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Pwyllgor Materion Cyfansoddiadol a Deddfwriaethol

Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee

21/01/2019

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Carwyn Jones AM
Dai Lloyd AM
Dawn Bowden AM
Mandy Jones AM
Mick Antoniw AM Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Suzy Davies AM

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Graham Rees Llywodraeth Cymru
Welsh Government
Lesley Griffiths AM Gweinidog yr Amgylchedd, Ynni a Materion Gwledig
Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs
Tamsin Brown Llywodraeth Cymru
Welsh Government

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Gareth Howells Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Katie Wyatt Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Manon George Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Mike Lewis Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
P Gareth Williams Clerc
Clerk
Sarah Sargent Ail Glerc
Second Clerk

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

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

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 14:30.

The meeting began at 14:30. 

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

Good afternoon. This is a meeting of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee. I'll start off just with the usual housekeeping regulations and procedures. In the event of a fire alarm, Members should leave the room by the marked exits and follow instructions from the ushers and staff. There is no test forecast today, and the remainder of the usual housekeeping arrangements with regard to microphones and translation apply. I've had no apologies for today, so we have a full committee. Are there any declarations of interest? We have no declarations of interest. 

2. Is-ddeddfwriaeth nad yw'n ddarostyngedig i weithdrefn
2. Subordinate legislation subject to no procedure

So, we move on to item 2: subordinate legislation subject to no procedure, the Spring Traps Approval (Wales) Order. You have before you an Order and a letter from the Minister for Energy, Environment and Rural Affairs. This is a matter I think that has been referred to the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee for consideration. They will be certainly looking into this. Are there any comments? No issues on that.  

3. Offerynnau negyddol arfaethedig nad ydynt yn cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.3B
3. Proposed negative instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.3B

We move on to item 3: proposed negative instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.3B. The proposed negative statutory instruments with clear reports: the Flood and Water (Amendments) (England and Wales) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. These are regulations which make amendments to secondary legislation in the field of environmental protection, water and flood. They are regulations made in exercise of the powers in paragraph 1(1) Schedule 2 to the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 in order to address failures of retained EU law to operate effectively, as well as address other deficiencies in retained EU law arising from the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Are there any comments on that? Any observations? 

Do we know why they're England and Wales regulations, Chair? Is there an explanation as to why that is?

No, it's just—.  

It's the way they've been drafted. 

No points on that? No particular reasons as to why they're England and Wales regulations? 

There may be cross-border issues involved, which means the Welsh Ministers have some executive competence to do stuff—some things—in relation to England. 

I think it's important. That may well be the case, and there are plenty of examples where it makes sense for others to do the drafting work. But I think it's important if we could make the point to Ministers that where legislation is proposed on an England and Wales basis, the reason why is explained to the committee. 

It's a very good point, and perhaps we'll raise that direct, actually write direct to the Minister on this particular point. 

Moving on to item 3.2, the Service Charges (Consultation Requirements) (Wales) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, this instrument makes an amendment to the Service Charges (Consultation Requirements) (Wales) Regulations 2004 by removing a reference to the publications office of the EU and replacing it with a reference to the UK e-notifications system. That reference is to a definition to be inserted into regulation 51 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 via regulation 5 of the Public Procurement (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. These regulations have been laid before Parliament in draft. Any comments on those? If not, then we move on. 

4. Offerynnau negyddol arfaethedig sy’n cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.3B
4. Proposed negative instruments that raise reporting issues under Standing Order 21.3B

Item 4: proposed negative instruments that raise reporting issues under Standing Order 21.3B: the Animal Health and Welfare (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. You have before you a report, regulations and the explanatory memorandum. This instrument makes amendments to the Registration of Establishments (Laying Hens) (Wales) Regulations 2004, the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (Wales) Order 2007, the Welfare of Farmed Animals (Wales) Regulations 2007 and the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (Wales) Regulations 2014. Now, there is an issue that has arisen on these. So, I'll go straight to Gareth on this. 

