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Y Pwyllgor Deisebau

Petitions Committee

03/07/2018

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

David J. Rowlands AM Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Janet Finch-Saunders AM
Mike Hedges AM
Neil McEvoy AM
Rhun ap Iorwerth AM

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Dr Christianne Glossop Swyddog Milfeddygol Cymru
Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales
Lesley Griffiths AM Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros Ynni, Cynllunio a Materion Gwledig
Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs
Stuart Evans Pennaeth y Polisi Pysgodfeydd, Llywodraeth Cymru
Head of Fisheries Policy, Welsh Government

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Graeme Francis Clerc
Clerk
Kath Thomas Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Katy Orford Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Sam Mason Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser

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 09:16.

The meeting began at 09:16.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datganiadau o fuddiant
1. Introduction, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Bore da. Good morning. Welcome to the Petitions Committee. Just to make a note: there is no need to turn off your mobile phones or other electronic devices, but please ensure that any devices are in silent mode. Apologies: no apologies have been received. Rhun will join us shortly, I'm sure.

2. Deisebau newydd
2. New petitions

We have three new petitions to discuss this morning. The first of those is 'Introducing a Register of Lobbyists in Wales'. This petition was submitted by the Centre for Welsh Studies, having collected 55 signatures. Have you had an opportunity to look at this? I'm sure you'd like to make a comment, Neil.

Yes, I welcome the petition. I think lobbyists should be registered and things should be a lot more transparent. The petition says,

'implying deals done behind closed doors.'

Well, we know they are. They do have access to politicians, and I think it's a real grey area and action needs to be taken. I think it's a blight—lobbying is a blight on Welsh politics at the moment.

I ought now to point out that I was a member of the standards committee at the time that we were discussing these matters and, from recollection, it was noted that there were very few reported instances of lobbying malpractice, as such; I think one in the period of time.

Yes. The problem is, though, if you pick up the phone and speak to a Minister, allegedly, and then you get what you want, or the company gets what it wants, then you're not going to hear about it. I think if lobbyists are arranging meetings for businesses with Ministers, then it should be on the record. I would agree with the petition, though, because lobbying is a natural part of politics. Every time we go on the doorstep, we lobby voters, in effect. Done out in the open, done correctly, it's very informative, but we need to shed some light.

We did note the difficulty of discerning when you were being lobbied and when you were actually just in a meeting with concerned or interested parties, or even from the point of view of you meeting on many other aspects of your work as an Assembly Member. That was discussed in depth, and of course much of lobbying is covered in Standing Orders quite comprehensively. We have Standing Orders that cover what is appropriate and what is not appropriate with regard to the lobbying, as such. So, the other thing that came out when we were talking is that we thought we would review what was happening, because the Scottish Parliament has instituted a register, and, of course, we were very mindful of the costs of running a register. It was quite a complicated matter, and there would be quite considerable amounts of public money with regard to that. So, I just want to make those points, which came up in the standards committee.

Mike.

We've had a reply from the Llywydd. Can we follow our normal practice and go back to the people who put in the petition and ask them for their views on that response? I'm always amazed why we have lobbyists in Wales; it's so easy for almost anybody to get access to everyone in Welsh politics. You don't need a lobbyist to speak to me; you just need a telephone, and that's probably true of the vast majority of Assembly Members, including probably all Ministers, excluding the First Minister. All you need is a telephone if you want to contact them; you don't need to employ lobbyists. As everybody around here knows, sometimes lobbyists ask us to fill in responses. Sometimes one of the firms, like Mori, ask us to fill in responses to a questionnaire, and sometimes just ordinary members of the public do, and each one gets exactly the same response from me, which is that I fill them in, be it a university student doing academic research or a lobbying firm. I don't treat any of them differently. If they want my views on something, I'm always prepared to give them. In fact, I am quite often prepared to give my views on subjects that people don't particularly want to hear about.

09:20

No, no. I agree with the comments of my committee colleagues.

Yes, fine. Okay, so the possible action for the committee is that we could agree to await the views of the petitioners on the response received from the Assembly Commission before considering whether to take any further action on the petition. Are we happy with that? Yes.

The second new petition is, 'Reintroduce educational support funding to MEAS and the TES to Neath Port Talbot CBC'. The petition was submitted by Unison Neath Port Talbot, having collected 334 signatures. We had a response to the petition from the Cabinet Secretary for Education on 18 June. A research briefing on the petition and related issues has been prepared for Members' information. Do any Members have any comments?

Yes. I think that it was unfortunate that it was put into the education improvement grant, because the education improvement grant goes to all local authorities along a certain formula, while the needs of minority ethnic groups tend to be more concentrated in certain areas. So, some people got a windfall and other people got a shortfall. So, I would certainly urge that if the Welsh Government are putting things into the mainstream, which is a cheaper way of doing it and one I wouldn't disagree with, that they use the appropriate formula. I would like us to write and ask them that. If we're going back to them, can we ask them if they can use a formula appropriate to the grant, so that they would come closer to mirroring the current expenditure? There have been local authorities in Wales with very few minority ethnic groups, very few Gypsy/Travellers, who will say, 'Oh, we've got some extra money.' And there will be other local authorities in Wales saying, 'Oh dear, we've just lost tens of thousands of pounds.' So I think it's important that if we are going to write back to them, which I hope we will, that we ask that they use an appropriate formula rather than just putting it into a general education grant.

I totally support what Mike has said there. I think we need to write back to the Cabinet Secretary. We received this petition outside, and these children face really serious challenges in terms of education and life opportunities, and to withdraw the grant—it was a poor thing to do, so I'd like to write to the Minister.

I think this comes off the back of the Welsh Government actually amalgamating 11 different grants as such, doesn't it?

Yes, but that's a good idea and you save the cost of monitoring. You save the cost of making sure that all the money is being spent and can be shown to have been spent in the right place. I have no problem with amalgamating the grants, but giving the money out can't be done by a general formula when demand is not by a general formula. If it was something for every three-year-old in Wales, that would not be a problem, but I think everybody here knows that there are areas of Wales where you have a larger proportion of minority ethnic groupings and Gypsy/Travellers than others, and putting it out in the general grant that goes out to all local authorities against a formula means that you have winners and losers and I think the important thing is that, if you're going to put it out in a grant, they need to think about it rather than just rolling it up into a grant.

Thank you. Just for the Record, Rhun ap Iorwerth has just joined us and, Rhun, we're discussing the second of the new petitions. Does anybody else want to make a comment? Janet?

