Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad

Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Alun Davies
Huw Irranca-Davies Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
James Evans
Peredur Owen Griffiths
Sioned Williams Yn dirprwyo ar gyfer Peredur Owen Griffiths am ran o'r cyfarfod
Substitute for Peredur Owen Griffiths for part of the meeting

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Claire Butterworth Cyfreithiwr, Llywodraeth Cymru
Lawyer, Welsh Government
David Lloyd-Thomas Pennaeth Uned Strategaeth a Pholisi Bwyd, Llywodraeth Cymru
Head of Food Policy and Strategy Unit, Welsh Government
Lesley Griffiths Gweinidog Materion Gwledig a Gogledd Cymru, a’r Trefnydd
Gweinidog Materion Gwledig a Gogledd Cymru, a’r Trefnydd

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Gerallt Roberts Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Jennifer Cottle Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Kate Rabaiotti Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
P Gareth Williams Clerc
Sarah Sargent Ail Glerc
Second Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 13:30.

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

The meeting began at 13:30.

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

Prynhawn da. Croeso i chi i gyd. 

Good afternoon. Welcome to you all. 

Welcome, everybody, to this meeting of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee here in Tŷ Hywel. We have apologies for this meeting today from our regular committee member Peredur Owen Griffiths. He's taking part in Bill proceedings at the moment, Stage 2 proceeding on the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill. He may join us later, but meanwhile we're delighted to have with us Sioned Williams MS, attending as a substitute and joining us virtually on screen. So, thank you very much, Sioned, indeed for being with us today. 

Just as a reminder, the meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv. The Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. We are not expecting a fire alarm here, but if it does go off, we'll follow the members of staff to the safe gathering space. If we can all make sure that mobile devices are switched to silent. We're operating today, as normal, through the medium of Welsh and English on our translation facilities. There's no need to mute or unmute yourselves during proceedings—it'll be done for you. 

2. Bil Bwyd (Cymru): Sesiwn dystiolaeth
2. Food (Wales) Bill: Evidence session

With that, we're going to turn directly to the first substantive item today, item 2, which is the evidence session on the Food (Wales) Bill. We have with on screen Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd. We also have two of your officials, Minister—David Lloyd-Thomas, head of the food policy and strategy unit at the Welsh Government, and Claire Butterworth, lawyer for the Welsh Government as well. You're all very welcome, and thank you for spending the time with us. We've got about an hour to get through quite a lot of things on the food Bill, so if you're happy, we'll kick straight into it. 

Lesley Griffiths 13:32:01
Gweinidog Materion Gwledig a Gogledd Cymru, a’r Trefnydd

Yes, of course. 

Thank you. Minister, if I can begin with asking you whether you consider that this legislation is necessary, and therefore whether you support Peter Fox's Bill. 

No, I don't support the Bill. I don't think the legislation is necessary. There are some very complex issues about food. I think, really, the Bill that's now been brought forward—which I think has changed quite a lot since Peter first brought it to the attention of the Senedd—doesn't really provide the solutions to the many complex issues that have been mentioned in the explanatory memorandum that's come forward with the Bill. One of the things the EM says is that this Bill will, and I'm quoting, enable

'a coherent, consistent and strategic cross-governmental approach to policy and practice on all aspects of the food system.'

Then it talks about establishing a more sustainable food system here in Wales. But I don't think, when you read the explanatory memorandum or the Bill, that really there are any proposals or solutions that would really convincingly address those points. Also, the EM says there are just two options, really—it's either do nothing or legislate. So again, if you look at the EM, it says:

'the Welsh food system in a comparative disadvantage to other food systems in the United Kingdom as a result of recent policy and legislative developments.'

There's nothing to substantiate that statement, really, in the EM or in the Bill. I've had several meetings with Peter Fox to try and help and see what it was he wanted to do. There's also no examination of whether there are ways to improve planning or co-ordination through the existing mechanisms that we have under the existing powers and legislative framework.

So, again, I don't support the Bill. I've made it very clear that that is the Welsh Government's position, and we've done that since Peter first brought that proposed Bill forward. But I do think it has changed a lot. It was quite vague, probably, in the beginning. 

Thanks for that answer. Let me test that a little bit further and then, probably to your great dismay and concern, I'm going to bring in a former agriculture Minister to test this a little bit as well. 

I'm also a former agriculture Minister, yes. Crikey. James, your time will come as well.

Well, there we are. Your worst possible nightmare here. 

James will come back afterwards. We're all with agricultural experience of some sort. But anyway, let's go to—. One of the challenges here has been from the organisation Food Sense Wales. Listening to what you said in response to that opening answer, they contend the Bill is essential to bring about coherent and comprehensive food policy. You clearly disagree, but why?


I think it's really disappointing that Food Sense Wales haven't understood the relevance of the policy framework that we already have with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. I think, for me, that's the big disappointment, really. We've already got that policy framework with the Act, and I think it's a real missed opportunity for them to bring forward, again, solutions and ways of working with the current legislation, with our current policies, with the current framework, because we do have that well-being of future generations Act. Everything that we do, we have to do it through the lens of the Act, and I think they've missed a real opportunity there. 

I think it's also fair to say that if this Bill were passed, the duties that would follow would take up considerable resources to, really, in my view—. Certainly, in the officials' advice I've had, it's just another layer of bureaucracy. We can create many of the plans and targets, and those are the discussions that I've had with Peter Fox to see what we could do within current policies and frameworks. So, that's why I don't think the legislation is necessary. 

We'll go into this in quite some depth over the next hour, but I'm going to—. You clearly disagree with the Member bringing forward the Bill, who says this will provide that coherency, and it's interesting your responses—. You know, your response to Food Sense Wales is they clearly don't understand the things you've put in place already, and the framework and the well-being of future generations Act, and so on. The question arises then, 'Well, why don't they?' and so on. But I'm going to hand to my colleague Alun Davies, just before we go into even more depth. 

I'm not sure that any of us understand the frameworks around the future generations Act, but we won't go after that this afternoon. From the Minister, it sounds like—tell me if I'm wrong—the Government will be voting against this measure when it comes back in front of the Senedd. I assume that's the case, given what the Minister's just said, and the Minister can correct me if I've got that wrong. 

That is correct. Okay. To what extent have you negotiated with the Member in charge? I voted for this Bill to give it an opportunity to move forward, because I think a food Bill is necessary, as it happens, because I believe there's a great deal of incoherence within Welsh Government around how it deals with food. There have been a number of different Measures, in the old days, and regulations passed, to try to address that; I'm not sure it has been addressed. So, I think this Bill did have some potential. But I'm also disappointed in many ways—probably from a different direction to the Minister—that the Member hasn't taken the opportunity of the introduction of this Bill to actually focus on a couple of key objectives, and seems to have gone far too broad with the legislation; it seems far greater than anybody would anticipate from private Member's legislation. So, can I ask the Minister to what extent she has sought to negotiate with the Member in charge, and to what extent she has sought to shape and to amend the legislation to come to a conclusion where the legislation can be taken forward? 

