Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad
Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee23/10/2023
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|P Gareth Williams
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 13:34.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 13:34.
Prynhawn da, bawb, a chroeso i chi i gyd.
Good afternoon and welcome to everyone.
Welcome, everybody, to this afternoon's meeting of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee. We are holding this session today virtually, but it's live on Senedd.tv, and the Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. Our Standing Orders are as normal, regardless of whether we are in a virtual format, so the Standing Orders apply. If Members can ensure that all their mobile devices are switched to silent, please. We are, as always, operating through the media of Welsh and English languages, we have interpretation available, and the sound operators will be controlling the microphones, so we don't need to mute and unmute ourselves. So, we will move on, with no apologies; we are fully present here, fully quorate.
We'll move on to the first substantive item, item No. 2, which, as normal, is the instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. Under item 2, then, we have one item, item 2.1, and it's a made negative resolution instrument, SL(6)392, the Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2023. These regulations make amendments to the 2021 regulations that seek to tackle the causes of water pollution from agricultural activities across Wales. The 2021 regulations impose limits on the amount of nitrogen in livestock manure that may be applied to a holding. For holdings that were not previously in a nitrate vulnerable zone, the limits imposed by the 2021 regulations were subject to a transitional period, and these regulations extend that transitional period to 1 January 2024. Now, our lawyers have identified one technical reporting point and, unless our lawyers update us, we have not yet received a Welsh Government response. Kate.
That's correct. The technical point identifies an inconsistency between the Welsh and English language texts that could potentially lead to a difference in interpretation, and we're waiting for the Welsh Government's response.
Thank you, Kate. If you are happy to agree the reporting points there, we'll go to item No. 3.
We have instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3 that we have previously considered. We have one item in this section as well, item 3.1, SL(6)390, the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Act 2023 (Commencement No. 1) Order 2023. In our packs, we have a report and a Welsh Government response. Our committee considered this instrument at our meeting last Monday. We laid our report the same day. So, I simply invite Members to note the Welsh Government response to the report, which we have now received. Are we happy to note that? We are. Thank you for that.
We'll go on, then, to item No. 4. Item No. 4 is the notifications and correspondence under the inter-institutional relations agreement. We have several items here, the first of which is item 4.1. We have a letter from the Counsel General, in which he informs us that he will be representing the Welsh Government at a virtual meeting of the Interministerial Group for Elections and Registration on 25 October 2023, which is this week. The Counsel General states that he will be providing
'an update on behalf of the Welsh Government as will Scotland and UK Governments',
'Further discussion is likely to focus on Online absent voting and managing divergence and mitigating risks.'
The Counsel General has undertaken to update us after that meeting, which we're grateful for.
Item 4.2, then, is a written statement and a letter from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, in which she confirms her decision to consent to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs making the Official Controls (Establishment Lists) (Revocation) Regulations 2023. So, to note here, these regulations will revoke restrictions placed on certain Brazilian food establishments that will enable them to be added to a list of establishments approved to export to Great Britain upon submission of an updated list of approved establishments by the Brazilian competent authorities. The Minister confirms she is giving her consent to these regulations for reasons of efficiency and expediency and cross-Government co-ordination and consistency. The regulations were due to be laid before the UK Parliament on 18 October 2023, using the negative procedure, and they're expected to come into force on 8 November 2023.
We move on, then, to item 4.3. We have a written statement and correspondence from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, in which she informs us that she has given consent for the Secretary of State to lay the Persistent Organic Pollutants (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2023 in relation to Wales. These regulations amend a retained EU regulation on persistent organic pollutants to add perfluorohexane—I hope I pronounced that correctly—perfluorohexane sulfonic acid and its salts and related compounds to the list of substances of which the manufacturing, placing on the market and use are prohibited. And the Minister tells us that it is considered appropriate for the substance of the amendments to apply to Wales because there is no policy divergence between the Welsh Government and the UK Government on the matter. The regulation that has been amended is a GB-wide regulation, so any amendments to it could not be made in the Welsh language, and making these amendments to a GB-wide amending statutory instrument ensures a coherent and consistent statute book. So, we note that.
