Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad

Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee

16/05/2022

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Alun Davies AS
Huw Irranca-Davies AS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Peter Fox AS
Rhys ab Owen AS

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Claire Fiddes Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Gerallt Roberts Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Kate Rabaiotti Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
P Gareth Williams Clerc
Clerk
Sarah Sargent Ail Glerc
Second Clerk

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 yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 13:30.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 13:30.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Croeso, pawb. Croeso i'r cyfarfod y prynhawn yma.

Welcome, everyone. Welcome to this meeting.

Welcome to this hybrid meeting of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee. Just to remind you, the meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv and the Record of Proceedings will be published as normal. Apart from the procedural adaptations for conducting these proceedings today in a hybrid format, all the other Standing Order requirements remain in place. We have full attendance today on screen from all our Members, so no apologies. As per normal, if we can keep our mobile devices switched to silent mode, and our sound operator is controlling the microphones, and we have bilingual translation, from Welsh to English. 

2. Offerynnau nad ydynt yn cynnwys unrhyw faterion i’w codi o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3
2. Instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3

So, with that, we'll go straight to item No. 2. It may be a fairly short meeting in public this afternoon—we'll see how it'll go. Item No. 2 is instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3, and we only have one. It is a made negative resolution: SL(6)198, the Genetically Modified Food and Feed (Authorisations) (Wales) Regulations 2022. Now, I'm assuming from our lawyers that we have no action points for reporting on this—no points to report. So, colleagues, are we happy? We are—we're happy to agree the draft report. 

3. Offerynnau sy’n cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt i’r Senedd o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.7
3. Instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3

So, we will move ahead to item No. 3. Under item No. 3, we only have one item as well, and this is an instrument that raises issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. We have one made affirmative resolution instrument and it's SL(6)200, the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 10) Regulations 2022. We're very familiar with these regulations on committee; we deal with them regularly. Our lawyers have identified two merits points for reporting, which I assume are the normal ones, but I'm going to hand across to my legal colleague now.

Yes, these are standard coronavirus-related merits reporting points. So, the first point just notes the Welsh Government's justification for any potential interference in human rights. The second point notes that there was no formal consultation on the regulations. The committee may also wish to note section 6 of the explanatory memorandum, which helpfully explains that, although a regulatory impact assessment has not been carried out, the previous summary impact assessment has been reviewed and remains valid. And this is very helpful information that the committee has previously asked for, so it's very good to see it set out in the explanatory memorandum.

That's lovely. Thank you very much. So, with those reporting points, are we happy to agree the report? We are. Thank you very much.

4. Offerynnau sy'n codi materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt i'r Senedd o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3 – trafodwyd yn flaenorol
4. Instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3 - previously considered

That takes us on, then, really speedily, to item No. 4. We have instruments here that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3, but which we've previously considered. Now, we have two of these to look at. The first is item 4.1, SL(6)188, the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2022. And we have a report and a Welsh Government response. Now, we considered this instrument at our meeting on 25 April and we laid a report the following day. So, do we have any comments on this from our lawyers?

Simply to say that it's a helpful response.

There we are. Brilliant. Are we happy, then, to note the report and the Welsh Government response? We are. Thank you very much. that takes us on to the second of these items that we've previously considered. Item 4.2 is SL(6)190, the Agricultural Wages (Wales) Order 2022. Again, we have a report and the Welsh Government response. We considered this, as you know, at our meeting last week. We laid our report the following day. So, again, a helpful response from the Government, but, beyond that, nothing much to note on this.

13:35

I will just take you through the points, briefly. The committee will recall that there were two technical points and two merits points that we requested a response to the Welsh Government on. The first point was about retrospective effect in the absence of express words in the enabling Act to authorise this. The Welsh Government's response is that they consider the instrument to be lawful, it strikes a fair balance between the rights of individuals and the general interest, and it is proportionate.

