Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

Yn ôl i Chwilio

Y Pwyllgor Materion Allanol a Deddfwriaeth Ychwanegol

External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee

14/07/2020

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Alun Davies AS
Dai Lloyd AS
David Melding AS
David Rees AS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Huw Irranca-Davies AS
Mandy Jones AS

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Chris Warner Llywodraeth Cymru
Welsh Government
Jeremy Miles AS Y Cwnsler Cyffredinol a'r Gweinidog Pontio Ewropeaidd
Counsel General and Minister for European Transition
Piers Bisson Llywodraeth Cymru
Welsh Government

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Aled Evans Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Alun Davidson Clerc
Clerk
Claire Fiddes Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Lucy Valsamidis Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Nia Moss Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Rhun Davies Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Rhys Morgan Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Sara Moran Ymchwilydd
Researcher

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 09:30.

The committee met by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:30. 

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

Good morning. Can I welcome Members to this morning's session of the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee? Can I remind Members first of all that we are now operating under the Zoom virtual process in accordance with Standing Order 34.19? And I have determined that the public will be excluded from attending this meeting, but they are able to view the broadcast on Senedd.tv, and that is available on www.senedd.tv. We've not received any apologies this morning, so we have a full complement. If I do lose my connection as a consequence of events—and last week my computer did fail and therefore I lost connections in other areas—Alun Davies has been nominated to deputise for me until I reconnect back into the system. Any Member wish to declare an interest at this point in time? No, I see not; everyone is shaking their heads.

2. Sesiwn graffu gyda’r Cwnsler Cyffredinol a’r Gweinidog Pontio Ewropeaidd
2. Scrutiny session with the Counsel General and Minister for European Transition

Therefore, we go into our next item on the agenda, which is a scrutiny session with the Counsel General and Minister for European Transition, Jeremy Miles. Could I welcome Jeremy Miles to the meeting? And with him are his officials, Piers Bisson and Christopher Warner. Can I welcome you both to the meeting today? Piers is director of European transition in the Welsh Government, and Chris is deputy director of constitutional affairs and inter-governmental relations in the Welsh Government. Welcome, both. We'll go straight into questions if that's okay with you, because we have limited time available to us this morning. Can I start with Mandy Jones? 

Good morning. 

Could you tell me about the engagement between the Welsh Government and the UK Government on preparedness work? Has this improved since you last gave evidence to the committee and have you had any more meetings since the programme of work was agreed between the Governments? 

Thank you for that question. I think the last time I gave evidence to the committee, we had just received, I think reasonably shortly before that, a list of the key projects that the UK Government had formed a view would be ones in which we had an interest as a devolved Government. I think since then we have received some additional information, but I would still say that, from the point of view of getting detailed information in relation to those projects, that still has a way to go, I'm afraid. And also I think the question really is around the breadth of the sharing so far. So, those projects were ones that the UK Government had decided we would likely have an interest in, but experience of our working together at the end of last year suggested that where we as a Government have access to the list of all the projects, we are able to identify areas where we feel there's an interest, even if it's not immediately apparent to the UK Government, so we would like to be in a position to do that at this stage as well.

In relation to the—I think you were talking about the portfolio board that I mentioned the last time I was in front of the committee. There have been two meetings of that board to which we've been invited; officials are not invited to all of the meetings of that board. I'll ask Piers to give perhaps a flavour of the proceedings in a moment. They are essentially an opportunity for discussion, obviously, and I think a forum to which you can escalate issues if they're not going as planned. But there hasn't been, in the way that you described it, an agreed programme of work between the Governments in relation to the work of that forum, and there hasn't been any ministerial meetings in relation to preparedness since we last met. But perhaps Piers can give a bit more colour about the proceedings.

Yes, very happy to. So, of the two meetings so far, the first meeting was very much an introductory one that allowed us, I think, to help unlock a little bit more information on some of those UK-wide preparedness projects that are in development. And then also, as the Minister indicated, they give us an opportunity to escalate issues that we want to give more focus to. So, we were able to highlight the priority we attach to, obviously, gaining more clarity around work in respect of borders and supply of certain critical goods, which then enabled us to open up more of the dialogue, and hopefully they will pay dividends as we go through this summer and then into the autumn. So, two meetings so far; they are useful in being able to expand the dialogue. But there is, as the Minister indicated, significantly more that we would hope for in terms of the engagement and the information sharing to give us more confidence still.

09:35

Thank you. Minister, we saw the UK Government give out its information programme yesterday. What actions are the Welsh Government taking to communicate with the public organisations and businesses in Wales about the need to prepare for the end of the transition period?

Obviously, our objective is to make sure that we communicate up-to-date information around the work that is required to prepare. Effectively speaking, there have been two constraints on our capacity to do that with the fullness that we would all want to be able to. The first is that, as I say, some of the areas—well, many of the areas—impacted at the end of transition aren't devolved. So, our ability to provide the latest information to the public in Wales around that depends on access to that information in a timely way, which, as you'll have heard, isn't what it needs to be. And, secondly, of course, just from a very practical perspective, much of our communications resource is still deployed—as you would I expect agree is the priority—on COVID work. And so there's just a practical limitation on that. But it obviously remains our objective to make sure that, as the position becomes clearer, we communicate that to businesses and organisations and individuals in Wales.

Yes, but if we go back to the internal UK Government data, the statistics there are 61 per cent of businesses said, when asked at the end of last year, that they'd not even looked for information on how to prepare, especially for a 'no deal' scenario. Does the Welsh Government have its own internal data on how businesses in Wales have sought to prepare?

Well, we've got the Business Wales—. From a business point of view, which is where your question is pointing me, the Business Wales Brexit portal has been established for some time. We know that there have been 58,712 page views of that, with over 1,000 businesses completing the tool. And I think preparedness—the overall level of preparedness was estimated at just over 45 per cent, in terms of the businesses engaging with that. But the broad point that you make I think is correct—the level of preparedness amongst businesses, in Wales as in all parts of the UK I would suggest, is obviously nowhere near where it needs to be. Well, I should be clear—it was nowhere near where it needed to be when that figure was current. We've obviously seen since then that managing the pressures of COVID and furloughed staff and so on is meaning that businesses have less bandwidth to engage than they had this time last year, I would suggest.

Thank you. Welsh Government's 'no deal' action plan included a number of measures to mitigate the potential impact of a 'no deal' Brexit, including the support schemes for the red meat and fisheries sectors. Can you confirm that similar measures have been considered in the event of a 'no trade deal' Brexit?