Then, item 4.4—the final one in this section—we have a letter from the Counsel General, in which he informs us that he attended the inaugural meeting of the Inter-ministerial Group for Justice on 12 September, and the Counsel General raised suggestions that that group, the IMG, should look at, particularly, reoffending rates, the availability of useful data, particularly for Wales, the equality of access issues that can arise from the digitisation of justice processes, for example in the courts, and the need for amendments to the UK Government’s Victims and Prisoners Bill, which is currently before the UK Parliament. The Counsel General also informs us that the group agreed its terms of reference, and that the next meeting will take place in approximately four months’ time and he’ll keep us informed once it’s scheduled. So, there’s quite a bit in there that is of interest to us as a committee. But if we’re happy to note those for now, we can come back to them in private session in discussion.
We’ll go on, then, to other papers to note, under section 5, and as the first of these, item 5.1, we have the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly third meeting summary report. Just to say at the outset that the report and the letter were prepared, with some assistance to us, by me and Luke Fletcher as the Senedd representatives at the third meeting of the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly. So, I just invite you to note the summary report of the third meeting. It took place in Brussels on 3 and 4 July this year. It touches on some of the issues discussed that are important to Wales, and if I could also draw your attention to formally note the letter sent to the First Minister drawing his attention to the report as well, because some of the issues here are very pertinent not only to July, but on an ongoing basis in our UK-EU relations.
Item 5.2, then, we have a letter from the Minister for Health and Social Services in relation to the UK-Norway-Lichtenstein-Iceland convention on social security co-ordination. Now, Members will recall that, following our consideration of this convention in our meeting on 11 September, we wrote to the First Minister requesting further information on the Welsh Government’s engagement with the UK Government in relation to this agreement, and the steps it would take to ensure the agreement is implemented in areas within devolved competence. So, the Minister has provided a response on behalf of the First Minister, and it’s quite a detailed response, and it confirms the Welsh Government was consulted and indeed commented on the content of the agreement. And the Minister also confirms steps that the Welsh Government will take to implement the agreement, including amending the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989.
A few more items in this section: item 5.3, we have correspondence from the Institute for Government and the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, drawing our attention to their final report on their review of the UK constitution, and there is a link to this report provided in our papers. And, just to note, the report is the conclusion of an 18-month-long review, and includes recommendations, in quotes, designed to
'reassert the UK’s fundamental constitutional principles'.
So, we note that. And, again, on all these items, we can return to them. Unless there is anything Members want to raise right now, we can come back to these in private session.
Item 5.4, we have a letter from the Minister for Climate Change, informing us that the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 (Commencement No. 4) Order 2023, which falls under the scope of the resources and waste common framework, was made on 16 October 2023.
And item 5.6 is correspondence between the Minister for Economy and the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd and the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee in relation to the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023. Now, the correspondence is relevant to a discussion we're having later under item 7 of today's agenda.
Excuse me, Chair.
Sorry, you may have overlooked item 5.5.
My apologies, Gareth. I'll come back to that straight away, then. If we return to item 5.5, we have a letter from the Minister for Climate Change, in which she responds to the recommendations in our report on the Supplementary Legislative Consent Memorandum (Memorandum No. 4) on the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill. Thank you, Gareth.
Item 5.7, I invite Members to note the correspondence from Disability Wales in relation to the inclusion of specific financial support for disabled people in the Welsh Government's 2024-25 budget.
And there are a couple more items here. Item 5.8, we have correspondence from the Minister for Climate Change, in which she responds to a letter sent by our committee following the debate on the Welsh Government's LCM on the UK Energy Bill.
And, finally in this section, item 5.9, we have correspondence with the First Minister, where he responds to a number of questions raised in a letter sent by our committee following his appearance before us on 18 September. And just to refresh your memories, some of those questions included topics such as inter-governmental relations, relations with the EU and Senedd reform. To note as well, the First Minister provides an update on the referral to the dispute resolution process of an issue between the Northern Ireland Executive and the UK Government.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
So, colleagues, having gone through all of those items—and some of them we'll return to in private session—we're at that point where I put to you now the motion under item No. 6, and the motion under Standing Order 17.42, to resolve to exclude the public for the remainder of the meeting. Are you happy that we move into private session now? We are. So, we'll move into private, please, if I could ask our clerking team.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 13:48.
The public part of the meeting ended at 13:48.