Y Pwyllgor Deisebau - Y Bumed Senedd

Petitions Committee - Fifth Senedd

05/11/2019

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Janet Finch-Saunders AM Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Leanne Wood AM
Michelle Brown AM
Mike Hedges AM

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Graeme Francis Clerc
Clerk
Lisa Salkeld Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Ross Davies Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy 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.

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

Good morning. Bore da. And welcome to our committee. Participants are welcome to speak in Welsh or English; headsets are available for translation of Welsh to English. There is no need to turn off mobile phones or other electronic devices, but please ensure that all devices are in silent mode. We haven't received apologies from any Member, other than Jack Sargeant, and Mike Hedges AM is here to replace him.

2. Deisebau newydd
2. New petitions

So, we move straight to new petitions and the first is 'Ban the use of animals from circuses and travelling shows in Wales'—page 47 in your pack. This petition was submitted by Linda Joyce-Jones, Kirsty John and Jayne Dendle, having collected a total of 1,649 signatures, of which 849 were online and 800 on paper. And the text of the petition:

'We call on the National Assembly for Wales to ask the Welsh Government to ban the use of animals in circuses and travelling shows in Wales.'

So, we've received an initial response to the petition from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs on 24 September. A research brief has been provided and the petitioners have also provided further comment. How would you like to take this forward?

09:15

The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee have just done Stage 1 on banning animals in circuses. It's about to go into a Plenary session to decide whether we wish to take it on to Stage 2. So, I'm not sure if there is anything more we could do, if we've got to that stage.

Can we write to the petitioner and explain that that is happening and suggest that there may be ways of intervening within that process—perhaps writing, being part of the consultation with the committee?

So, just for clarity on this one, the current Bill that has been referred to is being taken forward following a previous petition by the same petitioner, or one of the three current petitioners who led the previous petition. That Bill is looking to ban the use of wild animals in circuses, and there's a definition in the Bill, I think, as to what constitutes a wild animal versus a domesticated species. So, this is a follow-up petition, which is looking to ban the use of all animals in circuses, without that distinction between what's a wild animal and what isn't, and, indeed, from any travelling show for people's entertainment, not just travelling circuses.

But if we've got the legislation in front of us, I don't want to sound pessimistic, but I can't see a second circus animals Act being brought in during this Assembly session. So, we've got the Stage 1, which has been done. There are opportunities for amendments at Stage 2 and Stage 3. But we're not going to have another Bill on animals in circuses, certainly within this session, I wouldn't have thought.

Is there advice that the Petitions Committee could provide to explain how to lobby a local Assembly Member and regional Assembly Members as to getting amendments in, as the petitioners want? Because I just think we may be able to achieve at least an airing of the arguments that way, but it may be that people are not aware of the processes.

And it also states that the Government is also introducing a licensing scheme for animal exhibits, including those that are static, and a public consultation on draft regulation and guidance is open until 21 November. So, there's a mechanism there.

When I was in your position, Janet, I always thought that the thing we could achieve would be getting it being discussed, getting it to Ministers and hopefully getting legislation coming forward. We've got all those things happening. I'm not sure that there's anything else we could actually do that would be useful.

Yes, because also the Minister states here:

'There are not the same fundamental ethical objections to the use of animals in these other settings as there are for the use of wild animals in travelling circuses.'

Yes, well, that's what I mean, and it's our job, really, to find a mechanism where those concerns can be—.

But the point of developing legislation is that all viewpoints are considered, hopefully, and some are rejected because the evidence doesn't back them up, but that's the process I would suggest that this needs to go through.

So that they lobby their own AM or regional AM to perhaps try and put some amendments forward.

Okay, so we can certainly provide some information about the legislative process, and what's going to happen next in relation to that Bill, to the petitioners. And then, as the Chair has mentioned, the current Government consultation on a new licensing scheme—the animal exhibits—is currently open, so there's a window to take forward the other aspect of the petition as well. Would you want to wait until the conclusion of that consultation and the passage of the legislation before looking at the petition again?

09:20

I don't think we have to—I think you'll have to, but I probably won't be here when it happens. I think it has to wait until the things that are happening have happened.

Okay. And I welcome Michelle Brown to the committee—good morning.

So, we're now on 2.2, P-05-905, on page 4: 'Call for an Independent judicial Inquiry into the reorganisation of services within Cwm Taf Health Board'. This was submitted by Mark Adams and Robert Bevan, having collected 387 signatures. The text of this petition

'calls on the Welsh Government to undertake a fully independent judicial inquiry into the management and implementation of the NHS South Wales programme at Cwm Taf Health Board and its impact on the services provided to the public of Rhondda Cynon Taff at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.'

Now, we've had an initial response to the petition on 14 October from the Minister. Research has been provided. The petitioners were informed that the petition would be discussed but have not provided further comments. How would you like to take this forward?

