Pwyllgor Diwylliant, Cyfathrebu, y Gymraeg, Chwaraeon, a Chysylltiadau Rhyngwladol

Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport, and International Relations Committee

02/03/2022

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Alun Davies MS
Carolyn Thomas MS
Delyth Jewell MS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Hefin David MS
Heledd Fychan MS
Tom Giffard MS

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson Ymgeisydd a ffefrir ar gyfer Cadeirydd Chwaraeon Cymru
Preferred candidate for the Chair of Sport Wales

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Lleu Williams Clerc
Clerk
Martha Da Gama Howells Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Nia Moss Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Osian Bowyer Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Rhun Davies Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Robin Wilkinson Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Samiwel Davies Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Sara Moran Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Tanwen Summers 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 yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:33.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:33.

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

Bore da. Hoffwn i groesawu Aelodau i gyfarfod y Pwyllgor Diwylliant, Cyfathrebu, y Gymraeg, Chwaraeon a Chysylltiadau Rhyngwladol. Oes gan unrhyw Aelodau fuddiannau i'w datgan, os gwelwch yn dda? Dwi ddim yn gweld unrhyw Aelod yn dweud, felly fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen.

Hoffwn i ddechrau'r cyfarfod heddiw drwy dalu teyrnged i Aled Roberts, a fu farw yn ddiweddar. Gyda thristwch mawr y gwnaethom ni glywed am y newyddion annisgwyl am ei farwolaeth yn ddiweddar. Mewn amser byr iawn, i fro ei febyd, i Gymru a'r Gymraeg, nifer oedd y pethau roedd e wedi eu cyflawni drostyn nhw i gyd. Roedd bob amser yn llawn gobaith a hyder, a pha bynnag fater roedd e'n gweithio arno fe, roedd hynny'n wir—p'un ai fel cynghorydd dros Ros a Phonciau, yn Aelod rhanbarthol ar gyfer Gogledd Cymru ym Mae Caerdydd, neu yn ddiweddar fel Comisiynydd y Gymraeg, ei fwriad yn wastad oedd gwneud pethau yn well i bobl eraill. Roedd yn bleser enfawr cael cydweithio gyda fe yn ddiweddar yn ei rôl fel Comisiynydd y Gymraeg. Roedd yn heriol, roedd yn gadarn ac eto yn ddiymhongar a'n wastad gyda gwên gyfeillgar. Roedd yn gwneud i bawb ymlacio a mwynhau bod yn ei gwmni. Ein diolch ni yw cael y pleser o'i adnabod, i gydweithio gydag ef, a gweld yr holl waith roedd e wedi ei wneud dros ei fro, ei wlad, a'i iaith. Rŷn ni i gyd yn danfon ein cydymdeimladau at ei deulu a phawb oedd yn ei nabod e.

Good morning. I'd like to welcome Members to this meeting of the Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport, and International Relations Committee. Are there any declarations of interest from Members, please? I see that there are none, so we'll move on.

I'd like to start today's meeting by paying tribute to Aled Roberts, who passed away recently. With great sadness we heard the unexpected news about Aled's recent passing. In a very short time, he made a huge and passionate contribution to his community, to Wales and to the Welsh language. He did so much for all of those people in those areas. He was always full of hope and confidence, and this was true of whatever issue he was tackling—whether as councillor for Rhos and Ponciau, as a regional Member for North Wales in Cardiff Bay, or, more recently, as the Welsh Language Commissioner, his goal was always to make things better for other people. It was a great pleasure to work with him recently in his role as Welsh Language Commissioner. He was robust in his views and ready to challenge, but also modest and always with a friendly smile. He made everyone feel relaxed, and all of us enjoyed being in his company. We are grateful for the pleasure of knowing him, of being able to work with him, and of seeing all of the work he did for his community, his country and the language. We all send our condolences to his family and all of those who knew him.

Delyth, diolch am hynny. Dwi'n credu bod Aelodau o bob rhan o'r pwyllgor yn cyd-fynd â chi a'ch geiriau. Mi licen i ofyn i chi ysgrifennu at Llinos ar ran y pwyllgor yn dweud hynny, achos mae colli Aled yn golled i ni i gyd.

Thank you for that, Delyth. I think that Members on all sides of the committee agree with you and your words. I'd like to ask you to write to Llinos on behalf of the committee, reiterating those words, because losing Aled is a loss to us all.

09:35
2. Gwrandawiad cyn penodi Cadeirydd Chwaraeon Cymru
2. Chair of Sport Wales pre-appointment hearing

Os yw pawb yn hapus, felly, mi wnawn ni symud ymlaen at eitem 2, sef ein gwrandawiad cyn penodi cadeirydd Chwaraeon Cymru. Mi wnaf i ofyn i'r Farwnes Tanni Grey-Thompson gyflwyno'i hunan ar gyfer y record.

