Y Cyfarfod Llawn



In the bilingual version, the left-hand column includes the language used during the meeting. The right-hand column includes a translation of those speeches.

The Senedd met in the Chamber and by video-conference at 13:30 with the Llywydd (Elin Jones) in the Chair.

Statement by the Llywydd

Good afternoon and welcome to this afternoon's meeting. 

Last time I sat in this chair was Saturday morning, and you all looked, on average, 30 years younger than you are currently. I can report that we had a very successful meeting of the elected Senedd Ieuenctid, the Welsh Youth Parliament, meeting in this Chamber for the first time since their election. It was a very successful meeting, and I urge you all to meet with the youth parliamentarians on a regular basis if you can do. It's certainly very worth while to do that, and it was a very successful meeting. 

So, thanks to everyone from the Youth Parliament for that meeting over the weekend.

1. Questions to the First Minister

The first item is questions to the First Minister, and the first question is from Tom Giffard. 

I can confirm that charm will get you nowhere with this Chair. [Laughter.]

Access to GPs

1. Will the First Minister provide an update on patients' access to their GP? OQ58800

Llywydd, the general medical standards, agreed with GPs in Wales, are improving access and ensuring consistency across the nation. Achievement has increased year on year, with 89 per cent of all practices now achieving all the standards. Agreement for next year’s contract will see further improvements in access to the whole of the primary care team.

I'm grateful to you, First Minister, for your answer. I've been getting increasing correspondence from constituents in Porthcawl concerned about the availability of an appointment with their local GP. And whilst I understand Porthcawl medical practice is working as hard it can to meet patient demand, they've said, and I quote:

'Diagnostic and monitoring work historically performed at hospitals is being passed to GPs, and, as a profession, GPs cannot cope with these demands from all sides.'

The Royal College of General Practitioners have highlighted concerns that there are 18 fewer practices across Wales since 2020, and the British Medical Association Cymru Wales note that, whilst the Welsh Government is meeting its lesser target of training 160 new GPs each year, it falls well short of the 200 target that the BMA say is required here in Wales. All of this is putting a bottleneck of pressure on practices like Porthcawl, and it's a situation that could potentially get worse in the years to come, as we know that GPs in Wales are, on average, older than their colleagues elsewhere in the UK. So, what steps is the Welsh Government taking to ensure that GP provision meets local demand in a town like Porthcawl, and will you commit your Government to hitting the BMA target of 200 new GPs a year? 

Well, Llywydd, on the latter point, there are 200 places available in Wales for GP trainees. We don't always get to 200, but we consistently attract more than the 160, which is the baseline figure for GP training. The long-term answer, however, is to move away from the single focus on GPs themselves. GPs are leaders of a wider clinical team that works alongside them. And the history over the last decade in Wales has been a successful move to recruit more front-line clinicians in physiotherapy, in pharmacy, through paramedics who practise in primary care, and, of course, advanced practice nurses as well. And the long-term health of primary care does rely on not regarding an appointment with the doctor as the only way in which primary care can be delivered. 

I'm sure the Porthcawl medical practice works very hard indeed. They will be glad to know that, in the negotiations with the general practitioners committee Wales, we have been reducing the amount of repetitive reporting that GPs sometimes are asked to carry out, usually for the purposes of monitoring important clinical conditions. But we can do that in better and smarter ways, and release clinicians' time into doing the things that only they are able to do. 

Emergency primary care units are one of the solutions put forward in order to reduce pressures on surgeries. But, in Ynys Môn, we see that nine of the 10 surgeries that we have on the island have made 278 referrals to the new unit in Ysbyty Penrhos Stanley, while the one surgery that is directly managed by the health board, Hwb Iechyd Cybi, has itself made over twice that number of referrals—562. Does the First Minister agree with me that that's proof that we need to accelerate the process of developing a multidisciplinary health centre for the community of Holyhead and the area?


I have seen evidence over the recent months, Llywydd, about the situation in Holyhead, and I know that the health board is working with local people on the island to try and accelerate the recruitment of new people, and to make what's going on and what's available in Holyhead a part of the service that's available across the whole island. There are some problems, we know, in terms of staff recruitment, but local people are working very hard together to try and improve the current situation.

There are huge variabilities between surgeries' access. There are some excellent surgeries in my constituency, including Clydach and Strawberry Place, neither of which is my surgery. Over 90 per cent of my constituency complaints regarding GP surgeries' access is about one surgery. When people are unable to see a GP, they either go to A&E or wait until their condition deteriorates and are then forced to go to A&E. What can the Welsh Government do to ensure that at least the current median performance is achieved by all GP practices?

I thank Mike Hedges for that question, Llywydd. He draws attention to one of the fundamental facts of primary care, which is that GPs are independent contractors. They have a contract with the board, and they are not directly managed by the Welsh Government or the local health service. However, the good news for constituents of Mike Hedges is that, because of the successful conclusion of the negotiations for next year's contract, then the access standards move from being one of those things that GPs can sign up to, to one of the things that they have to deliver. It is now a fundamental part of the new contract, and that will mean, I believe, that that minority of practices—. Remember, 89 per cent of practices achieve those standards already, and that's an improvement from 65 per cent, Llywydd, in March of 2020, so the great thrust of primary care in Wales has been in the right direction, thanks to enormous efforts of staff. That small minority—that 10 per cent—that's left to achieve those standards, those things will now be easier to enforce because the contract itself will require them to be achieved.

In your initial response to this question, First Minister, you referred to the other health professionals who can play a role in alleviating the pressures on GPs themselves. You may be interested to know that I visited only last week with Jonathan Lloyd Jones in the Caerau pharmacy. It's a pharmacy at the top of a very disadvantaged area—very much that issue of the inverse healthcare law—but what they're doing up there is working with the new community pharmacy contract in Wales. And I have to say I sat in—with individuals' permission—as they did minor ailment diagnosis and prescribing, and took that pressure off the GPs, but were liaising directly with the GPs, and sharing the data information as well, with the patients' authority. What a way forward that is. So, can I ask him for his assurance that we'll keep on exploring these innovative ways not only to relieve pressure off GPs, but also to promote the health and well-being of those in some of our most disadvantaged communities?

Llywydd, I thank Huw Irranca-Davies for that question. I think the promotion of community pharmacy has been something that has been agreed across the Chamber here, over the whole of the devolution period. We've always believed that it was a resource that could be made more of, and, over the years, we have seen community pharmacists in Wales absolutely expand the range of services that they provide, to agree to a modernisation of their contracts, to make sure that the services that that very highly trained workforce is able to provide as part of the primary care family is available right across Wales. And I think it's a real tribute to the people who work in the sector that they have been so willing to play their part in the modernisation of the service in Wales. I'd say this, Llywydd, that, in Wales, we continue to have just over 700 community pharmacists. They're on high streets in every part of Wales, whereas in England there has been a significant decline in the number of pharmacies, and that is because the regulations passed in this Chamber have protected the high-street position of community pharmacies, allowing examples like that highlighted by Huw Irranca-Davies to thrive and expand.

It's not just community pharmacists either, Llywydd, thinking of the original question. I was visiting a GP practice in the last few weeks and they were celebrating the fact that they had just recruited a pharmacist to come and work directly in the surgery and were explaining to me the number of repeat visitors that they will now be able to have seen clinically appropriately and quickly by that extra resource. So, I entirely agree with the point that was made, both in the community and directly within primary care, that the contribution of pharmacy is fundamental to the way we shape the service for the future.

The Rising Cost of Living

2. What assessment has the Welsh Government made of the impact of the rising cost of living on the people of Newport West? OQ58804

Llywydd, people across Wales, including Newport West, are experiencing the biggest fall in living standards since records began. The economy has entered the early stages of recession as a result of the UK Government’s 12-year period of economic mismanagement. That will add rising unemployment to the challenges already faced by Newport West residents.

Diolch, Prif Weinidog. During this incredibly difficult time, it's vital that people have as much money in their pockets as possible. Day-to-day living costs plus unexpected expenses mean that injections of cash can be a huge lifeline. Both the Welsh Government and the UK Government have offered grants, but sadly, in many cases, people are unaware of what support they're entitled to or are deterred by complicated application processes. Ideally, payments could be made automatically to those who are eligible. At the moment, Newport is one of the councils that are trialling automatic payments for those eligible for the winter fuel scheme under the council tax reduction scheme. So, when budgets are tight for the Welsh Government and local government, working smartly is essential. We need to get the money we do have quickly and efficiently to the people who need it most. So, what action is the Welsh Government taking, working with local government, to ensure that this happens and that these essential payments are automated across Wales, rather than requiring applications?

I thank Jayne Bryant for that. She's absolutely right to point out that millions and millions of pounds available to families across Wales go unclaimed every year. The Welsh Government, through our new cost-of-living sub-committee, has been promoting the notion that every contact should count in making sure that people are advised, encouraged and helped to claim the help that is available to them. Every single day in Wales, there are thousands of encounters between public sector workers and Welsh citizens, third sector organisations meet people every day, and there are private businesses, for example those in the financial inclusion sector, who do the same thing. I believe that every one of those encounters in this extraordinarily difficult winter represents an opportunity to make sure that people are getting the help that is available to them. It's genuinely not difficult, Llywydd—there are very simple calculators that people can use readily available. Citizens Advice has one that you can just go to online. There is one on the UK Government's platform that is very simple indeed to use, and if we use that 'every contact counts' mantra then I believe there is more we can do to make sure that the help that is there and not being taken up finds its way into people's pockets, and as a result finds its way into the Welsh economy as well in difficult times.

It's an important point that Jayne Bryant makes, Llywydd, as well about automaticity. Half the local authorities in Wales now have a system where if somebody applies for one of the benefits that are available through local authorities, that person doesn't need to claim separately for all the other things that the local authority could provide. So, if you are a claimant of council tax benefit, the local authority system will check whether you are entitled to free school meals. You won't be asked to fill in another set of forms—another set of barriers. Now, what we need to do is to make sure that the other half, the other 11 authorities, are moving in that direction. There's powerful leadership from the Welsh Local Government Association to make sure that that happens. And the evidence is very clear that if you have that system where you apply once and that one application opens the door to all the help that you are entitled to, that makes sure that that help gets to more people and more quickly. I would very much like to see that right across Wales.


First Minister, from last week, millions of pensioners across the UK began to receive an initial £300 as the Conservative Government's pensioner cost-of-living payments began to be sent out. These payments will be made to over 11 million pensioners in receipt of the winter fuel payment, including some 15,600 pensioners in Newport West. In addition to this £300 uplift to the winter fuel payment, the energy price guarantee will help keep household energy bills as low as possible, saving the typical household £900 this winter. Households are also benefiting from a £400 grant automatically deducted from their energy bills, so do you agree, First Minister, that these measures to help pensioners as part of a wider support package to address rising energy bills will give people living in Newport West much-needed support this winter and protect the most vulnerable faced with rising prices? Thank you.

Well, Llywydd, I welcome any help that is made available for pensioners and for other people who rely upon the state for their income. And I hope that those payments arrive as quickly as possible with people, because we know that, of all the groups in our society, pensioners are amongst the most anxious not to do things that land them with bills that they cannot pay. I said in answer to Jayne Bryant's original question about the millions of pounds that go unclaimed that the person in Wales who is least likely to claim the help to which they are entitled is a single woman aged over 75, and the reasons for that are complex, but it does demonstrate that particular efforts have to be made to make sure that the pensioner population in Wales gets every help that is available. When more help is available to them, then, of course, I welcome that.

Questions Without Notice from the Party Leaders

Questions now from the party leaders. Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew R.T. Davies.

Thank you, Presiding Officer. First of all, First Minister, I'm sure that you would like to join with me in wishing good luck to the Welsh team this evening, taking the Welsh flag onto the football field and hopefully, putting the ball in the back of the net several times against the old foe [Laughter.] Because, ultimately, we want our fans and, importantly, our team to stay out in Qatar longer and progress through the tournament.

If I could ask you, First Minister, at the beginning of October, the health Minister announced £2 million to improve accident and emergency waiting rooms and the conditions that the people turning up in those waiting rooms might experience. How is that roll-out going, because it was meant to be concluded ready for the winter months?

First of all, Llywydd, to associate myself exactly with what the leader of the opposition said in his opening remarks. He will know that I was able to be in Qatar this time last week. I was able to go and see the Welsh team train and to meet them in their preparations. They are the most fantastic group of people; we are really lucky to have them represent us on that world stage. Their commitment to one another, their sense of pride in representing Wales and their sense of what it means beyond football are absolutely apparent when you meet them. I think that we should be very proud indeed of the fans who are over there as well. Their sense of what it is to be Welsh when you are in a tournament of that sort is absolutely apparent when you are with them, and, of course, I'm sure, right around the Chamber, everybody hopes that that will translate tonight into success on the field.

To turn to the substantive question, indeed, the Minister did announce £2.7 million to health boards. It's been allocated, it is with health boards. I have seen myself the measures that health boards intend to take. Every health board has had to identify the way in which it will spend the money, and those lists are in and have been approved, and action now needs to be taken to make sure that that money is put to best use. I don't think we can be completely confident that everywhere, that money is yet making the difference that it needs to make, but now it is for health boards to make sure that, with the resource provided, with the plans approved, that makes the difference on the ground, so that patients attending our A&E departments have those basic standards of decency to which they are surely entitled.


Thank you for that answer, First Minister. In one breath, it's pleasing to hear that the lists are in—I think that was your terminology—but, regrettably, anyone who looked at Twitter over the weekend would have seen the trail of experience that people were having at the Heath hospital's A&E waiting time room. On your way in, you were greeted by a pile of vomit on the floor, a mountain of cigarette butts on top of a bin, a sanitary provision in a toilet that was overflowing, and a vending machine that had three items of food in there to provide some relief for the times that people were waiting. Also, there were broken chairs in the environment, which the photographs attest to. This really does show how difficult the environment is that people are being asked to wait in.

Now, you and I could debate at length about staffing rotas and other provisions, but, if health boards are unable to get the basics right and, in particular, when you've made money available, is it any wonder that people get very frustrated and very upset when they have that experience in Wales's largest A&E department? But, regrettably, I doubt that's an isolated incident from other A&E departments, and I'd very much hope that the Government can give us some assurance today that you're bearing down on the health boards to make sure that that money is spent, the improvements are made and the experience that both staff and patients will have will greatly improve in the coming weeks. 

Well, I certainly expect those improvements to be made, and I'd certainly expect to see them at the accident and emergency department at the Heath hospital—a new unit with significant investment from the Welsh Government within the last five years or so. So, this is not an old building, unfit for modern conditions; this was a building provided to be fit for the current sorts of services that you'd expect an A&E department of that sort to provide.