Can I say something on this, because this is something that covers the Rhondda? I'm surprised, actually, that so few people have signed this petition, because I'm aware that the majority of people, that I speak to anyway, are concerned about the way that hospital services are developing. I think that although a lot of the decisions were taken back in 2014, and there were quite strong community objections to those decisions at the time, things have developed since, which means that there has been a very critical report of maternity services, and there are growing problems, from my case load anyway, about mental health services; there are fears about the future of the accident and emergency service there.

So, I think that, given all of that, and the fact that many of the services that were meant to be in place before services were withdrawn from the hospital haven't been put in place, then there does need to be an external independent look at this. I'm not sure what mechanisms there are to do that, or what funds are available for a judicial inquiry—I would imagine that that would be expensive. But I do think that, as a committee, we should support the basic principle of this petition, not to let it slide or disappear, but to try and get some kind of action from the Minister, which will give an independent look at this. Because I don't have confidence that, given the way in which I understand some problems are still there in the services that have had a critical eye put on them, we will get the right answers under the current setup. So, unless there's an independent look at this, then I'm afraid that people are not going to have confidence in the service.

Yes, but we also need to give them another two weeks to respond—the petitioners. 

Yes. Okay, everyone agreed? Thank you.

We now go on to P-05-906, page 6: 'Save Sam Davies Ward at Barry Hospital'. And this is on page 70 of your pack. This petition was submitted by Unison, having collected a total of 13,265 signatures, of which 1,858 were online and 11,407 on paper. They are calling

'on the Welsh Government, being the ultimate body responsible for the provision of health care in Wales, to stop the proposal of the Cardiff & Vale UHB to close the Sam Davies Ward, a 23 bedded older persons acute rehabilitation ward at the Barry Hospital, and to ensure that the Barry Hospital continues to provide Health Services to the public of Barry the largest Town in Wales.'

Clearly, a response was received from the Minister for Health and Social Services on 4 October, a research brief has been provided, and the petitioners have provided further comments. So, there are a number of possible actions we can take. It has received more than 5,000 signatures, so you could consider seeking time for an immediate debate in Plenary. However, given the Minister’s indication that he cannot comment on the proposals at this time—it may ultimately be referred to him for a decision—this may not deliver additional clarity at the current time. Or, you could write to the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board or to South Glamorgan Community Health Council to seek their views on the current proposals being advanced by the health board.

09:25

Well, there's no sense in waiting for the Minister to take a decision, is there, because then it will be too late? So, we should definitely seek further information, I think, on this. But, given that so many people have signed the petition, I think that we've got to take—. We can't just not refer it to Plenary because the Minister might have to take a decision. There may be other Ministers who can respond. There may be other ways around that particular tricky issue. But, given that 13,000 people have signed this, I think that we've got to give it a proper airing. 

I declare an interest as a member of Unison, and agree with Leanne.

So, in terms of the timings for that, then, would you want to gather the further information by writing to the health board and the community health council in the first instance—

—and see what they have to say before making any referral to Plenary, or do you want to do those things at the same time?

I think the more information we have before Plenary, the better, because there's going to have to be a research briefing and whatever provided for us. So, the more information that can be in that, I think it makes sense to wait for that information to come to us, then.

Okay. The health board has indicated that it's running its public engagement exercise at the moment, and the end of November is the time period when they'd be looking to publicise the outcome. 

Okay. Thank you, Members. Item 2.4 is P-05-907, 'Change the speed limit in Cemaes to 30mph'. This petition was submitted by Manon Pughe having collected 93 signatures. The text of that petition is calling upon

'the National Welsh Assembly to encourage the Welsh Government to reduce the speed limit in the village of Cemaes (on the A470 between Machynlleth and Dolgellau) from 40mph to 30mph. We also call upon them to extend the speed restriction area so that it begins by the Cemaes sign when entering the village from the Cemaes Road direction.'

An initial response to the petition was received from the Minister for Economy and Transport on 15 October. A research brief has been provided. The petitioner was informed that the petition would be discussed, but has not provided further comments.

The Minister quite clearly points out that the Welsh Government is currently undertaking a review of speed limits across Wales. But, a previous review in 2013 reached a decision to retain the current 40 mph limit through this section of the A470, with other works planned to improve road safety.

Can I ask: is there a mechanism within the Minister's review of the speed limit for members of the public to have an input into that directly? There are four other petitions that we've had relating to speed limits, and they've been closed, but on the basis that the Minister has committed to take them into account as part of this review. Is there a direct way that people can influence that review, or—?

We engaged in quite a lot of correspondence—. The committee engaged in quite a lot of correspondence with the Minister over this issue in relation to the previous petitions it has had. The committee was never able to get a clear timescale for when different parts of Wales would be looked at as part of that review under it, but ultimately did receive this commitment from the Minister, that the fact that the petitions existed, the fact that the committee and members of the communities have corresponded with his department about the issues they felt were there, that that was the mechanism for taking those views into account.

If I recall, the committee in one instance tried to facilitate a meeting between the people undertaking the review and the petitioners, but that was resisted by the Government as well. So, there isn't, as far as I am aware, a formal consultation process or engagement process that takes place at all of the multiple locations that the Government is looking at across Wales, but correspondence seemed to be the answer from the Minister, at the time. 

