Pwyllgor y Llywydd

Llywydd's Committee

18/10/2021

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

David Rees MS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Janet Finch-Saunders MS
Peredur Owen Griffiths MS
Rhianon Passmore MS Yn dirprwyo ar ran Joyce Watson
Substitute for Joyce Watson
Rhys ab Owen MS

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Bob Posner Prif Weithredwr, Y Comisiwn Etholiadol
Chief Executive, Electoral Commission
Elan Closs Stephens Comisiynydd Etholiadol Cymru
Electoral Commissioner, Wales
Kieran Rix Cyfarwyddwr, Cyllid a Gwasanaethau Corfforaethol, Y Comisiwn Etholiadol
Director, Finance and Corporate Services, Electoral Commission
Rhydian Thomas Pennaeth y Comisiwn Etholiadol yng Nghymru, Y Comisiwn Etholiadol
Head of Electoral Commission, Wales, Electoral Commission

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Alun Davidson Clerc
Clerk
Daniel Collier Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 10:34.

The committee met by video-conference.

The meeting began at 10:34.

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

Good morning, and welcome to this morning's meeting of the Llywydd's Committee. In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I have determined that the public are excluded from attending this committee meeting this morning in order to protect public health. The public items are, however, being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and it is being held in a virtual mode. The meeting is bilingual and simultaneous translation from Welsh to English is available. A Record of Proceedings will be published after the meeting. Aside from the procedural adaptations relating to conducting business in a remote manner, all other Standing Order requirements that apply to this committee remain in place.

Can I welcome everyone this morning? Joyce Watson has submitted her apologies, and can I welcome Rhianon Passmore, who is substituting for Joyce? I know that Rhianon actually sat on the Llywydd's Committee in the last Senedd, and I therefore welcome her; I'm sure she understands fully the operation of the committee. I have received no other apologies, but do any Members have an interest to declare, other than the fact that we were all elected and therefore the Electoral Commission oversees all of the work we do? No. Okay. 

10:35
2. Craffu ar amcangyfrifon ariannol y Comisiwn Etholiadol ar gyfer 2022-23 a'i gynllun pum mlynedd
2. Scrutiny of the Electoral Commission's financial estimate 2022-23 and five-year plan

We move, then, to the next item. But before I start the evidence session, can I thank the Electoral Commission for submitting its financial estimate for the financial year 2022-23, and this five-year plan, to the committee in advance of the 1 October deadline? And can I also thank the Comptroller and Auditor General for submitting the memorandum on the Electoral Commission's progress in engaging with young voters in Wales, which is an issue of particular interest to the Senedd following the lowering of the voting age for the Senedd elections we've just held, and, of course, the local government elections next year? This memorandum, included in the papers for the meeting, will help inform the committee's consideration of the Electoral Commission's financial estimate and its five-year plan. And can I also thank the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution for providing advice on the estimate and plan as part of the consultation required under paragraph 16A, subsection 8, subsection B of Schedule 1 to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000? And, again, the Minister's letter is included in the papers this morning.

Do you want to introduce yourselves, please, for the record and for everyone watching? So, Elan, over to you first.

Diolch yn fawr, Dirprwy Lywydd. Fy enw i yw Elan Closs Stephens, a fi ydy'r comisiynydd etholiadol dros Gymru.

Thank you very much, Deputy Presiding Officer. My name is Elan Closs Stephens, and I am the electoral commissioner for Wales.

Siẁd mae, bore da, good morning. I'm Rhydian Thomas. I'm head of the Electoral Commission in Wales.

Morning. Bob Posner—chief executive and accounting officer for the commission.

Good morning. I'm Kieran Rix, the director of finance and corporate services at the commission.

Thank you for that. Before we start our evidence, I understand that, Elan, you want to introduce a few words before we start.

Thank you very much, Deputy Llywydd. I'm going to speak first for a few minutes in Welsh, and then return to English, and I will indicate when.

Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi gyd am roi amser i ni i ateb unrhyw gwestiynau sydd gennych chi yn codi o'r amcangyfrifon—amcangyfrifon y Comisiwn Etholiadol—a'r cynllun corfforaethol. Fel rydych chi'n gwybod, y cynllun corfforaethol sydd yn amlinellu'r gwaith y byddwn yn ei wneud ar etholiadau datganoledig 2022-23.

Mi ddaethon ni'n atebol i'r Senedd yn ffurfiol yn gynharach eleni, ac fel y gwyddoch chi i gyd, roedd y comisiwn yn falch tu hwnt o'r cam positif o fod yn atebol am etholiadau Cymru i Senedd Cymru. Ers hynny, rydyn ni wedi cael etholiadau cymhleth tu hwnt yn ystod mis Mai eleni. Roedd hi'n her i bawb i drefnu etholiad Senedd a PCC yn ystod cyfnod o bandemig. Serch hynny, mae ein hadroddiad ni yn dangos bod hynny wedi'i gyflawni yn llwyddiannus, ar y cyfan.

Mae llwyddiant y broses trwy Gymru gyfan yn dyst i ymroddiad a gwaith caled iawn y gymuned o weinyddwyr etholiadol. Ac mi hoffwn i dalu teyrnged yn fan hyn i aelodau Bwrdd Cydlynu Etholiadol Cymru, a rhwydwaith ehangach o swyddogion canlyniadau a gweinyddwyr etholiadol ar hyd a lled Cymru, a fu'n gweithio'n ddiflino i baratoi ac i gynnal yr etholiad mewn amgylchiadau heriol tu hwnt—heriol ac ansicr hefyd. 

Yn ein hadroddiad, rydyn ni yn argymell rhai newidiadau er gwell er mwyn cryfhau y system at y dyfodol.

Thank you, all, very much for giving of your time so that we have an opportunity to answer any questions you have arising from the Electoral Commission estimate and the five-year corporate plan. As you know, the corporate plan outlines the work that we will be doing on devolved elections in 2022-23.

We became formally accountable to the Senedd earlier this year, and as you all know, the commission was very pleased to have seen that positive step of bringing accountability for Welsh elections to the Welsh Parliament. Since then, we have had very complex elections during May of this year. It was challenging for everyone to arrange the Senedd and PCC elections during a time of pandemic. However, our report does demonstrate that that was delivered successfully, on the whole.

The success of the process throughout the whole of Wales is testament to the commitment and very hard work of the community of electoral administrations. And I would like to pay tribute here to members of the Wales Electoral Co-ordination Board, and the broader network of returning officers and electoral administrators across Wales, who worked tirelessly to prepare and to hold those elections in extremely challenging conditions—challenging and uncertain too.