If everyone is content, therefore, we will move on to item 2, which is our pre-appointment hearing for chair of Sport Wales. I will ask Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson to introduce herself for the record. 

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 09:35:38

Hello, good morning. I'm Tanni Grey-Thompson. I was a Welsh athlete, a Paralympic athlete, and I'm now a crossbench peer.

Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am fod gyda ni heddiw. Mi wnawn ni symud yn syth at y cwestiynau, os yw hynny'n iawn. A fyddech chi'n gallu dweud wrthym ni ychydig am eich hunan a'ch cefndir, os gwelwch yn dda?

Thank you very much to you for joining us this morning. We will go straight to questions, if that's okay. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, please?

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 09:36:02

Thank you. I was born and brought up in Cardiff, into a family that was passionate about sport and physical activity. I was born with spina bifida, and my parents both saw physical activity as a way to give me a chance to have a life, to be independent, to go to school, and sport was something that, for me, came a little bit later, but I was incredibly lucky I had parents who didn't allow people to discriminate against me because I was disabled. They fought really hard to get me into mainstream education, because my father said to me all the time, 'Education gives you choices.' He did actually threaten to sue the Secretary of State for Wales over my right to go to a mainstream school. And, for me, education and the upbringing I had in Wales enabled me to go on and be an athlete. I've said numerous times that if I'd been brought up in any other part of the UK, I don't think I would have had the opportunities to do most of what I've done with my life. So, for me, being Welsh has been a really important part of everything that I've achieved up to this date.

I competed at five Paralympic Games, retired from sport in 2007, and now work in politics in Westminster. I work in physical activity and sport, and disability and women's rights are the main areas that I work in.

Thank you very much for that. Could you tell us a little about what your motivation has been for going for this role, please?

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 09:37:35

So, the Sports Council for Wales, as it was then, was the first board I sat on, in my mid 20s. Anne Ellis, an amazing woman—I got to serve on the board with her. As an athlete, she was my chef de mission. She gave me the opportunity to sit on the board of Sport Wales along with the chair and chief exec at the time. For me, it opened my mind to the world of politics of sports and administration, and gave me a lot of skills in terms of actually helping my life as an athlete.

So, for me, partly it's about completing the circle, but what I'm passionate about—. Elite sport is amazing, and it can do great things, but, actually, physical activity and the health of our nation is incredibly important, and my motivation in applying for this was being able to have really open discussions with other departments and being able to join up education, health and sport to achieve better things for the well-being and outcomes for Welsh people. Because these things don't operate in isolation, and, actually, unless you have somewhere safe to live and you can afford to eat, you can't do physical activity, so they all tie together. So, for me, that was a huge, huge part of it. And to give something back; it's a huge honour to be interviewed for this role, because it's where I started.

Thank you so much, Tanni. I think that Alun Davies wants to come in on this point.

Yes. Thank you. Thank you very much for this, Tanni. I was interested in what you said there. I probably shouldn't say this at the pre-appointment hearing, but I was absolutely delighted to see that the Government are proposing to appoint you to this role. It's something that I think is a really inspiring appointment, and I enjoyed reading the application documents from you.

I was last week with Tredegar football club in my constituency, talking about some of the facilities that we have in the Valleys, in Blaenau Gwent in my case—my constituency—and I'm interested in how you would see your role and Sport Wales's role, because what you said there in answer to Delyth really struck a chord with me about how we can ensure that physical activity is part of people's everyday experience growing up, and one of the worries that I have is that the facilities to enable people to participate in organised sport, shall we say, aren't fairly distributed across the country. It would be easier in somewhere like Cardiff than it would be for somewhere like Ebbw Vale or Tredegar, or wherever. And I'd be interested in how you would see your role and the role of Sport Wales in ensuring a better, if you like, distribution of resources and funding to ensure that everybody—every child growing up anywhere in the country—has that same access.

09:40
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 09:40:31

Thank you. I'm delighted that there is, I think, £8 million in terms of capital spend in terms of putting into facilities, but that's realistically not a huge amount of money. My first athletic club was Bridgend, where we had a grass track and we trained in a multistorey car park. What they did—a 400m track would have been great—actually was build a 300m training track that could be used for junior competitions. So, I think, some of it's managing expectation in terms of what we're able to do. Actually, all my time on the Sports Council for Wales, at the time they were far ahead of some of the other home countries in terms of looking at what was wanted and what was needed, because they're potentially two quite different things. So, actually, a fair distribution is really important in terms of travel time, especially if the bus services aren't great or people don't have their own transport. So, you have to take an overview of where facilities are and where the best investment can be made. Because there's no doubt good facilities do help, but it's actually what level those facilities have to be. So, for me, it's things like toilets and changing rooms. I've seen some really innovative work that's been done, actually, in the rest of the UK and around the world in terms of just raising the level of those facilities. Obviously, an amazing football or rugby pitch would be perfect, but, actually, there are lots of other ways you can get people to come and engage, as opposed to just the facilities themselves. So, I think the role of Sport Wales is about guiding, it's about allocating money and it's about having those decisions about what people want and need. We've, over the years, talked about multisport clubs, like they have in Germany, and then we've moved away from it. I think there's certainly opportunity to look about how you can share facilities and do things in a different way and bring in other pots of money to enable the bar to be lifted.