These EU exit regulations have been laid before the Assembly to be sifted by this committee. The Welsh Government considers that the negative resolution procedure is the appropriate procedure for these regulations. The draft report on pack page 16 sets out a couple of points of interest, which may or may not be enough for the committee to consider that the regulations should be uplifted and subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

14:35

Okay, so you need a decision from us whether to accept in this current format or to write and propose it go into affirmative procedure. Are there any views on this?

In this committee, we're heavily in favour of powers for the legislature as opposed to just Ministers, so I would suggest that this becomes an affirmative.

If it goes affirmative, it will go before the Assembly. It'll go before. Government will obviously consider whether it agrees or not, but at least there will be a report on it. My initial view on this was I thought this is one that was worth actually identifying. It won't involve a great significant amount of time in it, but it certainly raises the constitutional point, and we'll ask Government to consider at least that aspect of it as to whether the regulations go further than they should, in which case the affirmative procedure would be appropriate. Any views on that—proposing that it be affirmative?

It was the point you were making last week—well, one.

Okay. So, you've got the decision there, in that respect. There's nothing else we need to do on that. 

5. Memoranda Cydsyniad Deddfwriaethol ar Fil Pysgodfeydd y DU: Sesiwn dystiolaeth
5. Legislative Consent Memoranda on the UK Fisheries Bill: Evidence session

In which case we move on to item 5, which is an important matter, the legislative consent memorandum on the Fisheries Bill, and the Minister will be attending in about five or six minutes to give evidence. So, I suggest we just adjourn for five minutes, and then we go through that.

14:40

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 14:36 a 14:44.

The meeting adjourned between 14:36 and 14:44.

5. Memoranda Cydsyniad Deddfwriaethol ar Bysgodfeydd y DU: Sesiwn dystiolaeth
5. Legislative Consent Memoranda on the UK Fisheries: Evidence session

So, the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee reconvened. I welcome the Cabinet Secretary to this meeting to give evidence in respect of the Fisheries Bill. So, I welcome you and your officials, Graham Rees and Tamsin Brown. Did you want to make any opening comments or are you happy for us to go straight into questions? 

14:45

Okay. Just a couple of opening questions from myself, which are why you consider the Bill and the provisions within it necessary—if you could perhaps explain why.

Thank you. So, the Bill as far as it relates to Wales is absolutely necessary for us to be able to manage our fisheries and our marine environment appropriately when we exit the EU. Obviously, once the UK leaves the European Union we will become an independent coastal state, subject to international laws and objectives, and the responsibility will require a much wider range of tools in order for the four administrations and the UK to work to collectively meet the requirements that are required in those international obligations. Also, the way that we share out the funding, so—. It's very different to agricultural funding, obviously—we don't fund our fishers in the way we fund our farmers—but that European Maritime and Fisheries Fund funding is used in a variety of ways that we will have to do ourselves after. 

Thank you for that. In the preparation of the Bill—as you know, there have been issues in terms of engagement between Welsh Government and the UK Government, for example, on the Agriculture Bill and other pieces of legislation. This is a much more detailed Bill. I wonder if you consider that Welsh Government has been adequately engaged within the construction of this Bill. And, perhaps, what might have been different in the construction of this as opposed to other legislation? 

I think it's probably safe to say we didn't get off to the best start. Certainly, we weren't involved in the drafting of the Bill. However, as soon as the Bill did come forward, we had then extensive engagement, particularly at an official level, but also at a ministerial level. So, Members will be aware I have regular quadrilateral meetings with the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and my Scottish counterparts, and, obviously, Northern Ireland officials. So, I think the level of engagement was very good—much quicker than the Agriculture Bill; I think we learned lessons there. So, I think it's really important, from our perspective, that the Bill meets the Welsh needs, and that—. I think I'm much happier with the engagement in relation to this Bill. You've just mentioned it's much more—. It is a detailed Bill. It's much more detailed than the UK agri Bill. And I think we've also—. Although I didn't have as many red lines with this Bill as I did with the Agriculture Bill, I think we've been able to be much more influential and we've been able to bring forward changes to the Bill much easier than the previous one. 