In the report, we do recommend some changes for the better in order to strengthen the system for the future.

And I'll now just say a few words in English. In the year ahead, unsurprisingly, the work of the commission in Wales will focus on the local government elections of 2022. These will include pilots that will focus on areas of electoral reform identified as a priority by the Welsh Government, and we will continue to work with Welsh Government officials to provide advice and support on those reforms as they are developed. We highlight the importance of ensuring the impact on electoral administrators is managed carefully and resourced appropriately, and this, of course, is to maintain the high level of trust that there is in the system at the present time.

Looking further ahead, the UK Government's Elections Bill proposes significant changes to the rules for elections in the UK. The laws around elections are already quite complex and fragmented, and introducing this extra tier can—can, not necessarily will—add additional risk. Changes will need to be well planned, with implementation phased and properly funded to ensure that electoral administrators and all involved in running elections can deliver the changes as intended, particularly, I think, where they differ for devolved elections in Wales.

So, finally, the role of the Senedd and your committee in particular, Dirprwy Lywydd, in scrutinising the work of the commission is essential, and it's also essential that we work independent of Government influence or controls. This is why we welcome this cross-party committee, and a committee of the Dirprwy Lywydd, rather than any Government of whatever colour. So, we stand ready to support the effective regulation and oversight of elections in Wales, and with that, I'd like to hand over to the chief executive, Bob Posner, if I may.

10:40

Thank you, I'll be very brief, because I know you want to get on with discussion. So, just to briefly say since we were before the committee last year, we've worked really hard to produce this Wales plan, and I hope you see we did try to develop into it some real, clear indicators and objectives that apply to your devolved elections. One theme that should come through, and I hope it does, is that we are very mindful of the importance of our statutory responsibilities for the electoral system to work well, and in saying that, our theme is very much about working in partnership with partners in Wales and making it work well for voters, campaigners and electoral administrators, of course. As accounting officer, I just want to say that underpinning the plan is value for money and making sure the organisation is well run, and there is a renewed focus there on themes around equality, diversity and inclusion, but also very much around staff learning, staff skills and developing technology, and that theme of continuous improvement should come through the plan.

The last point I want to make in introduction, if I may, is that the commission welcomed, just a few months ago, a new chair of the commission, John Pullinger, and John brings absolutely a wealth of experience to the commission board and will work very closely—he's already working closely with Elan. I know that John is keen to build relationships across the UK, and he's looking forward to coming to Wales—that sounds like he's not been to Wales. He's worked a lot in Wales through all sorts of organisations, he's very familiar with Wales and working with partners in Wales, but he's very keen to come, when time and opportunity permit from your point of view, to meet you as a committee. Thank you very much.

Thank you for those opening words, and I'm sure you appreciate that we are keen to explore some of the points you have made to us. So, basically, to remind ourselves that our job is to scrutinise your accounts and your actions, and, as Mr Posner has said, make sure we get value for money from the Welsh consolidated fund in relation to that. I think you've highlighted the concerns over the Elections Bill as it's going through Parliament, but that, I think, is within part of your five-year plan, and we will probably ask questions relating to that, because that's going to be for the future, but I'll start off with some questions perhaps, but about the past, because, last year, clearly, was the first time you had to submit your estimates and the five-year plan to the committee, following the Senedd Elections (Wales) Bill, and, of course, it was in preparation for the Senedd elections that have taken place this year. I suppose the question we want to try and find out about is: what have you learned from the costs you've incurred in preparing for the election this year and undertaking the election this year, following your estimate last year? What lessons are there to be learned from all of this? Rhydian.

10:45

I think, in terms of the preparation of the estimate this year, what we did in some more detail was we met with every single team across the commission on a number of occasions to determine what planned devolved activity fell into the financial year, in terms of staff time on specific projects. Obviously, the obvious areas would be around elections and election activity, and we learned a lot from that last year, in looking at the type of activity that was undertaken, but there are lots of other areas as well. So, for example, with our monitoring team in London, one area of work was ending dual reporting for Members of the Senedd. So, we talked to them about what resource in terms of staff time was required to fund that specific activity. And we replicated that discussion with every single team across the organisation. And then colleagues from Kieran's team in finance broke down that staff time, and that's what we've provided to you, I hope in some detail, as part of the estimate itself. I'm not sure if Kieran would like to add something specific or technical from a finance perspective. 

Only to add that I think that sort of process had always been led by finance, and getting the heads of our devolved offices involved—in the case of Wales, Rhydian involved—meant that it really brought something much more specific, and much more local knowledge meant that we got a much better estimate as a result. I think that's a process that we've learned works really well and we'll want to continue. 

So, just to confirm, then, you have been actually able to monitor staff time and have been able to break down the time allocated to their work on the Welsh devolved areas compared to, perhaps, a UK agenda.

We don't monitor staff time in great detail, but we are able to keep a handle on whether what we're seeing is what we planned, and we didn't see any significant divergence from what we planned. So, while we don't keep a very detailed record of staff time, because it's not cost-effective, we are able to assure what we've seen. And certainly to date, it looks for this year like we're pretty much on track with the budget that we set at the beginning of the year. 

Sorry, just to make myself clear, you have an understanding of time being allocated to staff for devolved functions, and you based an estimate upon that understanding. You are monitoring it to a particular level, not to a full-detail level. And are you satisfied that the level you are monitoring to actually gives you the information you need?

Yes, we are. We're keeping that under review. This is the first year we've done it and, obviously, we'll learn from experience. It would certainly be possible to go to another level of detail. For the time being, we don't think that's going to be justified, but at the end of the year we'll do a review to see where we get to. As I said, at the moment all the evidence we have is that we are getting the information we need, but we will take a view at the year end about whether we need to step up our monitoring. 

Okay. And you did indicate that, at this point, you are satisfied that the estimate you worked on is being met, based upon the allocations you've identified, and therefore the costs you had estimated are effectively the costs you are seeing. 

Yes, we are. We're currently forecasting to be very close to the budget, about 1 per cent under. It's slightly too early to be really definitive about that, because a lot of the discretionary costs come at the beginning and the end of the year, around the run-up to an election, and if we needed to do a little bit more communication in the run-up to the local government elections, we might get a bit closer to the budget. But, as I said, we're about 1 per cent under the budget at the moment, and that looks pretty robust, the forecast at the moment. 

