Y Pwyllgor Llywodraeth Leol a Thai

Local Government and Housing Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Adam Price Yn dirprwyo ar ran Luke Fletcher
Substitute for Luke Fletcher
Carolyn Thomas
Jayne Bryant
John Griffiths Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Sam Rowlands

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Angharad Thomas-Richards Cynghorydd Rhaglen Diwygio Etholiadol, Adran Etholiadau, Llywodraeth Cymru
Electoral Reform Programme Adviser, Elections Division, Welsh Government
Laura Mitchell Cyfreithiwr y Llywodraeth, Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol, Llywodraeth Cymru
Government Lawyer, Legal Services, Welsh Government
Michael Kay Uwch-swyddog Cyfrifol y Bil a Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr, yr Is-adran Etholiadau, Llywodraeth Cymru
Senior Responsible Officer for the Bill and Deputy Director, Elections Division, Welsh Government
Mick Antoniw Cwnsler Cyffredinol a Gweinidog y Cyfansoddiad
Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Angharad Era Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Catherine Hunt Clerc
Philip Lewis Ymchwilydd
Rachael Davies Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Stephen Davies Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser

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 13:32.

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

The meeting began at 13:32.

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

May I welcome everyone to this meeting of the Local Government and Housing Committee? We've received apologies today from Joel James MS and Luke Fletcher MS. Adam Price MS is attending as a substitute for Luke Fletcher—croeso, Adam. The meeting is being held in a hybrid format as usual. Aside from the adaptations relating to conducting proceedings in that way, all other Standing Order requirements remain in place. The public items of this meeting are being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and a Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. The meeting is bilingual, and simultaneous translation is available. Are there any declarations of interest from members of the committee? There are not.

3. Bil Etholiadau a Chyrff Etholedig (Cymru): Tystiolaeth gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol a Gweinidog y Cyfansoddiad
3. Elections and Elected Bodies (Wales) Bill: Evidence from the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution

We will move on, then, to item 3, our further evidence session with regard to the Elections and Elected Bodies (Wales) Bill. I'm very pleased to welcome the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, together with some of his officials. Counsel General, would you like to introduce your officials, or have them introduce themselves?

I'll have them introduce themselves.

Thanks. I'm Angharad Thomas-Richards. I'm elections policy lead.

I'm Laura Mitchell, lawyer for the Welsh Government.

Michael Kay, deputy director of elections.

Thank you all very much for coming in to give evidence to committee this afternoon. Perhaps I might begin with a fairly general question. The Electoral Commission has told this committee that while they are generally supportive of the Bill, some concerns have been raised by electoral administrators regarding the pace and scale of electoral reform. So, how will the Welsh Government ensure that the Bill's provisions are deliverable and are not in danger of overwhelming administrators already dealing with significant change?

Thank you for that question. Of course, the issue of capacity, process, speed and so on is something that's very important with elections. To some extent, we're working backwards in terms of the Gould convention, where we want everything required to be in place six months before the relevant elections, so we are working on a tight timescale. But we have been working very, very closely with the Electoral Commission and with the various electoral bodies and stakeholders in that. And, of course, the electoral management board is the body that will actually take that responsibility for the final stages of the operation of the elections themselves. So, we're very alert to it, but I think it's the strength of engagement that we've been having that I think will ensure that, not only in terms of getting the legislation through, but then all the processes are in place to enable the elections to run effectively and in good time, with all those involved in the administration of the elections well informed and well placed. Anything to add, Michael? No. Okay.


We heard, for example, from the boundary commission, that, given that it would have these new functions regarding the setting up of the electoral management board, those functions shouldn't really be given to the boundary commission before that electoral management body is in place and has the capacity to deliver. Is that sort of timing issue, is that something that you recognise as an issue?

Yes. It's something we're very, very alert to, ensuring that there is a smooth transition from the passing of the legislation and the empowerment that is necessary to also then the functioning of the new electoral management board and so on—so, the commencement provisions, making sure that those take place at the right time. So, I'm satisfied that, firstly, we're very alert to that, but, secondly, we have the capacity to ensure that that actually happens.

Diolch, Gadeirydd. Mae gen i nifer o gwestiynau, gan aros gyda'r bwrdd rheoli etholiadol. Mae'r pwyllgor wedi clywed tystiolaeth ei bod hi'n hanfodol bod gan y bwrdd rheoli etholiadol annibyniaeth glir oddi wrth Lywodraeth Cymru a Chomisiwn Democratiaeth a Ffiniau Cymru, fel ei gilydd, a fydd yn gartref i'r bwrdd. Pa gamau penodol rŷch chi'n eu hawgrymu fydd yn sicrhau'r annibyniaeth yma?

Thank you, Chair. I have a number of questions, staying on the subject of the electoral management board. The committee has heard evidence stating that it's essential that the electoral management board has strict independence from both the Welsh Government and the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru, which will be home to the board. What specific steps do you recommend to ensure this independence is guaranteed?

Well, I think the independence is built into the legislation itself. Firstly, it is independent of outside political organisations. It's ultimately accountable to the Senedd, through the report from the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru, which will report annually and be scrutinised. So, there is accountability, but there is not actually any political role in terms of political appointments to the EMB or to the democracy and boundary commission. The chair of the electoral management board, although appointed by the commission itself, again, the legislation is very clear that has to be someone with an electoral background. So, I'm satisfied that, within the legislation itself, that independence is guaranteed and quite properly guaranteed.

Just before you come back, Adam, Counsel General, could you direct us to that part of the proposed legislation then that would require the annual report to the Senedd?

So, I think that will be in the 2013 legislation that set up the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales, which will evolve into the Democracy and Boundary Commission Cymru. That would be off the top of my head, but I think we would perhaps want to check that, just to be doubly certain, and then write to you if that isn't the case.

Yes, if you could come back to us on that, we'd be grateful. Yes. Okay. Adam.

Ie. Wel, ar wahân i'r adroddiad blynyddol yma, sut fydd y bwrdd rheoli etholiadol yn atebol, yn gallu cael ei ddwyn i gyfrif gan y Senedd?

Yes. Well, aside from the annual report, how will the electoral management board be accountable, how will it be held to account by the Senedd?

Well, I think the accountability is going to be exactly through that, through that 2013 Act; it'll be through the reporting to the Senedd, the annual report that will be presented by the democracy and boundary commission. That will have to contain within it a report of the work of the electoral management board, and that's where it will be scrutinised.