The difficulty is, of course, hypothecating all different amounts of money, Mike—

It's not hypothecating it. It's actually using a formula, which you use for other grants, that takes into account who the grant is aimed at. So, you're not hypothecating it, but if you say that Swansea has got 3 per cent or 4 per cent ethnic minority and let's say that Ceredigion has 1 per cent, then Swansea should be getting four times as much per head as Ceredigion. Use the appropriate formula, rather than rolling it up into a general formula that would be very useful for giving additional money to three-year-olds or giving free school milk, but doesn't work when you've got huge variations across Wales, where Wrexham, Swansea and Cardiff have disproportionate numbers of both Gypsy/Travellers and ethnic minority groupings.

09:25

And, are we convinced that the work has been done to research where that need is to make sure that the need is met?

Okay, fine. So, you've taken the points that Mike has made on board, and the other possible action is that the committee could write back to the Cabinet Secretary for Education to ask for details of what consultation was undertaken with councils or stakeholders prior to the decision to mainstream support for ethnic minority, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller learners, and how the Welsh Government intends to monitor the impact of this change and the continued provision of support by local authorities. Are we happy? Okay, thank you.

The next petition before the committee is 'Ban plastic straws (when drinking milk) in our schools'. The petition was submitted by Ysgol y Wern, having collected 1,034 signatures. An initial response to the petition was received from the Minister for Environment on 15 June. It more or less says that the procurement of school milk is the responsibility of local authorities, but doesn't actually address the matter of the plastic straws in the response.

Ie. Mi hoffwn i longyfarch, yn gyntaf, disgyblion Ysgol y Wern am fentro i roi cynllun at ei gilydd sydd yn dangos y ffordd ymlaen. Rydw i’n cofio cael llefrith mewn poteli yn yr ysgol flynyddoedd yn ôl ac nid wyf yn amau mai’r un gwellt plastig yr oeddem ni’n eu defnyddio yn ôl yn y 1970au sydd yn cael eu defnyddio rŵan. Beth sy’n bwysig rŵan ydy ein bod ni nid yn unig yn dweud, 'Diolch yn fawr', a bod dim byd yn digwydd yn sgil beth sydd wedi cael ei wneud gan blant Ysgol y Wern, ond ein bod ni, fel pwyllgor, yn gwneud beth y gallwn i bwyso ar y Llywodraeth i ddangos eu bod nhw'n cymryd y ddeiseb yma o ddifrif. Achos mae’n rhaid i rywun yn rhywle ddechrau arfer da a gwthio'r cwch i’r dŵr, ac mae disgyblion Ysgol y Wern wedi gwneud, felly mi ddylem ni eu cefnogi nhw gymaint ag y gallwn ni, fel pwyllgor.

Yes. I would like to first of all congratulate the pupils of Ysgol y Wern for being prepared to put a scheme together that shows us the way forward. I remember having milk in bottles at school years ago, and I don't doubt that they are the same plastic straws that we used in the 1970s that are used today. What is important now is that we don't just say, 'Thank you very much', and for nothing to happen as a result of what the children of Ysgol y Wern have done, but that we, as a committee, do what we can to put pressure on the Government to show that they do take this petition seriously. Because someone somewhere has to start good practice and make a start on these things, and the pupils of Ysgol y Wern have started in this regard, so we should support them as much as we can as a committee.

I was going to say two things. When you see a major fast-food outlet is able to ban it, then it is strange that we can't do it for schools. Can we write to the Welsh Local Government Association, which might be a more suitable body to take it up with local authorities? The Welsh Government can put out a Welsh Government note saying, 'We don't think you should use plastic straws in schools.' Could we ask them why they won't do that? And, can we also write to the Welsh Local Government Association asking if they've given any lead on not using plastic straws? We're in serious danger that the only place people will get plastic straws in 18 months' time will be in schools.

Thank you, Chairman. I've actually written to every local authority asking them whether they would consider banning all single-use plastics and I have to be honest, I'm really pleased, because I thought they might think, 'Well, it's just one person writing in', but we're getting some really positive feedback and we're going to meet and discuss this. So, when I say, 'single-use plastics', a straw is a single-use plastic, so I'm thinking that it covers rather more than just a straw. What I'll do is share all the responses as they come in with the clerk, because they are all quite favourable responses.

I just think, as Rhun said, it was really great for Ysgol y Wern to have submitted this petition. So, llongyfarchiadau—congratulations. 

I just want to flag up one thing, though, about people with disabilities who may need plastic straws. It is good to stop using them, but there are some people who need loopholes.

I am surprised at the actual numbers involved in using these—

There are alternatives now. You can get stainless steel, you can get flexible bamboo, even.

What sort of number did you—? Can you remember the numbers that we talked about? You're talking about over 1,000 straws in this school alone, and if you multiply that by the number of schools, it's quite a considerable number of straws that we're talking about.

I would like to make a note at this point that the presenters of this petition were from a junior school, and I'd like to say that there is no age limit with regard to petitions. You can set up a petition as young as these children have, and they're to be congratulated on it, but you can set up a petition at the age of 90 as well; there is no age limit on putting petitions forward. We have to say that we would like to engage particularly with younger people and this is a method that they can use to engage with the Welsh Assembly, so we want to encourage them to set up petitions on matters that are of interest to them.

Okay, so are you happy with—?

09:30

Just to summarise, we could write back to the Minister for Environment and add the point about an advice note going out to schools, potentially, and we'll write to the Welsh Local Government Association to ask for their views and what work they do with schools on this.

Fine. The next new petition is one that we've come across on a number of occasions, in similar types of petitions, and that is 'Reduce the speed limit on the A487 in Penparcau'. This petition was submitted by Rhian Lewis, having collected 262 signatures. We had an initial response to the petition from the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport on 19 June. The Cabinet Secretary referred to the three-year speed limit review currently being carried out and has committed to the petition being considered as part of this exercise.

As I say, it's similar to a number of petitions that have been brought before us in the past. Do you have any comments at all?

Yes. It's a similar position with all of these, isn't it, and I think we are at a point where we're expecting a little bit more information from Government.

So, we could agree to await a reply from the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport to the committee's previous correspondence relating to the speed limit review and to consider this petition again once this is received, alongside other existing petitions relating to speed limits. Are we happy to do that?

