Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad
Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee09/01/2023
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Alun Davies MS|
|Huw Irranca-Davies MS||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|James Evans MS|
|Peredur Owen Griffiths MS|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Kate Rabaiotti||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|P Gareth Williams||Clerc|
|Sarah Sargent||Ail Glerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 13:31.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 13:31.
Prynhawn da a chroeso'n ôl.
Good afternoon and welcome back.
Welcome back to the proceedings of this committee, the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee—the first of our meetings following the seasonal break.
Blwyddyn newydd dda i chi i gyd, i'r Aelodau yma heddiw, ond hefyd bobl sy'n ymuno â ni heddiw—
Happy new year, everyone, to all Members here today, but also everyone joining us online—
—either watching into proceedings or who are following the transcript. A happy new year to you all.
Quite a bit of business to get through today. Just as a reminder to people, we're broadcasting this session live on Senedd.tv and we'll be publishing the Record of Proceedings as per normal. But apart from the procedural adaptations for meeting virtually, all other Standing Orders remain in place. So, as per normal, this is being conducted bilingually, in both Welsh and English. We have interpretation available during the meeting today. Microphones, however, are controlled by the operatives behind the scenes, so no need to mute and unmute yourselves.
So, with that, we have a full complement of Members with us today. We have no apologies, so we'll get under way.
So, we go on to our first substantive item, which is item No. 2, which, as per normal, is instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Orders 21.2 or 21.3. And under this item 2, we have a made negative resolution instrument: item 2.1, SL(6)300, the Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2022. Now, these regulations amend the 2021 regulations by deferring the implementation date of the annual nitrogen holding limit on the spreading of livestock manures for holdings, or part of holdings, not previously situated within a nitrate vulnerable zone from 1 January 2023 until 30 April 2023. Our lawyers have no reporting points on this. Colleagues, have you any comments, or are you happy just to note that report? Okay. Thank you very much.
We'll proceed, then, to item No. 3, which is instruments that do raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Orders 21.2 or 21.3. The first of these, item 3.1, is SL(6)299, the Seed (Equivalence) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2022. We have a draft report in your papers there. These regulations amend a European Council decision of December 2022, which now forms part of retained direct minor EU legislation on the equivalence of field inspections carried out in third countries on seed-producing crops and on the equivalence of seed-producing third countries. The regulations extend the expiry date of this decision from 31 December 2022 to 31 December 2029. This proposal to extend the council decision was subject to a six-week period of informal stakeholder engagement, and it was jointly undertaken by the Welsh, Scottish and UK Governments. Now, our lawyers have identified one technical and two merits reporting points, but I don't believe that we've had a Welsh Government response yet. Kate, what do you want to tell us about this resolution instrument?
Thank you. The technical point seeks clarification from Welsh Government as to whether all the powers cited in the preamble are in fact being exercised in the making of this instrument. And then, there are the two merits points. The first notes that there's some missing text in the explanatory note, which should be pointing out to readers where the regulatory impact assessment is and how they can obtain a copy of it. And then the second merits point identifies that there are some Welsh language terms used that do not appear to follow the Welsh Government's translation guidance, and so we've requested a Welsh Government response on all three of those points, and we're waiting to receive it.
That's great, thank you very much. So, noting those action points, do we have any other comments, colleagues, or are we happy to agree those? Happy to agree those. Thank you very much, Kate.
We go on to item 3.2, SL(6)304, the Processed Cereal-based Foods and Baby Foods for Infants and Young Children (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2022. These regulations—and I refer you to the draft report in our pack—amend the 2004 regulations to permit the addition of calcium-L-methylfolate in the manufacture of processed cereal-based foods and baby foods. They correct also a previous missed amendment to—I hope I can say this right—add ferrous bisglycinate and zinc chloride as permitted sources of vitamins and minerals to be added to processed cereal-based foods and baby foods, and additionally, where a processed cereal-based food or baby food is labelled with the average quantity of those substances, the effect of these regulations is that this must be done in a manner that complies with certain labelling requirements set out in regulations 8(2) and (3) of the 2004 regulations. Now, our lawyers have identified one merits reporting point. Kate, over to you.