On your first question, I've met with him several times and officials have met with him several times to try and flesh out, I suppose, what he wanted. I mentioned in my opening answers to the Chair that I think—. And I think you're right, Alun—I think it has changed a lot since Peter Fox first introduced this Bill into the Senedd. I think in the beginning, it was perhaps very vague, and it was trying to find out exactly what he wanted. I'm not sure we've been able to agree on many things, unfortunately, going forward. I don't know whose fault that is, but I've certainly had the opportunity and given Peter Fox the opportunity to try and work with him.

I'm coming to the second part of your question now. I've been very happy to work with him, I've been very happy for my officials to do so. David Lloyd-Thomas has been the main official in relation to this and he's met with him, and special advisers have met with him. Have I done a great deal to shape and amend? I would say no, I don't think we have really done a huge amount there, certainly not amend, because I think it was really important for him to tell us what he wanted. I think a lot of what Peter wants now is based on the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Act 2022. And again, because we've got the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 here in Wales, and Scotland have got nothing—not many countries have got anything very similar to the well-being of future generations Act—that was a big issue, really, for Peter to—. You know, you're trying to put a round peg into a square hole, really, because the legislation is so different. So, I don't think we've done a huge amount about what we could do to amend it to take the Bill forward.


We are going to go quite deeper here, but let me ask you the question that always engages us as a committee. The provisions that do fall within this Bill, should it progress, are you confident that they fall within the legislative competence of the Senedd? Have you done that analysis?

I suppose, because it's not a Government Bill, that's not really something that I've focused on; that would be a matter for Peter Fox and, obviously, for the Llywydd. In general, I would say that, yes, I think it falls within legislative competence, but I wouldn't say we've gone into it very deeply.

So you haven't gone into it in that detail because it's not a Government Bill, but yourself and David and the team, your overall analysis is that the provisions, which have grown as this Bill has developed, fall broadly within the competence of the Senedd.

I would say so, broadly. But as I say, that won't be a matter for me to determine.

We'll have to put that question to Peter himself as well. James, let's bring you in.

Thank you. I'll try to be as neutral in this as I can be, Minister. Have you and your officials taken UKIMA into this? Do any provisions within the Bill actually engage with the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020, and does that have any problems with developing the Bill going forward?

Again, that would be a question for Peter. I'm sure Peter has considered that very carefully. I don't consider UKIMA is engaged by provisions in the Bill, as it doesn't prohibit or restrict, for instance, the sale of food or other products here in Wales.

On another point, you've stated previously in the Chamber, and other places, that the community food strategy developed by the Welsh Government actually covers a lot of these areas. Do you think there's enough scrutiny on Government, though? Because this Bill wants to set up the food commission, which would hold Welsh Government accountable to targets, and everything else set out in this Bill. Do you think there's enough scrutiny currently of your community food strategy, and do you think that, if we don't have this piece of legislation, actually, strategies like the one that the Welsh Government previously had in place are just going to be put on the shelf and not be monitored and delivered properly?

The community food strategy was a manifesto commitment of my party, on which I stood, and, obviously, is something that we will be bringing forward in this five-year term of Government. I think it's fair to say that the community food strategy was brought forward because we recognised, as a Government and as a Labour Party, that there was a gap that needed filling. The community food strategy is the reason we're bringing that forward. As I say, it's a gap in our policies, and it will be just one of a suite of policies where we are looking at the food system, if you like. There's a great deal of work being done on the food strategy, but I think it's fair to say that, because of the work that officials—when I say 'officials', I mean 'official'—have had to do on Peter Fox's Bill, that work hasn't been as fast as I would like it to be. I think that's fair to say. So, there's still a great deal of work going on in relation to the food strategy, but there's more work that we need to do.

I'm not a Minister who likes to see strategies put on the shelf and not brought down and not done anything with, so that is absolutely not the intention. Obviously, we have lots of strategies that perhaps aren't scrutinised as much as the Senedd would like, but I think there are lots of strategies that the Senedd do excellent scrutiny on. So, as I say, we have completed some initial work, and it's interesting to see, I think particularly with the public, the public perception of what a community food strategy would be and what they think should be in it, and our stakeholders as well. For me, the community food strategy—. So, when you pick up something after an election and you're making it tangible, if you like, I think it's very exciting; I think there's a lot of energy across Wales that we can encompass in that community food strategy. So, we've got some long-term plans for that, but, unfortunately, as I say, because we're doing this Bill, we've not been able to perhaps be as quick as I would like. So, it is a strategy; it's not legislation, as you say, but we have lots of strategies that form lots of our policies that are scrutinised at a different level.


It's quite nice to hear you say that you're a Minister who actually doesn't like strategies to sit on a shelf—and I've been in numerous organisations where lovely strategies are developed, they sit on shelves; they do sit, they are never developed. You, potentially, may not be the agriculture Minister forever. Obviously, Governments—

—Governments change, First Ministers change, and one of the concerns I know that the Member bringing this forward has is that, yes, a community food strategy is good, but if you change, there is no incentive here to deliver this if it's not in legislation. Because different Ministers have different priorities, and if it was in legislation, it would be able to be monitored properly. As I said, with the change of personnel, the community food strategy could go back on the shelf and never be looked at again. Do you think that that is a genuine concern that the Member does have and is recognised?

No, I don't, because what I'm not saying is that the community food strategy is the same as Peter Fox's Bill; what I'm saying is that we've already got lots of legislation, lots of policies, lots of strategies in place, as well as we are bringing forward the community food strategy. So, I'll give you an example about not leaving a strategy on the shelf: Alun Davies brought forward a food and drink action plan back in 2014, when he was in this portfolio. That wasn't scrutinised, but, boy, was it really, really achieving, and it achieved way, way above what the Minister in 2014 planned for it to do. So, I think, as a Welsh Government, we've got a huge record of delivery and, as I say, that action plan from 2014 to 2020 absolutely surpassed the target that Alun set. And I remember sitting in Cabinet thinking Alun was absolutely way, way above the ambition that that could achieve, and it absolutely surpassed that. But what I'm trying to say is that those strategies don't have to be in legislation to achieve and deliver.

Alun Davies is quietly purring away in the corner now contentedly.

Actually, I'm not quite sure that his head is going to fit out of the committee room door now, Lesley—thank you.

I use that example not just when I'm talking about food, as we are today, but when I talk about delivery of government. That strategy and that action plan was way above—and I'm sure that Alun would agree—the ambition that he thought it would be. And I thought it was being overambitious; I remember thinking that at the time.

You've mentioned before about overlap with this Bill with other pieces of legislation—the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 Act and potentially the Social Partnership and Procurement (Wales) Bill. Can you go into that a little bit further and how you potentially think this legislation could hinder some of those policies and Acts from actually being delivered?

