julie Morgan, and also from all the witnesses, including Lord Lipsey, with regard to the petition 'Ban greyhound racing in Wales'. So, I do propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix), that the committee now resolves to meet for the private items, 8 and 9, if Members are content. I can see they are.

Just finally, then, thank you to everyone. The committee will next meet on 27 June. It's been a busy session today, so I want to put on record my thanks to the clerking team and the research team for their efficiency and excellence as always. Diolch. Meeting closed.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 16:10.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 16:10.