09:30

Can we provide that information to the petitioners then? 

Okay, yes. 

And obviously seek their views as to the Minister's response as well. 

So, P-05-910, 'Make thrombectomy available 24-7 for Welsh patients'. This petition was submitted by Callum Rogers, having collected 685 signatures, calling upon

'the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh government to end the inequality in access to life-saving stroke thrombectomy treatment.'

And it's the usual: we've received a response from the Minister, which is in your packs; a research brief has been provided; and the petitioner was informed that the petition would be discussed, but has not provided further comment. Page 87.

One of the options available to us is to write to the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee to ask for details about the development of a service specification for thrombectomy, timescales for running a consultation exercise on this and the anticipated next steps following the consultation. So, I think we should definitely do that. This is a case I remember being in the press at the time, and it's awful that some services are available to some people and they're not available to others. So, that kind of equality of care is an issue on this. It is something I think we should try to seek some further information about if we can.

Okay. And then we move on to P-05-917, 'No bilingual name for the Senedd'. Now, this petition was submitted by Anthony Jones, having collected 1,033 signatures. The text of the petition,  

'We all know the Senedd, we can all pronounce the Senedd. So why do we need a bilingual name for it? This is a waste of money and nothing more than trying to take away more of what makes Wales, Wales.'

I've got a lot of sympathy with the sentiment behind this petition, but we've voted on this now in the Senedd, and the legislation is in the process of going through. There will be further votes on it, and that is an opportunity for members of the public to lobby their Assembly Members and see if we can get more Assembly Members to take the side of those of us who support the ideas behind this petition. 

I'm one of those who supports the idea behind the petition but it really is in—. There's nothing we can do, because it's already been debated as legislation, but I'm just waiting for them to change the name of Senedd.tv to Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament.tv. [Laughter.]

Okay, so are you wanting to close this petition, or write back to the petitioner—and write back to the petitioner, I should say—explaining that there is a mechanism—

A mechanism for going through that. Yes, I think so. 

Okay. So, we'll close the petition. 

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

'Support for the Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill'. This petition was submitted by Councillor Dilwar Ali, and was first considered in April 2013, so that's April 2013, having collected 1,119 signatures. So, we last considered this on 19 March, agreeing to accept the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs's offer of a further update in due course and to consider further action at that point. An update was received from the Minister on 17 October. The petitioner was informed that the petition would be discussed, but has not provided further comment. We've had correspondence from Julie Morgan AM to the committee, and if Members haven't got it, here it is:

'Thank you very much for your email below to my constituent, Cllr Dilwar Ali. 

'I understand from the letter from Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, that Middlesex University is undertaking research, which when completed, will be discussed with the devolved nations. I would therefore be grateful if Cllr Ali’s petition hearing could be postponed until this research and consultation has been completed.'

Now, how do you want to take this forward? We've had this—. We're not sure what more we can add as this committee. We've had this with us now since 2013.

09:35

How much of this is related to us as a devolved institution and how much of it is actually related to Westminster? Because it's Westminster legislation that is affecting all of this, isn't it?

So, I understand, back at the time that this petition was originally submitted, there were discussions about the Welsh Government introducing a control of dogs (Wales) Bill. So, there are certainly some devolved powers in this area, although I wouldn't be able to outline what those were today.

Could that be what Julie was referring to in her letter, then, that they may be further considering legislation? I mean, it doesn't say it, does it, but—?

So, that legislation was then not taken forward during the fourth Assembly and the petition has, kind of, existed with the committee since that point, but during all of this Assembly, the indications the committee's received have been that either the petitioner was meeting with the Minister about this issue or the constituency Assembly Member was meeting with the Minister about it. The Government is currently talking about research that's following a select committee inquiry in Westminster. So, it's—

It's been difficult to get a handle on exactly what this committee could add to that process. 

But we've had a request to not do anything until—. I think we/you ought to give it that time and see what happens. When you have a request for postponement, it's very difficult to do anything apart from postpone, isn't it?

I mean, the only caution I would advise with that is that this is not the first time that the committee has postponed consideration of this petition. Given the time that it's been under consideration, there will need to be a time at which the committee decides whether it can proceed with anything with this petition. And because of the way the rules of the Assembly's petitions process work, the committee can only consider one petition on any given topic at a time. So, whilst this petition is open with the committee, another petition about controlling dangerous dogs might well not be able to be accepted by the Petitions Committee. So, it's not risk-free, keeping a petition open without progressing it.

Am I right in assuming that the petition can't be amended once it's been submitted?

Yes, that's correct.

Because it looks like this petition—. There's so much time between when the petition was submitted and now, there's been a whole evolution, by the sound of it, of what's been going on in the background. This petition—. I'm wondering whether it's even relevant anymore.