Thank you for that, Tanni. We're going to move on to Tom Giffard.

Thank you, Chair. Good morning, Tanni, and thank you for coming to the committee this morning. I wanted to ask why you think you're well suited to do this role?

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 09:42:55

So, my experience of sport is as an athlete, and I've been an administrator, I've been a sports development officer, I've sat on various sports boards, and I currently chair UKactive, which is the membership body for the fitness industry. That role finishes in a couple of months' time. I've been a coach. So, I've got lots of different—. Sorry, I keep adding to the list. I've been a temporary performance director in a sport, as a stand-in. So, I've had lots of different experiences as part of sport.

I think, actually, as an athlete, you have to be a politician, in terms of balancing people around you—actually, now I am a politician. It's about trying to bring people together. There will be a lot of strongly held views in sport and physical activity about the way forward, and it's about trying to navigate through that and bring people together. So, actually, as a crossbench peer, I don't have any parliamentary support. For me to get anything across the line in Westminster, everything is about negotiation to try and take people with me. So, I think that has been a really useful training ground in terms of actually just getting people in the room, sitting people down and saying, 'Okay, we need to leave with a decision.' But also, it's not forcing decisions through; I think it's about having grown-up and, maybe, sometimes robust conversations, but, actually, with people leaving the room feeling that they've been part of that process. I've had lots of experience in lots of parts of sport, and I think that would stand me in good stead.

Brilliant. And just to follow up on that, I guess, you mentioned the range of experiences you have—and perhaps you've answered this a little bit, but I'll ask it anyway—how do you see the synergy between your experience as a front-line athlete, if you like, and this role? What kind of overlaps are there and what experiences can you bring from that into the way you'll approach this role?

09:45
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 09:45:03

As an athlete, because I did five games, I got to compete in some amazing places around the world. The biggest crowd I competed in front of was in Sydney at the Olympics, in front of 112,000 people, the same night Cathy Freeman ran—that's amazing. That's not the reality of sport; the reality of sport is that you train twice a day, six days a week, 50 weeks of the year, you make lots of compromises in terms of family life, parties, weddings—you know, all sorts; my wedding was based around my competition schedule—and, actually, that's the reality. It's hard work, it's training, preparation, putting everything into it for that moment in sport where you try and make a difference. And actually, I think in this role, there's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes for the moment when you might be on a platform making announcements, or you're doing other things that are more public-facing.

So, I think the biggest thing I've learnt from my sporting career is just that you've got to work really hard if you want to achieve and you've got to build relationships—you know, I had different coaches, different training partners; you've got to be able to work with people to make this work. Because it'd be lovely to have a lot more money, it really would, but money doesn't always solve things, and, actually, with COVID, there are more pressures on funding than there have ever been and that's the realistic world that we need to work in.

Thanks. And one last one from me. You talked about your experience in elite-level sport, which is very welcome; I'm just wondering what experiences do you have with people who do sport for enjoyment and what focus you would bring to the role in that regard.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 09:46:41

So, I had a lot of time being a recreational athlete before I found my sport. I'm actually back to being a recreational athlete; I play basketball. I actually had a young athlete on my team ask me last week, 'Have you ever done any sport before?'—'Yes, a bit'—which was very sweet; he was 13. So, the motivation as a recreational athlete can be quite—. It could be to be the best you can. There'll be some who want to make the next level or the GB team who are not going to. Actually, there'll be a lot of people who just want to do it for fitness' sake and we know that people drop in and out of physical activity for lots of different reasons. There are different motivations, there are different barriers. Some of those barriers change—you know, for another disabled person with the same level of impairment as me who lives in a different part of the country, their barriers might be entirely different. So, for me, it's about unlocking those barriers and, actually, it's really helpful that I see grass-roots organisations both as a participant and an organiser, because you actually see where you can make a real difference. Elite sport is lovely, but, some of it, at a certain level, it starts to look after itself when the athletes come through the talent pathway, but, unless you have that broad base at the bottom, then there are lots of challenges.

And I've said this, actually, in front of a Westminster select committee: around disability and disabled people, we need to have more people who are just not very good at sport—a bit rich coming from me about the Paralympic pathway, but, for disabled people, it's not all about that; it's okay to be not very good at sport and just have fun and participate and be active. Because, actually, we know that 80 per cent of women aren't fit enough to be healthy in the UK, so, if we don't do something in Wales to change that, that affects pensions, the health service, it affects lots and lots of things.

