Cyfarfod Llawn Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru 26.06.18

Cyfarfod Llawn Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru 26.06.18


Full_Verbatim
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Galw’r Aelodau i drefn.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Yr eitem gyntaf ar ein hagenda ni y prynhawn yma yw’r cwestiynau
i’r Prif Weinidog, ac mae’r cwestiwn cyntaf gan Bethan Sayed.
Bethan Sayed AM: 1. A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am gefnogaeth i fenywod yng Nghymru
y mae’r heddlu cudd (‘spycops’) wedi effeithio arnynt yn uniongyrchol? OAQ52395
Carwyn Jones AM: It is important that women affected by this issue receive the help and
assistance that they need. I understand that the inquiry that the UK Government has put
in place is not due to report until 2023. Bethan Sayed AM: Thank you for that response.
The reason why I was asking this question was because I think that it’s important that
the Welsh Government reaches out to some of the women from Wales who have been directly
affected by this operationóthe special demonstration squad unit within the police that infiltrated
activist groups, and then, clearly, those police officers acted inappropriately with
those women. Lisa was with Mark Stone. She discovered this in 2010. He was an undercover
policeman called Mark Kennedy. Rosa, an anti-racist campaigner, had a relationship with Jim Sutton/Jim
Boyling, who had two children with her. Eight women are taking action and we have an event
tonight in the Pierhead with these two women involved. I’m asking what you can do as a
Government to support these women in this public inquiry to make sure that nothing like
this ever happens again to Welsh women, so that they’re not violated in this way, and
how can we go about changing the practices within the police so that we ensure that if
they do need to go undercover, it is done in an ethical and an appropriate way?
Carwyn Jones AM: Can I first of all congratulate the Member for hosting tonight’s event and
raising a very important issue that I suspect many members of the public are still not yet
aware of? Now, it’s some timeófive years it seemsóbefore the report will be prepared.
In the meantime, however, it is important to provide services to those who have been
affected. What I can say is that we do fund, of course, the Live Fear Free helpline, which
is managed by Welsh Women’s Aid. Those contacting the helpline will be listened to, believed
and offered help and support. It provides support and advice to victims of violence
and abuse, as well as their friends and relatives, and practitioners. So, the support is there,
but it is hugely important, of course, that, when the inquiry reports, that it does make
robust recommendations to ensure that unacceptable practices are not repeated.
Mark Isherwood AM: Terms of reference for the undercover police inquiry, which I think
was launched in 2015 by the then Home Secretary, says the investigation would include but not
be limited to whether and to what purpose, extent and effect undercover police operations
had targeted political and social justice campaigners. However, it makes no explicit
reference to the many women deceived into sexual relationships by undercover police
officers. What, if any, representations has the Welsh Government made to the inquiry on
behalf of women in Wales who were exploited in this way, or, if not, can you explain what
limitations on the Welsh Government’s intervention there might be in this respect?
Carwyn Jones AM: Well, this ultimately is a matter for the UK Government, although it
is taking a great deal of time, I have to say. March 2015, as the Member rightly says,
was when the inquiry was announced. It potentially will take eight years before it actually reports,
for reasons which are not clear. The inquiry itself will be looking at the deployment of
police officers in undercover roles. It has been established following the controversy
surrounding the conduct of undercover officers. Now, the inquiry will make, as I understand,
recommendations as to how undercover policing is conducted and will scrutinise the use of
undercover officers by the now defunct SDS and the National Public Order Intelligence
Unit. Now, among the allegations, of course, are that undercover officers took fake identities
from dead children, had relationships with the campaigners and fathered children. Those
are on the record. It would strike me as hugely difficult to understand if the inquiry itself
did not also look at those issues in order to provide a comprehensive report.
Rhun ap Iorwerth AM: 2. A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am daliadau grantiau Glastir? OAQ52433
Carwyn Jones AM: Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi darparu taliadau Glastir iír hawlwyr mewn
modd amserol ac yn gyson. Hyd yn hyn, mae dros £39 miliwn wediíi dalu i fusnesau fferm
yng Nghymru yn ystod y flwyddyn hon. Bydd cyfnodau ymgeisio pellach ar gyfer grantiau
bach Glastir yn agor eleni ac yn 2019 er mwyn hyrwyddoír gwaith o adfer a chreu cynefinoedd
hanfodol. Rhun ap Iorwerth AM: Diolch am yr ateb yna.
Rydw i wedi siarad ‚ nifer o ffermwyr a chynrychiolwyr sydd wedi bod yn rhoi cymorth
iddyn nhw i wneud ceisiadau am grantiau bach Glastir, a hynny yn sgil pryderon bod taliadau
yn hir yn dod. Rwan, yr ymateb rydw i wedi ei gael gan y Llywodraeth ydy nad ydyír taliadauín
hwyr, ac, yn dechnegol, mae hynnyín gywir, oherwydd nid oes amser yn cael ei osod o ran
faint o amser ar Ùl gwneud cais y mae taliadau i fod i gael eu gwneud. Rwan, o ystyried,
yn enwedig ar Ùl gaeaf caled iawn, fod llif arian yn bwysig i ffermwyr, a wnewch chi,
fel Prif Weinidog, ystyried cyflwyno canllaw ar gyfer gosod amserlen lle y gall ffermwr
ddisgwyl cael taliad lle’r oedd yn llwyddiannus yn gwneud cais?
Carwyn Jones AM: Fe allaf i ddweud wrth yr Aelod fod rheoliadau’r Comisiwn Ewropeaidd
wedi cael eu newid yn ddiweddar er mwyn sicrhau ffenest ynglyn ‚ gwneud taliadau. Bydd hynny’n
meddwl y bydd taliadau Glastir yn cael eu gwneud rhwng 1 Rhagfyr eleni a 30 Mehefin
y flwyddyn nesaf. Felly, am y tro cyntaf, bydd yna ffenest, ac yn y ffenest hynny bydd
ffermwyr yn gallu erfyn taliadau. Russell George AM: What other schemes are
available to help farmers bring forward environmental schemes on their farmland, other than the
Glastir scheme? Carwyn Jones AM: Well, farmers, of course,
can look at schemes such as the existing agri-environment schemes. There is the small grant scheme that
Members will be aware of, and also, of course, Farming Connect, which can help farmers to
become more sustainable in terms of their businesses. So, there are a number of options
available for farmers in order to make their practices more sustainable and, of course,
to make their businesses more sustainable. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Cwestiynau nawr gan
arweinwyr y pleidiau. Arweinydd Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood.
Leanne Wood AM: Yesterday, your Labour Government backed Westminster’s multibillion investment
in a polluting new runway in the south-east of England. Do you stand by that decision,
considering, on the same day, Westminster cancelled a clean, green, renewable energy
project in Swansea? Carwyn Jones AM: I’m not responsible for the
way votes go in Westminster, as I’ve said many, many times, but I do share her very
great concernóand that’s probably an understatementówith the failure to go ahead with the Swansea bay
tidal lagoon. It is a huge disappointment for the Swansea bay area and it’s a disappointment
that’s shared, in fairness, by Conservatives as well in this Chamber. They’ve expressed
that great concern. It’s a shame the UK Government didn’t look at this in a far more rounded
wayóthe fact that the project would’ve lasted a century, the fact that it would’ve created
jobs not just in the short term, but potentially in the long term as well. It would’ve created
a technology that we could’ve exported around the world. Now, others will steal a march
on us. It is hugely important that the UK Government
doesn’t give the impression, which it has done now, that nuclear and offshore wind seem
to be the only options for energy generation in the future. We have around the coast of
Wales, particularly but not exclusively in the Bristol channel, one of the highest tidal
reaches in the world. The fact that it’s not being harnessed is a sign that the UK Government
sees Britain as being a boring and backward place and not one that’s bold and bright and
wants to go forward developing new technology. It’s a huge shame for so many people in Swansea
bay and beyond. Leanne Wood AM: First Minister, the contradiction
in all of this is shocking. Any Government that is serious about tackling climate change
cannot seriously take such contradictory positions as this. Not only do we see Heathrow being
built, but new nuclear to be funded by the taxpayer at the same if not higher rate than
the stated cost of the tidal lagoon. Now, First Minister, I acknowledge that the Welsh
Government has made an offer of financial support for the tidal lagoon, but that wasn’t
enough. Now, we need action and not offers. The window of opportunity is small, but I
believe that the Swansea tidal lagoon project can still be saved. So, will you now keep
hope alive by honouring Labour’s manifesto commitment to set up a national, publicly
owned energy company to take over and progress this project?
Carwyn Jones AM: On a day when people in different parties have been united in expressing their
concern at the UK Government’s decision, Plaid Cymru start moving the blame elsewhere. There
is a fair question and that is: what plans do you have for the future? And that is a
fair question, but today, what I have to say is that Wales has been let down by a decision
of the UK Government in London. That’s what’s happened. We cannot fill in the gaps that
they have left; they are responsible for that. They’re the ones who have to explain what
they have done to the people of Swansea, and we will continue to press them.
Now, in the future, what plans can there be for other projects that we’ll be looking to
support? Of course the door is open and of course that’s something that we want to do,
because we believe that there is huge potential around the coast of Wales in terms of energy
generation. What we cannot do, however, is fill in enormous gaps that are left by the
UK Government and are the UK Government’s responsibility. Surely she will join me today
in expressing her great concern at the way this has been dealt with by the UK Governmentó18
months of delay, despite the Hendry review; the fact that this would have been a game-changing
project for the whole of Wales and, indeed, for the world, and that will not now happen
because of the actions of the UK Government. Leanne Wood AM: So, you’re just going to wring
your hands; you’re not even going to bother trying. And remember, you promised in your
manifesto that you would set up an energy company and that could, if you were prepared
to look at it, progress this project. First Minister, railways not electrified, lagoons
not built, Airbus not investingóit’s clear that the Secretary of State is Westminster’s
voice in Wales and not Wales’s voice in Westminster. First Minister, Airbus employs around 7,000
people here in Wales, and their reason for reconsidering their investment in this country
is our place in the single market and customs union. Now, I recognise that the First Minister
may well say that he supports our membership of both, but the actions of his party indicate
the opposite. Just a few weeks back, a majority of Welsh Labour MPs failed to vote on a crucial
amendment that would have kept us in the single market. We now need clarity. Will you, First
Minister, join with us in condemning your Labour MPs for supporting pulling Wales out
of the single market and customs union, directly endangering those Airbus jobs?
Carwyn Jones AM: This is like watching somebody playing darts and deliberately trying to aim
at the wall to the side rather than the dartboard itself. On a day when people from different
parties have expressed concernóthey’ve expressed it in different ways, of course, which they
have to do, according to which party they’re a member ofóon a day when people have expressed
concern at the decision of the UK Government, Plaid Cymru have left them off the hook.
Leanne Wood AM: I’m asking you to do something about it. Do something about itó
Carwyn Jones AM: On a day when blame should rest in Westminster, where the decision has
been made, Plaid Cymru are trying to turn this into an exercise in presenting themselves
as being relevant when, in factó[Interruption.] It is First Minister’s questions. First Minister’s
questions doesn’t involve answering questions about what happens in Westminster. That’s
one of the things that are absolutely clear. I am here to give the view of the Welsh Government.
It’s a matter of great regret today that, as politicians from across Wales have expressed
their concern at the decision taken by the UK Governmentóeven those within the Welsh
Conservative Party who have expressed their viewóPlaid Cymru decided to let them off
the hook. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Arweinydd yr wrthblaid,
Andrew R.T. Davies. Andrew RT Davies AM: Thank you, Presiding
Officer. First Minister, last week, the report into the tragedy at Gosport War Memorial Hospital
came forward and, in particular, the excessive use of opiate painkillers that potentially
led to the untimely death of at least 650 patients. Has the Welsh Government had a chance
to consider the report, the findings of that report and any implications for the Welsh
NHS and changes that it might need to make? Carwyn Jones AM: We will, of course, consider
any reports that are relevant to Wales, and many of the issues that arise elsewhere in
the UK and beyond will inform our future thinking. Officials and the Minister will look at the
report to see if there are any lessons that can be learned for Wales.
Andrew RT Davies AM: Thank you for that answer. I hope that there will be a timely report
back on that, because there are some very concerning aspects in relation to the circumstances
around the premature deaths of the patients concerned. But one of the things that has
come to light, certainly in press comment, is the use of Graseby syringe drivers, which
basically administer opiate painkillers, either over a 24-hour period or over an hour. Now,
various safety notices have been put out over the last 20 years in relation to these instruments,
and in Australia and New Zealand they were banned many years ago. The NHS was supposed
to have withdrawn from service these syringes in 2015. Can you confirm today whether the
NHS in Wales is still using these syringes, or is the Welsh Government still investigating
this? Carwyn Jones AM: What I can say is that he’s
right about the media coverage of the syringes. The syringe drivers, which are called Graseby
MS26 and Graseby MS16A, were loaded with capsules and programmed to release drugs into a patient’s
bloodstream over an extended period. They delivered drugs at different rates, and, of
course, we know from the report that led to a dangerous over-infusion of drugs. Hazard
notices were issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory AgencyóMHRAóto ensure
that NHS staff knew the difference between the models. This was also the subject of an
England and Wales-wide National Patient Safety Agency publicationóa rapid response reportóin
December 2010, which gave the NHS five years to transition to drivers with additional safety
features whilst mitigating the risk in the meantime. What I can say is that all relevant
NHS Wales organisations have confirmed compliance with that patient safety requirement. We will
be writing to health boards and trusts asking them to audit existing practice and to provide
assurance that they remain compliant with this advice, and I understand that the same
thing will be happening in England. Andrew RT Davies AM: I’m grateful for that
very detailed response, because the reports over the weekend will have caused a huge amount
of distress to families of bereaved relatives that might suspect some wrongdoing or some
faulty equipment that might have caused an untimely death. What is important is if families
do have those concernsóand the numbers we are talking about run into the thousands if
you put it across the whole of the NHS, because these machines were used right across the
NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Irelandóthat families can raise their concerns
and ultimately have those concerns addressed. What actions will the Welsh Government be
doing to work with health boards so that families who do have those concernsóbearing in mind
you have confirmed that the Welsh NHS is compliant with the directive that ruled out their use
up to 2015, but families will have concerns that need addressing, so how can families
go about having those concerns addressed? Carwyn Jones AM: Well, if anybody has a concern,
of course, they can raise that concern directly with the health board, or with their AM, or
indeed with the health Minister. There is an outlet to do that. We’re not aware of any
concerns, but obviously it is right that there is an audit to make sure that the compliance
is still there in the way that we would want. That is the way we will seek to give assurance
to both patients and their families across the NHS.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Arweinydd grwp UKIP, Caroline Jones.
Caroline Jones AM: Diolch, Llywydd. First Minister, the past few months have been brutal
for the Welsh high street, with many large retailers announcing closures of their stores.
Mothercare is closing 50 stores across the UK, including its Newport branch. New Look
is closing 60 stores, including its stores in Cardiff, Monmouth, Rhyl and Pontypool.
Carphone Warehouse announced nearly 100 store closures across the country, and other retail
giants like M&S are announcing closures, and planning closures as well. In the last
week, we had the devastating news that one of the high street’s most iconic names, House
of Fraser, was closing its stores in Cardiff and Cwmbran. So, we’ve seen many high street
brands disappear in recent times, and thousands of jobs have been lost. So, First Minister,
the UK Government are not appearing to address this issue, and some are calling this ‘hell
on the high street’, so please can you tell me what your Government, the Welsh Government,
is planning to do to help halt this decline? Carwyn Jones AM: Well, retail is an important
sector for us; we’re making it a priority. I’m not going to pretend that the challenges
facing retail are easy, because they’re not. There are many people who shop online. There
are many people who go into a shop and then shop online, not shopping in the shop itself.
And there are some challenges there. Where does the answer lie? I suspect it’s ensuring
that our town centres are more mixed, making sure that more people live in town centres,
and also ensuring that there are more offices. I know from my own experience in Bridgend
that there is a lack of office space and there is too much retail space. What we need is
to get the balance right so that there is more good-quality office space, creating,
then, the footfall during the day for the shops that are there. So, it’s a question,
I think, of rethinking what our town centres should look like, not seeing them purely for
retail but a far better mix in terms of what they offer, and people living there and people
working there. Caroline Jones AM: I appreciate what you’re
saying, First Minister, but, over the weekend, retail experts outlined the scale of the problem
facing Wales’s department stores, following the announcement by the House of Fraser and
the news that Chepstow’s Herbert Lewis was to close. Howells has been on Cardiff’s high
street since 1879 and will soon go the same way as David Morgan, which was the mainstay
of Cardiff’s retail experience for over 125 years. Herbert Lewis has been part of Chepstow’s
shopping experience for 140 years. The managing director of Newport’s Wildings department
store, which recently had to downsize, said the future was not good for traditional stores,
due to the rising costs and growth of online sales. So, First Minister, do you think it’s
time we took radical action, such as massively cutting business rates, in order to save Wales’s
remaining retail icons? Carwyn Jones AM: It will take more than that.
I think one of the issues that does need to be dealt with is we need to make sure that
online retailers are paying taxes properly. The reality is that, if you are a shop, you
are paying business rates. You might be competing with somebody who’s paying next to nothing,
because they’re online, and there are issues there that only the UK Government can resolve.
They have been issues that have arisen many times over the past few years, but that’s
where the level playing field has to be established. Simply saying, well, because an online shop
is based outside of the UK or is subject to a more favourable tax regimeóit’s never going
to work for the high street, if I can put it that way, or even for the bigger chains,
if they’re competing against online retailers who just don’t pay the same taxes as they
do, and that’s where I think the focus has to be.
Caroline Jones AM: Yes, but we have to redress and look at the balance and have a level playing
field. Unfortunately, according to Cardiff Metropolitan University’s business school,
it is too late to save our traditional retailers. According to Chris Parry, senior lecturer
in accounting and finance at Cardiff Met, the time to cut rents and rates was 2008,
not 2018. He said that the challenge for us is what we do with our town centres and our
high streets to look like that in 10 years’ time. What do we do with it? That’s something
we need to urgently consider. So, if the exponential rise in online sales continuesóand we have
no reason to believe that it won’tóthen, by 2028, many of our traditional retailers
will have disappeared. So, First Minister, we have to plan for that future. Chris Parry
said that, if we sit and do nothing, our town centres may well be derelict wastelands in
the next decade. So, we have to avoid that at all costs. First Minister, what plans does
your Government have to accelerate mixed-use of our town and city centres, replacing closed-down
stores with housing, restaurants, GP surgeries, and everything else needed for true urban
living? Carwyn Jones AM: I agree, and it comes back
to the point I made earlier onóand planning guidance has been changed to reflect thisówe
do need to make sure that our urban centres are more mixed. Some of them are, some of
them are not. People have tended not to live in town centres for some time. We know that
there are some businesses that will do well because they don’t have online competition.
If you’re a cafe, there is no online competition. If you are a barber or a hairdresser, there’s
no online competition. There are some shops that have specialised particularly strongly
in some products. They also perhaps have an online shop as well, which helps them to sustain
their business. Ultimately, of course, the problem is that people aren’t going through
the doors as they used to; they’re looking elsewhere. How do we look to resolve that?
Well, making sure, I think, as well, that people are around in the day. One of the issues
is, to my mind, that, in many town centres, shops are open between 9.30 a.m. and 5.30
p.m. when most people are not around, in reality. It’s a question of looking again about flexible
opening hours so that shopping centres are open, particularly in town centres, when people
are actually out of work and back from work and able to shop, rather than having a model
that is a model, really, that hasn’t really existed for 30 or 40 years, where people would
go in and shop during the course of the day because perhaps they weren’t in paid employment.
Those days have changed, and I think it’s important as well that the challenges that
exists with the retail sector are met with looking as well at how they can become more
flexible in order to cater for the fact that life has changed for most of their customers.
Lee Waters AM: 3. Pa ddadansoddiad y mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi’i wneud o’r cyfleoedd a amlinellir
yn astudiaeth achos y Sefydliad Materion Cymreig, ‘Swansea Bay City Region: A Renewable Energy
Futureí? OAQ52429 Carwyn Jones AM: Well, can I welcome the recent
report that IWA produced, under their Re-energising Wales project, on the potential for the region?
It will be extremely valuable for us, and particularly for decision makers in the Swansea
area, in order to inform the direction of the city deal.
Lee Waters AM: Thank you, First Minister. Not content with cancelling green trains to
Swansea and pulling the plug on subsidies for renewable energy, yesterday the Tory Government
pulled the plug on the tidal lagoon, when their own former energy Minister said it would
be a no-regrets policy. The Welsh Secretary had the brass neck to tour the TV studios
and say that the 30p annual subsidy was expensive, when he’s happy to subsidise Hinkley by £12
for every customer a year. So, I think we should call out the hypocrisy of the Tories
and the way they’ve led investors up the garden path who are going to think twice about putting
money into innovative technology again. But I think the message of the IWA report is that
there is still a possibility for us to lead the way in Wales, and it’s for us, as the
Welsh Government, to be at the front of that. The case study set out in detail how Wales
can meet 100 per cent of its renewable energy demand by 2035 just from green technologies.
The city region leaders are supportive. Will the First Minister make sure that the Welsh
Government gives its full-throated support to this effort to make sure we still can be
leaders in this field? Carwyn Jones AM: Yes, and we’ve already done
it, of course, in Pembrokeshire particularly, with projects that we’ve supported there.
I think the problem is that the mood music created around the announcement today is that
tidal energy is too expensive. That’s the message that’s been given. Now, that will
apply wherever potential investors are looking at tidal energy projects. If I were a tidal
investor now, I’d start thinking twice about investing in the UK, because the UK Government
haven’t given any encouragement to tidal energy. It’s a matter of great regret. What they have
said is, ‘Well, nuclear is there and offshore wind’ónot onshore, but offshore wind is something
they want to pursue. The message is that tidal energy is not seen as important by the UK
Government, and I regret that very much. Bear in mind that all we were asking for was the
same financial deal as was offered to Hinkley. No more than that. We weren’t asking for special
favours beyond that. If the contract for difference was there in the same way it was for Hinkley,
I believe the lagoon could have moved forward, but the UK Government did not accept that,
and that is something I know that is a matter for regret not just for Members on this side
of the house, but also for Members in other parties as well.
Suzy Davies AM: It was my understanding that Ministers made it clear that the door was
still open on tidal energy and future discussions on that. But let’s talk about something that
we can do something about more quickly, and that is rapid and fast electrical vehicle
charging points. The same report mentioned that Wales is behind the rest of the UK in
the number of charging points available, and suggested as a key action that increasing
the number of charging points at major transport nodes, park and rides and tourist attractions
should happen fairly quickly. Now, Swansea bay city region is awash with these types
of locations, and, as the role of transport within the city deal area is something we’re
all talking about now, including local businesses, can you tell me whether the money you’ve given
for scoping out the South Wales West metro includes perhaps increasing the number of
electrical charging points in the bay, and have you had any further conversations with
Ford about whether they’re considering electric car production within the South Wales West
region? Carwyn Jones AM: Sorry, I missed the last
point. Suzy Davies AM: Ohówhether you’ve had any
conversations with Ford about electric car production in South Wales West.
Carwyn Jones AM: Well, there have been discussions with Ford on a number of potential opportunities.
To my mind, battery production is where the future lies. The technology’s not far away
when batteries will become far better used. I suspect that the step change will come if
the day comes when people are physically able to take a battery out of the car that has
discharged and then able to put one in that has been charged, so there’s no delay in terms
of the charge. We’re a long way from that point at the moment, because the batteries
are huge. In terms of charging points, Tesla, of course,
have invested heavily in charging points, but the reality is that there are very few
Teslas on the road. There are charging points available in, I think, almost every service
station at the moment as well. A number of retailers, like Ikea, for example, have charging
points as well in the shops, and it is possible toó. There is an app available that gives
you an idea of where all the charging points are. So, we want to roll out charging points
across Wales. We know how important that is, and that is something that will be a priority
for us as a Government. Dai Lloyd AM: The IWA report on the Swansea
bay region certainly sets out an exciting vision of the region’s energy future. Taking
ownership and control is a theme that runs throughout that report, as you know, and it
clearly shows that the growth of renewable energy projects in Wales is still dependent,
to a large extent, on Westminster. Yesterday certainly proved that point, as regards the
tidal lagoon decision. In view of your earlier comments to Leanne
Wood, we look forward to your full support tomorrow in the vote of no confidence in the
Secretary of State for Wales. But notwithstanding, whilst the Wales Act 2017 transfers some new
powers to Wales for projects generating less than 350 MW, for example, do you now believe
that Wales should, as Scotland has, have a greater influence over the strategy to develop
offshore wind and marine energy technology as well as setting subsidy levels and priorities
for supporting community energy and energy efficiency schemes?
Carwyn Jones AM: Yes, but we still wouldn’t control the market. That’s the issueóthe
GB energy market. We need to have a Government in London that sees renewable energy as important
and is willing to make the investments in renewable energy that are going to be needed
for the future. That is not the case at the moment. What we’ve seen over the years are
solar panels having their subsidies removed, the same for onshore wind, and now what we
have is a situation where the UK Government has limited itself to a small number of ways
of generating energy. They need to be more expansive than that, and be far bolder in
terms of supporting projects like the tidal lagoon.
Simon Thomas AM: 4. Pa gamau y mae Llywodraeth Cymru’n eu cymryd i gefnogi’r economi hydrogen
yng Nghymru? OAQ52431 Carwyn Jones AM: Mae potensial mawr gyda hydrogen
i chwarae rÙl bwysig yn ein heconomi, gan ei fod yn ddefnyddiol o ran gwres, pwer a
thrafnidiaeth. Mae nifer o fentrau Llywodraeth Cymru yn edrych ar y cyfleoedd i ddefnyddio
hydrogen yng Nghymru i wella ein dealltwriaeth o’i botensial.
Simon Thomas AM: Diolch am yr ateb, ond, wyth mlynedd yn Ùl, fe gyhoeddwyd Peter Hain a
Jane Davidson y byddai’r M4 yn dod yn briffordd hydrogen i Gymru, a byddai, erbyn hynóers
dwy flynedd, a dweud y gwirórestr o lefydd i storio hydrogen, i ddefnyddio hydrogen,
fel rhan o drafnidiaeth a oedd yn cael ei datgarboneiddio. Nid ym ni wedi gweld y freuddwyd
yna wedi’i gwireddu ac nid ym ni wedi gweld nemor ddim yn symud ymlaen yn ystod y blynyddoedd
diwethaf i ddatblygu potensial hydrogen. Rym ni newydd fod yn trafod, drwy’r bore yma,
datgarboneiddio economi Cymru. Dyma dechnoleg a ddyfeisiwyd yng Nghymru, lle mae yna ymchwil,
ar hyn o bryd, yn digwydd ym Maglan a llefydd tebyg, lle mae yna gyfle euraidd i Lywodraeth
Cymru nid yn unig i arwain yng Nghymru, ond i arwain yn rhyngwladol. A wnewch chi fanteisio
ar y cyfle yma i fod, fel y dywedoch chi wrth Leanne Wood, yn bold and brave?
Carwyn Jones AM: Mi ydym ni. Mae yna grwp cyfeirio wedi cael ei sefydlu er mwyn arwain
y ffordd rym ni’n meddwl ynglyn ‚ hydrogen yn y pen draw. Rym ni wedi bod yn sicrhau
bod yna adnoddau ar gael er mwyn dangos fel y bydd y dechnoleg yn gweithio. Mi wnaethom
ni gomisiynu astudiaeth i edrych ar gyfleoedd hydrogen yn Rhondda Cynon Taf ddwy flynedd
yn Ùl ac mae argymhellion yr adroddiad hwnnw yn cael eu ystyried ar hyn o bryd er mwyn
gweld sut y byddan nhw’n gweithio. Rym ni’n helpu Cyngor Sir Fynwy, er enghraifft, i edrych
ar gyfleon i adeiladu ar Riversimple, sef cais sy’n cymryd lle yn eu hardal nhw ynglyn
ag edrych ar danwydd cynaliadwy, a hefyd, wrth gwrs, gweld fel y bydd hynny’n digwydd.
Mae £2 miliwn wedi cael ei roi i Riversimple. Mae hynny’n dangos, wrth gwrs, ein cefnogaeth
ni o ran cefnogi’r economi carbon isel lleol. Ac, wrth gwrs, rym ni hefyd yn gweithio gyda
Chyngor Sir Penfro a phorthladd Aberdaugleddau er mwyn datblygu ardal sero-garbon yn ardal
Aberdaugleddau. So, mae sawl peth wedi cael eu cefnogi lan at nawr ac, wrth gwrs, mae
llawer o botensial ar gael gyda’r gwaith ymchwil hefyd. Mae rhaglen SÍr Cymru yn cyllido gwaith
ymchwil ym Mhrifysgol Abertawe ynglyn ‚ thanwydd hydrogen ar gyfer cerbydau ac mae Prifysgol
Caerdydd hefyd yn edrych ar waith ymchwil ynglyn ‚ thechnoleg i greu hydrogen gwyrdd
yn y pen draw. Nick Ramsay AM: First Minister, there have
been concerns expressed from some quarters that we may be putting all our eggs in the
electric basket and the electrification basket in terms of rail and cars at the very point
when some countries are moving fast towards a hydrogen economy. I suspect that, over the
medium term, it will be a mixture of both that will provide the carbon reductions that
we need. Will you undertake that you will look, in the first instance, for exploring
the potential for hydrogen fuel on freight, railways and buses? I think it was Simon Thomas
who mentioned the M4 as a potential hydrogen highway. And looking beyond that, clearly,
we are moving down the line of electric vehicles at the moment. There were all sorts of issues
with providing electric charging points in the early days of electric cars, and there
are still some issues there. In the future, hydrogen cars might be much more of a reality.
Have you done any provisional work in terms of developing our highways, developing the
infrastructure for a potential hydrogen future, not just in the case of trains and buses,
but also in the case of cars as well? Carwyn Jones AM: If I remember rightly, the
hydrogen fuel cell was invented in Wales. So, in some ways, we’ve stolen the march there
and we must make sure that we continue to be at the forefront of this technology. We
did look at the option of hydrogen technology with the train bidders during the procurement
process. That wasn’t something that we could take forward at this stage, but we’ll continue
to look at how the network can innovate in the future. If we look, for example, at the
research I made reference to earlier onóthe research work at Swansea University and Cardiff
Universityólooking at how we can develop hydrogen in the future as well, it’s hugely
important for us to be ahead of the game in Wales in terms of the scientific research.
I think there are great opportunities there, in the future, in terms of developing hydrogen
as a fuel, and he will be aware, of course, of Riversimple, the trial that took place
in Monmouthshire. Again, it’s a question of supporting the research and supporting the
trials to move the technology forward, and we’ll continue to do that.
Neil McEvoy AM: 5. A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog roi’r wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am weithredu cynlluniau
datblygu lleol yng Nghanol De Cymru? OAQ52430 Carwyn Jones AM: There’s complete coverage
of local development plans in the South Wales Central region. The implementation, of course,
of local development plans is the responsibility of each respective local planning authority.
Neil McEvoy AM: Diolch. I didn’t really expect a proper answer, so I’m going to give you
an update on the LDP in Cardiff on behalf of residents, because your local development
plan is bringing absolute chaos. Traffic jams already go on for miles, and yet there will
be over 10,000 extra cars on those roads that are already rammed. There’s no new infrastructure
in place, no new public transport, and communities will be suffocated with dirty and polluted
air. GP surgeries are about to have thousands of extra patients when they are already at
breaking point. New places will not be provided in doctors’ surgeries or hospitals until 3,000
houses are built. You denied announcing that all this would take place. Your councillors
stood in green fields pledging to protect them; those very same green fields are now
full of bulldozers. Do you accept that you and your party have a very strange relationship
with the truth? Carwyn Jones AM: I’m sorry; I don’t know what
the allegation was there, Llywydd. I’d like a ruling, please.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Well, if you fail to understand the allegation, you can’t answer
the question. Thank you. Andrew R.T. Davies. Andrew RT Davies AM: First Minister, in relation
to LDPs, it is really important that, obviously, local people’s voices are heard in the process.
There does appear in the current system to be a disconnect with the ability for local
people to feel they’re having an influence in the development of LDPs. I appreciate that
that’s a responsibility for local authorities, but ultimately the Welsh Government signs
those LDPs off. Where do you think real improvements can be made in the process so that local communities
do not feel that they are excluded from the development of plans that are supposed to
govern the development of their own communities? Carwyn Jones AM: I think what’s key is that
people are involved in the LDP development process at the start. He will know, I’m sureóand
I’ve had the same experienceóthat people will object to a planning application when,
in fact, the land has already been allocated in a development plan for a particular purpose,
at which point, of course, it’s too late in the day to bring forward the objections that
they would want. So, I would expect local authorities to be fully engaged with the local
community in the development of a local development plan.
It is hugely important now that we move on to strategic development plans. One of the
issues that is correct in Cardiff is that Cardiff is a popular place to live. There
is a need for more housing, otherwise house prices will go up to a point where people
will be forced out of the city in order to live. There are real challenges in terms of
infrastructureóthat much is trueówhich is why it’s hugely important that in the south-east
of our country we see the development of a strategic development plan that looks at a
much larger area, rather than thinking that local authorities can only look at their own
areas when it comes to setting out a development plan. That’s not how the economy worksówe
know thatóand that’s where the next stage of planning must go.