In relation to the well-being of future generations Act, which obviously is a piece of legislation that we have in place now, I think serious consideration really needs to be given to how the obligations that have been posed by the Bill on public bodies—the proposed Bill—and the creation of a Welsh food commission particularly, would fit into the existing governance structures that we have because of the well-being of future generations Act, and also the established responsibilities that we have. So, how would that Bill work in the policy-making environment that we have already and that we adhere to? It's very well established, the framework that we have at the moment, and public bodies also understand what's required of them as well. As you know, we have the well-being of future generations Act that established public services bodies, so there is that governance structure already for our public bodies here in Wales, to plan for local food issues, for instance—that's an example in relation to what's in the Bill. You know, I mentioned that this Bill really is based on the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Act 2022, and they have nothing like the well-being of future generations Act, so the Scottish approach to me is neither appropriate nor necessary.

So, I think there is a lot of risk here, and I'm sure that that's probably something that perhaps Peter Fox really needs to think about, because you don't want to start any piece of legislation off—. As a Government, you wouldn't want to do it with such a high level of risk being there, because I do think if this Bill were to progress, there could be a precedent of legislating on a single issue, and then you would undermine the current overarching governance system and principles that already exist with the well-being of future generations Act, which already has the scope and that flexibility to accommodate very diverse policy issues such as food.

In relation to the social partnership and procurement Act, obviously that's currently, as we heard the Chair say at the beginning, being scrutinised at the moment. But, I don't think that there would be much overlap because that Bill has a much narrower range of specific—. It has very clear issues in that Bill.


Just one final question, if I can. You talked about the future generations and well-being Act, and there are provisions in that to make sure that some of these things in Peter's Bill can be accomplished. Can you give some examples of where you think that that Bill can actually deliver on what Peter wants to do in his Bill? Do you think there's enough enforcement power in the future generations and well-being Act to make sure that public bodies actually fulfil what they're supposed to do?

So, if I could—. I mentioned in my earlier answer the public services bodies, for instance. So, because of the future generations Act, we've got the public services bodies already in place here in Wales. I think there are other issues. Obviously, the 'A Healthier Wales' goals, which is one of the goals of the future generations Act, they have to give us advice, they have to review in a way that is set out in their governance structures. So, I think there are several ways.

There we are. Okay, thank you. Before I pass over to Alun to take us on, can I just ask, in terms of any human rights implications, whether you've given consideration to how Peter Fox's Bill impacts, if at all, upon human rights issues?

Sorry—can you hear me? Yes. Again, that really wouldn't be for me to say. We certainly haven't had anything flagged up with me, but that, again, would be a matter for others.

Can I rephrase it, then, knowing that this isn't your Bill, the Welsh Government Bill, but any private Member's Bill has an opportunity to progress if it finds favour within the Senedd? Your initial overview, could I ask whether there are any human rights issues that are raising warning signals with you at the moment?

When you asked me before about legislative competence, obviously, that question on human rights, as a Government, if we were bringing a piece of legislation through, that would be part of the analysis that we would look at to see, to ensure that it was within the legislative competence of the Senedd. So, I personally haven't had anything flagged up with me; I don't have any concerns. But, it would be a matter for Peter Fox and the Llywydd.

Okay. Thanks, Minister. I'm going to assume by the fact that both David and Claire don't want to come in, that they're not flagging anything either. So, if you want to come in later, by all means do. But, we'll take it that your initial reading is that there are no red flags at the moment from your overview on this, but, recognising what you say, Minister, it's not a Government Bill. Alun, over to you.

Thank you. Just looking at the sections, I think it's sections 2 and 3, isn't it, that deal with the setting of food goals—primary and secondary food goals for public bodies. I'm interested in how you would see this actually operating, Minister. I presume—. I can't see it on the face of the Bill, but I presume that these would be statutory targets and statutory plans. So, I presume that the plans, the targets, would be written in such a way as to ensure that all public authorities covered by the legislation establish goals, and then those goals are described and plans attached to them. How would you see the goals operating, and would you see any potential conflict between the establishment of these goals and other responsibilities that public authorities would have?

So, it's not very clear to us why the Bill has got those split policy issues between primary and secondary goals. I think it's already a complex enough area, and I just think that this would add another level of complexity, and I really question why the primary goal is necessary. But if you look at the detail of the secondary goals, I don't really see why we'd need the primary goals. I think they're very important policy points, the detail of which has been outlined in the goals. I think they're really important policy points, but they're matters that Welsh Government and, I think, other public bodies are already conscious of, and we've got many policies in place that already either deal with those issues or they're planned to deal with those issues.

I think, in relation to targets—you asked specifically about targets—they would be set by affirmative regulations.


Okay. It's the goals that I'm reading, the health and social goal in section 3, I think it is:

'Reducing malnutrition, food poverty and food insecurity. Reducing obesity.'

These are goals that I presume already exist within Government in different ways. Certainly, I've seen a number of different obesity plans and food poverty plans from Government over the years, and the point made by James earlier about the delivery of different strategies from Government—. I think, for me, I don't understand how having an additional goal written here and produced in the way that the Minister has described, would actually deliver if, for example—and just to use one example—the reducing obesity plan delivered by the health Minister at the moment isn't being delivered. I'm not sure how this would help.

I agree, and that's what I said in the opening answer. It's a very sweeping comment in the explanatory memorandum about 'This is the way to deal with this issue, and it's either do nothing or do this' sort of thing. There's no substantive evidence, really, how it would do that, so I would agree with you on that. As I say, we've already got many policies and strategies in place. So, going back to what I was saying about the food and drink action plan from 2014 to 2020, when that finished in 2020, it achieved very, very successfully. Then we brought forward a strategic vision for the food and drink manufacturing and processing industry; we've got 'Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales'; and my agricultural Bill that I'm now taking through the Senedd—the first objective in that is about producing food in a sustainable manner. So, I would agree with you, I don't see how this would already—. For me, it's just adding complexity and bureaucracy to an already very complex area.

Many of these targets seem to me to suffer from the same weakness as the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 in that it's very declaratory—everybody wants to see reduced obesity, everybody wants to see reduced food poverty. It would be more surprising if legislation was put froward saying a Government shouldn't be doing these things rather than that a Government should be doing these things. I'm not a fan of declaratory legislation, as the Minister will know. It makes politicians feel good, but it doesn't actually deliver anything for the people we represent.

So, how would you—and we're looking forward here to understand how such legislation would operate—how would you consult before setting goals? The requirement to consult only with the Welsh food commission feels to me to be a little—it doesn't feel to me to be sufficient. And I would draw a parallel here with your own legislation, Minister—the agriculture Bill, which this committee looked at last week. You say there that you will only consult with the future generations commissioner, and I worry, when Government is saying that it will only consult with one institution, one office, if you like, whether it's the food commission or a single commissioner. In your own legislation, you outline—and I've got no issue with this, by the way—a number of different targets for agriculture policy, and one of them would be culture and community and the rest of it. It's surprising to me, then, that you don't want to consult with, for argument’s sake, the Welsh Language Commissioner, who is primarily responsible for some of those issues. So, it appears to me that making lists of a single institution—you'd be better off without a list, surely.

Yes. I think, as a Government, we are committed to working with a variety of partners, and we see consultation as a very important way of making policy, and, then, taking it forward.

