Y Pwyllgor Deisebau - Y Bumed Senedd
Petitions Committee - Fifth Senedd15/09/2020
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Jack Sargeant MS|
|Leanne Wood MS|
|Michelle Brown MS|
|Neil McEvoy MS|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Kayleigh Imperato||Dirprwy Glerc|
|Mared Llwyd||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 08:59.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 08:59.
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Petitions Committee meeting. The Chair of the committee is unable to attend today's meeting, therefore, in accordance with Standing Order 17.22, I call for nominations for a temporary Chair for the duration of today's meeting.
Can I nominate Jack Sargeant?
I second that.
Okay. I therefore declare that Jack Sargeant has been appointed temporary Chair, and I invite him to take the Chair's seat.
Diolch yn fawr, Clerk. Thank you. Thank you, members of the committee.
I welcome everyone to this virtual Petitions Committee. In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I have determined that the public are excluded from attending this committee in order to protect public health. The meeting, however, is broadcast live on Senedd.tv and all participants will be joining via video-conference. This meeting is bilingual and translation is available. A Record of Proceedings will also be published. Aside from the procedural adaptations related to conducting business remotely, all other Standing Orders remain in place.
Item number 1: apologies and substitutions. Apologies have been received from the Chair of the Petitions Committee, Janet Finch-Saunders, and the committee wishes her well and a speedy recovery. No other substitutions or apologies have been made to date.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42 ar gyfer y busnes a ganlyn: eitem 3.
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42 for the following business: item 3.
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
Item number 2 is a motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting for the following business: item 3. As Chair, I propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42, that the committee resolves to meet in private for the following item of business—item 3—and reconvenes in public session at 09:15. Are members of the committee content?
Thank you, Members, and if we could now go into private session.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 09:01.
The public part of the meeting ended at 09:01.
Ailymgynullodd y pwyllgor yn gyhoeddus am 09:24.
The committee reconvened in public at 09:24.
Good morning. Bore da. Welcome back to the Petitions Committee. Can I welcome Michelle Brown, who's joined the committee this morning?
Item 4 of today's business: new Covid-19-related petitions. Item 4.1, petition P-05-987, 'Update guidelines so family run Adult Gaming Centres qualify for Business Grants in Wales'. The petition was submitted by Delucia Sidoli, having collected 706 signatures, and the text of the petition is as follows:
'Many towns in Wales have an Adult Gaming Centre (AGC). Of all the AGCs in Wales, only a handful are operated by national chains, the rest are family run. Welsh Government is currently adamant that they will not update COVID Business Grant guidelines to support these family run AGCs. AGCs are also excluded from the Economic Resilience Fund.'
Background to the petition: a response was received from the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd on 14 July. Research has been sent out and provided to all Members and the petitioner has also been offered the opportunity to provide additional comments prior to the meeting, but has not done so. Can I ask Members how they would like to proceed with this petition? Leanne.
It looks clear from the correspondence that the Government is firm in its view. It's taken a different view to the Government in Scotland and in England. But it seems to me that there's a policy decision not to support businesses that are involved in the gambling industry. Now, it would be useful, I think, if they would be more upfront in explaining that to people, that there is an issue with gambling and that's what they don't want to publicly support, if that is the issue, but over and above asking them to come out with some sort of statement like that, I can't really think where else we can take this petition. The business support grants closing dates have closed now anyway, so it's—. I can understand why the people feel aggrieved, but I can't see where we as a committee can take this now. So, it makes sense to me to close the petition, unless anybody else can see a valid reason to keep it open and to pursue the objectives as outlined.
I agree to close.
Thank you. So, that's a move forward with a view of closing the petition. All in favour, no disagreement. So, Clerk, if we could close the petition, please, and thank the petitioner for submitting and using the process.
Item 4.2 on the agenda: P-05-991, 'Make available a sticker stating you live in Wales'. This petition was submitted by Rosalind Rhodes, having collected 81 signatures—39 online and 42 on paper. The text of the petition is as follows:
'Many Welsh people are afraid of people coming in who could bring in Coronavirus. A bilingual sticker or card has to be provided by the DVLA or local councils.'
Background to this petition: a response to the petition was received by the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales on 22 July. The petitioner has provided further comment. Members, how would we like to take this forward? Leanne.
I was just going to say that the Government has made it clear that they have no intention of bringing in a card like this, but what I would say is that there is a real issue underneath this. Whether the solution is a card, as has been proposed, I'm not entirely convinced myself, but there is an issue and it is likely to continue to be an issue if there are local lockdowns in the future or even a national lockdown covering the whole of Wales, especially if there isn't a lockdown in other countries at the same time. So, I think we could go back to the Government and ask that they consider this as an issue more widely. It wasn't thought about hard enough prior to the first lockdown and there were problems, and the local police can testify to those. I've read many articles about the issues. So, we could as a committee ask how, if the Government doesn't intend to come forward with some sort of identification system like this, as is proposed here—how else are they going to ensure that messages get out that local beauty spots are not places we want crowds of people when COVID is spreading in a local area.
Neil, you wanted to come in.
Yes. We've got councillors up in Dwyfor Meirionnydd—Pwllheli, Abererch—and there's a huge amount of concern up there about people not really respecting distancing, descending upon quite small places, really, in crowds, and it's clearly an issue, so I'd support writing to the Government to see how they would propose to address this matter going forward.
So, in relation to this actual petition, is it the view of Members that we can write to the Government separately, explaining this issue and having the Government look at it? Is it also a situation where we can close and thank the petitioner for this particular petition? Would Members be content with that?
Yes, I think so, Chair. I think we can write back to the petitioner and say, 'The issue you've raised is a valid one, and one we want to pursue, but it's clear that the Government, from their response, has no intention of going down the solution as is proposed, but be assured that we will try to seek responses on the wider questions.'
Yes, I agree.
Okay. Thanks, all. Clerk, if we could action those points made by Leanne at the end, that would be great. Thank you.
Item 4.3 on the agenda: P-05-993, 'Make retail in Wales fully accessible to disabled people'. This petition was submitted by Angharad Paget-Jones, having collected 173 signatures. The text of the petition is as follows:
'During the Covid-19 pandemic, many essential stores have used methods of safety that have excluded many disabled people. Visually impaired people were not counted to the priority shopping slots before late May. All the signs and floor markings are purely visual which is useless if you have low/no vision. One way systems in stores not being wide enough for wheelchair users and disabled bays being used for a place for people to queue.'
The background to this petition: a response was received from the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales on 23 July and a research brief has been provided to Members. The petitioner has also provided further comments. How would the committee like to take this forward? Leanne.
