Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad - Y Bumed Senedd
Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee - Fifth Senedd08/06/2020
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Carwyn Jones MS|
|Dai Lloyd MS|
|Mick Antoniw MS||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Suzy Davies MS|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Dylan Hughes||Y Prif Gwnsler Deddfwriaethol, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|First Legislative Counsel, Welsh Government|
|Helen Lentle||Cyfarwyddwr yr Adran Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Director of Legal Services, Welsh Government|
|Neil Surman||Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr Is-adran Iechyd y Cyhoedd, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Deputy Director, Public Health Division, Welsh Government|
|Vaughan Gething MS||Y Gweinidog Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol|
|Minister for Health and Social Services|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Gareth Howells||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|P Gareth Williams||Clerc|
|Sam Mason||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|Sarah Sargent||Ail Glerc|
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.
Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 10:00.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 10:00.
Welcome, Members, to this virtual meeting of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee. In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I've determined that the public are excluded from the committee's meeting in order to protect public health. In accordance with Standing Order 34.21, notice of this decision was included in the agenda for this meeting, published last Thursday. This meeting is, however, being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and the Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. Aside from the procedural adaptation relating to conducting meeting proceedings remotely, all other Standing Order requirements for committees remain in place. We have a full committee present today.
There are just a couple of housekeeping arrangements. Can all attendees ensure that all mobile devices are switched to the silent mode? Senedd Cymru operates through both the medium of Welsh and English languages. Interpretation is available during this morning's meeting. Sound operators are controlling the microphones, and as such you do not need to mute and unmute yourselves during the public meeting.
I will just ask if there are any declarations of interest from Members. If there aren't any, in that case I'll move straight on to item 2 of the agenda.
This is scrutiny in respect of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Wales Regulations 2020—an evidence session with the Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, who I welcome to this committee. I'm grateful for the time available for this, bearing in mind how busy you are at the moment, so we appreciate that. I also welcome your officials, Neil Surman, the deputy director of the public health division, Helen Lentle, director of legal services, and Dylan Hughes, First Legislative Counsel. I welcome you all. If it's okay, I will go straight into questions, and prepare to go straight to Carwyn Jones.
Thank you, Chair. Good morning, Minister.
Two questions from me initially. The first one is this: how have you decided in terms of where to strike the balance in terms of what to include in the regulations in the first place, and what to include in guidance? And when you look to strike that balance, how do issues of enforceability influence that decision?
There are actually quite important decisions and balances to strike. So, for example, we have to start off with considering what's the policy we're trying to achieve. We're obviously trying to keep the public safe, and to have a series of regulations to give people some rules around that as well. There's a difference, as you point out, between the rules and the guidance. So, there's the law itself, where there's typically no discretion from, but then there's the guidance to help you to explain what the law is, and explain what you're trying to achieve. So, the clarity that we want to have in the law to help it to be enforceable—that's important, and there's a balance there to decide what goes into the actual law, and then we put in guidance to help to explain it. Because it's fair to say that there are plenty of lawyers who need to read regulations and law more than once to understand them, and then, of course, there are people who make a living out of arguing what the law really means. We actually want to have something that helps the public to understand how they can follow the rules, and that's why the guidance is really important as well. So, there's a balance in that, and it's not a simple or a straightforward line, I think, sometimes. A good example of where we've had to strike that balance is on staying home and then moving to staying local, and then choosing to define what 'local' means in the guidance, not in the regulations.
There are at least four of us, Minister, who are here today who revel in the fact that lots of regulations are not always clear, otherwise we wouldn't have made a living out of it. Nevertheless, we are all on the straight and narrow now. [Laughter.] Thank you for that answer.
The second question I have is in terms of the Coronavirus Act—the recent one, 2020. One of the recent ones, I should say. On 29 April, the First Minister said that powers under Schedule 22 to the Act would be enough, in terms of them being an effective means of dealing with the pandemic. Are you able to tell us to what extent the Welsh Government has used those powers?