Well, as I think I may have mentioned the last time, we have obviously been looking at the preparations we made last year and seeing what of those remain relevant, what need to be amended, what can be taken off the list, if you like. Because, obviously, although the scale of the challenge ahead of us remains extremely daunting in many ways, plainly there has been some narrowing of the difference between leaving on the basis of the withdrawal agreement and leaving without a deal that wasn't quite the position last year.

But there are two key issues here that affect that analysis. Firstly, again, is—again, just to make the point about COVID and the impact that has on resources, the ability to pivot all our focus on to the action planning is obviously constrained by that. And I think the other significant constraint is the lack of clarity about funding at this point, in relation to UK Government commitments. With the best will in the world, without that clarity it is not possible, fully, to take all steps that we would want to take. But I do want to just reassure the committee that, within those very significant constraints, there is a piece of work under way, obviously, to align the management of the end of transition with the broader work on COVID, to make sure that they fit together, if you like, just to put it colloquially. 

09:40

Thank you. And, finally, can you explain or tell me why the products of animal origin into the EU have been put on hold? And are you confident that the individual establishments that dispatch, prepare and provide products of animal origin for export to the EU in Wales will be listed before the end of the transition period? 

You mean around identifying the establishments that undertake those exports, presumably? 

Well, obviously—. If that were not to be the case, then that would be a very significant challenge, both for the UK and for the European Union. I know that the Food Standards Agency was contacting all the establishments to ensure that they were aware. I'm not aware, actually, of any decision, either by the Welsh Government or the FSA, to pause that work. So, if the committee has information that suggests that it has, I will be very happy to respond specifically to that, if you can share that with me, perhaps in correspondence, and I can respond more fully. But I'm not myself aware of any decision by the Welsh Government or the FSA to pause any of that work. 

Thank you, Minister. And we will pursue that agenda in writing with you. Before I move on to Huw Irranca-Davies, you mentioned the Brexit portal—the Business Wales Brexit portal. Just wondering, the Preparing Brexit website and the Business Wales Brexit portal—have you recently looked at them yourself?   

Well, I have in the last few weeks, but the work of keeping those under review is ongoing, obviously, Chair. 

Well, the reason I raise this is because, obviously, our research staff have looked exactly at those sites and have found them to be perhaps needing updating, shall we say. There are examples of where one 'preparing for Brexit' directs you to a Brexit portal and a support page, which then puts you back to 'preparing for Brexit' again, and it seems to be there is a lack of updating and good information giving on those sites, at this point in time— 

—and I would suggest that, perhaps, over the summer you might wish to ask them to be reviewed, to ensure that they are giving relevant information to those people that are accessing the sites. 

Well, just on that specifically, Chair, there is already an audit under way of the Preparing Wales website to ensure that it is both current and comprehensive. But, as I say, the objective is to make sure that the information on there is certainly accurate, and I would hope that that can become more comprehensive as we move forward. But I think we just need to be clear that there is a constraint on resources in relation to that. There is already an audit under way, which you will be reassured by, I think, with what you've just said, but I think there is also, Chair, a need for a degree of context to this.

This week, we've had, yesterday, the publication of information—in draft, by the way, not finalised—about the arrangements that businesses will need to make to import and export. We've seen the publication of announcements around migration policy, which will affect staffing, and we still haven't seen the publication of material around the internal market, which would affect the capacity of businesses in Wales to export, as it were, into England. So, the notion that we have a settled picture, against which we can describe to businesses in Wales the preparations that they need to make at this point—that obviously isn't the case.

So, as I say, alongside the work of communications, which the UK Government has recently launched, which I should also say, for the record, we were not given advance warning of, in terms of materials and themes and so on, until very shortly before launch, we absolutely are undertaking that review ourselves of Preparing Wales. Because we are aware, Chair—and I know of the interest of the committee in this area—that it has been, and we hope it continues to be, a useful tool for people in Wales, both in businesses and more broadly than that.

I am pleased to hear that you're doing an audit on the websites, and include Law Wales as well, because we understand that that's also out of date, because it doesn't actually refer to the fact that we are in a transition period, only that we will enter a transition period if we have a deal. So, I think there's a need to make sure your websites are giving up-to-date information, as we are now six months away from the end of transition. I'll leave it at that. 

09:45

Good morning, Minister. Could I ask you, Minister: if the proposals that we currently understand the UK Government is considering, particularly around the market impact test and the mutual recognition regime, were carried through, will the voice of Wales, the voice of the Welsh Government and the voice of the Senedd be stronger or weaker than they currently are?

Chair, that question, I think, goes to the heart of the discussions around the internal market. We don't, ourselves, know fully what will be in the Green Paper, or indeed whether it ends up being a Green Paper or a White Paper in relation to the internal market. That's the first thing to say.

We have an idea of what's likely to be included, but that isn't the product of close working between the Governments leading up to the publication. I should say, by the way, that before the general election of last year, this was one of the areas where there had been particularly close working and intensive working, I would say, but that's come to a halt since the general election. So, that's the position as we sit here today.

If the proposal amounts to a statutory mutual recognition principle that requires any Government in any part of the UK to accept onto the market in its territory goods that comply with standards in any other part of the UK, that has the capacity to drive a coach and horses through the capacity of the Senedd and Welsh Ministers to apply the regulations that they are entitled, constitutionally, to apply in Wales.

I would say, Chair, that we have been very successful in Wales at regulating in a way that we feel reflects the needs of the market in Wales, and which commands the confidence of producers and businesses in Wales at the same time. There is no reason at all why that shouldn't continue, and there is no reason at all why an internal market couldn't be devised that respects the parity between the four Governments in the UK about how that is operated. What would not be acceptable is a statutory mechanism that compels mutual recognition even in relation to goods produced to lower standards than a devolved Government might wish to observe. That would leave the devolution arrangements in place, but would effectively gut them in relation to those particular products and those particular standards.

Thank you, Minister. Scotland's First Minister has described her understanding of the UK Government plans as an attempt to erode devolved powers and

'a full scale assault on devolution'.

You yourself were quoted in The Guardian newspaper this week saying, frankly, that you want the union to work, but that these proposals to enshrine mutual recognition in law will 'create a huge constitutional fight'. You went on to say,

'In essence it emasculates the devolution settlement. That’s not going to be tolerated.'

Now, Minister, on the basis that you want to work—. You've made clear repeatedly that you want to work with the UK Ministers to make this work, and you've just expressed once again your opinion that there is a way through this. If there isn't, what do you, what does the Welsh Government mean when it says, 'This is not going to be tolerated'?