However, Llywydd, some of the things that the leader of the opposition has read out demonstrate the challenges that staff in A&E departments face, because it wasn't the health service that vomited on the way into the A&E department, and it wasn't health staff who left cigarette butts all over the front of it. So, I think, as well as, quite rightly, demanding that basic things are properly attended to, and the money that's provided well spent, some consideration is also to be given to the conditions in which staff themselves have to work. And, if you've been—as I'm sure the leader of the opposition has been—to the Heath, you will know just what a volume comes through that door. The percentage of people who come there because of alcohol misuse, the behaviour that members of staff have to deal with from a significant minority—it is a minority, but it's there to be seen whenever you are there—of people for whom they are seeking to provide care. And while the health board has—and I completely accept—a real responsibility to do everything that they can, patients have a responsibility as well. And some of the things that people complained about—and I understand why they did—at the weekend, were the actions of fellow patients, not the actions of the health board itself.

I accept that it's a joint responsibility, but when people are waiting 12, 17 or, indeed, as my colleague next to me Darren Millar from Clwyd West said, he met someone who'd waited 40 hours in an A&E department at Glan Clwyd hospital, it is a fact that the condition they might have turned up in has greatly deteriorated over the time they've had to wait in that waiting room, or in that environment or setting. Several times I've raised with you, First Minister, the ability to get consultants and doctors in particular into A&E departments across Wales, which would greatly facilitate the speed that people progress through the A&E department. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has a baseline for staffing for an emergency department here in Wales and, indeed, across the United Kingdom. Can you confirm today whether all emergency departments are meeting that baseline? And if they're not meeting that baseline, what are you doing to make sure that they do, because surely you'd agree with me that if they don't meet the staffing baseline, that's creating an environment that isn't safe?


I should point out at the start, Llywydd, that the median waiting time for somebody in an A&E department in Wales is two hours and 50 minutes, so the standard wait before you are seen and treated is actually two hours and 50 minutes. I know that it doesn't suit people always to have the facts, and, of course, people do wait longer than that, but the standard waiting time—the median waiting time—is the one that I've just quoted to you.

I'll write to the leader of the opposition, of course, in relation to staffing matters, because I don't have that information immediately to hand. Staffing A&E departments is a challenge in every part of the United Kingdom. It's a particular sort of clinician who feels that their skills are best deployed in that very demanding environment, when you never know what you're going to be seeing next and you never know whether what you're seeing next is something that you can deal with quickly and effectively, or whether it's a genuine emergency that requires the concentrated efforts of the whole of the hospital team. Those skills are not to be found in every clinician by any means, and, right across the United Kingdom, finding people who think that their contribution to the health service is best made in emergency departments is a challenge. But, I will write to the leader of the opposition with the figures that he was looking for. 

Diolch, Llywydd. First Minister, today, Cymru meets England as an equal and independent footballing nation on the field of play in Qatar, and I'm sure that we're all praying for what would be the most famous of victories. But, are we equal nations on the fields of power and politics? That's the question raised by last week's Supreme Court judgment. You've said previously that the United Kingdom should now be seen as a voluntary association of nations. Do you agree with your counterpart in Scotland that last week's judgment means that the United Kingdom is not currently, at least, a voluntary partnership, when Westminster not just possesses a legal veto on self-determination but is politically determined, it seems, to using it?

The Counsel General said last week that the best means of ensuring positive constitutional change would be the election of a Labour Government. Should that Government, in your view, commit to creating a clear and guaranteed route for a constituent nation of the UK to hold an independence referendum where there is an explicit mandate in its favour? 

Well, Llywydd, I agree, of course, with what my colleague, the Counsel General, said: that there is a great deal of constitutional repair that needs to be made to the United Kingdom and that the next Labour Government will have a real responsibility to make sure that that happens. I had an opportunity only yesterday evening to discuss the forthcoming Gordon Brown review with the leader of the opposition at Westminster. I agree with what Mick Antoniw said about the responsibility that will fall to that next Labour Government.

Llywydd, the position of the Welsh Government remains that set out in 'Reforming our Union'; it has been our position for a number of years. Colleagues here will remember that what we said in that document was that,

'provided a government in either country has secured an explicit electoral mandate for the holding of a referendum, and enjoys continuing support from its Parliament to do so, it is entitled to expect the UK Parliament to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the appropriate arrangements can be made.'

So, that's been our position and it remains our position. 

In the conversation that you had with Sir Keir Starmer, did he reiterate the comments that he made in an interview earlier this month, which were confirmed by his official spokesperson following the judgment last week, that he would not agree to an independence referendum in Scotland following the next general election? Is that not a denial of democracy? And on that theme, what do you, First Minister, understand to be the position of the UK Labour Party as to the devolution of justice? They opposed it in the Wales Act deliberations in 2017. Asked this morning in Westminster Hall whether they supported it now, shadow justice Minister Anna McMorrin could only say a UK Labour Government would work in partnership with the Welsh Labour Government, but the focus would be on looking not at

'where justice is delivered, but on how it's delivered.'

Is that also not a denial of democracy? It’s certainly hardly a ringing endorsement of the mandate that you won at the 2021 election.


Llywydd, I also had the opportunity to discuss with Anna McMorrin yesterday evening the debate to which she would be replying. I’m very glad indeed that she emphasised, as I hoped she would, the importance of a partnership between the next Labour Government and the Labour Government here, because it’s only in that way that we will ever see the transfer of responsibility for justice matters, which is the policy of this Government, which was contained in the Labour manifesto in the 2017 and 2019 general elections. So, I’m very glad to see that that was so very firmly put on the record by our Labour colleague at Westminster Hall.

Matters in Scotland are matters for the Scottish Labour Party and for the leader of the party to navigate. I hear what the leader of the Labour Party in Scotland says, which is that a referendum is a matter of timing and, quite certainly in the view of the Scottish Labour Party, now is not the moment when people in Scotland have their minds focused on constitutional matters when they have a winter of the sort that they see stretching out in front of them.

So, you’ve changed your view, then, from the summer, when you said:

'The SNP...won an election on the basis they would seek another referendum. How can that be denied to the Scottish people?'

And Anna McMorrin was directly asked whether she was prepared to commit to the devolution of justice, and she was not prepared to give that commitment.

Now, can I turn to the consequences for Wales from the judgment last week? In particular, is it the Welsh Government’s view that you still hold an Executive power to hold referenda, including, if you so choose, on constitutional matters, using secondary legislation? Section 64 of the Government of Wales Act enables Ministers to hold a poll on how their functions are exercised, and section 60 enables Ministers to do anything that they believe is necessary to improve the well-being of Wales. So, would holding a poll on the constitutional future of Wales using secondary legislation, and therefore immune to legal challenge on competence, be permissible, potentially, using this route in your view?

First of all, Llywydd, let me be clear: I have not changed my mind on what I said in the summer, and the extract from ‘Reforming our Union’ made that very clear. The issue of timing is a separate issue to the basic one of whether a referendum should be held, and, as far as what Anna McMorrin will have said today, she will be anticipating the publication of the Gordon Brown report and will not wish to go beyond what she will know about what it may say on these matters. I look forward to the publication of the report and to it finding a way for us to move forward on the ambition of this Chamber and the ambition set out in Labour Party manifestos to begin the process of transferring responsibilities for justice services here to Wales.

As to whether or not the Welsh settlement offers us a different route to holding a referendum than the one tested by the Scottish Government in the courts, well, as the Counsel General said when he answered a question from the leader of Plaid Cymru last week, we are studying the judgment and we are making sure that we get advice in the round as to where that judgment impinges on the responsibilities and possibilities of the Senedd. I don’t know enough to be sure that I can answer the leader of Plaid Cymru’s question in all its detail. I have a suspicion that it will not be quite as straightforward as he might think—that what the court in the Scottish case tested was whether, in exercising functions, the Scottish Parliament would be within the ambit of its own devolved responsibilities, and I imagine that the same test would apply to our powers as well, even through secondary legislation and even if you attempted to frame it within that very broad ambit of responsibility for the well-being of people here in Wales. But, as the Counsel General said, we are taking detailed advice on the relationship between the Scottish question, as tested in the Supreme Court, and the powers that we have here in Wales, and I'll make sure that the point raised by the leader of Plaid Cymru this afternoon is tested in that advice. 

The Future of St David's Hall

3. What discussions has the Welsh Government had with Cardiff Council regarding the future of St David's Hall? OQ58805

I thank the Member for the question, Llywydd. The future of the venue is an issue for Cardiff Council. Any engagement with the Welsh Government will be undertaken through the Arts Council of Wales, and the local authority is expected to meet the council to discuss the future of the hall on Thursday this week.

Thank you, First Minister. I know from your appearance on Beti a'i Phobol that you are very musical yourself. I also know, having been in university with the leader of Cardiff Council, that he's a talented musician too. As you will know as a musician, musical education and experiences are crucially important, and, as a national concert hall for Wales, St David's Hall has provided excellent opportunities for schoolchildren across the years. I can say myself, through Urdd Gobaith Cymru and the school, that I was able to perform on the stage of St David's Hall. So, First Minister, are you concerned that if Live Nation Inc from Beverley Hills were to take control of St David's Hall that the children of Wales from that point onwards wouldn't have the same experiences? Thank you.  

I think it's too early to be concerned, Llywydd, because we don't know enough details. I've had an opportunity today to speak to the council leader here in Cardiff, and I'm sure that he's aware of every point that Rhys ab Owen has raised. So, they are doing the work with not just one company but with more than one company that has shown an interest in collaborating with the council on the future of St David's Hall. I know that the council leader has invited every local Senedd Member to meet him to hear about those discussions, and I'm sure, after having the opportunity to speak to Huw Thomas, that he is determined, if there is any agreement on the future, to safeguard not just what the schools do at present in the hall, but community use in its entirety of a very important resource for the lives of people who live in the capital city.  

First Minister, Cardiff Council have cited a maintenance backlog to the tune of £55 million as a motivating factor behind recent soundings to sell St David's Hall in Cardiff. The systematic failure to provide adequate ongoing maintenance now means that the venue, which hosts cultural and civic occasions, as my colleague Rhys mentioned, that add to Cardiff's prestige as a capital city is looking to change hands to a company that has declared their desire to cease holding these types of events. This potential sale of St David's Hall brings to the forefront issues about how responsible the local authority should be in the management of community assets and community buildings, and how accountable they should be when they've failed to properly maintain and look after them.

First Minister, I would argue that £55 million-worth of maintenance work is very unlikely to have been accrued over the last three years since the start of the COVID pandemic, and I do not believe that this should be made the reasoning behind the backlog. Fifty-five million pounds-worth of maintenance happens over decades of neglect, and I therefore believe that, if Cardiff Council had acted responsibly in carrying out proper scheduled maintenance, they would not be looking to sell St David's Hall. With this in mind, First Minister, what assessment has this Government made alongside local authorities to understand whether or not those responsible for maintaining cultural and community assets are doing all that they can to properly maintain them? Thank you. 

Llywydd, I've no doubt the Member will make those points to the proper authority, which in this case is Cardiff Council itself. He's right—Cardiff Council is responsible for it and is answerable to its local population, and Cardiff Council won a significant endorsement from the people here in Cardiff in only May of this year. I will just add only this, Llywydd, that the leader of the council was very clear in his conversation with me today that there is no suggestion in any of the discussions that he is holding that the council would cease to be owner of the freehold of St David's Hall. 

Good afternoon, First Minister. I don't live in Cardiff, but, as a child and a young person living and brought up in north Wales, I attended many concerts at St David's Hall, and some of those, I have to say, on my own, as I could often not find somebody to come with me to some of those events. I won't give you the list of those concerts that I went to, but they were very unique, shall we say. St David's Hall is seen as a national venue, and I've heard what you've said, and it's comforting to hear that you share my view that St David's Hall should remain within public hands. It is indeed something that we across Wales want to see remaining in public hands, ensuring that it continues to deliver on that musical heritage that it has. Diolch yn fawr iawn.


Well, Llywydd, I certainly agree that the hall has had an exceptional 40-year history. Seeing this question, I was reminded of a very early visit I made to the hall, back at the very start of its existence, where I attended a concert of music by Delius, conducted by Eric Fenby, who, as a young man, had written down the music as Delius composed it. Delius was blind in later life, and as a young man, Fenby had been his amanuensis, as it's called, and, very much later in his life, there he was in St David's Hall, conducting the music that he himself had written down. It was utterly memorable at the time; it remains with me ever since. So, I absolutely recognise the point that the Member has made about that history.

Cardiff Council will go on, I am sure, securing the public interest in whatever arrangement it makes for the future of the hall. Nobody, though, should believe that 12 years of austerity, despite everything that this Chamber has done to try to protect the budgets of local authorities, does not have a very significant impact on the ability of local authorities right across Wales to deliver services in the way that they may prefer to choose them. They have to find other ways, creative ways, sometimes, of making sure that the public interest, and there is a very clear public interest in making sure that St David's Hall continues to be a successful music venture—to find ways in which that can be made to happen.

I put my name down to follow up on this question without realising how many people would also be doing the same, but I would like to add my voice. I've been contacted by a constituent, who plays regularly in an orchestra at St David's Hall. I was going to say 'a cross-party voice', but it's disappointing to hear Joel James making a party political attack on Cardiff Council, since, as you've already said, the austerity agenda has been very significantly impacting the ability of local authorities to sustain these kinds of venues since 2010. That said, the constituent who contacted me wanted to emphasise his concern that a private operator might not see the same kind of cultural importance of the diversity that is currently presented at St David's Hall and would like that to continue, and would like that to be communicated to Cardiff Council.

Well, I thank Hefin David for that. The points he makes are points that I know the local authority itself has heard and will take very seriously. However the future of the hall is to be designed, the local authority will want to secure its continuing viability, not just for the sorts of very popular events that happen there, but that wider range of youth events, community events, classical music events, international events, such as the International Concert Series and the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. And challenging as it is to sustain public services at a time of sharply reducing budgets, I know that those considerations will be very actively in the local authority's mind.

Ambulance Waiting Times

4. What urgent action is the Welsh Government taking to cut ambulance waiting times? OQ58801

Llywydd, recruitment of further additional staff, reformed rota arrangements, reductions in sickness absence and new investment in technology to support clinical decision making are amongst the actions being taken to reduce ambulance waiting times.

Thank you, First Minister. I asked the health Minister the same question recently as to how this Government will cut ambulance waiting times. First Minister, it's been over a year now since your Government published its six goals for emergency care, and the situation has got worse, as I experienced myself recently and many of my constituents. None of this, of course, is the fault of hard-working paramedics, but the poor planning from this Labour Government. As I said to the health Minister, we haven't forgotten that the last health Minister said that it would be foolish to publish a plan for recovery whilst the pandemic was going on, and now we're paying the price.

First Minister, as we've heard already, we're now in winter and we know the situation will deteriorate, even without the prospect of a nurses' strike. I was in children's A&E with my son last week, and during the night there were 67 children to see and two doctors. Demand increases. First Minister, what immediate measures are you taking to ensure that our ambulance waiting times improve, and also, ultimately, that patients don't pay the ultimate price due to this Government's poor planning or lack of action?


Well, Llywydd, I read the Record of the Member's exchange with the Minister for health, and we have a reprise of exactly the same points that she made then this afternoon, and the answers haven't changed from the answers that she was given on that occasion.

