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Cofnod y Trafodion
The Record of Proceedings

Dydd Mawrth, 14 Mehefin 2011
Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Cynnwys
Contents

Cwestiynau i’r Prif Weinidog
Questions to the First Minister

Cwestiwn Brys:Cau Canolfan Alwadau Lloyds Banking Group ym Mhen-y-bont ar Ogwr
Urgent Question:Closure of Lloyds Banking Group Call Centre in Bridgend

Datganiad a Chyhoeddiad Busnes
Business Statement and Announcement

Datganiad am Flaenoriaethau Deddfwriaethol
Statement on Legislative Priorities

Cynnig Cydsyniad Deddfwriaethol Atodol: Bil Senedd y DU ynghylch Lleoliaeth
Supplementary Legislative Consent Motion: Localism Bill

Cynnig Cydsyniad Deddfwriaethol Atodol: Bil Senedd y DU ynghylch Addysg
Supplementary Legislative Consent Motion: Education Bill

Comisiwn Bevan
The Bevan Commission

Cyfnod Pleidleisio
Voting Time

Dadl Fer: Gadewch i Blant fod yn Blant
Short Debate: Let Children Be Children

Yn y golofn chwith, cofnodwyd y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y Siambr. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir cyfieithiad Saesneg o gyfraniadau yn y Gymraeg.
In the left-hand column, the proceedings are recorded in the language in which they were spoken in the Chamber. In addition, an English translation of Welsh speeches is included.

Cyfarfu’r Cynulliad am 1.30 p.m.gyda’r Llywydd (Rosemary Butler) yn y Gadair.

The Assembly met at 1.30 p.m.with the Presiding Officer (Rosemary Butler) in the Chair.

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Y Llywydd: Prynhawn da.Galwaf Gynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru i drefn.

The Presiding Officer:Good afternoon. I call the National Assembly for Wales to order.

Cwestiynau i’r Prif Weinidog
Questions to the First Minister

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Iechyd a Lles y Genedl

Health and Wellbeing of the Nation

1.Arweinydd yr Wrthblaid (Paul Davies):Beth mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn ei wneud i wella iechyd a lles y genedl. OAQ(4)0028(FM)

1. The Leader of the Opposition (Paul Davies):What is the Welsh Government doing to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation. OAQ(4)0028(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog (Carwyn Jones): Yr ydym yn dangos ein hymrwymiad drwy ein haddewid yn ein maniffesto i ofal iechyd yn yr unfed ganrif ar hugain. Yr ydym yn parhau i fynd i’r afael â blaenoriaethau iechyd y cyhoedd, fel ysmygu a gordewdra.

The First Minister (Carwyn Jones): Our commitment is demonstrated in our manifesto commitment to twenty-first century healthcare. We continue to tackle public health priorities, such as smoking and obesity.

Paul Davies: Yr wyf yn ddiolchgar am yr ateb hwnnw. Deallaf fod cynllun gweithredu ar gyfer iechyd yr henoed wedi’i gynhyrchu gan Lywodraeth Cymru yn 2005 er mwyn darparu cyfeiriad strategol ar gyfer gweithgarwch corfforol i oedolion hŷn. Cafodd ei gynllunio i gynorthwyo unigolion i gymryd mwy o gyfrifoldeb am eu hiechyd a’u lles, ac i hyrwyddo mynediad gwell i raglenni sgrinio, er enghraifft. Fodd bynnag, er gwaethaf y cynllun gweithredu, mae’n ymddangos o hyd fod gwahaniaethuar sail oedran o ran mynediad i rai gwasanaethau sgrinio. A all y Prif Weinidog a’i Lywodraeth ddiweddaru’r cynllun gweithredu hwn, o gofio bod y rhan fwyaf o’r pwyntiau gweithredu yn y cynllun presennol wedi cael eu monitro hyd at 2007 yn unig?

Paul Davies: I am grateful for that response. I understand that an action plan for healthcare for the elderly was drawn up by the Welsh Government in 2005 in order to provide a strategic direction for physical activity for older people. It was developed to enable individuals to take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing and to promote better access to screening programmes, for example. However, despite the action plan, it appears that there is age discrimination in terms of access to some screening services. Can the First Minister and his Government update that action plan, bearing in mind that most of the action points contained within the current plan were monitored only until 2007?

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr ydym yn edrych ar anghydraddoldebau iechyd drwy ein cynllun gweithredu strategol ar gyfer lleihau anghydraddoldebau iechyd, sef 'Canlyniadau Iechyd Tecach i Bawb’. Ar ben hynny, wrth gwrs, yr ydym yn sicrhau bod pobl yn gallu cael y driniaeth sydd ei hangen arnynt mewn lle sydd yn ddigon lleol iddynt, er mwyn sicrhau bod canlyniadau’r gwasanaeth iechyd yn parhau i wella.

The First Minister: We look at health inequalities through our strategic action plan to reduce health inequalities, namely 'Fairer Health Outcomes for All’. In addition to that, of course, we ensure that people can receive the treatment that they require in their own locality in order to ensure that the outcomes of the health service continue to improve.

Keith Davies: Mae’r Prif Weinidog wedi dweud y bydd yn gweithio’n galed i wella gwasanaethau iechyd i bobl Cymru. Mae trafferthion un o’m hetholwyr, Mrs EnidHigham, wedi tanlinellu’r angen i Fwrdd Iechyd Lleol Hywel Dda wella ei wasanaethau cataract. Ar ôl cael triniaeth ar un llygad 11 mlynedd yn ôl, gwrthodwyd rhoi triniaeth iddi ar y llygad arall oherwydd polisi’r bwrdd iechyd sy’n cyfyngu triniaeth i un llygad yn unig. Hefyd, mae nifer o’mhetholwyr o Lanelli yn gorfod teithio i Lanaman er mwyn gweld y llawfeddyg. Mae’n sicr bod teithio o Lanelli i Lanaman yn anodd i rywun sydd â phroblemau gweld. A yw’r Prif Weinidog yn cytuno bod lle i wella’r ddarpariaeth o rai triniaethau yn y gwasanaeth iechyd, yn cynnwys darpariaeth llawdriniaeth cataract gyda Bwrdd Iechyd Lleol Hywel Dda?

Keith Davies: The First Minister has said that he will work hard to improve health services for the people of Wales. The difficulties of one of my constituents, Mrs Enid Higham, have highlighted the need for the Hywel Dda Local Health Board to improve its cataract services. Having received treatment on one eye 11 years ago, she was refused treatment for the other eye because of the health board’s policy of limiting treatment to only one eye. A number of my constituents from Llanelli also have to travel to Glanamman in order to see a surgeon. There is no doubt that travelling from Llanelli to Glanamman is difficult for someone whose vision is impaired. Does the First Minister agree that there is room for improvement with regard to some treatments provided by the health service, including cataract operations undertaken by Hywel Dda Local Health Board?

Y Prif Weinidog: Os ysgrifennwch ataf gyda manylion yr unigolyn, ysgrifennaf yn ôl gydag ateb manylach.

The First Minister: If you write to me regarding the situation of that individual, I will give you a more detailed response.

Elin Jones: Yn sgîl sefyllfa bryderus Southern Cross ar hyn o bryd, a gytunwch na ddylai cynghorau sir fod yn ystyried preifateiddio unrhyw gartref gofal i’r henoed, a bod perchnogaeth gyhoeddus yn rhoi sicrwydd hirdymor i’r henoed?

Elin Jones: Given the concerning situation of Southern Cross at present, do you agree that county councils should not consider privatising any care homes for the elderly and that public ownership provides long-term assurance to our older people?

Y Prif Weinidog:Ni ddylai unrhyw awudrdod lleol edrych i breifateiddio unrhyw gartref preswyl.

The First Minister: No local authority should look to privatise any residential home.

Comisiwn Cydraddoldeb a Hawliau Dynol

Equality and Human Rights Commission

2. Lindsay Whittle:Pa drafodaethau y mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi’u cael ynghylch dyfodol swyddfa’r Comisiwn Cydraddoldeb a Hawliau Dynol yma yng Nghymru. OAQ(4)0037(FM)

2. Lindsay Whittle:What discussions has the Welsh Government had on the future of the Equality and Human Rights Commission office here in Wales. OAQ(4)0037(FM)

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The First Minister:We will be submitting a response, but our officials are working with the EHRC at the moment to provide advice on what steps we should take in terms of the proposed changes. We are also preparing a consultation event with stakeholders later this month, which will inform our response to the consultation.

Lindsay Whittle:Will you consider making representations to the Home Secretary and inviting Trevor Phillips and Mark Hammond, the chair and chief executive of the commission, here to seek commitments about resourcing in Wales? Would you be happy to invite them here to meet not only you, but representatives of all four parties? It is vital that we ensure that the commission in Wales is viable and that it will continue with its important work of enforcing the new, specific equality duties and will further promote the distinctive equalities agenda that we have in Wales. Plaid Cymru would be happy to meet the chair and the chief executive of the commission, and I am sure that the Labour Party would be equally happy to do so. I invite the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to do so as well.

The Presiding Officer: Order. This is a question, not an invitation.

The First Minister: The Leader of the House, in her role as the Minister with responsibility for equality, will be looking to meet them to make the point that we need to ensure a strong presence for the EHRC in Wales. If a meeting can be organised with other parties, I am sure that that can be done separately.

Mohammad Asghar: I hope that the ongoing consultation into the future of the EHRC will help to ensure that the commission is structured as an effective equalities regulator and national human rights institution, that it does not duplicate work, and that it uses public money as wisely as possible. In the consultation document, the UK Government highlights the importance of the commission retaining a strong presence in Wales and working closely with the Welsh Government. Given that we face some unique challenges in Wales that are linked to equality, will you join me in welcoming the statement, First Minister?

The First Minister: I hope that we will not see a diminution in EHRC activities in Wales. If the UK Government has said that, we welcome that, and will seek to ensure that the EHRC’s function in Wales remains as strong as ever.

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Cwestiynau Heb Rybudd gan Arweinwyr y Pleidiau

Questions Without Notice from the Party Leaders

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The Presiding Officer:During questions to the First Minister, the convention in the Assembly has been for party leaders to ask supplementary questions to tabled questions and when doing so, they have been allowed to ask more open questions to the First Minister. As of this week, I wish to establish a dedicated time for leaders’ questions, where the party leaders may ask questions without notice to the First Minister. I do not intend to call other Members to ask supplementary questions to their questions. I will therefore now call the party leaders to question the First Minister.

The Leader of the Opposition (Paul Davies): The economic renewal programme was one of the flagship policies of the First Minister’s previous Government. How much money has been allocated to businesses throughout Wales since its launch last July?

The First Minister:Given the fact that it takes some time for a programme to be rolled forward, you will not be surprised when I tell you that, at the moment, the amount of money that has been allocated is low. Inevitably, it takes a number of years for the programme to move forward and for money to be allocated under it.

Paul Davies:Let me help you out, First Minister. I have the information here: a total of £47,136 was allocated to businesses between July 2010 and May 2011. Do you think that that is enough to help small businesses?

The First Minister:No, but inevitably these programmes ramp up as time goes on. I fully expect there to be more than sufficient funds available for small businesses during the course of the programme.

Paul Davies:Following on from that, we want to know whether the Government will continue with the economic renewal programme. Will you commit to continuing with the economic renewal programme?

The First Minister:Yes.

Paul Davies:I am glad that we have had an answer at long last. Following on from that, will you commit to setting up enterprise zones? If so, what discussions have you had with the UK Government on setting up enterprise zones throughout Wales?

The First Minister:We are looking at enterprise zones with great interest. We understand that the consequential for Wales will be around the £5 million mark. We do not know for certain because we do not yet know what the full package means. It is not a huge amount of money. We should be very careful about what any future enterprise zones might look like, given the fact that they have had very mixed success in years gone by. Nevertheless, it is right to say that the Minister and I are looking in particular at the principle of clustered enterprise zones in different parts of Wales.

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Arweinydd Plaid Cymru (Ieuan Wyn Jones): Dywedasoch, Brif Weinidog, ar 25 Mai y byddech yn ysgrifennu at George Osborne i ofyn am gyfarfod; a allwch chi roi’r wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am hyn inni, os gwelwch yn dda?

The Leader of Plaid Cymru (Ieuan Wyn Jones): First Minister, you said on 25 May that you would write to George Osborne to ask for a meeting; would you please give us the latest information on that?

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae’r cyfarfod wedi’i drefnu ar gyfer dechrau’r mis nesaf.

The First Minister: The meeting has been scheduled for the beginning of next month.

Ieuan Wyn Jones: Diolch yn fawr am hynny. Os byddwch yn cofio, ar 25 Mai, dywedasoch y byddai dau beth ar yr agenda gennych i’w trafod â George Osborne. Un ohonynt oedd sicrhau’r llawr Barnett, sef rhan gyntaf adroddiad Gerry Holtham,a’r ail yw pwerau benthyg. A fyddech bellach yn ailystyried yr agenda honno yn sgîl yr hyn sydd newydd ddigwydd yn yr Alban?

Ieuan Wyn Jones: Thank you very much for that. If you remember, back on 25 May, you said that there would be two items on the agenda for your meeting with George Osborne. One of those was to secure the Barnett floor, namely the first part of Gerry Holtham’s report, and the second was borrowing powers. Would you now reconsider that agenda in light of recent events in Scotland?

Y Prif Weinidog: Nid wyf am ddilyn yr Alban ond, wedi dweud hynny, mae’n bwysig dros ben bod gennym becyn sydd o les i bobl Cymru. Mae’n hynod bwysig ein bod yn cael pwerau benthyg; mae hynny’n hollol amlwg. Byddaf yn gwneud datganiad yn y Cynulliad yr wythnos nesaf er mwyn amlinellu safbwynt y Llywodraeth a hefyd i ddweud wrth y Cynulliad beth fydd safbwynt y Llywodraeth pan fyddaf yn siarad â George Osborne, David Cameron a Nick Clegg.

The First Minister: I do not wish to follow Scotland, but, having said that, it is extremely important that we have a package that benefits the people of Wales. It is vital that we have borrowing powers; that is completely clear. I will make a statement in the Assembly next week in order to outline the Government’s position and also to inform the Assembly of what the Government’s stance will be when I speak to George Osborne, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

Ieuan Wyn Jones: Mae’n bwysig eich bod yn rhannu’r agenda honno gyda ni cyn gynted â phosibl, yn enwedig os mai’r agenda a osodwyd gennych ar 25 Mai ydyw; byddai’r agenda honno’n sicr o danbrisio Cymru o gymharu â’r Alban. Hoffwn eich atgoffa o’r cyhoeddiad a wnaethpwyd ddoe fod yr Alban yn mynd i dderbyn, yn ychwanegol at yr hyn a gyhoeddwyd eisoes, pwerau ariannol gwerth £12 biliwn, blaendal sylweddol i alluogi’r gwaith ar bont Forth i ddechrau, a hawl ddeddfwriaethol i newid y ffordd y mae’n benthyg drwy’r hyn a elwir yn bond issuance, sef rhywbeth yr oedd eich plaid chi’n ddilornus ohono yn ystod yr etholiad. Gan eich bod wedi dweud eich bod am sefyll o blaid Cymru, beth yn ychwanegol y byddwch chi’n ei ofyn i George Osborne, o ystyried bod gennych ffordd bell i fynd er mwyn cymharu â’r Alban?

Ieuan Wyn Jones: It is important that you share that agenda with us as soon as possible, especially if it is the same agenda that you outlined on 25 May; that agenda would sell Wales short as compared to what is happening in Scotland. May I remind you of the announcement that was made yesterday, that, in addition to what has already been announced, Scotland will receive fiscal powers worth £12 billion, payments to enable the work on the Forth bridge to commence, and the legislative right to change the way that Scotland borrows through what is being called bond issuance, namely something that your party was very disparaging about during the election campaign. As you have said that you will stand up for Wales, what else will you ask of George Osborne, considering that you have a long way to go compared with Scotland?

Y Prif Weinidog: O ran benthyg, yr ydym eisiau’r un pwerau â Gogledd Iwerddon a’r Alban, a hynny ar yr un lefel hefyd. Nid oes raid cael rhyw fath o bond issue; mae eisoes yn bosibl, fel y gwna Gogledd Iwerddon, benthyg arian heb gael pwerau trethu a heb fenthyg arian ar y farchnad. Yr hyn sy’n bwysig, beth bynnag fo’r mecanwaith, yw bod gan Gymru’r modd i fenthyg arian er mwyn gallu cyllido prosiectau mawr yn y dyfodol, yn enwedig wrth gofio bod cyfalaf yn mynd i fod yn brin iawn dros y blynyddoedd i ddod.

The First Minister: With regard to borrowing powers, we want the same powers as Northern Ireland and Scotland, and on the same level. It is not necessary to have some sort of bond issue; it is already possible, as Northern Ireland does, to borrow money without having taxation powers and without borrowing money on the markets. What is important, whatever the mechanism, is that Wales has the means to borrow money in order to fund major projects in the future, especially as capital funding will become scarce over the coming years.

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The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats (Kirsty Williams): We have seen the publication of a number of reports over the past 12 months that have been less than flattering about the state of the education system in Wales. The head of the association of schooland college lecturers has today identified a lack of investment in the future leadership of schools and the importance of the continuing professional development of our teachers. He said:

'in Wales I don’t think we have invested enough in continuing professional development.... We’ve got some very good school leaders but a lot of them are approaching retirement’.

Do you accept his criticism and analysis of the situation in Wales? What new policies will your Government set out to ensure that we develop the next generation of teachers and school leaders?

The First Minister:I think that you mean the Association of School and College Leaders rather than the association of school and college lecturers, but I accept the point that you make. It is right to say that there are some very good leaders in schools and colleges in Wales. It is also right to say that there are others in positions of leadership who are not as good. It is important that good systems of qualifications and of continuing professional development are in place. I believe that we have those systems in place and that we will see many more schools in the future benefiting from heads and principals with enhanced leadership skills.

Kirsty Williams: I am surprised to hear you say that, First Minister, because the recent Estyn inspection of the Welsh education system made some specific and direct criticisms of the current way in which we train our headteachers and handle continuing professional development in our schools. I am not aware that the Minister has been able to introduce some significant changes to that since the publication of that report.

The gentleman who I previously quoted, who has considerable experience in leading schools in Wales, also gives specific examples of how he believed we could improve the situation. He makes direct comparisons with England about the importance being placed there on business managers, which allows headteachers to focus on school leadership, on the curriculum and on teaching and learning. Will you promote the use of business managers in Welsh schools?

1.45 p.m.

The First Minister: Schools are not businesses and I do not think that a business manager is the right person to run a school. That is unfair on the many headteachers up and down Wales who are committed to education and are good at managing schools. It is true that they need the right level of support and qualifications, but I have seen many schools in Wales where the headteacher is an effective manager. The key thing for us is to ensure that the good practice that we see in so many schools around Wales is replicated in all of them, and that remains a challenge.

Kirsty Williams: Once again I am rather surprised by your analysis of the situation. You do not want to take the advice of the unions—and that is your choice—and you question the role of business managers in schools, yet your own inspectorate, Estyn, has identified that a good school business manager can free up at least 20 per cent of the time of a headteacher, allowing that professional to concentrate on curriculum development, leadership and the promotion of learning and excellence within that school. This afternoon we are going to have your legislative statement. Do you not agree that it is time for the Government to bring forward a teaching standards Bill to put in place new, streamlined structures for the training and development of our teachers, to drive up standards and challenge the profession so that it can deliver for all of our children?

The First Minister: One of the suggestions that will be brought forward in my statement is indeed an education Bill. I will make that clear in the statement.

Kirsty Williams:I am grateful for that answer, First Minister, but I bring you back to the point that your own inspectors believe that the employment of business managers would be a good idea. I therefore ask you to reflect on the comments that you made earlier. The Minister for Education and Skills is again due to make a keynote speech to an external audience that we are told will set out how he and your Government will drive up standards and respond to the failings reflected in the Programme for International Student Assessment report. Will you ensure that, in future, any new policy initiatives are announced in person in this Chamber?

The First Minister: Policy initiatives are announced to Assembly Members, but there will inevitably be occasions when policies will be discussed with stakeholders in the professions. Today we will hear about the proposed legislative programme and next week there will be a statement on the Government’s fiscal policy.

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Trydaneiddio’r Rheilffordd

Railway Electrification

3. Mike Hedges:A yw’r Prif Weinidog wedi cael unrhyw wybodaeth bellach am drydaneiddio’r brif reilffordd rhwng Caerdydd ac Abertawe. OAQ(4)0030(FM)

3. Mike Hedges:Has the First Minister received any further information regarding the electrification of the main railway line from Cardiff to Swansea. OAQ(4)0030(FM)

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The First Minister:We know that the UK Government has published its business case for electrification and it does not go as far as Swansea. It is said that it would cost some £60 million to electrify as far as Swansea. Having noticed the Secretary of State’s opposition to a high-speed line going through her constituency, I can assure her that we would be more than happy to take some of the money that would be set aside for that line to pay for the electrification to Swansea.

Mike Hedges: I thank the First Minister for his response. I will follow up by saying that, for areas like Swansea and his own constituency, Bridgend, an electrified line is important for economic regeneration. Those who are making investments around Britain will be looking at areas with motorways, fast broadband and electrified rail lines, and if we do not have that down in the west, then we will be at a significant disadvantage. Would the First Minister not agree that electrification would be more helpful for the economic regeneration of Swansea and other parts of west Wales than enterprise zones or greater fiscal powers?

The First Minister: The sad reality is that many businesses will see that the line is being electrified as far as Cardiff and take it that the message of the UK Government is that the main line ends at Cardiff, and anywhere west of Cardiff should not be invested in. That is the sad message that the UK Government may be sending. In a sane world, of course, the second Severn crossing would have been built with a railway deck underneath it, but it was beyond the capacity of the Government of the day to realise that.

Byron Davies: First Minister, I think that we both agree that improving the business case for the continuation of the electrification project from London to Swansea is key to the economic revival of our part of the world. I was extremely pleased to be present in Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall in April of this year, when the Prime Minister, David Cameron, confirmed that the UK Government would go out of its way to improve the business case. I am sure that all Members from South Wales West would like to know what action you have taken since forming your Government to assist with improving the business case. Have you had any meetings or correspondence specifically on that subject? Although I do not want to prejudge your answer to this important question, I fear that the evidence speaks louder than words. I am afraid that the evidence of any work on the business plan is stark, and indeed—

The Presiding Officer: Order.Will you come to the question, please?

Byron Davies:First Minister, when your party governed, at the UK level and in Wales, not one inch of track was electrified in Wales. Will you commit to improving that record and to working alongside the UK Government to provide electrification to Swansea, and refrain from party-political point scoring?

The First Minister: We have a very good record of opening railway lines: the Vale of Glamorgan line is one example and the Ebbw valley line is another. Therefore, I will not take criticism from the party opposite about a commitment to railways. We have made the point many times to the Secretary of State and others, in correspondence and in meetings, that we want to see electrification to Swansea. However, responsibility for the railways is not devolved and it is for the United Kingdom Government to produce the business case for electrification. We will do all what we can to assist the UK Government in providing a positive business case for electrification.

Julie James: Thank you for that, First Minister. I am sure that you will agree that Swansea is still riding on the crest of a wave after the football team’s splendid promotion to the FA Premier League—I could not let my colleague, the Member for Swansea East, be the only person to mention that in the Chamber. I am sure that we all recognise that, as in the case of the Ryder Cup weekend in Newport last year, week in week out, for the next 12 months at least, Swansea will be the window through which the rest of the world will see Wales. I hope that we can all work together strategically to maximise this wonderful opportunity for Swansea and for the whole of Wales. We cannot allow Wales’s second city to fail under the glare of the international spotlight. First Minister, do you agree that Labour, in the Assembly and elsewhere, fully supports the full electrification of the Great Western line? Do you agree that we need to press the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, in Wales and in the UK Government, to get fully behind the electrification of the railway line between Cardiff and Swansea? It is important for Swansea and west Wales that we are seen internationally to be open for business and that it is seen that Wales does not end at Cardiff.

The First Minister: That is right. It is important that we realise that the south Wales main line, as it is described, ends at Swansea. That does not mean that the lines further west are not important, because clearly they are. It has never been the case that the main line has been seen as ending at Cardiff, until now. That impression is unfortunate because businesses will think that Cardiff is the end of the line and that, beyond Cardiff, there are problematic conditions for economic growth. That is the wrong message to send to the world of investment.

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Bethan Jenkins:Nid oes unrhyw beth ym mhenderfyniad Llywodraeth San Steffan ar drydaneiddio sy’n adlewyrchu ei pholisi o gyflwyno trawstoriad mwy eang o dwf a datblygiad economaidd ledled y Deyrnas Unedig. Pe bai’n poeni o gwbl am gyflwr economi Cymru, byddai’n ymwybodol bod Abertawe yn wynebu mwy o berygl yng nghyd-destun colli swyddi na llawer o leoedd eraill. A yw’r Prif Weinidog yn cytuno mai’r hyn sydd yn gwneud y sefyllfa’n waeth fyth yw’r ffaith bod y gost fesul milltir o ymestyn y trydaneiddio yn y dyfodol o Gaerdydd i Abertawe bellach yn ei osod y tu hwnt i gyrraedd pecyn buddsoddi posibl? A yw’r Prif Weinidog wedi cyfleu’r pwynt hwnnw i’r Llywodraeth yn San Steffan, ynghyd â phwyntiau eraill yn ymwneud â thrydaneiddio? A yw wedi eu cyfleu’n uniongyrchol i’r Gweinidog sydd â chyfrifoldeb dros y mater hwn?

Bethan Jenkins: There is nothing in the Westminster Government’s decision on electrification that represents its policy of introducing a wider cross-section of growth and economic development across the United Kingdom. If it were at all concerned about the condition of the Welsh economy, it would be aware that Swansea faces greater risks in terms of job losses than many other places. Does the First Minister agree that what makes the situation even worse is the fact that the cost per mile of continuing to extend the electrification from Cardiff to Swansea at a future date now puts it beyond the reach of a possible investment package? Has the First Minister made that point to the Government in Westminster, along with the other points on electrification? Has he conveyed them directly to the Minister with responsibility for this matter?

