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Pwyllgor Materion Cyfansoddiadol a Deddfwriaethol

Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee

09/12/2019

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

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

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Rachael Davies Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Rhiannon Lewis Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
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 datgan buddiannau
1. Introduction, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

This is a meeting of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee. We're on to item 1. I have no apologies. Suzy Davies is engaged with Commission work and will be coming along shortly, I understand. The usual housekeeping rules apply. Are there any declarations of interest? If there aren't any, we move straight on, then, to item 2. 

2. Offerynnau nad ydynt yn codi materion i gyflwyno adroddiad yn eu cylch o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3
2. Instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3

We're on to the Non-Domestic Rating (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 2) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2019. These are regulations that amend the decapitalisation rates for non-domestic rating lists prescribed on or after 1 April 2021. They set a lower decapitalisation rate of 1.9 per cent for educational, healthcare, public convenience and defence properties and a standard rate of 3.5 per cent for all other properties. Any observations, any comments? 

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

If not, we move straight on, then, to item 3. We're on to the Official Feed and Food Controls (Wales) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019. You have before you the report, the regulations, the explanatory memorandum and, of course, a letter from the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd to the Llywydd. These regulations make amendments to a number of pieces of secondary legislation relating to food and feed. They provide for the partial implementation of EU regulations on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products.

These regulations were made in breach of the 21-day rule, as were the next two sets of regulations that we will be considering. That comment has been noted in the papers. Anything to add beyond that? 

Yes, just to add that the merits point, as the Chair has just said, notes the breach of the 21-day rule because these regulations needed to be in place before 14 December to ensure that Wales has a legal framework in place to enforce official controls over food and feed safety laws. The drafting was delayed because important parts of the regulations depended on whether the UK would still be an EU member state on 14 December, and certainty over this position was not forthcoming until shortly before 31 October. 

So, 31 October impacts on this and a number of these regulations in terms of that 21-day timescale, which we obviously note has been breached. Any other comments or observations? 

If not, we'll move on to the Fishery Products (Official Controls Charges) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2019. And, again, you have the relevant documentation and reports and drafts in front of you. These regulations amend the Fishery Products (Official Controls Charges) (Wales) Regulations 2007 to provide for the execution of powers and enforcement in Wales of EU regulations on official controls and, as with the previous regulations, other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products. Any comments, observations, there?

Just that it's another breach of the 21-day rule, for the same reasons as we just discussed. 

Yes, can I ask a question on those? Apologies for being late; I forgot my lanyard. Obviously, these come in now as retained law, I'm guessing. Is that how these secondary bits of legislation work?

These are—.

They come into effect on 14 December to make amendments to existing EU law to enable the law to be implemented. 

Right. Will they need changing again, post exit? That's what I'm asking, and whether the Government needs to be introducing any other sorts of statutory instruments for that.

That's great. That's what I wanted to ask. Thank you very much. 

We're now on to the Fishery Products Official Control—. Sorry, I beg your pardon; we're on to the Meat (Official Control Charges) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2019. Again, you have various documents in front of you: the report, the regulations, the explanatory memorandum, and a letter from the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd to the Llywydd. Now, these regulations amend the Meat (Official Control Charges) (Wales) Regulations 2009 for the same reasons as the two previous sets of regulations that we've done. So, exactly the same issue arises again in terms of the 21-day notice breach. Comments on that—there are some more points, aren't there? 

14:35

Yes, there are two other merits points as well. So, the second point notes that a choice of procedure was available for these regulations and the choice of negative procedure seems to be appropriate, given that the discretion of Welsh Ministers is limited over the content of the statutory instrument because it is giving effect to EU provisions. And the third point notes that amendments to certain definitions in the 2009 regulations have not been fully explained in the explanatory memorandum, and so the draft report requests clarification from Welsh Government on the effect of those amendments. 

A formal Government response has been requested in relation to the third point only, but not been received yet. Also, just to add, there are some cross-referencing errors in the draft report in the pack in front of you, which will be amended before the report is laid. 

Okay. Anything else on that? If not, we move on to item 3.4, the Government of Wales Act 2006 (Budget Motions and Designated Bodies) (Amendment) Order 2019 and, again, the report, the Order, the explanatory memorandum. This is an Order that amends the Government of Wales Act 2006 (Budget Motions and Designated Bodies) Order 2018, which designates specified bodies in relation to the Welsh Ministers for the purpose of including within a budget motion the resources expected to be used by those bodies. One merits point has been identified. Do you want to outline that? 

Yes. Again, it's to do with the choice of procedure. So, in making the Order, Welsh Ministers had the choice of whether to follow the affirmative resolution procedure or the negative, and the negative procedure was chosen, which does seem appropriate in the context of what this Order is doing.  

Okay. Any other observations? If not, we move on to the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements and Default Scheme) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2020. Again, you have the relevant documentation in front of you. These regulations amend the Council Tax Reduction Schemes and Prescribed Requirements (Wales) Regulations 2013, and the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Default Scheme) (Wales) Regulations 2013. The amendments include uprating certain figures used to calculate an applicant’s entitlement to a reduction under a council tax reduction scheme, and making certain technical and consequential amendments. There is a merits point identified.

Yes. The merits point starts on pack page 120, and it's asking why it's necessary in some instances, when referring to a provision in secondary legislation, that these regulations also refer to the enabling power for that provision. So, using the example in the report, the regulations refer to

'article 3...of the Immigration (European Economic Area Nationals) (EU Exit) Order 2019'

—my emphasis—

'made under section 3A of the Immigration Act 1971.'

The Government response has come in and doesn't directly answer this question, but outlines there is precedent for the approach taken and that it is consistent with EU exit provisions made in other regulations.  

Perhaps we can just go back and say, 'We'd still prefer an answer to the question, although we recognise the approach that's been adopted in terms of precedent'. Let's just press them for an answer on that, if we can do that—a polite pre-Christmas letter.

That takes us to the end of those items on the agenda. The only other item I want to draw the attention of the committee to now is, of course, we come back on 6 January 2020, and there will obviously be a number of matters then to deal with, but we have on 13 January, as part of our inquiry into Wales's changing constitution, the First Minister, I think, attending on that particular date, and we have another session on 20 January particularly in relation to the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill. So, there are two important events that are coming there. And I'm meeting with the Llywydd on Wednesday just to discuss matters from the last meeting relating to the Thomas commission, and I'll report back on that in due course. Are there any other matters anyone wants to raise? Have we got everything we need? In that case, I thank everyone on the committee. Have a good Christmas, have a good Thursday, and we'll see you on 6 January.

14:40

Daeth y cyfarfod i ben am 14:40.

The meeting ended at 14:40.

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