I'm happy with that. Can we also write to the Cabinet Secretary asking if there's going to be a trunk road review? In the sense that we're looking at this and I don't know the area—. I don't knowingly know the area, but is there a reason why it's on the A487, which was going to be de-trunked and it hasn't been de-trunked? I think we need to know what are the major arterial roads in Wales, which need to be trunk roads, and what the Welsh Government is going to do to improve them and deal with them; and what are the roads that happen to be trunk roads by historical accident and what they're going to do with those. Some trunk roads have been overtaken by other roads. I mean, the A48 was a major trunk road and it's been massively overtaken by the M4, for example, in south Wales.

That's right. It was identified for potential de-trunking in 2015, this particular road, but it doesn't appear to be listed in an updated delivery schedule published in 2017, so it may have been put on the back burner as far as that particular road is concerned.

But it would be good to know, actually, where we're at on that, because it's the road, isn't it, from Penparcau into the middle of Aberystwyth, down past the marina? I'm not sure which is the main road, now—that one or the one past Morrisons there—but it would be interesting to know which is considered to be the main road.

I think those of us who drive that road fairly regularly—and I could probably add you to that list—we go up and then we go past Morrisons and past the hotel and then on to Bow Street and forwards, so that might be a road overtaken by developments. I think there is a need for a review of what should still be a trunk road.

Okay. So, whilst we await that review, perhaps we could also ask the Cabinet Secretary with regard to what he considers to be the trunk road and if they intend to de-trunk it. Thank you.

09:35
3. Y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am ddeisebau blaenorol
3. Updates to previous petitions

Moving on to the previous petitions, the first of these is 'Calling on the Welsh Government to Ban The Use of Wild Animals in Circuses in Wales'. It was submitted by Linda Joyce Jones, and was first considered in January 2018, having collected a total of 6,398 signatures. The committee first considered the petition on 5 June and agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs. We also have had correspondence from the Circus Guild of Great Britain on 26 June, including two inspection reports. Do we have any comments?

Rydym ni'n ddiolchgar iawn am y gwaith sydd wedi cael ei wneud gan y deisebwr ar hyn. Rydym yn holi'r Gweinidog yn nes ymlaen heddiw, felly nid wyf yn siŵr a oes yna ddiben cael mwy o drafodaeth na hynny ar hyn o bryd.

We are very grateful for the work that has been done by the petitioner on this. We'll be questioning the Minister later on today, so I'm not sure whether there's any purpose to holding more of a discussion on that at present.

I was surprised to see this at this point of our meeting today, because I suppose we want to save our energy, really, for when the Cabinet Secretary—. Because, at the end of the day, we're all pretty—. We've taken into account the letter from the circus guild, or whatever, and they will defend their stance, but the fact remains, when we had the debate here in the Chamber, it was just unbelievable: the number of Assembly Members who believe, and Cabinet Ministers who believe that there's no place for wild animals in circuses in Wales. It's just how soon now we can persuade the Cabinet Secretary to actually listen to people and bring that ban in, the sooner the better.

Okay, well, that's one of the actions, obviously, that we're very likely—. We will wait until the evidence session with the Cabinet Secretary.

So, the next one is 'Save the trees and ground in Roath Mill and Roath Brook Gardens before it's too late'. The petition was submitted by Tamsin Davies and was first considered by the committee in February 2018, having collected 8,700 signatures. The committee last considered the petition on 15 May and agreed to write to Natural Resources Wales and to Cardiff council to seek a response to the committee's previous correspondence. On 18 June, Cardiff council provided a response, dated 4 April. There's no record of this response having been received at that time. A response from NRW was received on 21 June.

I'd like to write to Welsh Water about, as it says here, the reservoir, but I'd also like to write to Cardiff council about the technicality of using Roath park lake to absorb the water, and also to lower and increase the depth of the lake.

The council's response, provided in these papers, refers to that. They essentially say that they understand that option was considered by NRW—NRW's expertise is what they go with—and that no further consideration was given by the council to the Roath park lake solution. NRW also reference Roath park lake in their response, and say that they discounted it. One of the reasons for that was its listed status, or certain aspects of it, which might mean consent was difficult to get for any changes.

It's a substantial petition. I believe that local people—. It's democracy: if it's not a top-down sort of powers and governments and things, and the Welsh Government is listening—8,700 people believe that the planned flood works in Roath Mill are unnecessarily destructive, and the removal of some—. To me, it's a no-brainer. There should be some movement now on the part of the local authority, on the part of the Welsh Government, and on the part of National Resources Wales to say there's got to be another way. I think they've proved their case quite well.

I think there are some really interesting points of principle here, actually, and, of course, this engagement process is going on with households. And, of course, I'm interested to see the outcome of that process, but where you have parts of Wales, like in my constituency—and, I'm sure, in yours as well—where people are desperate to see floods works—. There's an interesting point of principle here where people don't think it's necessary, and they don't feel they have the influence over the people spending that money in doing the work. 

09:40

There was a flood but it was because the drains were blocked. If the councils had cleared the drains—. That was the reason for a small flood. 

But I'm really concerned about the answers that I was given in a meeting with NRW, because the issue, apparently, was the health of the trees in terms of lowering the depth of the lake. Maybe I'll take it up personally with them, I think. 

It is a substantial petition, and maybe we get NRW in, and whoever, and get them to prove their case to us. We did it with Hinkley. At the end of the day, I think that it's a huge number of people who feel really concerned about that.  

I met with NRW officials on another matter. They were absolutely adamant—I also broached this subject—that they have looked at every other alternative, and this was the only alternative at the end of the day that they could see to alleviate the flooding. The one point they made with regard to Roath park lake is that in order to have done something with Roath park lake, they may have had to alter some of the infrastructure there, which is under Cadw, actually. And so, there would have been a great difficulty in getting planning for any other sort of works they would require. I just want to make that point.   

It's different to what they told us in the meeting. I think we should write back to both the campaign group and NRW for an update, with a view maybe to having a debate in the autumn.  

Okay. So, the possible actions are that, in light of the fact that discussions are ongoing between NRW and the campaign group, the committee could request a further update from both parties after the planned engagement work with households directly affected by flood risk and NRW’s consideration of the request to extend the current pause in the works, because there is a pause in the works there. Now, whether that's economically viable or not, we have to find out. And in addition, the committee could seek information from Dŵr Cymru, because it's been suggested that some possible action could be taken with regard to the disused Llanishen reservoir. So, we could write to Dŵr Cymru and ask what plans they have in relation to that reservoir. So, are they the two, or—?