Rydych chi wedi lled gyfeirio at hyn yn barod, ond mae'r Bil yn cynnwys darpariaeth i'r comisiwn democratiaeth a ffiniau enwebu un o'i gomisiynwyr i weithredu fel cadeirydd y bwrdd rheoli etholiadol. Ydych chi'n meddwl bod hwnnw'n fecanwaith priodol i benodi cadeirydd ar gyfer corff sydd i fod, neu endid sydd i fod, yn annibynnol?

You've referred to this briefly already, but the Bill contains provisions for the democracy and boundary commission to nominate one of its commissioners to act as chair of the electoral management board. Is this, in your opinion, an appropriate mechanism for appointing the chair of an independent body—a body that is supposed to be independent?

Well, it's not only supposed to be independent, I think it is and will be independent once it is actually established. I think it is the—. The appointment of the chair is coming from the commission, but of course the commission itself is appointed through, you know, a fairly robust public appointments process, and I think that in itself gives integrity to the commission, and the commission then establishes the electoral management board. It appoints the chair of the electoral management board and the vice-chair is appointed by the electoral management board itself. So, I'm satisfied that those are really appropriate ways of working together, and, again, the chair has to be someone that's appointed that has electoral experience, so it's a very specific function. Anything to add?

No. I think—

Sorry. The only small thing I would add is that one thing that we've been quite mindful of is that it could impact where these questions started, in terms of the capacity of the sector to absorb the change. We're very conscious that, if we were to rely on an existing returning officer, for example, being the chair of the electoral management board we might find a real challenge there about how much capacity they're able to devote to that. So, I think having an independently appointed member of the commission who has electoral experience is the right approach to get the right balance between independence and capacity, to ensure the EMB is able to fulfil its function. 

A ddylai fod unrhyw rôl o gwbl i'r Senedd o ran gwneud penodiadau i'r bwrdd rheoli?

And do you think that there should be any role at all for the Senedd to play in making appointments to the management board?

This is something that was given thought to very early on, and I think the view we came to—and I think it's reflected within the legislation—is that that would be inappropriate to do so. That would begin to, I think, whittle away at not only the perception of but the actual independence itself of the electoral management board, and indeed the commission. 

Gaf i jest codi dau gwestiwn arall, Cwnsler Cyffredinol? Dwi eisoes wedi cael y cyfle i ofyn y cwestiwn yma i chi mewn pwyllgor cyfochrog, ond y cwestiwn o osod y swyddogion canlyniadau etholiadol o dan Mesur y Gymraeg (Cymru) 2011 fel rhan o gyfrifoldeb Comisiynydd y Gymraeg, a'ch bod chi wedi dweud—wel, roedd y swyddogion, dwi'n credu, wedi dweud—bod y capasiti gyda chi i wneud hynny trwy ddeddfwriaeth eilradd, felly does dim rhaid ei gynnwys ef yn y Mesur. Ond, os ŷch chi'n bwriadu gwneud hynny beth bynnag, pam ddim ei wneud ef o fewn y Mesur yma, fel mae Comisiynydd y Gymraeg wedi awgrymu yn ei llythyr i'r pwyllgor? Ac mae'r comisiynydd hefyd yn nodi yn y llythyr yna, o ran yr adroddiad diweddaraf gan y comisiynydd yn y maes yma, na ellir dod i'r casgliad bod siaradwyr Cymraeg yn cael eu trin yn gyfartal â'r di-Gymraeg. Felly, ar hyn o bryd, dŷn ni ddim yn cwrdd â'r lefel yna o gyfartalrwydd. Felly, onid dyma'r cyfle gorau i ddatrys hynny trwy ddod â'r swyddogion o dan cyfrifoldebau'r comisiynydd, fel roeddech chi wedi awgrymu yn y Papur Gwyn?

If I may just raise two further questions, Counsel General. I've already had the opportunity to ask you this question in a different committee, but the question is about bringing the returning officers under the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 as part of the responsibilities of the Welsh Language Commissioner, and you said—or your officials said, rather—that you had the capacity to do so through secondary legislation, so it doesn't need to be included within the Bill. But, if you're intending to do that anyway, why not do it within this Bill, as the Welsh Language Commissioner has recommended that you do in her letter to the committee? And the commissioner also notes in that letter, in terms of the latest report by the commissioner on this issue, that one can't come to the conclusion that Welsh language speakers are being treated equally to those who don't speak Welsh. So, at the moment, we're not meeting that level of equality. So, don't you think this is the best opportunity to resolve that by bringing the returning officers under the responsibilities of the commissioner, as suggested in the White Paper?


I'll bring Michael in on that, because I know that considerations have been of that in quite some detail.

Thanks, Counsel General. So, I think the—. As raised in the other committee, I don't think it's the case necessarily that—. I don't think that we said we were going to do it and we can do it through secondary legislation; it was that the option was available to us to do this by secondary legislation. So, I think what we're quite keen to do is engage further with both the commissioner and her office and the electoral community itself to understand where the most benefit can be given in promoting the use of Welsh through the electoral system.

I think that there is also—. The performance standards that are placed on returning officers by the Electoral Commission have specific reference to the use of the Welsh language. We've recently shared a paper with the Welsh language action group, which is a subset of the Wales Electoral Coordination Board, to set out what the options are in this space, to engage with those expert practitioners. And also, as I said, we intend to engage further with the Welsh Language Commissioner and her office in terms of what we can do most meaningfully. I think we've been concerned about—. I think the balance of arguments would be around introducing additional duties on returning officers who will have—. The same individuals will be performing their roles in relation to devolved and non-devolved elections and it's just how to make sure that we don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. But I understand the argument being put forward and it's—. Yes, it's something that's under live consideration, and the option of secondary legislation to introduce standards remains open to us.

Wel, dwi'n meddwl, wedi derbyn tystiolaeth y comisiynydd, byddai'n anodd iawn i'm mhlaid gefnogi'r Mesur ar hyn o bryd, rwy'n credu, oni bai fod y Llywodraeth yn gweithredu ar awgrym y comisiynydd. Felly, dwi'n edrych ymlaen at ragor o drafodaethau ynglŷn â'r mater yma yn y maes yma.