I think that this petitioner has hit the nail on the head, and has got to the heart of the problem facing many disabled people who are trying to negotiate the world since we've had COVID. The Government's response says that local authorities are required to undertake equality impact assessments and engage positively with disabled people. I've had correspondence just overnight asking about what impact assessments have been made for the COVID measures being introduced. Has there been any consideration of the rights of vulnerable people under the Equality Act? Have there been any documents published around that? There's issues around wearing face masks; I know we've got a petition coming up on that. But if you are unable to hear and you rely on lip reading for communication, then the use of face masks in shops and on public transport can be a big problem for you. These are issues that need to be thought through and considered by Government, and I don't think they've been thought through widely enough. My correspondent overnight has asked about the reconvening of services that were stopped when COVID lockdown was introduced. Many people with disabilities, people on the autism spectrum, and with many other conditions were previously having support services, and for all good reasons, they've had to stop, but they need to understand when those services are coming back on stream properly, and I don't think, contrary to what the Government is saying, that those services have engaged properly with the people who receive those services. So, I would like to see this petition go further. I would like to see the Government do much more in terms of engaging with the people who are affected by this, both at local level and national level, because I'm not satisfied that there is a good enough job being done on this at the moment.
I think an avenue that we could investigate is—. I mean, it's a long time since I looked at the Equality Act, but I'm pretty sure that there is some sort of anti-disability discrimination provision set out in the Equality Act. So, I think it's an avenue that we could investigate—whether disabled people can be empowered to actually use the rights that they already have. Because surely the point of the disability discrimination legislation over the years has been to avoid this kind of impact on disabled people. You know, they need to go shopping, but they can't do it. I mean, is that something that maybe the legal team could look into?
Clerk, do you have a view to that?
Certainly we can ask for a note from the committee's legal adviser on how the provisions of the Equality Act could be used by disabled people or anyone with a protected characteristic who wanted to challenge that.
But isn't the answer from the Government, which says that local authorities have to conduct equality impact assessments—doesn't that come from equalities legislation? And the issue isn't the legislation, the issue is the implementation of the legislation. And perhaps the legal question would be: has any of the COVID legislation overwritten that, so that they can avoid their duties under the Equality Act because of emergency COVID measures? And maybe that's what happened, or maybe the law is being broken, but one way or another, the disabled people are not getting the services that they should be getting, and if that's a legal question, then there's a different avenue, perhaps, for us to pursue as a committee. But, either way, I think we should go back to the Minister and say that the answer that we've got isn't satisfactory, and maybe we could ask for the Minister to ask each of the local authorities to publish their equality impact assessments if they haven't already.
This is a big issue. Constituents have contacted me as well in desperate situations, desperate circumstances, without the support they used to get. And, I think, once again, those who are disabled have just been forgotten about, really, in terms of shopping, as one example, and even in elections. You know, in England, if you stand for election there's a disability grant if you're disabled; that doesn't exist in Wales. So, I think disabled people are bottom of the pile, and it shouldn't be that way. So, I'd support pressing this as much as possible.
So, there is a suggestion for the legal team to look into this for us and provide a note, and a suggestion to write back to the Minister to say this is not satisfactory and we'll be keeping a watching brief, if you like, and see where we're going to pursue this further as a committee. But, I also note the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee have recently published a report on inequality in the pandemic, so whether we should await the publication of the Welsh Government's response to the recommendations of that report as well, before we decide to take any further action on this, and come back to it in a future meeting. Are Members content?
The following petitions will be considered together: items 4.4 and 4.5. Item 4.4, petition 05-998, 'Wearing of face masks/coverings to be mandatory in shops'. This petition was submitted by Matthew Engstrom, having collected 5,516 signatures. And the text of the petition is as follows:
'I currently work in retail and despite a very comprehensive effort from my employer the safety measures in place are not enough if a customer decides to ignore the rules. Making it mandatory for the use of face coverings inside shops would be a fair and effective way of further protecting staff and customers.'
The background to this petition: a response was received by the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales on 18 August, and the petitioner has provided further comments. How does the committee want to take this forward? Sorry, before I do that I should just read 4.5, as well. My apologies.
So, 4.5, petition P-05-1005, 'Make sure face masks in shops do not become compulsory'. This petition was submitted by Wayne Smith, having collected 412 signatures. The text of the petition is as follows:
'The mandatory wearing of facemasks is not 100% proven to be a safe measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus (covid 19). People MUST have the choice, for their own protection, and to make sure that we don't have Draconian measures.'
Again, the background for this petition as well: a response was received from the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales on 18 August. This petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide additional comments, but has not done so. How would the Petitions Committee like to take these two petitions forward?
Well, they're out of date now, Chair, aren't they? So, I would say we can close both petitions. That's not to say that there aren't issues outstanding with the wearing of masks in shops. I have had many, many messages just yesterday as a result of the first day of implementation where people have been challenged for not wearing a mask when they've got medical exemptions.
Now, I've been asked whether or not there's some sort of certification available for people in that situation to be able to show shop assistants who ask them why they're not wearing a mask if they can wear one. There are different letters available apparently, but there's nothing official as yet. So, I wonder if we could write to the Minister and ask, now that the masks are compulsory in shops—. We have closed these two petitions, but it would be useful for us to have some guidance that we can pass on to our constituents, especially those ones who are unable to wear masks, because people are feeling harassed and hassled in shops. It's also on the part of the retailers, especially small businesses—people don't feel like they want to be policing this, which is a fair point as well. So, I know that some guidance has come out from the Welsh Government to retailers about what they should and shouldn't do, who should and shouldn't wear masks, in which parts of the shops and so on, but this issue of enforcement is a growing concern of mine, and if we can get more clarity from the Government on it I think that would be beneficial to people.
Are Members content?
Yes. So, Clerk, if we could please close these petitions and write to both petitioners thanking them for taking part in the process and also write to the Government explaining our current position with relation to further guidance, and if there is an official letter to say people are exempt for X, Y, Z reasons, that would be great. Thank you.
Petition 4.6, P-05-999, 'Implement a minimum of 1 metre social distancing in all Primary Schools in September 2020'. This petition was submitted by Laura Denise Keighan, having collected 124 signatures. The text of the petition is as follows:
'Protect our Children, Protect our NHS.
'It is no secret that every winter our NHS struggles from winter pressures including seasonal flu, filling UK hospitals full to capacity. Each year our news channels/feeds are full with stories of these pressures. A surge in coronavirus cases would put additional pressures on the NHS potentially taking it to breaking point. Despite this our WG plan to return our children to school without social distancing measures to protect them.'