I'll come to the substance of her question in a moment, but let me make it clear to the Chamber that I do not accept for a moment the suggestion that the Member makes that this is somehow a uniquely Welsh problem. The leader of the ambulance service in England, last week, said that people were dying in the English health service because of the problems of ambulances in the English NHS. So, the point I make is not at all as she does to try to make foolish comparisons, but to recognise the fact that everywhere the system is under enormous pressure, that everywhere clinicians are working extremely hard to try to tackle it, that everywhere Governments are trying to find solutions to a problem that is the same in Wales, and Scotland, and in England, and worse again in Northern Ireland. So, the idea, as she tried to put it to my colleague the health Minister, and she's tried to put it again this afternoon, that this is somehow a uniquely Welsh experience, is not true, she knows it's not true, and she shouldn't keep suggesting it. 

The actions that are being taken are the ones that the health Minister provided to her when she asked the question only a week or so ago. Mercifully, as a result of all the actions that have been taken, emergency admissions in Wales are down. They're down below pre-pandemic levels. They're down because of the actions that the Minister has taken. The Minister chaired a meeting of all health boards and the ambulance service only yesterday, to report on the way in which those measures are being taken forward now and how they will be taken forward further over this winter. That will include the urgent primary care centres that have been established now in all parts of Wales, and will soon cover the whole of the Welsh population, which means that people don't have to go to an emergency ambulance to be conveyed to a hospital when there are other closer-to-hand facilities that draw that demand away. The Member said herself that there were 67 children attending that department. How does she imagine a system is able to respond when you see demand of that escalating sort, other than by finding other ways in which that demand can be managed?

Now, I think it is a real tribute to the changes that have been made and that the Minister has led that, now, 4,000 999 calls every month in Wales are being successfully managed clinically without people ever having to leave their own homes. In the face of the sort of demand we are seeing, in the face of that combination of circumstances this winter—COVID, which hasn't gone away; flu, which is on the rise in Wales; respiratory syncytial virus, which is at extraordinary levels, particularly amongst the under-fives, and, I imagine, was responsible for quite a significant number of those children being taken to an A&E department—the system works as hard as it can to remain resilient in the face of those extraordinary challenges.

Decarbonisation of All Welsh Homes

5. What discussions has the Welsh Government had with the construction industry on the decarbonisation of all Welsh homes? OQ58799

Llywydd, we remain in close contact with the industry in Wales, for example, through the construction forum and through key actions, such as the optimised retrofit programme. In this way, we maintain a regular discussion with the industry on a range of decarbonisation issues.


I recognise the excellent work that's been done through the optimised retrofit programme, which has certainly improved a lot of our social housing. I look forward to hearing the detail of next year’s net-zero skills plan, because that is going to be crucial in enabling the construction industry to plan for having the skills they need to decarbonise all our homes.

I appreciate the Welsh Government’s ambition is tempered by at least a £1 billion cut in its budget next year. Nevertheless, there are many ways in which the cause of decarbonising the private sector can be advanced, particularly when 40 per cent of all Welsh homes are owned outright with no mortgage attached. Whether it's individual building passports or fiscal incentives through a reduction in stamp duties or land value tax, how can we galvanise people who have the resources to invest in reducing their heating bills and do the right thing by the environment?

Well, Llywydd, I thank Jenny Rathbone. She makes a really important point here that public investment will carry us so far on this agenda, but it will have to be co-financed by people who have resources that they themselves can make available. Providing a building passport for each home is something that was recommended by the UK Climate Change Committee, and will be fundamental because, as we've discussed in the Chamber before, every building has its own history and every building will need its own solution when it comes to decarbonisation. We work with the Development Bank of Wales to try to develop products that can be used to help people who have assets that they themselves can put to work, so that privately owned properties can themselves play a part in that decarbonisation journey. Alongside that, we go on investing significant sums of money. In the public sphere, new Welsh quality housing standards, which are being consulted upon, will improve the standards of energy efficiency of publicly owned properties here in Wales.

I just make this one broader point, to put the Member's question in context, the Welsh net-zero skills plan is very important. The things that we can do to encourage private investment in this area are very important. The industry faces enormous headwinds, which a plan by itself will not put right. We know that there are labour shortages as a result of Brexit. We know that there are barriers to the importation of materials, again made worse because we don't have the same trading relationship we had with our most important neighbours, and that creates bottlenecks in the system as well. There are some global issues, and that includes the impact of the war in Ukraine on some essential materials for house construction and for retrofitting work that, even with plans by the Welsh Government and investment, public and private, means that there are real challenges that are going to be faced in the sector over the years ahead.

The UK Government's Autumn Statement

6. Will the Minister outline how the £1.2 billion injection to Wales from the UK Government’s autumn statement will benefit people in Denbighshire? OQ58777

Llywydd, when the draft budget is published on 13 December, it will have to balance the £600 million, which is now available next year, against the remaining £1 billion reduction in that budget's purchasing power. That reduction caused by the same inflation that is inflicting so much harm on the citizens of Denbighshire.

Thank you very much for that answer, First Minister, and what we've seen in recent weeks is the UK Conservative Government again taking leadership in difficult financial times to invest in Wales. And, indeed, in their autumn statement, it was revealed that we will receive £1.2 billion in consequential funding, and this, of course, is in addition to the levelling-up and shared prosperity funding, which has benefited areas in my patch in Denbighshire. Now, as you will know, the Vale of Clwyd has Rhyl in the constituency, which has one of the poorest areas in all of Wales, with high rates of unemployment and a small amount of opportunities for people—[Interruption.]

Can you allow the Member to continue his question, Labour backbenchers?

Yes. Thank you, Llywydd. A small amount of opportunities for people to find well-paid and sustainable careers in the local area, something that could be solved in part if we had a Welsh Government that worked for all of Wales and worked in partnership with Westminster. So, will the First Minister outline today how he will best work with Rishi Sunak and the UK Government in making sure that my constituency feels the benefit of this injection of cash, rather than just sniping from the sidelines?


Well, Llywydd, it's one of those questions where you don't know where to start, really. First of all, let's put the record straight. I see that the Member was busy tweeting that Wales was going to get £1.2 billion in funding for schools and hospitals. Well, of course, that's not true at all. Forty-four per cent of all the consequential that comes to Wales is a consequence of changes to business rate support announced in England. So, half the money is gone before we start on any school or any hospital, and even when that money is there, it still leaves a budget that in real terms, next year, is £1 billion less than it was when that Conservative Government fixed the budget in November last year. That's the truth that faces the residents of Denbighshire.

I hardly knew what to think when I heard the Member refer to the levelling-up fund and the shared prosperity fund. Did he notice that his Government took another £400 million out of the shared prosperity fund in the autumn statement? We already knew that the absolute guarantee that Wales would not be a penny worse off as a result of losing Objective 1 funding wasn't going to be true at all. That was already clear from the previous funds that the UK Government had outlined. Now we've got £400 million less even than that, and we don't even have an announcement on the funding for Wales at all. Any suggestion that the way in which people in the Member's constituency are to find new opportunities in their lives is by following what has been happening at Westminster is so far removed from the reality of the position that the Member's question this afternoon needs a very significant dose of reality.

Safe Discharge Procedures

7. What steps is the Welsh Government taking to ensure that hospitals have safe discharge procedures in place? OQ58780

Renewed and revised expert guidance to assist staff in safe and timely discharge of hospital patients will be launched on 6 December.

Thank you, and I do look forward to that. The reason I'm asking you the question is I did ask for a statement last week through the Trefnydd, for a statement from the health Minister and social care Minister, because I will declare an interest: I did experience a very poor situation in north Wales last week. A 98-year-old member of my family, who had mobility issues on the day he was discharged from hospital, and a broken shoulder, was recently discharged on the day and sent home with no care package in place for the remainder of that day even. They left this particular relative sat in a chair at home, unable to move. He would have actually been stuck there until carers arrived the next day, but for my own intervention, actually. Having spoken to people working within the health and social care departments that night, whereby we did manage to get some support in, I was actually almost here in Cardiff when I heard that nobody had been to see him as was promised. Now, I've been assured that this is not a unique case. Other vulnerable patients are being discharged to homes without care packages in place. Now, I appreciate that—

Yes, okay. In the 2021 manifesto, you promised to legislate to strengthen partnerships to deliver better integrated care and health. So, in the light of the clear evidence that the breakdown in communication between health and social care in north Wales is posing a threat, what action will you take to ensure better integrated care and health, and that nobody else is left in such a vulnerable position? Thank you.

Well, Llywydd, I was very sorry to read the points that the Member made last week, and I'm glad to hear that as a result of her intervention some of those difficulties have been resolved.

I have asked for an assurance from the chief executive of NHS Wales that these sorts of events are exceptional in the Welsh NHS and that the vast bulk of people who are discharged do have a proper care plan in place and are not discharged into the sorts of circumstances that we've heard about this afternoon, and I received that assurance today. Mistakes do happen, and not everything is as we would like it to be, but the idea that many people are discharged in Wales in circumstances that are not safe, I think, is not borne out by the evidence, and nor should it be.

The guidance that will be launched on 6 December will strengthen that again. It will make sure that every patient will have a discharge plan, and that discharge plan will be inaugurated on the day that the person is admitted. You should be planning for discharge from admission. The plan that will be announced on 6 December will strengthen that. That is backed up by the additional investment that the Welsh Government has provided in this financial year, which is shared investment. It is at that integrated point that the Member mentioned, where health and social care services sit down together, plan together to provide services so that, when someone is moving from one service to another, there aren't gaps in the system that cause the sort of difficulty that we were hearing about earlier. 


8. How is the Welsh Government ensuring the accessibility of ATMs in communities in north Wales? OQ58775

Responsibility for banking services is not devolved to the Senedd. While the Welsh Government cannot, therefore, ensure ATM availability, we work with those who are able to do so, including innovative services such as shared banking hubs. I welcome the plans for such a hub at Prestatyn.

Thank you. Research from consumer champion Which? this month found that one in five people say they would struggle to cope in a cashless society, with those on lower incomes, older people and people with physical or mental health difficulties being particularly dependent on cash. Speaking here in 2010, I raised the risk management and capital adequacy requirements and regulation a new community bank will have to comply with, which an established bank or building society partner would not. In 2017, I led a debate on banking services here, which called on the Welsh Government to examine the not-for-profit community banking model. I therefore welcomed your subsequent announcement of the community bank for Wales, Banc Cambria, in partnership with Monmouthshire Building Society, subject to your repeated assurances that this would not impact on credit union services and the Post Office 'right to cash' banking framework. However, at last month's Post Office Senedd event, they were unaware of your community bank proposals and how this may impact on them. Monmouthshire Building Society has told me that it's more important to launch something that's right than to launch it quickly, that they're still working to address the gap in their provision of a current account, and that their Banc Cambria outlets will not necessarily be branches. So, in terms of access to cash, including ATMs, what, therefore, is the current position?

First of all, Llywydd, I agree with the series of points that Mark Isherwood made at the start of his question. It is very important that we are able to provide access to cash for those many communities that rely on it.

I am astonished that the Post Office in Wales had not caught up with the developments of the community bank, given that they have been very widely publicised and discussed repeatedly on the floor of this Chamber. Given that this is central to their activity, it is very surprising indeed to find that they appear to have been unsighted on it. You'd think they would wish to take some responsibility to make sure they were better informed. 

The work with the Monmouthshire Building Society does continue. There are, as they will have explained, some regulatory hurdles that they have to pass. It's one of the reasons why we have formed an alliance with them in developing the community bank, because they are an established and well-respected financial service provider. Solving some of those regulatory hurdles is easier when you are working with them. 

It is very important; I agree completely with what Mark Isherwood said. The community bank is intended to be an addition to the services that are there already—alongside, but not in competition with, credit unions, post offices and other service providers. Part of the reason why they will have said to the Member that it is better to get this right rather than to get it done quickly is to make sure that, when the community bank is operational, it has the right range of services and is able to provide them alongside those other services that are already there and that do a great deal of good in the lives of people for whom conventional financial institutions have, in recent years, more and more, stepped back from providing a service.

2. Business Statement and Announcement

The next item is the business statement and announcement. I call on the Trefnydd to make that statement. Lesley Griffiths.

Diolch, Llywydd. There are two changes to today's agenda. The Deputy Minister for Social Services will make an oral statement on the publication of the child practice review into the death of Logan Mwangi as the first item immediately after the business statement. Additionally, the statement by the Minister for Social Justice on the international day of disabled persons has been moved further down the agenda. Draft business for the next three weeks is set out on the business statement and announcement, which can be found amongst the meeting papers available to Members electronically.

Can I call for a statement from the Welsh Government Minister with responsibility for designated landscapes about what action is being taken to protect those landscapes from erosion as a result of off-road vehicles accessing them? We've got particular problems on Moel Famau at the moment, in my own constituency, where motorcyclists and others seem to be accessing the footpaths, causing a lot of erosion, damage to vegetation and subsoil. And of course, this is not just in an area of outstanding natural beauty, which we hope will be designated as a national park in the not-too-distant future, but it's on the all-important Offa's Dyke footpath as well, which, of course, is a scheduled monument. It's unacceptable, we need to do more work to address this problem on a co-ordinated basis, and I wonder what action the Welsh Government might be able to take. If you could bring forward a statement, I'd be most grateful.

Thank you. I think that probably cuts across both my own portfolio and that of the Minister for Climate Change, so I will have a discussion with her. Certainly, within my portfolio, I'm looking at the new national park, but I haven't had any discussions about that, or I wasn't aware of any issues around it. But I will certainly have a discussion with her and see if there is any further information.

Could we have an oral or written statement on school transport, please?

At 07:30 on Thursday morning, parents and local representatives walked from Maesteg park down to Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd, to highlight how long and unsafe the route to school is to walk. It took them roughly 45 minutes to an hour to make the journey, and that happened to be an okay day weather-wise, but the reality is that kids are walking in all weathers. I understand that budgets are tight, but parents tell me that many of the buses that take those from outside of the mileage thresholds to school are half empty as they pass kids who live within the thresholds. I would hope that the Government would look to step in.

This really is a matter for the relevant local authority. I would really advise you to contact the local authority, to see if there is anything more—. Clearly, you don't want to see children walking to school when buses are passing not at full capacity.

I'm asking for two Government statements. The first is an update on transport proposals for the Swansea bay city region. I've been told that, from December 2022, timetable changes for west Wales to Cardiff mean that there are no trains calling in Llansamlet station from 2.06 p.m. until 4.58 p.m. on Monday to Friday. How are we supposed to attract passengers to the service? Also, can the statement include when the hourly Swanline service is going to start?

The second statement I'm requesting is an update on renewable energy in Wales—a statement to include tidal, onshore and offshore wind, and solar. I very much welcome the use of the solar farm next to Morriston Hospital to provide energy to the hospital, and would like to see a plan for more of those across Wales. The tidal lagoon in Swansea was turned down on the grounds of the availability of cheap gas—remember that? As that is no longer true, can the statement also include proposals for tidal lagoons?