Thank you. Are you happy for us to move on, Tom, with that? I think that's going to be a really powerful message, Tanni, for people to hear you saying that—that, actually, it's okay to not actually be very good at sport and just to do it for the joy of doing it. I think that's a really powerful message.

Gwnawn ni symud ymlaen at Hefin David.

We'll move on to Hefin David.

Sorry, the operator was unmuting me and I'm unmuting myself. Can you hear me okay? I did have a bad line. Yes. Okay, great.

It's hard not to be reductionist in the time we've got, but would you be able to outline your three key objectives for the role and what you'd like to achieve in your time if you're appointed as chair?

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 09:49:21

Yes. So, I've read all the public statements in terms of what's available for Sport Wales. There are obviously things behind that and work programmes. I think, for me, it's about going in and seeing how it works in the first place—so that's a really important part of it—and meeting stakeholders; sorry if that's already a given. I think it's looking at how we can bring different organisations together, people who maybe Sport Wales isn't currently working with. I know that Sport Wales works with a lot of non-traditional organisations, but I think that's important to bring a fresh set of eyes to that. I would love to be able to be in a position, within the tenure, to give every young person the chance to do more physical activity and find their routes through and lead into elite sport. I'm really proud of being Welsh. I only competed for Wales three times as a senior athlete; it was an amazing experience. And I think it's giving talented athletes that opportunity to be able to step up and go to potentially GB and how we can use that to then have a positive influence back on young people. But I think that physical activity part—. And I know it's difficult, because it's called Sport Wales, but 'sports', I always think of it as quite a generic term to cover everything that's part of that. That physical activity part, unlocking that, is really important for me in terms of actually building people's confidence. And there are lots of people, for lots of reasons, who don't have those opportunities to be able to be physically active.

09:50

Do you think that's a fundamental change to the current approach? And if it isn't, then is there anything else you'd like to fundamentally change?

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 09:51:23

It's not a fundamental change, because I think Sport Wales and the Welsh Government have been ahead of their time in terms of physical literacy in schools, in terms of understanding how the different departments join up. That's just a breath of fresh air to me, from spending a lot of my time in Westminster, where you can talk to one Government department and they'll say, 'Oh, that's nothing to do with us', and you're like, 'But it is'. Sorry for going through some of my Westminster frustrations. So, it's not a shift, but I think it's about—. 'Stamping' is too hard a word, but it's about reinforcing the role that Sport Wales can help in bringing things together.

Sport at its best is amazing. I've spent a lot of time talking about Ukraine in the last couple of days, and sport has a role to influence in a really positive way, and sometimes sport world governing bodies have to take some really tough decisions in terms of what they do. But I think it's learning about the best of what sport can bring and being able to filter that down. So, it's not a huge shift, but I think it's about keep pushing and having a new energy to keep saying, 'Okay, what fundamentally can Sport Wales do to help Welsh people be competitive?' Not in sport, on a world stage—in business, in language, in culture. Sport's a really important part of that. I would say that, because this is the role I'm applying for, but it's not always about Sport Wales being at the front of it; it's about Sport Wales supporting other areas as well to be better.

So, my last question, then, would be: Sport Wales went through quite a well-documented and very publicly documented turbulent time in 2016-17, which I think, if we just say, frankly, it was down to a failure of leadership—we've seen stability since—what skills do you have and how will you maintain that stability, but, at the same time, meet the challenges that you've already identified?

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 09:53:32

I've seen it in my own sport, in athletics. We've gone through very difficult times in lots of different ways. Most recently, there's been a change in leadership. We've had issues in terms of poor practice in coaching. You know, there have been lots of things.

In 2016, I was asked by Tracey Crouch to do a piece of work on duty of care, and there are lots of things that I knew—. The work confirmed a lot of the issues that have existed at the elite end of British sport. So, I think I learnt a lot from that about managing people, managing expectations. Actually, some people were really challenging, who didn't want the report launched because they were worried about things that would be unlocked. So, people can be bruised by their involvement in different parts of sport, and I think it's recognising that, having an understanding of who's been through a difficult time because of it, and it's about trying to bring people back into the room together. And also it's about saying, 'Okay, this is different.' You need to have an open relationship and, you know, sometimes robust discussions with people. But it's actually about stepping up and moving on and saying, 'Okay, at some point, we have to to say, "Okay, this is now different".' But I think, as an athlete, I'm used to—. Very direct feedback, I think, is the thing, and that open conversation, I think, is a really important part of it. If people are struggling, if they're are not happy, we need to find a way to unlock those things, and it was sad to see what Sport Wales went through, but that's also part of my motivation in applying. There are a lot of really good people who work in the widest bit of sport in Wales. There are some really, really good people, and, for me, I want to have the chance to work with those people. 