Ar fater arall, jest yn fyr iawn, dwi'n gweld bod yna gyfrifoldeb yn mynd i fod gyda'r comisiwn democratiaeth a ffiniau am daliadau i gynghorwyr. Oedd unrhyw ystyriaeth wedi'i rhoi i integreiddio cyfrifoldebau'r bwrdd taliadau, sydd yn gwneud yr un gwaith ar gyfer Aelodau o'r Senedd, fel ein bod ni'n alinio a chreu un canolfan ragoriaeth ac arbenigedd yn ymwneud â thaliadau i aelodau etholedig, yn hytrach na chyrff ar wahân?

Well, I think, having received the evidence from the commissioner, it would be very difficult for my party to support the Bill at it currently stands, if the Government doesn't take action on the recommendation of the commissioner. So, I look forward to more discussions on that matter.

On another point, just briefly, I see that payments to councillors will be made a responsibility of the democracy and boundary commission. Did you give any consideration to integrating the responsibilities of the remuneration board, which does the same job for Members of the Senedd, so that we align and create one centre of excellence in terms of payments to elected members, rather than having separate bodies?

Well, it's an interesting point. At this stage, the remuneration body being brought within the current framework is because it seems to be an efficient and a comprehensive way of taking that particular responsibility. But any other matter—I think that would be a matter for the Senedd to consider, how it wanted the issue of remuneration in the Senedd to be encompassed. I think it's not a matter that's within the ambit of this particular legislation, but if that was the wish of the Senedd, then, obviously, we would have to consider how it would go about that, bearing in mind the existing structures and bodies that exist already to do that. I think there's certainly quite a body of work that would be necessary for that to happen, but I think there are also some legal hurdles as well that would need to be overcome as well. Anything? No. Okay.

Good afternoon, Minister. Thank you for your time this afternoon with us. I just want to ask a few questions around electoral registration without application. So, we have heard evidence from organisations or individuals concerned about divergence in devolved and reserved electoral registration. So, how will Welsh Government ensure that electors do not inadvertently disenfranchise themselves through not registering to vote in reserved elections, as perhaps they may incorrectly believe that they are automatically registered across both systems?

[Inaudible.]—on the point that you raise, and it's one that has been raised, I think, at every session that I've had the opportunity to discuss this. Of course, divergence isn't just in respect of things that we do; there is a certain amount of divergence already created by the Elections Act 2022. I think it is going to be very, very important that there is clear communications in respect of both elections. But, of course, the first election that will be taking place within Wales will be, obviously, the UK general election. I know that already notices have gone out in terms of registration, but informing people that the requirements in order to register, that is the ID cards and other aspects, do not apply to all elections. They do not apply to reserved elections, such as Senedd and local government elections. So, that sort of information is beginning to come out in terms of the differences.

I suppose the concern is this, isn't it, that, if someone is, for example, automatically registered, how do you overcome the risk that they might consider then that they are registered for the Senedd elections, because we do, effectively, have two different franchises in operation. I think having an election management board will be extremely beneficial in that, but it's the engagement with the stakeholders, the electoral registration officers and so on to ensure that they are being completely aware and secondly, the steps that are necessary to ensure that people are made aware when each of those elections come—that there are going to be very specific requirements of them if they are to vote, depending upon what that election is and the relevant franchise. So, there is a lot of thought that's been going on with that, and, obviously, there'll be a lot of work that'll be carrying on, so comms is going to be extremely important. I think the voter information platform will help. Obviously, there's still work to be done in that respect, but that will be a significant tool to be used for that particular purpose as well. I think, also, there are all the other mechanisms that come in place when elections take place, and those are through the media, community radio, Welsh radio and through other forms of advertising and information. Michael.


I don't know if Angharad wants to add anything about the pilots.

We will be running a pilot programme on the automatic registration, and throughout 2024, we'll be working with electoral experts, software providers and behavioural insights experts, along with local authorities that want to run those pilots, to design pilots with the aim of finding out the most effective way of communicating with electors to reduce confusion and to stop any disenfranchisement.

Thank you for that. You mentioned, Counsel General, the opportunity, perhaps, for the online voter information platform to be used, and I know there may be some further questions on that more broadly later. But is that something—are you able to confirm that one way in which you think that system could be used is to explain that divergence, or the difference, maybe, between reserved and devolved elections?

Listen, I think, definitely, and there's still a job of work in terms of precisely how it will operate, but in terms of, firstly, candidate statements and so on, so information about those that are participating within the election itself, but also the information of how to vote, how to ensure you are registered to vote and so on. I think that is going to become a very significant tool if it's done properly, and the intention is that it will be done properly.

Thank you. And then, to continue on the points around the electoral registration without application, in the Bill there seeks to be a 45-day period where electors can request to be registered anonymously. There have been some concerns raised about that. So, in the pilot period, how would you evaluate whether the 45-day period is long enough to protect, perhaps, those who may be more vulnerable?

Those who are more vulnerable, who, basically, would indicate that they want to go on to the register anonymously, and, of course, we already have that occurring within the existing system, but if they notify the registration officer of that, then the system is actually suspended for that period while that is allowed to be completed. Of course, it is something that then occurs I think on an annual basis. So, I'm satisfied 45 days, six and a half weeks, is a reasonable period of time for that to happen, and, again, I think the pilot will give us a lot of information about how it works in practice. This will be a sort of new experience in some ways. I think in terms of the pilot, it's obviously one of the things that you're going to be having in mind. What lessons do we learn when we carry out that pilot? How does it work? And that'll be one of the areas we particularly want to focus on in terms of those who basically want to be on the register but want to be on there anonymously and the reasoning for that to actually happen. Equally so will be the response when those who contact and say that they don't want to be on it at all, so they go back into the existing system. And I think that's the reason why we'd want to have a pilot, to trial that, to make sure that it all works, but also to see what particular lessons we can learn ahead of the actual election itself in 2026.


And particularly on that point there again, on being able to register anonymously, you mentioned there that the reasons for that will need to be explained. Do you think it's reasonable for people to have to explain why they want to be anonymous?

Well, there is a specific provision for people not to be on the register but to have that anonymity, and in order to vote, you have to be on the register in some format, even if it's part of the anonymous register. So, I think it's perfectly reasonable for that to happen, I think, because otherwise you would have a totally anonymous register, which wouldn't be a register at all. So, I think there's logic to that.

