Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad
Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee12/07/2021
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Huw Irranca-Davies MS||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Jayne Bryant MS|
|Peter Fox MS|
|Rhys ab Owen MS|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Bernadette Payne||Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Legal Services, Welsh Government|
|Howard Davies||Rheolwr Economi Gylchol, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Circular Economy Manager, Welsh Government|
|Jane Anstee||Rheolwr Polisi Rheoliadau Gwastraff, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Waste Regulation Policy Manager, Welsh Government|
|Jo Stevens||Pennaeth Llywodraethu Amgylcheddol, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Head of Environmental Governance, Welsh Government|
|Julie James MS||Y Gweinidog Newid Hinsawdd|
|Minister for Climate Change|
|Olwen Spiller||Pennaeth Ansawdd yr Amgylchedd, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Head of Environment Quality, Welsh Government|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Gareth Howells||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|P Gareth Williams||Clerc|
|Sarah Sargent||Ail Glerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 10:01.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 10:01.
Bore da i chi i gyd. Bore da, bawb. Croeso i chi i gyd.
Good morning, everyone. Welcome, all.
Welcome to you all to this, the first meeting of the reconstituted, and with a slightly enlarged remit, as well, Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee, here in the sixth Senedd. Can I welcome Members to this virtual meeting of the committee? I'd particularly like to welcome our new members of this reconstituted committee: Rhys ab Owen, Peter Fox and Jayne Bryant. You're all very welcome, and I'm looking forward to serving with you on this committee and doing a very good job of scrutiny as we go forward into the sixth session. Welcome, as well, to the Minister and her officials—we'll come to you in a moment.
In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I've determined that the public are excluded from the committee's meeting in order to protect public health, and, in accordance with Standing Order 34.21, notice of this decision was included in the agenda for this meeting. The meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and the Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. Aside from the procedural adaptation for conducting proceedings remotely, all other Standing Order requirements remain in place. We've had no apologies received for today's meeting, although we have one substitute, which we'll come to in a moment, in the Minister's team there.
Just a couple of housekeeping arrangements: could I ask all Members and those attending the meeting to ensure that all your mobile devices are switched to silent mode? We operate, on this committee, as all others, through the medium of both the Welsh and English languages, so interpretation is available during the morning's meeting. The sound operator is controlling the microphones, so, for everybody on the meeting, you don't need to mute and unmute yourself; it will be done for you.
So, with those housekeeping notes, we can move on to item No. 2 of this morning's meeting, which is the committee's remit. Now, later on in the meeting, we'll be moving into private session and discussing the ways ahead for this committee amongst our new committee members and the new team we've had, but I just want to make some introductory remarks: this isn't simply a reconstituted committee; it is slightly enhanced in its scope and its remit as well. Let me put on record the remit of this committee, as agreed by the Senedd on 23 June 2021, which is, in quotes,
'to carry out the functions of the responsible committee set out in Standing Order 21 and Standing Order 26C, and to consider any other matter relating to: legislation within or relating to the competence of the Senedd or the Welsh Ministers, including the quality of legislation; devolution, the constitution (including Wales's constitutional future), justice, and external affairs, including (but not restricted to) changes to the devolution settlement, and intergovernmental relations.'
I think that shows the sheer scale and remit of this committee and the duty that we have now, as committee members, to both hold the Government to account and play a constructive role in shaping the constitutional, justice and legal affairs of this, our Senedd, within the sixth Senedd period. We'll come back to that subsequently when we move into private session and as we as a committee try to shape the way forward that we want to agree on, but it's important to lay out, right at the outset, the task that is being laid in front of us.
Now then, if we can note that remit, can I ask Members if, at this point, we have any questions on the remit? No. Thank you very much.
In which case, we'll move on to item No. 3, the legislative consent memorandum on the Environment Bill and our evidence session. We've had, for this session, a briefing, legal advice notes and research service briefings as well. We've also had letters from the Business Committee and a letter to the Business Committee in response to that, and we have in front of us today Minister Julie James—very good to see you, Minister for Climate Change et cetera, because it's quite a large brief that you have. We also have—to save all your officials reading themselves in there—I understand, Bernadette Payne, legal services; Howard Davies, circular economy manager; Jane Anstee, waste regulation policy manager; Olwen Spiller, head of environment quality; and also, with apologies from Eifiona Williams, head of water, we have Jo Stevens from the environmental governance team. Is that correct, or have I missed anybody out on your team, Minister?
No, that's correct, Huw.
That's brilliant. Well, in that case, we'll move straight ahead, Minister, to business, whilst welcoming you—and thank you, so early on in your brief, for joining us as well, in the massive brief that you have there—we're going to move straight into questions, and we have quite a busy agenda here. Minister, if you're happy to go straight into questions, could I turn to the memorandum, which we note contains minimal information about how the Bill has progressed since its introduction to the UK Parliament in January 2020, about the Bill generally, and how it fits within the Welsh Government's programme for government? So, given we're at the start of a new Senedd, why does the memorandum not provide more information to help Members with our scrutiny?
Thank you, Huw. This Bill has had a bit of a long history. I, obviously, wasn't the Minister responsible for it in the first Senedd either, so I've also had to do a bit of historical reading. My understanding is that we originally introduced it just before—. It was originally introduced just before COVID, and we decided to use the Bill as the fastest way of getting the various powers in place for Wales, and also there's a big issue, with the majority of these powers, about there being a real need to have a UK-wide legislative framework for them, and, at that point, it was by far in a way the fastest way of doing it. Now that we've moved into the sixth Senedd, the Bill still progresses Welsh policy in a number of really key areas where cross-UK working really is required for it to be effective—that's particularly waste and resource sufficiency. So, the programme for government, as I'm sure you all know, includes commitments to introduce an extended producer responsibility scheme to incentivise waste production by businesses—so, making the producer of the waste responsible for reducing it. The clauses in the Bill allow us to develop a regulatory approach to extended producer responsibility, which allows consistent schemes to operate between Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland for a range of products and items, and it also allows legislation to abolish the use of more commonly littered single-use plastics. It provides us with a tool to achieve charging powers on the back of single-use plastic items as well.
There's been a lot of co-ordination between the Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and UK Governments around simultaneous regulations and so on, for obvious reasons. You know, we've got a single UK market; we don't want people to have to try and figure out, when they cross the border to come on holiday, whether they can or can't bring their straw with them. That just does not make any sense. It's going to be more efficient and effective if it's a UK-wide situation. No doubt you're going to come on to talk about this, but obviously the regulations themselves will go through the Senedd as affirmative procedures, so there will be a chance for the Senedd to look properly at the regulations in Wales, but, nevertheless, we thought the co-ordination was good.
That's also the case for air quality and for water. For very similar reasons, the framework crosses the border, and so on. And then, there are very complicated clauses, which, if the committee wants to go into them, I'm going to ask officials with far more technical knowledge than me to look at, around the UK GB REACH scheme, which is where chemicals move around with various regulatory frameworks attached to them. I will confess to the committee at this point, Chair, that I can barely read the names of the chemicals, never mind understand the complexity of the scientific regulations. So, if the committee wants to go into that in any detail, we have officials who'll be able to help.
