|Carwyn Jones AM|
|Dai Lloyd AM|
|David Melding AM||Yn dirprwyo ar ran Suzy Davies|
|Substitute for Suzy Davies|
|Dawn Bowden AM|
|Mandy Jones AM|
|Mick Antoniw AM||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Anna Daniel||Pennaeth Trawsnewid Strategol, Comisiwn y Cynulliad|
|Head of Strategic Transformation, Assembly Commission|
|John Pugsley||Pennaeth Tîm Cangen Cefnogi Pynciau 7-19, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Head of Subject Support 7-19 Branch, Welsh Government|
|Kirsty Williams AM||Y Gweinidog Addysg, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|The Minister for Education, Welsh Government|
|Matthew Richards||Pennaeth y Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol, Comisiwn y Cynulliad|
|Head of Legal Services, Assembly Commission|
|Y Llywydd / The Llywydd||Yr Aelod sy’n gyfrifol am y Bil|
|The Member in Charge of the Bill|
|Alex Hadley||Dirprwy Glerc|
|Ben Harris||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|P Gareth Williams||Clerc|
|Stephen Davies||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datganiadau o fuddiant||1. Introduction, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest|
|2. Bil Senedd ac Etholiadau (Cymru): Sesiwn dystiolaeth 12||2. Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill: Evidence session 12|
|3. Offerynnau sy'n cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt i’r Cynulliad o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3 – offerynnau a drafodwyd yn flaenorol||3. Instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Assembly under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3 - previously considered|
|4. Papurau i'w nodi||4. Papers to note|
|5. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o’r cyfarfod||5. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting|
|7. Bil Senedd ac Etholiadau (Cymru): Sesiwn dystiolaeth 13||7. Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill: Evidence session 13|
|8. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod||8. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting|
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 08:30.
The meeting began at 08:30.
Good morning. This is a meeting of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee. We're on item 1. Housekeeping rules remain the same as usual, and I've had apologies from Suzy Davies. David Melding is attending in her place.
I welcome Kirsty Williams, the education Minister, to this committee. Thank you very much for attending, particularly at this early hour. We have a number of questions for you, and we'll go straight into those if that's okay, given the time that we actually have. Was there any opening comment that you wanted to make?
No, Chair. I'm very happy to move straight to questions.
Thank you very much for that. Can I just ask you then, as an opening question: what are the current opportunities for children and young people to engage with politics?
Thank you, Chair. Within the current curriculum, there are a number of opportunities for children and young people to engage in the subject of politics, above and beyond those who have the opportunity to take a formal qualification in that subject area. They broadly fall into two strands under the current personal and social education part of our humanities curriculum. There are opportunities there, and also it informs a very important part of our Welsh baccalaureate qualification. So, there are plenty of opportunities for young people to understand about the process of politics and different institutions, as well as understanding issues as well, and the opportunity to explore in depth issues that affect not only Wales but actually, also, the wider world. That is enhanced by lessons that are being delivered by teachers, and many schools have very good relations with organisations that have a campaigning bent. And, of course, all of us here, I'm sure, will have sat alongside colleagues from the Commission and the staff who are employed by the Commission who work specifically to talk about the powers of this institution.
What age do you think political education should start within schools, and what is the current position?
Well, we expect schools to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum, from primary through to secondary, and there are opportunities to begin educating children around issues within the primary sector. Only last week, I was visiting Penygarn primary school in the constituency of Torfaen, a school with high levels of free school meals, and one of the year 3 lessons was on the issue of air quality, and they were exploring the issue of air quality from a science perspective, from a health perspective, from a design and technology perspective, and they were practising their writing and their oracy skills through writing letters both to the council and, indeed, to the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government. And that's an example of very young children engaging with an issue that they felt was very important and understanding what they needed to do to try and influence those who had decision-making powers about that particular subject.
Part of the evidence that we've been receiving has been some online research from young people themselves. This is what one student says:
'I know for a fact that me and my peers have not been educated anywhere close enough to the point where we can make an informed vote.'
There clearly appears to be concern, because that's repeated in a number of instances. What are your concerns about this particular legislation being introduced to reduce the voting age to 16 and whether the current provision of political education is adequate?
I think if we were to be blunt, Chair, I believe that the experience that children have is a mixed one, and I think there will be some children when asked who perhaps would tell a very, very different story, and that, in some ways, is a microcosm of the challenge of Welsh education, which is to ensure that we have consistently good practice in all of our schools all of the time. Clearly, ensuring that children understand their rights and how they can become an active citizen is an important overall goal of our education in Wales. Indeed, it's one of the purposes of our new curriculum to ensure that children not just understand the political structures around them, but are actually able to exercise their rights and have the skills, knowledge and experiences to make the most of this particular opportunity.
The Llywydd has told us that the Commission has been engaged with Welsh Government on the development of a programme of engagement with young people. I wonder if you could update us on the stage that that has reached and what the outcome of that engagement has been.
Myself and the Minister for local government met with the Presiding Officer because we believe there is an opportunity for a joint endeavour here to prepare a whole range of stakeholders for these particular changes. Clearly, my focus is on, first of all, ensuring that there are opportunities within the current and future curriculum for these issues can be explored. The second issue, then, is ensuring that we have resources available so that there are things that teachers can use to prepare their lessons and to deliver lessons. And thirdly, the element that is important to me is ensuring our teachers are in a position to use those resources and to be able to deliver these lessons in a confident way—that they're truly engaging and allow our children to benefit from them.
We are now in the process, both on the Government side and the Commission side, of setting up a group with stakeholders to be able to make preparations. As I said, the education element of work in that is specifically around understanding what we will need to do—and we are taking lessons, for instance, from Scotland on how they engaged with young people in preparation for their referendum—what we need to do, what are the gaps, what resources we need to make available to schools and making sure that our teachers are ready to be able to deliver.
But I think it's really important, Chair, to say we are not starting from scratch here. There is already excellent practice in our schools, and if Members were to go on to Hwb, which is our online learning platform, you will see a plethora of resources already available. Children and young people are already engaging in this issue, either, as I said, in their personal and social education lessons or as part of their Welsh baccalaureate.
And that will include, presumably, a programme of teacher training and assistance for carrying out these additional responsibilities.
Well, as we move towards our new curriculum, which is an extension, perhaps, of where we currently are, we have identified that professional learning is absolutely key to that. We have made available the single largest investment in professional learning for our profession in preparation for the changes to the curriculum as a whole. And there is a specific pot of money that is available to develop resources and professional learning for this specific challenge.
Do you think it's the duty of schools and colleges to prepare people to exercise the franchise in a fully informed way at the moment, so when they become 18—? I realise not all young people are in full-time education, but the majority are.
I do believe that it is a very important aspect of our education that children and young people leave compulsory education with an understanding of how to be an active citizen and whether they decide to exercise their right to vote, and that they have the information and skills that they will need to interpret the world around them and how they can effect change. So, I do believe it is an important part of the formal role of education.
David, I think you make a really important point. The work that the stakeholder group will be looking at will be to look at covering schools. But, obviously, in some areas of Wales—in Dawn's area, for instance—post-16 education is delivered in the tertiary sector, so, there is an important role for colleges to play. And you are right; one of the specific work streams that officials will be involved in is how we engage children who are not in formal education, employment or training. So, whether those, for instance, are children who have been excluded and may find themselves in the pupil referral unit system, or children who are out of education at all. So, for instance, the youth service and informal education—that's another important role, I think, that we will need to establish in that stakeholder group to look at those challenges of reaching all young people. Because it's important to recognise this is not a job for schools alone; it's a job for colleges, our youth service, informal education and we need to find especially routes into reaching those young people who are falling outside of that system.
Would it be fair for me to say that your general view is that preparation in schools and colleges is highly desirable, but ultimately complementary rather than essential? Because the essential principle here is that people have a human right in our system to vote at the age we determine they should accede to the franchise.
I do believe that it is highly important and desirable—and indeed, it is a purpose of our new curriculum—but I do not believe that it is absolutely essential.
And do you see any particular challenges in shifting the age back from currently 16 to 18, which, presumably, is when we want to ensure that there are maximum opportunities for young people to engage in the curriculum in terms of active citizenship, as you've indicated—bringing that to the 14 to 16 age group? Do you think there are particular challenges there, or would you expect that to be done without too much difficulty, perhaps building on work that's already there?
I think what we will have to do is build upon what we've already got. It's important to recognise that the current baccalaureate qualification that is undertaken and completed at the age of 16 for most children does already provide lots and lots of opportunities. So, I don't think it is an insurmountable leap.
Perhaps what I think may be sometimes challenging is ensuring that our profession feels confident in their ability. Sometimes—. My goodness me, we've seen accusations thrown around in the Chamber, have we not, here, about the ability of teachers to deliver some of these issues in a non-partisan way, and the accusation made in the Chamber that teachers are somehow partisan and therefore there is no role for teachers, or teachers are not to be trusted. I think that kind of language undermines, sometimes, the confidence of our teaching profession. They don't want to think that they're going to say something or express a view or discuss a topic that, perhaps, might bring them into conflict with some parents. So, I think, as always, the success is what we can do to ensure that our teachers are in the best possible position to be able to deliver interesting, engaging and impactful lessons.
But it doesn't have to be the job of the PSE teacher alone. I think there are ample opportunities in many, many areas to explore these subjects. That's true in the current curriculum, but will be even more so in our new curriculum, where the traditional edges of subjects are broken down. And I could wax lyrical about the new curriculum, but I'll wait to see if anybody wants to talk about that.
If this Bill were to become an Act, that would be towards the end of this year, which leaves about 15 months until the next Assembly election campaign. Would that be enough time for schools to make the necessary adjustments and ensure that there's full confident teaching or embracing of these subjects and concepts around active citizenship?
Yes, I believe so, and that timetable is the one that the stakeholder working group will be working towards.
We've heard some evidence that what will happen—. At the moment, in the patchy environment in terms of political education, which I think I can infer that you accept, from the evidence that you've given at the moment saying best practice is certainly up to it, but it's not common practice, or not as common as you would like—I think that's a fair assessment of what you've already said. But we've heard evidence that, basically, what happens under that circumstance is that you tend to get the upper socioeconomic groups and their children having an inbuilt advantage and that they're likely to take up the franchise and feel confident about exercising it, and the poor practice is likely to be in schools in more deprived areas. So, there are real issues about inequality here. Do you share those concerns?
I would share them if there was empirical evidence to suggest that that was the case. One of the advantages, I believe, of the universal adoption and delivery of the Welsh baccalaureate qualification is that it should ensure that that wouldn't be the case, but if there was empirical evidence to suggest that, then, obviously, that would be a concern. As you will know, David, reducing the attainment gap—and that's not just simply looking at GCSE scores, but that gap that sometimes does exist for pupils from a poorer background—is one of the aims of our national mission for education reform.
Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd. Wel, mae'r cwestiynau sydd gyda fi yn rhannol wedi eu hateb eisoes, ond jest i wthio'r Gweinidog ychydig bach yn fwy, achos canfu Cymdeithas Diwygio Etholiadol Cymru fod disgyblion blwyddyn 9 yn teimlo nad oeddent yn cael llawer o addysg wleidyddol a'i bod yn ad hoc iawn. Cyfeiriodd y gymdeithas hefyd at gydberthynas uniongyrchol rhwng faint o fynediad y gallwch ei gael at bobl ifanc a'r wybodaeth y gallwch ei rhoi iddyn nhw a'r tuedd iddyn nhw droi allan i bleidleisio wedyn. Sut fydd y cwricwlwm newydd, felly, yn mynd i'r afael â'r angen am addysg wleidyddol a dinasyddiaeth?
