Y Pwyllgor Cyllid

Finance Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Alun Davies yn dirprwyo ar ran Rhianon Passmore
substitute for Rhianon Passmore
Mike Hedges
Peredur Owen Griffiths Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Peter Fox

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Alun Davidson Tyst
Daniel Hurford Clerc, Bwrdd Taliadau Annibynnol y Senedd
Clerk, Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd
Dr Elizabeth Haywood Cadeirydd, Bwrdd Taliadau Annibynnol y Senedd
Chair, Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd
Kate Innes Prif Swyddog Cyllid y Senedd
Chief Finance Officer of the Senedd
Ken Skates Comisiynydd y Senedd sydd â chyfrifoldeb dros y ​Gyllideb a Llywodraethu
Senedd Commissioner with responsibility for Budget and Governance
Manon Antoniazzi Prif Weithredwr a Chlerc y Senedd
Chief Executive and Clerk of the Senedd
Professor Ailsa Henderson Cynghorwr Arbenigol y Pwyllgor
Committee Expert Adviser

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Christian Tipples Ymchwilydd
Leanne Hatcher Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Mike Lewis Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:32.

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

The meeting began at 09:32.

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

Bore da a chroeso i'r cyfarfod yma o'r Pwyllgor Cyllid. Mae'n braf eich gweld chi i gyd yma y bore yma. Mae'r cyfarfod yma'n cael ei ddarlledu ar Senedd.tv a bydd Cofnod o'r Trafodion yn cael ei gyhoeddi yn ôl yr arfer. Rydyn ni wedi derbyn ymddiheuriad gan Rhianon Passmore. Dydy hi methu bod efo ni, ond croeso cynnes i Alun Davies yn ei lle hi. Croeso i ti, Alun. A gaf i ofyn a oes gan unrhyw un unrhyw fuddiannau i'w nodi? Mi fyddai eu nodi nhw yn ystod y cyfarfod yn iawn hefyd. Rydyn ni'n disgwyl Mike Hedges. Mi wnaiff o ymuno efo ni ar-lein. Mae yna broblem draffig wedi bod, felly bydd o'n ymuno efo ni ychydig yn hwyrach pan fydd o yn ei swyddfa. 

Good morning and welcome to this meeting of the Finance Committee. It's great to see you all here this morning. This meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv and a Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. We've received apologies from Rhianon Passmore. She can't join us today, but I'd like to extend a warm welcome to Alun Davies who is attending as a substitute. Welcome to you, Alun. Could I ask whether anyone has any interests to declare? Noting them during the meeting would be fine also. We do expect Mike Hedges to join us online. There has been a traffic issue, so he will be with us a little later on when he is back in his office. 

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

Fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen, felly, i'r eitem gyntaf, sef i nodi'r papurau sydd gennym ni o'n blaenau ni. Ydy pawb yn hapus i nodi'r rheini? Ie. Gwych. Felly, nodwyd y rheini. Felly fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen. 

We'll move on, therefore, to the first item, which is to note the papers that we have before us. Is everyone content to note those? Yes. Great. So, we've noted those. So, we'll move on. 

3. Bil Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau): Sesiwn dystiolaeth gyda Chomisiwn y Senedd
3. Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill: Evidence session with the Senedd Commission

The main substantive item this morning is the first of our evidence sessions this morning, which is the one with the Senedd Commission. 

Croeso i chi yma. 

Welcome to you.

Can you please state your names and roles for the record? Maybe we can start with Ken online. Could we unmute Ken please? There we are. 

Diolch, Chair. I'm Ken Skates, Member of the Senedd for Clwyd South. I'm the Commissioner responsible for the finance portfolio. 

Manon Antoniazzi, Prif Weithredwr a Chlerc y Senedd. 

Manon Antoniazzi, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Senedd. 

Kate Innes, chief finance officer. 

Alun Davidson, clerc, tîm strategaeth busnes seneddol.

Alun Davidson, clerk, parliamentary business strategy team.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Thank you very much. I'd like to, before we begin, welcome Professor Ailsa Henderson as the committee's expert adviser on the financial implications of the Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill. Professor Henderson is professor of political science at the University of Edinburgh as well as the chair of Boundaries Scotland and a commissioner for the Boundary Commission for Scotland. We're very grateful that she is able to join us today, and we look forward to working with her in consideration of the financial implications of this legislation. Thank you, everybody, for being here. Let's move on.

