Y Pwyllgor Cyfrifon Cyhoeddus a Gweinyddiaeth Gyhoeddus
Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee30/03/2023
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Mabon ap Gwynfor MS|
|Mark Isherwood MS||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Mike Hedges MS|
|Natasha Asghar MS|
|Rhianon Passmore MS|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Adrian Crompton||Auditor General for Wales, Audit Wales|
|Auditor General for Wales, Audit Wales|
|Dave Thomas||Archwilio Cymru|
|Matthew Mortlock||Archwilio Cymru|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Owain Davies||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 yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:15.
The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.
The meeting began at 09:15.
Bore da a chroeso, good morning and welcome to today's meeting of the Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee in the Senedd, Welsh Parliament. No apologies have been received for absence. I believe all Members are with us either in person or attending remotely. Do Members have any declarations of registrable interests they wish to declare that are not already showing on their Member's register of interests? No. Thank you very much indeed.
We have a few items to note. Initially, a letter from Tracey Burke, who is the director general for the climate change and rural affairs group of the Welsh Government, to the Auditor General for Wales in response to the auditor general's report, 'A Picture of Flood Risk Management'. The director general's letter welcomes the Auditor General for Wales's report and provides some further information on Welsh Government funding for flood and coastal erosion, and several delivery issues around public and private sector capacity and capability constraints that are affecting delivery in this area. So, could I begin by inviting Audit Wales to comment on the letter you've received?
Thank you, Chair. We're very happy, from our perspective, for the committee to note this response. We understand that the Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee may pick up on our report later in the year, and you'll see that the letter from Tracey also references several other reviews that are either under way or planned in the meantime. So, considerable activity in this space.
Possibly, the committee may be interested to receive an update at an appropriate time on the analysis that is referenced of long-term investment requirements, which is being undertaken by NRW, in which case we can work with Fay to make sure you receive that.
Okay, thank you very much. Members, do you have any comments on the letter received or the auditor general's summary?
I'm happy to note, Chair, and happy to follow up with the NRW issue as Adrian just said.
Okay, I think everyone's agreeing, in which case we'll note the letter and share a copy with the Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, who've agreed to undertake work on flood risk management, as we've just heard, which will be informed by—when published—a Natural Resources Wales first statutory report on progress towards delivery of the Welsh Government's national flood strategy.
The next item to note is a letter from Dr Andrew Goodall, Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Government, with additional information following scrutiny by us on 2 February. The letter provides some further information on subjects not discussed during the meeting on 2 February. It provides salary scales, but other than noting there are separate arrangements for the Permanent Secretary, it doesn't articulate further. So, Members, we may want to follow that up. Again, could I begin by inviting Audit Wales to comment on the letter?
Thank you, Chair. Yes, some valuable information in here for the committee, I think, which primarily, I'd suggest, we can weave into scrutiny sessions that the committee will have with the Welsh Government further down the line. I think the criteria that are outlined there for consideration of when the Government looks to establish external arm's-length bodies are useful, and provide quite a useful test for the committee to apply either against newly formed external bodies or indeed activities that are still maintained within the Welsh Government. Yes, as I said, helpful information, but primarily I would suggest this is something we can use as a base for further scrutiny.
Members, do you have any comments? Not that I can see. No. In which case, I invite you to agree to note the letter, where the contents will be reflected in the committee's report, and as we've just heard also, as the auditor has suggested, we'll also pick up relevant sections in future scrutiny sessions.
So, the next paper to note is a letter from the Commissioner for Public Appointments, 24 February, which provides additional information to the committee following our evidence session with the commissioner, just before Christmas, on 15 December. Again, could I ask Members whether they have any comments on this letter? Mabon.
Diolch, Gadeirydd. Dim ond i dynnu sylw at baragraff 31 ar dudalen pecyn 18, sydd yn nodi bod y comisiynydd wedi ffeindio nad oedd y Llywodraeth yn dryloyw wrth ddelio efo'r gŵyn sydd o dan sylw yn yr adroddiad. Pryderu ydw i ei fod o'n clymu mewn i waith arall mae'r pwyllgor yma wedi ei wneud, ddaru gael ei gyhoeddi wythnos yma, ynghylch tryloywder y Llywodraeth pan fod o'n dod i faterion o apwyntio a chyflogaeth, a meddwl eu bod nhw'n dangos rhyw batrwm yn hynny o beth oeddwn i. Diolch.