The second technical point and the first merits point both related to the increase in the national minimum wage that took effect in April 2022, and which had an impact on the rates of pay as set out in the Order. In its response, the Welsh Government points to guidance on its website explaining this impact. The Welsh Government also notes that the agricultural advisory panel is currently finalising a draft agricultural wages Order for 2022-23 and that this will raise the minimum rates above the national minimum wage and that will, obviously, reinstate the pay progression between the new agricultural grades. The committee may just wish to note that the consultation referred to in the Welsh Government's report suggests that the new rates of pay would be to apply from April 2022. So, that suggests that the next Order may also have retrospective effect, and so that will again be a reporting point in the future when the Order comes before you.

Finally, the Welsh Government's response on the explanatory memorandum not being available in Welsh: the response sets out the issues that Welsh Government considers when prioritising documents for translation and these include whether it is of great interest to Welsh-speaking groups and whether a high proportion of the documents' audience would be Welsh speaking. In this case, the Welsh Government's view was that the Order is of a technical nature and it will only affect an extremely small percentage of the population and, therefore, the EM was not translated at this time.

That's excellent. Thank you so much for that. That's really useful. It takes us further than our discussions last week as well. So, any comments from committee members, or are we happy to note that, because it does take us on quite a bit? That's brilliant. Thank you very much, and thanks for that legal support on that as well.

5. Cytundeb cysylltiadau rhyngsefydliadol
5. Inter-institutional relations agreement

We'll move on to item No. 5, then, which gives us an update on the inter-institutional relations agreement first of all. Item 5.1 is correspondence from the Minister for Economy on free-port policy in Wales, and you'll notice with this we have a letter, a press notice, which I know Members will have seen probably over the weekend going out or just before, and a written statement from the Minister for Economy that notifies the committee of the formal agreement now made between Welsh Government and UK Government in respect of free-port policy in Wales. So, for the moment, if we're happy to note that, I don't think officials have anything particular to add to that. I'm pausing for a moment. No. We're happy to note. Yes, okay.

Under item 5.2, we have correspondence from the Minister for Finance and Local Government in respect of the inter-institutional relations agreement and the inter-ministerial group for housing, local government and communities. The first meeting of this group took place on 24 May, and the Minister's letter to us confirms that the IMG will be chaired by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and that she will be joined at the IMG meeting by the Minister for Climate Change. We can see the relevance there in the way that the portfolios in Welsh Government are allocated. So, the Minister's letter also confirms that the IMG's ways of working and building safety will be discussed at that meeting and that she'll write to us again after the meeting. So, colleagues, I just invite you to note that written statement by the Minister for Climate Change, providing those further details for us. Are there any comments at the moment, or are we happy to note that? We're happy to note that for now. We can, of course, return to these in private session if need be.

6. Papurau i'w nodi
6. Papers to note

And then we've got several papers to note under item 6. Under 6.1, we have correspondence between the Llywydd and Sir Oliver Heald regarding the first meeting of the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, at which the Senedd was represented by Sam Kurtz MS on behalf of the Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee, and, with our thanks to Alun, it was also represented by Alun Davies, Member of the Senedd, on behalf of this committee. And we're very grateful to both colleagues for going off and representing. And even though we may not discuss it now, Alun, unless you particularly want to, we can return to this in private, because we'd appreciate a good update on how that first meeting of the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly went. Alun.

13:40

Thank you for that, Huw. Yes, I'm very happy to provide a report to Members. I think we should note that the arrangements made by the UK team and by the European Parliament were very good, and the meeting covered a lot of territory—much has been reported in the papers since then—and, in some cases, prior to the meeting starting, but it was from a perspective of ensuring that there was a Welsh voice there, which was very important. And it's worth noting that there were no Members of the UK Parliament from Wales in attendance at that meeting, so had Sam and I not been there, there would have been no voice from Wales at all there. So, it is important that we have representation there, and we should agree as a committee that we will continue to pursue the structural relationship between the Senedd and the Scottish Parliament and Northern Irish arrangements with the UK Parliament, to ensure that, as this parliamentary partnership grows, then we grow as a part of it.

Alun, thank you very much for putting that on the public record, and we will return to this in private, but your gratitude there to the people who arranged this, including from the UK Parliament as well—colleagues there. Thank you very much, and we look forward to your update in private in a few moments.

We'll go on, then, to item 6.2, some other correspondence to note. This is letters from the Minister for Health and Social Services to this committee, and to the Health and Social Care Committee, in response to our reports on the supplementary legislative consent memorandum, memorandum No. 4, on the Health and Care Bill. Now, I'll keep on going unless any colleagues leap in at me with any comments on these. So, we'll note them.