09:55

Diolch. Gwnawn ni symud ymlaen at Alun Davies eto.

Thank you very much. We'll move on to Alun Davies.

Thank you very much. Tanni, there are two roles that I'd like to ask you about in terms of the chair of Sport Wales. There's the leadership role, leading the organisation, and then there's the external, representational role, if you like. In terms of leadership, I'd be interested to understand how you see your leadership role, your role as the leader of the organisation, what your style would be, what you would seek to achieve as a leader within the organisation, in Sport Wales itself. And then, secondly, potentially, arguably, the greatest power that you'd have as chair of Sport Wales would be to act as a catalyst. You already act as a catalyst, of course, with your membership of the House of Lords, and, particularly, as you said, as a cross-bencher, and I'd be interested in what your ambitions would be for your tenure, how you feel you would succeed, what are your benchmarks for success, and then how you would act as a catalyst to bring people together and to argue for some of the changes you've already articulated in this session.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 09:57:02

Thank you very much. If I start with my leadership style, I think I'm open. I think it's important to be able to listen to people's views around the table. Sometimes, it's listening to what they're saying, but then understanding what they're meaning by that. I've chaired lots of meetings where people come along and they're very passionate about what they're trying to do, and sometimes you need a bit of time to get through that to understand where they're coming from. I think it's also about spending time with people outside meetings. A big part of this will be being at events, talking to people, having conversations where they feel that I'm approachable. I hope that people think that I'm approachable in terms of my style and how I behave.

So, I chair ukactive. That's a membership body. We have 4,000 members from the fitness industry, a very diverse group of people, and it's my role as chair there to help and support, to be a champion for the sector, but also, at times, to say, 'Okay, the sector needs to do something different as well.' So, I see the chair of Sport Wales as a similar role, in terms of bringing together all those different people. And then, as chair, it's feeding into Welsh Government. Having the opportunity to have the eyes and ears of Ministers, to be able to talk to people about what Sport Wales's ambitions are, I think is really important.

I think, in terms of being a catalyst for change, data is really important. You can spend a huge amount of money on monitoring and evaluation and it not be useful. I'm very keen on having appropriate monitoring and evaluation and coming with data—'In this community, doing this does this', or 'This is our experience'—and it's trying it out and testing it.

I think, also, if I look at one of my roles that I've had, which was on Laureus Sport for Good Foundation—it's a bunch of ex-athletes; we raise money, we put it into just under 200 projects around the world, where sport is that catalyst for change. In Rio, we support a project where children aren't allowed to bring their guns to the project if they want to do sport. It's incredible when you see those things. So, I think it's—. Some of the things that I've learnt from that monitoring and evaluation, comparing data across different countries, different projects to actually get data that's useful to help all the projects, I think is really important.

So, the catalyst for change is about data, about having a well-founded argument. It may be a point where I come to the Welsh Government and ask for more money, but it will be a really, really well-argued case. And if the Welsh Government say 'no', you have that, but I think it's that continued relationship that's important.

You also asked about benchmark for success. There are some things that are easy to measure, which we're very proud of—number of medals at games and the number of Welsh athletes on GB teams. I think what Wales is doing in terms of duty of care towards its athletes is fascinating, in terms of measuring your best performance, because, actually, that is a really important part of something that we should celebrate. And then there will be—. Sorry, that's just one part—there will be a whole host of key performance indicators and metrics beneath that, which will be measured and reported on.

Ultimately, as an athlete, you survive on your performance and, ultimately, as a chair of Sport Wales, that's what happens as well. There's a tenure, and there's a possible reappointment, or not. So, in the three years that I have, there's a sense of urgency about that, to do as much as I can in, hopefully, the first and, hopefully, a second tenure. But there's an urgency about doing that.

10:00

Okay. It might be a conversation that we would seek to pursue following an appointment, if you're content with that.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 10:01:28

Yes, absolutely. Is there anything from what you asked that I didn't answer?

No, not at all. I'm just interested, because, as you say, it's a three-year tenure, and it's a critical public appointment, and I think the committee would wish, following an appointment by the Welsh Government, to then pursue the conversations we're starting this morning, in terms of your plans, your objectives, your targets and the rest of it, and how you would seek to go about motivating the whole organisation, if you like, to achieve those ambitions, and I think it's something that the committee would wish to return to.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 10:02:09

Apologies, I don't think I probably gave you a clear enough answer on those things. At the moment, it's slightly difficult on the outside—

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 10:02:18

—without having time with the team and the staff looking at the operational plans and looking at everything that goes with that.

Mi wnawn ni symud ymlaen at Heledd Fychan.

We'll move on to Heledd Fychan.

Bore da. Good morning. I'm equally sharing Alun Davies's excitement, in terms of the appointment, and very pleased that you applied for the role, and very nice to meet you, albeit virtually.