Y Prif Weinidog: Gwnaethpwyd y pwyntiauhynny nid yn unig gan y Llywodraeth hon ond gan y Llywodraeth ddiwethaf hefyd. Nid oes gwahaniaeth rhwng safbwynt Gweinidogion y Llywodraeth ddiwethaf a safbwynt Gweinidogion y Llywodraeth hon. Yr ydym yn dal i bwyso i sicrhau bod y rheilffordd yn cael ei thrydaneiddio i’r gorllewin o Gaerdydd.

The First Minister: Those points have been made not only by this Government, but by the previous Government as well. There is no difference between the opinion of Ministers in the last Government and the opinion of Ministers in this Government. We are still pressing to ensure that the line is electrified to the west of Cardiff.

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Peter Black: First Minister, I was disappointed to hear the Member for Swansea East rule out an enterprise zone for Swansea because it is important that that forms part of the package, together with electrification. When this issue was last raised in the Chamber, we were unanimous in saying that the Assembly Government and the Assembly had to stand up for Swansea and the electrification of the main line, and be proactive in standing up for Wales and in making the case to the UK Government. What is your Government doing to actively lobby and work with experts such as Professor Stuart Cole to put the case together and to present it to UK Government Ministers to make it clear that we need the electrification to Swansea and that it should not stop at Cardiff?

The First Minister: On enterprise zones, that is a matter for us. The consequential will come to the Welsh Government and it is for us to decide what any future enterprise zones might look like. We still await further information from the UK Government, particularly with regard to capital allowances. That situation is not yet clear and once we get that information we will be able to proceed.

Mike Hedges: May I raise a point of order?

The Presiding Officer: No, I am sorry, but you may not.

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Cyfradd Twf Economaidd

Economic Growth Rate

4. Julie Morgan:Beth yw’r asesiad diweddaraf sydd ar gael i’r Prif Weinidog ynghylch cyfradd twf economaidd tebygol Cymru yn 2011. OAQ(4)0022(FM)

4. Julie Morgan: What is the latest assessment available to the First Minister of the likely economic growth rate in Wales in 2011. OAQ(4)0022(FM)

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The First Minister: No official forecast is made for economic growth in Wales. However, we know that Welsh economic indicators generally track those of the wider UK quite closely and that UK prospects remain highly uncertain.

Julie Morgan:I thank the First Minister for his response.Does the First Minister agree that the manufacturing-led recovery that was going strong in the second half of 2010 seems to have run out of steam in the first half of 2011? What can he do, along with the Westminster Government, to try to restore the health and vigour of the recovery?

The First Minister: The key to recovery is to ensure that our people have the right skills to provide the basis of that recovery in the future. That means ensuring that our schools, colleges and universities are working together with industry and Government to ensure that we have a skills base in Wales that is not only attractive to overseas investors, but to those who wish to set up their own businesses in Wales. There are various initiatives designed to do that, particularly EADS Foundation Wales, which I had the pleasure of helping to launch last night.

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Alun Ffred Jones: Gyda’r rhagolygon ar gyfer twf yn yr economi yn gwaethygu, mae’n bwysig cynnal gwariant ar gynlluniau cyfalaf. Yr ydych wedi cyfeirio at y gostyngiad o 40 y cant yn y gwariant cyfalaf y byddwn yn ei weld yn y blynyddoedd nesaf. A fyddech yn fodlon ystyried cydweithio â llywodraeth leol, sydd â’r hawl i fenthyca yn barod, i ehangu’r hawl honno a’i hymestyn er mwyn rhoi hwb i’r diwydiant adeiladu? Mae’r hyn yr ydych yn ei geisio, sef hawl i’r Llywodraeth fenthyca, yn debyg o ddod i law ymhellach i lawr y lein. Mae’r hawl honno gan lywodraeth leoleisoes ac o gydweithio gyda’r Llywodraeth ganolog, mae’n bosibl y byddai hynny’n rhoi hwb i’r economi.

Alun Ffred Jones: With the forecasts for economic growth worsening, it is important to sustain expenditure on capital schemes. You have referred to the reduction of 40 per cent in capital expenditure that we will see in the next few years. Would you be willing to consider co-operating with local government, which already has the right to borrow money, to enhance that right and expand it in order to boost the construction industry? You are seeking borrowing powers for the Government and it is likely that it will be much later down the line when those powers will be granted. Local government already has that power and it is possible that co-operation with central Government could boost the economy.

Y Prif Weinidog: Byddwno blaid gwneud hynny ac yr ydym yn ystyried hynny ar hyn o bryd. Gan nad oes gennym bwerau benthyca, mae’n bwysig ein bod yn gallu gweithio gyda sefydliadau llywodraeth leol er mwyn iddynt allu defnyddio eu pwerau a gweithio gyda’i gilydd er mwyn sicrhau’r canlyniad gorau ar gyfer eu hardaloedd hwy. Fodd bynnag, yr ateb gorau fyddai sicrhau bod gan Lywodraeth Cymru ei phwerau benthyca ei hun.

The First Minister: I would be in favour of doing that and we are considering that at the moment. As we do not have borrowing powers, it is important that we can work with local government bodies so that they can use their powers and collaborate with each other in order to ensure the best possible outcome for their areas. However, the best solution would be to ensure that the Welsh Government had its own borrowing powers.

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David Rees: First Minister, do you agree that economic growth in Wales would be supported by maintaining and developing our manufacturing sector, including our heavy industries like Tata Steel? In the last UK budget, the Chancellor introduced a carbon tax that could lead to the loss of such industries. Will you continue to raise the issue with relevant UK Ministers and continue to ask your Cabinet colleagues who are responsible for these areas to investigate ways in which we can support such industries to mitigate the impact of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat carbon tax, especially those companies like Tata that are proactive in saving energy and re-using waste products?

The First Minister: You have raised a serious issue. We place a high importance on addressing the challenges of climate change, but on this occasion we believe that the potential impact on industry, especially energy-intensive industries such as steel production, needs to be considered seriously. I have raised these concerns with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

William Powell: First Minister, you may have had your attention drawn to research released by Manpower today that emphasises the importance of small businesses in job creation and in leading us out of recession. Job creation is essential, especially as recent figures show that 77,000 people in Wales have been claiming out-of-work benefits for over 10 years. With that in mind, what is your Government going to do to further assist small businesses with turning opportunities into real jobs and to stimulate economic growth?

The First Minister: The economic renewal programme is clear in terms of the help that it offers businesses. It is important that we focus on helping businesses in the first year or two of their lives, at a time when those businesses are at their most vulnerable. The policies in the economic renewal programme are aimed squarely at small businesses, as well as those businesses that are of greater size.

2.00 p.m.

Julie James: I am sure that the First Minister will agree that Swansea is a proud university city by the sea, set against one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Unfortunately, economic growth in our city centre is suffering, because the tired Liberal-Democrat-led council, bereft of ideas, has run out of steam while running the city down. I can assure you, First Minister, that team Labour in Swansea is putting pressure on the council—with some success, I might add—to address the issues that businesses in our city centre face.

The Presiding Officer: Order. Can we have a question, please?

Julie James: Will the First Minister and the Welsh Government work with me to capitalise on the city’s recent good fortune, not only by building on current regeneration projects but also by identifying a strategy to deliver growth for Swansea and the city centre’s economy in the current financial climate?

The First Minister: We are, of course, fully committed to the regeneration of Swansea’s city centre, demonstrated by its designation as one of Wales’s seven regeneration areas. A number of projects have been taken forward, such as the railway station redevelopment, phase 1 of the urban village on High Street, the castle—what is left of it—the bus station and transport infrastructure improvements.

Nick Ramsay: First Minister, it was interesting earlier on to hear some of your colleagues trying to blame all of our current economic woes on the UK Government. I am sure that you would agree that the previous Labour UK Government left us the legacy of an enormous debt, which, thankfully, my party and the party of Members seated opposite are trying to get to grips with. First Minister, how will your proposals for the next few years help to improve Wales’s GVA? You know full well that, on your party’s watch over the past 10 years, GVA went down; wealth, as measured in Wales, has gone down to 74 per cent. That is obscene.

The Presiding Officer: Order. Is this a question?

Nick Ramsay: What are you going to do to ensure that GVA figures improve?

The First Minister: What is obscene is a party that uses unemployment as a weapon against its own people. We saw that with the party opposite in the 1980s. The Conservatives’ idol, Margaret Thatcher, called the hard-working miners 'the enemy within’. That is the Tories’ view of the people of Wales and those people who work hard here. We have confidence in our economic policy, through the economic renewal programme. We see no leadership from the UK Government at the moment, however. Where is the help for first-time buyers? Where is the programme to deal with inflation, which continues to rise? Where is the programme to deal with unemployment? Unfortunately, what we see from the party opposite is a selection of empty promises and inaction.

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Blaenoriaethau

Priorities

5. Andrew R.T. Davies:A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu ei flaenoriaethau ar gyfer rhanbarth Canol De Cymru dros y deuddeg mis nesaf. OAQ(4)0025(FM)

5. Andrew R.T. Davies:Will the First Minister outline his priorities for the South Wales Central region in the next twelve months. OAQ(4)0025(FM)

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The First Minister: We will get on with the programme set out in our manifesto, to the benefit of all communities, including those of South Wales Central.

Andrew R.T. Davies: Thank you, First Minister, for that answer. A couple of months ago, bmibaby said that it would withdraw services from Cardiff Airport. The withdrawal of these services is regrettable, posing a serious challenge to the airport. Time and again, the airport has turned to the Welsh Government for assistance. What can you do within the next four to six months—there is a small amount of breathing space now, as the services will not be withdrawn until the end of October—to assist the airport in establishing new routes and, above all, in securing its long-term future?

The First Minister: We will work with the airport as best we can. For the right projects, we can provide capital money, but it is ultimately for the airport to attract business. I am concerned about the future of the airport, with bmibaby leaving. There is no airline with a base at the airport; it is important that such a base is established. There needs to be a close examination of what the airport’s future should look like and how that can be secured, and we will work with the owners of the airport to ensure that we see growth in years to come rather than airlines, for some reason, leaving.

Leanne Wood: My Plaid Cymru colleague Hywel Williams MP has discovered that less than £0.5 million of Olympic contracts has gone to Welsh firms out of a pot worth £6 billion. During the election, you made a great deal of being a protective shield for the people of Wales. Do you have a view on the dearth of Olympic contracts to have come to Wales, and do you agree that such investment, had it been made, could have provided jobs for unemployed people in South Wales Central, some of whom were described yesterday by your leader, Ed Miliband, as 'ripping off’ society? This was a statement—to use your words, First Minister—in which someone used unemployment to attack his own people. It plays into the hands of the Tories and their right-wing friends.

The First Minister:Hang on a second; the Minister for economic development at that time was your party leader. Let us not go down that line again, however, because you make a serious point, as it is right to say that Welsh companies did not benefit as they should have from Olympic contracts. I have discussed this issuewith business representatives, and it is clear that more needs to be done to give Welsh firms the confidence to bid for these contracts. It was clearly an issue of confidence that arose after the contracts were allocated. We are aware of that situation and, when a similar situation arises again, I want to ensure that Welsh firms feel that they are able to bid and have the confidence to do so.

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Troseddau Casineb Anabledd

Disability Hate Crime

6. Rebecca Evans:Beth mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn ei wneud i helpu i fynd i’r afael â throseddau casineb anabledd. OAQ(4)0034(FM)

6. Rebecca Evans:What is the Welsh Government doing to help tackle disability hate crime. OAQ(4)0034(FM)

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The First Minister: Although hate crime is a non-devolved issue, the community cohesion strategy has recognised the need to tackle hate crime in all its forms. We will work to reduce disability-related hate crime and this has been prioritised as part of the manifesto upon which the Government was elected.

Rebecca Evans:A recent Mencap report called 'Living in Fear’ noted that over 90 per cent of people with a learning disability had suffered some form of physical or verbal abuse from people they did not know; this is shocking and unacceptable. What can the Welsh Government do to ensure that people with a learning disability are valued by the communities in which they live, and thereby reduce the incidences of abuse that many people with a learning disability and their families face every day?

The First Minister: I welcome and support the Mencap campaign to tackle hate crime against people with mental health issues. I know that Jane Hutt, in her capacity as Leader of the House, will be speaking at the breakfast reception on 22 June to highlight our commitment to working with all partners to reduce hate crime in Wales.

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Strategaeth Chwarae

Play Strategy

7. Mark Drakeford:A yw Llywodraeth Cymru yn bwriadu diweddaru ei strategaeth chwarae yn ystod y tymor Cynulliad hwn. OAQ(4)0033(FM)

7. Mark Drakeford:Does the Welsh Government plan to update its play strategy during this Assembly term. OAQ(4)0033(FM)

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The First Minister:Every child has the right to play; it is an essential part of growing up and enriches the lives of children. Wales has led the way in promoting play and supporting play opportunities for children and young people. The Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services will set out our priorities for play in due course.

Mark Drakeford: Successive Welsh Governments have emphasised the importance of play in promoting a child’s development, culminating in the foundation phase. Are you able to provide an assurance that, in any work on the strategy, Wales will not follow the lead of that flagship Conservative local authority in Wandsworth in charging children for the use of play facilities? Can you also assure us that children in Wales will continue, in the words of the strategy, to be 'free to play’, not free to pay, where access to these essential public services is concerned?

The First Minister: I assure you that we have no intention of introducing charges for the use of playgrounds in Wales. We would be dismayed if any Welsh local authority followed the lead of Wandsworth. Charging children for playgrounds: how low can you get?

Mark Isherwood: In taking forward your revised strategy, how will you be defining play? Previous Government policy was that play should be freely chosen, personally directed and performed for no external goal or reward, but the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010 redefined that to include any recreational activity. This has caused concern, particularly among voluntary sector play providers across Wales, and I would be grateful if you could provide clarity to ensure that a priority for free play is emphasised.

The First Minister: In terms of section 11 of the Measure, preparatory work has been undertaken in developing the standards assessment requirements and guidance that will form part of the regulations that will be produced regarding this duty.

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Simon Thomas: Mae’r cwestiwn hwn yn adlewyrchu’r methiant a welir o beidio â chael rhaglen lywodraethu, oherwydd nid oes sôn yn eich maniffesto am strategaeth chwarae. Mae nifer o bwyntiau da a theg ynghylch chwarae i blant ym maniffesto’r Blaid Lafur, ond nid oes sôn am strategaeth. Dyna pam mae angen rhaglen glir. Yn y rhaglen honno, ac o dan eich maniffesto, pryd y byddwch yn canfod yr adnoddau i ddyblu nifer y plant sy’n elwa o Dechrau’n Deg a phryd y byddwch yn cyflawni’r dasg honno?

Simon Thomas: This question arises because of the lack of a programme for government, as there is no mention of a play strategy in your manifesto. The Labour Party’s manifesto includes a number of good and fair points about children’s play, but there is no mention of a strategy. That is why we need a clear programme. As part of such a programme, and in line with your manifesto, when will you find the resources to double the number of children able to benefit from Flying Start, and when will you complete that task?

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae’r mater hwn yn cael ei ystyried ar hyn o bryd. Fel yr wyf wedi sôn o’r blaen, bydd manylion y rhaglen ddeddfwriaethol a llywodraethol yn cael eu cyhoeddi fis nesaf. Mae datganiad yn cael ei wneud heddiw, ond mae’n rhaid cofio ein bod ymhell o flaen yr Alban, er enghraifft, o ran cyhoeddi rhaglen ddeddfwriaethol.

The First Minister: This issue is currently under consideration. As I have previously mentioned, the details of the legislative and government programme will be published next month. A statement will be made today, but we must remember that we are way ahead of Scotland, for example, in terms of publishing our legislative programme.

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Difidend Datganoli Economaidd

Economic Devolution Dividend

8. William Graham:A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog amlinellu polisïau ei weinyddiaeth i wella’r difidend datganoli economaidd. OAQ(4)0027(FM)

8. William Graham:Will the First Minister outline his administration’s policies for enhancing the economic devolution dividend. OAQ(4)0027(FM)

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The First Minister: Our plans for growth and sustainable jobs are set out in our manifesto. These include plans to raise the skill levels of our workforce, reduce youth unemployment and other actions to lessen the impact of the measures being imposed on Wales by the UK Government.

William Graham: Thank you for your answer, First Minister. You will know of continued criticism of successive Assembly Governments’ performance on economic development, with academics and businesspeople highlighting a focus on bureaucracy rather than delivery. Given the alarming figures, such as the fact that less than 18 per cent of the previous Assembly Government’s European innovation programme targeted support directly at the private sector, how is your Government looking to better tailor programmes to ensure that many promising small and medium-sized enterprises in Wales are able to grow and find new markets?

The First Minister: I think that it is correct to say that we have not done enough to prioritise delivery over the course of the last decade, which is why I am setting up a delivery unit to make sure that we do exactly as we say, and that the public will be able to measure those outcomes. You are quite right to say that it is essential that support for business must be made as freely available as possible, while remembering the need for diligence in examining the applications that come before us.

Ann Jones: As you know, First Minister, Sunday 11 September is an important date in the diaries of all Welsh rugby fans—and there are plenty of rugby fans in north Wales. On that day, Wales will play South Africa in the Rugby World Cup. What are you doing to promote Wales’s economic interests around the forthcoming Rugby World Cup? Do you agree that such competitions are not just about sporting success on the field—although we wish the team well—but that there are also more important economic benefits for Wales as a result of playing on the global stage?

The First Minister: As well as being a major event in the international sporting calendar, the World Cup provides a major opportunity for us to promote Welsh business and Wales as a tourist destination, in the same way as the Ryder Cup did. I have been invited by the UK High Commission to New Zealand to work with it in developing a programme to promote our interests around the Rugby World Cup. I plan to take up that opportunity, and my officials are working with the High Commission and others to develop a detailed programme.

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Diogelwch Tân

Fire Safety

9. Ann Jones:Beth mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn ei wneud i hyrwyddo diogelwch tân yng Nghymru. OAQ(4)0026(FM)

9. Ann Jones:What is the Welsh Government doing to promote fire safety in Wales. OAQ(4)0026(FM)

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The First Minister: As you know, we published our manifesto for the election. We are committed to taking forward the Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 2011.

Ann Jones: You mentioned our extensive manifesto commitments, but the regulations flow from the last Assembly. As your watchword is delivery, when can I expect delivery of these regulations?

The First Minister: You have been personally committed to the Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 2011, which you promoted tirelessly in the Chamber. We are committed to considering the regulations following the success of the Measure. I can report that we have begun the work of looking at the technical issues related to drafting the regulations. We will report back in due course on the exact dates for bringing those regulations into force.

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Rhodri Glyn Thomas: Ym mis Awst 2008—yn y dyddiau hynny pan oedd Llywodraeth yn credu bod angen iddi gyflawni rhywbeth—cyflwynwyd fframwaith achub a thân tair blynedd i Gymru. Nid oes angen ichi fod yn arbenigwr mathemategol i wybod bod angen adolygu’r fframwaith hwnnw o fewn ychydig fisoedd. Beth yr ydych yn bwriadu ei wneud o ran adolygu’r fframwaith, a pha bwerau sydd angen eu rhoi i awdurdodau tân ac achub yng Nghymru i’w galluogi i’w weithredu?

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: In August 2008—back in those days when Government believed that it needed to achieve something—a three-year fire and rescue framework was put in place in Wales. You do not have to be a mathematical expert to know that you will need to review that framework within the next few months. What do you intend to do in terms of reviewing that framework, and what powers need to be given to fire and rescue authorities in Wales to enable them to implement it?

Y Prif Weinidog: Pan ddaw’r amser i adolygu’r fframwaith, bydd y Gweinidog yn ei ystyried.

The First Minister: When it is time to review that framework, the Minister will consider it.

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Joyce Watson: First Minister, you will be aware of the recent wild fires in Mid and West Wales, which include a blaze in Pentremorgan and a forest fire in Blaenduad forestry in Carmarthenshire, numerous fires in the Brecon Beacons, which were the worst for decades, and, most recently, the gorse fire in Solva. There is a big difference between an accidental fire ignited by an unextinguished cigarette or a small fire that gets out of control and deliberate arson, but the results are the same: they put lives and property at risk, devastate wildlife and put unnecessary pressure on fire crews. What is the Welsh Assembly Government doing to remind people that fire setting, as well as being dangerous, is a serious crime?

2.15 p.m.

The First Minister: In the last year, we have provided an additional £18 million to take forward specific activities, such as funding anti-arson activity. However, it is worth reiterating that deliberately starting a fire is a crime that could lead to a prison sentence, and I urge anyone who has any information about the deliberate starting of any fires in Wales to contact the police or the Crimestoppers phone line.

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Yr Arglwydd Elis-Thomas: A yw’r Prif Weinidog yn rhannu fy nghydymdeimlad—a’n cydymdeimlad i gyd—â theulu Robert ac Andrew Taylor o sir y Fflint a’r wyres fach sy’n parhau i fod yn ddifrifol wael, yn ôl a ddeallaf, yn dilyn tân difrifol ar faes carafannau dros y Sul? Mae’n faes sy’n gyfarwydd imi—mae’n drefnus ac mae mewn lleoliad hardd ym mae Ceredigion. A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog sicrhau bod Gweinidogion Cymru yn ymdrechu unwaith eto i atgoffa ymwelwyr o’r angen i gymryd mesurau diogelwch ym mhob math o letyau gwyliau?

Lord Elis-Thomas: Does the First Minister share in my condolences—and those of us all—to the family of Robert and Andrew Taylor from Flintshire and the granddaughter who is still seriously ill, I understand, following a serious fire on a caravan site over the weekend? I am familiar with the site—it is well organised and in a beautiful location in Cardigan bay. Will the First Minister ensure that Welsh Ministers make efforts once again to remind visitors of the importance of taking safety measures in all kinds of holiday accommodation?

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr wyf yn ymuno yn y cydymdeimlad y bu ichi ei roi. Gwelais y newyddion ynglŷn â’r tân, a byddwn yn ystyried beth yn rhagor y gallwn ei wneud er mwyn atgoffa pobl ei bod yn bwysig dros ben bod yn ddiogel, nid yn unig yn y tŷ ond mewn carafannau a lletyau gwyliau.  

The First Minister: I join you in the condolences that you gave. I saw the news about the fire and we will consider what more we can do to remind people that it is very important to be safe, not only at home but in caravans and holiday accommodation.

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Cyfranogiad mewn Chwaraeon

Sports Participation

10. Mohammad Asghar:Pa gamau y mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn eu cymryd i hyrwyddo cyfranogiad mewn chwaraeon yng Nghymru. OAQ(4)0038(FM)

10. Mohammad Asghar:What steps is the Welsh Government taking to promote sports participation in Wales. OAQ(4)0038(FM)

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The First Minister: We believe in maintaining opportunities for participation in sport, especially for young people, as highlighted in our manifesto. Working with Sport Wales and other key partners, we will continue to take forward the actions contained in the action plan 'Creating an Active Wales’.

Mohammad Asghar: Thank you, First Minister, for that answer. The publicity surrounding tickets for the 2012 Olympics serves as a great reminder that Wales will be hosting the opening event of next year’s games. Meanwhile, some 4,700 Olympic medals will be produced in Llantrisant and a number of Olympic teams will base their training camps in Wales ahead of the games. That, First Minister, will put the Olympic Games on the doorsteps of many people in Wales and provides opportunities that the Welsh Government cannot let pass by. What steps will the Welsh Government be taking to utilise these opportunities for promoting sports participation to the people of Wales, given the number of events at the Olympics and given that it is widely accepted that major events of this nature have the potential to increase public participation in sport in Wales? How will you work with Sport Wales and other stakeholders to realise this potential?

The First Minister: When the Olympics are held there is an increased interest in sport, particularly in sports that do not get much television coverage otherwise—an increase in interest and participation are always reported. Wales will be an important base for some of the Olympic teams. We also hope that the Millennium Stadium will be used for sporting events. Working with Sport Wales, we want to ensure that the extra interest generated through the coverage of the Olympics is translated into participation on the ground in Wales.  

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Llyr Huws Gruffydd: Yn 2006, ymatebodd Llywodraeth Cymru yn frwd i 'The Racecourse Ground: 2012 Vision’ a oedd am weld y Cae Ras yn Wrecsam yn cael ei ddatblygu yn rhyw fath o Stadiwm y Mileniwm ar gyfer y gogledd. Os bydd y cais gan y gymuned leol i brynu clwb pêl-droed Wrecsam drwy Ymddiriedolaeth Cefnogwyr Wrecsam yn llwyddiannus—fel yr wyf yn siŵr y mae pob un ohonom yn gobeithio y bydd—a wnaiff y Prif Weinidog addo y bydd Llywodraeth Cymru yn rhoi cefnogaeth ariannol i’r stadiwm er mwyn iddo ddod yn gae chwarae rhyngwladol unwaith eto ar gyfer pêl-droed a rygbi yn y gogledd?

Llyr Huws Gruffydd: In 2006, the Welsh Government responded enthusiastically to 'The Racecourse Ground: 2012 Vision’ which wanted to see the Racecourse in Wrexham developed into some kind of Millennium Stadium for north Wales. If the bid by the local community to buy Wrexham football club through the Wrexham Supporters’ Trust is successful—as I am sure we all hope it is—will the First Minister pledge that the Welsh Government will provide financial support to the stadium so that it can once again become an international playing field for football and rugby in north Wales?

Y Prif Weinidog: Mae’n anodd rhoi addewid ynglŷn ag ariannu heb weld cais o’n blaenau. Fodd bynnag, deallaf ei bod yn bwysig dros ben i bobl Wrecsam a’r ardal ehangach fod dyfodol cadarn i’r Cae Ras. Fel Llywodraeth, byddem eisiau helpu’r Cae Ras mewn unrhyw ffordd bosibl.  

The First Minister: It is difficult to give a pledge on funding without having received a request. However, I understand that it is very important to the people of Wrexham and the surrounding area that there is a secure future for the Racecourse. As a Government, we would want to assist the Racecourse in any way possible.