The food commission: we haven't really discussed the food commission that's proposed in Peter Fox's Bill. I don't know if we're coming to questions on the timetable of it, but I think that is an issue, because, obviously, there are very blunt timetables in this Bill that I don't see how that would work either. I think it is important to go wider when you're looking for advice and support. We've got very long-standing, strong policy frameworks on making sure that consultation is wide, but I have specific concerns about the setting up of a food commission in relation to this Bill as well.


I suppose the main thing—. Well, there are two issues: one is the timetable. So, Peter Fox is proposing it's done within three months. That's very quick. I think the future generations commissioner, it took two and a half years to set it up. So, I think that's one. And the other is the cost. There is no money. Everybody knows how difficult the budgets are, and, again, the cost of another commission, I think, would not be something—. And I don't think we need it, so I suppose that's the bottom line, but those are my two main areas of concern.

You know yourself, Alun, when you're doing anything like a commission, or even an advisory group, you need to make sure you get the right members on. Three months is very quick.

Minister, I don't disagree with you; I've tried to abolish one commissioner, and I would seek to abolish others if I had the opportunity. [Laughter.] But that's another question for another day. 

Just quickly, you were saying about the future generations commissioner—and, obviously, with the future generations Act—how can Welsh Government ensure that the future generations commissioner is working on the community food strategy, with everything else that the future generations commissioner has to look at? How can they focus solely on the food element, with everything else they've got to look at? So, don't you think a commission would actually be beneficial, if you take away the timescale and give Government the opportunity to implement it with, perhaps, a bit of a longer timescale of implementation, so that it's actually one where you can focus on food specifically?

Well, in an ideal world, maybe, but we're not in an ideal world, are we? So, I've just said that I think the cost is prohibitive at the moment, because I certainly don't have any money in my budget to set up a commission. Again, the costs that are in the Bill—I don't know if they're underestimated or overestimated, we haven't gone into that, because, as I say, it's not my Bill—but those are really prohibitive.

I see what you're saying, but everybody deals with lots of things on an everyday basis, and the future generations commissioner—I appreciate we're just coming to the end of our first commissioner's terms, and there'll be a new commissioner—but, certainly, any time I've gone to the commissioner, or I've met with the commissioner, I've asked her questions and she's always found the time to deal with that. And I'm sure the new commissioner, when he takes up post, will be exactly the same. But it is really prohibitive, I think, the cost. I just don't think we need another commission.

Okay, thanks. I'm going to bring Sioned in. We haven't got time to go into this discussion on commissioners, but I note that one of the values of occasionally having a strong and independent commissioner is their willingness to challenge Government and say, 'You're wrong.' One of the challenges is exactly what James was saying, particularly with things like the well-being of future generations commissioner, and the commission with her, with its limited resources, and how much or how little they can focus on, and how they divvy that up between themselves and other commissioners, agencies, organisations. But it's a bigger conversation there to have.

But you've made clear you've got concerns over the reality check with the timescale that Peter Fox has laid for setting up a commission, were this to proceed. We get that, but I'm going to pass now to Sioned to take us on into another area of questioning. Sioned, all yours.

Diolch, Gadeirydd, a phrynhawn da, Weinidog. Ie, dwi yn mynd i ofyn cwpwl o gwestiynau pellach ynglŷn â chomisiwn bwyd Cymru. Rŷch chi, yn barod, wedi mynegi pryderon ynglŷn â'r amserlen yn adran 8 o dri mis, a hefyd rŷch chi wedi sôn am y gost, ac yn fwy eang, os dwi'n deall yn iawn, yr holl egwyddor o sefydlu neu greu comisiwn bwyd Cymru. Ond, fel ag y mae hi yn y Bil, ydych chi'n meddwl y dylai hi fod yn ofynnol i'r comisiwn gyhoeddi canllawiau mewn perthynas â chydymffurfio â darpariaethau'r Bil?

Thank you, Chair, and good afternoon, Minister. I am going to ask a few further questions on the Welsh food commission. You've already expressed some concerns about the timetable in section 8, which provides for three months for establishment, and you've also mentioned the cost, and more broadly, if I understand it correctly, the whole principle of establishing a Welsh food commission. But, as the Bill currently stands, do you think it should be a requirement for the commission to publish guidance on compliance with the provisions of the Bill?


No, I don't think it should. I think it's very clear in the Bill. The commission can provide advice, it can inform, and it can assist, and there's already a specific provision in the section that refers to the food commission to provide oversight and performance review of the exercise of the functions of public bodies in relation to the food goals and targets. From my point of view, I think that's absolutely sufficient.

I also am concerned, and I probably should have said this in my earlier answer to Alun, that the proposed food commission would overlap with the Food Standards Agency, as well as the future generations commissioner. I think the Food Standards Agency could be somewhere else that there would be another overlap. Obviously, if the commission had the power, then, to issue statutory guidance—I go back to what I was saying about risk—I think that would pose a real risk of further overlap with the FSA.

If there was a Welsh food commission, it would be a significant new body, but I think what the Bill fails to recognise is that its functions would overlap with existing bodies that have advisory roles relevant to the goals that the Bill is proposing. So, again, looking at section 10 of the Bill, it's broadly drafted so that the implication here is that the food commission could have functions analogous to the FSA under the Food Standards Act 1999. There are real issues around the drafting, I think, of that, and I just think it's going to cause confusion. It's already a complex area. And I just think that would then be a waste of very precious resources. But I do think it could create a new risk, which I don't know if the Member who's proposing the Bill has considered. Food is really important to absolutely everybody, and I just would not want to see a risk there. But I appreciate the Bill will be scrutinised fully.

O ran, wedyn, eto, y cwestiwn am amserlennu, ydych chi'n meddwl bod cylch dwy flynedd i Weinidogion Cymru gyhoeddi eu strategaeth fwyd genedlaethol ac i gyrff cyhoeddus gyhoeddi eu cynlluniau bwyd lleol, a chyflwyno adroddiad arnyn nhw, yn ddigonol? Ac os nac ydy, pam? Ydych chi o'r farn bod pum mlynedd yn briodol ar gyfer adolygu a diwygio'r strategaeth fwyd a'r cynlluniau?

And then, again, a question on timetabling, do you think that a two-year cycle for Welsh Ministers to publish their national food strategy and for public bodies to publish their local food plans, and subsequent reporting on them, is sufficient? And if it isn't, why not? Do you consider that five years is appropriate for reviewing and revising the food strategy and plans?

So, I mentioned before that I think these dates—. The timescale is very blunt. There doesn't seem to be much flexibility when it comes to the timescale, and I just don't think there is any flexibility that you really would need to cope with such a complex area where you would then have to plan, you'd have to target set, you'd have to report, you'd have to review activities. I think it would be hard for Government, but I think it would be really hard for other public bodies to fit in with this timescale as well. I really don't think it's realistic to think you could do everything within two years, given the complexity.