People are used to it already, of course; they're used to existing systems, so we're not introducing something new. This isn't some innovation, it's just that it will happen as part of the automatic registration process. In some ways, it'll probably be more efficient, but the same data will be required; the sort of information at the moment is either if there's a sort of court order and injunction, general practitioner letter, police inspectors' letters and so on. Those are the basis on which people already can go onto the register but remain anonymous. So, in many ways, we're just importing that into the new system.

Perhaps before you come in, perhaps I can expand on that a little bit. So, as you said there, reasons for people to want to remain anonymous on the register—there are all sorts of, perhaps some people may call them hurdles to jump over or to run through to try to explain that. But do you think that's a fair thing to do? Perhaps many people will be quite vulnerable and may not necessarily want to regurgitate and rediscover those reasons as to why they want to remain anonymous. Do you think that's fair?

Well, I think it's fair because it happens at the moment. It's already part of the electoral registration system, and all we're doing—

Sorry, just to come back, Counsel General, but currently they're not automatically registered, are they? It's an act, a physical activity you have to undertake—you have to consciously think about doing it.

Well, all that happens now is you'll be notified that the intention is to put people on the register, but if they either don't want to be on it or they want to be on it anonymously to ensure that they are on it, then it facilitates that for happening, and it just kicks in that process to do it. I think all the protections and cautions are still there, and don't forget, people will be given the same sort of information in terms of registering in any event. They'll be told that they can register through the existing paper system, and through, of course, the reserved elections. Sorry, Michael, did you want to add something on that?

I think the only point I was going to make is we're very conscious of the point that was raised earlier about the two electoral systems that exist in Wales, and we think that the risks associated with having a different regime for devolved elections and anonymous registration, and that for reserved elections could raise really challenging and important issues of safeguarding for vulnerable voters, as has been described. So, I think that's an area where we've not really looked to amend the regime for anonymous registration in this context.

And so can you just confirm, then, also within that existing regime, that's currently annually checked every 12 months as well, then?

So, that's why you're going to be continuing with that. Then again, if you were to have completely your own way, would you think that every 12 months is a reasonable time to get people to regurgitate the reasons why they want to remain anonymous?


Well, I don’t think people regurgitate reasons. I think, if people have genuine reasons as to why they want to be on the register, but to be on it anonymously, you’ve got to have a proper process for that to happen, and it has to be a process that is renewed. And don’t forget, of course, the whole electoral process carries on on a fairly regular basis. And again—[Interruption.]

Sorry, Sam. There are a lot of these throat things going around at the moment. 

So, the process is there. I can’t remember what my last comment was.

I think what we're wondering, as a committee, Counsel General—

—is that perhaps on some of the practical issues that you've mentioned, is there any in-principle objection to people being anonymous in terms of the electoral register simply because they want to be anonymous rather than having particular personal circumstances, which lead them in that direction?

Well, don’t forget, as part of the legislation, we’re actually getting rid of the open register as well—we’ll do that by secondary legislation. So, that actually won’t be there. So, effectively, other than those who are entitled to have access to it, one of the benefits of this legislation—. And, again, I think, in accordance with recommendations that actually came from one of the select committees in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords, this is something that’s been under consideration for some time—getting rid of the open register. So, we are actually doing that. So, I think that is a significant step forward towards that.

But is there any particular reason why people shouldn't be anonymous in the way that they want to be simply because that's their desire rather than their particular personal circumstances in terms of surviving abuse or something similar?

Well, I think if you have a register, then a register has to have a purpose—the register has to be accessible to certain agencies and bodies that need that particular information. It has to be available I think also when elections actually take place to those that are participating within those elections. So, you do actually want a register to take place. You could say, ‘Let’s just have a totally anonymous register.’ I think that would seriously impede the actual democratic processes and those that participate in elections and those that engage with voters as well. So, it’s one of those things that have been accepted—that we do have a register, that we need to have a register—but that within that register, there need to be certain protections for certain people. And, of course, we also have in, don’t forget, the Welsh franchise, voters going on much, much earlier than in the reserved elections, so people vote at 16, and of course there may be more issues that arise there.

So, I think there are two things in place: one is provision, or the importing of the provisions in respect of anonymity; but, secondly, getting rid of the open register so that there isn’t public access to it. So, those who do have access to the register will be those who have a justifiable reason—a predetermined reason for actually having access to it. But having the register there facilitates the fact when the election itself actually does take place, and the democratic process.

Thanks, Chair, and I thank you for those further responses, Counsel General. Apologies that I couldn't see that you were trying to clear your throat earlier.

I do apologise. I've been doing my best not to cough during any of these scrutiny sessions. Occasionally I fail.

Not at all. Okay, just to continue on this theme, then, we have heard evidence that perhaps there's a missed opportunity within this legislation around an all-Wales database as a way for people to check whether they had been registered or not and whether they had been registered anonymously—just that niggle at the back of your mind sometimes, when you're not too sure if something has happened. Is there any reason why that access to an all-Wales database hasn't been included within the Bill? And as it hasn't been included in the Bill, how do you expect to be able to communicate to people that they have been anonymously registered, and how do you give them the reassurance that all is okay?

Okay. I’ll bring Michael in in a minute on it, but once people have received their letter that indicates to them that they’re going to be added to it and that the 45-day period kicks in, if they then approach the local authority in respect of the anonymity, if they require that, then that period actually stops and the proper process in terms of anonymous registration actually takes place. That seems to me to be a reasonable process. Michael.


Thanks. On the specific issue of the all-Wales database of electoral registration information, it was something that we discussed in the context of previous legislation and our White Paper last year. The conclusion we drew after including it in our White Paper for consultation was that there were some concerns raised about security and cost of an all-Wales database without a very clear purpose for that. So, I think we drew the conclusion that it wasn't something that we would be taking forward at this point because there wasn't a clear case for it. There was criticism when it was introduced in the context of previous legislation that the Welsh Government was drawing a power that it wasn't necessarily clear how it was going to use. So, with that in mind, we didn't reintroduce that. But, of course, if people want to find out if they are registered for a democratic event, they are able to phone the local elections office and find out that way.

Can I just add to that? It is one of the things where we're thinking of looking to the future, looking to have a common database that would facilitate future technological advancements—voting in different places at different times, and so on. I don't think we're quite there yet. I think there are still some major software challenges that are there. It's one of the things being looked at. I think there's also an issue in terms of resilience of systems, and so on. So, I think that is very much one of the things that will perhaps come back in terms of the review after the 2026 elections.