I think it was actually at the end of March, not the end of April, that that declaration was made, and that is to make sure that those powers are effective and available. We've actually relied on our powers under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, as indeed have the UK Government. That's, if you like, the parent Act of the regulations that we're largely providing. But the Assembly, as it then was, now the Welsh Parliament, agreed that those additional powers in the Coronavirus Act should be available.
We may get to the point, for example, where public health officers need to exercise some of those powers in relation to potentially infectious people, but we're not in the position where we've had to do that, and that's a good thing. It's partly because we've made use of powers that exist; it's also, though, because of the response from the public and the fact that the public have willingly complied with the scheme that exists, not just in the regulations but the guidance as well. That high level of compliance is what has been able to move us forward. If we hadn't had that level of compliance, we may have had to make more extensive use of the powers in the Coronavirus Act.
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you. Minister, we had some debate in the last Plenary session around the human rights aspects of it, because obviously any regulations that impact on human rights or restrict in any way human rights are obviously very significant features that obviously demand scrutiny. Now, article 15 of the European convention on human rights provides that states can derogate from their obligations under the convention in times of public emergency, but article 15 requires those derogations to be reported to the Council of Europe. I wonder if you could provide us with a little bit of information about how many of the measures passed by Welsh Government have now been reported to the Council of Europe.
There are no derogations currently in force. We don't take the view there has been any derogation from convention rights.
Okay. Do you not take the view that a derogation that can be justified is still a matter that ought to be reported under article 15?
Yes, but I don't think there are any derogations currently in force, which is the point. So, it's not that there's a derogation that can be justified, it's that actually we take the view that none of the measures we've taken to date actually amount to a derogation from convention rights. It's also taking account of the specific way that this Parliament and Government have been set up and the relationship with convention rights as well, where we have to take action that is compatible with convention rights.
Okay. In determining whether there can be interference with human rights, the Supreme Court has set out a number of criteria that have to be taken into account. These are the four hurdles, and they relate to, obviously, the measure having to have a legitimate aim to justify the limitation of a fundamental right. Secondly, that the measure is rationally connected to that aim. The question as to whether a less intrusive measure could be—. And then there's the issue of proportionality in terms of the objective. I wonder if you could just outline the process of consideration of those points, in terms of the measures that have been taken by Welsh Government.
Okay. I'll look at two things and then one of the lawyers may want to come in to add to this. The first is that we do take account of human rights considerations when it comes to the passage of these regulations and the impact that they have. However, and here's the second point, Welsh Ministers don't have the power to make legislation that is not compatible with convention rights because of the Government of Wales Act 1998 requirements. So, we don't exercise our functions in breach of convention rights. I don't know if Dylan or Helen want to explain about the process by which we get there and why we get to that position of saying that we're not breaching convention rights, (a) because we're not allowed to, but also there aren't any derogations in place at this point in time anyway.
Okay. Thank you for that. Just another question about the regulations, because the regulations impose the same restrictions on leaving the home and now the local area regardless of whether the person is a child, healthy adult, a person over 70 or a person requiring to shield. Did the Welsh Government consider applying specific provisions in the regulations to those who had been told to shield?
Well, the shielding regime, such as it is, isn't part of the regulations. So, the regulations apply to everyone, and then we have guidance to explain what those regulations mean. We've also, through the chief medical officer, set out guidance for people on the shielding regime, and the shielding regime is advice that we've given to people; it doesn't have the force of law, and so people who are shielding but choose to act in a different way aren't breaking the law. All they're doing is they're putting themselves and other people around them at greater risk, and they understand that they're at much greater risk. And, in fact, there is developing evidence that does set out that the shielding advice, and the response from shielding people, has been such that we are robustly confident that we've saved lots of lives as a result of it. What we've done is we've got some protections for those people, so the shielding letter effectively acts as sick note for people to stay out of work, and in the way that that has a relationship to the support that's been provided. But that isn't actually part of the regulations.