Okay, thank you for that. We've got quite a number of questions, so I'll move on through them fairly swiftly. Mandy Jones. 

Why have you not made a statement about this Bill as you did with the Agriculture Bill?

I think because, again, they're two very different Bills. They're quite often compared—and I've just done the same thing myself. They're quite often conflated and compared in a way that they shouldn't be because, again, they're very different. Agriculture's very different to fisheries management, so I don't think we can compare them. So, I think we're in a very different space with this Bill, which is why I haven't made a statement as yet. And I think, because—and this sounds really obvious—the four countries share the same fish, we are much keener to work together to find a solution and to get the right framework in place. 

Yes, thank you, Chair. Just a couple of questions on the common frameworks and the provisions of the Bill that relate solely to the establishment of common frameworks and those that refer to the common frameworks that are devolved to the Assembly but are not within our legislative competence. Can you just explain the two, because one shouldn't be in there, it seems to me, but both are in? So, perhaps you could just explain that. 

The provisions, yes. So, the provisions in the Bill: we've got one area that relates solely to the establishment of the common frameworks. So, I just wanted to know a bit about that, but then whether there were any provisions in the Bill that don't relate to the common frameworks but are within our legislative competence. 

Okay. So, let's take the latter one first. So, there are several clauses in Schedule 1 that are around the joint fisheries committee—I think it's clauses 1 to 6—then we've obviously got the common licensing powers around the licences of vessels, which are in Schedule 3, and then Schedule 6 has got several clauses. And then Schedule 4 is in relation to the financial powers that I referred to before and Schedule 7 is around amendments to the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. And, if you're asking why some of them are in the Bill, it's because—and it's an amendment that we've been able to secure now around Wales and the Welsh zone. So, the 12 nautical miles are the Wales zone, and then we've got—. We didn't have, or the Assembly didn't have, legislative competence beyond the Wales zone and that was an inequity with Scotland, for instance. So, that's one of the amendments. I referred before to that we've secured some very important amendments, and that was one of them.

14:50

Yes. So, we when we bring forward our own Welsh fisheries Bill, if we hadn't got that clause in, we wouldn't have been able to have the legislative competence in relation to that.

Yes, thank you. If I understand correctly, you as Welsh Government asked for some delegated powers in this process. Can you tell us why they're necessary? Why are they not adequately explained in the legislative consent memoranda? And can you give us an example of the regulations you might expect to introduce by using the powers that you've asked for?

So, at our request, we had some powers in relation to financial assistance and I gave an example of why we need to have those powers. We also amended the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. That was to provide new powers to Welsh Ministers, again to enable for us to manage our fisheries post Brexit much more dynamically, if you like. And also, for nature conservation reasons, it was really important to have that. And, again, I go back to Wales and the Welsh zone—if we hadn't got the powers now, when the time comes for us to have our Welsh fisheries Bill, we wouldn't have been able to legislate in that area.

Do any of these powers give you access to new policy that—? Is this just a like-for-like equivalent or have you got the opportunity here to introduce new policy by using the powers that you've asked for? 

I think it's probably like-for-like and it's to enable us to be able to manage our fisheries in a much more meaningful way. We will have to, obviously, amend existing fisheries enactments. We may have to change EU legislation—so, retained EU legislation. We could only do that through primary legislation. So—

Sorry to interrupt. Yes, I accept that—the operability of it—but it's just that, the powers as drafted, would they give you any openings, if you like, to introduce any new policy that wouldn't be consulted on?

That wouldn't be consulted—. I suppose it would be able to—. No, I don't think new policy in that. It would enable us to deviate from EU legislation, wouldn't it, but I don't think it would enable us to do it without consultation.

Okay. It's just that I recognise that, in the explanatory memorandum we did get, the reason you want to introduce an LCM in the first place is for uniformity. So, as far as I can tell, the powers give you opportunities to deviate from uniformity and I just wanted to know what you might want to do—some specific examples of how you might use those powers, then. Basically, why can't we wait for a Wales fisheries Bill? What's so urgent? 