And just for clarification purposes, the 2021-22 estimate, which you are now assessing and monitoring to actualities, that started in April, therefore it missed an awful lot of the preparations for the Senedd elections, but will include a lot of preparations for the local government elections. 

That's correct. It got the tail end of preparation and advertising campaigns for the Senedd elections, and it will have most of the preparation for the local government elections. That's correct. 

If I might add something very briefly on the Senedd elections, the one area where there was a great deal of focus in terms of the 2021-22 financial year was the actual reporting process. As you know, we have a statutory role in producing a report on the Senedd elections. That's what we've been working on for a long time this year, and we produced and published and provided it to Members in September.

10:50

Do you have the same requirement for the 2022-23 local government elections?

In terms of reporting?

Thank you. As you know, we as a committee can actually ask the Auditor General for Wales to look at the accounts in relation to your devolved functions in Wales. I'm not saying we will or not, but if we do—we have the ability to request that—are you comfortable that if the auditor general came in and looked at GB figures, he could separate the Welsh devolved function work from the other work?

Yes, I am. We have restructured the way we keep our books to make that very clear, and you can, in the guts of our accounting system, see it very, very clearly indeed. And we did that very deliberately, so that it would be auditable, so that it would be very easy for us to see it at the end of the year, and it would be easy when we were preparing the accounts to produce income and expenditure data for Wales that was separate.

Diolch, Chair. I'd just like to look a little bit at the overview of your estimate, and I think I'm right in saying that there will be a decrease of 18.9 per cent compared to 2021-22. Could you talk me through the reasons why the total contributions have decreased, compared to 2021-22, please?

Yes. The big picture answer to that is that that's what you'd expect to see in our budgets. Our budgets wave with the electoral cycle, and, obviously, we've just had very large set of elections, and we're then coming up to the local governmental elections for which the expenditure's a bit lower, so that's a perfectly natural wave effect as we go through the electoral cycle.

Almost all of that difference is explained by the differences in campaign budgets from one year to the next—so, the Got 5? campaign and the other campaigns we run for voter information. That is natural variation and that makes up most of the saving. There are also some small increases that Rhydian might want to talk about, where we're bringing two new posts in, so there's a big down and then a little up in the form of those two new posts to work on the reform agenda that Rhydian referred to earlier, and those together are the big changes.

I can come in very briefly, yes. The direct costs are slightly higher due to what we now know, which we didn't know last year, relating to devolved Welsh activity. On reform, for example, we're all now aware that there'll be new work around reform of the Senedd, linked to the announcement a few weeks ago, and there'll be additional areas of work linked to next year's elections on electoral pilots, for example, as well as wider reform from Welsh Government. So, the budget really is intended to ensure that we can adequately resource that.

There's also additional activity relating to new voters and education, which is detailed in our statutory report, and I'm sure we'll talk about it again later, as well as new performance standards for returning officers that we're expecting to lay in December of next year, which has been brought forward. So, all of this will require relevant resource from across the commission.

So, is that the roughly £78,000? Is that the additional direct cost?

Okay, thank you very much. And then, on the direct costs supporting the delivery of devolved Welsh elections and the electoral reform agenda in Wales, what system are you—? I think you've covered this previously, but just to drill down a little bit more on the separating out of direct costs for Welsh elections, is that—? It's kept within your reporting, but how do you make sure that the value for money is done within that framework? So, if you're splitting out the direct costs for Welsh elections, how are you making sure that there's value for money in there as well?

Yes, sure, that's a kind of two-stage process. To date, obviously, a lot of this is about parts of people's time spent on supporting Rhydian and his team. So, the first element is to scrutinise that team's budget as a whole, which is something that finance colleagues and the budget holder will have been doing, working through that, talking to the director and to the executive team to make sure that we've got a good handle on why costs are changing and why they're not changing, making sure we've managed inflationary pressures and all of that normal financial planning aspect. Then there's the process that Rhydian referred to, which we introduced this year, of Rhydian and the financial controller sitting down with the relevant budget holder and assuring themselves that they've properly understood the agenda for Wales, and we've got the right allocation, and that that reflects the necessary level of work required, and therefore represents good value for money for Wales. That relies, as we implied earlier, on Rhydian having a really good grasp of what's going on in Wales, as he does, and being able to inform those decisions. That is a really robust process now. So, that's how we get the value for money; that's how we've got value for money to date.

The other thing that we've been doing in this planning round is really working hard, as Bob mentioned, on our performance indicators. I think those, as they develop and mature and we start to get a track record, will allow people to see what impact we're having in Wales specifically, and for you to see what kind of achievement you're getting for your money. That will be a really important part of the value-for-money story, but that's something we're really only just developing now and it will also be something that we'll build on as we go forward. 

10:55

Could I just add something as a commissioner and a board member in order to give you comfort and assurance, perhaps? You've talked already about the auditor general of Audit Wales; we are also, obviously, answerable to the National Audit Office, who will also scrutinise what we are doing. But the commission itself also has an audit and risk committee, and the chair of that is Dame Sue Bruce, who is the commissioner for Scotland. We've already asked for a deep dive on the Scotland and Wales sort of structure. So, there are numerous channels by which this can interrogated, hopefully to your satisfaction.

Diolch. You mentioned, when we were talking about the £78,000 increase, some members of staff there. What will they be doing? Have you an idea?

One member of staff will be specifically looking at policy. I mentioned the Senedd reform, Welsh Government reform, and this is likely to continue not just into the next financial year, but probably up until 2026, if not 2027. So, we will be bringing in policy resource so that we can adequately respond to all of the policy initiatives coming from Welsh Government. This is not something we've had before, and we've had to rely on support from colleagues at UK level. 

Secondly, with young people, we've made some recommendations in our report about the extension of the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds. It's something we're all concerned about. We want to ensure that there's adequate resource within Wales to support our programme of work relating to young people. That doesn't just mean the campaigns you see before an election—actually, that's some of the least important, although it's very important, work. It's all of that work that needs to be undertaken between elections, working with young people in educational establishments and outside of educational establishments, and all of the partners in Wales, to ensure that the programme of education resources and what we do is sufficient so that they can be aware of these changes and how they can take part in our democracy. So, it's those two key areas: policy relating to all the reform work and the communications and education relating to young people. 

Diolch. And just finally from me, Chair, if I may, the estimate includes costs for registration and reporting, particularly the annual registration of party details. Can the commission clarify whether all the costs attributed to registration and reporting in the estimates are based on devolved functions?