I know that there are some people who've taken, if you like, the headline message about shielding as an instruction. Actually, it's not a legal instruction, it's guidance that's provided. And the 130,000-odd shielding people across Wales have had their letters from the chief medical officer and may have followed that advice, which is why so many of them are still alive today. It also explains why they're anxious about the future, because daily I think we do understand that they're at much greater risk than the rest of the public.
Thank you for that answer, Minister. We move on to Suzy Davies.
Thank you. Morning, Minister. I just want to take us back to where we started with Carwyn Jones's questions about the distinction between law and guidance that you've just been talking about. How convinced are you that people know the difference?
Well, I think the clue is in the question—guidance. And the guidance is exactly that—it is guidance. It is guidance to help people to follow the rules and not to break them. If you go back to that very interesting phrase that Professor Van-Tam used about not wanting to rip the pants out of the regulations, there are some people who want to find ways through to avoid their legal obligations and to not follow advice. The guidance is there to help people to follow that advice and to understand it. It's also there to help the business of enforceability, because if you're looking to interpret what the law means, then you're obviously going to look at what that guidance is. So, police forces have found that very useful and helpful, and a range of other people, including employers, have found the guidance being produced very helpful as well, and indeed public authorities in the way they've exercised their own responsibilities and obligations.
You can never say that there is perfect and uniform understanding of what the law and guidance are. I don't know that there is much legislation that we've passed that has been created in the past where you'd say that every single member of the public understands it and shares the same understanding. That's why some of us used to earn our trade as lawyers. But I think we've been as clear as we possibly can be about what is in the law, in the regulations, and what is in the guidance.
Well, have you, though, because I think there's been a bit of a mixing up of words that we are familiar with using in law with words that we are familiar with using in guidance? So, we've got examples where Welsh Government guidance has said you must keep good hand hygiene, and that travel should only be essential. That's not legislative, but people are sort of responding to it as if it is law. I mean, this mixture now of your 'musts' and your 'shoulds'—do you think that's a problem?
No. It's in the guidance. If you wrote that in the regulations about whether 'must' or 'shall' or 'should' or 'may', those things mean very different things in regulations, as you know, and as someone who used to practice. In whatever field of law you're in, the actual words used matter in a drafting sense for the law. When it comes to regulations, you are helping people to understand how they can behave and act within the guidance, and, equally, if there are parts of that behaviour that would fall outside of the guidance and are likely to fall foul of the actual law itself. And so I think trying to apply, if you like, a drafter's lens for regulations into the guidance is a mistake, because they're not the same things at all. And I think it's entirely legitimate to say that travel should be for essential purposes only when you think about what we're trying to achieve, and so I don't have any issue at all with the way that 'should' and 'must' have been used in the guidance, and I don't think it's something that makes either the regulations themselves defective or that there's anything that makes the guidance somehow hard to understand.
Well, my question began with what you think the public thinks of this and their distinction between the two. As we know, Government can't just make directions on changing of law; it has to go through due process. But in the regular press meetings we have, and certainly in press reporting, the word 'must' is used to help create the impression that it is law, even if that's not actually true. Again, I go back to that question: do you think that people have difficulty distinguishing between the two, and does it matter? Because actually, it's the behaviour of people that is critical in this, rather than necessarily where the instruction lies, if I can put it in those terms. And, actually, we've just seen this weekend, haven't we, where nobody's 100 per cent sure about why gatherings were permitted, regardless of the reasons behind that. Does the law or the guidance have the force you'd like it to?
Yes, because in each of the areas where we set and create laws, people still have choices to make. Sometimes people break the law, because they're not aware of it. Other times, people are aware of the law and choose to break it. And the guidance is there to try to help people to understand what is there. But there are many people in Wales who have not tried to work their way through the regulations. In fact, I'd be very surprised if there are many people in Wales who actually tried to read the regulations. And, even with the guidance, there are lots of people who won't have actually turned to the guidance itself. We've got guidance, we've got frequently asked questions, to help deal with the questions that people do raise. But people get their information in different sources. The problem with guidance is that we know that that is something that, if people are looking for help to understand what the law says and how they can follow it—. You don't want everybody saying, 'I need to ask a lawyer if I can do something now.' You actually want to provide a way for people to understand that and that's a function that guidance helps to deliver.
