Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad

Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee

25/04/2022

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Alun Davies MS
Huw Irranca-Davies MS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Peter Fox MS
Rhys ab Owen MS

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Claire Fiddes Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Gareth Howells Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Kate Rabaiotti Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
P Gareth Williams Clerc
Clerk
Sarah Sargent Ail Glerc
Second 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 13:30.

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

The meeting began at 13:30.

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

Prynhawn da a chroeso yn ôl i chi i gyd.

Good afternoon and welcome back, everyone.

Welcome back to this session—the first session we have after recess—of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee. We've got quite a busy agenda to get through today, because typically what happens is we have a bit of an accumulation of work when we're on recess, so quite a lot of business to get through.

Normal procedural notices here: we're doing this in hybrid session today; we have full committee attendance with us—two here in the committee room and two virtual—but the standard procedures and Standing Orders remain in place. We have no apologies, and as per normal we have translation facilities through this medium as well, which we are using. This is available on Senedd.tv and the recordings of proceedings and, of course, the transcript, will be published as usual. 

2. Offerynnau nad ydynt yn cynnwys unrhyw faterion i’w codi o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3
2. Instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3

So, we'll go straight into business, because there's plenty ahead of us. Our first one is the standard item of business, which is the instruments that raise no reporting issues under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. We have several of these, which have come to us over the course of the last few weeks. The first of these is item 2.1, SL(6)184, the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provision) (Chief Executives) Regulations 2022. These regulations make amendments to the existing secondary legislation, consequential to section 54 of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021, and are in addition to the amendments made to the primary legislation via Schedule 5 to that 2021 Act. So, our lawyers have not identified any points for reporting on this. Members, do we have any points that you want to raise, or are we happy to agree this? We're happy to agree this and the draft report.

That takes us on to item 2.2, SL(6)189, the Education (Postgraduate Student Support) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) Regulations 2022. This amends a number of existing regulations relating to postgraduate student support. The changes include making individuals granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom as a relevant Afghan citizen under the Afghan relocation and assistance policy and the Afghan citizen relocations scheme eligible for student support. Again, our lawyers have not identified any points for reporting. Are we happy to agree that? We are. Yes.

Item 2.3, SL(6)192, the Local Government (Relevant Authorities) (Power to Trade) (Wales) Order 2022. This authorises relevant authorities to do for a commercial purpose anything that they are authorised to do for the purpose of carrying on any of their ordinary functions, and it makes further provision in relation to a relevant authority's exercise of the power to trade. It also revokes the Local Government (Best Value Authorities) (Power to Trade) (Wales) Order 2006. Nothing to note from our lawyers on this, so I'm assuming that we are happy to agree that report. We are.

Item 2.4, SL(6)193, the General Power of Competence (Commercial Purpose) (Conditions) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2022. The General Power of Competence (Commercial Purpose) (Conditions) (Wales) Regulations 2021 prescribe the conditions to be met by a principal council before exercising the general power for a commercial purpose. These regulations in front of us today amend the 2021 regulations to include eligible community councils within the meaning of 'authority'. Now, this has the effect of extending the application of the conditions in the 2021 regulations to community councils who are eligible from 5 May 2022. Again, we've no points for reporting from our lawyers. Are we happy to agree that? We are.

That takes us, then, to our affirmative resolution instruments today, the first of which is item 2.5, which is SL(6)187, the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 (Consequential Amendments) (Job-sharing and Assistants to the Executive) Regulations 2022. This makes amendments that are consequential on sections 57 and 58 of, and Schedule 7 to, the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021. Section 57 relates to the appointment of assistants to a local authority executive, while section 58 and Schedule 7 relate to the sharing of office on a local authority executive. We have no points to note from our lawyers on this, so are we happy to agree? We are. Thank you.

13:35
3. Offerynnau sy'n cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt i’r Senedd o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3
3. Instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3

Item 3, then, is instruments in the section that do raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3, and the first of these comes under made negative resolution instruments. It's item 3.1, SL(6)181, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel, Operator Liability and Public Health Information to Travellers etc.) (Wales) (Revocation) Regulations 2022. These regulations remove the coronavirus-related rules that apply to international travel in Wales, and our lawyers have identified four merits points for reporting. Gareth, can I ask you to draw our attention to those, please?

Diolch. There are just standard coronavirus-related merits points, and, just to clarify, the effect of these regulations is, as you said, Chair, to remove in Wales all remaining coronavirus-related rules on international travel, and that's part of a UK-wide approach. If Members are content, we can add a simple line to the report, confirming that is the effect of these regulations.

Thank you, Gareth. Are we content with that? We are. Thank you very much. Thanks, Gareth.