Well, I don't want to speculate at this point about the content of the Green Paper beyond what I have done already. I think my evidence to you might be more helpful if I'd seen the Green Paper on that particular point. Ultimately, it will be a matter for the Senedd, but in the event that this is brought forward and a legislative consent memorandum is tabled for debate, it feels to me unlikely in the extreme that the Senedd would embrace these kinds of proposals.

And just to say, Chair, in relation to the point that Huw Irranca-Davies started with, this isn't a question of simply saying, 'No, try again.' We've put forward a reasoned—and I would suggest reasonable—alternative that achieves the objective of making sure that Governments can regulate in accordance with their devolution settlements, that businesses in all parts of the UK can flourish, but does it in a way that is, I would suggest, much less bureaucratic and heavy handed, and enables a nimble way of taking these things forward. And that, essentially, is building on the common frameworks principles, which is about collaboration and is about managed divergence, and actually, by the way, also acknowledges that parts of that may require individual elements of statutory underpinning, but it's that fundamental principle of an overarching requirement to mutually recognise goods put on the market in any part of the UK that is the coach and horses that I mentioned earlier.

09:50

I'll come back to you in a minute, Huw. David, do you want to come in on this point? You're muted. 

It's a point of clarification because an internal market test and mutual recognition, I think, obviously, is at the heart of the single market at the European level; it couldn't possibly operate otherwise. And it seems to me that if we're having a single market in the United Kingdom, then these principles have to be upheld. Now, there's a way of how you go about that and obviously it's via the Council of Ministers at a European level that these negotiations get hammered out and then the Commission takes it up from there, but it does enforce it, and that enforcement's a very real thing. So, is it fair to sum up your position as that you accept that these mechanisms have to operate, but it's how they operate and that it shouldn't be the exclusive power of the UK Government, basically, but of the Governments in general?

Chair, thank you for that question. Again, that goes to the heart of it. There is a principle of mutual recognition, as David Melding says, but that is arrived at in a very different way. So, it's arrived at, essentially, through a democratic mechanism that recognises the parity of the decision makers in arriving at that set of decisions, through the Council of Ministers and the institutions of the European Union, and also, by the way, on the basis of a floor of standards beneath which divergence isn't capable of happening. So, those two things, I think, put the principle as we think it's about to be proposed in a fundamentally different context. 

I would also say, actually, as a Government, we think that the concept of an internal market is a laudable concept and absolutely enables us to ensure a degree of economic co-operation around the UK, which I think we would all welcome, but the point is that that's done on a basis that respects the devolution settlement and the parity of the Governments in reaching those outcomes.

Yes, thank you. I only have one final question, and it builds on what David was just saying. My former experience as a UK Minister and somebody who's sat on the Council of Ministers was that when a proposal came forward, within the EU's construct of mutual recognition, those proposals were well-worked; had been worked through parliamentarians, through the Commission, had been bounced around the advisors of the Council of Ministers, including devolved Ministers. So, in fact, Alun Davies, who's on this committee video-conference as well, he and I would thrash out our priorities before we even sat down and the UK spoke.

Now, if that were to work, building on my colleague David Melding's proposals, if there was a UK version of that on no surprises, thorough work beforehand, agreement that by the time it actually gets to that final finessing by Ministers of the devolved Governments and scrutiny of devolved administrations, yes, that could work, but, Minister, that seems a long way from what currently seems to be being proposed by some senior Members who don't—it worries me—seem to appreciate what has happened with devolution over the last 20 years.

So, perhaps my question is this, Minister: what hope do you have that we can, with the UK Government, with the Scottish Government and with the Northern Ireland administration, get in very short order a system that will make the UK internal market work, where there is mutual respect and parity, where there are no surprises, and where Ministers have that level of mutual esteem and meaningful engagement? Because it seems to me, when we're not having meetings on a regular basis on this issue—officials are, but not Ministers—we're a long way from that.

09:55

The alternative that Huw Irranca-Davies is describing in his question is very much the space in which we are as a Government: the frameworks provide a good underpinning, and then coupled together with a risk-assessment process that enables each part of the UK to recognise the impact on the others of a particular proposed course of action, an inter-governmental officials group to keep the dialogue and the joint working happening smoothly and in an integrated way, and then an inter-governmental ministerial forum to resolve challenges as they arise, set against the backdrop of the inter-governmental reforms that we will wish to see as part of the review, which we've spoken about on a number of occasions here. And accepting, incidentally, that there will be elements of that that need statutory underpinning, perhaps.

That seems to us, as the question suggests, a much better way forward, and that's actually what I proposed in the letter to Michael Gove and Alok Sharma, and the ask to them as Ministers in the UK Government is that that is also consulted upon as part of the proposals that are brought forward—or we expect to be brought forward—in the Green Paper when that comes forward, so that people are able to engage with that alternative, which does, I would suggest, a much better job, both of ensuring that regulation is nimble and proportionate across the UK, and also respecting the devolution settlements and the constitutional arrangements of the four nations. 

Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd, a bore da, Weinidog. Ie, mae nifer o'r pwyntiau dwi eisiau'u codi, mae Huw eisoes, a David Melding hefyd, wedi'u gwneud, a dwi'n licio beth ydych chi'n ei ddweud, Weinidog, yn yr atebion ynglŷn â marchnad fewnol y Deyrnas Unedig. Dwi'n mynd i drio datblygu'r thema yna achos, wrth gwrs, pwrpas y pwyllgor yma a sawl pwyllgor arall yn y Senedd ydy craffu a thrio sicrhau ein bod ni ddim yn colli pwerau o'r Senedd: hynny yw, y meinciau cefn yn y lle cyntaf, pwerau'n cael eu sugno o'r Senedd i Lywodraeth Cymru mewn un ffordd; a hefyd wrth gwrs y pictiwr mawr, y pwerau hefyd yn cael eu sugno oddi wrth Lywodraeth Cymru tuag at Lywodraeth San Steffan. Byddwch chi'n gwybod y cefndir ynglŷn â'r gwahanol drafodaethau, ac rydym ni wedi bod yn darllen eich llythyrau ac wedi bod yn clywed eich tystiolaeth chi ynglŷn â sut mae'r trafodaethau wedi bod yn mynd ynglŷn ag ymadael â'r Undeb Ewropeaidd, a'ch teimlad chi bod pobl weithiau ddim yn gwrando ar beth rydych chi'n ei ddweud, a bod rôl Cymru yn cael ei hynysu braidd, yn enwedig pan fydd pethau'n cerdded mewn i feysydd datganoledig, fel yn y Bil Amaethyddiaeth a'r Bil Masnach, a phethau sydd eisoes wedi bod o dan ryw fath o reolaeth y Senedd yma ers tua 20 mlynedd.