Hefin David AM: I agree with the First Minister; I think strategic development plans are the
answer. I’d go further to say that LDPs fail to deliver within their boundaries in areas
like South Wales Central, and those authorities that stand against them then find themselves
victim to speculative planning applications, where chief inspectors overturn democratically
elected councillors on appeal, which is why I would praise the Welsh Government for its
proposal to temporarily disapply paragraph 6.2 of technical advice note 1, the advice
note to planning inspectors, relating to the provision of the weighting of a five-year
housing land supply. I’ve written my own response to the consultation supporting it. However,
I was disappointed to receive a letter recently from the Home Builders Federation, which went
to other Assembly Members, opposing the Welsh Government’s plans. I feel that the Home Builders
Federation are far too keen to support the cartel of large house builders, and the planning
system is stacked in their favour. They deliver barely any affordable housing. I think the
Home Builders Federation need to rethink their position. Would the First Minister agree that
we need to look at how we develop small and medium-sized house builders, who have far
more of a focus on their local communities than the needs of the market? Will he stand
firm against lobbying groups who have vested interests?
Carwyn Jones AM: It’s hugely important that we have a planning system that works as effectively
as it can. He’s right to report that a consultation has taken place on the disapplication of paragraph
6.2 of TAN 1. We’re considering the evidence on that now. But there is here a responsibility
on local authorities as well, because it is important that local authorities agree governance
arrangements to move on rapidly to progress a strategic development plan.
The difficulty is, of course, that local authorities will look at producing a development plan
for their own areas. The reality is that people will live in their area and work somewhere
else. If you look at my own constituency, many thousands of people work in Cardiff and
happen to live in Bridgend. To suggest that, somehow, you can have a development plan in
Bridgend that’s wholly separate to that of the Vale of Glamorgan or Cardiff really doesn’t
work, because in reality it’s one large area. So, it is important nowó. He will know the
pressures, of course, in Caerphilly, as he’s mentioned them many, many times. It is hugely
important now that local authorities do now get together and do decide who is going to
take forward the strategic development plan, in order to make sure that there’s a greater
distribution of people around the area. Otherwise, it’s right to say that most of the development,
I suspect, will fall on Cardiff, it’ll fall on southern Caerphilly, and we need to make
sure that a strategic development plan is in place to make sure that there is not overdevelopment
in some parts of south-east Wales when, in fact, there might be opportunities elsewhere.
Dai Lloyd AM: 6. A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu nifer y derbyniadau o ganlyniad
i glefyd rhwystrol cronig yr ysgyfaint i adrannau damweiniau ac achosion brys rhwng 2016 a 2017?
OAQ52405 Carwyn Jones AM: Nid yw Llywodraeth Cymru
yn casglu data yn rheolaidd ar nifer y derbyniadau i adrannau damweiniau ac achosion brys syín
ymwneud ‚ chlefyd rhwystrol cronig yr ysgyfaint. Fodd bynnag, mae gwybodaeth o gronfa ddata
cyfnodau gofal cleifion Cymru yn dangos y cafwyd 5,044 o dderbyniadau yn 2015 a 4,768
o dderbyniadau yn 2016ógostyngiad, felly, o 5.5%.
Dai Lloyd AM: Diolch am hynny. Fel rydych wedi ei grybwyll, mae’r data yn dangos bod
yna fwy o dderbyniadau i adrannau damweiniau ac achosion brys nag sydd wedi bod yn hanesyddol,
ac mae yna angen clir i sicrhau mynediad at wasanaethau adsefydlu cleifion yr ysgyfaint,
felly, ac hefyd i’w harallgyfeirio nhw a chefnogi cleifion i wneud ymarfer corff. Felly, beth
mwy ydych chi fel Llywodraeth yn mynd i’w wneud i sicrhau bod gan gleifion ar draws
Cymru fynediad at y triniaethau yma er mwyn lleihau’r risg o’u cyflwr yn gwaethygu, ac
arwain at dderbyniadau diangen felly i adrannau damweiniau ac achosion brys?
Carwyn Jones AM: Mae yna lwybr newydd yn cael ei ddatblygu ar hyn o bryd er mwyn helpu pobl
gyda COPD i ystyried gweithgareddau ynglyn ag ymarfer er mwyn eu bod yn gallu rheoli’r
cyflwr maen nhw’n ffeindio’u hunain ynddo. Mae hynny’n meddwl ystyried cyrsiau er mwyn
helpu pobl i gael yr ymarfer sydd ei eisiau arnyn nhw, pobl i’w dysgu nhw sut i ymarfer
hefyd ac, wrth gwrs, eu hybu nhw ynglyn ‚ sicrhau eu bod nhw’n edrych ar ffyrdd newydd i ddelio
gyda’r clwy sydd gyda nhw, yn lle eu bod nhw’n teimlo drwy’r amser bod rhaid iddyn nhw fynd
i’r ysbyty. So, dyna lle rwy’n credu mae’n rhaid i’r gwaith ddigwydd.
Angela Burns AM: Of course, First Minister, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s not just a
new pathway we need, but people with the passion and commitment to deliver it in a really proactive
way. Just recently, I made it my business to go and meet Louise Walby, who was this
year’s Royal College of Nursing nurse of the year, because Louise has in Cwm Taf developed
an excellent programme for dealing with people with COPD. It’s gained a lot of traction within
Cwm Taf, and she’s very keen to, obviously, spread that best message out across all of
Wales, because it is innovative, it is kind to the patient, and it really brings people
on board in a non-hectoring, non-lecturing way. What can you do as a Government to ensure
that these very small green shoots that pop up in the NHS, full of great ideas, do get
that opportunity to grow and to spread that best practice, so that everybody can benefit
from the experience of a nurse such as Louise Walby?
Carwyn Jones AM: What I’ve found over the years is that quite often the best ideas come
from an individualóan individual who might observe what’s happening in their local area,
shape that observation into a practical example that can help people. It’s hugely important
that that practice is able to spread. I would expect health boards to look at innovative
practices elsewhere in Wales. I will, however, ask the health secretary as well to write
to you with his ideas as to how this might be taken forward.
Mick Antoniw AM: 7. A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am strategaeth Llywodraeth Cymru
i fynd i’r afael ‚ gamblo cymhellol? OAQ52418 Carwyn Jones AM: A cross-Government group
has been established to develop a strategic approach to reducing gambling-related harm
across Wales. The group is currently considering the recommendations from the chief medical
officerís latest annual report and will co-ordinate existing action and identify new activity
that might be required. Mick Antoniw AM: Thank you for that answer,
First Minister. You will recall the number of debates we’ve had in this Chamber over
the issue of fixed-odds betting terminals and, of course, the UK Government gave a commitment
that they would now take measures to reduce betting on these to a maximum of £2 per bet.
It now appears that it may be at least two years before any such legislation is forthcoming.
We do have some powers within this, although not as extensive, but it does seem to me that
this would be an appropriate time now for Wales to take a lead and to introduce legislation
at least to use the powers we do have to minimise the amount of fixed-odds betting terminal
bets that can be placed, under powers in the Wales Act 2017 now, rather than wait for legislation
that will take several years to arrive or may not even arrive at all.
Carwyn Jones AM: The Member’s right. The difficulty, of course, is finding time for legislation
in what is a packed legislative programme. That’s not to mean we do nothing, of course,
and it’s important that we know that there are other tools available to us in order to
reduce problem gambling. I can assure the Member that the Chief Medical Officer for
Wales has made several recommendations in his annual report and the cross-Government
group is currently considering them, certainly as a first step to dealing with problem gambling
and we’re keen to work with the CMO in order to address the problem.
Darren Millar AM: First Minister, public health enemies like problem gambling are things that
we have the opportunity to tackle here in Wales through the education system. There
were some startling statistics at the Beat the Odds conference last week that 80 per
cent of children have seen gambling adverts on tv, 70 per cent of children have seen gambling
adverts on social media and two thirds have seen gambling adverts on other websites. Now,
whilst I appreciate we don’t have the opportunity to deal with adverts per se, we do have an
opportunity through the education system to educate our young people about problem gambling
and the harm that it can cause to them and wider society. So, what action is the Welsh
Government taking through the new curriculum and other opportunities that might be presented
to tackle this problem as a public health enemy?
Carwyn Jones AM: Well, I was explaining to my children last week that there was a time
when cigars and tobacco were freely advertised on television, which they couldn’t quite understand,
but they were. Gambling was more tightly regulated. It’s gone the other way, that’s the problem.
There is scarcely a time when somebody can watch a sporting occasion without there being
some offer to make a bet halfway through the gameónext scorer, you know. Even something
I saw in the papers a few days ago where it would be a free bet if England won against
Panamaóa lot of losers there, I suspect. But the serious point is this: this has happened
since the Gambling Act in 2005, and I regret that happened under the watch of my own party.
I think that was the wrong decision to take because what we have seen is the proliferation
of gambling adverts that make it appear that a bit of gambling is okay, basically, and
then that’s where the problems arise. What can we do in the educations system, because
we don’t control, obviously, the advertising industry? Well, health and emotional well-being
is a theme of the personal and social education framework, which forms part of the current
curriculum framework, that does give schools the chance to pick up issues such as problem
gambling. Financial education will be a key element within the new curriculumósomething
that the Member Bethan Sayed has championedóand that will offer robust provision to help learners
develop their financial skills, including the management of money. I can say that pioneer
schools are working with some of the key organisations to develop new areas of learning as well.
So, yes, we can address it through the education system and we are doing that. It’s going to
take more than that in terms of the advertising industry, though.
Jenny Rathbone AM: I’m delighted to hear, First Minister, that you’re aware of the huge
dangers there are in linking gambling to sport. You can support your team without having to
place a bet, but obviously children have been pushed this idea that the one goes with the
other. What is the possibility of introducing legislation
to change the planning criteria for betting shops so that they have a specific category,
and that means that we can firmly control the number of new betting shops and ensure
that other businesses closing down don’t then get made into betting shops?
Carwyn Jones AM: I’ll ask the Secretary to write to you on that. It is right to say that
we don’t want to see a proliferation of betting shops, but that’s part of the problem. Online
gamblingóit’s never been easier to gamble. There was a time when you physically had to
walk into a betting shop in order to do it. Most people didn’t do that. There were some
people for whom it was a lifestyle choice, but it didn’t happen to most people. Now,
of course, because it’s so easy to gambleó. For example, just to give some figures to
Members here, there were 152,000 adverts in 2006 relating to gambling; in 2012óand I
suspect the figure’s gone up since thenóthere were 1.39 million. Well, that kind of barrage
of information is bound to have an effect to encourage people who otherwise wouldn’t
have gone into a betting shop years ago to gamble, to gamble more, and then, of course,
to create problem gambling. If we don’t allow advertising for tobacco and alcohol on tv,
why do we allow the advertising of gambling? I think that’s a question for the UK Government
to resolve. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Diolch i’r Prif Weinidog.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Yr eitem nesaf, felly, yw’r datganiad a chyhoeddiad busnes. Rydw
i’n galw ar arweinydd y ty i wneud ei datganiadóJulie James.
Julie James AM: Diolch, Llywydd. There are several changes to this week’s business. The
Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport will make oral statements today on the Swansea
bay tidal lagoon and the recent Airbus Group announcement. As a result, the statement by
the Cabinet Secretary for Education on initial teacher education will issue as a written
statement. And, finally, Llywydd, the Business Committee agreed to schedule an additional
debate tomorrow afternoon on a no named day motion tabled by Plaid Cymru. Otherwise, business
for the next three weeks is as shown on the business statement and announcement found
amongst the meeting papers available to Members electronically.
Andrew RT Davies AM: Leader of the house, can I raise two issues with you, if possible,
please? I was grateful for the clarity that the First Minister showed in the questions
that I put to him in First Minister’s questions, but I’d be most grateful if the health Secretary
could bring forward a statement about opiate use within the Welsh NHS and the guidance
that is out there. Some of the stories that have come out and the report that has come
out last week do raise genuine and serious concerns in patients’ and clinicians’ minds,
and it would be most helpful if a statement about opiate use as pain relief, especially
in the palliative sector, could be made available by the health Secretary for Members and the
wider public to be able to see. And, secondly, you did say last week, when
I raised the question with you about the Permanent Secretary and her engagement with us around
issues in the QC-led inquiry, that you would make representations to the Permanent Secretary.
As we haven’t heard anything, I was wondering whether you are in a position to update us
as to any information that might be forthcoming, as I believe, to date, I haven’t seen that
information come available. Julie James AM: Yes, on the first one, the
Cabinet Secretary’s indicating that he’s more than happy to update Members by way of a written
statement on the situation there. And on the second, unfortunately, my meeting with the
Permanent Secretary wasn’t able to go ahead last week due to issues with my diary, but
as soon as I do see her, which I hope will be this week, I will be bringing that to her
attention. Simon Thomas AM: First of all, can I thank
the leader of the house for accommodating the no named debate tomorrow? I think it’s
very important that the Assembly has an opportunity to debate not only that we have a statement
on the tidal lagoon today, but actually to debate the political circumstances that led
to this decision. Obviously, Plaid Cymru feels, in our motion, that we no longer have confidence
in the Secretary of State for Wales or, indeed, in the post, really, and the way that post
is being used, rather than as a bridge between here and Westminster to achieve Welsh ambitions,
as an obstacle and a gate between our ambitions and Westminster’s. So, I think the vote tomorrow
will be very important. I understand it’s open to amendment today. I’m sure the Government
won’t agree with every approach that we’ve taken in this, but I hope very much you won’t
defang the motion tomorrow and that we do send a very strong message to the Secretary
of State about his relationship to this place as a Parliament, but also the way he acts
on our behalf in London. I think it’s our duty to send that message following the events
that we’ll discuss more this afternoon. Thank you again for tabling a statement on the tidal
lagoon so we can have a future debate. Can I ask just a couple of specific things
about how the Government might address business over the next few weeks? First of all, I understand
the EU withdrawal Bill has become an Act today, and John Bercow, as the Speaker of the House
of Commons, has noted the Queen’s assent to the Bill. So, now that we have an EU withdrawal
Act, and I take it, unless you will tell me differently, that the inter-governmental agreement
that you have agreed with the Westminster Government will come into operation, you will
therefore be seeking to repeal the Law Derived from the European Union (Wales) Act 2018,
which is also an Act, of course. So, we have two Acts now that are not necessarily compatible
with each other, or, at least, they’re not compatible with the inter-governmental agreement.
Can you set out for us what the process is by which this will happen? How will a Bill
be withdrawn? We haven’t done this before. So, how do we withdraw a Bill that has become
an Act, actually? What consultation will there be? How will that happen? What will the debatesó?
What do you foresee, as the leader of the house, will be the role that this Parliament
will play in that? How will we ensure the widest possible discussion around that? Clearly,
you’ve made that commitment as an inter-governmental agreement, but some of us will have different
views on that, and we’ll be keen that the proper processes are followed and we have
our say on it. So, I’d very much appreciate if you set out how you intend to ensure that,
in your view, that Act now is withdrawn. The second thing that I’d like to briefly
raise with youówhich has already been discussed but this specific aspect has notóis the gambling
issue. We have, and many of us welcomed, the £2 limit on the fixed-odds terminals. We
were very disappointed to understand that that was now going to be extended to at least
2020. So, the Westminster Government are doing nothing for at least two years on this. We
have very strong recommendations from our chief medical officer. We have a pledge signed
by Members of all parties, a cross-party pledge on a cross-party group here to take action
on this. It would be interesting to know whether the Government does have any legislative intentionóor
regulatory intentionóto use the limited but still important powers you do now have to
deal with the plague of fixed-term terminals. By delaying for just two years, it’s estimated
the betting shops will rake in £4 billion. That’s the size of this business now, and
the untold misery of those who get addicted to such heavy gambling is plain to see and
has been demonstrated last week in the conference at the Pierhead. So, what is the Government
likely to do, and what action are we likely to see on gambling?
Julie James AM: Well, in the time-honoured tradition, Llywydd, of tackling the issues
in reverse, on the gambling one, the Cabinet Secretary for health and I also wrote to the
Advertising Standards Authority about this. The fixed-odds betting terminalsóI can never
say that rightóare absolutely a scourge, and, of course, attack some of the most vulnerable
members of our society. The First Minister just answered some questions around that.
I think there is cross-Government concern about this. There’s a massive, massive issue
with online advertising, and although the Advertising Standards Authority has set out
that it attacks adverts specifically aimed at children, nevertheless, if you are an online
gamer, you will see those adverts all the time. I see them constantly. So, we are very
concerned about that, and, Llywydd, I will make sure that we bring forward a statement
of some description setting out what can be done in the context of the First Minister’s
answer to the question earlier, as I think it’s a matter of some considerable concern
and the delay is very concerning. In terms of the EU Act, I admire Simon Thomas’s
invitation for me to set out all of the ins and outs of that, but, Llywydd, I won’t try
your patience by attempting to do so right now. The Counsel General has a statement very
shortly that will afford Members the opportunity to question him closely on the exact legislative
position. I think that’s the appropriate place to take that up.
In terms of the tidal lagoon, we have got a statement this afternoon, and, Llywydd,
I don’t think I’ve made any secret of the fact that I don’t think the Secretary of State
has covered himself in any glory at all in terms of him standing up for Wales in investment
decisions in the UK Government. We will amend it because there are some constitutional issues,
but I think the sentiment is entirely shared. Julie Morgan AM: I know the leader of the
house knows what an incredible occasion it was here in the Senedd last Friday, when we
celebrated the Windrush generation, and how deeply moving it was to hear about the contribution
of all those people who came to the Senedd. And, obviously, it’s 70 years since the Windrush
came to the UK, and it was particularly moving, I think, to hear from the elders and to hear
about their contribution. I think the point was actually made at the meeting: why didn’t
we celebrate 50 years? Why didn’t we celebrate 60 years? I think we all know why we’re celebrating
70 years. So, I wondered if we could have a statement about anything that the Welsh
Government could do to recognise the achievements of the elder Windrush generation.
Julie James AM: Yes, it was a truly moving experience, and actually, when I came to speak,
Llywydd, I was actually a little bit choked because I followed on from the speech of one
of the elders outlining their contribution. It was highly emotional, and I think we were
all very touched by some of the personal stories. I’m very grateful to Joyce WatsonóI think
she’s not in the Chamber at the momentóshe came down to the Saturday event in Swansea
where some of the elders had a little more time to elaborate on some of their stories,
which was also very moving. I will discuss with Cabinet colleagues who
have an interest in this about some of the things we’re doing. We are being a platinum
sponsor for Black History Month this year to make sure that we get some of the oral
histories put, and I’m exploring ways of making sure that the elders can visit Tilbury docks,
because there was an issue about whether some of them would be able to. I think one of the
elders was very forceful in saying that it was the least we could do to recognise their
contribution to Welsh society to ensure that they had their chance to contribute in a way
that they saw fit. So, I am exploring and actively ensuring that that trip can happen.
My colleague Vaughan Gething said something very memorable on the occasion, actually,
as well, which is to remember that we have a long way to go. You only have to look around
this Chamber, Llywydd, to see what a long way we have to go in achieving diversity.
One of the things he said, which I’m very keen on taking up with him and others, is
to ensure that we have the right laddersóthe mentoring schemes and the pathway schemesóto
make sure that young people from every part of Welsh society come forward and take their
rightful place, building on the incredible work that the Windrush generation and other
elders took forward in circumstances that were both uplifting but also shameful in some
regard. Mohammad Asghar (Oscar) AM: Leader of the
house, may I ask for a statement from the Cabinet Secretary for health on the availability
of multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging scans to detect prostrate cancer in Wales?
According to a report by Prostrate Cancer Wales, detection in Wales is lagging behind
England, where 92 per cent were provided with a scan before biopsy. In Wales, only three
out of seven health boards provide the scan, which can put prostrate cancer diagnosis time
from weeks to a matter of days. I know the Welsh Government has said that the use of
mpMRI scans is under review, but could we have a statement from the Cabinet Secretary
indicating the timescale for this review, which could have a dramatic effect on prostrate
cancer survival rates in Wales? Julie James AM: The Cabinet Secretary has
indicated to me that he is very happy to write to Members and update them on the timescales.
Dai Lloyd AM: Leader of the house, notwithstanding the unbridled fury that people in Swansea
feel about the tidal lagoon decision yesterdayóbut more of that later, plainlyóa different issue:
you’ll be fully aware that transport solutions are desperately needed in the Swansea bay
area. The level of congestion and accident rates on the M4 around Swansea and Port Talbot
are not helping us to attract companies to south-west WalesóI’ve raised this before
with youóand are a clear source of frustration locally. Indeed, only this morning we had
yet another multivehicle M4 accident, which caused traffic chaos on roads around Swansea.
Clearly, the Swansea bay and western Valleys metro has the potential to transform travel
locally and help to develop alternatives to road travel in the region. However, I do not
hear much in terms of progress on this front. In my attempts to engage with Swansea council,
which is the lead authority in the region in developing the strategic outline business
case for this metro, I understand that the project structures, work streams and engagement
strategy have yet to be agreed by the different authorities within the region. People locally
are crying out for a proper public transport system, so we need to up the pace.
Given the strategic importance of south-west Wales in transport terms, would the Cabinet
Secretary for transport therefore be prepared to bring forward a statement on this issue,
outlining clearly the key outcomes that he expects, the extent of the joint working between
the local authorities and Welsh Government, and key timescales? Diolch yn fawr.
Julie James AM: Llywydd, I would just like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families
of the people who were killed, unfortunately, in the fatal crash on the M4 very recently.
Heartbreaking storiesówe all know how awful such a thing can be. The Cabinet Secretary
is indicating to me that there’s good progress, and he’s happy to update Members by way of
a letter. Jack Sargeant AM: Leader of the house, I’m
sure you’re well aware by now that MPs last night voted in favour of plans to build a
third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport. I remain in favour of this project and I’m
very pleased with yesterday’s outcome, especially because of the regional benefits, the benefits
to Alyn and Deeside as a border constituency, and the wider benefits to Wales as well, to
lead better connections from Wales to the rest of the globe, to improve tourism and
to give more opportunities for Welsh businesses to reach new exports markets.
Analysis shows that an expanded Heathrow will add up to 8,400 more jobs, and a significant
increase in economic growth to Wales. I was delighted to recently attend a meeting where
we discussed Tata Shotton’s bid to be named as one of Heathrow’s final four logistic hubs.
And these hubs will ensure that communities across the UK share in the opportunities of
the overall expansion. With all that in mind, leader of the house,
I would like to know if we could get a Welsh Government update on what’s being done to
secure these benefits that we know expansion will bring across Wales, including the location
of the expansion hub in my constituency. Julie James AM: Jack Sargeant highlights a
very important point. There is an ongoing piece of work to champion shortlisted Welsh
sites for the Heathrow logistics hub, which will, of course, as he highlights, provide
hundreds of jobs in Wales and inject millions of pounds into our economyómuch needed in
the light of the various decisions not to invest in Wales made by the current UK Government.
Of course, we also have a long-awaited scheme to provide western rail access into Heathrow
Airport, which is crucial to ensure Wales gets the maximum benefit. And this is an issue
we also continue to lobby the UK Government on. We’re continuing to press for the new
runway to have sufficient landing slots for flights to and from Wales, in order to increase
our connectivity, and the Member makes a very good point about us lobbying on behalf of
Welsh sites for the logistics hub, which I’m sure the Cabinet Secretary has taken on board.
Bethan Sayed AM: I last week met with Docs Not Cops, and I know that you’ve met with
them, as has Mike Hedges. This issue was raised in Plenary a few weeks ago with regard to
seeking a statement on the Welsh Government’s position in relation to the Immigration Act
2014. You did respond, but you responded in relation to the current policy in relation
to asylum seekers. So, I want to try and understand: anyone from outside Europe who is lawfully
applying to work or study here will be forced to pay an extra NHS surcharge of up to £200
per year before they’re given a visa or charging rules that used to apply only to secondary
care will now be extended into primary care, GPs and other accident and emergency departments.
ABMU have said that patients not ordinarily resident in the UK are potentially liable
to pay. So, I don’t think that this issue has entirely been rectified yet. I know that
this is a UK piece of legislation, but we could choose, here in Wales, not to implement
elements of the Immigration Act that will penalise people. You will have to start racially
profiling, I’m afraid, if they do enter the health service. So, I’m wondering if you can
give us an update as to telling us distinctly what you’re going to do on this particular
policy. Julie James AM: Yes. The Cabinet Secretary
is indicating that there are some serious complexities and he’s indicating his willingness
to write to Members and set out exactly what the position is as to powers to implement
or not, and what effect that will have in Wales.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Diolch i arweinydd y ty.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Yr eitem nesaf oedd y datganiad gan Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros
Addysg ar addysg gychwynnol i athrawon, ac mae hwn, bellach, wedi ei gyflwyno fel datganiad
ysgrifenedig. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Felly, yr eitem nesaf
fydd y datganiad gan Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros yr Economi a Thrafnidiaeth ar forlyn
llanw bae Abertawe. Rwy’n galw ar Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet i wneud ei ddatganiad. Ken Skates.
Ken Skates AM: Diolch, Llywydd. Yesterday, a statement was made in the House of Commons
by the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark,
on the proposed Swansea bay tidal lagoon project. The UK Government made it clear that,
‘it would be irresponsible to enter into a contract with the provider’
as the ‘proposal has not demonstrated that it could
be value for money’. The UK Government has concluded that the project
should not be provided with public funding. This decision by the UK Government not to
support the Swansea bay tidal lagoon is deeply disappointing and a further blow to Swansea
following on from the UK Governmentís decision not to electrify the Great Western main line
to Swansea. Despite our serious offer to help the UK Government make this proposal work,
they are letting an important opportunity slip through their fingers. In doing so, they
have badly let down the people of Wales. This announcement demonstrates that the UK
Government has, once again, made energy policy decisions for Wales based upon English energy
priorities rather than reflecting the opportunities here in Wales. We have significant sustainable
energy resources in Wales, not available in England, that we must harness if we are to
meet our decarbonisation targets as part of our wider UK obligations. The UK Government
has failed to recognise that the Welsh energy mix will be different to that in England.
We have called for the UK Government to respond to the Hendry review of tidal lagoons on many
occasions. Even now they have failed to give an adequate response to the important recommendations
that he has made. The Welsh Government is clear: the decision whether or not to back
tidal lagoons is a UK policy decision. They have the ability and the financial backing
to shoulder risk in areas of new and emerging technology that other smaller Governments
across the UK simply do not. From day one, the Welsh Government recognised
the transformational potential of the Swansea bay tidal lagoon project and we made an offer
of significant funding support to the UK Government to help make the project a reality. Sadly,
the UK Governmentís short-sightedness and complete lack of ambition has thwarted this
projectóa project that could have positioned Wales and the UK as a world leader in a new
global industry. We have consistently stated that the Welsh Government stands ready to
work closely with the UK Government and other administrations across the UK to develop a
vibrant UK marine energy industry. We are in no doubt as to the potential that
marine energy represents to Wales, not only from a decarbonisation and energy policy perspective,
but also from a social and economic benefit perspective, too. Indeed, marine energy offers
huge potential to the UK as a whole in terms of developing know-how, technology and supply
chain developments, which would be of value to future international trade.
We have held this view for many years and this is why we have prioritised the growth
of a vibrant energy industry as a key tool for economic development. Wales has an excellent
track record in supporting marine energy. Over Ä100 million of EU funding, along with
domestic support, has been and continues to be invested through the Welsh Government to
support wave and tidal stream projects. EU funding is supporting the Morlais west Anglesey
tidal stream demonstration zone, the south Pembrokeshire wave demonstration zone, as
well as wave and tidal stream developers. We also supported Marine Energy Wales who
are developing a marine energy test area in the Milford Haven waterway. Pembrokeshire
and Anglesey are becoming hubs for wave and tidal stream development, but further development
will be dependent on revenue support from the UK Government.
Marine developers, who have ambitious plans to deploy their devices in Welsh waters, will
view this announcement as the UK Government, sadly, closing the door on the industry. Some
are already considering scaling back their plans in Wales. I therefore call on the UK
Government to rethink their long-term support for the marine industry.
My colleague the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs will be writing
to business and energy Secretary, Greg Clark, to stress the importance of supporting the
renewable energy sector in Wales. We’ve already stressed the importance of funding the most
affordable technologies, such as onshore wind, to keep the overall costs of support low.
The Welsh Government has a long-standing commitment to the renewable sector and we’ll be seeking
the views of the industry and respective bodies through an energy summit to better understand
how momentum, particularly in the area of marine energy, is maintained over the coming
months and years. In light of this disappointing decision, we
are working closely with leaders in the region to better assess the wider economic implications
and to consider what action can reasonably be taken. I’ve already held discussions with
the leader of Swansea council about other projects that can support economic development
in the area, and I’ll be having further such discussions with leaders in the area over
the coming months. My colleagues and I will keep Members appraised
of progress on this and will also be pressing UK Ministers on the outcomes.
Andrew RT Davies AM: I welcome the opportunity to respond to this statement. I wish it was
a different type of statement, a statement welcoming the good news that we should have
got from Westminster yesterday. I make no bones about it: I believe a positive decision
was what was required yesterday, and I lobbied right up until the last minute to try and
achieve that positive decision. Regrettably, it did not come through, and I commend everyone,
from the Welsh Government right the way across the political divide in this Chamber, and
those in civic society and in the business world, who championed the cause of the Swansea
tidal lagoon. I bitterly regret that a more positive decision was not made yesterday,
albeit, it is fair to say, that the numbers were always challenging if you looked at it
on the economics of just the raw power that was generated.
And that, Cabinet Secretary, would be my first question to you. The UK Government have arrived
at this decision based on their analysis of the information before them. The Secretary
of State, in his statement yesterday, highlighted how Welsh Government have had at least 10
meetings with his department in this calendar year. Can you confirm that your officials
have arrived at the same decision that officials within Greg Clark’s department arrived at,
or if there is evidence to prove that that decision was incorrect, based on the same
paperwork that the officials from the two Governments were looking at, will you make
that information available so that, obviously, we can have the fullest account of how the
decision-making process arrived at the conclusion that it arrived at?
I’d also like to understand how the Welsh Government will be taking forward new opportunities.
Obviously, the Secretary of State, in his statement yesterday, highlighted how the UK
Government are in possession of alternative offers, alternative bidsóI hope I’ve categorised
it correctly, but certainly alternative proposals were definitely something that was put before
the House of Commons yesterday in the statement. It would be beneficial to understand what
role the Welsh Government will be playing to engage with those potential alternative
offers that the Secretary of State identified in his statement yesterday.
What, for me, is really important here now is that, obviously, we assess where we can
go from the position we find ourselves in today, which I say, quite openly, is not a
position I would want us to be in, full stop. I wanted us to be in a position today of welcoming
the Swansea tidal lagoon. I pay tribute, as I said, to all Members who have worked tirelessly
on this. But it is a fact that we are in an era now where we need to assess how we can
promote some of the most positive energy opportunities that exist around the whole coast of Wales.
Since I’ve been in this Chamber, there have been two proposalsóone of the Severn barrage
and now the Swansea tidal lagoonóand neither one has come through. But what we do know
is that raw asset does exist on our coastline and it does need to be tapped into and developed.
I would also ask the Cabinet Secretary, given that, listening to his statement today, I
could have closed my eyes and heard the same argument coming from the opposition benches
when he announced the Circuit of Wales proposals that were put before the Welsh Government,
about supporting that particular project, where, in his opinion, obviously, that project
was unaffordable and didn’t stack up to the test that the Welsh Government had laid down.
Now, being in the position to make these decisions, obviously the Cabinet Secretary would understand
the process that is involved, and the process that was outlined by the UK Government yesterday
seemed very familiar to the process that the Welsh Government was outlining in its decision
when it came to the Circuit of Wales. So, I’d be grateful to understand how the Welsh
Government will in future work to deliver major infrastructure projects, not just in
energy but other major infrastructure projects, the length and breadth of Wales that can give
developers confidence to look at Wales as an attractive destination.
In closing my remarks, I would just point out that, sadly, the statement only came into
my possession two minutes before I stood up. So, I’m not quite sure what happened this
afternoon. Some Members might not have even had that statement. It is normally a courtesy
that Members do get sight of the statement. I appreciate it’s a courtesy that doesn’t
have to be extended, but it is a courtesy that normally does happen, and I’d hope that
he would look at what the communication problem was with the statement. Thank you.
Ken Skates AM: Can I thank the Member for his questions? I apologise for the lateness
of his receipt of the statement. I, too, received the statement, due to it being redrafted at
very late stages, just a few minutes ago. But I have to say, I’ve been there when tough
decisions have had to be made, and the Member identifies the Circuit of Wales decision as
one primary example of how, in the face of intense public pressure and campaigns for
a project to be given the go-ahead, you have to make sure that you assess it on the grounds
of value for money and the wider benefits that a project can bring. But this project
is distinctly different to the Circuit of Wales. The Circuit of Wales would have been
on balance sheet. It would have required a potential £300 million of Welsh Government
spend be put on hold as a consequence of that adjudication being that it had to be on balance
sheet. The Circuit of Wales was not backed by an independent review by a former energy
Minister. And, let’s just remember, the main point of this project was that it was a pathfinder
project and, as a pathfinder project, you would always expect additional costs to be
incurred. The value-for-money test of a pathfinder project should be very different because of
the opportunity costs that could be incurred in not pressing ahead with a particular project.
