Pwyllgor yr Economi, Masnach a Materion Gwledig

Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee

23/03/2023

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Darren Millar Cadeirydd dros dro
Temporary Chair
Hefin David
Luke Fletcher
Samuel Kurtz
Sarah Murphy
Vikki Howells

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Dorian Brunt Uwch Gyfreithiwr, Llywodraeth Cymru
Senior Lawyer, Welsh Government
Emma Davies Rheolwr Bil, Llywodraeth Cymru
Bill Manager, Welsh Government
Hannah Fernandez Polisi'r Bil, Llywodraeth Cymru
Bill Policy, Welsh Government
Lesley Griffiths Y Gweinidog Materion Gwledig a Gogledd Cymru, a’r Trefnydd
Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd
Mark Alexander Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr, Ddiwygio Rheoli Tir, Llywodraeth Cymru
Deputy Director, Land Management Reform, Welsh Government

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Evan Jones Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Gruffydd Owen Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Jennifer Cottle Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Katie Wyatt Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Katy Orford Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Lara Date Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Masudah Ali Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Robert Donovan Clerc
Clerk
Sam Mason Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser

Cynnwys

Contents

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau 1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest
2. Bil Amaethyddiaeth (Cymru)—Trafodion Cyfnod 2 2. Agriculture (Wales) Bill—Stage 2 Consideration
Grŵp 1: Yr Amcanion Rheoli Tir yn Gynaliadwy (Gwelliannau 57, 1A, 1, 43, 2, 3, 29, 4) Group 1: The Sustainable Land Management Objectives (Amendments 57, 1A, 1, 43, 2, 3, 29, 4)
Grŵp 2: Status Cyfartal yr Amcanion (Gwelliant 5) Group 2: Equal Status of the Objectives (Amendment 5)
Grŵp 3: Adroddiadau Rheoli Tir yn Gynaliadwy (Gwelliannau 58, 44, 6, 7, 45) Group 3: Sustainable Land Management Reporting (Amendments 58, 44, 6, 7, 45)
Grŵp 4: Safonau Gofynnol Cenedlaethol (Gwelliant 46) Group 4: National Minimum Standards (Amendment 46)
Grŵp 5: Darparu cymorth i ffermwyr (Gwelliannau 8, 9, 30A, 30, 10, 11, 12, 13, 47) Group 5: Provision of support for farmers (Amendments 8, 9, 30A, 30, 10, 11, 12, 13, 47)
Grŵp 6: Adennill symiau sy'n ddyledus (Gwelliannau 31, 33, 34) Group 6: Recovery of amounts due (Amendments 31, 33, 34)
Grŵp 7: Cynlluniau Cymorth Amlflwydd (Gwelliannau 14, 15) Group 7: Multi-annual Support Plans (Amendments 14, 15)
Grŵp 8: Ymyrraeth mewn Marchnadoedd Amaethyddol – Costau mewnbwn (Gwelliannau 16, 17, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52) Group 8: Intervention in Agricultural Markets – Input Costs (Amendments 16, 17, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52)
Grŵp 9: Tenantiaethau Amaethyddol (Gwelliannau 53, 54, 55, 59) Group 9: Agricultural Tenancies (Amendments 53, 54, 55, 59)
Grŵp 10: Casglu Data (Gwelliannau 18, 32, 19) Group 10: Collection of Data (Amendments 18, 32, 19)
Grŵp 11: Coedwigaeth (Gwelliannau 20, 21) Group 11: Forestry (Amendments 20, 21)
Grŵp 12: Bywyd gwyllt – defnyddio maglau (Gwelliannau 23, 24, 25, 22) Group 12: Wildlife – use of snares (Amendments 23, 24, 25, 22)
Grŵp 13: Gweithdrefn gwneud rheoliadau (Gwelliant 35) Group 13: Regulations-making procedure (Amendment 35)
Grŵp 14: Diffinio Amaethyddiaeth (Gwelliannau 26, 27, 36, 28) Group 14: Definition of Agriculture (Amendments 26, 27, 36, 28)
Grŵp 15: Cychwyn Rhan 4 o Atodlen 7 i Ddeddf Amaethyddiaeth 2020 – diwygiadau canlyniadol (Gwelliannau 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42) Group 15: Commencement of Part 4 of Schedule 7 of the Agriculture Act 2020 – consequential amendments (Amendments 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42)
Grŵp 16: Teitl Hir (Gwelliant 56) Group 16: Long Title (Amendment 56)
3. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod hwn, ac o'r cyfarfod cyfan ar 26 Ebrill 3. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of this meeting, and from whole meeting on 26 April

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.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The committee met in the Senedd.

The meeting began at 09:30.

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

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to today's meeting of the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee. I'll move to item 1 on our agenda today, which is introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest. We haven't received any apologies for today. So, are there any declarations of interest? 

I declare that I'm an honorary member of the British Veterinary Association.

Thank you very much. Are there any other declarations? There aren't any.

2. Bil Amaethyddiaeth (Cymru)—Trafodion Cyfnod 2
2. Agriculture (Wales) Bill—Stage 2 Consideration

So, we'll got straight to item 2 on our agenda, the Agriculture (Wales) Bill Stage 2 consideration. We're undertaking Stage 2 proceedings today for the Agriculture (Wales) Bill. We have the Minister with us today, Lesley Griffiths, and her officials. Would you like to just introduce your officials for the record?

Member
Lesley Griffiths 09:30:58
Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd

Yes, certainly. Thank you, Chair. So, over on my left, I have Emma Davies, who is the agricultural Bill manager and Dorian Brunt, who is the senior lawyer for the rural affairs team. And on my right, Hannah Fernandez, head of policy instructions for the Bill, and Mark Alexander, deputy director for land management reform.

Thank you for that, Minister, and welcome to you all.

So, the marshalled list of amendments is the list of all the amendments that have been tabled, marshalled into the order that has been agreed by the committee on 16 February. The groupings list shows how amendments have been grouped in order to facilitate the debates today, and the order in which the amendments are called and moved for a vote is dictated by the marshalled list. 

So, I want to—. For the record, in accordance with the convention agreed by the Business Committee, as Chair, I will move the amendments in the name of the Minister, and for expediency, I will assume that the Minister wants to move all of the amendments that have been tabled in her name at the appropriate time, in accordance with the marshalled list. Minister, if you don't want me to do that, then please indicate at the relevant point in the proceedings.

So, in line with our usual practice, we've got legal advisers to the committee who are present today and that means that we can suspend proceedings should Members wish to take advantage of that at any time—that legal advice. And in addition, Minister, you can also receive advice, of course, from your officials, hopefully by passing a note, of if you wish to do so, we can suspend proceedings as well, should you need us to do that.

Grŵp 1: Yr Amcanion Rheoli Tir yn Gynaliadwy (Gwelliannau 57, 1A, 1, 43, 2, 3, 29, 4)
Group 1: The Sustainable Land Management Objectives (Amendments 57, 1A, 1, 43, 2, 3, 29, 4)

So, we'll start with group 1 of the 16 groups that we have to discuss today: the sustainable land management objectives and the first group of amendments that we're going to be discussing. The lead amendment in this group is amendment 57. I therefore call on Luke Fletcher to move and speak to the lead amendment and the other amendments in this group. I call on Luke Fletcher.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 57 (Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 57 (Luke Fletcher) moved.

Diolch, Cadeirydd, and I move the amendments. And right off the bat, I'd just like to thank the clerks and legal team for their patience with myself as a new Member in going through this process.

I'll speak to amendments 57, 1A, 3 and 4. On amendment 57, this amendment seeks to include a requirement relating to protecting food security in SLM objectives. Food security is a critical issue. It directly impacts the health and well-being of people, the environment and economy. Wales has a high level of poverty and food insecurity, particularly among low-income households, which can have a negative impact on health and well-being. Sustainable land management can help to address this issue by promoting the production of nutritious, affordable and locally grown food. Although clause 1 within the Bill includes the production of food as part of the first SLM objective, what we are seeking to do is to provide a clear target for meeting this objective, which must be around ensuring the food security of citizens and access to food to promote good health and well-being.

On amendment 1A, which is an amendment, actually, to amendment 1, we're seeking to change 'farmer' to 'active farmer' to ensure that we are clear as to who receives support.

On amendment 3, economic resilience is just as important to Welsh farmers as environmental resilience because it is essential for their long-term sustainability and ability to adapt to changing economic and environmental conditions. By investing in both economic and environmental resilience, farmers can build a sustainable and profitable farming operation that can withstand the challenges of the future.

And finally, Chair, on amendment 4, 

'The fifth objective is to seek to safeguard rural livelihoods and communities, recognising the importance of sustainable and viable agricultural businesses and agricultural production to the rural economy, and in doing so—

'(a) to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, and

'(b) to contribute to achieving the well-being goals in section 4 of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.'

09:35

Thank you very much, Chair. I'd like to echo Luke Fletcher's thanks and praise to the legal team and the clerking team for their hand-holding through this process. I am most grateful for that. Speaking to amendment 1, it has been tabled in order to remove any ambiguity in relation to the sustainable land management objective 4. By precisely linking the fourth objective to the role of the farmer, we seek to recognise their integral role in supporting and delivering the objectives of the sustainable land management objective 4. This sits in line with recommendation 10 of the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee report into the Agriculture (Wales) Bill, which seeks to provide explicit policy intent for the support of strong and vibrant rural communities, as was sought by key industry stakeholders. 