The fact it requires a new commission that we as a Government would have to go to, that's got to be set up in three months. And then, of course, the Senedd will also be playing a role in passing regulations. The Welsh Government would have to set targets by regulations for each of those secondary food goals within two years, with advice from the food commission. Then we'd have to lay a national food strategy as well, in the same two years. Again, we'd have to take advice from that food commission, and we would have to take advice from the future generations commissioner. As I say, they're very challenging timescales, I think, for a Government, but I think for other public bodies who then would be duty bound to produce local food plans, it would be even more complex and difficult.

Diolch, ac o ran yr elfen o sgrwtineiddio sydd hefyd ymhlyg yn yr amserlenni yma, does dim gofyniad yn y Bil i'r strategaeth fwyd genedlaethol gael ei chymeradwyo gan y Senedd. Ydych chi'n cytuno â'r awgrym neu'r drefn honno?

Thank you, and in terms of the scrutiny element implicit here in the timetabling, there's no requirement in the Bill for the national food strategy to be approved by the Senedd. Do you agree with that approach?

Well, as I say, we've got lots of national strategies as a Government that aren't approved by the Senedd, so I wouldn't think that would be an issue, but what the Bill does require is that Welsh Ministers obviously set and report on the targets, then report on periodic reviews. So, I think there's ample opportunity for the Senedd to be able to hold the Welsh Government to account.


Diolch. Ac wedyn cwestiwn ynglŷn â darpariaethau cyffredinol y Bil. Yn adran 22 o'r Bil, mae yna ddiffiniad o'r term 'cyrff cyhoeddus'—dyna le rydyn ni'n cael y diffiniad—ac mae'n caniatáu i Weinidogion Cymru ddiwygio'r diffiniad hwn drwy reoliadau, ar yr amod nad ydynt yn dileu eu hunain. Ydych chi’n meddwl bod y pŵer yma’n angenrheidiol a sut fyddech chi’n rhagweld ei ddefnyddio, gan wybod wrth gwrs nad eich Bil chi yw'r Bil yma?

Thank you. And just a question on general provisions within the Bill. Section 22 of the Bill defines the term 'public bodies'—that's where we find the definition—and it allows Welsh Ministers to amend this definition by regulations, as long as they don’t remove themselves. Do you think that this power is necessary and how would you envisage using it, bearing in mind, of course, that this isn't your Bill?

So, I think it's fair to say that having that flexibility is good. I think there are far too many aspects of this Bill that don't have any flexibility, and I've just referred to some of them. So, I think to have that flexibility is good. I wouldn't be able to say how I would use it. I think I'd be purely speculating if that were the case because I haven't really looked at it in that detail. It's a bit too early for that. As you said, it's not my Bill.

Diolch, Sioned. Minister, I know we keep coming back to this fact, that it's not a Welsh Government Bill, it's a private Member's Bill and they need to do their work on this, or whatever, but when you were mentioning there the additional complexity of bringing together, under the national food strategy, the local food plans and the rigour that would impose on other public bodies, but also local authorities, local public bodies, regional public bodies, have you had any feedback yourself that would be helpful to us as a committee, or to Peter Fox in trying to take this Bill forward, as to what their thoughts are on this proposal of the food strategy and local food plans?

So, I haven't. I will ask David Lloyd-Thomas if he would like to come in. I don't know if he can add anything there, but I certainly haven't.

Good afternoon. Yes, there are a number of views that we've picked up. First off, I think the Food Standards Agency is quite concerned about the potential overlap of functions, which the Minister described, and I think that's understandable because they are looking at food from the point of view of risk to the public and businesses. I think there is possibly related concern from some trade bodies that are more industry focused, such as the Food and Drink Federation. Again, they look at this in terms of whether this is value for money in terms of Government and how they're supported, and is there going to be confusion if you bring in an additional commission to advise on food matters, and so forth.

I think the other thing that has struck me, really, is possibly what the Welsh Local Government Association, I think, said in its evidence to Mr Fox's consultation, where on balance they concluded that they supported this on the condition that there was additional resource to pay for what was required. So, I think we're back to the Minister's points, really, about what money is available and is this the best way to spend it.

Okay, thank you. Thank you, David. James, sorry, did you want to come in?

Yes. I do have sympathy with the Member, and after what I've heard sitting here, I've just listed things down. It is binding everything together, because Welsh Government do have an awful lot of strategies—'Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales', the local food plans, the food strategy, minimum alcohol pricing—and all of this feeds back together. How do the Welsh Government bind all of that together to actually make sure it's all being delivered? Because I find that having far too many strategies and nothing to underpin them all, nothing is targeted and nothing can be actually implemented and things fall through the cracks. Do you think this Bill could actually bring it all together, or do you think there could be another way that this could all be brought together to make sure that we're actually monitoring it properly and nothing is getting missed?

Well, I said in my opening answer that the Bill doesn't really explain how—it talks about this coherent approach, but it doesn't really explain how that will be done. So, no, I don't think it needs to be done. I do hear what you're saying. Obviously, as a Government, by the very nature of government, you have a lot of strategies, so that's why it's important that, when you bring forward a piece of legislation, you have that monitoring, you have those targets and you have requirements to report back. It's really important that you do that so that the Senedd can scrutinise, for instance, and also so that you know as a Minister yourself whether they're delivering, or not, what you want.

Thirdly, looking at the agricultural Bill, which is my Bill, and I am taking it through at the moment, that's an important part of making sure that that piece of legislation is fit for purpose.


Can I have one—? I know one thing, when Peter started, and something that the Countryside Alliance were very keen on, was the country of origin on labelling. That was something that Peter was going to put in the Bill. I'm pretty certain that's probably a reserved matter, I would think, to Westminster. I'm not sure it's a devolved competence here. I'm looking at my colleague Alun Davies here; I think it's a bit of a—

It's issues around Brexit, halfway house. But, on that specific point, I know it's probably going away from the legislation side of it, what discussions have you had with UK Government around this? Because I think—. I would like to see country of origin on labelling, but I think it should be done on a national level, perhaps, rather than—within the UK. So, I just wonder what sort of conversation you've had around that at cross-governmental meetings.

I have had lots and lots and lots of discussions around this issue, and, obviously, the UK internal market Act is now providing some difficulty in relation to that. But I think you're right, and I think people want to know what is in their food. We had a very interesting legislative consent motion debate last week on precision breeding. I think it is really important that people do have access to that information when they're buying food from their local shop or their local supermarket. But it is something I agree is a reserved matter, but we do have many discussions in relation to that.

Yes. I've got hundreds of questions, but I'm in the wrong committee probably. I should be in—.

Okay. [Laughter.] [Interruption.] Pardon me, this isn't a cough, this is cold water going down the wrong way. Water is clearly bad for you.

