Pwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd, yr Amgylchedd a Seilwaith
Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee15/07/2021
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Delyth Jewell AS|
|Huw Irranca-Davies AS|
|Janet Finch-Saunders AS|
|Jenny Rathbone AS|
|Joyce Watson AS|
|Llyr Gruffydd AS||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Bernadette Payne||Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Legal Services, Welsh Government|
|Eifiona Williams||Pennaeth Dŵr, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Head of Water, Welsh Government|
|Howard Davies||Rheolwr yr Economi Gylchol, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Circular Economy Manager, Welsh Government|
|Jo Stevens||Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Julie James AS||Y Gweinidog Newid Hinsawdd|
|Minister for Climate Change|
|Olwen Spiller||Pennaeth Ansawdd yr Amgylchedd, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Head of Environment Quality, Welsh Government|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Andrea Storer||Dirprwy Glerc|
|Craig Griffiths||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|Elizabeth Wilkinson||Ail Glerc|
|Gareth Howells||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|Katie Wyatt||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|Marc Wyn Jones||Clerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 10:30.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 10:30.
Croeso i chi i gyd i gyfarfod cyntaf Pwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd, Amgylchedd a Seilwaith y chweched Senedd. Croeso i'r Aelodau sydd yn ffurfio'r pwyllgor yma i'n cyfarfod cyntaf ni. A gaf i yn ffurfiol ddiolch am y fraint o gael cadeirio'r pwyllgor hefyd? Dwi'n ei chyfri'n anrhydedd fawr a dwi'n edrych ymlaen at chwarae rôl ragweithiol gyda holl aelodau'r pwyllgor yma i sicrhau ein bod ni'n cyflawni dyletswyddau, wrth gwrs, ond hefyd ein bod ni'n gweithio ar draws ffiniau pleidiau gwleidyddol a chwarae rhan ragweithiol i greu y Gymru well dwi'n gwybod ein bod ni i gyd eisiau ei gweld. Felly, diolch i chi a chroeso i bawb.
Mi awn ni felly at yr agenda y bore yma. Does yna ddim ymddiheuriadau; mae pawb yn bresennol. Dwi jest eisiau esbonio bod y cyfarfod yn digwydd yn ddwyieithog, felly mae yna gyfieithu ar y pryd ar gael i'r Aelodau sy'n dymuno hynny. A gaf i atgoffa Aelodau hefyd bod dim angen i chi weithredu eich meicroffonau eich hunain? Mae'r cyfan yn cael ei wneud drosoch chi. A gaf i ofyn ar y cychwyn a oes unrhyw ddatganiadau o fuddiannau gan unrhyw Aelod? Na. Iawn. Dwi'n siŵr os oes yna rywbeth yn dod i'r amlwg yng nghwrs ein cyfarfodydd ni, fe wnewch chi dynnu sylw at hynny pan fydd hynny'n digwydd.
Welcome to you all to the inaugural meeting of the Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee of the sixth Senedd. Welcome to the Members who make up this committee to our first meeting. Could I formally thank you for the privilege of chairing this committee? I regard it as a great privilege and I look forward to playing a proactive role with all the committee members to ensure that we fulfil our duties, but also that we work on a cross-party basis and play a proactive role in creating the better Wales that I know we all want to see. So, thank you all and welcome to everyone.
We will proceed therefore to the agenda this morning. There are no apologies; everyone is present. I just want to explain that the meeting is bilingual, so there is interpretation available for the Members who want that. Could I remind Members that you don't need to touch your mikes? Everything is done automatically. Could I ask at the outset whether anyone has an interest to declare? No. Fine. I'm sure that if there is something that emerges during our meetings, you will draw attention to that when appropriate.
Ymlaen â ni felly at yr ail eitem, sef nodi papur ar gylch gorchwyl y pwyllgor yma. Ydy Aelodau'n hapus i nodi'r papur? Diolch yn fawr iawn.
We move on therefore to the second item, which is to note a paper that sets out the remit of this committee. Is everyone happy to note that paper? Thank you very much.
Mae yna bapurau eraill i'w nodi. Gohebiaeth rhyngof i a Llywodraeth Cymru ar flaenoriaethau Llywodraeth Cymru yw'r papur cyntaf i'w nodi. A'r ail bapur i'w nodi yw llythyr gen i i'r Llywydd ynglŷn â'r memorandwm cydsyniad deddfwriaethol ar Fil yr Amgylchedd ac ymateb gan y Llywydd i'r llythyr hwnnw. Felly, os ydy Aelodau'n hapus i nodi'r papurau hynny, fe wnawn ni hynny. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi.
There are other papers to note. Correspondence between me and the Welsh Government on the Welsh Government's priorities is the first paper to note. And the second paper is a letter from me to the Llywydd on the legislative consent memorandum on the Environment Bill and the response from the Llywydd to that letter. Are Members content to note those papers? Thank you very much.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o eitemau 5 a 6 o'r cyfarfod heddiw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from items 5 and 6 of today's meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
Dŷn ni am symud i sesiwn breifat. Felly, dwi'n cynnig, o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix), ein bod ni'n penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o eitemau 5 a 6 o'r cyfarfod heddiw. Ydy Aelodau'n cytuno â hynny? Diolch yn fawr iawn. Fe awn ni felly mewn i sesiwn breifat. Rhag ofn bod pobl yn gwylio ar y gweddarllediad, mi fyddwn ni'n ailymgynnull am 11:30 i dderbyn tystiolaeth gan y Gweinidog ar y memorandwm cydsyniad deddfwriaethol ar Fil yr Amgylchedd. Felly, mi wnaf i ddatgan ein bod ni'n mynd i sesiwn breifat ac fe wnaf i ofyn i bawb aros tan ein bod ni'n cael cadarnhad ein bod yn breifat. Diolch.
Let's move into private session. I propose that, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42 (ix), the committee resolves to meet in private for items 5 and 6 of today's meeting. Are Members content? Thank you very much. We will move into private session, therefore. In case there is anybody watching on the internet, we will reconvene at 11:30 to take evidence from the Minister on the LCM on the Environment Bill. I will declare therefore that we move into private session and I'll ask everyone to wait until we have confirmation that we're in private. Thank you.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:33.
The public part of the meeting ended at 10:33.
Ailymgynullodd y pwyllgor yn gyhoeddus am 11:30.
The committee reconvened in public at 11:30.