Touching on amendment 1A, I would like to welcome this from Luke Fletcher, and therefore will be supporting it. In relation to amendment 43, the inclusion of the phrase 'landscape' has been made in order to remove any ambiguity about the land we seek to conserve, enhance and promote, as outlined within the fourth objective of this legislation, making it more explicit than 'countryside' alone—indeed, looking at every form of land, be that mountains, uplands, moorlands, seascapes, semi-urban areas, et cetera. So, through recognising this, we also seek to acknowledge that each category possesses its own unique, distinctive character and, with that, separate necessities that require tailored support and assistance.

Speaking to amendment 2, the use of the phrase 'existing' has been chosen to, once again, remove any ambiguity as to what farmers should be seeking to promote—in this instance, public access within land designated for agricultural purposes. I'm sure that the Minister will be familiar with the reservations that some have made with regard to public access, especially should that be land that is home to farm animals. What this amendment seeks to do is secure existing public access and provide landowners with a key objective through which they can seek to enhance existing access. By permitting this, we can seek to alleviate significant barriers to increasing the public's connection with and understanding of the natural environment. 

Speaking to amendment 3, this has been tabled to strengthen the fourth objective in order to recognise the significance of rural economic viability through the means of protecting farm businesses. By protecting, enhancing and promoting the countryside and landscape, cultural resources and public access, we encompass the wider role of the rural economy, sustaining its viability. This amendment seeks to formally recognise that arrangement and enshrine it on the statute book, in line with the aspiration set out within recommendation 10 of the committee report. 

And finally, Chair, amendment 4 has been tabled with the purpose of introducing a fifth sustainable land management objective, one that seeks to safeguard rural livelihoods and communities through recognising the importance of sustainable and viable agricultural businesses and the practice of agricultural production to the rural economy. Land management decisions to achieve the biodiversity, climate and sustainable food objectives cannot be divorced from the economic and social needs or influences that farming families and food supply chain businesses experience. Therefore, we are highly unlikely to achieve our aims at the scale and pace required unless we protect and enhance the economic viability of families and communities delivering the outcomes within the sustainable land management objectives. Thank you, Chair.

Thank you. Are there any other members of the committee who wish to speak? If there aren't, then I call on the Minister. 

Thank you very much, Chair. I'd just like to begin by thanking Members for their remarks, for their amendments to the Bill and for this opportunity to set out the Government's position regarding them all. I just want to assure Members that both I and my officials have really considered the amendments in detail. Obviously, I'll respond to each amendment in turn and then also introduce amendment 29, which is tabled in my name.

Amendment 57: the first amendment in this group alters the first objective so that contributing to the sustainable production of food and other goods is

'to protect or improve the food security of citizens and access to food that promotes good health and wellbeing.’

Welsh agriculture has a key role to play as the producer of high-quality food, helping to feed our nation and other nations. Food security and access to food that promotes good health and well-being is, however, much, much wider than that, relating to supply-chain considerations, wages, transport, the availability of shops, benefits, healthcare, housing, et cetera. And of course, most of these lie outside the scope of this agricultural Bill, which is why this amendment cannot be accepted.

Amendment 1 and amendment 1A, which is an amendment to the fourth SLM objective: the purpose of amendment 1 and amendment 1A appears to seek to limit the fourth SLM objective to farmers, or active farmers only. The concepts of 'farmer' or 'active farmer' do not appear in the Bill, and none of the SLM objectives refer to these terms. So, it's not the policy intention to limit the fourth SLM objective in this way. Introducing this concept now could have unknown consequences for other parts of the Bill. So, for example, a reference in one place of the Bill to a 'farmer' or an 'active farmer' may imply that other parts of the Bill do not apply to the farmer or active farmer. And this is a possible consequence that I'm sure all Members would wish to avoid. 

Amendment 43: this is an amendment to the fourth SLM objective to refer specifically to landscapes in the countryside, and I don't think this amendment is necessary, as non-urban landscapes are considered to be captured within the term 'countryside', which is already referenced in the fourth objective. 

Amendment 2 to the fourth SLM objective would limit scope of public access under that provision to what is existing only. Public access is not static, it changes through the actions of farmers and landowners, and others updating access rights. So, restricting action to existing public access is therefore contrary to the policy intention to promote public access to the countryside and our cultural resources. 

Amendment 3: as I've just mentioned, none of the SLM objectives refer to farmer or any other beneficiary or actor. So, it's therefore not appropriate to include a reference to protecting their economic viability.

Amendment 4: this amendment introduces a new SLM objective that is not required. Having resilient agriculture businesses that contribute to our thriving rural communities and help sustain current and future generations of farmers is important. And the intention of this amendment appears to seek to ensure that the Government, potentially, underwrites rural livelihoods, which is outside of the scope of the Bill, and not appropriate. It would also exclude non-rural communities, where agriculture and ancillary activities may take place. And the proposed Government amendment 29 recognises the importance of agricultural businesses in the communities in which they operate.

Amendment 29, I'm very pleased to bring this forward, it is the result of productive discussions with Plaid Cymru, as part of the co-operation agreement. The amendment makes provision about factors relevant to determining whether food and other goods are produced in a sustainable manner for the purposes of the first SLM objective. The amendment is intended to highlight the link between the production of food and other goods in a sustainable way, and the resilience of agricultural businesses within the communities in which they operate. Resilient agricultural businesses are vitally important to Wales, contributing to our thriving rural communities, and sustaining Welsh agricultural land for our future generations. Businesses that are resilient and adaptive are more likely to thrive and survive shocks to the sector, such as those we've seen caused by pandemics, conflicts, supply chain issues and climate change. So, I therefore ask that Members agree my amendment 29, and do not agree amendments 57 and 1A in the name of Luke Fletcher, and amendments 1, 43, 2, 3 and 4 in the name of Sam Kurtz. Diolch. 

09:40

Thank you, Minister. I call on Luke Fletcher to reply to the debate. 

Diolch, Cadeirydd. It's naturally disappointing that the Government won't be supporting our amendments. On amendment 57, I think it's important to note that, with the other sustainable land management objectives having much more of an environmental and social focus, it is vital that the sustainable land management objective has clarity around the food production and food security goals. Chair, I propose that we move to a vote. 

Thank you. So, the question is that amendment 57 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] There is an objection, so we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. So, I can see that there's a tied vote, so I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii). Therefore, amendment 57 is not agreed. 

Gwelliant 57: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 57: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Luke Fletcher, before we dispose of amendment 1, we need to dispose of the amendment to that amendment, which has been tabled in your name—amendment 1A. Do you move that amendment?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 1A (Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 1A (Luke Fletcher) moved.

So, the question is that amendment 1A be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] I can see that there's an objection, so we'll move to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. I can see that there's a tied vote, so I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 1A is not agreed. 

Gwelliant 1A: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 1A: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 1 (Samuel Kurtz, gyda chefnogaeth Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 1 (Samuel Kurtz, supported by Luke Fletcher) moved.

So, the question is that amendment 1 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] I can see that there's an objection. So, as there's an objection, can I ask those in favour to please raise your hands? And those against. I can see that there's a tied vote, so I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, therefore, amendment 1 is not agreed.

09:45

Gwelliant 1: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 1: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 43 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 43 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 43 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] I can see that there's an objection, so we'll move to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. I can see that there's a tied vote, so I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 43 is not agreed. 

Gwelliant 43: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 43: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 2 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 2 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

So the question is that amendment 2 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll move to the vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. Those against. I can see that there's a tied vote, so I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 2 is not agreed. 

Gwelliant 2: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 2: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 3 (Samuel Kurtz, gyda chefnogaeth Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 3 (Samuel Kurtz, supported by Luke Fletcher) moved.

The question is that amendment 3 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] I can see that there's an objection, so we'll move to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. Those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 3 is not agreed. 

Gwelliant 3: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 3: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 29 (Lesley Griffiths).

Amendment 29 (Lesley Griffiths) moved.

Minister, I move your amendment in your name. So the question is: is amendment 29 agreed? Does any Member object? I can see that there aren't any objections. So, amendment 29 is agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 4 (Samuel Kurtz, gyda chefnogaeth Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 4 (Samuel Kurtz, supported by Luke Fletcher) moved.

You moved. So, the question is that amendment 4 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] I can see that there's an objection, so we'll put it to the vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against, please raise your hands. I can see that there's a tied vote, so I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 4 is not agreed. 

Gwelliant 4: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 4: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 2: Status Cyfartal yr Amcanion (Gwelliant 5)
Group 2: Equal Status of the Objectives (Amendment 5)

We'll now move on to group 2, the equal status of the objectives. The lead and only amendment in this group is amendment 5, so I call on Sam Kurtz to move and speak to the amendment.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 5 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 5 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

Thank you very much, Chair, and I speak only to the amendment in this group, amendment 5, on the equal status of the sustainable land management objectives set out within Part 1, clause 1 of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill. This amendment has been tabled in order to remove any hierarchical status set within the four of the Minister's sustainable land management objectives. As it stands, being reliant upon their contribution to the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to ensure that the Bill delivers upon all key objectives and goals equally and uniformly, it is not adequate nor sufficient enough to assume that all objectives will be treated and applied equally. All objectives within the legislation ought to be explicit, comprehensive and delivered correspondingly from the inception of the legislation's consent. Amendment 5 seeks to clarify this position and ensure that the Welsh Government obeys this standard. Indeed, as we've seen with the previous amendment, land management decisions to achieve these objectives must be delivered as one, as was reflected in recommendation 12 of this committee's report. Given as much, I was disappointed by the Minister's rejection of recommendation 12. The Minister stated that all

'SLM objectives are to be considered together, with no hierarchy',

yet during our evidence session the Minister stated that all the objectives are complementary, adding that 

'it will be possible...to make a significant contribution to one of them whilst making, perhaps, little or indeed no contribution to the others.'