Thank you. Transport for Wales absolutely recognise the importance of attracting more passengers onto rail services. As you know, they're introducing brand-new trains across Wales in 2023, and I think some new trains have already been introduced. I'm not aware of any reduction in Transport for Wales services calling at Llansamlet station. I will certainly check that that is the case, but I'm not aware of that. In relation to the Swanline service, Transport for Wales are currently working on the business case to introduce an hourly Swanline service. As I say, the business case is currently being put together.

In relation to renewable energy, the Member will be aware that the Minister for Climate Change absolutely has a vision for Wales to host renewable generation to at least fully meet our energy needs while also retaining wealth and value here in Wales. She is currently implementing the recommendations of the deep dive that she undertook earlier this year. It's really good that you mentioned Morriston Hospital. Certainly, we are doing all we can to encourage more energy projects on the public estate here in Wales.


Minister, please can I ask for a statement from the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being about mental health provision? I recently went on a ride-along with Gwent Police to get an insight into what life is like for police officers across south-east Wales. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience, and it was a great opportunity to have some open and frank discussions with officers and staff from across the force. Obviously, I understand, accept and respect that policing is a devolved matter, and I've written to the Home Secretary about some of the things raised with me, but it's clear that some action could be taken by the Welsh Government to help our police forces. 

The main issue that came up time and time again during my time on the beat was the lack of mental health facilities across south-east Wales. Police officers have a duty of care to someone in the midst of a mental health crisis—and I must stress that everyone I spoke to have no problem in doing this, helping them and supporting them regardless of the circumstances. However, there have been instances of officers spending hours on end with patients because there simply isn't enough capacity within our mental health facilities for them to be seen. Because of the lengthy delays in the police handing over the patient to health professionals, officers are out of action for far too long. I was told several times that these delays are a result of Wales having the worst A&E waits and slowest ambulance response times in Britain. With the majority of mental health facilities in south-east Wales operating out of St Cadoc's and the Grange, it's clear, Minister, that provisions need to be expanded, and sooner rather than later. So, will the Deputy Minister please outline what work the Welsh Government is specifically doing or plans to do to improve mental health facilities in south-east Wales and the rest of the country? Thank you.

Thank you. I think we absolutely recognise what you are saying, that sometimes police are spending too long with somebody who really should be accessing mental health services, for instance in the way that you set out. I know a significant amount of work is being done between health boards and the Deputy Minister for mental health to ensure that that isn't the case. You talk about the longest waits in the UK—you will have heard the First Minister address that in an answer to Laura Anne Jones. I do think you raise a really important point; it is absolutely right that a person is with the right emergency service, is not stopping police then getting on with what they do, and is accessing the correct services.

Trefnydd, I'd like to ask for a statement, please, from the Minister for Economy. We've regularly raised the opportunity that Wales has in competing in the world cup in Qatar in terms of our international profile, and the fact that we are now seeing people Googling during the game against the US, wanting to know more about our country, and knowing about what's important to us and our values, and that we don't agree with how the LGBTQ+ community is treated in Qatar, and so on.

But, what we have been asking many times of the Minister for Economy is what steps will the Welsh Government consider to measure the value of the investment in relation to the Cymru men's team competing in the world cup. I know that Tom Giffard raised this on 27 September with the Minister, and that the Minister had said that he would share that data with us before the beginning of the competition. I wrote to him too, and I received a letter back last week saying, 'We are holding a full evaluation of our activities related to the world cup. The measures will include marketing metrics', and so on and so forth, but there was nothing concrete there. So, can we have a statement setting these things out? We should have already received that. Can we have them now, before Wales reaches the final? Thank you.

I'm sure we could do that. As you know, the Minister for Economy is currently in Qatar and will obviously be bringing forward a written statement on his return setting out what meetings et cetera he will have had while he was in Qatar. I hope Members saw the First Minister's written statement following his visit—I think it was yesterday that that was published. You mention a specific point about the data and that you've had a response from the Minister for Economy setting out that we're having a full evaluation. I will make sure that full evaluation data is also either put in correspondence to you and a letter put in the library, or via written statement. 


Following up from what Heledd Fychan has said, I read with interest the statement that the First Minister put out yesterday about the achievements of his visit in terms of promoting Welsh interests and Welsh values. Now, I very much appreciate the action taken by the Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport not to attend last week's match between Wales and Iran in light of the brutal suppression of people demonstrating in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini over two months ago and the need for human rights to be respected, particularly women's rights, there. Following that very welcome stand in support of human rights, what conversations has the Welsh Government had with the UK Government about taking robust action against this misogynist Government in Tehran, and whether that could be freezing assets in this country or expelling Iran's diplomats to make this regime understand that we cannot simply have women's rights in particular being trampled all over? So, I wonder if we could have a statement on that in due course. 

Thank you. I'm not personally aware of any conversations that have taken place between any of my ministerial colleagues and the UK Government, but I will certainly make inquiries and update the Member if there have been such conversations. 

Trefnydd, can I ask that the Minister for Climate Change makes a statement on the impact of the UK emissions trading scheme, ETS, on Wales's energy sector? Last week, I met with the Haven energy forum, a collection of industry representatives who have expressed their collective concern about the operation and future implementation of the ETS. Businesses include Valero oil refinery and RWE power station in my constituency of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire. Such concerns are focused on the lack of alignment with decarbonisation technology roll-out, uncertainty surrounding the future of free allowances, changes to the carbon leakage sector list and inconsistencies within the interpretation of legislation. Given this apprehension, an update from the climate change Minister would be appreciated to give businesses reassurance as we decarbonise the industries. Diolch, Llywydd. 

Well, bringing forward the UK ETS has been a very long and complex piece of work, and I will certainly ask the Minister for Climate Change to bring forward a statement—there are conversations, I know, going on between the two Governments in relation to this—at the most appropriate time, maybe in the new year. But, I will ask her to bring forward a written statement. 

Good afternoon, Trefnydd. I also want to support the statements made by my colleague Heledd, and by Jenny as well, in relation to human rights around the world. And just once again, looking at Qatar, I wonder if I could have a statement around how the First Minister raised the issues of human rights with the people who he met with. It's something that he did commit to and he did say that he would be raising those specific issues. We continue to hear of the concerns. Today, I understand the Qatari Government acknowledged that between 400 and 500 foreign workers had died on construction projects. That's a vast underestimate, but it is an acknowledgement. And it is shameful that our Government officials—as you know, I've been very much against any Government officials going to the Qatari world cup—should use those stadiums where people have died in terms of constructing them. So, I would like a statement to let us know how those human rights issues have been raised. Thank you. Diolch yn fawr iawn. 

Thank you. Jane Dodds raises a very important point, and you will have heard both the First Minister and probably the Minister for Economy set out the reasons why they believed it was right to attend the matches that they have. You will have seen the written statement from the First Minister, which was published earlier this week, setting out the meetings that he had and the ways that he certainly did what you've just referred to, as well as raising the profile of Wales. And I will certainly ask the Minister for Economy to bring forward a written statement on his return—I think he's back tomorrow—either later this week or early next week. 

Can I call for a single statement, from the Minister for Economy, ideally with the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, on support for businesses affected by the closure of Menai suspension bridge? Last Friday, I met online with the local MP, Virginia Crosbie, my fellow North Wales MS Sam Rowlands, and Menai Bridge businesses concerned about the impact on them of the Welsh Government’s closure of the bridge. Businesses told us they feel they’re not being listened to. They said the whole public perception that people cannot get on and off the island has also affected Beaumaris, when the only real issue is in the morning and the evening, and they ask whether anyone can do anything about getting some work started on the bridge. It’s already been closed for more than a month, but nobody’s seen anyone working on it, and they fear the bridge will be closed for a long time, which would devastate them. They said that if you go two miles up the road, there are still issues—they need to get the traffic sorted, they need free parking, business rates relief, and banners on the A55, signposting people to the centres such as Menai Bridge and Beaumaris, advertising that they’re well and truly open. They complained about hysterics on social media affecting both locals and tourists on which they rely, and they need Visit Wales to be pushing the message that they are open. They said, 'We just need hope, and to promote that our island is open, where our tourism trade is being decimated and our supply chains affected.' I urge the relevant Ministers to come forward with a statement accordingly where these many, many businesses—excellent businesses—providing key services to local people are at great risk. Diolch.


Thank you. Welsh Government absolutely recognise that many businesses in the area will be facing uncertainties due to the bridge closure. Welsh Government officials have met with the chief executive and officers of the Isle of Anglesey County Council. The local authority—you’ll be aware, I’m sure—are drafting an action plan for supporting the business community, and I’m aware that the Deputy Minister for Climate Change is very soon visiting the area, where he will, obviously, continue to have those discussions.

Diolch, Llywydd. Trefnydd, can I just echo the comments of the Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and also call for a statement from the climate change Minister on the support offered to energy-intensive industries to help businesses reduce their greenhouse gas emissions cost effectively and move to greener practices? I’m sure you’ll agree that Welsh industry has a crucial role to play in transitioning from energy-intensive industries to greener production, and it’s vital that businesses are fully supported in making changes to decarbonise their operations. However, it’s also vital that UK industry is able to participate on a level playing field with global competitors and that there is no risk of carbon leakage as a result of UK carbon pricing policy. I heard your response to the Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, so I hope that we can receive this statement as soon as possible, so that businesses can be reassured and understand how the Welsh Government is supporting them to transition to cleaner energy.

Yes, thank you, and, as I say, I gave the answer to Sam Kurtz that I will ask the Minister for Climate Change to bring forward a written statement. It may be better in the new year rather than before Christmas, but I will certainly find the most opportune moment to do that. I absolutely take on board your point about energy-intensive businesses. If we are going to reach our net-zero ambitions and targets that we’ve set—and, obviously, we’re working very closely with UK Government to get that UK net-zero position—we do need to look at those energy-heavy industries, going forward.

3. Statement by the Deputy Minister for Social Services: The publication of the Child Practice Review into the death of Logan Mwangi

The next item is the statement by the Deputy Minister for Social Services on the publication of the child practice review into the death of Logan Mwangi, and I call on the Deputy Minister to make her statement—Julie Morgan.

Diolch, Llywydd. The death of any child is a cause of great sadness and I want to start by expressing my own deep sorrow at Logan Mwangi’s death, and to take this opportunity to offer my sincere condolences to Mr Ben Mwangi and Logan’s wider family for their awful loss.

The publication last week of the child practice review following the murder of Logan has, I am sure, been an extremely difficult time for Logan’s father and family, especially as it has brought to public attention further details regarding the events that resulted in Logan’s life being taken at such an early age. My heart goes out to him and to everyone affected by Logan’s death.

I have read the report very carefully and I understand and accept the learning themes and recommendations made. At this stage, it would not be appropriate for me to respond in precise detail to all of the recommendations made, as further conversations are necessary with service providers. However, I am wholly committed to doing everything in my power to protect children and to pursue through the courts those who inflict such dreadful pain and misery on the most vulnerable in our society, and I will keep Members informed as work progresses.


The Deputy Presiding Officer (David Rees) took the Chair.

The purpose of the child practice review is not that of investigation, but to consider our services and help us to learn what we can to improve what we can do to protect children. I am grateful to the review panel for ensuring that they considered areas of learning that have been identified in other reviews throughout Wales and England while conducting this child practice review. It is right that we continue to consider the learning from other such tragic incidents in formulating the approach that is required to make improvements to ensure the protection of children in Wales.

It is, however, a sad and recurring fact that such reviews share, in many cases, similar themes, particularly regarding challenges in sharing knowledge and information across agencies, issues regarding systems and processes, and concerns about leadership and culture. We would all wish for a world where such events as these could never happen and that this would be the last case of its kind. That we cannot always identify individuals who could act like those convicted of Logan’s murder would suggest that it won’t be. However, that must not prevent us from doing everything in our power to reduce the risk as much as we can and provide the help that children in Logan’s position need and deserve.

The review clearly demonstrates that there is scope for practice improvement. Our focus must be to concentrate on the four key learning themes identified within the review that must be considered with the same care and urgency as the 10 local and five national recommendations identified. The learning themes identified are described in the report as being systematic and not isolated instances of individual error or poor practice. It is clear to see from the review that the recommendations are not allocated to one single agency. Child protection requires a multi-agency approach and, as such, all actions required to address these learning themes and implement the recommendations must be taken forward together, based on shared responsibility.

The National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006 and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 set out the statutory duties for local authorities and local health boards in Wales. While these agencies, of course, must always adhere to such legislation, I will be looking to strengthen the ways in which agencies in Wales work more closely together to deliver our essential services. We all have a responsibility to implement the learning identified within this child practice review and to work together to carry out the actions required to effect change in the systems in which our professionals work and to support them in delivering their work. I expect all relevant agencies to consider the child practice review in full, to take immediate steps to consider how each theme and recommendation applies to them, and to identify how the learning themes and recommendations can be acted upon within the areas for which they are responsible. I will be contacting the senior leaders of agencies who have a responsibility in taking forward the recommendations of the review to ascertain their intended course of action in terms of their response to the child practice review.

Welsh Government has a key strategic role in protecting children, especially the most vulnerable, and I fully accept my role as a Minister in that. In the light of this review and following the report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and work already under way in relation to our children’s services transformation programme and elsewhere, I will be accelerating work on a national practice framework to help inform decision making in children’s services. The framework will be a key foundation for how we work in Wales to ensure the best outcomes for our most vulnerable children. It'll help us achieve greater commonality and more seamless working at local, regional and national level so that we can support children to remain with their families, and provide them with the support they need as we transition to fitting services around people, not people around services.

Care Inspectorate Wales have agreed to undertake a rapid review of structures and processes in place to inform decisions about how a child is added to or removed from a child protection register, and I will act on their findings, as necessary. I am aware of the calls for an independent inquiry into children’s services in Wales. Having now read the child practice review, I remain convinced that the time is now for action and not for further review. The findings and recommendations of the child practice review have been generated with consideration of other reviews in England and Wales, and it must be our priority to do what we can now and not wait for another report to tell us what we know already that we have to do. 

To improve the multi-agency approach that I have outlined today, I want to remind Members that we are in the final stages of developing the single unified safeguarding review, which has been developed jointly with stakeholders across Wales. The single unified safeguarding review has been developed to reduce the need for multiple reviews against a same single incident, enabling the swifter completion of reviews, such as child and adult practice reviews, to identify and implement all learning more quickly and on a pan-Wales basis. The draft statutory guidance to support the single unified safeguarding review will be subject to a public consultation exercise, which is planned for early in the new year. 

Whilst it's not routine practice to respond to child practice reviews, I and my Cabinet colleagues felt that it was entirely appropriate to recognise the publication of this review, and I'd like to take this opportunity to personally apologise to Mr Ben Mwangi and his family for the failings that contributed to the tragic loss of Logan's young life. Diolch.