Croeso i bawb i Bwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd, yr Amgylchedd a Seilwaith. Mae'n dda gweld pob un ohonoch chi ar y sgrin o'm blaen i, yn enwedig y Gweinidog Newid Hinsawdd, wrth gwrs. Rŷn ni yma ar gyfer sesiwn craffu ar waith y Gweinidog yng nghyd-destun memorandwm cydsyniad deddfwriaethol Bil yr Amgylchedd. Gaf i nodi, yn ffurfiol ar y dechrau fel hyn, fel Cadeirydd y pwyllgor, ein llongyfarchion i'r Gweinidog ar ei phenodiad? Rŷn ni'n edrych ymlaen yn fawr iawn i fod yn craffu eich gwaith chi, ac i fod yn gweithio gyda chi fel pwyllgor dros y misoedd a'r blynyddoedd nesaf. Felly, croeso i Julie James, y Gweinidog. Croeso, hefyd, i'r fintai o swyddogion sydd gyda hi, ac mae'n dda eich bod chi gyd yma inni gael mynd ar ôl pob un agwedd ar y memorandwm cydsyniad deddfwriaethol. Croeso, felly, i Bernadette Payne, sy'n cynrychioli gwasanaethau cyfreithiol Llywodraeth Cymru; Eifiona Williams, pennaeth dŵr; Howard Davies, rheolwr yr economi gylchol; Olwen Spiller, pennaeth ansawdd yr amgylchedd; a Jo Stevens, llywodraethiant amgylcheddol. Croeso i bob un ohonoch chi. Fe awn ni yn syth i gwestiynau. Mae yna awr wedi'i chlustnodi. Mi gymerwn ni gymaint o amser ag sydd angen, ond dim mwy nag awr. Felly, fe awn ni'n syth i gwestiynau, os ydy hynny'n iawn. Ac fe wnaf i ofyn i Janet Finch-Saunders i ofyn y cwestiwn cyntaf.
Welcome to everyone to the Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee meeting. It's great to see all of you on my screen in front of me, particularly the Minister for Climate Change. We're here for a scrutiny session on the Minister's work in the context of the LCM for the UK Environment Bill. Could I note, formally at the outset, as Chair of the committee, my congratulations to the Minister on her appointment? I'm looking forward to be scrutinising your work, and working with you as a committee over the months and years to come. So, a warm welcome to Julie James, the Minister. I welcome the officials accompanying her, and it's great to see you all here, so that we can pursue all aspects of the LCM. I welcome, therefore, Bernadette Payne, who represents the legal services in the Welsh Government; Eifiona Williams, head of water; Howard Davies, circular economy manager; Olwen Spiller, head of environmental quality; and Jo Stevens, environmental governance. Welcome to all of you. We'll go straight into questions. We've got an hour set aside. We'll take as much time as we need, but no more than an hour. I'll ask Janet Finch-Saunders to ask the first question.
Diolch. And congratulations, again, to the Minister, and also to you, Chair, for your first meeting; I look forward to working with you in the committee going forward.
So, Minister, why have you decided to press ahead with using the UK Bill to legislate for Wales, when you have already given a commitment to introduce your own Welsh environment Bill in this Senedd term? Diolch.
Thank you very much, Janet, and just to add my general congratulations to the heap we've got. It's really great to see you in the Chair, Llyr, and welcome to every member of the committee; I look forward to working with you.
There are a couple of very straightforward reasons why we want to use the UK Bill. The first is that it's expected to gain Royal Assent by the end of November, so it's by far and away the most timely legislative vehicle to secure these powers and progress our policy. And also because there are a large number of key areas in the Bill where cross-UK working is required—so, extended producer responsibility, the deposit-return scheme, waste management, water and the REACH clauses. They will only really work if they're pan UK, and so it's appropriate for them to be done in a UK Bill. As you know, the environment principles and governance Bill isn't in the year 1 programme, so we would not be able to go ahead with our extended producer responsibility, our deposit-returns schemes and various other things, which I know are close to members of the committee's hearts, if we were to delay. So, I think there are a number of decent reasons why it's useful to use the UK legislation for these particular aspects. There are number of governance aspects, though, that we will want to bring forward in our own Bill, hopefully in year 2.
Are you happy with that, Janet? Okay. You mentioned Royal Assent in November; of course, we know that the Bill is approaching its final stages in Westminster. So, can you tell us whether you believe there's sufficient time available to the Welsh Government to negotiate any further amendments that you might wish to see to the Bill? Because, obviously, time is of the essence.
Absolutely, Chair. Thank you for that. Obviously, we can't control the parliamentary scrutiny timetable, but we have written to request more time for Senedd committees to scrutinise the memorandum on the Bill before the House of Lords Third Reading. We are hopeful on that point, but, obviously, we're awaiting their response. I don't want to lecture the committee on the ways that the legislation works. It is possible to amend a Bill at Report Stage, but the Third Reading is the deadline date for the LCM, because if we haven't done the LCM by then, then the Welsh provisions could be removed from the Bill. So, obviously, we need to line our ducks up. But we have explained that the scrutiny committees have only just been formed and that we'd like you to have more time. We have requested the delaying of the Lords Third Reading.
Thank you for that, because, as you've suggested, as a committee, we're particularly concerned at the constrained time that we have to scrutinise this, and any additional time that could be afforded to the committee would be greatly appreciated.
Just moving on, then, one of the areas where, I suppose, you would anticipate—and it has been the subject of questioning and of scrutiny previously—is the concurrent plus powers. Clearly, there are concerns around the Senedd's role, or not, as it may be, in that respect. But I'm just wondering what criteria you as Minister will use to determine whether to consent to the Secretary of State using the concurrent plus powers to legislate in relation to Wales. Could you maybe explain to us how you will arrive at that decision to ask the Secretary of State to act in that way?
Well, Llyr, we fully intend to exercise the powers ourselves, and it would be very unusual for us to want the UK Government to exercise them for us. If there was some sort of capacity problem, then we would obviously share that with the committee in advance and be discussing it. In any event, if we were to find ourselves in that situation, we would have been fully involved in a policy development and implementation programme through our inter-governmental governance arrangements. And also, if we did give that consent, it would be clearly defined in both scope and duration. But I can assure you the intention is not to do that; it is to exercise them ourselves.
This Bill has been a good model of how inter-governmental working should work. That isn't always the case with Bills, but this one has been the subject of good working practices between us, the UK Government and the other devolved Governments. Forgive me if Huw Irranca-Davies is having a groundhog day moment; I rehearsed some of this with his committee earlier in the week, and we were able to assure the committee that the working relationship between us and the UK Government and the other administrations on this Bill has been excellent.