The background to this petition: a response was received from the Minister for Education on 7 August; a research brief has been provided; the petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide additional comments prior to this meeting but has not done so.
How would Members like to take this petition forward?
We can await the views of the petitioner. That would be the obvious thing, I think.
Any other views from Members?
I've got a lot of sympathy with the arguments here. I'm not convinced we know enough about transmission. But also, from a practical perspective, I can't see how you could maintain 1m social distancing in school unless you had half of the pupils at home being taught online. I just can't see how teachers can both be in the classroom and be preparing lessons and then marking online work as well.
So, on a practical level, if this was implemented, it would probably mean a huge increase in the teaching workforce, plus the purchase of new buildings for there to be more space. So, practically, it's not possible, but the situation does need to continue to be monitored, because we don't know exactly how the virus is spreading, particularly in areas like where I represent here in the Rhondda, where we're potentially on the verge of another lockdown, and places like Caerphilly that are actually in lockdown now, and whether or not additional measures could be introduced in schools when we know the virus is increasing faster in communities. So, maybe there could be local measures, but introducing this as a national policy—I can see the problems that the Minister has got. But I do have some sympathy with what the petitioner is saying as well, because we simply don't know enough about this virus to be able to know that we can contain it safely.
Michelle, are there any thoughts from you on this?
I concur with what's already been said.
So, there was a suggestion from Neil as well to await the views of the petitioner to see what their thoughts are on the response of the Minister for Education before considering what we should do with this further. So, can I put that—?
That's fine, yes.
Clerk, if we can action those points, please. Thank you.
Moving on to item No. 5: new COVID-19 petitions that have been resolved. Just to note, these are petitions that have been submitted to the committee during the Senedd's summer recess and the Welsh Government has taken action on them. We will go through them as a committee, but the committee might be minded to note each petition with the action to close at the end, but we will go through them now.
Item 5.1, P-05-994, 'Permit the reopening of church buildings, etc. for communal worship'. This petition was submitted by Philip Cushen, having collected 416 signatures, and the text of the petition is as follows:
'For Christians and those of other faiths, communal worship is an essential element of their religious life, and not simply an optional extra.'
The background to this petition is that a response to the petition was received from the First Minister on 24 July. The Welsh Government subsequently published guidance on the reopening of places of worship on 18 August. The petitioner has confirmed that he is satisfied with the decisions made by the Welsh Government.
Again, in light of the decisions taken by the Welsh Government and the fact that the petitioner is happy and satisfied with the decisions made, are the committee content to thank the petitioner for his work and to close the petition?
Thank you. Item 5.2, P-05-1004, 'Allow Dance Schools in Wales to re-open their indoor classes with immediate effect'. This petition was submitted by Michelle Meano, having collected 1,307 signatures. Again, a response was received from the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism on 13 August. This stated that dance schools have been able to reopen since 10 August if they can follow certain guidelines around social distancing and size of groups. The petitioner has responded to confirm that dance schools are now able to reopen, though there is uncertainty about singing.
Given the fact that this petition was based on dance schools in itself and the fact that they have reopened, are the committee content to thank the petitioner and close the petition?
Thank you. Item 5.3, P-05-1019, 'Award teacher predicted grades to all Welsh students for examination 2020'. This petition was submitted by Christine Wineyard, having collected 28,505 signatures.
The background to this petition from a constituent of mine is that, on 17 August, the Minister for Education announced that learners in Wales would be awarded their centre assessment grades. The Children, Young People and Education Committee was recalled on 18 August to hold a scrutiny session with the Minister, Qualifications Wales and the WJEC on this matter. People who signed the petition have been informed about these developments and the petitioner has confirmed that she is satisfied with the decision made by the Minister on 17 August.
In light of these decisions taken by the Welsh Government and the satisfaction of the petitioner, are the committee content to close the petition?
Moving on to agenda item 6: other new petitions. Item 6.1, P-05-974, 'Ensure the technology of prosthetic limbs provided within the Welsh NHS is equal to the rest of the UK'. The petition was submitted by David Bradley, having collected 557 signatures. The text of the petition is as follows:
'We call upon the Senedd to urge the Welsh Government to ensure that funding is in place to enable limb amputees within Wales to have prosthetic technology at least equal to that which is available within the English and Scottish NHS.'
The background to this petition is that a response was received from the Minister for Health and Social Services on 13 July. A research brief has been provided and circulated around to members of the committee, and the petitioner has also provided further comments. Neil, what are your views on taking this forward?
I just think, to be honest, what kind of situation are we in where you have to raise a petition to get what you should be entitled to, which is what is available in other nations? So, I'd like to write back to the Minister and ask for details of when the review will be carried out, because it's appalling, really. I mean, you've got Councillor Peter Read, for example, in Gwynedd, and he had terrible trouble just getting a wheelchair that was suitable. The original wheelchair they provided actually made him ill and made it that he had to have further surgery. It's just another example, as we were discussing earlier, of the way that disabled people are treated very, very badly. So, let's write to the Minister and let's get some specifics.
Any other thoughts from Members?
I would agree that there needs to be a better explanation as to why people in Wales are not treated on the basis of equality, and what we've seen so far doesn't provide that explanation. I can't see what explanation could cut it, so I agree, yes, let's write back to the Minister and make that point as strongly as we possibly can.
Okay, so there's been an agreement from the committee to write back to the Minister for Health and Social Services, asking for a detailed explanation, and then we'll receive that and carry on with the petition. Thank you.
Petition 6.2: P-05-992, 'We call on the Welsh Government to create a common body of knowledge about Welsh history that all pupils will learn'. This petition was submitted by Elfed Wyn Jones, having collected 7,927 signatures. The text of the petition:
'Welsh history is important to all pupils, as it provides the background of our nation's history and our heritage for everyone going through the education system. There are aspects of Welsh history, such as the Laws of Hywel Dda, the Glyndŵr Rising and the Drowning of Capel Celyn, which belong to every community in Wales. It is therefore concerning that the Welsh Government has decided to reject the recommendation by the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee to create a common body of knowledge for all pupils studying history. It's important to create a Welsh history curriculum where pupils learn about events and matters at a national level, as well as learning about the history of their communities and areas.'
The background to this petition: a response was received from the Minister for Education on 14 July. A research brief has been provided and the petitioner has provided further comments. How would Members like to take this forward? Leanne.