Well, I go back to what I was saying about Wales and the Welsh zone, because, if we hadn't got those powers changed—

Oh, yes, and that's great for that, but there are still additional powers to that. I'm just wondering how you're intending to use them, really, particularly as you asked for them.

The issue that we're also dealing with is the risk of leaving the EU at the end of March, and so we need a toolset of powers to be able to manage fisheries and the marine environment from that point onwards. What these do in effect—so, the changes to the Marine and Coastal Access Act just change existing powers that are there at the moment to make them more flexible. The changes to the financial instrument change existing powers that are there to make them more broadly applicable, just to deal with the change in circumstances that we're likely to face as we exit the European Union.

Okay. So, they're not quite like-for-like, then, because you've just mentioned it twice—changes.

They're enhancements to our existing powers. They're not changes to policy; they're enhancements.

Oh, enhancements. Well, again, we'd be quite interested in hearing about enhanced powers, because that's not what we would have been expecting. What would you use enhanced powers for? And why aren't they in the LCM, on why you'd need enhanced powers?

At the moment, for example, in the Marine and Coastal Access Act, the permitting powers that are there at the moment would require us to remake legislation every time we amended a permit. As we're dealing with a lot of unknown circumstances as we exit the European Union, the ability to be able to adapt those permits means that it would be a more fit-for-purpose way of controlling fisheries.

And you couldn't wait for a Wales fisheries Bill for that? 

As the Minister's already—

Well, we might have to bring regulations in very quickly. It could be the first week of April, so—

14:55

You've answered my second question that I don't need to ask.

But, you know, we could have to make those changes incredibly quickly, so we would need to have the powers there. Obviously, you know the legislative programme that we currently have during this term—it's very full, so we're going to have to look at that, obviously, to bring it through the fisheries policy.

Mae'r rhan fwyaf o fy nghwestiynau i wedi cael eu hateb eisoes gan y Gweinidog. A allaf i jest gofyn un? Ai’r bwriad ydy i’r pwerau yn y Bil fod yn bwerau dros dro yn unig? Os nad y bwriad oedd iddyn nhw fod yn dros dro, pam nad yw’r Bil yn cynnwys cymal machlud, felly, os oedd disgwyl iddyn nhw fod yn hirdymor?

The majority of my questions have already been answered by the Minister. Can I just ask one question? Is it the intention that the powers in the Bill should be temporary in nature? If it wasn't the intention for them to be temporary in nature, then why doesn't the Bill contain a sunset provision, if they're expected to be longer term in nature?

Yes, absolutely, they are temporary. I've always made it very clear that we expect to bring forward a Welsh fisheries policy. There's no sunset clause because we don't yet have fisheries built into our legislative programme, so that's the reason for that.

Okay. I'd just like to come on now to clause 18. The UK Government's own explanatory memorandum doesn't consider that clause 18 is a matter requiring consent. I was wondering if perhaps you would outline your position in that respect, particularly with regard to the legislative consent memorandum that's been laid, and, of course, subsequent discussions, because there has been an amendment laid to the Bill, I think in the Committee Stage, isn't it, that is obviously a result of that. So, it'd be helpful if you could outline, I suppose, the issues of consent that were of concern, why they were of concern to you, what discussions you've had on them and how those have now been resolved, if they have been resolved.

They haven't fully been resolved. Basically, the UK Government doesn't share our view on this matter, so the discussions are ongoing. And, certainly, I've had these discussions at a ministerial level and, obviously, officials are continuing to have them. I absolutely recognise that the conduct of international obligations is reserved, but when you come, then, to implement those obligations, if they're in a devolved area, that's up to us. But, as I say, the UK Government doesn't really share the view on that.