I thank you very much for your statement this afternoon, Deputy Minister, and thank you for bringing it to the floor of the Senedd this afternoon. Just before I start the main thrust of my response to your statement, I just want to put on record this afternoon my sincere thoughts to Ben Mwangi, Logan's family and friends and all his social network, who've all been affected by this terrible and tragic murder. As a father of a young boy of a similar age, the thought of the pain and suffering that he would have gone through really goes through me. Whatever Government and local authority processes that we do put it place, it never deflects from the sheer evil and the disgusting people who carried out this sustained period of abuse, neglect and, indeed, murder as well. And I'm pleased to see that the right level of justice was applied to them and that they are, indeed, serving their time at Her Majesty's pleasure—His Majesty's pleasure, I should say.

We can all agree that what happened to Logan Mwangi was a tragedy that should never have happened and something that we should ensure never happens again. Logan's death was preventable had the council's failures been identified sooner and action was taken. The report into Logan shows Bridgend council's blaming of COVID for some of its shortcomings, alongside social workers not being able to follow the Government's guidance because it was not clear or responsive enough to ensure proper safeguarding for vulnerable children during the COVID pandemic. So, does the Deputy Minister accept that if the correct personal protective equipment had been accessible, then social care staff would have been able to assess Logan just 24 hours before his death? And does the Deputy Minister note a lack of leadership from social services in Bridgend to read between the lies being told by the evil perpetrator—that COVID was the reason that Logan couldn't be seen, to deflect from the reality of what was actually happening?

COVID did impact every service that Bridgend council and the Welsh Government provides, but the failure to escalate Logan's situation, despite significant evidence that he needed support, shows that under-staffed departments prove concerns that the council is too reliant on agency workers. So, does the Deputy Minister recognise the over-reliance on agency staff in Bridgend council, and what discussions have you had, or will you have in the future with the authority to recruit full-time workers into the social services department?

And, additionally, the lack of information sharing has brought to prominence a culture of authoritative management, which meant that junior staff were unable to challenge decisions made by their seniors, as in a lot of professions, which this case has proven. Staff must never feel afraid and feel that they are part of a team and all working together in that decision-making process. And in addition to Bridgend council having significant lessons to learn from the recommendation of the report, it's clear that the Welsh Government must enact a Wales-wide review of children's services to genuinely ensure that this never happens again. Leadership is needed and the buck stops with the Welsh Government and the First Minister, who must ensure that Wales is no longer the only nation in the UK without a nationwide children's review.

So, will you rethink your decision to not have a Wales-wide review of children's services, and give cast-iron guarantees to every child, parent and care provider across the 22 authorities that this Welsh Government is on their side and give us the best opportunity to safeguard all children across Wales, because it's unfortunate that the Welsh Government blocks such a review when Wales has the UK's highest rate of looked-after children? I'd just, finally, like to urge the Government to change its direction before we risk another tragedy like Logan Mwangi. Thank you.


I thank Gareth very much for his comments and thank him for the sorrow that he has expressed for this tragedy, recognising that, ultimately, the responsibility is with those three people who are incarcerated. I think the issue of COVID is an important issue and, certainly, the review refers to COVID on a number of occasions. I think it did make it more difficult because, certainly, all of the case conferences were taking place virtually and, in terms of actually speaking to Logan, it did make for some difficulties—the fact that COVID was operating. But, I think there are clear guidelines about how you should operate, looking at child protection, so I don't think that we can say that COVID is entirely to blame for what happened.

But, COVID certainly took its toll on the workforce. We know that many people were off sick, so the strain on the workforce was worse than in normal times. But, again, there's no way that you can say that if something there had been different, this wouldn't have happened. There is an over-reliance on agency staff, and we are doing our utmost to attract more social workers. As you'll know, we have introduced the bursary in order to encourage social workers to join and to remain, trying to give it more of an alliance with the bursaries in the health service. We've also given support for social workers, because I think we do all recognise what a difficult job social work is. I was a social worker myself, so I certainly do know the huge strain that social workers are put under, and I think it's essential that we do all that we can to support them in such a difficult job.

Gareth referred to information sharing, which is an absolutely key issue, and also about junior staff being afraid to challenge, which was referred to in the report. I think this is one of the learnings that has to come out of the report; there were learning themes that came out of the report and we've got to make sure that there is a different culture within the organisations that are referred to.

In terms of the Wales-wide review of children's services, I've already said that I'm accepting all of the recommendations that are in the report. Certainly, they don't all apply to the Welsh Government, so I will have to accept them and work with the partner agencies to make sure that we move forward to implement those recommendations. I feel at this stage that it wouldn't help to actually address these issues if we were to go for a children's social services-wide review, because the one in England took 16 months; I anticipate the one that's going to happen in Northern Ireland will take 16 months. A lot of the things that came out in those reports are ones that are echoed in the work that we are doing and are echoed in this review.

So, the recommendations that we are taking on board are far-reaching, looking at how case conferences are chaired and many other very important recommendations. I think that that, along with the work and the reviews that we've already done, gives us a really good base to start working on this now. And I don't think that having a further review at this stage will actually help, so I think we need to start work now. Thank you.


I would just like to start, perhaps, by reflecting on Logan Mwangi's former headteacher's words about him, calling him 'a gorgeous little boy' with a 'cheeky smile' who 'loved to talk'. Often, we forget about Logan himself. We've all seen pictures of him, but to hear about his personality and how he was happy at school, contrary to what his mother was saying, was behaving in school and enjoying himself, and yet, his life was cut tragically short from those who should have been protecting him and loving him and caring for him—. I echo all the sentiments already expressed by the Deputy Minister and by Gareth Davies in terms of thinking of his father in particular, and his family and friends, wishing that they too would have been able to intervene, as many, many of those who came into contact with him, I'm sure, are reflecting on from reading the review.

I think the thing that struck me reading the review was the fact that a series of opportunities were missed to protect, and crucially that it was expressed that Logan's voice was not heard, that we weren't listening to this little boy, whereas we are trying to ensure here in Wales that absolutely the rights of the child—that every child is aware of those. Yet, here we are: a child whose voice wasn't heard.

So for me, I would like to get greater clarity today. I know that you have responded in terms of Gareth Davies's point in terms of an independent inquiry, but I don't understand why that independent inquiry isn't taking place. It doesn't stop you from being able to implement the recommendations if there are further reviews taking place. And, time and time again since I've been elected here, I've heard the First Minister say that we won't have an independent inquiry into COVID, and rejecting calls for an independent inquiry into the 2020 floods, though we do have a review in the co-operation agreement between both our parties. So, what are the circumstances when Welsh Government will actually instigate an independent inquiry, if not in cases like this? This is so that we look at the breadth of things, and that can take into account as well the steps that are already being taken, that have been learnt from other reviews.

But worrying for me was hearing the children's commissioner state that these recommendations we've seen before in previous reports. We've heard commitments previously saying that lessons will be learned and we'll have changes, and yet these recommendations are still coming through. I think we need to understand from an inquiry why that's the case. So, I would ask you, Deputy Minister, to reconsider, because it's not a political point; I'm not saying this, this is what experts are telling us, this is what social workers on the ground are telling us, this is what the NSPCC have been telling us. So, this is very much something that I think every one of us should be open to—scrutiny and independent inquiries—and I'm concerned, yet again, to hear the Deputy Minister state that this isn't something that the Welsh Government is going to be taking forward.

I would also like to mention NSPCC Wales's call for a clear and resourced road map to transform children's social care. They've asked in the briefing that they supplied to all of us for Welsh Government to commit to publishing a detailed, entirely resourced road map transforming children's social care, with measurable outcomes, within the next six months. Is this something that the Deputy Minister can commit to today?

I also wanted to reflect on the worrying aspect of the report where it referenced Logan's race and ethnicity in particular, mentioning his father Ben Mwangi's Kenyan heritage, and the part in the report that says,

'Professionals did not fully explore the context of…race and ethnicity'

in this case. Well, we know that, across Government, we are committed to working towards an anti-racist Wales, but yet again, in this case, it's not something that comes through strongly in the statement today either, but something that we truly need to consider and ensure that that is at the forefront of the minds of everyone who comes into contact with a child in circumstances such as this. So, in terms of Plaid Cymru's position, we do want to see an independent inquiry. We fully support the changes that are being implemented, but we are concerned, knowing, as has been raised by agencies with us, the concerns around the lack of a child poverty strategy here in Wales, knowing, with the cost-of-living crisis as well, that more families are going to be placed in difficult circumstances, with an increased risk of abuse and neglect for children. So, therefore, can I please ask that you do reconsider your position in terms of that independent inquiry, implement the recommendations, but please also progress on that independent inquiry? 


Thank you very much, Heledd, for that contribution, and thank you for starting by reminding us of the gorgeous little boy that has been lost, and I think it's very important that we do remember that, and also for mentioning what his headteacher said, because I think you'll all have noted that in the report there was praise given to the school, and the fact that the school made great efforts to keep in contact with him during COVID—visiting his home and sending work for him to do, and sending a teddy bear, one of the teddy bears that they use in schools to help children to talk about their feelings. And so I think it's very important that we remember that.

Yes, there were opportunities that were missed. I think that's quite clear. The report says that, those opportunities were missed, and their recommendations are addressing that. And Logan's voice was not heard, and I think the issue of race, the report says, and it's certainly a fact, that it wasn't explored what Logan felt to be living as the only child with his ethnicity in a family and in surroundings where everybody else was white. That certainly wasn't explored, and I think it's an important issue. 

We are transforming social care. As the Member will know, we have got some quite ambitious plans, and some of them are part of the co-operation agreement that we will work together on, and we are determined to do that. Some of them are planned by the end of this term, so certainly, in response to the NSPCC, I can respond that certain parts of our programme are planned to be during the next three and a half years, to finish by then. 

But going back to the inquiry into social services, I really don't feel that that is going to help much at this stage. I think we know what the difficulties are, and, of course, we've already had so many inquiries here in the Senedd. I can go through them—a whole list of inquiries that have been held. Just looking at these—the care crisis review by the Family Rights Group; Nuffield Foundation's 'Born into Care'; Public Law Wales's working group's report and recommendations. Endless things that have happened. I just think we've got to get on with these actions, and I think that's the most important thing for the Welsh Government to do. 

Logan Mwangi should be alive and well today, and being brought up in a loving, caring family and community. Ben Mwangi and his family should be looking after him. The teaching community of Tondu Primary School should be wrapping around him, as they did, as they tried to. It's right that the perpetrators of Logan Mwangi's brutal murder are behind bars for a long time, but it's right as well that we welcome the rigour of this report, which has not held back from pulling any punches, from going in forensically to what needs to be done. Much as the murder was shocking and horrifying for everybody who's read about this, equally, as you go through the report, the detail of the multiple failed opportunities to intervene at the right moment—and it's not one individual or one agency; it's multiple opportunities—and, as others have said, we've seen these opportunities missed before as well in other circumstances over many years. 

There are a series of recommendations, Minister, both at a local level for all of the agencies involved and for the multi-agency approach at a local level, but also significant ones at a national level. And I do welcome your commitment, Minister, to actually take actions now, to go forward and make the improvements right now, at a national level. That includes specific guidance to child protection practitioners about their duty—their duty—to inform and include all persons with parental responsibility in child protection assessments and processes; that Welsh Government commissions a pan-Wales review of approaches to undertaking child protection conferences—it's one of the things that's pulled out of this report, the failure of those multi-agency conferences to identify and take the right action—an annual national awareness campaign to raise public awareness on how to report safeguarding concerns. Because many people in this community say, 'How did we miss this?' But also, 'If it were to happen again, how should we raise the alarm about this happening?' So, Minister, I want to ask you how you'll take forward those recommendations at a local and national level, how they will be monitored, how this will be fed back here into Welsh Government, but also into the Senedd, so that we can give assurances to people. We can never say, 'This will never happen again'. I'd like to say that, but we know we can't. But what I do want to tell people is: we'll do our damnedest to do everything to make sure that this does not happen again.


I thank Huw Irranca-Davies for that contribution and, of course, as the local Member, he has great knowledge and understanding of this family and community. And I can absolutely assure him that the five national recommendations—the Welsh Government will take forward those parts of the recommendations that refer to us, and we will take them forward swiftly but thoroughly. And we will work with our partners to ensure that they take forward the recommendations for them as well. I notice that he particularly, at the end, referred to a national awareness campaign, and I am very determined that we will do this. This is something we've actually done before; we did it during COVID in 2020, to raise awareness about how to report safeguarding concerns, and we used then the hashtag #MakeTheCallWales. So, I anticipate that we will do something like that on an annual basis, as the report requests, because, as he said, people need to know what they should do and how they would report them. Because we have heard, after the event, that people were worried, and so we need to make sure that people know how to report the things that they are concerned about.

And then the pan-Wales review of approaches to undertake in child protection conferences: again, the conducting of child protection conferences remains the statutory duty of the local authorities, under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. But, of course, we do have a key responsibility, as the strategic lead, so I certainly see it as my role to ensure that that happens, that we will take that lead, from this Government. I won't go through them all in detail, because I know the Deputy Presiding Officer is nodding, but, obviously, this is something we have to return back to, and I commit to reporting back to the Senedd on how this develops.

Thank you, Deputy Minister. I know how committed you are to this field, but, last Thursday, Wales was in the national headlines for the wrong reasons, because we had failed a little boy. Logan Mwangi, as we've heard—and let's call him Logan Mwangi, because the report didn't; the report referred to him constantly as 'Child T'. Logan Mwangi moved from being a bubbly, smiley, laughing child who loved Spider-Man to one who developed a stammer. In the 11 months in which social services knew about him, he suffered four occasions where his life could have been saved, from August 2020 to the time where his arm was broken, bruises found all over him, sexual abuse, to the point where he died in July 2021. He was on the child protection register for two and a half months only, therefore I don't see that a review of child protection register processes are going to help us at all.

I know my time is up. I've a lot to say on this issue, as you can imagine, and it really does get me very emotional.

I've read lots of reviews like this; unfortunately, they come up with the same things, as you say. My questions to you are twofold. One is: if it's not time for a review of child protection services—. I'm a little bit different here. I don't want an inquiry; an inquiry sounds punitive and blaming—I want a review. I want us to know that as Senedd Members every single child has a chance of being protected, which Logan didn't. So, my first question to you is: if not now, when? Because I don't want to be standing here in 12, 16 months' time and hearing about another child death when we haven't done a review. So, that's my first question.

My second is: how can we as Senedd Members here know how well our local authorities are performing in child protection services? Because that is what we want to know the most. There has been no review in Wales of child protection services so far. You've read out lots of other reviews and inquiries, but none has focused on child protection services. I want to hear how our professionals in child protection services want to see a different way of working. That's why I want a review. So, please do respond to me with the answers to those two questions. If not a review now, when? And can we have a situation where Senedd Members know exactly that their local authorities are doing well, or not, and maybe need support, in child protection services? Thank you. Diolch yn fawr iawn.