Can I first of all say that there is a tremendous amount of good work going on on this front? I've spoken to numerous history teachers who have described, in great depth, the different innovative ways that they use to teach Welsh history. But I think it depends on teachers in departments having a real passion for teaching that particular aspect of history in that particular way. And it's the same for black history as well; I know we've got another petition on that later. Again, there is some really good work going on in some schools, but it's not universal, and this is the problem. I've spoken to other teachers who've said that part of the problem is that there's a lack of resources. It's easier to teach a subject where there are lots of books written about it, where there are lots of film resources, other resources that you can use to teach children about a particular topic in history. But if those resources don't exist, then either you've got to make them yourself or there's a lack of confidence in teaching to that.
So, the petition calling for a body of work to be produced, to be collated, to be put together, to be made available to teachers to teach different aspects—I mean, there's not just one set of topics for Welsh history. There's so much that you could go into—the same for black history—that that body of work needs to be there so that people can pick and choose what resources they want to use. So, I support the petition. I think we should pursue this with the education Minister. There was a Plaid Cymru-led debate on this question earlier on in the year. The response from the Minister then wasn't satisfactory, in my view. But this petition now is more about providing resources to schools and teachers that will help tackle the problem from a different perspective, I think. So, we should definitely support it.
Are there any other views from Members?
Yes. It would be good to write to the Minister for details, it would be good to write to Estyn, but really we should be getting on with this. I mean, there's a whole history in Wales that is not taught properly, and it's time that it was.
So, there's a suggestion from Neil to write to the Minister for Education and write to Estyn, if Members are content with that. I also note this has received over 5,000 signatures, and also Leanne's suggestion of perhaps combining it with our next petition regarding black history in Wales, which has also received a significant number. So, if the committee is content to write to the Minister, but also, perhaps, combine it, and if we do decide with the next petition to schedule time and ask the Business Committee to schedule time for a debate, we'll make that decision in the following item. Are Members content?
Chair, I'm happy with that, definitely. I'm just conscious of the fact that Plaid Cymru held a debate on this exact issue back in January, so a future Plenary debate taking forward these two petitions needs to build on what happened there and not repeat and go over the same ground. So, we need to ask Ministers for specific actions, I think, in terms of providing these resources both for the teaching of black history and Welsh history, and be really specific in what we want to debate in that Plenary session, because the danger is that we just repeat what already happened in January, and there isn't Plenary time to waste like that.
Okay, noted. So, we can action those points, Clerk, and we'll move on to petition 6.3, P-05-1000, 'Make it compulsory for Black and POC UK histories to be taught in the Welsh education curriculum'. This petition was submitted by Angharad Owen, having collected 34,736 signatures. The text of the petitions is as follows:
'Britain—including Wales—benefited from colonialism and slavery for centuries. This needs to be represented in the curriculum.
'The British Empire has often been glamorised and the global impact of Britain’s colonialism downplayed. This has been reflected in the content taught.'
The background to this petition: a response was received, again, from the Minister for Education on 7 August. A research brief has been provided to all Members, and the petitioner has provided further comments.
If we look at what we've just said with the previous petition in relation to combining those and seeking time to schedule a debate, can I suggest as well that Members, away from this committee session, perhaps have a conversation about what that debate's going to look like and what we're going to shape our debate on, given the fact that a similar debate has been held in Senedd beforehand? Are Members content? Leanne.
Can I just make a point in terms of the argument for combining these two petitions? Black history and the teaching of empire and colonialism in Wales is a much a part of Welsh history as Owain Glyndwr, and that's why the issues need to be looked at together. It's how we teach history to children in a way that isn't just from the perspective of white, middle-class, British, English speakers who are straight. That's the basic premise of this, and if we can look at history from different perspectives, then that's got to give young people a more rounded education.
Thank you for that. Neil, did you want to come in there?
I do, yes. I'm glad Leanne said that people of colour history and black history is Welsh history, because I think Leanne, in a previous contribution, talked about Welsh history and people of colour history, and I think this is something that makes me feel very uncomfortable. This is the reason why I wouldn't support the Plaid Cymru motion that talked about the BAME community as if everyone who's not white is of the same community, which doesn't make sense to me at all. I'm a person of colour, I'm mixed race, and I'm fed up of being other-ed, actually—I'm fed up of being told, 'Well, this is our history, Welsh history', as if black history in Wales is somehow something completely different. I think it's coming from a place of well-meaning with most people, but what is actually happening is that people like us are being split up and being racialised continuously. I'm pretty unhappy with it, to be honest. It's even getting to the point now where you've got people talking about 'lighter skin privilege', so, because I'm brown, then I'm more privileged than somebody that's darker than me, or maybe I'm not actually black enough for some people, who are actually white people judging me, telling me what colour I am, including the BBC, actually—BBC Wales, that is. I wrote to them a while back about this, and they still haven't apologised, although they did recognise what I was saying.
Did you want to say something about black history, or—?
I've got my Welsh history, Leanne, because we are Welsh. We are people of colour, we are Welsh.
But we're deciding what action to take on these petitions now, aren't we?
Yes. Can I suggest—? Neil, you're making, obviously, really interesting points and those points that need to be definitely said.
Jack, I haven't finished yet. I'm the only person being interrupted here.
No, I'm not interrupting; I'm trying to move the committee on. These are really good points but these are points we perhaps we can make in a debate.
Come on, let him have his say. Leanne's had plenty—
I'm a person of colour, who feels strongly about this, and I've been interrupted by two white people twice. Will you let me speak, please?
Thank you. For me, the issue of colonialism, empire, of course we need to discuss that, but I would—. I'm glad the petitions can be debated together, because black history in Wales is Welsh history. We are Welsh. I just want to deal with the issue about colonialism and how working-class people live in absolute misery and poverty in Wales, with the iron masters, and so on. These people didn't benefit from slavery, and I think we need to have a reality check. But also, just one matter of fact, which I only came across thanks to Black Lives Matter, actually, is that we only finished paying the debt in the UK that was paid to slave owners in 2015. So, for 150 years we were paying interest to people who'd been paid off for their slaves. I'd like to discuss that in a debate as well.
I'll finish now. Welsh history in Wales is actually black history as well, because we are Welsh.
Thank you, Neil. Michelle, did you want to come in?
No, I agree with what Neil just said.
Okay. So, I think there's an agreement from the committee that these two petitions should be debated together, and rightly so. Clerk, if we could write to the Business Committee asking to schedule a debate on that, that would be good. Thank you.
Item 6.4, petition P-05-996, 'To call on the Welsh Government not to remove, damage or destroy any historical symbols in Wales'. The petition was submitted by Aled Thomas, having collected 415 signatures. The text of the petition is as follows:
'The recent Black Lives Matter protests have resulted in the Welsh Government reassessing the appropriateness of statues, public buildings and street names which haves links to slavery.