Okay. Thank you. Janet, do you want to come in on this?
[Inaudible.]—Secretary of State using the concurrent plus powers would be to bypass the Senedd when making regulations that aim to deliver key environmental policies in Wales. Why do you consider this to be appropriate?
As I said, we're not intending to do that. If it is considered reasonable for a UK-wide approach or there is some uncertainty, then we will have been engaged all the way through. There's been a good process for this Bill. We've also absolutely committed, and I make the commitment again now to the committee, to providing the Senedd with an opportunity to comment prior to the Welsh Ministers consenting to the UK Government acting in that regard. So, we are very keen to make sure that the committees of the Senedd and the Senedd itself would have an opportunity to comment, were this to be the case.
Did you give any thought at all to any more formalised joint parliamentary procedure? I'm just wondering, because I know, in relation to the emissions trading scheme that's been mentioned—that that was approved by all the Parliaments, wasn't it, really. I'm just wondering whether that offers some sort of model that maybe we could pursue in this context.
We're caught up in the constitutional conversation here with this, aren't we? We're very concerned that we don't do something here that blurs the lines of accountability in a way that would be unhelpful as we negotiate with the UK Government how the devolved settlement should work. So, a joint parliamentary procedure, I'm sure, would be very possible were the devolution settlement to have been sorted and for us to have some kind of federal system, which, as you know, we—. But that's not the case at the moment. And credit where it's due, they have been very helpful to us on this particular Bill, so, actually, we're trying to persuade them that this is a model for doing other Bills that we're interested in.
That's good to hear, at least. Okay. Thank you, Minister, for that. Huw.
Thank you, Llyr. Just on that point—I don't want to revisit Monday's session, Minister—it wouldn't be inconceivable that the various Parliaments could actually put forward proposals themselves for a joint parliamentary procedure. But I'll put that to one side for the moment.
I want to turn to the issue of environmental governance. Previously, there have been commitments by the Welsh Government to develop proposals for a new Welsh environmental governance body, and a Welsh environmental governance framework. Can you just update us as to where we are on that, because you've just mentioned your hopes for a session 2 of this sixth Senedd Bill, a Welsh Bill? That would be included within that?
We're hoping to do that, Huw. I'm not in a position yet to promise that, I'm afraid. We're working towards a year 2 Bill. I have to negotiate that with Government colleagues. There's only so much space in the legislative programme, so we're in the normal Government process for putting forward Bills from your portfolio and making sure that they're ready to go, and all the rest of it.
We are very keen to put an environmental governance Bill in place. And, as I said to Delyth in Plenary the other day, we're very keen for that, if possible, to incorporate the targets that we want to put in place. But these things are always a balance. So, I wouldn't want to hold the Bill up if I couldn't put the targets on the face of the Bill; on the other hand, I do want to have statutory targets. So, there'll be some give and take on that, but that's the current plan. I'm not in a position to promise it yet, but I can tell you that I've bid for that place and that we're hopeful that we'll get it.
Okay. Well, that's helpful to understand that, in your mind, from your ministerial perspective, your argument is you'd like to see this sooner rather than later and that, ideally, you'd like to see it come forward in the next session. Is that an accurate reflection of where you are as a Minister, albeit that you've got to negotiate priorities amongst Government?
Yes, absolutely. We want to put it in place as soon as possible. We don't want to have a gap in the environmental governance arrangements. And, as Delyth and I were rehearsing in Plenary, we have an interim arrangement in place, but it doesn't have the force of statute and we'd like to sort that out.
There is work to be done yet, though. We haven't got the targets in place, we haven't agreed them, we're waiting on COP26 and the global system to be able to do that. It will be a matter for me to discuss with the committee and a number of others what the best juggling between the timing of the Bill and making sure we've got the right targets in place, and what the best place to have the targets is. For example, we may want to put powers in an environmental governance Act for Wales that allow us to have targets that are—an affirmative procedure that allows us to tighten the targets if we need to, and all the rest of it. So, there are a number of issues we need to consider about the structure of that Bill and how that might look. But, at the moment, we are bidding strongly for it to be in year 2 of the legislative programme.
That's really helpful, Minister. Just one final question, Chair, then, because from everything you're saying on that, clearly you're going to need to judge carefully when is the best time as opposed to necessarily the earliest time to introduce some form of governance legislation. But also you were signalling strongly that you want to make sure that it is strong and meaningful, and let me suggest to you perhaps not reflective of where we've got to with the interim assessor for environmental protection. It is a temporary, two-year arrangement, but it has faced criticism from environmental bodies about the weakness it has.
Yes, I entirely agree with that, Huw. It is intended to be an interim measure, rather than not having anything. But, obviously, we want the force of statute behind an environmental protection system, I suppose, for Wales. We have some work to do to make sure that we've got the most robust system and that it matches the aspirations of everyone and it fits into the current other arrangements for delivery and regulatory bodies and so on.
You'll know that I'm doing a review of where the regulatory bodies sit together. So, Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales, local authorities, Dŵr Cymru and various other statutory bodies. So, we're doing a review of that. We don't want to be putting the cart before the horse. So, I want to be sure that we know what we're doing when we put the environmental governance and protection arrangements in place, but we will be following the four principles and we would want it to be as strong as it's possible to make it. And, as I said, there's a discussion to be had about whether some of the nitty gritty of it would then be in regulations or how we would do that. And I'm sure the committee will want to explore that with us as we start to take the Bill forward.
Thanks, Minister. Thank you, Chair.
Yes, thank you, Huw. So, would it be simpler just to say that, if you don't conclude your thinking and the legislative process around the environmental governance issue before the end of the two-year period of the interim assessor, then you would extend that period, rather than run the risk of having a gap in the environmental governance gap?
Well, absolutely, definitely, Chair. Although obviously, I'd much prefer to have an Act in place by the end of that period, but no, we don't want to have a gap either. So, we'll make sure that there's some kind of system in place, albeit with all of the drawbacks that various members of the committee have mentioned already.
So, your ambition is still to have that concluded before the end of the two-year period?
If at all possible, but as I explained, my portfolio has a very large amount of legislation inside it, so we're in the process of trying to balance all of that about where we are in the legislative programme, so where those Bills sit for Senedd time and committee time, but also quite frankly where the resources inside the portfolio are to be directed in terms of who's taking what Bill through, and the committee. I don't think you're the committee that will be dealing with it; I'm not actually sure. But you'll be aware that we've also got all of this subordinate legislation for the Renting Homes (Fees etc) (Wales) Act 2019; 21 pieces of statutory. So, sub legislation can also sound like it's lesser than primary, but actually in terms of volume and bulk and so on, that is one heck of a piece of work. So, we're taking all of that forward at the same time, Chair.