You mentioned, in terms of the three-year tenure, the fact that there's that sense of urgency. Undoubtedly, a big part of the role, as you mentioned, will be networking and talking to people. A number of your current roles, of course, including as a parliamentarian, are in London. You have a curriculum vitae that would put anybody to shame, and I know that they say if you want anything done, ask a busy person, but I noted in the job description it says about a minimum of two days a week, and that's what you're able to commit to. So, I just wondered, undoubtedly, you've got all the skills that are needed for this role, but in terms of that time commitment, how much of a challenge do you think that will be in undertaking the role as you'd like to do it and be able to achieve what you've set out today for us?

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 10:03:43

I'm very lucky, I have huge flexibility, in terms of my diary, in terms of the things that I do. There are a couple of roles where the tenure finishes this year. So, ukactive, which is currently a decent amount of my monthly/weekly time—that comes to an end. We're just in the process of a new chair being appointed for that. The House of Lords sits four days a week. As a cross-bencher, I don't need to be there all the time. We have long holidays—recess is long for us. So, there are lots of opportunities, in terms of the flexibility that I have in my diary. So, yes, I do spend a chunk of my time in London.

I think it's been very focused on what you need to be present for and, actually, in the early stages—. There's a lot I would need to be present for, in terms of the initial meetings with people I don't already know. Technology has been amazing, but it doesn't solve all the problems. There are some things that can work fine online, and there is a lot that doesn't. I think there's a lot about having a relationship with the team at Sport Wales, the chief exec, the senior team. Sometimes it's about being available on the phone. I know during COVID, in my role as chair of ukactive, the chief exec and I spent a lot of time every day speaking. So, it's making sure there's time available. I think, for me, it's such an important role. The time is there; it's me rejigging the diary.

10:05

Thank you very much for that confirmation. I also just wanted to explore in terms of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 that we have in Wales, which is obviously different in terms of the legislation that we have from the UK Government, in terms of looking at collaboration between other Welsh Government sponsored bodies as well, so not just seeing sports in a silo, then culture in a silo—do you think there's scope for Sport Wales to work more strategically with other organisations?

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 10:06:08

The short answer's 'yes'. There's a lot more to that, because somebody might come into sport and then realise they don't really like it, or their aspirations aren't going to be met, so they might be coaches, or they might be volunteers, but I'd love to see more opportunity within sport to do different things. I've seen over the long time I've been involved people come in and then go out and do different things, because of the things that they've learnt in their time in sport, if that makes sense. So, I think, absolutely—. I'm doing some work on social prescribing, at the moment, because actually that's a really important part of physical activity, because it's easy for me—I go to the gym, I know how all the equipment works, or if there might be a new one, it doesn't take me long to figure it out because of my background. I could sit and write in a couple of hours for you a training programme for somebody, but if you've not had a great relationship with physical activity and sport, you're not going to know these things. We tell people 'five fruit and veg a day', we tell people to be active, but unless you connect with an individual and help them and guide them, or give them ideas on what to do—actually, you could be physically active by learning to play a musical instrument but walking to the lesson. So, it doesn't have to be defined sport in terms of what you do.

So, yes, there's a massive opportunity to join those things together, and I think that's incredibly exciting. Potentially we've got a private Member's Bill in Westminster about future generations, and I just think it's not rocket science. Sorry if that's really direct, but joining those things together is what everybody talks about, but it's actually what we all have to do.

Thank you. I think the fact that we have culture and sport and everything combined here as a committee shows that that correlation is there as well, so it will be interesting to work with you and Sport Wales on those. Just a final question from me—you've outlined this, and the fact of your experiences as a peer as well, but how will you work in a way that maintains independence from Welsh Government whilst also trying to influence the Government to achieve the outcomes for organisations and individuals that Sport Wales has prioritised?

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 10:08:38

So, I see the role of Sport Wales—you know, you've got Sport Wales on one side, and there's the role and then there's the Government. So, the chair would be challenging Sport Wales to do better, to do more, to hit the targets, and then you're championing that, and I think that relationship is really important in terms of both sides, actually. You've got to be trusted and you've got to be able to have sometimes those difficult conversations. I realise I've said 'difficult' and 'robust' conversations quite a few times, because, actually, most of it's not going to be that. But I think it's about getting to know people and understanding how they work, so when those difficult times are there, you're able to work through them and find a way. It is important because, as an arm's-length body, you have to take that role incredibly seriously, because you're not there to do whatever you're told to do. But it's about having that check and challenge going back and fore, and just being that person—you're not in the middle because you're balancing lots of different things. But, ultimately, that is the role of the chair, to manage all those relationships and make sure they work. Because, ultimately, we're all aiming for the same thing; it's making sure that that works.