In terms of the Member wishing that it could have been a positive decision, I reflect on
possibly what would have happened had David Cameron not called for a referendum on our
membership of the EU. He would likely still be there as Prime Minister, we would not be
facing the catastrophe of failed Brexit negotiations and, in all probability, given his personal
support for this scheme and its inclusion in the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto,
we would have seen a very different decision being reached yesterday. We may well have
also seen a different decision over electrification. And for those reasons, I put responsibility
for the decisions that have been made firmly at the door of Theresa May as Prime Minister
and leader of the Conservative Party in Government in the UK.
Now, in terms of engagement, the developers contest the figures that have been produced.
I received the detailed appraisal today. I’ve asked my officials to carry out a thorough
assessment of it, but, again, as a pathfinder project, costs are always going to be higher.
If we look at the development of onshore and offshore wind, costs were higher 10 years
ago than they are today, and it’s the opportunity costs that we now face having been lost. The
opportunity costs could be substantial indeed if Wales does not become a world leader.
Now, the Member rightly identifies the point that was made in Parliament yesterdayóthe
assurance that the UK Government is in receipt of proposals from what they say are other
promoters of tidal energy schemes. I think we need to know who, and where those schemes
are being promoted and where they would be installed, because we don’t know, as of yet,
whether any of those schemesóI understand that there are perhaps as many as half a dozenóare
based on Swansea bay. We don’t know who the promoters of those schemes are. We don’t know
what the costs will be of seeing those schemes through to completion. So, we await with very,
very great interest the detail of those particular proposals.
I think we also need to make sure that discussions are maintained with city deal partners. I
met yesterday with leaders of the Swansea bay city deal, and it’s absolutely essential
that we look not only at the future of marine energy in Swansea bay, but also at the wider
economic development and regeneration of the region. I’m acutely conscious of the impact
that this decision and the u-turning on electrification has had on the communities of Swansea bay,
and in particular Swansea city itself. Granted, the UK Government will not be to blame for
this, but, in addition, Swansea faced relegation this year from the Premier League. All of
these factors contribute to a negative impact in terms of confidence and self-belief. That
has to be addressed. The Welsh Government will work relentlessly and tirelessly with
the local authority and partners across the Swansea bay city region to find investment
projects that can rebuild the confidence of the people of Swansea and ensure that the
marine energy industry in Swansea bay, and across Wales, has a very strong and positive
future indeed. Dai Lloyd AM: Can I thank the Cabinet Secretary
for his statement, and thank him also for being able to fit it in this afternoon? But
I have to say, as a representative who lives in Swansea, this has been an absolutely devastating
decision. I don’t know if I can do justice to the unbridled fury that people were communicating
with me last night about this decision. Basically, words cannot convey my depth of devastation.
This is a wonderful project. There’s tremendous potential for tidal energy in Swansea bay
and the Bristol channelóthe second largest tidal range in the world. People are always
saying, ‘You haven’t got any resources in Wales’. We have, you know; it’s just we don’t
tap them. This decision is incredible in its foolhardiness, I have to say, denying us releasing
the tremendous potential for tidal energy. As you’ve said, this first pathfinder projectóa
pilot scheme, obviouslyówas not the biggest, and quite a small one, but five far bigger
ones would follow, and Wales would then eventually become completely self-sustaining in energy
terms. That is the renewable future, surely. This comes on the same day as we’ve had a
third runway expansion in Heathrow and obviously, a previous announcement about nuclear energy
receiving more public subsidy. In other words, the idea is already thereópublic subsidy
for large energy projectsóand as the tidal lagoon companies say themselves, yes, there
would be an increase in energy prices on bills for consumers, as Lee Waters pointed out earlier:
30p per year for households, compared to an extra £15 per year for nuclear. That’s the
comparison. Obviously, the tidal lagoon companyólots of us have been meeting with them over the
years. Plaid Cymru first passed a policy of having a tidal lagoon in Swansea bay in our
Swansea conference in 2006. Some of us have been working on this for nearly 15 years with
the company, and it is immensely devastating what’s happening. The company have heard nothing
from the Westminster Government for two years. You’ve got to askóand I would ask you now
to confirmówhat lines of communication have there been? The company says they’ve heard
next to nothing from Government for two years: ‘The lack of engagement with us during this
process has been highly disturbing’. That’s the chair of Tidal Lagoon Power saying
that. We’ve got to understand how we arrived at this decision 18 months after Charles Hendry
and his superb report said it would be a no-regrets decision and a no-brainer. So, all of a sudden
now, 18 months of waiting for a big enough decision to try and bury this bad news, and
then it seeps out after lots of delays, and we’re devastatingly disappointed that innovative,
world-leading technology now looks to have been denied to Wales. I know there’s a feeling
in Westminster sometimes that little Wales couldn’t be a world leader in anything, but
we could have been here, and I want to know from the Cabinet Secretary how he intends
to take this whole agenda forward, because the tides are still there, ebbing and flowing
as we speak, only not being utilised for the benefit of the people of this nation.
It’s the same strike price as Hinkley Pointólike I said, a negligible addition to annual electricity
bills for consumers. We’ve lost electrification to Swansea. Despite electrification being
a live process in railways north of Manchester, it’s somehow obsolete when it comes to Wales,
and the Secretary of State for Wales says we’re better off with diesel, and people say
diesel is adversely affecting our health. Yes, it is adversely affecting our health.
More about the Secretary of State tomorrow no doubt, but two questions to finish. There
was all-party support here which, to be fair, has been reflected. Westminster crushes that
despite all-party agreement here. We really need to take control over our future generally,
but particularly now in energy terms. So, how is the Cabinet Secretary going to move
this agenda forward? Because I have an abiding feeling, after this huge decision, with any
marine energy project in Wales nowóhow is that going to be viewed outside? How is that
going to be viewed? Dead in the water? My other question is: there is a very important
debate tomorrow on a motion of no confidence in the Secretary of State for Wales. Westminster’s
man in Wales, certainly. This decision has crushed us. Will you be supporting that no-confidence
vote? Ken Skates AM: Can I thank the Member for
his contribution, the points that he’s raised, and the obvious fury that he’s relayed from
Swansea bay? I think it was Shakespeare who said something along the lines of ‘could not
wield the words to matter’, and right now I think people are lost for words in expressing
their anger, their frustration, their disappointment with the UK Government for taking a short-sighted
view of marine energy. As I said earlier, what we wanted to see happen
through this pathfinder project was the creation of an entirely new industry that Wales could
lead the world inóan entirely new industry with enormous intellectual property owned
by Welsh-based companies. That would have created jobs and opportunities not just in
Swansea bay, but in the other locations where tidal lagoons were proposed. It could have
led to a huge increase in opportunities in terms of the visitor economy as well. But
all is not lost. We made an offer of £200 million to get this project over the line.
What we intend to do is to host a marine energy summit in Swansea as soon as possible, with
key stakeholders, with leaders in industry, to discuss how we can maintain the momentum
that we’ve built in terms of marine energy in recent years, how we could potentially
utilise the £200 million that we’ve made available for this particular project, how
we can look at other proposalsóhopefully by then we’ll have some detail on the alternativesóhow
we could potentially use those alternative proposals to benefit Swansea bay and, indeed,
the rest of Wales, and how collectively we can build on the Welsh Government investments
to date to ensure that Wales maintains its position as a global leader in terms of marine
energy. Because I fear, Llywydd, that if Welsh Government doesn’t take this action for the
people, with the people, and on behalf of the people of Swansea bay, then we’ll end
up with the French taking ownership of this project and taking a lead globally. It’s a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that could be granted to the French as a consequence
of the UK Government making this decision. So, we will not abandon the sector. Far from
it; we’ll look at how we can build on those projects in south Pembrokeshire, in Milford
Haven and also in Anglesey, and we’ll look at how we can go on building the strength
and the capabilities, the research capabilities, within the sector as well.
I have to say, the Member touched on the crucial point of energy independence and energy security,
which is so important to a vibrant economy. The United States of America managed to secure
energy independence through its course of action on fracking. We in the Welsh Labour
Government have been absolutely committed to securing as great a degree of energy independence
from renewable sources. We remain absolutely committed to that cause and we will explore
every avenue to deliver greater, greener growth in terms of energy production. We’re determined
to ensure that fairer opportunities for economic development are passed right across the regions.
I’m acutely aware of the frustrations that exist in Swansea bay and elsewhere in Wales
in terms of regional inequality. That is the whole point of the new economic action planóto
iron out inequalities across Wales and to make sure that those regions that currently
feel marginalised feel emboldened and empowered to be as strong as they can possibly be, based
on their existing capabilities. And, within the Swansea bay region, we know that one of
the finest strengths that they possess right now concerns marine energy and we will support
that region all the way. Caroline Jones AM: Thank you for your statement,
Cabinet Secretary. I, like all of us in this Chamber, am deeply, deeply disappointed by
the UK Government’s announcement yesterday. Yet again, the UK Government has shown utter
contempt for my region by reneging as well on the promise to deliver electrification
to Swansea and now have scuppered Swansea’s chance to lead the world in innovative renewable
energy. I shouldn’t be surprised by yesterday’s announcement,
because the press seems to have known for months that the tidal lagoon was going to
be rejected. I had hoped that furious negotiations were going on behind the scenes. Cabinet Secretary,
in your discussions with the UK Government and Tidal Lagoon Power, was it at all clear
that the two sides were even talking to each other, or do you believe, as I do, that the
UK Government were merely seeking time to build a case to support their decision to
reject the proposals? Cabinet Secretary, the UK Government shouldn’t
be surprised by the depth of feeling from this Chamberóand not only in this Chamber,
from my constituents as well, and I’ve just been reading e-mails regarding how they feel.
All sides in this Chamber have made it abundantly clear that we have supported this projectóeven
the Governmentís own advisers supported this project, and itís shameful that Theresa May
has ignored all of that support. The UK Government cite costs as the sole reason
for rejecting this bid, claiming offshore wind is much more cost effective. Cabinet
Secretary, in your interactions with the UK Government Ministers, has the significant
investment in offshore wind been discussed? Offshore wind is only cheaper now because
of heavy subsidies in its earlier development. And, finally, Cabinet Secretary, are you aware
of whether or not the UK Government considered energy security when reaching their decision
on the tidal lagoon? The UK is currently at the mercy of geopolitically unstable nations
for much of their energy needs, and the tidal lagoon would help the UK become more self-sufficient.
So, I thank you for your support on this, Cabinet Secretary. You have my party’s support
in fighting this decision by the UK Government. Diolch yn fawr.
Ken Skates AM: Can I thank Caroline Jones for the contribution she’s made today, her
comments and her questions? First of all, with regard to the speculation that has appeared
over many weeks now in the press, it would appear to meóperhaps I’m just becoming more
cynical, but it would appear to me that a decision perhaps was reached some time ago
and that an opportunity was being looked for in order to conceal this decision behind it.
And yesterday, with the vote on Heathrow, does appear to have been a great opportunity
for the UK Government to have buried the Swansea bay tidal lagoon beneath a third runway at
Heathrow. It’s also ironic and tragic that, yesterday,
Welsh Government was able to announce a hugely ambitious world-first proposal for test facilities
for the rail industry here in Wales and, at that same time, the UK Government was turning
down an opportunity to develop a new world-class industry for Walesóincredibly ironic that
these two decisions came on the same day, but tragic also.
As I’ve said, we will not give up on the sector in Wales and the Member is absolutely right
that offshore wind power generation, in its inception, was very expensive, and costs have
been reduced over time as it’s been mainstreamed. In terms of energy security and whether this
was a factor in their decision, as far as I’m aware, it was not. However, as I say,
the detailed appraisal was received just today. I’m going through it currentlyóI’ve asked
officials to analyse it as well. I think what’s important, as we move forward,
is that we continue to engage with the sector, even if the UK Government turns its back on
the sector. It would appear, based on what Tidal Lagoon Power have said, that discussions
broke down some time ago between them and the UK Government, in which case I must come
to the conclusionóit’s the same conclusion that Charles Hendry has reachedóthat, actually,
the UK Government could have said that they weren’t going to support it many, many months
ago and saved the company and saved an entire region the heartache of the decision being
delayed and delayed, and hopes being raised in the intervening time.
Mike Hedges AM: The proposal straddles the boundary of my constituency and that of my
friend and colleague David Rees. I think that Dai Lloyd did mention the anger and the betrayal,
and there’s been a tremendous feeling amongst people of anger and betrayal. I went out last
night and people wanted to come and tell me how angry and betrayed they were. But that
wasn’t what hurtóthe bit that hurt was those who said, ‘Well, we were never going to get
it. We never get anything in Swansea. We’re always left behind’, and this feeling, really,
of a lack of hope. I think that that is the bit that I found most hurtfulóthat people
saw the lack of hope, that we were on the periphery of the Westminster Government’s
radar and we were very much left behind. I think that you’ve got to remember that prototypes
cost moreóthey always cost more. Can I take people back to wind and solar, when they first
came out and they were incredibly expensive? Do you remember those people were saying,
‘Gas is cheaper. Why are you doing this? We could be using gas. There’s plenty of gas
around. We can be using gas turbines; it would save lots of money’? Do you remember that?
Also, can I mention nuclear? Calder Hall, created in 1956óthey’ve had 62 years to bring
down the cost of nuclear and still they have failed, with what we’re paying now for the
electricity that’s going to be generated in Hinkley Point. That is an example of something
that hasn’t come down in price to the level we expected, but we would never have built
Calder Hall if it had been done on a price comparison against coalócoal was a lot cheaper.
In fact, every power station in Britain would be coal, because coal was cheaper than any
other method at the time the new methods came in.
Can I just use two historical examples? Because I know that Suzy Davies did that in her IWA
article, which I pay credit to, but also two that she didn’t use: Stephenson’s RocketóI
can just imagine now these people saying, ‘Rail? I can get faster from Stockton to Darlington
on horseback than I can by rail. What a stupid idea to bring in rail. It’s much cheaper and
quicker on horseback’. And the other one is, of courseólet’s talk about steamboats, because
steamboats were small, weren’t very successful. Sail was so much better. But they developed
the technology and it created steamships, which made the world a much smaller place
in terms of the time it took to move around. I have no doubt that Swansea will have a tidal
lagoon. My concern, and I ask the Cabinet Secretary if he shares it, is that we’ll be
the ninth or tenth in the world to have it, we won’t have the design capacity, we won’t
have developed all the skills in the area; we’ll be buying in the technology like we
do now for solar and like we do now for wind. Wind was mainly developed in Denmark and Germany,
and that’s where the design is, that’s where things are made. Those people who live in
Swansea will know that we’ve had a lot of transport activity taking devices, because
they’ve come in by boat and they’ve been taken because they aren’t ours, built by us. Does
the Cabinet Secretary agree with me again that we’ve lost the chance to be the first
in the world to start creating tidal energy? We will have it, but we’ll be buying in the
technology from abroad, rather than developing it.
Ken Skates AM: Yes, I agree entirely. I talked about the advances that the French have made,
and I am in no doubt that some of the competitors that we faced in this field are cheering the
decision by UK Government. I think Mike Hedges makes a very, very important point that, if
you’re not open to new ideas and new technology, you’re not going to make progress; you’re
not going to maintain your competitiveness. And, recently, the editor-in-chief of The
Economist globally said that the greatest threat the global economy faces right now
is protectionism, and it was part of the presentation that he gave on the new divideóthe new political
divide, the new technological and economic divideóand it can largely be characterised
as the open versus the closed: those who are open to new ideas versus those who are closed
to new ideas, those who are open to technology versus those who are suspicious and closed
to the emergence of new technology, those who are open to outsiders, open to challenge,
versus those who are closed off from challenge and closed to the potential that outsiders
bring as well. And I think this demonstrates most clearly that the UK Government under
the current leadership of Theresa May is most certainly closed, and it’s probably time that
they were closed right down. I do fear that there is a sentiment in Swanseaóa
very, very deep sentimentóof having been left behind. For that reason, the city deal
becomes even more important and must deliver for the people of Swansea bay and must draw
down the resources not just from Welsh Government, but also from UK Government. I’m able to say
to the Member that I’d already agreed to commence a piece of work with the leader of Swansea
council concerning a number of investment projects and regeneration prospects within
Swansea. Of course, we will also be taking forward the work on the metro vision but that,
in all likelihood, given its reliance on rail, will also require a commitment from the current
or future, potentially future Governments for considerable investment in infrastructure,
and we know that there is a very poor record of UK Government spend in terms of rail infrastructure
in Wales, perhaps highlighted best by the cancellation of the electrification of the
main line. In the future, we must see a fair share not
just come to Wales, but a fair share of resource that’s spent in Wales spent fairly in Swansea
bay and other parts of Wales. Simon Thomas AM: Rwy’n cytuno yn llwyr ‚ beth
ddywedodd Mike Hedges yn fanna, ond rwyf eisiau estyn y drafodaeth ychydig. Rydw i’n meddwl
bod y penderfyniad yma gan Llywodraeth San Steffan, a dweud y gwir, yn ein pardduo ni
i gyd fel gwleidyddion. Pan ych chi’n cael datganiad polisi mewn maniffesto y byddwch
chi’n cefnogi morlyn llanw yn Abertawe dim ond tair blynedd yn Ùl, ac ych chi’n torrióyr
un blaid yn torri’r addewid maniffesto ynaópan ych chi mewn sefyllfa i wrthod £1.3 biliwn
ar gyfer datblygiad o bwys yn Abertawe, ond yn derbyn ac yn rhoi £1 biliwn o 12 Aelod
Seneddol yng Ngogledd Iwerddon jest i gadw eich Llywodraeth mewn grym, dyma beth sydd
yn pardduo gwleidyddiaeth. Nid ydw i’n synnu bod pobl felly yn ymateb
drwy ddweud, ‘Wel, nid ydym byth yn cael dim byd o’r system yma’, ac mae yna berig inni
i gyd yn y ffordd mae Llywodraeth San Steffan wedi gwneud y penderfyniad yma, y ffordd maen
nhw wedi estyn y penderfyniad, y ffordd y gwnaethon nhw gomisiynu adroddiad annibynnol
ac wedyn gwrthod yr adroddiad gan eu bod nhw ddim yn hoffi’r canfyddiadau.
Mae’n ein gadael ni mewn picil, rydw i’n meddwl. Rydw i’n gwybod bod yr Ysgrifennydd Cabinet
am weithredu yn gadarnhaol yng Nghymru, ond pa neges mae hwn wedi ei gyrru i’r holl gwmnÔau
sydd yn ymwneud ag ynni o’r mÙr? Rych chi wedi sÙn am rai ohonyn nhw. Rydw i’n ymweld
ag Ynys MÙn fy hun diwedd yr wythnosófe fyddai i’n ymweld ‚ Morlais a SEACAMS. Mae
yna dros £100 miliwn o arian Ewropeaidd ac arian Llywodraeth Cymru wedi mynd tu fewn
i’r sector yma, ac yn awr maen nhw’n gweld fod y Llywodraeth ddim am gefnogi’r sector.
Achos nid yn unig y cynlluniau a’r arbrofion sy’n bwysigómae’n rhaid dod ‚’r cynlluniau
yna i’r lan, ac mae dod ‚ nhw i’r lan yn golygu bod yn rhaid iddyn nhw gael grid connections
a bod yn rhaid iddyn nhw gael contract for difference. Er mwyn troi’r cynlluniau yma
yn ffordd o gynhyrchu ynni go iawn, mae’n rhaid i Llywodraeth San Steffan wneud yr un
penderfyniad yng nghyd-destun y cynlluniau yna ag y maen nhw wedi gwrthod ei wneud yng
nghyd-destun y morlyn llanw. Felly, er fy mod i’n croesawuír ffaith eich
bod chi am gynnal uwchgynhadledd yn Abertawe, roedd uwchgynhadledd ynni’r mÙr yn Abertawe
ond flwyddyn yn Ùl, lle roedd yr holl sector tu Ùl i’r morlyn llanw ac am ei weld e fel
rhywbeth a oedd yn arwydd o gred yn y sector yma. Sut ydych chi’n mynd i adfer cred yn
y sector yma gan fod Llywodraeth San Steffan wedi dweud wrth bob buddsoddwr, bach a mawr,
‘Cerwch i ffwrdd, nid oes diddordeb gyda ni y sector yma bellach; rym ni ond ‚ diddordeb
yn y sector niwclear a’r sector gwynt bant o’r tir mawr’? Mae honno’n neges anodd iawn.
A gaf i ofyn ichi hefyd beth wnewch chi nawr fel Llywodraeth gyda’r £200 miliwn rych chi
wedi’i gynnig i’r cynllun yma? A ydy’r £200 miliwn yna nawr ar gael ar gyfer gwireddu
prosiectau carbon isel o’r math yma yn y mÙr neu efallai ar y tir mawr? Nid oes gen i ddim
gwybodaeth am hyn, ond gan y bydd, mae’n siwr gen i, y cwmni sydd y tu Ùl i’r cynllun yma
yn gorfod rhywsut ddirwyn i ben mewn rhyw ffordd, ac er mwyn osgoi beth roedd Mike Hedges
yn ei danlinellu, sef ein bod ni bellach yn derbyn mewnfuddsoddiad yn hytrach na chreu
a pherchen ar y dechnoleg ei hunan, a oes modd i Lywodraeth Cymru ystyried sut y gallan
nhw fynd mewn i bartneriaethau gyda naill ai’r cwmni presennol, Tidal Lagoon Power,
neu darpar gwmnÔau eraill, i gadw’r wybodaeth yma yng Nghymru, i gadw’r dechnoleg, i gadw’r
arweiniad yma yng Nghymru? A ydy’r £200 miliwn ar gael ar gyfer yr addewid yna? Achos mae’n
ymddangos i mi, er eich bod chi wedi gwrthod syniadau Leanne Wood ynglyn ‚ chwmni ynni
i Gymru, mae gyda chi adnoddau fan hyn i wneud gwahaniaeth ac i ddangos i fuddsoddwyr bod
Cymru ar agor i fusnesau ynni o’r mÙr. Simon Thomas AM: If I can just conclude with
a more political point, except it wasn’t spoken by me, it was spoken by the chief executive
of Tidal Lagoon Power, Mark Shorrock. When this decision was made yesterday, he said
it was a ‘vote of no interest in Wales, no confidence
in British manufacturing and no care for the planet’.
We will have the opportunity tomorrow to show that we have no confidence in this decision
as well. Ken Skates AM: Can I thank Simon Thomas for
his contribution? I think given the points that he made right at the outset of his contribution,
it’s quite clear that the UK Government has become a master of both pork barrel politics
and broken dreams, having invested so much in so few votes within the House of Commons
but letting down so many people in Wales by taking the decision that it has. I think what
it says to industry is not helpful one bit and it also contrasts with what we’re saying
to the sector, which is that we will support you in every and any way that we possibly
can help you. I think we’ve demonstrated that with the investment that has been made and
that I’ve already spoken about. Clearly, it’s not for Welsh Government to
plug UK Government funding gaps. The Welsh Government has neither the power nor the resources
to compensate the UK Government, and Welsh Government isn’t in a position to take the
project forward alone. But, as I highlighted just before, there is the £200 million that
we’d put on offer for this project to get it over the line. I think we’re going to be
pretty open to investment opportunities provided that that funding can be used in a way that
enables it to be drawn down through the particular funding stream that it sits in. I think some
of the discussions that need to take place will happen at that summit that I’ve already
announced, however I’ve asked officialsóand I know this has happened right across Government
todayówe’ve all asked officials to engage with key partners in the sector to ascertain
as soon as possible what the likely implications of the decision are, and means and ways of
us supporting those businesses within the sector to continue to grow.
I’m in no doubt that businesses, business leaders and loyal, decent, skilled workers
within this sector are feeling pretty bruised today. That’s why we’ve asked for immediate
engagement between officials and those people to take place. But, in the months to come,
we will look at every opportunity to take what is a strong sector in Wales to a position
of greatness. That may well be without the assistance of Welsh Government, it may well
be without Tidal Lagoon Power taking forward this particular project, but we are absolutely
determined to grow the industry here in Wales, and in particular in Swansea bay.
John Griffiths AM: It is very difficult to understand, really, how we got from that meeting
here with Charles Hendry some time ago now, where there was such positive cross-party
support for the tidal lagoon in Swansea bay and tidal lagoons further afield in Wales.
In fact, I can remember Charles Hendry saying how struck he was by the strength and depth
of that cross-party support, and yet here we are today with this decision after much
delay. It really does, I think, leave a bitter taste in all of our mouths, considering that
process and the ultimate decision. I know that in Newport, and I know in Cardiff,
there’s a great deal of interest and support for the tidal lagoons that are proposed for
either side of the mouth of the River Usk. From my constituency office, I can see the
amazing rise and fall of the River Usk, which is such a natural phenomenon that strikes
so many people who visit Newport, and, obviously, that applies to the estuary as well. And I
know that very many people are simply amazed, really, that at a time when we’re looking
for renewable energy, and we’re all so clear about the positives of renewable energy, that
wonderful natural phenomenon remains unharnessed and, as yet, there are no projects in the
immediate offing that offer the opportunity to harness that incredible energy on a daily
basis. I know that there will be a great deal of
anger at this decision further afield than Swansea and Swansea bay, and that will extend
to Newport as well. There are people who want to look at the possibilities of going ahead
with those lagoons around the mouth of the River Usk regardless of what happens with
Swansea bay, because some of the economies of scale are different, but obviously Swansea
bay was the pathfinder, as the Cabinet Secretary has mentioned, and it would have looked at
some of the environmental effects and environmental issues. It’s quite difficult, actually, to
perhaps come to a considered judgement on some of those aspects without the actual experience
of having that lagoon in Swansea bay and those aspects monitored and detailed. But I just
wonder, really, Cabinet Secretary, what you can say about the wider picture in Wales,
including those proposals for either side of the mouth of the River Usk in the light
of this decision that has now been taken, because, as you rightly said, it was a wider,
bigger picture. It really should have been considered, the Swansea bay proposal, in terms
of its pathfinder nature and the other lagoons that could have followed off the Welsh coast
and much further afield. Is it your understanding that there was adequate consideration of that
wider picture? If not, is there any mileage in returning to that bigger picture, and even
at this late stage looking at the overall vision and how that should be assessed?
And just finally, Llywydd, a further aspect: people pointed to the tourism opportunities
and benefits that would have followed from the establishment of a tidal lagoon, but another
aspect, of course, was community benefit, and there was a great deal of interest, excitement
and, indeed, forward planning in Newport as to what could have been done with the income
that would have been generated in community benefit from those local lagoons were they
to proceed, and I think that’s another very unfortunate aspect of this decision that has
been handed down from on high. Ken Skates AM: Can I thank John Griffiths
for his contribution? I’m conscious of time, but I would like to put on record my thanks
to Charles Hendry for the work that he did. He produced a report that was compelling in
terms of the evidence provided to support taking forward this project as a pathfinder,
and I’m sure that Members across this Chamber would wish to thank him for the commitment
that he showed throughout the process of compiling that report and seeking evidence.
John Griffiths is absolutely right: the pathfinder project had cross-party support in this Chamber
and, indeed, it had support from across Wales, because it was a pathfinder project that could
have paved the way for lagoons from the north to the south. Now, we need to understand what
the alternative proposals are and whether they could form an alternative pathfinder
for lagoons to be built here in Wales and, indeed, whether any of the proposals concern
Swansea bay at this very moment in time. We need to understand what the details are and
we need to have information shared with us given our determination as a Welsh Government
to proceed with tidal power. But I have to wonder whether doing this with UK Government
leadership is a realistic prospect, whether delivery through UK Government leadership
can be achieved given yesterday’s decision and strong, negative message that it sends
out to the industry. I can only conclude that, perhaps, lagoons will come only when Theresa
May goes. I have to say as well that the benefits of tidal power and, particularly of this pathfinder
project, the economic benefits, I think, are well known. The social benefits, though, would
have been enormous too. The benefits in terms of the confidence and the identity of Swansea
and Swansea Bay would have been enormous; to have become a global leader in a new green
industry. I’m not sure that this is really fully understood at Westminster in the current
UK Government. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Diolch i’r Ysgrifennydd
Cabinet. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Yr eitem nesaf, felly,
ywír datganiad gan yr un Ysgrifennydd Cabinet dros yr Economi a Thrafnidiaeth ar gyhoeddiad
diweddar Grwp Airbus. Rwyín galw ar yr Ysgrifennydd Cabinet i wneud ei ddatganiad ar AirbusóKen
Skates. Ken Skates AM: Diolch, Llywydd. I am grateful
for the opportunity to make this statement today. Last week, Airbus Group published its
own risk assessment outlining the urgent threats to its business arising from the UK exiting
the European Union without a withdrawal agreement. The risk assessment is deeply concerning;
it identifies that should the UK leave the EU next year without a deal, and without any
transition period, it would lead to severe disruption and interruption of UK production
and would force Airbus to reconsider its investments in the UK and its long-term footprint in the
country. Even with a transition period, a hard Brexit that takes the UK out of the single
market and customs union would make the company reassess its future plans.
As the First Minister said last week, this warning is of very serious concern to the
Welsh economy. Companies such as Airbus are now actively making plans based on the worst-case
scenario. What businesses have been saying in private for some time is now being said
publicly, and it is clear that they are losing faith in the UK Governmentís ability to negotiate
a sensible outcome that works for our economy and that protects jobs. My message to the
UK Government is a very simple and very clear one: the situation is now critical and it
is time for them to recognise the fundamental threat their approach to Brexit poses for
Wales, for our economy and for our communities. It is time to rule out a ‘no deal’ scenario
and relaunch the negotiations on a basis that puts jobs and the economy first.
We share the significant concerns expressed by the chief operating officer of Airbus commercial
aircraft, Tom Williams, last week. Airbus Group is the largest employer in Wales in
the aerospace and defence sector with around 6,500 individuals employed at its site in
Broughton and a further 500 or so in Newport. Across the UK, over 100,000 jobs rely on the
Airbus presence on these shores. Since the referendum in 2016, the Welsh Government has
been very clear that in leaving the European Union, the UK cannot take the huge risk of
cutting our economy adrift from the single market and customs union arrangements. We
have made the case, clearly and consistently, that any deal to leave the EU must see us
stay in the single market and negotiate a new customs union with the EU.
This warning by Airbus, alongside others given by manufacturers such as BMW, make real the
threat we face. Indeed, the concerns expressed by Airbus are certainly not confined to the
aerospace industry. Just today, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which
is the voice of the automotive industry in the UK, has given the UK Government the starkest
warning yet from a business sector, saying that it needs, as a minimum, to remain in
the customs union and a deal that delivers single-market benefits. Their chief executive,
Michael Hawes, has sent the simple but clear warning to the UK Government:
‘There is no Brexit dividend for our industry’. The stakes could not be higher. It is clear
that the time for warm words and for meaningless platitudes is over. Clarity is now urgently
required from the UK Government. The detail the UK Government needs to come forward with
needs to address the three key issues raised in the Airbus risk assessment: the movement
of parts within an integrated supply chain, the movement of people, and future regulatory
environment. The possible disruption to the flow of materials caused by changes to the
customs union and single market could have a negative impact running into many billions
of pounds, leading to irrecoverable delays and many of our businesses in Wales losing
their competitive edge. Restriction of the movement of people would cause major disruption
to Airbus operations, with 1,300 Airbus-employed UK nationals working in EU members statesóthe
majority being in France and Germanyóand 600 Airbus-employed EU nationals working at
Airbus operations in the UK. The third key issue relates to regulations and the European
Aviation Safety Agency in particular. Without EASA approval, UK aerospace suppliers will
no longer be part of the aircraft manufacturing supply chain. And supply chains cannot simply
be switched on and off againlike a light switch. They take years to build, and businesses have
a right to expect more certainty from the UK Government two years on from the referendum.
The First Minister has pressed again for the UK Governmentís White Paper to signal a change
of direction to commit to staying inside the single market and a customs union with the
EU. We all recognise the importance of the aerospace and defence sector to the Welsh
economy. The sector in Wales adds £5 billion to our gross value added and employs over
20,000 people. We will continue to support Airbus at Broughton and Newport to mitigate
the impact of the approach being taken by the UK Government. We’ve already shown our
support for the sector through our financing of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute
at Deeside, worth £20 million, in order to secure the prototypes of Airbusís wing of
tomorrow. We urge the UK Government to respond and to
provide clarity as soon as possible, and before this situation escalates even further. Prolonged
uncertainty would do irrevocable damage to our manufacturing base in Wales and its extensive
supply chainóemployment that in Broughton, and across Wales, is the lifeblood of many
communities. This is the most serious economic threat facing Wales in a generation. Airbus
is a jewel in the crown of the Welsh economy, but it is also strategically vital to the
United Kingdom. It’s time for the Brexit parlour games to end. It’s time for the UK Government
to give business and our economy the certainty that it needs.
Russell George AM: I think it is clearly concerning when any major employer issues a warning that
they may withdraw from Wales. It’s also important that we all aim to ensure that this, of course,
doesn’t occur. The Cabinet Secretary has made various comments in his statement, and I would
say that I think the UK Government on countless occasions has restated its commitment to getting
the best possible deal for the UK and the Welsh economy. And I firmly believe that we
will remain plugged into the wider European economy, but also be able to seize on those
opportunities for trade with the rest of the world.
In order to provide reassurance, Cabinet Secretary, to Airbus workers, and the wider supply chain,
would you, Cabinet Secretary, be able to provide an update on the outcome from the First Minister’s
talks with UK Ministers in a recent meeting of the British-Irish Council? I think that
would be helpful. Clarity over Brexit is clearly important for businesses in planning for the
futureóI for one completely understand thatóbut there are clearly devolved levers here at
the Welsh Government’s disposal to encourage inward investment and retain major employers
here in Wales. So, can I turn to this? What specific measures are you implementing to
create the right economic conditions to ensure that companies such as Airbus remain in Wales?