Thank you very much, Chair. Well, the questions that I have have partly been answered already, but just to push the Minister a little bit further on this, because the Electoral Reform Society Cymru found that year 9 pupils felt that they didn’t receive a lot of political education and that it was very ad hoc. The society also referred to a direct correlation between the amount of accessibility you can have to young people and the information we can give them and their propensity to turn out to vote. So, how will the new curriculum address the need for political and citizenship education?
Well, Dai, you've had a week now—Members have had a week to engage in the new curriculum—
—you will have, hopefully, been able to satisfy yourselves that there are ample opportunities in the new curriculum to engage in these subjects. Now, predominantly, politics and social studies and economics sit within the humanities area of learning and experience, and you will have seen from the 'what matters' statements in the humanities AoLE our expectations of what a child will know at various stages of their education.
But it's not just in the humanities that the subjects can be talked about. One of our pioneer schools is Olchfa school in Swansea, a school, I'm sure, Dai, that you're very familiar with. They're one of our pioneers, and recently I was there to witness a year 8 maths lesson—year 8, so these were 13-year-olds. They were learning their maths, they were doing mental arithmetic with problems that were on the whiteboard, but the problems were set in the context of working out tax liabilities. So, there are children learning maths, learning the actual ability to do mathematics, but they're doing it in a real-life context, something that they will all need to understand, i.e. tax. One child held up the answer. The answer was the incorrect answer and the teacher said, 'Does anybody understand why student A would have got that answer?' A hand shot up, because they were doing the maths in their head quicker than I can. 'Sir, he has not realised that, over a certain amount of money, there is a different rate of tax, and he has forgotten to apply that when working out his answer.' Because we're freeing up teachers not to have these strict boundaries, there is then a micro-discussion about whether that is ethical. Is it ethical that people who earn more potentially have to pay more tax? There's a very short, brief discussion about that and then back onto the next problem. So, these are children who are learning maths—the maths skills that they need—but they're doing it in a real-life context that makes it real to them, and there's even an opportunity within that lesson to talk about the issues.
The finance Minister recently went to visit a school—Glan Morfa here in Splott—when we had fiscal devolution, and she was talking to a year 6 group about fiscal devolution and how, now, this institution had some power over raising and spending certain revenues. So, there is plenty of opportunity, not only within the humanities AoLE, because we're giving greater flexibility and freedom to teachers to break down some of those boundaries and to engage in these issues.
Diolch yn fawr am hynna. Hefyd, ar gefn hynna, wrth gwrs, dŷn ni'n sôn yn fan hyn am fframwaith cenedlaethol newydd, ond hefyd fframwaith cenedlaethol newydd lle gall ysgolion ddatblygu cwricwla lleol. Felly, o fewn y cyd-destun yna, sut y gallwch chi sicrhau bod pob plentyn yn cael addysg wleidyddol a dinasyddiaeth a negeseuon cyson?
Thank you very much for that. And following on from that, of course, we're talking here about a new national framework, and also a new national framework where schools can develop local curricula. So, within that context, how can you ensure that all children receive political and citizenship education and receive consistent messages?
We will ensure consistency. You're quite right—what we're providing is a framework, not a checklist or a rulebook, for our teachers, and it is right that the principle of cynefin—locality, home—is a really important concept within the new curriculum. Of course, some of the subjects that a teacher might want to engage in politically in one part of Wales might be very different to the issues of the day or the challenges today. Some issues are universal—sustainability, global warming, climate change—but there may be a very specific local issue that is exercising that particular community at that time, and therefore there is flexibility to do that. The way we ensure consistency is actually looking at the evaluation framework and the progression steps that we would expect each child to learn. So, we would expect consistency in terms of abilities of children across the progression steps, but how you reach those progression steps would be different because of potentially individual contexts of where a school might find itself.
Good morning, Minister. Your enthusiasm for the new curriculum is there for all to see. I'm not going to ask any more questions about that. But I was interested—in fact, my son is doing his GCSEs today, maths being one—in what you said about maths being put into context. I remember very well being able to solve simultaneous quadratic equations; I've no idea why, because I've no idea what they were used for. But what I was going to ask you about was the current curriculum. Before the new curriculum comes in, we have a little gap with the current curriculum. So, in terms of the current curriculum, how do you think the current curriculum can deliver the kind of—I hesitate to call it 'political education'—civic education that we would all want to see?
Okay. First of all, before anybody starts tweeting at me, children will still have to learn simultaneous quadratic equations.
Because the curriculum needs to meet the needs of those children who will go on to be the mathematicians and the computer scientists that will help solve some of our problems. But you're right—for many children, maths in a real-life context is actually what they need.
Within the current curriculum, as I said, there is scope and there is lots of good practice with regard to the personal and social education element of the curriculum, where the expectations are, from key stage 3, that concepts of political institutions and issues are able to be developed. The Welsh baccalaureate also gives us that very important route in, and I think it's really important that we have to think about the context of workload and coherence within the education system. Simply continuing to say to our schools all of the time—. There is a tendency that we all make, with all society's ills, well, the answer is, 'We'll stick it on the curriculum. We'll make schools do that.' Actually, it makes that untenable. So, incorporating it into, for instance, the Welsh baccalaureate actually makes it easier to do, because that's something that we're requiring of schools anyway. This is a qualification that children are going to do, and if we can make it part of that formal qualification, it makes it easier in the current situation where timetables and the curriculum are really stuffed, packed full, it does allow teachers to do that, and there are lots of opportunities at that stage to engage in these issues. Indeed, if you speak to children—and I don't know what your son has chosen to do his extended project on—there are lots and lots of children who are able to use that to explore 'political', in the softer context, issues. Indeed, my own daughter in her Welsh baccalaureate wrote a paper on why this law should be happening.
No parental influence there. [Laughter.] I think you've answered my question about the Welsh bac, because you're quite right to say that the curriculum is very, very full, and the bac perhaps gives an opportunity in the short term to develop civic education, if I can call it that.
It creates that space and it gives permission and a timetable slot for these issues to be explored by teachers. It ensures that there is that opportunity across all schools to do it and to ensure that there is an entitlement for all children to engage in this programme, and, of course, at an advanced level there are opportunities for children to develop even deeper understanding and deeper knowledge and skills and the space to explore, and I think that's really important. You'll be aware that, over the weekend, a certain political party has said that they want to scrap the Welsh baccalaureate and denude students of the opportunity to engage in these lessons, and I think it's really important. Sometimes, the Welsh baccalaureate is viewed as being detrimental to a child who is particularly gifted, that wants to do more and more A-levels. Actually, sometimes those children need that broad and balanced curriculum. We need to be able to demonstrate to universities and employers that, yes, you're academically able, but actually you have a wider knowledge and understanding of the world around you.
Indeed. Academic ability and social skills are not necessarily the same thing. And I think there are some who take the view that the Welsh bac should go because it's Welsh, frankly. That's my view on it, but there we are. I'm not here to give evidence, I must remind myself. [Laughter.]
One last question from me. In Scotland, Electoral Reform Society Cymru have said that the Scots have an effective system of political and citizenship education—not just a transfer of knowledge, but also an opportunity to debate and scrutinise current issues. Is there anything we can learn from Scotland or, indeed, any other country that you might be familiar with?
You're right—it's all very well understanding the process, but how you engage in that process is a different skill set altogether. We are learning from Scotland. The evidence from their high voter registration for 16 and 17-year-olds prior to the referendum and high levels of participation demonstrate that we do have a lot to learn from Scotland. Officials and the working group are actively engaged with Scotland in looking at how they did that. But I suppose, maybe, the lesson for politicians of all sorts, for that purpose, is that, actually, if you enthuse people of all ages, if you give them real choices and something to go out to the ballot box for, that is as important as any political education.
What we haven't talked about in the new curriculum, and it's already happening because it's the first part of the curriculum that's already being delivered in schools, is our digital competence framework. Now, when we talk about digital competence, many people think that's just about teaching children how to use a computer. Actually, it's about being a digital citizen. And one of the important lessons in the current Welsh bac and in the DCF is actually issues around where you get your information from; how do you interrogate information; how can you double check—so, if you read something on Facebook, how do I know whether that's true, or not; what's a reliable source of information; what's a less reliable source of information. So, these skills are as important as, if not more important than, understanding who does what at what level of government and how do I register to vote and where do I go to vote. And for those skills, again, we're looking at international best practice to develop resources so that, again, we can give children that skill rather than just the knowledge.
Thank you, Minister. We note your commitment and enthusiasm for the compulsory study of quadratic equations. I'm sure that will have gone down very well. Dawn Bowden.
Thank you, Chair. Could I say, on the back of the quadratic equations, I've nearly reached my sixtieth year and I've never used algebra—not knowingly, anyway, but I'm sure there's a good reason for learning it. But, anyway, taking the points that you've already made—and you've talked a lot about both the existing and the new curriculum—I suppose the concern would be around the capacity within the curriculum. Now, I've heard what you've said—that we wouldn't necessarily be putting all of this into separate lessons; it would be covered in humanities, it would be covered in just general discussions around other subjects—but what I'm concerned about, and I think David Melding touched on this earlier on, is that in large areas of my constituency we do have very deprived communities, and those communities in particular are less likely to engage in the democratic process. You see the turnout in some of these areas is very, very poor, and I'm concerned that a lot of kids in those areas don't tend to engage outside of school, either. So, my question really is about how we ensure that there is sufficient capacity, both in the existing and the new curriculum, that we get the message across, not just absorbed in other lessons, but very specifically about the importance of engaging in the democratic process.
It is important. Those opportunities are there in the current curriculum. They will be there in the new curriculum. I have to say that some of the issues that you're talking about, Dawn, the answer to that is multifaceted and it cannot lie solely in the responsibility of schools. It's the job of political parties to put something out there that is engaging. You wouldn't be surprised to hear me say, in some parts of Wales, it's about having a fair voting system, where every vote actually makes a difference and there is a reason for you to go out and vote in that. And you don't look there and think, 'Well, it doesn't matter about my vote because I know who's going to win anyway, before I've even gone to the polling station.'
So, it cannot be the job of education alone to ensure that people go to the polling station; it has to be the responsibility of other people. What is my job and what I regard the job of the education system to be is to ensure that children and young people will have had the opportunity—either in school, in college, in the youth service, in informal education—to avail themselves of the skills and knowledge that they need so that they can participate. But I just think we will fail if we think it's only down to teachers and lecturers to make this happen.
But, clearly, if a child or young person has never had the opportunity to engage in these issues, then they're going to be at a disadvantage—of course, they are.
It is the one area where they are compulsorily required to be, so there is an opportunity to have a captive audience that you can talk to; I think that was really the point. Inevitably, I'm going to touch on funding. We've just had—. Well, we're still in the process of analysing the evidence that we've taken in the school funding inquiry, and that will be out shortly, but how do you think you can ensure that we have sufficient funding within the current system for this additional element of teaching? Is it going to require additional funding, or is this something that you see will be done within the existing allocations?