Thank you, Jane, very much for that. I know you feel emotionally about it, and I know you have a great deal of commitment to this area of work, and I thank you for your comments. I really feel that we need to get on with the recommendations in this report. There are a lot of other things we're doing as well; we need to get on with all of them, and we need to ensure that children are safer than they are the moment. I think we have the basis to do that. I don't think we need another review in order to do that, and I'm totally committed to doing what I possibly can to carry out all the recommendations and to do what is necessary.

In terms of how are we to know that children are protected in our own individual areas, Care Inspectorate Wales, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and Estyn will be reviewing four areas—I think I wrote this to you in a letter, if you remember—to see how they perform in child protection, and we will be looking at the results of that and seeing if we need to do that on a pan-Wales basis. I can assure you that we're going to do absolutely all we can to stop this tragedy that happened to Logan.

I found Thursday one of the most difficult days I've had as a Senedd Member. I sat and read every page of the report, and it made me incredibly sad, but it also made me quite angry, if I'm honest with you, reading about the failings and the lack of information sharing. We hear very often about a multi-agency approach—well, I think that multi-agency approach simply didn't work in this instance.

Colleagues have talked about the Wales-wide implications of this report. I wanted to focus perhaps a little bit more locally. In the years before coming to this Senedd, I sat as a member of the social services committee on Bridgend County Borough Council, and it doesn't fill me with any pleasure to tell you that, for a long time, members of that committee had raised concerns about the social services department in Bridgend County Borough Council—the reliance on agency staff in particular, the council's approach to budgeting, and a whole series of other concerns were mentioned as well. But the council felt they had a good reputation on social services, and I will not be one to judge today whether that was true or not. But I feel very strongly, Deputy Minister, that there was a culture of complacency at Bridgend County Borough Council in the way that social services were managed, and, in particular, a lack of political oversight from cabinet members on the work that was being done by hard-working dedicated officers and others in the council as well. So, I know, historically, where there have been councils with clear problems in terms of their social services departments, as has happened in Powys, that enhanced monitoring powers have been given through Care Inspectorate Wales. Can you let us know what you think the threshold would be for those to be applied in this case in Bridgend?

Thank you, Tom, for that question. As you know, Care Inspectorate Wales have been working in Bridgend council already and reported earlier this year. And they said that they had seen some improvements, but they were going to continue to monitor and will be reporting back to me, and that is what is happening at the moment. So, Care Inspectorate Wales are looking at Bridgend's practice, and will be reporting back to me.


Diolch, Deputy Minister, and thank you for your statement this afternoon. It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear about Logan's death, and I echo all the sentiments that all other Members have said today, and say that we're thinking of Logan's father and all Logan's friends and teachers, and all those who loved him.

Deputy Minister, you've mentioned already around the national recommendations, and that you're keen to start work now, but I just want to ask you a little bit more perhaps about some of the timescales in which you intend to implement some of those. As we've already heard, the review highlighted that Logan's voice was not heard. How can you ensure that children and young people's voices are heard and listened to? I know that you will be very concerned about that. In our work here on the Children, Education and Young People's Committee, we've already seen the power of hearing these voices directly through the work that we're doing on care-experienced children and young people, as well as others. How can you help those young people's voices be strengthened and amplified, as part of any learning from the absolute tragedy of Logan's death?

I thank Jayne for those questions. I think it's important to respond as quickly as possible, and we are responding already because we've already had meetings with a number of the agencies involved. But it's also important to get it right. So, I'm not really able to give a detailed timescale at this time, because I think it's more important for us to get in with the agencies and work out the timetable from there.

The voice of the child is absolutely crucial, and I think it's absolutely true to say that Logan's voice was not heard. We are determined that the voice of the child should be heard as much as possible, and I'm sure she's aware of the work of the Welsh Government in promoting children's voices, and promoting children's voices to be heard, as she is doing on the committee, particularly through this report that you're doing at the moment.

We will make sure children's voices will be heard through our close working relationships, for example, with Voices from Care, as we work very closely with Voices from Care, and, in fact, have a summit next Saturday with Voices from Care, trying to hear the voices of those children who are care experienced, and also the information that is fed in from the children's commissioner and from Young Wales. So, there are many ways that we can work to ensure that children and young people's voices are heard. But she is right: Logan's voice wasn't heard.

Thank you. I just wanted to make two points that I would like you to consider when you take forward how you're going to implement these recommendations. It isn't just the voice of the child that needs to be heard; it is the voice of the front-line social worker, and the empowerment of the front-line social worker that needs to happen, to ensure that they feel confident that they can insist on responding to their instincts that things are not right, particularly when children who are at risk are not in school. It must be essential and mandatory that the child is seen by somebody else at home, under all circumstances.

Which brings me to my second point, which is around looking at how you would feel if you were a front-line worker confronted with John Cole. You would not want to enter that house alone; you would be terrified. And, therefore, nobody should be asked to do that, and, therefore, they need to be accompanied, and that means the police. And that brings us to the second challenge, which is that not all these partner agencies are under the devolved responsibility of the Welsh Government, and that includes the police. So, I hope that you will give due consideration to how we can ensure that the police are present when social workers need to enter premises where the adults in that child's life are resisting allowing them in.

Thank you very much, Jenny, for those points, very important points, I think, about social workers feeling confident to be able to go into a house. We are developing, as I said in my opening remarks, a practice framework, so that all social workers will know what is expected at any particular incident, or at any particular thing that they are doing, there will be clear expectations of what happens at that time.

And obviously, in terms of the police, in the report, it was said that they responded to everything that they were asked—there was no criticism of the police at all in the report. But she makes the important point about the fact that policing is not devolved, and one of the recommendations is that we should look at the ways of reporting and data information, and the Welsh Government is being asked to lead that. Well, of course, policing is not devolved, so that means that we will have to liaise with the Home Office in order to look at that particular area. So, the fact that it's not devolved makes it much more complicated and more difficult to take forward. But, certainly, those two points I will be bearing in mind when we move forward.

4. Statement by the Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, and Chief Whip: Public Commemoration in Wales: Guidance for Public Bodies

The next item is the statement by the Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport on public commemoration in Wales: guidance for public bodies. I call on the Deputy Minister, Dawn Bowden, to make the statement.

Thank you, Deputy Presiding Officer. Public commemoration is central to the way in which we represent—

I was having the feedback in my ear then, sorry. I'll start again.

Public commemoration is central to the way in which we represent our history, promote our values and celebrate our communities. But it can sometimes be controversial, and will always be an issue of considerable public interest. Today, I am delighted to announce that we are going out to public consultation on 'Public commemoration in Wales: guidance for public bodies'.

This guidance is intended to help public bodies make good decisions that manage the risks of controversy, that take opportunities to create a more informed relationship with our history, and that genuinely celebrate the diversity of our communities. The guidance fulfils a commitment in the programme for government to address fully the recommendations of 'The Slave Trade and the British Empire: An Audit of Commemoration in Wales', which was first published in November 2020, and re-issued with amendments a year later. The guidance also directly supports one of the goals of the Welsh Government’s 'Anti-racist Wales Action Plan':

'To work with public bodies to fully recognise their responsibility...for setting the right historic narrative, promoting and delivering a balanced, authentic and decolonised account of the past'.

The action plan includes a specific action of

'appropriately addressing the way in which people and events with known historical associations to slavery and colonialism are commemorated'

in our public spaces and collections,

'acknowledging the harm done by their actions and reframing the presentation of their legacy to fully recognise this.'

The guidance also fulfils a recommendation in the report of the Senedd Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, published in March 2021, 'Set in Stone? A report on who gets remembered in public spaces'. This recommended that Welsh Government should provide clear guidance that would present a route-map for decision making in relation to both historical and future acts of commemoration.

The audit of commemoration in Wales demonstrated very clearly the extent to which legacies of the slave trade and the British empire are still visible in our public places. The purpose of the guidance is to help public bodies deal with those legacies. The guidance also addresses the diversity of Welsh society, and the fact that many of its characteristics are barely visible in public commemorations. For example, very few people of black, Asian or minority ethnic heritage, and very few named women, have been publicly commemorated in Wales, and it would be difficult to find any representation of disabled and LGBTQ+ people. So, as we reflect on who is commemorated already, we should also reflect on who and what is missing, taking opportunities to address under-representation, and respond to changing values, as well as to deepen our understanding of historical issues and events.

The guidance sets out best practice for decision making and is not mandatory. Its focus is on how to make good decisions rather than on what decisions to make. It is in two parts. Part 1 introduces the issues around public commemoration and its impact, and part 2 sets out four steps that public bodies should take in order to address these issues and realise the contribution of public commemoration to the achievement of an anti-racist Wales. These four steps are: establishing a framework for inclusive decision making; setting clear objectives for public commemoration; establishing criteria for decision making; and, taking action to meet objectives and address the issues raised by public commemoration.

Taking all these steps will help public bodies to discharge their responsibilities under the specific action included in the 'Anti-racist Wales Action Plan'. It will also enable them to use public commemorations more generally to contribute to an anti-racist Wales, and to deepen understanding of our past and its legacies, and to celebrate the achievements of our diverse society.

The guidance is focused on permanent and deliberate commemoration in public places—that is, statues, sculptures, and plaques—and the names of streets and public buildings. There are many such commemorations in Wales, and past decisions about who or what to honour—decisions that were often taken by a small elite—remain highly visible in our public spaces. Many of them add character to our surroundings and, by offering a visible reminder of people and events in the past, they can prompt historical enquiry. But, as the audit of commemoration in Wales has shown, that enquiry can sometimes lead us to dark places in our past, especially where figures linked with the slave trade and colonial exploitation are literally put on a pedestal.

The commemorations that we have inherited don't necessarily reflect our values, but they may still be able to earn their place if we use them actively to learn about how earlier generations viewed the world, to reflect on the different way we view the world today, and to provoke thought rather than division. The recent re-interpretations of Thomas Picton, through information panels adjacent to the monument in Carmarthen and through the re-framing of his portrait in Amgueddfa Cymru, are intended to do just that.

And, just as we have inherited these legacies that tell us something about the values of the past, so we should consider bequeathing something to future generations that presents what we value as we strive to achieve a more equal Wales. We can do that through the way we treat existing commemorations, we can do it through who we choose to commemorate in future, but we must also do it through the way in which decisions about commemorations are made. The guidance assumes that decisions should be made locally, grounded in inclusive practices that encourage public bodies to listen and respond to the full diversity of our communities.

Development of the guidance itself was fully informed by a series of workshops attended by a broad spectrum of stakeholders with relevant lived experience. I'd like to thank the workshop attendees and all those who gave their time to contribute to the development of this guidance, including Gaynor Legall who led the original task and finish group and kindly commented on earlier drafts. The public consultation exercise that starts today gives another opportunity for different voices to be heard. Diolch yn fawr.


Can I thank the Deputy Minister for the statement?

Can I also say that it was wonderful to hear you speaking Welsh at the start? It was very nice to hear.

The guidance that was released earlier today is to be welcomed, where I'm sure the Deputy Minister sought to provide clarity for public bodies, such as local authorities, to understand better the issues of public commemorations. Can I also associate myself with your remarks in particular about who is missing, because I think that is an entirely valid and fair point? I think non-white people publicly commemorated in Wales, women and people who have had disabilities, are very, very difficult to find. So, I totally agree with your sentiment there as well.

First of all, though, I'd like to reiterate that all these decisions are taken in the round, and to make sure that there is not a one-size-fits-all attitude to installing or even removing existing commemorations. This brings me on to the point of what may be termed 'problematic individuals' in the guidance. In other words, monuments to people whose actions have today caused controversy. Obviously, that's an issue that arouses strong passions on all sides. Instead of removing or destroying monuments and artwork of people who would perhaps now be seen by some as having a negative background, this could be seen instead, as you mentioned, as an opportunity to add an additional piece of context to educate the public about the full background of the person involved, giving both the problematic details and the reasons why they are commemorated as well.

Of course, a balanced view of the history of these people will add to public knowledge and our own historical understanding too. However, that should never take the form of cultural vandalism or tearing down or destroying of historical memory. It's often been said that those who forget the past are the ones doomed to repeat it. In events like the toppling the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol and the boarding up of the statue of Thomas Picton, we can see that turning historical monuments into a reference point for US-style identity politics is a road that only leads to division. What we need to make sure is that these decisions are all taken at a local level with clear guidance, as I hope we've seen the pathway towards today, to make sure that it is not just one specific group or viewpoint that feeds into the decision makers at the expense and sacrifice of others. Therefore, what considerations have you given, Deputy Minister, to this, and how do you intend on ensuring that all views are heard when it comes to future commemorations?

I also wanted just to touch, briefly, on the tragic passing of Her late Majesty. During the period of mourning, we've seen a variety of moving monuments and memorials being laid to pay tribute to our longest serving monarch, and that's often been done collaboratively between local residents and councils. As the faces of our new King gradually begins to appear on our currency, I think it's important that we make sure that there are permanent, lasting dedications as well to our late Queen. As is rightly pointed out in the guidance that was issued today, public commemorations are created for a range of purposes and done with honourable intentions. So, we need to make sure that we don't look at everything in the past through a twenty-first century lens, but with the ideas and thoughts of today, so that we can educate the next generations on our history, and not try to rewrite it.

I am concerned, though, in the guidance, about the wording surrounding military figures, where it's also suggested that they too are seen as problematic, as some may remember 'the casualties of their campaigns'. These are people who, on the whole, have served on behalf of our country and did so with honour and merit. They don't deserve a potential opening of this can of worms by guidance, not clearly stated, that those who served our country to defend our freedoms that we cherish so dearly today could, potentially, find themselves disgraced or vilified just for following orders that were set for them at the time to defend our freedoms and serve our country.

In the 'principles and practice' part of the guidance, while it's noted and accepted that inclusive decision making hears and acts upon the experience of diverse communities, again, I'd like to reiterate the point that we don't have the same people time and again making the same decisions on every plaque, every monument, and every commemoration. A breadth of diversity, voices and perspective is crucial in decision making too. And I accept the fact that engagement is going to be vital through all these processes. As an example of this, in the planning process that is being deployed by local councils, these processes could have the opportunity to enrich communities, social cohesion and interested views by bring all viewpoints together with a shared objective of ensuring their community is heard through education and information. I've no doubt that there will be strong views on all sides, regardless of what type of commemorations that are put forward in the future, but we need to ensure that we don't sacrifice the views of one community in favour of another, which could in turn cause further divisions within those communities. Therefore, my final question would be: given the finely balanced approach needed to ensure no community is left behind, what further engagement work could you be doing, Minister, with stakeholders to provide an opportunity for all communities to involve themselves in this process? Thank you.


Can I thank Tom Giffard for those largely supportive comments and some of the very constructive suggestions that he made? To try and take your points in order, Tom, it is our intention that all decisions made on how we commemorate, both in terms of future and existing public commemorations, are made by local people and that there is as wide a possible involvement in that as we possibly can. Part of the process for the consultation around the guidance is that it is giving yet another opportunity for the widest breadth of the population to get involved and to say what they think about that.