Now, this amendment 5 seeks to ensure that all four of the sustainable land management objectives are delivered equally and uniformly across the board. Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, Sam. Hefin David, did you want to come in?

Diolch, Cadeirydd. We'll be supporting this amendment. It is widely held that sustainability must be viewed not only through an environmental lens, but also the economic and social environments within which activities take place. True sustainability balances environmental, economic, cultural and social impacts, and it is therefore important that this is reflected in the objectives of providing public support under the terms of the Bill.

Thank you, Luke. Any other Member wish to contribute? I therefore call on the Minister.

Thank you very much. So, amendment 5 seeks to ensure all SLM objectives are treated equally and considered together, and the SLM objectives, as drafted in the Bill, are to be considered together, with no hierarchy, as I set out in my response to this committee's recommendation 12. 

The effect of the SLM duty is to require the Welsh Ministers to consider all four SLM objectives, and then to exercise the relevant function in the way they consider best contributes to achieving those objectives taken together.

As set out in paragraph 3.63 of the explanatory memorandum, it explains that the objectives are intended to be complementary, and in some cases this will mean that action can be taken that contributes to all the objectives, though not necessarily equally. In other cases, this may not be possible, for example where the exercise of a particular function has no effect in respect of one or more of the objectives. The Welsh language is an example of why it isn't equal. If equal, the Welsh language would have the same importance as the others. So, I therefore ask that Members do not agree amendment 5 in the name of Sam Kurtz.

09:50

Thank you very much, Chair. I'm disappointed with the Minister's disagreement with the amendment in trying to achieve sustainable land management objectives in the whole, and, as Luke Fletcher highlighted, these need to be taken as complementary and together as one, indeed, if we are to meet the objectives of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 as well, and, given that this was reflected in recommendation 12 of the committee's report, I am disappointed.

Okay. So, the question is that amendment 5 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] I can see that there's an objection, so we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. I can see that there's a tied vote, so I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. Amendment 5 is therefore not agreed.

Gwelliant 5: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 5: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 3: Adroddiadau Rheoli Tir yn Gynaliadwy (Gwelliannau 58, 44, 6, 7, 45)
Group 3: Sustainable Land Management Reporting (Amendments 58, 44, 6, 7, 45)

We'll move on to group 3. The third group of amendments relates to sustainable land management reporting. The lead amendment in this group is amendment 58, so I call on Luke Fletcher to move and speak to the lead amendment and other amendments in the group. Luke Fletcher.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 58 (Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 58 (Luke Fletcher) moved.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. I move. I'll be speaking to amendments 58, 6 and 7. Amendment 58 seeks to improve the reporting requirement upon the Welsh Government in respect of sustainable land management. The statement must include an explanation of how Welsh Ministers have sought to balance the competing economic requirements of indicators and targets whilst ensuring sustainable land management is maintained. In reporting on the indicators and targets selected by Welsh Government, it should be required to comment on the importance of the interplay between those targets and how they have been impacted by factors beyond the control of the legislation, such as prevailing economic, environmental or other conditions. It'll be important for Welsh Government to take a systematic approach to its reporting to ensure that there are no unintended consequences, or that certain factors are being prioritised over others without adequate justification.

On amendments 6 and 7, tabled by Sam Kurtz, we'll be supporting these amendments also on productivity reporting and food production. It'll be important for the Welsh Government to report on agricultural productivity and food production moving forward, for several reasons—we've highlighted four: the economic impact, the environmental impact, and the impact on food security, as well as the impact on policy development.

Thank you very much, Chair. On this occasion, I would like to speak to amendments 44, 6, 7 and 45, tabled in my name. Group 3 focuses upon the importance of sustainable land management reporting, permitting the Senedd to play an active role and an important role in the scrutiny of the Bill's framework.

Amendment 44 places a significant impetus upon the Welsh Government to prepare and lay a statement setting out the indicators that are to be applied to measure progress towards achieving all of the sustainable land management objectives, and the targets in relation to those indicators. The amendment mandates Welsh Government Ministers to do this no later than one month after the coming into force of section 4. Given the importance of these indicators and targets, I think we must all agree that they should be in place by the time this framework is implemented, not least to ensure the necessary checks and balances.

Moving forward to amendments 6 and 7, the purpose of these amendments is to recognise the apparent change in the Welsh Government policy, especially in respect of the Government sustainable farming scheme. As we look to move towards projects through the sustainable farming scheme—indeed, an example is the introducing of tree planting et cetera—less agricultural land is going to be available to farms and farm holdings to be productive on. Therefore, there is no contradiction between increasing the productivity of agricultural land despite having less of it, and being able to monitor that progress and that productivity is essential. Any such report will be produced on a biennial basis, giving appreciation to regular crop rotations. 

Finally, Chair, amendment 45 has been tabled in order to increase the frequency of sustainable land management reports, as per section 6, from five to three. Once again, the decision has been taken to increase the frequency of reports and ensure that this Senedd receives regular and updated information on the progress that is being made. The amendment will ensure that Members receive a minimum of one report per term, if not two, allowing for greater and sustained scrutiny and analysis. Thank you.

09:55

Thank you. Are there any members of the committee who wish to speak? I can see that there aren't any, so I call on the Minister.

Thank you, Chair. So, amendment 58: I don't think it's necessary to include in the statement an explanation of how the Welsh Ministers have complied with the SLM duty under section 2, as the Bill already makes appropriate provision for detailed reporting. The statement of SLM indicators and targets prepared under section 4 must set out the indicators that have been set to measure progress towards achieving the SLM objectives through the exercise of the functions to which the duty in section 2 applies, and targets in relation to those indicators. In addition, detailed reporting provisions have been included in the Bill, which require the Welsh Ministers to report on progress made towards achieving the SLM objectives, through the exercise of the functions to which the SLM duty in section 2 applies. These include specific requirements to report against the SLM indicators and targets, which is section 6.

In this way, the Bill makes appropriate provision already for detailed reporting as to the progress the Welsh Ministers are making towards achieving the SLM objectives, through the exercise of functions to which the SLM duty applies, including specific provision in connection with the indicators and targets that have been set under section 4.

Amendment 44 would advance the deadline for publishing and laying the statement of SLM indicators and targets from 31 December 2025 to no later than one month after section 4 comes into force. The development of the indicators and targets is extremely important and requires an appropriate evidence base.

There are also a number of reports and publications Welsh Ministers must have regard to in preparing or revising the indicators and targets. Welsh Ministers are also required to consult the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales and any other person they consider appropriate.

Section 4 will come into force two months after receiving Royal Assent. Completing, publishing and laying the statement within three months of Royal Assent is not achievable and risks establishing targets that are not the best fit for the agricultural sector or, indeed, Government priorities.

Amendment 6: the SLM report will include an assessment of progress against each of the SLM objectives and a separate productivity report is unnecessary, because aspects of food productivity, amongst other things, could be reported under the SLM objectives.  

Amendment 7: this amendment is linked to amendment 6, and, if we do not proceed with amendment 6, then amendment 7 would be unnecessary, and I've provided my assessment of amendment 6 and don't believe I need to repeat that now.

Amendment 45: five years is considered an appropriate reporting period to be able to realise and report on the outcomes. Five years is in line with the reporting period for the power to provide support impact report, section 13(6)(b), and information from the impact report will be integral to the SLM report, so their timing should remain aligned.

As I outlined in my response to this committee's recommendation 14, the first SLM reporting period is due in 2025 and in five-yearly increments after that. The next general election is currently scheduled for 2026, which would mean that the state of natural resources report, the future trends report and the first SLM report are all due at similar times. I therefore ask that Members do not agree amendment 58 in the name of Luke Fletcher and amendments 44, 6, 7 and 45 in the name of Sam Kurtz. Diolch.

Thank you, Minister. Luke Fletcher to reply to the debate.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Of course, we were hoping that the Government would support these amendments. The amendments only seek to improve the Senedd's ability to scrutinise the Bill. It's important that we are able to measure the successes and failures of any policy to see if we're hitting the targets and objectives and measured impacts of policy, so that we are able to react accordingly. On amendment 6, relating to food productivity, the key word the Minister used there was 'could', where we believe that there should be a requirement on Government to report back to the Senedd.

So, the question is that amendment 58 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] I can see that there's an objection, so we'll move to the vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20.

Gwelliant 58: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 58: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 44 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 44 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 44 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll proceed to the vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. 

10:00

Gwelliant 44: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 44: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 6 (Samuel Kurtz, gyda chefnogaeth Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 6 (Samuel Kurtz, supported by Luke Fletcher) moved.

The question is that amendment 6 be agreed. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll move to the vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against please raise your hands. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. 

Gwelliant 6: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 6: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 7 (Samuel Kurtz, gyda chefnogaeth Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 7 (Samuel Kurtz, supported by Luke Fletcher) moved.

The question is that amendment 7 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll proceed to the vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. 

Gwelliant 7: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 7: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 45 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 45 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 45 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll proceed to the vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 45 is not agreed. 