Yes. Again, that's the process that we go through in scrutinising individual budgets with Rhydian and with finance to make sure that we've got the right proportion. A lot of the registration and reporting costs are about support for Rhydian and his team when they're dealing with parties, rather than the actual process of doing the registration itself. So, it's only the devolved functions that would be charged to those budgets.

Can I take that a little bit further? In what you highlighted there, you just mentioned funding allocations to support parties on registration, but I understand registration does not come under the devolved areas; party registration comes under the UK agenda. So, how does that balance work? Because if the party registration line—. Whether this should or should not be in Wales, particularly when we have parties that will never be found anywhere else other than in Wales, for Welsh elections, registration, I understand, is with the UK Government's responsibilities at this point in time, so how do you decide upon which elements of the support to this aspect are part of the Welsh allocation and which ones are a part of a UK picture? 

11:00

Rhydian might want to comment as well. It's inevitably judgmental. The overwhelming majority is going to the UK budget, but Rhydian's team are involved in trying to support parties, giving advice and that sort of thing, as well as advice coming direct from the reporting and registration teams. From time to time, Rhydian's team need some support and help from the centre to undertake their work on this. Rhydian's team is a multi-functional team; it does all aspects of the commission in Wales to at least some degree, so they need some support from our specialists from time to time, and that's what this represents. The actual process is being paid for elsewhere. 

I don't think there's much I can add to that, really. It's the day-to-day support at a Wales level that we would provide to the parties in Wales through the Senedd political parties panel and the like. It's just ensuring that level of adequate support within the Wales team is provided to Wales for Welsh-related activity that the parties might be involved in.  

Because, clearly, in Wales, with the list system, that is very important, and you might find there, as a consequence, only parties in Wales will ever appear on the registration because of the list system. Okay. Janet. 

Thank you, Chair. There was a recommendation from our committee that the Electoral Commission keeps this committee informed on any cost increase resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and whether these costs are likely to require a revised estimate. How is that going? 

I'll come in, if I may. So, in practice, what happened in the elections we've just had, the Senedd elections, is that we were able to manage those extra costs as a commission without extra funding. Clearly, that was a very different story for local authorities on the front line delivering the polls, but, for us, we were able to actually—to do our guidance and our approach generally, we didn't require extra funding. And when you look at our plan going forward, we're planning on an assumption forward that, actually, we won't need to ask for extra funding. The caveat I put on that, obviously—the proviso—is that that is based on the way things feel now and our experience in the year gone by. It is, of course, always possible if, for example, late in the day, in the run-up to an election, there was a major change in Government policy in Wales and there was perhaps a need for a major public awareness campaign, or something like that, around COVID—. At that point in time, it is possible we would require extra funding, but we're not—. In the sense that that doesn't seem a reasonably foreseeable situation at the moment, we've not budgeted for that. 

Okay. Is it maybe wise, going forward, though, if communications between yourselves and us as a committee are kept more open, so that we are kept more up-to-date with things—whether there were more costs required or not, that we're kept up-to-date more? 

We can certainly do that. I think we should go away and think about, with your officials, what's the best way to do that from your point of view as a committee. But there's every reason for us to do that, for sure. 

On that issue, and going back to last year's estimates, it was unclear in the run-up to the Senedd elections as to (a) whether we would have elections and (b) what form those elections would take and (c) how we may vary the way in which people vote, if they did take place. How did that play out into your calculations, because, clearly, there was huge uncertainty at that point in time? I'm assuming your estimate wouldn't have necessarily been able to cover all that uncertainty. So, how did you actually look very carefully at your budgets and your estimates to deliver the elections we've just gone through? 

We based the budget for this financial year on what we were expecting, and it was very difficult to try and answer the question as to what we were expecting, due to the pandemic. There was a level of planning over the last year and a half that we've probably not seen before, as a result of the pandemic. There was a planning group established by the First Minister in the last summer, the summer of 2020. There was an operations group established by Welsh Government running into the elections. We were kept abreast of developments at every single opportunity, so that—you know, if changes were required, it was made clear to us that those changes would be adequately resourced by Welsh Government, potentially through a section 10 request, so it was just a lot of discussing, a lot of planning, with relevant bodies. But we were able to deliver the elections as we had expected to do. There weren't any significant changes in terms of actually working—you know, the public awareness campaign and guidance and everything else—as we expected to, but I think we were reassured that, should there be significant change as a result of the pandemic, that change would be resourced.

11:05

Can I ask this—? Again, one of the big agendas, therefore, in the Senedd election we've just gone through was the promotion of being able to vote through postal votes, in the sense of not having to go into a booth themselves if people were uncomfortable in doing so. Did that have an impact upon your preparations and your costings?

No. Much of the work that we had undertaken in relation to advising voters of the ability to vote by post, or indeed by proxy, or indeed emergency proxies, as were introduced by Welsh Government, that work was really online and through social media and through resources that we provided to local government and returning officers, so there wasn't any additional resource required for that.

In your estimates for the coming year, obviously, hopefully, we will not be in the same position and we'll have greater certainty as to the elections going ahead in May next year. But I'm assuming your estimates have taken into consideration all the experience you've gained from the COVID pandemic prior to now, and doing an election during that pandemic.

Yes, that's right. The only difference for the next financial year would be around pilots, for example. We know that there are pilots likely to take place in Wales, and we've budgeted for what we know there. What we don't know is the exact nature of the pilots: exactly how many authorities will be undertaking work, what the pilots will look like, what exactly will our evaluation of those pilots look like. So, we don't expect it to be anything that will require us to ask for a huge amount of additional money. Indeed, I think everything is there already. But it's very much dependent on what Welsh Government, and indeed the Senedd, looks to introduce.

When do you expect to have that information from Welsh Government?

Well, we are having discussions with Welsh Government at this time. Discussions are ongoing, so we would hope to have some additional level of detail over the coming weeks.

Over the coming weeks. I would therefore expect you to be fully detailed—well, reasonably detailed—by Christmas at least.

If I could come in there, I think there's a really important point here. For the electoral administration, we do need clarity pretty soon, and I appreciate you raising the point, because, for the thing to run well, obviously, for the pilots to be done well, the sooner there is clarity, the sooner the law is clear, the sooner we can issue guidance, obviously the more certain it is that things will go well. I think it's fair to say we are concerned to get clarity pretty soon now, so, as Rhydian says, we're talking to officials in Government, and we do need that clarity.