On the process that we employed to draft the guidance, we had a number of bodies and stakeholders involved, headed by Marian Gwyn from Race Council Cymru, and a series of workshops were held where people from all different groups and backgrounds were able to come along and have their say. And, as I say, the person who led the original audit, Gaynor Legall, has also had the opportunity to comment on them. I hope that the consultation process will expand on that, but this is where we've started.

I think what is important in all of this—. You talked about how we shouldn't go down the road of cultural vandalism, and you talked about Colston and Picton, and I'll come back to Picton in a moment. In both those circumstances, there have been—. The city of Bristol, for instance, has actually set up—. I'm trying to think what the name of the organisation is now. They've set up the We Are Bristol History Commission, which is where they're helping the community to address the complex and contested heritage. There's something very similar going on in Liverpool as well, with their contested history.

I don't think this is about cultural vandalism in the sense of destroying monuments; it is about how we interpret them. If we talk about Picton, for instance, I said I wanted to come back to him, because you made the point about the military and, of course, Picton was a military general. But Picton was also responsible for torturing a 14-year-old girl. So, what we say is that in recognising his place in our history and what he did as a general, fighting for his country under the orders that he was given, he also did some terrible things, involved in the slave trade, which also involved torturing a young slave girl. That needs to be told as well, and that needs to be contextualised in terms of balancing the history that you are talking about. 

I think we are on the same page. I think that what we are saying is that we understand that when these monuments were originally erected we looked at it in a different way. We are now looking at it through a different lens. I just think about the conversation I had with the manager of the Cyfarthfa museum in my constituency, when I stood on the steps of Cyfarthfa castle and we were underneath Crawshay's bedroom. We looked out across Merthyr and the manager said to me, 'This is where Crawshay stood every morning and surveyed everything he owned across Merthyr Tydfil.' But of course, we can't look at that through twenty-first century eyes, because in the time of the Crawshays, and certainly the early Crawshays, relatively speaking those workers were well paid and were well looked after. So, we have to set that in the context of that era, as opposed to the twenty-first century. But it is about absolutely balancing the context of the history of anybody that we're going to seek to commemorate.


Thank you, Dirprwy Lywydd, and thank you, Deputy Minister, for your statement today. I'd like to echo the points that you've already made on those people who aren't currently commemorated. Certainly there are places that aren't commemorated. It's important that we look at the broader context to ensure that anything we have does reflect contemporary Wales. Of course, we have all been welcoming the new statue in our capital city, the Betty Campbell statue. It's incredible how that inspires schoolchildren and so on to understand what's happening today and to discuss that, as well as celebrating what Betty herself achieved. I'd also like to echo Tom Giffard's comment on your use of Welsh at the beginning of the statement. It's very good to hear more Members giving Welsh a go here.

As you know, Deputy Minister, I used to work for Amgueddfa Cymru and often passed that Thomas Picton picture. It was just a painting on the wall for me. But when Black Lives Matter emerged as a campaign, I then came to understand, because of my privilege as a white person, that I wasn't aware of the problematic history of that portrait. And I think what has been welcomed is that wider discussion, that we are coming to understand what that means and what it means for people who have very different experiences to our own. Certainly, one of the things that I'm very pleased to see in light of this work is that it isn't something that's been entirely reactive. There's been work over two years and longer in order to get us to this point, so that we now do have something that will hopefully be useful for public bodies who are in receipt of public funds, and that they do take seriously the views of everyone in society.

I also think it's important that we recognise as a Senedd that not everyone is happy with this. If you look at some of the comments that were referred to National Museum Cardiff when they started their work on Thomas Picton, not everyone is agreed on the fact that there is any sort of discussion on this and that there is reinterpretation. And it can be a strong voice on social media with those views. I'm not suggesting that anyone follows them, but if you want to make yourselves angry, then Save Our Statues on Twitter demonstrates clearly that they don't agree with this kind of stance, with this reinterpretation. I know that you've mentioned how this will help organisations to take account and to consider how they proceed with this work, but I think we have to be honest and admit that this is going to be contentious at times, and that's fine, and that our public organisations will have the Government's support and support from me and from Plaid Cymru, certainly in terms of dealing with this important work. It's right that we do have those difficult debates, because history isn't always easy or comfortable. 

I know that we shouldn't forget our history, but having these discussions—. If we are serious about being an anti-racist Wales and we seriously want to see that happen, there will be disagreement, and we're not always going to be listening to the voice of the majority if they are all white voices. And certainly in terms of seeing responses such as this, I think one of the very important things in terms of the consultation is that we see who responds, and if there is opposition, from what viewpoint is that opposition coming. Because I have seen that my former university in Ireland is looking at the moment at renaming the library there because of problematic links with the past, and certainly there is encouragement from people like Save Our Statues for people to pile in in giving responses to that consultation so that the views of white people are conveyed clearly. We have to be assured that we are listening to those who haven't been involved in the dialogue to date and have been important in this work. 

I also welcome the fact that this is a very different way of looking at this compared to the UK Government in that we do give that encouragement to local authorities and public bodies to proceed with this anti-racist work. What I would like to ask is: you've said that this isn't mandatory, which is of course a good thing, that we encourage people, but what happens if people don't follow any sort of guidance and don't engage? Also, on the issue of funding to support this work, very often, in local museums and so on, the number of staff working in engagement is very small, so what support will be provided to them so that they too, as Amgueddfa Cymru has demonstrated, can do that engagement work necessary in terms of these activities?

I look forward to hearing what comes back from the consultation, but I certainly welcome this move towards ensuring that we do tackle our problematic history and that we work together in order to create an anti-racist Wales and ensure that everyone's history is reflected and remembered.


Diolch yn fawr, Heledd, and thank you for the support for the work that we're doing, because it is hugely important work. We talked about this as being something that has been developing over the course of a couple of years. We developed a lot of this work in the wake of the Black Lives Matter campaign and the murder of George Floyd and what we saw happen around the world. We've taken that opportunity to build this anti-racist consensus around some of this.

I think it's absolutely right that what we say—and I think this was one of the points Tom Giffard was making as well—is that what we are not seeking to do here is rewrite history. History is history, and the facts of history and what happened are there. But, what we can do is we can contextualise our history and we can acknowledge our part in some of the more unsavoury parts of our history, and we can seek to understand the impact that that had on future generations in the way that we commemorate those statues, paintings, or whatever it might be, in public. I think that is absolutely the right thing to do.

Like you, I'm only too well aware that there will be voices that are not in line with this and that will not want us to do those things, but that doesn't mean that we should necessarily listen to all those voices, because if what people are trying to perpetuate is racism, then that is not something that I'm interested in listening to. I am interested in listening to why people think we may not want to do things in a particular way, but I'm not interested in listening to racist views and racist voices that perpetuate those inequalities in our society.

One very valid point that you have raised is what do we do—because this is not mandatory, this is voluntary—what do we do in those areas where a public body may choose not to take up something? Well, I think one of the things that we have already done, because we've started to do some groundwork on this already, is that we have paid—through the 'Anti-racist Wales Action Plan', we've made quite a bit of funding available to a number of organisations, including small museums, to train their staff and curators to actually understand what the issues are. And just as an example of that, I visited Abergavenny museum relatively recently and the staff there were saying that they had undertaken this training that had been provided, and it was suddenly like lightbulb moments, that they started to understand that the way in which you commemorate and the way in which you display your collections and exhibitions, you tell a story, and that you have a narrative. And they showed me, they had a little cottage kitchen in Abergavenny museum, and there was tea and sugar on the table, and they said, 'We've never thought, in explaining what all of this was in this kitchen, about where tea and sugar came from, and how it arrived on those tables'. So, they are now looking at taking all of that on board, and they were very much welcoming the guidance that will be coming down the road so that they can think very long and hard about how they engage with the local population in correctly interpreting all of that.

But as I said, it is not mandatory, and because it is not mandatory, it will not be coming with any funding as such. But what I would say is that it may be possible to build the delivery of objectives into future funding opportunities, linked to the emerging culture strategy—and I know that that's something, Heledd, that you've been very interested in right from the outset, and we're now making significant progress on that—and there have been previous funding collaborations between Cadw and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, supporting some of the reinterpretations around some of the more controversial public monuments, and I would certainly hope that that would be something that we could look at again in the future.

5. The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (Amendment of Schedule 12 and Consequential Amendment) Regulations 2022

Item 5 this afternoon is the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (Amendment of Schedule 12 and Consequential Amendment) Regulations 2022, and I call on the Minister for Climate Change to move the motion. Julie James.

Motion NDM8144 Lesley Griffiths

To propose that the Senedd, in accordance with Standing Order 27.5:

1. Approves that the draft The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (Amendment of Schedule 12 and Consequential Amendment) Regulations 2022 is made in accordance with the draft laid in the Table Office on 10 November 2022.

Motion moved.

Diolch, Dirprwy Lywydd. The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (Amendment of Schedule 12 and Consequential Amendment) Regulations 2022 do three principal things. Firstly and most importantly, they amend the renting homes Act to improve security of tenure for current tenants. Tenants with a periodic assured shorthold tenancy that converts to a periodic standard occupation contract on 1 December will, from 1 June 2023, be entitled to a six-month possession notice, rather than a two-month notice, when they are not at fault. This could apply, for example, if the landlord needs possession to be able to live in the property themselves.

Secondly, the Act is amended so that, during the first year in which it is in force, a community landlord will be able to vary the rent not less than 51 weeks after the previous increase, rather than a calendar year. This reflects current law and will enable community landlords to align the rent variation date for converted contracts with the date applying to new contracts. All subsequent rent variations will be subject to a calendar year restriction.

And thirdly, an amendment is made to further clarify that an assured tenancy that converts to a standard contract is not subject to a rent variation under section 123 of the 2016 Act where there are existing rent terms within the contract and the landlord is a private landlord.

I am very grateful to the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee in reporting on these regulations in an expedited time frame. We have responded formally to the single reporting point, and I'm happy to confirm that we consider the regulations to be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The minor drafting points noted will be corrected on making to ensure that the law is accessible and clear to the reader. None of these change the meaning of the draft regulations that the Members are being asked to approve today. Diolch.

I call on the Chair of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee, Huw Irranca-Davies.


Thank you, Dirprwy Lywydd. We considered these regulations last week and our report has been laid before the Senedd to inform this afternoon’s debate. As the Minister has stated today, these regulations form part of a suite of subordinate legislation required to support the implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016. The single merits reporting point that we have focuses on one aspect of what these regulations will do.

These regulations amend Schedule 12 to the 2016 Act to extend the six-month minimum notice period for a landlord's notice, which is already required in relation to new periodic standard contracts, to converted periodic standard contracts with effect from 1 June 2023. The extension of the notice period under converted periodic standard contracts from two months to six months means that a private landlord is restricted in taking possession of their property for a longer period of time than is currently the case.

Article 1 of the first protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights protects a person’s enjoyment of their property, and this applies to a private landlord’s enjoyment of their property. We asked the Welsh Government therefore to confirm whether it has undertaken a human rights impact assessment in relation to these regulations and to provide further information as to the outcome of any such assessment. So, we thank the Welsh Government for the response and the confirmation that a thorough assessment of provisions contained within the regulations has indeed taken place to ensure that they are compatible with the convention rights. Diolch yn fawr iawn, Dirprwy Lywydd.

Obviously, I refer Members to my own declaration of interests in terms of property ownership. Now, once again we are talking about the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (Amendment of Schedule 12 and Consequential Amendment) Regulations 2022. And I've raised this so many times here now, but I do despair at the lack of realisation of the unintended consequences that this renting Act will have. We know that this is a consequence of the Plaid Cymru and Labour co-operation agreement.

Now, during 2021-22, 1,126 people contacted Gwynedd Council because they were homeless; 50 per cent, that is, more than in 2018-19. In Wrexham, the number of individuals classed as homeless has more than doubled to 2,238 from 2019-20 to 2021-22. And in my own county of Conwy, the figures there are 593 people in all forms of temporary accommodation, of which 222 are children. These are children who should have a more permanent roof above their heads. Two hundred and seventy-two people are in bed-and-breakfast accommodation, and the number of children in B&Bs has jumped by 82 per cent from quarter 1 to quarter 3 this financial year. What is the cause of this?

Now, I've raised my concerns about these overburdensome regulatory moves that have come in now from this Government, supported by Plaid Cymru. But, interestingly, the report prepared for the Conwy first Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru council cabinet in Conwy County Borough Council—in their meeting, they even state that:

'Demand is increasing largely due to private rented sector evictions. The highest recorded s21 notices (no fault evictions) in one week is 30 and is now averaging at around 15 a week. This is a combination of Renting Homes Wales Act implications, Buy to let mortgages and the increase in interest rates.'

That is actually coming from Plaid Cymru and Labour in a local authority—[Interruption.] Sorry—

So, there you have it: solid proof from Conwy county that your legislation is a key factor in the increase that we're now seeing in the use of temporary accommodation. I've got to be honest, I've said it before, Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru should be ashamed that they are now making people homeless. These regulations today will make the situation worse. 

One of the implications of the amendment is that the six-month minimum notice period for a landlord's notice, which is already required in relation to new periodic standard contracts, is extended to converted periodic standard contracts, with effect from 1 June 2023. In reality, six months will mean 12 months, because you've got organisations, such as Shelter Cymru, telling people to stay put after that six-month period—it's two months at the moment; well, it has been two months—telling them to stay put until the bailiffs are implemented by the court, and then even then, telling them to stay put for longer periods of time. Based on the number of properties registered with Rent Smart Wales, this could now see as many as 200,000 converted contracts changing from being subject to a six instead of two-month notice period. Is this Parliament really prepared to take the risk of making as many as 200,000 households homeless? I find it extraordinary that one of the reasons given for the six-month requirement in the explanatory memorandum is as follows:

'there has been a dramatic increase in demand for temporary accommodation in the wake of the pandemic, placing an unprecedented level of demand on local authority homelessness services, with over 26,500 people supported into temporary accommodation since March 2020.'

There is some support for the proposal from landlords and letting agents, however, the vast majority are opposed. Many consultees suggest that the proposal might encourage—and is, in fact, now encouraging landlords to leave the private sector. If we want to get a handle on the housing crisis in Wales, we've got to reduce the risk of increased homelessness. Your Government should actually be building the houses and should have built them in years gone by.

My colleague, Mark Isherwood, who has also held the portfolio for housing previously, has been made aware that the Renting Homes (Wales) Act now, whilst some people, like the Welsh Women's Aid, acknowledge some of the many positive elements of the Act, they have serious concerns about the potentially catastrophic impact of the Act in its current form on Welsh specialist violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence services and by extension, on their survivors. 


Yes. We believe that unless amended or paused, as a matter of urgency, the full implementation of the Act will be responsible for breaking the VAWDASV refuge system in Wales. Minister, please, at some stage, listen to all those people—the families—who are desperate. Thank you.