But I think you're right, having an all-Wales database does offer certain advantages. It's how you get there and how you have the systems and the resilience in place to enable it to operate. So, I'm sure we'll be there at some stage, but the question is how and when. And I think also at this moment in time, the cost factors, I think, are relevant and I think would probably be prohibitive in terms of being disproportionate as well. 

Thanks, Counsel General. I'm sorry to jump around a little bit, but just going back to the 45-day window point that we were discussing a few moments ago, it seems as though we want to continue looking for people having a reason to remain anonymous and to ensure that's communicated in that 45-day window, or six and a half weeks, as I think you described it. There are often a number of steps that people may have to take to gather evidence. As you said, they may have to gather evidence from a GP or some other trusted source. Sometimes, those pieces of evidence take a bit longer to come through than you expect or want, especially if you haven't, perhaps, opened the letter for a couple of weeks in the first instance as well. Do you have any concerns with that at all, with some of those barriers perhaps being in place in terms of people being able to gather the information together in a timely way?

That exists whether it is through this system or through the existing registration system. Those are issues that are already there. I think what's been built into the system, of course, though, is that the 45-day period stops, is halted, whilst the engagement takes place over that. Is there anything you want to add to that?

Yes, just to say that there is no time frame on supplying evidence in support of anonymous registration; it's working with the electoral administrator to collect that information in the most appropriate time frame for you. So, there won't be a time penalty for this.

It would help me if I could quickly play that out. So, I would notify the appropriate person within 45 days, and that is what kicks the process off, not having to supply everything within the 45 days.

Yes, absolutely. 

All right. That's reassuring. Thank you for that. And perhaps one final question. You've already mentioned removing the open register. I was just wondering, perhaps, Counsel General, if you'd be able to give further assurances that the Welsh Government would do this before provisions relating to automatic registration come into force. 

Yes, I can give that assurance. That is absolutely the intention. 

Diolch yn fawr, Sam. Counsel General, sticking with some of the more practical and technical aspects, we heard from the Association of Electoral Administrators regarding their concerns on the technical implications of the local government register and the parliamentary register currently being held in the software systems as one register. How would the Welsh Government address those concerns in the context of automatic registration?


I think at the moment there are actually two registers, two franchises; one is in respect of the devolved elections and the other is in respect of the parliamentary elections, and they are, of course, different franchises. For the more technical detail, perhaps I'll—.

It's an intention, as part of the pilots, to work with the AEA, with the local authorities and the software companies to understand the technical spec and whether or not we do need to make any amendments to existing software to support the ease of the automatic registration system's interaction with the individual electoral registration system. So, it's very much high on the list when we're looking at the pilots.

I see. And, Counsel General, will the annual canvass continue in Wales once we have automatic registration?

The annual canvass will continue, mainly for the purpose of populating the parliamentary register.

A couple more questions from me before we move on to other committee members. You told us previously, Counsel General, in terms of the data used to automatically register, that it was 'work in progress'. I think some of your officials were looking at council tax and schools data, for example. I wonder if there have been any developments since that point. Basically, the concern, I think, is whether or not the data that the Welsh Government plans to use for automatic registration is sufficiently robust.

The intention is that we work on the basis of Welsh-contained data, but Michael—. Oh, Angharad. Over to you. 

Thank you. We've been working with local authorities and we will be working with local authority data protection officers to ensure that anybody, particularly in the piloting period, will have access to any useful local data. So, while we are looking at main data sets around council tax or schools data, we'll be looking to broaden that out as much as we possibly can so that we've got as much access as possible to as wide a variety of data as possible, but keeping it within the local authority.

So, you're not, then, considering widening it further. For example, we heard from an academic regarding data mining and access to databases, and there was a suggestion that Department for Work and Pensions data might be used, for example, and obviously that would require working arrangements being arrived at with the UK Government. Is that something that you've considered or might consider?

We've looked at that, but we don't consider it's necessary. We don't want to go down the road of Minister of the Crown consents if we have sufficient data that is available. At the moment, all the indications are that we have considerable areas of databases within Wales, and that should be sufficient in order to populate an automatic register. I think it's one of those areas where there's still work in progress. The pilot will tell us quite a bit, I think, and, of course, the legislation provides for a review post the 2026 elections as well. I think the other thing is, of course, that we were informed by the Electoral Commission that there were 400,000 people in Wales that should be on the register that weren't on the register. Of course, automatic registration will be a significant step to that, and we will obviously want to have as complete a register as possible, but I don't think there will ever be a situation where you get to an absolute register, because there are people who say that they don't want to be on it. Our populations move around regularly, so keeping even an automatic register up to date means there's a continual and ongoing process to ensure that that actually happens. If there's a need to go elsewhere or there's a better means of doing that, then obviously that is something that is not counted out, but is not part of this because it's not felt to be necessary for this to happen at the moment.

Okay, Counsel General, many thanks. We'll move on to Adam Price.


Diolch, Gadeirydd. Mynegodd nifer o dystion bryderon ynghylch pwerau arfaethedig yn y Bil sy'n caniatáu i Lywodraeth Cymru orfodi awdurdodau lleol i gynnal y cynlluniau peilot. A fydd lle i awdurdod lleol optio mas o beilot os ydyn nhw o'r farn nad oes ganddyn nhw ddigon o adnoddau neu gapasiti i gymryd rhan?

Thank you, Chair. A number of witnesses raised concerns about powers in the Bill allowing the Welsh Government to compel local authorities to undertake these electoral pilots. Will there be scope for a local authority to opt out of a pilot if they are of the opinion that they don't have sufficient resources or capacity to take part?

I think there are different types of pilot, and I think all the pilots we would want to take place are going to be ones that we want in terms of a voluntary and positive contribution to making the pilot work, for it to be a success and so on, and that's what has happened up until now. The powers to actually enforce participation I think are something that is going to be very exceptional indeed, and that is really, I suppose, where there is a pilot where the area being covered goes over more than one, for example, local authority boundary, as is quite likely to be the case, and to make sure that it is comprehensive. So, it is only in exceptional circumstances that would happen, and even if it did, it would be necessary for those proposals to be laid before the Senedd and the Senedd would have to vote on those. There would be an affirmative resolution required. So, I think there are checks and balances in that. But the intention isn't to have powers that force local authorities to do things they won't or can't do, but just to ensure that a pilot that is considered necessary for the robustness of your testing systems and so on is actually able to properly take place. 