Yn benodol ynglŷn â beth sydd wedi cael ei ddweud yr wythnos yma—dwi'n credu bod pawb wedi darllen The Guardian ddoe, yn y bôn—ynglŷn â sut mae'r cynllun cydadnabod yma—y mutual recognition scheme, os taw dyna'r Gymraeg am hwnna—y cynllun cydadnabod yma yn mynd i weithio, buaswn i'n gobeithio, fel mae David Melding eisoes wedi dweud—. Y profiad Ewropeaidd ydy eich bod chi'n cyrraedd at sefyllfa o fod yn cydadnabod ar ôl bod yn cydweithio tuag at y nod yna, yn lle bod gennym ni sefyllfa, fel sydd yn dod yn amlwg, o un Llywodraeth ganolog San Steffan yn trio dweud wrth y Llywodraethau eraill beth ddylai pawb arall fod yn cydadnabod. Mae hynny yn ryw fath o oxymoron yn y bôn.

A dwi'n cytuno efo popeth sydd wedi cael ei ddweud ynglŷn â pha mor annerbyniol ydy hynny. Ond yn y bôn, o fewn yr undeb rydym ni'n rhan ohoni yn yr ynysoedd hyn, beth allwch chi ei wneud ynglŷn â fe, fel Llywodraeth Cymru, yn lle jest cwyno? Achos a bod yn deg, rydych chi wedi bod yn cwyno ynglŷn â beth sydd wedi bod yn digwydd ar hyd yr amser ynglŷn â'r trafodaethau sydd wedi bod yn mynd ymlaen, a'r ffaith eich bod chi ar yr ochr weithiau. Hefyd, fel Senedd, rydym ni wedi pleidleisio yn erbyn LCMs yn y gorffennol agos, ac eto dydy San Steffan ddim yn talu sylw i bethau fel yna. Felly, yn y sefyllfa gyfansoddiadol newydd yma—mae Gogledd Iwerddon yn parhau o fewn yr undeb dollau, mae yna ffin gadarn lawr y môr rhwng Cymru ac Iwerddon rŵan—beth yn ychwanegol ydych chi'n ei wneud fel Llywodraeth Cymru i sicrhau bod eich Llywodraeth chi yn cael yr un un chwarae teg a chydraddoldeb ag unrhyw Lywodraeth arall yn yr ynysoedd hyn? Achos os daiff hi i LCM arall, byddwn ni, fel rydych chi wedi'i grybwyll, yn pleidleisio yn ei erbyn, ond eto bydd pethau jest yn cario ymlaen.

Thank you very much, Chair, and good morning, Minister. Yes, a number of the points that I wanted to raise have already been discussed by Huw and David Melding too, and I like what you said, Minister, in your responses with regard to the internal market of the United Kingdom. I'll try to develop that theme because, of course, the purpose of this committee and several other committees of the Senedd is to scrutinise and try to ensure that we don't lose powers from the Senedd: that is, from the backbenches in the first instance, with powers being sucked out of the Senedd to the Welsh Government; and then the bigger picture, powers also being sucked from the Welsh Government in the direction of the Westminster Government. You'll know the background about the different discussions that have been had, and we've been reading your letters and we've heard your evidence about how the discussions have gone with regard to exiting the EU, and your feelings that people don't always listen to what you have to say, and that Wales's role is being rather isolated, especially when matters encroach on devolved issues, as in the Agriculture Bill and the Trade Bill, and issues that have been under the control of the Senedd for the past 20 years.

But specifically with regard to what's been said this week—and I think that everyone has read The Guardian yesterday and your words there—with regard to how this mutual recognition scheme—I believe that's the Welsh for mutual recognition scheme—how that's going to work, I would hope, as David Melding has already said—. The European experience is that you reach a situation of mutual recognition having collaborated in formulating that scheme, rather than having a situation, as is becoming increasingly apparent, where one central Government in Westminster is trying to tell the other Governments what everyone else should be recognising on a mutual basis. That's an oxymoron, it appears to me.

And I agree with everything that's been said about how unacceptable that situation is. But within the union that we are currently part of on these islands, what can you do, as a Welsh Government, rather than just complaining about it? Because to be fair, you have been complaining about what's been happening with regard to the discussions that have been ongoing, and that you have been isolated in those at times. Also, as a Senedd, we have voted against LCMs in the recent past and yet, Westminster hasn't taken any notice of those votes. So, in this new constitutional situation that faces us—Northern Ireland continues to be within the customs union, there is a boundary in the sea between Ireland and Wales now—what in addition are you doing as the Welsh Government to ensure that your Government has the same fair play as any other Government in the British isles? Because if it comes to another LCM, we will, as you have already mentioned, vote against it, but things will just carry on as they were.

10:00

Wel, Gadeirydd, mae Dai Lloyd a finnau, y ddau ohonon ni, eisiau gweld diwygio elfennol i gyfansoddiad y Deyrnas Gyfunol, ond bod gyda ni gyfeiriad gwahanol mewn golwg. Fuaswn i ddim yn gweld yn gwbl llygad yn llygad ynglŷn â'r ffaith mai cwyno mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn ei wneud; buaswn i'n dweud bod gyda ni track record o wneud cynigion polisi amgen, creadigol, adeiladol, cydweithredol yn hyn. Ac mae'r ddadl gyfansoddiadol, wrth gwrs, yn greiddiol i hyn, ond mae hefyd cwestiwn ymarferol yn hwn i gyd hefyd. Hynny yw, mae'r pwerau yma'n cael eu defnyddio oherwydd bod Llywodraeth Cymru a rhanddeiliaid ar draws Cymru ym myd busnes, amaeth ac eraill yn gweld hyn fel peth positif i gynnyrch yma yng Nghymru, ac mae galw bod gyda ni'r sicrwydd bod hyblygrwydd i wneud hynny yn y dyfodol hefyd. Felly, buaswn i'n dweud bod gogwydd ymarferol iawn i hyn, nid jest yr agwedd gyfansoddiadol, ac yn hynny o beth, mae'n bosib ennill pobl i'r ddadl. Hynny yw, mae'n ddadl gyfansoddiadol, ond mae'n ddadl ymarferol hefyd sy'n effeithio ar fywydau pobl. Yn y bôn, dyw pobl yng Nghymru ar y cyd, buaswn i'n dweud, ddim eisiau gweld mewnforio i'r farchnad yng Nghymru bwydydd o gynnyrch tramor sydd wedi'i gynhyrchu i safon is nag y mae ein ffermwyr ni yn ei gynhyrchu yma. Dŷn ni ddim eisiau gweld hwnna, ac mae hynny'n risg sylweddol os aiff beth rŷn ni'n darogan i'r cynigion yma yn ei flaen heb ddiwygio.