For example, regardless of Brexit, I do have concerns that Wales has failed to capture
the opportunities of world growth over the past 20 years, and has failed to diversify
into the export market. What intention do you have, Cabinet Secretary, to ensure that
Wales seizes on those opportunities to access non-EU markets, and what are you doing to
raise the commercial presence of both advanced and developing economies in particular?
I’ve looked again at the Welsh Government’s ‘Prosperity for All’ action plan and I can’t
see any mention of the Welsh Government’s plans to attract and retain foreign direct
investment into Wales. So, I would be grateful if you could outline the Welsh Government’s
approach to this. You’ve also previously mentioned, Cabinet Secretary, that the Welsh Government
will focus on the high-value manufacturing sector as one of its new priority sectors.
So, can I ask: why does the Welsh Government’s budget fail to allocate additional funding
to this sector, and doesn’t this undermine, of course, the Welsh Government’s commitment
to ensuring that the Welsh economy develops an advanced manufacturing capacity to deter
companies like Airbus from investing in Wales? My point here, Deputy Presiding Officer, is
that, beyond Brexit, which I acknowledge we need to get absolutely right, of course, there
are devolved levers here at the Welsh Government’s disposal, which can and should be used to
ensure that companies such as Airbus are encouraged to remain and indeed expand their operations
here in Wales. Ken Skates AM: Can I thank Russell George
for his contribution and his questions? I’ll say at the outset that I know that there are
also good Conservatives in Westminster as well, who, like the Member, share concerns
for the future of Airbus. I think, based on the comments that both Stephen Crabb and Guto
Bebb have made recently, we do have Conservative parliamentarians who are there to champion
Airbus. And although it wasn’t featured on Radio 4 when I gave the interview, I did press
the case for Stephen Crabb to be brought back into Government and Boris Johnson to be evacuated
from the building. In order to get the best possible deal for
Britain, what Theresa May first of all has to do is drop her red lines and free herself
from the handcuffs that people like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg have applied to
her. The First Minister, I believe, has issued a statement following discussions that were
had during the British-Irish Council, but I will happily ensure that that statement
is shared with Members again. The discussions that took place, I believe, in Guernsey covered
the announcement by Airbus and the response from the First Minister, and also the joint
statement from the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland.
Parking Brexit for one moment, the Member is absolutely right that the Welsh Government
can and must have a role in ensuring that the right conditions are created for sustainable
economic growth, not just within the aerospace sector, but in other sectors right across
the economy as well. For our part, I was determined some time agoóand it was for this reason
we built it into the Welsh Labour manifesto some years agoóto ensure that we captured
the wing of the tomorrow. This is the future of Airbus composite manufacturing processes.
If we don’t get the wing of tomorrow, it’s going to be far more difficult to ensure that
the Broughton site has a long-term, viable future.
In order to capture the prototype of wing of the future, we decided to invest in the
Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute. This is based on the well-proven model of
the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre just near Sheffield. It was a proposal that
was also promoted by Plaid Cymru Members, including Steffan Lewis. Just a few months
ago, I cut the ground on the AMRI. This is a crucial facility that will enable the prototypes
of the wing of tomorrow to be developed in Wales. Okay, it may only have been £20 million,
which, compared to investments that Airbus makes very regularly, may be a small sum,
however, our contribution of £20 million will lead to an increase in GVA for the area
of something in the region of £4 billion over the next 20 years. And if we get the
right deal from Brexit negotiations, it will also secure employment for 6,500 people for
many years to come. Now, in addition to developing the AMRI, what
we are also doing is making sure that the supply chain remains strong. It’s quite a
striking fact that the aerospace and defence sector in Wales employs 20,000 people across
over 150 companies. We are incredibly strong in this sector, and that’s part of the reason
why we are so vulnerable and exposed in terms of Brexit. Six of the top 10 aerospace and
defence companies worldwide have located significant operations in Wales. Airbus have two sites,
General Dynamics have two sites, GE Aviation, Raytheon, BAE Systemsó[Interruption.] No,
the Member, from a sedentary position, says ‘in spite of Brexit’. No, these are companies
that have been based here for a good length of time and who share the concerns that Airbus
have expressed recently, but which Airbus has been telling Members such as himself.
If he would only get up to Broughton to talk with managers there. If he would only get
over to Newport to talk with managers there. If he would only get over to General Dynamics,
to GE Aviation, to Raytheon, to BAE Systems, to Safran whoíve acquired Zodiac. If heíd
only get to companies like Qioptiq, like British Airways, the Defence Electronics and Components
Agency, Babcock, Triumph. All of these companies have been consistent in the message that they
have given to us in Welsh Government and to UK Governmentóthat a ‘no deal’ scenario will
hammer the defence and aerospace sector. In order to keep jobs in Wales, in Britain, we
need a decent deal. To get a decent deal, Theresa May has to drop her red lines.
In terms of the wider economic conditions that can be created to support growth, the
economic action plan clearly articulates a need to invest more in export and trade. As
we exit the EU, we need to make sure that we rebalance the export profile of the Welsh
economy. But we also need to make sure that we are exporting in the aggregate far more,
that we are trading far more, and that’s why we are opening more offices and we’re having
a greater degree of a presence in key territories around the world. We’ve opened offices recently
in places like Montreal, and we’ll be opening in other territories that are crucial to the
future of the Welsh economy. The economic action plan as well is clear
in creating a lens through which we will support businesses that is designed to reduce the
productivity gap between the Welsh economy and the economy of the rest of Europe. So,
we will only invest in projects that can demonstrate that they are contributing to decarbonisation
or improving trade and exporting figures, or ensuring that we embrace the fourth industrial
revolution, that we are at the forefront of new technological change, or that ensure that
we are creating high-quality employment. For that reason, because we are developing a consolidated
fund, we expect to be able to allocate more resource in the future to those businesses
that create jobs that are sustainable, that require higher skills, that are more productive,
that contribute more to the Welsh economy and that offer opportunities for fair work
and progression, to ensure that anybody that gets into the workplace can have an escalator
of opportunity to get as high as they can possibly get.
Llyr Gruffydd AM: We all remember, I’m sure, back in 1980, when Deeside saw the worst mass
redundancy of modern times when Shotton steelworks axed more than 6,500 workers in a single day.
Of course, it took the area a generation to overcome that. In fact, I’m sure the effects
are still being felt. But it has re-established itselfóthe areaóas an industrial powerhouse
in the north-east of Wales, but, of course, last week’s intervention has cast another
shadow that is causing huge concern in terms of the jobs, in terms of the impact on the
wider economy and in terms of the wider supply chain, certainly. And were Airbus to abandon
its operations in Broughton, then I fear that the effects wouldn’t be as bad, they would
probably be worse than those experienced back in 1980.
So, this is a real Brexit wake-up call for people in all parts of the UK. This is the
reality check that many of us have been warning about for a long, long time, and it leaves
highly skilled and well-paid workers facing huge uncertainty. It won’t happen overnight.
Whatever the circumstances, it’ll take years, if this is to happen, for investment to disappear,
but it certainly casts a shadow over those hard-working, dedicated and loyal workers
at Airbus, the youngsters who are currently there, studying their apprenticeships, and
the thousands of workers, as I said earlier, in the wider supply chain who fear the impact
Brexit will have on their jobs. I’d just like to refer to a press article
that I saw in The Leader where Shaun Hingston, a 15-year-old youth council representative
from Saltneyóyou’ve seen it; I’m glad. He raises some real, pertinent points about how
Airbus leaving the UK would be devastating for young people in Wales, and he really reflects
the angst felt by the younger generation, who, of course, will be the generation that
will live longest with the legacy or the consequences of Brexit, and he says that
‘The moving or closure of Airbus in the UK would result in huge job losses, that would
start a negative multiplier effect, businesses in the local area would relocate or close.’
By moving, of course, that would mean that people don’t have the opportunity to go on
work experience at Airbus or to complete apprentice programmesóthe programmes that hundreds of
young people across the area are doing and want to do, and are aspiring to do because
they see Airbus as one of their dream jobs. Now, Shaun clearly understands the effects
of the chaotic Brexit policies currently being pursued by this UK Government, even more so,
I venture to say, than some UK Government Ministers. And that’s the underlying issue
here, I think, isn’t it, that the current Brexit policy being pursued by the UK Government
to leave the EU single market and the customs unionó? I recognise, as you referred to,
I think, earlier, that the Welsh Government’s position on Brexit is to maintain membership
of both. It was certainly detailed in the White Paper, ‘Securing Wales’s Future’, that
was co-authored with my party, but I have to say that the actions by the UK Labour Party
have contradicted that. I’m just wondering whether the Cabinet Secretary shares some
of my frustration at how ineffective Labour MPs have been in stopping this prospect of
a hard Brexit. We’ve seen the banners at Labour Live, we
heard the chants and the singing at the rally at the weekend. Does he not feel a smidgen
of regret that Labour opposition at Westminster is failing to change this trajectory that
is leading us down this horrible path? And does he not wish that things were being done
differently by his own party, whilst not letting the Conservatives off the hook? Because if
that trajectory isn’t successfully changed, then I fear, as many other people have said
before me, that this Airbus example is just the tip of the iceberg.
Usually, when I respond to a statement, my first questions is, ‘What’s the Government
going to do about this?’ But, of course, the scale of this prospect is so huge, it’s so
unprecedented in the devolved era, that it’s quite a difficult question to ask, let alone
answer. But I would like to know, and following on from the questions asked previously, what
scenario planning the Government has done. Have you plotted out what the impact of a
hard Brexit would be and what action you would consider to try, as much as you can, to mitigate
those impacts? You mentioned your economic action plan, ‘Prosperity
for All’, are you revisiting that in any way in the light of this? Because the thrust of
it, and it’s one that many of us support, is that we need to grow more well-paid and
highly skilled jobs here in Wales. But, of course, this will require a rearguard action,
because we’re moving in the wrong direction. It will be about consolidation, as best we
can, let alone growth in that particular respect. Airbus, of course, has its risk assessment,
as we’ve all read. Where is the Government’s risk assessment? Have you done some of that
work? Maybe you could let us know. And, of course, the impact that this will
have on further education and higher education is significant. Both the Cabinet Secretary
and myself were at a meeting of the cross-party group from north Wales, last week, where we
were left in no uncertain terms about the impact on important institutions in north-east
Wales, such as Coleg Cambria. It would be significant, and I’m wondering what discussions
the Cabinet Secretary has had with his Cabinet colleagues about maybe how some of those impacts
could be mitigated and managed if they were to be realised.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Are you winding up, please?
Llyr Gruffydd AM: I am, I am, yes. The NHS was supposed to enjoy a £350 million
a week Brexit dividend. Of course, the Centre for European Reform has told us now that the
true cost is already £440 million a week, and that’s a Brexit deficit, and this is before
Airbus, BMW and the others potentially up sticks. Now, I didn’t see that on the side
of the Brexit bus that was driven around this country. But does the Cabinet Secretary, therefore,
sense that with the reality of a hard Brexit now dawning on people, and what the real impact
of that hard Brexit would be on people’s jobs and people’s wages, that there actually is
now a shift in public opinion, and that if the referendum was held today, the result
actually would be quite different? Ken Skates AM: Can I thank the Member for
his questions and his contribution as a whole? It’s a tragic fact that Shotton still holds
the European record for the most lost jobs in a single day in modern industrial history
across Europe. I was in receipt recently of a 1963 black-and-white photo of that year’s
intake of apprentices. It featured my dad, that’s why it was sent to me, and upon scrutinising
this photo, it became quite clear that most of the people in that photo were not in work
at that site within 20 years of the photo being taken. I do wonder how many people at
Airbus today will have work at that site in two decades in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario.
I think it’s also tragic that Shaun, a 15-year-old, can articulate far better and with greater
maturity the threats and challenge we face than Jeremy Hunt is able to do, in terms of
what could happen to Airbus and the aerospace industry. Airbus are not fearmongering. Airbus
are stating the facts. Airbus are doing what a responsible business should do, which is
to share candidly, frankly, openly and honestly with a Government the likely outcome of a
bad deal being reached or, even worse, a ‘no deal’ scenario, and Airbus are not alone in
expressing these concerns. Today we heard that companies representing
something in the region of 850,000 people across the UK share those very real concerns.
Although Airbus is clearly the biggest private sector employer in north-east Wales, and certainly
the biggest employer in Wales in terms of aerospace and defence, within that small part
of Wales there is a strong cluster of businesses in the aerospace and defence sector. There’s
Airbus of course; there’s Magellan; there’s Qioptiq; DECA; Raytheonóbusinesses that employ
people who are incredibly, incredibly well-skilled, and paid good salaries, people who are really
loyal, people who contribute hugely to the local economy and to the Welsh economy as
a whole. I think, as we look to the future, we need
to just reflect on the very clear and consistent approach that the Welsh Labour Government
has taken since the referendum, and it’s an approach that, on occasions, has been adoptedóperhaps
stolenóby UK Government, certainly in terms of the free and unfettered access to the single
market. It is something that, at times, the UK Government tried to replicate, in terms
of hyperbole. Sadly, the red lines that have been drawn out by the Prime Minister would
not allow that to happen in reality, based on the discussions that have taken place,
but I do think that Keir Starmer has done a fantastic job in holding the UK Government
to account, and continues to do an outstanding job in holding UK Government Ministers to
account. In terms of what we’re doing, we’ve looked
at the impact of various scenarios on the Welsh economy, sector by sector, and what
is quite clear is that if there is no deal, we cannot possibly mitigate against all of
the consequences; this is just too grave a situation. The economy would shrink by more
than 10 per cent in all likelihood, but the EAP, the economic action plan, has been designed
as such to allow for automatic stabilisers to be deployed, rather than for the strategy
to be shelved and a new strategy to be adopted for panic circumstances. The economic action
plan is designed to be robust in any environment, but clearly, depending on the type of dealóand
whether there is a deal at allóthat emerges in the coming months, support for businesses
will be focused on those areas that can weather the storm that is to come. But I don’t think
that we should believe that we can endure a ‘no deal’ scenario without the loss of significant
jobs in the Welsh economy. I regularly speak, not just with my colleagues
in the department for education, but I also speak with leaders in higher and further education
and, again, their concerns are very real, and very grave indeed.
I think it’s fair to say that any deal that is reached should be agreed by the Parliaments
of the UK. Should Parliaments decide that a deal is not sufficient and reject it, then
in all likelihood, a general election could be called, and it may well be the case that
another vote would have to take place. We shouldn’t rule out the likelihood of people
turning on the decision that was made, given the very real threat that so many people now
face in terms of their livelihoods. Neil Hamilton AM: Well, it’s hard to stifle
a yawn at the latest example of fake news from project fear: the latest in an interminable
line of such prognostications over the last three years. This is a political statement,
more than anything else, in the propaganda war by the remainer establishment thatóas
the Cabinet Secretary just let the cat out of the bag in his final wordsórefuses to
accept the referendum result of two years ago, where 17.5 million people voted to leave
the EU. He knows as well as I do that most aircraft
components would be tariff-free under WTO rules, and even in the few cases where they
would be subject to tariffs, those tariffs would be very, very lowócertainly less than
5 per cent. But of course we all want a free trade deal with the EUóit makes common sense
on both sidesóbut the obstacle to this deal isn’t Theresa May; it’s Michel Barnier and
the EU Commission, because they put the political interests of the unelected European federalist
establishment ahead of the economic well-being of the people of Europe. A free trade deal
is clearly in the interests of EU citizens, because last year they sold to us £192 billion
more in goods than we sold to them. So, if they had to face reciprocal tariffs to compensate
for the ones that would be imposed upon us as a result of a Brexit ‘no deal’, then there
would be massive convulsions in the EU as well.
Neil Hamilton AM: To take up one point that the Cabinet Secretary mentioned in his remarks
a moment ago about the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders joining Airbus as prophets of
doom, 14 per cent of every single vehicle produced in Germany is exported to the United
Kingdom. If they had to face a 10 per cent tax upon imports to this country as a result
of doing the same to us exporting to the EU, that would be massively against the interests
of German motor manufacturers. So, I hope that these individuals are putting
as much pressure upon Monsieur Barnier to agree a free trade deal as their counterparts
in this country are doing to the United Kingdom Government to give in to every demand of the
EU establishment. I’d like to know, for example, if Airbus bigwigs have written to Monsieur
Barnier to complain about his point-blank refusal to discuss a sensible free trade deal,
as agreed recently with Canada, and a few years ago with South Korea. Why shouldn’t
we have a deal of that kind? What is the political objection to that?
That a company like Airbus should act as an accomplice of a hostile foreign power seeking
to undermine British interests, I think, is disgraceful, but I wonder whether this might
be in some way connected to the $18 billion-worth of illegal state aid that they’ve received
from European Governments in recent years, as recently adjudicated only a month ago by
the World Trade Organization. As a result of that, the US trade representative has said
this paves the way for the United States to impose retaliatory tariffs upon EU goods.
This is not the way to go if we’re to have sensible policy making in Europe, and I hope
that the Welsh Government will agree with me in that respect.
But this statement today, of course, is really an illusory one because there is no prospect
whatsoever of Airbus closing down its entire operations in this country. Where otherwise
would the wings for the plane be made? It isn’t so easy just to close down and transfer
to other parts of Europe or the world. Let’s look at the context in which this statement
has been put out. How many huge companies have made similar prognostications of doom
that have been overtaken by events and shown to be false in recent years? Goldman Sachs’s
Lloyd Blankfein made some of the most apocalyptic statements about the effects of Brexit, and
yet, in April this year, opening a new £1 billion office complex in London, he said,
‘I am wrong because I would have thought there would have been a worse outcome…The UK economy
has surprised to the upside’. Look at Siemens: again, Joe Kaeser, a massive
remainer, said that Brexit would disrupt the economy, uncertainty about the relationship
with the EU would have significant negative long-term effects, the UK would be a less
attractive place to do business, it may be a factor when Siemens considers future investment
here, and yet, in November 2017, whilst cutting 3,000 jobs in Germany and 1,000 across Europe,
he announced an investment of £39 million to expand its largest UK plant in Lincoln,
which employs 1,500 people. Just to turn to Airbus finally, and its previous
remarks in this respect, of course, Airbus say now they will pull investment, whatever
that meansóor may pull investment, whatever that meansóif there is no deal. It’s hedged
around with so many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and caveats it’s impossible to draw any conclusions from
it. But only two years ago, of course, Tom Enders was one of the chief players in project
fear during the referendum campaign. In intervention after intervention he threatened to pull investment
if the company voted to leave, and yet, of course, they haven’t done that. Since then
he has admitted that the company plans to retain its operationsóand I quoteó’long
into the future’. He wrote to Greg Clark in February of this year to say that they regard
the UK as a home country and a competitive place to invest. The ‘home country’ reference,
of course, is important because that means that, within the economic strategy development
within the company, Airbus’s national divisions are regarded as a priority and influence the
decisions on production and strategy. So, what this is all about, actually, is trying
to make sure that ‘no deal’ is well and truly off the table. Well, he hardly needs to do
that because Theresa May’s incompetence and the shambolic Government that have completely
wrecked the whole Brexit opportunities that were presented two years ago have already
achieved that objective: in effect, we will remain part of the EU, in form if not in name.
So, Airbus has nothing to worry about. Ken Skates AM: This isó. It’s embarrassing,
frankly. I hope nobody within any industrial sector and no investors have listened to this
contribution. But just one quick question that’s been playing on my mind whilst listening
to the Member: where is the Member that is supposed to be representing the 6,500 people
in Broughton within your party right now? I don’t see the UKIP Member for North Wales
present behind you cheering what you were saying. I don’t see her supporting what you
were saying about the future of the Airbus plant.
It is frankly shameful that you choose to rubbish not just Airbus, but the likes ofó[Interruption.]
You were rubbishing Airbus. You were rubbishing their concerns. You were claiming that the
likes of Oxford Economics are merely opposed to Brexit and therefore motivated by one factor
rather than carrying out objective analysis on behalf of Airbus. I don’t know whether
you’ve read ‘The impact of Airbus on the UK economy’. I don’t know whether you’ve visited
any of the Airbus sites. You have? Have you visited the Broughton site recently? Have
you spoken with senior managers? Because you surely haven’t listened to them. The words
may have been spoken, butó[Interruption.] Look, my message will be really clear: get
out of your trench, take out your ear plugs and listen to people who know about the aerospace
sector a hell of a lot more than you do, because 6,500 jobs in Broughton are on the line, 400
to 500 in Newport are on the line. This company does not play petty party politics. This company
is an international operation that is determined to make sure that it has future growth, and,
if it can’t do that in the UK, it will do it elsewhere.
This isn’t just about tariffs. The Member seems to think that the only question in town
in terms of Brexit is whether we have to apply tariffs. It’s not about tariffs for Airbus.
It’s very clear, if you read ‘The impact of Airbus on the UK economy’, that actually it’s
about the movement of people and it’s the regulatory environment that could cause severe
disruption. In terms of car imports, are you seriously
suggesting that consumers would be happy to pay an extra 10 per cent for cars that are
imported into Britain, in spite of the fact that a huge number of components of those
cars are actually made in Britain, that jobs depend on those cars, tható?Okay, their final
assembly may take place outside of Britain, but the jobs that supply the components are
actually here within the UK, and therefore tariffs will have a major impactó[Interruption.]
They would have a major impact, and they would leadó[Interruption.] Within the supply chain,
they could lead to considerable loss of jobs. Look, these are warnings. At what point are
you going to actually accept that warnings need to be heeded, that you cannot ignore
warnings that a ‘no deal’ scenario would be far more damagingó far more damagingófor
the UK economy than a decent Brexit deal? Instead you just want to march full steam
ahead to a cliff, without any due regard for the 6,500 people employed at Airbus in Broughton,
the 400 to 500 that are employed inó[Interruption.] I notice that the Member is making comments
from a sedentary position. If he has an intervention to make, I’d happily take it.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: No. No, there are no interventions, and I
would askó[Interruption.] Just a minute, just a minute. I would ask all Members, just
listen to the Cabinet Secretary. You’ve asked a set of questions and you should listen to
what the answers are. Thank you. Ken Skates AM: Finally, in terms of the point
that the Member made concerning false warnings that have taken place elsewhere in the industry,
not just concerning Brexit, but other historical, other factors, one big point to bear in mind
that is many politicians only woke up to the threats that Tata were making, and the concerns
that Tata were expressing, when the businesses here in Wales and across the UK were put up
for sale. Will it take the loss of tens if not hundreds of thousands of jobs in the UK
for those who are championing a ‘no deal’ scenario to actually wake up and accept that
they were wrong and that they put people out of work?
Jack Sargeant AM: Can I start by thanking the Cabinet Secretary for bringing forward
this hugely important statement today? From the outset, I think it is important to recognise
that this isn’t just a warning unique to Airbusóit’s a warning right across the sectors and industries
in Wales, and across Europe as well. Over the weekend we’ve had BMW and we’ve had many
others, including Ferrovial today, and SMMT, which you’ve made reference to within your
statement. All these warnings have one thing in common, and that one thing is uncertainty.
Just last week, I was asking the finance Secretary about the issue of uncertainty, and it’s been
a common theme throughout my time on the external affairs committee. Whenever I’ve visited workplaces,
such as Airbus, Tata Steel or Toyota, it’s always been an issue that has been raised.
Unfortunately, the clarity that we all have been seeking has not been forthcoming. So,
could the Cabinet Secretary update Members on whether the UK Government has made any
clear representations to him since Airbus’s announcement? In addition to that, could he
say whether he’s had any correspondence with Unite the Union on this particular issue over
the weekend? I spoke to representatives from the union and they shared many of my concerns,
mainly because they know the incredible contribution that Airbus makes to Alyn and Deeside, to
Wales, and to those right across the UK. You’ve mentioned that Airbus is one of the
largest employers in Wales, employing nearly 6,500 people, and that makes it the second
largest private employer in Wales. So, would the Cabinet Secretary agree that it is not
too late for the UK Government to show leadership and provide the clarity that the business
needs, and not only the business, but, more importantly, the workforce, needs? Airbus
makes a substantial direct contribution to the Welsh GDP, as Members know, and in 2015
the company made a direct value-added contribution to Wales’s GDP of £563 million. Now, that’s
the equivalent to over 5 per cent of the economic output produced in Cardiff during the same
year. I welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s continued
support, and, most recently, the investment of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute
within Airbus’s plant in Broughton, and I believe we need more investment from the Welsh
Government. But I just need to say: would the Cabinet Secretary agree with me that those
figures that I’ve mentioned there and this announcement should be a wake-up call for
the UK Government? And, if it isn’t, I really don’t know what will be.
Just briefly, I’d like to touch on a point made by my colleague from across the Chamber
Llyr Gruffydd, when he raised the importance and recognition of what happened during the
Shotton closure. You’re absolutely right; it won’t be as bad, it will absolutely be
worse, and that’s something we simply cannot let happen.
Finally, Deputy Presiding Officer, I would just like to pick up on a point, whereó.
I do not believe this a political stunt from Airbus, I believe this is a clear warning
and a warning that should be taken very, very seriously. I’m not sure if you’ve seen it
over the weekend, Cabinet Secretary, but, on the Daily Politics show, Nigel Farage attacked
Airbus as a political project before sniggering at the talk of Welsh people, Welsh families,
potentially losing their jobs. So, would you join me, Cabinet Secretary, in denouncing
this complete irresponsibility and join me when I say to those Welsh workers and their
families, and the workers in the future, that we are with you during this difficult time,
and we will stand up with you? Ken Skates AM: Can I thank Jack Sargeant for
his contribution and for his questions? He’s absolutely rightówhat investors want when
they look at any country is certainty in terms of the political and economic environment
and they need the right skills to be available and the right infrastructure in place. In
Wales, we’re improving the skills base, we’re developing the right infrastructure, but Brexit
risks impacting on us terribly if there is no deal or if there is a deal that does not
meet the needs of Welsh businesses. Can I say to Members that I have spoken with
Greg Clark? I spoke with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial
Strategy on Friday. I conveyed to him my very serious concerns and also expressed my support
for Members within his own party, albeit most from the back benches, including Anna Soubry
and Guto Bebb, in terms of their comments recently concerning the statement by Airbus.
It is not too late for the UK Government to change course. They need to drop the red lines
and they need to accept a pragmatic arrangement. Unfortunately, because the Prime Minister
is being shackled by those on the far right of her party, such an outcome is increasingly
unlikely. Now, I can say that, in addition to speaking
with the Secretary of State, I speak very regularly with Unite the Union and with Airbus
itself, with managers. Indeed, I recently appointed Katherine Bennett, senior vice-president
of Airbus UK, to the new ministerial advisory board, recognising her insight, knowledge
and expertise not just in the aerospace sector and manufacturing as a whole, but also in
terms of the UK economy and the opportunities that we have, if we get the right Brexit deal,
to develop the supply chain for the aerospace original equipment manufacturers.
Now, Jack Sargeant is absolutely right, we are investing very heavily in Broughton; we
have in the past. It’s as a consequence of the repayable aid and the skills support and
other forms of support that have been offered to Airbus over many years by successive Labour
Governments that we now have 6,500 people employed at that site. We have helped to grow
that site and we’ll die in a ditch defending those people who are employed there; we will
not give up on them. As far as Nigel Farage is concerned, and his
sniggering on television at the prospect of peopleóthousands of peopleólosing their
jobs, this is the behaviour of a silver-spoon-sucking toff who, I’m afraid, has no awareness of
what a decent hard day’s work is like in the aerospace sector. If all he can do is respond
by sniggering, then I’m afraid he won’t be welcome at Airbus or any other industrial
site where jobs could be obliterated by a ‘no deal’ scenario.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Thank you. I’ve got two more speakers. I will
extend this statement, but that’s not to say that I expect the next two speakers to go
on at length, soó. Jayne Bryant. Jayne Bryant AM: Diolch, Deputy Presiding
Officer. I’d like to thank the Cabinet Secretary for bringing forward this important statement
today and for his strong words. Last week’s announcement has been very worrying. Airbus
employs thousands of people in Wales, and, whilst the vast majority of workers are based
in Broughton, Airbus employs 450 people in Newport. Airbus Newport is home to the digital
transformation global cyber centre of excellence, and the team of cyber research engineers delivers
world-leading research in the field of cyber defence. They predominantly work in highly
classified environments, delivering high-grade cyber protection.
Following the uncertainty of Brexit, I understand Airbus are already seeing an impact on their
space business with the Galileo satellite navigation programme. I visited the Newport
site in my constituency immediately after the Brexit vote to listen to their concerns.
We must not lose these highly skilled good-quality jobs nor see a decline in investment. There
will be a significant knock-on effect on the economy and the local area if we do. In addition
to those who work in Newport, some of my constituents work at Airbus in Filton, which manufactures
wings for military aircraft, as well as the design, engineering and support for Airbus
commercial wings. Airbus has been consistent with its messaging
to the UK Government since the referendumóa ‘no deal’ Brexit would severely disrupt production.
Furthermore, Airbus are concerned that the current planned transition is too short for
a company to implement the required changes within its extensive supply chain. So, does
the Cabinet Secretary agree that the warning from Airbus and others must be a reality check
for the UK Government, whose lack of clarity is putting future investment and jobs at risk?
Ken Skates AM: Yes, I’d agree very much with Jayne Bryant. I know how much she’s championed
Airbus in Newport since being elected to this Assembly, and I also know how much this particular
employer matters to the regionó450 skilled people are employed at the site. The site
is one of our proudest industries of tomorrow, offering immense opportunity for many people
who are entering a specific field in which we have great capabilities, great existing
capacity as well, and I do fear that if Brexit continues to go in the direction that we’ve
seen in recent months then those jobs could be at risk, as Airbus have identified.
I’d also agree that the transition period is too short, insofar as what businesses have
told Welsh Government. Generally, we’ve been told that two years, as an absolute minimum,
are required for a safe transition periodóoften, three years are identified as the best period
for which we should have a transition. I know that Jayne Bryant, and many other Members
in this Chamber, will feel incredibly frustrated that in spite of their warnings, in spite
of the concerns that they have expressed in this Chamber and outside, those warnings still
fall on deaf ears in Downing Street. It’s for the Prime Minister to change direction,
and the way that she can do that is to remove the red lines and negotiate sensibly with
our European partners. Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Finally, Mark Isherwood. Mark Isherwood AM: Diolch. Of course, I have
visited Airbus very many times. I’ve known Katherine Bennett for many, many years and
discussed this and other matters with her. I’ve even been to Toulouse and met senior
management and employees there, some of whom were from Broughton and were working alongside
their colleagues in Toulouse. After Friday’s announcement by Airbus, I received
an e-mail from an employee of Airbus who said that the news that no deal has been forthcoming
to protect the thousands of highly skilled UK jobs at Airbus and their suppliers is rather
worrying to say the least. Of course, the negotiations are ongoing, so I responded by
saying that negotiations on the withdrawal agreement are ongoing, that the Prime Minister
has made it clear that instead of a hard Brexit, she seeks a
‘new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement’,
and that she said that the agreement we reach with the EU must protect people’s jobs and
security. However, given the mixed messages and the
concern that employees got the message that negotiations are over, no deal is being done
and they could be up the swanny accordingly, what action will you take to help balance
their understandingóyes, understand the risks, but also understand the broader scenario?
For example, we know that last December the European Council agreed that sufficient progress
had been made in phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations with the EU to allow talks to move on to phase
2. In March, EU and UK negotiators reached a
political deal on the terms of a Brexit transition period in a new draft withdrawal agreement,
following which the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce said that this
was a milestone that many businesses across the UK had been waiting for, and that the
agreement of a status quo transition period is great news for trading firms on both sides
of the channel, as it means that they face little or no change in day-to-day business
in the short term. Will you join me in emphasising to those employees
in Broughton that the UK Government last month agreed that it would be telling the EU it
wished to extend Britain’s membership of the customs union beyond the initial transition
period, until such time as arrangements for whatever customs agreement is reached can
be implemented in accordance with that agreement, and to tell them that on 19 June, last week,
a joint statement from negotiators of the European Union and the UK Government on progress
of negotiations under article 50 said, ‘The statement details the articles of the
draft Agreement where agreement has now been reached at negotiators’ level, as well as
those areas where further progress has been made’?