Just to follow up on what James was saying there, if not this Bill, I'm just interested in the discussions and the thought you've had with Peter Fox, but also the thought you and your officials have applied to this, as to whether, if not a single food strategy, and if not this Bill, there is a need for something to bind together our approach to food in Wales, and, if not this, what is it? Because you've mentioned strongly in your defence, of course, the myriad—and they are there—of policies and strategies, some of which are underpinned with clear targets, that apply to different parts of the food ecosystem. But what is it that holds them together? Do you feel, Minister, that Peter Fox is getting at something here where he says, 'There's a need for something to bring these together', if not to duplicate, not to add to resource, bureaucracy, but to pull it together—or not?

No. I think—. I mentioned earlier that, with any strategy or any piece of legislation, you have to have that monitoring and reporting of activities, I think, to make sure that you are on track. Certainly, my opening—. And I'm going back a little while now, when Peter first brought this Bill forward, and I did meet with him, because you don't want to just dismiss anything. I haven't got all the answers, and neither has Peter, but between us there are things—. And he's been very willing to share. But I do think the Bill has changed a lot, and James mentioned that he thought there was going to be labelling, for instance, as part of the Bill. So, I think the Bill has changed a lot, but, certainly, I'm very happy, and I have been very happy, to work with Peter on that.

But I go back to what I was saying at the beginning around the EM, where it refers to wanting that

'coherent, consistent and strategic cross-governmental approach to policy and practice on all aspects of the food system.'

I don't think this Bill would do that. I don't think we need something like this to be able to do that. I think it's really important—. So, when I'm bringing the agricultural Bill forward, for instance, you look at other pieces of legislation to make sure there's consistency. So, for instance—. I can't even remember what the word was now, but the other day I was with officials and we were talking about putting a different word in, or I was talking about a different word, but they said that would be inconsistent with another piece of legislation. So, that kind of tracking, if you like, is there to make sure that everything is done as coherently, and is as unbureaucratic and as simple, as possible. I know it might not seem like that, and Government, by nature, obviously, everything seems very complex. But I think if you can work through that—. And I just think this would just add another layer of bureaucracy and, in some areas, duplication. At the moment, because of pressures on resources, both financial and official, you don't need that.


Okay. You've put that across very strongly and clearly today in your answers. Could I ask—and I've got to be careful of the way that I word this now, because I know your pushback is going to be, 'This is Peter Fox's Bill, not the Welsh Government's Bill', but—should this Bill proceed, with the will of the Senedd, do you think that this Bill should carry consequences for failure to achieve food goals, food targets, delivering the national food strategy or local food plans on time? Do you think it should carry consequences? Do you have a view on that?

I think the Senedd has a very good record at holding the Welsh Government to account, and I know that the Senedd will scrutinise this Bill very, very carefully. I know committees—I'm in front of at least three committees, I think, and I'm sure Peter is the same. I think the ultimate consequence of anything like that is done at the ballot box. That's where Government is held to account; that's where we as Members are held to account. This Bill would make the Welsh Government lay reviews to the Senedd, for instance, every five years, so there would be plenty of opportunity for that. I've already said, for me, as the Minister with responsibility within Welsh Government, I do not support this Bill going forward for all the reasons I've given. I'm not saying there are not good aspects to it, but for me the main thing is it's just not required, for all the reasons I've set out.

Okay. Could I ask—again, I'm going to be careful how I phrase this, but—if this Bill were to proceed, are there any amendments that you would seek to put to it to improve the Bill?

Oh, I'm sure, if it proceeded, we would put forward a lot of amendments. I can think of a lot of amendments that we would want to bring forward. I think there are lots of aspects that should be considered very carefully now. I've mentioned the relationship with the well-being of future generations Act, the relationship between the primary and secondary food goals—I really don't understand why they've been set out like that. I think the setting up of a Welsh food commission and the overlap with the FSA—as I mentioned, I think there could be quite a lot of risk that I'm not sure has been considered, but you would really need to very carefully look at the overlap of the functions.

This Bill is based on the Scottish good food nation Act. That legislation was made in a very different context to the way we make legislation here in Wales. I don't understand those two tiers of food goals, whether that's necessary. I'm also very concerned—. There's a reference in the Bill, and I have asked Peter very carefully about what this means—he refers to 'affordable' food in the primary goal. What does that mean? Does he mean Welsh Government should subsidise food, and, if so, to whom and how much? I really don't understand that, so I think we would have to look very carefully at that.

I think you'd have to look at the operability of the functions, with the very complex outcomes. To achieve all that within two years would be, I think, very challenging and very risky. I think establishing a food commission within three months is completely, completely unrealistic. I really do. The cost—I don't know whether the cost that is assessed in the Bill is underestimating or overestimating, but we all know these things have a way of running away with money, so I think that would have to be looked at very carefully. The really tight timescales of everything, the regulations, the reviews, not just on Government but on the public bodies as well, I think that would have to be looked at. But I think also circumstances change, don't they, and I think you would have to look very carefully at those. That's just a few.

Okay, thank you for that. We've only got a few minutes left, but we have got a few minutes, so I'm going to go to James and then Alun. Sioned, if there's anything else you want to bring in, feel free as well there. James.

I've been looking through the submissions that have come through. The farming unions, the National Farmers Union, Country Land and Business Association, Farmers Union of Wales and others, are actually very supportive of this food Bill and actually have been championing it to their members across the country. Minister, you can probably gather that a lot of those will probably be disappointed by the comments today that the Government will be voting against this. I know they've got some issues around food security and everything else that comes with it. This Bill intends to create food security, with the commission and everything that comes with that. What are you doing within Government to actually ensure food security, to ensure that local councils procure local food as well, which is another part of this, including the NHS and other public bodies? Do you think that's going to be covered in the legislation that is coming through the Senedd? Because, if not, I think a lot of people who've responded to this Bill will be very disappointed that the views that they've put forward aren't being represented by Government. 


So, I don't have the answer, and I don't know if you do, James, as to how this Bill will give us food security. I cannot see the answer to that, and I go back to what I've said repeatedly over the last hour: I don't see how the statement that was in the explanatory memorandum can be achieved with this Bill. Food security has to be done at a UK level, and I have done a huge amount of work on food security—you can imagine—with COVID, with the Ukraine war. I've had a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs inter-ministerial group meeting this morning. Food security wasn't specifically covered this morning, but we meet regularly, our officials meet regularly, to discuss food security at a UK level, and that's absolutely where it should be dealt with. I can't deal with food security at a Welsh level in the way that you're implying; it has to be done at a UK level. So, it's really important, and we did discuss it this morning. But one of the things we discussed this morning was the—and I always get these words the wrong way around—UK agricultural market monitoring group, which is a fortnightly meeting—it was weekly during COVID, it's now fortnightly—that my officials attend too. We have day-to-day data on the agricultural sector, on the food system, that we can constantly look at and see what's coming down the track, if there's going to be an issue with something, and that's the correct place for food security to be discussed at a UK level.

In relation to your question around food procurement, yes, absolutely. The social partnership and procurement Bill—sorry, not the social partnership—the Procurement Bill will absolutely look at that, because that's where we're missing a trick, I think. I think we're absolutely missing a trick in our public services, so our school meals and our hospital food, where we're not procuring enough Welsh food and drink. 