They've already said that there was an error in the consultant's flow calculation. Notwithstanding that, they still believe they should go ahead with it. But it just—. You know, I think we need to look at this, perhaps, in some kind of technical detail and maybe give us just a bit more of that kind of technical advice. 

Well, the other alternative is that, in light of the apparent continued impasse between NRW and the petitioners, the committee could discuss seeking time for a debate in Plenary on this petition, but that would be in the autumn term. Whether this moratorium on works would last until that time is—[Inaudible.]—our consideration.

Let's look at what we can achieve. We've got the two organisations talking to each other, which I think is often one of our great achievements, because quite often organisations tend not to talk to each other. Let's say we have a debate in October and our report gets noted. We are no further forward than we are now. If we debate it in a Plenary session, the recommendation is to note our report, the Minister gets up, and then everybody unanimously, I would guess, decides to note it. I think that our strength is much more in getting organisations talking to each other, bringing them in to talk to each other. The only time we really do need to go to a Plenary debate is when we think we can get something achieved there that we can't achieve by talking to the two bodies, and I think we've still got a lot to exhaust in the two bodies talking to each other and then, if necessary, talking to us.  

Neil, you've been involved with this quite a lot. Do you think there is a total impasse here, or is there a possibility—?

I think we need an update off both sides, I would say. Mike's raising a fair point there, but we should consider it for a debate. 

I was favouring a debate, and I would probably would push for a debate now, but I think Mike makes a good point. We often hold debates in order to give something publicity. I congratulate those involved in this particular instance in that they have got the publicity, and it is something that has a high profile. So, yes, for the time being, perhaps—you know, we've got people together talking; let's see what they're talking about. 

09:45

Okay. Yes, fine. 

We'll move on to the next petition, which is the 'Proposed New Fishing Bylaws and Failings of NRW', again. The petition was submitted by Sian Godbert and was first considered by the committee in May 2018, having collected 1,070 signatures. This can be considered with—. I believe we're considering this with the other petition, which is 'Give Welsh Fishing Clubs and Salmon and Seatrout a Chance'. This petition was submitted by Reuben Woodford and was first considered by the committee in May 2018, having collected 1,710 signatures. The committee last considered both petitions on 1 May, and agreed to consider this petition in future alongside P-O-5810, 'Give Welsh Fishing Clubs and Salmon and Seatrout a Chance'. And we were to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs to provide the detailed comments from the petitioner, and to ask for an update on her consideration of NRW's application for the determination of bye-laws. The response from the Cabinet Secretary was received on 14 June, and the petitioner for P-05-810 has also provided further comments. 

Can I just say on this one: I went along to a presentation, and I believe the AM for Caernarfon also went along, and I fully support this petition? I think there's been a—. Well, you've seen the numbers, and I've got to be honest, up to going along to the presentations and up to getting a bit more involved with this, I had very little knowledge of people and angling, fishing and what have you. And when you go along, the way that NRW conducted themselves during this, not listening to people, and almost the executive board making a decision without the input of the people it affected and the little groups that spend their lives, really—. They don't just—. The fishing side of it is only one side of it. These people bring wealth to our economy, the people who come fishing from all over the UK and stay in our rural areas where we have these rivers and things. And I just think it's been a heavy-handed approach by NRW, and not one of consultation and true engagement.

So, I think this one is going to affect us. We've all got rivers and lakes and things in our constituencies, and I think that this particular group have been very proactive in saying it's not right. There's concern about whether there is actually a proper strategy in place. The NRW executive themselves failed to carry out, I believe, democratic procedure by refusing the NRW board members to vote on new proposals by rod and line fishermen. I've seen the presentation, and I've gone through it all with them. It seems that the stakeholders' views were completely ignored.

I know that a lot of these fishing groups help in terms of people who go and have picnics and leave litter. They really keep our areas nice and tidy. And angling and fishing have been part of the landscape for years, so I do think that we need to look to be quite supportive in this petition moving forward. 

I think it's true to say that they also look after the environment with regard to fish stocks and the breeding ground of fish et cetera. 

They're very proactive, if you look at those sorts of things. Rhun.

I'll declare that I've also met the petitioner Reuben Woodford. I have been along to a meeting of fishermen and women from Gwynedd and Anglesey—one of the best-attended stakeholder groups I think I've been probably been to since being elected. But, to me, this is a question about the nature of stakeholder engagement. Now, I'm not knocking the knowledge that officials within Natural Resources Wales have about our fisheries, but when we're talking about fishermen as stakeholders, they are real experts. They know these rivers. They understand stocking of rivers, and they are keener than anyone to ensure that rivers are properly stocked and are properly looked after and that their long-term sustainability is what's assured. I have been convinced about their feeling that their expertise has not been able to feed into decision making as much as it should. I think we're very close now to a decision from NRW and Government, and I just want to see signs that the stakeholders have been listened to.

09:50

I've also met with a number of fishing clubs and organisations with regard to this and I think the question of whether the NRW actually allowed their own committee members to have a say with regards to this seems rather dubious, actually. Neil. 

These bodies are set up supposedly to serve Wales and to serve people, and I read in front of me about a dictatorial approach and it's just all wrong. There's something going wrong, because the Roath brook people said the same as well. So, something needs to change. 

If I can make two suggestions. One is that we go back to Natural Resources Wales and get a response. The second one is, as we're having the Cabinet Secretary in later today to discuss a number of issues, whether we might consider—if we start building up a number of issues with Natural Resources Wales—inviting them in to answer questions on a range of issues. If we don't reach success with correspondence, we could actually get them in and talk to them. It's just a thought.

The only thing that may be difficult on that, Mike, is the actual complexity of some of the issues that are being raised. Do you think that we would be able to cover it adequately in a session?

I think we'd be able to more adequately cover it than we are covering it by sending letters back and forth. 

Mike makes a really valid point there. I know we do have a lot of writing letters, but I think we proved by pushing to have the Cabinet Secretary here today that sometimes you can cut out an awful lot of this to-ing and fro-ing. Hard evidence is pretty good, actually, when you get both sides to the table and take the evidence, and it can save us quite a lot of time as well.

Okay. The suggestion is that we have an evidence session. Who would be in favour of that?

The first suggestion was that we write back to them. The second suggestion was, if we make a list of all the NRW ones we've got and then, having seen what we've got from NRW, we consider then having an evidence session with NRW.

Okay. So, we'll do that. Happy? Okay. Fine. 