And there’s a long list of areas already agreed. They concluded:
‘note that the progress recorded in this statement will contribute to the finalisation of the
Withdrawal Agreement’ and
‘The negotiators commit to making progress as quickly as possible on all aspects necessary
to reach such an agreement.’ Is it not, therefore, vital that we balance
this by ensuring the workforce know that these negotiations are ongoing, know that transition
has been agreed, know the UK Government acknowledges, now unanimously, the need to extend transition
into extension of the customs union, for the reasons that I describe, and know that only
yesterday, Greg Clark, who you referred to, the UK business and industry Secretary, told
a hearing in the UK Parliament that an agreement that ensures that avoidable threats of frictions
and tariffs do not take place is absolutely within our grasp, and it is what all parliamentary
parties should back during the months ahead? Ken Skates AM: I’m pleased that Mark Isherwood
has discussed this issue with the senior vice-president of Airbus UK and with many other managers
in Broughton and in Toulouse. I imagine that pretty much all of those senior executives
will have disagreed with the Member over the vote to leave the EU. And those UK Airbus
employees that he’ll have met in Toulouse, I’m afraid, if the course of direction is
not changed, won’t be able to get on a plane in an instant to go to any of the European
Airbus facilities as they are now, and that is an essential factor that the company needs
to consider in terms of where they invest. They need the surety that, when a fault develops,
when maintenance is required, they can deploy skilled people, experts, technicians at the
drop of a hat. I’m afraid, based on the negotiations that have taken place so far, they cannot
be given that certainty. I don’t think employees have had mixed messages
from Airbus. Airbus couldn’t have been clearer in what they said last Friday. I think it’s
the UK Government that are all over the place in terms of the messages and the negotiations
that are taking place. Although the request is in for me to give Airbus workers messages
of comfort over Brexit negotiations, I’m afraid I have no warm messages of comfort over the
negotiations, because unless Theresa May is able to drop those red lines that she’s clinging
to so fervently, I’m afraid that it could be catastrophic for people who are employed
in the aerospace sector in the UK. Yes, ongoing negotiations are taking place, but it’s the
red lines that are preventing the sort of deal that we believe is in the absolute vital
interest of the aerospaceó[Interruption.] I’m afraid the Member’s holding up a sheet
of paper with lots of words on it. If only he would read about the impactóit’s a longer
document, grantedóbut if only he would read about the impact of Brexit on Airbus he might
have reached a different conclusion when the referendum took place. Let’s just remind those
6,500 employees at Airbus in Broughton that the Member for North Wales from the Conservative
Party actively campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Thank you, Cabinet Secretary.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Item 6 on the agenda is a statement by the
leader of the house on ‘Enabling Gypsies, Roma and Travellers’. I call on Julie James
to make that statementóJulie. Julie James AM: Thank you very much, Deputy
Presiding Officer. Today we are publishing our ‘Enabling Gypsies, Roma and Travellers’
plan, which sets out our commitments to improving equality of opportunity and narrowing gaps
in outcomes experienced by all people covered by our plan. The plan seeks to demonstrate
the breadth of actions this Government is undertaking to enable individuals from our
communities to fulfil their potential and participate in community life.
We have called our new plan ‘Enabling Gypsies, Roma and Travellers’ in recognition of two
key themes. First, Gypsies, Roma and Travellers often possess highly developed skills and
experience, distinct and valuable perspectives and a strong entrepreneurial ethic. Our systems
and processes are not always as inclusive as we would like, leading to unfulfilled potential
for individuals and society as a whole. We want to ensure that we enable everyone in
our communities to fulfil their potential through more inclusive processes and better
understanding of opportunities. Secondly, we wanted to reflect the diversity of cultures
and ethnicities within the group of individuals that other Governments might simply call Travellers.
This term can include many different groups and we recognise that there can be profound
cultural differences between some individuals. These groups include Romani Gypsies, Irish
Travellers, Roma or New Travellers. This diversity is important to community members and it was
important that we reflect this in our plan. Despite these differences, groups often experience
similar issues such as discrimination, marginalisation, poorer health or educational outcomes and
a need for better advice and advocacy support. The late Czech President V·clav Havel once
famously described the treatment of Gypsies as the litmus test for a civil society. We
must ensure we deliver on our commitment to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers if we are to
be a fair and just society. This plan replaces the ‘Travelling to a Better
Future’ framework for action and delivery plan, which was originally published in 2011.
‘Travelling to a Better Future’ was the UKís first strategy aimed specifically at improving
outcomes experienced by Gypsies and Travellers. As we publish our new plan, we are still the
only nation in the UK with a dedicated plan for supporting our communities. Since 2011,
we have made good progress in a number of areas, but there is still much to do. We have
legislated to ensure that residents of local authority Gypsy and Traveller sites have security
of tenure and to ensure local authorities properly assess the need for additional sites
in their area. We have invested approximately £18 million in site development and refurbishment
and we have committed to an additional £20.3 million by the end of 2021. Although it is
slower than we would like, genuine progress is being made and we will continue to drive
this forward. Between 2014 and 2021 we expect to have funded more than 200 new pitches,
compared to only a handful in the period between 1997 and 2014óa major achievement.
We also have more pupils from these backgrounds on the school roll than ever before, which
is crucial to ensuring members of communities can access opportunities throughout their
lives and that discrimination is challenged. Educational attainment still lags behind other
groups and there is more to be done to ensure schools and colleges are inclusive environments
and communities see the benefit of a secondary-age education. We know that Gypsies and Travellers
also experience poorer health outcomes than other groups, and we are working to change
this. All health boards should be undertaking Gypsy and Traveller community health needs
assessments to better understand the health profile of their local communities and target
interventions appropriately. We are also introducing a Gypsy and Traveller ethnic health category
into NHS data collection to enable us to better understand the outcomes experienced by our
communities over time. The availability of sites is a major issue
that can prevent Gypsies and Travellers accessing sustainable accommodation and impact on community
cohesion. Today, we are also publishing a new planning circular, which replaces our
previous circulars relating to Gypsy and Traveller sites. The circular ensures the consideration
of Gypsy and Traveller sites through the planning system is reflective of updates to legislation
and wider Welsh Government guidance on Gypsies and Travellers over recent years, including
provisions in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. In addition to these issues, the new plan
focuses on advice and advocacy support, challenging discrimination and hate crime, improving the
employability of individuals, promoting essential skills training, and other issues.
The new plan also includes the Roma community for the first time. Although we received mixed
views about including this community in the plan, we felt that it was appropriate to do
so, whilst emphasising the important distinctions between the communities. Roma and Romani Gypsies
regularly get confused in media reporting, but they often have different cultures, language,
accommodation preferences and religion, and are diverse in other ways as well. However,
these groups are united by a common ancestry and both experience engrained stereotypes
and discrimination. Both groups are marginalised within our society and experience barriers
to fulfilling their true potential. In developing the actions, we have sought
to prevent the most harmful problems experienced by Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. These include
homelessness, poor health, poor accommodation and hate crime. We have already made encouraging
progress in some of these areas, but there is much work still to be done to improve outcomes.
The plan forms an important part of a long-term aim to ensure that our communities can achieve
equal opportunities and fulfil their potential. The plan is also a statement of our continuing
focus on fostering good relations between these groups and wider society. We are currently
within Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month, and I want to recognise the achievements of
our communities and their continuing positive contributions to Welsh society. They are,
and will remain, welcome in Wales. In this document, we set out what the Welsh
Government will do to provide better community cohesion and equal opportunities, but there
are many other organisations and individuals who can also play a role in this. For example,
we will encourage the media to undertake more balanced reporting that promotes understanding.
We will also encourage local authorities to be proportionate in their decision making
in relation to resolving unauthorised encampments. Public bodies, decision makers and opinion
shapers all need to be mindful of their responsibilities with regard to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.
Discrimination against these communities is often considered to be the last acceptable
form of racism, and we must challenge this wherever we identify it.
Finally, I want to make it clear that this plan is not about the Welsh Government seeking
to make special arrangements to support our communities. Instead, the plan and actions
within are about ensuring our society is inclusive of everyone to enable a diversity of culture
and perspectives to thrive. A Wales that values and supports our minority communities to participate
equallyóespecially those who have been part of our society for almost 500 yearsówill
be stronger as a result. We all have a responsibility to work together to eliminate all forms of
discrimination, and so I look forward to working with you to ensure this new plan is a success.
Diolch. Mark Isherwood AM: As I said here in January,
everyone will be disadvantaged until we identify and meet the accommodation needs of Gypsies,
Travellers and Roma, enabling the provision of authorised residential and transit sites.
It can’t be acceptable that, according to the 2011 census, 62 per cent of Gypsies, Roma
and Travellers in Wales have no qualifications, 51 per cent in England and Wales were in employment
compared to 73 per cent overall, and just 70 per cent described themselves as being
in good health, compared with 81 per cent in England and Wales overall.
In your statement, you rightly say we want to reflect the diversity of cultures and ethnicities.
What consideration, looking back, have you given to the 2006 Pat Niner report on the
accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers in Wales, commissioned by the then Welsh Government?
I think Jane Hutt launched it, as I recall, in Llandrindod Wells, and I was the only AM
present to watch her do it. But in addition to many of the issues you highlight, they
identified that those diverse communities also travelled over specified geographical
areas that didn’t match the borders that the rest of us live by, whether those were county
borders or national borders. So, what consideration have you given as you go forward to developing
an approach with the communities themselves and the different authorities across those
borders, so that they may collectively agree and deliver on the needs of communities, who,
by definition, are moving around across that area?
You refer to more pupils from these backgrounds being on the school roll than ever before.
I think before I’ve raised with you the concern that was raised in Flintshire over John Summers
High School, when the local Gypsy/Traveller community stated that their views had not
been reflected in the consultation document that led to the closure of the school, where
the school had almost uniquely in the region developed trust with the community. They became
part of the same wider community. The children came to school, were passing exams, doing
well, achieving, but the community themselves stated that that could be compromised, or
would be compromised if the school closed, which it did. Going forward, possibly in discussion
with your colleague the education Secretary, what consideration are you giving to introduce
or implement measures to prevent that happening again and ensure that the community have a
central voice where they might be impacted in such a critical way?
In 2017 we know the Welsh Government launched the ‘Enabling Gypsies, Roma and Travellers’
consultation. How do you respond to the statement by respondents to that, that the plan was
too broad with not enough actions able to evidence how they would be realistically achieved,
with one respondent saying the plan was not new but a collection of actions from other
existing plans, to the Tros Gynnal Plant consultation, where respondents said that while a new plan
was a good idea, they were still to be convinced whether such strategies would actually make
a difference to their everyday lives, and the launch of the ‘Travelling to Better Health’
document in 2017 to increase confidence in the health system, where respondents in one
local health board were found to have received discriminatory treatment, including being
unable to secure an on-call appointment with their GP, and midwives not visiting a site
for antenatal check-ups? Obviously, you’re very familiar with the situation
in Bangor Back Lane in Conwy, which we both visited, and your intervention has helped
them take forward action on the sound mitigation fence. But they have also subsequently written
to your colleague the economy and transport Secretary regarding the road surface, where
they understand that this may not be completed until as late as October 2022. In consequence,
because they believe promises by the council at the time when the Welsh Government funding
was provided have been breached, they are suffering physically and mentally from the
noise and stress, receiving in-patient hospital treatment in certain cases. And they’ve written
to the Cabinet Secretary seeking a detailed plan of action from the Welsh Government to
resolve the matter to the residents’ satisfaction. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with
that, but if you are, I wonder if you could update me; if you’re not, I’d be grateful
if you could pursue that. And the final point I wanted to raiseóit’s
something that was highlightedóand I’ll give an example in Flintshire, although it’s not
unique to Flintshire. In 2011, obligations to meet the need for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation
sites led to the granting of temporary planning permission for five years for a site because
of assurances made to the planning inspector by the council that within such a period,
the need would be met by Flintshire. But because it wasn’t, Flintshire granted further temporary
permission for five years, even though it’s widely recognised that the site isn’t suitable
for a permanent site, then, subsequently, the granting of temporary planning permission
was quashed in court because Flintshire had failed to fulfil its responsibility to deliver
an alternative provision in accordance with the legislation. So, in such circumstances,
what powers does the Welsh Government have to intervene? I don’t know whether you can
comment on this individual case, but how can you influence the situation when something
appears to have gone so wrong that it’s ended up in court twice for determination?
Julie James AM: Well, yes, thank you for that series of remarks; I’ll do my best to cover
them off. In terms of the powers of the Welsh Government, we don’t have intervention powers
in that way, but I know that Mark Isherwood is aware that I’m visiting every local authority
and site around Wales, and I’ve already had one discussion with Flintshire. What we seek
to do is develop a plan together to make sure that sites are brought forward that we can
help fund through our capital grant programme and so on. So, we’re very much in conversation,
but we don’t have a direct power to direct them, for example. And I’m not speaking particularly
of that authority, but any authority. So, we very much work with the local authorities
to identify suitable sites, and that leads me on to the point about a network of transit
sites. We very much want to see the development of a network of transit sites across Wales
by 2021. We’ve got five areas identified with a need for transit sites and we keen to see
these developed to support the Gypsy and Traveller way of life, whilst avoiding inappropriate
encampments. The Member is quite rightówe know what the geographical travelling arrangements
are and we’re working with the authorities along the affected routes to make sure that
we can get the best outcome for that, and we are planning discussions across the border,
because, of course, many families cross between England and Wales, and, indeed, some families
move up to Scotland and across to Ireland as well. So, we are very much aware of the
need to develop the transit-site system. We’ve just responded to a consultation from
the UK Government on a review of unauthorised camping legislation. I was a little dismayed
by the tone of that, I have to say, but we’re awaiting the outcome of that consultation
before reconsidering whether our managing unauthorised camping guidance is still fit
for purpose, and we’ll be looking to reissue that, with a view, as I say, to facilitate
a way of life whilst making sure that inappropriate encampments, which can be harmful for the
occupiers and the surroundings, are not tolerated. But it’s not the case for all encampments,
and where transit sites are created, it’s not always proportionate or necessary to relocate
other encampments, so we want to develop a system that enables proper consideration of
the rights of all members of the community and ensures that encampments can be resolved
with common humanity and consistency. So, as I say, Deputy Presiding Officer, I was
a little concerned about the tone of the recent UK consultation, but we have responded in
that vein. I know the Member takes a very keen interest in that.
We’ve also been very aware of the education arrangements. We’re looking to make sure that
local authorities, in considering their duties, do take issues of that sort into account,
ultimately. School closure issues are a matter for the local authority, but the guidance
does include an emphasis on both NHS and education arrangements. What we’re looking for is flexibility
of arrangements, because with a travelling lifestyle, obviously you might need to attend
a number of different establishments, as well as for those who are in more settled pitches.
So, there are a range of outcomes that we’re looking for in that regard.
In terms of the Back Bangor Lane, I did indeed visit the site, and I know the Member is aware
of that. I am aware of the issue around the road resurfacing and I’m in conversation with
the Cabinet Secretary about what can be doneóit’s a very complicated area, as I know the Member
knowsóto make sure that we get the speediest possible response to the road-noise issue
that he highlights. Si‚n Gwenllian AM: Diolch am y datganiad.
Rydw i wedi cael cipolwg sydyn ar y cynllun ‘Galluogi Sipsiwn, Roma a Theithwyr’, ac rydw
i yn eich llongyfarch chi ar rai agweddau o’r cynllun, gan ei fod o yn cynnwys gweithredu
penodol ac amserlenni, yn enwedig o ran darparu safleoedd. Yn amlwg, mae yna gynnydd wedi’i
wneud yn y maes hwnnw. Yn y cynllun, rydych chi’n dweud hyn:
‘rydym wedi gyrru ymlaen gan roi mwy o ffocws ar ddarparu safleoedd ar gyfer Sipsiwn a Theithwyr.
Mae hyn yn adlewyrchu dealltwriaeth fod llawer o broblemau eraill a brofir gan gymunedau
Sipsiwn a Theithwyr yn codi o ddiffyg mynediad at lety priodol’.
Rydw i’n cytuno’n llwyr efo chi yn hynny o beth. Mae yna dystiolaeth bod awdurdodau lleol
wedi ymateb i’r her o greu lleiniau newydd a hefyd wedi adnabod safleoedd yn eu cynlluniau
datblygu lleolódim gwaith hawdd, wrth gwrs, yn rhannol yn sgil agweddau a rhagfarnau cyhoeddus,
ac mae’r cynghorau i’w llongyfarch, ar y cyfan, ar eu hymdrechion.
Buaswn i’n licio cael eich barn chi am bwysigrwydd dylunio’r lleiniau a’r safleoedd yma yn briodol.
A ydych chi’n cytuno efo fi fod angen gwneud hynny mewn ffordd fwriadus, ar y cyd efo’r
gymuned, er mwyn ymateb i rai o’r prif heriau sy’n wynebu’r gymuned? Rydw i’n credu ei bod
hi’n bwysig bod buddsoddiad digonol yn cael ei ddarparu ar gyfer creu’r llefydd newydd,
gan y gall hynny fod yn fwy cost-effeithiol yn y pen draw, gan arbed arian i wasanaethau
cyhoeddus. Felly, wrth ystyried safleoedd newydd, a hefyd
uwchraddio safleoedd, mae’n bwysig rhoi ystyriaeth i’r dylunio, achos, er enghraifft, mae dylunio
bwriadus yn gallu mynd i’r afael efo problemau iechyd gwael ymhlith y gymuned yma. Mae’r
gymdeithas yma, fel y gwyddoch chi, bum gwaith mwy tebygol o ddatblygu problemau iechyd o’i
chymharu ‚’r gymdeithas yn gyffredinol. Ond efallai mai prin ydy’r dystiolaeth bod
cyfleusterau ar y safleoedd yn cael eu dylunio fel bod modd, er enghraifft, cynnal clinigau
ar y safleoedd eu hunain, a byddai hynny, o gael llefydd addas ar gyfer ymweliadau gan
weithwyr iechyd, yn gallu gwneud byd o wahaniaeth i gynnal brechiadau ar gyfer babanodóun enghraifft,
mewn ffordd, o beth fyddai’n gallu digwydd mewn clinig ar safle, a hefyd o ran cyfleusterau
addysg, yn enwedig ar rai o’r safleoedd mwy. Mae eich cynllun chi yn dweud bod angen sicrhau
bod pob safle presennol yn gwbl addas iír pwrpas. Buaswn i’n dadlau, felly, fod angen
uwchraddio llawer o’r safleoedd presennol. Yn fy mhrofiad i o ymweld ag un neu ddau o
safleoedd parhaol, mae’r cyfleusterau ymhell o fod yn addas. Yn aml, mae’r lleiniau yn
rhy agos at ei gilydd, nid ydy’r cyfleusterau ymolchi a’r toiledau yn ddigonol nag yn safonol,
ac nid oes llecynnau chwarae addas ar gyfer y plant.
Felly, mae’n amlwg bod llawer o’r ffocws wedi bod, cyn belled, ar greu llety addas, ac mae
hynny’n hanfodol, wrth gwrs, ond rydw i hefyd yn credu bod angen, rwan, symud ymlaen i roi
sylw i rai o’r prif broblemau: cyflogaeth a sgiliau, iechyd ac addysg. Ac efallai nad
ydy’r cynllun mor glir nac mor uchelgeisiol ac y gallai o fod yn y meysydd hynny.
O ran cyflogaeth a sgiliau, mae sÙn bod angen i gynlluniau presennol y Llywodraeth gynnig
gwasanaethau i’r gymuned Sipsiwn, Roma a Theithwyr, ond rhaid cofio bod y gymuned hon yn wynebu
rhwystrau gwahanol i drwch y boblogaeth, ac efallai bod angen cynlluniau wedi eu teilwra
yn fwy penodol ar eu cyfer nhw. O ran addysg, rydw i’n sylwi yn y cynllun
nad oes yna set o weithredoedd penodol er mwyn cynyddu cyflawniad y plant a’r bobl ifanc.
Mae yna weithredoedd ynglyn ‚ thaclo bwlian a dysgu Saesneg, sydd, wrth gwrs, yn bwysig,
ond mae angen pwyslais ar godi disgwyliadau a gwell cyflawniad hefyd, efallai yn enwedig
ymhlith y merched yn y gymuned yma. Felly, tra fy mod i’n eich llongyfarch chi ar rai
agweddau o’r cynllunio, a gaf i ofyn cwestiwn fel hyn ar y diwedd: a ydych chi’n cytuno,
wrth symud ymlaen, fod angen mwy o waith a mwy o uchelgais ar y rhannau o’r cynllun sydd
yn delio efo addysg, iechyd, cyflogaeth a sgiliau, ac y dylid gosod mwy o bwyslais ar
yr agweddau yma i’r dyfodol? Julie James AM: Si‚n Gwenllian accurately
captures the complexity of some of the issues that the community faces, and there is an
emphasis on good sites, housing, transit sites and maintaining a way of life, whilst also
giving people the essential decencies of human life. I just want to emphasise, Deputy Presiding
Officer, that our capital grants are available to upgrade older sites with smaller amenity
blocks, for example. I also want to say a huge thank you to all of the members of families
from this community who have welcomed me absolutely with open arms and with the most amazing hospitality
into their homes to discuss some of these issues. The new amenity blocks are much bigger,
they often have day rooms and so on associated with them, and so I just want to emphasise
again, as we have done, to all local authorities, that upgrade money is available through the
capital grants. We are, of course, in consultation with the communities about what they want
and how that works, so that’s very important indeed.
We also are ensuring that all the principles of equality and fairness remain central to
the delivery of our other plans, which this complements, so I take Si‚n Gwenllian’s
point about employability and skills, for example, and some of the other issues that
she raised. It’ll be central to our new employability plan that we promote the consideration of
the needs of all protected groups, and I’ll be in discussion with my ministerial colleagues
about how best to ensure that that’s done, and also that we fund employability schemes
specifically in communities that are experiencing particular levels of need, so that they’re
tailored in a particular way, because this community has very specific requirements.
I’m also pleased that the new plan means that Business Wales will be able to support those
communities to establish their own businesses, which is very often what they actually want.
I just want to emphasise two other things from Si‚n Gwenllian’s contribution. I’ve
had many conversations with young people as well across these sites, and the issue about
play areas comes up. And, again, Deputy Presiding Officer, I’d like to emphasise to local authorities,
who I know are aware, but it’s worth restating, that capital grant can be used to upgrade
such things as play facilities and so on. But we are also keen that we are not creating
a completely separate set of amenities. So, where there is a suitable play area for a
particular site nearby, we just want to ensure that there are safe access routes to that,
safe access routes to schools and so on, so we’re not making an isolated community either,
unless there are no reasonable-to-reach play facilities.
I’ve also had it emphasised to me that, sometimes, we have unintended consequences from some
of our other policies around safer routes to schools and so on, on which we’re working
very hard with the specific communities that have raised those issues, because we know
that in a community that sometimes faces barriers, we need to make sure that all the barriers
under our control are as low as possible to ensure continued participation in education
and skills training and so on. So, it’s a complex area, and we very much have the wishes
and desires of the communities that we’re seeking to assist at the centre of our plan.
Michelle Brown AM: Thank you for your statement, leader of the house, and for the announcement
of your new plan. I must say at the outset that I’ve always had a great deal of sympathy
for the Traveller, Gypsy, Roma and other such communitiesóI think they’ve been treated
very badly over the years. Successive Governments have made their way of life all but impossible,
removing traditional sites, stripping away common land, and bringing them into conflict
with the communities that they travel through and they want to settle temporarily in. So,
I therefore welcome your efforts to support those communities and facilitate that way
of life. At the end of the day, we want to support
people’s individual choicesóas long as they don’t harm anybody elseóand I think, you
know, the support that you’re trying to offer the Traveller and Gypsy community is commendable,
particularly with the attempt to provide the camping sites for them, and winter stop-overs
for show people, et cetera. I’m also glad to see an intended emphasis
on there being a person-centred approach. These communities may be distinct in general
terms from others, but every community is made up of individuals with their own particular
needs, so I’m really pleased to see Welsh Government recognising that.
I’m also happy to see Welsh Government talking about the integration of Gypsy, Roma and other
Traveller communities. As I’ve said, the actions of Governments and local authorities over
the years have served to divide those communities from others, and everything that can be done
to integrate the two, to get these different communities talking to one another, co-operating
with one another and understanding one another, is all to the good, so I welcome your objective
of integration. But can you give us details of the work that will be done to foster relations
between the Traveller communities and local people?
I note that the newest plan replaces one published in 2011. Can the leader of the house summarise
the lessons learned from the implementation of the previous plan? What were the successes
of that plan? What were the failures? And how are you building on that experience for
this new plan, and what are you going to do going forward? The leader of the house says
that progress has been slower than she’d like. Where do you think these impediments to progress
are coming from? What measures are you taking, in conjunction with local authorities, educational
establishments and the health service as well, to overcome those impediments and achieve
the very laudable objectives of the last plan and this new one?
And then, turning to the educational chances of children from Traveller, Roma and Gypsy
communities, I note that you admitóI think everybody would probably agree with youóthat
the performance of these children still lags behind others and that’s not acceptable. It’s
very well noting this, but it’s not a new problem, and it’s been highlighted before.
Promises have been made to address the problem, but what practical measures are you now going
to be putting in place to encourage engagement with education and attendance at school, in
particular for girls from Traveller and Roma communities? I mean, sometimes girls need
additional help. Thank you. Julie James AM: Thank you very much for that.
You’re rightly highlighting some of the complexities of dealing with a range of people with different
ways of life, different expectations and different outcomes that each particular community wants.
I’ll try and cover off some of those. I should have said in response to Si‚n GwenllianóMichelle
Brown has just touched on it as wellóthat actually many of the communities want to develop
their own sites, and so we’ve worked very hard with local authorities and planning departments
to facilitate that, where at all possible. So, although there are local authority-provided
sites, many members of the community want to develop their own sites, and we’ve worked
very hard to ensure that. You asked about some of the barriers, and
I did mention the transit sites. There have been particular difficulties in developing
transit sites because of local authority boundaries, which are particularly unhelpful in some areas.
So, we’re working very hard with a range of local authorities and, as Mark Isherwood pointed
out, along a known cycle of transit to make sure that we can put that in place, but that
has been slower than we would have liked. We’re putting a renewed emphasis on some of
that. In terms of some of the other things, we’re
working very hard for inclusion and to develop different ways of working so that, if you
have somebody with a travelling lifestyle, then you have to have flexible ways of ensuring
that they stay connected. So, we’re looking at all of the ways that we can do that, to
ensure that we can accept swift enrolment in local schools, for example, or with GP
practices, and we’re working very hard on that.
Deputy Presiding Officer, I think it’s extremely important as well, as Michelle Brown touched
on it, just to say that we know that many Gypsy and Traveller people still experience
a level of hate crime and other discrimination, which is completely unacceptable, and I just
want to urge anyone affected by hate crime to report and seek support by contacting their
local police on 101, or 999 if it’s an emergency; and just to highlight that we fund Victim
Support Cymru to provide emotional, practical and advocacy support for anyone affected by
any one of those issues. We also fund, as Michelle Brown asked, the
Travelling Ahead project to provide support to Gypsy and Travellers under three separate
themes, one of which is anti-discrimination. Travelling Ahead is the third-party reporting
centre to support Gypsies and Travellers to build confidence to report crimes that they
experience in this way. We also fund eight regional community cohesion co-ordinators
across Wales, whose work plan includes consideration of Gypsy and Traveller communities, and they
co-ordinate support for public understanding of issues around site development. They produce
myth-busting materials and provide training to elected members in local authorities who
are looking at plans to support Gypsy/Traveller communities.
Jenny Rathbone AM: Thank you, leader of the house, for your statement. I think it’s very
heartening to hear that we’ve got cross-party support for this plan, because I think that’s
incredibly important. As you say, this is a real litmus test of whether or not we’re
a civilised society. You also point out that discrimination against these communities is
considered to be the last acceptable form of racism, and clearly we need to tackle that.
I’m interested that you are encouraging people to report any discrimination that they’re
suffering to the police. I was a little bit disturbed to read about a survey done by the
Traveller movement recently, with various police forces, about the attitudes amongst
some police forces and the lack of due regard for their public sector equality duties in
relation to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. This survey and other issues
that have been uncovered are going to be presented to the National Police Chiefs Council this
Friday. I’ve no idea whether any of the Welsh police forces have been involved, but clearly,
were there to be any causes for concern, we would need to pick that up. I think it’s particularly
important at this time, when Gypsy, Roma and Travellers are being harassed across Europe,
particularly, unfortunately, in Italy most recently, where there are even attempts at
ethnic cleansing, which is very disturbing. I just want to now turn to the important points
you’re making about ensuring that Gypsies, Travellers and Roma are doing well in education,
because I do recall that the achievement amongst Gypsies and Travellers is notably worse than
for any other ethnic minority group. I just want to highlight the excellent work being
done at Cathays High School, which is actually in Julie Morgan’s constituency, but it’s on
the edge of mine, and many of them actually live in Cardiff Central. Patrik Bandy is a
Czech Roma, who joined Cathays High School in year 8. He achieved A and A* in art and
design and textiles at GCSE. He then went on to take three A-levels, and then he had
numerous universities that wanted to give him a place because of the excellence of his
work. He’s just completed his first year at Cardiff Metropolitan University, and he’s
already put on fashion shows, and he’s clearly going to be somebody we’re going to hear about
in the future. Secondly, Cynthia Kandurova is a Czech Roma
who is currently excelling at A-level English as well as health and social care, and she’s
hoping to read English literature at university in the future. I think this reflects the really
great work being done by teachers at Cathays High School, backed up by the minority ethnic
grant. So, I wondered what conversations you’ve had with the Cabinet Secretary for Education
about the continuance of the minority ethnic achievement grant, because I think it’s really,
really importantóparticularly if we’ve got pupils coming in in-year, we do need to input
extra support for them to ensure they settle down in their education.
I just want to ask if there are any local authorities that are resisting establishing
new sites for the Gypsy and Roma Traveller community, because I remember having conversations
with Carl Sargeant about this when we were passing the relevant legislation, and he was
absolutely adamant that we needed to ensure that there were sites in every local authority,
not just the good onesóin every local authority. Julie James AM: Yes, thank you for that insightful
range of questions. We are very mindful of the potential impact of Brexit on the rights
and status of Roma from other EU member states, and we’re obviously working hard to better
understand the UK Government’s plans to communicate information about the settled status process
to particular communities, because these are communities that struggle to get information
of the right sort anyway. We want to ensure that we use all the tools at our disposal
to ensure that those messages have got out and people have assistance to apply for the
status as they are required to do so. But obviously until the UK Government announces
how the settled status system will work exactly, there’s a potential for unintentionally confusing
messages and many in the community are wary of confusing messages from officials in any
event. So, we’ll want to work very hard indeed to make sure that the contributions made by
citizens of other EU member states are recognised, they get the status, and we want them to stay
here and thrive with us. So, we want to make sure that that is enabled as much as possible.
In terms of the education issue, we have provided additional funding this year. Obviously there
have been some issues around that. We are working very hard to make sure that we work
with all our local authorities to make sure that the money is channelled in a way, but
this is the difficulty and the ongoing conversation around hypothecated and unhypothecated funding.
We want our local authorities to be able to respond to the needs in their area, and there
is a long and complex argument about how local authorities put that together. But we have
provided £8.7 million this financial year to assist with that, and we are certainly
working very hard with colleagues, Rebecca Evans in particular, on making sure that we
have the right guidance in place to support the most marginalised people who benefit from
all of those grants. There are a whole series of other issues around
the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. The housing Act has been instrumental in galvanising local
authorities and we’re very proud of it, but there are issues around whether, if a local
authority didn’t identify any need in its area because it hasn’t got a settled Gypsy,
Traveller or Roma population, then some of the issues with transit sites then come into
play. As I said, hindsight’s a wonderful thing, so we’re working very hard to overcome some
of those. But at the moment, you have a duty if there’s a recognised need, so we’re working
hard across Wales to ensure that all the needs are correctly identified and we have the capital
grant in place to assist with the development of those sites.
As I said, I’ve talked already about the regional community cohesion workers, and I just wanted
to pay tribute to some of the people who’ve worked extremely hard with the Gypsy, Roma,
Traveller learners. We know that attainment still lags behind, but I do want to pay tribute
to the workforce who’ve worked extremely hard to engage the community and to get the young
women in particular engaged in the learning process. I met with Julie Morgan, only the
other day, a set of young learners who were certainly not shy of coming forward with some
of their concerns. It was a real pleasure, so it’s lovely to hear the highlighted examples
that you gave of what can be attained when people get the ability to achieve their potential.
Julie Morgan AM: I’m very pleased that the Welsh Government is continuing its commitment
to make Wales an equal society for all, including the most marginalised, as the leader of the
house said. I was particularly glad that you started off your statement recognising the
strong entrepreneurial spirit that Gypsies, Roma and Travellers have, and the different
perspectives, and the fact that there is a diverse range of backgrounds, cultures and
languages. I do think it is the right thing to include
Roma in this strategy. I don’t know whether you’re able to say any more about the discussions
you’ve had about that, because I know it is a complicated issue.
I also welcome the site development and the money that’s going to be put in, and I welcome
the security of tenure and proposals for transit sites. I’m also pleased that the leader of
the house says that the Government wants local authorities to be more proportionate about
resolving unauthorised encampments. I had a letter from a young, 15-year-old, Gypsy/Traveller
young woman. I don’t know whether she sent a letter to the leader of the house as well,
but it was a deeply moving letter. She says how ‘millions are spent removing Travellers
from illegal sites instead of putting into our education. Do you think we would be living
on illegal grounds if we were educated, instead of being labelled a tramp, gyppo, pikey and
thief before you even know us and try to understand?’ That was part of her letter, and I think that,
if you look at it through the views of a child, a young person, and see the amount of money
that is spent on moving people onó. So, I’m glad that you’ve said that you’re going to
encourage local authorities to take a more proportionate response.
So, I think there is progress, which is great, but obviously there are still areas of concern.
There are still concerns about the poor health outcomes that have already been mentioned.
In the cross-party group, which I chair, we’ve heard a lot of examples of where Gypsies and
Travellers have met prejudice, really, when they’re trying to access healthcare, so I
think there’s a lot more to do there. But it’s absolutely vital, I think, that front-line
health professionals all receive awareness training and training in equality and cultural
awareness, which I know is in the action plan. So, I think it’s very important that we do
that and that we also are able to measure when it’s done and keep track of how it’s
going. I also welcome the plan to find a model to
fund specialist services for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller women who need specialist support
because they’re victims of violence, domestic abuse and sexual violenceóI think that’s
very important. And then, to go on to education, because,
of course, education has been raised here a lot this afternoon, we obviously have got
the aim of improving educational outcomes. However, there is still a lot of concern amongst
the Gypsy/Traveller community and their supporters about what is happening to the Traveller education
service, which, it appears, some local authorities are struggling to continue to fund.