'We believe that no public authority should remove, damage or destroy any of them'
The background to this petition: a response was received from the First Minister on 4 August. A research brief has been provided. The petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide additional comments prior to this meeting but has not done so. How would Members like to take this forward?
Well, I disagree with the premise of the petition. I mean, there could be a statue of Jimmy Savile in the centre of Cardiff, and then once we discover, after he's been a big star, that he's committed terrible acts, we may want to then remove the statue. And so, it's the same with the issue of slavery. People shouldn't be held up when they've committed atrocities. Now, I think it's worth having a discussion around that and a debate. I'm not in favour of destroying history so that we don't talk about it. I'm more in favour of removing statues and putting them in places like museums where they can be taught and the full picture given to people living today.
But the point of the petition is not about whether I agree with the premise or not; it's about whether we take it forward or not. And, so, I would suggest that we write to the Minister again and ask for a strategy around these historic symbols. I know that some local councils are looking at street names and various statues to see whether or not any of those are problematic currently, and I think it needs to be a national project to look at that. And it's going to take time, and it will take a lot of debate before any decisions are taken, but I think it's a really healthy debate for us to be having.
Any thoughts from other Members?
Yes. I don't particularly agree with the petitioner, but then, that's not my role, is it? It's a petition, and these things do need to be discussed. Cardiff did vote recently to take down a Picton statue from City Hall. I'd asked them to do that two years ago, but I was ignored at the time and made fun of, actually, for actually raising it. Never mind. But I think what Leanne was saying earlier is sensible.
Thank you, Chair. I just wanted to note that, in July, the Welsh Government announced a national audit of statues, street names and buildings. The First Minister's letter to the committee says that he doesn't think it would appropriate to determine what action should be taken until that work is completed, and I understand that it will be completed this year. So, it could be that one action for the committee could be to wait for the outcome of that, as well as some work being done by the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, which has also asked for evidence as part of an inquiry it's running into who gets remembered in public spaces. So, there is work ongoing, both in Government and elsewhere in the Senedd on this subject.
Apologies, Chair, I missed that audit in the papers, but I think that's an excellent suggestion, to wait for that extra information.
So, Clerk, if we could wait for the information to come through from the audit, and, hopefully, the inquiry from the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee. Could we also perhaps write to the petitioner to alert them of that and on how to give evidence to that inquiry? And I think that would be a sensible move there. Are Members content? Is the committee content?
The following two items will be considered together: petitions 6.5 and 6.6. Petition 6.5, P-05-1001, 'Hold an independent inquiry into the choice of sites for the proposed new Velindre Cancer Centre'. This petition was submitted by Amelia Thomas on behalf of the Save the Northern Meadows campaign, having collected 5,354 signatures. The text of the petition is as follows:
'£30M would be spent on roads alone to access the land on which the new Centre is proposed. The old Whitchurch Hospital and the existing Velindre site have access in place already, and are viable alternatives.'
The background to this petition: a response was received from the Velindre University NHS Trust on 3 September. No response has yet been received from the Minister for Health and Social Services. The committee did write on 27 July. A research brief has been provided. The Save the Northern Meadows campaign has also provided further comments on behalf of the petitioner.
And we will consider petition 6.6, P-05-1018, 'Support for the current proposed plans to build a new Velindre Cancer Centre, Cardiff, in any future inquiry. This petition was submitted by Natasha Hamilton-Ash, having collected 11,392 signatures, and text of the petition is as follows:
'We the undersigned call on the Welsh Government to support the current proposed plans to build a new Velindre Cancer Centre at Whitchurch, Cardiff.
'The current plan will ensure that Velindre Cancer Centre continues to provide specialist cancer services in a location that is more accessible to patients, with better access from Junction 32 of the M4. It is widely accepted that hospitals set within a natural setting aids patient recovery and lowers the stress levels of families and staff at hospitals.'
The background to this petition: a response has not been received from the Minister for Health and Social Services. The committee wrote regarding this petition on 28 August, but it is being considered today as part of both petitions. The petitioner has also provided further comment. So, can I ask Members how they would like to take those two petitions forward, please? Leanne, and then Neil.
The fact that we haven't heard from the Minister is a fairly crucial issue here, I think, and I don't think we can go anywhere further forward with this without hearing from the Minister. I also think that the health committee may have a role here to look at exactly what kind of model is the best model for the future, and also in terms of the location. Nobody is against improving cancer services and having this new facility, but everybody wants to make sure that, when investment like this takes place, it is the right investment, in the right facility, in the right place. And so it makes sense for us to look at these two petitions together, I think; they've obviously got a lot of interest locally, and the numbers of signatures on the petitions tell us how much interest there is. So, I think we need to take this forward somehow, but I'm not sure how we can do that without understanding where the Minister is coming from on this. And if the health committee could look at it in more depth, and take evidence, maybe that's something, then, that we don't need to do as a committee. But if they can't or won't or are not able to look at this in more depth, then I would propose us as a committee taking evidence on this, and maybe taking evidence from the Minister as well, if the correspondence that we receive isn't satisfactory.
Thank you. Neil.
Yes. Lots of questions here. First of all, everybody wants a new cancer hospital, everybody wants the best quality provision possible that is going to be futureproofed and provide care for many of us, going forward. There's not a family that has not been touched by cancer, and there's not a family that it's not touched. We're dealing with it at the moment, as a family.
I've got some pretty serious concerns here. First of all, if it were just a choice between a greenfield site and a cancer hospital, and there was no other option, clearly, you would have to take the hospital. That's the first thing. But the reality with this proposal is that that is not the case—there were and are other locations that could be suitable, or which are suitable, in fact. And there are questions I'd like to ask. What concerns me as well is the private finance initiative model that is being used for this hospital. They call it something mutual now, but it's actually PFI. So, we could end up paying four times the amount—[Interruption.]—for facilities we don't actually own.
I've got questions, really, that I'd like the committee to ask of the Minister, but also of Velindre. Because I'd like to know—. It's a mutual investment model, I'm sorry, but which is essentially PFI. I'd like to write to Transforming Cancer Services for a breakdown of how they've spent the £17 million in the last three years. I'd also like to write to the leads in cancer care in every health authority in Wales, and maybe if we could write to Public Health Scotland, Public Health England as well, asking questions about the model. Because what really concerns me is that 57 doctors—many of whom work with cancer patients—have said that this is the wrong model. Also, 20 consultants at Velindre—I think it's 37, when you take into account senior nurses; I think it's 37 medical staff in Velindre that have written to say that this is the wrong model as well, in the wrong place. So, huge concerns that there will be no surgery provision, which I'm told rules out certain cancer treatments in future, and will rule them out. There's no provision for emergency beds. I don't really understand the part about healing architecture with the petition, because there will be no people recovering from surgery, I understand, with the proposed model.