Moving on to the next petition, 'All New Builds In Wales to Have Solar Panels'. This was submitted by Harriet King and was first considered by the committee in May 2018, having collected 72 signatures. The committee last considered the petition on 15 May and agreed to await the views of the petitioner on the response from the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs and ask the Cabinet Secretary for additional detail on timescales for the review of Part L—conservation of fuel and power—of the building regulations. A response was received again from the Cabinet Secretary on 14 June and a response from the petitioner with regard to that response was received on 26 June.

To be honest, there are some valid points. I went around a school recently and the actual school themselves were saying that they'd love solar panels and we don't seem to have a strategy. We're doing twenty-first century schools, but there's no mention of whether they'll have solar panels. But we've got a lot of schools out there that could—. And this makes a valid point about Government buildings and council buildings. We should be setting an example on these things. So, I'm quite supportive of—. The only worry I have about putting it on all new homes is that we know, with fire sprinklers, there is a lot of regulation on house builders in Wales, compared to in England. They say that the average build per unit is £16,000, and we do have builders going over the border now into England to build. So, all I would say is that the house-building industry—.

09:55

I disagree intensely with Janet on that, in that when you're looking at putting solar panels on a house, you are increasing the value of the house; you are increasing the saleability of the house. I wouldn't be concerned. I understand the concerns on fire sprinklers—

Yes, but do it in conjunction, working with the house-building industry, rather that just say, 'We're doing it.' Bring them into the dialogue. This may be an expenditure that they feel—. But I just know there's a lot of regulation on house builders in Wales compared to in England and it is having a negative impact.

I, like Rhun, totally disagree with Janet. Because you've got one variable in all house developments, which is the value of the land you're building on. When house builders look how much money they've got to pay for the land, they put in how much money it's going to cost to build the house, how much profit they hope to make, and the value of the land goes up or down accordingly. That's why we've got lots of small houses in Wales and if you wander around midwest of America people like us would be living in mansions. If they're consulting on Part L, which is where it comes in, what more can we achieve apart from having this fed into the consultation on Part L? So, we've achieved it being discussed with Part L. I say we close the petition because we've actually achieved as much as we possibly can.

I think you're right. There's not much we can achieve. I just like the petition so much that I somehow just want to keep it there so we have a means of contacting the petitioner once we've had that review of part L.

It works well with the electric car—you know, and things like that. 

There's a lot that needs to happen alongside this, because it's not just a matter of saying, 'You need solar panels.' For example, somebody I know well would have loved to put solar panels on a new commercial building that he's just put up but couldn't because the electrical transmission system wasn't up to it. So, it's not just a matter of saying, 'Do it'; you've got to also have other regulations saying that transmission companies have to strengthen the grids. You have to take a whole host of measures that I'd like to see Government being more proactive on. Yes, I agree, Mike, that there's not much more we can do, but I'd just really like to be able to go back to the petitioner somehow after we have that review of Part L.

Well, we'll write back to them when Part L is completed and ask them for their views.

I think we ought to note the fact that the Cabinet Secretary has been in contact with the power-generating companies with regard to this. We had a letter that she sent them, which was quite strongly protesting about the state of the grid in Wales. I think we ought to make that note.

I was going to say 'parts of Wales', because in some parts of Wales the grid is not in that bad a state.

Are we happy with that? Okay. 

We move on to the next petition, which is 'Abolition of Park Homes Sales Commission'. This was submitted by Caerwnon Park Residents Association and was first considered in December 2013. The committee last considered the petition on 19 June and agreed to write to the petitioner to seek their views on the decision taken by the Minister for Housing and Regeneration and, in doing so, explain that the committee considers there is little further it can achieve in light of the detailed consideration that has been given to the issue by the Welsh Government. A response from the petitioners was received on 19 June. The petitioners raised the fact that the Welsh Government has said that it will be reduced from 10 per cent to 5 per cent. They're raising concerns about the fact that this could then be put on pitch fees, but my understanding or my feeling on that is that this would raise another petition and it's raising an entirely different concept to the original petition. Does anybody have any comments on that? 

I always sit here and say, 'What more can we achieve?', and I can't see anything more we can achieve. 

I think we've answered the original petition and I suggest that we close the petition. Does everybody agree with that? Fine. Okay.

We move on to the next one, which is 'Reopen Crumlin Railway Station', submitted by Michael Davies. It was considered by the committee in September 2017, having collected 208 signatures. It was last considered, the petition, on 15 May, and we agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport to ask for details of how Crumlin scored in the phase 1 assessment of potential new railway stations. A response from the Cabinet Secretary was received on 21 June. I think that we did in fact have the full details of how the scorings were with regard to stations—is that right?

10:00

Can I just ask the clerk—have we written to Network Rail on this?

No. We've had a number of petitions around new stations, and we haven't progressed anything to Network Rail.

No. Network Rail, of course, is outside of the devolved responsibilities of the Assembly.

But is there anything to stop us writing to Network Rail to say that, clearly, we're discussing a petition at the moment and ask what their views are? I mean, I take note of the Cabinet Secretary's response and reference to Network Rail, but they're not always watching what we're doing here, and if they, perhaps, were aware of the strength of feeling, the fact that we are discussing on the regular, this railway station—. To me, it goes against all the things that we talk about in Plenary when opening up this station would mean a lot of access to more numbers of people using public transport, and I just wondered, you know—.

So, what line should we take with Network Rail with regard to that? How are we going to capture the questions to them?

They might be quite favourable. Sometimes we just tend to ping-pong between us and Government. It would just be nice to have their view, directly to us as a committee. As you know, I think I told you I don't even know where it is, but anyone who's so passionate about being able to access a station again—. We've gone backwards with the closing of a lot of our small stations.

As this petition has come to us for consideration with regard to the Welsh Assembly's actions, I'm not saying that that shouldn't be a line taken, but for this particular petition, we've explored the avenues. It has been explained to us as to how they came up with this particular formula for deciding on railway stations, and of course one of the parts of that is that railway stations would be prioritised in rural areas, because, obviously, public transport is more important in rural areas, and therefore they weighted the actual scoring with regard to that, against those in urban areas or close to other railway stations. That's my understanding of that.

I see no problem with writing to Network Rail, if Janet wants to write to them. Whether that will actually achieve anything, we don't know. The only way we can find out is by writing to them. I mean, I have concerns—. I've looked through some of the scores from phase 1, and I find some of the numbers difficult to understand, but that's not what this petition is about; that's a matter I need to take up with the Cabinet Secretary outside of this. But we've got to where we are, and I'd just say that if all potential new stations will be further assessed in greater detail, let's wait for the further assessment.