We might come back to that, Minister, but, thanks; that's a useful explanation. I sadly confess that, as a former environment Minister at a UK level, I'm deeply familiar with the detail of the REACH regulation [Laughter.] So, let's not go there for the moment.
But, you've helpfully explained why you feel that this Bill should be brought forward in this way, but can I just ask you—. We work on the principle that primary legislation in devolved areas should be enacted by the Senedd. You've sort of explained to us why this could be an exception to that and why it's necessary to bring it forward in this way, but can I ask you: why is it sensible and advantageous, as has been described in your writing to us, to permit the UK Government to legislate in an area of policy that is indeed a priority policy area for Welsh Government? So, albeit with what you've said, that there are border issues, there are areas of overlap, there are issues of timing, this is still a priority policy area for Welsh Government, so, those issues that you've highlighted override that.
We've obviously carefully considered that, Huw, in putting the legislative programme together for the Senedd, but this Bill is going to its Third Reading Lords Report Stage very shortly, so, with the best will in the world, we would not get something in through the Senedd in the time available. And also, there's a huge issue about the co-ordination across the UK. So, as I say, there is the combination of the two things. Also, I don't think the committee will be under any illusion about the real stretch of resources in the Welsh Government because of Brexit and COVID still ongoing. So, given the three things, it didn't seem sensible to try and introduce a new Bill at this stage.
There are what are called carve-out provisions in it, so if, at a later stage, the Senedd wants to include provisions into an environmental governance Bill and so on, we can do that; this doesn't preclude that. But we'll see whether it's through and bedded in by then. The timetable with the UK Government, as you'll know, of course, Chair, can slip very considerably, and, indeed, this Bill has slipped because of COVID, but, at the moment, it represents the speediest way of getting the powers in place, which we certainly want to do.
Diolch yn fawr iawn. Rhys, over to you.
Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd. Bore da i chi, Weinidog. Yn fy wythnosau cyntaf yn y Senedd, dwi wedi clywed droeon y Prif Weinidog, y Cwnsler Cyffredinol ac eraill yn sôn am ymosodiadau o du San Steffan tuag at y setliad datganoledig yma yng Nghymru. Gwnaeth y Cwnsler Cyffredinol ddweud yr wythnos diwethaf fod rhaid archwilio'n fanwl pob Bil sy'n dod o San Steffan i wneud yn siŵr nad ydyn nhw'n tanseilio ein setliad datganoli ni. O ystyried y pryderon yna, felly, Weinidog, pa archwiliad mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi ei wneud i wneud yn siŵr eu bod nhw wedi dod i'r casgliad nad yw'r Bil yma yn tanseilio ein setliad datganoli ni yma yng Nghymru?
Thank you very much, Chair. Good morning to you, Minister. In my first few weeks in the Senedd, I've heard on several occasions the First Minister, the Counsel General and others talking about the attacks from Westminster on the devolution settlement here in Wales. The Counsel General himself said last week that we must interrogate carefully every Bill that comes from Westminster to ensure that it doesn't undermine our devolved settlement. So, given those concerns, Minister, what interrogation has the Welsh Government undertaken of this Bill to determine that it does not represent the undermining of the integrity of the devolution settlement in Wales?
Thank you very much, Rhys. Diolch yn fawr. Very careful scrutiny, in fact. We've been really keen to make sure that this is a Bill that is an example of Governments working together effectively to reach agreement that needs cross-border controls and protects the devolution settlement at the same time. So, as I said, we have to carefully balance what maximises the outcome of legislation for the people of Wales. So, we try to do that with a mixture of Senedd and UK Parliament legislation, working both within the constraints of our capacity, as I just said in answering the Chair, but also what opportunities are available in the UK Government's legislative programme in terms of timing and in terms of cross-border co-ordination, particularly for things that we know travel around the UK in great numbers. So, this is a good example, actually, of where the Governments have been working carefully together, and that's across all the devolved Governments, as well as the UK, because there's clearly a wider set of priorities here about waste. I'm sure you're going to come on and ask me more about this later on, Chair, but there's lots more to say about waste data tracking and a number of other things that obviously require a cross-UK and, indeed, actually, a European dimension as well.
Diolch yn fawr, Weinidog. Roeddwn i eisiau mynd ymlaen nawr. Rydych chi wedi sôn wrthym ni ein bod yn mynd i gael cyfle i sgrwtineiddio, i graffu ar, y Bil yma wrth iddo fe—bydd cyfle inni yn y Senedd. Roeddwn i eisiau, wedyn, mynd ymlaen i sôn am hygyrchedd y gyfraith—accessibility y gyfraith—i'r cyhoedd ac i ymarferwyr. Sut mae'r dull yma o weithredu gyda Llywodraeth Cymru yn cydfynd â'ch ymrwymiad i gydgrynhoi a gwella hygyrchedd cyfraith Cymru?
Thank you very much for that, Minister. I wanted to go on now. You've told us that we're going to have an opportunity to scrutinise this Bill, and we'll have an opportunity to do that in the Senedd. I wanted, then, to go on to talk about the accessibility of the law for the public and for practitioners. How does this method of action by the Welsh Government correspond to its commitment to consolidate and improve accessibility to law in Wales?
Yes, thank you, Rhys. That's a very good point, of course. We still have a range of legislation that covers pan-UK arrangements. We always look to see, when introducing Bills of our own into the Senedd, whether we can include carve-outs—so, taking UK legislation and repeating them in the Welsh Acts. And also we are looking to consolidate in a number of areas, although this area isn't one of them at the moment. I feel sure that, in a later Senedd, once environmental protection has bedded in post the EU, there will be efforts made to consolidate, but at this point it's all very new legislation and regulatory powers.
There are a number of things to say about reviews into where the regulatory powers are most effectively exercised and so on, which I'm sure will become apparent. And, as I've already said, there are going to be possibilities for a carve-out in an environmental protection governance Bill later on in the Senedd term. But you'll see from the legislative programme that we haven't got a slot for this in year 1 of the legislative programme. There are an enormous number of pressures just in my portfolio alone for the year 1 slots, and so this seems like a good opportunity to be able to get this onto the statute book and not be lagging. And also, as I said, there's a big pan-UK piece with it.
We make efforts to make sure, of course, that the regulations are available readily for practitioners in Wales, and we work very closely with the Counsel General, Legal Services and Office of the Legislative Counsel divisions in order to try and ensure the best fit.
Diolch yn fawr, Weinidog. Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd.
Thank you very much, Minister. Thank you very much, Chair.
Diolch, Rhys. A nesaf, Jayne.
Thank you, Rhys. Next, Jayne.
Over to you.