Thank you. So, the merits point asks Welsh Government why the explanatory memorandum has been provided in English only, and in response, the Welsh Government refers to standard 47 of the Welsh language standards, and the narrow and specific nature of the regulations and the small target audience, as its basis for not providing a Welsh language version of the explanatory memorandum.
Okay. James, this is something that we've taken up repeatedly, and colleagues here on the committee have taken up repeatedly, so we note those, I think, and agree those action points. And I suspect that this is something that we'll take up again as we go forward on every occasion with gentle reminders to Government. Any other comments from colleagues, or are we happy to agree those points that our legal analysis has thrown up? Okay.
We go on to item 3.3, SL(6)305, the Official Controls (Extension of Transitional Periods) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2022. We have a draft report, a letter from the Minister for Economy to the Llywydd and a written statement by the Minister for Economy in your pack. These regulations extend the post-EU exit transitional staging period—the TSP—from 31 December 2022 to 31 January 2024 to enable additional time to develop and finalise proposals for the future borders regime. Just to note for Members that, in the letter, the Minister states that,
'Previously Regulations relating to the Transitional Staging Period (TSP) for goods entering Great Britain from the EU and certain other countries, have been introduced by the UK Government on behalf of Wales with the consent of Welsh Ministers. However, we took the decision that it would be preferable to legislate in Wales on this matter with coordination as far as possible on GB basis.'
Now, in part, the Minister notes that this was because upheaval in Westminster had
'delayed ministerial meetings at which border policy, including the TSP extension, would be discussed.'
So, that's a point of interest for Members to note there from the Minister's response. But Kate, you've identified one merits point.
Yes, the merits point notes the breach of the 21-day convention and the explanation provided by the Minister for Economy that this was necessary to avoid the transitional staging period expiring on 30 December 2022.
Thank you, Kate. With that point, are we happy to agree that report? We are.
So we go on, then, under the same section to item 3.4, SL(6)306, the Marketing of Seeds and Plant Propagating Material (Wales) (Amendment) (EU Exit) (No. 2) Regulations 2022, and we have a draft report and a letter from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd. So, the regulations here correct errors identified by this committee in our report on the original regulations of 2022. The regulations revoke the original regulations, and they remake the relevant amendments to the Seed Marketing (Wales) Regulations 2012 and the Marketing of Fruit Plant and Propagating Material (Wales) Regulations 2017. Our lawyers have identified three merits points, so over to you, Kate.
Thank you. The three merits points are simply matters to note. So, the first of these is the breach of the 21-day convention, and Welsh Government's explanation that this was necessary because of the expiry of the enabling powers under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, and those powers expired on 31 December 2022. The second merits point notes that the regulations were considered by this committee as part of the sifting process. And then, finally, the third merits point notes that there was no formal consultation.
Thank you very much. Colleagues, are we happy to agree those reporting points? We are. Thank you, Kate.
So, we go on now to, item 3.5, an affirmative resolution instrument, SL(6)297, the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements and Default Scheme) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2023. We have a draft report and a written statement by the Minister for Finance and Local Government in our packs. So, these regulations amend the Council Tax Reduction Schemes and Prescribed Requirements (Wales) Regulations 2013 to uprate certain figures used to calculate an applicant's entitlement to a reduction under a CTRS, a council tax reduction scheme.
In addition, the regulations make provision to ensure that any Ukrainian national—[Interruption.] Pardon me, the legacy of a cold over Christmas, that is. The regulations make provision to ensure that any Ukrainian national who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom will be eligible to be included in a local authority’s council tax reduction scheme, and will be eligible for a discount if they meet the other requirements of the council tax reduction scheme. Now, our lawyers have identified two technical points here. Kate, over to you.
Thank you. So, the technical points, the first identifies defective drafting and the second notes an inconsistency between the Welsh and English texts. We've received the Welsh Government response, which states that both errors will be corrected prior to the regulations being made.
That's brilliant. Thank you very much. That's a welcome response there.
If we're happy to agree that, colleagues, we'll move, then, onto item No. 4, which is instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3, which we have previously considered. And we start here with item 4.1, SL(6)279, the Animal Health (Poultry Compartments and Animal Gatherings) (Fees) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2022, and we have a report and a Welsh Government response. We considered this in our committee at our meeting on 28 November 2022, and we laid our report the following day. So, I just invite Members to note the Welsh Government response to the report, which has since been received. Is there anything we need to raise on this, Kate?