Also, one of the reports talks about the Janet Barrett external review—or Jane Barrett, I'm sorry—the external review looking at the proposal. I really would like the committee to ask for a copy of that so that we could be informed. I think we need to return to this at another meeting. I think we need to ask the health Minister to respond in good time, actually, so we can read it. But, for me—. If cancer consultants told me not to do certain things I would listen. I would listen. So, if there are so many cancer experts and consultants saying, 'Look, this is the wrong model'—. The site at the moment is almost a separate question. What I'm interested in most at the moment is the clinical model. If it's the wrong model then it's the wrong hospital and, of course, given there are other, brownfield sites available, then it is the wrong site.
The final thing I'd like to ask for from Velindre is a copy of the to-scale footprint for the hospital on the meadow site and also if that footprint could be projected onto the Whitchurch Hospital site. Because, for me, one of my concerns is there seems to be a huge amount of money involved here—a huge housing development, probably, on the old Whitchurch Hospital site. I don't see why we would build on a meadow and yet ignore a brownfield site that is available.
There's also an argument to place the hospital somewhere else as well, which needs to be looked at. So, from something that I didn't really ask many questions about at the beginning, because I felt that this was a good thing, having been informed by doctors, actually, who work in cancer, of other matters, and having been to the meadows as well, I think there are serious issues of concern to raise here.
Thank you. So, there have been a few suggestions there, Clerk: firstly, to write to the health Minister to chase a response to the current petitions—both petitions—that we have in front of us, and also to write to the health committee to seek what line of inquiry they are planning to take, if any, and also to start collecting evidence as a committee from a range of people, which Neil has suggested. Are Members content with that? Clerk, are you happy?
Yes. Thank you. Item—
Sorry, Chair, just to note quickly as well, for the record, that the committee has this morning received a statement, I believe a public statement, issued by Velindre, which talks about the appointment of the think tank the Nuffield Trust to offer them advice on the Velindre clinical model. Obviously, that's not come in with enough time for the committee to give it consideration today, but, when the committee returns to this issue, having taken forward the actions that you've outlined, then this can be part of what the committee might want to consider.
When did you receive that, please?
We received that very shortly before the start of this morning's meeting.
Sorry to push it, Graeme—what time was it received?
It was received, by the looks of it, at 08:59 this morning.
We've got a meeting at 9 o'clock and Velindre write to us at 08:59. Okay.
Okay. Thanks, Clerk, and if we could take those points forward. Item 6.7, P-05-1002, 'Apply stamp duty holiday to all house purchases in Wales'. This petition was submitted by Paul Southard, having collected 53 signatures. And the text of the petitions is as follows:
'It is unfair that the WAG not follow suit as the rest of the UK on the stamp duty holiday announced by the chancellor on 8th July. At present the holiday only applies to first time buyers or those moving up the property chain in Wales. It would benefit the economy more for this holiday apply to prospective landlords, or families wanting to buy a holiday home, or other cases. In England a saving can be made of £15,000 whiles in Wales a maximum of £2,450. Why are we always the poor neighbour!!!'
The background to this petition is that a response was received from the Minister for Finance on 11 August. A research brief has been provided and circulated to Members. The petitioner has provided further comments. How would Members like to take this petition forward?
Well, given there's—. Oh, sorry.
I think the Minister sounds pretty adamant that she's not going to change course. I think we should note and close the petition. I don't think there's any point banging our heads against a brick wall if the Minister's absolutely digging her heels in.
Okay. Leanne, you wanted to come in.
Well, I was just going to say that there's going to be a Plenary debate on the regulations on 29 September, so, if Members have got points to raise on this, then that's the place to raise them, and, as has already been said, the Minister looks as if she's determined in her course, where she wants to go with it—so, questions to be asked in Plenary on that date I would say, and we can close the petition.
Yes. I think, in many places in Wales, there are far too many holiday homes. Local people are priced out of the market, it's extremely difficult for young people to actually get on the ladder, and we're getting to the point now where properties are lying empty for nine months of the year, and yet local people are unable to be housed. So, I think there's a big issue with holiday homes.
Thank you. So, the proposal was to actually close the petition in light of the response from the Minister and also the forthcoming Plenary debate, and for Members to make individual cases during that debate. So, are Members content?
Item 6.8, petition 05-1003, 'Demand an EIA now on the dumping of radioactively contaminated mud in Welsh waters'. This petition was submitted by Cian Ciaran, having collected a total of 10,689 signatures. The text of the petition is as follows:
'We, the undersigned, call on the Welsh Government to invoke the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 in respect of uncertainties, and to ensure that a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is carried out before any further sediment from Hinkley Point nuclear power station can be dumped at Cardiff Grounds. Don't allow the Welsh government to break their own law!'
Background to this petition: responses have been received from Natural Resources Wales on 5 August and the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs on 10 August, a research brief has been provided to Members, and the petitioner has also provided further comments.
How would Members like to take this forward? Neil.
Yes, I think we need to—. This clearly needs to be debated at some point. There are probably some questions that we could ask the Minister. I'd like to go back to 2018, actually. I'd like to specifically ask the Minister and specifically ask NRW what alpha testing was carried out to identify if the mud contained any plutonium. The answer is 'none'—there was no alpha testing carried out. And no matter what they say about 'gamma this, gamma that', the most eminent nuclear physicists say that in order to identify microparticles of plutonium you actually have to test for that specifically, and it wasn't done.
I think, back in 2018, this was one of the biggest failures of governance in the history—or the biggest failure of governance in the history—of devolution, where you had many Members of the Senedd voting to carry on with the dumping, in a position of absolute ignorance, really. When I met with NRW about this back in 2017, I was shocked how little they actually knew.
An environmental impact assessment is desperately needed, so I hope that—. What I don't understand is how anyone can disagree with actually just looking at the matter. Scientists say that the sediment, the mud, contains plutonium. That is denied by Natural Resources Wales, but they don't actually know, because they've not tested for it.
Professor Barnham will be giving a presentation at 7.00 p.m. actually—I'll put in a plug—on my Facebook Live next Sunday to show his research and why he thinks there is plutonium in the mud. So, I think we do need an impact assessment. For God's sake, why not test? Why not test? So, we need to debate this, I'd say.
Actually, sorry, yes, of course—[Inaudible.] Sorry; first day back. I actually think it would be a good idea to debate this in Plenary. I think it's a very important issue. I think it has a general application, and as a general principle, what checks and what measures should Welsh Government and NRW, et cetera, be putting into place to make sure that any proposals like this, now and in the future, are vetted properly and that it's made absolutely sure that it's a safe thing to do for the people and environment of Wales. I think we need a debate about it.