And that clarity for us as a committee obviously clears the situation on your costings, your value for money and your estimates. Elan.

Thank you, Dirprwy Lywydd. Going back to the lessons learnt and adding that to Bob's most recent point, I think for me the greatest lesson that was learnt from the pandemic election was forward planning—real, clear, detailed planning—well in advance. I pay tribute to the First Minister's group, on which Rhydian and I sat. We were starting in late July. That's when we started to plan for the May elections. I said at the beginning that I was grateful to the Wales Electoral Coordination Board. For example, they brought in Royal Mail very, very early on, so that—your point about postal votes and so on; we wanted to test the system to make certain that they were adequately prepared for a possible surge in postal votes. So, I would say forward planning for all of it is essential.

11:10

Yes. Just following on from that, we all expected that surge in the postal vote, but it didn't happen, did it? I think it was just an increase of less than 2 per cent and an increase of only 0.1 per cent with regard to the numbers voting through deputies. Despite the rules being changed to make it far easier for people with COVID, testing positive for COVID, to vote through a deputy, it didn't really happen in practice. Isn't that an indication that, potentially, the Electoral Commission didn't put enough resources into postal votes and into people being aware that they can vote through deputies and that the rules, in fact, had changed to make it easier for people testing positive for COVID to vote through a deputy?

It may be. I think it also may be down to the fact that people do like going to the polling station and voting. You know, even my own parents, who are in their 80s, were very well aware of the postal vote and could have taken one, but they wanted to go to the polling station and cast their vote. So, there are lots of different reasons, but I think we gave a lot of resources, and I want to give credit to local authorities and returning officers as well; there was a lot of comms out there across Wales as to the different methods of voting available for these elections, and it's essentially down to the voters as to which one they decide to use.

Thank you. If I may, Chair, what assurance, or, preferably, what agreed mechanism, is there with HM Treasury to match fund your estimates for 2022-23 and the five-year plan, bearing in mind that it seems to be that whatever missing middle there is will be coming out of Welsh funds? What clarity can you give me on that?

I can give you a certain amount of clarity, but not a complete assurance. When we started the process of agreeing how devolved funding would work, the Treasury were clear that the normal rules would apply and that, as funding from the Speaker's Committee went down, the saving at Westminster would be transferred to the devolved funding block. It was quite properly made clear to us that that was a matter between the Treasury and the Welsh Government in spending discussions, so I have not seen the inside of the Treasury's books to be able to reassure you that that did, in fact, happen. I know from the conversations that I had with Treasury officials last year that I'm confident that that happened. There's a spending review going on, so I cannot tell you what's happening for next year, and, as I say, that is a matter between the Treasury and Welsh Government. The Treasury gave a clear undertaking that that would happen.

Okay. Thank you for that, and we may ask that question. So, this committee has been charged to ask you for the updates of the Electoral Commission on any cost increases, as has already been mentioned, in terms of the pandemic spend and projected spend. How did the pandemic impact on your activity during last year—obviously, a very important year—and how is it projected to impact next year?

Shall I start with the finances and Bob and Rhydian might want to talk about activity more widely? What we saw was that some costs went up very slightly, in supporting staff who were working remotely; we were in the process of rolling out new technology to do that anyway, so we managed to largely absorb the costs of that within existing budgets. There were some increases there, but those were essentially offset by savings in things like travel and subsistence. Otherwise, our plans were pretty largely—certainly in financial terms—unaffected. It might be better for me to hand over to Bob or Rhydian to talk about activity more widely.

If I could talk about organisation-wide, the commission was reasonably well placed to respond to ways of working in the pandemic, because we already had levels of remote working and electronic systems and we're fairly paperless. So, that transition was fairly smooth for staff. Most of our functions went pretty smoothly. Of course, it exposed some areas of functions where, actually, it was still a bit paper-based, on ledgers and things like that. So, it actually teased things out like that, which was actually very productive. So, I feel we were able to operate effectively enough over the last 18 months or so. More recently, a bit of hybrid working has helped on that; you do lose something with complete remote working. 

Rhydian has described in detail to you—and Elan referred to it—how we responded to the elections during this period, and they made it all sound very smooth and efficient, but there was a massive amount of work and angst behind the scenes between us, returning officers, administrators and campaigners—everyone. I know you’re aware of that, but just to say the staff worked very hard and were very dedicated to make it happen and happen well, and support others to make it happen. In a sense, it was really positive to see people going out to polling stations. Hopefully, they recognised they had a choice of postal voting, but it was a fantastic experience to see people going to polling stations when it came down to it, and that’s what it’s all about, really. I don’t know if Rhydian wants to add to that.

11:15

Just to add, very briefly, much of our activity—whether we’re talking about interaction with voters, with political parties, with candidates, or with administrators—in terms of the guidance that we provide is online, and so we were able to ensure that that type of support continued. Of course, we weren’t able to have the face-to-face meetings—either the sessions with the young people or with candidates, agents or administrators—in quite the same way. But, weirdly, we were probably able to do more—and maybe you’ve experienced this as well—in terms of that type of activity, because people have become so used to working virtually and having these types of meetings. So, we were able to have a lot of meetings with young people across Wales virtually, with political parties, with candidates, with returning officers. That’s a lesson we’ve got to learn moving forward—that you can do these types of things and can do the important work that you need to do without necessarily seeing people face to face, although that adds an additional dimension and value on occasion to the work.

To summarise, then, you would say, in that respect, in terms of engagement, leading on to my question—in that sense, you would summarise that in some areas, in terms of targeting perhaps young people or different cohorts, you were able to engage more. Because that has been a feature in terms of other Senedd virtual work in terms of engagement. Is that correct, or am I putting words into your mouth?

Yes; I think, probably, yes. It did enable us to participate in a higher volume of meetings and with partners than maybe we would have in normal times. But moving forward, again, just to be very, very clear, we’re aiming to get an additional level of impact through the development of educational work with young people through face-to-face activity and in-person sessions as well, which adds that additional dimension, I think.

So, in regard, then, to scoping your effectivity previously, and what will remain and be retained for the following period, can you summarise how you see that and how you scope that for the coming years?

Specifically—?