That takes us on, then, to item 3.2, SL(6)183, the Firefighters' Pension Scheme (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2022. Under paper 3, you have a draft report there as well. So, these regulations provide arrangements to transfer all active protected members from the legacy firefighters' pension schemes to the Firefighters' Pension Scheme (Wales) 2015. The regulations are subject to the consent of the Treasury in accordance with section 3(5) of the Public Service Pensions Act 2013. The process for giving consent is a matter for the Treasury. In this case, it has been signified by two of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury signing the regulations, and our lawyers have identified four merits points for reporting, and we have had a Welsh Government response as well. Gareth.

The first merits point notes breach of the 21-day convention. The second point asks the Welsh Government whether it published a statement regarding consultation as it is required to do in the particular circumstances of these regulations. The Welsh Government has responded to say the statement will be published shortly.

And given the pension schemes have raised particular issues, or issues that are particular to female firefighters and disabled firefighters, the third merits point asks the Welsh Government about the equality impact assessments carried out. The Welsh Government has provided a helpful response referencing how it carried out an equality impact assessment and considered equality issues both before and after consulting on the regulations.

Thanks, Gareth. I can see colleagues nodding. Are we happy to agree those reporting points? We are. Thank you, Gareth.

On to item 3.3, then, SL(6)188, the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2022. We have a draft report and a letter of 30 March to draw your attention to. These regulations amend the existing regulations to provide exemptions from charging in relation to overseas visitors who are lawfully present in the United Kingdom but are ordinarily resident in Ukraine, as well as providing exemptions for their family members, authorised companions and authorised children. We've identified one merits point for reporting. Gareth.

13:40

The draft report notes the breach of the 21-day convention. However, the Welsh Government quote regarding that breach raises an interesting point, which is that the Welsh Ministers seem to be saying that they waited until the equivalent regulations were made in England. But it isn't clear why they needed to do that. Could the Welsh Ministers have simply implemented a Wales policy regardless of what was happening in England? So, if Members are content, we can amend the report and ask the Welsh Government to clarify that point. 

That's helpful. I can see Rhys is nodding. Are you happy with that, Alun and Peter? Yes. Okay. We'll do that, then, Gareth. Thank you very much.

Item 3.4, SL(6)195, the Non-commercial Movement of Pet Animals (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2022. Again, we have a draft report and a letter from 8 April 2022. These regulations amend retained EU legislation to authorise the use of an alternative rabies antibody titre test for pet animals entering Wales from outside of the United Kingdom. Welsh Government state in the explanatory memorandum that this will

'speed up the rabies testing process for pet animals entering Wales at a time when the system faces a significant backlog due to pet animals entering with their owners fleeing from Ukraine.'

Our lawyers have identified two merits points for reporting.

There's a merits point noting the breach of the 21-day convention, and there's also a merits point noting that the regulations expire on 1 October, but the explanatory note says they expire on 7 October. So, that inconsistency is simply brought to the attention of the Welsh Government.

That's really helpful. I think we're happy with that. Thank you, Gareth.

That takes us on, then, to item 3.5, SL(6)194, the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2022. We have a draft report, a letter from 8 April 2022 and a written statement of 6 April 2022 in our packs. These regulations amend the existing regulations to extend the eligibility for allocations of housing, and housing assistance provided by local authorities, to people affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine that fall within three new immigration routes: the Ukraine family scheme, the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme and the Ukraine extension scheme. Our lawyers have identified two merits points for reporting. Gareth.

There's a merits point that notes that the explanatory memorandum is in English only, and the Welsh Government has provided a helpful response as to how it prioritises translations. The Welsh Government says in this case it considers the subject matter of regulations, the likely audience, the relevant Welsh language standards, guidance from the Welsh Language Commissioner and the Senedd's Standing Orders. All those were considered when deciding not to provide the explanatory memorandum in English and Welsh on this occasion. 

There's also a merits point noting there's not been any formal consultation on these regulations, and that's because of the speed at which the new Ukrainian immigration schemes have been developed.

Thank you, Gareth. So, with that explanation and those reporting points, are we happy to agree that report? We are. Thank you.

Item 3.6, then, SL(6)196, the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 9) Regulations 2022. We have a draft report and a letter of 13 April. These regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2022, known as the principal regulations. The amendments provide that the principal regulations expire at the end of the day on 9 May 2022, rather than 18 April 2022, and omit Part 4 of the principal regulations, which requires persons responsible for regulated premises to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus at the premises. Gareth, you've identified two merits points for reporting.

And they're just standard coronavirus-related merits points.

Thank you very much. So, are we happy to agree that? We are.