Gwelliant 45: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 45: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 4: Safonau Gofynnol Cenedlaethol (Gwelliant 46)
Group 4: National Minimum Standards (Amendment 46)

We'll move now to the fourth group of amendments, which relates to national minimum standards. The lead amendment and the only amendment in this group is amendment 46. I call on Sam Kurtz to move and speak to that amendment. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 46 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 46 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

Thank you very much, Chair. This is a probing amendment. As per the committee's report, there was a high level of expectation among stakeholders that national minimum standards should be brought forward in unison with any proposed agricultural support scheme, a view that was reflected within recommendation 4 of the ETRA report. In response to this, it was outlined that the Minister's officials are exploring whether new primary or secondary legislation powers are required to (a) stabilise existing regulatory baseline and its regulations; (b) provide a necessary mechanism to consolidate existing regulations that seek to consolidate NMS under a single statute or regulation; or (c) provide Welsh Ministers with the authority to create new regulations that appropriately regulate the agricultural environment under domestic legislative competence. In lieu of any written update on these three lines of inquiry, I would be grateful for an update from the Minister this morning. Diolch, Chair. 

Do any other Members wish to speak in this group? No. I'll ask the Minister. 

Thank you, Chair. My response to recommendation 4 of this committee’s Stage 1 report did provide further clarity on the policy intent around national minimum standards. I think it's good to remember—and this is very particular—that NMS already exist in law. They provide for the minimum threshold that every person is required to comply with, and the criminal offences associated with any contravention of the relevant NMS.

Cross-compliance provides for the administrative monetary penalty scheme that applies to recipients of the basic payment scheme, and will be considered as part of the design of the sustainable farming scheme. As already stated, officials are exploring whether new primary and secondary legislation powers are required to confirm the existing regulatory baseline and its regulations; or provide a mechanism to create new NMS, and consolidate the existing regulations comprising NMS under a single statute and regulation.

Any future legislation that may deal with NMS or civil sanctions will have to consider a range of matters, and that now includes the UK Government's Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. I therefore ask Members not to agree amendment 46 in the name of Sam Kurtz.

Thank you very much, Chair. I'm grateful to the Minister for further explanation as to NMS. I'm happy to withdraw the amendment. 

Given that the Member has asked to withdraw, can I ask if there are any Members who object to the withdrawal of the amendment? I can see that there aren't any objections, so the amendment is withdrawn. 

Tynnwyd gwelliant 46 yn ôl gyda chaniatâd y pwyllgor.

Amendment 46 withdrawn by leave of the committee.

Grŵp 5: Darparu cymorth i ffermwyr (Gwelliannau 8, 9, 30A, 30, 10, 11, 12, 13, 47)
Group 5: Provision of support for farmers (Amendments 8, 9, 30A, 30, 10, 11, 12, 13, 47)

We'll move on, then, to group 5, provision of support for farmers. The lead amendment in this group is amendment 8. I call on Sam Kurtz to move and speak to the lead amendment and the other amendments that are in the group. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 8 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 8 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

Thank you very much, Chair. Group 3 is on sustainable land management reporting. On this occasion, I'd like to speak to amendments 44, 6, 7 and 45. Amendment 44 places—. Am I on the wrong page? Group 5, I beg your pardon. Sorry, Chair, I've got too many pages in front of me. Thank you, Chair. Moving forward to group 5, I wish to speak to amendments 8, 9, 30A, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 47, tabled in my name, and amendment 30, tabled in the name of Lesley Griffiths.

To begin with, amendment 8 has been tabled in order to ensure that the Welsh Ministers’ power to provide support encompasses all purposes set out within section 8(2). The change in language has been chosen in order to enshrine each of these purposes within the statute book rather than exclude one in favour of another. However, in recognising that circumstances change and it is often the case that aims, objectives and purposes shift, it’s my intention that this amendment ensures that the list set out within section 2 remains inclusive rather than exclusive, in return permitting Welsh Ministers to react to a change in circumstances.

Amendment 9 to section 8(2)(a) has been sought to ensure that food production is considered within the context of socioeconomic needs, cultural demands of communities and populations, and environmentally sustainable methods of production. Given our intention to remove any potential hierarchical status, this amendment seeks to supplement this change within section 8(2) and ensure that collective efforts to produce food are done in a recognised, sustainable manner that ensures we’re addressing all potential challenges, not just those that are environmental.

Prior to introducing amendment 30A, I do wish to briefly touch upon amendment 30, tabled in the name of Lesley Griffiths and in co-operation with Plaid Cymru, the contents of which are entirely agreeable. Having discussed this amendment with the industry, I'm pleased to see that a significant focus has been placed on strengthening the resilience of agricultural businesses. However, as per amendment 30A, there is scope to take this change further. Amendment 30A has been proposed in order to strengthen the economic resilience of agricultural businesses and ensure that this primary objective is not being displaced by the resilience of other suggested quantities. It's my view that this amendment removes any ambiguity and provides an explicit value to the economic viability of agricultural businesses.

Amendment 10 has been drafted in order to provide specific and dedicated support for all new entrants and those choosing to return to the industry. Indeed, this was very much a call that was reflected throughout Stage 1 evidence gathering. Several key industry stakeholders felt the Bill lacked concrete provision and support for new entrants, and so this targeted approach ensures that support can be given whilst not shutting the door on those already within the industry. Amendment 11 takes this a step further—however, it does so with much narrower scope, providing explicit support for new entrants by naming them in a way that places a sole purpose on enticing new entrants into the industry through the utilisation of tailored, specific packages of support that seek to encompass every aspect of agricultural activity as defined later in the Bill.

Moving towards amendment 12, our intention here is to remove the phrase ‘maximising’ and instead replace it with the phrase ‘optimising’. Our reason for doing this is due to the recognised definition of ‘maximising’. Rather than instructing the active farmer to maximise carbon sequestration and storage, possibly at the detriment of other critical objectives within the sustainable land management, we should instead be encouraging the industry to optimise what already currently exists to improve the efficiency of the carbon retrieval process. Given these concerns, I’m of the opinion that a change in language permits the active farmer to continue capturing carbon, but to do so in a non-exploitative manner that doesn’t risk the degradation of any other objective.

On the topic of environmentally sustainable aims, another necessary amendment to this section is amendment 13, recognising farm diversification within the context of renewable energy and renewable technology, and providing the industry with a provision to pursue this activity while also sustaining a number of other purposes. As a committee, we’ve been out on farms and seen first-hand the vast amount of opportunity available to farmers, be that farming in a traditional sense or indeed diversified pursuits such as green energy generation. By including this amendment within section 8(2) we can ensure that, like with carbon sequestration, the agricultural industry is actively encouraged to assist in our efforts to combat climate change. I draw Members’ attention to a farm that has diversified with the introduction of solar panels on their dairy parlour so that they are able to use green electricity to power their bulk milk cooler—an example that can be replicated across the board in Wales.

And lastly, Chair—and I thank you for your patience—I wish to draw Members’ attention to amendment 47, tabled under my name. The inclusion of this change within the Bill is an important one insofar that it seeks to ensure that it is only the farmer that can benefit from its contents. What we don’t want is a situation where multinational corporations or other bodies who are in possession of Welsh agricultural land have access to or are in receipt of public money, money that I’m sure we can all appreciate should be targeted to the agricultural community. Thank you, Chair.

10:05

Diolch, Gadeirydd. We’ll be supporting the amendments tabled by Sam Kurtz and Lesley Griffiths. I’ll speak specifically to amendment 9. This amendment seeks to cement economic, social and cultural benefits in the Bill in relation to support provision, as opposed to just environmental benefits. Economic, cultural and social sustainability are just as important as environmental sustainability for Welsh farmers, for reasons of economic, cultural and social sustainability.

10:10

Thank you, Luke. Are there any other Members of the committee who wish to speak? No. Minister, can I call on you to speak?

Thank you, Chair. The amendments in this group concern proposed changes to the power to provide support under sections 8 and 9. I'll respond to each amendment in turn. I'm pleased to introduce amendment 30, which is tabled in my name.

Amendment 8: section 8(2) has been drafted using the words 'may, in particular, include', so the list of purposes that follows is non-exhaustive. The amendment introduces ambiguity to the section, which we wish to avoid. For example, without the words 'may, in particular, include', it could be interpreted that if the Welsh Ministers decide to exercise the power in section 8(1), i.e. decide to provide support, they will be obliged to provide support for all of the matters listed, and this can also include other things that can also be supported, as the list is non-exhaustive. That's an interpretation that we need to avoid.

Amendment 9: purpose 8(2)(a) in the Bill,

'encouraging the production of food in an environmentally sustainable manner',

was drafted following discussions between myself and Plaid Cymru prior to the Bill being introduced. I am tabling three additional purposes that capture the economic, social and cultural elements of resilience and sustainability. I am content with the purpose as drafted, which reflects that agreement.

Amendment 30A is an amendment to our Government amendment 30. The purpose already provides for 'economic' resilience, using the broader term of 'resilience'. It is my view that 'resilience' includes all forms of resilience—that's economic, social, cultural, et cetera—and that to qualify 'resilience' with the word 'economic' would arguably narrow 'resilience' to only being rather economic resilience, thereby excluding social, cultural and other aspects of resilience. We've intentionally used the broad term of 'resilience', which includes other aspects of resilience as well as economic resilience. This will allow a broader range of support options to be available for Welsh Ministers. The inclusion and limiting effect of 'economic' resilience may result in other factors of resilience not being supported, or given less weight—for example, actions in support of farmers' well-being or health and safety not being supported under this purpose. I don't wish to limit support in this way.

My amendment: as Members will be aware from the written statement I published on 3 February, I am pleased to introduce three additional purposes to the power to provide support, which is section 8 of the Bill. They are to be inserted within sub-section (2), following the first purpose of encouraging the production of food in an environmentally sustainable manner:

'(b) helping rural communities to thrive and strengthening links between agricultural businesses and their communities;

'(c) improving the resilience of agricultural businesses;

'(d) sustaining the Welsh language and promoting and facilitating its use'.