I think, myself, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the UK Government all agree that the Secretary of State needs to be able to set the top-level fishing opportunities in UK waters, bur our concern is, I suppose, around the very broad way that the power is currently written. So, at the moment, as it stands now, the DEFRA Secretary of State could decide on quotas for scallops in Cardigan bay. So, he would be able to set that at the moment. Now, Michael Gove tells me he wouldn't do that; okay, that's fair enough, I can take that, but what about future UK Governments? So, it's really important. He could also decide on the number of days that the fisheries was open, for instance, so we don't accept that that is the case. So, those discussions are ongoing. I am hopeful that we will get an agreement in the next few weeks.

Well, yes. The crux of this is that the implementation of international agreements in areas of devolved competence is not reserved, as you've said, and that seems to have been confirmed by the Supreme Court as regards the Scottish Government—their continuity Bill, which emphasised that. Yet, you're saying that the UK Government still does not accept that position.

I think we're getting there. As I say, the discussions I've had—. I had a very brief discussion about this last Monday at the quadrilateral in London. I do think we're getting there. I don't know if Graham can add any more—I know you've got an official meeting this week. I don't know if you can add any more.

The issue hinges on the term 'international obligations' in the clause itself, which we feel is too broad. So, what we're seeking is some reassurance, maybe in the form of the mechanics of the inter-ministerial agreement that we've got in place, because this area does span reserved and devolved—some assurance that the National Assembly for Wales can be consulted and also provide a view on any changes that are brought forward that affect devolved administrations' powers.

Because this is the crux of it. And, are you minded, then, if you don't get the amendment that you're chasing, to withhold legislative competence in this matter?

15:00

Certainly it's something that we're considering. I have red lines, and I think this, obviously, comes in that category. I think, as we work forward on the fisheries management framework, this is an area where officials know it is absolutely a priority that we get this right.

Thank you. Just concentrating on clause 18, it appears to give the UK Secretary of State powers to set a UK quota—or quotas, I should say, or quotae if you're particularly concerned about Latin correctness. But that quota would be a UK quota. Is it then the intention that it would be subdivided into four different quotas for each of the UK nations? Now, on the face of clause 18, there's no provision—it's silent on it; there's no provision on it—but, from your perspective, would you want there to be a Welsh quota for all species, rather than there being a UK quota, within which we'd have to operate?

We've been having those discussions, because I think one of the things we've been looking at is: if we get additional quota, would it then be for the Secretary of State to top-slice it? And certainly the initial discussions that we've been having—. From our perspective, I think we would prefer that to Scotland and Northern Ireland sort of pushing out those—you know, having fixed quotas or for them just to go to the largest vessels, for instance. So, those are discussions that we are currently thinking about.

Just on another point, this conflict between the implementation of international obligations and their agreement, which is a problem we know exists, presumably, if the UK Government had an agreement with another state or entity that a certain number of boats should be able to fish in UK waters, how would that be allocated within the four nations? I suppose there isn't an answer to that yet—

—but that's one of the problems. And secondly, again the Bill is silent on this, but I suspect this is something for further discussion: even if, for example, the Welsh Government was obliged to let a certain number of foreign-owned vessels fish in Welsh waters, it would actually be possible to prevent boats from elsewhere in the UK from fishing in Welsh waters. Now, I'm not saying that we would do that, because our fisheries are very small, as you know. But certainly, in Scotland, which has a maritime area I think bigger than England, there is the possibility, I suppose, that Welsh fishing boats could be stopped from fishing in Scottish waters if the Scottish Government decided to take that view.

Taking the first part of your question, we haven't got an answer to that yet, but obviously we are bringing forward a joint fisheries statement. We are also looking at getting some sort of inter-ministerial agreement in the way that we've had on the agricultural side for a long time. So, these are part of the discussions that we are having, but you're quite right that Scotland are very vociferous in these parts of the discussions, as you can imagine.