Item 6.3, we have a letter from the Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee to the Minister for Climate Change, in which the committee requests further information in relation to the UK Government's decision to grant an exclusion to the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 for single-use plastics. And the letter to us, dated 28 March, from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, provides some context to the letter from the climate change et cetera committee, and it's been provided again to Members for information.

Under item 6.4, I invite colleagues to note the letters from the Minister for Finance and Local Government to us, and to the Finance Committee, in response to our reports on the Welsh Tax Acts etc. (Power to Modify) Bill.

Under item 6.5, we have correspondence to note from the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, in which he states the Welsh Government's position on the UK Government's drafting of the convention for the establishment of the International Organization for Marine Aids to Navigation. It's quite a helpful and fulsome piece of correspondence, which we might want to return to, with the help of our clerking team as well, when we get into private session. This follows, by the way, our letter to the First Minister from 23 March, which is also included within the papers for your information.

Item 6.6, we have, to note, the letter and written statement from the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution regarding the UK Government's legislative programme for the new UK parliamentary session. Now, this is undoubtedly something that we'll want to return to in the private session, to explore the implications of this for the Senedd and also for this committee's work as well. So, we've got, just in brief update: there are 12 UK Bills listed in the written statement that may require legislative consent memoranda, based on the initial information provided to Welsh Government by the UK Government, but we always know that these things—. You know, as we get more clarity, we'll see how that pans out. Members, though, should also note that the Secretary of State for Wales has separately referred to a total of 27 Bills that are likely to extend and apply to Wales.

So, one of the things to note is that the specific information requested in our letter of 12 May, regarding which Bills the Welsh Government is seeking provision for in Wales, is not addressed in the letter from the Counsel General. So, the Counsel General notes that he hopes to have more information for us when he attends our meeting, which is not too far away, on 20 June. And, as we know on this committee, sometimes it takes a few weeks to unravel exactly what has come out of the legislative proposals. So, we can return to that later in private session, but if we're happy to note—. Alun, go ahead.

13:45

I'm grateful to you, Huw, for that. We found ourselves in the last session of the UK Parliament being very responsive to things that were happening, and at different times we were unaware of some of the conversations taking place between the UK and Welsh Governments. So, there were a number of supplementary legislative consent motions as well as consent motions that were troubling in different ways. Might this be an opportunity to try to reset that and to look at how we, at the beginning of this new UK parliamentary session, say, 'Right, this is the legislative landscape over the coming, say, 18 months or so'? We would be able to understand which Acts of the UK Parliament would extend to Wales because they deal with reserved matters, which Acts the UK Government are seeking to extend to Wales where they cover devolved matters, and which Acts the Welsh Government are seeking to piggyback on so as to legislate without going through the Senedd. Because I think the wider view that we took as we went through the LCMs over the last year or so was quite a powerful piece of work, and it might be useful were we to begin at that end point rather than restart the process again.

I absolutely agree, Alun. It's a really good point, and maybe we can delve a bit deeper into this in private session. But, I think we've already as a committee made approaches to Michael Gove in his capacity as the Minister for levelling up, et cetera, and to other Ministers in Westminster. I think this is something we would want to explore with them and, of course, with our own Counsel General as well. There might also be something that we can do to see how we can better explain as a committee going forward, having had one year's experience, to those who are very interested in this, with the complexity in it, how better we can lay out for them exactly what the to and fro is and the added complexity of exchanges to try and map for them. Perhaps we can return to this in private, but I think your suggestion is a good one: rather than start again as we were last year, see what we can do as a committee to maybe reset some of the ways that we can work both within the inter-parliamentary work, but also the inter-governmental work as well and our engagement with them. So, we'll come back to that in private session. Thank you, Alun.

7. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
7. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Now, with that, we come quite rapidly, actually, today, to our standard motion to move into private session. So, could I ask colleagues if, under Standing Order 17.42, they would agree to exclude the public for the remainder of the meeting? And we do, unanimously. So, if I could ask our clerking team to move us into private session now. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 13:49.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 13:49.