We've got a packed hour with you, so, hopefully we'll go through some of the assumptions and things that have been made in the regulatory impact assessment on this Bill. I'd like to start by looking at the approach that you've taken in preparing the information for the RIA, how you've engaged with stakeholders, and your view on how the Welsh Government has used and presented the cost estimates in the RIA. Firstly, the RIA notes that you were asked to provide information relating to the financial implications of the reforms on the Senedd. How did you engage with the Welsh Government when providing your cost estimates, and did you have any concerns with the process? I'll go to Ken first, if I may.


Thanks, Chair. First of all, it's important say that the RIA is, of course, a Welsh Government document, and the calculations that the Welsh Government made are based on the data that the Commission provided. I'm content with the robust process that was followed by officials on both sides—the Welsh Government and the Commission. We developed the cost estimates, as you're aware, in response to a request from the Welsh Government back in December of last year. A set of common assumptions were established based on consultation that we had with the Business Committee and with the independent remuneration board. From those consultations, cost estimates could be developed by us and then presented to the Welsh Government. There were a range of cost estimates based on minimal-change and greater-change scenarios that were provided to reflect the inherent uncertainty that exists around future decisions on Senedd reform and the configuration of Senedd business.

Thank you, Ken. Manon, did you want to add anything to that?

I think you asked specifically about our dialogue with the Welsh Government. We were asked by the Welsh Government in December 2022 to provide these costs; we provided them in March 2023. And thereafter, there was an ongoing dialogue with officials to make sure that they understood how we had based the cost. During that phase, costs were reprofiled at the Government's request—to reflect a four-year term, for example, and to adopt the methodology that the Welsh Government was adopting for the RIA. And then, the final figures that were used in the RIA were communicated to the Llywydd by the First Minister, and that was just prior to the introduction of the Bill. So, there's been a perfectly proper process of dialogue between us on their preparation.

Thank you. In that dialogue, you worked on certain assumptions. How did you go about doing that, and how did you come to an agreement on what those assumptions should be? You mentioned that, over time, you had to revise things; could you elaborate a little bit on that, as well, please?

Yes. If I may, I'll bring Alun in on this question in a minute, because he was core to the official working on this throughout. The assumptions were drawn largely from the work of the special purpose committee, and were then refined in consultation with the Business Committee, as Ken mentioned, and with the independent remuneration board. We did take some external professional advice on capital costs, as well, in taking those through, but in terms of the assumptions, that was the main working method. We undertook some consultation work with Members directly, as well, last year. That wasn't primarily on these assumptions, but it did yield some useful information, as well. If I can just hand over to Alun to talk a little bit more about that. 

Just before I go to Alun, the assumptions that you made, in reading the RIA, have those assumptions been carried forward into the RIA, or has the Government made different assumptions? That's something maybe you could talk about, as well.

Thank you, Chair. In terms of that point around the assumptions that the Senedd Commission had established on which to base the cost estimates, they were carried through to the RIA. They were communicated to the Welsh Government alongside the cost estimates that were provided at the end of March. Those were reflected then in the regulatory impact assessment.


And then some of the things that Manon was talking about—how that dialogue happened and what changed as things were going along.

In terms of that dialogue with the Welsh Government, it was largely, I suppose, from a Welsh Government perspective, having to prepare the RIA, looking to explore a little bit more detail around how those costs had been developed. For example, they may pick up on a spike in costs in a particular year, and on the first cut of the figures would want to query precisely why that was. So, we would then provide them with that explanation, as it were, as one example.

In terms of the adjustments to the figures, as Manon said, there was a need to adjust to the four-year terms, because, obviously, at the start of this process, we weren't aware of that being something that was likely to be included in the legislation. Things like election costs would profile to a different year as a consequence. Additionally, for consistency purposes, and, I believe, in keeping with Welsh Government guidance on the preparation of regulatory impact assessments, there was a need to adjust the salary point at which Commission staff costs were presented. When we initially presented the costs to the Welsh Government, we presented salaries on the basis of the top of the scale, but, in keeping with Welsh Government practice, they then requested that they were presented as an average figure. That's one example of one of those changes. Also, in our first cut of the figures, we had some allowance in there for potential pay increases, but, again, in keeping with Welsh Government practice, which I think is guided by Welsh Treasury guidance, that figure of a potential pay increase was removed. So, it was those sorts of technical changes that took place.

Obviously, with any process, you get disagreements and not necessarily seeing eye to eye on different things. Are there any concerns that you've got with these cost estimates that have been included in the evidence, whether or not there's anything that you think that we as a committee should be aware of, that there's something that isn't quite lined up with what you thought it might be?

If I can say, bearing the responsibility of an accounting officer as well, I'm satisfied that the process was a robust one. There was a lot of discussion, of course, about the assumptions, but that wasn't for officials to be involved in, and in terms of responding to the figures asked, I'm content that we did a thorough job.