The amendment supports the resilience of agricultural business through enabling an effective, efficient, sustainable and, therefore, profitable production base and supply chain that links back to the farmer. Supporting farmers with their own well-being, engagement with their communities, sustaining and promoting the Welsh language and businesses' diversification are all aspects that are key to keeping farmers on their land and moving towards a net-zero future. I therefore urge the committee to support this amendment and important additional support purposes.

Amendment 10 seeks to introduce a new purpose that is already covered by section 8. The existing purposes provide Welsh Ministers with the power to provide support for a wide range of agriculture activities, whether they be new or existing. The existing purposes are not limited to only existing agricultural businesses. This amendment is unnecessary and therefore I will not be supporting it.

Amendment 11. The proposed Government amendments, together with the existing purposes, are able to provide support to new entrants. For example, the proposed purpose

'improving the resilience of agricultural businesses'

may include succession planning and supporting new entrants and is not limited to existing agricultural businesses. To provide reassurance to committee members and stakeholders, we will update the explanatory notes with specific references to the opportunity this purpose provides to support new entrants and positive actions such as succession planning. As with amendment 10, the existing purposes are not limited to only existing agricultural businesses. They're available for all types of agricultural businesses and all farmers, whether they be new or very experienced. So, the amendment is unnecessary and therefore I will not be supporting.

Amendment 12: to replace the term 'maximising' with the word 'optimising' implies there is a limitation to achieving something, so in this example, limiting our response to the climate change emergency. I would like to ensure this is not the message in the Bill and to maintain the current word choice of 'maximising' for this reason. Furthermore, replacing 'maximising' with 'optimising' may result in ambiguity when determining whether the purpose has been achieved. The purposes are ongoing and the actions taken in support of the purposes will measure the extent to which support has contributed towards achieving the purpose. I therefore do not support this amendment.

Amendment 13: the wording proposed in amendment 13 does not reflect the intended policy intent behind the purpose 'maximising resource efficiency'. 'Maximising resource efficiency' is to take a circular approach by keeping resources and materials in use for as long as possible and avoiding all waste, i.e. to reuse and mend existing resources and materials to extend, where appropriate, the lifespan of the resource or materials in favour of buying new. This is the intent behind a circular economy. The use of renewable energy and renewable technologies is, however, already captured under existing purposes. So, for example, a farmer using renewable energy as a means in which to reduce any GHG emissions from their farm may meet the purpose at 8(2)(b), 'reducing emissions of greenhouse gases'. I therefore do not support this amendment.

Amendment 47: any person or business that receives support has to be undertaking an activity as per the definition in section 8, 'for or in connection with agriculture and ancillary activities'. The core concept of the Bill and providing support sits with the definition of agriculture and ancillary activities. This amendment risks narrowing down the support Ministers may want to provide, especially in relation to those beneficiaries whose actions are undertaken in the best interests of the agriculture sector but are not themselves farmers, for example veterinary surgeons. I do not wish to limit support in this way. The amendment also adds new terms that are not currently used in the Bill and could cause ambiguity. I therefore ask that Members agree my amendment 30, and do not agree amendments 8, 9, 30A, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 47 in the name of Sam Kurtz. Diolch.

10:15

Thank you very much, Chair. Speaking to amendment 8 first of all, I disagree with the Minister's assessment on this. I believe the change the amendment includes—but is not limited to—provides a non-exhaustive list for the Minister or future Ministers to be able to provide support therefore unto.

In terms of amendment 30A to the amendment 30 of the Minister, I think ensuring the economic viability of farms allows them to therefore then be in a position to deliver on our environmental objectives, therefore, and I think that's imperative. If we don't have economically viable farms, then we aren't going to be having farms that are able to subscribe to sustainable farming schemes and deliver the objectives that we're looking to achieve under this agriculture Bill.

Moving to amendments 10 and 11, the purpose of these were to remove the ambiguity in terms of the support for new entrants. I am pleased that the Minister notes that the explanatory notes are going to be expanded to include a specific reference to new entrants. I am pleased, but I would have rather seen something concrete within the agriculture Bill itself.

Moving to amendment 12, section 8, leaving out 'maximising' and inserting 'optimising', I take the Minister's points on board, but if we're looking at using the data in terms of 'maximising', currently, from an FOI request, the Minister will remember me raising this, the Welsh Government currently doesn't hold the data on the amount of carbon sequestered in Welsh agricultural land, so therefore, if we're trying to maximise something that we already don't know our baseline of, I think that leaves us in a somewhat perilous position.

Amendment 13 on efficiency, including the use of renewable energies and renewable technologies. I believe this is a specific link towards these ever-important technologies because of our desire to become more self-sufficient and reach our net-zero targets. I think on one hand, the Minister talks about our environmental desires within this; without a specific note to renewable energy and renewable technologies, I think this is insufficient.

And then in terms of amendment 47, I'm disappointed that this is the case. I think it's imperative that support is delivered to those who will be enacting the sustainable farming scheme and the sustainable land management objectives. Thank you, Chair.

10:20

The question is that amendment 8 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there is an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there is a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. Amendment 8 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 8: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 8: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 9 (Samuel Kurtz, gyda chefnogaeth Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 9 (Samuel Kurtz, supported by Luke Fletcher) moved.

The question is that amendment 9 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there is an objection, we will proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. Those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20.

Gwelliant 9: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 9: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Before we dispose of amendment 30, we need to dispose of the amendment to that amendment. So, Sam Kurtz, amendment 30A.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 30A (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 30A (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 30A be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there is an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there is a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 30A is not agreed.

Gwelliant 30A: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 30A: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Minister, do you want me to proceed to a vote on amendment 30?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 30 (Lesley Griffiths).

Amendment 30 (Lesley Griffiths) moved.

I move amendment 30 in the name of the Minister. The question is that amendment 30 be agreed to. Does any Member object? As there are no objections, amendment 30 is agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 10 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 10 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 10 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there is an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there is a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 10 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 10: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 10: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 11 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 11 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 11 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there is an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there is a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 11 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 11: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 11: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 12 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 12 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 12 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there is an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there is a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 12 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 12: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 12: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 13 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 13 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 13 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there is an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there is a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 13 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 13: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 13: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 47 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 47 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 47 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there is an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. So, those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. And therefore, amendment 47 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 47: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 47: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 6: Adennill symiau sy'n ddyledus (Gwelliannau 31, 33, 34)
Group 6: Recovery of amounts due (Amendments 31, 33, 34)

We move on now to group 6, which relates to the recovery of amounts due. The lead amendment in this group is amendment 31. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 31 (Lesley Griffiths).

Amendment 31 (Lesley Griffiths) moved.

I call on the Minister to speak to the lead amendment and the other amendments in the group. Minister.

Thank you, Chair. Amendments 31, 33 and 34, tabled in my name, are minor technical amendments and built upon existing provisions within the Bill, as it's currently drafted. In my response to recommendation 12 of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee on 7 March, I outlined that such an amendment would be brought forward. The nature of the amendments is twofold: firstly, the amendments are being tabled to ensure there is consistency in the drafting throughout the Bill; and secondly, the amendments enable for the recovery of any amounts due against monetary penalties, including security for payment by building upon the provisions contained in sections 11, 32 and 33. The amendments will strengthen these existing provisions and ensure the Bill is uniform throughout.

Are there any other Members who wish to speak in this group? As there aren't, it would be ridiculous of me to call on the Minister to respond to the debate. Do you wish to proceed to a vote, Minister?

I move amendment 31 in the name of the Minister. The question is that amendment 31 be agreed to. Does any Member object? As there are no objections, amendment 31 is agreed to in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

I'm going to, with everybody's permission, take a comfort break for five minutes, if everybody's happy with that. So, we'll suspend proceedings.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:24 a 10:29.

The meeting adjourned between 10:24 and 10:29.

10:25
Grŵp 7: Cynlluniau Cymorth Amlflwydd (Gwelliannau 14, 15)
Group 7: Multi-annual Support Plans (Amendments 14, 15)

Welcome back to today's meeting of the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee. We're currently considering Stage 2 of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill, and we're about to commence our consideration of amendments in relation to group 7, which relates to multi-annual support plans. The lead amendment in this group is amendment 14. I call on Sam Kurtz to move and speak to the lead amendment and the other amendments in the group. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 14 (Samuel Kurtz, gyda chefnogaeth Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 14 (Samuel Kurtz, supported by Luke Fletcher) moved.

Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. With your permission, I wish to move and speak to all amendments within this group tabled in my name. However, for clarity, Chair, I do wish to state that, should amendment 14 be chosen and successful, then amendment 15 will be withdrawn, and should amendment 14 not be successful, then amendment 15 will be pursued in its place. 

The inclusion of amendment 14, on multi-annual support plans, has been done in order to provide those in receipt of Government funding with the necessary ability to prepare for future eventualities. As the amendments state,

'The Welsh Ministers must...prepare a document...giving information about the expected use of the powers conferred on the Welsh Ministers by sections 8 and 9'.

That report will mainly feature, as a minimum, details of Welsh Ministers' strategic priorities for giving financial and other assistance during the plan period. As is often the case, the agricultural sector requires the ability to plan for the future. This amendment gives the active farmer the security of knowledge insofar as it ensures that the Welsh Government are transparent and unambiguous about their financial intent. Importantly, this also somewhat mirrors what currently exists within the proposed sustainable farming scheme, which requires farmers to submit to a five-year contract. Should the Welsh Government be asking farmers to sign up to a five-year financial commitment, then I believe that it's only right that the Government intends to follow suit. This commitment from Government to our agricultural sector has already been recognised within the Agriculture Act 2020, which features similar, if not exact, conditions. Given the recognised importance of this amendment, it would seem mistaken to not permit them the same financial securities that those in the English agricultural sector receive as well. 