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William Powell: First Minister, as we all know, major sporting events attract a lot of media attention as well as generating economic development and tourism; the Tour de Franceis one such event. In Mid and West Wales alonethere are many excellent cycling spots that would be perfect for hosting a leg of the tour. In addition, it would establish Wales as a destination for other, larger-scale sporting events. With this in mind, will you provide a statement on the possibility of Wales hosting a leg of the Tour de France and will you give your personal commitment to supporting such a bid?

The First Minister:We could very well look at that in Wales and I will take this forward with my officials to see what the possibilities are with a view to hosting a leg of the tour.

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Blaenoriaethau

Priorities

11. Elin Jones:Beth yw blaenoriaethau Llywodraeth Cymru ar gyfer cefn gwlad. OAQ(4)0029(FM)

11. Elin Jones:What are the Welsh Government’s priorities for the Countryside. OAQ(4)0029(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog: Amlinellir blaenoriaethau Llywodraeth Cymru ar gyfer Cymru wledig yn y rhaglen 'Sefyll Cornel Cymru’.

The First Minister: The Welsh Government’s priorities for rural Wales are set out in 'Standing up for Wales’.

Elin Jones: Yn y maniffesto hwnnw, nid oes cyfeiriad at reilffyrdd penodol yng nghefn gwlad. Yn absenoldeb hynny, mae gennyf gwestiwn: a ydych yn bwriadu cadw at ymrwymiad y Gweinidog trafnidiaeth blaenorol i ariannu gwasanaeth bob awr ar y rheilffordd rhwng Aberystwyth ac Amwythig yn ystod y flwyddyn ariannol hon?

Elin Jones:In that manifesto, there is no reference to specific railways in rural Wales. In the absence of that, I have a question: do you intend to keep to the commitment made by the former Minister for transport to fund an hourly service on the line between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury during this financial year?

Y Prif Weinidog:Yr ydym yn ystyried hynny ac ar ben hynny bydd y gwasanaethau trên ychwanegol o Abergwaun yn cychwyn yng nghanol mis Medi. Yr ydym yn ymgynghori ar yr amserlen ar hyn o bryd. Yr ydym am weld y trac rhwng Tre-gŵyr a Chasllwchwr yn cael ei ddyblu yn 2013.

The First Minister:We are considering that and in addition the additional train services from Fishguard will start in mid September. We are consulting on the timetable at the moment. We want to see the track between Gowerton and Loughor doubled in 2013.

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Nick Ramsay: I asked you earlier about overall GVA in Wales and the fall in GVA. I am sure that, as a former Minister for rural affairs and the environment, you will be aware that the Welsh agriculture industry contributed £634 million to GVA in 1997, but has shrunk much faster than other aspects of GVA in the overall economic figures. What is your Government doing to address that? Also, how are your policies going to help events such as the Abergavenny food festival and assist with other ways in which Wales can promote its food produce? I am sure that you will agree that we have a lot to offer in terms of our food and drink and through the Abergavenny food festival and other such festivals in Wales. We have a lot to offer but we do not always market ourselves as successfully as we should in those areas. How will your policies help Wales to put its produce on the map in a way that will assist our countryside areas, which are economically reliant on those sorts of produce?

The First Minister: We have a very good tale to tell when it comes to marketing food, both in this administration and the previous one. If you look at the food industry across Wales, it has grown over the past decade. It is an important part of industry—if I can call it that—in Wales. We have seen, for example, the expansion of the food hall in the Royal Welsh Show. As a Government, we have assisted food festivals up and down Wales over the past few years. In addition, there are the four food centres across Wales. We have shown our dedication to ensuring that the food sector is seen as an important sector in Wales. We have done that and have encouraged the export market through the opening up of new markets across the world. I believe that Wales is in a very good position to benefit from its fine foodin years to come.

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Strategaeth Gweithgynhyrchu Cymru

Welsh Manufacturing Strategy

12. Bethan Jenkins:A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog roi diweddariad am ymateb Llywodraeth Cymru i Strategaeth Gweithgynhyrchu Cymru. OAQ(4)0032(FM)

12. Bethan Jenkins:Will the First Minister provide an update on the Welsh Government’s response to the Welsh Manufacturing Strategy. OAQ(4)0032(FM)

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The First Minister:As far as we are concerned, the Welsh manufacturing strategy was written by the Welsh manufacturing forum. The chair of the manufacturing forum, Roger Evans, is being co-opted onto the advanced materials and manufacturing sector panel team and is working closely with the Welsh Government to deliver what the manufacturing industry needs.

Bethan Jenkins:With Swansea University’s growing reputation for engineering excellence—including tie-ins with Tata and, we hope, Rolls Royce, when it arrives in Baglan—it is vital that we produce students who can benefit from these types of courses. Therefore, would it surprise you to learn that although Wales derives a greater percentage of its GDP from manufacturing than any other constituent part of the UK, there are no A-level courses in engineering available in the capital city?

The First Minister: Design and technology is a subject thatis often taken by potential engineers in schools, as well as physics and mathematics, and it is a subject that is widely available across Wales. There are schemes in place, such as the engineering education scheme in Wales, which I am familiar with, which help to engender an interest in engineering among those aged between 16 and 18. Such schemes have been very successful in years gone by in encouraging students to study engineering. In years gone by, we know that there has been a difficulty in attracting students to study the subject.

Antoinette Sandbach: The manufacturing industry is key to the economy in north Wales and there is considerable disappointment that your manufacturing strategy has been delayed for over four years, despite the hard work and contributions of the manufacturing forum. When will your Government put an end to its inertia and confirm its commitment to the manufacturing industry by publishing its plans for the sector? With regard to Anglesey in particular, which is still the poorest part of the UK, what progress is your Government making in attracting industrial investment to replace the hundreds of skilled manufacturing jobs lost at Anglesey Aluminium Metals Ltd?

The First Minister: The Welsh manufacturing strategy was published some three months ago. Therefore, it is already in place. The strategy is industry led and supported by the Welsh Government as part of the partnership approach that we are taking with the industry.

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GwasanaethauRheilffyrdd

Rail Services

13. Rhodri Glyn Thomas:A wnaiff y Prif Weinidog ddatganiad am wasanaethau rheilffyrdd yng Ngorllewin Cymru. OAQ(4)0036(FM)

13. Rhodri Glyn Thomas:Will the First Minister make a statement on rail services in West Wales. OAQ(4)0036(FM)

Y Prif Weinidog:Yr wyf eisoes wedi sôn am ein cynlluniau i wella gwasanaethau drwy ddyblu’r trac sengl rhwng Tre-gŵyr a Chasllwchwr a darparu gwasanaethau trên newydd rhwng Abergwaun a Chaerfyrddin, a fydd yn dechrau ym mis Medi.

The First Minister:I have already mentioned our plans to improve services by doubling the single track between Gowerton and Loughor and providing new train services between Fishguard and Carmarthen, which will commence in September.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas:Hoffwn gyfeirio at y gwasanaeth rhwng Caerfyrddin ac Abertawe. Mae pob mynegai tlodi yn nodi bod cymunedau yng ngorllewin Cymru yn dioddef o dlodi, ac mae rhai ohonynt yn fy etholaeth i yn Nwyrain Caerfyrddin a Dinefwr. A ymunwch â mi i fynegi siom bod Arriva, wrth gyhoeddi amserlen ar gyfer misoedd yr haf, yn bwriadu cynyddu’r amser rhwng trenau yng Nglanyfferi, gan olygu mai bob dwy awr yn unig y bydd trên yn stopio yn yr orsaf? Bydd hynny’n cael effaith fawr ar dwristiaeth dros fisoedd yr haf, ac mae Glanyfferi’n ddibynnol ar dwristiaeth. Hefyd, mae nifer o bobl yn dibynnu ar y gwasanaeth i’w cludo i’w gwaith ac yn ôl. A ymrwymwch i gynnal trafodaethau gydag Arriva i sicrhau bod y trên yn aros bob awr yng Nglanyfferi, fel sydd wedi digwydd dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf?

Rhodri Glyn Thomas:I refer you to the service between Carmarthen and Swansea. Every index of poverty shows that communities in west Wales suffer from poverty, and some of them are in my constituency of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. Will you join me in expressing disappointment that Arriva, in publishing a timetable for the summer months, intends to increase the time between trains in Ferryside, meaning that the train will stop at the station only once in every two hours? That will have a great impact on tourism over the summer, and Ferryside depends upon tourism. Also, many people depend on the service to commute to work. Will you commit to holding discussions with Arriva to ensure that the train stops at Ferryside every hour, as has been the case in past years?

Y Prif Weinidog: Nid yw pob trên wedi stopio ym mhob gorsaf ar y lein honno yn hanesyddol. Er enghraifft, nid oedd pob trên yn stopio yng Nghydweli. Fodd bynnag, fel rheol, yr oedd y trên yn stopio yng Nglanyfferi. Ysgrifennaf at Arriva i gael ateb i’ch cwestiwn a byddaf yn ysgrifennu yn ôl atoch wedi derbyn yr ateb hwnnw.

The First Minister:Historically, not every train has stopped at every station on that line. For example, not every train stopped at Kidwelly. However, as a rule, the train stopped at Ferryside. I will write to Arrive to get the answer to your question and I will write back to you once I have had that answer.

Y Frech Goch

Measles

14. Sandy Mewies:Sut mae’r cynnydd yn nifer yr achosion o frech goch yn effeithio ar Gymru. OAQ(4)0039(FM)

14. Sandy Mewies:How is the increase in cases of measles affecting Wales. OAQ(4)0039(FM)

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The First Minister:There have been no confirmed cases of measles in Wales with onset dates recorded during the first four months of 2011.

Sandy Mewies:Thank you for that answer. You will know, however, that there have been more than 300 cases of measles recorded in the first three months of 2011, which is as many as in the whole of the previous year. That is thought to be the result of the reduction in the number of children who have been vaccinated. Will the Welsh Government take steps to reassure parents about vaccination and encourage an increase in the numbers of children being vaccinated, so that children and older people can be protected against what can be an unpleasant and, sometimes, very dangerous disease?

The First Minister:I entirely agree. We know that the scare regarding the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was completely groundless. We also know that it was fuelled mainly by the media, mainly in London, and that there were no grounds to the scientific research that raised question marks over the MMR vaccine. It is nevertheless right to say that there has been a lag in the uptake of the MMR vaccine. I therefore strongly encourage people to consider vaccination to protect against those three diseases.

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Deddf Llywodraeth Cymru 2006

Government of Wales Act 2006

15. Mick Antoniw:A yw’r Prif Weinidog wedi cael unrhyw drafodaethau diweddar ynghylch y darpariaethau yn Neddf Llywodraeth Cymru 2006 sy’n ymwneud â system etholiadol y Cynulliad a ffiniau etholaethau’r Cynulliad. OAQ(4)0024(FM)

15. Mick Antoniw: Has the First Minister had any recent discussions regarding the provisions within the Government of Wales Act 2006 relating to the Assembly electoral system and Assembly constituency boundaries. OAQ(4)0024(FM)

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The First Minister:Yes. I have spoken with the UK Government about the need for further changes to the Government of Wales Act 2006 in consequence of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011.

Mick Antoniw:Given the increasing media comment on the discussions in Westminster about the Government of Wales Act 2006 in relation to Assembly constituency boundaries and electoral system and so on, can the First Ministergive us an assurance that these constitutional issues are properly a matter of governance for the Assembly and the Welsh Government, and not appropriate matters to be discussed or initiated in Westminster?

2.30p.m.

The First Minister: It would not be appropriate for a change to be made to the electoral system of the Assembly without the agreement of the Assembly itself. That is a principle that should be adhered to by the UK Government.   

Mike Hedges: Point of order. When Peter Black asked his supplementary question earlier, he referred inaccurately to my comment. What I said was that electrification would be of more use to Swansea than an enterprise zone.

The Presiding Officer: That is not a point of order, but you have made your point.

Cwestiwn Brys
Urgent Question

Cau Canolfan Alwadau Lloyds Banking Group ym Mhen-y-bont ar Ogwr
Closure of Lloyds Banking Group Call Centre in Bridgend

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The Presiding Officer: I have accepted an urgent question under Standing Order No. 12.66.  I call on Suzy Davies to ask the question.

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Suzy Davies:Pa drafodaethau mae’r Gweinidog wedi’u cynnal gyda chwmni Lloyds Banking Group ynghylch cau’r ganolfan alwadau ym Mhen-y-bont ar Ogwr a’r ffaith bod 700 o weithwyr yn colli’u swyddi, ac yn benodol, pa gamau mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn eu cymryd i gefnogi’r gweithwyr hynny sy’n methu adleoli.EAQ(4)0021(BET)

Suzy Davies: What discussions has the Minister had with Lloyds Banking Group regarding the closure of its Bridgend call centre with the loss of 700 jobs and in particular what steps the Welsh Government is taking to support those workers unable to relocate. EAQ(4)0021(BET)

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The Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science (Edwina Hart): Presiding Officer, I begin by correcting the question, which was factually inaccurate. Lloyds Banking Group is making a commitment to reallocate all staff in Wales. The closure is planned for March 2012, and the decision is part of a policy to retain expertise and knowledge within the group. I would like to make it clear that we are aware of the issues with staff; it has confirmed that the centre is closing, but it will be doing everything possible to relocate staff to three different centres.

Suzy Davies: I hope that the Minister will be speaking to Lloyds Banking Group about how best to retain those high-skill service sector jobs in the Bridgend area, not just the region. Despite the possibility of some of the staff being able to stay within the South Wales West region, this is still a terrible blow for Bridgend, Pencoed and the nearby Valleys communities. Furthermore, the union Unite has suggested that Lloyds has received a grant—

The Presiding Officer: Order. Can we come to the question please?

Suzy Davies: Yes, certainly. Will the Welsh Government look into the terms of a grant that Unite has suggested was given to Lloyds Banking Group at the time that the centre was opened to see whether the terms of that grant were met and whether there will be any clawback of grant funds as a result of the closure?

Edwina Hart: I refer the Member to the letter of 10 June 2011, which I addressed to all Assembly Members, regarding the announcement of the closure of the Lloyds Banking Group call centre in Bridgend. I referred in the final paragraph to the regional selective assistance grant that was received by Lloyds Banking Group and confirmed the terms and conditions.

Janice Gregory: As you know, I represent the Ogmore constituency, which includes Pencoed, where I live, and I know many of the people who are employed by the contact centre. On the many occasions that I have visited the contact centre, the management has always been very keen to point out that it is a very caring organisation. Much of the workforce was attracted to that particular contact centre because of the rather unusual shift patterns, which allowed many people, usually women, to take on a job as well as undertake caring responsibilities, either for elderly parents or children. It is relocating to Cardiff, but, while I am concerned for all of those in the contact centre, I am very concerned about those who have caring responsibilities, who will have to factor in the difficulty of travelling to work. My greatest concern is for them. Minister, will you make representations to the company, and will you look at whether or not the company will take these issues into account when relocating?

Edwina Hart: Obviously, my officials have had discussions with the Lloyds Banking Group and the trade union Unite, as we are particularly concerned about those staff who will perhaps be unable to relocate. We will ensure that Team Wales offers assistance for alternative employment opportunities. The Lloyds Banking Group has a long history of investment in Wales across many business units, including retail banking, telebanking, corporate banking, asset finance and general insurance. With regard to the wider issues of the future usage of the building, we have already had discussions with members of my financial and professional panel about what further jobs we can bring to Walesin that sector.

The Presiding Officer: I have a number of speakers, so I remind Members at this point to ask the Minister questions without making long introductions.

Byron Davies: Minister, reallocation or not, I would like to echo Suzy Davies’s comments regarding the very real effect that this will have on the area, especially on Bridgend town centre. The replacement of 700 jobs in an area such as Bridgend is a tall order. One way to support business in the area would be to look at the policy on small business rate relief. Taking small businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 or less out of taxation would give them the support and confidence to hire additional staff.

The Presiding Officer: Order. Would you stick to Lloyds Banking Group, please?

Byron Davies: Will the Minister look at business rate relief and the support that it could give to Bridgend to alleviate some of the losses?

The Presiding Officer: Order. I ask Members to stick to the urgent question and not bring in additional subjects. Minister, do you wish to reply?

Edwina Hart: The point that I would make is that any closure is a loss, but the company has guaranteed that it will seek to relocate all staff to other jobs. We also have to recognise that, in certain fields, people travel great distances to these jobs, so the impact is not just felt in Bridgend and the Pencoed area, but across the region. The important point for Government is how, given that it was a purpose-built unit, we can attract other businesses to replace Lloyds Banking Group and put other people into that unit. That is the issue for us at the moment.

Bethan Jenkins: I echo the sentiments already expressed about this being disappointing for the area given the economic situation as it stands. It makes a mockery of the new chief executive’s statement that the bank would support its communities and customers—it is leaving this particular community. TheSunday Times reported last weekend that Lloyds TSB is planning further cuts to its workforce. Will the First Minister and the Minister answering the urgent question outline the specific reassurances that they have received from Lloyds Banking Group that no further sites in Wales will be affected by other redundancies or planned changes?

Edwina Hart: Lloyds Banking Group is an international company that works in the private sector. It will make business decisions as it sees fit, and we have to recognise that. I am obviously aware of the rumours circulating about further job losses, and as I was previously the president of the Banking, Insurance and Finance Union, I maintain good contacts in that area. We will continue to press Lloyds Banking Group and the other banks in Wales about their intentions regarding jobs, and we will continue with our strategy, led by our finance and professional panel, to try to get more of those jobs into Wales. We are talking about an operation that was a call centre, so it was not necessarily serving the local population; we have to get our facts right regarding operations in that centre. At the end of the day, although it is unfortunate that Lloyds Banking Group has made this decision, particularly given the fact that this was a purpose-built building for which it had assistance from the Assembly Government, it is good to see that it values the skills of its staff and wishes to relocate as many of them as possible—and has, in fact, given a guarantee to all staff.

It is important that we do not use the word 'lost’ about these 700 jobs. The reality is not that 700 jobs will be lost, with people made redundant and out of work; the reality is that there has been a change in circumstances. Language is important, particularly when you are dealing with people’s lives and livelihoods.

Peter Black: I welcome the fact that Lloyds Banking Group is trying to relocate as many staff as possible. However, it has said that, if necessary, it will seek to put staff through voluntary redundancy if they cannot be relocated. What support will the Government be able to offer those staff who will end up taking the voluntary redundancy route because, due to their circumstances, they are not able to relocate?

Edwina Hart: You have illustrated the concerns raised with me by Janice Gregory, the local Member, about staff with caring responsibilities who are unable to juggle those with work and get the correct balance. Inevitably, it will be women in the main who are affected in terms of workforce provision. The Team Wales office is looking at alternative employment opportunities, and I am sure that my colleague, Jeff Cuthbert, will consider the wider issue about whether we need to do something on the training agenda. We will keep closely in touch via officials with both the trade union and the company to see what help and assistance we can give.

Andrew R.T. Davies: Minister, you briefly touched on the building itself being a modern and purpose-built unit. What assistance can the Welsh Government offer the owners of the site with regard to marketing it? The Bosch site, which is just up the road, closed recently, and sadly it is still empty. Along the M4, there are high-value buildings that stand empty, but which could offer great potential for job creation in the future.

Edwina Hart: This was a purpose-built unit for Lloyds Banking Group, which received £1.5 million of RSA, in two instalments, to assist with that development. We will be looking at how we can market it as a living, breathing unit, as it were, to the appropriate sectors. I will not be utilising just my officials in this regard; I now have the financial and professional services panel, which is excellent in this area. It is looking at the strategic development of those services in Wales, and hopefully we will be able to find someone. We have heard good news about a centre coming to Cardiff, and we can look to the future and hope to see the arrival of more financial services back-office functions, which might utilise those premises.

Datganiad a Chyhoeddiad Busnes
Business Statement and Announcement

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The Minister for Finance and Leader of the House (Jane Hutt): I have no changes to report to this week’s planned Government business. Business for the next three weeks is as set out in the business statement and announcement, which can be found among the agenda papers that are available to Members electronically.

Darren Millar: Minister, I ask for a statement from the Minister for Health and Social Services on mental health services for deaf people. This morning, I met representatives from the National Deaf Children’s Society Wales, and, in spite of the fact that a presentation was made to a ministerial advisory committee—the mental health programme board—way back in October last year, no decision has been forthcoming about the need to establish a specialist mental health service for deaf people. A specialist service exists in England, one exists in Northern Ireland, and one is in the process of being established in Scotland, yet nothing seems to be coming forward in Wales. Therefore, could we have a statement on that?

Jane Hutt: We are very aware of the good work of the National Deaf Children’s Society, and I know that the Minister for health is receiving a report and an update on this matter.

David Rees: Will the Minister provide a statement detailing the progress that has been made in the establishment of Assembly committees?

Jane Hutt: The establishment of Assembly committees is not the responsibility of the Welsh Government, but it is a matter for all parties in the Assembly, and I am glad to report on progress as Leader of the House. The business managers from the four parties are considering the various options that have been put to us. In this new Assembly, we are embracing direct law-making powers, which will have a bearing on how we progress this matter. We anticipate that we will be in a position to table motions to establish the committees that will handle policy scrutiny and legislation and the remaining standing committees next week. Tomorrow, we will consider motions on two interim committees that we are setting up to make progress.

Simon Thomas: Could the Leader of the House take this opportunity to set a good precedent for the new Assembly? In the past few days, two Ministers have attended joint ministerial committees: the First Minister has been to London to discuss the financing of the Welsh Government, and the Deputy Minister for farming—except tuberculosis—has been to London to discuss the common agricultural policy and future European funding for farmers in Wales. Surely, it would set a good precedent for us to have at the very least a written statement, if not an oral statement, each time a Minister attends a joint ministerial committee. That used to happen in the previous Assembly, and it should be happening in this Assembly. To do otherwise shows discourtesy to Members of this place.

Jane Hutt: I am sure that, with regard to the positioning of Wales and the Welsh Government at the joint ministerial committees and councils, you would welcome the fact that the First Minister was there last week, standing up for Wales, as he does. The First Minister will make a legislative statement this afternoon, and he will make a statement next week that will reflect on the discussions that he had at the committee.

With regard to Alun Davies’s responsibilities, I am sure that he will report back to the Assembly.

Kirsty Williams: Minister, a few weeks ago I asked whether the Minister for Health and Social Services would be willing to make a statement on her policies with regard to maternal and foetal medicine services in Wales. Could you give us an update on whether she intends to make such a statement, given the threat to those services,especially in south-east Wales?

2.45 p.m.

Will you also ask the Minister for Health and Social Services to make a statement on non-urgent patient transport? I am sure that the Minister will be aware that there is no district general hospital in the county of Powys, which necessitates Powys residents having to travel some considerable distances to access DGH services. Many people do so under the auspices of a community car scheme, run by volunteers. When the community car scheme volunteers travel to Hereford general hospital or to Shropshire, they are fully reimbursed for the cost of those journeys. However, when they travel to hospitals in Abergavenny, Newport or Cardiff, the same volunteers do not receive a full reimbursement for those costs. It seems to be a clear message to people in Powys that it would simply be cheaper for them to get referrals across the border. I am sure that that is not what the Minister for health intends and I would be grateful if she could make a statement clarifying the proper way to reimburse car scheme volunteers when they take Welsh patients to Welsh hospital appointments.

Jane Hutt: I know that the Minister for Health and Social Services is keenly aware of these issues. She has her question session on 6 July and I am sure that she will be able to respond with an update on those matters in due course.

Mark Isherwood: I call for a Government statement on the use by citizens of new technology to record public meetings in Wales. I have been contacted by a constituent from north Wales who is concerned about the reports of a person in Carmarthenshire being evicted from a council meeting because they were allegedly filming the meeting. My constituent says that it is not that they share this person’s opinions, but that transparency and openness should be the underlying principle behind everything that councils do and that, in the digital age, it is right that we modernise our approach to public access. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Bob Neill, has written to English county councils encouraging them to take a welcoming approach to those who want to bring local news stories to a wider audience, quoting recent stories about people being ejected from council meetings for blogging, tweeting or filming, and encouraging councils to adopt an inclusive approach to this. Therefore, in the interest of the fundamentals of democracy, I call for a statement from the Welsh Government to confirm that it will endorse the approach adopted by the UK Government and encourage councils in Wales to adopt this transparent democratic approach.

Jane Hutt: This is a matter for local authorities and I am sure that they will be keenly interested in learning the lessons from this kind of use of digital technology. On transparency and digital inclusion, we also have to recognise that there are many other ways in which local authorities can make their democratic proceedings accessible and open to the people that they represent.

Christine Chapman: I call for a statement by the Welsh Government on the Sayce report into the future of Remploy factories in Wales. The report sets out plans to mainstream work for people with disabilities. However, there are serious implications to this for the future of the Remploy factories—one of which is in my constituency—and the people who work in them. The workforce is faced with a lot of uncertainty and there is a lot of anger and frustration at the moment about the possible loss of their skilled jobs and the threat of them being removed from a close-knit workforce that has been likened to a family. Also, the issue at the moment is that there are very few jobs out there in the main stream. Although this matter will be decided by the UK Government, it will affect many members of communities across Wales. Would the Welsh Government make a statement setting out what discussions are taking place regarding this report?

Jane Hutt: This is an important issue, not just for your constituency, but for many constituencies across Wales. As you say, matters relating to Remploy are the responsibility of the UK Government, specifically the Department for Work and Pensions. We have to await the UK Government’s response to specific recommendations that are made in the report, and any consultation that it might undertake before it makes decisions. We will engage with the DWP in the full light of not only the report, but the impact that we consider it would have on the people of Wales.

Andrew R.T. Davies: Is it the Government’s intention to make a statement on the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2011? These regulations were due to be implemented before the dissolution of the third Assembly. I have had a variety of correspondence from constituents on the matter recently. Does the Government intend to bring forward these regulations before the summer recess?

Jane Hutt: That is certainly the intention.