It's out-of-date, perhaps. I mean, I can see what you're saying that this should be dealt with within a particular length of time, but then on the other hand, if the Government want to kick an issue into the long grass, that's all they need to do is string things out, kick things back and fore for a certain length of time and then it just runs out of time and falls off the agenda. So, I wouldn't want to set a precedent of that happening because it looks like a lot of the delay in all of this has been down to the Government and not down to anything else, as far as I can see. So, is there anything we can do in terms of just one last attempt at trying to get a hearing for this somehow, or do you think we're just going to run out of Assembly time again in this term too, before we get a chance to do that?

Well, it's always open to the committee, I guess, to seek to ask questions of the Government—in this case, of the Minister for environment—to try and get a more detailed position of exactly what the Welsh Government's view is on the matters that would have been taken forward by this Bill if it had been passed in 2014.

Do we know if there was a manifesto commitment to pass this legislation at the time or not, in the last Assembly?

I don't know.

So, I mean, it would be open to the committee to press the Government further if you wanted to, to really—

I think we should give it one more push and not allow them to, by their own procrastination, kick something off the agenda.

Okay. The next one: P-05-813, 'Ban the USE of LARSEN TRAPS (Multi Corvid Traps)'. This petition was submitted by Victoria Kragiel and was first considered in May 2018, having collected 1,943 signatures, calling on

'the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to BAN the USE, Sale & Manufacture of LARSEN TRAPS (Multi Corvid Traps).'

So, we last considered this on 17 September, agreeing to write back to NRW to accept their offer to investigate the use and regulation of Larsen traps, and also to ask for them to provide an indicative timescale for carrying out this work. A response was received from Natural Resources Wales on 7 October. The commission—the committee, in fact—has also previously received evidence on the petition from a range of organisations on both sides of this debate, including those who dispute the way that the use of Larsen traps is presented in this petition. The petitioner was informed that the petition would be discussed but has not provided further comment. So, how would you like to take this forward?

09:40

Well, I think that given that there is going to be consideration of a wider review of all bird licensing in 2020 by NRW, then I think we should allow that to happen. But, obviously, that then takes this petition way forward into time, and we've run out of time, effectively, in terms of this. So, I would suggest that we close the petition but note that this process is being considered by NRW.

Because it does say that the use and regulation of Larsen traps in Wales will be considered during the review 2020. So, it's—.

And then, if the review doesn't deliver what the petitioners are looking for, they would be free to open a new petition, but they can't do that while this one is open, as you've just said in a previous petition, so—.

Okay. So, we close this petition.

Item 3.3, P-05-829, 'Ban Single Use Plastic Items in Wales'. This petition was submitted by Ban Plastic Straws Wales and was first considered in September 2018, having collected 161 signatures.

We last considered this on 2 April alongside two other petitions relating to plastics; they were P-05-750 and P-05-803. We agreed to await the outcome of the relevant joint consultations being held by the UK and Welsh Governments before considering whether it would take further action on the petitions.

On 16 October, the Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government did make commitments to banning certain single-use plastics during a debate in Plenary. The petitioners were informed that the petition would be discussed but have not provided further comment. How would you like to go forward with this one?

We need the detail on exactly what the Government's plans are here. It's good that they've made the announcement that certain single-use items will be banned, but we've not seen the detail as to exactly what that means, the timescale, or how they will go about it. There are some things, like with the straws question, where people with certain disabilities, for example, will need to continue to use certain types of plastic straws. So, it does need to be considered and scrutinised quite closely. But I don't think we can take this any further until we've got that additional information. So, if we can write to the Deputy Minister and seek that additional information on the commitments they've already made, I think that we should then look at this again in the future.

Great. Thanks, Leanne.

3.4, P-05-839, 'Adopt WHO guidelines for air pollution into Welsh law and introduce a new Clean Air Act for Wales'. This petition was submitted by British Heart Foundation Cymru and was first considered in November 2018, having collected 688 signatures.

We last considered this petition on 29 January, agreeing to provide the latest comments from the petitioners to the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the context of the offers that they make to support work in this area, and also to await the publication of a draft clean air plan for Wales and consider whether there is any further action that this committee can take at that point. The petitioner has recently written to the committee to provide further comment. How would you like to take this forward?

09:45

Well, I'm a bit confused as to what exactly is happening with this clean air Act now, because there was due to be something published towards the end of 2018, and, in the legislative programme of July this year, there was no inclusion of a clean air Act in that legislative plan. So, given all of that, we need to press the Minister, I think, and in particular the First Minister, to see exactly how the commitments to a clean air Act are going to be realised. Because, so far, it doesn't look as if they are in the planning stage anywhere, as far as we can see.

So, you're happy for us to write to the Minister and establish exactly what's happening.

Yes.

'Ban the sale of puppies by pet shops and all commercial 3rd party dealers in Wales (Lucy's Law)'. This petition was submitted by Care And Respect Includes All Dogs and was first considered in January 2019, having collected 11,195 signatures, calling on

'the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to implement a ban on the sale of puppies by pet shops and all commercial third-party dealers.'

So, we last considered this on 17 September, agreeing to write to the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, welcoming the announcement that she intends to introduce a ban on third-party sales of puppies and kittens, and to ask for details of the intended process and timescales for this.