4. Offerynnau sy'n cynnwys materion i gyflwyno adroddiad arnynt i’r Senedd o dan Reol Sefydlog 21.2 neu 21.3—trafodwyd yn flaenorol
4. Instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3—previously considered

That takes us on to item 4, which is instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3 that we have previously considered. Now, we've grouped together here items 4.1 and 4.2. So, we have SL(6)130, the Renting Homes (Supported Standard Contracts) (Supplementary Provisions) (Wales) Regulations 2022, and SL(6)131, the Renting Homes (Supplementary Provisions) (Wales) Regulations 2022. And we have two letters there as part of this: one of 28 March, and one from 28 February 2022. Just to remind committee members, we considered these instruments at our meeting of 31 January, and laid our reports on 1 February. We also considered the Welsh Government's responses at our meeting on 7 February. On 28 February, we wrote to the Minister for Climate Change to raise concerns about the delayed implementation of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 and some areas of uncertainty within the regulations. So, I'd invite Members to consider the Minister's response to the correspondence that we have there. But, Gareth, anything else to note on this? No. Okay.

13:45
5. Fframweithiau cyffredin
5. Common frameworks

So, in which case, if we are content with that, we can move on to item No. 5, which are your common frameworks, a regular piece on our agenda. We have, under item 5.1, a written statement by the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution on common frameworks, with a summary of recent progress on the common frameworks. Now, unless anybody shouts at me, we'll note that and we will pass on there to other items of correspondence.

Item 5.2: we have a letter from the Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee, which provides the final recommendations to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in relation to the provisional plant health common framework. And again, unless anybody shouts at me, I'm going to note these and move on.

Item 5.3: I draw your attention to a second letter from the Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee, which provides final recommendations to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in relation to the provisional fertilisers common framework.

Item 6, then, is the—. Oh, Alun. Yes, please, on item 5.3.

I'm grateful to you for this. I'm just looking at the consistency of disappointments, if you like, from the House of Lords on engagement with our different Parliaments and with devolved administrations. And it does seem to be that this is a constant theme that's coming from the House of Lords in terms of agreeing common frameworks, and it appears that the House of Lords are making these points and the UK Government is responding to them without actually responding to the substance of what the House of Lords is saying. And I suspect that, in due course—I'm not sure that this afternoon is the right time—we will need to actually look at these in the round and come to a conclusion on some of these matters and determine how and if we wish to take it forward. My preferred approach would be to agree where we stand as a committee and then look towards linking up with colleagues in Westminster and Holyrood.

Thanks, Alun, and thanks for drawing this to our attention as well. And certainly, it's an issue that we've discussed, and you've raised before in committee, and I think when we go into further discussion in private session today, I think there might be a way that we can look to actually engage with those committees quite formally, before we get to the end of the summer term, and raise some of these issues in the round and in some detail as well. So, thanks for putting that on record. And we would, I think, as a committee, agree to commend the work of the Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee in turning their attention to this diligently and consistently. It really is a help in terms of scrutiny. Thanks, Alun.

6. Cytundeb cysylltiadau rhyngsefydliadol
6. Inter-institutional relations agreement

Okay. So, we'll move now on to item No. 6, the inter-institutional relations agreement. Under item 6.1, I draw your attention to the letter from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd confirming that a meeting of the inter-ministerial group for environment, food and rural affairs was held on 21 March. And again, what I'll do, colleagues, is, unless you shout at me, we'll read these into the record and note them for now. We might want to return to them in private session.

Item 6.2, we have—. Again, I draw your attention to the letter from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee to the Secretary of State, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which raises concerns about the transparency of inter-governmental meetings. We may want to get into some more discussion on this when we get to private session, but one interesting thing to note here in public is I think that some of our engagement as a committee with other committees is helping to put some of this in a much more transparent way, the scrutiny that's going on and some of the concerns around scrutiny as well. So, we note that correspondence from the PACA committee for the moment.

Item 6.3, correspondence from the First Minister I draw attention to and the written statement from the First Minister regarding the meeting of the Interministerial Standing Committee that took place on 23 March. You will note, and people outside this committee who might be looking in on this on Senedd.tv or who follow the transcript might like to observe, that the First Minister responds to matters that this committee raised as regards UK Bills and legislative consent. We took these matters up with the First Minister, suggested that they form part of the discussions, and they did indeed take that on board. So, thank you for that. We'll note that for the moment.

Item 6.4: correspondence from the Minister for Finance and Local Government in respect of the Finance Interministerial Standing Committee meeting that took place on 21 March.

Then we have correspondence to note from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and the Trefnydd confirming that the Minister has granted consent to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (Amendment) Order 2022.

We have, under item 6.6, to note the letter from the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations in response to the committee's letter regarding recent legislative consent memoranda and concurrent powers contained within UK Government Bills. So, we have had a response there. I'm sure we will want to return to this in private session as well, but if you're happy to note for now.

We then go on to item 6.7, correspondence to note from the Minister for Economy in relation to the UK Government's establishment of a domestic advisory committee, which is a requirement of the trade and co-operation agreement between the UK and the EU.