Russell George: Will the Leader of the House consider my request for a debate in Government time—or at least a statement to update us—on tourism in Wales? We know that the value of tourism to Wales accounts for a significant proportion of the economy. The majority of people who come to Wales do so as tourists. Tourism employs roughly 7 per cent of those employed in Wales, which is a higher percentage than for any English region apart from the south-east. The industry is an important economic driver in my constituency, as it is across mid Wales, such as at the Owain Glyndŵr Centre in Machynlleth. The First Minister was due to open that national heritage centre this weekend but, unfortunately, he has had to pull out. In mid Wales, we have Powis castle and the Cambrian line steam train on the west coast, which has unfortunately been unable to open because of delayed work by Network Rail. Minister, we need a statement to update us on progress made under the Government’s tourism strategy. The tourism investment strategy was published 10 years ago and we are now at its midpoint. I believe that it is the right time to review what the Government has achieved under its policy and where investment to date is yielding maximum returns to the Welsh economy.

Jane Hutt: The Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science will very much welcome your positive comments on the contribution of tourism. Indeed, you will have an opportunity to put questions to the Minister next Wednesday. Clearly, this is an important policy area, not just for the Minister, but for the Welsh Government as a whole.

Nick Ramsay: Monmouthshire County Council recently held a Big Deal event at Chepstow as part of its Back 2 Business week. It was a means of extending the hand of friendship and assistance to local businesses, to help them to develop, to the benefit of my constituency and the rest of Wales. As the Welsh Government had a significant input into that event, could we have a statement from either the Minister for business or the Minister for local government on how that model could be rolled out to the rest of Wales? It was incredibly successful in my constituency last week and I think that it has the potential to allow local authorities to engage much more with the business sector in a very real way, as well as with the Welsh Government, to see us all move forward together in developing a proper business agenda in future that benefits not only the people of Wales, but the Welsh Government and local authorities too.

Jane Hutt: I am sure that both Ministers will be interested in hearing about the outcome of the event led by Monmouthshire County Council. Local authority engagement in supporting the small business sector in particular is crucial. I am sure that a report on the impact of that event would be welcomed by the Ministers and we could then consider a way forward in terms of rolling that out.

Datganiad am Flaenoriaethau Deddfwriaethol
Statement on Legislative Priorities

Y Cofnod

The First Minister: In keeping with our usual practice, I shall formally announce the Government’s full legislative programme, in accordance with Standing Order No. 11.21, in July. However, I have said that I would come forward with an outline of my Government’s legislative priorities after the half-term recess.

Those who were Members of the last Assembly will recall that John Griffiths, when he held the office of Counsel General in the previous Government, recommended a move away from an annual legislative programme towards a five-year programme to better reflect Assembly procedures and to better align with the programme of government. I have accepted his recommendation and on 12 July I shall announce the Welsh Government’s five-year programme of legislation.

We know that we face challenging times ahead and we will have to make some tough decisions with regard to public spending. However, our focus remains on improving public services and creating opportunities for everyone. We will, of course, seek to use the new powers that we received following the referendum in March when we need to, but we will not create legislation for the sake of it.

The economic challenges facing Wales will inevitably put additional strains on families that may need a helping hand. This Government wants to ensure that the right kind of support is there when needed. To this end, we will bring forward a Bill that will build on the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011, enshrining it—and the lessons learnt from its early implementation—in Welsh legislation.

We will introduce a Bill to simplify the web of legislation that currently regulates social care in Wales to make access to services much easier and more understandable to those who need them. This will be based on a thorough review of the current legislative and regulatory framework for social work and social care services. The Bill will also provide for national eligibility criteria for access to all social care services and a robust and coherent statutory framework to safeguard children and adults, including measures to strengthen the scrutiny of care services and the voice of the service user. We will also take measures to improve and standardise services for children who live away from home, and provide for national eligibility criteria for access to all social care services.

Education is fundamental to building a just, inclusive and fair society. We are committed to the comprehensive system of school education and will introduce funding and structural reforms to drive resources to the front line. We will seek to put local authority Welsh in education strategic plans on a statutory basis. We will also consider the need for legislation to bring coherence and efficiency to higher education in Wales through the establishment of a single strategic planning and funding body.

We believe in a Welsh public service with a strong public-service ethos that is accountable to the people of Wales. The bodies that scrutinise the effectiveness of public bodies should also be accountable and we will, therefore, seek to legislate to modernise governance and accountability arrangements for the Auditor General for Wales and the Wales Audit Office.

We will be seeking to legislate to embed sustainable development as the central organising principle in all our actions across Government and all public bodies. A sustainable development Bill will put in place a new independent sustainable development body for Wales, following the UK Government’s decision to scrap the Sustainable Development Commission.    

The Welsh Government wants to create communities that are safe, sustainable and attractive places for people to live and work, where people and families have good access to services and enjoy good health. In many parts of Wales, the demand for allotments is not met by supply; therefore, to support local communities in becoming more sustainable and healthier, we will seek to legislate on the amount of land to be used for allotments. We will introduce a cycling Bill to build on the significant investment of recent years by introducing a duty to provide cycle routes in key areas.       

We will seek to bring forward a heritage protection Bill that will strengthen the protection of listed buildings and others in Wales. We will pursue opportunities for consolidating law in areas that are clearly overdue for an overhaul—planning law being an obvious example. It will not surprise Members to hear that we will also be bringing forward an organ donation Bill to provide for an opt-out system of organ donation, backed up by a comprehensive education programme.  

In formulating our legislative programme, we will be reflecting upon lessons learnt from our experiences in taking legislation forwardover the past four years. A five-year legislative programme should permit greater planning and flexibility in bringing items forward so that they are fully developed and consulted upon prior to introduction. We will work with others in the development of policy and legislation and, where appropriate, will seek to publish draft Assembly Bills for consultation.

There is often tension between what a Government puts on the face of legislation and what a legislature considers appropriate. We will aim to strike the right balance between what is on the face of an Assembly Bill and what detail is left to subordinate legislation. We will ensure opportunities for enhanced scrutiny of significant items of subordinate legislation. We will also introduce a system to ensure that such items are referred to a committee for some form of pre-legislative scrutiny.

There will continue to be an annual oral statement to the Assembly on the Government’s legislative programme, with the initial statement setting out the headline items in the five-year Government programme and the detail of those Government Bills to be brought forward over the next 12 months. Subsequent annual statements will announce which Government Bills will be introduced during the course of that year.

3.00 p.m.

Before the legislative programme is introduced, it will be subjected to a far more rigorous scrutiny process, with a set of criteria that legislative bids must meet in order to ensure that all proposals for legislation meet the standards required for them to be included in the legislative programme. Ministers are currently finalising their proposals for the Government’s five-year legislative programme for announcement on 12 July.

When I was elected First Minister on 10 May, I acknowledged that the Government benches did not have the numbers to pass Government legislation without the support of other parties. I hope that there will be many occasions when we can find common ground and move forward together to pass legislation that will work for the good of the people of Wales. It is inevitable and proper that the opposition will seek to hold this Government to account. I welcomed the positive comments from the opposition leaders when they said that they would work to be a constructive opposition, seeking to work together to find consensus where possible. Members will have an opportunity to judge the strength of our legislative programme when I formally announce it on 12 July.

Paul Davies:First, I thank the First Minister for his statement today. It has taken the Government a number of weeks to set out its programme, but I am pleased that the First Minister has finally made some sort of statement in the Chamber this afternoon. However, I am disappointed that it is more of a holding statement, and that the First Minister has failed to fully outline his Government’s legislative programme. I urge him to do so as soon as possible. The people of Wales are waiting, First Minister.

It is crucial that the new Government concentrates on outcomes and that it delivers for the people of Wales. That is what the First Minister promised during the Assembly election campaign.The Government must improve the evidence base and forecasting for its budgets and key policy programmes. In the last Assembly, the Finance Committee reported that it was particularly concerned that, in a number of Government departments, the setting of budgets appeared to precede consideration of the precise outcomesto be delivered. Therefore, delivery must be key in this fourth Assembly, and scrutiny of the Government will be crucial in this process.

I appreciate that the First Minister has confirmed that a delivery unit will be established to concentrate on outcomes. I understand that, currently, key data are not held centrally by the Welsh Government—such as information on local authority waiting lists for social housing, the number of regulations introduced by the Government in the last three years, the number of people with arthritis and chronic pain waiting for referral, and the number of victims of domestic abuse attending accident and emergency departments. Surely, if the Government intends to improve delivery and outcomes for the people of Wales, it must be able to hold data in order to know whether it is improving outcomes for the people of Wales. Therefore, will the First Minister confirm whether the Government will improve its data collection? If so, how does it intend to do so, and what mechanism will he put in place to achieve this?

Perhaps the First Minister will also be kind enough to tell us what kind of delivery unit the Government is setting up. Perhaps he could explain in more detail what the delivery unit will look like and how it will be accountable to his Government. It is clear that the First Minister’s Government must concentrate on delivery, so does he agree that the Government must improve the way that itgoverns in this fourth Assembly?

I now turn to some other aspects of the statement. You mentionin your statement, First Minister, that you intend to introduce a children’s rights Measure, and that you are looking to put local authority Welsh in education strategic plans on a statutory basis. Education is key in driving forward our economic prosperity. As we have seen fairly recently, four in 10 pupils have reading skills below their age group, according to Estyn. Given that there is no detail in today’s statement, how exactly does the Welsh Government intend to reverse what its own Minister for Education and Skills has admitted is the systemic failure of its education policy?

Very little reference is made to public health in the First Minister’s statement today. As we all know, primary law-making powers allow the Government to develop holistic and strategic policies in a manner that was not previously possible. The latest Welsh health survey found that 8 per cent of adults have a heart condition, 20 per cent have high blood pressure and 6 per cent have diabetes. I would be grateful if the First Minister could tell us what specific measures he intends to bring forward to improve levels of public health in Wales?

I am pleased that the First Minister has confirmed at long last that he and his Government will take forward the economic renewal programme. I understand that his new Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science has raised the importance of inward investment to grow the Welsh economy. Will the First Minister clarify the Welsh Government’s policy on attracting inward investment to Wales?

The First Minister pledged to govern without triumphalism or tribalism. One of our policies for the Assembly elections was to reward all Welsh armed services personnel with a dedicated armed forces card, which proved to be an extremely popular idea. Will the First Minister look at the proposals that we put forward, and work with us to reward the outstanding contribution and dedication of servicemen and servicewomen in Wales?

The First Minister made it clear in his statement that he and his Government will ensure that there is an opportunity for the enhanced scrutiny of significant items of subordinate legislation, and that a system will be introduced to ensure that such items are referred to a committee. Will the First Minister expand on this and tell us how this will work?

Finally, I thank the First Minister for his statement. I hope that his Government will bring forward a full programme as soon as possible so that it can focus its efforts on delivering for the people of Wales.

The First Minister: As I said, the full programme will be brought forward on 12 July. I reject any suggestions that this is somehow tardy, given the fact that the Scottish Government is not publishing its programme until September and that the UK Government has yet to publish a programme for the next five years; indeed, there have been some discussions within the UK Government as to what its policy should be in certain areas, health being one example.  

The delivery unit will be answerable to me and it will be made up of civil servants. Its job will be to ensure that what we say is what we do. It will also ensure that where there may be particular difficulties from time to time, they are brought to my attention quickly so that they can be dealt with. It will also have the job of ensuring that a set of measurable outcomes is produced in each portfolio area so that members of the public can see what we are doing, and form their judgments accordingly. If further data sets are required to do that, they will be acquired.

I expect the education Bill to be wide-ranging and fall into two general areas, namely school standards and structures. While it is not possible to secure a better education system through legislation alone, I believe that the education Bill will take us a long way forward in developing the type of education system, at all levels, that we require.  

The point about public health is important, but I wish to see the results of the Food Standards Agency’s investigation into food hygiene enforcement before considering what public health legislation might be possible in Wales over the next few years. I asked the FSA to conduct that investigation following the E. coli inquiry, and that investigation is not yet complete. However, if there are suggestions following the investigation that can be taken forward through primary legislation—or, indeed, any form of legislation—we will consider it.

Legislation alone cannot create investment, but we are confident that, through the economic renewal programme, the level of investment in Wales will increase over the years, and that job creation will continue.

We have no particular difficulty with the Conservatives’ policy on the armed forces; after all, we have been developing much of it over the past year in any case. A group meets from time to time in Carl Sargeant’s department to ensure that proper services are available to armed forces personnel in Wales, and we are keen to develop that situation further.

When it comes to the committee structure, it is not for the Government to decide what the structure should be—that is something for all parties to decide via the Business Committee. Nevertheless, given the new powers that we have, it is important to have a robust scrutiny system in place.

Y Cofnod

Ieuan Wyn Jones: Yr wyf finnau hefyd yn diolch i’r Prif Weinidog am ei ddatganiad, er ein bod yn siomedig yn y cynnwys. Fel mae’r Prif Weinidog yn gwybod, yr oeddem wedi gofyn am ddadl, ac yn disgwyl cael dadl, yn amser y Llywodraeth ar ei rhaglen gynhwysfawr—nid yn unig ar ei rhaglen ddeddfwriaethol ond hefyd ar yr hyn y bydd yn ceisio ei gyflawni dros y flwyddyn nesaf a dros y tymor o bum mlynedd. Yr wyf yn credu ei bod yn bwysig bod y Llywodraeth yn gosod ei rhaglen lywodraethu cyn diwedd y tymor er mwyn i’r gwrthbleidiau a phobl Cymru gael cyfle i graffu ar y Llywodraeth a’i chynlluniau.

Ieuan Wyn Jones: I, too, thank the First Minister for his statement, even though we are disappointed at the content. As the First Minister knows, we had asked for, and expected to get, a debate in Government time on a comprehensive programme—not only the legislative programme but also what the Government will aim to achieve over the coming year and over the five-year term. I think that it is important that the Government sets out its programme for government before the end of this term so that the opposition parties and the people of Wales have an opportunity to scrutinise its plans.

Mae’n edrych yn debyg na chynhelir dadl ar raglen y Llywodraeth cyn diwedd y tymor hwn, ac na fydd yr un Bil wedi cael ei gyflwyno cyn hynny. Mae’n fater o bryder—yr wyf yn siŵr eich bod yn rhannu’r pryder hwn, Brif Weinidog—y bydd pum mis wedi mynd heibio cyn inni ddechrau deddfu ac na fydd gennym raglen lywodraethu i graffu arni. Yr ydym wedi cytuno i sefydlu pwyllgorau craffu yr wythnos nesaf, ac yr wyf yn credu ei bod yn bwysig bod y pwyllgorau hynny’n cael craffu’n fuan iawn ar raglen y Llywodraeth. Wrth sôn am raglen y Llywodraeth, yr wyf yn sôn nid yn unig am eich cynlluniau deddfu ond hefyd eich rhaglen ar gyfer datblygu’r gwasanaeth iechyd yn wyneb her enfawr y toriadau mewn gwariant cyhoeddus a’r hyn yr ydych yn mynd i’w wneud ynghylch addysg bellach, addysg uwch, addysg mewn ysgolion ac yn y blaen.

It does not seem likely that there will be a debate on the Government’s programme before the end of this term, and no Bills will be introduced before then. It is a matter of concern—I am sure that you share this concern, First Minister—that five months will have gone by before we start legislating and that we will not have a programme for government to scrutinise. We have agreed to establish scrutiny committees next week, and I believe that it is important that those committees are able to undertake early scrutiny of the Government’s programme. When I talk about the Government’s programme, I am not only talking about your legislative plans but also your programme for developing the health service as a result of the huge challenge posed by cuts in public spending and what you propose to do in relation to further education, higher education, education in schools and so on.

Yr wyf yn sylweddoli mai tamaid i aros pryd yw’r datganiad heddiw, ond yr ydych yn cyfeirio at ryw 10 o Filiau—yr wyf wedi eu cyfrif yn fras iawn. Yr ydych wedi dweud eich bod am gyflwyno rhaglen lywodraethu ar gyfer y pum mlynedd nesaf, ond mae’n rhyfedd gennyf eich bod yn meddwl mai dim ond 10 Bil fydd yn cael eu cyflwyno dros gyfnod o bum mlynedd. A ydych yn gallu dweud wrthym mai 10 Bil cychwynnol fydd y rhain ac y bydd Biliau eraill yn cael eu cynnwys yn y rhaglen cyn diwedd 2016?

I realise that today’s statement is only a taste of things to come, but you have referred to some 10 Bills—I have roughly counted them. You have said that you wish to introduce a programme for government for the next five years, but I find it strange that you are only thinking of introducing 10 Bills over that five-year period. Can you tell us whether these 10 Bills are only the first step, and that further Bills will be included in the programme before the end of 2016?

Fel Paul Davies, hoffwn gael mwy o fanylion—mae’n anodd iawn gofyn cwestiynau, Brif Weinidog, gan mai ychydig o fanylion a roddwyd. Nid wyf am ofyn cwestiwn ar bob bwnc—yr wyf yn siŵr y bydd y Llywydd yn falch o glywed hynny—ond hoffwn ofyn cwestiwn ar un neu ddau ohonynt. Er enghraifft, o ran addysg, yr ydych yn dweud y byddwch yn cyflwyno’r diwygiadau cyllidol a strwythurol i sicrhau bod arian yn mynd i’r rheng flaen, ond hoffwn wybod beth yn union yr ydych yn ei olygu wrth hynny. Beth fydd hynny’n ei olygu i ysgolion unigol a lle bydd rhieni yn teimlo bod arian ar gael i ddatblygu gwasanaethau yn y dosbarth? Sylwais hefyd eich bod yn sôn am gynnwys cynlluniau’r Gymraeg o ran cynllunio strategol. A yw hynny’n golygu y bydd y cyfrifoldeb asesu a oedd yn perthyn i Fwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg yn cael ei roi ar lwyfan statudol ac y bydd meini prawf statudol ar gyfer datblygu’r Gymraeg yn ein hysgolion? Gan eich bod wedi gofyn, Brif Weinidog, am gymorth y gwrthbleidiau i sicrhau y bydd y rhaglen ddeddfwriaethol hon yn cael ei gweithredu, a fyddech yn fodlon sicrhau bod materion megis anllythrennedd yn cael eu cynnwys yn y Bil? Yr ydych yn gwybod bod anllythrennedd yn un o’r materion a godwyd gennym yn ein maniffesto.

Like Paul Davies, I, too, would like further details—it is very difficult to ask questions, First Minister, given that we have limited details. I do not intend to ask a question on every subject—I am sure that the Presiding Officer will be pleased to hear it—but I would like to ask a question on one or two areas. For example, on education, you say that you will introduce financial and structural changes to ensure that money reaches the front line, but I would like to know the details of what you mean by that. What will that mean for individual schools and where will parents feel that money is available to develop services in the classroom? I also noticed that you mentioned the inclusion of Welsh schemes in strategic planning. Does that mean that the assessment duty that previously rested with the Welsh Language Board is to be placed on a statutory footing and that there will be statutory criteria for developing the Welsh language in our schools? Given that you have asked, First Minister, for the opposition’s support to ensure that this legislative programme is implemented, would you be willing to ensure that issues such as illiteracy are included in the Bill? You know that illiteracy is one of the issues included in our manifesto.

Yr oeddech hefyd yn sôn am Fil cynllunio—wrth basio, bron. Yr oeddem ni hefyd wedi dweud ein bod am weld Bil cynhwysfawr i newid y drefn gynllunio yng Nghymru, gan symud oddi wrth y drefn a sefydlwyd yn 1947, gan fod lawer yn fwy sensitif i anghenion Cymru. I ba gyfeiriad yr ydych yn credu y dylai’r Bil hwnnw fynd?

You also mentioned—almost in passing—a planning Bill. We had also said that we wanted to see a comprehensive Bill to change the planning system in Wales, moving away from the system established in 1947 to a system that is much more sensitive to Welsh needs. In your opinion, what direction should that Bill take?

3.15 p.m.

 

Yr wyf yn pryderu am yr amserlen yr ydych wedi’i gosod. Os na fydd Biliau yn cael eu cyflwyno tan ail hanner mis Medi, bydd nifer ohonynt yn cael eu cyflwyno mewn cyfnod eithaf byr. Mae hyn yn golygu y bydd Aelodau yn gorfod craffu ar nifer o Filiau gyda’i gilydd. Oni fyddai’n well creu rhaglen sy’n golygu bod y pwyllgorau yn cael mwy o amser i graffu, yn hytrach na chael y Biliau i gyd yn dod gyda’i gilydd ym mis Medi a mis Hydref? Fodd bynnag, cewch ddweud wrthym eich bwriadau yn hynny o beth.

I am concerned at the timetable that you have set. If Bills are not introduced until the second half of September, a number of Bills will be introduced in short order. It means that Members will have to scrutinise a number of Bills at the same time. Would it not be better to create a programme that meant that committees had more time to scrutinise, instead of all the Bills arriving together in September and October? However, you can tell us what your intentions are in that regard.

Mae paragraff yn y datganiad nad wyf yn ei ddeall. Efallai y gallech ddweud wrthym beth mae’n ei olygu. Fe’i darllenaf yn Saesneg, gan mai dim ond copi Saesneg sydd gennym ar hyn o bryd:

There is one paragraph in the statement that I do not understand. Perhaps you could tell us what it means. I will read it in English, because we only have an English copy at present:

Y Cofnod

'Before the legislative programme is introduced it will be subjected to a far more rigorous scrutiny with a set of criteria which bids for legislation must meet, in order to ensure that all proposals for legislation meet the standards required for them’.

Y Cofnod

Beth mae hynny’n ei olygu? Beth yw’r meini prawf y byddech yn eu gosod? Oni bai ein bod yn gwybod beth yw’r meini prawf, nid ydym yn gwybod sut yn y byd y gallwn graffu ar hyn. Un pwynt yr ydych wedi’i wneud yn berffaith glir—derbyniaf fod hyn yn fater o bryder i chi—yw, oni bai eich bod yn cael cymorth gan y gwrthbleidiau, ei bod yn annhebyg y byddwch yn cael nifer o’ch Biliau drwodd yn ystod y pum mlynedd nesaf. Yr ydym wedi dweud wrthych, ac fe’i hailadroddaf heddiw, fod nifer o Filiau yr hoffem gydweithio â’r Llywodraeth arnynt er mwyn sicrhau eu bod yn dod yn Filiau y gallwn i gyd gytuno arnynt. Felly, yn hytrach na chyhoeddi’r Biliau, os ydych eisiau cymorth y gwrthbleidiau i’w datblygu, a fyddech yn fodlon rhannu drafftiau o’r Biliau gyda llefaryddion y gwrthbleidiau ymlaen llaw fel ein bod yn gallu cytuno ar wahanol agweddau ar y Biliau hynny cyn eu bod yn cael eu cyflwyno i’r Cynulliad?

What does that mean? What are the criteria that you will set? Unless we know what the criteria are, we do not know how on earth we can scrutinise this. One point that you have made quite clearly—I accept that this is an issue of concern to you—is that, unless you are assisted by the opposition parties, it is unlikely that you will get several of your Bills through over the next five years. We have told you, and I repeat it today, that there are a number of Bills on which we would like to collaborate with the Government to ensure that they become Bills that we can all agree upon. Therefore, rather than publishing these Bills, if you want the assistance of the opposition parties to help develop these Bills, would you be willing to share drafts of the Bills with the opposition party spokespeople beforehand so that we can agree on various aspects of these Bills before they are introduced in the Assembly?

Y Prif Weinidog: Yr oedd sawl pwynt yn y fan honno. Bydd y ddeddfwriaeth yn dod o flaen y Cynulliad ym mis Medi ac wedi hynny. Mae’n deg tynnu sylw at y ffaith y byddai’n broblem o ran craffu pe bai pob Bil yn cael ei gyhoeddi ar yr un pryd. Mae hynny’n rhywbeth i’r Llywodraeth ei ystyried o ran yr amserlen a fydd yn cael ei chyhoeddi ym mis Gorffennaf. Mae gennym sawl Bil i fynd ymlaen ag ef, ond mae’n bwysig nad ydynt i gyd yn cael eu cyhoeddi ar yr un pryd.

The First Minister: There were a number of points there. The legislation will come before the Assembly in September and afterwards. It is fair to draw attention to the fact that it would be a problem in terms of scrutiny were all the Bills to be published at the same time. That is something for the Government to consider with regard to the timetable that will be published in July. We have a number of Bills to progress, but it is important that they are not all published at the same time.

O ran y Biliau eu hunain, gallaf gadarnhau mai cychwyn yw hyn—nid dim ond 10 Bil fydd yn dod o flaen y Cynulliad yn ystod y pum mlynedd nesaf. Y rhain yw ein blaenoriaethau ar hyn o bryd.

As regards the Bills themselves, I can confirm that this is a start—it will not be the case that only 10 Bills will come before the Assembly in the next five years. These are our priorities at present.

O ran y cynlluniau iaith, byddant yn dod yn statudol—dyna’r sôn ar hyn o bryd—er mwyn sicrhau eu bod yn gryfach o fewn polisïau addysg awdurdodau lleol. O ran cynllunio, byddwn yn ystyried Bil, ond nid yw’n flaenoriaeth ar gyfer y flwyddyn nesaf—byddwn yn ei ystyried drwy gydol bywyd y Llywodraeth hon. Bydd yn rhaid gwneud llawer o waith ymlaen llaw er mwyn sicrhau bod gennym system sydd yn fwy perthnasol i Gymru.

As regards the language schemes, they will become statutory—that is what is being talked about at the moment—in order to ensure that they are stronger within local authorities’ education policies. As regards planning, we will be considering a Bill, but it is not a priority for next year—it will be considered over the lifetime of this Government. A great deal of work will need to be done beforehand to ensure that we have a system that is more relevant to Wales.

O ran y meini prawf ar gyfer cyflwyno Biliau, byddant yn rhai mewnol i’r Llywodraeth. Mae’n bwysig dros ben, pan fo rhaglen ddeddfwriaethol yn cael ei chyhoeddi, fod y Biliau yn barod i fynd ac yn barod i ddod o flaen y Cynulliad. Felly, mae meini prawf wedi eu datblygu gan y Llywodraeth fel ein bod yn gwybod pa flaenoriaeth a roddir i bob Bil er mwyn sicrhau eu bod yn barod i fynd.

As regards the criteria for bringing Bills forward, those are internal to the Government. It is exceptionally important that, when a legislative programme is announced, the Bills are ready to go, and ready to come before the Assembly. Criteria have therefore been developed by the Government so that we know what kind of priority is to be given to every Bill, in order to ensure that they are ready to go.

