Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad
Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee13/11/2023
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|P Gareth Williams
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 13:31.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 13:31.
Croeso, bawb. Prynhawn da.
Welcome, everyone. Good afternoon.
Welcome to this afternoon's meeting of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee. We are holding this meeting in a virtual setting today, and we are quorate; we have our Members here. One Member will be joining us shortly; he's on the way to the meeting. The meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv and the Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. Apart from the procedural adaptations for holding these meetings in a virtual format, all the other Standing Order requirements remain in place. So, if we can just check, colleagues, that all our mobile devices are switched to silent. We're operating, as always, through the medium of Welsh and English today and we have interpretation available, and the microphones will be muted and unmuted for us as we go along.
So, noting that Adam Price will be joining us shortly, we'll move straight into item No. 2, which is instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3. The first of these is item 2.1. It's a made negative resolution instrument, SL(6)401, the School Teachers' Incentive Payments (Wales) Order 2023, and we have a draft report in our pack. This Order provides that lump-sum payments paid to schoolteachers in Wales under the Welsh in education teacher retention bursary are not treated as remuneration for the purpose of section 122(1) of the Education Act 2002, are not subject to the statutory pay framework and are not pensionable. So, that seems quite clear, but our lawyers have identified one merits reporting point. Kate.
The merits reporting point simply notes that there has been no formal consultation in relation to the Order.
Thank you for that, Kate. If we're happy to note that reporting point, we'll go on to item 2.2, which is an affirmative resolution instrument, SL(6)412, the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2023. In your packs, we have a draft report, a written statement by the Minister for Climate Change and a letter from the Minister for Climate Change dated 7 November and 30 October 2023 respectively. These regulations amend the 2014 regulations, which make provision for certain categories of persons from abroad to be eligible or ineligible for an allocation of housing accommodation and/or for housing assistance. Specifically, these regulations extend eligibility to those who were residing in Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza strip, east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights or Lebanon immediately before 7 October 2023 and who left those areas in connection with the violence that we now see unfolding in the region. So, we were asked to expedite the consideration of these, colleagues. Our lawyers have identified two merits reporting points. Kate.
The first merits point notes the letter from the Minister for Climate Change that sought the committee's assistance in expediting scrutiny of the regulations due to their urgency. The second merits point just notes the paragraphs in the explanatory memorandum that explain why there has been no formal consultation.
Thank you very much, Kate. Colleagues, if you're happy to note those points, and I think we're very content, as a committee, to expedite these because of the urgency of the matter. Thank you.
We'll go on, then, to item No. 3, which is instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3 that we've previously considered. We have a couple of items here. The first of these is item 3.1, SL(6)396, the Vehicle Emissions Trading Schemes Order 2023, and in our packs we have a report and a Welsh Government response. This is an instrument we considered at our last meeting last Monday, and we laid our report the same day. So, I simply ask Members to note the Welsh Government response at this point. We can always return to it if need be later. Are there any points on this, Kate, or simply to note the response for now?
If I could just draw your attention to a couple of points in relation to this response, firstly, the response states that, as the Order was
'drafted by the UK Government with input from the Welsh and Scottish Governments',
it's the UK Government that has provided the responses to the committee's reporting points. The committee may therefore wish to ask the Welsh Government to provide its own view in relation to the reporting points and in relation to the UK Government's responses, because, obviously, the Welsh Government is still responsible for the content of an SI that's been laid before the Senedd and that will be made by the Welsh Ministers.
The other point to note is that the UK Government disagrees with one reporting point on the basis that the Legislation (Wales) Act 2019 does not apply to this Order. The committee's legal advisers would agree that the 2019 Act does not apply to a composite statutory instrument, so the committee may just wish to note that this is a further accessibility implication of the decision by the Welsh Government to act compositely with the UK Government, rather than exercising the powers on their own.
That's great. Thank you, Kate. Kate, for the benefit of committee members and anybody listening in, can you explain that first point again, because that's slightly novel for us as a committee, and you suggested that we write to the Minister to get the Welsh Government's viewpoint on this, because it's emanated from the UK Government, which the Welsh Government appears to have signed off on?
Yes. The response states that it is the UK Government that's provided the responses, and each of the responses to the reporting points sets out the UK Government view. There's no indication in the response of whether the Welsh Government agrees with those views or whether it takes a different view. It's an important point of principle that the Welsh Ministers are responsible for the content of an instrument that they are going to ask the Senedd to approve in debate. So, it's really just about pushing them a bit on getting a response that sets out their view as well.