Thank you, Chair, and good morning, Minister. I just want to ask, around legislative consent: can you confirm the test that the Welsh Government applies when deciding whether Senedd consent is needed under an LCM? Because much of the LCM refers to the test as being whether a provision of the Environment Bill has a devolved purpose. However, we're looking at whether the LCM says that consent is based on whether a provision is within the Senedd's legislative competence—trying to get that out this morning. It does appear that there are two different tests within the LCM, so could you confirm which test?
Okay. So, it's not two tests; it's the way the tests are applied for different purposes. So, I'll go through it, Jayne, and then I'm happy to try and explain or expand, if you like. So, the consent memorandum is drafted and laid in accordance with the requirements of Standing Order 29, which says that a relevant Bill means
'a Bill under consideration in the UK Parliament which makes provision ("relevant provision") in relation to Wales: for any purpose within the legislative competence of the Senedd'.
And then there's a whole carve-out about incidental, consequential, transitional, transitory, supplementary or savings provisions, which aren't included.
And then paragraph 85 of the consent memorandum specifically refers to the proposed carve-out to Schedule 7B of GOWA regarding functions in the Environment Bill. So, paragraph 7 of Schedule 7B to the Government of Wales Act says that provisions that modify a protection provision in the Government of Wales Act are not within the legislative competence of the Senedd. So, Legal Services take the view that this means they are not relevant provisions as they are not for any purpose within the legislative competence of the Senedd. So, it's not a different test; it's just applied differently to different provisions, depending on whether they are considered to be within or without the legislative competence of the Senedd, based on whether or not they modify the functions in Schedule 7B of GOWA, the environmental protection functions.
So, apologies, that's incredibly technical and you need three lots of Bills in order to be able to do it. I can have a go at explaining it slightly differently, if you like, but, effectively, if it affects Schedule 7B of GOWA, then it's regarded as not within the competence of the Senedd, so, it has different treatment than if it doesn't. I think that's the briefest and probably slightly oversimplified—with apologies to Bernadette for the slightly oversimplified legal workaround. I'm sure Bernadette can tell you in enormous legal detail what the actual difference is, if the committee wants her to, Chair and Jayne.
I think your explanation has been very helpful, Minister. Just moving on to about the time, really, and you have really touched on that this morning as well—so, just about what discussions you've had with the UK Government about providing more time for Senedd scrutiny to enable new Members to fully consider the Bill, particularly given the concerns the Welsh Government have expressed about the timetable not permitting Senedd scrutiny of the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act.
Yes, thank you, Jayne. It's something obviously of concern to us. Obviously, we don't have any control over the parliamentary scrutiny timetable in the UK, but I have written to the Secretary of State for agriculture, fisheries and food to request that the Lords Third Reading is scheduled to allow more time to allow the new Senedd committees to scrutinise the memorandum on this Bill, and we're waiting on their consideration of that and I'm hopeful they will take that into account. We had a quite decent interministerial group with the Secretary of State recently in which he seemed to be being relatively ameliorative, although I make no promises; we've made the request.
Thank you. So, is there sufficient time remaining for Welsh Government to negotiate amendments to the Bill with the UK Government?
Again, that is dependent on whether the UK Government is prepared to move off the Third Reading in the House of Lords and so on. That might or might not give us a little bit of time. It's technically possible to amend the Bill at Report Stage, as I'm sure the committee knows. That Third Reading is the deadline date for LCM approval, because otherwise we'd be approving something that was then subsequently amended. So, it's all about the intricacies of the timing, and this is something I've rehearsed in this committee in a previous life on a number of occasions. So, we need to make sure that Welsh provisions can't be removed, if consent is not given during the final amending stage, on the basis that they haven't been consented. So, it's a bit of a scramble if we try to do that. I'm just hopeful they'll move the timetable off slightly.
Thank you, Minister.
Thank you, Jayne. And now we'll bring in Peter.
Good morning, Minister. I believe the former environment Minister told our predecessor committee that enabling powers in the Bill will enable the Government to deliver current and future policy. How do you intend to use the regulation-making powers provided in the Bill in terms of delivering future Welsh Government policy?
The future Welsh Government policy referred to, Peter—and by the way, lovely to see you in your new role in the committee—the future powers, due to COVID and various other various dreadful things we've all lived through, have become current policy pretty rapidly. So, they're no longer future policy, it's taken such a time to get through. So, these are the policies in the paper 'Beyond Recycling'—so, they're policy interventions that will allow us to contribute to longer-term goals like waste prevention, zero-waste strategies and so on, and they all contribute to our programme for government aim of embedding our response to the climate and nature emergency into everything we do. So, the Bill was introduced back in January 2020, and we all know how much life changed almost immediately afterwards, and so I'm afraid it's caught up with us. So, it's now introducing current policy.
Thanks, Minister. Again, the former environment Minister explained that a number of the regulation-making powers in the Bill were being taken without a current timetable for using them. So, for every regulation-making power identified in the memorandum, please could you write by the end of July and indicate when you intend to use them?
I'm really, really happy to do that, Peter and Chair. We're obviously working on the timetable now for all the regulations, so very, very happy to share that with the committee. We'll share what we've got so far, but I'm sure we've got a complete set by the end of July.
Yes, thanks, Minister—appreciate that. And regulation-making powers in the Bill are widely drawn, as we know, and so much so that they could enable significant future Welsh Government policy to be subject only to the scrutiny afforded to subordinate legislation rather than the detailed scrutiny and engagement with stakeholders that would accompany a Welsh environment Bill. Why is this appropriate?
So, we've made sure that the vast majority of the regulation-making powers are subject to the affirmative procedure, and therefore will be subject to debate and scrutiny either in Parliament or the Senedd, if the Welsh Ministers use the regulation-making powers. If the UK Government used the powers with the consent of Welsh Ministers, the guidance on Welsh Ministers' consent to the UK exercising powers in relation to Wales provides specifically that the Senedd is given an opportunity to provide a view before Ministers provide consent. So, a written statement would be laid before the Senedd in that regard, and then a debate could be scheduled and Members' views can be sought. Also, before consenting to anything that the UK Government are using on behalf of the Welsh Government, we would have been fully involved in policy development and implementation through our inter-governmental governance arrangements, and so it will be perfectly possible for us to keep the committee informed as to where we were with that, and I'm happy to do that, Chair.
Thank you, Minister. Obviously, all of the issues contained in the Environment Bill are a matter of priority, but why is there no environment Bill or clean air Bill in the Welsh Government's first legislative programme? If they're not a priority, why do you consider it necessary to include the relevant provisions for the UK Environment Bill rather than a future Welsh Bill?
The honest truth here is we've been really up against it in legislation terms. I've spent more time in my first few weeks in this portfolio trying to sort out how on earth we will resource the enormous amount of legislation that we have coming forward through the portfolio than I have almost doing anything else. So, actually, given that this Bill—. As I said right at the beginning of this session, given this Bill is in the state it's already in and there's a lot of cross-border, really obvious reasons for needing a UK approach to a large number of these things and so on, and given where we are in terms of the enormous amount of resource still being taken up by both Brexit and COVID regulations still coming through in this area, it doesn't seem sensible not to take the opportunity to do it, given the amount of work that's already being done.