We have identified in Welsh Government a pot of money specifically for education to invest in resources and professional learning. That's above and beyond professional learning money that is being made available for the introduction of the new curriculum on its own. So, there is a specific pot of money that has been earmarked specifically to respond to potential changes in legislation, should this happen.
Okay. So, that's not just the curriculum, that's additional legislation like this one.
Yes, absolutely. So, that pot of money has been identified to, as I said, look at filling any gaps with regard to resources, so if there are resources that need to be developed and shared, and can be used for professional learning.
But not specifically ring-fenced for civic education—this is a general pot.
Actually, I have to say, it hasn't come out of the education budget; it's come out of the local government main expenditure group that's been made available to the education budget. So, it's above and beyond education money that we had already ring-fenced, and it is specifically to support the work, findings and outcomes from the stakeholder group.
My final question, Chair, if I may, is just around the professional learning you were talking about, and, in this context, are you satisfied that you'll be able to deliver that professional learning in the required time frame for this piece of legislation?
What's really important to understand about professional learning is that I from the centre cannot make judgments; we're not about to do a skills audit of every single teacher. Professional learning money will be made available, and it is for headteachers, who understand the professional learning needs of their staff, to develop professional learning plans for their staff. So, I am confident that there is the financial resource there that will allow schools to engage in this process.
We know and you've said that pupils will learn about voting et cetera from various sources. Given the requirement for the education of pupils and the professional learning needed alongside that, do you feel from an education perspective that 2026 would provide a more feasible date for the first election with a lower voting age?
No, because as I said earlier, we're not starting from point zero. There is already lots and lots of work and content in this area in the current curriculum. So, I don't believe that, from an education point of view, that date would have to extended. There might be other reasons, but from my point of view, no.
Can you tell me, in the last, say, four years, that pupils who are coming up to this voting age now have actually got enough education in the last four years for them to—? Say, they were voting next week—
Okay, when the voting comes in, do you think that they will have enough educational background to be able to make their own minds up for that date when the voting does come in?
I see no reason, from an education perspective, to postpone enfranchising our 16 and 17-year-olds.
Okay. Is there a role for for bodies and organisations other than education providers to help prepare young people to vote? And I think you've touched on this in—.
Yes, very much so. As I've said, schools and colleges are obviously very important. There will potentially be a range of other organisations that schools and colleges can work with alongside. But I'm particularly keen to ensure that the youth service—so that's the traditional youth service that might be provided by a local authority—have a role to play, but other organisations as well that provide services to young people. And, again, it's never too early to start. I was recently invited to the Clyro—which is in my constituency—Brownies, who are working their way towards their suffragette badge, because the Brownie organisation, the Brownies and Girl Guides, had developed a badge to commemorate votes for women, and they were working towards their 'votes for women' badge, and one of the things that they had to do was understand how votes work now and they invited me along to meet the Brownies to talk about how votes for women happened and how I did my job.
So, it's not just a role for schools and colleges, for local authority services; there are opportunities for lots of organisations, such as the Scouts, the Brownies, young farmers' clubs, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme. There are lots and lots of organisations that I think can help us deliver on this agenda.
And finally, what views do you have on educational establishments working with electoral registration officers to share data about young electors and block registration?
Obviously, an important part of the working group, led by colleagues in local government, is to look at the practicalities of ensuring that newly enfranchised voters actually find their way onto the electoral roll. And I think there's a debate to be had about data, but I think, from my perspective, and it's a personal view, we should make it as easy as possible for young voters to be included on the electoral register. And that might mean doing sign-ups where young people are—in schools, in colleges—and in other ways, so that we can make it as easy as possible. And, actually, I think we should make it as easy as possible for all voters to get onto the electoral register, but, obviously, we will need to look with the stakeholder group to find what is the best and most effective way of making that happen.
Thank you. Just a couple of short questions to cover one or two points. Professor Hazelkorn suggested that the issue of civic or political education—I say that with a small 'p'—should be considered being underpinned by the actual Bill itself. Do you have a view on that?
I think we need to go back to the principles that underpin our new curriculum for Wales, and that is that we do not find ourselves falling back into that situation where we go back to a checklist for teachers. We are providing the framework. The area of learning and experience is very, very clear on our expectations about how we will reach the purposes of having ethical, informed citizens. If we go back to a long list of things that teachers have to do, then all of this change will be for nought, and we will have lost the opportunity.
Can I just ask you, then, a little bit about the funding situation? In correspondence, obviously, with the commission, you've made an approach in respect of funding. You've already indicated certain funds. Is the funding position fully resolved, or are there still negotiations under way about the provision of additional funding to cover the implementation costs of the Bill?
I believe that those discussions are ongoing. As I said, I'm very pleased to have been able to secure additional resources specifically for education. I'm even more pleased that they don't come out of my MEG.
Okay. One of the issues with regard to this Bill, of course, is it creates a very specific focus, and you'll be aware that we've been very concerned about the political education aspect, because that's been raised significantly in evidence—that this is an important part of making this legislation successful. So, I'm just wondering, in terms of the focus that this Bill creates, what might be different in terms of—? If this Bill is enacted, what would be different within education, in terms of political, civic education, engagement, than what exists at the moment?
Well, sometimes, I think, when a nation changes its legislation, it sends a message, doesn't it? So, it might enact certain things, but it sets the context—it sets a social context. And I think, you know, although there is excellent practice out there at the moment, and I believe, in the current and in the future curriculum, there is space to deliver these issues. But the passing of this legislation will add to that imperative, because those children will be exercising those rights. And I think it just changes the nature of the conversation, it changes the context in which some of those lessons are being delivered. One of the reasons that many of us, for many years, have campaigned for this is that there is an appetite amongst young people to want to exercise their democratic vote—they want to be able to have their say. And these lessons will now be very real—they won't be abstract, and talking about something that you will be able to do in a few years' time. We'll be talking about something—. My daughter, who will be enfranchised to vote in National Assembly elections earlier than she would have been—there will be a real impetus, and these will be real, live things that teachers and lecturers are talking about, not something that will happen to you in the future; it's something that you will be able to do now. And I just think that will change the dynamic of those conversations.
Chair, can I—? Are you going to rely entirely on that rather effusive statement and dynamic that you expect, or will there be a need to issue any guidance to schools? Because some will have to change their culture quite considerably to engage in actively political concepts.
We will actively consider that. We will actively consider whether there will be the need for additional guidance. And I don't rule that out. And if the stakeholder groups feel that that would be necessary, that is something that we would actively engage in.
I think that is a concern that's coming forward in the evidence, in terms of consistency across Wales. Minister, are there any final comments that you want to make?
In which case, thank you very much for attending. I think your evidence session has been extremely helpful in the whole issue of political education, and the Government's perspective on this as well. There will be a transcript of evidence going to you. And, again, thank you for coming along this morning.
We now move on to item 3: instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3, previously considered. We have the Town and Country Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. And, of course, you have the report and an updated Government response. These regulations make amendments to four statutory instruments related to town and country planning. This committee did consider the regulations on 25 March; we raised four technical points and two merit points. The Government have issued an updated response in relation to the second technical point, which concerned a lack of clarity as to which pieces of retained European Union law the regulations referred to. In this response, the Government have indicated they will address the committee's concerns over clarity by replacing the references to any provision of retained EU law that implemented the environmental impact assessment directive with references to specific provisions of retained EU law. Are there any comments?
Just to note, Chair, that, in its original response, the Welsh Government confirmed that it would deal with the committee's reported point you referred to by way of bringing forward amending regulations, to make those references specific. In the updated response, the Welsh Government has confirmed that it now intends to deal with this by way of a corrected reprint of the original statutory instrument, which will contain appropriate footnotes to draw readers' attention to the law being referred to.
We move on to item 4: a letter from the Minister for Housing and Local Government in relation to the Law Enforcement and Security (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. So, the Minister has written concerning the Welsh Government giving retrospective consent to this law enforcement and security amendment, which was laid in January and made on 28 March. The Minister also notes that a statutory instrument consent motion was also required, which was laid on 3 May, but that the Government has decided not to lay a corresponding motion to debate the SICM. A written statement under Standing Order 30C has also been laid. Shall we just defer this item to private session? Okay.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o eitem 6 yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from item 6 in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
I'll just ask the committee to resolve to exclude the public from the committee in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi). Is that agreed?
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 09:15.
The public part of the meeting ended at 09:15.
Ailymgynullodd y pwyllgor yn gyhoeddus am 09:30.
The committee reconvened in public at 09:30.
Okay, if I can welcome Elin Jones, Llywydd and Member in charge of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill—thank you for attending this morning, as we continue our scrutiny sessions and evidence sessions in respect of this legislation. Welcome, also, Anna Daniel and Matthew Richards from the Assembly Commission. We'll go straight into questions, if that's okay with you. We've had evidence from the Electoral Commission. They've referred to their annual canvass work being carried out for 2021, which they say will start in the summer of 2020, which means that this legislation needs to be in place by the end of 2019 and at the beginning of 2020 at the latest. Are you confident that there will be enough time to implement the legislation and raise awareness of the changes made by the Bill?
Well, the expectation on us by the electoral community has always been that they would want the certainty of the Bill having passed all its stages to be at least six months prior to the canvass of 2020. Our current timetabling assures us that that is on track for either December or January of 2020. And, of course, the way we've developed this Bill has been in consultation and in close co-operation with the electoral community, Welsh Government, the Electoral Commission and the electoral officers as well. So, I think they're very well versed in the content of this Bill, as it stands now, and the implications for them. They very much seem to be supportive of making this introduction of change to franchise effective and in an efficient way, and the co-operation to date has been very good and very necessary as well, because it is a significant task for all of us involved in introducing a change to the franchise for 16 and 17-year-olds, and also to recognise that this isn't for just the vote in 2021, but, for very many, the canvass of 2020 is as important a part of that as the vote in 2021.
Thank you. This is obviously a very important constitutional piece of legislation; it has a significant impact on the franchise. You'll be aware, course, that the committee has been very focused also on the aspect of civic education, the extent to which young people are prepared for the additional responsibilities and so on. Are you satisfied that we are not rushing with too early a date in order to get everything ready on time, but that the discussions that you've had with Welsh Government, with education, over issues like finances and resources, that all those things come together and are in place adequately to be prepared for the 2021 elections?
Well, yes, I am, and the fact that we've put many aspects of work already at work, including, for example, resources and materials for young people on engagement with this Bill, as it is being scrutinised, and resources have been made available to young people and schools through the Hwb platform for the purposes of engaging with this Bill, in effect—. This has been a long time in coming also; it's not as if this is a rushed idea as we near the 2021 election. I remember the first consultation on 16 and 17-year-old voting was in the fourth Assembly—there was a mandated vote of support for 16, 17-year-old voting in that Assembly—and therefore, now we have the powers to instigate these changes, we are able to put those into operation.
I'm also of the view, of course, that the work that we now need to do in the next two years, in engaging with that particular cohort of 16 and 17-year-olds who will have the privilege of being the first 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in an Assembly election, that that work needs to be done well in advance, prepared for well in advance, by the Electoral Commission, local authorities and Welsh Government, and our own outreach work and educational work, in the experience that we have now as an Assembly Commission in that work as well. So, we want to pool all of that expertise and resource and then to ensure that all the partners know what particular part they are involved in and charged with, but that the decision making around the planning of that is to be in co-ordination by all the respective partners.