Well, Chair, Dai Lloyd and I, both of us, want to see the fundamental reform of the constitution of the United Kingdom, but we have different approaches to that in mind. I wouldn't see entirely eye to eye with Dai that the Welsh Government has been complaining; I would say that we have a track record of making alternative policy suggestions that are creative and collaborative. The constitutional debate is at the heart of this, but there's also a practical consideration here. These powers are being used because the Welsh Government and stakeholders across Wales in the world of business and agriculture and so on see this as a positive thing for produce here in Wales, and there is demand that we have the flexibility to do this in future. So, I would say that there is a very practical aspect to this, not just this constitutional aspect. And in that regard, it is possible to win people around in terms of the debate. It's a constitutional debate but it's also a practical debate that impacts on the lives of people, and at heart, people in Wales, as a whole, I would say, don't want to see the importing to the market in Wales of foods from abroad that have been produced to a lower standard than our farmers adhere to. We don't want to see that, and that is a significant risk if what we foresee in these proposals comes to pass without reform.

Mi fuaswn i, eto, yn cytuno efo chi yn fanna, Weinidog. Ie, weithiau mae pobl yn cyhuddo pobl fel fi am fod wastad yn mwydro ymlaen am bwerau a'r cyfansoddiad ac ati, ond, wrth gwrs, yr agwedd ymarferol ydy os nad ydyn ni'n gallu gwneud rhywbeth ynglŷn â'n diffyg pwerau ni yn y maes yma, neu'r diffyg cydadnabod o ran y cynllun newydd yma, rydyn ni'n mynd i gael cyw iâr clorinedig yng Nghymru, a dyna ydy'r ymarferol sy'n deillio allan o'r drafodaeth yma, neu'r diffyg grym o ran Llywodraeth Cymru. Mi wna i adael hwnna lle mae e, ond wastad mae yna bwynt ymarferol i unrhyw drafodaethau ynglŷn â'r cyfansoddiad. 

I droi, achos dwi'n sylweddoli bod amser yn dynn, rôn i wedi crybwyll Iwerddon jest nawr yn frysiog—protocol Gogledd Iwerddon ac ati, ffin caled lawr y môr yn fanna. O ran porthladdoedd, rydym ni wedi cael sôn am isadeiledd newydd porthladdoedd nawr. Mae yna gryn dipyn o sôn am Ddofr—wel, Dover, yntefe; mae'n deillio o'r hen air Cymraeg yn wreiddiol—ond dwi'n poeni mwy am Gaergybi yn naturiol, ac isadeiledd. Ydych chi'n gwybod beth sy'n mynd i ddigwydd ynglŷn ag adeiladu isadeiledd i alluogi ein porthladdoedd ni i ymdopi efo meysydd mewnfudo ac ati, fel sydd wedi cael ei gyhoeddi'r wythnos yma? Beth sy'n digwydd yng Nghaergybi, a pha fath o fewnbwn ydych chi wedi'i gael fel Llywodraeth Cymru i unrhyw drafodaethau ynglŷn â beth sy'n digwydd yng Nghaergybi, Abergwaun, Doc Penfro ac unrhyw borthladd arall efallai dwi ddim wedi sôn amdano?

I would, again, agree with you about that, Minister. Sometimes people accuse people like me about going on and on about the constitution and powers, but, of course, the practical aspect of this is if we can't do anything about our lack of powers in this field, or a lack of recognition in terms of this new scheme, we are going to have chlorinated chicken in Wales, and that's the practical aspect of this discussion, or the lack of power in terms of the Welsh Government. I'll park that there, but there is a practical point to any discussion on the constitution, I would say.

To move on, because I know that time is short, I mentioned Ireland in passing now—the Northern Ireland protocol and so on, that boundary in the sea between Wales and Ireland. The ports have been mentioned and the infrastructure there—the new infrastructure that will be needed in the ports. There was a great deal of mention made about Dover—of course, it stems from the old Welsh word 'dŵr'—but I'm concerned more about Holyhead, of course, and the infrastructure there. Do you know what's going to happen with regard to the construction of the infrastructure to enable our ports to cope with imports and so on, as has been announced this week? What's happening in Holyhead and what kind of input have you had as Welsh Government in any discussions with regard to what is happening in Holyhead, in Fishguard and Pembroke Dock, and any other port that I haven't mentioned?

Wel, diolch am y cwestiwn hwnnw. Fe wnaethoch chi ddechrau ar y testun o Ogledd Iwerddon. Jest i ddweud, fel y gwnes i ddweud, dwi'n credu, y tro diwethaf roeddwn i yma, dyw'r protocol ddim yn dangos digon o fanylder i allu bod yn sicr am beth sydd ar y gweill yn fanna. Ond rwy'n credu mai'r wythnos yma mae'r tasglu ar draws Llywodraethau'r Deyrnas Gyfunol yn cwrdd am y tro cyntaf i weithio ar yr elfennau hynny—y tasglu gwnaethom ni alw amdano fe ym mis Ionawr eleni. Felly, mae'n cwrdd am y tro cyntaf yr wythnos yma. Gobeithio gwnaiff hwnna arwain at fwy o fanylder yn benodol yng nghyd-destun Gogledd Iwerddon.

Ond, ar y cwestiwn o'r cynlluniau—cynlluniau drafft, gyda llaw—a gyhoeddwyd ddoe, dyw'r cynlluniau terfynol ddim yn debygol o gael eu cyhoeddi am rai wythnosau eto. Ar y cwestiwn o fewnbwn, os caf i ddechrau yn fanna, fe wnaethom ni weld drafftiau cynt o'r ddogfen, ac er bod y ddogfen derfynol yn edrych yn dra wahanol, buaswn i'n dweud, i'r drafftiau gwnaethom ni weld yn y broses o'u drafftio nhw a'u hysgrifennu nhw, mae ôl ein cynigion ni a'n hargymhellion ni ar y ddogfen, ac mae hynny'n mynd trwy ddadansoddiad ar hyn o bryd. Rwy'n credu ei fod e'n wir i ddweud, wrth bod amser wedi bod yn mynd ymlaen, fod gwell dealltwriaeth wedi datblygu efallai yn San Steffan o cweit pa mor gymhleth yw hyn, a'r berthynas sydd rhwng materion sydd wedi'u cadw nôl a materion datganoledig yn y maes hwn. 

