Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad

Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee

06/06/2022

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Alun Davies MS
Huw Irranca-Davies MS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
James Evans MS Yn dirprwyo ar ran Peter Fox
Substitute for Peter Fox
Rhys ab Owen MS

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Claire Fiddes Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Craig Griffiths Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Gerallt Roberts Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
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 drwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 13:30.

The committee met 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. Good afternoon, everybody.

Croeso i chi i gyd.

Welcome to you all.

Welcome to this virtual meeting of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee. You'll notice this is a virtual meeting, and on our screens today we are fully quorate, but we have a substitution today. We are delighted to have with us James Evans as a substitute for Peter Fox. James, great to have you with us and we hope you enjoy this afternoon. The meeting is being broadcast on Senedd.tv live as normal, and we will publish the Record of Proceedings after this today as usual. So, apart from the normal procedural adaptations for virtual proceedings, all the other Standing Order requirements remain in place. As per normal, if I could ask Members to make sure that their mobile devices are switched to silent, I'm just doing that myself as well, as I remind colleagues on the call. I think mine is switched down. We're operating through the medium of Welsh and English today, and we have interpretation available. It's the normal procedure of selecting the little interpretation button at the bottom, and the sound operator behind the scenes is controlling your microphones so you don't need to mute and unmute. 

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

So, with that being said, we'll go on to the first substantive part of our business today, which is item 2, and that is the inter-institutional relations agreement. Under item 2.1, you'll note that we have correspondence from the First Minister on the forthcoming inter-ministerial standing committee, which will be taking place tomorrow, on 7 June. You'll note from that correspondence that the First Minister anticipates the discussion will focus on UK legislation and the cost-of-living crisis. Now, we may want to turn back to this in private session, along with some other matters as well, but simply to remark in public it's good to note that we are still receiving, even if it's short notice, in-advance notice of those inter-ministerial meetings so that we can make any observations that we want to as a committee. Committee members will note that when we've previously done this it's actually been picked up at the inter-ministerial group. But we'll return to that in private session.

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

Unless committee members have anything to mention on that, we'll go on to item 3, where we have papers to note. We have correspondence from the Minister for Finance and Local Government to the Llywydd in respect of the legislative consent for the procurement Bill, and the Minister states in that correspondence that,

'due to the scale and complexity of the Bill,'

a legislative consent memorandum will be laid in relation to the procurement Bill as soon as possible, but it will be outside the normal two-week Standing Order deadline. So, just to note that at the moment, and again we can return to that in private. Are we happy to note—? Oh, Alun.

I'm grateful to you, Huw. We've got two letters, which are very similar, from Ministers, on the agenda this afternoon, from Rebecca and from Julie, on two pieces of legislation—the first that we're discussing, and then secondly, now, the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill. The Ministers say very similar things in both pieces of correspondence, in that they're analysing the legislation and will be preparing legislative consent motions in due course, and that's fine and reasonable. My interest is in the process of this, because these Bills were, I believe, introduced as part of the Queen's Speech and are seeking to deliver the UK Government's policy in devolved areas. My interest is in the process the Welsh Government takes to reach a conclusion as to whether they wish to have legislative consent motions in this place, because it appears to me that this is just a process of, 'They want to provide this legislation in devolved areas, therefore we will provide a legislative consent motion, which we will advise people to vote for or against, and we will just go through the system,' whereas, my view would be that the system really needs to determine whether we want that to happen. And I'd be interested if we could perhaps contact the First Minister, or have a conversation with the First Minister, about the policy process that takes place, which lies behind the structural process that we're seeing in these pieces of correspondence. 

13:35

It's a very good point and it does, indeed, Alun, as you say, relate to two items of correspondence we have, including the correspondence under item 3.2 from the Minister for Climate Change to the Llywydd in respect of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill. I think these are matters, Alun, definitely that we'd want to raise with the First Minister, and possibly, in terms of the process, with the Business Committee as well. It's something that we as a committee have engaged with extensively on how we improve this and get clarity from the Government as to the whys and wherefores of their approach on each individual item that appears in front of us. This first year that we've been sitting within the sixth Senedd has been quite instructive for us as a committee. If we return to this in private session, Alun, and get under the skin of this a little bit, but some good points there to air publicly here before we disappear behind the closed walls of the tv cameras. So, if we're happy to note, then, with those remarks there, that first item of correspondence under 3.1.