O ran cyhoeddi Biliau drafft, yr ydym yn agored i hynny. Soniais yn y datganiad y byddem, lle bo’n berthnasol, yn cyhoeddi Biliau drafft ar gyfer ymgynghori, ac y byddem yn ystyried bod hynny’n digwydd yn arferol o ran Biliau yn y dyfodol.

As regards publishing draft Bills, we are open to that. I mentioned in the statement that, where relevant, we will publish draft Bills for consultation, and we consider that that will happen routinely with regard to Bills in future.

Y Cofnod

Kirsty Williams: I thank the First Minister for his statement this afternoon on what was somewhat curiously titled 'legislative priorities’, as opposed to a legislative programme. I am not clear why the Government is being as coy as it is with regard to its legislative programme for the next five years. It is somewhat of a smokescreen for the First Minister to mention that John Griffiths, the previous Counsel General, said that there would be a move away from an annual statement to a five-year statement.

On 6 June four years ago, Rhodri Morgan came to this Chamber and announced a legislative programme that outlined specifically the legislative competence Orders and Measures that the Government intended to bring forward. He did so against the backdrop of having to create a coalition Government and negotiate a coalition partnership document. It seems that the current First Minister has more difficulty in getting his own party to agree on what the priorities and the programme should be than the previous Government had in trying to bring two parties together. However, we are where we are, and I guess that the Government will keep us waiting a little longer before we get some meat on the bones with regard to how we will use the new powers that the people of Wales have bestowed upon us. It is, however, disappointing that our initial response to those powers is the statement that we have before us this afternoon.

I turn to questions about issues of process. The First Minister says that the Government will go through an internal process to ensure that all legislation is up to scratch. Having seen some of the legislation that came out over the past four years, I very much welcome that approach. This Chamber should never be put in the position of voting on a piece of legislation that is not crystal clear about to whom it applies, who will be in charge of enforcing it and what the consequences of breaching that legislation will be, which is what we were forced to do in the previous Assembly.

I am surprised that the First Minister says that the criteria will not be made public. Surely, in an open and transparent legislative process, we should know what tests the Government is setting itself before it publishes legislation. Indeed, if I remember correctly, the previous Counsel General, in response to the Constitutional Affairs Committee’s report on lessons learned from the first four years of legislative powers, said that he was open to making such criteria public. I therefore ask the First Minister to think again. It is vital that not just this Chamber but the whole of Wales knows the tests that the Government sets itself before allowing legislation to proceed.

I would also be grateful to learn whether it is the First Minister’s intention to publish a set of criteria by which Bills will or will not be published for pre-legislative scrutiny. The First Minister seems to suggest that some Bills will come forward for pre-legislative scrutiny and that others will not. Therefore, I would be grateful to know what the criteria will be for the different approaches to legislation in that regard.

The First Minister made great play in his statement about the balance between what is included on the face of the Bill and what is included in regulations at a later stage. The First Minister will be aware that the Constitutional Affairs Committee was highly critical of the lack of transparency with regard to that process in the last Assembly. It is therefore vital that this Government should set out the principles according to which it will decide what should go on the face of a Bill and what should be left to regulations at a later date. It should also set out its approach to amendments, because those of us present during the previous Assembly will be aware of the controversy surrounding the amendments made at a late stage to the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011. The Westminster Government and Cabinet Office have very strict criteria for amendments made at a late stage to a piece of legislation, and I suggest that a similar practice here would be welcomed in order to avoid the debacle that we saw with regard to the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 at the end of the previous Assembly. I appreciate that these are matters of a technical nature and are probably of little interest to the public, but, if we are to use our new powers properly, we need to have as transparent a system for drafting and scrutinising legislation as possible.

I now turn to the substance of the Bills outlined in the Minister’s statement. It is impossible to ascertain what the children’s Bill will include from the information provided today. I am therefore curious to find out from the First Minister what in that legislation will be substantially different from the provisions in the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011, given that that legislation was passed only in June last year. What has happened in the last 12 months to make us need further legislation in this area? Was something left out of the previous legislation or has the Minister identified new issues that require legislation at this stage?

With regard to the social care Bill, the Government is absolutely right: the law in this area is complex and is spread over several pieces of legislation over several years, and it is right to try to consolidate that so that the statute is clear in this area. I would make an early plea for that legislation to make it easier for individuals to apply for direct payments and individual packages of care. People across the border in England are able to get those, but people in Wales simply do not have that flexibility under the current system.

Earlier, during questions to the First Minister, in answer to a question of mine, the First Minister seemed to suggest that I would have to wait until this statement was made to hear further detail on what the education Bill will entail. Well, I waited and I am no clearer. How we transform our education system is probably the most important issue that the Government will have to get right over the next five years. I am very much aware that legislation is only part of the answer and that many things can be done that do not require legislation. However, in answer to Paul Davies, it seems to me that the Government has more of an idea of what it intends to do than it is letting on in this statement. I very much regret that it has not seen fit to outline its intentions this afternoon for early scrutiny.

Turning to the curious sentence that the Government

'will consider the need for legislation to bring coherence and efficiency to higher education’,

surely the Government knows whether it needs legislation or not—I do not know why it needs to consider it further. It either needs to legislate in this area or not. I would welcome it if the First Minister would outline when the Government will make up its mind on the need for legislation in that area or not.

On the face of it, legislation on allotments, cycling and heritage are worthy pieces of legislation to pursue. Many result from recommendations made by committees in the last Assembly, and I welcome that. The sustainable development Bill will look to create a single body, and the Welsh Liberal Democrats will wait to see the details before we look to support or oppose it. However, it begs the question as to what the Government’s intentions are with regard to Environment Agency Wales, the Countryside Council for Wales and Forestry Commission Wales, which the previous Assembly was looking to amalgamate. There is a passing reference to planning in the statement, mentioning the need to consolidate planning law. I would argue that the last thing that we need to do is consolidate planning law. What we need to do is to transform planning law in Wales, because it is not fit for purpose.

I regret that there is no clear mention of the Welsh language. There is unfinished business with regard to legislating on the language, although I welcome the mention of strategic education plans. I regret that there is no mention of legislation in the field of economic development. My understanding is that, if we want to move forward on tax increment financing and enterprise zones, we need legislation to do that. However, if the Minister has been advised differently, I would be pleased to hear about it.

On organ donation, the First Minister will be aware that, in the previous Assembly, questions were raised by the Attorney General in London about whether the legislation related to health, which is the preserve of the National Assembly for Wales, or related to human rights and therefore was outwith the powers of the Assembly. I would welcome clarification from the First Minister on whether that situation has been resolved.

In conclusion, this is an important statement. I heard the First Minister say that he hopes to bring forward other proposals in the months to come, but I regret very much that there is nothing in the statement about the regulation of bus services in Wales—indeed, there is nothing about transport at all. There is also little in it about how we can devolve power out of the Chamber to local government and community councils, which I think is worthy of consideration over the next five years. As I said at the beginning of this Assembly, the Liberal Democrats will work with, and support, the Government on Bills that they feel will be of benefit to the people of Wales, but we will not be afraid to oppose where we feel that the Government is going wrong.

3.30 p.m.

The First Minister: I listened carefully to what Kirsty had to say, and I would have listened even more carefully had the Lib-Dems produced a legislative programme in their manifesto, but they did not. I saw a programme this morning, and there are some good ideas in it, although the idea of introducing the single transferable vote in local government may be a little behind the times, given what happened in the referendum in May. I listened very carefully to senior members of the Conservative Party arguing forcefully for the first-past-the-post system; I trust that they will do so when it comes to looking at the electoral system of the Assembly.

In terms of the legislative programme, the next challenge for Government is to timetable it. We have a number of Bills that we want to take forward, but we need to ensure now that we can timetable those Bills in such as a way as to ensure proper scrutiny without causing logjams in the committees. We need the committees to be in place before that can happen. Hopefully, that will happen next week. Inevitably, we will not be publishing every single Bill that we intend to take forward over the course of the next four to five years, because there has to be flexibility in the system. There will be legislative opportunities over the course of the next four or five years that are not foreseeable now, and it is important that Government is in a position where those legislative opportunities can be taken.

In terms of the transparency of the process, I have no difficulty in publishing the criteria that the Government will use in assessing Bills as they are taken forward; I have no difficulty with that at all. In terms of the children Bill, the intention is to build on the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011, particularly using powers that we have now but did not have then; that is the important point. In particular, we will see how we can further embed the UN convention into Welsh law.

In terms of the organ donation Bill, we believe that we have the competence to take it forward; it is as simple as that. The UK Government may take a different view, but our view is that the competence is there. It is a matter for the UK Government to decide whether it wishes to refer any such legislation to the Supreme Court. I believe that we have put forward a substantial legislative programme with a number of ideas for new Bills that will improve the lives of the people of Wales. It is now time to get down to the work of timetabling those Bills, and I am sure that everyone in the Chamber is looking forward to scrutinising and taking forward the first Bill to be passed by this Assembly.

Christine Chapman: I would like to begin by thanking the First Minister for his statement. I certainly look forward to the Government enacting its legislative programme over this term, and hearing more detail in the next few weeks. In the recent election, the Labour manifesto was the most detailed of all the parties and it certainly had the endorsement of Welsh voters. However, we need to continue to prioritise meeting the needs—made all the more pressing by the wider context of the economic recession—of groups within our communities. I welcome the reference in your statement to the needs of families. We know that many families in Wales are suffering as a result of this recession. I am also thinking in particular of the terrible levels of youth unemployment and of children who are living in poverty. Those groups are disproportionately affected and we must, most carefully, target resources to help them. I am pleased that child poverty was a real priority for us during the last Assembly, but if it is not addressed, we will only be storing up more problems for those individuals—and for society as a whole. Will you ensure that we continue to address this within our legislative programme for this Assembly?

Legislation is only as good as the effectiveness of its delivery and the way in which it touches the lives of people in our communities. Like others here—I know that Paul Davies mentioned it—I am very pleased about the announcement regarding the delivery unit, which will be based in your department, and I would be very keen to hear more information regarding its establishment. It is important that clear indicators for legislation are established, so that we and the Welsh voters, who put their trust in us, know when our objectives are achieved and what else we need to do to achieve them. It is not just about aspiration; it is important that we have quantitative indicators, but we also need qualitative indicators, so that we know how the quality of people’s lives in Wales is being improved by the Government’s legislative programme.

Finally, I welcome the indicators that we use regarding child poverty, for example, which have played an important role in allowing us to take a clear and measured approach to the issue, so that we know what needs to be done. First Minister, what can you tell me about the measurement of the objectives that have been set out today? I look forward to the more detailed programme in July.

The First Minister: We are working on a set of measures that the people of Wales will be able to identify and on which they can pass judgement. The first set of measures will be the pledges in the Government’s manifesto, then the legislative programme and, more widely, the entire manifesto on which the Government was elected. The first challenge will be to ensure that that manifesto is as transparent and as measureable as possible so that people can offer their views on the performance of the Government over the next five years.

The Presiding Officer: We have had speeches from the lead speakers of the four parties, which were very eloquent and wide-ranging. I ask the rest of the contributors to stick to questions that have not been asked, and not to make too many long statements. I call on Nick Ramsay to speak next.

Nick Ramsay: That was a very coy look there, Presiding Officer. [Laughter.]  I will stick to some succinct questions to make your life, and that of the First Minister, easier.

I thank the First Minister for his statement. There were suggestions in the press that today’s statement was going to be downplayed by the Government, which may be the case to a certain extent, but there was certainly a lot of information there, which I know that we, as the opposition, would like to look at, as Paul said earlier.

You have mentioned the plan to legislate on the opt-out scheme for organ donation, a scheme that, as Kirsty Williams said earlier, was brought forward before the election in the form of a legislative competence Order and was then understandably dropped. I want to ask you about two issues in relation to that organ donation scheme. First, have you gone any further down the line of assessing whether the Assembly has the power to legislate in this area? I know that, before the election, the previous Minister for Health and Social Services thought that we had the power to do so, but there were some questions about that. I would be concerned if we were to go into this process, legislating in the early days of the new powers of the Assembly, and then find that we do not have the necessary power, which would leave the Welsh Government in a difficult situation. Therefore, will you provide some clarity on any discussions that you might have had with Westminster about that issue?

I would also like to ask about your proposals to bring people with you on the plans for such an opt-out system. I have said previously that my group will have a free vote when it comes to the decision on whether we support an opt-out system of presumed consent. I am pleased that the Government is doing what it can to try to increase the availability of organs. That is a noble aim and it is something that most people in Wales would like you to do. However, do you agree that, if you are going to have any success, you have to bring people with you? Therefore, I would like to hear your proposals on that subject.

I also want to ask you about sustainable development. In your statement, you talked about embedding sustainable development. It is a bit woolly as far as I can gather, First Minister. How do you propose to do this? For as long as I have been an Assembly Member—indeed, for as long as I have worked in this building—I have heard about the embedding of sustainable development as being key to the way that this place operates. However, until now there often seem to be more words than action. Will you put a little bit more meat on the bones, even in advance of your future statement, in terms of how you intend to embed sustainable development?

You also mentioned the delivery unit; can you explain a little more about how that is going to work? I think I am a bit clearer on it, but, as I said previously, I would hope that the whole of the Welsh Government would be a delivery unit. However, if that is a vain hope, then perhaps this delivery unit is needed, but it has to be transparent. There was little reference to transparency in you statement, First Minister, and we need to ensure that everything we do here is as transparent as possible.

I have a couple of further points, but I will make it one further point, because I can hear the Presiding Officer coughing. I have previously had discussions with the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services on direct payments. Personalisation is going to be key to the reform of the provision of social services. I know that other parties believe that personalisation is key to that and that, in certain cases, your Government has been supportive of personalisation to a limited extent, but we believe that you should be going far further. How do you intend to promote personal choice within social services if you are not going to follow the personalisation line being taken in England?

Thank you for your statement. These are exciting times, First Minister, and I think that we would all acknowledge that this is a different ballgame. I hope that the Assembly will be more efficient. In response to something that Ieuan Wyn Jones said, I do not want to see lots of legislation coming from you and your Government; I want to see good legislation. You will certainly have the support of the opposition where you propose good legislation. At the same time, however, we will do our best to scrutinise in order to ensure that legislation is as efficient as possible.

The First Minister: On the organ donation Bill, we believe that we have the power to take it forward. That belief may not be shared by the UK Government, but it is a matter for it to decide whether to challenge the Bill once it has passed into law. It is right to say that some, and perhaps many, find the Bill morally difficult to wrestle with. I well understand that it will be necessary to consult widely to ensure that as many views as possible are garnered for the Bill to command public support. Of course, there will need to be a public education programme before the Act comes into force.

On sustainable development, I have said that the Bill will contain a proposal to re-establish a sustainable development commission, in addition to placing a statutory duty on public bodies to promote sustainable development.

As for the delivery unit, it is clear that it must be transparent, and I have said as much many times. That is because it is essential for people to be able to see what their Government is doing and then pass judgement on it, as they see fit.

With regard to the social services Bill, any suggestions from other parties in the Assembly will be considered. Clearly, we cannot offer support at this stage to any particular amendment, but the intention is to produce a Bill that can command wide support in the Chamber.

Bethan Jenkins: We welcome elements of this statement, especially the heritage protection Bill and the fact that you want to work with other parties. However, we, on this side of the Chamber, are deeply disappointed that you have not mentioned broadcasting as a priority for this Government. First Minister, you told me last week that you would not seek powers over broadcasting or the budget for it as they did not form part of the programme for government. I am afraid that events have overtaken you, however, and we cannot afford to wait five years to rescue our broadcasting services. I therefore ask you again: will you seek talks with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the devolution of broadcasting, with funding streams like those we have had for student support and local transport franchises in the past, so that we in Wales can legislate for our broadcasting services, rather than leaving it at the mercy of the Tories and the UK Government?

The First Minister: The reason why there is no mention of broadcasting is that it is not a devolved subject, so there cannot be a broadcasting Bill. It is important that some thought is given to what broadcasting actually means. From our point of view as a party, we do not support the devolution of broadcasting if, by 'broadcasting’, you mean control over radio licences, Sky broadcasting and providing some of the funding for the BBC World Service. All of these things have to be bottomed out before such a policy could be taken forward. My priority has always been to ensure that Wales gets a fair slice of the broadcasting budget. There are grave concerns, which are shared by those from all parties in the Chamber, about the future of S4C and the proposed cuts—outlined in what was described as a draft paper—to BBC Wales, which would leave us with little current affairs coverage to speak of. That is the battle that has to be won, rather than looking to devolve broadcasting, either in its entirety or in bits.

Mark Drakeford:First Minister, I welcome the specific part of your statement in which you commit the Welsh Government to introducing legislative proposals to strengthen the scrutiny of care services. That is an excellent early indication of the way in which the Welsh Government is able to use the new legislative powers to react to an emerging social policy problem. When thought is being given to the way in which the scrutiny can best be carried out, could you confirm that the Government will consider as one option, among what I am sure will be a range of possibilities, the extension of the remit of community health councils in Wales, so that they are able to carry out their duties in relation to social care as they are able to do in relation to health services today?

The First Minister: I am sure that this proposal and many others will be considered in their entirety during the passage of the Bill.

3.45 p.m.

Andrew R.T. Davies: First Minister, thank you for your statement. In the earlier part of the statement, you touched on the commissioning of a report from the Food Standards Agency. I am a little disappointed that that could hold up legislation that could be brought forward to improve hygiene standards in food outlets and legislation on food recycling, which was in our manifesto. I know that your party was lobbied by Consumer Focus on these issues. Do you see this type of legislation being incorporated in a larger public health Bill, pending the findings of the report by the Food Standards Agency that you commissioned?

Secondly, there was little talk in your statement of any legislative assistance that might be brought forward to help business and enterprise in Wales. I welcome the very brief reference to planning, which was something that I raised with you immediately on our return to the Assembly. Do you see the legislative process as being able to assist business and enterprise in Wales? Many of the organisations that are lobbying us at the moment believe that assistance could be given through the legislative process on contracting and the ability to buy in to Government contracts, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The First Minister: I do not think that you can easily legislate on procurement without breaching state aid rules. Nevertheless, you can put in place a system where SMEs are encouraged to compete for Government contracts and that has been done successfully over the past few years. On the FSA report, the form that any ensuing legislation on food hygiene will take will depend on what the appropriate vehicle may be: if there is an opportunity to legislate through a public health Bill, that may be the right vehicle, but if there needs to be a separate Bill, that will be considered as well. It is important that the FSA concludes the investigation that I asked it to carry out to ensure that we have a comprehensive system of food hygiene enforcement in Wales. Until that report is ready and until recommendations arise from it, it will be difficult to provide detail as to what the legislation might look like. However, I am open to the idea of a public health Bill, including the need to tighten up food hygiene enforcement.

Antoinette Sandbach: Thank you for your statement, First Minister. I wish to raise two matters with you and the first matter that I wish to raise relates to your delivery unit. Will you be making that unit independent of Government so that there is independent scrutiny of your delivery, along the lines of the Office for Budget Responsibility, which in effect provides independent data? Secondly, I was very concerned that in your response to the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, you indicated that you will not be publishing every Bill that you may take through the Assembly and that legislative opportunities may suddenly arise that would give you some flexibility. I am extremely concerned about that in relation to the question of transparency. If you do not publish legislation in advance, the third sector and the other bodies that may be affected by it will miss the opportunity to comment on it. I hope that you will be as transparent as possible and ensure that all parties that are likely to be affected by legislation will have an opportunity to scrutinise it properly and to comment on it.

The First Minister: The delivery unit reports to me; I am not keen on creating another quango, which is what an independent body would be. It would be the norm to publish Bills for consultation, except in circumstances where the main substance of the Bill has already been consulted on in another form. Let us say, for example, that a particular policy has been consulted on in some detail and that, as a result, it is felt that primary legislation is the best way of moving that policy forward; there would then seem to be little point in consulting on the same thing again at that stage. Normally, Bills would be published for consultation.

Cynnig Cydsyniad Deddfwriaethol Atodol: Bil Senedd y DU ynghylch Lleoliaeth
Supplementary Legislative Consent Motion: Localism Bill

Y Cofnod

Cynnig NDM4722 Carl Sargeant

Motion NDM4722 Carl Sargeant

Bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 29.6, yn cytuno y dylai Senedd y DU ystyried, yn ychwanegol at y darpariaethau y cyfeirir atynt yng nghynnig NNDM4642, y darpariaethau ychwanegol hynny a gyflwynwyd i’r Bil Lleoliaeth ynghylch pwerau cyffredinol a phwerau codi ffioedd i awdurdodau tân ac achub yng Nghymru a hawl y gymuned i brynu, i’r graddau y maent yn dod o fewn cymhwysedd deddfwriaethol Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru.

That the National Assembly for Wales, in accordance with Standing Order 29.6, agrees that, in addition to the provisions referred to in motion NNDM4642, those further provisions which have been brought forward in the Localism Bill relating to the general and charging powers for fire and rescue authorities in Wales and the community right to buy, in so far as they fall within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales, should be considered by the UK Parliament.

Y Cofnod

The Minister for Local Government and Communities (Carl Sargeant): I move the motion.

The supplementary legislative consent motion is required because several of the UK Government’s amendments to the Bill’s provisions fall within the Assembly’s legislative competence in relation to devolved areas. The motion refers to a number of relevant provisions, namely sections 8 and 9 on the general power of fire and rescue authorities in Wales relating to charging, and section 89 on the provision of assistance and advice in relation to land of community value in Wales—the community right to buy. This legislative consent motion is placed before the Assembly today for approval.

Y Cofnod

Rhodri Glyn Thomas:Cyfeiriodd y Gweinidog at y Bil seneddol a’r ffaith bod hwn yn gynnig cydsyniad deddfwriaethol atodol. A ydych yn cytuno bod y modd y mae’r Llywodraeth wedi bod yn newid y Bil seneddol hwn ar ei daith drwy San Steffan yn dangos ei fod yn Fil sydd wedi ei eirio’n wael iawn, bod y broses graffu wedi bod yn anodd iawn o ganlyniad, ac nad yw’r amserlen wedi caniatáu rhyw lawer o amser i ni drafod y materion sy’n berthnasol i Gymru? Mae nifer o faterion yn y Bil seneddol sy’n hynod o berthnasol i Gymru, yn enwedig y rhai sy’n ymwneud â phŵer dros ynni. Estynnais wahoddiad i’r Prif Weinidog ychydig wythnosau yn ôl. Yr oedd Jonathan Edwards wedi sicrhau y byddai Gweinidogion San Steffan yn hapus iawn i drafod y materion hyn gydag ef. Yr wyf yn awr yn estyn yr un gwahoddiad i chi drafod y materion hyn gyda’r Gweinidogion priodol yn San Steffan. Yr wyf yn siŵr y byddai Jonathan yn hapus iawn i drefnu’r cyfarfod hwnnw ichi.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas: The Minister made reference to the parliamentary Bill and the fact that this is a supplementary legislative consent motion. Do you agree that the way that the Government has been changing this parliamentary Bill on its journey through Westminster demonstrates that it is a Bill that has been worded very poorly, that the scrutiny process has been very difficult as a result of that, and that the timetable has not allowed a great deal of time for us to discuss the issues that are relevant to Wales? There are a number of issues in the parliamentary Bill that are very relevant to Wales, especially those concerning powers over energy. I extended an invitation to the First Minister a few weeks ago. Jonathan Edwards had ensured that Westminster Ministers would be more than happy to discuss these issues with him. I now extend the same invitation to you to discuss these issues with the appropriate Ministers in Westminster. I am sure that Jonathan would be more than happy to arrange that meeting on your behalf.

Hefyd, mae’r mater hollbwysig ynglŷn â’r cyfrif refeniw tai, a’r cynllun cymhorthdal yn benodol, sy’n golygu bod awdurdodau lleol yng Nghymru yn ad-dalu rhyw £80 miliwn y flwyddyn i’r Trysorlys. Nid yw hyn yn digwydd yn Lloegr, ond mae’n digwydd yng Nghymru. Unwaith eto, mae hon yn rhan hollbwysig o’r Bil y dylem fod yn ei thrafod yn y fan hon.

There is also the crucial issue of the housing revenue account, and specifically the subsidy scheme, which will mean that local authorities in Wales will repay some £80 million per annum to the Treasury. This does not happen in England, but it happens in Wales. Once again, this is a crucially important part of the Bill that we should be discussing here.

Gan droi at y cynnig cydsyniad deddfwriaethol atodol sydd o’n blaenau’r prynhawn yma, fel yr ydych wedi dweud, mae’r materion pwysig yn ymwneud yn benodol â’r awdurdodau tân ac achub. Maent yn caniatáu pwerau ychwanegol yn y maes hwn, yn benodol y pŵer i godi tâl am y gwasanaethau hyn. Weinidog, a yw’n fwriad gennych gyhoeddi canllawiau cenedlaethol ar y pŵer hwn i godi tâl, ynteu a fydd yn fater i’r awdurdodau unigol benderfynu ar y taliadau hyn? Pa gynllun monitro yr ydych yn bwriadu ei weithredu fel Llywodraeth i sicrhau bod y pwerau hyn yn cael eu gweithredu ledled Cymru mewn modd cyson? Mae’r gallu i godi tâl wedi bod ar gael ers Deddf 2004. I ba raddau y mae’r pŵer hwn wedi ei weithredu yng Nghymru ers 2004 a pha awdurdodau sydd wedi ei weithredu?

In turning to the supplementary legislative consent motion before us this afternoon, as you have mentioned, the important issues relate specifically to fire and rescue authorities. They allow additional powers in this area, particularly the power to charge for these services. Is it your intention, Minister, to put national guidelines in place regarding this power to charge, or will it be a matter for the individual authorities to decide on these charges? What monitoring scheme do you intend to implement as a Government to ensure that these new powers are implemented consistently throughout Wales? The power to charge has been available since the 2004 Act. To what extent has this power been used in Wales since 2004 and which authorities have done so?