O ran y cwestiwn penodol ar isadeiledd, mae'r ddogfen yn fras ar y testun hwn ar hyn o bryd. Ar y cyfan, ym mis Gorffennaf—y trydydd cam hwnnw yn y broses sy'n cael ei disgrifio yn y ddogfen—ym mis Gorffennaf mae'n debygol fydd angen yr isadeiledd ar y cyfryw. Mae'n bosib y bydd angen rhywfaint ohono fe cyn hynny ar gyfer rhyw fathau o gargo. Dyw e ddim yn disgrifio mewn manylder eto cwestiynau fel pa fath o isadeiledd, eu lleoliad nhw, eu costau nhw. Ond, mae hynny nawr yn destun trafod rhwng y Llywodraethau a'r porthladdoedd a llywodraeth leol ac ati. Felly, mae'r broses honno nawr wedi cychwyn. Fel rwy'n dweud, y targed efallai ar gyfer adeiladu rheini yw eu bod nhw'n gweithredu o ganol y flwyddyn nesaf, er bod dadansoddiad i weld os bydd angen rhyw elfen ohonyn nhw ynghynt. 

Well, thank you for that question. You started on the subject of Northern Ireland. Just to say, as I mentioned last time I was here, the protocol doesn't give enough detail to be sure about what is planned there. But I think it's this week the taskforce across the Governments of the United Kingdom is meeting for the first time to work on those elements—that was the taskforce that we called for in January this year. So, it's meeting for the first time this week. I hope that will lead to more detail specifically with regard to Northern Ireland.

On the question of the plans—they are draft plans, by the way—that were announced yesterday, the finalised plans aren't likely to be published for some weeks to come. But on the question of input, if I can start there, we did see the initial drafts of the document, and even though the final document did look rather different to the initial drafts that we saw when we did have an input into the process of drafting, our recommendations can be seen, or the traces of them can be seen, in the documents, and the discussions are still ongoing. I think it's true to say, as time has passed, there's been a better understanding perhaps in Westminster of the complexity of the relationships with regard to the reserved and devolved responsibilities in this field.

In terms of the specific question on infrastructure, the document is very broad in terms of this issue. On the whole, in July—the third step in the process described in the document—in July it's likely that the infrastructure will be needed. It's likely that some of it will be needed for certain types of cargo. It isn't described in detail what kind of infrastructure is required, the location of it, nor the costs of that. But, that is now the topic of conversation between Governments, the ports and local government et cetera. So, that process has now started. As I say, perhaps the target for building those is that they will be operative from the middle of next year, but we will need analysis to see whether some elements will be needed sooner.

10:05

Diolch yn fawr. Dwi'n ymwybodol o'r amser. Diddorol iawn. Diolch yn fawr, Weinidog, fe wna i adael e'n fanna.

Thank you very much for that. I am aware that time is against me. That was very interesting. Thank you very much, Minister, I'll leave it there.

Thank you. Before I move on to David Melding and questions on the common frameworks that are following on from some of these points on the internal market, Minister, you've highlighted in your answer to Dai Lloyd that you're seeing some of the considerations the Welsh Government has given on the draft coming through to the final document. We haven't seen those considerations, so we can't tell whether that is actually happening or not. Is it possible to have that type of information presented to the committee so we can actually do a scrutiny of are you correctly seeing your comments and your requirements being fed into the final documents?

Chair, both on this matter and on the discussion we had earlier around the work around the 'no deal' preparations last year and how they translate to what is happening this year, I'm conscious that it might be quite a little while before we have the opportunity of meeting in this forum, again—if you choose to invite me back, of course—so if you would find it helpful, I'll be happy to write at some point during the summer to provide an update of where our thinking is on those two areas, if that would be helpful to the committee.

That would be. And since you've offered to come back to the committee, we'll take you up on that in the first week in September when we come back. David.

Thank you, Cadeirydd. I presume, Minister, that whilst there aren't trade-offs here and you want a comprehensive system that you view as coherent, presumably, regarding the common frameworks, especially the ones listed as the priority ones, if there's genuine joint working there and agreement, then it kind of, you know, eases some of your worries in terms of whatever statutory basis the internal market is going to be provided with. I know, in principle, you don't really think it needs a statutory basis, but if there is a good mechanism for the development and future governance of common frameworks, would that assuage some of your anxieties expressed earlier in this committee? 

Well, my anxiety would be most assuaged if the common frameworks were the alternative to the statutory mechanism, because I think that's the better way forward, and I hope that it won't become the case that disagreements in relation to what may end up being proposed as the internal market have the effect of cutting across the joint working in relation to the common frameworks, because they are much broader in their impact. And, as members of the committee will know, we have been able, as a Government, to point to those consistently as an illustration of inter-governmental relations when they function pretty well, quite honestly. So, we would be very anxious if that were to change, not least given the much more compressed time frames that we're working to at the moment.  

10:10

I think it's very useful that we have a list of priority frameworks, incidentally, and I've just taken five of what I consider the more salient of those, but, I mean, they're all very important, and hence they're on the priority list. But, you know: agricultural support—obviously, we've been discussing that and the Welsh Government's approach in the last week; fisheries management; animal health and welfare—we've seen significant differences there in the devolved approach that the Welsh Government has taken on things like electronic dog collars, but other things as well; food hygiene; and then, waste and resources—again, we've seen very distinct policies in Wales using the maximum flexibility of devolved powers, and I think most people would, in all fairness, say that there has been much good practice developed in Wales. So, these are clearly important areas, I think we can conclude.

Now, the First Minister has said regarding these areas that he generally thinks that scrutiny will be able to take place during 2021, and he made the reasonable point that, although amendments would be possible in the scrutiny process, they would have to be agreed by all four jurisdictions, because they're common frameworks. So, parliamentary joint working is highly advisable, and that's certainly the view of this committee and we're trying to promote that concept. But can I just get some clarity about the importance of the scrutiny phase? It's huge, it seems to me. And 2021—is that going to be before the Senedd elections? Will it be later in 2021? I mean, what's your best estimate at the moment of when these hugely important common frameworks are going to enter the parliamentary scrutiny stage?