My understanding is that the length of time of that process could be significant.

Yes, but nothing's going to happen in the meantime, is it? They're not going to say, 'Oh dear, we've had a petition on Crumlin; we're going to reopen Crumlin because we've had a petition on it', because if that's the case, another 50 petitions will be coming into this committee very rapidly from people who want railway stations opened. I could, in the next month, get a petition of 5,000 to reopen Landore station. Now, if that's going to be a direction we feel that we're able to go forward in, I see that as trying to short-circuit the system, because I can get 5,000 in Landore but other people can get more than that for other stations. So, I think it is important that, although we've had the petition, it goes through the same process as everyone else. It's not a shortcut around it, unless we want to be dealing with an awful lot of petitions relating to individual railway stations.

There is a valid point in their response—the petitioner's response. It says there:

'However, the Cabinet Secretary hasn’t answered the questions suggested by Mike Hedges and supported by your committee, to explain how the priority list was made up and what the scoring differential was. I’m certainly no wiser now on this issue than I was last time'.

So, I think it is reasonable that the committee considers resending the questions and getting those better answers as well. I still propose that we write to Network Rail, just to see what their intentions are, going forward.

10:05

I think, just very briefly on the scoring, what happened was that the Cabinet Secretary wrote to the committee to say that that detail was already provided to Members, and didn't provide it again. That's the response that the petitioner had seen. Subsequently then, when we drew up the papers for this committee meeting, we tracked down the information about the scoring, so that's what you have had—

—but the petitioner hasn't had an opportunity to comment on that, because the Cabinet Secretary just didn't provide it.

In the last two weeks, yes. So, the scoring—. The letter to Members was from July last year. That's when—

So, then, should we not have had an update for this committee?

That's what I mean. The Cabinet Secretary didn't provide it because he said it had already been provided to Members, and it was a deposited paper in the Table Office that we tracked down and have therefore provided to Members. The petitioner hasn't had a copy.

The petitioner hasn't had a copy of that.

Because our process is: we write to a Minister, and they write back to us, and that's the response that we provide to the petitioner. That happened two weeks ago. The petitioner was provided with the Cabinet Secretary's response, where he said, 'I am not providing you this information because I've already provided it.' So, then, subsequently to that, when we prepared the papers for this meeting for Members, we found it and provided it to you because we felt it would be helpful. What I'm trying to raise here is that the petitioner hasn't had an opportunity to comment on that first.

We need to get that to him. We need to get that to him fairly quickly.

So, we will provide that and give them the opportunity to comment.

Yes, let's do that as an action point and come back to it.

Okay, fine.

Okay, just moving on: 'We call for the Welsh Government to encourage trusts to implement the NICE guidelines for Borderline Personality Disorder or justify why they do not do so'. This petition was submitted by Keir Harding and was first considered by the committee in May 2018, having collected 812 signatures. The committee last considered the petition on 15 May and agreed to write back to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services to ask for a response to the suggestion that a number of health boards in Wales are not following NICE guidelines for the treatment of borderline personality disorder, and that people with this diagnosis can experience exclusion from current psychological therapy services, and to consider writing to local health boards in future, depending on the response received. A response from the Cabinet Secretary was received on 21 June. I think, if we can move on to the possible actions with regard to this, in line with the previous discussion, the committee could agree to write to the local boards to ask for details of the services currently provided to people with borderline personality disorder in their areas and whether specialist services are available, as suggested by NICE guidelines.

Yes, I think we should do that, but I'll make the point that the Government should be doing this. The Government should be one step ahead of expecting local health boards to take full account of NICE guidelines. They should know whether they are adhering to NICE guidelines. This isn't something that the Petitions Committee should be going after, should it? But if they're not, we should.

Okay. Are you happy? Right.

I think the Cabinet Secretary has arrived, so I think it's important that we don't keep the Cabinet Secretary waiting any longer than necessary. So, can I suggest that we move on to items 5 and 6, and move straight to the evidence session, and we'll come back to—?

We move on to item 6.

Sorry, we'll move on to item 6, and swap item 5 for item 6. Okay. Are we in agreement with that? Yes. Thank you.

I think I would suggest, because the time will be squeezed at the end of this meeting, that we proceed straight to the evidence session before we go into private at the end, and we'll go into private at the end of the meeting.

10:10

Can I ask you your preferences for where you might like to speak? Rhun, do you have any preference? 

6. Sesiwn dystiolaeth gydag Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros Ynni, Cynllunio a Materion Gwledig
6. Evidence session with the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs

Bore da. Good morning, Cabinet Secretary. Thank you for agreeing to come to attend the committee today to discuss, as you know, several petitions that the committee has been considering and where Members have indicated their desire to receive updates from you on actions being taken forward by the Welsh Government. The committee hopes that addressing several petitions during this session in this way will help us all make timely progress on the issues being raised.

Our intention is to consider the petitions in the order that they appear on the agenda, and I will seek to ensure that sufficient time is allocated for each area between now and 11 o'clock. Therefore, we will begin with the petition with regard to the introduction of legislation for mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses. Rhun, would you begin?

Bore da. Mae hwn yn gwestiwn eithaf syml. Rydym ni'n gwybod beth yw'r dystiolaeth sydd wedi'i rhoi o'n blaenau ni i gefnogi rhoi camerâu cylch cyfyng mewn lladd-dai. Nawr, rydym ni'n gwybod bod yna gamau'n cael eu cymryd mewn rhannau eraill o Brydain yn y maes hwn. Pam yr arafwch yma yng Nghymru? Beth ydy'r rhwystrau, fel rydych chi'n eu gweld nhw? 

Good morning. This is quite a simple question. We know what the evidence is that has come before us in support of putting CCTV in slaughterhouses. Now, we know that steps are being taken in other parts of the UK in this field, but why the slowness in Wales? What are the obstacles, as you see them?

Member
Lesley Griffiths AM 10:12:06
Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs

There are no obstacles. I am still considering whether to bring in legislation, but my priority at the moment is to bring forward the grant scheme. So, the majority of abattoirs in Wales already have CCTV. I would say that, percentage wise, it's very, very significant—the number of animals that are slaughtered in Wales that are slaughtered in abattoirs that have CCTV. So, colleagues will be aware that I made a statement back in March where I announced funding for those abattoirs that haven't got CCTV, along with another package of things. So, that's my priority, and I'm going to be giving the date for the opening of the scheme before the end of this term, so in the next couple of weeks.