Mae ail ran y cynnig yn ymwneud ag asedau o werth i’r gymuned, ac yn benodol â’r grwpiau buddiannau cymunedol. Sut yn union yr ydych yn diffinio 'grwpiau buddiannau cymunedol’? A wnewch sicrhau y bydd awdurdodau lleol yng Nghymru yn derbyn y math o gyllid y bydd ei angen arnynt er mwyn gwireddu’r hyn a geir yn y cynnig hwn o ran y grwpiau cymunedol hyn? Yr ydym oll am eu cefnogi, ond mae mater ynglŷn â chyllid awdurdodau lleol sy’n codi yn sgîl hyn.

The second part of this motion relates to assets of community value, and specifically community interest groups. How exactly would you define a 'community interest group’? Will you ensure that local authorities in Wales will have the kind of funding that they will need to achieve what is contained within this proposal in terms of these community groups? We all want to support them, but there is an issue of funding for local authorities that arises as a result.

Y Cofnod

The Minister for Local Government and Communities (Carl Sargeant): I thank Rhodri Glyn for his comments. I note his concerns regarding the progress of the Localism Bill in Westminster, but that is a matter for Westminster and not for me.

Turning to today’s legislative consent motion in detail and the issues relating to the fire and rescue authorities, the general power of competence for FRAs will allow them the freedom to do whatever they consider appropriate to achieve a beneficial outcome for the emergency services. You are quite right to say that the power to charge has existed in the past, but this Bill provides an opportunity to make slight changes. The core functions of the fire and rescue services are fire safety, firefighting, rescue and protection in relation to road traffic accidents and other emergencies specified by Order of the Minister. They remain processes whereby nocharges will be placed upon a person.However, these powers will give fire and rescue authorities the opportunity to enter into joint ventures with other emergency service providers and joint commercial ventures to develop redundant fire station buildings and so on. It will give them greater flexibility to deliver for their communities.

On section 89 regarding provision and assistance for community groups, the community right to buy is intended to provide new powers to communities to help them to save local facilities and buildings that offer potential for community use. These buildings could include the local shop or village pub, disused factory or school. County councils and county borough councils in Wales will have the right to identify the property assets that they feel are of particular value. This legislative consent motion will place a power, not a duty, on the Minister, so funding will be around the power to give and seek advice, as opposed to placing a duty on the relevant Minister.

I hope that helps to answer some of the questions that were raised and I hope that the motion will be approved by Members.

The Presiding Officer:The question is that the motion be agreed. Are there any objections? I see that there are none. In accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36, I therefore declare the motion agreed.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.

Cynnig Cydsyniad Deddfwriaethol Atodol: Bil Senedd y DU ynghylch Addysg
Supplementary Legislative Consent Motion: Education Bill

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Cynnig NNDM4731 Leighton Andrews

Motion NNDM4731 Leighton Andrews

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 29.6, yn cytuno y dylai Senedd y DU ystyried, yn ychwanegol at y darpariaethau y cyfeirir atynt yng nghynnig NNDM4660, y darpariaethau ychwanegol hynny a gyflwynwyd i’r Bil Addysg ynghylch ffioedd am fwrdd a llety mewn Academïau byrddio, i’r graddau y maent yn dod o fewn cymhwysedd deddfwriaethol Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru.

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales, in accordance with Standing Order 29.6, agrees that, in addition to the provisions referred to in motion NNDM4660, those further provisions which have been brought forward in the Education Bill relating to charges for boarding and lodging at boarding Academies, in so far as they fall within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales, should be considered by the UK Parliament.

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The Minister for Education and Skills (Leighton Andrews): I move the motion.

Simon Thomas: Although the supplementary legislative consent motion has been moved formally, I have one or two points that I wish to draw to the Minister’s attention. First, we should note in passing that we could have dealt with this in committee, if we had the committee structure and our new Standing Orders up and running. However, it is here before the whole Assembly, so we need to deal with it.

Although this can be quite a technical matter, it is important to those families that it affects. For those who have to use private sector or voluntary sector specialist boarding school services, particularly if they have a child on the autistic spectrum who needs a specific specialist service that is not available from their local authority, we need to ensure that that service is still available and will be paid for by the local authority when it is provided for educational reasons. The purpose of this supplementary motion is to ensure that the payments continue and that local authorities cannot wriggle out of their responsibility for supporting children who need this specialist care, even when that care is provided outside Wales. We are perhaps more familiar with this happening in our health service, but it also happens in the education service in specific circumstances, when the right support and education for children who have specific special needs is not available in Wales.

In the past, local authorities have tried hard not to pay to cover the boarding costs for such children. I have dealt with several constituency cases along these lines when I was at a different place, when I had to fight for local authorities to pay to support children in such circumstances. This legislative consent motion merely enables the continuation of the present circumstances, which I welcome. However, will the Minister give an undertaking to the Assembly that the other powers that he has under this legislative consent motion and in general will not be used to change the current circumstances? That is, will the duty on local authorities to pay for boarding for children in special educational establishments, where required as part of their statement of educational needs, continue to be a policy of this Government?   

The Minister for Education and Skills (Leighton Andrews): I welcome Simon Thomas to his new role as the education spokesperson for his party. I give him the assurance that he was seeking in respect of the final issue that he raised. We do not intend to make changes in policy at our end; this is simply a legislative consent motion because the Education Bill that is before Parliament addresses areas that fall within our legislative competence.

4.00 p.m.

On a specific matter of process, we take legislative consent motions through the whole Assembly because we need the agreement of the whole Assembly to allow Westminster to legislate in areas where we have legislative competence. It would not be appropriate for matters such as this to be taken up in committee. I am satisfied that the proposals in the Bill are ones that we can endorse at the present time. As we understand it, no pupils currently benefit from the policy, and the State Boarding Schools’ Association has stated that it is not aware of any fees being remitted since the 1990s. However, we believe that the policy should be in place and that local authorities should be clear about their responsibilities under the legislation. Therefore, I consider it to be appropriate to deal with these provisions within the Education Bill in Westminster. They are minor changes and this enables us to put the provisions in place.

The Presiding Officer:The question is that the motion be agreed. Are there any objections? I see that there are none. In accordance with Standing Order No. 12.36, I therefore declare the motion agreed.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.

Comisiwn Bevan
The Bevan Commission

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Y Llywydd: Yr wyf wedi dethol gwelliannau 1 a 2 yn enw Nick Ramsay, gwelliant 3 yn enw Peter Black a gwelliant 4 yn enw Jocelyn Davies.

The Presiding Officer: I have selected amendments 1 and 2 in the name of Nick Ramsay, amendment 3 in the name of Peter Black and amendment 4 in the name of Jocelyn Davies.

Cynnig NNDM4730 Jane Hutt

Motion NNDM4730 Jane Hutt

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:

1. yn croesawu adroddiad Comisiwn Bevan '2008-2011 NHS Wales: Forging a better future’ a

1. welcomes the Bevan Commission report '2008-2011 NHS Wales: Forging a better future’ and

2. yn nodi’r dadleuon sydd ynddo o blaid:

2. notes the case it makes to:

a) cydnabod yr heriau anodd sy’n wynebu’r GIG yn y dyfodol;

a) recognise the tough challenges that are facing the NHS in the future;

b) cefnogi newidiadau i wasanaethau sy’n hanfodol er mwyn diogelu dyfodol y GIG;

b) support service changes essential to secure the future of the NHS;

c) cefnogi camau gweithredu yn y maes clinigol i wella diogelwch ac ansawdd y gofal a roddir i gleifion; a

c) back clinically led action to improve safety and quality of care of patients; and

d) creu gwir bartneriaeth gyda’r cyhoedd er mwyn sicrhau bod yr ethos a oedd yn sail i sefydlu’r GIG yng Nghymru yn cael ei gynnal yn y dyfodol.

d) create a genuine partnership with the public to ensure the founding ethos of the NHS in Wales is maintained in the future.

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The Minister for Health and Social Services (Lesley Griffiths): I move the motion.

I welcome the report, 'NHS Wales: Forging a better future’. First, I welcome the emphasis that it places on the words and intentions of Aneurin Bevan. He, more than anyone, is responsible for the national health service, which is so important to us all and so clearly cherished by us all. I see him not through a romantic haze, but as a man of princple and a fighter for decent standards for all. The report quotes him as saying that the NHS is

'a triumphant example of the superiority of collective action and public initiative applied to a segment of society where commercial principles are seen at their worst.’

He changed uncounted lives for the better. In the sixtieth year of the NHS, the Bevan Commission was set up by my predecessor as an external source of independent advice to her. Its members are notable for their expertise and breadth of understanding of the world of health and health services. I place on record my thanks to every one of the members of the commission. They were drawn from Wales, England, Scotland and the United States, though their experience encompasses many other countries. They are responsible for a formidable body of research and publications. The report addresses a wide range of issues. The commission assessed the current position of health and health services in Wales in several ways against the founding principles of the NHS, their knowledge of other systems and cutting-edge thinking around the world.

Daeth Peter Black i’r Gadair am 4.02 p.m.

Peter Black took the Chair at 4.02 p.m.

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The report offers a test that can be applied in assessing the performance of the NHS in Wales: that it should meet the needs of Wales, but also compare with the best anywhere in the world. At present, the NHS in Wales is travelling a different road to health systems in many other countries. In particular, unlike the NHS in England, our NHS is avoiding the marketplace and competition, in favour of an integrated system where the assets of the health service are owned by its Government and its people. We aim to build on that platform through implementing our manifesto. The NHS in Wales is on firm foundations and the way forward is clear.

We have made good progress in many areas in recent years. One is that the percentage of Welsh men surviving over a year after being diagnosed with cancer has overtaken that in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Measured performances in areas such as managing stroke patients can also be shown to have greatly improved, based on early success in eliminating pressure sores in some hospitals and substantially cutting healthcare-acquired infections in all local health boards. There is now a target for eliminating these across Wales.

However, I am well aware that there are areas where we do not yet match the best, and we need to tackle those areas. We have, for example, indicated our firm intention to continue to drive up the performance of the ambulance service. We have targeted a number of areas for urgent improvement and I will expect to see delivery following on from that. Yesterday, I met with the senior management of NHS Wales to discuss the Government’s vision for the future of the NHS in Wales and to spell out clearly the challenges and very real opportunities that lie ahead. However well we are doing, or might do in the future, it is clear from the report that we cannot afford to be complacent. There are tough challenges ahead—indeed, the report uses that word over 20 times. In the longer term, there is a need to improve health in every age group and community and reduce health inequalities. In the short term, there is the need to balance the books, while protecting and promoting high-quality services. That means that we have to make changes, and the report makes the case for change. There is no connection between the documents, but all Members here will have separately received a paper from the Welsh NHS Confederation entitled 'Prescription for Health 2011’, which reinforces the case for change. In improving health for all we need to act earlier and more decisively. We need to help people protect and improve their health and make services more accessible.

Wales has a strong network of services, but there is still too much poor health in Wales. Inequality is morally unacceptable when it could be significantly reduced by better-targeted services. Local health boards need to ensure that action beyond traditional public health initiatives is taken to tackle this. Local action plans must be delivery-focused and rigorously followed up, with transparent reporting on how health inequalities are narrowing. Good primary care must provide strong continuing support in people’s lives, with the role of pharmacists strengthened in line with emerging policy. I also want to see people with specific problems such as cancer, mental health issues and chronic health problems having personalised care arrangements. Palliative care needs to be strengthened, with new annual check-ups that help to quickly pick up issues requiring action among the over-50s.

I firmly believe that the NHS’s greatest strength is its staff. We must all give them the support that they need. Doing all that requires us to shift resources, cutting out waste and making wise and productive investments. Yes, that will mean that services need to change. We will need to consolidate specialist care and localised generalist care. We must accept that services and buildings cannot be frozen in time. We have to create services that we can sustain into the future. What I can promise, right at the start of my appointment, is that where changes are proposed, there will be an open book on the reasons why, along with full engagement with local communities. We will assess the effectiveness of change in terms of the outcomes that we achieve. I accept the commisson’s challenge to compare with the best anywhere in the world. We will start—

Andrew R.T. Davies: One of the key points for staff, which you will understand, is career development, and the ability for medical staff, in particular, to develop their careers in the NHS. It has been a bugbear for the unions that no time has been put aside by local health boards. Will you commit at the outset of your ministerial appointment to make sure that there are sufficient career development opportunities for staff in the Welsh NHS? That in itself would improve services dramatically.

Lesley Griffiths: I have committed to meeting with all the unions and they are sending me their agendas. If that is one of their issues, it will obviously be raised with me.

We will start monitoring and publishing outcome data for Wales, showing how they compare with other countries. I know that we can improve those outcomes, because we have now developed an excellent, clinically led approach to handling quality and safety issues. I will protect and develop that approach. However, health outcomes also depend on the public playing its part. I will offer the people of Wales a partnership—a compact. Work with us to improve health. We will provide information and access to high-quality services. In return, we will look to the people to use that information and those services well and appropriately. We will help people to look after and care for themselves if they have a health problem and, as I have said, we will introduce individual care plans for people with particular needs.

The Bevan Commission has looked at a range of health issues: health improvement, information, partnership with the public, the economic impact of health services, and quality of care, to name just a few. In restructuring the NHS, we have created organisations that can address this huge range of interlocking issues in an integrated way. This is a huge opportunity for Wales, which we must seize.

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Gwelliant 1 Nick Ramsay

Amendment 1 Nick Ramsay

Ym mhwynt 1, dileu 'Yn croesawu’ a rhoi 'Yn nodi’ yn ei le.

In point 1 delete 'Welcomes’ and replace with 'Notes’.

Gwelliant 2 Nick Ramsay

Amendment 2 Nick Ramsay

Ychwanegu pwynt newydd ar ddiwedd y cynnig:

Add as new point at end of motion:

Yn siomedig â chynigion Llywodraeth Cymru i leihau cyllidebau’r GIG dros y 3 blynedd nesaf.

Regrets the Welsh Government’s proposals to reduce NHS budgets over the next 3 years.

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Darren Millar: I move amendments 1 and 2 in the name of Nick Ramsay.

It is a pleasure to speak in this important debate on the subject of health. Given that this is the first debate of the fourth Assembly, it shows clearly that health is right up there at the top of the Assembly’s agenda, and I am pleased that the Government has decided to bring it forward. I also take the opportunity to welcome the Minister to her post, in what is the first debate that she has led as Minister for Health and Social Services in the Chamber. Congratulations on your appointment, Lesley. My Welsh Conservative colleagues and I look forward to working constructively with you over the course of your time in post.

The Bevan Commission’s report made for interesting reading. It listed a number of challenges that the NHS in Wales will have to face over the next few years. It referred to high expectations and demands on the NHS, which are increasing due to our demographics, the likelihood that social and healthcare inequalities will increase over the coming years, the need for people, as the Minister rightly said, to take greater responsibility for their health and for us as politicians to help convey that message to the general public. It also issued a stark warning that if the NHS in Wales is to continue to reliably meet people’s needs, some things must change.

The biggest challenge that this report set out was on funding. The report referred many times to other published reports that have drawn heavily on research undertaken by McKinsey and Company—we all remember the McKinsey document, as the previous Minister liked to call it. The previous Minister denied the report’s existence in the first instance, then acknowledged that there was a report but decided to call it a document and said that it was not for wider reading—we all know why, of course: it was ultra-critical of the Minister and her policies.That report identified the huge funding gap in Wales between the services that the NHS needs to deliver and thecash that the Welsh Government was to put in over the next few years. In fact, it stated that that funding gap was between £1.3 billion at best and £1.9 billion at worst.

That report was published prior to the advent of the UK coalition Government—before any austerity measures were taken by that coalition Government—and was based on the information that McKinsey and Company had on the Labour-Plaid coalition Government’s plans for funding the Welsh NHS. Given that that funding gap has been identified, and that it is the single biggest challenge facing the NHS in Wales, will you confirm today that you will reconsider your Government’s plans to cut £1 billion from our NHS over the next three years? That is repeatedly the subject of reports by external bodies and organisations and will no doubt have an extremely damaging impact on our health service in Wales. I therefore look to you for confirmation today that you will reconsider that.

The report also referred to the lack of urgency within healthcare organisations and other areas of Government towards exploring the mechanisms and structures required to achieve the benefits of integration. We all know of the traditionally huge barrier between the NHS and social care, for example, which needs to be brought down if we are to deliver an efficient service. We also know of the huge impact that housing can have on people’s health and wellbeing. What actions will you take to address that, Minister? We have seen restructuring within the NHS, but do we also need to consider closer collaboration between the NHS and local government in particular?

You also failed to touch on the comments made by Paul Davies, who chaired the All-Wales Directors of NHS Finance at the time, and who made reference to the fact that £1 billion was being misspent within the NHS. Will you take up the challenge of having a look at where that cash is being misspent? Your predecessor decided that she was not concerned about it, and was very complacent. Are you concerned about that misspent cash and will you seek to address that issue?

Finally, I will touch on the amendments tabled by the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru, which we will be supporting. We too want to see a clear action plan to address the issues identified in the Bevan Commission report, and are also keen to ensure that local services are available to local people. I was pleased to hear the Minister make reference to localised generalist care in the future. Can she give us more information about what that will mean, particularly in north and west Wales, where several reorganisations and reviews are currently under way?

4.15 p.m.

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Gwelliant 3 Peter Black

Amendment 3Peter Black

Ychwanegu pwynt newydd ar ddiwedd y cynnig:

Add as new point at end of motion:

Yn galw ar y Llywodraeth i gyhoeddi cynllun manwl, gyda thargedau y gellir eu mesur, i wneud yn siŵr y gall y gwasanaeth iechyd ymateb i’r heriau a nodir yn yr adroddiad.

Calls on the government to publish a detailed plan, with measureable targets, for making sure the health service can meet the challenges identified in the report.

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Kirsty Williams: I move amendment 3 in the name of Peter Black.

Like Darren Millar, I congratulate Lesley on her appointment as the Minister for Health and Social Services for this fourth Assembly. I wish her well in what I regard as the most interesting, yet most challenging, of the jobs around the Cabinet table. The challenges that the Minister for health faces are outlined perfectly in the report, although the solutions to them are not as easily spelled out. Darren Millar referred to the challenges presented in the report, but perhaps the most telling statement in it is that, for the Welsh NHS, the status quo is not an option. Any Members here who think that the NHS can continue to do things in the same way as it has always done are deluding themselves. That is not because of political changes; it is simply because, as a society, we are changing, and the demands that we are placing upon the health service are changing. We have an increasingly elderly population, in part because of the success of our health service—we are simply living longer. However, an ageing population will place huge demands on the NHS and will require from it different things than those which we have been used to delivering for many years. Demands will also be increased by advances in pharmaceuticals. Today, in an event hosted by Diabetes UK, I met a young lady who is desperate to get the latest piece of kit to help her to monitor her diabetes, but her doctors say that it is too expensive. Therefore, developments in technology and pharmaceuticals will place huge pressures on the NHS budget.

As the report rightly points out, the public has huge expectations of the medical profession and believes that it can solve all of our problems, treat all of us within the timescale within which we would wish to be seen, and that there is a medical solution to all of our ills. In some ways, we have become used to passing on responsibility for our health to medical professionals, rather than taking responsibility for our health and wellbeing, as the report outlines that we need to do.

I still bear the scars from the aborted attempt to merge Powys County Council with Powys Local Health Board during the last Assembly. Some of us—notably not the Conservative members of the council at the time, I suspect—were enthusiastic about taking the project forward, because, as Darren has said, there needs to be much greater integration between the health service and county councils. Powys could have been the perfect example of getting that collaboration to work better, because Powys does not have a district general hospital and does not therefore have complex medical services to deliver. However, we failed to do it for a host of reasons, including the different terms and conditions for NHS staff and local government staff, the moratorium on redundancies in the health service, which made the council fearful that its members of staff would have to lose their jobs as a result, and the different legal status of the NHS and of social services. Therefore, while I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in the report about needing better integration, I am under no illusion about how difficult it will be to achieve in reality.

As I said, the biggest challenge that faces all of us, whether we are in Government or backbenchers, is the fact that change is essential. All of us here have been guilty, at some stage in our political careers, of standing in the face of that change, often because our constituents demand that of us because they are fearful of change. We need a different way of engaging with the public on how it wants its NHS to look in the future. It is possible to achieve change if you get public engagement right, and I would cite Builth Wells community hospital in that regard. The hospital will close and will be replaced by a different type of service. It has taken five years of very close dialogue and negotiation to be able to get an appropriate level of confidence in the community that what it will get will be better than what it has at the moment. Do not underestimate, however, how difficult and time consuming it is to have that conversation with the public and to arrive at a change in the service that is perhaps more medically appropriate.

I will close with the issue of how we spend money in the NHS, which I will always come back to. Darren says that there is not enough of it and that he wants to spend more. However, at the same time, he says we should be spending more on housing—that is exactly the kind of budget that would be cut by the Conservatives to pay for their health spending. We have to get our current expenditure in the NHS right and we know, from what we have been told from people in the service, that we are not doing that—

Darren Millar: Will you take an intervention?

Kirsty Williams: Yes.

Peter Black: Sorry, she does not have time to take an intervention. She has overrun.

Kirsty Williams: Sorry, Darren.

Until we get that right, we will not be able to achieve the aspirations set out in this document or to realise the vision of the man who gave us the NHS in the first place.

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Gwelliant 4 Jocelyn Davies

Amendment 4 Jocelyn Davies

Ychwanegu pwyntiau newydd ar ddiwedd y cynnig:

Add as new points at end of motion:

Yn galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i gyhoeddi ymateb manwl a chynhwysfawr i’r adroddiad mewn modd sy’n dangos ei hymrwymiad i GIG cynaliadwy, gan gynnwys:

Calls on the Welsh government to publish a detailed and comprehensive response to the report, demonstrating its commitment to a sustainable NHS, including:

a) gwella canlyniadau cleifion;

a) improving patient outcomes;

b) atal gwasanaethau rhag cael eu cwtogi;

b) preventing erosion of services;

c) mynd i’r afael ag anghydraddoldebau iechyd;

c) tackling health inequalities;

d) sicrhau’r manteision iechyd mwyaf posibl yng nghyswllt meysydd polisi eraill; ac

d) maximising health benefits from other policy areas; and

Yn galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i atal gwasanaethau’r GIG rhag cael eu canoli, a chadarnhau ei hymrwymiad i gynnal Ysbytai Cyffredinol Dosbarth sy’n hanfodol er mwyn darparu gwasanaethau iechyd lleol.

Calls on the Welsh Government to prevent the centralisation of NHS services and confirm its commitment to maintaining District General Hospitals which are essential for the provision of local health services.

Elin Jones: Cynigiaf welliant 4 yn enw Jocelyn Davies.

Elin Jones: I move amendment 4 in the name of Jocelyn Davies.

Yr wyf yn cymryd y cyfle hwn i groesawu adroddiad Bevan fel cyfraniad pwysig i’r ddadl ar ddyfodol y GIG yng Nghymru. Yr hyn sy’n bwysig i ni fel Aelodau’r Cynulliad yw deall yn glir sut mae’r Llywodraeth yn bwriadu ymateb yn fanwl i’r sialensiau sy’n cael eu hamlygu yn yr adroddiad hwn. Felly, mae gwelliant Plaid Cymru yn gofyn am ymateb o’r math hwn ac yn gofyn i’r Gweinidog wneud datganiad manwl i’r Cynulliad am ddyfodol y GIG yng Nghymru. Yr ydym wedi cael cyflwyniad cyffredinol gan y Gweinidog heddiw, ond yr ydym hefyd am weld manylion y polisi iechyd.

I take this opportunity to welcome the Bevan report as an important contribution to the debate on the future of the NHS in Wales. What is important for us as Assembly Members is to understand clearly how the Government intends to respond in detail to the challenges highlighted in this report. Therefore, Plaid Cymru’s amendment asks for such a response and asks the Minister to make a detailed statement to the Assembly on the future of the NHS in Wales. We have had a general presentation by the Minister today, but we also want to see the details of the health policy.

Yn bendant, yr wyf yn croesawu’r ffaith nad oes unrhyw awgrym yn yr adroddiad fod angen ailstrwythuro cyrff y GIG yng Nghymru. Mae angen canolbwyntio yn awr ar y gwasanaethau yn hytrach na’r strwythurau. Mae gormod o ailstrwythuro wedi bod dros y 12 mlynedd diwethaf, yn enwedig yn nyddiau cynnar y Cynulliad, gyda cholli golwg ar adegau ar anghenion cleifion.

I certainly welcome the fact that there is no suggestion in the report that we need to restructure NHS bodies in Wales. We now need to concentrate on the services rather than the structures. There has been too much restructuring over the past 12 years, particularly in the early days of the Assembly, with patients’ needs being lost sight of at times.

Un cwestiwn sy’n bwysig i’w ateb wrth i Lywodraeth newydd Cymru gychwyn ar ei gwaith yw pwy sy’n rhedeg y GIG yng Nghymru. Yn y Llywodraeth ddiwethaf, yr oedd yn glir iawn mai’r Gweinidog iechyd oedd yn rhedeg pob agwedd ar y GIG o dan arweiniad rhaglen lywodraethu Cymru’n Un. O dan Lywodraeth Lafur 2003 i 2007, yr oedd y Gweinidog iechyd ar y pryd, Brian Gibbons, yn glir iawn mai’r byrddau iechyd lleol oedd yn rhedeg y GIG ac yn cymryd penderfyniadau ar wasanaethau. Pwy, felly, fydd yn rhedeg y GIG dros y pum mlynedd nesaf? Fy marn i yw bod yn rhaid i’r arweiniad gwleidyddol a’r atebolrwydd dros benderfyniadau aros yn y Cynulliad, a chyda’r Gweinidog iechyd yn benodol.

One question that it is important to have an answer to as the new Welsh Government starts its work is that of who runs the NHS in Wales. In the previous Government, it was very clear that it was the Minister for health who ran every aspect of the NHS under the guidance of the One Wales programme for government. Under the Labour Government of 2003 to 2007, the Minister for health at the time, Brian Gibbons, was very clear that it was the local health boards that ran the NHS and took decisions on services. Who, therefore, will run the NHS over the next five years? My view is that the political lead and accountability for decisions must remain in the Assembly, and with the Minister for health specifically.