Yes. If I could just draw your attention to one point in the Welsh Government's response on the technical reporting point. Welsh Government says that it notes the committee's preferred drafting approach, but considers that the amendment is clear and legally accurate in both English and Welsh. But it's important to note that it's not the committee's preferred drafting approach that was set out in the draft report—it's Welsh Government's preferred approach, as set out in their own guidance in 'Writing laws for Wales'. And so, it's just important that we note that.
That's great, thank you. It's good that we've got it on record here. We're trying to be helpful, as ever, in drawing the Government's attention to its own approach here, or what it should be. Item 4.2—. Colleagues, are you happy with that? In which case, we move on to item 4.2, SL(6)292, the Trade in Animals and Related Products (Amendment and Legislative Functions) and Animal Health (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) (EU Exit) Regulations 2022. We have several papers here. We have a report, the Welsh Government response, a letter to the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, and the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being, and a letter from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, and the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being. We looked at this instrument, on our committee, in our meeting of 12 December 2022, and we laid our report that same afternoon. And Members will also recall that we wrote, with some urgency, to the Minister ahead of the Plenary debate, which was taking place the very following day. So, I draw your attention to the Welsh Government response to the report and to our letter, and just to ask again, Kate, is there anything particular to note here?
Just to note that Welsh Government agreed with some of the reporting points. So, they said that they would correct 12 errors on making the instrument, and they also said that they would correct two errors by way of an amending instrument early in 2023. They also provided further explanation in response to the other reporting points. And then, Members will also recall that, during the debate, the Minister committed to addressing one of the further reporting points by amending the procedure that applies to the Henry VIII power, so that it will be subject to the affirmative procedure rather than the negative.
That's great; really good. I think we're happy to note those points there. Thank you very much for that, Kate.
That brings us our last item in this section, item 4.3, SL(6)291, the Food and Feed (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) (EU Exit) Regulations 2022. And again, we have several papers here, including the report, Welsh Government response, a letter from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, and the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being, and the letter to the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd and Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being as well. So we considered, on the committee, this instrument, at our meeting of 5 December 2022, and our report was laid the following day. And if you recall as well, for Members, we wrote as well to the Deputy Minister about these regulations ahead of the Plenary debate that took place on 12 December. So, I just invite you to note the Welsh Government response to the report and to our letter. Anything in particular here or is this simply to note? Yes, I think it is. Kate. Sorry, Kate, we can't hear you.
Sorry. Welsh Government agreed with all five reporting points and agreed to correct them either via correction slip or through an amending instrument.
That's great. Thank you very much for that. Good.
In which case, then, we'll move on now to item No. 5, our regular look at common frameworks. So, under 5.1, we have the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee report on common frameworks. There are 46 recommendations made in total. Some of them call on the Welsh Government to take specific actions in the delivery of the framework programme in Wales, and others call for changes to the content of the frameworks themselves. So, we might want to return to this in private session, colleagues, but it's good to note that the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee are taking a real diligent interest in this and making those observations in the way we would expect, but it's good to see. In which case, we note that for now.
Item 6, then, we have notifications and correspondence under the inter-institutional relations agreement. So, we have, under 6.1, a written statement by the Minister for Health and Social Services. It's in relation to the transfer of functions from NHS Digital to NHS England. The Minister notes that she has given consent to the UK Government's Secretary of State for health to exercise the subordinate legislation-making power to make the regulations that fall in the devolved area in relation to Wales.
I'm going to rattle through a few of these, but just shout at me or stick your hand up if you want to raise anything on them. Item 6.2, we have correspondence from the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being in respect of the Food Supplement and Food for Specific Groups (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2022. It responds to the committee's letter of 7 December asking questions relating to those regulations. Again, it might be something that Members want to return to in private session.
Item 6.3, we have correspondence from the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution in respect of the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2022. In this letter, just for interest, the Counsel General confirms that, following his decision to give consent to the Secretary of State to exercise a subordinate legislative power in a devolved area for Wales in November last year, the regulations were indeed laid before the UK Parliament under the negative procedure on 23 November 2022, and they came into force on 1 January this year.