I know that the Neath Port Talbot Gypsy, Roma and Traveller education service has a petition
about the cuts to the education budget, which are affecting the service. I understand that
many staff in local authorities across Wales are facing the threat of redundancy in this
service. This service has been so important in supporting Gypsy and Traveller young people,
and I think it’s really only because of that service that we have made the progress that
we have in education. This young person refers movingly to the help
that she’s been given by this service, so I don’t know whether the leader of the house
is able to give any view on that. This young person says, ‘My ethnicityó
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Are you winding up, please?
Julie Morgan AM: Yes, okay. Finally, when I met the Gypsy young people with you, I think
the issue was raised about broadband, and I wondered whether you had anything to comment
about that. And then the last question is about Gypsies
and Traveller people who live in housesówhether any effort has been made to contact them and
to sense what they’re feeling. Julie James AM: You’d expect nothing less
from Julie Morgan than a comprehensive overview of the issues. She’s worked tirelessly in
this regard all her life, I think, actually, it’s fair to say, in a proud family tradition.
On the health issues, we have gone to some trouble to make sure that the plan details
how we intend to narrow the gap in health outcomes between Gypsies, Roma, Travellers
and the wider population, and that includes both physical and mental health. Therefore,
all of the actions in this section will be undertaken with due consideration to both
of those aspects, as that was always raised with me in some of the meetings that we’ve
attended together. There’s a specific action within this section
that covers the monitoring of local health board completion of health needs assessments,
and that these results are then properly fed into the service planning, and I mentioned
before about recording the ethnicity in order to be able to track the data, so that we do
continue to have good data about whether it’s working, and we’ll get the required evidence
in responding to health needs, including mental health, and demonstrate where the additional
action is needed as a result of the gathering of that. We also want to make sure that we
have it as central to the plan when we consult the community to make sure that that recording
is working properly and to their benefit, so that’s a really big part of it.
In terms of the broadband, I’m delighted to say that we are looking now to see whether
we can have good broadband on all of the local authority sites. The young woman, who I was
very impressed by, Deputy Presiding Officer, was very vehement to me that, if we want to
have flexible arrangements on sites so that people can log in and out of Hwb for education
or My Health Online and so on, it was hopeless if the broadband was inadequate. So, I very
much took that on board, and we’re going to some efforts now to make sure that all of
our sites map out where they are with that, and make sure that the broadband is properly
extended to cover that. The other issue is to make sure that we have
the right connections with our Travelling Ahead project to contact all of the people
who are in our communities, including the ones who happen to be in settled accommodation
at this time. I was very moved by one of the families that offered me an enormous amount
of hospitality, about her distress at having to be in ‘bricks and mortar’, as she calls
it, while her daughter was at university, and her desperation to get back out of that
as soon as possible. The strength of her feeling was plain. So, we need to make sure that we
take into account all of those issues, and I’m very, very determined to do so.
And, in terms of the learner support, as I said, I wanted to pay tribute to that. We
will be working very hard with local authorities to ensure that the additional money we’ve
given them so far goes into the right places, and to understand how they’re doing the needs
assessments. Because I understand as well from the consultations that we’ve undertaken
that some of the services appear to be under threat, and I don’t really see why that should
be happening. So, we’re going to be looking very carefully to make sure that it doesn’t
happen, because we are funding that. Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
And, finally, John Griffiths. John Griffiths AM: Diolch, Dirprwy Lywydd.
I do very much agree that it is a test of our new democracy here in Wales how we counter
the discrimination and prejudice that Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities face, and I
guess many of us who are familiar with issues around proposed local sites in our constituencies
will understand the level of suspicion and, unfortunately, ignorance that often exists.
And I just wonder, leader of the house, in terms of the history week and the media effort
and perhaps particularly local papers, which can be very useful at getting the positive
stories and the positive human interest stories across, how Welsh Government will work with
those possibilities and take forward a cohesion strategy to address some of these misunderstandings,
which, unfortunately, are quite strong, and tackle some of the, again, misunderstandings
around illegal sites, the sort of points people make, which are, ‘Why then do you want to
establish a settled site when these people want to travel around and they don’t want
to be settled?’ There are all sorts of understandings that people have that come from folk history,
really, that really don’t fit in with the way the modern age operates, and the way cultures
and communities have moved on. Just in terms of the Roma community, I do
welcome the focus that’s now present. My own experience locally is of schools doing really
good work. Lliswerry comprehensive in Newport, for example, has a substantial number of Roma
children. They work very well with them and their families. I think it’s been found that
employing somebody as a bridge, somebody from the Roma community as a bridge, with authority,
as it’s seen, and the more formal world, can be very useful in terms of communication and
getting policies implemented effectively on the ground. And I just wonder whether that
experience of what works in some parts of Wales where there are substantial Roma communities
is properly evaluated and spread through the medium of Welsh Government.
Julie James AM: Yes, that’s a very good point that you make there, John Griffiths. We have
got some very good examples across Wales of really good engagement with Roma, Gypsy and
Traveller communities, and I’m sure we could all name schools across Wales that have done
really good work. So, we will be working very hard with colleagues in the education department
to make sure we spread that out. And, of course, I just want to say that it’s a very central
part of our new Donaldson curriculum that people become ethical, informed citizens of
the world. So, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and I have ensured that part of that informed
citizen theme will be particular modules on Roma, Gypsy and Traveller people. As I said,
they are some of the most marginalised and discriminated against people in our society.
It’s very important that their history is properly understood. We do fund the community
cohesion workers to produce myth-busting materials and provide training, in particular to elected
members, who have responsibility for putting some of our planning into practice. But I
do think it’s a very good idea to include media in that and I will certainly take that
forward as an excellent suggestion. Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Thank you very much, leader of the house. Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Item 7 on the agenda this afternoon is a statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social
Services, ‘BrexitóThe Risks for the Future of Health and Social Care in Wales’. I call
on the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething.
Vaughan Gething AM: Thank you, Deputy Presiding Officer. The United Kingdom is due to leave
the European Union in March next year followed by a transition period until December 2020.
Brexit has significant implications for the people, public services and businesses of
Wales. Today I’ll set out some of the main challenges facing health and social care.
In particular, I want to address challenges to our workforce, public health systems, access
to current and new medicines, medical technology and innovation, the necessity of continued
international research, collaboration and innovation, protecting access to essential
healthcare for EU citizens in Wales and indeed Welsh citizens in the European Union. I’ve
issued a written statement to complement this oral statement, setting out more detail.
As the UK leaves the European Union, significant aspects of the devolved settlement will no
longer be constrained by EU law. There are 64 areas relevant to the Welsh Government,
11 of which are directly relevant to health and social services. To protect the interests
and promote the priorities of Wales, my officials are actively engaged in groups established
with the UK and Scottish Governments to assess the implications of these returning powers,
to identify any necessary legislative changes and to resolve the co-ordination arrangements
needed across the UK post Brexit. In particular, they’re considering the implications if no
deal is reached and the implications for Wales if that wholly catastrophic situation is allowed
to happen. The Welsh Government set out six priorities
for our new relationship with the European Union. One of these priorities is that any
new migration system should link migration policy more closely to employment, so that
we can recruit the doctors, nurses and other health and care workers that we need, whilst
protecting them from exploitation. Right from the start, our messages have been clear and
consistent: we recognise the value we place on staff from other countries; we remind stakeholders
how the NHS and social care sectors have always drawn on talented people from across the globe;
and, in a European context, free movement benefits not only people who deliver services
but also, of course, the people who receive them. EU nationals make up an important part
of the NHS and social care workforce. Every single employee must be made to feel welcomed
and valued for the role that they play in delivering services that benefit the people
of Wales. More than that, we welcome the contribution that people make to communities across Wales
as friends, neighbours and citizens of our country.
Health threats do not respect national borders. UK citizens currently benefit from EU systems
designed to protect public health across Europe. For example, the European Centre for Disease
Prevention and Control provides countries across the EU with protection against notifiable
communicable disease outbreaks and public health risks through a single database. Delays
in communication around crisis management, or divergence in standards and procedures
between Europe and the UK post Brexit could lead to delays in action being taken during
a crisis and pose a significant risk to public health. So, ensuring close collaborative links
from day one after Brexit will be key to ensuring the people of Wales maintain full protection.
This relies upon effective data sharing to avoid returning to the days of quarantine.
The EU-wide system on data sharing is overseen by the European Court of Justice. If that
is not agreed for the future, then the default position will be that data cannot be shared
with the UK. That would pose an unacceptable risk to public health here in Wales.
The UK has, of course, become used to a high level of food standards and safety, including
labelling. Much of this legislation is derived from European Union law. There are effective
and rapid systems for exchanging cross-border intelligence and information about serious
food risks and food fraud. These systems supply the UK with a warning of any identified threats
to food safety from across the EU. That’s essential for the protection of public health,
to maintain consumers’ confidence in their food and to maintain the reputation of UK
food businesses. There is a real risk that a European transition could adversely impact
the quality and transparency that we have come to expect in this area. So, we want to
see strong communication internally across the UK and with our European counterparts
to manage risks related to food safety. Decades of co-operation and harmonisation
of standards on medicines and medical technologies have produced proven benefits for citizens
across Europe. All medicines and technologies must be of a high standard, proven to be safe
and effective before they can be placed on the EU market. Any substantial divergence
from Europe would leave us worse off. Restrictions on trade, custom checks and trade tariffs
are likely to reduce the availability of some medicines, cause delays in supply, and lead
to higher prices. This will also affect future investment choices for companies developing
medicines and medical devices. Without a customs union and tariff-free trade with the single
market, Wales and the rest of the UK will become less attractive for these well-paid
jobs. Separate approval systems will impact the
pace at which we can access new medicines and technologies. For example, in Switzerland
and Canada, which have separate approval systems, medicines typically reach the market six months
later than in the EU. Any delays on that scale are simply unacceptable. We will continue
to press the UK Government to ensure that Welsh and UK patients continue to get early
access to new effective drugs, treatment options and the latest medical technologies.
Countries and regions across the world face common and significant health and care challenges.
Those challenges can’t be addressed in isolation. So, continued collaboration in research, development
and innovation is essential. EU programmes provide robust opportunities for health and
social care professionals and businesses to collaborate with each other on common goals.
We want our health and care researchers and innovators to continue to work with partners
throughout Europe and beyond, building on our track record of success.
Finally, I want to address the implications of Brexit for cross-border and reciprocal
healthcare arrangements that we currently enjoy with our European neighbours. This healthcare
is provided under the same conditions and at the same cost as people insured in that
country. Under the proposed terms of the transition agreement, EU nationals currently in the UK
and UK nationals living in the EU will be able to continue to live abroad and have the
same access to healthcare as they do now. However, the future axis of those reciprocal
arrangements is not yet guaranteed as they are subject to the outcome of the negotiations
between the EU and the UK Government. But one thing I can make clear: access to NHS
Wales operates on a residency basis. That means that free healthcare is provided to
people who are ordinarily resident in Wales. Health boards in Wales will not refuse treatment
to EU citizens who are ordinarily resident in Wales if there are any difficulties regarding
their right to live in this country during the transitional period.
The Brexit risks for health and social care are obvious and critical. If unresolved, they
will have real and lasting consequences for our services, for individuals, families and
communities across Wales. The Welsh Government will continue to make the case for these to
be addressed in any deal to leave the EU. No- one should be in any doubt that leaving
the EU without a deal is the worst possible scenario for health and social care in Wales.
Angela Burns AM: Thank you for your statement today. I think you’re absolutely right to
raise the challenges that we all face, whether we’re in Wales or in the UK, in regard to
leaving the EU under terms of an agreement that are satisfactory to all of us. However,
I do think that there’s a degree of mischief making in this statement because this is still
a negotiation, as you well know, and I do want to reiterate very clearly that the UK
Government does not want or expect a ‘no deal’ outcome. So, the question I would like to
ask you, Cabinet Secretary, is: if faced with Hobson’s choice, a bad deal or no deal, which
would you prefer? Because I personally would not like to sign Wales and the UK up to something
that is utterly untenable. You have said again and again in this statement that a ‘no deal’
would be awful, and I agree with you; I want to deal that is good for Wales and good for
the UK. But I’d like your clarity, where you stand, on the difference between walking away
from something that’s awful and just going for it.
The second point that I would like to ask you about is that you very clearly state in
here, and you have in previous commentary, that you are, or your officials are, very
actively engaged on groups that have been established with both the UK and Scottish
Governments to discuss all the various implications of us leaving the European Union. Could you
please give us a little bit more detail about those groups, what they sit on, what they’re
looking at, and how they are contributing towards this debate, so that we can be assured
that we are actually making our voice, as Wales, heard in the right place and we are
having an effect on the discussions that are taking place at present?
Given that your officials are actively engaged on these groups, you do raise a serious number
of questions that we already know some of the answers to. On assurances that health
and social care staff currently working in Wales would be able to stay in the UK, the
Government have very, very clearly said that; they’ve laid out very clearly that European
people who reside in Wales, and in the UK, will be able to stay, and vice versa. They’ve
talked about the healthcare, the pension rights, and they’ve talked about the recognition of
qualificationsóagain, another point that you raise in your written statement that you
issued earlier on today. Absolutely valid things to ask, but my question back to you
is: if you’re not clear on the answer to these, then what groups are your officials working
on? Because I would’ve thought that you would have known that all of this had been discussed,
that these points had been raised, and you would know how far down that particular direction
of travel we already are. Because you’re absolutely right, Cabinet Secretary; it is vital that
our friends and our partners in the European Union understand how much we value them, and
that those who work in our NHS, and in our social care, and, indeed, in any part of Wales,
understand how vital we think that their input is in our country. So, I do not quarrel with
you on that, but I do not wish to see any form of frightening people when things have
already been discussed and agreed. So, I’ll be interested to understand your take on this
and why you feel that those assurances that have already been agreed, and have already
been put out into the public space, are not acceptable.
Regulation of medicines: I’ve raised this here myself, with you and definitely the First
Ministerówith you in a speech, but with the First Minister directlyóbecause I think that’s
incredibly important, and I’d like to understand if your groups have been working on that,
and what progress you’ve been able to make on this.
I would like to finally end by saying that this is for negotiation; it is still ongoing.
Seventy-five per cent of the outstanding issues were agreed at stage 1 of the negotiations
between the UK Government and the European Union. Much has already been agreed in stage
2, and I just wonder if you would like me to send you a copy of the joint statement
from the negotiators of the European Union and United Kingdom Government on the progress
of the negotiations dated 19 June of this year, because I think that would actually
very clearly lay out the position. Vaughan Gething AM: Thank you for your comments.
All of the issues that I have mentioned are being discussed between Governments within
the United Kingdom. So, there is a constructive conversation taking place, but I think it’s
important to set out the range of risks that do exist before we reach a final deal. And
on the issues that I have mentioned thus far, none of them have been bottomed out in terms
of post transition; that’s the challenge. In particular, for example, you mention longer-term
residency; there’s an agreement up to the transition, but there isn’t an agreement after
that. So, I think it’s entirely proper to raise that these are matters that do need
to be resolved in any final deal and have not been resolved to date. This is not a matter
of mischief making; I think we just need to be honest about the range of risks that we
carry if we don’t have a good deal and information that people are not commonly aware of on the
detail of each of these areas. You asked a question about a bad dealóno
deal or a bad deal. The problem is that the worst possible deal is no deal. That is the
worst possible deal, and so there is a challenge here about being honest with each other about
that, and the difficulties we have with the position being taken in negotiations. For
example, the role of the ECJ is a red line at present for the UK Government. That’s problematic
because of the range of issues that we talked about where there is co-operation across Europe,
currently overseen by the ECJ. Now, other countries that have arrangements with the
European Union sign up to formally agree how that oversight operates. If there’s to be
no oversight, then the default position is that we’ll fall outside the arrangements that
I know that you value, and, actually, I think the UK department for health values as well.
So, the challenge is whether we can inject a dose of reality into the discussion, the
debate and the negotiations. From my point of view, when you talk also
about things that aren’t finalised, like the equivalence of qualifications, well, that
isn’t finalised. There is absolutely not a finalised position on that, and the points
that I have made today are underscored, supported by and amplified by a range of other commentators
within the field of health and social care, not party politicians. I’ll give you some
examples: the NHS Confederation working together with social care partners, the Academy of
Medical Royal Colleges, the Royal College of Nursing and, indeed, the BMA as well. So,
this is not an area where there is mischief making; this is an area of real, clear and
present concern that has to be managed not just between health departments within the
UK agreeing what we think matters, but actually it’s for the UK Government to deliver a deal
on Brexit and not to make sure that people who voted to leave or to remain are subjected
to wholly unacceptable risks to their health that nobody voted for two years ago.
Rhun ap Iorwerth AM: Thank you, Cabinet Secretary, for your statement today. It’s a long list,
isn’t it, of things that, without question, pose a threat to the delivery of health and
social care post Brexit. I was reading a Welsh NHS Confederation policy forum briefing earlier
today, bringing together some of their main concerns: supply of workforce, the need for
continued recognition of professional qualifications, protection of employment rights and patient
rights, the need to continue to participate in EU collaborative programmes, making sure
that regulatory alignment continues for the benefit of patients and the public’s health,
preserving reciprocal healthcare arrangements, ensuring robust co-ordination mechanisms on
public healthóit’s a long, long list of areas and we couldn’t possibly address all of them
here today. I don’t know if you, Angela Burns, want to
accuse me of mischief making also for being concerned about these areas, but coming off
the back of Andrew R.T. Davies, the Welsh Conservative leader’s totally inappropriate
comments yesterday on Airbus, accusing them of making threats, you are doing yourselves
a disservice and the Welsh public a disservice by being so blasÈ about the biggest threat
that we have faced in modern times here in Wales.
Let me turn to a series of question to you, if I can, Cabinet Secretary. First of all,
on the transport of medicines under Euratom and associated agreements, there are clearly
two differing interpretations here. The first interpretation, held by the Association of
the British Pharmaceutical Industry and also others working in the NHS, is that a ‘no deal’
Brexit is highly dangerous for patients, given the short shelf lives of the products we’re
talking about, making the need for seamless transport across borders essential. This makes
it impossible to stockpile medicines and so on. The second interpretation held by the
UK Government is that the nuclear safeguards Bill passing through Parliament now means
that there is no problem. So, which interpretation do you agree with and what are your contingency
plans for a ‘no deal’ Brexit if you agree with that first interpretation?
Secondly, turning to access to research networks and funding, what proactive stepsóproactive
stepsóhas your Government taken to ensure that our universities and our life sciences
sector can continue to participate in these networks in the event of a hard Brexit? Or
perhaps your Government is content to let the UK Government take those proactive steps.
On staffing, one issue that’s particularly concerning to us is the fact that we have
no data on the social care and independent sector workforce, and how that will be placed
at risk through a hard Brexit. So, what steps are you taking to collect and evaluate this
data? Finally, my fourth question: we have to look
at the indirect impact of things on the NHS; do you think that there’s a threat to the
NHS from different outcomes in trade negotiations, for example?
Vaughan Gething AM: Thank you for all the questions. I want to reiterate that the Welsh
Government continues to support our life sciences sector, research and innovation and we’re
working practically to see how we can participate in the future rounds of collaboration across
Europe. That’s a really significant risk for us. We’re actually doing very well in terms
of research collaboration at present and the amount of funding that UK-based organisations
actually win. That is one of the biggest risks that we face if there isn’t a sensible agreement,
and that will require the United Kingdom to pay into those research and collaboration
pots to be able to continue to participate in them. So, we’re making our views absolutely
clear on that, and the scientific community across the UK, not just in Wales, is nearly
unanimous in its view of the essential nature of continuing to participate in those networks
and the loss of people that will take place if a deal does not agree to do so.
I want to deal briefly with your point about the social care workforce, then I’ll come
back to trade, customs and Euratom at the same time, if I may. We recognise we have
got a weakness in understanding our data about the current social care workforce and the
number of non-UK workers, both European Union workers and those from outside the European
Union too. That’s why my officials are already working with Social Care Wales on a bid to
the European transition fund to have a further amount of research to give us a fuller and
more accurate picture of the workforce we currently have in the social care sector and,
indeed, where they have come from, and, indeed, more recent trends of people who are and are
not coming into that sector in the more recent past since the vote two years ago.
But I think your question on Euratom mirrors a number of points that I’ve made in other
fora about the real risks of a ‘no deal’ arrangement. If there are barriers to trade, that will
affect a wide range of things, so medicines, but Euratom is particularly important, and
it’s also one where both trade arrangements that are tariff free and a customs union really
do matter. Any delays in the ports don’t just affect perishable goods in the food supply,
but, actually, radioisotopes are hugely important. Nuclear medicine and the ability to diagnose
and to treat a range of conditions are hugely important to a modern health service. We import
nearly all of the radioisotopes used within the health service right across the United
Kingdom. Coming out of Euratom was not something that I ever heard in any part of any debate
during the referendum two years ago, but apparently the United Kingdom Government are saying that
that is what they wish to do. Well, coming out of that, given that we are less than a
year away from EU exit day and transition, would be disastrous. In terms of nuclear medicine,
it would have huge problems. It simply could not be replicated; we could not replicate
the ability to supply and create those radioisotopes within the UK within that period of time,
and the ability to transport them from elsewhere is limited. Because of the half-life of the
radioisotopes that are created, actually, you have a limited period of time to make
proper use of them. It’s one of these areas where there’s got
to be a dose of reality about what ‘no deal’ means. It means if you sign up to a no deal,
you are basically saying the NHS, for a significant period of time, won’t undertake these treatments.
That would be wholly unacceptable in any and every part of the United Kingdom. So, it is
yet another area where current United Kingdom Government red lines need to give way to reality
and common sense, and our responsibility as elected representatives is to serve the best
interests of our people and not to pretend that we aren’t on a guaranteed crash course
to do the very worst thing for health and social care here in Wales and, indeed, right
across the United Kingdom. Caroline Jones AM: Like the majority of the
UK voting public, I voted to leave the EU, and my opinion hasn’t changed. Our NHS was
created long before the EU and will be here long after we leave. Are there risks? Yes,
but no-one really expects that these risks wonít be addressed in a future deal.
We are leaving the EU, not Europe. Our continuing co-operation with European nations will continue,
and I expect some will be strengthened. I agree that we have to ensure that medicines,
equipment and staff should be free of restrictions wherever possible.
People are predicting that Brexit will lead to the collapse of our NHS because we will
lose doctors and nurses. But letís not forget that just over 2 per cent of NHS staff come
from EU countries and just over 5 per cent of our doctors and nurses come from the European
Union. The vast majority of our foreign-trained doctors come from the Indian sub-continent,
followed by Egypt and Iraq. Cabinet Secretary, what discussions have you had with the UK
Government about making it easier to recruit non-EU foreign-trained doctors and nurses
following Brexit? Cabinet Secretary, have you considered the
risks to the future of health and social care in Wales of the UK remaining in the EU? After
all, if it had been up to EU negotiators, our NHS would be at the mercy of large American
corporations as a result of the transatlantic trade and investment partnership.
We need to be looking outward and not inward as we go forward. We live in age where collaboration
is taking place on a global scale. Science doesnít see borders and if we are to tackle
big challenges to our health and well-being, we have to co-operate on a global scale. The
EU alone wonít tackle antimicrobial resistance. The EU alone won’t combat cancer, heart disease
or the obesity crisis. We have to work closer with all nationsóEU and non-EU countriesóto
face these challenges. So, Cabinet Secretary, do you truly believe that it’s in the EU’s
best interests to isolate the UK in the way you highlight in your statements? Although
we have different opinions on Brexit, we do need to work together to ensure that our NHS
and social care sectors do not suffer as a result of Brexit. I don’t believe they will,
unless the EU takes a political decision to punish the UK. So, it is in all our interests
to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Thank you.
Vaughan Gething AM: Thank you for the comments. I’m not surprised that you haven’t changed
your mind on leaving the European Union, but I would have thought that there would be a
dose of reality, again, on what that actually means if we leave with a no deal or a hard
Brexit. Look, on the workforce for the health service outside of the European Union, we’ve
had a long and spirited correspondence and conversation between officials, with the United
Kingdom Government, and, indeed, every organisation representing health and care staff right across
the UK has called on the UK Government, for a long time, to change the environment or
to change the rules around people being recruited into our health service. So, I welcome the
u-turn announced by Sajid Javid to lift the tier 2 restrictions. That was a positive step
forward, and that was always within the gift of the United Kingdom. It was the madness
of having the Home Office say to the health service, ‘You can’t restrict the staff that
you need, who you could recruit to meet our health and care needs, because we put an artificial
cap on the numbers that can come in.’ So, that’s nothing to do with the European Union.
I just think, in terms of your suggestion that this is about the European Union punishing
the United Kingdom, this basically comes down to, if you leave a club and you say, ‘I don’t
want to play by the rules; I want all the benefits, but I’ll then decide what else I
want to do as well’, then that is absolutely where we can’t be. We have to have a range
of measures that deal with the reality of European Union-wide institutions and rules,
and if we want to benefit from those, then we will need to act in a way that is consistent,
and have agreement about doing so. On your point at the start of your speech,
saying nobody wants medicines and equipment to have any restrictionsóof course we want
to be free of restrictions, but that requires us to have systems that allow us to do so.
So, that is why arrangements around customs and trade do matter: 47 million pharmaceutical
products each year go into the European Union, and about 39 million come back the other way.
There’s huge trade going on here between us and the rest of Europe, so the customs arrangements
and trade arrangements really do matter in this area of activity too. They’re underpinned
by EU-wide systems in terms of how medicines and how equipment come into use within Europe.
And there’s a common centrepoint here: we either want that to continue, or we’re prepared
to bear restrictions that will cause real harm to people in our country. My view is
we should not countenance that possibility. We should not wish to say it is acceptable
to have an average six-month delay for new medicines to become available, as is directly
the case now in Switzerland. I do not believe that would be acceptable. The Welsh Government
does not believe that would be acceptable either.
Dawn Bowden AM: Can I thank you, Cabinet Secretary, for this statement setting out clearly the
potential risks to the NHS in Wales that Brexit presents? I have to say, I don’t agree with
Angela Burns that this is about scaring people. I think it is about facing the reality and
preparing people for it, and I think not to do so would be irresponsible. I certainly
don’t want our Government to be as complacent about this issue as, clearly, the UK Government,
the Conservatives and UKIP are. Rhun is absolutely right: there is a long
list of issues that we’ve got to face here, and he mentioned one in particular that I
think carries one of the most significant risks from the uncertainties surrounding Brexit,
and that is the UK’s participation in the hugely important, European-wide clinical trials,
the science and research, and the potential impact that that’s going to have on the growing
life sciences sector in Wales. I know that you did touch on that in your reply to Rhun,
but I think it’s worth noting that this has also been highlighted by a number of organisations,
not least of which is the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, who identified that the UK
received something in the region of Ä8.8 billion in EU research funding between 2007
and 2013, despite only contributing Ä5.4 billion ourselves. So, the UK research funding
was a net beneficiary to the tune of Ä3.5 billion, and Ä40 million of that alone went
into cancer research. So, given that continued access to EU research
and development networks must be a key outcome of the Brexit negotiations, can you say a
bit more about the steps that Welsh Government is taking to ensure that the UK Government
includes that specifically in the final Brexit deal? If that is not achieved again, how specifically
are you planning to militate against this, particularly given your indications that officials
are engaged in discussions around the potentials of a ‘no deal’ scenario?
Vaughan Gething AM: Thank you for the questions. It comes back to the challenge of how responsible
the United Kingdom Government are prepared to be, both in the negotiation on the terms
of a deal to leave the European Union, but also about what then happens afterwards with
the way that funding is used within the United Kingdom.
I think part of the challenge is that there’s a question about money. There’s also a question
about knowledge as well. So, we do overachieve, from an United Kingdom point of view, in a
way that research moneys are allocated, and I think it would be incredibly difficult to
replicate that sum of money without a UK Government willingness to put extra funding into the
research community here. Thus far, it’s been difficult to persuade the United Kingdom Government
to give any sort of commitment on those terms, let alone for the Governments of the United
Kingdom to have a role in helping to design that framework. But, actually, I’m just as
worried about people who are mobile and who are sought-after and desirable people when
it comes to other countries as well, and the opportunity to carry on working in your chosen
field or speciality, the real expertise you can have, and for people to go to other parts
of the world. We actually attract people into this country because of the research expertise
that we have. And those people: there is every prospect that we will lose some of them and
the knowledge that they haveónot just the money, but the knowledge that they haveóto
other countries. In particular, of course, the irony is tható[Inaudible.]ócome from
within the European Union to come to instutions here within the United Kingdom. So, we should
not assume those people are guaranteed to stay regardless of what happens in terms of
the deal, regardless of the funding. I’ll make one further point about what you
mentioned about clinical trials. The European Union is about to have a European Union-wide
framework of clinical trials, where people enter from different parts of Europe to make
that collaboration easier. The United Kingdom helped to write the rules for that. We help
to design that framework to make it easier to do so. If we then place ourselves outside
it, we make it even more difficult to take part, even less likely we’ll be able to take
part, and that will disadvantage people here in Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom.
That’s why I say there has to be a dose of reality and some honesty about not agreeing
a deal, and what that means, because, very quickly, we will see the suffering that we
will cause, and it’s all wholly avoidable. Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Thank you very much. We have had one speaker from each of the parties, and therefore I
have three more speakers. So, I’m going to ask you just to give a brief introduction
and one or possibly two very short, succinct questions, please. Suzy Davies.
Suzy Davies AM: Diolch, Dirprwy Lywydd. Thank you for your statement. I think it might have
been just been a little bit more balanced if you had mentioned the £1.3 billion innovation
fund that was mentioned by the UK Government. There are other ways of dealing with some
of the challenges that you raised here without being quite so gloomy about it. What I wanted
to ask you specifically was: this is ‘Brexitóthe Risks for the Future of Health and Social
Care in Wales’óI can’t really see anything in your statement about social care, and I’m
hoping that this is not going to be a recurring theme when we’re talking about the integration
agenda. So, I’m wondering if you can tell me particularly which of the current European
programmes to which we might have access after Brexit you might like us to buy into, which
might be of advantage for social care innovation and knowledge, and, secondly, whether you
can give us some indication of how you’ve reached the figure you think that we have
for the number of EU nationals currently working in social care. I appreciate that, because
we don’t have registration, that’s difficult, but I’m quite curious to know where you got
the figure from because a simple extrapolation from a UK figure won’t be accurate, bearing
in mind that 12 per cent of the EU national care workforce works in London, and only 2
per cent works in the north-east of England, for example. Thank you.
Vaughan Gething AM: I’ve already said in answers to other questions that we are reviewing the
workforce data here because we want to more easily understand the number of European Union
nationals who work in the social care workforce here. But you and I will know, if you visit
a range of residential care facilities in particular, you will meet people from across
the globe, and lots of European Union nationals are undertaking that. That’s why we’re undertaking
the research to understand and have a more accurate picture. Indeed, when it comes to
the field of research, we are talking about health and social care research as well. So,
that knowledge is shared because we want to see a developing area of social care research.
At present, Health and Care Research Wales is deliberately going and choosing to look
at social care priorities, and as you and I both know, from a health and social care
point of view, a range of these challenges don’t neatly recognise the boundaries that
we currently draw in the way that health and social care work. So, in almost all of those
fields of activity and expertise you will see a social care contribution that is potentially
lost in not having a similar expertise to be shared within Europe. But I really do think
that it’s something of a stretch to say that this would cast any doubt on the integration
agenda in the plan that we have actually set out for the future of health and social care
in Wales. We are taking that forward with vigour and with real positivity from our colleagues
in the social care sector. We’re going to take a series of meetings with health boards
and local authorities together through the rest of the summer.
Steffan Lewis AM: I thank the Cabinet Secretary for his statement today, although I am surprised
that, in his statement, there’s a failure to refer to the potential risks of international
trade deals should we leave the European customs union. Surely the biggest threat facing the
founding principles of the NHS as it approaches its seventieth year is that of new international
trade deals led by Dr Liam Fox. In the last few weeks we’ve seen the President
of the United States openly state that his aim in trade talks with the UK will be to
impose higher prices on drugs in order to slash prescription prices in the US and put
‘American patients first’. So, future trade deals, if we’re dragged out of the customs
union, will have an enormous impact on Welsh patients, and if the President of the United
States has his way, will put huge pressure, I believe, on the free prescriptions policy
we are rightly proud of here in Wales. That’s not scaremongering. I think that’s a simple,
logical fact. The Cabinet Secretary will therefore understand
my disbelief upon learning that his colleague the economy Secretary has said that he’s content
with Welsh Government being ‘in the room next door’ when devolved matters are being discussed
in future trade talks. In a letter that I have to the Chair of the House of Commons
International Trade Committee, his colleague the Cabinet Secretary says, and I quote,
‘in areas of devolved competence Welsh Government should be part of the negotiationsówhether
that is “in the room” or “in the room next door”‘.
Isn’t this a rather feeble position to hold? Surely a Labour Government would be prepared
to break down doors to be in talks on the future of the national health service, particularly
with the threats that we are facing from a very different agenda in Westminster. So,
my question directly to the Cabinet Secretary is this: doesn’t he want to be right there
at the heart of future trade negotiations when the future of the Welsh NHS is at stake?