Ahead of the 2022 local government elections, we want to develop and extend the education programme that we’ve just started, building on the work that we’ve managed to undertake already. We want to engage with young people and educators across Wales. We’re in the process, for example, of establishing a network of young people in Wales, who we hope will be able to actively inform our education work, to ensure that we’re responding in the appropriate way that they would like us to. We’ll also continue to work with relevant partners in Wales, including the Welsh Government and the Senedd. Partnership is really, really important for us. In the run-up to 2021, we worked with over 30 groups in Wales, as well as all of Wales’s local authorities, to try and ensure that the appropriate message was going out there to those groups that we know maybe aren’t as engaged in the democratic system as we’d like them to be.   

Finally, then, in that regard, how is that reflected in your estimates—that new way of working for the future?

The majority of the estimate in terms of public awareness and campaigns for 2022 covers the—. We’ll be running a national campaign, as we always have done. There will be a national campaign running up to the deadline to register, and a specific campaign focusing on young people. So, in terms of the budget itself, much of the money included in that budget focuses on the campaign.

I have two supplementaries. First Peredur, and then Rhys.

I'm just interested in understanding what the—. You made decisions about running the elections last year and, obviously, into next year and making things COVID secure. How sensitive were you to the knock-on impact of your decisions on local authority budgets around the physical—making polling stations secure, the counts, all the additional purchasing and the human resource element in local authorities? How sensitive were you to that when you were making those decisions?

11:20

We've always been very clear—and it was especially important over the last 18 months—that if new changes are brought in for whatever reason by Government, then they need to be (a) brought in in a timely manner, six months prior to the poll in this case, and (b) adequately resourced. So, all the changes that we saw—you mentioned the Perspex walls or the spacing within polling stations—were a matter for the Welsh Government, and the Welsh Government were then tasked with providing the resource for those changes. It's not for me to talk for local authorities, but we know from our discussions with returning officers at the WECB, for example, that they felt that those discussions and the interaction with Welsh Government were positive.

I just want to touch on the working with local authorities, because the number of young people that registered varied greatly from one local authority to the next. For example, Carmarthen and Cardiff were under 35 per cent, whilst Ceredigion was 67 per cent, and there was everything in between. What resources are you putting in, especially to target some local authorities where the figures were very, very disappointing? And then, the second supplementary—

—ac mi ofynnaf hwn yn Gymraeg—mae'n ymwneud â'r data ynglŷn â gwladolion tramor cymwys. Does dim data. Mae hwn wedi bod yn rhywbeth pwysig inni ei gael—ein bod ni'n cael y gwladolion tramor cymwys i bleidleisio—ond does dim data gyda ni. Pa adnoddau ŷch chi'n mynd i'w rhoi i mewn er mwyn sicrhau bod y data gyda ni, i weld a ydyn ni'n cyrraedd y bobl yma yn effeithiol?

—and I'll ask this in Welsh—is about data on qualifying foreign nationals. There is no data. This has been a very important issue—that we do encourage these people to vote—but we don't have that data. So, what resources are you going to put in place to ensure that we have that data to see whether we are reaching these people effectively?

Mae data o ran unigolion tramor wedi bod yn broblem nid yn unig i ni, ond rwy'n credu i bawb. Mae'r Llywodraeth wedi cael problem o ran tynnu'r data at ei gilydd hefyd. Fe wnawn ni gadw i weithio gyda'n partneriaid ni, yn enwedig Llywodraeth Cymru, i drio darganfod y math o ddata sydd ar gael neu sydd ei angen arnon ni i allu targedu y grŵp penodol hwnnw. Rŷn ni yn siarad â lot o bobl ifanc, ac efallai ein bod ni'n anghofio ar brydiau bod y grŵp hwnnw'n bodoli hefyd, ac mae eisiau mynd mas yna. Dyw hi ddim cweit mor hawdd. Mae pobl ifanc—rŷn ni'n gwybod eu bod nhw mewn ysgolion neu mewn rhyw fath o sefydliad tu allan i ysgolion. Ble mae'r unigolion i'r grwpiau yma? Mae'n eithaf anodd, ond fe wnawn ni gadw i weithio arno fe a chadw'r pwyllgor o dan wybodaeth ar beth fyddwn ni'n ei wneud.

O ran gwaith efo awdurdodau lleol, mae yna fwrdd cydlynu etholiadol gyda ni yng Nghymru. Mi wnaeth y bwrdd sefydlu is-grŵp—sub-committee, beth bynnag yw'r gair yn y Gymraeg—i edrych yn benodol ar gyfathrebu a chyfathrebu efo'r grwpiau newydd yma sy'n rhan o'n democratiaeth ni nawr. Mi oedd y grŵp yn fath o shadow group i ddechrau ar gyfer yr etholiadau diwethaf; rŷn ni'n edrych i sefydlu'r grŵp neu ei wneud e'n un fwy parhaol yn symud ymlaen. Mae e bach fel ein gwaith ni yn gyffredinol; fe wnaethon ni'r adnoddau addysg yma ar gael fis Hydref diwethaf, ac mae'n ddechrau i'r gwaith. Rŷn ni eisiau cael dechrau cadarnhaol nawr, bwrw ymlaen ac edrych ar y gwaith yma a'r prosiect yma yn y tymor hir, nid jest ei wneud e yn unig i etholiadau blwyddyn nesaf, ond yr etholiadau a fydd yn dod lan yn 2026 a 2027.

Data in terms of foreign nationals has been a problem, not only for us, but for everyone. I think the Government has had a problem in drawing that data together too, but we will keep working with our partners, particularly the Welsh Government, to try and find the data that we need so that we can properly target that group. We are talking to a number of young people, but we sometimes forget about that group, and we do need to get out there. It's not quite as easy. Young people attend schools or some sort of other institution, but where are these other groups? It's quite difficult, but we will keep working at it and we will keep the committee informed as to our activities.

In terms of work with local authorities, there is a co-ordination board in Wales, and the board did establish a sub-committee to look specifically at communication and communication with these new groups now involved in our democracy. It was a shadow group for the previous elections, and we are now looking to establish that group on a more permanent basis in moving forward. It's a little like our work in general; we've made these educational resources available last autumn, and we're starting that work. We want to make a positive start, make progress and look at this and this project in the longer term, not only for next year's elections, but the elections that will come up in 2026 and 2027.

Rhianon, your hand is up. Do you want to come in with a supplementary?

Yes, really briefly. A great job has been done in regard to last year's elections, and that's from yourselves and from local government in that regard, but I'm slightly perturbed to know that this is just a thought in process. There are very well recognised groups in Cardiff, in Newport, Swansea and Wrexham, which you can reach out to in term of foreign nationals. There's nothing very special around that. I know it's the data that you say that you're looking for, so I would presume that there is a strategic plan in place to be able to—. Especially with local government elections coming up, this is really important. So, I would like to know, Chair, if there's something that can be sent to this committee in regard to your plans in this direction. Thank you.