That's totally understandable, but I'm content that you're signalling that it is your intention notwithstanding, obviously, everything else that needs to be done as well. And you are right to say that you have a very broad portfolio, something that I think is absolutely recognised. Okay, thank you very much. We'll move on to Jenny, then.
Thank you very much. Minister, I just want to ask you about Part 3 in relation to the regulation-making powers granted to Welsh Ministers on waste and resource efficiency. I don't want to go into EPR and deposit return schemes because other colleagues are going to follow that up. I want to look at the general powers and whether they're sufficient in light of the blatant disregard of environmental regulations by Southern Water as to whether these powers are robust enough to deal with companies that are intent on ignoring the regulations because it's cheaper to pay fines than it is to actually do the right thing.
Yes, Jenny, that's a very important part of why we want to use the UK Government Bill. So, first of all, we're developing a UK-wide digital waste tracking system. So, the committee, I'm sure, will all be aware—you'll have seen the reports about where UK waste ends up in the world, and so on. We're very keen to be able to be sure that we're tracking our waste correctly and making sure that it doesn't end up in countries that aren't capable of dealing with it properly. And also we're very keen on making sure that we have reprocessors here in Wales that are actually reprocessing the waste for us here in Wales and making the materials we need for renewable supply chains as well. But obviously, we need to be able to be robust in that, so it's not just the people we pass it on to but it's who they pass it on to and so on. We need robust data-tracking systems for that, so the Bill will allow us to do that on a UK-wide basis and we're participating in the programme that's putting the data tracking in place as we speak.
The Bill will also include powers to tackle waste crime, specifically supporting Natural Resources Wales to strengthen their powers to prevent illegal activity, unauthorised deposits of waste, et cetera, Jenny. One of the things we're very keen on is to strengthen criminal powers for the regulatory authorities, so that's partly why we want to do it. If we weren't doing it in this Bill, then obviously, as I've said, we'll have to wait for our Bill. Our Bill would then be a wider Bill as well which would take up more—. There's a whole series of juggling things to go on there. This way, at the same time as the rest of UK—because bear in mind, the other devolved Governments are doing this as well—we have these provisions coming into force at the same time. And as I say, fair play to the UK Government; in this instance, we've had a good relationship with them all the way through around what our specific Welsh and other devolved Governments' needs and requirements are.
What are the implications on the delivery of waste policy in Wales if the provisions of Part 3 were not taken forward in the Bill and how likely might that be in line with the collaboration you've enjoyed?
One of the things we want is to make sure all the way through that we're engaged, and that the Bill reflects our requirements and that's why we've been tracking it. That's why we're grateful for the committee's engagement on the Bill as well, so you can satisfy yourselves that it's doing what it should for Wales. That's why we've asked for the Lords stage to be put off, so you've got a chance to do that piece of work properly. But in the end, if we don't get it through at the same time as the UK, it will have to wait on our Bill, and that could be a year or more down the road. So, in the interim period we will not have any of the strengthened powers, and so on. It just complicates things. It's not impossible to do it in Wales, but it would be later, and then we'd have to make sure it aligned back to this Bill, so it's not optimal. So, this is, I think, by far the best way of doing it in a timely fashion.
Because otherwise there's a risk that Wales could become the dumping ground for people who want to avoid the law in England. Thank you.
There are all kinds of issues with not going at the same time, yes.
Okay, thank you.
Thank you, Jenny, thank you, Minister. Delyth.
Diolch, Gadeirydd. Minister, good morning. You have already referred in your opening remarks to the extended producer responsibility scheme, and that is one of the rationales that you have for using this legislation. Be that as it may, so that we've got it for the record, could you just confirm please that it is your intention for Wales to be part of the UK-wide revised scheme?
The way the Bill works is it brings in the power to have an extended producer responsibility scheme on a range of items, rather than one scheme with—. So, it's a case-by-case basis for what we want to look at. The first material we want to have a look at is packaging waste, because that's the one that absolutely everybody is aware of, making sure we don't have ridiculous over-packaging, and we're using renewable materials, and they are recycled properly, and all the stuff that the committee will be very familiar with. So, given the integrated packaging industry across the UK—and members of the committee may have seen the issue around cardboard, and the need to get high-quality cardboard recycled as fast as possible, since all of us are getting things delivered to our houses in high-quality recyclable cardboard these days—well, there's nothing wrong with that as long as we keep the recyclate going round the system in the right way and we don't start losing it. So, being able to do that, and to make sure that the people packing into those cardboard boxes are doing it in a proportionate fashion, using recyclable materials. There's nothing more annoying, to my mind, than ordering your globally responsible item only to have it arrive covered in plastic, which drives me up the wall. So, it's those kinds of things that we want to be able to do going forward to make sure that we do have a producer responsibility. So, if you're producing a responsibly sourced, globally friendly product, you don't, for some extraordinary reason, decide to wrap it in plastic. I just am baffled by the number of producers who do that.
So, that's where we're going, Delyth, but as I say, it's not one scheme. We'll be looking at individual items inside it, and obviously working across the UK with what's a very integrated industry to make sure that we're tackling that at source. Obviously, with the big retailers and stuff, there's a piece of work to be done with all of those about how they source their wholesale and all the rest of it.
Thank you, Minister. There are calls from various third sector bodies for there to be more clarity about the supply chains of different items, particularly items that contribute to deforestation, for that to be made clear on packaging. Do you anticipate that being part of a UK scheme in this regard—would that make it easier, were legislation to be introduced in Westminster that would allow for that clarity as to supply chains to be made clear on packaging?
I'm personally very much in favour of that, Delyth. I'm not sure this Bill delivers that. This Bill allows us to put a responsibility on to the producer for what they're using in their packaging. It doesn't, as far as I know, unless Howard wants to correct me, put a labelling duty on them. But maybe we'll ask Howard, because he's far more into it than I am.
Howard. You'll automatically be unmuted.
Hello, I'm automatically unmuted. Hi, I'm Howard Davies. I look after packaging and plastics and things like that. Yes, for extended producer responsibility for packaging, the intention is to use another clause in the Bill on resource efficiency information to provide very simple binary information for consumers on what can and can't be recycled. So, at the moment, there is no mandatory labelling scheme in the UK, and we want to use the powers in the Bill to mandate that so consumers have a very, very clear 'can recycle', 'don't recycle', and to avoid the different voluntary schemes that are available at the moment, and also avoiding that ambiguity where it says 'check local requirements' or 'not currently recycled'. We've got a lot of feedback that those are very, very unhelpful. So, in terms of having and using other powers in the Bill, that's going to be a really, really important component for extended producer responsibility for packaging and, really, that's what I think consumers are going to see most of. That's going to be the most visible effect for them of these reforms.