Diolch. In the RIA, the main area of uncertainty related to the decisions regarding the organisation of Senedd business, which is not going to be known until the start of the seventh Senedd. What impact could those have on your cost estimates? So, there are certain uncertainties that are only going to be borne out as this process goes ahead. What are those main ones? What sort of quantum are we looking at in that?

I'll defer to both Alun and Kate on the detail. I will just say in broad terms we had a request to provide funding for certain scenarios within a certain frame to provide a reasonable basis for cost estimates. It is difficult to make any kind of guess at how much more or less that would cost in different scenarios without knowing what the decisions are that might be taken. I think that the kind of decisions that would impact significantly, of course, would be decisions about the arrangement of business, and so it would be a change in the number of Plenary sessions or a change in the number of committees, that sort of thing. I don't know if there's anything you'd like to add to that, Alun.

Just building on that, in terms of the scenarios that were presented, certainly an ambition was to provide that range of costs to try and cover a reasonable spread of potential scenarios. But, Chair, you're absolutely right to say that there's a range of different decisions to be taken at the start of the seventh Senedd that could affect the final shape of that business, and could affect what the eventual costs might be.

But for us, if I take one example: the number of committees. Looking at a greater change scenario, three committees were suggested under that scenario—three additional committees—and, of course, there are many variables when it comes to designing a committee system—from party balance, to the size of committees, to the frequency with which they can meet; there are a lot of different factors—but if you make some assumptions based on the current system, and you look at a situation where you have three additional committees, then that's the point, really, where you start to rub up against one of the—as we understand it, anyway—desired benefits from this reform, which is around Member capacity and the need for Members not to sit on multiple committees. So, once you go beyond that sort of point, it's highly likely you would start to see Members having to start doubling up on committees again. So, in those sorts of circumstances, it seemed right to us, or to the Commission, that at about that point of three additional committees was the place to consider drawing the line in the greater change scenario. That's one example.

Some other examples within the business modelling are more straightforward because they reflect what was said by the special purpose committee or some of the ranges that exist within the legislation. So, for example, the number of additional Deputy Presiding Officers, or the number of additional Ministers.


Yes. I'm grateful to you for that and I'm grateful to you, Alun, for explaining that. I suspect that ways of working have a greater influence on additional costs than the actual numbers of Members, in many ways. So, you've got the basic cost of the Members plus staff and the rest of it, and I accept that, but, for example, the current Senedd has agreed to set up additional committees, and those have been serviced within current budgets, I presume, and every Senedd has a right to determine the number of committees that sit, and the number of Members on those, so that's unrelated to the number of Members—more Members gives more capacity; I accept all of that argument. But if this Senedd, for example, decided to sit in Plenary on a Thursday, which some of us who barely get called to speak might appreciate, then that would have additional costs, wouldn't it, I presume, if you use the same rationale as you're using in this regulatory impact assessment.

So, many of these costs are not about extra Members, but ways in which the Senedd is working, and ways in which this Senedd and past Senedds—'Seneddau', possibly—have already decided to work differently. So, in that way, the regulatory impact assessment is more of a discussion document than an analysis.

It's quite right that should the current Senedd take decisions about varying its business, then there would be cost implications for us. That's the kind of thing that I was talking to the committee about last week, in terms of our budget for next year.

Sorry, I don't know if Ken wants to come in, because obviously, you're nodding away.

Alun's absolutely right. If we decide to sit more days, then that will have cost implications, and that's baked into the scenarios that we've been providing the data for.

And also, of course, you've said an increase in security staff—I'm not convinced by that, I have to say—and communications. Am I convinced by that? I'm unsure. There are certain functions that are dependent on a number of Members—I accept all of that—and information and communication technology support would be one of those, I would imagine. I'm not convinced by translation services, because does it matter how many people are listening to a translation when you are discussing the cost of it? Because it's one of those things, which in the Chamber, you could have 20, 30, 40 Members listening to a translation service, but you still require the service. Does that make sense? In terms of interpretation, I mean. And we have over the years been changing fundamentally the way that we run translation services, certainly in the time that we've been here. So, there are costs, and then I'm less convinced by some of the Commission's estimates that the whole of the Commission needs to increase in size in order to facilitate an increase in Members.


There are certainly services where the change in the number of Members has more of an impact than others. And, as you say, in terms of ICT support, in terms of Members' business services, you can expect more Members to create a greater direct need for Commission services—

—in others, the need is more indirect. And I think what we have done is undertake service planning to the best of our ability with the information that we have now. We've done so as robustly as we could at the time. We've already seen further work refining those costs, as I reported to this committee last week. Our initial estimates for the year 2024-25 are more modest in staff terms than we had originally estimated, and that is part of the difference between an early estimate and the detailed budget that we will put forward when we have fully considered every opportunity for savings.