Can I pursue that particular point? On the international treaties point, what the Supreme Court said was that, 'Well, of course, it is a reserved matter for UK Government in terms of the treaties, but the implementation of that in devolved areas remains a matter for the devolved Government.' Now, that's a very clear statement of that. It's very interesting to note that it was English MPs, I think during the Committee Stage, who were actually saying, 'We need a disputes procedure because Wales could just walk away et cetera,' and I was very interested to see the boot on the other foot, because for how many years have we been arguing for a disputes procedure? I'm just wondering, is that the issue of a specific—you referred to a memorandum—? I get very uneasy about the use of memoranda because of their weakness. But here, clearly, the law is on our side, the constitution is on our side. Isn't this an opportunity where we should actually be setting the precedent for a disputes procedure now in respect of this?

I agree. I noticed the former First Minister throw his hands up in the air, because you're absolutely right—we've been pushing for this for a while, and this is why I think we will have an agreement on this, and that's why, whilst it's a red line, I am confident that I will be able to recommend the Bill—

Will it be one that should go into the legislation itself?

Certainly that's a discussion that we can have, and I'd be very happy to update the committee following the meeting this week, if that would be helpful.

That was my question: do you foresee, or do you have something that you've got in mind as a draft amendment to pass on to parliamentary colleagues about what you want to see happen to clause 18, because I tend to agree that it needs a statutory 'what happens next' built in somehow?

15:05

There haven't been any discussions about following a legislative approach for—. We have discussed dispute resolution in a fisheries context, but it's sort of wrapped up in the work of the joint fisheries statement, because the joint fisheries statement is how we come together, how we negotiate, how we respect the fact that Wales has the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. So, our definition of sustainability is enshrined in legislation. So, the joint fisheries statement is to create that vehicle to respect both devolution and to enable us to bind ourselves together around some of these things.  

Okay, so it's not a case where you can just simply put in a clause along the lines of, in this case, 'The UK Government commits to doing the divvying up via a particular mechanism'. 

It would be more appropriate for the joint fisheries statement, I would believe, largely because it needs to be fit for purpose in the future as well, and we're in an evolving position.  

Just an add-on comment, of course, this has quite significant implications in other areas of international treaties—the trade Bill, for example, and others. So, I just make that point now. Dawn Bowden. 

Just on Schedule 6, which contains provision-conferring powers on Welsh Ministers, and conferred on the Secretary of State, by clauses 31 and 32. So, are those broad powers—? How is it your intention to use those particular powers, if that's not already been covered by Suzy's questions earlier? 

These are very important powers. They're very powerful. I think this is probably a level of power that we haven't had before. They're really important so that we can amend and change the EU legislation that's retained without seeking primary legislation. As I said, we may need to deviate from EU legislation, so this would allow us to do so. It may help with implementing new international obligations. We'll need to keep pace with EU legislation, because they could—. Well, I won't say they could—legislation is always evolving, obviously, within the EU also.

You'll be aware of the significant level of statutory instruments that are being made by Welsh Ministers at the moment; we had a very interesting debate in the Chamber last week with Suzy's motion. But also, the powers are necessary for us to be able to manage fish stocks and, obviously, the marine environment in the way that we want to in Wales. Graham just referred to, obviously, the FG Act. And I go back to what I was saying, I think it was in answer to Suzy before, in that we may need to make changes as early as the first week of April. So, we need to make sure that we've got these powers. 

Of course, similar powers are conferred on Northern Ireland and Scotland as well, so that will give the opportunity for discussions nation by nation, presumably, in that sense.  

Right, that's fine. Just a final question from me, Chair, if I might. It's just around the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and whether there's been any progress on the discussions there around the—if I can find it; what was it you were talking to them about? So, it allows you to manage fisheries in a much more flexible way.

The permits. So, I think this has been a long-standing issue and, certainly since I've been in post, it's something that stakeholders have wanted to see—so, that ability to be able to reissue a permit without having to have legislation, so having that flexibility to be able to do that. Again, we've had some significant dialogue, really, with the UK Government around this issue, and I do expect to see further amendments coming forward.  

Yes, absolutely, they're accepting of this point, and I think these further amendments are something that Graham will be discussing on Wednesday at the officials' meeting. But, yes, I think they absolutely accept that this is an area that we will have, and if we do get these further amendments, obviously, Chair, I will lay a further supplementary LCM. 