Thank you, Howard. I know that that isn't directly linked to what we were—. Well, it's linked but I know it's not directly a part of what we're talking about, but that's really useful to know, so thank you.
Minister, I appreciate what you were saying about that you're going to be able to—not pick and choose, exactly, but you will not be compelled to be part of all of the scheme or to use all of those considerations. But, in terms of establishing the UK-wide scheme, the only way of doing that in a legislative sense is by these concurrent powers being used by the Secretary of State, isn't it? Considering what you were saying earlier to Llyr, do you have any overarching concerns about the fact that that would bypass Senedd scrutiny?
No, that's not what we're proposing, Delyth. So, the scheme might be identical across the UK, but it will still be a Welsh scheme; it will just be aligned. So, we're not proposing that the UK puts a scheme in place for all of us; we'll have a Welsh scheme. We will work very hard to make sure that they're aligned across the UK for all kinds of obvious reasons, but—
Forgive me, Minister, I didn't—I wasn't very clear in my wording there. What I mean is in terms of how the scheme—. I appreciate what you were saying, but, in terms of how the scheme itself on a UK basis is going to be established, the only way of doing that, the only legislative route for doing that, is the Secretary of State using concurrent powers, isn't it?
No. So, we have the—. No. We can use the powers as well; we'll all do them together. So, what we're doing is we're looking at having a mirrored set of regulations across the UK. So, we will introduce the same regulations as the Scottish Government will introduce, as the Northern Ireland Executive will introduce, as the UK will introduce for England, at the same time, but it will be our Parliaments who scrutinise our bits, and our Ministers that are held responsible for it. But, obviously, we need to align it because otherwise—. As I think Jenny said, we don't want any cross-border 'It's slightly more lenient over there; let's go over there and do whatever'. So, we need to line it up.
And there's quite a lot of extensive stuff—. I'm sure Howard's desperate to come back in and tell you the long list of things that are involved here, but there are lots of things—white goods, batteries, all kinds of things that have really bad recycling issues associated with them unless you part them out. There's a whole series of things here about making sure that extended producer responsibility goes into how they produce your washing machine so that it can actually be recycled into its bits, and all that kind of stuff. And you'll know as well that we're very keen on having those kinds of goods repairable as well, which has not been a feature of the more recent production lines.
So, there's a lot of work to be done here, and the collaboration is a good one. And then, having said that, I hope this isn't too controversial, but, clearly, we will want to sure that we're aligned with the EU to some extent as well, because we will want to be sure that we're not the dumping ground of Europe either, just to put it like that. So, there's quite a lot of work to do, and this is the base legislation that we're looking at.
I don't know, Howard, if you want to come in and put that into civil service-speak. [Laughter.]
I'll do my best. So, there are existing producer responsibility schemes at the moment, and there's work ongoing and we're going out to public consultation on a number of them over the next 12 months or so. So, for example, that's end-of-life vehicles, batteries and also waste electronic equipment. Now, all of those are existing schemes. They're run on a UK-wide basis, but we're looking at how the powers in this Bill can be used to enhance those schemes.
And secondly, we've made commitments in 'Beyond recycling' to look at whether extended producer responsibility can be applied, as the Minister referenced, to bulky items—mattresses, textiles, construction products, things like that—and what we would have to do is do them on a case-by-case basis, and also work and understand with partners in the other nations of the UK whether that can be done on a Wales-only basis, or on a UK-wide basis. So, we'll take it on a case-by-case basis. So, there are very, very powerful powers in this Bill that we really welcome, and we want to use them already on a range of problematic waste items.
Thank you, Howard. So, just picking up on that, and I am labouring the point a little bit, I know, but, given that the devolved administrations can get on and do their thing anyway, why, really, do you think that concurrent powers or concurrent plus powers are needed? Is it just expediency, or—?
It is, Llyr—it is expediency. It's slightly trying to futureproof this. None of us expected a global pandemic. I feel like I'm in a Monty Python sketch saying that—nobody expects a global pandemic. But who knows what the next crisis is? We want to be in a position where we can get it done. But I cannot emphasise enough that that is not abdicating our responsibility to do it for ourselves, but it's sensible, in the context of something that does need to be UK wide, to do it like this. As I say, there are elaborate arrangements for mirrored regulation layings and all the rest of it. I do think this is a good way of doing it, and there are real issues, aren't there? If all four nations of the UK had a slightly different scheme, you can immediately see what the issues on a—. On actually what's a globalised supply chain for some companies, you can immediately see what the issues might be there. And then, as Howard said, we've got schemes in place at the moment, but this Bill allows us to give them teeth, so that's the other big issue.
Yes. But is there a risk, then—if we wish to add something for the Welsh dimension, then clearly that's something that we would have to bolt on in some way, is it?
Yes, absolutely. So, we can have things in Wales that are not present in the other nations. What we'd have to do, though, Llyr, like all of these things, is we'd have to carefully consider the consequences of doing that. There are a range of things, aren't there, and there are things that we could do here in Wales that look really good for us in Wales, but we know, actually, cause deforestation around the globe, for example—we just displace the activity. So, there's quite a long chain of scrutiny and complexity to work through to make sure that we've tried our best to highlight any possible unintended consequences and so on, including all the cross-border issues. If we ban something here in Wales and all that happens is they make an enormous amount of it in the middle of the Amazon, that's just really not helpful. So, it's that kind of stuff we'd have to look at. So, we do absolutely have the power to do it, but there are consequences of behaving like that.
Sure, sure. Okay, thank you. Joyce.
Just on that point, Minister, we have to have crossover with the future generations Act, which specifically puts an onus on the Welsh Government to do just what you've said, to make sure that what we do here doesn't have a disproportionate negative impact globally.
Well, absolutely, Joyce, and one of the things for Wales is that we have of course enshrined that in our law. We've been very clear that we want the Bill to reflect our future generations responsibilities. One of the things about working in this way is not that we're doing what England says, but that we're able to bring pressure on England to do what Wales is already doing. So, I don't want the committee to go away with the idea that we're somehow in thrall to England—that's absolutely not the case. Actually, I think we're moving them along a path rather faster than they might have otherwise wanted to go. It's been useful to work with the devolved Governments on that as well. In the run-up to COP as well, there's a lot of arm bending going on to make sure that all the Governments are putting their best foot forward.