Dros y misoedd diwethaf, mae’r byrddau iechyd lleol wedi bod yn paratoi cynlluniau ar gyfer gwasanaethau ysbytai yn yr ardaloedd lleol. Nid yw’r cynlluniau hyn yn gyhoeddus eto yn y rhan fwyaf o’r ardaloedd oherwydd yr etholiad, ac yr wyf eisiau clywed gan y Gweinidog ei bod yn disgwyl i’r cynlluniau hynny sicrhau mynediad i wasanaethau ym mhob rhan o Gymru. Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi dweud dro ar ôl tro fod ei rhaglen lywodraethu yn gynwysedig ym maniffesto’r Blaid Lafur a roddwyd o flaen pobl Cymru ym mis Mai. Nid oes cyfeiriad yn y maniffesto hwnnw at ddiogelu gwasanaethau mewn ysbytai cyffredinol ym mhob cwr o Gymru, er mai hwn oedd un o ymrwymiadau canolog 'Cymru’n Un’. Nid oes ymrwymiad i hynny ym maniffesto Llafur. Mae adroddiad Bevan hefyd yn dawel iawn ar bwysigrwydd sicrhau bod gwasanaethau iechyd ar gael o fewn cyrraedd pobl ym mhob cwr o Gymru. Mae hynny’n arbennig o bwysig mewn ardaloedd gwledig, ond nid yn unig yn yr ardaloedd hynny. Ym Mhlaid Cymru, yr ydym yn disgwyl ymrwymiad gan Lywodraeth Cymru i wasanaethau GIG ym mhob un o ysbytai cyffredinol Cymru dros y pum mlynedd nesaf. Mae hynny’n rhan o’n gwelliant heddiw.

Over the past few months, the local health boards have been preparing plans for hospital services in the local areas. These plans have not yet been made public in the majority of areas because of the election, and I want to hear from the Minister that she expects those plans to ensure access to services in all parts of Wales. The Welsh Government has said time and again that its programme for government is included in the Labour Party manifesto that was put before the people of Wales in May. There is no reference in that manifesto to safeguarding services in general hospitals in all parts of Wales, although this was one of the central commitments in 'One Wales’. There is no commitment to that in the Labour manifesto. The Bevan report is also very quiet on the importance of ensuring that health services are within reach of people in all parts of Wales. That is particularly important in rural areas, but not just in those areas. In Plaid Cymru, we expect a commitment from the Welsh Government to NHS services in all general hospitals in Wales over the next five years. That is included in our amendment today.

Mae nifer o bwyntiau yn yr adroddiad y mae Plaid Cymru’n credu ei bod yn bwysig mynd i’r afael â hwy, a chytunwn â’r flaenoriaeth y mae’r adroddiad yn ei rhoi iddynt. Yn gyntaf, mae angen adeiladu capasiti’r sectorau cynradd a chymunedol. Mae gwaith y gall ein meddygon teulu ymgymryd ag ef yn hytrach nag ymgynghorwyr ysbytai. Dylai meddygon teulu ddatblygu arbenigeddau, gan arwain ar afiechydon penodol yn eu meddygfeydd neu yn eu hardaloedd.

There are a number of points in the report that Plaid Cymru believes it is important to address, and we agree with the priority that the report gives to them. First, we need to build the capacity of the primary and community sectors. There is work that our general practitioners could undertake instead of hospital consultants. GPs should develop specialisms, leading on specific diseases in their surgeries or areas.

Mae integreiddio’r gwasanaethau rhwng yr ysbyty, y feddygfa a’r gwasanaethau cymdeithasol yn bwysig, fel y nodwyd eisoes yn y ddadl hon. Mae angen datblygu ymhellach ar hynny. Mae gwaith cychwynnol pwysig wedi cael ei wneud ar hynny, ond mae llawer mwy i’w wneud. Mae angen diddymu’r ffiniau rhwng y gwahanol gyrff a’r gwahanol broffesiynau sy’n gyfrifol am ofal y cleifion a chreu’r system integredig y mae’r adroddiad yn sôn amdani.

The integration of services between hospitals, surgeries and social services is important, as has already been noted in this debate. That needs to be developed further. Some important initial work has been done on that, but there is a great deal more to be done. We need to eradicate the boundaries between the various bodies and professions responsible for patient care and create the integrated system that the report mentions.

Mae’r adroddiad yn croesawu’r ffaith bod GIG Cymru yn osgoi cyflwyno cystadleuaeth a’r farchnad, yn wahanol i’r hyn sy’n digwydd yn Lloegr ar hyn o bryd. Croesawaf hynny’n fawr; yr oedd yn ymrwymiad clir gan y Llywodraeth flaenorol, ac yr wyf yn falch o glywed y Gweinidog yn cefnogi’r argymhelliad i’r perwyl hwnnw yn yr adroddiad.

The report welcomes the fact that NHS Wales is avoiding introducing competition and the market, in contrast to what is happening in England at present. I very much welcome that; it was a clear commitment of the previous Government, and I am pleased to hear the Minister support the recommendation to that end in the report.

Cryfder y GIG yw ei staff, ac yr wyf yn croesawu’r ffaith bod yr adroddiad yn nodi potensial y staff a’r angen i’w rhyddhau i ddatblygu yn eu gwaith er lles cleifion. Mae’n bwysig nad yw strwythurau’r GIG yn mygu creadigrwydd ac ymrwymiad y staff sydd ar y wardiau, yn y meddygfeydd ac yn y gymuned, a’r rhai sy’n gweinyddu mewn swyddfeydd. Mae’n bryd i’r GIG gamu i mewn i’r unfed ganrif ar hugain, ac, er mwyn gwneud hynny’n llawn, mae angen defnydd llawer mwy creadigol ac eang o dechnoleg gwybodaeth. O’r ymgynghorydd yn yr ysbyty i’r nyrs yn y gymuned, mae angen defnyddio’r dechnoleg fodern a, thrwy hynny, leihau’r gofynion ar y claf a’r staff i deithio ac integreiddio’r gwasanaethau.

The strength of the NHS is its staff, and I welcome the fact that the report notes the potential of the staff and the need to release them to develop in their work for patients’ benefit. It is important that NHS structures do not stifle the creativity and commitment of the staff on the wards, in surgeries and in the community, as well as those administering in offices. It is time that the NHS stepped into the twenty-first century, and, in order to do that fully, there needs to be far more creative and extensive use of information technology. From the hospital consultant to the community nurse, there is a need to use modern technology and, through that, reduce the need for patients and staff to travel and integrate services.

Dymunaf yn dda i’r Gweinidog wrth iddi ymgymryd â’r heriau hyn. Byddwn ni ym Mhlaid Cymru yn cydweithio gyda hi lle yr ydym yn cytuno â hi, ac yn gofyn cwestiynau lle nad ydym yn cytuno â hi.  

I wish the Minister well as she takes on these challenges. We in Plaid Cymru will work with her where we agree with her, and will pose questions where we do not.

Y Cofnod

Mick Antoniw: I read this document carefully, and I found it to be an impressive, modern restatement of principles. It contrasts immensely with the chaos that is descending on the NHS in England, probably as a result of the absence of any principle other than profiteering from ill health. When I read this document, it inspired me to read again that great tract by Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear, and that other great tract of his, Why Not Trust The Tories?

This document refers to the broader strategy of integrating health and social care, and that point is well made. It is that approach that underlines the balanced budget that we have introduced, in contrast to the unsustainable election gimmick put forward by the opposition.

Darren Millar: You referred to our commitment during the recent Assembly election to ensure that the Welsh NHS would not have to face £1 billion in cuts. Do you accept that, under the Barnett formula, sufficient resources were given to the Welsh Government to allow it to continue to spend at its previous level? Why on earth are you, as a member of the party that claims to be the party of the NHS, supporting £1 billion in cuts over the next three years?

Mick Antoniw: The answer is 'no’. I have absolutely no doubt that spending that £1 billion in that way would have resulted in the devastation of the remainder of the budget.

Daeth y Llywydd i’r Gadair am 4.29 p.m.
The Presiding Officer took the Chair at 4.29 p.m.

Y Cofnod

That said, the document identifies the immense challenges facing us. On page 3, the shortfall is identified. The document also identifies the increased demands on the health service, one of which relates to pharmaceuticals. We spend around 18 per cent of our health budget on pharmaceuticals, and the pharmaceutical industry knows of many ways of increasing that amount.

4.30 p.m.

A key challenge facing us will be how we deal with the drug companiesand how we look at more effective and efficient ways of keeping control of that particular drugs budget. Careful attention will need to be paid to the plans that the various NHS organisations put together over the coming years to ensure that they are able to work within their budgets. Ensuring that those organisations are managing their budgets properly is a major responsibility for us, so that they introduce modernisation and efficiency savings to contain spending within the money that is available. If this does not happen, the danger is that there will be an overspend. One of the great risks is that a sudden overspend can lead to cuts and staff vacancies, resulting in serious damage to services. One of the things that I hope comes out of this is that we have more careful and closer monitoring of what is happening on the boards of the various trusts.

In summary, the one thing that comes out of this document is the emphasis on the importance of maintaining the sense of ownership that people feel for the NHS in Wales. It is a great tragedy that that ownership is beginning to be damaged by what is happening in England. However, as long as we recognise this ownership—that it is the people’s health service, that it is universal and that we stand by these principles—I think that we will move forward, despite the immense challenges that face us.

Vaughan Gething: I am happy to welcome the Bevan Commission’s report. Like Mick, I have read the report and have been impressed by the manner in which it sets out the challenges for the health service. However, for many of us, there will not be any major surprises in the report and its recommended prescription for the future of the health service. I know that Labour Assembly Members will be supporting the eight principles set out in the commission’s report.

When recalling the past, it is important to remember the significant investment that has gone into the health service in Wales: spending on health services has pretty much doubled since devolution. In my constituency, I know that there has been significant investment in Llandough Hospital to turn it into a centre for rehabilitation care, while at the same time ensuring that the facilities are up to date and fit for the current century. That focus on facilities ensures that services are not just fit for purpose but that they also help to improve outcomes for patients. Money is not being spent for the sake it. There is ongoing investment in Butetown—a short walk from here—which is one of the poorest communities in the whole of Wales. It has taken a long time to get there, but the investment in the new health centre will be of crucial importance in helping to turn around some of the health outcomes in the area. Investment is also expected to be made in the Castlefield areaof Rumney in my constituency. That investment in facilities—[Interruption.]

Antoinette Sandbach: Will you take an intervention?

Vaughan Gething: No, thank you. Helping to tackle health inequalities is not the only reason for investing in facilities. As the report sets out, in focusing on better outcomes for our health service it is vital that we deal with primary care and community facilities. Doing so requires a shift to a focus on the importance of primary services as opposed to acute services, which we know suck up lots of money. It is much better for health outcomes for us to have more contact with people in the primary care sector, not only through general practitioners but through the other allied services, such as physiotherapy, chiropody, speech therapy and occupational therapy. I know from experience that those services are vital to ensure that you do not have longer stays in hospital, or any stay at all if possible. As has been mentioned by a number of others, there are significant challenges when looking to the future. We will have an older population, with many more of us living longer. One of the key points of the commission’s report is the joint responsibility between Government and the public for improving public health outcomes, in point (d) of the motion.

This is also about protecting the founding ethos of the NHS. I am proud to be in the party that helped to create the NHS, which is still the party of the NHS. The contrast could not be greater with what is happening in England; an entirely different path is being followed and an entirely different ethos is running the NHS there.

Antoinette Sandbachrose—

The Presiding Officer: Order. Will you take an intervention?

Vaughan Gething: No, it is clear that I will not. It is pretty obvious that I am carrying on speaking.

In England, the plan that has been supported by the Tories and the Lib-Dems is one where—[Interruption.] When you look at the concerns that people have here, you will see that one of the things that often emerged during the Assembly election was how pleased people were when they realised that we would not be doing in Wales what we are already doing in England. It was a point that was made to me today by constituents at the Diabetes UK Cymru reception. It is odd to think about the plan that is being rehashed. I remember the first NHS plan, the Lansley plan, which almost caused me to have a car accident because I heard the Deputy Prime Minister say that the Lansley plan would take the NHS back to its first founding principles. The cuts in the settlement produce a huge challenge for Wales. We know that the most vulnerable have been the hardest hit by UK Government cuts, and we know that health inequalities are real and continuing challenges for us in Wales, but I am proud to say that devolution in Wales allows us to be different, and different for a purpose. I welcome the course that has been set out by this commission, and I know that our Government will take that route in the future.

Mark Isherwood: As Bevan said,

'Healthcare will be provided free of charge based on clinical need and not on ability to pay’.

This model and vision has complete cross-party support in Wales today. We are absolutely committed to a comprehensive, universal national health service funded by the taxpayer and provided free at the point of delivery. We also recognise that patient outcomes must be put before processes, putting lives saved and treatments provided for illness and injury before any dogmas that prevent the best possible outcomes being provided for the resources available. Bevan said that we cannot be properly ill in a hospital nor die in one decently; we can only do so among those who love and value us. This motivated his vision then, and it must motivate our vision now as we seek to develop health services in the context of the threats and opportunities facing us today.

Noting that the Bevan Commission, which produced this report, was established by the former health Minister—the same Minister who sought to bury the McKinsey report, which revealed that annual deficits of up to £1.4 billion will open up within five years in the Welsh NHS, and the same Minister who publicly refused to investigate when the chair of the All Wales Directors of NHS Finance stated that £1 billion of the annual NHS budget was not being spent properly. We must also be mindful of Bevan’s statement that the reactionary is a person walking backwards with his or her face to the future.

There is much in this report to commend it, but worryingly, there is much missing from it. Although it rightly states that there must be a new sense of responsibility across sectors in a concerted attempt to build health into all policies, there is not a single reference in the report to the voluntary or third sector, independent hospices or even nurses. The only reference to the private sector comes in a partisan statement about the economy.

Earlier this year, I met a Welsh company that reviews value for money in mental health and learning and disability services within the public sector. Working with health and social services commissioners across north-west England, it has already saved millions of pounds by delivering value for money and achieving quality without cutting costs and care. They described to me a paradox that Welsh Government reluctance to engage at all with private healthcare providers was reinforcing the strength of the private health sector, leaving the Welsh Government at a disadvantage. It has brought fees down for English commissioners, but Welsh providers have to take what is available when they need it, such as a bed on a Friday night, on the providers’ terms. It found that Welsh commissioners are often paying more than English commissioners for patients receiving the same treatments in Wales.

Our charitable hospices deliver professional excellence in care, saving the Welsh NHS millions of pounds, but the bulk of promised Welsh Government funding for palliative care goes into the NHS, as funding for our charitable hospices flatlines without even covering their core service costs. As they say, if the Welsh Government and NHS would commission and fund more services from them, they could deliver much more than the NHS could for the resource provided. A third-sector coalition, including the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, Age Concern—as it used to be—and Crossroads Care, has highlighted concerns around the development of primary care services and the need to involve the voluntary sector.It fears that the move to community care will be more expensive when it need not be if we changed the way in which we do things. It emphasised that the voluntary sector brings expertise to the table that the state sector does not always have, and that it must be allowed to plan and deliver strategy with Government.

District nursing is coming under pressure; the number of registered district nurses is being reduced and there is an increased reliance on unregistered healthcare support workers. Only yesterday, a qualified nurse came to see me. Her training had been funded in Wales, but since graduating, she had been unable to get on the nursing bank at her local hospital, although she had done so at her nearest English hospital.

We pay for our NHS, and the way to face the challenges ahead is not, as the Welsh Labour Government plans, to cut NHS funding, but rather to maximise engagement across sectors, recognising that what matters is how well services are delivered, and not always who delivers them.

Jenny Rathbone: One of the important points made by this report relates to longevity—we are all living a lot longer, which makes us, if you like, a victim of our own success.However, longevity is not a problem if we have a healthy older population, which is intrinsically linked to diet and exercise. Therefore, I wish to take us back to the beginning of the diet challenge, which relates to breastfeeding.

We know that breastfeeding provides lifelong health benefits, as well as fostering an attachment between mother and baby. There is an excellent breastfeeding support group on Crwys Road that runs on Tuesdays, where mothers who are having difficulty breastfeeding are given support over a period of hours to ensure that mother and baby are feeding well together. There would be huge benefit in extending that type of breastfeeding support group provision to other parts of Cardiff. In particular, I aim to help people to set up such a group in Pentwyn, as people living there would have great difficulty getting to Crwys Road if they do not have a motor car. However, there are other ways in which we need to support breastfeeding, such as through maternity care assistants and La Leche League volunteers; the benefits to the health service will be huge.  

With regard to healthy eating in schools, we have done a lot to improve the quality of school meals inspired by the 'Appetite for Life’ guidelines. However, I remain concerned about the way in which the 'Appetite for Life’ guidelines are not being adhered to in some secondary schools, particularly in Cardiff secondary schools, where they continue to sell junk food in vending machines, which completely undermines the healthy eating messages that are being given to young people.

Peter Black: Thank you for taking the intervention. You may be aware that my former colleague, Jenny Randerson, took a Measure on healthy eating in schools through the Assembly, which has not yet been fully implemented by the Assembly Government. Would you support me in calling on the Welsh Government to properly implement that Measure?

Jenny Rathbone: I certainly would, and it will be one of my priorities to ensure that all local authorities adhere to the 'Appetite for Life’ guidelines, but it would be good if we could start with Cardiff. That is the second important point, which will have huge implications if we do not crack this problem. If people continue to have unhealthy diets, the health bill will be huge.

That brings me to my third point regarding not only tasteless food that has additives such as huge quantities of salt, which is fantastically damaging, but also the adulteration of food, meaning the bulking-up of food by the food industry in order to increase its profits. These are important public health issues.

4.45 p.m.

Finally, I want to mention the conversation that I had at lunchtime with a parent in the meeting organised by Diabetes UK, where we spoke about the importance of expert patient programmes. This mother has a 13-year-old son who has had type 1 diabetes since he was 22 months old. He has benefited from an education programme to manage his condition—to know how to weigh and assess the amount of food that he is going to eat, and to adjust his medication accordingly. This has huge benefits, both for the individual in ensuring that they stay healthy and can continue in school, and for the health service in ensuring that those individuals do not end up as critical admissions to hospital. Therefore, I hope that the Minister for health will say something about how we are extending expert patient programmes for those who have long-standing and chronic conditions.

The Minister for Health and Social Services (Lesley Griffiths): First, I would like to thank Members for their contributions and their kind words on my appointment. I will try to refer to as many points as possible, but I will start by turning to the amendments. We do not support the Welsh Conservatives’ amendment 1—a thorough, professional and extremely timely piece of work deserves more than being merely noted. We do not agree with amendment 2 either. We are not reducing NHS budgets; we have protected the budget in cash terms over the next three years and we will continue to invest over 40 per cent of the total Welsh budget in the NHS. The NHS in Wales has been given the best possible financial settlement in the light of the reduction in our budget. However, we will support the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ amendment 3. Planning is important and we strongly support the need for clarity as regards how we will deal with the challenges identified in the report. We will build on the targets that we already have in the five-year service, workforce and financial strategic framework and in the annual quality framework, which focuses on performance and quality. We also support Plaid Cymru’s amendment 4, which builds on Peter’s request for a detailed plan. We do not want to centralise services in Wales—quite the opposite. However, we must have safe, sustainable, effective, quality services for the people of Wales and we plan to do this by ensuring that patients receive high-quality care as close as possible to where they live. We have already made clear that we are committed to the four areas that are identified in the amendment.

The report shows that we are adhering to Bevan’s principles. We have already recognised the importance of reducing inequalities in health, which is why earlier this year we launched 'Fairer health outcomes for all’, setting out the vision of improved health and wellbeing for all, with the pace of improvement increasing in proportion to the level of disadvantage. Several Members mentioned that we need to ensure that we get the balance right, so that people only need to travel long distances when it is absolutely necessary, with all other services being made available closer to home. Elin, you mentioned rural areas, in particular. This is being addressed through the implementation of the rural health plan and 'Setting the Direction’, our strategy for creating integrated services within communities. You also mentioned information technology, Elin, and I think that the NHS Wales Informatics Service has a huge role to play in the delivery of NHS services. Yesterday, when I met with the senior management of the NHS, I put forward that idea. My predecessor mentioned the principles that she thought should be adhered to through the NHS Wales Informatics Service and I repeated those yesterday. In the next few years, there will be severe pressure on Government expenditure and the implications for preventative work may seem equally severe. However, through 'Our Healthy Future’, our strategic framework for public health, and the work driven forward by Public Health Wales, we will continue to renew our approach to improving public health.

Kirsty, you are absolutely right: people have high expectations. However, I strongly believe that if we can get public health right, other aspects of the NHS will follow, so I am very interested in taking forward health promotion and preventative care. Nick and Vaughan both mentioned the events that are taking place in England and I would like to refer to those too, because I was heartened yesterday by the publication of the review by the English NHS’s Future Forum of the Tory-led Government’s plans for the NHS in England. Not only was it a slap in the face for the UK Government in that it said that its plans needed to be 'significantly diluted’, but we have seen today a humiliating climb down by the coalition Government. I saw it as a back-handed compliment on our approach to an integrated service in Wales. Elin, you asked who is responsible. I am responsible; I am accountable for the NHS and, on my watch, there will not be a role for an economic regulator or a job for a so-called monitor to promote competition—there will be none of that at all.

This debate has shown the benefits of having the views of an external commentator and, for that reason, I am minded to look at how I can build on the work of the Bevan Commission. I will look at how to do that so that we continue to benefit from a critical assessment of exactly what is happening in Wales.

The Presiding Officer: The question is that amendment 1 be agreed. Are there any objections? I see that there are. Therefore, voting on this item will be deferred until voting time.

Gohiriwyd y pleidleisio tan y cyfnod pleidleisio.
Voting deferred until voting time.

Cyfnod Pleidleisio
Voting Time

Gwelliant 1 i NNDM4730: O blaid 25, Ymatal 0, Yn erbyn 29.
Amendment 1 to NNDM4730: For 25, Abstain 0, Against 29.

Y Cofnod

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Asghar, Mohammad
Black, Peter
Burns, Angela
Davies, Andrew R.T.
Davies, Jocelyn
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord Dafydd
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Graham, William
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Isherwood, Mark
Jenkins, Bethan
Jones, Alun Ffred
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Millar, Darren
Powell, William
Ramsay, Nick
Sandbach, Antoinette
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn
Thomas, Simon
Williams, Kirsty
Wood, Leanne

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Keith
Drakeford, Mark
Evans, Rebecca
Gething, Vaughan
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
James, Julie
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Price, Gwyn R.
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Watson, Joyce

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant.
Amendment not agreed.

 

Gwelliant 2 i NNDM4730: O blaid 12, Ymatal 0, Yn erbyn 42.
Amendment 2 to NNDM4730: For 12, Abstain 0, Against 42.

Y Cofnod

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Asghar, Mohammad
Burns, Angela
Davies, Andrew R.T.
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Graham, William
Isherwood, Mark
Millar, Darren
Ramsay, Nick
Sandbach, Antoinette

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Black, Peter
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Jocelyn
Davies, Keith
Drakeford, Mark
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord Dafydd
Evans, Rebecca
Gething, Vaughan
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
James, Julie
Jenkins, Bethan
Jones, Alun Ffred
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Powell, William
Price, Gwyn R.
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn
Thomas, Simon
Watson, Joyce
Williams, Kirsty
Wood, Leanne

Gwrthodwyd y gwelliant.
Amendment not agreed.

 

Gwelliant 3 i NNDM4730: O blaid 44, Ymatal 0, Yn erbyn 10.
Amendment 3 to NNDM4730: For 44, Abstain 0, Against 10.

Y Cofnod

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol yn erbyn:
The following Members voted against:

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Asghar, Mohammad
Black, Peter
Burns, Angela
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Andrew R.T.
Davies, Keith
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Drakeford, Mark
Evans, Rebecca
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Gething, Vaughan
Graham, William
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
Isherwood, Mark
James, Julie
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Millar, Darren
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Powell, William
Price, Gwyn R.
Ramsay, Nick
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Sandbach, Antoinette
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Watson, Joyce
Williams, Kirsty

Davies, Jocelyn
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord Dafydd
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Jenkins, Bethan
Jones, Alun Ffred
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn
Thomas, Simon
Wood, Leanne

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant.
Amendment agreed.

 

Gwelliant 4 i NNDM4730: O blaid 54, Ymatal 0, Yn erbyn 0.
Amendment 4 to NNDM4730: For 54, Abstain 0, Against 0.

Y Cofnod

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

 

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Asghar, Mohammad
Black, Peter
Burns, Angela
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Andrew R.T.
Davies, Jocelyn
Davies, Keith
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Drakeford, Mark
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord Dafydd
Evans, Rebecca
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Gething, Vaughan
Graham, William
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
Isherwood, Mark
James, Julie
Jenkins, Bethan
Jones, Alun Ffred
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Millar, Darren
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Powell, William
Price, Gwyn R.
Ramsay, Nick
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Sandbach, Antoinette
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn
Thomas, Simon
Watson, Joyce
Williams, Kirsty
Wood, Leanne

 

Derbyniwyd y gwelliant.
Amendment agreed.

 

Cynnig NNDM4730 fel y’i diwygiwyd:

Motion NNDM4730 as amended:

Cynnig bod Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru:

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:

1. yn croesawu adroddiad Comisiwn Bevan '2008-2011 NHS Wales: Forging a better future’ a

1. welcomes the Bevan Commission report '2008-2011 NHS Wales: Forging a better future’ and

2. yn nodi’r dadleuon sydd ynddo o blaid:

2. notes the case it makes to:

a) cydnabod yr heriau anodd sy’n wynebu’r GIG yn y dyfodol;

a) recognise the tough challenges that are facing the NHS in the future;

b) cefnogi newidiadau i wasanaethau sy’n hanfodol er mwyn diogelu dyfodol y GIG;

b) support service changes essential to secure the future of the NHS;

c) cefnogi camau gweithredu yn y maes clinigol i wella diogelwch ac ansawdd y gofal a roddir i gleifion; a

c) back clinically led action to improve safety and quality of care of patients; and

d) creu gwir bartneriaeth gyda’r cyhoedd er mwyn sicrhau bod yr ethos a oedd yn sail i sefydlu’r GIG yng Nghymru yn cael ei gynnal yn y dyfodol.

d) create a genuine partnership with the public to ensure the founding ethos of the NHS in Wales is maintained in the future.