We received a response from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs on 15 October. The petitioners were informed that the petition would be discussed but have not provided further comment.

The Minister has outlined steps that have been taken on this issue to date, including asking the animal health and welfare framework group to request an urgent and immediate review of the dog breeding regulations, writing to all local authorities to discuss enforcement issues with the chief veterinary officer, and to develop a campaign aimed at prospective puppy purchasers. The Minister also reiterates that she sees value in banning third-party sales of puppies and kittens, following the review of the current regulations referred to above. How would you like to go with this one?

Well, it's certainly good news that the Minister wants to ban it. I couldn't be happier to hear that. Yes, I'd be very interested to see what the animal health and welfare framework group come back with and then check back with Welsh Government and see how they're going to actually implement it and act on it.

Well, given it's an urgent review, that would suggest that we should have some feedback back quite quickly, although there are no timescales, from what I can see, on this. So, I don't really know what 'urgent' means in that context. But, I mean, do we really need to wait for the outcome of a review on this? I know it's difficult for the Minister to not wait when you've asked for one, but if she's already—if there's already been a statement that says that there should be a ban, then I think, as a committee, we should perhaps push for that to happen as quickly as possible.

One thing we could do is to ask for a timescale on the review and ask what 'urgent' means in this context. I mean, I would have thought it should be all sorted within a week or two, but I know how Government works, and it's never that quick.

Isn't there a danger, though, that the Minister might bounce it back and say, 'Well, the group are reviewing the situation now and I'm not going to respond until they've reported'?

But perhaps we can just say, then, that we want to see 'urgent' mean urgent.

We could ask, perhaps, when they're expecting the report back.

Yes. Okay.

Item 3.6, P-05-876, 'Protection of Red & Amber listed species in Wales'. This was submitted by Chris Evans—first considered in May 2019, having collected 173 signatures.

We last considered this on 9 July, agreeing to await further views or information from the petitioner before deciding whether to take any further action on the petition, and seek further information on the number of licences issued by Natural Resources Wales, which would allow the killing of species categorised as red and amber on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' list.

A response was received from Natural Resources Wales on 6 September. The petitioner was informed that the petition would be discussed but has not provided further comment.

How would you like to go forward?

09:50

Well, there's a review of all wild bird licensing going to take place in 2020. But I think the point about Natural Resources Wales needing to look at the way they view this is a good point. Is there any way we can influence and make that point for this review so that they consider it more from a biodiversity perspective rather than a protecting of animal feed and some of the other examples that have been given here?

Given the content of a couple of the petitions—this petition and the earlier petition about the Larsen traps—I'm not feeling very happy with the way NRW are operating and I do wonder what NRW think their objective is. Is their objective to protect the environment and the wildlife in it, and to protect biodiversity and to foster the welfare of wildlife and the land, or is it there just to provide a framework within which humans can do almost what they want? I would be interested to hear from NRW what they think their actual purpose is in this. What's their objective? What are their priorities?

I've got an awful lot of sympathy with that. And it reminds me of a discussion we had probably more than 10 years ago, when the organisations that came together to form NRW both had very different remits, and one was to protect the environment, and the other was to provide that framework for development within the countryside. People said at the time the merger of those two organisations would cause problems, and I think this is exactly the kind of problem that people said would be thrown up by that. Because that clarity of purpose is muddied sometimes. So, I think it would be useful for us to question some of the key officials in NRW just to get a sense of where they think the balance should be. And, maybe, given we're in the climate emergency and what the Government have said about that, that balance should change in the light of that climate emergency now, particularly with the biodiversity imperatives that we're becoming more aware of.

Yes. So, we can, by all means, write back to NRW in relation to the review next year, expressing some of those views that have been expressed in committee today, and asking for answers in terms of how they balance different aspects of their remit and protect biodiversity.

Can I—? I hate to interrupt the Assembly's capacity for silo working, but the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee will have NRW appearing before it. Perhaps we could ask the researcher producing questions and areas for questioning on that to put these questions forward for Members to consider.

It's useful to know what other committees are doing. Yes, I'd agree with that. Yes.

They'll have NRW in to talk to them about what they're doing—

So, I just suggest that we ask them if they could consider asking questions along these subjects.

Okay. Shall we do that alongside writing, so that this committee has a response to consider?

Yes. It will give us an opportunity, for those of us on the climate change committee, to ask questions.

Thank you. And then, on health and social services, we have P-05-817 'Specialist prosthetics for child amputees'—page 117 in your pack. This petition was submitted by Rebecca Roberts and was first considered in June 2018, having collected 116 signatures.

The committee last considered the petition on 17 September, agreeing to write to the Minister to request an update on the progress made in relation to a business case for developing a service to provide specialist sports prostheses for children; and the consideration given to providing a copy of the business case to the committee. A response was received from the Minister for Health and Social Services on 21 October. The petitioner has provided further comment.