As I say, we always do this—we always look to see what opportunities there are in UK legislation to make sure that we have a coherent set of law. We always prefer to do it in the Senedd where that fits nicely and we have the resource available, but there are lots of things where it's necessary to have cross-border arrangements. So, again, Peter, Chair, I don't know whether this committee will be looking at the Building Safety Bill, for example, but we have a large number of very similar provisions there, which, for obvious reasons, need UK-wide agreement and so on. So, we always look to balance that. If we only delivered our priorities through Senedd legislation then we would be falling behind in a number of areas unnecessarily, and building safety and environmental protection are obvious regulatory areas where you don't want that to happen.
It's a judgment call; I do accept that. But, in our judgment, this is the best way of achieving the outcomes that we want for the people of Wales in the shortest amount of time, given the constraints of resource and given the cross-UK working that we think is essential in a large number of these areas.
Thank you, Peter; thank you, Minister. Minister, just on the point of principle that we started with, and that you touched on there again, I think the committee will understand that you have to square off a lot of different objectives here and look at the best way in which to introduce legislation based on resource constraints, based on timing, based on whether there are cross-border issues and so on. But the point of principle, you would accept, stands true—that, all things being equal, if legislation can be subject to greater scrutiny within the Senedd and within its committees by actually bringing it through the Senedd, that would be better. In which case, on every occasion where Government chooses not to go through that route, it's going to have to put up a really robust argument of why not.
So, I completely agree with that, Huw, and obviously we go through that very carefully. We'd much prefer to do it in the Senedd ourselves, but, as I say, there are a number of things to be weighed in the balance here, and in this particular instance we've come down on the side of making sure that the Bill is fit for purpose. That's not to say then, of course, that having made that decision, an enormous amount of work then goes on to make sure that Welsh interests are fully protected in the Bill, and they fully reflect the needs of Wales that Welsh Ministers are given the right amount of powers, that we have the right procedures in place for affirmative resolution for the regulations to give the Senedd the right amount of scrutiny, and so on. So, we do take all of those things into account as we go through, and we're always very welcome to discuss that with the committee and hear the committee's views on particular provisions as well. But as I say, if we only use Senedd legislation, we just wouldn't get everything done; it's just as simple as that, really.
Yes, I understand that. You set out in answer to Peter several provisos there when we touched on things like, 'Do we have sufficient time depending on the process through the UK Parliament and whether we can actually get amendments in there?' You touched on the issue of inter-governmental relations. Now, in respect of this particular piece of legislation, how would you sum up the state of those inter-governmental relations both at a ministerial but also at an official level? Is this constructive in terms of this piece of legislation? Do you believe that you have levers to pull, that you are being listened to in the detail, and making the broad case as well for the differences that Wales might want to make in the future? How good are those inter-governmental relations at the moment in respect of this Bill?
So, again, Huw, I was not the Minister in charge of this in the previous Senedd, so I've spoken to Lesley Griffiths who was and she confirmed that the relationship had been good. I have officials on the call who I know have personal experience of it. I'm assured by them in my briefings that it's good, but if one of them wants to add anything into that, I'm very happy for them to do so for the committee. The only one inter-ministerial group that I've had so far, we had a perfectly reasonable conversation, although I will say that this was a tiny part of an enormous agenda. So, it's a very brief run past it. So, I don't know if any of the officials want to add anything into that.
I'd welcome that. I know officials need to be diplomatic as well in—[Inaudible.]—but would somebody like to raise their hands so we can just take a view from the officials and how the engagement is? Jo.
Yes, I think I can confirm the relationship's been very productive and positive. We've had a number of areas where we've sought amendments to the Bill, and that's been well received. There has been a consistent set of meetings with the UK Bill team scheduled in weekly, so that we've got an opportunity to raise issues. So, yes, it's been a positive experience.
That's brilliant. Thank you, Jo Stevens. Howard, you had your hand up, but I think you've taken it down now.
Yes, hello there. I was just going to mention some of the hard working that we're progressing on extended producer responsibility and give you an example of how that relationship is working at the next tier down, which is the secondary legislation on the powers on extended producer responsibility for packaging waste. What we have behind the scenes is a joint programme board that's got representatives from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland at a deputy director level. So, all of the policy development, the detailed policy stuff, is all done on a UK-wide basis. All the work is fed up and those decisions and those recommendations that will make it through to our Ministers are all scrutinised very much at an all-UK-wide level, with that governance framework that we've got behind the scenes. So, it's a very, very good relationship that we have with our colleagues in the Scottish Government, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Northern Ireland as well. I speak to them on a regular, regular basis. It's good teamwork.
Okay, that's brilliant. Thank you very much for that. Jayne, we're going to come back to you.
Thank you, Chair. Following on from that, really, what's the reason for choosing the negative procedure for making regulations under clause 68, which may vary the level of fixed penalty notices under the Environmental Protection Act 1990?
Yes, thank you, Jayne. The thinking there is simply that the only thing that that regulation is doing is substituting one figure for another figure. So, an affirmative procedure seems disproportionate for just updating a figure, effectively. We're required to act in accordance with public law principles and make sure that any penalty amount included in any regulation, just in general—not just for this regulation—is both proportionate and fair, and it's consistent with a number of similar powers that are also subject to negative procedure. There's a list here that I can give you if you like. But basically it's because it's a number that's being updated. It might need to be done relatively frequently, and it seemed disproportionate.
Okay, thank you, Minister. Obviously, the choice of negative procedure can be contrasted with the choice of affirmative procedures elsewhere in the Bill. What's the urgency for including clause 54, which is around charges for single-use items, and clause 72, which is around smoke control areas, and relevant Schedules in the Bill?
So, when these clauses were put together—I well remember it in the last Senedd, actually—it wasn't clear whether the UK would be required to transpose the single-use plastic directives from the EU across into UK law to meet the various obligations on single-use plastics. Obviously, single-use plastics is one of the things that is of most concern, particularly for young people. I've had them raised with me more often than virtually anything else by young people I've spoken to since I took over this portfolio, and indeed in the previous Senedd. So, we were very clear that we wanted to achieve the obligation in the article of a substantial and sustained consumption reduction in single-use plastic cups, in particular, for beverages, and food containers. So, the article doesn't stipulate how the reduction should be achieved, but here in Wales, of course, we've got an absolute world-leading example, because we know how well the effectiveness of a charging strategy can work, because of our single-use carrier bag charging strategy, which everybody was very sceptical about at first, but which has achieved the most incredible reduction in single-use carrier bag usage—in fact, made them really quite rare these days.
So, on that basis, we decided to seek charging powers in the UK environment Bill to meet the obligations and to allow for the regulations to be adopted in all the circumstances I've just been outlining, about the timeliness and all the rest of it. So, although the EU timescales of urgency are no longer applicable, we want to reduce the environmental impact of single-use plastics as fast as we can go in terms of our ambitions of moving Wales towards a circular economy and our nature emergency that, as you know, we've declared. So, although it's not time-critical as such, as in, it won't fall if we don't do it, it seems to me there is a time-critical thing in a broader world environment sense, and people are anxious for us to get on with it. So, it seemed appropriate.