I am content with the way that the language is used in the guidance. I think it is clear enough, it helps people to understand the obligations and how and what is available and the point and the purpose behind it. So, I don't think there is a real problem in the way that 'should' and 'must' is used, and either the enforceability of the law, when it comes to the balance between regulations and guidance, or indeed how you or I and other members of the public that we serve would understand the message and the rules around behaviour, and how that's reinforced by, frankly, people's social expectations as well, because most people want others to follow the rules. And we've still got a very high level of compliance with the regime that we have in place.
Okay, thank you. Sorry, you didn't quiet cover the point on the media, and how they understand this and represent the rules to the general public.
Well, as you know, we're not in a position where I or any other Minister is able to control the media, and it's entirely appropriate that we can't do that, and there are different forms of reporting, as we know. So, BBC and ITV have different house styles; Channel 4 and Sky different again; tabloid reporting and broadsheet. So, we're not able to control that. What we do, though, with the guidance is it's much more likely that journalists are going to look at the guidance rather than regulations to then write articles about what different things mean. And in terms of media presentation, we've still got this challenge, more broadly, of the different rules that we have in place in Wales compared to England and how people access information. Not every media organisation is as clear, as I would wish them to be, about the different rules that exist in place. We've had some high profile examples where people have just said the wrong thing, got the law wrong, and other times where I know there's been criticism of rules here. So, I don't have an issue with the way the media are reporting it, per se, beyond the normal frustrations of any elected politician about how faithfully and clearly the message is being communicated.
Okay. Well, thank you for that.
Thank you. We move on now to Dai Lloyd.
Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd. Bore da, Weinidog. Yn mynd lawr i fanylion rhai o'r rheoliadau—yn rheoliadau diwygio rhif 4, allaf ofyn, beth oedd y dystiolaeth oedd yn sail i newid lefel y ddirwy? A beth oedd y brys iddynt gael eu gwneud gan ddilyn y weithdrefn gwneud cadarnhaol?
Thank you very much, Chair. Good morning, Minister. Going into some of the details of the regulations, we've got the regulations number 4, so what was the evidence base for changing the level of fine? And what was so urgent that they needed to be subject to the made affirmative procedure?
Okay. Well, as you know, the change in fine levels was a specific issue that there was quite a lot of comment about. England changed their fine levels, and there was an argument about whether, for the point of simplicity, to make it easier to enforce we should have the same fine levels or not. There's also an argument about whether the fine levels would actually change behaviour. And what did happen was that, in our regular conversations with police and crime commissioners and chief constables, there was a discussion about whether or not we should have equivalence or whether we should, nevertheless, make a change in any event. And the police did identify a small but persistent group of people who were breaking the regulations. Because, as you know, I think the police talked about it themselves, they're starting from the point of trying to educate and explain and engage around what the regulations are before they take enforcement action. But there were some people who were, if you like, making what appeared to be a much more deliberate and regular choice, and so the choice was made to change those regulations to address the point about persistent rule breakers, to make the consequence of that more material.
So, that came from evidence presented by the police, and it also came because, as you remember, the regulations were changed ahead of a bank holiday, and with the messaging across the UK—but particularly within England, about being able to travel for a distance—that point about enforcing the regulations was material, and it mattered that we didn't just try to pretend that people don't behave differently on a bank holiday weekend, and particularly given the fantastic weather that we've had, that it's been dry and sunny, people are much more likely to be prepared to travel distances in those circumstances.
If we had not made that change ahead of the bank holiday weekend, I think there was a real expectation that we could have seen more people breaking the rules, and it would have been more difficult to enforce the law, and the law is there to protect the public health. So, I think that it was a proportionate way of looking forward and using the process that is available to the Government to do so.
Diolch yn fawr am hynny. Allaf i bellach ofyn pam na cheir diffiniad o ystyr y gair 'lleol' yn rheoliadau diwygio rhif 5? A sut y mae hyn yn effeithio ar allu'r heddlu i orfodi'r gyfraith?