Just on a technical point on the Bill, of course there is a commitment from the Government and within the Assembly as a whole towards the concept of codification and accessibility of the law, but of course we have the issue of voting at 16 being divided between the Assembly franchise in this legislation and, of course, local government in other legislation, which seems to drive a bit of a coach and horses through the process of codification and so on. Do you have any concerns over that, or how do you think those potential problems can be overcome, and to what extent have you been able to discuss those issues with Welsh Government?
Well, I understand the point that you're making, of course, and there would be some merit, wouldn't there, to having all of this—the franchise change for 16 and 17-year-olds—in one piece of legislation. But there are issues why that's not the case, and one of the overriding ones, of course, has been that our franchise change requires a two-thirds majority. Our piece of legislation requires a two-thirds majority in this Assembly and, of course, Welsh Government is introducing its own local government Bill, which will include within that the 16, 17-year-old voting. There could have been a case—I think I may have heard it as part of your consultation—that the 16, 17-year-old voting for local government should have been part of our Assembly election, but it was my feeling that that started, then, to take a piece of legislation in my name, as Member in charge, into Government policy and that it wasn't appropriate for the Llywydd to lead on a policy change for local government election franchise.
Diolch, a bore da, Lywydd. Rwy'n siŵr byddai'n bleser i chi i gymryd trwyddo ddeddfwriaeth ar ail-sefydlu llywodraeth leol. [Chwerthin.] Rwy'n siŵr byddai hwnna'n rhywbeth byddech chi'n ei groesawu.
Gaf i ofyn sawl cwestiwn ynglŷn ag enw'r sefydliad yn y pen draw? Dŷn ni wedi cael lot o dystiolaeth o blaid yr enw 'Senedd Cymru' a 'Welsh Parliament', sef enw dwyieithog, wrth gwrs. Beth yw'ch barn chi nawr ynglŷn â beth y dylai'r enw fod?
Thank you, and good morning, Llywydd. I'm sure you would be pleased to take through legislation on re-establishing local government. [Laughter.] I'm sure that would be something you'd welcome.
May I ask several questions with regard to the name of the institution ultimately? We've received evidence in favour of 'Senedd Cymru' and 'Welsh Parliament', which is the bilingual title, of course. What's your opinion now about what the name should be?
Wel, mae'n amlwg bod yna amrywiaeth barn ar yr enw. Mae'n bwysig i ddweud does yna ddim amrywiaeth barn—dyw e ddim yn ymddangos i fi fod yna amrywiaeth barn—ar yr egwyddor o newid yr enw, sef o 'Cynulliad Cenedlaethol'; mae'r amrywiaeth barn yw ar newid e i beth. Ac mae yna ambell i fersiwn, fel rŷch chi wedi ei awgrymu. Yr hyn—. Dwi dal o'r farn i ailenwi'r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol yn 'Senedd', ac yna taw'r disgrifiad cywir yn y Saesneg o 'Senedd' yw 'Welsh Parliament'. A dyna dwi'n credu yw'r ffordd fwyaf hwylus o sicrhau cefnogaeth y mwyafrif mawr sydd ei angen yn y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol yma. Ond, wrth gwrs, rŷch chi wedi cymryd tystiolaeth, rŷch chi'n bwyllgor trawsbleidiol, ac fe ddewch chi i'ch barn eich hunain ar beth rŷch chi'n credu y dylai'r enw fod, a fe fydd hwnna'n fater y bydd gen i dipyn o ddiddordeb ynddo, ynglŷn â pha enw y byddwch chi fel pwyllgor yn credu y dylid ei gyflwyno'n derfynol, oherwydd rŷch chi'n adlewyrchiad o'r Cynulliad yn llawn yn y lle yma.
Well, clearly, there's a diversity of opinion on the name. It's important to state that there is no difference of opinion, it appears to me, on the principle of changing the name, changing from 'National Assembly'. The difference of opinion is on what the new name should be. And there are a few versions, as you've already suggested in your question. I remain of the opinion that we should rename the National Assembly 'Senedd' and that the proper description in English would be 'Welsh Parliament'. That's what I believe is the best way of securing the supermajority required in the National Assembly in support of that. But you have gathered evidence, you are a cross-party committee, and you will come to your own views on what you believe the name should be, and that will be an issue that I will take a great deal of interest in, in terms of what name you as a committee believe would be most appropriate in the final wording, because you reflect the Assembly as a whole.
Ocê. Ynglŷn â'r ffaith bod dim tiriogaeth yn berchen i'r enw 'Senedd', a ydy hynny'n creu unrhyw fath o broblem?
Okay. With regard to the fact that there is no territorial indicator attached to the name 'Senedd', does that create any problem?
Wel, dwi wedi clywed pobl yn dweud bod angen rhoi'r diriogaeth wrth yr enw Cymraeg—'Senedd Cymru', felly—er mwyn osgoi unrhyw gamddealltwriaeth. Fy marn i yw bod 'Senedd', yn ei ddefnydd e yn y Gymraeg, yn y Saesneg yn sicr, yn cyfeirio at y lle yma, y Senedd yma. I'r rhai sydd yn defnyddio'r enw yn y Gymraeg, yna ddim ond yn y cyd-destun yna, bron, mae camddealltwriaeth posibl yn gallu codi wrth fod yna ddwy Senedd yn ei ddefnyddio neu fwy na dwy Senedd yn ei ddefnyddio—y Senedd yma a Senedd San Steffan—ond mae'r iaith Gymraeg a phobl sy'n defnyddio'r iaith Gymraeg yn weddol o gyfarwydd a hyblyg ac yn gallu gwneud y disgrifiadau sydd eu hangen er mwyn sicrhau bod y cyd-destun yn gywir i bawb. Ac mae'r defnydd o'ch enw blaenorol chi, 'Prif Weinidog', yn enghraifft o hynny, lle yn y Gymraeg y 'Prif Weinidog' yw Prif Weinidog Cymru a Phrif Weinidog y Deyrnas Gyfunol, a dwi ddim yn credu bod yna lawer o gamddealltwriaeth wedi bod o fewn y Gymraeg o ran pa Brif Weinidog roedd rhywun yn sôn amdano ar unrhyw bwynt.
Well, I've heard people stating that the territorial indicator should be included, namely 'Senedd Cymru', 'Welsh Parliament', in order to avoid any misunderstanding. My view is that 'Senedd', in its usage in Welsh, certainly in English, refers to this place, this Senedd. For those using the word 'Senedd' in Welsh, then it's only in that context, almost, that that misunderstanding could arise, as you would have two Senedds or more than two Senedds—you have this Senedd and the Westminster Senedd, or Westminster Parliament—but people who use the Welsh language tend to be quite flexible in using the descriptors required to ensure that the context is clear to everyone. The use of your previous title, 'Prif Weinidog', which could be 'First Minister' or 'Prime Minister', is an example of that, where in Welsh 'Prif Weinidog' is the First Minister of Wales as well as the Prime Minister of the UK, and I don't think that there has been much misunderstanding in terms of the use of the Welsh language as to which Prif Weinidog anyone was referring to any particular point.
Ocê, diolch, ac wedyn ambell i gwestiwn ynglŷn â'r broses gyfreithiol. Rŷch chi'n gwybod bod Llywodraeth Cymru yn edrych i ddiwygio adran 1 o Ddeddf Llywodraeth Cymru 2006, a byddai hwnnw wedyn yn darllen, ac rwy'n ei ddweud e'n Saesneg,
Thank you, and a few questions with regard to the legal process. You know that the Welsh Government is looking to amend section 1 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, and that would then read,
'There is a parliament for Wales to be known as'
beth bynnag yw'r enw. Mae yna gwestiwn wedi bod ynglŷn â chymhwysedd—gwahaniaeth barn rhyngoch chithau a'ch swyddfa chi, a hefyd y Llywodraeth. Ynglŷn â chymhwysedd, ydym ni'n agosach ynglŷn â chytundeb ynglŷn â pha mor bell mae'r cymhwysedd yn mynd? Ydy safbwynt y Comisiwn wedi newid o gwbl o gymharu â safbwynt y Llywodraeth?
whatever name we decide on. There has been a question with regard to the competence of the Assembly—a difference of opinion, perhaps, between yourself and your office and the Government. With regard to the competence, are we any closer to agreement as to how far the competence goes? Has the Commission's stance changed as compared to that of the Government?
Mae'r cyngor cyfreithiol i fi—ac efallai gwnaiff Matthew jest atgoffa y pwyllgor mewn munud o beth yw'r cyngor cyfreithiol yna ar y cymhwysedd ar yr union eiriau yma—mae'r cyngor cyfreithiol yn aros yr un peth i fi, ac mae barn y Llywodraeth, mae'n debyg, hefyd yn aros o'r un farn. Fe fyddwch chi fel pwyllgor hefyd, gobeithio, â barn ar y mater yma, ac fe fydd hynna o ddiddordeb i fi. Dwi yn deall yr apêl sydd gan y ffurf geiriau sydd yn dod gan y Llywodraeth, oherwydd mae yna symlrwydd ac eglurder, efallai, yn ffurf y geiriad yna. Ond i fi, wrth gwrs, fe oedd cymhwysedd yr union eiriad yna yn bwysig wrth i fi ddod i benderfyniad terfynol ar yr hyn oedd yn mynd i gael ei gyflwyno yn y Mesur. Ond efallai gall Matthew jest amlinellu unwaith eto i'r pwyllgor beth yw'n barn ni ar y mater.
The legal advice to me—and Matthew may just want to remind the committee in a few moments of what that legal advice is on the competence in relation to the exact wording involved here—the legal advice to me remains the same, and I suppose the Government's view remains unchanged too. You, as a committee, will hopefully also have a view on this issue, and that will be of interest to me. I do understand the appeal of the form of words suggested by the Government, because there is a certain simplicity to it and a certain clarity to the form of words suggested. But for me, of course, the competence in relation to the exact wording was important as I came to a final decision on what should be included within the Bill. But perhaps Matthew could outline to the committee once again what our view is on this issue.
Os gwnewch chi faddau i mi, fe wnaf i egluro hwn yn Saesneg.
If you will forgive me, I'll explain this in English.
So, as we discussed last time, in section 1 of the Government of Wales Act, our position is that there are two propositions: one is that there is to be an institution that is an Assembly, and the other is that it has a name that, at the moment, is 'National Assembly for Wales' or 'Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru'. The argument that is put as to why the words
'There is to be an Assembly for Wales'
may be amended is because it is said that that is consequential on changing the name of the institution. If it were consequential on changing the name of the institution, then we would agree with that proposition, but we say that it's not. We say that in 2006, Parliament passed an Act that set out two propositions, one, that there would be an Assembly, and the second that it would have a particular name, and that the first 12 words of section 1 are beyond the competence of the Assembly to change.