Good to hear. Yes, indeed. Okay, thank you, Joyce. Janet.
Can you confirm whether it is your intention to introduce an all-in deposit-return scheme for Wales, regardless of the UK Government's and Northern Ireland Executive's decision on the scope of the scheme?
So, we've only just—. We finished our consultation recently. We're going to publish the responses for that, but our preference is for an all-in scheme, so covering containers up to 3 ft in size—glass and PET plastic bottles, steel and aluminium cans. So, everything. My understanding is that the UK Government and Northern Ireland haven't quite decided yet on what they're going for, so we're still working in partnership with them to do that. We want to get it as consistent as possible across the nations of the UK, for all the reasons we're rehearsed, for all the other reasons. So, we don't want people exporting our stuff to England on the basis that they can then sling it in a bin and all the rest of it. And Wales has a very porous border, so we don't want people crossing between two bits of the border in order to put their bottle in a different bin. That doesn't make any sense at all. So, yes, we're very keen on an all-in scheme.
The other thing to say, Janet, is that this is about making things easy for people to do the right thing. So, trying to effect climate change and globally responsible sourcing of products is all about making it easy for you and I at home to do the right thing. If we make it difficult for people then they're much less likely to come along on the journey with us. So, it's much easier to just, you know, 'If it's in a container, you can put it in this return scheme. Have a nice day' than having to, as Howard said, scrutinise it for what scheme it is that you're currently allowed to do. We've all had those plastic bags that come with a triangle that say, 'This is recycled in—' a country you've never heard of, some place on the globe, and therefore it's recyclable. So, we're very keen to not do that to people and to make sure it's simple. But, having said that, it's also much better if it's across the UK, for all the reasons we've outlined.
Are you confident—and are you, indeed, making a big push to UK Government about just how strongly Welsh politicians in the Senedd feel about this?
Oh yes, we've been very clear indeed. And as I say, one of the nice ways of working like this is that it's absolutely not the case that England is dictating to the rest of us; we're sort of pushing everybody along the path, really.
Good. Thank you.
Okay. Joyce, did you want to come in on this as well? No. Okay, fine. Back to you, then, Janet.
Can you clarify, Minister, whether you have any firm plans to introduce a charge on single-use plastics? If not, why have you chosen to take powers to introduce charges in the UK Bill rather than the future Welsh environment Bill?
We're just committed to exploring the use of the new charging powers at the moment. So, I'm not in a position to tell you one way or the other, Janet. We're exploring the possibilities. The point about a charge, as we all know from the single-use carrier bags, is not to raise money, although the money has been used for good things, it's actually to influence behaviour. So, sometimes, that has a really excellent influence on behaviour, as it has for the single-use carrier bags, for example, and other times not so much. So, we need to explore carefully what the best nudges for people's behaviours actually are in what we're doing. And I can't emphasise enough that the easier you make it to do the right thing, and the harder you make it to do the wrong thing, the more likely people are to do it. So, you know, if you can't get hold of it—and, if you can get hold of it, it's expensive—that is going to make things much less likely to be used than if it's just readily available and seems easier than trying to find a responsibly sourced thing. So, I'm not able to give a firm commitment on that in terms of timescales yet—we have to consider what we're doing—but we're determined to introduce a plastics Bill and to ban single-use plastics.
We have some issues, it has to be said, with the UK internal market Act and a number of other things that are operating in this area. I had a very long conversation yesterday with the lawyers about how we might do that. We are determined to do it, but I'm not able to give you any firm commitment on the timescales yet as we work through all the various complexities.
The concerns I have—. I'm seeing—. We've been talking about this, I know, in the Senedd generally for 10 years—more so in the last five years, and certainly now. The concern I have is that, whilst we're talking about it, I'm seeing more and more plastic introduced on the shelves, as though—. You know, if I was a producer or a manufacturer, I'd be thinking now, 'This is the end of the line' and be coming up with new alternatives. But I'm seeing things—even down to pet foods, for instance, that used to be in cardboard or cans, they're all in plastic now. So, as we're talking about it, I'm seeing more and more plastic being used. So, I think, as a committee, I'd like to know whether we can do any work on whether that is, in fact, true, or whether manufacturers themselves now are becoming responsible. You see the odd situation where you think, 'Ah, that's reverted back now to cardboard', and some of them say they're recyclable plastic. But I'm really concerned about the increase in plastic. You know, when you get bananas wrapped in plastic, it just—.
It's bananas. Yes, you're right. [Laughter.]
So, Janet, on that—and Chair, on that—consumer power is a great thing here as well; it's not all about Government action. Tell your supermarket that you're not going to buy their products if they're wrapped in plastic. That really does work. So—
The other real concern I have—. Sorry, Chair. The other real concern I have is the use of polystyrene. That is so harmful to the environment. So, again, I hope that the plastics and polystyrene will go hand in hand.
Yes, and, clearly, there's a wider piece of work for us as a committee, potentially, there as well, isn't there, in our work programme.
Llyr, I'm really happy to co-operate with that because we have a number of things to work through in making sure we get this in the optimal position. Also, I'm trying not to be political about this at all, but it would be very useful if the UK Government were to indicate, in terms of the internal market Act, that they were not going to prevent the devolved Governments from banning particular types of single-use plastic on the basis that England didn't want to do it. So, there are some things that you could be asking the Secretary of State about in terms of what their ambition is, and I, frankly, make no excuse whatsoever for putting them into a position before COP of wanting to embarrass them into saying that they'll go along with that.
You'd have my support, Minister, on that.
If the committee wants to explore whether it can put some pressure on the UK Government in that regard, then I'd be more than happy to co-operate, and we're very happy to work with you, Llyr, on working out the best way to do this for Wales. We all want to do the same thing.
Absolutely. I'm grateful to you for that, and we have, as a committee, written to you as well, of course, in relation to asking about your priorities that might be reflected in our forward work programme as well. So, some of this, I'm sure, can be included in that as well. Thank you, both. Huw, on to you.
Thank you, Chair. Sorry, at the risk of annoying you a little bit, Llyr, it is relevant to this Bill though, but, on the single-use plastics thing, as this LCM progresses, as the environment Bill progresses, it's still possible not just for consumer power, but for Welsh and UK Governments to put pressure on the supermarkets as well to get ahead of the Bill, frankly, and that includes the frustration of me buying my Portugese tarts in Tesco—other supermarkets are available—where it's a fraction of the price to buy four, but they come in a plastic covering. Unbelievable.
