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Pwyllgor Materion Cyfansoddiadol a Deddfwriaethol

Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee

26/02/2018

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Dai Lloyd AM
David Melding AM
Mandy Jones AM
Mick Antoniw AM Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Alys Thomas Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Gareth Howells Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
P Gareth Williams Clerc
Clerk
Ruth Hatton Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Tanwen Summers Ail Glerc
Second Clerk

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

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

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 14:30.

The meeting began at 14:30.

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

Welcome to the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee of 26 February 2018. I'll deal with item 1: there are no apologies and I don't think there are any declarations of interest. If there are none, just a few handling arrangements:  there's no anticipated pilot fire alarm, the normal housekeeping rules apply with regard to translation and facilities, and phones, of course, are to be switched to silent.

2. Offerynnau nad ydynt yn cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 na 21.3
2. Instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3

I move on to item 2: instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. Two negative resolution instruments—the Non-Domestic Rating (Demand Notices) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 and the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2018—for noting, and an affirmative resolution instrument: the Children (Secure Accommodation) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2018. Are there any comments on those? 

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

We move on to item 3: instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Assembly under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. Under the negative resolution instruments, there are the Care and Support (Charging) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2018. You have before you the regulations, explanatory memorandum and a report. These regulations amend the Care and Support (Charging) (Wales) Regulations 2015, which set out the requirements that local authorities must follow when making a determination of the amount of the charges that apply in relation to care and support that they are providing or arranging to propose to provide or arrange in the course of carrying out their functions under Part 4 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. Are there some lawyers' comments on that?

Diolch. These regulations change a few elements of the social care charging regime in Wales. The one that's had most attention is the change in the capital limit, which determines whether or not you pay the full cost of residential care. The capital limit was £24,000, it was then raised to £30,000. These regulations raise it to £40,000, and they'll be raised to £50,000 before the end of the Assembly term.

Well, it's significant, obviously, and it's the sort of thing to mark up because there will be people interested and obviously comparing it to other jurisdictions, as there is policy difference in this area. 

4. Offerynnau sy'n cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt i’r Cynulliad o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.7
4. Instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Assembly under Standing Order 21.7

On to item 4: instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Assembly under Standing Order 21.7. So, the 'Code of practice on the exercise of social services functions in relation to Part 4 (direct payments and choice of accommodation) and Part 5 (charging and financial assessment) of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014', and the code of practice and guidance. And you have before you the two reports and a note from the Minister. Both these codes derive from the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act and you'll note the draft codes must be laid before the Assembly. Any comments from the lawyers on these?

Only to note the clarity of the drafting here and how easy it is for people reading these codes to understand what their obligations are.

And, of course, the strict timescales within which they have to be tabled and approved.

I think it's always worth us commending good practice and this is where 'must' and 'should' has been clarified as well, isn't it? And they can do it if they want to and are prepared to spend the time, which improves it for everyone. And these are not obscure, really—these are important areas where it's conceivable that someone would want to look at them who wasn't necessarily a professional.

And, of course, we have the note from the Minister on this, welcoming those comments—anticipating them and welcoming them.

5. Papurau i’w nodi
5. Papers to note

Item 5, then: papers to note. The Land Transaction Tax (Tax Bands and Tax Rates) (Wales) Regulations 2018—paper 8, the letter from the Cabinet Secretary—

It's fairly encouraging from the Counsel General, but the trouble is, if you don't move piecemeal and just wait to do a sweeping change in an interpretation Act, you could end up waiting a long time.

And I'm not sure there is a legal principle against doing something piecemeal, is there? Why does it have an impact on all the other legislation that are historic and don't have these clearer definitions? It just seems a very dull, conservative argument sometimes. 

14:35

Okay. Paper 8, the letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, 9 February 2018—a paper to note. Paper 9, a letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, 26 January 2018.

We'll just move on to the letters in respect of the Agricultural Wages (Wales) Order 2017. If I can suggest that be deferred to private session—if there any comments on that then I can excuse myself on that by way of a declaration of interest. 

I did want to raise something—and will ask in a minute—with the lawyers. I think it's appropriate for it to be in public session.

It was just whether we knew whether the Counsel General is always referred to whenever there's retrospective provision. 

There is an agreement I understand, yes. Every single retrospective piece of legislation will go through the Welsh Government's Counsel General.

It's long-standing as far as I'm aware. 

Okay. It is a reasonable check and balance, which I think is important to acknowledge. 

Do you want to just note that or do you want to refer that—?

We'll just note it then, so we can move on.

On to paper 12—'Report on the implementation of Law Commission proposals'. They're to be noted. I mean, obviously, make any comments now, but of course we will be meeting with members of the Law Commission early in the summer term. 

So, am I right in saying they've not identified yet an area for a Wales-specific law reform?

I think that's my understanding—that that hasn't been agreed. I understand part of the issue on these is sometimes to do with funding but there is, of course, the ongoing planning law project, which is going ahead with the Law Commission, which is a very significant consolidation piece of legislation that's referred to in the papers. Beyond that, is there any specific further—?

Well, it is just in paragraph 12 that they say that—. It seems to be in the budget that they get one review and they've not decided what it should be. That's my interpretation. 

The answer is 'I don't know'. We could always write and ask if there's been any determination yet as to what will be the area. I presume there are matters that are under consideration for inclusion, but precisely what they are I don't know. 

Okay. So, we note that, then, and then move on to—yes, we've done 12—13, a letter from the Minister for Housing and Regeneration, 21 February 2018. Just to note the response from the Minister following the Stage 1 debate. Any comments?

It is what it is. [Inaudible.] You've raised these matters very consistently, David. The replies have probably been consistent as well.

Paper 14, a letter from the First Minister, 19 February 2018, to be noted. Again, you'll be aware that we obviously have the debate on Wednesday of this week on the report. Just to say, I thought the report has been reasonably well received. It's certainly been received by those in constitutional circles and it seems to be very timely as well. 

Paper 15, a letter from the Chair of the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee, to be noted. 

6. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o’r cyfarfod
6. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting

Cynnig:

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

Motion:

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

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

We move now to the motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to meet in private. Is that moved?

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 14:39.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 14:39.

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