I fi, dwi ddim yn gweld bod hyn yn broblem yn ymarferol. Yn gyfreithiol efallai bod e, achos efallai byddai tri enw i'r un sefydliad, ond rŷm ni'n gwybod, wrth gwrs, pan oedd gyda ni Lywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru, mi gafodd hwnna ei greu pan oedd dim awdurdodaeth i wneud hynny, mewn ffordd. Corff corfforaethol oedd y Cynulliad bryd hynny ac, wrth gwrs, fe newidiom ni y drefn i 'Lywodraeth Cymru' er taw nid dyna beth oedd enw Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru yn y ddeddfwriaeth ei hunan, ac fe newidiodd hwnna, wrth gwrs, yn gyfreithiol dros amser. Yn ymarferol, mae pobl yn mynd i alw'r lle beth bynnag maen nhw'n moyn, mewn ffordd. Ond, yn gyfreithiol, oes yna unrhyw gymhlethdod yn cael ei greu o'r ffaith, efallai, ynglŷn â'ch gwelliant chi, y byddai tri enw i'r un sefydliad?
To me, I don't see that this is a practical problem. Perhaps in legal terms it is, because perhaps there could be three names to the institution, but we know, of course, when we had the Welsh Assembly Government, that was created when there was no jurisdiction to do that, truth be told. It was a corporate body—that's what the Assembly was at the time—and, of course, we changed the name to 'Welsh Government', even though that wasn't what the name of the Welsh Assembly Government was in the legislation itself, and then that itself changed in legal terms over time. Practically speaking, people are going to call the place what they want to. But, in legal terms, is there any complexity created from the fact that, perhaps, with regard to your change or amendment, there might be three names for the institution?
Dwi ddim yn meddwl hynny. Achos mae'r cymal fel mae e'n darllen yn y Mesur sydd gerbron yn dweud y bydd yna Gynulliad Cenedlaethol, ond mae e'n glir wedyn taw enw y Cynulliad yna fydd 'Senedd', ac wedyn, o'i ddisgrifio yn y Saesneg, gellid defnyddio'r term 'Welsh Parliament'. Un peth sydd wastad wedi bod yn bach o gonsyrn i fi, o'i ddrafftio fe yn y modd yma, oedd y byddai'r term 'National Assembly' yn para yn y Saesneg, ac y byddai 'Senedd' yn datblygu yn y Gymraeg. Ac felly, o fod yn rhoi 'Welsh Parliament' ar wyneb y Mesur, yna mae hynna yn cadarnhau taw 'Welsh Parliament' yw'r enw yn y Saesneg, os oes rhywun yn defnyddio'r enw yn y Saesneg, ond taw 'Senedd' yw yr enw.
I don't believe so, no. Because the clause as it currently reads in the Bill tabled states that there will be a National Assembly, but it is clear that the name of that Assembly will be 'Senedd', and that the descriptor in English would be 'Welsh Parliament'. Now, one thing that's always been of slight concern to me, in drafting it in that way, was that the term 'National Assembly' would remain in English, and the word 'Senedd' would be used in Welsh. So, in placing 'Welsh Parliament' on the face of the Bill, then that does confirm that 'Welsh Parliament' is the name in English, if anyone chooses to use the name in English, but that 'Senedd' is the name.
You talked to the committee—I think when you came on 11 March—about the fact you were talking with the Minister for local government and the Minister for Education about a programme for development of engagement with young people. And I think you were looking at both engagement within schools and outside schools. Can you tell us if there's been any progress on those discussions?
Yes, there have been. Officials have continued to have those discussions, and to prepare the programme of work, and I met with the Minister for Housing and Local Government, who is new to this legislation—I met her last week; previously, I'd met the previous Minister for local government—and was able to share with her our aspirations to work together on this, of course, and to clarify how we would do that, and with all the other relevant parties. I'm very pleased to hear from her that the external board of advisors that the Welsh Government is looking to put in place to advise us on all of this work will now meet for the first time this side of the summer, so that that work can carry on. But there's a lot of work that Welsh Government are already putting into train, and one aspect of that work is the research that they have now commissioned to inform how we do this work of involving and ensuring that young people are informed of their new right to vote. So that piece of work, that research piece of work, will be a set of focus groups with young people and other newly enfranchised electors, to work with them how best they would think that they would digest and receive information and education in this context. And that will then lead to the rest of the work that actually has to be put in place for the canvas of 2020, and then the vote for 2021.
I think I said this in the committee last time—maybe the Electoral Commission has also said it to you—that the experience in Scotland is that young people, in particular, digest the information at best when it's particularly relevant and current, so it's—
Yes—at the last minute, almost, in terms of their right. Obviously, there is something that is much, much more, much greater than that, and that's on citizenship education more generally than just the mechanics and the rights of changing the franchise.
Okay. Just following on from that then, in terms of what education might look like, when Laura McAllister came to give evidence to us, she suggested that we might want to look at more than just explaining the electoral process and the importance of electoral systems, but actually we should spend a bit of time talking about the political ideologies, not necessarily of specific political parties, but what does nationalism mean, what does socialism mean, what does whatever mean, you know, in that context. Interesting little anecdote here: I did some outreach work with the education service here in one of the schools in my constituency and we did just that, we talked to them about historical figures and we gave them information about what these people stood for and then they had to vote for them, and they all voted for Adolf Hitler. So, there's some kind of danger around some of this stuff as well. But, I just wonder what you all thought about education including political philosophy as opposed to just political systems.
Our outreach and education workers already do work with young people—you've outlined that. The advice to us from them is exactly what Laura McAllister said to you: yes, the mechanics of voting, taking the box to show how the actual vote happens on paper is interesting and useful to young people, but the real engagement comes from identifying issues and political philosophy and what leads to the political decision that you make in deciding who to vote for. So, that has to be constructed as part of all of this. It's already in operation. Obviously, it has to happen in a way that is non-partisan, but our officials and I think the electoral community more generally are able to construct a piece of work that is able to engage young people in a broad enough way to enable them to take the decisions on who to put the cross next to.
Yes, because I think that's one of the concerns, isn't it, if you don't engage people in what voting actually means in terms of who you vote for and just talk about the mechanics, that isn't an engaging process?
And we know that young people are engaged and can be engaged. That's not been so obvious to us as it is at this present time with the young people who've led the engagement on climate change in the last few weeks. Those 14-year-olds are going to want to vote soon if we're not careful in listening to their views. If the issues are there and then they can relate the issues to the political process, then there's no doubt that the young people are able to come to decisions on what's important to them.
And that would of course have a particular implication for teacher training programmes, wouldn't it, because that would be an aspect of education that I guess most teachers won't have engaged in? So, I'm guessing we'd have to look at that as part of a teacher development programme.
Yes, and ensuring that there's enough politically neutral material and teacher support in this is part of the work that we're undertaking now, and Welsh Government are leading on it in particular.
Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. I barhau efo'r elfen addysg yma, yn naturiol dŷn ni wedi cael cryn dipyn o dystiolaeth o bob man, ac yn benodol felly yn ôl yr Athro Hazelkorn, os nad yw darparu addysg berthnasol i ddisgyblion yn ddyletswydd o dan y ddeddfwriaeth, gallai'r adnoddau ar gyfer addysg o'r fath fod yn anghyson, yn ei barn hi, ar draws ysgolion, gan arwain o bosib at gadarnhau'r fantais wleidyddol i'r elît yn ein cymdeithas sydd eisoes efo mantais economaidd gymdeithasol uwch. Beth ydy'ch barn chi felly ynghylch rhoi dyletswydd addysg ddinesig ar wyneb y Bil, ac ar ba ffurf y dylai gofyniad statudol o'r fath fod?
Thank you very much, Chair. Continuing with this idea of education, naturally we have received a great deal of evidence from all corners, and particularly with regard to Professor Hazelkorn, who suggested that if relevant education for pupils is not to be provided as a duty under the legislation, there could be an uneven resourcing of such education across schools, and this may entrench a political advantage for the more elite in our society who already have a socioeconomic advantage. What are your thoughts on placing a civic education duty on the face of the Bill, and what form do you feel such a statutory requirement should take?
Wel, o'n nhrafodaeth i hyd yn hyn gyda Llywodraeth Cymru, dydyn nhw ddim yn ffafrio dyletswydd statudol ar wyneb y Bil, a dwi'n cytuno y byddai hynny'n amhriodol hefyd. Rwy'n cyfeirio'n ôl eto at y ffaith ei bod hi'n briodol i'r Llywydd, fel yr Aelod sy'n gyfrifol am y Bil yma, fod yn ymwneud â pholisi a deddfwriaeth sydd yn ymwneud yn uniongyrchol â materion cyfansoddiadol, yn ymwneud â'n hetholiadau ni i'r Senedd yma, ond mater arall fyddai i Fesur o'r math yma wedyn rhoi dyletswydd ar y Llywodraeth am addysg mewn unrhyw ffurf o ran hynny. Felly, dwi ddim yn credu bod y Mesur a bod y gwaith yma angen y dyletswydd ar y Llywodraeth i wneud y gwaith yma. A dwi hefyd yn hyderus fod yna awydd o fewn Llywodraeth ac o fewn y gymuned etholiadol yn ehangach, gan gynnwys llywodraeth leol yn hynny, i sicrhau fod y newidiadau yma'n cael eu cyflwyno yn y ffordd mwyaf effeithiol, sydd yn golygu bod y mecanics ohonyn nhw'n cael eu cyflwyno'n effeithiol, ond hefyd ein bod ni'n gweithio gyda phawb i sicrhau fod pawb yn teimlo eu bod nhw'n informed am y materion sydd yn arwain lan. Mae e, wrth gwrs, wastad yn her i sicrhau bod grwpiau, neu ysgolion, hyd yn oed, sydd â llai o awydd neu allu i fod yn rhan o broses ddemocrataidd—ein bod ni, y Comisiwn, fan hyn, yn y gwaith addysg rŷm ni'n ei wneud, a hefyd pawb arall, yn gweithio'n galetach neu mewn ffordd wahanol i sicrhau fod pobl o grwpiau sydd yn ymwneud llai â'r broses ddemocrataidd yn arferol yn cael fwy o arweiniad, o bosib, ynglŷn â sut maen nhw'n gallu chwarae eu rhan nhw hefyd. A dwi'n meddwl o'r gwaith rŷm ni yn y Comisiwn yma wedi'i wneud ar sicrhau fod hynny'n elfen weddol greiddiol hefyd i sefydlu'n Senedd Ieuenctid ni, ein bod ni'n gallu dysgu o'r profiad yna ac ymhelaethu arno fe i holl bobl ifanc 16 ac 17 Cymru.
Well, from my discussions to date with the Welsh Government, they don't favour having a statutory duty on the face of the Bill, and I agree that that would be inappropriate. Referring back once again to the fact that it is appropriate for the Llywydd, as the Member in charge of this Bill, to be involved with policy and legislation that relates to constitutional matters, related to our elections for this Senedd, but it's another issue for a Bill of this kind to place a duty on Government to formulate policy on education in any way whatsoever. So, I don't think that this Bill and this work needs that duty placed on Government to do this. And I'm also confident that there is a desire within Government and within the broader electoral community, including local government, to ensure that these changes are introduced in the most effective and efficient way possible, which means that the mechanics are introduced effectively, but also that we work with everyone in order to ensure that everyone feels that they are informed about the issues involved. It's always a challenge, of course, to ensure that particular groups or particular schools, even, who have less desire or less capacity to be part of the democratic process—that we, as the Commission, in our education work, and also everyone else, should be working harder or working differently in order to ensure that people who are usually less involved in the democratic process are engaged and given more guidance as to how they can also participate too. And, I think, from the work that we as a Commission have done on ensuring that that is a core element of the establishment of our Youth Parliament, I believe we can learn from that experience and roll it out to all 16 and 17-year-olds in Wales.