We have worked—. I didn't want to imply that we haven't been working with partners on this area. We've worked with the consulates in Wales, with all those groups that we know have ins with this particular section of our society, with foreign newspapers, as it were, and online resources. Where the difficulties come about is actually gathering the data itself. But we'll continue to work to try and do that, and, certainly, if we have something that we can provide to the committee, we'll do so.

11:25

Thank you. I just want to go back to what I was saying in opening about the commission's plan and about the commission being a learning organisation. These are well-made points you're making, obviously, and I think, as Rhydian's saying, we will learn from experience. Last year was the first time around for a lot of this. We will refine our campaigns and target it, and we've had some great suggestions about partners we can work with, so we will follow all that up. That is very much our intent. One can always do better, and that's what we look to do.

Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd. I'll be asking these questions in Welsh. 

Argymhelliad o'r pwyllgor diwethaf oedd eich bod chi'n dangos dangosyddion perfformio am Gymru yn eich cynllun pum mlynedd. Dwi'n gweld eich bod chi wedi gwneud hynny, ond beth sy'n wahanol rhwng y mesurau perfformio yma ac unrhyw fesurau perfformio ar gyfer gweddill y Deyrnas Unedig? Dyw hi ddim yn glir i fi bod y rhain yn sbesiffig—beth sy'n sbesiffig fan hyn i Gymru?

Our predecessor committee made a recommendation that you provided indicators for Wales in your five-year plan. I see that you've done that, but what is the difference between these performance measures and the indicators for the rest of the UK? It's not clear to me that these are specifically Welsh. What is specifically Welsh about these?

I'll lead off on that. I think the interesting thing about the commission is that, as you know, we've worked in Wales for many years, closely and across the board, with Rhydian and Elan as Welsh commissioner. I think the putting in place of this top-level plan and accountability does sharpen up one's thinking, and that's a really positive thing. We welcome that. So, we have all these arrangements in place for how we work, and that's really a discussion we're having—that things have actually really sharpened up and are very Welsh focused. So, we have thought long and hard about our indicators and how they relate to Wales. I think the answer is that it's a journey. There are things there that, actually, are very much focused on Wales—we've spoken about young voters and foreign nationals this morning, and, certainly, we look to measure how we're doing on those areas. And that's related to Wales; it doesn't necessarily apply to other parts of the UK. Our indicators themselves are all very much orientated towards being accountable to you, not the UK Parliament. That's a massive difference, and that focuses us and sharpens us up.

If I look across them—and bear in mind that we are still fine-tuning and we're going to come back to what our precise targets are and what our stretch targets are—and I think about—. There are ones in there about performance standards around local electoral services and so forth. Well, those will be very much targeted around the Welsh local authorities, the Welsh returning officers and electoral registration officers, and so, in that sense, they are very Welsh orientated, and they will feel very different to other parts of the UK where there are different issues and different pressures on those local authorities. That leads into the resilience of local authorities themselves and how that works in Wales, where that is on funding and what the pressure points are. So, in that sense, they are tailored, as, indeed—and we spoke a bit earlier about campaign work and things like that, public awareness and removing barriers to voting. So, they are tailored to Wales, but I do appreciate the point. I think we will need to work hard to make sure that we bring that out, as it were. I don't know if any of my colleagues want to add to that.

Dim ond i ategu beth mae Bob wedi ei ddweud yn barod, i fod yn onest: mai man cychwyn yw'r safonau neu'r KPIs yma, ac rydym ni eisiau clywed wrthych chi ac wrth eraill i weld sut allwn ni wella ar beth sydd wedi ei gynnig yn barod.

Just to echo Bob's comments: that this is a starting point, that's what these KPIs are, and we want to hear from you and others as to how we can improve what's already in place.

Rwy'n gwerthfawrogi hynny, Rhydian, a Robert. Yr unig beth dwi'n meddwl—yn eich atodiad cyntaf chi, does dim byd fan hyn sydd, yn fy marn i, yn sbesiffig i Gymru. Er enghraifft, fel dangosydd perfformiad, dyw cynyddu y nifer yn pleidleisio yn 16 ac 17 oed ddim ynddo fe. Allaf i ddim gweld sut mae'r atodiad 1 yma'n wahanol i, efallai, yr atodiad ar lefel Brydeinig. Allaf i ddim meddwl am un peth sydd yn hwn na fyddai ym mesurau perfformio Lloegr, er enghraifft. Ond ta waeth, mae hwnna'n rhywbeth i weithio arno.

Af i ymlaen at fy ail gwestiwn i ynglŷn ag argymhellion y Rheolwr ac Archwilydd Cyffredinol. Mae'r archwilydd cyffredinol yn cynnig nifer o ystyriaethau ymarferol o sut i wella prosesau. Enghraifft o hynny oedd i gydweithio'n agosach gyda phartneriaid ynglŷn â—. Ac mae'n rhoi lot o resymau: un, er mwyn cael data gwell; a pheth arall, enghraifft arall, er mwyn ei wneud yn rhwyddach i bleidleisio. Dwi'n credu roedd cwestiwn Rhianon yn cyffwrdd ar hyn. Beth ydych chi'n gwneud i ymateb i'r argymhelliad yma? Sut ydych chi'n gweithio'n agosach gyda phartneriaid eraill er mwyn cyrraedd y data yma—a dwi'n cydnabod bod y data yma'n anodd, ond er mwyn ceisio cyrraedd y data yma ac er mwyn ceisio cael gwared â'r rhwystrau yma sy'n amlwg yn stopio'r bobl yma rhag pleidleisio ar hyn o bryd? Diolch.

I do appreciate that, Rhydian and Robert. But my thought—in your first schedule, there's nothing that's specific to Wales here. For example, as a performance indicator, increasing the number of 16 and 17-year-olds voting isn't included, and I can't see how schedule 1 is different to the figures at a UK level. I can't think of anything contained here that wouldn't be contained in KPIs for England, for example. But that's something to be worked on.

I will go on to my second question in terms of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General. The auditor general provided a number of practical suggestions as to how processes could be improved, and one example was to work more closely with partners. And one of the reasons for that is to have improved data and secondly to make it easier to vote. Now, I think Rhianon's question touched upon this: what are you doing in response to that recommendation? How are you working with other partners in order to get this—and I accept that it's difficult to get, but in order to access this data and gather the data, and to remove these barriers, which are clearly stopping these people from voting at the moment? Thank you. 