Thank you very much for that. And further to that, may I now ask why there is no definition of 'local' in the No. 5 amending regulations? And how does this impact on the ability of the police to enforce the law?
Well, we've had a lively conversation about movement—to stay home, to stay local, and what 'stay local' means, what’s essential travel, how far you can go—and you'll recall that, previously, we tried to explain that what was local meant different things in different contexts. And that was not straightforward, and this is because there isn't a straightforward choice, I think.
There was, though, a deliberate choice to set out 'local' in the regulations, but not to try to define an actual limit of 'local' in the regulations. It goes back, if you like, to the first questions from Professor Jones at the start about what's the balance between what's in the regulations and what's in the guidance. And the guidance allows you more latitude to try to explain what 'stay local' means. And, if you like, the default or rule of thumb of five miles gives people an idea about it, but then the guidance also explains that, in some parts of the country, in some contexts, that will be different. So, travelling to collect medicine or food or to access healthcare—it's entirely possible in large parts of Wales that you will need to travel further than five miles. If we tried to set out a five-mile guide in the regulations, it would have been much, much more difficult, both from a drafting point of view and because we don't expect to describe in regulations what we can describe in the guidance. So, again, I think that's where we made the right judgment about the balance.
The local part is in the regulations, and people know that there is some that can be enforced, the guidance is there, and as we've said before, if you're travelling 20 miles across the country, you're almost certainly not staying local. Whereas, if you live in a part of the country where you need to travel 8 miles to get to a supermarket or 9 miles to get to a pharmacy, well, actually, for you, that is the most local part, and that's still travel that people recognise as being essential and not breaking the rules on staying local.
Diolch am hynny, a llongyfarchiadau am beidio sôn am Dominic Cummings yng nghanol yr ateb yna.
Allaf i jest symud ymlaen? Ar ddydd Gwener 29 Mai, gwnaeth Prif Weinidog Cymru, Mark Drakeford, gyhoeddi'r newidiadau a gaiff eu cynnwys yn rheoliadau rhif 5. Roedd y newidiadau i ddod i rym am 4 o'r gloch y prynhawn, ddydd Llun 1 Mehefin. Gwnaeth Llywodraeth Cymru drydar dair gwaith ddydd Sul 31 Mai—sef y diwrnod cynt—yn dweud bod pethau'n newid o yfory ymlaen neu o ddydd Llun. Ydych chi'n credu bod y negeseuon hyn yn briodol ar y cyfryngau cymdeithasol o ystyried na wnaeth y gyfraith newid tan 4 o'r gloch y prynhawn ar y dydd Llun yna?
Thank you very much for that, and congratulations for not mentioning Dominic Cummings as part of that response.
But moving on, on Friday 29 May, the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, announced the changes to be included in the No. 5 regulations. The changes were to come into force at 4 p.m. on Monday 1 June. The Welsh Government tweeted three times on Sunday 31 May—the previous day, that is—that things were changing from tomorrow or from Monday. So, do you think this is appropriate social media messaging given that the law didn't change until 4 p.m. in the afternoon on that Monday?
I think there are two points here. The first is that, yes, of course, it's appropriate that press conferences and social media channels are used to promote changes in the law and in the guidance that exists. It's not the only way to do things, but it is an important channel for the Government to take up in terms of communicating messages. I think, though, that there is a point of learning about when different requirements come into force, but that's something for us to take away, rather than saying, 'No, everything's absolutely fine'. Because I do understand the point that you're driving at about what does 'from tomorrow' mean, what will people understand that to mean, and when the law technically changed. So, that's a point for us to take away in future regulations, I think.
Suzy Davies. Sorry, I beg your pardon, Dai, did you want to—?
Thank you, Chair. Just to sort of follow up with that, really, can you explain why you're making some of these announcements through the press channels before telling Members?