So, we've got to work, haven't we, with the UK, to make sure that the published list makes sense, that we understand what's happening with the need for manufacturers to get their products onto the market, that we're able to work in that concerted way across the piece to make sure that we have a piece of legislation that matches the ambitions for Wales but is workable in terms of the UK market. So, I think that's pretty much where we are.
This Bill is really interesting, because it shows the evolution of thought, actually, from Brexit through COVID to where we are now. I think I can see legal historians in the future finding this Bill really interesting, in terms of the developing thought. Anyway, we think it's still appropriate to do it like that, for all the reasons we've set out, and I know the committee is very well aware of the pressure on us to do something about single-use plastics in particular.
Thanks, Minister. That's a really helpful response. Thank you.
Thank you, Jayne. And before I mention the word 'reach' and REACH regulations again, I'm going to bring us to the issue of 'concurrent plus' powers. For people watching this, this has excited us, because, for people who are watching this committee now as we go through proceedings, these are powers that make regulations in devolved areas in Wales, with the consent of Welsh Ministers, and of course they've been laid before the UK Parliament only, so that the regulations would not be laid before the Senedd for scrutiny. So, obviously, with us as a committee, this has caused us to look at it quite acutely. Now, within this Bill, it includes concurrent plus powers in producer responsibility, resource efficiency, deposit schemes, water quality, and amendments to the REACH legislation. Why?
So, I'll just break them down a little bit, Huw, if that's ok, because there's quite a raft of them. So, for clauses 49 to 50, extended producer responsibility, and 51 to 53, which are resource efficiency, information and the deposit return schemes, although we are, indeed, proposing extended—I can't speak, all of a sudden, give me a moment to get my tongue back in order. Although we are looking at extended producer responsibility for packaging on a UK-wide basis, as I've said a number of times, and on a deposit return scheme for drink containers covering Wales, England and Northern Ireland, we are planning to lay Welsh-specific regulations in the Senedd, which bring the regimes into force. So, although they're concurrent, we're also laying the regulations in the Senedd. We're actually doing that co-ordinated with the other nations of the UK, so in the way that Howard was talking about earlier with the joint teams and so on, bringing it together. The Scottish Government are doing it for Scotland, the UK Government for England and Northern Ireland and they're bringing their own mirror secondary legislation at the same time to enable the UK-wide implementation. So, this approach maintains Welsh ministerial accountability, making sure that there are Welsh regulations in place, and gives the opportunity for the Senedd to scrutinise the details of the reform. So, that's that set.
And then, on clause 83 on water, this reflects how the powers were exercised previously. There's a gap, following our exit from the EU, in relation to what are called priority substances. They were previously exercised under section 2.2, but also implemented via the water environment, water framework directives. The Welsh Ministers' powers are exercised for river basin districts wholly in Wales, but, of course, we've got two cross-border river basin districts—the Dee and the Severn—and those powers are exercised jointly with the Secretary of State, again for obvious reasons, really, because each of us has a bit of the same river. And then, on clause 133, the famous REACH provisions, that restores a situation that existed previously for making or amending domestic enforcement arrangements for chemicals, which is partly devolved and partly reserved again, where Welsh Ministers had European Communities Act 1972 powers, or could consent to the Secretary of State making them, and they almost always favoured the Secretary of State making them because of the UK-wide nature. And, of course, in the previous regime, those regulations would not have received Senedd scrutiny. So, that's where we are, Huw, they're in three slightly different tranches for slightly different reasons.
Okay, thank you, that's a helpful—
So, I don't know if you want Bernadette to explain that again. Bernadette is the person you want to go to if you want the ins and outs of the detail.
No, I think we're okay; we're satisfied with that explanation, Minister. But, I wonder, are we at the point now where we can envisage a joint parliamentary procedure for environmental regulations that have a UK-wide theme, so, we can have approval by the legislature of each country to which the regulations apply?
Yes, that's what we're proposing. So, they're concurrent; we're working on mirrored provisions, basically, so that each legislature has a chance to look at it, but they're mirrored across the UK.
Okay. And how are you going to keep the Senedd informed of any occasion where you consent to the UK Government making important environmental regulations in the devolved areas in Wales?
Yes, I'd be happy to do that. So, we're obviously involved in a range of policy discussions and decisions in advance, so it's perfectly possible to keep the Senedd involved and I'm happy to do that.
Okay. And going forward, albeit with the—. You said quite clearly that any of these regulations will be brought back to the Senedd, if I understand you correctly, in order for there to be scrutiny of these and where necessary, for consent to be given, but in that case, in what circumstances in future would you envisage the UK Government using this concurrent-plus process to legislate in Wales?
Again, it's for things that have a UK-wide reach, if you like, and it seems to us sensible to have the same provision all the way through. But as I've just said, Huw, if we were consenting to that, we'd have been involved in the discussion and policy decisions in advance and we'd then write to the relevant policy committees to inform them that our intention was to consent to the UK Government exercising that legislative function. And then, assuming we've got the time to do it—I will say that's an important caveat because there have been occasions when we haven't had that time—we would provide an opportunity for the Senedd to express a view as well. But we'd certainly keep the policy committees informed of the discussions. That's the only caveat, there have been occasions where the UK Government has acted fairly swiftly, and just time has not permitted a proper session. But we certainly have kept the committees informed all the way through.
Thank you very much indeed, Minister. Rhys, we'll come back to you.
Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd. I think I'm just going to follow up on that question, Minister, with a question on the role of the Senedd in the consent process. If the Senedd doesn't have a formal or meaningful role in the consent process, it is very important that the Senedd is made aware, is notified of what's happening, and that process is set out in Standing Order 30C. There has been previous commitment by the environment Minister to formally notify the Senedd. Will you also give that commitment to us today?
Yes, I'm happy to keep the Senedd informed. I'm very happy to give that commitment, Rhys, as I say. But just to be really clear with the committee, because I don't want any misunderstanding, there is a difference between information and consent. So, for executive functions it's appropriate for the Welsh Government Ministers to consent, but we keep the Senedd informed. For legislative functions it's appropriate for the Senedd to give their consent, so that's more than information. I do think it's important to note that we are, all the way through this session, talking about a mixture of those two things.
Thank you, Rhys. Peter.
Thanks, Huw. The memorandum states that amendments have been tabled to the Bill that consequently amend the Government of Wales Act 2006, which would then allow the Senedd to remove concurrent plus functions given to the Secretary of State under the UK Environment Bill. What is the latest position on these amendments, Minister?
I'm going to ask Bernadette, I think, to talk to you about the detail of this, but my understanding is that we tabled the amendment clause on 9 June, and we expect the amendment to be debated today. But, Bernadette, do you want to—? You're nodding at me. Good. I haven't mixed myself up on the briefing. I agreed the carve-out amendment pretty much as I came into post, actually, and then it was tabled, and it's being discussed today. That's right, Bernadette, isn't it?