Chair, I share what I take to be the concerns and perhaps a degree of exasperation on the part of David Melding in the question, and I'm sure that we all would—Ministers and officials in the Welsh Government and, I think, probably, to be fair, in other parts of the UK as well. Because none of us would regard where we are in the arc of the development of the common frameworks today as being where we hoped to be. I'll ask Chris to come in in a moment on the question of timing, if I may. But, just to give you a clear sense, we are absolutely committed as a Government to this. We think that there'll probably be three of those frameworks capable of being put into scrutiny and for stakeholder engagement on a technical level before the end of this year—that's certainly our aim. And then the aim remains that the priority ones are all subject to an outline agreement. And I agree with you that it would be preferable for those to be subject to scrutiny as early as possible, obviously, and that scrutiny plays a fundamental role here, as does stakeholder engagement, obviously. But I think this is the pragmatic response to managing the risks, if you like. We're in mitigation territory here, rather than ideal territory, if I can put it like that. But each of those outline agreements, as I'm sure you will know, will have a statement of purpose, a mechanism for resolving disputes, so the bones of the relationship and perhaps more than that will be at least there and approved from a ministerial point of view as a sort of interim arrangement, if you like, subject to scrutiny and subject to completion. Perhaps I can ask Chris to give a sense of time frames in relation to some of those points.

Thank you. The aim, as you know, is for all of the frameworks to have an outline agreement by the end of this calendar year. So, I think, at that stage, it will become a lot clearer for us and for the committee—the trajectory on the frameworks from that point. And I think, at that point, we can start putting in place firmer scrutiny timescales for the formal scrutiny stage after Christmas. So, I think that's the key point when we'll have a much clearer picture and obviously a lot more information available to the committee and to stakeholders on the content of those frameworks.

And also, as the Minister mentioned, by then we're anticipating that three of the frameworks will have actually been through, to some extent, some formal scrutiny before the end of the calendar year. So, building on that experience and where we know the frameworks are by the end of the year, I think we can then start to schedule in the scrutiny properly across the four administrations and make sure that we can manage that in a sensible way that gives the committee the opportunity to pursue its priorities across those frameworks.

10:15

Thank you for that. That's a useful clarification. Minister, I think you would agree with me that, in general, when any important initiative is agreed in terms of, in this case, common frameworks, what happens initially is really important. So, the first time you do it, it needs maximum scrutiny and input from the legislature, and then any process for reform or adaptation or governance—I mean, it's significant, obviously—but that's ongoing work. But to be at the headwaters when these hugely important principles are set and agreed in outlining these frameworks—agricultural support, fisheries management, animal health and welfare, food hygiene, waste resources—. So, I mean, how troubled are you that—? I still don't know if we're going to do all this in the 10, 15 weeks we have between January and the dissolution of the Senedd, or is some of it going to get postponed into the new Senedd? You know, on very reasonable grounds, we'll have a new legislature then that may have a different view on some of these fundamentals. I mean, it couldn't be—. I realise this is not deliberate, you know, by the UK Government or the devolved administrations, but the political timing is just, from the legislative scrutiny position, couldn't be worse, could it?

Chair, David's question sort of outlines, I think, some of the practical reasons why we, as a Government, have counselled the UK Government that an extension to the transition period would have been a pragmatic and proportionate response to some of the challenges of preparing for departure, and this is one of the subset of those challenges.

I can't say here that that scrutiny is capable of being done in the balance of this Senedd term. I think we would all recognise that the timings in relation to this and other areas is not, obviously, within our gift as a Government. There's a set of inter-governmental arrangements that need to be reached, and inter-parliamentary arrangements that, I suggest, need to be reached as well, but we share your concern to make sure they're scrutinised as fully as possible as early as possible.

There's a danger, isn't there, that the scrutiny will be led at parliamentary level in Westminster? And, you know, it's poor practice to do fundamental work in the last few weeks of a Parliament sitting, and that's going to be a problem for us. So, if Parliament in Westminster is going ahead, we're going to be in a very awkward position if we don't do it, I suppose. That's an observation I make rather than a question.

Is there any difference in terms of—? I'm not sure on the priority list whether you think we're only going to get to an interim position. I'm not quite sure about the difference between 'interim' and 'outline', but I think 'interim' means that we've not got to the outline position where you're going to get comprehensive agreement till there's sort of an interim agreement, whilst you continue to work for a year or so—I don't know. But what scrutiny would apply to any interim frameworks, then, in this area, or do you not see interim frameworks really being a priority for you?

Well, from my own point of view, I hope that the number of interim arrangements will be kept to an absolute minimum. I think we're all hoping that there will be a framework outline agreement, at the very least, in relation to as many of the frameworks as possible. So, that is still our aim, even in these altered timescales, really. So, I'm not myself sure of any particular value in legislators devoting their time to scrutinising the interim arrangements. I'm assuming the priority of legislators everywhere will be to scrutinise the ones that are more capable of being scrutinised, bluntly, and nearer completion, just on a practical basis.

10:20

Thank you, David. Before I move on to Alun Davies to finish off the questioning, we've talked about inter-governmental relationships and they lead to the heart of the questions from Members today. There was an inter-governmental review, and Lord Dunlop has been doing some work. Where is that at the moment? Has that now been put aside by the UK Government?

My understanding of the Dunlop review is that the report has been provided to the UK Government. I know this is a matter, equally, that the comparable committee in the House of Commons was interested in when I appeared before them recently. I have not, myself, seen the Dunlop report. I'll ask Piers to let me know if there are any further developments since then, but my understanding is that we're still awaiting publication. Certainly I've not myself seen it.

Yes, that's the situation as I understand it.

Thank you. So, it seems to have been kicked into the long grass. Okay. Alun.

Thank you very much. I've been enjoying the questioning and the answers from the Minister over the last 50 minutes, and the question screaming in my head is: what's your plan B, Minister? Because I agree with the approach that you're taking. I think the approach you're taking is both deeply principled and pragmatic, if that's possible. But I look across the Severn at a Government that is in chaos, that doesn't know what it's going to do next week, let alone next month, and a Government that is thrashing about, desperately discovering what its commitments have been. The recent debate over the withdrawal agreement demonstrates clearly that the UK Government had very little understanding of what it was agreeing to when it was screaming its briefings to the Daily Express, the Daily Mail and others.

So, what's your plan B, Minister? Because it appears to me that the UK Government is not capable of coming to a reasoned, thought-out and principled agreement with either the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government or the Northern Irish Government at the moment. So, where do you go?

Well, I'm sure my plan B might be the same as Alun Davies's plan B, which probably not all Members of this committee would approve of. [Laughter.] But I'm just wondering in relation to which of the various things you think in particular you'd like to hear more—

I was thinking about the structures that David Melding has just been discussing.