I think that makes perfect sense. Adam, did you want to come in on that? No. That's fine. Okay, thank you. Well, colleagues, if you're happy, we will write to seek the view. It may be that the Welsh Government are completely aligned with the view of the UK Government. It would seem apparent from their acceptance of this, but I think, as a matter of protocol, we need to have that clarified, so we'll do that. Thank you very much, Kate, indeed.
That takes us, then, on to item 3.2, the second in this section, SL(6)397, the Building Safety (Description of Higher-Risk Building) (Design and Construction Phase) (Wales) Regulations 2023. Again, we have a report and a Welsh Government response in our packs. Again, we considered this instrument at our meeting last Monday, and we laid our report the same day. It's to note the Welsh Government response here. Kate, anything in particular here, or simply to note here for now?
Just to note.
Okay, thank you very much. Colleagues, then, if we're happy to do so, we'll go on to item No. 4.
We have notifications and correspondence under the inter-institutional relations agreement, and under the first item in this section, item 4.1, we have a written statement by the Minister for Finance and Local Government in respect of the Public Procurement (Agreement on Government Procurement) (Amendment) Regulations 2023, and in our packs we have a written statement there from the Minister for Finance and Local Government dated 8 November 2023. I'd just ask colleagues to note the written statement by the Minister, in which she confirms that she has given consent to the making and the laying of the Public Procurement (Agreement on Government Procurement) (Amendment) Regulations 2023. These regulations amend the Public Contract Regulations 2015, the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016, and the Utilities Contracts Regulations of 2016, and the purpose of the amendments is to reflect the Republic of North Macedonia accession into the World Trade Organization's agreement on government procurement of 7 November 2023, and the Welsh Government explains that it considers it appropriate that the UK Government legislates on its behalf in this instance, as there is no divergence between the Welsh Government and the UK Government on the policy for the correction.
So, we go on, then, to item 4.2, where we have a written statement and correspondence from the Minister for Economy in respect of the meeting of the inter-ministerial group on UK-EU relations, and within the packs we have that written statement dated 9 November and a letter from the Minister for Economy dated 10 November. So, we are invited to note that written statement and correspondence, and the Minister confirms that the meeting was held in preparation for the range of UK-EU meetings within the framework of the trade and co-operation agreement scheduled for the remaining months of 2023, and the next UK-EU meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee, which is expected in early 2024. Now, the Minister also notes that, during the meeting, he outlined the Welsh Government's concerns relating to the existing trade and co-operation agreement and the need to maximise its effectiveness, as well as the fact that the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government have yet to be invited to be part of the UK delegation for Withdrawal Agreement Committee meetings. They're still seeking that full delegation status, I believe. So, colleagues, if you're happy to note that, we'll move on, then, to item No. 5, which is our papers to note.
There are a few items in this section, the first of which is correspondence from the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution in respect of ministerial scrutiny. It's a letter dated 7 November, and in that correspondence he shares information regarding amendments to UK Bills. The Counsel General also shares a letter that he sent to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Minister for Inter-governmental Relations, and in the letter he highlights key issues and areas of concern regarding the UK legislative programme. So, the Counsel General also requests a personal commitment from the Secretary of State to seek changes to both improve engagement and to ensure that the positions of the Welsh Government and—of interest to us particularly—the Senedd are fully reflected in Bills across the UK Government's legislative programme. This may be something we want to return to in private as well.
Item 5.2, we have correspondence from the Deputy Minister for Climate Change in respect of the Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) (Wales) Bill. The letter is dated 9 November 2023, and the Minister outlines in the letter information he committed to providing during the Stage 3 proceedings in relation to support for residents with non-compliant appliances in smoke control areas. So, we're grateful to receive that.
And item 5.3, the last item in this section, we have a written statement by the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution in respect of the UK Government's legislative programme, of course, known as the 'King's Speech', which took place on 7 November. Just out of interest, the statement, published by the Secretary of State for Wales on 8 November—the day after—sets out the Bills intended to extend and apply to Wales, and it also documents the engagement work taking place between the UK and Welsh Governments on areas of legislation. It's an interesting read, colleagues, in terms of that engagement, and we may want to pick this up in private session as well.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).
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.
So, colleagues, if you're happy with that—we can return to any of those items, of course, in private—can I ask you whether you're happy, under Standing Order 17.42(vi), to exclude the public for the remainder of the meeting, so we can discuss matters now in private? And we are, so I ask our clerk if we can move into private session now, please.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 13:45.
The public part of the meeting ended at 13:45.