Thank you, Chair. Just to draw attention to paragraph 31 on pack page 18, which notes that the commissioner has found that the Government wasn't transparent in dealing with the complaint that is addressed in the report. I'm concerned that it ties in to some of the other work that the committee has done, work that was published this week, in terms of the transparency of the Government when it comes to appointing and employment, and I think that it may show a pattern in that sense. Thank you.
Thank you. Mike Hedges.
I've got concerns about Mr Shawcross. As people are aware, he's an old Etonian, an active member of the Conservative Party, and he has been accused of Islamophobia, and some of the items he's written would be considered by many people, including myself, to be Islamophobic. He is hardly the neutral, fair person who is supposed to be looking over these things.
Okay. Well, again, I'm personally not privy to the appointments process that applied to him, and who conducted and how that was—. Are we able to comment or do we need to defer that for further advice?
I think we'd have to defer that for further advice. I don't think it's something we would be able to influence, but I think we can raise concerns, as we undertake this inquiry, and raise it in our report. He is the public appointments commissioner for Wales as well, so if we have concerns, I think we can raise them.
Okay. Mike, are you content with that? Thank you. Obviously, it's a matter that arises with all parties at times, when they know or believe that a person in a position may have allegiances elsewhere, and that person has to show their impartiality, and we know there have been lots of media reports at UK level recently of similar allegations. So, we'll pursue that.
In terms of Mabon's first point—. Mabon, have you got a proposed course of action in consequence of that? You're in silent.
Sori. Ydych chi'n fy nghlywed i rŵan?
Sorry. Can you hear me now?
Dwi'n meddwl ei fod o'n rhywbeth sydd angen inni ei ystyried yn rhan o'r ymchwiliad yma, ac yng nghyd-destun y ffaith bod yna dystiolaeth wedi dod i mewn mewn ymchwiliadau eraill ynghylch tryloywder y Llywodraeth. Mae'n rhywbeth dwi'n meddwl sydd angen inni o leiaf nodi, a datgan pryder yn ei gylch, fod yna batrwm yma pan fo hi'n dod i waith y Llywodraeth.
I think it's something that we need to consider as part of this inquiry, and in the context of the fact that there is evidence that's been submitted in other inquiries regarding the Government's transparency. I think that it's something that we should at least note, and declare a concern about, when there is a pattern here in terms of the Government's work.
Okay. Thank you, all. I think we've captured that and we'll incorporate that, as we go forward, that particular—
Sorry, Mark, Rhianon wanted to—.
Oh, sorry, I didn't—. Rhianon.
Yes, sorry. I wanted to come in previously, Chair, in terms of the comments that have been made in terms of impartiality. I note the action that we stated as a committee, but it is a matter of concern that these concerns are there, and I would like that to be underscored, in terms of my concern also, which I've heard separately, in this regard. I don't think it's something that we can totally discuss within this committee in terms of its remit, but it would be negligent of me not to raise these issues as well, and there are connotations to these concerns. So, as long as we're going to record the concerns from both myself and Mike Hedges in this regard, then I'm satisfied to continue.
Can I just dig a little bit deeper into the concerns that Mabon has highlighted in terms of the transparency points? Can he just reference exactly which paragraph, because I've gone through it twice now, and I'm not seeing it? So, obviously, I'm not looking in the right place. Can he point me to the page number or paragraph, please?
Â chroeso. Mae'n ei nodi o ambell waith, ond mae'n glir ym mharagraff 31, pack page 18.
It's noted on the couple of occasions, but it's clear in paragraph 31, on pack page 18.
I've got you. Yes, I've got it. That's fine. That's what I was looking at. That's great. Okay. So,
'a confusing account of the status of the reappointments'.
Okay. We've had that discussion, haven't we? Thanks.
Hwyrach, Gadeirydd, os caf i, felly, ar gyfer y record, ddarllen allan yr hyn mae'n dweud. Mae'r fersiwn Saesneg gen i o fy mlaen i fan hyn:
Maybe, Chair, if I may, for the record, read out what it says. I have the English version in front of me here:
'The Commissioner therefore finds the Welsh Government to have breached Paragraph 8.1 and the Principle of Openness, and upholds this part of the complaint.'
Ac yna mae'n mynd ymlaen i esbonio.
And then it goes on to explain that further.
Yes, that's fine. I've got that in front of me. Thanks. Diolch.
Great. We've noted the comments by Mike and Rhianon, and otherwise noted the, I think, agreement to incorporate this into our future work on public appointments. Thank you. In that case, if there are no further observations on this, we will note the letter and move on.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
I propose that, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix), the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of today's meeting. Are all Members content? Thank you, I see that all Members are content. I'd be grateful if we could be moved into private session.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 09:27.
The public part of the meeting ended at 09:27.