Yes, that's correct, Minister.
Moving on to broader constitutional points, Minister, and following the Welsh Government’s recent publication, 'Reforming our union: shared
governance in the UK', how do you think that UK-wide Bills, like the UK Environment Bill, would work under a reformed union? What would and could be different in your view?
Actually, Peter, I think this is a very good example of a Bill that's worked very well. As you heard, there's been complete input from officials all the way through. Lesley had a number of meetings with various Ministers in the previous Senedd. I will certainly have those going forward. Actually, I think it's bee a fairly model example of how to work the Sewel convention. This Bill has been co-ordinated in a way that absolutely respects the devolution settlements across the UK, and, importantly, the Sewel convention. The UK Government has been at pains to say that we need to consent to the bits that we need to consent to; we've had discussions about which bits those are. It's been a pretty model way of doing it. I have to say I have had experience in a previous role of Bills that have not been a model for doing it. This one, I think, would be a really good example of how to do it.
Thank you, Peter.
Ac yn ôl i ti, Rhys, nawr.
And back to you, Rhys, now.
Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd. Gweinidog, dwi jest eisiau holi cwestiwn nawr ynglŷn â dwyieithrwydd, a gwneud yn siŵr bod y Gymraeg yn cael ei thrin yn gydradd â'r Saesneg, sydd wedi bod yn rhan o hanes datganoli yng Nghymru o'r cychwyn. O ystyried bod y Bil yma yn cynnwys llawer o ddarpariaethau a allai fod mewn Bil amgylcheddol yn arbennig jest i Gymru, a fyddech chi yn fodlon ymrwymo i gydgrynhoi'r materion hynny mewn Bil ar gyfer Cymru, ac felly, pan gaiff e ei gyflwyno, bydd y darpariaethau wedyn yn ddwyieithog—bydd e ar gael yn y Gymraeg? Diolch.
Thank you very much, Chair. Minister, I want to ask you a question about bilingualism, and ensuring that the Welsh language is given parity of esteem with English, which has been part of the story of devolution from the outset. Considering the fact that the Bill contains many provisions that could be included in an environment Bill for Wales alone, would you be willing to commit to consolidate all of those issues in a Bill for Wales, so that, when it is introduced, those provisions will then be available bilingually—it would be available in Welsh? Thank you.
Thank you very much, Rhys. Diolch yn fawr. I agree entirely with that. It would be lovely if we could get UK Government Bills to be in Welsh, and that's an ongoing conversation, as I know you know. We don't currently have a proposed general environment Bill for the coming Senedd programme; we do have an environmental governance Bill. So, it's possible that one of the proposed Bills might be extended to include the powers, but I'm sure—. Well, maybe you don't know yet, but you certainly will do in your job here, if you haven't come across it already, that the Table Office takes a very strict view about the scope of a Bill and what can and can't be included. We have, in fact, in the last Senedd, sought to include provisions in particular Bills that the Table Office have just ruled are outside of scope. So, we do have to have that ongoing conversation with them.
But more generally, as I said, in response to, I think, an earlier question from yourself, or certainly from one of the members of the committee, we've already asked officials to scope out a possible review of environmental law in Wales. Because there are, as a result of the raft of Brexit regulations that came back, and all the rest of it—we've been left with something that really needs an overarching look at it. It needs to consider how it contributes to well-being goals, how it fits inside the culture with a thriving language set, and all of the rest of it. So, I think there definitely is scope for a piece of that work. I'm sure the committee knows we have two consolidation Bills on the stocks—the historic environment Bill and the planning consolidation Bill. I think environment law and local government law are the two big next places that the Government will want to look at; I'm sure the Senedd will agree. And, Rhys, that would do two things: it will make them truly bilingual, which is a really good thing, but it will also give the accessibility and ease of access that you were talking about in an earlier question as well.
Diolch yn fawr. Thank you, Minister.
Thank you, Rhys. Peter, we'll come back to you.
Just a final one from me, I think, Minister, around the UK and EU trade and co-operation agreement. It's just a simple question, really, about how do you plan to monitor the impact of the regulations provided by the Bill on compliance with the regulations of that trade and co-operation agreement.
We're still working with all the other administrations in the UK, all the other Governments in the UK, to determine the requirements that arise from the trade and co-operation agreement. We do have an environmental governance Bill on the stocks, but it's just something that we need to keep working with them on and make sure that we're understanding exactly where we are with it. In these early days post European Union, there's a large number of things that we're still working through to make sure that we understand entirely how they all fit together, the UK Government included. So, there's going to be quite a lot of what my granny would have described as 'shiggling about' while we try to figure out exactly where we are with all of this. We're very keen that Wales doesn't fall behind, but at the same time, we need to make sure that we've got all of our resources properly deployed in order to be able to do this. So, as I say, it's possible that we will need to include something in an environmental protection Bill for Wales. We're still in discussion.
Thank you, Minister. Thank you, Huw.
Thank you, Peter. Minister, we've covered a lot of ground here in this session already, and we appreciate the fact that you've roamed very wide as well and covered a lot of detail. Some of what we've focused on has been very much to do with the appropriateness of using a UK environment Bill to take this forward. You've been quite lucid in the reasons why this is appropriate, and from what you're saying, there may well be times in the future when a similar pragmatic approach will be taken by the Welsh Government, saying, 'This is an appropriate vehicle to take forward legislation', for all the reasons you've outlined. But, with the UK environment Bill, if this is appropriate for this one, for this Bill in particular, does it raise any concerns with you at all about its relationship to the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 on Senedd legislative functions?
As I say, Huw, we're keeping a careful eye on all of those things. One of the reasons that we want to use the UK-wide piece for this is the whole issue around single plastics and so on. We want to avoid a situation in which we can't ban single plastics, but we can say that we advise people that they have to be on sale in Wales, 'but we'd rather you didn't use them', or some other dreadful situation where it's just very confusing for everyone. So, it seems to me that, on these points, it's a very good idea, in policy terms, never mind legislation, to work with the UK Government and all the other Governments in the UK, to try and have as consistent an approach as is humanly possible, for all the reasons that I just outlined. You don't want to be carrying something that's perfectly okay in Scotland into England and find that it's suddenly not okay—it just doesn't make any sense, does it? But also we want to make sure that—. We have a very high ambition level on this policy platform, so we also seek to influence the other Governments to make sure that they come up to our expectations on that. But I will be perfectly honest with the committee and say it remains to be seen what happens. But that's where we are at the moment.
That's an interesting take, Minister—that this isn't one-way traffic, it's very much a question of the Welsh Government, Scottish Government, Northern Ireland Executive as well trying to influence the UK by this approach. It's quite an interesting place, probably, to end this particular session of scrutiny on. But, before I do, could I just check with fellow committee members whether there's anything else they want to raise before we let the Minister go? I've got some shaking heads there. Is there anything else, Minister, from your perspective or from officials, that you'd want to raise with us?