But we've had some—. There's been a press release issued by the Government:

'Health Minister Vaughan Gething has announced a new fund to provide specialist sport prosthetics for children and young people in Wales....The funding of £417,000 a year will provide extra staff and resources at three specialists centres in Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham, where children and young people under 25 can be assessed and provided with running and swimming prosthetics. The fund will open from April next year and children and young people can discuss this at their next regular assessment for their prostheses.'

This is brilliant news, actually. And then we've also had correspondence from the petitioner:

'To all involved with the petitions committee,

'Last week (29/10/19) the Health Minister announced the creation of a fund to provide child amputees with specialist prosthesis, achieving what the petition set out to do. Obviously as a family we are thrilled with the news, and deeply, deeply grateful that our child's needs, and the needs of others like her, have been acknowledged and supported by the Welsh Government. This new service will remove so many of the physical barriers posed by limb loss, immeasurably improving the quality of amputees' lives; and it is wonderful that it will be available until the patient turns 25 (in England it is until the age of 18).

'I can't begin to tell you how relieved I am for my daughter's sake, or how excited I am that she will finally experience being able to race around with her friends. After years of struggling as a family, it feels as though a weight is being lifted; and I am so pleased that other families in our situation will benefit in the same way.

'My deepest and sincerest thanks to everybody involved in this process.

'Kind regards,

'Rebecca Roberts'

Isn't that heartwarming?

09:55

Isn't it? Yes. It's heartwarming to receive that in such a cold month of the year. But it does show that, together, we can all work to make a difference.

Can we write to congratulate the petitioner and say how happy we all are for that? And I would suggest we close the position.

Thank you. Thank you to the committee staff as well.

So, we now move to 'Transforming the response for older people experiencing domestic abuse—a call for action'. Page 121 in your packs. This petition was submitted by Sarah Wydall and was first considered by the committee in July 2019, having collected 125 signatures.

We considered this on 9 July, agreeing to write back to the Deputy Minister and Chief Whip to provide the detailed comments provided by the petitioners; to seek a further response on the issues raised, in particular the concerns that older people's experiences are often not covered by domestic abuse services or material. And also, to ask the Deputy Minister what provisions are in place for older men experiencing such abuse. And also, to write to the Older People's Commissioner for Wales to seek her response to the issues raised in the petition and ask her to share further information about the work she intends to carry out to prevent the abuse of older people.

We've received responses from the Deputy Minister and the Older People's Commissioner for Wales, and the petitioners have also provided further comment. How would you like to go forward on this?

Have we had any information from Women's Aid on this at all? Because they provide services to men and women. But I would accept the point that, in general, the imagery around advertising services tends to feature younger women and children. So, it could be that people feel that that doesn't include them.

There's also the question of stigma with older people, and that reputational issue that is a feature. What would be useful is if there could be some sort of guidance issued to the providers of domestic abuse services to ask them to just be aware of imagery and to make it clear that those services are available to older people as well.

I'm aware, just from anecdotal evidence, from speaking to people working within the field, that around Christmas time, after Christmas, is when many older people can present to services, and it is a growing phenomenon—more older people are presenting. So, there does need to be some work done on this, and it shows from the older people's commissioner's response as well that there does need to be some work. I accept it's probably too late to sort things out for this Christmas's campaigning, but if we could ask for guidance to be issued to organisations to just be mindful of the imagery and to signal clearly that those services are available to everyone, I think that might help.

10:00

Also, could we ask the Deputy Minister to respond to the issues raised by the petitioner and the older persons' commissioner, so that we keep the correspondence going?

Okay.

Housing and local government, so this is P-05-864, 'Ban the use of "Hostile Architecture"'. This petition was submitted by People Over Profit, and was first considered in March 2019, having collected 120 signatures.

'We call on the Welsh Government to ban the use of "Hostile Architecture" by organisations to deter homeless people from seeking shelter and any other street structures designed to impede or hide the homeless.'

The committee last considered the petition on 7 May and agreed to write to homeless charities to seek views on the issues raised by the petition and the impact and prevalence of hostile architecture to deter rough-sleeping in Wales. Responses have been received from Caer Las, Crisis, the Salvation Army and Shelter Cymru. The petitioners were informed that the petition would be discussed but have not provided further comment. How would you like to take this one forward?

Well, I think the Minister's response is slightly lacking here, really,

'the practicalities of implementing a ban…are challenging....Local authorities have extensive permitted development rights to install most street furniture. To remove this right would mean that every lamppost, bench and street sign would need planning permission.'

I think it's more about considering what happens in the future, rather than taking out every lamppost and bin or whatever that's already been in place. So, this is a planning question, isn't it? I think writing to the Welsh Local Government Association is essential to see what their views are. I don't think this needs to be, necessarily, as difficult as the Minister is trying to make out here. There's a serious issue about people being able to sleep on the streets without harassment. We're already debating the implications of the Vagrancy Act 1824, this is all part of the same agenda, and I think we ought to insist that our town centres are friendly, and not hostile to people who are in deep need.