I'm sorry, you see that coming through—. We're not the policy committee on this, but it's interesting, in response, for people who will be watching this session—you see that coming through the community food strategy that you're bringing forward.

So, the community food strategy, as I mentioned earlier, hasn't had as much work done on it as I would have wanted nearly two years into this term of Government, mainly because I have one official who is working on the Peter Fox food Bill, from my aspect. He has done a significant amount of work and engagement with people, but there is more work to do. And I have to say, for me, the community food strategy is more about that community level. It's not—. So, a community food strategy, and, as you say, we're touching on policy now, obviously I'm looking at that now—

No, no. Don't worry. Pause, pause. Don't worry. We won't go into this. 

There is plenty of time for other committees—. But I think getting the answers to some of these things, as in where they're going to be satisfied or where they are currently being satisfied within policy, will be an important thing. Alun. Sorry.  

I think the word 'community' is the important word in the community food strategy. 

Thank you. I think, Minister, it would be difficult to misinterpret your views on this piece of legislation, given the evidence we've taken this afternoon. I suspect as well that the committee has some sympathy with the point of view that you are putting forward, but I also think that the committee, particularly members of the committee, would value the Government looking again at the way that Government's approach to food is addressed, because there is probably a confusion of approaches across different departments; there are certainly different objectives across different departments. And it may well be that establishing a food board within Government, for argument's sake, to look at co-ordinating the work that is done between your own department, the trade department, the economy department, the education department, the health department, would probably address many of the issues where some stakeholders have responded to this, but also the issues that Peter Fox has sought to identify. And I think if Government were to look at some of those matters, then you would achieve the objective of clarity on the statute book, which you've addressed in your evidence, but you would also deliver the objective of ensuring coherence of policy where there is doubt that that exists at the moment—across Government, rather than in individual departments.


Before, Minister—. Because we've run slightly over time now, and I want to let you get away as well, but before you do, can I just bring in James as well, because it might be related to this? 

It's actually on the procurement of local food, and the Minister did say that the Government's—. Well, we're missing a trick in not actually using public bodies to procure local food. In the procurement Bill, that could be addressed, and it's our job as a legislation committee to make sure that law is clear. Do you think this is something that's going to be picked up in the procurement Bill around the procurement of local food by local bodies? Because I think the elements in this Bill, then, will be picked up somewhere else, so we could assure the Member coming forward, if this Bill is voted down, that this element that he's trying to put through will be picked up in another piece of Government legislation, so there's no duplicate pieces on the statute book, if Peter Fox's Bill happened to get through and was granted Royal Assent.

Okay. I'll try and do those points quickly together, Chair, if I can. So, I think the point that Alun raised is really important, and we're a small enough Government where we should be able to do that. It was very interesting—I'm touching on policy again now, Chair, I apologise. Looking at the community food strategy, the first thing I asked David to do, as the official, was to look across Government at what aspects of work were being done across all departments in relation to the community food strategy, and the spreadsheet is enormous. There is a huge amount of work going on already across Government that can be put into the food strategy. So, I think Alun's absolutely right. From a food point of view, although food and drink sits within my portfolio, right across Government, lots of colleagues are dealing with that. Looking at how we co-ordinate that is something I'm very happy to do and, as I said in an earlier answer, procurement of local food is certainly something we can look at in the Bill.

Sorry, the Government's Bill that's going through, obviously.

Okay. Well, look, we're going to have to draw to a close. We've gone over time with you, so thanks for staying with us. We strayed a little bit into policy; it's hard not to, though, on a Bill like this. You probably picked up as well, Minister, that we have a deal of sympathy with the overall approach that says that we should be, where we can, where it's appropriate, supportive of backbench legislation finding its way onto the statute book. It's a theme we've picked up in our annual report and in other discussions we've had. But I think it's been really useful hearing from you and from your officials today in terms of this piece of legislation, Peter Fox's proposal here. So, thank you for your time. We'll send you the transcript as usual to check through for accuracy. If there is anything else that we consider when we go into private session that we need to write to you on to get any more clarification, we'll do so as well. But thank you, all, for your time. It's been very useful.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. We'll have just a short pause. Don't leave your seats, Members. We just need to rearrange, as the Minister and her officials leave, our clerking team as well. So, we'll just pause for a second.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 14:33 a 14:35.

The meeting adjourned between 14:33 and 14:35.

3. Offerynnau nad ydynt yn cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt i’r Senedd o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3.
3. Instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3

Croeso nôl, welcome back to this session of our committee this afternoon. We've just finished the evidence session with the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, and her officials on the Bill being brought forward by Peter Fox. But we're now going to move to our next items of business, and we have quite a lot in front of us this afternoon.

We'll go in the familiar order, so in the next one, under item 3, we will take instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. The first of these is a made negative resolution instrument; it is SL(6)309, the Official Controls (Import of High-Risk Food and Feed of Non-Animal Origin) (Amendment of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1793) (Wales) Regulations 2022. The annexes to the retained regulation, 2019/1793—it's a piece of retained EU law—contain lists of food and feed commodities that are either subjected to a temporary increase in official control, subject to emergency measures, or subject to suspension of entry to Great Britain. The Welsh Ministers are required to review in relation to Wales the lists set out in annex 1 and annex 2 on a regular basis. Following the review, these regulations make changes to the annexes. 

So, our lawyers have identified no reporting points for this. Can I just open it to Members? Do we have any observations on this? Are we happy to agree those reporting points? We are. Thank you very much.

4. Offerynnau sy’n cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt i’r Senedd o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3.
4. Instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3

So we'll go on to item 4, instruments that do raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. So, if we move to item 4.1, we have SL(6)308, the Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2022, and there's a draft report in your packs. These regulations amend the 2009 regulations, which govern the repayments of student loans by borrowers who have taken out income-contingent loans for courses beginning on or after September 1998. The amendments include the reorganising of student loans within the scope of the 2009 regulations into five plans, including a new plan 5 loan for certain courses beginning on or after 1 August 2023.

As a result of drafting errors in these regulations, they themselves have been amended by the No. 5 regulations of the same name, which we will consider next on the agenda. So, our lawyers have identified one technical and one merits reporting point on this. Kate.

Yes, the technical reporting point notes that, as a composite instrument, these regulations are in English only. And then the merits point asks Welsh Government to explain why no formal consultation was carried out, given that the regulations are reorganising student loans under the 2009 regulations, and in particular changing the basis on which certain loans are recalculated annually. We're waiting for the Welsh Government response. 

Okay, so while we await the Welsh Government response, are we happy with the reporting points? We are. Okay, thank you for that.

So, we go on to the next one, which we touched on a moment ago, item 4.2. This is SL(6)310, the Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2022. As we mentioned just now, these regulations have been made as a result of drafting errors in the No. 4 regulations. Kate, we've got one technical reporting point.

Yes, so again, the technical reporting point notes that it's a set of composite regulations made and laid in English only.

Okay, thanks for that. Okay. Are we happy with that? Just that one reporting point there. 