The technicalities of amendment 15 slightly differ to those of amendment 14 insofar as they provide the Welsh Government with greater flexibility with regard to its implementation. Whilst the purpose remains the same, the framework for the amendment has largely been lifted from the statement of intent given to local authorities here in Wales in order to provide clarity on future funding arrangements. Given that this process already exists here on the Welsh statute book, it would seem misguided not to implement this within this legislation. Diolch, Gadeirydd.

10:30

Diolch, Cadeirydd. We will be supporting these amendments. Long-term funding security is crucial for Welsh farmers, as it provides stability and certainty for their business. Agriculture is a vital industry in Wales, contributing significantly to the economy and supporting rural communities. Without long-term funding security, Welsh farmers may struggle to plan and invest in their businesses, which could impact their ability to produce high-quality produce and meet the demands of consumers. One of the main sources of funding for Welsh farmers is and was the common agricultural policy of the European Union, which provides financial support to farmers and rural communities. However, with Brexit, the UK has left the EU and this has resulted in the end of CAP in its current form. As a result, Welsh farmers are now uncertain about the level of funding they'll be receiving in the future, which makes it difficult for them to plan and invest for the long term. Long-term funding security is particularly important for Welsh farmers as they face several challenges, such as unpredictable weather patterns, changing consumer demands and increasing costs of production. Without stable funding, farmers may be unable to adapt to these challenges and will struggle to remain competitive. 

And one final point, Chair: Welsh farmers often operate in remote and rural areas where other economic opportunities may be limited. This means that farming provides an important source of income and employment for local communities. Long-term funding security ensures that farmers can continue to provide these economic benefits to their communities as well as maintain the natural environment and cultural heritage of rural Wales. 

Are there any other members of the committee who wish to speak? No. I'll call on the Minister. 

Thank you, Chair. Amendment 14, as tabled by Sam Kurtz, introduces a new section, which places a duty on Welsh Ministers to prepare a multi-annual support plan. This would effectively replicate section 4 of the UK Agriculture Act 2020. I'm pleased to say I am developing an amendment that makes provision for a multi-annual support plan for the Bill for Stage 3, but the amendment would need to be adapted and appropriate for Wales, which the proposed amendment, as it stands, isn't. Welsh Ministers could use the SLM objectives as a basis for setting strategic priorities and the proposed uses—so, for example, which schemes will operate using the power to provide support in the plan period. As in the case of section 4 of the 2020 Agriculture Act, this would not specifically place a duty to publish financial assistance projections. A multi-annual financial projection is not possible given the constraints of the UK budget controls.

Paragraphs (2) of both amendments 14 and 15 are very similar and there are a number of other similar provisions within both amendments, such as strategic priorities and the Welsh Ministers’ intentions respectively for support being for a period of seven years. As there is commonality between the two amendments, I will consider them both when designing an appropriate set of clauses for Stage 3 of the Bill. I therefore ask that Members do not agree amendments 14 and 15, tabled in the name of Sam Kurtz.

10:35

Thank you very much, Chair. I'm very pleased to hear from the Minister that she's looking at bringing forward amendment for a multi-annual support plan. I'd be very grateful and offer my help to the Minister in the drafting of that, given its importance to the agricultural community, and, having spoken with Luke Fletcher, supporter of the amendments, I'm happy to withdraw these two amendments.

Does any Member object, then, to the withdrawal of amendment 14? Okay, so that amendment is withdrawn.

Tynnwyd gwelliant 14 yn ôl gyda chaniatâd y pwyllgor.

Amendment 14 withdrawn by leave of the committee.

Does any Member object to the withdrawal of amendment 15? No. In that case, amendment 15 is withdrawn.

Ni chynigwyd gwelliant 15 (Sam Kurtz).

Amendment 15 (Sam Kurtz) not moved.

Grŵp 8: Ymyrraeth mewn Marchnadoedd Amaethyddol – Costau mewnbwn (Gwelliannau 16, 17, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52)
Group 8: Intervention in Agricultural Markets – Input Costs (Amendments 16, 17, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52)

And we can move on to group 8, which is intervention in agricultural markets and input costs. The lead amendment in this group is amendment 16, so I call on Sam Kurtz to move and speak to the lead amendment and the other amendments in the group. Sam Kurtz.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 16 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 16 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. I wish to move all amendments in this grouping tabled under my name. Due to the nature of these amendments, I'll be discussing them as one, Chair, rather than individually. Amendments 16, 17, 48, 49, 50, 51 and 52 have been laid in order to support the agricultural industry should there be a significant change in input costs. The last 12 months couldn't be a more perfect example of why these changes are necessary. War in Ukraine has driven up the cost of the three Fs, as the Minister refers to them—food, fertiliser and fuel—and this has caused difficulties for our agricultural sector. Now, these amendments seek to ensure that should a situation like this occur again and our farmers are negatively impacted by market conditions on the input side, then there is support in place to ensure that the day-to-day production of food can continue. By supporting these amendments, we also seek to enhance our food security by safeguarding the agricultural industry from unprecedented events and changes, and therefore it's with this that I wish that Members support these amendments. Diolch, Cadeirydd.

Any other member of the committee wish to speak to this group of amendments? No. So, I will call on the Minister.

Thank you, Chair. So, the amendments in this group work in tandem to allow for high agricultural input costs to count as an express form of exceptional market conditions. It would allow financial support to be granted to farmers under section 21.

Input costs for agriculture are already considered by the UK agricultural market monitoring group, and that takes into account the range of pressures that affect the different agricultural sectors when they provide advice to Ministers.

Providing financial assistance for input costs could have an adverse impact on the UK internal market and our subsidy control obligations. This is a consequence I'm sure we will all want to avoid. So, I therefore ask that Members do not agree amendments 16, 17, 48, 49, 50, 51 and 52, tabled in the name of Sam Kurtz.

Thank you very much, Chair. The exceptional market conditions can also cause problems within the UK internal market Bill currently, due to the support for—. If there are exceptional market conditions at the sale of a product, what this seeks to do is to support those at the input side, mirroring exactly the same concerns that are there on the output side in terms of production and exceptional market conditions. This would just allow the agricultural industry some certainty as to understanding where support is available when exceptional fluctuations in input costs come, making food production unviable. We've seen already the production of some agricultural commodities reduced due to input costs. This would allow us to continue to produce food and ensure our food sovereignty and food security, so I'm disappointed that it won't be supported by the Minister.

So, the question is that amendment 16 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there is an objection, we will move to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there is a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 16 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 16: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 16: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 17 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 17 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 17 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there is an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there's a tied vote, I used my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 17 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 17: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 17: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 48 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 48 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 48 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll move to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 48 is not agreed. 

10:40

Gwelliant 48: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 48: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 49 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 49 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 49 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 49 is not agreed. 

Gwelliant 49: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 49: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 50 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 50 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 50 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll move to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 50 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 50: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 50: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 51 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 51 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 51 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll move to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 51 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 51: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 51: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 52 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 52 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

So, the question is that amendment 52 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll move to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands. And those against the amendment. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 52 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 52: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 52: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 9: Tenantiaethau Amaethyddol (Gwelliannau 53, 54, 55, 59)
Group 9: Agricultural Tenancies (Amendments 53, 54, 55, 59)

The ninth group of amendments relates to agricultural tenancies, and the lead amendment in this group is amendment 53. So, I call on Sam Kurtz to move and speak to the lead amendment and the other amendments in the group. Sam Kurtz. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 53 (Samuel Kurtz, gyda chefnogaeth Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 53 (Samuel Kurtz, supported by Luke Fletcher) moved.

Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. And I wish to speak to all amendments in this group—amendments 53, 54 and 55 tabled under my name, and amendment 59, tabled under the name of Luke Fletcher. Given its importance, I feel the need to clear up the more complex intricacies of the aspects of this Bill.

In relation to amendment 53, Members will be aware that clause 23 of the Bill provides a mechanism for tenants occupying under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 with the opportunity to object to their landlord's unreasonable refusal to allow the tenant access to Government support schemes. However, the circumstances in which this can arise are limited to two instances—(1) where the tenancy agreement provides that landlord consent is necessary, or (2) where a variation in the terms of the tenancy agreement is required. As a consequence of this, the opportunity to object does not arise in any other circumstances, including situations where it might be a requirement of the support scheme for landlord's consent to be obtained, despite the tenancy agreement not providing that consent, or a variation of that consent. Therefore, amendment 53 serves to act as a belt-and-braces provision to ensure that, in every circumstance, the landlord's consent is required, either arising from the terms of the tenancy or elsewhere, and the tenant, therefore, has the option to object to the landlord's unreasonable refusal to allow them to access the scheme. 

In addition to this, amendment 54 provides the ability for farm tenants letting under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 to have the ability to object to a landlord's refusal to enter into a specific financial assistance scheme, in the same way as farm tenants letting under the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1986. This amendment includes a time requirement of two months, designed to provide some clarity if there is a disputed or unresolved request, rather than just a submitted request. 

Moving to amendment 55, with this, I seek to align the rules of good husbandry with the sustainable land management objectives of the Bill, and, as I've stated, to prompt discussion to ascertain whether the Bill would make provision for good husbandry in the 1947 Act. 

And finally, I turn to the last amendment in the group, amendment 59. This seeks to bring the Agriculture (Wales) Bill in line with the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, and to amend the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995. I'm pleased to say I support this move. Diolch, Cadeirydd. 