Diolch yn fawr am hynny. Yn naturiol, fel pwyllgor, dŷn ni wedi derbyn cryn dipyn o dystiolaeth bod y math o addysg wleidyddol yma'n hanfodol, a dweud y gwir, ond heb ofyniad felly yn y Bil, dwi'n cymryd eich bod chi'n hyderus y bydd yr addysg honno'n digwydd a bydd beth bydd ein plant a'n pobl ifanc ni'n cael yn y dyfodol—y bydd hynny'n ddigonol er mwyn iddyn nhw allu penderfynu pa ffordd i bleidleisio. Ac, yn bellach, wrth gwrs, gwnaeth yr Athro Hazelkorn hefyd ddweud bod yna risg y byddai yna anghysonderau yn yr addysg ddinesig drwy Gymru os nad oes yna rywbeth sydd yn sicrhau bod yna ryw fath o lefel o sicrwydd yn y ddarpariaeth. Beth ydych chi'n meddwl am y sylwadau yna?
Thank you very much for that. As a committee, we have received a great deal of evidence that this kind of political education is vital, truth be told, but without such a requirement in the Bill, I take it that you are still confident that that education will happen and that our children and young people will receive sufficient education in the future so that they can decide how to vote. And further to that, Professor Hazelkorn also said that there was a risk that there would be uneven civic education throughout Wales if there wasn't something specific in the Bill to ensure that there was equal provision. What do you think about those comments?
Wel, mae addysg ddinesig, yn gyffredinol, yn fater i'r Llywodraeth a'r Gweinidog Addysg i fod yn ystyried hynny yng nghyd-destun y cwricwlwm newydd, wrth gwrs. Mae'n amlwg fod yna gysylltiad naturiol rhwng ymestyn yr oedran pleidleisio i 16 ac 17 a'r addysg ddinesig sydd ar gael yn gyffredinol, ond byddwn i'n dweud nad yw un ddim yn gwbl ddibynnol ar y llall. Does dim rhaid i'r addysg ddinesig yna fod mewn lle yn berffaith i sicrhau fod pobl ifanc 16 ac 17 yn medru pleidleisio, achos mae'r un ddadl yn wir am bobl ifanc 18 ac 19 ar y pwynt yna hefyd, ac maen nhw eisoes â'r bleidlais. Felly, mae'n amlwg yn ddymunol i weld addysg ddinesig ehangach yn rhan o'r cwricwlwm, ond mae'r gwaith rŷn ni'n mynd i roi ar waith yn mynd i fod yn gweithio ar y cyd â hynny ond yn ychwanegol i hynny hefyd i sicrhau, at y pwrpas o gyflwyno'r ddeddfwriaeth yma, ein bod ni'n cyfrannu'n sylweddol tuag at hyrwyddo ymwybyddiaeth pobl ifanc Cymru o'u hawl newydd nhw i bleidleisio’n 16 ac 17, a hefyd y cyd-destun dinesig, gwleidyddol y mae'r penderfyniad yna'n eistedd o fewn.
Well, civic education more generally is a matter for Government and the Education Minister to consider it in the context of the new curriculum, of course. Now, it's clear that there is a natural link between extending the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds with the civic education available more generally, but I would say that one isn't entirely reliant on the other. Civic education doesn't have to be perfectly in place in order to ensure that 16 and 17-year-olds are able to vote, because the same argument could be made for 18 and 19-year-olds at that point, and they already have the vote, of course. So, yes, it's clearly desirable to see broader civic education as part of the curriculum, but the work that we are going to put in train will run hand-in-hand with that, but will also add to that in order to ensure that, for the purpose of introducing this Bill, we contribute substantially towards the promotion of the awareness of young people of their new right to vote at 16 and 17, but also to explain the broader civic, political context in which that decision will be made.
Diolch yn fawr. Mae fy nghwestiwn olaf i—eto, yn dyfynnu'r Athro Hazelkorn—ynglŷn ag a oes yna ddigon o amser i roi'r bleidlais i bobl ifanc 16 ac 17 erbyn 2021. Achos dywedodd hi—i ddyfynnu yn yr iaith wreiddiol—
Thank you very much. And my final question—again, referring to Professor Hazelkorn—is with regard to whether there is enough time to introduce votes for 16 and 17-year-olds by 2021. Because she said—quoting in the original language—
'If you have the educational underpinnings set up to do so, but I probably would suggest caution if you didn't.'
—yn nhermau'r amser cywasgedig sydd rhwng rŵan a 2021. Beth ydy'ch barn chi ynglŷn â'r sylwadau yna?
—in terms of the compressed timetable that we have between now and 2021. What is your view on these comments?
Wel, byddwn i'n atgoffa'r pwyllgor ac yn atgoffa fy hunan hefyd bod y gwaith ar gyflwyno'r newid yma wedi cychwyn o leiaf pum mlynedd yn ôl yn y Cynulliad yma gyda phobl ifanc 16 ac 17 bryd hynny'n cefnogi ac yn gofyn am yr hawl yma. Maen nhw eisoes erbyn hyn yn 21 neu'n 22. Felly, ar ba bwynt ŷm ni'n meddwl bod yr holl gyfundrefn yn ddigon perffaith er mwyn caniatáu yr hawl i bobl ifanc 16 ac 17 i bleidleisio? Felly, byddwn i'n dweud bod yr awydd yna. Dim ond oherwydd bod rhai pobl ifanc yn dweud efallai wnawn nhw ddim pleidleisio—pwy a ŵyr? Mae yna bobl o bob oedran sydd ddim yn pleidleisio. Dyw hynny ddim yn golygu bod y rhai sy'n dymuno cael y bleidlais yn 16 ac 17—y dylen nhw gael yr hawl yna wedi'i wrthod iddyn nhw yn 2021, a dylid aros tan fod popeth yn fwy perffaith, os taw dyna'r gair, yn hwyrach. Felly, dwi'n credu bod yr amser wedi dod, yma yng Nghymru, i roi'r hawl i bobl ifanc gyfrannu yn eu proses ddemocrataidd nhw.
Well, I would remind the committee and remind myself, too, that the work of introducing this change started at least five years ago with young people at 16 and 17 years old supporting this proposal and requesting this right. They are now 21 and 22 years old. Therefore, at what point do we believe that the whole system is perfectly in place in order to allow the right for 16 and 17-year-olds to vote? So, I would say that the desire is there. Just because some young people say they may not vote—who knows? There are people of all ages that don't vote. It doesn't mean that those who wish to have the vote at 16 and 17 years old—that they shouldn't have that right, or that they should have it denied to them in 2021, and that we should wait until everything is perfect and everything is in place at some later date. So, I think the time has come, here in Wales, to give young people the right to contribute to the democratic process.
The committee has heard evidence that suggests that lowering the voting age for 2021, and the tight time frame that this would provide for education, may result in a lower initial turnout for 16 and 17-year-olds. Do you think that that would build up over time, or do you share this concern?
Well, I'm not sure whether I have a view, or have formed a view, on whether it would build up over time. I think the test for us is to make sure that the 16 and 17-year-olds in 2021 will be sufficiently informed of their new right and also sufficiently informed of the context within which they need to make a political choice. It's interesting, from experience elsewhere, that the turnout for 16 and 17-year-old voting is higher than the turnout for 18 to 24-year-old voting. There is something there that enables or inspires the 16 and 17-year-old cohort to vote in a way where 18 to 24-year-olds have not been voting where those votes are available. But, of course, there isn't much evidence on this, because this has only really been introduced in Scotland, where we have some evidence, and Austria. Therefore, there's no longitudinal evidence on this to date to think about how those 16 and 17-year-olds who have that vote will vote, or whether they will vote later on in life. But, there is evidence, of course, to point to the fact that there is a higher probability of people voting later in life if they have voted once before. That doesn't sound right; that's not how I meant that to sound.
So, if you vote once, you are more likely to vote later. It's when you haven't voted those first times that you are less likely to vote later on in life.
Picking up on what you just said about Scotland and how it was more likely for the 16 and 17-year-olds to vote than it was for the 18 to 21 or 24-year-olds, do you think that that happened because there was so much hype around Scottish devolution at the time when those votes were introduced, and there was so much hype there for that process? How are you going to get our 16 and 17-year-olds engaged in that? Because we are not going to have any kind of devolution hype coming in when these elections come in for us.
Hype helps. There's no doubt that hype helps with engagement. It's for all of us as politicians who stand in that election to try and generate that hype for 2021. That hype in Scotland was there for the 16 and 17-year-olds, but it was also there for the 18 to 24-year-olds, who didn't seem from the evidence from Scotland to be as exercised even by the Scottish independence referendum. Scotland, of course, had the experience of, yes, the hype of the independence referendum, but also the national election there in Scotland as well for 16 and 17-year-old voting. So, that, as well, I think I'm right in saying, showed that there was a higher turnout of voting probably in the 16 and 17-year-old cohort than in the next age cohort.
Thank you. Did you weigh up the potential benefits to educating young people, and to turnout, of introducing the change for the 2026 election instead?
Well, it would be available to do that, but I go back to the point that I made to Dai Lloyd. Young people and our engagement with young people on the issue of 16 and 17-year-olds voting has now been happening in some way or other for at least five years in Wales, and there are a number of 16 and 17-year-olds who never got the chance to vote in an Assembly election until they were 18 who are strong advocates of this policy. For me, the fact that we now have the powers to make these changes—we can make them; why wouldn't we make them, with all the evidence and advice and political will and young people out there wanting this to happen? I'm not saying that all young people want this change or will possibly be interested in the change, but there are champions for this change amongst the 16 and 17-year-olds.
Who do you think should be responsible for the costs incurred by the local authorities because of this Bill?
That's a matter for the Welsh Government to discuss with local authorities, and I'm aware that the Counsel General has said that those discussions will be happening on where the responsibility for the financing of those costs will happen. But it's not a matter directly for me; it's a matter for local authorities and the Welsh Government to be discussing.
Just one point from me on the finance. We heard this morning from the education Minister that there was a pot of £600,000 in respect of some of the civic education work that might be carried out, but we also heard that Welsh Government were looking for a spend of around about £900,000. As part of the discussions and so on, has the differential been discussed as to where that might come from, or is that a matter completely for Welsh Government?
On that point, there's around £900,000 in total for the education and awareness-raising campaign. So, of that, £600,000 will be focused on education resources to be in place by September 2020, and that is all funding that the Welsh Government has set aside. You'll be aware, from correspondence between the Llywydd and the Ministers, that they had originally requested that the Commission provide some contribution towards that sum of money, but the Llywydd has replied to the Minister to explain that the Assembly Commission set aside £150,000 within its budget, which will be directed in a way that's consistent with the overall aims and objectives of the campaign, but not as a direct contribution to the Welsh Government for those costs that they've identified. I think those are being resourced by Welsh Government itself.