I thank the Minister for bringing forward these regulations today. They've been a long time coming. This Act has developed to be something of a joke, in truth, over recent years. The truth is that the Government and the Labour Party in particular should be asking very serious questions of themselves about how we got to this point and why they pushed through legislation back in 2016 that was clearly far from being ready. It was said that the Brexit policy was 'oven ready'; the legislation on renting homes must have come out of the same oven. It should never have got to this point, but the truth is, better late than never.

I regret that we are not going to agree on a policy of suspending no-fault evictions today, and I would like to see the Minister take this opportunity today to explain why the Government doesn't believe that we should prevent people from being evicted on a no-fault basis—a policy that's already in force in Scotland, for example. But this statement is very timely. We are seeing an unprecedented number of people presenting with section 21 notices at present, and there are several reasons for this.

The Local Government and Housing Committee has received evidence from a number of bodies talking about the numbers of people suffering because of section 21. One of the main reasons is because of the concern about implementing this legislation, but it is clear that there has been a grave misunderstanding about the impact of the legislation. So, will the Minister also give us an assurance today that there is a full communications programme to be implemented for the landlord sector, explaining, in a simple and clear way how the legislation will affect that sector? In light of the fact that seven years have passed since the legislation was passed, this should already have been done, but it's clear that the sector has not understood the full implications of the Act. But, as I mentioned, there is a grave need to take urgent action to help our tenants, and so we will be supporting these regulations today. Thank you.


I want to pick up on the points that Janet Finch-Saunders made towards the end of her contribution, because I'm sure you're aware, Minister, of the serious concerns raised by Welsh Women's Aid about the impact of the Act, in its current form, on Welsh specialist VAWDASV services and, by extension, on survivors. Whilst supportive of many of the positive elements of the new Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, including changes that will have direct benefits for survivors of VAWDASV, they go as far as to say that the Act doesn't take account of the unique position of refuge accommodation and, as Janet said, will be responsible, if not reviewed, for breaking the VAWDASV refuge system in Wales. So, I'm sure you'll agree that these are serious claims from an organisation that represents services that have the best interests of some of the most vulnerable of people, women and children, fleeing violence and abuse at the heart of everything they do.

They point to concerns around local authorities' role in implementing the Act, including a lack of capacity, consistency, accountability and equity in duties to survivors of VAWDASV under the Act. Local authorities are not at all likely to have the expertise or capacity to grant extension requests for VAWDASV accommodation promptly, they say, and, due to a lack of any detailed guidance for local authorities around their responsibilities under the Act, services have had it confirmed to them that local authorities will follow very different policies and processes in this regard. There are extremely serious concerns also around safe refuge management, such as the creation of disparities between different survivors' rights and the expectation placed on specialist services, alongside a weakening of refuges' abilities to safeguard survivors, children and staff.

The Act, they say, will likely push services' capacity beyond their limits. During a recent Welsh Women's Aid webinar on the Act, of the 22 member chief executive officers and refuge managers present, 91 per cent reported that they were either very concerned or extremely concerned about the impact of the Act on their services and also how it'll place additional pressure on the already stretched capacity and resource of specialist services, especially at this time of economic crisis. For example, under the Act, services will need to seek an extension to the relevant period of licence agreement for every survivor in refuge for longer than six months.

Due to the disparities between how specialist VAWDASV services are expected to manage contracts, depending on when and what type of refuge survivors access, services will need to be very carefully tracked according to which sections of the law they need to follow. In practice, this, of course, will mean that they will need to carefully monitor the variations of each survivor's licence agreement in order to adhere to varying extension timelines to avoid significant penalties, perhaps, and even, possibly, court action. So, there is deep and expressed worry and concern about how these processes will be managed by the capacity in the current teams of the specialist services.

So, given these valid concerns, Minister, will you commit to an urgent review of the impact of the Act upon survivors and VAWDASV services, specifically around safe refuge management, which would include direct consultation with Welsh Women's Aid and Welsh specialist domestic abuse and sexual violence services? If the impact is as detrimental as Welsh Women's Aid predict, would you commit to act to mitigate this unintended consequence of the Act? Women's Aid have advised that this could include introducing secondary legislation, an amendment or statutory regulations to create a clear exemption for refuge accommodation and/or reclassifying all refuge accommodation as temporary accommodation, and creating statutory guidance also for local authorities regarding their responsibilities in the implementation of the Act for refuge accommodation specifically.

Another option, of course, Minister, would be to stagger the implementation of the Act to delay these potentially serious impacts on VAWDASV services. This would prevent any damage being done to the protection afforded survivors in the interim. Can you explore, perhaps, bringing forth an amendment to the Act itself or statutory regulations to establish a clear exemption from the Act for all refuge accommodation, and specifically the requirement to issue supported standard contracts to those in refuge accommodation after six months, by the end of the year or before the Act applies to VAWDASV services? Thank you.  

—[Inaudible.]—a few of the things—I'll do them in reverse order, if that's okay.

In terms of the issues raised around the VAWDASV concerns that Women’s Aid have raised, obviously I’ve had them raised with me as well, and my officials have, and I’ve recently had a meeting with the Minister for Social Justice on this point. The Renting Homes (Wales) Act, just to remind everyone, is fundamentally about improving the rights of people who rent their homes. Currently, someone can remain living in supported accommodation for a long time but can still be subject to eviction with only several hours’ or even days’ notice. Renting homes limits this period of insecurity to six months, after which someone who is not at fault can only be evicted by giving them two months’ notice. But we have provided for that initial six-month period to be extended, as Sioned said, with the agreement of the local authority, and, obviously, Sioned, we will be working with the local authorities to ensure that they’re all adhering to that guidance and understand how that should work and what the criteria will be. We’ll obviously work with Welsh Women’s Aid to be able to do that.

If someone with a supported standard contract does engage in anti-social behaviour it is possible to temporarily exclude that person for up to 48 hours. I understand the concerns being raised by Welsh Women’s Aid, but I do think it’s important for everyone to understand that there’s already significant scope to manage a supported standard contract in ways that do not apply to other rented homes contracts. And of course I want to ensure that the legislation’s working properly to protect the interests of abuse survivors and recognise the vital role refuges play in that, and I’ve agreed with the Minister for Social Justice that we will work together with Welsh Women’s Aid to make sure that they thoroughly understand how the Act should be implemented, and of course we will undertake an impact assessment and put right anything that we think needs to be put right. I’m pretty confident, though, that what we have here is a misunderstanding of how the complexity of the Act works. This is a transformational Act. It completely changes the way that landlords and tenants interact with one another, and of course there’s some misunderstanding as the Act comes into force, but we will of course do that, Sioned. We want to make absolutely certain that women in refuges in Wales are safe and properly served. We will work closely with the sector, as I said, to address any misunderstandings of the legislation, identify negative impacts and consider further actions, so I’m very, very happy to assure you that we will do that, as I have already assured the Minister for Social Justice.

In terms of the comparison with Scotland that Mabon made, just to be very clear, you can be evicted through no fault of your own in Scotland if the landlord wishes to take possession of their home, and that can be done with very short notice periods. So, the idea that Scotland have somehow got around article 1, protocol 1 rights in the Human Rights Act is nonsense, I’m afraid. Our Act gives people the best protection in the whole of the UK, and I’m very, very proud of that, and this particular bit here extends that to current tenancies much faster than it would otherwise have done—in fact, within six months, and that is the six months we’ve always promised landlords they would have to adapt to changes.

And then, in terms of what Janet Finch-Saunders said, I really, Deputy Llywydd, hardly know where to start with the misconceptions that she put about. Janet always refers people to her personal interests, which are of course as a private sector landlord, and I think today the least I can say is that it was very much on display that she’s a private sector landlord. We think that people who live in private sector accommodation should have houses that are fit for human habitation, that are permanent places to live, that are properly managed and properly looked after, and good landlords do that already. Only the poor landlords will struggle with that, and I urge Janet to have a look at that. The cost-of-living crisis, however, made by her Government in Westminster, made considerably worse by the Liz Truss fiasco with the mortgages, and which put a lot of pressure on families, is a matter for the Conservative Government, and it is driving homelessness, she’s absolutely right, and driving family breakdown. This Government is doing everything we can do to make sure that people are helped to get through the appalling economic storm created by the Conservative Government, and, Deputy Llywydd, these regulations will go a long way to helping in that battle. I recommend them to Members. Diolch.


On a point of order, I didn’t say I was a private landlord; I declared my interest in respect of the fact of property ownership, and there’s a difference.

You’ve made the record clear on that now, Janet, okay. Thank you.

The proposal is to agree the motion. Does any Member object? [Objection.] Yes. So, I will defer voting under this item until voting time.

Voting deferred until voting time.

6. Motion to vary the order of consideration of Stage 3 amendments to The Environmental Protection (Single-Use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill

Item 6, a motion to vary the order of consideration for Stage 3 amendments to the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastics) (Wales) Bill, and I call on the Minister for Climate Change to move the motion. Julie James.

Motion NDM8145 Lesley Griffiths

To propose that the Senedd in accordance with Standing Order 26.36:

Agrees to dispose of sections and schedules to the The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill at Stage 3 in the following order:

a) Section 1;

b) Section 2;

c) Schedule 1;

d) Sections 3-23;

e) Long title.

Motion moved.

Diolch, Deputy Llywydd. I move the motion. 


Oh, right. Minister, no other Members have asked to speak, so are you content to move to a vote? 

Yes. I'm assuming she says 'yes'. 

The proposal is to agree the motion. Does any Member object? No. The motion is therefore agreed in accordance with Standing Order 12.36. 

Motion agreed in accordance with Standing Order 12.36.

7. The Marine, Fisheries and Aquaculture (Financial Assistance) Scheme (Wales) Regulations 2022

Item 7, the Marine, Fisheries and Aquaculture (Financial Assistance) Scheme (Wales) Regulations 2022, and I call on the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales to move the motion—Lesley Griffiths. 

Motion NDM8143 Lesley Griffiths

To propose that the Senedd, in accordance with Standing Order 27.5:

1. Approves that the draft The Marine, Fisheries and Aquaculture (Financial Assistance) Scheme (Wales) Regulations 2022 is made in accordance with the draft laid in the Table Office on 15 November 2022.

Motion moved.

Thank you, Deputy Presiding Officer. I'm pleased to bring these regulations to the Siambr this afternoon. It would create a financial assistance scheme to support the sector in Wales under the UK Fisheries Act 2020. Having left the European Union, we're taking the opportunity to design an investment scheme specifically for Wales. The scheme is designed to deliver a broad range of policy options and allow the flexibility to target specific priorities. I believe this approach is necessary to navigate the systemic changes and uncertainties we are currently facing. 

The dynamic aspect of the scheme will be the funding rounds. There is scope for significant variation in how these funding rounds will be operated, so the delivery of the financial assistance can be tailored to the purpose for which it's intended. Each funding round will be designed with engagement from stakeholders to meet the requirements of the sector and Government priorities, with the feedback from each application window being considered to inform future funding rounds. 

I'm very grateful to the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee for expediting the report on these draft regulations so that, subject to the will of the Senedd, we can move ahead with implementing the scheme. Diolch.

I call on the Chair of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee, Huw Irranca-Davies. 

Thank you, Dirprwy Lywydd. We considered these regulations yesterday afternoon, and our report has also been laid in order to inform Members this afternoon. These regulations establish a scheme for the giving of grants and making of loans by the Welsh Ministers in respect of the activities listed in the Schedule.

The regulations replace a previous set of draft regulations that were laid at the end of September and which my committee considered in mid October. Our report on that previous version of the regulations contained a number of reporting points, both technical and merits-related. So, these revised regulations have indeed been laid to address the points raised in that report, as the Minister noted. Following a request from the Minister, we expedited our scrutiny of the revised version so that this debate could happen this afternoon and the Senedd can be asked to approve the regulations so that the scheme can open before the end of 2022.

So, on these regulations, we've been able to lay a clear report, meaning there are no points to raise, but, Minister, our reason in standing today and saying a few words is that we hope this example demonstrates, indeed, the value of the Senedd as a critical friend to Welsh Government in improving these matters. I'd also like to note that we welcome the inclusion of a detailed regulatory impact assessment in the revised explanatory memorandum that accompanies these regulations, which is in response to reporting point 6 of our previous report. Diolch yn fawr, Dirprwy Lywydd. 

I've raised the need for the establishment of a consultative group a number of times, and I was pleased that this new group had met back in July. I've also raised the need to establish a funding scheme on a number of occasions. So, I'm pleased that the consultative group has noted the fisheries funding as a priority, and we have waited too long already for this statement today, but having this debate and a plan is to be welcomed. But I do fear that the regulations proposed, at least on the face of it, don't meet our expectations, and don't meet what we had previously under the European maritime and fisheries fund scheme, or the corresponding schemes in England. 

Today's regulations around funding for fisheries are described as a replacement for the EMFF, which was a targeted funding programme. So, is the Minister convinced that the Wales marine and fisheries scheme makes the same targeted interventions to support Welsh fishing, seafood and aquaculture businesses? We're already nearly a year behind the other countries and constituent parts of the UK with the introduction of a new funding scheme, which has put Welsh fishers at a disadvantage compared to businesses elsewhere, and there are concerns that the funding scheme here does not reflect the necessary targeted intervention measures needed in order to fulfil our statutory duties. What's particularly concerning for the sector is that these plans only offer revenue funds, which severely limits fishers' ability to develop their businesses and, indeed, to allow the sector to reach net zero. It's also disappointing to understand that the funds will be paid in retrospect to fishers, who are already struggling financially. Is it realistic to expect applicants to defray payments, for example, having the financial arrangements in place to fully fund a project to final claim, before the relevant intervention-rate percentage can be reclaimed?

The memorandum of explanation tells us that no consultation has been held and refers instead to 'Brexit and our Seas'. Surely for such an important announcement for this sector, they should have been consulted on this. 'Brexit and our Seas' was published in 2019. Since then, we've had COVID, a dodgy trade agreement, a Wales general election, three Prime Ministers and four Chancellors. The world is a different place today. Fishers in Wales should be central to developing such an important policy.

The previous EMFF were cumbersome and difficult to navigate, which led to a low uptake from fishers in Wales. This is an opportunity to simplify the process, however, it seems to me that this opportunity has been lost, which is another disappointment. Can the Minister therefore assure us that, as this progresses, lessons will be learned to make the application process easier? And what level of support will you put in place to help, advise and assist applicants?

Unlike the EMFF scheme, Welsh Government have broadened the Wales marine and fisheries scheme to include marine, fisheries and aquaculture. How much, therefore, of the overall budget is being allocated to each sector, and how will such sums be evaluated and measured? How will movement of uncommitted funds from one sector heading to the other be scrutinised or approved?

Finally, given the recent agreement and publication of the joint fisheries statement, can the Minister confirm that the Wales marine and fisheries scheme will deliver Welsh strategic objectives for fishers and aquaculture? Because of these issues, we're currently minded to vote against these regulations and would wish that these issues were resolved before regulations come into effect and that the sector is consulted fully, but our position is dependent, of course, on the Minister's response. Diolch yn fawr iawn.