Thank you, Michelle. Leanne, any thoughts from your end?
Well, it makes sense to me to have an environmental impact assessment, and I don't understand why it's being resisted. I'm not sure how we can make that happen, though.
Well, there has been a suggestion by two members of the committee to try and find time to schedule a debate and write to the Business Committee, so if members are content to do that—
Well, there have been enough signatures in terms of the threshold, haven't there?
But in terms of how we hold these debates, can we be very specific about the question we ask Ministers to address or does it have to be a debate on the petition as it's worded? I'm not talking specifically about this one now; I'm just talking in general. Do we, as a committee, have any role in trying to make that debate a tight one that Ministers have to answer questions on rather than it being general? Do you know what I mean?
Clerk, if you'd like to come in on that, please.
The agreement the committee has with Business Committee is for petitions with over 5,000 signatures to be debated. So, traditionally, the motion the committee uses is the title of the petition itself. I think there would be the possibility for the committee to ask for a different title if it felt that that was needed on any particular petition, and the motion that the committee puts forward then could take account of that, or alternatively, if the committee wanted to come up with some very specific questions it wanted to ask, then those could be covered in the Chair's opening remarks or by Members during their contributions.
Well, on this petition, it says, 'Demand an EIA now on the dumping of radioactively contaminated mud in Welsh waters', so that's fairly specific, and what we want is the environmental impact assessment and a full explanation as to why they've refused that so far. So, this would suffice, I think, in this case, but I'm just thinking of other petitions that I'm aware of with over 5,000 signatures that maybe are just a bit more wide in their scope and if we do have some opportunity to ask the Business Committee to narrow things down a bit, perhaps that might be a bit more helpful in terms of getting something out of the debate that's useful for campaigners and petitioners.
Okay, thank you. So, we could write to Business Committee to ask for time to schedule a debate on this particular petition and we could also take up the points raised by Leanne in terms of specific titles of debates and what they contain as well, and feedback to us. Thank you.
Item 7 on the agenda: updates to previous COVID-19 petitions. Item 7.1, petition P-05-962, 'An emergency amendment to extend age of entitlement to additional educational support from 25 to 26 and to define within Government guidance the Covid 19 pandemic as an exceptional circumstance'. This petition was submitted by Mike Charles, having collected 537 signatures, and the text of the petition is as follows:
'We call upon the Welsh Assembly to direct our Government to urgently amend the Learning and Skills Act to allow for funding within specialist colleges to he extended from the age of 25 to 26 for those affected by the Covid19 pandemic and to urgently scrap or amend it's guidance document no: 221/2017 November 2017 so that the Covid19 crisis is defined as an exceptional circumstance.'
Background to this petition: the committee last considered the petition on 17 July and noted the update provided by the Minister for Education and agreed to await a further substantive response to the issues raised in the petitioner's previous correspondence. An update was provided by the Minister on 20 July and the petitioner has provided further comments. How would Members wish to take this forward?
Well, the Minister's basically said that each individual case will be looked at, and considered whether exceptional circumstances apply, rather than looking at all people in one age group. And it looks to me as if that position isn't going to change, so I'm not really sure how much further forward we can take this now.
Any thoughts from other Members? So, shall I suggest, following Leanne's comments there, that we don't take this forward and we actually close the petition and thank the petitioner?
Are Members content? Thank you.
Item 7.2, P-05-967, 'Welsh Government to amend its NDR relief policy to help keep Debenhams stores open in Wales'. This petition was submitted by Peter Black, having collected 5,790 signatures.
And the background to this petition: the committee considered the petition on 23 June and agreed to write to the Business Committee to request a Plenary debate before summer recess, and write back to the Minister for finance to ask for an update on any further discussions that had taken place with Debenhams or other major retailers, and ask what options for support the Welsh Government is considering. A Plenary debate was held on 8 July 2020. A response was received from the Minister on 28 July. The petitioner has stated that he has no further comments to make following the debate. How would Members like to take this forward?
I think we need to close this petition now, because we've taken it as far as we can.
Are all Members content?
I'd agree. It's a very specific petition as well, and really, although I have absolute sympathy for the people who are currently employed by Debenhams and I'm sorry for the customers who are going to be affected by this, and the staff who are going to be affected by this, I can understand why Welsh Government wouldn't want to make a special case for one department store when there are so many other businesses in Wales that are suffering at the moment. So, yes, I think I'd agree with closing the petition.
Thank you, Michelle. So, if we could thank the petitioner and close the petition.
Item 7.3, P-05-970, 'Ask the Senedd to reconsider their decision not to support Zoos & Aquariums with emergency funding'. This petition was submitted by David Wilkins, having collected 6,299 signatures.
The background to this petition: the committee last considered the petition on 7 July and agreed to write back to the Welsh Government to ask how they plan to keep this matter under review and to share the petitioner's comments for consideration within the review process. A response was received from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs on 11 August. The petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide additional comments prior to the meeting, but has not done so. How would we like to take this forward? Neil, I saw you had raised your hand.
Yes. The Government said that it's going to be kept under review. I think we can agree to close the petition and thank the petitioner.
Thank you, Neil. Are all Members content?
Thank you. The following petitions will be considered together: items 7.4 and 7.5. Item 7.4, P-05-981, 'Allow gyms and leisure centres to reopen'. This petition was submitted by Kirsty Stevenson, having collected 964 signatures. And item 7.5, P-05-986, 'Allow small gyms and personal training spaces to open sooner during COVID restrictions'. This petition was submitted by Andrew Starling, having collected 3,181 signatures.
The background to these petitions: the committee considered both petitions on 17 July and agreed to write to the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism to ask (a) whether the Welsh Government can share evidence that indicates that gyms and other indoor-space sporting facilities present a particular transmission risk for COVID-19, and (b) what consideration the Welsh Government has given to the importance of exercise to the mental health and well-being of people in their decisions around opening leisure facilities. A response was received from the Deputy Minister on 17 August and both petitioners have provided further comments. How would we like to take this forward?
I think we can close these petitions. Sorry, Michelle. I think we can close these petitions now because they're out of date, aren't they? Things have moved on.
Yes. That was just what I was going to say.
Okay. So there was a proposal there to close the petitions as indoor gyms are now open, and all Members are content.
Item 7.6, 'Adopt the policies of UK government with regard to easing of lockdown rules'. This petition was submitted by Georgina Stanger, having collected 96 signatures.