Diolch, Cadeirydd. We'll be supporting the amendments tabled by Sam Kurtz, and I thank him for his support of our amendment. These amendments aim to close potential loopholes in the provisions of the Bill around the consent of the landlord where this is required not by tenancy agreement or legislation, but by the financial support scheme itself, or for the full and efficient forming of the holding for food and environmental purposes. These amendments also provide the ability for farm tenants letting under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 to have the ability to object to a landlord's refusal to enter into a specific financial assistance scheme in the same way as farm tenants letting under the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1986.

10:45

Thank you, Luke. Any other members of the committee who wish to speak in this group? No. So, I'll call on the Minister.

Thank you. Amendment 53: a policy proposal similar to this amendment was subject to a public consultation by the Welsh Government back in 2019, and, whilst many respondents were supportive of the general policy aim, some felt the proposal was too broad and should be limited to ensure fairness to both the tenant and the landlord. So, I'm of the view that the current drafting achieves the necessary balance. The broadening nature of this amendment could prove controversial with agricultural landlords, and risk undermining confidence in agricultural tenancy agreements. This could lead to landlords favouring short-term farm contracting agreements, which obviously provide less security than tenancy agreements, or farming in hand over agricultural tenancies. 

Amendment 54: most farmers with tenanted land do have positive relationships with their landlords, and we'd expect them to be able to obtain agreement on consents where needed. But, of course, I do accept that, for a small minority, this may not be the case. We want to do all we can to ensure all farmers have fair access to our future schemes, and we're very open to considering what might be done to address this. That said, the amendment as drafted goes much further than access to our future schemes, to any matter which may need the landlord's consent. Respondents to the consultation I referred to back in 2019 felt this did not balance the interests of landlords and tenants fairly. So, I ask that the amendment be withdrawn, with a view to this receiving further consideration at Stage 3.

Amendment 55: I do understand the issue the Member is seeking to address in bringing forward this amendment, to change the definition of 'good husbandry' for farms in Wales, but I don't believe the amendment is necessary. The existing definition sets 'efficient production' in the broader context, and is fully compatible with the concept of sustainable land management. The occupier is to maintain a reasonable standard of efficient production. This standard is set having regard to a wide range of factors, reflecting that no two units are likely to be exactly the same. Crucially, the definition is clear—efficient production should not be prioritised above all else. In particular, it draws explicit attention to the need to keep the unit in a condition to enable such a standard to be maintained in the future. The definition of 'good husbandry', therefore, whilst perhaps introduced in a different time and circumstances, has stood the test of time, and I believe it continues to do so.

I have committed to give further consideration to the issues amendment 54 seeks to address around dispute resolution. I believe addressing those issues would give tenants a means to challenge their landlords over such matters should this be necessary, removing the need for this amendment.

Amendment 59: the amendment would be to enable a much wider pool of close relatives to apply to succeed to an agricultural holdings Act tenancy agreement on the retirement of the tenant than is currently provided for. This was also consulted upon back in 2019, where we found responses were very mixed, with tenants broadly in favour and landlords broadly against. Significant concerns were raised about extending occupation of the holding for many years beyond the term the landlord originally expected. By extending the term of the tenancy agreement, potentially for another generation in relation to grandchildren, they could be viewed as an unfair infringement of landlords' property rights. Some respondents suggested many tenancies already change hands by voluntary negotiation between landlords and tenants, and this would seem more conducive to constructive, long-term working relationships, rather than retrospectively changing the terms of existing agreements. I therefore ask that Members do not agree amendments 53, 54 or 55, tabled by Samuel Kurtz, or amendment 59, as tabled by Luke Fletcher.

Thank you very much, Chair. Very grateful for the Minister's further explanation there, especially with relation to the consultation of 2019. In speaking to amendments 53 and 54, I think it is important that we look to close any potential loopholes there for tenancies, and, given that the tenancy working group is currently running concurrently to Stage 2 of this process and what may be reported from that, I think it is right that the Minister suggests that 54 is withdrawn so that further consideration can be given at Stage 3 for that. My big concern is, if we're not able to get tenanted farmers to sign up to the sustainable farming scheme, then we're not going to have them delivering on our sustainable land management objectives, therefore we're not going to be achieving what the agriculture Bill is setting out to achieve.

In terms of good husbandry, amendment 55, I take on board the Minister's points on this. I would say that the 'good husbandry' definition has existed and worked well under our membership of the European Union and a common agricultural policy style of farming. Given that the agriculture Bill, as laid, is a drastic change away from the common agricultural policy, I think it's right that good husbandry is looked at again. The example I use is, under good husbandry rules post world war two, where food production was absolutely paramount, above and beyond everything else, the example around hedgerows, where hedgerows were pushed back to increase field capacity for production, I think doesn't now fit within what we're trying to achieve within the sustainable land management. So, I would ask that 55, in terms of good husbandry, is looked at within the scope of the agriculture Bill and sustainable land management, rather than its usefulness throughout the common agricultural policy. And that would be it, Chair.

10:50

Thank you very much. So, the question is that amendment 53 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll put the matter to a vote. So, those in favour, please raise your hands, and those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 53 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 53: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 53: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Does any Member object to the withdrawal of amendment 54? I can see that there are no objections. 

Ni chynigiwyd gwelliant 54 (Samuel Kurtz, gyda chefnogaeth Luke Fletcher). 

Amendment 54 (Samuel Kurtz, supported by Luke Fletcher) not moved.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 55 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 55 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

So, the question is that amendment 55 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands, and those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 55 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 55: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 55: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 59 (Luke Fletcher).

Amendment 59 (Luke Fletcher) moved.

So, the question is that amendment 59 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] As there's an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands, and those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 59 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 59: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 59: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Grŵp 10: Casglu Data (Gwelliannau 18, 32, 19)
Group 10: Collection of Data (Amendments 18, 32, 19)

That brings us on to group 10. The tenth group of amendments relates to the collection of data, and the lead amendment in this group is amendment 18. So, I call on Sam Kurtz to move and speak to the lead amendment and the other amendments in this group. Sam Kurtz.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 18 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 18 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. I wish to move all amendments in group 10, collection of data, and speak to amendments 18 and 19, tabled in my name, and amendment 32, tabled in the name of Lesley Griffiths. Rather than speak to all amendments separately, I will speak to them as a whole insofar as all three changes are set to secure the collection and transfer of data. Throughout Stage 1, committee members still had some concerns regarding Welsh Government's understanding of the magnitude of the responsibility and risk of putting such data collection and sharing provision in the Bill, and it would be remiss of me not to thank Sarah Murphy for her diligent and committed pursuit of these concerns throughout Stage 1. As such, what I seek to do with amendments 18 and 19 is issue a statement of the obvious, and ensure that data protection legislation is recognised within the framework of this Bill. I note in response to recommendation 23 of the committee report that the Minister outlined her intention in regard to data collection, a move that was, of course, welcome. These amendments are to act as a supplement to this intention, to reconfirm the Government's intention on the collection and sharing of data, and, in reference to amendment 32, tabled in the name of the Minister, I note that this is only a minor technical amendment, with the purpose and effect of achieving consistency in drafting throughout this Bill, so it will be supported. Diolch, Cadeirydd. 

Does any member of the committee wish to speak? Yes, Sarah Murphy.

Thank you very much, Chair, and thank you, Sam, I really do appreciate you raising the points that I highlighted throughout and that I talked to many stakeholders about as well. Having had a chat now myself with the Minister and other stakeholders as well, I do feel that, at the moment, it's not something that needs to be in the Bill, purely because it has been highlighted through the legal team, really, that, in the same way, the Bill is for Wales and we do not need to legislate in the same way as the UK Government does at the moment. However, like I said, I really appreciate you raising it. I think that if the UK Government does start to change the general data protection regulation that we have that does cover Wales, then I think that we would need to revisit this, and I would so robustly. Thank you.

Do any other members of the committee wish to speak? No. Thank you, Sarah. So, Lesley Griffiths, Minister, would you like to speak to the group of amendments?

Thank you, Chair. So, amendment 18 seeks to prevent Welsh Ministers from selling data imposed by the requirements under Part 3, chapter 1, collection and sharing of data, of the Bill. I wrote to this committee on 21 October as a result of the questions raised during the committee session on 5 October, and I hope, in my letter, I did provide a detailed explanation to ease concern on the sale of data, safeguards in relation to this provision, consent to data collection and other related matters, points which were repeated in the recent response to recommendation 30 of the Legislative, Justice and Constitution Committee report.

The data collection and sharing provisions within the Bill are very detailed and include several limitations and safeguards relating to the purposes for which data can be collected and how the data is to be processed. Ultimately, our policy position remains the same. It continues to be both the policy and wider Welsh Government intent to not sell data on to third parties.

The Government amendment in my name is a minor technical amendment to the enforcement of information requirement provision with the purpose and effect of achieving consistency in drafting throughout the Bill. In my written response to the LJC report, I did inform the committee I will be bringing forward an amendment to section 31 of the same nature and wording as at sections 11, 32 and 33 of the Bill in order to achieve uniformity.