Okay. Just tell us what convinced you that rolling out CCTV to all abattoirs is the right thing to do, be that through a grant scheme, or through legislation, as some would have liked to have seen.

We've got incredibly high animal welfare standards. I have not received any complaints about any of the abattoirs. I've had a bit of speculation, but what I've always said is, 'Come back to me with evidence and we'll look into this', and I haven't had that. So, I think it's better to work in partnership with the sector. A couple of people had raised with me that funding, as is often the case, was a barrier, so take that barrier away and, as I say, we'll see how many take up the scheme when we open the window before the end of this term.

Have you had other objections other than on funding grounds?

I haven't. I'm looking at Christianne—. I don't think—.

'I think there was a question about human rights and privacy issues of people working in abattoirs, but that has to be balanced against the value of having them in abattoirs. And, as the Cabinet Secretary has said already, the large abattoirs in Wales all have CCTV across the whole of the plant, and it's the smaller ones we're talking about. I don't know whether you've ever visited one, but you can stand in one place in these abattoirs and see everything happening. They're not big factories; they're small operational facilities where the butcher's shop is kind of connected to the whole process. So, the welfare standards, actually, are very high in those little abattoirs already, on the basis that one person follows the entire process through and the butcher is at the other end to say, 'Look, the meat has been affected because of the way the animal was treated.' So, it's a very sort of tight chain. So, although we recognise the potential value, I think we all ought to get this into perspective and recognise that the bulk of animals are being slaughtered in that kind of facility with not just CCTV but the highest standards as well.

10:15

How confident are you, Cabinet Secretary, that the money that you will provide will actually not just be used on other things and the spotlight will be missed from the smaller ones, and that if you're providing funding, we've eliminated that?

The issue you make about human rights, the UK Government haven't worried too much about that and they've gone ahead and brought this in. It's mandatory there, isn't it? So, I can't see why we should—. If everything's great, I can't understand why big abattoirs are quite happy to waive the human rights side of things and not mind filming, but the smaller ones—. I don't get that at all. If you bring it in as mandatory, it will happen, and then, if there is bad practice going on, it will deter that, and if there isn't, then they shouldn't be worried about a spotlight going on it. In a lot of work that we do, everything we do is transparent; people can see how we speak, whether we speak or not, how we vote, and I'm really into transparency. You're giving a sizeable amount of money, so you are putting some commitment there, but the ones who are really concerned about this will want to ensure that that money is used to get that equipment in. It's not rocket science; it's about putting in measures that provide assurance to the members of the public, and there are a lot of people who'll want assurance on this.

As I said, I have not ruled out making it mandatory, having legislation, but my priority is this scheme. And, as part of the package of this scheme, they will be given advice around animal welfare as well as business advice. It's not just about CCTV for me. You also must remember that there are always official veterinarians when slaughter takes place, so I think we've got lots of protection there already. But, as I say, take that barrier away, because that's what was raised with me by a couple of people, put the funding there and we'll take it from there, but I have not ruled out making it mandatory.

I would rather work with the sector now in relation to the funding. There's no reason not to make it mandatory. Obviously, again, if you need legislation, you've got to get in the legislative programme. You'll be aware that the legislative programme is very overburdened because of Brexit. If you look at my portfolio, I'm going to have to bring forward some significant legislation. So, as I say, if I thought it was a major problem, but I don't think that's the case.

I just want to say that I accept all the checks. I think most people accept all the checks in existence, but CCTV is not expensive.

I was in a pub last night that was full of CCTV and it's a relatively small pub and it costs relatively little. So, I'm not sure that the cost is a reason for not doing it. Even Welsh Government saying, 'We consider it to be best practice for CCTV to be in all slaughterhouses' might actually bring it forward into more of them. Also, if you can see how small they are now and you can see all the way around, you wouldn't need that much CCTV, so it could just spin around like it does on Woodfield St in Morriston. So, you're talking about a relatively small cost, and I would urge you to consider, if you're not going to legislate, actually producing a document saying, 'We consider it to be good practice to put CCTV in abattoirs'.

Absolutely. We take on board your very reasonable arguments with regard to legislation and the amount of legislation that's coming through, Cabinet Secretary. We've noted your generous £1.1 million fund that you're putting up—far more than would be necessary for covering just CCTV. But what would be important, obviously, is monitoring the uptake of this in those abattoirs that don't have CCTV at the moment. Are you confident that you've got the apparatus in place that you can do that?

Yes, absolutely. There are only 24 abattoirs in the whole of Wales, so it will be very easy to monitor.

And we have been working with all those abattoirs over the last two or three years, in the task and finish group, to just consider the practicalities of this. So, this isn't a new notion for any of them. And I think they support it. They're supportive as well, in the main.

Fine. Does anybody else have any comments with regard to that petition?

Can we move on, if we can, Cabinet Secretary, to 'Protect the Razor Clams on Llanfairfechan Beach'? As you would anticipate, I think, Janet will have something to say with regard to this.

10:20

Yes. First off, I'd like to thank you and your department, because this culminated after about four years of a lot of the population in Llanfairfechan becoming very disturbed and worried about the numbers, the sheer numbers, of people coming and harvesting. The actions you've taken thus far have been really supportive to the community and, indeed, I believe, to the razor clams themselves. We've got the report, the first report. I would—. The signage—through this committee, I've requested more signage, and I understand that there is some signage now; it's just got to go through Conwy County Borough Council. Signage hasn't been adequate.

I do realise that, when you close off beds like this, enforcement can be difficult, because you can't be there 24/7, 365, but I think it's fair to say the last weekend and the weekend before have been very problematic, with people just completely ignoring the signage that's there. We've had the same problems on the particular spring tides. So, all I would say is: thank you for keeping these beds closed; keep them closed until we've got to the very final point. Do we know when the next report and actual inquiry will be as to the damage that is being sustained by these beds?

If I can pick up your first point around the signage: so, this week, there is more permanent signage going in, I believe, by the end of the week. I'm looking at Stuart—we're hoping it's going to be there by the end of this week. Obviously, during the low spring tides, that's the time when the marine enforcement officers are patrolling far more. If there are any particular incidents—you mentioned the weekend had been particularly problematic—obviously the police will be involved. I've spoken to North Wales Police myself when there have been specific problems, also the Food Standards Agency all visit. So, that will continue through all the low spring tide times, so, really, up until September, we will have the marine enforcement officers patrolling on a more regular basis.