10:10

Thank you, Heledd. Could we please move on to Carolyn Thomas?

Good morning. Lovely to meet you, and also I'm very pleased with this appointment. I'd just like to ask about how you would work with the committee, going forward—this committee—and also Members of the Senedd. We're looking to do a piece of work for people from disadvantaged areas accessing sport in the future. I represent the North Wales region, and accessibility, again, for people and young people from there can be difficult. I know a friend of my son, for example, did really well through his local club and then went on to play for Wales in basketball, but then that meant travelling down to Cardiff every weekend to practise, and they had to stay in a Travelodge. It was really difficult, it took a lot of time and commitment. And also I think once they get to a certain stage as well, in north Wales, they have to then train in Liverpool or Manchester. It's either travel to Cardiff or train across in Liverpool or Manchester. But, a couple of summers ago, the 3x3 basketball tournament toured around different parts of Wales, and it was really exciting for the local groups that they could all participate locally as well, because this tournament came around all of the different areas. And it just helped inspire them as well. And I think having people in the area that can inspire young people, who do well and are from their region, is just really important for them as well to help them reach their potential, as well as accessibility. But my main question is: how would you engage with members of the committee and Members of the Senedd, going forward? Thank you.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 10:12:18

Thank you. There are a number of different relationships. There's the formal relationship in terms of appearing in front of the committee and being challenged on what Sport Wales is doing. I think it's important to understand the work that the Members do away from that. It goes without saying that the relationship has to be professional at all times, and respectful. I think getting to know people really helps in terms of being able to manage that and support that. So, there's that. 

And what you said about talented athletes, there are so many young people where the barrier they get to at 13 or 14 is around money, because although lottery funding has been amazing for many athletes, what it's done is that it has raised the cost of being on a talent pathway to around £10,000 a year. There aren't a huge number of families that can afford that. So, I think there is something in having discussions and looking at how sports are organised. I've been around a long time, from when we were going to have a British institute of sport that was based in Sheffield, and then that changed. Then there's the Welsh institute and an English one, and all of these things that have been centralised, decentralised. Actually, if there's someone with talent, money should not be the barrier. And actually it's challenging some of those preconceived ideas about how centralised programmes work and what you need to do. 

COVID was horrendous for so many people, but you look at the swimmers at the Olympics and Paralympics last year, most of them were swimming in paddling pools, and it didn't affect their performance. So, I think there are some really interesting things we can learn about that talent pathway from what happened during COVID, to filter that down, to give young people the best opportunity. And I know, for me—. You talked about seeing someone. I watch the London Marathon, and in my early teens I watched Chris Hallam from Cwmbran win the marathon, and he had dreadful taste in leopard print body suits and dyed blonde hair, but I remember saying to my mum, 'I'm going to do that one day', because of him. And, five years later, I was on the start line. But I had the opportunity to do that, it's how we unlock that for other young people. Sport is unique in many ways in that you can see somebody and you think, 'I never thought I could do that, but if they've done it, what can I do?' It's about helping to unlock that. You just want the best and most talented people having the chance to give it a go. Actually, I think, in terms of the role of Sport Wales, Sport Wales has done some really interesting things over the years in terms of supporting and protecting athletes, and I think that actually is something that other sports councils around the world can learn from.

10:15

Thank you so much. Tanni, before you go, I appreciate that you aren't in post yet, and that the confirmation hasn't happened from the Welsh Government, but as Carolyn was just setting out, we as a committee are about to embark on an inquiry looking at access to sport in areas that face disadvantages, and looking at how that can interact with other disadvantages or other barriers that individuals within those communities can face. Are there any things that you would like us to keep in mind in this? Had the timing been different, we would have welcomed evidence from you, so I hope you don't mind me slightly cheekily asking you at this point if there's anything that you feel from your own experiences—and I know that you've spoken very passionately about these things in the past—or anything that you'd like us to keep in mind in that inquiry.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 10:16:20

I think it all comes back to the future generations, actually. If you haven't got a safe place to live, or you haven't got any food, or you haven't got anywhere to cook food, and you're missing out on education, then actually your ability to access sport and physical activity will be hugely affected. You won't have the chance to do it. With young people, if we're looking at it from young people's disadvantage, education has a really important role to play, and it's hard, because I don't think we can expect schools to do everything, but schools have a lot of contact with young people in terms of being able to potentially spot things that are going on or spot things that are missing. It's how we, without forcing headteachers and teachers to take on a much bigger role, or poking into people's backgrounds—. It's not about that, but actually, if young people aren't getting a decent education, or they're missing education, there are lots of things behind that that follow. I know from personal experience that for children who come from a difficult background, it's very hard for them to talk about it. It affects the rest of their lives in terms of how they're able to integrate with people and talk to people. It affects their jobs, it affects so many people. So, I think having a chance to look at that and join that together is really important in terms of what you're doing. I've done some work in prisons, and some of the young men I spoke to, a lot of them had made bad decisions, really bad decisions, but with all the ones I've spoken to, it comes back to not being able to read and write, and not having any literacy. I think that's an important part of it.