In respect of 3.2, which is the Minister for Climate Change correspondence to the Llywydd on the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, that, similarly, we're told, will be laid, but outside the normal two-week Standing Order deadline. Just one other thing to pick up from correspondence on that, which I know Members will have noted as well as they read it, the Minister states that the delay here, in respect of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, is due to very limited prior consultation by the UK Government and the complexity of the Bill, meaning it's not been possible to fully consider the devolution consequences of what is being proposed. So, Alun, and others, I suspect we will need to return to that in private and see how we can help as a committee to try to bring some better scrutiny to this and transparency to it.

But if you're happy to note for now, we'll go on to item 3.3, correspondence from the chair of the Procedure Committee in the House of Commons, the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, in which she thanks us for the discussions that we had on 18 May. And my thanks to colleagues here today and, of course, Peter Fox as well, for joining us in those discussions with the Procedure Committee on their visit to the Senedd. You'll note that she has, in the letter to us, told us she intends to use the discussions to help inform any future report on legislative consent processes, and to inform how the procedures of the House of Commons could be adapted with regard to inter-parliamentary relations. I don't know if anybody wants, in public, to mention this, but it's clear that the levels of engagement that we're having with the Procedure Committee and with other Commons and Lords committees are paying dividends. It's not that they absolutely go with everything we say to every minutia, but there's a really productive engagement now going on and we'll look forward to continuing that.

So, in noting that correspondence, we'll go on to item 3.4, which is a letter from the Deputy Minister for Climate Change in respect of the making of the Swansea (Closure of the Prince of Wales Dock) Harbour Revision Order 2022. Now, as a no-procedure Order—a no-procedure Order—there is no legislative documentation required to be laid before the Senedd. However, of interest, the Deputy Minister has decided to write to the committee on this occasion as this is the first harbour Order that the Welsh Ministers have had to consider since the functions were transferred pursuant to the Wales Act 2017. So, I think it's worth just noting in public session that we appreciate the fact that the Minister has taken the time to inform the committee of this, and thereby inform the Senedd of this on the first instance that this no-procedure Order has been used in respect of docks.

So, noting item 3.4 will take us on to, then, correspondence from the Llywydd in relation to a report on the Welsh Government's legislative consent—. Can I just pause for a moment, colleagues? The reason is that I've just been informed that we've got a problem with the broadcast, so we're going to adjourn the meeting for a moment. If you stay with us, though, and don't disappear, so that we can sort those technicalities out. We're just going to adjourn for now.

13:40

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 13:40 ac 13:59.

The meeting adjourned between 13:40 and 13:59.

13:55

So, we move now, in public session, on to item 3.4. We have correspondence from the Deputy Minister for Climate Change in respect of the Swansea (Closure of the Prince of Wales Dock) Harbour Revision Order 2022. Just a couple of points of interest on this, this is not one that requires a procedure Order, so there's no legislative documentation required to be laid before the Senedd. However, it's actually quite welcome that the Deputy Minister has decided to write to the committee on this occasion, as this is the first harbour Order that Welsh Ministers have had to consider since the functions were transferred, pursuant to the Wales Act 2017. So, if the Minister is listening in to this public session, we really welcome his openness and transparency and the fact that he's thought to inform not just this committee, but, in so doing, to inform the Senedd as well. So, we might want to just use the back channels to convey our thanks to him through our clerking team.

We'll go on now, then, to item 3.5. We have a letter here from the Llywydd in which she responds to the concern expressed by our committee in our report on the legislative consent memorandum on the British Sign Language Bill. Now, we've got that letter in our pack, colleagues, as well as the earlier letter of the twenty-sixth. So, we've got the letter of 26 May, replying, and the letter of 10 May, which was ours. Now, you'll recall that we expressed our disappointment at the fact that an opportunity for a backbench Member to introduce legislation on British Sign Language has not arisen, despite widespread support existing for such legislation. This was something that was picked up by Alun and by others on the committee, and we thought it was worth raising.