Well, we're moving at tremendous pace in everything that we're doing at present, and we often get to the point when we have just completed what we're about to do and that, actually, then leads to a Minister going on her feet and saying, 'This is what's happening'. And, so, Members are finding out at the same time as other people. I think if we tried to slow down the public messaging of that because we needed to provide a bespoke message to Members first before doing that, then we could end up not changing things at the right time, place and pace as well.
It is, of course, good practice to draw these matters to Members' attention. We can't always line them up for Wednesday, and even if we went back to having two sitting days, it wouldn't be possible to have all of the changes made specifically on those days in the week. I wouldn't have thought that Members themselves are unaware of the fact that changes are being made in the way that the cycle works, because it's been predictable about when the First Minister stands up to confirm what those changes are. So, I don't think there's any lack in either scrutiny or, indeed, in courtesy when it comes to Members or, indeed, the balance about telling the public promptly when changes are going to be made and to try to communicate that in the most effective way possible.
Minister—. Sorry. I'm quite keen to move on because of time, if that's all right, Suzy, but did you have an important—?
Yes, I do have one question. I was just about to say that it's just as quick to write a note to Members as it is to write a press release.
But I actually specifically wanted to talk about the drag between making announcements and making rules and the opportunity for Members of the Senedd to debate them. I'm well aware that the made affirmative rules allow Government 28 days in order to bring this stuff before the legislature, but I've just gone through the amendments now. I mean, some of them are taking up to that 28 days; most of them are three weeks, by which time the press narrative's gone, the public narrative has gone. I thought the First Minister's response to my question last week about looking at things as packages didn't add up because penalties to do with what the police can do in terms of fining and changes to whether people who are seriously ill can get married have got nothing to do with each other.
Can I just get a commitment from you that these made affirmative regulations are either brought to the Senedd more quickly or that you revert to the draft affirmative procedure that allows us to see some of these things before we bring them to public attention?
The Government is making use of the legitimate ways to introduce regulations in the extraordinary times that we live in and the made affirmative process is there for exactly circumstances like these, where extraordinary steps need to be taken at a level and a speed that makes sense for the public that we serve, and that's the way the Government will continue to exercise our responsibilities with and for the people of Wales.
Well, if you're responding in terms of speed—. Sorry. This is my last one, Mick: if you're responding in terms of speed, why can't you bring them—you've obviously drafted all these regulations—to our attention or bring them to the floor of the Chamber more quickly? That's all I'm asking.
Well, I don't think Members lack for having these matters drawn to their attention. There's no lack of drawing to Members' attention of either membership of the Senedd or, indeed, the public—
You're passing them.
If Members want an entirely different process to be used and don't think the Government should be able to make use of the legitimate ways to introduce these regulations at this truly extraordinary time, then Members need to consider whether or not to change their procedures. The Government has done absolutely nothing wrong; we'll continue to exercise our duties and responsibilities with and for the people of Wales during this global pandemic.
Okay. Thank you for that. I'm going to move straight on to Carwyn Jones for his question.
Minister, we know about the confusion that there's been, certainly in the past, not so much now, between the different roles of the UK Government and the Welsh Government. I understand that a UK Government Wales branded advert on how to provide a COVID test leads to a Welsh Government website. Do we know what the reason for that is, and do you feel that helps in terms of signposting people to the right place, or does it add to the confusion?
This isn't really about the regulations, but there is a broader point about communication of what support and assistance is available, and it would be preferable if there was consistency in terms of reinforcing the understanding of who has responsibility for what. For some parts of this, there is a joint effort. So, for example, the UK Government-led testing programme has helped to create some of the facilities we have in Wales. But I think the best way to do so is to have a consistent messaging that recognises the responsibilities that each part of the UK has, and does so in a way that doesn't try to suggest that there is UK Government involvement or responsibility in areas where there aren't.
And the final question is from Dai Lloyd.
Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. Ar yr un un llinellau â chwestiwn Carwyn Jones, a dweud y gwir, a allaf i ofyn: pam mae gwefan GIG 111 Cymru—? Mae yna hysbyseb yn fanna sydd yn amlwg ar frig tudalen flaen gwasanaeth 111, sydd yn nodi, a dwi'n dyfynnu'n uniongyrchol:
'Ar gyfer gwybodaeth ddiweddar am Coronafeirws (COVID-19) ymwelwch ag Adran Iechyd a Gofal Cymdeithasol y DU',
sydd yn arwain, yna, felly, at wefan cyngor coronafeirws Llywodraeth y Deyrnas Unedig, ac mae hyn ar wefan GIG 111 Cymru. Felly, mae yna ddryswch posib yn fanna, mi fuaswn i'n meddwl. Oes yna reswm am hynny?
Thank you very much, Chair. Along the same lines as Carwyn Jones's previous question, may I ask why does the NHS 111 Wales website have a notice—a prominent notice, indeed—at the top of the home page, stating, and I quote directly:
'For up to date information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) visit the UK Department of Health and Social Care',
which then links to the UK Government's coronavirus advice web page, and that's on the NHS 111 Wales website. So, there is confusion, potentially, there, I would imagine. Is there a reason for that?
I think it's an issue for us to address and to make clear that for up-to-date advice and information on coronavirus, we should direct people as a first port of call to a website and information source here in Wales. So, I think that's one for us to address.
Diolch yn fawr.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for that, Minister.
Minister, the allocated time has been expended. Thank you for your prompt response to all the questions. There will of course be the usual transcript to check for factual accuracy. Can I just thank you and your officials for your attendance this morning? Thank you very much.
Thank you, Chair. Thank you, committee.
Okay, we now move on to item 3. We move on to the Sustainable Drainage (Approval and Adoption) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2020. This Order amends the Sustainable Drainage (Approval and Adoption) (Wales) Order 2018 and makes provision in relation to the requirement for approval of, and requests for adoption of, sustainable drainage systems under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. I don't know if there are any comments from lawyers; I don't think there are. Any comments or observations, Suzy Davies? Dai Lloyd? Carwyn Jones?
In which case, we move on to item 4, and the Planning Applications (Temporary Modifications and Disapplication) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Order 2020. Again, you have before you the report, the Order explanatory memorandum, and the letter from the Trefnydd dated 18 May 2020. This is an Order that makes amendments to the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Wales) Order 2012, and the Developments of National Significance (Procedure) (Wales) Order 2016. This Order inserts provisions into those Orders that modify or disapply certain requirements from 19 May 2020 to 18 September 2020—the law that has been made as part of the Government's response to COVID-19. I understand there are a number of merit points to be considered from the lawyers.
Yes, there are two merits points. Starting on pack page 12, the first point notes the breach of the 21-day rule and the reasons given by the Welsh Government for the breach, those reasons being that these changes are needed to allow planning applications to be submitted during the pandemic, so that development can proceed quickly after lockdown restrictions are lifted. The second merits point notes there's been no consultation on this Order, but there is a lot of detail and background in the explanatory memorandum, which includes a thorough regulatory impact assessment.
Okay. Any others comments or observations? Suzy Davies?
No, not on this one.
In which case, we then move onto the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020, and, again, you have the report. The regulations and explanatory memorandum have been circulated, and the letter from the First Minister of 20 May 2020. These start at pack page 41. These regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 to increase the amount of the fixed penalty for repeated breaches of the principal regulations up to a maximum of £1,920. We have, of course, just had some questioning of that in scrutiny of that with the health Minister. These regulations will be debated in Plenary on Wednesday 17 June. Can I just refer to the lawyers now for comments?
Yes, there is one technical point and one merits point, starting with pack page 41. The technical point notes a few inconsistencies between the Welsh version and the English version of the regulations, and the merits point asks Welsh Government to clarify why the urgent procedure was needed for these regulations. There's been widespread public discussion about the level of fixed-penalty notices in Wales, so the draft report has asked what happened that created an urgent need to increase the level of fixed-penalty notices, and whether the usual affirmative procedure could have been used, where the Senedd would have approved the regulations before they were made.
Okay. Suzy Davies.