Well, I think in relation to that, we have, as I say, alongside calling for a very much more ambitious set of reforms, continued to work in a very pragmatic way across the four Governments, and pursued that as the way that we should all be working. So, the work of the common frameworks is in that place, really, isn't it? We have, I think—you can see from the way we've handled the uninvited delays, mainly as a consequence of COVID, but partly as a consequence of general election distractions at the end of last year—responded very pragmatically in relation to that and tried to find a pragmatic way forward. I think, at this point in time, that strikes the right balance to describe, I think compellingly, what is a better way of doing these things, but to engage pragmatically in trying to negotiate frameworks so that we can manage some of these diversions in a very bread-and-butter way when they arise.

Yes, it does, and I have no issue with that. The question wasn't that, though, was it? It was, 'What is your plan B?' And that's a different question that demands a different answer, I'm afraid, Minister, because what I'm asking you is: if you're unable to achieve your negotiating ambitions, which I share, and I completely agree with the scenario and the description of policy that you've given us this morning, and you've been very eloquent in describing how you want to see that—. My question was: what happens when you reach the roadblock?

10:25

Well, we will continue to exercise our powers to the full as a Government, and I'm sure the Senedd will intend to do the same, and I would obviously support it strongly in doing that. We have a set of constitutional arrangements that are not fit for purpose, but they can be deployed to the full in defending the interests of people in Wales, and, as I say, we have never shied away from describing that in various contexts to the UK Government and other Governments across the UK, and we've done that in a collaborative and co-operative way, which remains our priority as a Government. As I say, we will always look to use the fullest range of our powers, as does the Senedd, in defending the various interests that we're called upon to—

Yes, so are there any discussions about a plan B taking place within the Welsh Government or between the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government, for example?

There's a range of discussions about a range of things. I'm not sure I recognise the characterisation of plan B in that sort of neat way, because the range of things we've covered in the interventions from David Melding and yourself cover a lot of ground, and I think we're pretty transparent about our approach in relation to each of them. There are obviously discussions across a range of areas of Government in the UK, but I wouldn't describe them as having a labelled plan B.

You indicated earlier that—I just want to understand this on the record—the announcements that have been made by the United Kingdom Government in recent days over border arrangements were done largely without your input. Is that the case?

Well, I'll put it like this: we certainly saw drafts of the announcement in relation to the borders, and there was close working in particular with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs around some of those. We saw more than one draft, and some of the amendments that we have proposed to the arrangements we feel have been reflected. There's a proper analysis under way of the document that was released yesterday. We haven't seen it in the form in which it was released yesterday, but I would say that there has been better close working in recent weeks in relation to that area, and that obviously needs to continue—it needs to continue urgently and in depth, for reasons that we've been discussing this morning.

The collaborative work that Huw Irranca-Davies discussed earlier, that he and I were familiar with, with UK departments wasn't about seeing a draft a couple of months ago and then analysing the document after it's been published to find out what's in it. That isn't collaborative work, is it? Collaborative work is the joint design of policy, and Huw Irranca-Davies will remember some of the conversations over fisheries policy and agriculture policy and the rest of it, and it wasn't a matter of sharing drafts, it was a matter of writing drafts. Now, that level of collaboration, which we would all want to see, I guess, across the United Kingdom, simply doesn't exist, from what you're saying.

—which I was giving you as a description of the process. But, yes, the kind of close working that I think I've described on a number of occasions in this committee and others has, generally speaking, not been a feature of the way we've operated, and obviously the way we want to operate. But there have always been examples that you can point to to say, 'This is how it worked when it worked well.'

Time is moving on, and I don't want to spend too much time on this. You will have seen the reports in the Financial Times over the weekend about the way in which the United Kingdom Government is moving. I think it's largely in terms of state-aid issues and the rest of it. That reflects a political position, because we can describe each individual issue individually or we can look at what the overall policy direction is, and the issues over state aid, as Nicola Sturgeon has been very, very clear about, and I frankly agree with her—it doesn't reflect the commitments that have been given previously by the United Kingdom Government on the settlement, and it does not reflect good faith on behalf of the United Kingdom Government in terms of our ability to negotiate with them. I think we are being treated in the same way that David Frost is treating Barnier at the moment.

So, to what extent do you, as a Minister who faces the UK Government probably more so than almost any other Minister in these negotiations, have confidence that we are able to reach an agreement that is, at one point, the pragmatic agreement that you've described, which is rooted in principle but will also stick in terms of the legislation that will be needed? Because, at the moment, it doesn't feel that any negotiation is possible.

10:30

Do you mean in relation to questions about the internal market and—?

Well, as I say, we haven't had the kind of level of official engagement that is remotely needed so we can describe this as a kind of joint working initiative. As I said, before the general election, it was very different, and the plan was for this to be a set of proposals brought forward on a joint basis. That has not been the way in which it's been brought forward. So, that tells you something about the level of confidence one can have about an agreed approach, which is exactly why I put the comments in the way that I have.

Thank you, Minister. We have come to the end of this session, and I think it's important that we reflect upon some of the comments you've made, particularly in relation to the way in which the Welsh Government and the UK Government are working, or perhaps not working, in reaching a combined and agreed situation. But I also want to try and get from you, if possible, before I leave it—because you have offered to come back to the committee in September—that perhaps you could write to us to outline the Welsh Government's actions that it will be taking, the work programme it will have over the summer in preparedness, around some of these steps we've been talking about, so we can have an understanding by the autumn term as to what you'll be trying to achieve and where you see you still need to do some extra work before the transition ends on 31 December. That would be very helpful for us.

And also, perhaps we could have an indication as to where we currently are with the situation on joint working. You mentioned that we're not always invited to all the joint transition board meeting. It would be interesting to see how many of these there have been and how many we were invited to, and how many in future will be held and how many we'll be invited to. It give us an understanding, perhaps, of the relationship that exists in these processes.

I'd certainly be happy to write to you over the summer with an update, Chair. So, yes.

Thank you. We've reached the end of our time, Minister, and therefore, as you know, you will receive a copy of the transcript to check for any factual inaccuracies. If there are any, please let the clerks and team know as soon as possible so that we can have them corrected for the record. So, once again, thank you and your officials, Piers and Christopher, for your attendance this morning.

3. Papur i'w nodi
3. Paper to note

We move on to the next item on the agenda, which is papers to note. You will notice that there is correspondence from the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism regarding the Council of Europe's convention on cinematic co-production. It's in reply to a letter we wrote to the Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language on 5 June. Are Members content to note the correspondence? I see they are, so we will note that correspondence.

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(vi) a (ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(vi) and (ix) 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) a (ix).

Motion:

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

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

The next item on the agenda is a motion under Standing Order 17.42(vi) and (ix) to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of today's meeting. Are Members content to do so? Thank you. Therefore, we will now move into private session for the remainder of today's meeting.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:33.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:33.

Dysgu am Senedd Cymru