Vaughan Gething AM: I think the key point from the economy Secretary there is that we
expect to be involved in any negotiations in devolved areas, and that’s the point: we
expect to be involved. We expect to have a say with other Governments within the United
Kingdom, and it’s about developing a maturing relationship here within the United Kingdom
as much as anything else. I would, though, agreeó. Look, the point
about Liam Foxówhen people say, ‘You’re scaremongering talking about no deal. Of course there’ll
be a deal’, well, actually, he’s the Cabinet Minister who was openly talking about the
prospect of no deal and the fact that that must be on the table. He’s the person who
raises the spectre of these deals with other parts of the world that would be wholly unacceptable
and damaging to a range of industries here in Wales, and public services, and indeed
in our economy. I’ve also heard comments from not just the President of the United States,
but other US officials that he has appointed, on wanting to try and change the nature of
the relationship on drug pricing within the United States, and to try and make other people
pay more for those commodities. So, I recognise that there are real risks
to other arrangements. I’ve also set out, in answer to other questions here, about the
risks that we face if we are not able to secure tariff-free trade and a proper customs union
arrangement. Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer:
Thank you. Finally, Joyce Watson. Joyce Watson AM: Diolch, Dirprwy Lywydd. Just
for the record, between 2017 and 2018, 3,962 nurses from the European economic area left
nursing, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register, and they were replaced
by just 805. That is the lowest level of recruitment to date, so I think we need to make it clear
that this isn’t scaremongeringóthese are actual figures.
The good news in this is that those numbers have remained fairly stable in Wales since
the talk of Brexit, but I think that we really need to make it clear that these threats are
real, they are already starting to happen, and that isn’t to mention the effects that
it can have on doctors, healthcare support workers, catering staff, housekeepers and
porters, because they are all part of keeping the NHS going, and each one of them performs
a vital role. So, I suppose my question to you, Cabinet Secretary, is: having managed
to hold on to our nursing staff so far, how do you think that we can sustain that going
forward, especially if we end up with a ‘no deal’?
Vaughan Gething AM: I think you’re right to point out the catastrophic fall that has taken
place already in nurses from the European Union and wider economic area working here
in the United Kingdom. It largely affects England at present, but that’s the point:
at present. We can’t pretend that if this continues, if we don’t have a greater deal
of sense in the way that our future arrangements work, that we will not be adversely affected
here as well. For all that we wish to do, and we’re committed
to do, to increase the nursing workforce hereóI think there’s been a 67 per cent increase
in nurse training in the last five years or so, so we’re putting our money where our mouth
is in training the next generation; and the bursary as well is keeping people here in
Wales, is keeping people within the NHS here in Wales after they’ve completed their trainingóthere’ll
be an even greater imperative to do so if we end up with no deal, because our ability
to recruit European Union based nurses will have been made even more difficult.
I find it really striking that when you go to meet representatives of nurses, whether
they’re in Unison, the Royal College of Nursing or other trade unions, they’re genuinely worried
about the prospects for their profession’s future if we leave. They see colleagues who
are already openly talking about not being welcome and who are thinking that they’re
going to leave because they’re worried about future arrangements.
In England, part of the response has been to change some of the roles. They’re bringing
in a new grade that they’re calling nurses associates. The chief nursing officers outside
England think that that is role substitution, and that what they’re really doing is trying
to take off duties that could and should be undertaken by registered nurses, to be undertaken
by people who are not at that professional grade. We have a different answer. We have
a proper network of healthcare support workersósomeone in this room helped to negotiate that framework
for them to have a proper career path as well. We need to continue to do it, to develop our
own workforce here, but I couldn’t honestly say to anyone in this room from any party
that if we leave the European Union with no deal that we’ll be able to avoid the consequences
of that in terms of our workforce and who we have. It will involve the money that we
spendóthat we’re prepared to spendóand, frankly, the jobs that our people are prepared
to undertake within the wider health and social care field.
So, the risks are real. No-one should ignore them. They should recognise that without a
proper deal, we will have to face those awful consequences and even more difficult choices.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Thank you very much, Cabinet Secretary.
Y Dirprwy Lywydd / The Deputy Presiding Officer: Item 8 this afternoon is a statement by the
Minister for Environment on the woodland strategy. I call on the Minister for Environment, Hannah
Blythyn. Hannah Blythyn AM: Thank you, Deputy Presiding
Officer. I want to set out today some changes to Welsh Government policy for woodlands.
It is timely to do so now. The UKís withdrawal from the European Union brings many challenges,
but also provides us with a platform to build on Walesís reputation for high-quality goods
and services, underpinned by resilient natural resources. I want to make sure the forestry
sector has clear and up-to-date policies to help them work collectively to meet this challenge.
I also want to restate the Welsh Governmentís long-term vision for woodlands and their hugely
important role in delivering the sustainable management of our natural resources. I have
made forestry one of my top priorities and will shortly publish a refresh of our woodlands
strategy, ‘Woodlands for Wales’, a copy of which has been sent to you.
But, first, I would like to pay tribute to Martin Bishop, national manager for Wales
of the Confederation of Forest Industries, or Confor, who tragically passed away recently.
Martin was a passionate advocate for forestry and made valuable contributions to the woodland
strategy over many years. I know his loss has been felt by all who have worked with
him and I would like to formally express my deepest sympathies to Martinís family, friends
and colleagues. Next month, the Cabinet Secretary for Energy,
Planning and Rural Affairs will bring forward proposals for post-Brexit reform that seeks
to break down barriers between agriculture and forestry. We are working with a range
of stakeholders, including farming unions, environmental bodies and forestry representatives,
to deliver sustainable land use after Brexit. Our natural resources policy sets out our
plans to address the challenges we know that our environment faces. In it, we are clear
that Wales needs more woodlands and trees to help us to manage all of our natural resources
sustainably. We have not done enough yet to increase woodland creation and so, for the
first time, I have brought targets for woodland creation into the strategy. We need both large
and small-scale, diverse woodlands that include both conifer and broad-leaved tree species.
We must also recognise the importance of increasing the number of trees both in rural and urban
environments. Last year, the Cabinet Secretary accepted
the recommendation of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee that
we should bring the strategy up to date. The Welsh Governmentís woodland strategy advisory
panel has refreshed the strategy to make sure it aligns with new legislation. The fundamentals
of the vision and the strategy remain the same. Our vision is for high-quality woodlands
that provide real benefits to people, to industries and for the environment.
But this strategy is not simply a policy document. It gives practical guidance about the kind
of trees and woodlands we need in Wales and where we need them. It also gives clear direction
to woodland managers and ensures that those who manage our woodlands are able to deliver
sustainable management for all of our natural resources. It also has a strong link through
the UK forestry standard to the certification standards operated by the Forest Stewardship
Council and the programme for the endorsement of forest certification for timber and other
woodland produce. The strategy is important, but other actions
are required if we are to achieve the aims it sets out. The Climate Change, Environment
and Rural Affairs Committee made 13 recommendations and my officials are working to take them
forward. In particular, I am determined that those who want to plant trees have certainty
about the kind of woodlands we need, and the places where they can be planted. We want
to make it easier to plant the right tree in the right place. The woodland opportunities
map is currently being reviewed, and I am meeting forestry standards officials tomorrow
to discuss this. The committee also recommended that we provide
more forestry training. In support of this, we are scoping options to develop an employer-led
sector cluster, aimed at increasing skills around the forestry sector through a new apprenticeship
project. The aim is to create up to 30 new apprentice positions in the Valleys taskforce
area during 2019. To deliver a skilled, professional workforce
across the whole forestry sector we are making use of the knowledge transfer and innovation
scheme, to provide funding of over £3.2 million to the Focus on Forestry First training and
skills project. In April, I attended the tenth anniversary
of the Welsh Governmentís Plant! project. This is an inspiring initiative that had its
roots in one young personís ideaóto plant a tree for every child born and adopted in
Wales. This idea was taken up by the Welsh Government and has gone from strength to strength.
I hope that a tree for every child will empower children to understand how they can do their
bit for the environment. We know that we can only achieve our ambition
in this area by working with stakeholders, the public and politicians, and Iíd encourage
input from all those with an interest in our future forests to come forward with ideas
and schemes that will expand our woodlands in Wales. Our ambitions for our people, our
communities and our country are best achieved by working together. Today, I reaffirm our
vision for forestry and our commitment to act on our ambition for Welsh woodlands.
Paul Davies AM: Can I thank the Minister for her statement today? Can I also associate
myself with her comments regarding Martin Bishop, and express my deepest sympathies
to his family and friends on behalf of the Welsh Conservatives?
Whilst I welcome today’s statement and the commitments that have been made around woodlands
in Wales, it’s important to also recognise that Wales is nowhere near the planting rates
needed to adequately ensure the sustainability of the sector for the future, particularly
compared with our neighbours in other parts of the UK. For some time, the woodland, forestry
and agricultural sectors have made it crystal clear that we need to increase woodland cover
and plant more trees. Indeed, in giving evidence to the Assembly’s Climate Change, Environment
and Rural Affairs Committee, Confor made it clear that, so far, woodland creation in Wales
has been a catastrophic failure. Therefore, whilst I’m pleased that today’s statement
confirms the Welsh Government’s commitment to plant more trees and set targets for woodland
creation, I’d be grateful if the Minister could tell us a bit more about how the Welsh
Government intends to bridge the gap caused by historic under-planting, so that Wales
can make real progress with this agenda rather than continuing to play catch-up with other
parts of the United Kingdom. Of course, I accept that there are some barriers
to planting, and stakeholders made it clear throughout the Climate Change, Environment
and Rural Affairs Committee’s inquiry that some of those barriers include issues with
the Glastir woodland schemes. National Farmers Union Cymru has made it clear that the process
is lengthy and very time-consuming, and often, once approved, there is little time to complete
the planting and fencing for the exclusion of livestock. And the Farmers Union of Wales
has also said that there is little financial incentive for farmers to plant woodlands.
Therefore, can the Minister tell us what the Welsh Government is doing to address these
specific concerns, and can she also tell us how the Welsh Government is working with the
agricultural industry to encourage more farmers to take up woodland planting given that Welsh
farmers play such an important role in enhancing the natural environment?
Now, I’m sure the Minister shares my view that the forestry sector in Wales is a significant
part of the Welsh rural economy. Perhaps she could tell us what assessment her officials
have made of the creation of Natural Resources Wales in 2013 on the forestry sector and whether
she recognises the concerns of some in the industry that the forestry sector’s not been
given sufficient priority in recent years. Now, with an annual output of 500,000 cu m
of sawn timber from Welsh forest production, it’s clear there’s a strong opportunity for
adding value and targeting a range of markets in Wales. Given the importance of forestry
and timber to the rural economy in terms of both its products and in terms of its jobs,
perhaps the Minister could update us on what discussions she’s having with local authorities
across Wales to better advocate the use of locally produced timber, as Powys has done
with the creation of its wood encouragement policy, which is clearly demonstrating its
commitment to the further development of the local forest and wood products industry.
Now, the Government has previously said that, after Britain leaves the European Union, the
Welsh Government’s new land management policy will centre on public goods and woodlands
of great potential in this space, and I wonder if the Minister could today tell us exactly
how woodlands will benefit under the new land management policy and what new direction of
travel the Minister intends to take on this issue post Brexit.
Now, the Minister will be aware of the excellent work done by my colleague David Melding on
woodland policy, particularly in relation to urban tree cover. I’m pleased that she
makes it clear in her statement today that it’s important to increase the number of trees
both in rural and urban environments. Now, the Welsh Conservatives’ ‘Liveable Cities’
policy document calls for the Government to ensure that minimum of 20 per cent urban tree
canopy cover, addressed through local well-being plans and area statements by 2030. It also
calls for the introduction of a charter for trees that upholds the protection of our oldest
trees. I hope the Minister will join with me in welcoming my colleague’s work on this
agenda and perhaps in her response she will commit to considering his proposals and working
constructively with us on this particular issue.
Therefore, in closing, can I thank the Minister for her statement? I look forward to working
with my Assembly colleagues to scrutinise the Welsh Government’s progress on its woodland
policies as they develop. Diolch. Hannah Blythyn AM: Diolch. Can I thank the
Member for his questions and his contribution, and the valuable input you’ve just made, particularly
in terms of referencing your colleague David Melding and all that he’s done in this area?
Of course, as I made clear in my statement, I think this is something where, if we are
going to achieve what we want for Wales, nobody has the monopoly on the good ideas, and that’s
why it’s really important to work with stakeholders. We know that there are opportunities post
Brexit in terms of the opportunities for land management and the opportunities that offers
in terms of woodland and forestry creation, but are kind of in the short term, and it’s
actuallyó. That’s why I met with not only the Confederation of Forestry Industries and
industry stakeholders, but stakeholders from across the pieceóso, of course, from the
voluntary sector and from Natural Resources Wales and from Cadwóto look at what the current
barriers are. I’ll be following that up now with NRW in terms of, actually, how we make
it easier in the right way to plant the right trees. I think there’s a short-term aspiration
in terms of, actually, what the initial barriers are and how we can make changes to encourage
greater amounts of tree planting with wholesale further change further down the line post
Brexit. Both I and my Cabinet colleague the Cabinet
Secretary for climate change and rural affairs have made clear that we are nowhere near the
targets set in 2010 in terms of the rates that we need to plant. The reality of it is
that woodland creation in Wales has not probably changed in much of my lifetime. I think we
have to be looking forward now. That’s why this document has to be not just a policy
document, but about practical and pragmatic solutions to how we go ahead with that. Actually,
in terms of looking at Glastir and funding, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with colleagues
speaking to farmers about, actually, what the current barriers are, how they would improve
Glastir, how we could make it a more attractive option. I know some of the barriers have been
in terms of permanent change and looking at the period of time you’ve also got to wait
for a return on your investment. So, I’ve spoken about it with colleagues and I’ve mentioned
it to the climate change committee in terms of what they’re doing with the sheep and trees
project in Scotland. That looks at how they can work with farmers there in terms of encouraging
farmers to continue but diversify, and actually the benefits it brings to what they’re doing
already as well as actually diversifying in terms of woodland creation with, perhaps,
better accessóit helps them with access to the land. That’s looking more at a conifer
base, whereas, actually, we want to get that combination in Wales.
Local authorities support locally produced timber. I know my colleague the Minister for
housing is following this very closely and, I believe, met with Confor just yesterday
to discuss that we’re working very closely across Government on that. I was really pleasedóbecause
we’ve got to get the supply and demand right as well to make sure we have the supply to
meet the demand and, actually, how we promote the benefits of timber in construction in
terms of the economic benefit potentially to the Welsh economy, but also in terms of
the environment in terms of actually how we tackle our decarbonisation agenda.
I was pleased to visit a project in Buckley just last week. They’re building a number
of new flats, and what they’ve done is they’ve actuallyó[Inaudible.]óhow, actually, the
supply chain has all been contained within Wales. The timber is from Sitka spruce, sourced
from forests around Newbridge, near Llandrindod Wells, and the frames were manufactured in
Bala, and they’re working very closely with Woodknowledge Wales. So, it’s things like
that we are, basically, working across Government on to ensure that we can take that further
going forward. Just to close, back to your colleague David
Melding, I’m more than happy for us to take those discussions collectively going forward.
I think there’s probably a particular role in terms of when we’re looking at urban coverage.
We know there are multiple benefits that that brings to our town and city centres and looking
at, actually, the role that public service boards and area statements can play in that.
Simon Thomas AM: Can I, first of all, associate myself and Plaid Cymru with the remarks that
the Minister made regarding Martin Bishop? He will be sorely missed during the Royal
Welsh, where he was a very familiar face and had a welcome always to discuss woodland and
the environment in Wales. Can I turn to the statement of the Minister?
First of all, just to, of course, reiterate that woodland creation of the right type and
in the right place is a really useful tool in fighting climate changeóit cleans up our
air, it protects against flooding, it shades in urban environments, it improves biodiversity,
and benefits the economy and our health and well-being. With all those benefits that woodland
can bring, then it’s a real pity that we only have about a half of the woodland that we
should have in Wales in terms of self-sufficiency in timber, but also in terms of meeting those
challenges of climate change and emissions. Our woodland, covering about 15 per cent of
the land area, is way below the European average of 37 per cent, and we could certainly almost
double the amount of woodland we have in Wales. What hasn’t been mentioned so far in this
statement and the questions is an actual target. But, looking at the new strategy published
today, it seems that the target for the Welsh Government is continuing to be 2,000 hectares
per annum of new woodland from 2022 to 2030 and beyond, but the strategy does acknowledge
that that will not be sufficient to meet our legal obligations to reduce emissions 80 per
cent by 2050. So, we have a target to 2030 that’s not sufficient to meet our long-term
obligations, plus we have this wonderful benefit of woodland creation that is also missing
and we have the reality, which was identified by the climate change committee, that Government
had only delivered on 10 per cent of its woodland creation target to date. So, can the Minister
just set out and confirm what the targets are for the next decade and how she intends
to build on those having accepted in the strategy that they will not be sufficient, in fact,
to meet our climate change obligations? The strategy does say that little has changed
in 30 years, and that’s the truth of it. Can she also say whether she’s had the opportunity
to revise the draft ‘Planning Policy Wales’ statement, which did seem to weaken protection
for ancient woodlands in particular, and which I know has been raised by several Members
here in the Assembly, and the Government, as I recall, said they would look back at
the draft ‘Planning Policy Wales’ statement to make sure there was no indication of a
diminution of protection for ancient woodlands. So, can she please provide the Assembly with
assurances there would be no weakening? And finally, can she talk us through how she
would intend to ensure that the 40 per cent of existing woodland, which, according to
‘State of Natural Resources Report’, has little or no management currently, will be managed
going forward? Is this a task for Natural Resources Wales? Is it simply going to be
left to private owners? Or will there be a woodland management scheme that will be more
comprehensive and supportive in Wales as we move to increase our self-sufficiency in timber,
both for supporting our own industries and also reducing imports and the economic and
environmental costs of import, and as we move also to increasing woodland, which I think
we’d all like to see as part of our response to climate change and the environment?
Hannah Blythyn AM: Diolch. I thank the Member for his contribution. You’re spot on in terms
of starting your contribution by highlighting the multiple benefits that woodland creation
and green infrastructure bring both in our rural and urban communities. They not only
bring environmental benefits, but they make our environment a much more pleasant place
to be, particularly in an urban area, and it obviously has productive and economic benefits,
and health benefits as well. If I clarify first in terms of targets, the
strategy itself says woodland cover to increase by at least 2,000 hectares per annum. That’s
in line with the UK’s Climate Change Committee’s recommendations. However, we have acknowledged
that’s not enough to deliver the shareóthe 80 per cent reductionóso we are ambitious
to put in place measures to achieve 4,000 hectares a year if we can to meet that. So,
it is a minimum, at least, floor. If you look at now, we’re looking, on average, at 100
hectares per year. That is significantly more, but I’m clear that is at least, and that is
the minimum floor in terms of what we need to do to achieve the change, to meet those
obligations in the future and to go further still.
I’ll turn perhaps to ancient woodlands and veteran trees. I acknowledge there’s been
concern by those in the sector, and across the community, in terms ofóit’s fair to say
it generated a significant level of response, raising concerns that the wording choices
in ‘Planning Policy Wales’ do not afford the level of protection that should be given to
ancient, veteran and heritage trees. I just want to make clear there is absolutely no
intention to weaken the protection afforded to ancient, veteran and heritage trees in
‘Planning Policy Wales’. Obviously, all consultation responses were duly considered, as they would
be, but I think particular wording choices such as ‘often have’, ‘should be’, ‘every
effort’, technically, in the context of a planning scenario, do carry weight, but language
choices are something that we can clearly reconsider as part of the response to the
consultation exercise, and hopefully offer some reassurance that I have absolutely no
intention to weaken the protection afforded to our so cherished ancient, veteran and heritage
trees. Mike Hedges AM: Firstly, I would like to pay
tribute to Martin Bishop, the national manager of Confor, who tragically passed away recently,
on behalf of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee, a committee he
worked very closely with, and we were always impressed by both his knowledge and enthusiasm
for all things to do with trees. Can I welcome the Minister’s restating the
Welsh Government’s long-term vision for woodlands and their hugely important role in delivering
the sustainable management of our natural resources? I agree that Wales needs more woodlands
and trees to help us manage all our natural resources sustainably. In fact, I don’t think
anybody in this room is going to say we don’t need more woodlands and trees to help us manage
our natural resources sustainably. But we have not done enough yet to increase woodland
creation, so I welcome, for the first time, we have targets for woodland creation in the
strategy. I am pleased that, last year, the Cabinet
Secretary accepted the recommendation of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs
Committee that we should bring the strategy up to date. I’m also pleased that Welsh Government
officials are working to take forward the 13 recommendations made by the committee.
I think that we’re all in favour of more trees and we’re all very happy having numbers. How
are we going to get there? I think that really is the challenge. Does the Minister agree
with me that we need to increase the tree coverage in urban areas using appropriate
trees and we need to set targets on that? We need to set targets by local authority
on that, because, unless we start setting targets that you can drill down intoósaying,
‘We need an extra 10,000 trees in Wales’ is one thing, telling Swansea council they need
an extra 1,000 trees is something entirely different and something for which they can
be held to account. Does the Minister also agree that we need to set five-year targets
for each local authority area for tree planting similar to the way we set the LDP for housing,
where, under an LDP, we say, ‘This much land must be made available for housing’? Why can’t
we do the same for trees? Otherwise, we spend a lot of our time having numbers on an all-Wales
basis. We spend a lot of our time talking about how we need to get there, but we seem
to have a lack of plan on a place-by-place basis of how we’re going to get there. And,
when we inevitably fail to make the numbers, then everybody blames you, Cabinet Minister,
in the first instance, but I think we all deserve some of the blame, because unless
we start building it down to, ‘You, in local authorities, or you, this area, have to achieve
this’, then everybody will just say, ‘It’s up to somebody else’.
Hannah Blythyn AM: Diolch, thank you to Mike Hedges for that. You absolutely hit the nail
on the head there by saying that where there is consensus and we’re all in agreementóand
you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who would disagree that it’s a positive thing
to plant more trees and that it’s something we need to doóbut the key thing is how do
we get to there. I think you make some really valid and thoughtful contributions in terms
of, actuallyó. I perhaps wouldn’t, maybe, use the phrase, ‘take the blame’; I think,
as you say, perhaps it’s for all of us, the onus is on all of us, to press for this and
press our own local authorities, as well as myself doing this as the Minister for Environment.
But I think you raise some really interesting points in terms of looking at things on a
place-by-place basisóso, we know that each urban area in Wales has different needs and
prioritiesóand making sure that we work with local authorities. I’m keen, as I said, to
take that forward with Natural Resources Wales through area statements to make sure that
they align both with the priorities in terms of green infrastructure and woodland creation,
but also in terms of the value of our biodiversity, and making sure that it aligns, obviously,
with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. So, it’s something thatóyes,
to look at a place-by-place approach I think is the best approach, going forward.
Joyce Watson AM: I’m just going to focus on one area and that’s going to be the urban
tree cover in towns and cities, and support that urban tree management. We all know, don’t
we, that trees are a valuable habitat for wildlife and pollinators, that they help reduce
air pollution, urban flooding and surface temperaturesówhich would be welcome todayóall
of which are hugely important to the health and well-being of people living in towns and
cities. I’m sure that people in this room who think likewise will share my concerns
about Sheffield City Council felling huge numbers of healthy trees in their area.
Now, we know that there is 17 per cent urban tree cover and that we need to do something
about that. I’m going to ask you, Minister, if you would have a conversation with the
Cabinet Secretary responsible for planning so that, when we try to meet our 20,000 new
homes target by 2021, we don’t go in, simply, to a greenfield site, strip everything out
of it, build houses and try to put a bit of grass back or maybe a shrub here and there
to satisfy ourselves. Because it doesn’t satisfy ourselves. I think we need some radical thinking
here when we’re talking about building homes, whilst, at the same time, trying to maintain
habitats that are there already, rather thanóand we’ve heard it mentioned todayóthinking about
large-scale devastation, in my opinion, of the urban environment simply to make it easier
and cheaper for people to build houses and maximise their profit.
Hannah Blythyn AM: I thank Joyce Watson for her contribution there, again reiterating
not just the benefits that urban green spaces and woodland bring, but, actually, I think
it’s that sense ofóparticularly if you live in an area where it’s probably a significant
journey to go to actually visit somewhere, a large forest, those woodlands 10 minutes
from your doorstep just make a significant difference. There’s a really clear emotional
attachment to that. I think I’ve already used the example of Wepre Woods, which is just
next door to my constituency now, but the one that brought multiple benefits to me,
my family and friends when I was growing up, and I know that we want to make sure that
we preserve that for future generations as well.
In terms of planning, it’s absolutely, you knowó. We’re looking at things holistically
and cross-Government and in line with the well-being of future generations Act, and
we need to make sure that we are working together and things are aligned. In the refreshed strategy,
on page 11, in terms of saying what we want to happen, it does say that
‘when permanent removal of woodland is permitted for development, the losses in public benefit
are offset by compensatory planting and this is reflected in planning policy’.
However, I’m keen to make sure that green infrastructure is taken into account and to
work with my colleagues across Government on that. ‘Planning Policy Wales’ has recently
been updated to reflect the well-being of future generations Act, and includes new policy
in relation to green infrastructure and new developments, so it’s something that we’ll
be working closely on to see that come to fruition in practice.
Jayne Bryant AM: Thank you for your statement, Minister. I’m glad you’ve reiterated that
forestry is one of your top priorities. Urban trees hold historical and cultural significance,
and there’s no doubt that, without trees, our urban environments would be very different
places. The physical and mental health benefits to people of trees in urban areas are well
documented. The Woodland Trust highlights the benefits of people exercising more and
feeling better around trees. Urban trees are critical to human health and well-being. Trees
provide shade, absorb carbon dioxide, filter air pollution, mitigate floods and provide
habitats for wildlife and plants. Urban trees are particularly effective at absorbing carbon
dioxide. It’s important that we find ways to value
trees more effectively, to build more sustainable and liveable urban areas. New research at
University College London found that urban green zones absorb as much carbon dioxide
as rainforests. They conducted a study of 85,000 trees in north London to show the importance
of planting and protecting urban forests to offset fossil fuel emissions, and I hope the
Minister will look into this study and see how Wales can learn from this research.
The Welsh Government’s Plant! scheme has been successful, and initiatives like this must
continue. I understand that many trees that were planted in Caerleon in my constituency
during the 1970s were done so during a campaign for ‘Plant a Tree in ’73’, and, the following
year, ‘Plant Some More in ’74’. However, we’ve got a lot of ground to make up, and there’s
no doubt that more must be done, particularly around new housing developments, as Joyce
Watson has said, and infrastructure. As the Minister said, it’s really important that
we’re planting the right trees in the right places.
The city of Newport is fortunate to have large areas of green space that people can easily
access, and award-winning parks such as Belle Vue Park, Tredegar Park and Beechwood Park.
In addition, Wentwood forest is on our doorstep, and is part of the largest block of ancient
woodland within Wales, with a recorded history spanning over 1,000 years. The network of
woodland paths, including downhill mountail bike trails, is very popular and well-loved.
However, there’s more to do to ensure the local community, especially young people,
can access this. In our ‘Branching out’ report last year, the Climate Change, Environment
and Rural Affairs Committee recognised the work that local woodland groups are doing
in protecting our urban green spaces and making them more accessible. One such group in my
constituency is the Bassaleg Community Woodland Trust, which is made up of local volunteers.
It’s crucial that community groups, NRW, local authorities and private landowners work together
to pursue woodland enterprise opportunities and support community ownership of woodlands.
The social benefit of woodlands was a main theme in the ‘Branching out’ report, and I’m
glad the strategy recognises the role urban woodlands can play in community cohesion.
So, with this in mind, Minister, what can the Welsh Government do to support existing
groups, such as the one in Bassaleg, and encourage similar ones to form to ensure that more of
our green spaces can be enjoyed by our urban communities?
Hannah Blythyn AM: I thank the Member for her contribution. I quite like tható’Plant
A Tree in ’73’, ‘Plant Some More in ’74’. Perhaps we need to get ourselves some contemporary
slogans to go with the woodlands strategy. I could be tempting fate by inviting contributions
on that one, though. You’re right in terms of, actually, the importance
of finding ways to value trees, and I’ll definitely look into the King’s College report that you
mentioned; it sounds very interesting. I didn’t know, but we actually do have rainforests
in Wales as well. But, in terms of ways to value trees, I recently spoke at a Fields
in Trust event, and what was really significant about that was that they placedó. We know
the value of trees is the environmental, the social and the health and well-being and the
broader multiple benefits they bring, but they’d actually contextualised it to say,
actually, ‘If you take this park away or if you take this green space away, it has this
economic value to the community and the wider area’. I think it’s really important that
we are able to encapsulate that in a broader sense to really, really hit home to people
the value that our green spaces and woodlands have.
Community woodland plays a vital part, which is why Welsh Government has things like the
co-operative woodlands scheme, and working with Llais y Goedwig and the community network
liaison to support community projects, and ownership in the sense of, actuallyópeople
feel an ownership, anyway, of the woodland near them or the green space, but actually
ownership in the more literal sense. And it’s access for young people, the Plant! project,
for example, and I’m pleased that the strategy just emphasised the role that woodlands and
green space, forest, play in terms of education, because I don’t think you can underestimate
that, for some children, getting them outside in a forest school, taking part in eco-schools,
you see a complete change and the opportunities that brings. So, that’s also something I’m
keen to explore with my colleague the Cabinet Secretary for Education in terms of, actually,
that can be aligned in terms of the new curriculum going forward and how actually we can make
sure from a younger ageóand sustain that into secondary school tooómore young people
not only benefit from our green spaces and woodland, but also, actually, potentially
have an opportunity through that to develop skills and a future career pathway as well.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Diolch i’r Gweinidog. Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Yr eitem olaf ar
ein agenda ni am y prynhawn yma yw’r datganiad gan y Gweinidog Tai ac Adfywio ar integreiddio
tai, iechyd a gofal cymdeithasol, a galwaf ar y Gweinidog i wneud ei datganiadóRebecca
Evans. Rebecca Evans AM: Diolch. The Welsh Government
knows just how important secure, good quality housing is to the health and well-being of
the communities we serve. We understand the considerable pressures on both health and
social services, and we know that housing organisations and housing services have a
vital contribution to make in responding to those pressures. Whilst housing and social
care are both key priorities in our programme for government and our national strategy,
‘Prosperity for All’, we recognise that we are not going to respond to the needs of people
in Wales if the housing and social care agendas are pursued separately.
The parliamentary review of health and social care recognised the role that housing can
play in promoting and sustaining good health and well-being. Similarly, poor or inappropriate
housing can have a detrimental effect. ‘A Healthier Wales’, our plan in response to
the parliamentary review, provides us with an important opportunity to take further strides
along the integration agenda. It provides us with an opportunity for a step change in
how we deliver health and social care in Wales, including through new models of seamless local
health and social care. We are committed to responding to the challenge. We are committed
to doing so across Government. And we recognise the need for housing to be at the heart of
this work. Our integration agenda is supported by the
integrated care fund. The fund comprises both revenue and capital funds and aims to improve
public services by making collaborative working an explicit requirement for local authorities
and local health boards, whilst allowing a space for innovation. The fund is a key component
in reducing unnecessary hospital admissions, inappropriate admissions to residential care,
and delayed transfers of care. We have seen a marked decrease in delayed transfers of
care since the fund was introduced, but I know there is more we can do. The fund supports
a number of objectives, including developing homes much more suited for older people, people
with dementia or learning disabilities, or young people with complex needs, alongside
care and support. Rebecca Evans AM: Whilst the fund is already
beginning to support accommodation-led solutions to social care, alongside both housing and
health capital programmes, I want to move towards developing a more scalable, strategic
programme of capital investment, which has housing at its core. I want us to up our game
with this fund and move away from delivering just smalleróbut importantólocalised projects
to a much more innovative and truly integrated approach, prioritising accommodation-led solutions
that are explicitly designed to lessen the demands on social care budgets. I am very
pleased to be working closely with the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care
to better align what we do in housing and social care. The Minister for Children, Older
People and Social Care and I visited an extra-care housing and care scheme under construction
in Maesteg yesterday, which has care and support at its heart. Its development is informed
by an assessment of local population need and local housing need and it’s the kind of
project we want to see more of. I am pleased, therefore, to announce a new
three-year capital programme of £105 million to support a move to a more strategic and
scalable approach to accommodation-led solutions to health and social care needs. I want to
see this accommodation-led approach embedded in the models of care we develop for older
people and other vulnerable groups. We know the role that housing plays in peopleís health
and wellbeing. Housing is the platform to prevention and early intervention for social
care, and it’s also the key to helping make services more sustainable. The new £105 million
integrated care fund capital programme aims to maximise the contribution housing interventions
can make to improve service delivery, whilst also alleviating the pressures on the NHS
and the delivery of social care. Additionally, this programme responds to a
number of recommendations in the report, ëOur Housing AGEnda: meeting the aspirations of
older people in Walesí, which set out a wide-ranging programme of change when it was published
last year. It highlighted the need for concerted action at a variety of levels. The report
was a call for action, not only by Welsh Government, but by a wide range of other stakeholders
across the public, private and third sectors. The expert group behind the report recognised
the importance of action at a variety of levels to bring about transformational change. The
report will continue to provide a road map of the further changes still required if we
are to respond adequately to the housing, health and social care challenges we face
in Wales. We are driving the integration agenda by supporting
the health, social care and housing sectors to work much more collaboratively through
regional partnership boards. These boards are provided for by the Social Services and
Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and are the responsible for making the strategic investment decisions
for the integrated care fund. They bring together health, social services, the third sector,
citizens, and other partners. They have integration at their very core. I am determined to see
the voice of housing coming through even more strongly in the work of regional partnership
boards. The housing contribution to more effective care and support canít simply be an optional
extra; it needs to be at the core of our efforts to integrate services so as to achieve the
greatest impact. So, I am pleased to be able to tell Members that we will be making housing
a statutory member of regional partnership boards, and officials are exploring how this
can be most effectively implemented. Of course, providing new accommodation shouldn’t
be seen as the only solution. It’s essential we support people to continue to live independently
in their own homes as their needs change. We know that aids and adaptations are often
a lifeline to people who experience a disabling environment. A suitable, well-adapted home
came make the difference to someoneís ability to live independently and receive health and
social care close to home, avoiding admission to hospital, or having to move to long term
residential care. We have already introduced important improvements to the system of providing
small-scale aids and adaptations to help people do this. The new approach, called Enable,
is focused on greater efficiency by simplifying and speeding up the process of getting an
adaptation. It does this by determining the most efficient way to deliver an aid or adaptation
to meet someoneís need, as there a number of funding sources available depending on
a personís circumstances and tenure. The new system also collects data to help us understand
how we can improve this process still further. However, we recognise our current improved
system can still be complex and needs streamlining, and a recent report by the Wales Audit Office
supports that view. So, I have announced that we will be taking forward a further change
programme in this area and we will be consulting on these changes in due course. We must streamline
the funding and provision of services to make it more citizen focused, transparent and consistent
in its delivery. These important areas of work, alongside the
new programme of capital investment, are all aimed at helping people who need support to
receive the right support, whether they are older people with complex needs and long-term
conditions, people with learning disabilities, children with complex health needs, or carers.