Because we're not lowering the franchise for local government elections and the Senedd elections simultaneously, there is now an element of risk that local Government reform won't go ahead. Now, it may not be a very high risk, but it is going to be a local government and elections Bill. You referred earlier to the fourth Assembly establishing the principle of lowering the franchise to 16. Well, in the fourth Assembly we had the Williams commission on local government reform, and that's over five years ago now, and it's been a highly contested area. One assumes that there's still an element of risk in terms of that Bill being brought forward. Do you regret the fact that we could see a system of electoral arrangements where you couldn't vote in local government, you could vote in the Senedd, and you couldn't vote in Westminster elections?
Well, we have a differentiation that stands on who can vote in which elections. The electoral community are used to administering those changes, those differences, and voters on the whole have become aware of when they can vote and when they can't vote. Obviously, working towards having one franchise for both Assembly and local government has been—and is—an aspiration of both Welsh Government and myself. I've had no indication from Welsh Government that their Bill, their local government Bill, will not be in place for the 2022 election, and, from my meeting last week with the Minister, she was able to confirm once again that they were working to a timetable that would enable that. Obviously, the history of this Bill has meant that the local government Bill and the relationship to this Bill has changed; it was flipped in terms of timetabling as a result of some of the issues that you've alluded to. Where we had expected our Bill to be linked to the local government franchise and the local government Bill, that was then changed because of the need to timetable the Bills in a way where our Bill would have to go first and the franchise provisions put in this Bill rather than linked from this Bill to a local government Bill. So, on the whole, we are where we are with all of that, but I know that Welsh Government are keen for both sets of elections—2021 and 2022—to have a franchise that includes 16 and 17-year-olds.
It's not just me being over-anxious, is it? The Welsh Government was strongly committed to a Welsh language Bill, which now they say they're not going to introduce. So, these deep policy matters sometimes are difficult to resolve. So, if that were to happen, would you expect them at least to bring in a local government elections Bill, even if they can't do their more general reforms?
Well, I'd have no expectation of them on that, because our franchise Bill could stand on its own for 2021, but it's an option that would be open to them of course to reduce the scope of their Bill if there are any issues that would result—
So, you don't think that there is an overriding need for consistency in terms of local government and the Senedd. I realise that you think it's hugely preferable, but if local government was left unreformed in terms of the franchise, there would be still an imperative in your view to sort the Senedd elections out and lower that franchise to 16.
The Laura McAllister report was quite clear in saying that, if and when 16 and 17-year-olds voting was introduced in Wales, then it should certainly be introduced first for a national election and the higher salience of that election. Therefore, I'd have no reason in my mind as to why, if the local government Bill for whatever reason does not go ahead, this election and our national election could not introduce 16 and 17-year-olds voting a year ahead of the local government election or even six years, as it would end up being, possibly, if there had to be a delay. But I've had no indication that there is any change in the Government's ambition to bring forward a piece of legislation to introduce 16 and 17-year-olds voting for local government in 2022.
The architecture of the legislation is slightly awkward. Now, this isn't unusual in our legislative system, but, because we attached our voting in Senedd elections to the local government franchise, it's likely that, if the local government Bill is brought forward, it will immediately have to amend parts of the Senedd Bill, and that's a bit clunky. Do you have any views on that in terms of—. I'm particularly thinking that the printed versions of the Act would be very quickly out of date, as would whatever's online, unless that's then brought up to date very, very quickly. It could be quite difficult to negotiate our legislation.
I don't think that legislation stands in place for a very long time before, possibly, there are changes made to it. I accept that this may just be a few months, but it's what it is—that's how I'd explain the timing on all of this. Matthew can explain that in a bit more detail, possibly, than I can.
In this particular instance, in fact, while the general point that the Member raises is absolutely right, it may not make a great deal of difference, because a lot of what this Bill is doing is amending other legislation; there's very little in the Bill that is stand-alone. So, much of it is amending the Representation of the People Act 1983 and some other pieces of legislation made at Westminster level. So, it's possible, when the local government Bill comes along, that it will be making further amendments to the legislation that's being amended by this Bill. But in fact, the overall architecture, which the Member has mentioned, won't be changing as a result of this Bill. It's fair to say that the law governing elections is very complex and very fragmented and set out in lots of different Acts of Parliament and other pieces of legislation, and what the Llywydd is intending to do in this Bill is not going to change that. It is simply a fact of how we make law that the statute book evolves, and, inevitably, making changes to a particular policy area often has an effect on another policy area, and, to make it consistent and correct, very often these sorts of amendments have to be made. So, it's not particularly unusual in that sense. The Counsel General said to you last week that, if amendments are brought forward, they won't be changing the policy; they'll be preserving it, so they will be what might be described as tidying-up amendments.
I think it's also worth making the point that officials here and officials at the Welsh Government have worked very hard with the electoral community to make sure that everybody who is involved in the process understands what the legislative changes are.
I accept that this is not uncomplicated, but there are ways of anticipating, avoiding additional complexity, and having two separate Bills to deal with the franchise would have seen one of them. We'd also have two electoral registers, potentially, if we don't have a unified franchise for local government and Assembly elections. I don't know if you've had any discussions about the practical consequences of that in terms of running our elections.
There would be only one register. The Bill effectively makes changes to the local government register, so while we did consider with the Llywydd whether it was appropriate to create a separate Assembly register, it was felt that that would be more complex for electoral administrators to administer.
No, sorry, the point I was making—. You are technically right. So, you'd have one register with two different applications, then, and that—
Sorry—that was the actual point I was making, which, again, seems to introduce difficulties for everyone engaging in elections.
Well, yes, I accept that, and I have always sought to get to a point where we would have one franchise for Assembly and local government elections in Wales, and that would still be an aspiration that I have. Of course, there are different considerations within the two sets of legislation, and one of them that's always been a priority, for my thinking, is where the supermajority lies within the Assembly for a change, and I'm not clear that there is a supermajority for changing the basis of the Assembly's franchise from a citizen's right to vote to a resident's right to vote. If this committee comes forward with a consensus on that, then, I'd be interested to see that. I know that the Welsh Government are keen to pursue that by possibly amendments to this Bill and what they put forward in their own local government Bill. So, that's the reason.
And you alluded to that earlier, I think, in terms of—. I think we would accept, in terms of the principle of franchise, it's highly unified whether we should allow 16-year-olds to vote. It's difficult that they should vote in Senedd but not in local government elections, but I do accept the point about a wider franchise in terms of at least the different basis—the traditional basis of citizens and moving to one of residents. I accept that that's a material point in your consideration.
Finally, wouldn't it have been easier to have established a new category under the Representation of the People Act 1983 for Assembly elections? It is odd that we're still attached to the local government register. So, did you consider that or was it just an added complication and you just wanted to get on with the principle of lowering the voting age?
Yes, we did give some consideration to this with the Llywydd. As I said earlier, I think it would create an additional layer of complexity, and, for that reason, that option was not pursued and the focus is on the local government register, using it as we do at the moment as the basis for the franchise for the Assembly elections. I think the important thing for the Llywydd, really, as she's mentioned, is to make sure that the arrangements are as joined-up as possible for both electoral registration processes so that it is easier for the administrators to manage and deliver smoothly and effectively.
Thank you, Chair. The Bill enables children in local authority care to register to vote in an area that they feel the greatest connection to, but that's actually not a requirement, although the local authority, I think, can seek that if they wish. How do you think that would work in practice?
It was an important point of principle for me that looked-after children, if they were placed out of county or out of country, even, were able to establish and have the vote in the area with which they had a connection. So, we've sought to put the mechanism for allowing that to happen in the Bill. I'll ask Anna to talk about the Bill a little bit more around the practice of that.
So, it's section 18 that allows young people to declare a local connection to an address in Wales where they've been resident, and the relevant address will depend on the circumstances of the child. It might be the family home or that of a hostel or the council whose care they are in. So, the Welsh Government will have to work with the electoral returning officers, registration officers and social services departments, really, to ensure the arrangements are as comprehensive as possible to enable children in the care of local authorities to vote in relation to the area where they feel they have the connection with. So, that's something that they'll need to work together on to implement.
Because there won't be any obligation on them to prove a connection, will there? Presumably, the local authority could follow that up and say, 'Well, actually, we do need a bit of information from you', but there isn't an absolute requirement on them to prove they've got a connection to a particular area. Am I right?
That's right, but if a child is in the care of the local authority, then, clearly, the local authority will have some information already available and will be able to support that declaration of local connection. So, I think those are some of the issues that the registration officers will need to work through with local authorities.
Okay, thank you. Just in terms of whether any young people should be excluded from the franchise, the youth justice board have been very clear that they feel that any 16 or 17-year-olds in custody should not be excluded, but we've also heard the children's commissioner say that there's a particular issue:
'anyone serving a sentence beyond the age of 17 would then ‘lose’ the right to vote and have that...withdrawn. '
They think that that might cause a problem—if you give somebody a right and then withdraw it and then reinstate it later on. What are your thoughts on that?
Obviously, 16 and 17-year-olds in prison would not be enabled to vote currently in this legislation, and we know that all of that matter is currently being looked at by a committee of the Assembly that will feed in their views on how and if any changes to either this legislation or future legislation to enable prisoner voting should be taken forward. Now, I share the view of the children's commissioner on this—that it would feel wrong, almost, to allow the vote for a 16 or 17-year-old young person who is in prison and, once they've crossed the threshold of 18, to then take away their right to vote. So, I think that that feels like the wrong way to be introducing the right to vote for any young person—that they are given the right to vote and then it could be—
The issue of the entirety of people who do not have the voting rights as prisoners.
Okay. What do you think success would look like, then, in terms of the objectives of this Bill, by reducing the voting age to 16?
Oh, I think success would certainly look like strong engagement, reinvigoration of democracy amongst the younger people who feel that they have a direct right to elect their representatives into the National Assembly. Success would also mean that the election itself, the registration process and everything around the election, was done effectively and efficiently with young people, and just that there's an increased awareness and participation by young people, and that we have engaged them early enough for them to feel that they become voters not just of the present, but of the future. I'm not going to give you a target turnout figure, if that's what you're looking for, but I would want it to feel and look good, then.
And do you think there's a possibility or there's the potential for enfranchising 16 and 17-year-olds to have a positive impact on older people, maybe even their parents, or—?
Well, I hope it will engage a greater number of people in thinking about the elections and talking about elections and how people are voting in various households or communities, and that that is a positive in everything. I hope that there'll be a bit of hype around the fact that 16 and 17-year-olds will be voting for the first time. I suspect there will be more hype in 2021 about 16 and 17-year-old voting than there will be in 2026 and whatever happens after that—is that 2031, then? At that point, in those successive elections, we'll probably have different challenges in ensuring that everybody is aware of their new right to vote. But it will become the norm very, very quickly, I'm sure.
Just one final question from me, Chair, if I can: who is accountable for the outcome of such an important piece of public policy? It's a Commission Bill, but the Welsh Government obviously holds all the levers around implementation and delivery. So, who do you see as responsible for it, ultimately?
Well, probably all of us—all of us who are involved in making this change, putting it into operation, as well as legislating on it in the first place. So, the electoral community as widely as possible, which includes those people involved in the mechanics of an election, those people involved in awareness raising around elections—so, local authorities, the Electoral Commission, Welsh Government and ourselves, then, on the entirety of the context; us as politicians, political parties as well, who've signed up to, who want to see, reinvigoration of our democracy and especially within the younger people. And, you know, the combination of both the Youth Parliament now as champions of young people in politics and the introduction of 16, 17-year-old voting has a chance of reinvigorating some political debate within our younger people, and they do quite a good job themselves, anyway; we've seen that recently.