Mewn sefyllfa lle mae awdurdod lleol yn cymryd rhan mewn peilot, boed hynny'n wirfoddol neu, yn yr achosion eithriadol roeddech chi wedi cyfeirio atyn nhw, yn orfodol, ydych chi'n rhagweld y bydd adnoddau neu gapasiti ychwanegol yn cael eu cynnig i'r awdurdod lleol i gymryd rhan yn y peilot?

In a situation where a local authority is taking part in a pilot, whether on a voluntary basis or in those exceptional circumstances that you'd just referred to, where they'd be compelled to do so, do you foresee that additional resources or capacity will be offered to those local authorities to take part in those pilots?

I think the answer is, 'Definitely, yes'. If a pilot is initiated, it needs to be properly resourced for it to be effective, to actually deliver the analysis and the results and the learning lessons that you want from that particular pilot. The pilots that took place more recently with, I think, three or four local authorities were all, I think, comprehensively and properly funded, and that will be the intention in respect of any future pilots as well. I don't think pilots could or should take place unless they are properly resourced, because then they wouldn't be proper pilots.

Just one small point to add is that we were particularly mindful of the need to make sure, as the Counsel General says, that the pilots are adequately resourced, and it's why there is, in section 9 of the Bill, a requirement for the democracy and boundary commission—and elsewhere it confirms that that would be carried out by the EMB—to have a view on the pilot proposal being made. So, it is there partly to make sure that there is an objective analysis of what is the work that's attached and what are the resources that would be attached to any pilot. So, it's part of the safeguards that we've introduced into the new piloting regime.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Good afternoon, everyone. I just want to talk a bit about accessibility and diversity. The Bill places a duty on the Electoral Commission to report on steps returning officers had taken to assist people with disabilities that would otherwise adversely affect their right to vote in an election. Do you have any concerns that this could lead to a postcode lottery, where every returning officer has a different opinion on what is reasonable, and how can you safeguard against that?

One of the reasons for the creation of the electoral management board is to ensure the oversight and also consistency across Wales, so you raise a very important point. I think the other thing is that there's a duty on the Electoral Commission to report on the steps that are actually taken. Of course, there will be guidance from the Electoral Commission itself to ensure that happens. And, of course, one of the roles of the electoral management board is to co-ordinate best practice.

So, I think it's one of those things you want to be very, very alert to. I think the systems that have been put in place provide for that to happen. There's no room for complacency on it. And, of course, again, we are, effectively, mirroring some of the provisions within the Elections Act 2022 at the UK Government level, partly because I think there are benefits in respect of reserved and non-reserved elections that there is that consistency across those in terms of accessibility. And, obviously, it will be one of those things that are reviewed subsequently, post election, but that certainly is the intention, and, certainly, the design of the legislation is for that to happen. 


Thank you. The committee's heard evidence that the removal of the wording in the 2011 Measure, which lists all protected characteristics, may lead to some data gaps in future surveys. How will the Welsh Government ensure those concerns are allayed? 

—in just a moment, but I think one of the areas of concern is ensuring that, in what is a very changing environment and world, there is that flexibility to ensure that the surveys that take place are up to date, are identifying what are the contemporaneous challenges that are actually taking place. So, it's one of the things, I think, that's been addressed, and the ability to have that broad range of questions within that survey, and for that survey to be able to take place quickly and effectively. Michael.

Thanks. The only point I would add is that, obviously, by moving from a regime that's based on regulations to a direction, it means that Ministers will be able to stipulate what the core questions would be, and then any additional points can be added by returning officers. So, it's—. Whilst there isn't going to be an exclusive list of questions put forward by Ministers, it does mean that that core will allow the really important matters to not have disparity or discrepancies across the country. 

Okay, thank you. And the committee's taken evidence about an audio solution and tactile solution to be introduced as a statutory minimum standard in every polling station in order to help blind and partially- sighted people vote independently and in secret. Has the Welsh Government given any consideration to amending the Bill to reflect that?

Well, it's certainly been one of the things that was considered very carefully in the run-up to the Bill, and has taken a part in the discussions on the Bill on how we actually maintain and improve accessibility. One of the issues, of course, around things like digitisation, is that that, potentially, opens the door to many alternatives in terms of accessibility—you know, whether you have more central voting places, or additional voting places, being able to vote at different places, at different times and so on. And then a question does arise in terms of what is practical and affordable in terms of every single polling station. And that, of course, depends on what the nature of the technology is that's required. So, where there are things that can be used in every polling station relatively straightforwardly, then, of course, that is one direction. Where there are things, in terms of technology, that you could have located in, you know, central polling stations or whatever, a certain number of polling stations, that would give that greater accessibility, those are options as well. So, I think that is very much work in progress, and, of course, the consideration of what happens across the board I think will be one of the functions of not only the Electoral Commission, in terms of advising, but also the role of the electoral management board itself. Michael.

I think I'd just return to the point you made earlier, Counsel General, about the fact that this is partly to ensure that a disabled voter has a consistent experience between different elections—if it's for your local police and crime commissioner, or your MP—as you would do for the Member of the Senedd, or for your local authority. So, I think it's partly about consistency for the voter. And I think if we were to put something on the face of the Bill, it might be timed out in the future, as the Counsel General says about technological advances, but it also might mean that there's a discrepancy that arises between the elections that are covered in this Bill and elections that are the responsibility of the UK Parliament. 

Okay, thank you. And has the Welsh Government considered legislating for financial assistance schemes for candidates with caring responsibilities? We've heard some evidence around that as well. And if those provisions aren't—. And why aren't those provisions included on the face of the Bill?


Well, again, you raise a very good point. There are a number of circumstances that you would consider or want to consider in terms of accessibility, in terms of diversity. Section 28 of the Bill is a very, I think, important section, because it basically says that Welsh Ministers—I'm just reading out—

'must make arrangements for the provision of services to promote diversity'

not only in the protected characteristics but also socioeconomic circumstances. Those are things that it's quite difficult to define and to list in that way. And also, in what way do you actually give support? What are the mechanisms for support? So, they are there, and just again in terms of the duty of having regard to

'the desirability of reducing the inequalities of outcome that result from socio-economic disadvantage'.