Thank you. That's really, really helpful. I don't see any other Members indicating that they have any other final questions, so can I thank you very much indeed for being with us for this session this morning? The process now is that we as a committee will be completing a report and submitting that to the Welsh Government to consider. I'm sure it's fine for me to say that if you were to be confirmed, then we as a committee would look forward very much to working with you. But for now, thank you very much for being with us this morning. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson 10:19:11

Thank you very much for your time. Goodbye.

3. Papurau i'w nodi
3. Papers to note

Fe wnawn ni symud at eitem 3, sef papurau i'w nodi. Jest pedwar papur sydd gyda ni heddiw, sef: eitem 3.1, cynllun gweithredu ehangu ymgysylltiad Amgueddfa Cymru a Chyngor Celfyddydau Cymru 2022-25; eitem 3.2, gwybodaeth ychwanegol gan Ganolfan Materion Rhyngwladol Cymru yn dilyn ein hymchwiliad undydd ni i faterion rhyngwladol; eitem 3.3, gwybodaeth ychwanegol gan Grŵp Asiantaethau Tramor Cymru yn dilyn yr un ymchwiliad undydd; ac eitem 3.4, gohebiaeth oddi wrth Ofcom Cymru ynghylch yr adroddiad ar ddadansoddiad o gynnwys newyddion rhwydwaith. Ydy Aelodau'n hapus i nodi'r papurau hynny, neu a oedd unrhyw un eisiau dweud unrhyw beth? Heledd.

We will move on to item 3, papers to note. We have four papers today: item 3.1, National Museum Wales and Arts Council of Wales widening engagement action plan 2022-25; item 3.2, additional information from the Welsh Centre for International Affairs following our one-day inquiry on international relations; item 3.3, additional information from the Wales Overseas Agency Group following the same one-day inquiry; and item 3.4, correspondence from Ofcom Wales regarding the report on network news content. Are Members content to note those papers, or does anyone want to say anything? Heledd. 

10:20

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Yn amlwg, mae 3.1 yn rhywbeth rydyn ni wedi ei drafod cryn dipyn ac wedi trafod efo'r ddau sefydliad hefyd. Dwi'n falch o fod wedi derbyn hyn. Dwi'n meddwl, pan ddaeth y ddau gorff o'n blaenau ni, un o'r pethau y gwnaethon ni ei drafod oedd y pwysigrwydd o ran y craffu parhaus o ran hyn, a gweld sut mae'n cael ei wireddu mewn gwirionedd. Oherwydd mae'n un peth i gael cynllun, onid ydy, ond mae'n beth arall gweld y newidiadau hynny. Yn bersonol, mi oeddwn i'n siomedig bod yna ddim datganiad mwy cadarn yn yr ymateb o ran y Gymraeg a rhai o'r pethau a welwyd pan gyhoeddwyd yr adroddiadau yn y lle cyntaf. Dwi yn falch o weld gweithredoedd pendant, ond dwi'n meddwl y bydd rôl inni graffu ymhellach ar sut mae hynny'n mynd rhagddo gan y ddau sefydliad.

Thank you very much. Clearly, 3.1 is something that we have discussed quite a lot, and we have discussed with the two organisations. I'm pleased that we've received this. I think, when the two bodies came before us, one of the issues that we discussed was the importance in terms of the continuous scrutiny of this and to see how this is realised, really. It's one thing to have a plan but it's another thing to see those changes in place. Personally, I was disappointed that there wasn't a stronger statement responding on the Welsh language and some of the issues that we saw when the reports were published in the first place. I am pleased to see specific action plans, and I think it will be our role to scrutinise further how that moves on with both organisations.

Diolch am hwnna, Heledd. Ydy unrhyw Aelod arall eisiau dweud unrhyw beth arall am hynny? Ydy pawb yn gytûn gyda hynny ac yn hapus? Iawn. Ocê. Felly, gwnawn ni symud ymlaen. Diolch am roi hwnna ar y record, Heledd. 

Thank you for that, Heledd. Does any other Member want to say anything regarding that? Are Members all agreed on that and content? Yes. We'll move on. Thank you for placing that on the record, Heledd. 

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 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.

Os yw pawb yn hapus, gwnawn ni symud at eitem 4, sef cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill ein cyfarfod heddiw. Ydy'r Aelodau'n fodlon derbyn y cynnig? Ie, ydych. Felly, gwnawn ni barhau yn breifat. 

If everybody's happy, we'll move to item 4, which is a motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting today. Are Members content to agree that motion? Yes. So, we'll continue in private. Thank you. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:21.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:21.