No, that's been great, Huw. Thanks very much. As I say, we made a number of commitments to you to keep you informed, and we'll just make sure that we do that. The clerk, I know from long experience, will write me a nice note telling me what I've promised the committee, and I'm sure we'll be very pleased to deliver it for you.
Thank you very much indeed, Minister. Thanks to you and to your officials for being with us today. We've had a long list of officials with you, but it's probably reflective of the scale of your brief as well. Normally we'd just have a couple of people there; I think we've got about five people, on camera and off. So, thank you to your officials as well. We will write to you. Obviously, we'll send you the transcript as well so that you can check that for accuracy. We will, as well, of course, take you up on the offers that you've made to keep us informed, and so on. So, thank you very much indeed for this opening session of this committee; I think it's been very productive indeed.
So, by all means, stay, but I think you'll probably be off—
We'll be off, Huw.
—as you've got things to get on with. We'll leave you and your officials.
Diolch yn fawr.
Thank you very much.
We'll just pause for a moment while they leave us. There we are. Just to remind Members that we are still in public session at the moment while we move on to the following bits of business. Both for members of the public watching in and for Members, what we tend to do in these committee sessions is—having heard from the Minister and officials on this LCM on the Environment Bill, we will subsequently go into discussion in private session later on in this committee session today. But for now, we move on to other business. We're going to move on to other important parts of this committee's business.
Item 4 is proposed negative instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.3B. We have the background papers with this, and they explain how we handle negative instruments. Gareth, I wonder, at this point, whether—sorry, Gareth 1 or Gareth 2, I don't know which one is which. Because this is the first session of this committee, and we're in public, do one of you want to briefly outline how we deal with these proposed instruments that raise no reporting issues? Because I think it would be helpful for the public watching in, as well as committee members. Go ahead, Gareth.
In relation to this instrument, this is a proposed negative instrument, so it comes forward under Schedule 7 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. That Schedule provides for a committee in the Senedd to sift certain regulations that the Welsh Ministers propose to make under the negative procedure, known as proposed negative regulations. In relation to proposed instruments, this committee's role is to consider and report on the appropriate procedure to be followed—so, that's either going to be negative or affirmative—using the specific criteria that is set out in Standing Order 21.3C. The lawyers to the committee will examine the proposed instruments against those criteria and give a recommendation, and then it's for Members to make a decision as to whether that is the appropriate way to proceed. Whatever happens, if the instrument remains negative, then it will come forward again for normal scrutiny under Standing Order 21, and then if the committee recommends the affirmative procedure should be applied to an instrument, so there is an uplift to the procedure, it's then for the Government to note to make a determination as to whether that is the case. Whether it does or not is a matter for the Government, but, again, that instrument would come before the committee for scrutiny in the normal way.
Gareth, thank you so much. We won't do that at every session, you'll be pleased to know, but I think to have that explanation at the start of the sixth Senedd so that members of the public watching can understand it as well is really, really helpful. If those members of the public are still watching, then I have to say that they are amongst the chosen ones if they now understand that and they carry on with us because we're getting to some interesting territory now.
So, we're going to move now to paper No. 4, proposed negative instruments with clear reports, and our first one is item 4.1, pNeg(6)001, the Food and Drink (Transitional Provisions) (Wales) (EU Exit) Regulations 2021. This instrument amends the Food Information (Wales) Regulations 2014 and the Country of Origin of Certain Meats (Wales) Regulations 2015, both of which relate to food and drink standards and labelling. They are required to address deficiencies arising from the EU exit and ensure that the statute book can operate effectively following the UK's exit from the EU.
The draft report suggests that these regulations are not recommended for an uplift to the affirmative procedure. So, could I invite Members, if they have any comments on this or observations—or alternatively to agree that the appropriate procedure for these regulations is indeed the negative resolution procedure? Any comments? No, okay. Are you happy to agree that this is the negative resolution procedure for these? Thank you very much. Diolch yn fawr iawn.
In which case, we move on to item No. 5, instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. Under this, we have paper 5, statutory instruments with clear reports—draft affirmative resolution instruments. We have them within our papers there. There are two sets of regulations, items 5.1 and 5.2, scheduled to be debated in Plenary tomorrow on 13 July 2021.
The first of those is item 5.1, SL(6)016, the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Early Expiry: Local Authority Care and Support) (Wales) Regulations 2021. So, the Coronavirus Act 2020 enables local authorities in Wales to streamline assessment arrangements and to prioritise adult social care, and various social care duties were subsequently modified at the start of the pandemic. However, through the pandemic, local authorities have not taken advantage of these modified duties. As such, this instrument brings forward the date of expiration of these provisions in the 2020 Act, meaning that the flexibility for local authorities will no longer be available after 1 August. Senedd lawyers have not identified any points for reporting under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. Now, could I just invite Rhys, Jayne or Peter to make any other comments or observations and see whether—or do you agree with the draft report? We've got nods coming in. Okay, lovely, in which case, we're in agreement with that.
The second item of these two is item 5.2, SL(6)017, the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2021. This amends the 2015 regulations of the same name in consequence of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018. It specifically amends section 83 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, and the effect of the amendments is to continue the existing position regarding looked-after children who are required to have a personal education plan, and a list of information that must be included in a personal education plan. Our Senedd lawyers have not identified any points for reporting under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. Again, if I could ask committee members: have you any comments or are we happy to confirm agreement with the draft report? Yes, thank you very much again—confirm agreement.
So, item number 6, instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. So, we move now to ones where we do have issues to report on. And we have here some made negative resolution instruments. The first of these is item 6.1, SL(6)019, the Business Tenancies (Extension of Protection from Forfeiture etc.) (Wales) (Coronavirus) (No. 2) Regulations 2021. And that's paper 6. We have the draft report, the regulations, the explanatory memorandum and the letter from the Minister for Economy from 28 June 2021. Now, Gareth, would you like to comment on this, because I understand this is extending the relevant—where we previously extended the relevant period, on four previous occasions, and this takes us for a further extension again?
Diolch. Yes. Can I also just give a bit of background to the merits point on pack page 106 and the 21-day rule, which is a rule or a convention applying to subordinate legislation that follows the negative resolution procedure? And the rule says that at least 21 days should pass between the date that the regulations are laid before the Senedd and the date the regulations come into force. In this case, there is a breach of the 21-day rule, and therefore the Welsh Ministers are required to explain the breach. Here, the Welsh Ministers say that these regulations are urgent, as they form part of the Government response to the pandemic. And the aim of the regulations, as part of addressing the pandemic is to address the issue of businesses being at risk of eviction and protecting associated jobs, and therefore the Government considers that is urgent and therefore that is why there's a breach of the 21-day rule.
Thank you, Gareth. It might be helpful as well to clarify that this is far from a unique occasion, is it, under coronavirus legislation and regulations.
That's right. This period where you cannot evict business tenants has been extended several times now since the start of the pandemic.