3. Yn galw ar y Llywodraeth i gyhoeddi cynllun manwl, gyda thargedau y gellir eu mesur, i wneud yn siŵr y gall y gwasanaeth iechyd ymateb i’r heriau a nodir yn yr adroddiad.

3. Calls on the government to publish a detailed plan, with measureable targets, for making sure the health service can meet the challenges identified in the report.

4. Yn galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i gyhoeddi ymateb manwl a chynhwysfawr i’r adroddiad mewn modd sy’n dangos ei hymrwymiad i GIG cynaliadwy, gan gynnwys:

4. Calls on the Welsh government to publish a detailed and comprehensive response to the report, demonstrating its commitment to a sustainable NHS, including:

a) gwella canlyniadau cleifion;

a) improving patient outcomes;

b) atal gwasanaethau rhag cael eu cwtogi;

b) preventing erosion of services;

c) mynd i’r afael ag anghydraddoldebau iechyd;

c) tackling health inequalities;

d) sicrhau’r manteision iechyd mwyaf posibl yng nghyswllt meysydd polisi eraill; ac

d) maximising health benefits from other policy areas; and

5. Yn galw ar Lywodraeth Cymru i atal gwasanaethau’r GIG rhag cael eu canoli, a chadarnhau ei hymrwymiad i gynnal Ysbytai Cyffredinol Dosbarth sy’n hanfodol er mwyn darparu gwasanaethau iechyd lleol.

5. Calls on the Welsh Government to prevent the centralisation of NHS services and confirm its commitment to maintaining District General Hospitals which are essential for the provision of local health services.

Cynnig NNDM4730 fel y’i diwygiwyd: O blaid 42, Ymatal 12, Yn erbyn 0.
Motion NNDM4730 as amended: For 42, Abstain 12, Against 0.

Y Cofnod

Pleidleisiodd yr Aelodau canlynol o blaid:
The following Members voted for:

 

Andrews, Leighton
Antoniw, Mick
Black, Peter
Chapman, Christine
Cuthbert, Jeff
Davies, Alun
Davies, Jocelyn
Davies, Keith
Drakeford, Mark
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord Dafydd
Evans, Rebecca
Gething, Vaughan
Gregory, Janice
Griffiths, John
Griffiths, Lesley
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws
Hart, Edwina
Hedges, Mike
Hutt, Jane
James, Julie
Jenkins, Bethan
Jones, Alun Ffred
Jones, Ann
Jones, Carwyn
Jones, Elin
Jones, Ieuan Wyn
Lewis, Huw
Mewies, Sandy
Morgan, Julie
Neagle, Lynne
Powell, William
Price, Gwyn R.
Rathbone, Jenny
Rees, David
Sargeant, Carl
Skates, Kenneth
Thomas, Gwenda
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn
Thomas, Simon
Watson, Joyce
Williams, Kirsty
Wood, Leanne

 

Ymataliodd yr Aelodau canlynol:
The following Members abstained:

 

Asghar, Mohammad
Burns, Angela
Davies, Andrew R.T.
Davies, Paul
Davies, Suzy
Finch-Saunders, Janet
George, Russell
Graham, William
Isherwood, Mark
Millar, Darren
Ramsay, Nick
Sandbach, Antoinette

 

Derbyniwyd cynnig NNDM4730 fel y’i diwygiwyd.
Motion NNDM4730 as amended agreed.

Daeth Peter Black i’r Gadair am 4.53 p.m.
Peter Black took the Chair at 4.53 p.m.

Dadl Fer
Short Debate

Gadewch i Blant fod yn Blant
Let Children Be Children

Y Cofnod

Jocelyn Davies: I am pleased to have this opportunity to debate this timely topic as the first short debate of the fourth Assembly. Members will be aware that, last week, the UK Government published the Bailey report, 'Letting Children be Children’, which has a similar title to this debate. I would like it to make it clear at the outset that it is not my intention to moralise or pass judgment on parents, but rather to ask questions about society and our social fabric in the context of the more sexualised nature of today’s society. It is my hope that, this afternoon, we can debate the impact of this phenomenon on Welsh children and young people, and I hope that we can agree a way forward. I am grateful to have the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services here and I look forward to her response.

It is quite clear in my mind that, when we consider issues as emotive and important as the pressures on young people and children, particularly pressures of a commercial and sexualised nature, we need well-informed debate and, in due course, well-informed policies. We do not want a moral panic. Our young people face very real challenges in terms of alcohol and drug abuse, and pressures stemming from poverty and disaffection among many other things. However, today I would like to focus on the issues around inappropriate clothing for children and the pressures of gender stereotyping. This is an issue that has featured in the news recently. Some of you will recall that I first raised this issue on the floor of the Assembly in 2002 with the then Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language,Jenny Randerson. I asked her whether she agreed that girls were being put off sports by the insistence of some schools that physical education skirts are compulsory and whether it was time to consign the PE skirt to the dustbin. While she agreed with me, she unfortunately did not do it. That is therefore something that we may be able to take forward.

Gender stereotyping has been of interest to me for some time and I am glad that we have time today to explore the pressures and the expectations placed on our children and young people. I spoke earlier about having an informed debate and policies and, in this respect, it might be useful to recognise what we mean by sexualisation and the basis of the claims that the sexualisation of society is increasing. For the purpose of clarity, what I mean by sexualisation is the images or slogans that convey either a subtle or blatant sexual message. One example that is often cited is a t-shirt with the words 'future porn star’ embroidered on the front, and I am sure that Members will be as shocked as I am that that t-shirt is available for eight-year-olds, as is 'future pimp’.

It is worth noting that the NSPCC found that young people had a different interpretation to adults when looking at things that we would consider sexual, and that needs to be taken into consideration. We also need to discover whether the rise in sexualisation is perceived or whether it is a reality. In this respect, the NSPCC cited a study by Gill in 2009, which analysed the sexual nature of advertising and concluded that advertising in particular has become increasingly sexualised. Indeed, it was concluded that there is a marked increase in the volume of sexual images in today’s popular culture and that they are more sexually explicit than ever before.

The real starting point for exploring the pressures faced by young children is Reg Bailey’s survey findings in his report. In that survey, nine out of 10 parents agreed that children are under pressure to grow up too quickly these days. Reg Bailey further found that sexualised and gender-stereotyped clothing, products and services for children is the biggest area of concern for parents. It does not therefore appear to be an overreaction to calmly consider these concerns and explore them further.

Let us be clear about the items of clothing that are causing concern to many parents. A simple internet search will find you a baby’s bib with 'our future porn star’ embroidered on it and a pair of high-heeled shoes for your newborn baby, who is unable to walk. I am not saying that this is typical attire for a twenty-first-century Welsh baby or toddler, but there is a serious question about whether these more obvious and extreme examples represent a general increase in the sexual pressures that are brought to bear on children. What messages are being sent to a young girl when her friends might be wearing padded bras manufactured for nine-year-olds? What pressures are brought to bear on her to conform? We must therefore equip her to grow up in this more sexualised world that we have created.

A report for the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament last year found that there was no unanimous response to these sexualised products and that, on the whole, parents felt that they did not require regulation from Government and that, instead, they could exercise parental choice. Interestingly, the same report found that many parents felt that their children were capable of a form of self-regulation. Indeed, David Buckingham, from the Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media, said that it was generally considered normative not to display too much of the body or to draw attention to oneself through hair, make-up and accessories, and that failures of taste or style were typically seen as characteristics of other people who are often referred to by kids in derogatory terms relating to social class, such as 'chav’. Therefore, children do exercise some form of peer pressure.

5.00 p.m.

Reg Bailey recommends the development of retail code of good practice in relation to children, and calls on retailers not to sell or market inappropriate products or services for children. Therefore, there appear to be inconsistencies, and it seems that we should explore the matter further. There is clear evidence to suggest that we live in a more sexualised society, and that the increase in sexualisation is filtering through to children and may remain with them as they go on to their adult lives.

With that in mind, I have three questions to put to the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services. First, will she or a colleague in the Welsh Government be responding to the Bailey review? I am sure that parents, young people and Assembly Members would find it useful to hear the position of the Welsh Government. Secondly, will she meet interested parties, such as Reg Bailey, our experts in Wales, such as Emma Renold at Cardiff University, and perhaps her counterpart in the Scottish Government, to establish areas that may be of significance to her department’s future work? Finally, in light of the apparently conflicting views on this matter, Deputy Minister, will you meet with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales to discuss these issues with him? I appreciate the independence of the commissioner from the Assembly and the Welsh Government, but perhaps he would consider conducting his own investigation on the pressures on our young people and children, including sexualisation and commercialisation, and would make recommendations that might fall within the competence of the National Assembly and the Welsh Government. After all, the Bailey report largely ignores boys, and makes no recommendations for schools and education.

Some might think that having a new Welsh report might be a case of reinventing the wheel in light of the research, but several stakeholders have raised concerns about the Bailey report. Indeed, Welsh Women’s Aid has described it as a missed opportunity, and is especially concerned by the fact that the report was not child-centred, and fails to explore the link between sexualisation and domestic abuse. Above all, I hope that colleagues will support attempts to gain a better understanding of the pressures that young people in Wales face, and that they will give us and the Deputy Minister the support that is needed in order to give those young people the best possible start in life.

Bethan Jenkins, Kirsty Williams, Ann Jones, and Angela Burns have asked to make a contribution to this debate, and I have consented.

Bethan Jenkins: I thank Jocelyn Davies for bringing the subject of this short debate to our attention. It is vital for us to discuss these issues in Wales, because our young people are growing up too fast, and the sexualisation of our young people is leading to other problems. I see this issue from the point of view of linking the sexualisation of young people with eating disorders, not only in relation to young women but also with young men. That is why I have been campaigning for some time for self-esteem lessons to take place in our schools. That has already been instigated by the Dove Foundation in many schools across Wales and the rest of the UK, in order to give young people the confidence to question the images in our magazines and on our screens, for example by looking at how they have been airbrushed and at the size of the models that are used, so that they do not feel that they have to aspire to look like those images and can be confident in their own bodies.

We have heard of late about the potential for more regulation in this area, and I commend the UK Government’s effort in looking at it. However, it is a difficult area of work. Research carried out by beat Cymru showed that young people are more likely to have eating disorders as a result of looking at images in magazines, such as Closer and Heat. Regulating magazines, without putting them on the top shelf as is done with other magazines, will be difficult. That is not to say that I am against it, but we need to reflect on the realities of everyday life and the fact that young people, even on their trip to school, will see billboards and other advertisements that will influence how they perceive themselves.

A startling aspect of the debate is the fact that, as the DailyMirror reported at the weekend, a Mini Miss International competition will be held in London in October, as well as a Little Man International competition, for children as young as two years old. That is abysmal, and people should campaign against such competitions taking place.

Again, I thank Jocelyn for her efforts, and I urge the Deputy Minister to communicate with organisations such as beat Cymru, which are doing a lot of commendable work in Wales.

Kirsty Williams: I begin by thanking and congratulating Jocelyn on her thought-provoking contribution to this afternoon’s session and her long-standing commitment and work in this area. As the mother of three girls, I am all too aware of the huge pressures that face young people growing up today.  

I would like to concentrate on one particular aspect. Jocelyn referred to the Scottish work that showed that parents felt capable of making choices on behalf of their children about what they regarded as appropriate and inappropriate clothing. However, one of the issues that the Bailey report focuses on is that parents feel less well equipped for dealing with issues around the internet and modern technology. I am sure that many of us would agree that young people are much more knowledgeable about using such technology, and the report recommends that there should be greater regulation in this area at point of sale. I think that there is a role here for Government in being able to provide parents with better information as to how they can protect their children, if they deem it appropriate, from images via the internet, mobile phones or other mobile technology of that kind. In answering Jocelyn’s questions about how she intends to respond to the Bailey review, I would like to know whether the Deputy Minister intends to discuss with the UK Government what we can do about point-of-sale choices for internet, computers and smartphones.

Ann Jones: Thank you for allowing me to speak for a minute in this though-provoking debate. Whenever we debate subjects like this, the Playboy bunny brand on clothing comes to mind, as do the horror stories that we hear of parents buying cosmetic surgery vouchers for children who have not yet reached their teens. So, we should consider first a ban on advertising those products in places where children will look. You may remember that I led a short debate before Christmas one year, and said that we should not be advertising big, expensive toys in the summer, in order to avoid the pressures of children being disappointed when Father Christmas brings them just the one present and not the sackful that they are expecting. So, there is a lot there that we really have to look at. There was a recent article in the Guardian by Libby Brookes, who asked some searching research about how we, as parents, grandparents or just members of society, want to tackle that. There is no doubt that the press will get behind those middle-class parents who will be able to articulate their views about whether children should be subjected to this, but what happens to those families from poorer communities where they do not have that articulation to be able to go forward? Like the sunbed issue, we see that girls, in particular, feel that they are not worthy unless they have a fantastic tan, but they do not realise what they are going to put their bodies through to get that tan. We need to use people like the popstar from Girls Aloud—I cannot remember her name—who stood up and said 'No, I do not want a tan’. [Interruption.] That is not my era, I am afraid; I am still a fan of Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard, so I do not know—he has a tan as well, so I probably do not like him anymore. [Laughter.]

We have to look at those lower-income families who do not have that opportunity to be able to assist their children in growing up. The one thing that I would like us to do in all of this is to give those children the same life chances as those people who are able to go out there to direct their children. I would like to see them being able to say 'No, this is not the way we want to go forward; we want our children to be children’. I would like to see that everyone will get the chance to do that, without having to suffer from peer pressure. Thank you once again, Jocelyn; it is a very interesting debate.

Angela Burns: Thank you, Jocelyn, for bringing this forward, because it is such an important topic. Deputy Minsiter, when you respond to this debate, I would like to hear your response to Jocelyn’s comments about looking at a Wales-wide investigation into the sexualisation of our children. I would particularly like to look at the question of sexualisation and money, or sexualisation and poverty—however you wish to look at it. If you want to buy your eight-year-old child a t-shirt and you do not want it to have all sorts of rubbish all over it, you are going to have to go to somewhere like Boden or Marks and Spencer, where you will have to spend between £10 and £20. You can go to a well-known supermarket chain that can be found throughout Wales and which makes billions of pounds in profits every year, and there, as soon as your child has reached the seven-year-old cut-off point—I have a six-year-old and an eight-year-old, so I know about this intimately—you find that all those cute little pinks have suddenly gone out of the window along with all the other nice clothes, and children are into a vastly different range of clothing. If you do not have very much money, and you need to buy a t-shirt for £5, there are not many other places that you can go, and your child perforce has to wear clothing that is completely inappropriate.

The Bailey report was interesting. I do not think that lads’ mags are the problem, as most children are not tall enough to see what is on the top shelf. It is about what Lady Gaga wears on the cover of a comic for 14-year-olds being on the same shelf as a CBeebies comic. That is the kind of issue that we need to look at.

I will leave you with one comment, Deputy Minister. Unlike David Cameron and others, if the voluntary code recommended by Bailey does not work, I would want us to look at legislation. Our children are the future, and our future is what we allow our children to become. We should never, ever forget that.

Y Cofnod

Y Dirprwy Weinidog Plant a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol (Gwenda Thomas): Diolchaf finnau i Jocelyn am y cyfle i drafod y pwnc pwysig hwn. Mae’n bwnc yr wyf yn bersonol yn teimlo’n gryf iawn amdano.

The Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services (Gwenda Thomas): I thank Jocelyn for the opportunity to debate this important subject. It is a topic that I personally feel very strongly about.

Y Cofnod

To answer all of you—Jocelyn, Bethan, Kirsty, Ann and Angela—I need to take a wider view of childhood and an all-encompassing policy that we are developing for our children. As a Government, we are fully committed to supporting children and young people, to ensure that they have the best start in life and the opportunities to reach their full potential. In this regard, I am starting my response with your concluding comments, Jocelyn, as it is a very good place to start. Our approach continues to be underpinned by the seven core aims that are based on our commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. As a result, I believe that we have made a positive difference to the lives of children and young people over the last few years. We continue to put children first, and I am sure that all of us will be aware that, in January this year, the Welsh Government passed the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011. This groundbreaking Measure received Royal Approval on 16 March, and it will strengthen and build on our existing, unique rights.

At this point, I would refer to the briefing that we have all received from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, in which it talks about the rights-based approach. So, we have our existing, unique rights-based approach to policy for children and young people.

In Wales, we recognise just how important play is in childhood. Every child has the right to play; it is an essential part of growing up and vital to children’s development and well-being. Wales has led the way in promoting play and in supporting play opportunities for children and young people. We believe that play is so important to all children in the development of their physical, social, mental, emotional and creative skills that society should seek every opportunity to support it and create an environment that fosters it. To take forward our belief in the importance of play, we have embedded play in our policy development, which is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 31 of which states that it is the right of every child to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities.

We know that, for too many, childhood is blighted by poverty. Ann touched on this point. Living in poverty is another reason why some children grow up too fast, forced to deal with the harsh realities of life and deprived of some of the basic aspects of childhood that many of us take for granted. That is why we have made tackling child poverty the central aim of this Government. To support this aim, we have developed programmessuch as Flying Start, Families First and integrated family support services.

5.15 p.m.

Flying Start is one particular initiative that demonstrates our commitment to giving children the best possible start in life. Evaluation shows that Flying Start is having a real and positive impact on children. When these children go to school, they are ready to learn and are more confident in mixing with other children. In addition, Flying Start encourages parents and carers to be involved in such activities with their children as a key element of good parenting, and to recognise the value of both indoor and outdoor play for the healthy development of their child. Parents have also reported improved confidence and a closer bond with their child following participation in the parenting elements of Flying Start. A positive relationship between parent and child is important, and will help to shape positive outcomes for that child.

Another new initiative that we have committed to delivering with our partners is Families First. That programme is a key delivery vehicle for our child poverty strategy. It is an innovation programme that will embed effective multi-agency systems and support for families, particularly those living in poverty. The programme places a strong emphasis on prevention and early and appropriate intervention: the right people doing the right things at the right time. Working together, Families First, the integrated family support service and Communities First will ensure that we engage in a seamless, integrated way with disadvantaged or complex families. We will build on and improve the links between universal prevention and specialist services. That will deliver our vision of a continuum of support delivered in an integrated way by skilled people working together to ensure better matching of needs.

It is, however, a sad fact that we must recognise that there are people in society who will deliberately exploit, hurt and abuse our children. In today’s ever-changing and complex society, our challenge is to identify and protect these children and young people. We have received a briefing from Women’s Aid on this debate, and there are sobering thoughts in the briefing. Trafficked and sexually exploited children are the innocent victims of the most serious and horrendous forms of abuse. We must do everything that we can to safeguard children. Children as young as 13 are being manipulated and groomed by unscrupulous adults under the pretence of them offering friendship and love. Once under an adult’s control, some children are moved from town to town or between cities, often, but not always, for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and this is where concerns about human trafficking come to the fore. It is a complex picture, and there is a need to raise awareness of this hidden problem. Our concerns in Wales have been raised by reports by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and Joyce Watson. In recent years, the Welsh Government has taken decisive action to help statutory agencies eradicate child sexual exploitation and trafficking. With ECPAT UK, a leading charity in this area, we have developed a dedicated online training resource. 'In your hands’ assists practitioners to identify and safeguard children who might be, or have been, trafficked. The production of an all-Wales safeguarding protocol that will form part of the multi-agency all-Wales child protection procedures will also help to ensure consistent and co-ordinated responses to child trafficking. That protocol should be published very soon.

We have also appointed Wales’s first anti-human-trafficking co-ordinator, Mr Bob Tooby. Over the years, we have learned that the key to early identification of child safeguarding issues is ensuring that our agencies work together and equipping our professionals with good information. In January, I launched guidance on helping to safeguard children and young people from sexual exploitation for teachers, health professionals, social workers, the police and other key practitioners in Wales.

To support its implementation, I commissioned Barnardo’s Cymru to undertake a training programme for practitioners and managers in key agencies. I remain committed to ensuring the protection of vulnerable children and young people from harm and neglect in an ever-changing and complex society. Again, I must mention the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011, which was recently approved and which will further strengthen safeguarding and support for children and young people in relation to the areas and recommendations raised in the Bailey report.

The issue of safeguarding and protecting children and young people in this day and age from the pressures on them to grow up has been highlighted in the report, and Jocelyn has told us a great deal about that report today. The Welsh Government also recognises that wider societal factors affect children’s experience of childhood, not only in relation to concerns about the sexualisation of children, but also in relation to the negative perceptions of young people by the media. There has been a great deal of attention recently given to the sexualisation of children through fashion, music videos and other forms of the media. Therefore, it is extremely important that these issues are discussed. Once again, I thank Jocelyn for this opportunity to do so.

In order to progress this work, the Welsh Assembly Government is working closely with non-governmental organisations, including Save the Children, Funky Dragon and the office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, to form a joined-up approach to tackle the public’s often negative perception of children and young people and to give them the tools and skills that they need to promote themselves positively through the media. We can learn from every Government and we will want to learn any lessons that we can from Westminster, which was the point that Angela made.

Angela Burns: I have listened to what you have to say with great interest, and I welcome everything that you, as a Deputy Minister, and the Government, are doing in relation to the issues on which Joyce Watson works so hard with regard to trafficked children, children in poverty and so forth. My concern about our approach to the topic that Jocelyn has brought forward is that it is a bit like our approach to pornography: everyone is so busy looking at hard-core porn and how to stamp it out that we forget about soft-core porn, and it becomes a little bit acceptable. It is invidious; it creeps into society and into attitudes in how men and women behave towards each other and towards children. The things that you discussed this afternoon are absolutely worth while, but, again, I am concerned that if we spend all of our time and have the strategies on all of the big issues we might forget about the creeping sexualisation and about the stuff to which we become so inured that we do not notice it. Then, suddenly, wham, it is right in our faces, causing us these huge problems. That is why I would like to hear what you might be able to do, or what steps we as an Assembly could take to take this forward.

Gwenda Thomas: I will come to my responses to the specific points that Jocelyn has made, but I agree with you. I think that the best way forward is to look at childhood across the spectrum. We need to ensure that we support vulnerable children. Not all vulnerable children are in poor families. In many ways, children are vulnerable simply because they are children, and we must not lose sight of that point.

A 'Tell it like it is’ media guide has been developed to support adults and professionals who work with children and young people. The guide gives practitioners and young people the techniques and contacts that will enable them to get their positive stories into the Welsh media and will help them to present a fuller, fairer picture of their news, views, activities and issues through the media. That is an important step in trying to stop this creeping sexualisation. These activities and initiatives, and our commitment to children and young people in Wales, will assist us in tackling specific issues in relation to clothing and productsthat are suitable for children, advertising, marketing and the media.

Jocelyn asked some specific questions in her speech, and I would like to take the opportunity to respond to those. As I stated earlier, I feel strongly about this topic, and I will be looking closely at the recommendations of the Bailey report before considering the commissioning of a response on behalf of the Welsh Government. We will also look closely at the findings of the report undertaken for the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament in 2010, and at the actions that the Scottish Government intends to take, to help inform any decisions that we take in Wales.

Finally, in response to the points that Angela made, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales has an important role to play in representing the views of children and young people. I will ask him to highlight in his annual report whether these issues have been raised during the course of his work with children, young people and organisations across Wales. That will be a good starting point for us to consider how we proceed to deal with this matter in future.

Peter Black: That brings today’s proceedings to a close.

Daeth y cyfarfod i ben am 5.26 p.m.
The meeting ended at 5.26 p.m.

Aelodau a’u Pleidiau
Members and their Parties

Andrews, Leighton (Llafur - Labour)
Antoniw, Mick (Llafur - Labour)
Asghar, Mohammad (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Black, Peter (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru - Welsh Liberal Democrats)
Burns, Angela (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Butler, Rosemary (Llafur - Labour)
Chapman, Christine (Llafur - Labour)
Cuthbert, Jeff (Llafur - Labour)
Davies, Alun (Llafur - Labour)
Davies, Andrew R.T. (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Davies, Byron (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Davies, Jocelyn (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Davies, Keith (Llafur - Labour)
Davies, Paul (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Davies, Suzy (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Drakeford, Mark (Llafur - Labour)
Elis-Thomas, Yr Arglwydd/Lord Dafydd (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Evans, Rebecca (Llafur - Labour)
Finch-Saunders, Janet (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
George, Russell (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Gething, Vaughan (Llafur - Labour)
Graham, William (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Gregory, Janice (Llafur - Labour)
Griffiths, John (Llafur - Labour)
Griffiths, Lesley (Llafur - Labour)
Gruffydd, Llyr Huws (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Hart, Edwina (Llafur - Labour)
Hedges, Mike (Llafur - Labour)
Hutt, Jane (Llafur - Labour)
Isherwood, Mark (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
James, Julie (Llafur - Labour)
Jenkins, Bethan (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Jones, Alun Ffred (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Jones, Ann (Llafur - Labour)
Jones, Carwyn (Llafur - Labour)
Jones, Elin (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Lewis, Huw (Llafur - Labour)
Melding, David (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Mewies, Sandy (Llafur - Labour)
Millar, Darren (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Morgan, Julie (Llafur - Labour)
Neagle, Lynne (Llafur - Labour)
Powell, William (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru - Welsh Liberal Democrats)
Price, Gwyn R. (Llafur - Labour)
Ramsay, Nick (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Rathbone, Jenny (Llafur - Labour)
Rees, David (Llafur - Labour)
Sandbach, Antoinette (Ceidwadwyr Cymreig - Welsh Conservatives)
Sargeant, Carl (Llafur - Labour)
Skates, Kenneth (Llafur - Labour)
Thomas, Gwenda (Llafur - Labour)
Thomas, Rhodri Glyn (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Thomas, Simon (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Watson, Joyce (Llafur - Labour)
Whittle, Lindsay (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)
Williams, Kirsty (Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru - Welsh Liberal Democrats)
Wood, Leanne (Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales)



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