So, I think that's quite groundbreaking, but, of course, the bigger challenge is precisely what that might mean in terms of the supports that are there.

That section, again, it goes on, it talks about information, it talks about advice, training, coaching and mentoring, work experience, equipment, assistance with tasks. So, I think it's a fairly broad, encompassing provision that's there. And, of course, I think what will happen is the guidance and the views that come from things like the Electoral Commission and from other representations, from stakeholders, from the reviews of the elections as they take place, I think with a mind to, always, how do you actually maximise the accessibility and participation of people, either as candidates or in terms of participating within the electoral process itself.

Chair, could I just come in on this section? I was wondering, Counsel General, if you could just explain a little bit of the thinking behind the different approach taken in sections 28 and 29. So, could I just summarise? In section 28, which is about the provision of services to promote diversity and representation, it refers to

'the protected characteristics and socio-economic circumstances',

whereas section 29, which is about financial assistance in this area, refers to persons

'having specified characteristics or specified circumstances',

which is a much broader definition. Well, it isn't a definition per se; it allows you, as Ministers then, to define the particular focus of any financial assistance scheme. So, we've heard evidence that suggests that, actually, section 29 should be aligned with section 28, and it should refer explicitly to the protected characteristics and socioeconomic circumstances. Can you explain why you haven't, so for, chosen to do that?

Well, section 28 is about the services, really, that can be provided to give assistance, and section 29, really, just follows on from that and says there's a specific power to give financial assistance. And the question then that follows on from that will be the design of that, what sort of financial assistance is given, in what circumstance it is given, what that financial assistance is to be used is for et cetera, and also then to ensure that it protects the independence of the electoral system and those participating et cetera. It's not there to provide financial assistance to political parties. So, I think that is the thinking behind it, and the two sections having to be really following on one from the other. Michael.

I would just add that the example given about carers' responsibilities is a really good example of why there is a different description of the recipients of the support in section 29, because, obviously, caring responsibilities isn't a protected characteristic; it wouldn't align neatly to any of the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010. So, therefore, there is a slight distinction being made, because you might need to address—. The characteristics that might require financial assistance to overcome don't necessarily always align to a specific protected characteristic. So, you could have a—. So, that more flexible approach was with things like carers' responsibilities in mind, because that's an area where the case has been made, including to this committee, by the Women's Equality Network Wales, that carers' responsibility is something that we should be looking at in the future.


Yes, but you could apply that logic to section 28, couldn't you, on the provision of services?

Well, I don't think you should take the two as separate, because I think the provision of services there has a very broad base to it there: reducing inequalities of outcome, socioeconomic disadvantage, and having regard to

'to promote diversity in the protected characteristics and socio-economic circumstances of persons seeking to be elected'.

So, that there, I think, is the broad framework. What section 29 just does is—. I don't think it needs to repeat, but I think it incorporates what's there in section 28. And that is, under section 29, the Welsh Ministers can, by regulations, provide arrangements for financial assistance for all of those to actually happen. I don't think section 29 limits the ability to provide in respect of what is contained within section 28. Does that fit in with your—? That's my reading of that, and the logic as to the flow between section 28 and section 29. They go very much together.

Good afternoon, Counsel General. I'm just going to ask some questions on the voter information platform. So, some witnesses argued that there's already a lot of information freely available, so what would the voter information platform legislated for in this Bill add to the field?

Firstly, the point about it is that the legislation, I think, makes it very clear that there does need to be such a platform. I think, in the past, there have been almost voluntary arrangements happening, through things like the Democracy Club, local authorities, to provide information. So, (1) it is a must—it is something that must happen. The second thing then is—and, again, work in progress and so on—in terms of what will actually be the content of it, how will it actually operate itself. And there are two aspects to it, really. One is, I think, the—. You know, one thing that has been discussed many, many times is the need for information on the candidates themselves. That in itself poses a particular challenge, but I think it's an important part. And the second thing is in terms of the voting system itself—what supports there may be, accessibilities, and information such as the information that we've just been discussing with regard to sections 28 and 29.

Okay. Well, the committee heard evidence that the UK Home Office hosts an information platform for the police and crime commissioner elections, and evidence shows that usage of the platform is low, so how would you ensure that the platform was well used?

Firstly, it's important to make people aware that the platform is there. I think, during the local government elections, the systems that were in there, which are really voluntary arrangements, non-statutory, had quite substantial hits themselves. I think there was something like over 120,000, 130,000 enquiries, postcode checks and things like that. This, I think, is going to be a more strategic contribution to that, which means it has to be publicised, people need to know—that there's the awareness of it, that it actually contains what is actually wanted within it.

I think any comparison with police and crime commissioner elections is probably not appropriate in the sense that police and crime commissioner elections have been difficult to actually embed and to ensure in terms of participation, unless, of course, they coincide with another election that takes place. So, although that information was there, I don't think that those are really reasonable analogies to actually draw. But the fundamental part about the question that you raise is, if we are setting up a voter information platform, then, obviously, things need to be done to make sure that it contains the information, that the information is accessible, that the system actually works, and then, thirdly, that it actually contains information that people will actually want, either in terms of how and where to vote, methods of support for a vote, other supports that there are, but then information about the candidates—who are the candidates that are standing in this particular area, what do I know about them—the basic information that would be put on by the candidates and all their agents, who'd be obviously accountable for the content of the information.


There was real concern about who would be responsible for it—the creation, management and administration of the platform—from both the Welsh Local Government Association and the electoral co-ordination board as well. So, how would you ensure that whoever hosts the platform is adequately resourced?

Well, the intention is for the electoral management board to host it. That isn't a guarantee always for the future, if there were better mechanisms that developed and so on that were considered appropriate. But certainly, the electoral management board, I think, will be the body that will host the electoral platform, where there will be information and engagement with stakeholders about the content, how it will actually operate et cetera. I missed, sorry, the latter part of the question. It was—?

How it's going to be resourced. I think for local government as well, in particular, there'd be hundreds of candidates—for tiny community council elections and county council. So many candidates there—it was a real concern. So, how to make it workable, and the number of potential statements that would be needed, and the host of the platform, to manage all those.