Anyway, could I ask you about air quality provisions within this Bill, Minister? And the obvious question is why you've chosen to include provisions on air quality in this Bill when we're expecting another Welsh-only, made-in-Wales Bill along very soon indeed. So, let me ask you the corollary of that, which is: if these provisions that you've levered in to this Bill—which have been welcomed by the way, of course, by outside organisations within Wales—do go through and you have this, are you risking at all, then, coming back to us and saying, 'Well, we'll delay on the air quality Bill in Wales because we've got these provisions through dealing with some aspects; that will do for now'?
So, this is quite a complicated answer, Huw, and committee, sorry, but just bear with me because the different clauses do different things. So, clause 71 and Schedule 11 relate to the national air quality strategy, which is a UK strategy, and we did not request those; those were in the Bill, and nothing to do with Wales. But the effect of the amendment is to reflect the Welsh devolution settlement, in that the Secretary of State will no longer be responsible for publishing an air quality strategy in relation to Wales. So, the UK strategy referred to here is the UK-wide UK strategy, which has Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and English parts. So, we're very happy that the provision does not constitute an incursion into a devolved matter. The UK Government will not be able to set actions for Welsh Ministers, nor dictate the content of the Wales part of the strategy, and can only report to Parliament on the English part of the UK strategy. Welsh Ministers have discretion in relation to modifying the Wales part of the strategy, and although there is a duty on Welsh Ministers to review the UK strategy, it's accepted that's a necessary condition of the co-operation of the work of tackling air pollution at a UK level, because, obviously, air doesn't respect boundaries, and so on.
The strategy is completely separate from the clean air plan and strategy for Wales published by us last August. So, we can review and publish our new clean air plan and strategy at our discretion. We've decided to set in law, through the clean air Bill for Wales, a requirement for Welsh Ministers to review and publish the clean air plan for Wales periodically at least once every five years. So, that's our decision to do that. That's not dictated by it.
So, then, turning to clause 72 and Schedule 12—apologies, it's quite a complicated Bill, isn't it—that's the only provision in the UK Environment Bill related to approving the operation of the smoke control regime in Wales, specifically by moving away from the use of subordinate legislation and adopting published lists for recording authorised fuels and exempted classes of fireplace that can be lawfully used in Wales's smoke control areas. So, the UK Environment Bill, as we've rehearsed, will be enacted considerably before a clean air Bill for Wales, and so it's an appropriate and timely vehicle for delivering that provision. It's just the speediest way of doing it.
We're still working on the clean air Bill for Wales. It's one of the things I'm responsible for—I and Lee Waters are responsible for—in terms of the legislative framework we've got coming through the portfolio. What is absolutely certain is that it will not be available before November of this year. So, this is a speedy way of doing it. So, I'm sorry for that rather long and complicated reply, but it's quite a complicated set of two provisions.
No, that's fine. And the first item you mentioned, even though it wasn't requested by Welsh Government, is a useful clarification of where responsibilities both for the strategy and the review lie. But the second part would be, I suspect, part of an environment Bill coming forward, because it talks about the powers in smoke-free zones, about restricting fuels, and this, that and the other.
But the second part of my question, Minister, was, there won't be any reason to use the incorporation of these within an England-and-Wales Bill to argue in any respect that there should be any further delay of an air quality Bill (Wales).
No, none whatsoever, Huw. It's just a vehicle for getting some of these controls in place faster than we otherwise would be able to. So, it's not, it doesn't—. It neither speeds up nor delays the clean air Bill.
That's fantastic. Thank you.
Diolch yn fawr. Jenny.
Thank you very much. Jenny.
Thank you very much. I want to look at the all-important and highly politically sensitive issue of water. Obviously, clause 79 is long overdue, to strengthen Ofwat's powers, in light of recent events. But I really want to probe whether the waste enforcement powers are robust enough to enable Wales to ensure that our good practice isn't then undermined by inadequate action across the border. We know from the paperwork the background to the legislation, that there is already deemed to be a drought problem in south-east England, but we also have agricultural practices on the east coast of England that use a huge amount of water. So, what powers, if any, does Part 5 give you to prevent the Secretary of State simply directing Wales to share our supplies of water with other parts of England?
So, Jenny, this is an immensely complicated part of the Bill, and Eifiona, I know, would take up an hour and a half of your time in going through all of the various details of it. So, just in general, these provisions are intended to update the Water Act 1989. For those of us who are as old as me, that doesn't seem like very long ago, but it's quite a while ago, really. And so, a number of the clauses are just updating requirements and reflecting current practices—so, providing information by electronic means, and so on.
There is a complex set of concurrently exercised powers for river basins across the border—so, the Dee and the Severn, in particular—where, obviously, parts of them are in Wales and parts of them are in England. And then there's a whole series of things that reflect the current devolution settlement, which we can go into. Chair, I can get Eifiona to talk you through them now, if you want, but I'm also happy to provide a written response to the committee on this, because it's quite complicated.
Okay. And just—. Sorry, Chair, did you want to—?
No, you carry on.
My understanding is that this does not give you concurrent plus powers, so that, to some extent, Wales is in the hands of the Secretary of State on this one, who may well want to take a UK-wide approach, rather than enable us to ensure good practice in Wales, and, indeed, our geographical climate, and ensure that we're not going to be paying the price of poor environmental management and just unsustainable agricultural practices, or building design, elsewhere in the UK, and that we'll simply be directed to share our water resources.
Well, let's get Eifiona to go through some of the complicated provisions for that.
Just before you do that, then, Eifiona, if you can keep it comparatively short, and, obviously, we would appreciate a more substantial, maybe written, explanation—
—but certainly give us an outline. We're waiting for Eifiona to be unmuted. It should happen automatically. There we are.
There we go. Just to give a bit of assurance that, outside of the powers in this Bill, with regard to how we operate in water policy, some of you may remember that there was an inter-governmental protocol that establishes the ways of working between Welsh Government and the UK Government when it comes to matters in respect of water. And the purpose of that inter-governmental protocol was to remove the unilateral Secretary of State veto powers. So, the type of examples you've given, basically that will not happen now because that unilateral veto power no longer exists, so there's far more co-operation. But these powers of themselves would not allow the Secretary of State to do that. It does encourage more multisector working and more regional working, but that's more established in areas where there are elements of water-stressed areas. There is a need to look across the industry because these matters are not in isolation, but certainly these powers will not allow the Secretary of State to dictate what happens with regard to Welsh policy.