Llywydd, a very short question from me. You're obviously in discussions with Welsh Government, Scottish Government, the Electoral Commission, obviously, in terms of the whole process of how the legislation's going to work out and so on. You've expressed a view in terms of questions raised with regard to possible legislative underpinning of a duty, but, at the very least, is it your view that there needs to be some form of very specific guidance given out to schools, education establishments, in respect of how the civic education should actually operate.
Well, we've discussed, thus far, the resources, materials, available for teachers and young people to engage and inform—that's been the priority of how we've developed our thinking. The issue of guidance would probably lie more with Welsh Government than be a role that we would play. I'm sure it's probably a question you posed to the education Minister before I was in the room, and I haven't seen her response yet. I'd be interested to see what the Welsh Government's view on that particular aspect of working with the education committee, then, by providing guidance, is.
Beth yw eich barn chi ynglŷn â chofrestru mewn bloc a chofrestru awtomatig?
What's your opinion on block registration and automatic registration?
Wel, wrth ddatblygu'r Mesur yma, yna mae'r mater o mechanics ac operation sut mae cofrestru'n digwydd, neu etholiadau’n digwydd o ran hynny—dwi ddim wedi'i weld e fel rhan o ddatblygiad y Mesur yma yn benodol. Maen nhw'n faterion dwi'n ymwybodol bod Llywodraeth Cymru a'r Comisiwn Etholiadol ac eraill yn edrych arnynt ar hyn o bryd. Mae yna fanteision amlwg iddyn nhw, o ran cost ac effeithiolrwydd, o bosib, a does gyda fi ddim barn, fel Llywydd, ar y mater yna, dim ond i obeithio bod y trafodaethau yna'n arwain pawb tuag at greu system sydd yn fwy effeithiol a llai costus yn y pen draw. Ac mae cofrestru awtomatig yn sicr yn cwympo i mewn i un o'r ystyriaethau hynny.
In developing this Bill, the issue around the mechanics and the operation of registration or how elections take place for that matter—I haven't seen it as being part of the development of this Bill particularly. They are issues that I am aware that the Welsh Government and the Electoral Commission and others are currently looking at. There are clear benefits, in terms of cost and efficiency, and I have no view, as Llywydd, on that particular issue. I would just say that I do hope that those discussions do lead everyone towards the creating of a system that is more efficient and less expensive. And automatic registration would certainly be one of those considerations.
Ynglŷn ag un peth dwi wedi'i glywed oddi wrth bobl—rhai pobl—sef dylai dinasyddion tramor gael yr hawl i bleidleisio mewn etholiadau'r Cynulliad, oes barn gyda chi o gwbl ynglŷn â pha mor bell ddylai'r etholfraint fynd?
And with regard to one aspect that we've heard from some people, namely that foreign nationals should have the right to vote, what's your view on that and to what extent the franchise should extend?
Wel, yn sicr, mae gyda fi farn eithaf pendant ynglŷn â'r ffaith bod dinasyddion o'r Undeb Ewropeaidd sydd wedi bod â hawl i bleidleisio yn etholiadau'r Cynulliad ddim yn colli'r hawl yna wrth, ac os, gwnaiff y Deyrnas Gyfunol adael yr Undeb Ewropeaidd, a dwi'n hyderus bod yr hawl yna'n mynd i barhau. Fel dwi wedi sôn eisoes, fe fyddwn i eisiau gweld sefyllfa lle mae'r etholfraint yr un peth—yr un hawl i bleidleisio mewn etholiadau'r Cynulliad ac etholiadau llywodraeth leol. Dwi'n ymwybodol bod Llywodraeth Cymru, o bosib, yn mynd i gyflwyno gwelliannau i’r Mesur yma a chyflwyno elfennau o ganiatáu i breswylwyr gwlad gael yr hawl i bleidleisio yn hytrach na dinasyddion gwlad, ac, fel dywedais i mewn ateb ynghynt i David Melding, un o'r ffactorau sydd wastad ar fy meddwl i yw beth sy'n gallu cyrraedd dwy ran o dair o fwyafrif yn y Cynulliad yma. Dwi ddim yn hyderus ar hyn o bryd fod newid sail yr etholfraint o ddinasyddiaeth i breswylwyr yn mynd i gario dwy ran o dair, ond, wrth gwrs, mae sut mae'ch pwyllgor chi'n dod i unrhyw farn ar hynny yn gallu bod yn arweiniad clir i fi hefyd, os oes angen unrhyw newid.
Well, certainly, I have quite a clear view on the fact that EU nationals who have had a right to vote in Assembly elections in the past shouldn't lose that right if, or when, the UK leaves the European Union, and I'm confident that that right will remain. As I have already mentioned, I would like to see a situation where the franchise would be the same for Assembly elections and local government elections. I am aware that the Welsh Government may be introducing amendments to this Bill and may be introducing certain measures whereby residents will have the right to vote rather than citizens having the right to vote. And, as I said in an earlier answer to David Melding, one of the factors that's always on my mind is what could deliver a two-thirds majority in this place. I'm not confident, at the moment, that changing the basis of the franchise from citizens to residents will garner the support of two thirds of the Assembly, but how your committee comes to a view on that could give me clear guidance too, if any change is needed in this regard.
Yes. Llywydd, I'd just like to look at the relationship between the Electoral Commission and this place. It relates, in the legislation, to section 27, which you have indicated is now likely to be amended. I just wonder if you can give us more information on the nature of those amendments, and when we might see them.
Yes. The fact that there aren't provisions clearly in this Bill as to how these arrangements would be in place—. I understand that it's not—. The best way to have proposed legislation is to propose it in this way, but we had to consider at one point whether financial and accountability arrangements would be within the local government Bill or within our Bill. It was finally decided and agreed between the Welsh Government and myself that it would be within this Bill. And that there was—. There is good a synchronicity in the fact that we are now having the powers to undertake changes to our Assembly elections—this Bill provides for some changes to be undertaken—then the Electoral Commission will be responsible for the holding of those elections in 2021, and it feels right that they should, by 2021, be accountable to this Assembly for that purpose. And therefore that's why we are still considering bringing forward amendments to enact that in Stage 2.
Okay. So, what will those amendments be, in terms of policy discussions that we are continuing to have with Welsh Government on this issue? Clearly, the accountability currently is to a Speaker's Committee in Westminster. It's likely to be proposed in Scotland that the accountability will be to their corporate body and their Presiding Officer, as the Chair of that. And therefore that's why I'm considering that the model that we have here in Wales as well, and the amendments that we would put forward, would be for a committee within the Assembly to be chaired by the Llywydd or the Deputy Presiding Officer. I think it's an issue that we will give some more thought on, on whether the membership of that committee should be on the face of the Bill or whether the membership of the committee should be in Standing Orders. I tend to favour it being in Standing Orders, in order to allow for circumstances that can be changed via Standing Orders. The membership of that committee could have a combination that currently looks like the Speaker's Committee, which includes members of the Government—it could include members of the Government—ex-officio members of this Assembly, who may well be committee Chairs, and named in their capacity as committee Chairs, and also to think about political party representation.
So, that's where my thinking is at the moment. And as soon as we've come to some—and it may well be before the end of your deliberations—. I'm keen to be as open and transparent about this as quickly as possibly as I can, to enable proper scrutiny of these amendments, through Stage 2 and Stage 3.
I think that these are fundamental issues, aren't they? As you were giving that answer, I think we were all drawn into the depth of it and the ramifications, potentially. And isn't it very important indeed that, even if it's only in draft, we see something at Stage 1? Because, surely, you're going to want this committee to give you some sort of advice before we get into Stage 2, which is the amending stage—that's what you do at Stage 2; you can't have a more discursive approach at Stage 2. I'll just give you one example—if and how you would involve minority parties. At the moment, we've got one party in this Assembly with three Members, we have three independents, I think. What sort of representation may they have? These are very, very, very significant issues.
Yes, I completely understand that. And that's why there's an in-principle decision here around what should be on the face of the Bill and what could be in Standing Orders. I've given an indication that the membership of a committee chaired by a Presiding Officer could be left to Standing Orders. It's just a matter that the principle of it being a committee that is independent of the current structures of the Assembly and is chaired by an impartial Chair—if that's the right way to describe the Llywydd or the Deputy Presiding Officer—then that is something that could be, and should be, probably, on the face of the Bill.
But, you know—I accept this; this is the discussion I think we need to have when you actually bring forward the proposals. And I can see the logic of, on the face of the Bill, saying what sort of committee it is. It’s a bit like what we say about the Public Accounts Committee—you know, there has to be one, and you can't have another mechanism and that that is in statute. But, you know, there’s a real issue about where membership is dealt with, because if we assume we're going to get more minority parties in the future, or there’s the likelihood of that happening—and we certainly have it at the moment; we're in a very febrile political environment at the moment, one would say—if you're reliant on Standing Orders, the big boys and girls can get together and absolutely squeeze out other parties, even if, collectively, they might amount to a third, or just under a third, of the Assembly’s membership. So, there are clear dangers in determining membership via Standing Orders, and that would need thorough consideration, wouldn't it?
No, and I accept that. I'm sure you will have a view as a committee, even without the detail of the amendments, on where the principles lie and where the consideration on the principles of this should lie for wherever the amendments come from, and I will be, obviously, interested in that. As soon we have some of the policy decisions that we are inclined to, then we can share any information on that with you. Although I'd say that, on the whole, I'd like to hear your views on some of those principles and those exact issues that you've outlined there, where you would like to see the amendments that are brought forward, where you think the dividing line should be between what should be on the face of the Bill and what should be in Standing Orders, where you think that appropriately lies.
Is making the Electoral Commission accountable to the Assembly time dependent?
Well, it’s not wholly necessary that the change is introduced by the 2021 election, but, as I outlined in my initial response, there’s a good synchronicity and there’s a good principle that lies beneath the fact that, in making changes to our franchise and how elections in Wales will be different to UK elections, then it feels appropriate that the Electoral Commission is accountable to us here as an Assembly on the operation of that first election including the 16 and 17-year-old franchise in 2021.
Okay. The Electoral Commission will retain responsibility for UK elections. How will this impact on the accountability of the Commission or the Assembly?
Okay. I'll ask maybe Anna just to outline some of the separation that has to happen in terms of not just accountability, but in terms of financing as well, on the fact that they will remain a UK body, but they will be funded for their work in Wales and accountable for their work in Wales to us.
If I may just intervene there, we are very much time constrained, and there are some further—I know there's a further question from Mandy, but also from Dai Lloyd and from Dawn. Rather than go into an area and only just start on it, what I propose, if the Members are in agreement, is that we put the remainder of the questions in writing to you, if that’s acceptable to you, Llywydd.
Can I first thank you for the evidence and the very detailed answers you've been giving? There'll be a transcript, of course, in the usual way, and there will of course be a letter with some further questions in some areas to explore with you. But thank you for attending and for your time today, and that of the officials.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).
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.
And now, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi), I invite the committee to resolve to exclude the public for the remainder of the meeting. Do Members agree?
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:44.
The public part of the meeting ended at 10:44.