Thank you very much. Again, if I could turn to committee colleagues—whether you have any comments or you're happy to agree the reporting points. Happy to agree. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
So then we turn to item 6.2, SL(6)020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Public Health Information to Travellers) (Wales) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2021. There are various papers, starting at paper number 10: the draft report, regulations, explanatory memorandum, a letter from the Minister for Health and Social Services of 28 June 2021, and the Welsh Government response. And again perhaps, Gareth, I could ask you to comment on this particular one.
Yes. Could I note in particular the fourth merits point, on pack page 125? One of the things these regulations does is amend the public health announcement that must be made onboard during flights to Wales. The previous onboard announcement said that, when you arrive in Wales, you should wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, et cetera, however, that wording is being removed, with passengers now being told to look at guidance instead. Welsh Government was asked to explain why the announcement no longer says that you should wear a mask, socially distance and wash your hands, not least because having to trawl through guidance is not always easy. The Welsh Government response says that this is part of a four-nation approach, so if you are flying into Wales, you are told to look at guidance that applies in your ultimate destination in the UK.
Okay, that's very helpful. And we had some supplementary papers on this as well. There's nothing particular within those supplementary papers that we need to draw our attention to?
No, that's the Government response explaining the four-nation approach. And of course, there's the other issue: what the regulations do, which is set out in the background of adding to the red-list countries and also adding to the green-list countries.
Thank you very much, Gareth, for that explanation. So, with those comments and the report and the merits points that have been noted, are we happy to agree the reporting points as a committee? Yes. Thank you very much indeed.
So, then we turn to draft affirmative resolution instruments, item 6.3. Item 6.3, SL—sorry, my apologies. I'm losing my way here. Yes, sorry. Item 6.3, SL(6)018, the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2021. We have a series of papers starting at paper 14 to 16, including the draft report regulations and explanatory memorandum. This instrument is to be made under the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018.
'The 2018 Act reforms the law on education and training for children and young people with additional learning needs and renames the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales as the Education Tribunal for Wales. These regulations make consequential amendments to references in primary legislation in order to reflect these changes.'
But Gareth, you've identified a technical point for reporting and there's been a Welsh Government response received.
Yes. So, just to say the Welsh Government has accepted the drafting error raised and because these regulations are still in draft, but they follow the affirmative procedure, the Government proposes to correct the error before the draft regulations are actually signed into law by the Minister. That is of course if the draft regulations are approved by the Senedd in Plenary tomorrow.
That's excellent. Are we happy to agree those reporting points from Gareth? Thank you very much.
Which takes us on to item number 7, instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3, previously considered. So, under this we have: item 7.1, SL(6)009, the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 11) Regulations 2021. We have a series of papers; we have two papers on this, paper 17 and 18 on the committee report, and the Welsh Government further response. Gareth, could I ask for your comments on this, please?
A few weeks ago, the committee asked the Welsh Government to explain the arrangements that the Welsh Government had made to publish an equality impact assessment for the regulations back in early June that moved the whole of Wales to alert level 1. The Welsh Government said at the time it would publish various impact assessments by 24 June. That date has been missed, so the Government update says it will now publish those impact assessments as soon as possible.
Thank you very much. And are we content to note those points? Thank you very much. Which takes us to item 7.2, SL(6)013, the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Extension of Period of Protection from Eviction) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2021. We've had two papers on this, the committee report and the Welsh Government response. Gareth, your comments, please.
So, very briefly, this Government response relates to regulations scrutinised by the committee previously, and those regulations required landlords to give residential tenants six months' notice of eviction. The committee asked the Welsh Government to set out a bit more detail about the effect of those regulations on landlords. There was plenty of information about protecting tenants, but not so much about the impact on landlords and the Welsh Government has now provided a helpful response.
That's great. And can I ask again, are we happy to note that? Yes. Thank you very much.
Okay, now we move on to item No. 8, which is another aspect of our scrutiny work—the Standing Order 30B report: the European Union (Withdrawal) Act and common frameworks. Within this item, I draw your attention to paper 21 and paper 22, which are the written statement by the Welsh Government and the UK Government report. So, the context to this is that the European Union (Withdrawal) Act requires UK Government to report periodically to the UK Parliament on matters relating to common frameworks and the use of the section 12 so-called freezing powers to temporarily maintain existing EU law limits on devolved competence. So, the Welsh Government's written statement of 2 June 2021 notified Senedd Members of the ninth such report, covering the period from 26 December 2020 to 25 March 2021. Any comments on this from lawyers, or is this just for us to note?
If I could just say that these reports highlight the importance of making progress on common frameworks. The UK Government has powers to freeze the Senedd's legislative competence in areas previously covered by EU law. This report confirms the UK Government has still not used those powers, and that is down to progress being made on common frameworks.
Okay. Yes, indeed—from my previous discussions, both on this committee and within the fifth Senedd, it's good to know that there is progress being made as well there. Okay, so do we have any comments from committee members on that? No. Okay, so we'll note that.
We move to item No. 9, papers to note. What we do, just to explain to the public and to our newly constituted committee members as well, we typically, during committees, tend to note for public record the papers that we receive and then, as appropriate, we go into private session to discuss them and any actions arising from them. So, first within this, in the papers to note, the first item is a letter from the Minister for Finance and Local Government: the regulatory impact assessment code for subordinate legislation. That's in your pack, papers 23 and 24, with the letter of 1 July and the regulatory impact assessment code for subordinate legislation. I invite committee members to note the letter from the Minister, which informs us that,
'following a public consultation, a revised Regulatory Impact Assessment Code for Subordinate Legislation...has been laid in the Senedd',
and the review of that code was prompted by a query from the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee during the fifth Senedd. So, we're glad to see that being laid. We note that paper. Happy to note? Any comments? Happy to note, thank you.
Secondly, we have a letter from the head of Wales office, Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists: potential inquiry. So, I invite Members to note that letter, which is in paper 25, the letter of 5 July, and to note that letter from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists regarding the possibility of an inquiry into the speech, language and communication needs of young people in the youth justice estate. Could we note it, and could I suggest to Members that we defer discussion on it to our private session later on, along with other matters? There we are. Okay, thank you for that.
The third item is the letter from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales and the Trefnydd, relating to the Official Controls (Extension of Transitional Periods) Regulations 2021. So, I'd invite Members to note the letter from the Minister informing the committee that she has given her consent to the Secretary of State to make the Official Controls (Extension of Transitional Periods) Regulations 2021 in relation to Wales, and, if you're happy, we'll again defer this to discussion in the private session. Okay, no comments on that; we're okay on that. Good. Thank you.
Now we move to the next item to note, a letter from the Auditor General for Wales on the work of Audit Wales. Again, can we note and move this to private session? Yes, okay. Thank you.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
And then, item No. 10 is the motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting. So, could I ask Members if they agree with that, that we move to private session? Yes, indeed. We will now move into private session. Thank you.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 11:20.
The public part of the meeting ended at 11:20.