Well, there are, obviously, a number of challenges. One of the big challenges is the information provided by the candidates themselves, the framework within which that happens, the responsibility, in fact, for the—. Obviously, you don't want registration officers, or you don't want censorship of material, but, obviously, there has to be a guidance and framework of information that goes onto those platforms. So, those are all things that will need to be worked out and thought out very, very carefully. And the other thing, of course, is the hosting of the system overall. And, of course, I think the development and management of that is obviously going to be the responsibility of the electoral management board. So, those who have been more engaged in the discussions around this—is that yourself, Michael, or Angharad?

Angharad, actually.

Thanks. I think just to say that, in the first instance, the voter information platform will only hold candidate statements for Senedd elections and for principal council elections. And because of the reason that you've described around capacity, and the number of candidates for town and community council elections, the legislation does allow the extension of the platform to include those statements at a future point, once the platform's been built and developed and we understand the full resource implications of running it.

Okay. There were concerns as well about keeping it independent, and who would actually manage the information, so that it's not manipulated for political purposes. I was surprised, actually, at the amount of concern raised regarding it. Because, for me, it sounded like a good idea—when I've been campaigning, people have said, 'We don't want a lot of paperwork through the door. You save a tree—we'd rather just look online.' But there was real concern about managing it, making sure it's independent—who stays on top of it? So, I'm grateful—well, pleased to hear that it's just for the Senedd elections first, and then principal councils. I think that would be helpful, but there are still those concerns there.

Yes, sure. So, I think we agree that independence is really important, which is why the EMB is our first choice of host for this platform, and we've worked through the process of understanding the amount of resource required when we were doing the policy development around the EMB. The intention then, of course, would be to supply guidance to any candidates and agents around how to complete a candidate statement. And then, of course, the candidates will be responsible for the content of those statements themselves. Support would be given through the EMB, around managing the process of the statements, but, ultimately, that responsibility would sit with the candidate.

Could I just ask about that? Presumably the electoral management board in providing the platform, hosting the platform, having some degree of responsibility for the platform, might have potential legal liability for the content of candidates' statements, notwithstanding what you say about it would be made clear that it's a responsibility of the candidate in terms of the content of their statements. I don't suppose that potential legal liability could be ruled out for the electoral management board, or potentially others?


It's an interesting point, isn't it? If someone posted on there a libellous statement, and they went on there, is it the candidate—? Well, obviously the candidate would have liability, the person who has actually posted it there, but, of course, the agencies that put it up, the platforms that actually have it there, can have liability potentially as well. So, it's one of those things we thought through. I don't know if you have any more to add on that.

No, I think just to say that we will be working through all of that detail as we develop the contracts with the provider.

Yes, okay. Perhaps I may ask a couple of further questions with regard to the removal of grace periods. We heard concerns that this could potentially mean more local by-elections taking place soon after general elections, as it were, are held, and this might lead to voter fatigue and a greater degree of cynicism and potentially detachment from the electoral process generally. What's your view on those concerns, Counsel General?

I'm not sure the evidence is there for that. I think most people, when they stand for election, whether it be Parliament or the Senedd and so on, and they know the things that have to be done, or that you have to stand down from et cetera, it does actually happen. The question is, I think, only what the time frame is within which that happens. Is it better that what we're talking about is people having two roles, or two particular elected roles, where there are undesirable overlaps or conflicts? There are the remuneration arrangements in respect of those, and really what we've sought to do within this legislation is just to have absolute clarity as to where. It's not appropriate if you're on one then to continue that when you're elected in terms of being able to fulfil your roles and functions, and I think it just means in reality what happens is people will step down from those particular positions, and of course there will be a certain number of by-elections for that. Of course, that only depends on those persons who actually have those existing roles already. So, there will be a certain number, but that's what will happen at some stage in any event. I think happening early on, if that is to be the case, is probably more desirable, because you have that clarity and you have that transparency as well in terms of functions from very early on. 

Another aspect of this, of course, is the possibility of areas being left without representation, which is obviously not desirable. Is there anything that you might introduce to guard against that possibility? Might elections be required to take place within a certain time frame, for example?

Well, I think there's already existing provision. If it's, for example, local government you're talking about, there's already provision as to who can call an election when a vacancy actually occurs. So, those provisions would remain there, and of course that's what happens, by and large, at the moment already. So, I'm not sure there's a need for provision in that. What we will know from this legislation, of course, is that once someone is elected, they obviously have to stand down from those existing other positions. So, there will at least be a clarity that probably wouldn't have existed before, because otherwise it's a question as to, 'Well, the person hasn't stood down yet. They will at some stage. When might they?' et cetera, and I think that's probably more unsatisfactory than having that clarity early on.

Okay, Counsel General and your officials, if there are no other questions from committee members, I think that concludes our evidence session with you today. You will be sent a transcript to check for factual accuracy in the usual way. Diolch yn fawr.

4. Papurau i’w nodi
4. Papers to note

Okay. The next item on our agenda today, then, is item 4, which is papers to note. Paper 1 is a response from the Minister for Finance and Local Government to our report on diversity in local government. And we do note that our recommendations have been accepted either completely or in principle, and there is a Plenary debate on the report, which is currently scheduled for 7 February. Paper 2 is a letter from the Chair of the Petitions Committee in relation to a petition to make the Senedd more representative of the Welsh population, and that letter includes a note that that petition will be further considered by that committee in due course. So, we will hear more of that. Paper 3 is a letter from the Minister for Climate Change in relation to the Renters (Reform) Bill and the subsequent legislative consent memorandum, notifying us that Welsh Government is not able to meet the requirements in terms of the time limits for the LCM and reporting deadlines and our involvement. So, again, further work is required in terms of amendments to the relevant Westminster legislation, and, again, we will be hearing more of that in due course. Paper 4 is a response from Llamau to the Finance Committee's public consultation regarding the draft budget for the forthcoming financial year, and we will be scrutinising the Minister for Climate Change on that draft budget on 18 January. And that is also applicable to paper 5, which is a letter from Gorwel, the business unit within the Grŵp Cynefin housing association, and that's in relation to the housing support grant and the draft budget for the forthcoming financial year. Paper 6 is an analysis of the responses received to our survey with regard to the Elections and Elected Bodies (Wales) Bill, which we've been considering today, and will consider further in private session later on this afternoon. Are Members content to note those papers? I see that you are. Thank you very much.  

5. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd ar gyfer gweddill y cyfarfod
5. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public for the remainder of the meeting


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


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

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Item 5 is a motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of this meeting. Again, is committee content to do so? I see that you are. We will move into private session. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 14:48. 

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 14:48.