So, of interest from the response for Members, the Business Committee has agreed to consider the potential for reviewing the selection process for Members' Bills when this can be accommodated within its wider procedural work programme. Now, we may want to return to this in private to discuss again, because it's good that it's flagged it and it's good that it's raised it, and the Business Committee has sort of signalled something positive there in response, but just to note it's the potential for reviewing the selection process for Members' Bills, so I'm not entirely clear whether that means prioritising private Members' Bills, as opposed to simply which ones should be selected. But maybe we'll return to that in private session and see what we think. Alun.

14:00

I was quite disappointed to see this correspondence, if I'm quite honest with you. I thought it was really disappointing. I think the points that we made as a committee stand, and I don't think the reply from the Llywydd really affects that. I don't think it answers the points that we've made. I'd welcome a conversation in private session about this, but the point I would also make is that the Business Committee—. And I think this does question our role as a committee, because I worry that the first I've heard about this as a Member is in this piece of correspondence, and that the way the Business Committee operates is that it is entirely dependent on party representatives reporting back to party groups what is happening, and I think if we are considering a change to how the Senedd operates that should be a matter of public record. For example, if you're changing the way in which private Members' business is being allocated or selected or determined, well that's going to be of major interest to campaign groups and to members of the public. You will remember, Huw, as an MP, when the private Member's Bill ballot took place, hundreds of people contacting you, asking you to take forward Bills and the rest of it. It doesn't happen in Cardiff, because everybody knows there is virtually no chance of private Members' business getting anywhere or having a place on our agenda. So, I think this is a matter of public interest, and is a matter that the public should be involved with, so, if Business Committee is considering these matters, then it should be a public consultation and not one that takes place in private.

Thank you, Alun, and I can see some nods as well there from Rhys as well and from James. So, let's return to this in private; let's regard this exchange of correspondence as an opening salvo and that there's still work from our perspective that we think needs to be done on this. So, we'll go back to this in private. Thanks, Alun.

We go on to item 3.6, where we have correspondence that has been sent to the Llywydd and to the Rt Hon Sir Oliver Heald, following the first meeting of the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly. I'm not sure that there's much to put in the public session on that for the moment, but we might want to return to that. So, we'll note that.

Item 3.7, we have correspondence from the House of Lords International Agreements Committee in respect of the international agreement, Convention on the International Organization for Marine Aids to Navigation. Now, the letter is in response to our letter of 20 May, which noted a disparity regarding the consultation process between the UK and the Welsh Governments on the international agreement on that Convention on the International Organization for Marine Aids to Navigation. There are a couple of things I just want to pull out from this while we're in public: first of all, for Members to note that the International Agreements Committee considers this to be a serious matter and has indeed written to the UK Government, but, secondly, Members will also note the supportive words from Baroness Hayter as regards our planned visit to the UK Parliament next week. So, again, I think that engagement on an inter-parliamentary basis is paying dividends. Part of the role of our committee is to try and—also, in respect of the first point there, on the disparity—surface some of these things, make them more visible to the public as well as to the Parliaments, who do take an interest in this, as we can see. So, if you're happy to note that, and we might return to that in private, then, as well.

Item 3.8, we have a letter from the Minister for Climate Change in which she responds to a series of questions posed by the Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee regarding an exclusion to the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 for single-use plastics. Again, this is something that for quite some time has been of high topical interest to people in Wales, Members here in the Senedd, but also across the UK as well—public and parliamentarians. So, in the letter, Members will note that the Minister confirms it is her intention to consent to the making of a UK statutory instrument, which is required for the exclusion, and, in doing so, Members will also note that the views of Senedd committees have not been sought in advance of the Minister confirming an intention to consent. So, I think this will be something we'll want to return to in private session as well. Otherwise, if you don't have any comments on that, we're happy to note that. Okay. Yes, indeed.

14:05
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 RheolU Sefydlog 17.42(vi), (vii) a (ix).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Orders 17.42(vi), (vii) and (ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Now then, we are in that case ready to move into private session, where we have quite a bit of business to do. So, under item No. 4, using Standing Order 17.42, could I ask committee members if they're happy now to move into private session? And we are. We'll just wait to be told we're in private now.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 14:08.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 14:08.