I would support it. I'd also say that I would like to know from the local authorities why they're looking at this hostile architecture to stop rough-sleepers sleeping in the areas that they want to call nice and tidy. Well, I'm sorry, that is a problem, that is a homeless person who's forced to sleep on the streets. The council shouldn't be installing hostile architecture, they should be doing something about the problem.

Coming down to the planning point, I think the draughtsmen and women in the Assembly are perfectly capable of drafting provisions that will get round the need to have every lamppost and bus shelter needing planning permission. I think it's a very weak argument against it. But I'd like to know from the local authorities where they're coming from in trying to move rough-sleepers on.

10:05

Okay. So, shall we write to the WLGA? Yes. So we're going to write to the WLGA.

P-05-867, 'Make the "Cofiwch Dryweryn" Mural a designated Welsh landmark', submitted by Joe Williams and first considered in March 2019, having collected 1,016 signatures. The committee last considered the petition on 17 September and we agreed to write to Tro'r Trai, the charity described as taking on the role of protecting the mural, to ask for it to outline how it plans to carry out this role in the future; and to offer our thanks to Dilys Davies for her role in purchasing the mural to facilitate its protection for the future. A response has been received from Tro'r Trai. We wrote to them following news reports that indicated that the charity will take charge of protecting it. A response was received by e-mail on 22 October. This stated that the wall is not currently in the care of Tro'r Trai after it was purchased by Dr Dilys Davies, and that neither party wished to provided further comment at this point in time.

Okay. Well, it looks like Tro'r Trai were responsible and then it was privately purchased and then the responsibility went to the private purchaser. So, given all of that, I don't think there's anything more that we can do now. This is in private hands. What we could do is we could write to the petitioner and ask them to contact the owner directly and ask the owner what plans there are to protect it. But, given it's not a public piece of land or monument any more, there is a limit as to what this committee can do. So I would suggest that we close the petition, but that we suggest that further action be taken by the petitioner through the private channels. 

Okay. 

'Protect school funding or admit to the weakening of service provision.' This petition was submitted by James Wilkinson and was first considered in April 2019, having collected 5,784 signatures. We last considered this on 2 April, agreeing to write to the Children, Young People and Education Committee to share details of the petition in relation to their current inquiry into school funding, and also to keep a watching brief during the course of that committee’s inquiry. That committee’s report on school funding in Wales was published in July 2019 and the Welsh Government responded to it on 9 September. A Plenary debate was held on 23 October. The petitioner was informed that the petition would be discussed but has not provided further comments at this stage.

There's no point pursuing a further Plenary debate on this if we've recently had one. Is there anything that came out of that debate that we can further pursue, or have we exhausted this as far as we can take it, do you think?

Well, the Minister actually accepted all of the recommendations in the report, including to consider the allocation of resources to local authorities on a needs-based formula. And then, as you mentioned, there's a review ongoing. 

The other matter is, of course, that some of these questions are going to be decided by the UK general election, in terms of how much funding is going to be available to devolved institutions to provide these services in the future. So, in a way, that is completely out of our hands, isn't it? But it's not out of the hands of the petitioner, who can use lobbying power during the course of the general election, perhaps. 

Okay.

'Children's used uniform scheme.' This petition was submitted by Rachael Mackay of the Topaz class, Monnow Primary School, and was first considered in May 2019 having collected 54 signatures. They want to see a used school uniform scheme up and running in every city in Wales:

'The scheme should provide uniforms, shoes and trainers for all ages. This would make sure that all children have access to affordable uniforms. Families that receive free school meals should take priority.'

So, we last considered this on 21 May, agreeing to write to Children in Wales to make them aware of the petition, in the context of the guides they are producing in relation to the cost of the school day, and also to ask for their views in relation to how widely applicable such a scheme could be. Also, to the Welsh Local Government Association to ask what the position is regarding a used school uniform policy across local authorities in Wales. The Minister for Education released a written statement on the new statutory guidance for school governing bodies on school uniform and appearance policies on 9 July. A response was received from Children in Wales on 9 July. The children's commissioner provided information on 3 October. After being followed up, the WLGA responded on 23 October, and the petitioners were informed that the petition would be discussed but have not provided further comment.

10:10

I'm not clear from this, Chair, who they think should provide this scheme. Do we have any information about the Denbighshire scheme? I'm aware that that's a good scheme; I've seen reports of that, and I know somebody who's been involved in it as well. I understand that's run by volunteers.

Since we've had social media as well, I notice within my own constituency you see people speaking about, 'I've got three polo shirts available.' There's a lot going on, actually. 

There are good schemes, but I think they're all organised by volunteers or community centres, or things like that. It's difficult to ask the Government to set up a scheme like this, isn't it, I think? But it could be something schools do. Again, it's resources, then, isn't it? One member of staff would have to be responsible for organising the scheme, and all of that kind of thing. But there wasn't any information from the petitioner as to who they thought should provide this service, was there, just that it should exist?