Our plan for health and social care recognises the significant role appropriate housing can
play in moving health and social services closer to communities in a year when we are
celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the NHS, which was of course born here in
Wales. What’s not always appreciated is that Nye Bevan was Minister for health and housing,
and his contribution to improving the quality and volume of available housing was significant.
He understood that for people to live long and healthy lives they needed access to appropriate
housing, and it is in that spirit that I make this statement today.
Angela Burns AM: I’d like to thank the Minister for bringing forward this statement today,
the content of which is very welcome to us, because you have pinpointed with accuracy
that lifestyle, transport, housing and design are vital elements of how we’re going to be
able to move forward in a more integrated way and to have a healthier Wales. It’s very
vital because home is going to be increasingly the place where our health and our social
care needs are delivered, and of course, no single part of the system can possibly hope
to answer all of our needs. Michael Marmot’s ‘Fair Society, Healthy Lives’ really highlighted
the significance of the wider issues that impact on health. In fact, they say often,
don’t they, that housing, employment and education are the causes of the causes of ill health.
So, I think anything that Welsh Government, with the support of the Assembly, can do to
tackle some of these issues is incredibly important.
Having said all the nice wordsóand you’d be disappointed by anything elseóI just want
to challenge you on a couple of points and ask for some explanations in a couple of other
areas. The parliamentary review of social care did indeed recognise the role that housing
can play, however, your response, or the Government’s responseó’A Healthier Wales’óyour plan in
response to that parliamentary review, had very, very little on housing. You talked about
new partnerships between health and housing, you talked about area plans that would provide
a robust platform, but perhaps you can give us a little bit more information about how
crucial a role housing will be enabled to play in delivering this vision of a healthier
Wales. You do make a very strong assertion that there’s been a marked decrease in delayed
transfers of care and I’d be really interested to know where those statistics have come,
from because I’ve yet to be able to put my hand on my heart to say that that is there,
because of course it’s been one of the key components of our winter pressures and all
the rest of it. We don’t see it out there on the street and I’d like to know how you
have that. You talk about upping the game with the fund
and delivering larger projects and you talked about going out with the Minister for Children,
Older People and Social Care and seeing new plans. Can you please tell us how you’re going
to ensure that local authority planning departments come on board with this? Time and time again
in my area, I know of great initiatives that bring together housing and care that are being
turned down by local planning authorities because they don’t meet some criteria in the
planning documentation. We’ve got to get over this and start building the houses that people
really need. I absolutely welcome the £105 million of extra money to support this more
scalable approach and it’s really good to see that it’s tying in across the whole of
the united Kingdom, isn’t it, because the UK Government have also announced this better
care fund with a significantly larger sum of money, but they’re a slightly larger country.
So, it’s good to see that everyone’s going downóthis is a good direction of travel.
I would ask you to perhaps cast your eyes over David Melding’s White Paper ‘Liveable
Cities’, because it’s from the Welsh Conservative think tank and it does, very much, focus on
socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable homes and cities and environments that can
be built on the principles of the health and well-being of the citizens. Going back to
what are the causes of the causes of ill healthóit is your home, it is your environment, your
education and your employment prospects. Also, could you please, actually, just give us a
quick bit of an overview on the adaptation side? You talk about the new fund, but we
do, very often, have this scenario where a house is very expensively adapted for somebody
who has needs, and when they move out, those adaptations are then ripped out, at great
cost to us all, and then somebody else moves in to get a sort of baseline home. This is
nonsense; surely we should just be making sure the appropriate person moves into that.
Two more questions. What measurements do you have in place to measure the success of this
extra funding? How will you know if it’s hitting the nail on the head and doing what it should
be doing and how are you going to apportion it across the areas of greatest needs or across
the areas of Wales? And, finally, I come back to that planning authority and planning permission
again. We do need different types of houses and we should be building homes that already
haveóeither bungalows, or, if we’re tight on space, we should have extra wide stairs
going up so that you can put a stairlift in if you need to, because people want to stay
in their home and they want to remain in that home. We’re trying to encourage them to do
that. We need to build homes where it is easier to put in hoists. We need to build homes where
it is easier to adapt a kitchen. And those are the things that we need start looking
at in the design principles for our housing stock going forward if we truly want to buy
in to the fact that people are going to stay in their home, they’re going to receive their
healthcare in their home, they’re going to receive their social care in their home, hopefully
until the end of their days. This is a great direction of travel, it’s a good initiative,
but I’d really like to see some teeth put into this, because it’s a lot of money and
I’m worried that we won’t achieve what we need to achieve.
Rebecca Evans AM: I thank you very much for those questions and for the warm welcome that
you gave at the start of the contribution, and for your recognition about the importance
of housing in the wider health and social care agenda. And we’re not just talking about
housing; you made the point that, actually, we’re talking about homes, and when we listen
to people, they generally tell us that home is where they want to be. I think that social
care and provision of care closer to home and, ideally, at home, is certainly the way
forward in supporting people to have that aspiration realised.
You referred to the parliamentary review; well, our statement today is very much part
of our response to that parliamentary review from the housing perspective and it’s done
very much in association with health and social care as well. You referred to the fact that
the parliamentary review called for a new partnership between health and social services
and housing. I think what we’re setting out today, through the integrated care fund, is
very much that new partnership and we’re making sure that that has housing at its heart by
ensuring that regional partnership boards will, in future, have housing as statutory
members of those boards. When I was Minister for social services, I recognised then the
important role that housing could make and I encouraged regional partnership boards to
include housing on those boards. And, I think it’s fair to say, it was done with varying
degrees of success across the different regional partnership boards in Wales. In recognition
of that now, we realised that now is the time to consider how we can put that on a legislative
footing, so, we intend to bring forward regulations to give housing that status and focus that
it really needs on those regional partnership boards.
You referred to delayed transfers of care. I’ll ask the Minister to write to you with
the very latest statistics, but they are published monthly, I believe, by the Welsh Government.
Some of those figures that we are seeing are amongst the lowest that we’ve ever seen in
Wales since the records began, 13 or 14, I think, years ago, and that is quite extraordinary,
given the fact that we are in a position now where demands on hospitals, especially in
that kind of setting, are increasing. So, I recognise that we are making improvements
in this area, but as I said in my statement, there is much more that we can do and that
we need to do. This announcement I’m making today is part of our response to that challenge
as well. You quite rightly mentioned the issue of local
authorities and planning and how they can enable this kind of agenda. This was very
much recognised by Professor Phillips’s ‘Our Housing AGEnda’ report, which is referred
to in the statement, and the expert group that informed that statement focused on how
the planning system can better support an aging population. The revised ‘Planning Policy
Wales’ requires planning authorities to identify where interventions may be required to deliver
older people’s housing when there has been a need for that locally, and this may include
the identification of specific sites and policies in local development plans. Consultation on
a revised draft of ‘Planning Policy Wales’ has recently closed, and I’m sure the Cabinet
Secretary will be making an update on that very shortly.
I was aware of the ‘Liveable Cities’ document. I was really pleased to respond to that debate
just a couple of weeks ago, and it really was an excellent debate, and I think recognition
from all sides about the important role of how we design our cities in terms of the benefits,
or otherwise, it can bring to our health. I’m keen to see accommodation-led regeneration
in our towns and cities as well, because we had questions to the First Minister today
that focused on the impact that the downturn in retail and the changing patterns of consumer
spend are having on the high street, and there’s certainly opportunity, I think, to ensure
that our high streets become places where people want to live, because there are lots
of benefits there in terms of being in the middle of all of the action, and also having
larger numbers of people living in our town centres is obviously good for those retail
businesses that remain. In terms of adaptations, we’re very focused
within our new fund to ensure that adaptations do continue to be resourced as they should
be. So, within that £105 million, there is a main capital programme, which would be a
minimum of 75 per cent of the spend, and a discretionary capital programme, which would
be a maximum of 25 per cent of the spend. Within that discretionary capital programme,
we would expect regional partnership boards to consider aids and adaptations that are
not supported by existing programmes and that are in support of those specific objectives
of the ICF, which are older people, people with learning disabilities, children with
complex needs, and carers. They could look at equipment projects, which support people
to live independently in their own home and to reduce hospital admissions or speed up
that hospital discharge, or other smaller scale projects in support of the ICF objectives.
So, those projects could be community-led or third sector-led, because the social services
and well-being Act also is very focused on ensuring that we do support those third sector
organisations and co-operatives and so on to be able to deliver services within the
community as well. Dai Lloyd AM: Can I welcome this statement
from the Minister for Housing and Regeneration? I very much welcome it, and welcome the direction
of travel as well. Naturally, we would welcome £105 million capital spend as well. In terms
of the background, obviously there’s mention of Aneurin Bevan. There will be a lot of mention
of Aneurin Bevan over the next couple of weeks, I suggest, and, yes, he was the Minister of
housing as well as health, and up to 1951 housing was part of the department of health
at Westminster level. Then, for some reason, it got split off, but that link between housing
and health is absolutely that intimate, and we should be reinstituting that link, frankly,
because bad housing equals bad health. We have homeless people on the streets of Wales
today, and their life expectancy is 47 years, while the rest of us are going to live to
beyond 80. So, bad housing indeed equals bad health.
In terms of the other situation in terms of people always asking me, ‘How are we going
to deal with this huge expansion in the number of elderly people and their care requirements
and their health requirements?’ And I always say, actually, we need to start with their
housing. We need a huge expansion of the sheltered accommodation principle, whereby this requires
a culture shift amongst our people as well, in terms of planning ahead and thinking, ‘How
am I going to spend my latter years?’ I would suggest in some sort of sheltered accommodation.
There are excellent projects dotted around Wales and the United Kingdomóyes, it’s a
housing solution and people have wardens there looking after them. In the same complex, Scandinavian
village-type model, it can get more intensive, then, in terms ofó. There’s a sort of nurse
equivalentóthere’s a nursing-home-type situation in the same complex, and there are also advanced
dementia care beds, again in the same complex, so that people move in, and then if their
health deteriorates, they just move to a different part of the same complexóthey don’t have
to leave, so, hence, couples who have been married for 50 to 60 years are not split up
like we do now, callously and sometimes without warning. They remain in the same complex,
only in a different bit of it. Throw in a bit of a restaurant, hairdressing, bit of
bingoóeverybody’s happy. You know, that’s how we should be treating our elderly, not
jamming people in residential homes, I would say, or in less-than-adequate private nursing
homes, quite oftenóand I could provide names of less-than-adequate private nursing homes
if the Minister insists. But there are some excellent examples. I would mention Cylch
Caron, Tregaronóintegrated housing, health and social care project. There are still technical
issues to overcome, though. I mean, people have been working in their separate little
silos for too long, and even when you have some wonderful, innovative thinking, ‘Let’s
start with the housing and build the health and the social care on to it’, you still have
issues with regard to how that’s going to run.
I’m pleased to note that you’ve mentioned the integrated care fund here as a flagship,
and I don’t want to embarrass the Llywydd over much, but it’s only fair to note that
this brilliant idea of the intermediate care fund, as it was then, came as a germ from
the brain there of Elin Jones, Assembly Member for Ceredigion, at the time in 2013, which
was part of a budget deal between Labour, Plaid, and the Liberal Democrats we had then,
in 2014, I think. So, that was the germ of this excellent idea, which has been built
upon today. I congratulate Elin all the time, actually, about this innovative thinking,
because that’s what it’s about: it’s about breaking out of silos and breaking out of
individual portfolios and thinking, ‘We have an elderly person here. How are we going to
deal with this situation?’ We start with, ‘Where are they going to live? Can they stay
where they are with all the support, or, actually, are we going to have to think a bit broader
about this? And let’s have these integrated projects.’
So, yes, there’s a £105 million. There’s a lot of mention about capital funding: capital
this, capital that. Lots of projects need revenue support as well. Can I just ask the
Minister: is there any revenue funding as part of any of thisónot to discount the very
considerable sum that you’ve just announced nowóand in terms, obviously, ofó? I mean,
it is a complex fieldóthat’s sometimes why it’s difficult to integrate things. There
are various other pots of money and lots of other people doing excellent work elsewhere,
particularly with certain vulnerable groups. The Supporting People funding, which is continuously
under threat of being integrated somewhere elseóand lots of people would want to see
Supporting People funding safeguarded, maintained, even, developedóhow would that work together
with this agenda? Because, as you mentioned in your statement, it’s not just about elderly
people, it’s also about people with complex needs as well. Diolch yn fawr.
Rebecca Evans AM: I thank you very much for those comments, and before I address those
points, I realise I had neglected to answer the point that Angela Burns raised in terms
of how we’re going to be monitoring and overseeing what is very significant spend. Effective
monitoring and evaluation arrangements are important in order to provide us with those
assurances that ICF capital funding is being fully utilised in the support of effective
integrated and preventative services, and, of course, when we see the projects coming
forward, it will also help us be informed about where we’re going to in terms of future
spend through the ICF capital investment as well. So, regional partnership boards must
ensure that they have robust monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that schemes funded via
the ICF capital deliver those intended outcomes on time and within budget. Evaluation arrangements
must also be established to identify and evidence the impact as well as the general appropriate
use of funds, and reports must be made on a quarterly basis, as detailed in the guidance
that is presented to regional partnership boards. In terms of overseeing the main capital
programme, well, projects should be agreed at regional partnership board level, but then
submitted to the Welsh Government. We recognise that as an appropriate level of oversight
there. However, there must also be robust internal processes for scrutiny and sign-off
for regional partnership boards with regard to the discretionary capital programme, but
that would need to be proportionate to the kind of level of projects that we’re talking
about there. So, discretionary projects are anything under £100,000, and main projects
are anything over £100,000. Bad housing leads to bad health. That’s well
recognised, I think, and that’s something that came forward very strongly in Dai Lloyd’s
contribution. The kind of project he was describing early on in his contribution, about a project
which demonstrated good practice, was very much what we consider in terms of extra care.
Welsh Government has got a long history of supporting extra care since 2002. With the
support of £197 million of Welsh Government funding, we’ve seen 49 extra-care schemes
funded across Wales, providing over 2,000 homes for older people, where they can maintain
their independence and avoid the need for unnecessary hospital admissions. But I think
that the ICF capital funding, which we’ve announced today, really does take that commitment
now to a new level, and certainly, I would imagine that extra-care projects might be
some of those coming forward via regional partnership boards, because I think extra
care has gone much further on from sheltered accommodation because there can be on-site
care for people, so that means that people’s health and social care needs can be responded
to quickly and responsibly and can help them cope better with crises. Also, we can’t forget
the important role that care technology plays in supporting people to better manage their
risks, and also some monitoring of people’s vital signs, which assists proactive healthcare,
and extended clinical supervision, and that reduces admissions and enables earlier discharge,
again, from hospital. So, I think we’ll certainly see some of those step-up, step-down projects
coming forward from regional partnership boards, and I’m sure that would be very welcome as
well. In terms of integrated health and social care
settings, this is another part of the response that Vaughan Gething has outlined in terms
of the parliamentary review, and a pipeline of 19 projects was identified in December
as part of £68 million of investment in a new generation of integrated health and care
centres. A theme of the pipeline is integration, and health boards are looking to work with
a range of delivery partners, including local authorities, housing associations and the
third sector. The model of care for each of those will differ. Business cases, I understand,
are currently being developed, and there is engagement with a wide range of stakeholders
to identify the opportunities to promote integration. This really is the biggest targeted investment
in primary and community care infrastructure by the Welsh Government, and I very much look
forward to those projects moving forward. There was a question regarding how we are
funding this, because, obviously, these projects also need revenue funding. So, in this financial
year, the Minister for social care has announced that there will be £50 million of revenue
funding in the integrated care fund as well. And, obviously, there are opportunities to
marry up this funding with regeneration funding, for example, and other funding from health.
So, this potentially could have the opportunity to look elsewhere for funding for projects
that meet other wider objectives as well. But there is certainly that revenue funding
to support what’s needed. Gareth Bennett AM: Thanks to the Minister
for her statement and for the announcement of the new funding. I appreciate that, to
a large extent, housing, health and social care are all interconnected and they need
to be considered together, which is the basic thrust of today’s statement. So, we do appreciate
that sentiment, and we acknowledge the need for different departments to work together
to achieve these aims that you’ve set out and not to work in silos. So, I think that
applies both at Government level, where you have to work alongside possibly two other
Ministers to achieve these aims, and also at more regional level. So, I think it’s a
good move to have housing needs included in the regional partnership boards as a statutory
obligation. One basic issue regarding these three integrated
areas is: are we building enough bungalows in Wales? Angela Burns touched on that. She
raised the issue of bungalows, but Angela raised a number of valid points and I wasn’t
sure that this basic fundamental question was actually answered by you. You answered
a lot of points, but I’m interested in what you think about this simple issue of the number
of bungalows that are being built. There are a variety of home adaptations that
can be carried out to make homes more habitable for residents who have developed physical
or mental issues, or who have simply got older. Of course, there is a question of priority.
You mentioned different groups, but you didn’t mention veterans, so are they part of the
integrated care fund programme, or are they coming under another scheme? I would like
some enlightenment on that issue. But obviously, there is going to be this problem of priority.
There are lots of different groups. You did state that there are certain percentages of
funding that will be allocated in different ways. I suppose one basic issue is: will there
be a coherent system of priorities that is easily understandable to the applicants who
are applying for grants for things like home adaptations?
New technology can sometimes be used to benefit the lives of fairly housebound people. For
instance, a lot of day centres have closed in recent years. People living in rural areas
may not be living close to a day centre in any event, so loneliness and isolation have
become a major problem. Can we investigate home adaptations that encompass older people
accessing facilities like Skype or something similar, or even in training those who are
interested in accessing the internet? Could that form a cost-effective part of home adaptation?
Obviously, we need to have broadband in those areas first.
I was intrigued by Dai Lloyd’s vision, which I think is a good oneóthis idea that older
people can sometimes live in semi-communal forms of living that will often be more beneficial
for many of them. There’s also something called reminiscence therapy, which can benefit people
who are experiencing difficulties with their memories. This can be incorporated into the
kind of village complex that Dai was referring to at one point. So, I wonder if this can
be incorporated in some way into the Government’s programme. Thank you.
Rebecca Evans AM: Thank you very much for those questions. I’m glad that you began by
acknowledging that it’s important that we don’t work in silos in this regard. I think
it’s important that the Welsh Government shows leadership in terms of being able to work
across traditional boundaries, especially when we are asking local authorities and health
boards to do difficult things, including pooling budgets through the social services and well-being
Act, and that’s one of the key roles of the regional partnership boards, because making
effective use of resources is a key priority for those boards. Those pooled funds and improved
integrated commissioning will result in greater resilience in the provision of services, with
a focus on improved quality and not just better value for money.
We have been assured that all regional partnership boards are now delivering a form of pooled
funds in relation to care homes for older people. We want to ensure that there are fully
formed pooled funds in place that deliver effective joint commissioning by April of
next year. And the Minister has made it clear that we will consider intervening directly
if that’s not the case. So, yes, it’s important that the Welsh Government shows leadership
and I think we’ve done that through ‘Prosperity for All’, which recognises housing and social
care as two of our five cross-Government priorities, and we recognise that there are roles for
all of us across Government to be working together on these agendas; it’s certainly
not one person’s responsibility to be delivering. Are we building enough bungalows? No, definitely
not. I was really pleased yesterday to visit the new development in Maesteg with my colleague
Huw Irranca-Davies. They are building new bungalows there and that’s really exciting,
because, actually, we don’t have enough bungalows being built. I was talking to developers as
to why, and they’re often seen as being quite inefficient in terms of building them, because
they are, per square metre, more expensive to build than other houses. But, equally,
bungalows really do meet the needs of older people who need to be living on one floor,
for example, and who need a fairly small property to be looking after. So, I would like, certainly,
to see more bungalows being built, and the ones that were being built yesterday were
being built through a housing association, with the specific aim of supporting people
to live in those accommodations, as part of their social housing offer within the local
area. So, I think that it’s important that that’s considered by registered social landlords,
for example, as they’re thinking of their forward work programme, and also by local
authorities as they’re considering their local housing needs analysis, for example.
In terms of priorities and how regional partnership boards will know where to be focusing their
efforts, alongside a letter to regional partnership boards today as a result of this statement,
we’re also issuing programme guidance for this fund. So, there should be no doubt in
terms of the minds of regional partnership boards as to where we would want to see that
funding deployed. I completely agree that the use of new technologies
provides us with real opportunities to support people to live at home for longer, and to
monitor people’s care needs, and monitor people’s health, and so on. That was reflected in some
of the answer that I gave to Dai Lloyd. Again, I think building the right homes is
also about building communities, and that very much speaks to that point that you made
about tackling loneliness and isolation, which we know is becoming a growing concern for
many older people, but not exlusively older people, across Wales. So, building homes that
are also communities, such as the one we saw yesterday, I think is a wonderful way of being
able to tackle that as well. In terms of the groups that this funding is
intended to support, those groups are set out through the social services and well-being
Act, and they are: older people with complex needs and long-term conditions, including
dementia; people with learning disabilities; children with complex needs due to being disabled
or illness; and carers and young carers. So, those groups are specifically set out through
legislation. We do have a very strong link between the
dementia action plan and the regional partnership boards’ work. The plan focuses on what service
users with dementia and their family members have told us was particularly important to
them, for example, timely diagnosis, and then the provision of person-centred care following
that diagnosis. The implementation of that plan is being supported by £10 million of
Government investment, £9 million of which has been allocated to the regional partnership
boards through the integrated care fund mechanism, so aiming to drive forward and enable integrated
working between social services, health, housing, the third sector and independent sectors to
support people with dementia and their carers. To support this, we have issued addendum ICF
guidance that was produced specifically with the dementia action plan in mind.
Jenny Rathbone AM: It’s a pleasure to see the Government embracing the parliamentary
review, and working towards how we’re going to deliver person-centred care, because if
we can’t deliver the type of housing that people are going to need as their needs change,
then it’s going to be extremely difficult to do that.
I think one of the core principles has got to be that everybody needs to be part of a
community, because I don’t want to see bungalows a quarter of a mile away from any services;
that’s not going to work. And equally, it’s really important that people with dementia
who may not be able to stay unsupervised on their own at home should still be part of
the community. There was a lovely television programme in the last couple of days about
some children visiting people with dementia, and the very, very positive impact that it
had on the older people as well as the warmth that the children received from these older
people, who were giving them lots of attention. So, that’s a really good example of how people
with dementia need to still be part of the community, whether it’s restaurants where
people with dementia are making the food and other people are coming in to eat itóthe
paying public. That’s another way in which we can keep people in contact with the whole
community. But I think one of the problems we have at
the moment is that we have such a lack of choice in housing because of the acute housing
crisis, so that when people’s needs change it becomes really difficult to enable them
to stay part of the community that they know, because we simply haven’t got anything available.
I’ve got a constituent who is, so to speak, over-occupying because of the bedroom tax.
She’s got an adult son with some autistic spectrum difficulties. It’s very difficult
for her to be in a flat because of that, but there are simply no two-bedroomed homes in
the community she is a major part of as a really good community leader. Sadly, it looks
like she’s going to have to leave that community, which is completely tragic, in that we haven’t
got a range of housing types. Hefin David raised the issue of the mass house builders
who all want to build the same old rabbit hutches. We don’t yet have the flexibility
we need in the type of housing that people are going to need and where people feel a
sense of some control over it. I was reading a fantastic article earlier
this month about a project in Eindhoven called Project Milestone, where the Eindhoven university
of technology have been fully involved in 3D-printed housing. They envisage that, within
the next five years, people are going to be able to design their own homes on a computer
to suit their particular needs, depending on how many children they’ve got, et cetera.
But because they’re using a specially formulated cement that’s squirted onto the structure,
a bit like whipped cream, it’s miles cheaper than bricks and mortar and incorporates smart
lighting, heating and security. I can see how it can be made to work.
So, I just wondered if you’re thinking in your regional partnership boards about how
you’re going to contract with small and medium-sized local builders who are going to deliver the
types of homes that people in that community are going to need. They’ll be different in
every community. I can’t see a role for bungalows in the inner-city parts of my constituency,
because the land just isn’t there, but I can see a demand for people to continue to stay
in the street they’ve lived in for 60 years, so that they’re near to their children and
will be able to maintain those links that are vital to keep people out of hospital.
Rebecca Evans AM: Thank you very much for those questions. I’ll begin at the end of
your contribution when you were talking about innovative housing. I think that we are really
on the cusp of a revolution in terms of the way that we build housing. There are so many
exciting new ways of building homes. Some of those are being supported through our £90
million innovative housing programme. The current window is open for another week or
soóanother couple of weeksóso I’ll certainly be encouraging businesses of all sizes to
consider making applications to that. I think it’s particularly well suited to SMEs because
SMEs have a long history of embracing risk long before the volume house builders have
done. I met with the Federation of Small Businesses earlier today and I was impressing upon them
the need to be promoting amongst their members the opportunities under the innovative housing
programme for SMEs, because they are real opportunities, I think.
They also have access to our property development fund, which is a £30 million fund, and that
will enable small and medium-sized enterprises, again, to have relatively easy access to funding
in order to support some of their building projects. Again, we recently announced the
stalled sites fund, which is a £40 million fund and that’s to open up sites that are
there and ready to go in terms of planning, but for whatever reason haven’t been able
to be built onófor example, remediation needs to be undertaken in order to make the land
suitable for building. So, those small elements that prevent the project from being viable
right now, but with this kind of support might make them viable in future. It can also be
used in terms of assisting small and medium-sized enterprises with their cash flow as well.
So, I think the innovative housing programme, although we’re supporting many different types
of housing at the moment, it is all with the purpose of informing us where we need to go
in future in terms of building houses at a much greater scale and pace. So, potentially,
we could be getting to the point where we start thinking, ‘Well, these are the three
or four kinds of ways of building homes that really work for us here in Wales and these
are the ones that we want to invest in in the future, these are the ones where we can
keep the skills here in Wales, where we can build here in Wales.’ We’ve just had the statement
on woodlands, so we can be using as much Welsh timber as possible. I think that this is a
very exciting agenda in terms of housing, particularly innovative housing. I would imagine
that where projects do come forward under the ICF they would be certainly looking at
one and two-bedroomed properties because, as Jenny says, these are the kind of properties
that are in short supply and are better suited, particularly, to older people.
You referred to the lack of choice in housing when people’s needs change. Again, this is
something that’s exciting about the extra-care programmes, which will be supported and which
have already been supported, in terms of them being able to adapt to people’s needs as their
needs change. Again, Jenny referred to new technologies and the exciting opportunities
they can present there. I visited Llanelli recently to look at their support for social
care, and they were showing me some of the technologies that they deploy. One was a watch
that supports people with dementia. So, it’s got GPS on it, and the individual can agree,
with their families, with their carers, the boundaries where it’s safe for them to goóso,
areas that they know very wellóand if and when the person leaves those boundaries, then
the family is informed, and it’s a great way of giving families peace of mind but also
giving people the independence that they deserve as well.
The children visiting people through, for example, Dementia Friends projects, I think,
is wonderful as well, and I know that it’s not just the older people or the people with
dementia who get a lot from that as well. I think that the children certainly get a
lot from that, and that’s something I would be looking to promote as well. I also just
recognise the comments that you’ve made about the importance of the parliamentary review
and the real focus that it does put on personalised and person-centred care.
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: We’re over time already with this statement. I have three other Members
wishing to speak. Oh, I have an excellent Member at the back there, indicating that
she no longer wishes to speak. I’ve got two other Members wishing to speak. I’ll call
you, but I want succinct questions and succinct answers. Jane Hutt.
Jane Hutt AM: Yes, thank you, Minister, for your statement, and can I say how pleased
I am to hear about the news of this substantial investment in housing as part of the package
to join up health, social care and housing? Last week, I spoke at the policy forum on
older people’s care, and I think Rhun was also there, chairing a session. We did draw
attention to the unique opportunities we’ve got to drive forward policy in this area.
Now, Dr Dai Lloyd has already talked about the origins of the intermediate care fund,
as it was, back in 2014-15, and I would just like to have a brief moment to remember the
time we spent, one hot summer, in closed rooms, with myself as finance Minister, Elin Jones
as the Plaid Cymru shadow Minister, and I think it might have been Peter Black, because
certainly we said, ‘It should be health, social care and housing.’ And I’d say that was £50
million to deliver a Welsh Government budget in 2014-15. It’s now firmly embedded in policy
delivery in Wales. But I think, and it’s what came out of the policy forum last week, that
actually housing hasn’t actually been integratedóhousing and social care. It’s been more health and
social care. So, my two questions are, firstly: social
housing partners at the forum last week had very different experiences of whether they
were involved or not in the regional partnership boards. Can you confirm that they will be
involved, and how that will happen, how that will progress in terms of taking forward decisions
on the integrated care fund? And also, another point that was made very strongly: can we
ensure that the housing element of the intermediate care fund doesn’t run from one good, but time-limited,
funding announcement, but is sustained for the longer term planning?
Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: It’s a very clever trick, Jane Hutt, to name-check the Llywydd
in your contribution in order to squeeze in two rather than one question. Two quick answers.
Rebecca Evans AM: Okay, I will be brief. I just want to recognise that, as other Members
have said, there is genuinely cross-party interest and support for this agenda, so I
think it’s only fair to recognise that. In terms of the social housing partners and
the housing sector on those regional partnership boards, it is true to say that their voice
has been heard very well on some of those regional partnership boards as kind of associate
members but not statutory members, but then, in other regional partnership boards, housing
feels frustrated, I think, that they haven’t had their voice heard. So, that’s one of the
reasons why we have taken the decision to put housing as statutory partners on those
regional partnership boards, to make sure that they get the credit that they deserve
on those boards, but also get the strong voice and are taken as seriously as they should
be, given how important the capital element is to this and how important we see housing
in terms of supporting people’s good health and well-being.
In terms of the funding, this is a three-year funding arrangement, so it will be £30 million
for this year, £35 million for the following year, and £40 million for the year after
that. This should be able to give regional partnership boards the opportunity to plan
forward with that. We’ve written to the regional partnership boards today, outlining their
indicative allocations for each particular region.
Mark Isherwood AM: I have one comment and a straight question. I was delighted to see
that the need for housing to be put at the heart of health and social care and broader
community regeneration is acknowledgedóa point I was banging away on back in 2003 in
this place, when there were warnings that if urgent action wasn’t taken, Wales would
face the housing supply crisis that we now have.
But, moving on, two weeks ago, I chaired the cross-party group on disability and I wondered
how you respond to the findings presented to us by the Equality and Human Rights Commission
on ‘Housing and disabled people: Wales’s hidden crisis’. I’ll just give three of them: how
do you respond to their findings that there’s no target in the Welsh Government’s 20,000
affordable housing target by 2021 for accessible homes, that only one out of 22 local authorities
have set a percentage target for accessible and affordable homes, and that only 15 per
cent of local authorities in Wales said that the information they had about disabled people’s
housing requirements was ‘good’? Rebecca Evans AM: Thank you for very much
for those questions and comments, and I very much recognise the report to which you referred.
We have asked our officials to explore that report to see what more we can be doing to
ensure that we are building housing that is accessible to people. Certainly, housing that
is built, or other accommodation that is built, through our integrated care fund would be
very cognisant of the fact that it’s supporting older people and people with complex needs
and so on, and that it will need to be tailored to the needs of those individuals. But I think
we also have to remember that we do have the Welsh quality housing standard that applies
to the social rented sector here in Wales. By 2020, all of our local authorities and
all of our registered social landlords will have met that standard. I think that does
set the bar really in terms of ensuring that housing is of a good quality here in Wales,
but I do recognise the seriousness of that report and the need to ensure that we do more
in terms of accessibility? Y Llywydd / The Llywydd: Diolch i’r Gweinidog,
a daw hynny ‚’n trafodion ni am heddiw i ben.

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