The report I commissioned: I want to look at all aspects of razor clams in Wales, and I think what that report does, really, is highlight the difficulties that we're having in assessing the stock. I think it's really important that we do it over the whole of Wales. So, we've got two phases, now, to assess the population. The first phase is going to be done before the end of August and then the second phase will be done next spring.

Great, because it's obvious that they're of some value to someone for the hundreds that come in. It's a food source, but then there are all the other things about food safety and where they're entering, if they're entering, the food chain.

If they're entering. Again, I don't think we've got the evidence to suggest that they are entering the food chain—

They're being taken out of Wales, we know that, because I know that enforcement officers have proved that, and evidence was provided to the public meeting that I held in Llanfairfechan. But I am in regular contact with North Wales Police, as are many of the residents.

Where is it now? Yes, what about the—? There were no patrols, I noticed, to send out to do—. Because, the cockle industry, I think—you have similar issues, don't you, with the cockle industry? It says the North Wales Police maintained that that takes some of the capacity from the fisheries department.

So, it's really just more signs, keep the beds closed, if you wouldn't mind, and if we could have a further report just to see what damage is actually being inflicted on these beds, because there is huge belief amongst fishermen and other agencies that, actually, we're sitting on these fantastic resources and they need to be protected, not just overharvested, especially during the spawning season. So, you've really helped with the spawning season. By closing the beds to begin with, you're giving them a chance. The numbers that were coming in are not as heavy, but when they do come in, there are a lot that come.

Okay. So, I mentioned—permanent signage this week. Beds closed until the end of December this year—you'll be aware I closed them until the end of December last year and then extended that for another year. And I explained about the assessment and the phases that we're going through, and obviously—

Yes. Going forward, if there's a view to open the beds, would there be some possibility that they could remain closed annually during the spawning season?

10:25

Yes. So, the key thing is, as you see in the report, that the next stage is about the assessment. The first bit in August will be a hand patrol, going up and down the beds doing a transect to determine the state of the stocks. Then, in terms of the report, it will be about the life cycle—when are the times when it's optimum for it to be closed for spawning, and when is it optimum then to consider harvesting of the clams. Until we've got all that information, it would be impossible to try and predict when we should open and when we should close. 

Okay, But, again, thank you, because it's been fantastic. I don't know whether this would have happened in larger government. Devolution has proved to me that it's so accessible to get in with the Cabinet Secretary and your department, and you've listened. So, I think, on behalf of everybody that's been very concerned about this, and the impact that it has on the lives and the people who live locally, yes, they're very, very pleased with the work you've done and continue to do.

Any other comments from the others? Okay. Thank you very much for those comprehensive answers, Cabinet Secretary.

We can move on to the next petition, which is 'Calling on the Welsh Government to Ban The Use of Wild Animals in Circuses in Wales'. I can say that there's been considerable interest in this particular petition, as you probably know. Neil, would you like to raise some points on this?

Yes, just what the time frames are for the introduction of legislation to ban this practice.

You'll be aware the First Minister will be making a statement before the end of term around the legislative programme. I don't think it would be appropriate for me to, obviously, pre-empt that. 

Can I just say, Cabinet Secretary, this is one of the big issues that we wanted you to come in on? Simply because of the numbers of people—even Ministers here have said. We had that debate earlier this year, and there is overwhelming evidence that the use of wild animals in circuses is very detrimental to the quality of their life, and it shouldn't really be acceptable practice here in Wales. We've got one in Pwllheli at the moment. I believe it's coming into my constituency. It's taking resources from the police because people congregate now, in terms of people turn up now with very strong feelings—protesters. You hold the key to this, and you and your department can bring forward the legislation, and there's no other way, really, that's going to deal with this other than an outright ban. We could be seen as pioneers and being brave, now that we have got devolution. All I would ask is: please make an announcement soon that you are going to impose a ban in Wales. I don't know what the sticking point is here, why we didn't announce it shortly after the debate, because there was overwhelming—the number of AMs here who believe that's the way forward. We know that members of public—. We've got the science here. The people who are qualified to speak on behalf of the animals have made it quite clear that it's not fair on the animals. We know we're all suffering with the heat at the moment. A five-hour journey the other day for these animals—it's unnatural, it's cruel, and really I would ask that—. You've got so much support out there, with the percentage of the members of the public. You've got support here, politically. Sometimes you can't bring legislation in because there's always that question about how it will be politically. You've got all the support here to go for it. 

Yes, but I'd like the Cabinet Secretary to respond to that. 

Well, you heard my answer to Neil, and you will have heard both myself and the First Minister say we don't want Wales to be seen as a haven for circuses, because obviously other parts of the UK are banning them. So, I think we just need to wait for the First Minister's statement.

It's been banned in Scotland. It's been banned in Ireland. Northern Ireland can't ban anything because they haven't got a Government. In England there's a commitment that a legislative ban on wild animals in circuses is enacted prior to January 2020. There are three options, aren't there? You can see whether it can be done via—let's get the right part of it—section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, but there's also the possibility of legal action. You could try and put it into a legislative programme, or you could use a legislative consent motion to accept, if it's passed in England—a legislative consent motion for it to be taken in Wales. 

Now, I know the third option is the one least liked by both the Welsh Government and the vast majority of Assembly Members, but I think that, if it's animal welfare at stake, I'm prepared to bite my tongue and support an LCM going through to deal with it if it's not going to be legislated any other way. 

10:30

Well, I can say that I've considered all those options, obviously, but I'm sure we'll all look forward to the First Minister's statement. 

It's before the end of term. I think it's the last week of term, so two weeks. 

No, just that the statement had better say what we want it to say. 

Well, I think that the whole session has been very succinct, and I do thank you, Cabinet Secretary, for attending again, and for answering the questions as comprehensively as you have. I think it's proved that perhaps this is a better system than writing back and fore on many occasions. It's something that we discussed earlier on with regard to that. So, again, thank you very much for attending.

Of course, there will be a full transcript available to yourselves, as you know. [Interruption.] No, that's fine. Okay, thank you. 

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o eitem 5 busnes heddiw
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public for item 5 of today's business:

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o eitem 5 busnes heddiw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public for item 5 of today's business in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Okay, we'll now deal with item 4, which is a motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting, which we are just about to do, for item 5. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:31.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:31.

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