Much of what I wanted to raise has been dealt with. In terms of clause 39 of the Bill, I very much welcome that to get the legislative and executive competence aligned. That's hugely important. As far as—. We've mentioned clause 18, but is there anything else in the Bill that causes you concern? If, for example, clause 18 was to be resolved satisfactorily, do you think then you'd be in a position to recommend an LCM to the Assembly? 

Yes. My big red line—and I think that was following discussions with you, really—was about Wales and the Welsh zone. I think that was really important, and for the Assembly as well, because it is really important that the National Assembly's powers were recognised in the way they were. So, I think once clause 18 is sorted, that will be all the red lines ticked off, and I will then be able to recommend. But obviously we've got the amendments coming through, we've got the Lords Committee Stage. I understand from a discussion I had with Michael Gove last Monday they are working to a much more accelerated timetable now, particularly with the threat of no deal. So, I'm very hopeful that will—that the Lords Committee Stage will be in the not-too-distant future and I'll be able to bring forward the supplementary LCM and then ask for the Assembly's approval.

15:10

I think one of my questions has already been covered, but how will you ensure that the provisions in the Bill and the subordinate legislation under it are accessible to stakeholders and the wider public?

Obviously, all UK Government legislation is widely available on their website, and in regard to subordinate legislation, we will make sure that any regulations that we bring forward will be accessible and transparent in the way we always do.

Okay. Can I come back just to one area? I think there was something I wanted to cover in respect of questions. The Bill permits the Secretary of State to act in devolved areas with the consent of the devolved administrations, and I was just wondering if you could explain why this is the case, and the rationale for the approach, which doesn't seem to be completely clear from the legislative consent memorandum or the supplementary. What plans do you have for notifying the Assembly of any circumstances where consent is given?

So, I thought it was quite clear in the LCM and the supplementary LCM, but, obviously, we're laying down all the SIs, and I know there were some concerns from Members around that, but as I tried to say to Suzy last week, I'm doing the work, the team are doing the work, it's just a matter of Assembly time. I think we worked out that if we brought forward every SI, it would take six months of Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and doing nothing else, but I am aware that, obviously, there are concerns around scrutiny, but we're laying statements as soon as we're—I mean, I've done two SIs in the last 24 hours, but I think it is—. I do understand the concerns around affirmative and negative, but I will make sure that where there are areas where we do have concerns, Members are aware of them.

Yes, just an issue, really, just to confirm something. Much has been made of what is claimed to be a 200-mile exclusive economic zone around the UK, which doesn't, by and large, exist. As I understand it, there is a line that goes out towards Rockall in the north-west of Scotland, where it does exist, and an arrow that goes out from the Isles of Scilly into the Bay of Biscay, where it also exists. But if we could just confirm that the exclusive economic zone only exists out to 200 miles if there is no other country in the way.

Okay, I think those are the questions we wanted to go—. We very much appreciate your attendance today. You will get, of course, a transcript of the evidence, and obviously there'll be other considerations by other committees, which have already taken place in this respect, and we look forward to any further information as this Bill proceeds. Thank you for you attendance.

6. Hynt yr Adolygiad i Gysylltiadau Rhynglywodraethol
6. Progress of the Review into Inter-governmental Relations

So, we now move on to item 6, progress of the review into inter-governmental relations, and there are a number of papers. You will see that we'd written to David Lidington and there's been a response from there, a response from Michael Russell from Scotland, and also a response from Mark Drakeford, then Cabinet Secretary for Finance, now, obviously, First Minister. Any comments on those? 

We note them. Okay. And we can consider these further in private session later on.

7. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod
7. 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 now move to a motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to meet in public. I refer to 17.42(vi), to move into private session on the basis of clause vi, which is

'the committee is deliberating on the content, conclusions or recommendations of a report it proposes to publish; or is preparing itself to take evidence from any person'.

Does anyone move into private session? Move the motion?

15:15

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 15:15.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 15:15.

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