Item 6.8: I ask you to note the letter from the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution in which he provides a response to the committee's questions on the inter-governmental relations review, the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 and the Sewel convention. There are some useful parts of that response that we might want to get into in our private discussions as well.

Item 6.9: I draw your attention to the written statement by the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution that confirms that a meeting of the inter-ministerial group for elections and registration took place on 8 March. Now, that's all the correspondence that we have to note at the moment, but several of those we'll want to return to.

13:50
7. Datganiadau ysgrifenedig o dan Reol Sefydlog 30C
7. Written statements under Standing Order 30C

It brings us then to item 7, written statements under Standing Order 30C, and the first of these we have is under item 7.1, the written statement WS-30C(6)007, the Organic Production (Amendment) Regulations 2022. We have a written statement in our packs and a commentary as well. This statement notifies the Senedd that the Welsh Government has consented to the making of the Organic Production (Amendment) Regulations 2022. The regulations extend the dates until which derogations may be authorised for the use of non-organic pullets, young chickens, and non-organic gellan gum in organic production.

So, if you're happy to note that, we go on to item 7.2, which is written statement 30C(6)008, the Import of Animals and Animal Products and Approved Countries (Amendment) Regulations 2022. These regulations confer powers on the Secretary of State with consent of the Scottish Ministers in relation to Scotland and the Welsh Ministers in relation to Wales to change the import conditions for animals and animal products entering Great Britain by specifying the change in a document published for that specific purpose, rather than in legislation. So, if we're happy to note that as well. 

13:55
8. Papurau i'w nodi
8. Papers to note

And then, finally, we go on to some papers to note.

Under item 8.1, we note the letters from the Minister for Education and Welsh Language in response to the recommendations made by this committee and the Finance Committee in their Stage 1 reports on the Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Bill.

Item 8.2: we note the letter from the Local Government and Housing Committee in relation to the supplementary legislative consent memoranda on the Building Safety Bill. In respect of this, we might again want to return to this in private session.

Under item 8.3, we note the letter from the Equality and Social Justice Committee in relation to their inquiry into experiences of the criminal justice system. And just of interest to Members, but also those who follow the work of this committee, this relates to an item of correspondence we had some time ago that focused particularly on speech and language issues within the justice system. So, we note that for now; we might want to return to it in private. 

Item 8.4: we note the joint response by the Wales Tourism Alliance, UKHospitality Cymru and the Professional Association of Self Caterers UK to the draft Non-Domestic Rating (Definition of Domestic Property) (Wales) Order 2022, and just to note that it's not only us that have received correspondence—the local government committee and the Finance Committee have also had correspondence on this. But, for the moment, if we note that, and we'll happily return to that in our discussions later.

Under 8.5, we note the letter from the Finance Committee that sets out their proposed programme of engagement for the Welsh Government's draft budget 2023-24.

And under item 8.6, we note the written statement and the latest report by Welsh Government in relation to the legislative response by Welsh Ministers to the coronavirus pandemic. 

And under 8.7, we note the correspondence from the Lord Chancellor in which he proposes Lord Wolfson attends a meeting of the committee in his place. I can see this has inspired some wry smiles here at the moment. Lord Wolfson has, of course, since resigned his Cabinet post. So, we were nearly there. We were nearly there, colleagues. We were nearly there. We might want to discuss an alternative approach when we move into private session later.

Under item 8.8, we note the letter from the Equality and Social Justice Committee in relation to their report, 'Annual scrutiny of the Future Generations Commissioner: An update'.

And under item 8.9, we note the written statement by the Minister for Economy in relation to the Welsh Government's negotiations with the UK Government and what the UK shared prosperity fund will mean for Wales. And again, on all of these, in case people watching this are thinking, 'Well, they're flying through these', we return to salient points when we go into private session later there. But we're reading them into public record at the moment.

Under 8.10, we note the letters from the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution to the Local Government and Housing Committee, and from the Local Government and Housing Committee to this committee, in relation to the time available for scrutiny of the supplementary legislative consent memorandum on the Elections Bill.

Under item 8.11, we note the letter from the Minister for Social Justice outlining the Welsh Government's response to further changes to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

And under 8.12, we note the letters from the Minister for Finance and Local Government in response to the recommendations made by this committee and by the Finance Committee in their Stage 1 reports on the Welsh Tax Acts etc. (Power to Modify) Bill. And, of course, the Stage 1 debate on the general principles of the Bill takes place tomorrow, so we might well want to return to that in private session.

So, a lot of correspondence there to get through, to note for the record. Some of it we will want to return to in private session as well. 

14:00
9. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
9. 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.

That brings us on now to item 9, which is our standard motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public for the remainder of the meeting so that we can discuss further matters in private. Are we happy to do so? We are, so we'll now move into private, please. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 14:00.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 14:00.