Item 6.4, we have a written statement from the Minister for Climate Change in relation to attendance at a meeting of the inter-ministerial group for environment, food, and rural affairs on 5 December. Again, just for Members to note, the status of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill was discussed and the Minister requested the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs provide officials with details on their plans as soon as possible. The Minister also notes that the next meeting will be on 23 January.
Item 6.5, we have correspondence from the Minister for Economy in respect of the inter-ministerial group on trade meeting being held today, in fact—9 January. Now, just to note, the Minister has said that he will update the committee following the meeting. This might be something we want to return to in private session, but the more information, from our perspective, the better, on these inter-ministerial meetings. So, it's welcome that the Minister has said he'll update us, and we'll make sure that we follow that up.
Item 6.6, we have a written statement by the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language regarding a meeting of the UK Education Ministers Council that took place on 9 December.
And that is all the correspondence and written statements we have to note. If there's anything that we want to return to in private, we will do so later.
So, then, that takes us to item 7, papers to note. Again, I'll go through these and shout at me if there's anything specifically you want to raise or comment on. The first of these, 7.1, is correspondence from the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language in relation to home schooling. There are three letters within the pack related to that.
Item 7.2, we have correspondence from the Local Government and Housing Committee to the Business Committee regarding legislative consent memoranda. Just for Members to note here, the Local Government and Housing Committee expresses its concern at the increased use of UK Bills and the legislative consent convention to legislate in devolved areas rather than using Senedd legislation—something that we've picked up as a constant theme as well. So, we might want to return to that in private.
Item 7.3, we have correspondence from the Finance Committee in relation to the draft budget process. Just to remind Members that the Counsel General is, indeed, attending next week's meeting of this committee for a session on the Welsh Government's draft budget for 2023-24 and for general scrutiny as well.
Item 7.4, we have correspondence from the Minister for Finance and Local Government to the Llywydd in respect of a supplementary legislative consent memorandum on the procurement Bill. Now, again, to draw to committee members' attention, the Minister states in the letter that a supplementary LCM covering non-governmental amendments agreed to the Bill in November would be laid by 23 December at the latest, which she acknowledges would be later than the normal two-week Standing Order deadline. Now, this supplementary LCM was laid on 19 December, so we will consider it in a few weeks' time.
Item 7.5, we have correspondence from the First Minister to the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee in respect of the second additional protocol to the Council of Europe convention on cyber crime. Our committee considered the international agreement in September last year, and we referred it as well to the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee for their consideration.
Several other items of correspondence to go through, and, again, I'll rattle through these, but stop me if there's anything you want to raise, otherwise we'll note them.
Item 7.6, correspondence from the Minister for Economy in relation to the Welsh Government's legislative consent memorandum on the Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill, providing the Welsh Government's response to the committee's report on the memorandum.
Item 7.7, correspondence from the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, providing the Welsh Government's response to the committee's report on the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill.
Item 7.8, we have correspondence from the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language to the Llywydd, and to the Children, Young People and Education Committee and this committee, regarding the Welsh Government's legislative consent memorandum on the Schools Bill. The Minister explains in that letter that as the Bill will not now proceed, the legislative consent memorandum is no longer required, and although he has considered the reports of the various committees, there will now be no formal response to them, because the Bill isn't proceeding, which makes sense.
Item 7.9, we have correspondence from the Minister for Health and Social Services in relation to the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) (No. 4) (Wales) Regulations 2022. The letter outlines the Welsh Government's procedure for considering whether explanatory memoranda to subordinate legislation should be translated. This might be something we want to return to in private session as well. So, just to remind Members that we have written to the Welsh Government's Permanent Secretary for further information about this procedure as well.
Item 7.10, we have correspondence from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, in relation to the written statement laid under Standing Order 30C in respect of the Animals and Animal Health, Feed and Food, Plants and Plant Health (Amendment) Regulations 2022. That concludes all of the correspondence to note, some of which we might return to in private session.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42.
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42.
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
That does bring us to the point, actually, where I can put to Members our standard motion, under Standing Order 17.42, to seek to exclude the public for the remainder of the meeting so we can move into private session. Are you happy to do so? Okay. We will move into private session, and we will wait for our clerk to tell us that we are in private.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 13:57.
The public part of the meeting ended at 13:57.