Amendment 19 is to add a new section to explicitly reference data protection legislation and appears to be a replica of Schedule 5, 'Provision relating to Wales', Part 5, section 19 of the UK Agriculture Act 2020. The data sharing provisions in this Bill need to comply with overarching data protection legislation, therefore, that protection still exists without the need to directly legislate for this purpose using provisions within the Agriculture (Wales) Bill. It is also not considered necessary for an equivalent provision to paragraph 19 of Schedule 5 to be incorporated in the Agriculture (Wales) Bill, as it fails to add anything substantively to the data-sharing provisions. This is a Bill for Wales and therefore we don't need to legislate in the same way as the UK Government. So, whilst I'm asking committee to not agree to all the non-Government amendments in this group, I can confirm the efficient and successful operation of the data collection and sharing provisions is very important to the Welsh Government. As a result, I will be bringing forward amendments at Stage 3, which will place a one-off statutory duty on the Welsh Ministers to review the Bill's data collection and sharing provision after its first five years in operation. The review will be able to consider in detail the operation of the data collection and sharing regime that's created by the Bill.

So, I therefore ask that Members agree my amendment 32 and do not agree amendments 18 and 19, tabled in the name of Sam Kurtz.

10:55

Thank you, Minister. Sam Kurtz to reply to the debate.

Thank you very much, Chair. In reference to the Minister's final point, on a Stage 3 amendment on this, that would be most welcome. I would only ask that that is replicated every five years, not just the first five years, so that it's continuous throughout this, given the concerns that were raised. I can see Sarah Murphy nodding along to that, and I know Sarah's work on this was absolutely diligent throughout this, and I'm grateful for her contribution in this point as well, because that provides clarity as to the focus of this specific point. So, it was remiss of me not to say, at the beginning, that they were probing amendments, just to tease from the Government a little bit of further clarification, which the Minister has given. Thank you, Chair.

So, the question is that amendment 18 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Given that there's an objection, we'll proceed to a vote. Those in favour please raise your hands, and those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 18 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 18: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 18: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Minister, do you want me to proceed to a vote on amendment 32?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 32 (Lesley Griffiths).

Amendment 32 (Lesley Griffiths) moved.

So, I move amendment 32 in the name of the Minister. The question is that amendment 32 be agreed to. Does any Member object? I can't see an objection, so amendment 32 is agreed to in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 19 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 19 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

The question is that amendment 19 be agreed to. Does any Member object? [Objection.] I can see that there's an objection, so we'll move to a vote. Those in favour, please raise your hands, and those against. As there's a tied vote, I use my casting vote in the negative, that is, against the amendment, in accordance with Standing Order 6.20. So, amendment 19 is not agreed.

Gwelliant 19: O blaid: 3, Yn erbyn: 3, Ymatal: 0

Gan fod nifer y pleidleisiau yn gyfartal, defnyddiodd y Cadeirydd ei bleidlais fwrw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 6.20(ii).

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant

Amendment 19: For: 3, Against: 3, Abstain: 0

As there was an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote in accordance with Standing Order 6.20(ii).

Amendment has been rejected

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 33 (Lesley Griffiths).

Amendment 33 (Lesley Griffiths) moved.

So, I move amendment 33 in the name of the Minister, and the question is that amendment 33 be agreed to. Does any Member object? There are no objections, so amendment 33 is agreed to in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Minister, would you like me to proceed to a vote on amendment 34?

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 34 (Lesley Griffiths).

Amendment 34 (Lesley Griffiths) moved.

I move amendment 34 in the name of the Minister. The question is that amendment 34 be agreed to. Does any Member object? I can't see any objections, so amendment 34 is agreed to in accordance with Standing Order 17.34. 

11:00

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.34.

Amendment agreed in accordance with Standing Order 17.34.

Grŵp 11: Coedwigaeth (Gwelliannau 20, 21)
Group 11: Forestry (Amendments 20, 21)

We now move on to group 11, and the eleventh group of amendments relates to forestry. The lead amendment in this group is amendment 20, so I call on Sam Kurtz to move and speak to the lead amendment and the other amendment in this group. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 20 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 20 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

Thank you once again, Chair, and I wish to move and speak to all amendments in this group, all of which are tabled in my name. For clarity, I do wish to confirm that these amendments have been submitted as probing amendments to generate discussion around the issue of felling licences issued by NRW to NRW, an issue that I raised at Stage 1 committee. 

Amendment 21 directly relates to this concern. The current provision permits NRW, the body responsible for issuing, to provide itself with licences for felling on NRW-owned land. Now, this doesn't sit that comfortably with me. Indeed, there are very few sectors where this programme would be permissible and acceptable, so it's with that understanding I wish to ask the Minister her views on the situation a little bit further, given that she gave evidence on this at Stage 1, for a better understanding as to why it is believed that NRW marking its own homework, so to speak, is an acceptable form of governance. 

Moving forward to amendment 20, this suggested change relates directly to the issues discussed with amendment 21. Instead of NRW being responsible for situations where felling on NRW land is necessary, this amendment looks at expediting the decision-making process to a separate and detached body, or individual, in order to ensure that there are sufficient checks and balances in place when a conflict of interest, such as the one I've described, appears. Given the complexities of this issue, I'd be interested to understand more from the Minister as to her rationale around scenarios such as this, where NRW issues a felling licence to NRW for the felling of trees on NRW land. Thank you, Chair. 

Does any other Member wish to contribute to this debate? Any other member of the committee? No. So, I'll invite the Minister to speak. 

Thank you. Amendment 20 would amend a fundamental part of the Forestry Act 1967 by requiring Ministers to appoint a separate body or person to regulate Natural Resources Wales's use of felling licences on the Welsh Government woodland estate. I think it's important to note that, under the Forestry Act 1967, the Welsh Government woodland estate is exempt from the requirement for a felling licence. Nevertheless, NRW go through the felling licence application process with their forest resource plans to ensure their management meets the UK forestry standard. These plans cover the entire Welsh Government woodland estate and are developed with stakeholders. 

Any conflict of interest is managed through the functional separation of the regulatory and operational functions within NRW’s structure. NRW carry out their roles transparently, and all of their forest resource plans are publicly available online. The fundamental change to the Forestry Act 1967, as proposed by the amendment, is unnecessary and outside the scope of the forestry provisions within the Bill, as introduced. Therefore, I cannot accept this amendment.

Amendment 21 seeks to add provision for undertaking a post-implementation review of the operation of the provisions to be inserted in the 1967 Act, and publishing the conclusions within three years. In response to recommendation 39 of the Legislative, Justice and Constitution Committee, I highlighted that we have already made the commitment to conduct a post-implementation review of the legislation within three years of commencement of amendments to the Forestry Act 1967, and this is also set out in the explanatory memorandum. Undertaking a post-implementation review is a normal part of introducing primary legislation and does not need to be on the face of the Bill. So, therefore, I cannot accept this recommendation, and I ask that Members do not agree amendments 20 and 21, tabled in the name of Sam Kurtz.

Thank you very much, Chair, and thank you very much, Minister, for the further explanation as to probing amendments 20 and 21. I'm content with the rationale that the Minister has provided as to NRW's format in terms of licensing, so I'm very content to withdraw both amendments, Chair. 

So, the question is: does any Member object to the withdrawal of amendment 20? I can see that there are no objections, so amendment 20 is withdrawn. 

Tynnwyd gwelliant 20 yn ôl gyda chaniatâd y pwyllgor.

Amendment 20 withdrawn by leave of the committee.

Does any Member object to the withdrawal of amendment 21? I can see that there are no objections, so that amendment is withdrawn. 

Ni chynigiwyd gwelliant 21 (Samuel Kurtz). 

Amendment 21 (Samuel Kurtz) not moved.

Grŵp 12: Bywyd gwyllt – defnyddio maglau (Gwelliannau 23, 24, 25, 22)
Group 12: Wildlife – use of snares (Amendments 23, 24, 25, 22)

We'll move on, then, to the twelfth group of amendments, which relates to wildlife and the use of snares, and the lead amendment in this group is amendment 23. So, I call on Sam Kurtz to move and speak to the lead amendment and the other amendments in the group. Sam Kurtz. 

Cynigiwyd gwelliant 23 (Samuel Kurtz).

Amendment 23 (Samuel Kurtz) moved.

Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd, and I'd like to move and speak to all amendments within this group, and, rather than speak to each one individually, I will seek to provide an overview of the entire grouping, as all four amendments have been proposed for the same purpose, and to deliver the same biodiversity intention. 

During the Stage 1 evidence session, the committee heard from several organisations, all of whom have interests within this specific policy area. Now, given this, I think it's important that we be entirely explicit about what these amendments serve, and what they seek to do, and how they will be implemented. What is sought here is to severely and tightly regulate the use and purchase of code-compliant humane cable restraints within an extremely tightened scope, one that will only see human cable restraints used in areas of conservation of a specific species alone. Indeed, I think we all recognise that the unregulated system currently permits the use of dangerous and outdated non-code-compliant snares—a system that undoubtedly risks jeopardising animal health in a way that is contrary to what we all seek to achieve, especially in this amendment. During the Stage 1 evidence session, we heard first hand from the industry about the value of deploying humane cable restraints, especially within the context of successful predator control in the restoration of ground-nesting birds as a specific species. It is a system that works, and it's one that has proven to be successful. The Welsh Government have accepted that there is a need for these code-compliant humane cable restraints previously, and in lieu of developing a best practice for them, we really need to be explicit that this isn't allowing the ancient and unregulated snares to be currently used; this is to really offer a tight-knit regulated system in which code-compliant humane cable restraints are used solely for the restoration of species that would undoubtedly be under threat by predation. And it's with that that I urge Members to consider the wider ramifications that such a wholesale ban of humane cable restraints would have, and I'd hate to be here in 10 years' time saying, 'We told you so', when these ground-nesting birds' numbers are completely depleted. Thank you, Chair. 

11:05

Does any other Member wish to contribute? Any other member of the committee? No. Therefore, I'll call on the Minister.