Okay. Because the National Infrastructure Commission report in April 2018 said that the water companies' water resource management plan showed little join-up between different companies despite the establishment of regional co-ordination groups. And it seems to me that Wales is—. I'm trying to probe whether there are sufficient powers to Welsh Ministers to ensure that good practice in Wales isn't going to be completely undermined by inadequate practice elsewhere.
I think that's more of a political answer, to be fair to Eifiona.
So, this Bill isn't affecting that, Jenny. One of the big issues we'll have to tackle—and I'm sure the committee will help the Government to do this—is we have to look at the price review that is going on for the next—. So, what we have to do is make sure that Dŵr Cymru in particular, which is a very unusual water company in the industry, doesn't suffer from a UK-wide price-setting regime that stops it from doing many of the socially just things that we're talking about, and, to be fair to Dŵr Cymru, many of the very good environmental things. And I don't think, unless Eifiona's going to tell me differently, that this Bill is the threat. The threat is in actually trying to make sure that the industry structure and its pricing regime doesn't change what we're able to do for the industry. So, there are pieces of work I'm sure the committee will want to investigate, whether it wants to look at those sorts of structures that I think will have a much more profound impact on what we can and can't do with water in Wales.
Okay, we perhaps need to come back to this another time, but if the debt gearing of all these English privatised companies versus the not-for-profit of Dŵr Cymru—. If we can't reward good practice in Wales and not be lumbered with some of the costs of the failure of regulation in England, we are in a very poor place.
But that's the pricing review and a number of other things rather than this Act that I think you're—
Okay. All right, thank you.
Eifiona's smiling at me, so I think I'm on the right lines there.
Yes, good. Thank you for that. Joyce, did you want to come in on water as well?
No. Okay, we'll move on to the other area of questioning that you wanted to pursue, which is our final set of questions. Joyce needs to be unmuted. There we are.
Thank you. I want to move on to Part 6, nature and biodiversity, Minister, and I would like you to explain the purpose of the provisions for Wales in Part 5 of the Bill and how and when you intend to use those powers conferred to the Welsh Minister under that Part 5?
Forgive me, Joyce, you broke up on my—. I don't know if it's my fault or yours, but I didn't hear the beginning of your question.
Moving on to nature and biodiversity, I want to probe really that part of the Bill. I've realised, actually, that I read out the wrong question, so I'll start again. I want you explain why you consider it acceptable that the Welsh Ministers have no formal role in making regulations under Schedule 16.
Okay. So, this has been quite contentious all the way through. We've argued, the truth is, with DEFRA about whether this is or isn't in the competence of the Welsh Ministers, and DEFRA have rejected our argument and maintain that our consent is not required. So, they don't recognise that we have a formal role in developing the subordinate legislation in this part. However, by way of a compromise, and given the good working relationship we've had all the way through this Bill, we have been able to negotiate policy involvement in the development of the subordinate legislation. So, while that's not what we wanted, it's better than what they were offering. So, we've been meeting with DEFRA leads—Welsh Government officials who are on the call here, and others, have been meeting with DEFRA leads—on a regular basis, and DEFRA intend to hold a UK-wide public consultation in the second half of the year. So, we're expecting to be able to comment on the consultation before it goes live to make sure that it's devolution friendly, and in the light of the 'compromise', in inverted commas, we are recommending consent to the LCM. But it is a bit frustrating that they've taken the formal view that our consent isn't required, so the committee will have to come to a view on that themselves as well.
Okay. Are there any areas—? I know the whole thing is contentious, simply because they don't think that we should be involved in many ways, but are there any areas where you feel particularly strongly that we should have involvement, or are there any sticking points? I know you say that you've been working closely with DEFRA and you've got good working relationships there, and that's one part, isn't it? That's the civil service to civil service. But, in terms of Minister to Minister, are there areas where you feel you might want us as a committee to explore to give you some strength?
Joyce, I think it would have been helpful if they had accepted that this is an environmental protection piece, and that environmental protection is devolved, and therefore it's ours to do. They don't accept that. Their argument is that this is a matter of trade. The provision makes it illegal for businesses within scope to use, in production or trade within the UK, forest-risk commodities. So, we have no problem with the policy itself; it was more of a constitutional argument. And because the officials have been involved in the policy formation, and in truth, we don't have a problem with the policy, it's the one we want, then it hasn't seemed worth saying that we shouldn't approve the LCM off the back of that, but I can't disguise the fact that we're irritated by it, I think it's fair to say.
Okay. And if I can, Chair, one final question. We're talking about, obviously, a particular Bill, but you won't be surprised to hear that I'm going to mention water more widely than the internal water—the wider water that some of us are probably going to dip our toes in over the weekend, possibly. You're probably going to say it's in a Bill somewhere else, but I just want to know, for my own satisfaction and everybody else's, in terms of when we're talking about the environment, and we're talking about wider elements of diversity, where the seas fit in. And I know it's complex, the seas, but where does it fit in?
So, Joyce, do you mean in terms of safer bathing waters and matters like that?
And all of those things.
Yes, yes. So, I think, probably, Joyce, Chair, it would be better if we gave you a bit of a guide as to which bits of what legislation some pieces of this are. Eifiona has provided me with a very comprehensive brief on where water issues sit, and I think, with a small amount of tweaking, we could provide it to the committee. It's immensely complicated, the jigsaw of who's responsible for which bit. I believe you're talking about bathing-safety standards there. So, Eifiona, I know you've done me a very good brief; I'm sure we could do something for the committee that would help them understand some of the complexities, given the committee's just starting its work, if that suits you, Chair.
It does indeed. And given the time has come to an end—the allocated time for our session as well—I think having that in written form would be useful. Thank you, Minister. We're out of time, unless there are any pressing issues that Members wish to raise or, Minister, anything in addition that you want to add. There we are, okay. Well, can I thank the Minister and her officials for being with us this morning and for giving us your evidence? It's something that we will now reflect on in private session. I look forward to hearing whether your request to the UK Government in relation to the timing of our deliberation on this will change in any way. You will, of course, as always, be given a draft copy of the Record to check for accuracy, and with that, can I thank you and your team for your presence?
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o eitem 9 o gyfarfod heddiw yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from item 9 of today's meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
On that note, I will therefore suggest that we move into private session. So, I propose in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi) that the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of today's meeting. Are Members content? Yes. Diolch yn fawr. Okay, thank you, we'll therefore await confirmation that we are in private session.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 12:30.
The public part of the meeting ended at 12:30.