5. Offerynnau sy’n cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt i’r Senedd o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3 - trafodwyd eisoes
5. Instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3 - previously considered

So, we move on to item 5, which, as per normal, are the instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3 that we have previously considered. So, we turn first of all to item 5.1 in your packs, which is SL(6)301, the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2023. We have the report and the Welsh Government response. We considered this instrument at our meeting on 16 January 2023, and we laid the report the following day. So, I draw Members' attention to the Welsh Government response to the report for noting, which we've since received. Is there anything we need to pick up on this in particular?

Nothing in particular, no.

Okay. So, nothing from our lawyers there. Are we happy to note that? We are. We will then go on to—. As we bring on our super-sub from the bench, back in full fitness, Sioned, we have—. Peredur is back with us. Sioned, thank you very much for spending time with us—we've really appreciated it—but we're going to let you go now. Diolch yn fawr iawn.


Pered, very good to have you with us. Welcome back here. 

Item 6, then, notifications and correspondence under the inter-institutional relations agreement. So, we have several items here. Item 6.1, correspondence from the Minister for Education and Welsh Language in relation to the third meeting of the UK Education Ministers Council, which took place on 9 December. I'm going to rattle through these, colleagues, and if—. Oh, my apologies. My apologies—I'm going backwards—and thanks to a committee colleague here. Somehow, I was diverted then as we brought our sub on from the bench, and I skipped ahead. I'm going back. Item 5.

Item 5.1, SL(6)301, the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2023, which we turned to and then I skipped over. So, it's purely to note the Government response to that, which we're content with. 

6. Cytundeb cysylltiadau rhyngsefydliadol
6. Inter-institutional relations agreement

Then, item 6, yes. Thank you very much. Thank you, Alun. So, correspondence from the Minister for Education and Welsh Language that I've just referred to under item 6.1. Item 6.2, correspondence from the Minister for Economy in relation to the ministerial forum for trade, which took place on 9 January 2023. We then have item 6.3, correspondence from the Minister for Economy in relation to the inter-ministerial group for business and industry, which took place on 17 January. And again, we can return to these in private session if there's anything to discuss, but we'll note them for now.

Then, item 6.4. We have to note the correspondence to this committee in respect of the Food Supplement and Food for Specific Groups (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2023. We also have the Deputy Minister's written statement in relation to the Welsh Government consenting to the making of these regulations, and also the correspondence to note between the Deputy Minister and the Health and Social Care Committee. Colleagues, are we happy to note those? Any comments at this point? None. Okay. 

We'll go on to item 6.5. We have correspondence from the Counsel General in relation to the third meeting of the inter-ministerial standing committee, which will take place on 1 February. For interest, the Counsel General will be chairing this meeting, and he anticipates the focus of the discussion will be UK legislation, including matters that are of great interest to this committee: retained EU law, the Sewel convention and common frameworks. 

One other item to note here, and we received this this morning, correspondence—. Have we been able to circulate this yet? We haven't yet. We'll circulate this subsequently. So, we have one item of correspondence from the Counsel General, and it's in relation to the inter-institutional relations agreement, where he informs us that he will be representing the Welsh Government at the inter-ministerial group for elections and registration on 25 January. The agenda will cover the implementation of the Elections Act 2022, and the Scottish and Welsh Governments' consultations on electoral reform and the respective legislative plans. The reason I'm reading that into the record is that it's actually dated last Friday, but we received it today. So, we want to get it in in front of this meeting and we'll circulate it subsequently, but we have now received it. Thank you very much for that.

7. Papurau i'w nodi
7. Papers to note

Okay, we'll go on then to item 7, which are the papers to note, and we have several here. And again, I'll rattle through these, but, by all means, shout at me if there's something you want to raise as we go through, but we can return to these in private, obviously. First of all, we have item 7.1, correspondence from the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations in relation to the UK Government legislation that includes devolved matters. The Secretary of State has responded to the points set out in this committee's letter of 4 November 2022. It's a response that we might want to return to in private session. 

Item 7.2, we have the supplementary legislative consent memorandum No. 3 on the UK Infrastructure Bank Bill. So, we have that letter from the Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee to the Minister for Finance and Local Government, and the committee's accompanying report on the supplementary legislative consent memorandum No. 3 for the UK Infrastructure Bank Bill.

Item 7.3, we have to note the correspondence from the Minister for Climate Change, in which the Minister rejects the recommendation in our report on the Order that she should bring forward the relevant statutory instrument consent motion. This is in respect of the Climate Change (Targeted Greenhouse Gases) Order 2022. And again, we might want to return to this again in our discussion in private.

Item 7.4, we note the correspondence from the Counsel General to the Members of the House of Lords, regarding the Welsh Government's position on the UK legislative programme and its impact on Wales. And again, it's quite a detailed letter, and I think gives us some food for discussion in private session as well. But, of course, for members of the public who are watching, we produce these then and put them on record as well.

So, item 7.5, we have correspondence from the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution regarding corrections to Welsh statutory instruments.

Item 7.6, a letter from the Counsel General, setting out a full response to the recommendations in the committee's report on the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill.

Item 7.7, we have correspondence from the Counsel General to the Llywydd, in which the Counsel General confirms that a further supplementary LCM will be laid in respect of amendments tabled for Report Stage under the Commons to the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. And the Counsel General acknowledges in that correspondence that an SLCM will be laid more than two weeks after the tabling of the first batch of amendments.

Item 7.8, we have correspondence from the Counsel General to Peredur, which has been copied to us—so, it's to Peredur—in which the Counsel General responds to several matters that our committee colleague raised during the initial consideration debate. So, we're grateful for that.

Item 7.9, we have a letter from the Counsel General, responding to questions we asked following his appearance before us on 5 December. Again, there's a lot of meat within that response there that we'll want to get into in our private discussion.

Item 7.10, we have a letter from the Business Committee, responding to our letter highlighting the Bill's potential impact on Senedd business. And the Business Committee, just to note, have agreed to monitor developments in relation to the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which we flagged with them, and to seek to maintain a dialogue with the Welsh Government and this committee. So, it is now at least firmly on their agenda. But, again, we can return to that.

Item 7.11, we have correspondence from the Business Committee, responding to our letter from last month in respect of the expedited timetable for scrutiny of the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill. Followers of our committee will know that this is something that we've been very focused on recently.

Item 7.12, we have a letter from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, in which she has provided a copy of the Welsh Government's principles for correcting deficiencies in EU-derived domestic legislation.

And item 7.13—the last in this section—we have a letter from the Business Committee, in which it has formally agreed to the two recommendations in our report on the Bill, which included matters for the Business Committee to take forward. That was in respect of the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill.

So, a lot of correspondence, plenty of which I'm sure we'll return to in our discussion in private.

8. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i wahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
8. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting


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


that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

And that does bring us to the point where I ask Members if you're happy, under Standing Order 17.42, to resolve to exclude the public for the remainder of the meeting, so we can continue with business in private. Are you happy to do so? We are, and we move into private session.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 14:49.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 14:49.