No. So, they have one, I believe, set up in their school, and they were looking for that to be replicated. I think you're right that there's a question mark here about—. The responsibility could be taken at any number of levels, really, from an individual school to a local authority, even a grouping of schools within a local authority. The WLGA provided us with information about the Denbighshire scheme, which appears to be run by Citizens Advice. So, yes, the question might be for the committee whether there's any more the Assembly or the Welsh Government could do to press this.

I've just had an idea now. If there's already an existing successful scheme supported and run by Citizens Advice, could we ask the Minister to ensure that Citizens Advice, or other similar advice-based organisations, are supported and facilitated to run similar schemes to the Denbighshire scheme in areas where there is need and demand?

We can certainly go back and ask those questions, yes.

Because most Citizens Advice organisations have got contracts with Government or local authorities, so if that could be included as part of their service level agreement, and they could perhaps be additionally funded for covering that, then that might provide the comprehensive service that we've been asked to provide here. But it doesn't involve Government getting involved in the organisation of it, then.

Just one point I was going to make, and you might have dealt with this when you dealt with the petition before, but do you know how many schools are actually involved in it? Often, all that I can only talk about is Swansea East rather than anywhere else in the world, but lots of schools in Swansea East have formal and informal means so that people can leave in the school clothes that are no longer wanted, and other parents can come and collect them.

I think a lot of work is going on, but it's perhaps all under the radar. Parents are doing it.

Well, it's parents and schools doing it. I'm not sure whether—. I'd like to know. To take this further, I'd like to know more. I'd hate to just take away some of the good things that are going on—

If things are working well and, really, it's about enthusing those schools and parent-teacher associations and others who aren't doing it in areas where there is desperate need to do it. 

Yes. I think the thing is, it doesn't really matter who's providing it, does it? If the school is providing it, you wouldn't want Citizens Advice to take that over; it's just a case of where there are gaps. 

But I think the gaps need to be identified, and I think that when you start identifying the gaps, one or two schools would think, 'Oh dear, we should be doing something.'

10:15

And it might be worth noting that the new statutory guidance, published by the Welsh Government in July about school uniform policies, does suggest that schools consider used uniform schemes or uniform exchanges. So, that guidance is new; it might take some time to feed through.

In the initial—. So, the next step being we'll write to the Minister and ask what support the Welsh Government can do to establishing more of these types of schemes. 

Yes, and I think we can close the petition then, to be honest, once we've got the information back. 

Okay. P-05-879: 'Add Mental Health Education to the mandatory teaching curriculum for all schools in Wales'. Page 210 in your pack. So, we last considered this on 21 May, agreeing to write to the Minister for Education to refer to the additional points raised by the petitioner, and to ask for further information in relation to how pupils should be able to access counselling services in schools, how pupil mental health and well-being is incorporated into teacher training and ongoing professional development, and for further information about how mental health education is included in the current personal and social education curriculum.

We also wrote to the Children, Young People and Education Committee to make them aware of this petition. Responses have been received from the Minister for Education, yr Athrofa: Institute of Education at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and Cardiff Metropolitan University.

The Welsh Youth Parliament published its first report, 'Life Skills, Skills for Life', on 22 October, and, of course, we've informed the petitioners. We've not had any further comments from them. How would you like to take this forward?

Give the petitioners another fortnight to respond. 

Yes? So, allow another two weeks for the petitioners to respond to the responses coming back. Okay.

And, then: 'National Reading and Numeracy Tests for children from as young as age 6 need to be discontinued with immediate effect'. This was submitted by Tanya Beer and was first considered in July 2019, having collected 256 signatures.

'National Numeracy and Reading Tests for children as young as 6 are not fit for purpose and should be discontinued as soon as possible. Young children who have been encouraged to learn through play are not best assessed through sitting for up to 40 minutes to complete a test.'

So, we last considered this on 1 October, agreeing to write back to the Minister for Education, to seek her response to the concerns raised by the petitioner over the need to familiarise pupils with the format of the tests and questions. In light of the phased introduction of online personal assessments, we received a response from the Minister for Education on 18 October, and the petitioner has provided further brief comments.

Can I say, I share the petitioner's concerns about this? The whole point of the foundation phase was that, up until seven years old, children wouldn't be tested, and they wouldn't really receive much of an academic education at the point—it would all be through learning through play. So, tests, personal assessments in any form, really—I can't see how that is compatible with that kind of thinking.

In saying that, it seems that the Minister is determined to stick with this. Okay, softening up the tests maybe, and making them online, and making them more about personal assessments—it's still a test, and the parents and the children still go through the stress of having to build up for those tests. So, I don't think the Minister's response is satisfactory, but I'm not sure where else we can take it now, given what the Minister has said on this.

We could write back to the Minister and ask her why she thinks any kind of test, other than a one-to-one assessment by the teacher, when the child will never know they're being assessed—why she thinks that's appropriate for children of such a young age, and on what basis of this decision to test, even online, is being made for children of that age.

And also how it's compatible with the foundation phase thinking. 

Yes, okay.

So, that brings to an end the petitions for discussion in that part.

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod
4. 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 have item 4 on the agenda: motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public for item 5. Are Members content?

10:20

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:20.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:20.