The background to this petition: the committee considered the petition on 17 July, and agreed to await a response from the Welsh Government. A response was received from the First Minister on 10 August. The petitioner has provided further comments. How would we like to take this forward?
I mean, it's devolution, isn't it? [Laughter.]
You know, we've got different health Ministers, different health services, different policies, and so what is right for Wales will be put forward, presumably and hopefully, by the Welsh Government. So, I'm not sure where we can—. I mean, again, the issues in this petition are slightly out of date as well, as are everything with COVID, but apart from disagreeing with the whole premise of devolution, I'm not sure where we can take this.
Okay. So, with the view that there's little further we can do as committee, are Members content to thank the petitioner, note the petition, but also close the petition?
Item 7.7, P-05-983, 'Give grant aid to Bed and Breakfast businesses in Wales that pay council tax and not business rates'. This petition was submitted by Louise Grice, having collected 86 signatures.
The background to this petition: the committee considered the petition on 17 July and agreed to write back to the Minister for finance to provide the petitioner's further comments and ask whether there is a support scheme available for bed-and-breakfast businesses that are not business rates payers, if they are not employers or VAT registered, and whether future funding from the UK Government could be used for this purpose. A response was received from the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales on 20 August. The petitioner was offered to provide additional comments prior to the meeting, but has not done so. How would we like to take this forward again?
I think it's probably a case of banging our heads against a brick wall again. I think the Minister has decided what they're going to do, what the criteria for giving business support are. I struggle to see what else we can do with this petition.
Any other views, Neil? Any views?
Okay. So, with that view, then, and the little we can do as a committee, can I propose that we thank the petitioner, note the petition and close this petition? Are Members content?
Item 7.8, P-05-984, 'Stop discriminatory remote consultations for incinerator applications during the Covid-19 Pandemic'. This petition was submitted by Councillor Amanda Jenner, having collected 392 signatures.
The background to this petition: the committee considered the petition for the first time on 17 July, and agreed to write back to the Minister for Housing and Local Government to share the petitioner's latest submission, ask that she considers exercising her powers to extend the timescale for consultation if and when this progresses to a full application, and to ask how the petitioner would be able to make such a request at the appropriate time. A response was received from the Minister on 18 August and the petitioner has provided further comments. Do Members have thoughts on how to take this forward?
I think it would be—. The petitioner's asked a further question about the criteria for agreeing an extension, so I think we should go back to the Minister and ask that question and ask them what the criteria actually are.
What has the petitioner said, Jack? I missed that, sorry.
The petitioner has welcomed the information provided and the ability for individuals to request extended timescales. She also asked a further question about the criteria for agreeing such an extension.
Yes, I think I'd like to—[Inaudible.]
Okay, so there's been a proposal there for the committee to write back to the Minister for Housing and Local Government regarding the further question from the petitioner about what the criteria are for agreeing such an extension in these circumstances. Are Members content? Thank you.
Item 7.9, P-05-985, 'Provide key-worker childcare equivalent to what was available prior to the Covid-19 pandemic'. This petition was submitted by Adam Calcutt, having collected 719 signatures.
The background to this petition: the committee considered the petition for the first time on 17 July and agreed to write back to the Minister for Education to share the petitioner’s response and ask what the Government’s expectations are for summer holiday key worker childcare provision, and to seek further information about the extended hours provision expected to be available for key workers during the autumn school term. A response was received from the Minister on 13 August. The petitioner has provided further comments. How do Members wish to take this forward?
This is an issue that's affected an awful lot of people, and I was corresponding with the Minister about this over the summer. I'm not sure exactly what the position is now because I've stopped being inundated with e-mails about it, so I assume it's not as bad or as critical as it was during the summer, but my concern is what happens if there are future lockdowns.
There is a lockdown in Caerphilly now. There's talk of a lockdown in Rhondda Cynon Taf if the numbers continue to rise, and that then will have impact on the ability of—. I know in Caerphilly children are still going to school, but in many cases whole years are being asked to self-isolate for two weeks, and we need those key workers to be able to continue to go to work. So, there does need to be some more joined-up thinking on this.
The response from the Minister, even though it's a really long answer, doesn't really respond to the point about eight-til-six times for childcare. I'm not sure how out of date this letter is now, but I am quite concerned that the issues will come back if local lockdowns or even a Welsh lockdown is introduced within the next couple of months if we're on a second spike. So, can we write back to the Minister and say more consideration needs to be given to the childcare hours of key workers? They obviously benefited from and welcomed the provision that was there during the lockdown the first time around from March. That's good, because that shows that the service that was provided was a valued one. But we can't just assume that that's gone away now as an issue, because I don't think it has.
So, can I propose, then, that we write to the Minister with Leanne's points but also share the petitioner's comments? The petitioner has provided further comments about the future and how future lockdowns and this type of support scheme should be handled. But in terms of this actual petition, we thank the petitioner and close the petition for the time being. Are Members content? Thank you.
And finally, item 7.10, P-05-988, 'Give key worker children equal access to their schools and teachers'. This petition was submitted by Catherine Evans, having collected 508 signatures.
The background to this petition: the committee considered the petition for the first time on 17 July and agreed to write back to the Minister for Education to share the comments made by the petitioner and ask how she considers local or regional disparities in education provision for the children of key workers could be avoided in the event of any future reduction in school provision, and whether contact groups or bubbles from September will be available in full to the children of key workers, or any parents who need to access wraparound care. A response was received from the Minister on 13 August. The petitioner has provided further comments.
Chair, the further comments from the petitioner are the same comments as we were just making on the last petition, aren't they? So, I wonder if we can write to the Minister about this one as well as the previous petition together, because they're the same issues.
Are Members content?
So, there's been a proposal there to write, alongside the petition at item 7.9, to share the views of the petitioners and our views as a committee with the Minister for Education, in the event of any future lockdowns and the provision of childcare and school provision, and we'll take that forward, please, Clerk. Thank you.
That brings us to the end of today's—. Neil, sorry.
Sorry, I'm just thinking of the Velindre petition. Would it be possible to add to the—? I'm just thinking of the e-mail that came through. Would it be possible to add to the letter, maybe write to Velindre and ask what the terms of reference are for what Nuffield are going to do? I think that would be useful.
Okay. Thanks, Neil. The clerk has indicated that he will add that to the list.
Thank you very much.
So, that brings us to the end of today's Petitions Committee meeting. The next committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 29 September. So, thank you, all, Members, for joining and I thank the clerking team and the staff behind the scenes for doing all the major work. So, diolch yn fawr iawn. Thank you. I bring this meeting to a close.
Daeth y cyfarfod i ben am 10:46.
The meeting ended at 10:46.