11:30

Diolch yn fawr. Dŷn ni'n croesawu adroddiad y Swyddfa Archwilio Genedlaethol. Rwy'n credu ei fod yn darparu asesiad cadarn a chadarnhaol o'r gwaith rydyn ni wedi ei wneud hyd yn hyn o ran pobl ifanc yng Nghymru, a hefyd, fel rydych chi'n dweud, yn cynnwys argymhellion defnyddiol. A byddwn ni yn eu hystyried nhw fel rhan o'n gwaith parhaus ni i ymestyn cefnogaeth i bleidleiswyr ifanc. 

Byddwn ni'n parhau i adeiladu ar ein hymgyrchoedd a'n gwaith partneriaeth ni. Mae hwnna wedi bod yn rhan bwysig iawn o beth rydyn ni wedi ei wneud dros y flwyddyn ddiwethaf, ac rydyn ni'n dysgu gwersi o ran beth rydyn ni wedi ei wneud yn 2021. Er enghraifft, fel rwy'n credu gwnes i sôn yn barod, rydyn ni yn y broses o sefydlu rhwydwaith o bobl ifanc yng Nghymru a fydd, gobeithio, yn gallu llywio ein gwaith addysg ni i sicrhau ein bod ni'n ymateb yn uniongyrchol i'w hanghenion. 

Mae yna rai meysydd y bydd angen inni feddwl amdanyn nhw mewn bach mwy o fanylder, er enghraifft, y section sy'n ymwneud â'r rhwystrau i bleidleisio. Mae deall y rhesymau yma yn hynod o bwysig i'n gwaith ni. Ond rydyn ni'n croesawu hefyd cydnabyddiaeth yr NAO o'n hangen i warchod ein hannibyniaeth ni. Mae yna rai rhwystrau sydd wedi cael eu nodi yn yr adroddiad yn ymwneud yn benodol ag, er enghraifft, ymddiried mewn gwleidyddion neu newid y system bleidleisio lle buasai'n broblematig i ni allu gwneud sylwadau yn y meysydd hynny, ond byddwn ni'n edrych—eto, i fynd nôl i'r pwynt ynglŷn â phartneriaeth—i weithio gyda phartneriaid eraill a fyddai efallai yn gallu canolbwyntio ar y meysydd hynny tra ein bod ni'n rhoi'r negeseuon rydyn ni'n gallu eu rhoi o ran cyfranogiad yn y broses etholiadol. 

Thank you very much. We welcome the NAO report. I think it provides a robust and positive assessment of the work that we've been doing in terms of young people in Wales, and it includes recommendations that are useful and we will consider them as part of our ongoing work in extending support to young voters.

We will continue to build on our campaigns and partnership work. That's been a very important part of what we've done over the past 12 months, and we are learning lessons in terms of what we did in 2021. I think I've already mentioned this, but we're in the process of establishing a network of young people in Wales, which can hopefully steer our work in education to ensure that we respond directly to their needs.

There are certain areas that we will need to look at in more detail, for example the section relating to barriers to voting. Understanding these reasons is extremely important to our work. But, we also welcome the recognition of the NAO of the need to safeguard our independence. There are some barriers set out in the report related specifically to trust in politicians or changes to the voting system, and it would be problematic for us to comment on those areas, but we will—and to return to this point on partnership—be looking to work with other partners who perhaps are better placed to focus on these areas while we provide the messages that we can provide in terms of participation in the electoral process. 

Diolch, Rhydian. And if I could finish on a positive note, the fact that the percentage of people who voted in the last Senedd election went up from 2016 is a matter—well, it was a real shock to me that we increased the number who voted, but a lot of that is down to the great work of the Electoral Commission. So, if I can just congratulate them at the end there, Chair. Diolch. 

Thank you, Rhys. We've come to the end of our time, so I'm going to ask one final question at this point in time. It's about your future work and the challenges you face in ensuring that there is confidence in the electoral systems ahead of us. Clearly, part of your work on voter registration and voter encouragement is to remind people and have confidence in the system. I think, unfortunately, with the huge news we saw in America with the 2020 election and various other comments being made, unfortunately, in the media and social media in particular, how are you engaging with communities to give that confidence, and is that costed as part of your estimates?

Maybe I'll start. I think the core element of all of our work is our partners in Wales—whether that's returning officers, local authorities and the work they do in terms of the running of elections, whether it's political parties, candidates, people like you, and elected representatives in the messaging that they put out to people, or whether importantly it's with voters themselves, and especially those voters who we know aren't as involved with our democracy as we'd like them to be—and this has been a theme that's run through what we've said today and within our estimate, we'll continue to work with all of those groups in Wales. That's our commitment. Not just in the run-up to the May election of next year, but importantly between elections, when the hubbub dies down about voting itself and casting your vote in May, talking to people about our democracy and what they would want to see improve, and working with all of those partners in Wales that we know have a similar interest to us. 

And I'm assuming that all that is part of your estimate. 

Okay, thank you. Does any Member have any other final question? I see none. We've gone beyond our time. Can I therefore thank you very much for your contributions this morning? It's been very helpful for our committee to understand some of the answers and be able to develop our consideration for the report that we have to lay, as you know, and based upon your estimates and your report. So, again, thank you for your time, thank you for everything you do on behalf of democracy here in Wales as well. It is critical that we continue with our democracy and we strengthen it and we make the public—as many of them as possible—aware of the options available to them in our democracy. So, thank you very much for that.

11:35

Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Thank you very much.

Before I move on to the next item on the agenda, it was remiss of me not to remind members of the public of the horrific incidents on Friday and the tragic loss of life of Sir David Amess in that incident, and I'm sure that we will reflect more closely upon that in our Plenary session tomorrow. But just for today, I think this evidence session has demonstrated that we will not give up our democracy, whether it be through committees or through our constituency work, and we will continue to do this work. I think that will be one of the ongoing issues. We'll always highlight in any such attack that democracy will continue to work here in Wales and everywhere else across the UK, irrespective of individual incidents such as this.

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

Cynnig:

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

Motion:

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

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

With that in mind, we're now going to item 3, which is a motion under Standing Order 17.42(vi) to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of today's meeting. Are Members content to do so? They are, therefore we'll now move into private session.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 11:36.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 11:36.