Well, yes, it's going to be interesting to see what effect these regulations have on the obvious breaches that have taken place over the weekend. Just to reinforce this point again, I'm afraid, because it's important, I think, that this committee does continue to raise it, while Government may well have 28 days if it's using the made affirmative procedure, when things are made urgently surely the impetus should be for the Senedd to ratify them urgently, as well. So, this delay of three and, in one case, four weeks—you know, the full 28 days—before we see some of these amendments, I don't think is acceptable unless we get a genuine reason from Welsh Government. Just because they can, doesn't mean they should.
Okay. Dai Lloyd. Any comments, Dai? Have we lost you? I'll go to Carwyn Jones—any comments?
No comments, Chair.
Okay. I don't know if Dai is frozen actually. I don't see any movement there. Is there a problem with the link to Dai Lloyd? Okay, I don't see anything. Perhaps, if there is, that can be looked at. We'll move on now. Dai, are you in contact with us? Can I just ask the clerk, is there any way of checking the link with Dai Lloyd? I can't hear you, Gareth.
I'll speak to the meeting operator now.
Okay. Shall we just hold on for a moment? Whilst you do that I will move on. If there is a need for Dai Lloyd to come back, then we can, of course, do that in these circumstances.
We'll move on to item 4.3, which is the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2020, and, again, you have the report, the regulations, the explanatory memorandum and the letter from the First Minister of 29 May 2020. These regulations, again, make a number of amendments to the principal Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020. These regulations, which, again, we discussed with the Minister this morning, will also be debated in Plenary on 17 June. I will refer over to the lawyers now for merits points.
Just a simple merits point noting the commentary in the explanatory memorandum on the human rights implications of these regulations.
Okay. Suzy Davies, any comments?
Again, only just to question the effectiveness of them in light of what happened this weekend, but no others.
Certainly. Carwyn Jones?
I notice Dai Lloyd has left. Is that being reconnected? Dai, are you back with us?
Yes. Sorry—obviously, Vladimir is not being very slick this morning; he's pulled the plug on something there. It's all that talk of Lenin you had earlier on.
Yes, okay. We have been through item 4.2, which was the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020, and Suzy made a number of comments. Was there anything you wanted to add to that, because we had lost you for that? And we've just been through the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2020. Was there anything there?
In which case—thank you, Dai—we will move on now to the Bathing Water (Amendment) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020. We considered this instrument at last week's meeting, on 1 June. A Government response has now been received, which has been added to the report in advance of it being laid. We're invited, obviously, to note the Government response in relation to the reporting points raised. Gareth, is there anything from the lawyers side that you would—?
The Welsh Government acknowledges there is a problem. I think the main lesson here may be that when, in the future, the committee considers a composite statutory instrument—that is an instrument made by both the Welsh Ministers and the Secretary of State—that the Welsh Ministers justify the use of the composite procedure given that that composite instrument applies in both England and Wales. The issue that arises in these regulations would not, indeed could not, have arisen with instruments that apply in Wales only.
Okay, so that point is well made. Any comments, Suzy Davies?
In which case, we move on now to the legislative consent memorandum on the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill. You have in front of you the legislative consent memorandum. We're invited to note the Welsh Government's LCM on the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill. The LCM was laid last week, on 2 June and, because of its quick progress through the UK Parliament, is going to be debated in Plenary this coming Wednesday, on 10 June. Suzy Davies, any comments?
Not from me.
Dai Lloyd? Carwyn Jones?
I will make a short contribution to this during the Plenary. It is an important piece of legislation.
We now move on to papers to note. We have a letter from the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee to the Auditor General for Wales and the future generations commissioner: well-being of future generations—statutory reports. The letter from the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee is dated 29 May 2020. I think we're invited to note the letter. Perhaps we can defer any discussion of this the Members may wish to raise to the private session. That's agreed, then.
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.
So, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi), I invite the committee to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting. Do the Members agree that we move now into a private session?
Agreed. Okay, we move into private session now.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:43.
The public part of the meeting ended at 10:43.