Diolch. So, moving on a little bit, what did you use to make the cost estimates published by the expert panel in November 2017 and the Committee on Senedd Electoral Reform in September 2020 to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the financial implications of the Bill?

What use did we make, Chairman?

Well, the calculations that we did for the regulatory impact assessment were clearly much more focused and in depth because of the weight that would be put on them. So, I think that the earlier pieces of work to which you refer probably had different parameters for the estimates that they put forward and might not have been focused on the same model. But, again, I'll ask Alun to comment on that, as somebody who saw the whole process through.

I can concur with what the Chief Executive and Clerk has said there in the sense that each of those estimates were made at a point in time according to certain assumptions that were made by those bodies.

In terms of approaching this exercise, it was a different set of circumstances in terms of knowing what the special purpose committee had recommended. There was that sort of detail available. So, we were doing it on more of a concrete footing, if you like, rather than estimating for a variety of different increases in size or electoral models, for example. So, this was a different exercise. Whilst we were mindful of what had been reported previously, really, in terms of this, it was necessary to start again, build the assumptions that you've seen and are considering, and work again with the services to build from there. So, obviously, the situation faced by the Senedd, in terms of the financial climate and other external factors, was quite different in this period between December and March of this year than it was when some of that work was done for the Committee on Senedd Electoral Reform back in 2020 and the expert panel back again, several years prior to that. 

So, is that the main difference or have things like inflation and that sort of thing come in too? Because, obviously, we've had a very different financial outlook now from what was there previously.

I think that must be a factor in it as well.

Yes, Chair, it would be a factor, but these numbers have not taken inflation into account. That's the basis on which they're prepared as cost estimates so that they're comparable year-on-year. That's one of the assumptions that we were requested to make by Welsh Government.

Okay. So, the RIA notes that cost savings have not been identified for the Commission, similar to what Alun was saying earlier, and benefits could not be monetised. What analysis did you undertake to determine potential savings and identify quantifiable benefits?

And then, how do you intend to present costs relating to the reform of the Senedd in your annual budget to aid transparency? So, basically, going back to what we were looking at last week, when you come to this committee with your budget, how will that be presented to us in your budgets, and how will you keep doing that cost-saving exercise that you do year on year?


Well, I hope that we fulfil all the needs of the committee in terms of our transparency from year to year, and the figures will be in the public domain and will be easily comparable. I'm sure you'll hold us to account as the years go on, and in that translation from early estimates to annual budgets, we will be consistently looking for savings, and the medium-term financial framework that we have put together as a planning tool, which we discussed last week, will be a help for us in identifying those savings as far in advance as possible.

Thanks, Chair. Just to add to that, it's worth appreciating as well that the Commission has independent advisers and the assistance of the audit and risk assurance committee as well, who are able to look at any potential savings, real savings, and then the risks associated with some of the observations that we might make on where there are potential savings to be made.

Yes, I'm just making sure that when we see your budget, we'll be able to easily see how much this change is costing, so that we can properly scrutinise what's going on. And, obviously, the Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee then, as the money is being spent, that we're able to keep an eye on what's going on in full transparency, so that we're making sure, because we're spending public money, that we need to be making sure that we're doing it in the most prudent way. So, that was the first of that.

Did you give any consideration to presenting the cost estimates of the reform proposals, as outlined in the RIA, separately against actual costs in your future accounts?

As I say, Chairman, I'm sure that the figures will be comparable.

In terms of the form of the annual accounts, Kate, would you like to address that?

Within the form of the annual accounts, somebody would be putting the actual costs in, but there is scope in other formats to create, in effect, reconciliations between the RIA and the actual costs. That's something that we would be undertaking within the Commission as we move along, recording the costs, ensuring that they are completely ring-fenced, they're identifiable, and that they're monitored and reported on. So, the mechanisms in order to provide full reconciliations as we move through this process will be in place.

Okay, thank you very much. That's it from me. I'll move on to Peter, if I may.

Thank you. Before I kick into my main question, just linked to what we were talking about before, obviously, we've got more work to do to identify savings and things. Can we be confident that enough forward thinking has been done to assess recurring costs like energy and things like that, because I don't see it very clearly about that ongoing—? Because until you know what your costs are, you don't know what you're trying to save. So, I don't know, if we've got 36 more Members and all the associated—. It's probably going to shove up the actual energy costs in this place by a third or more. Can we make those assumptions or what?

You're going to have an awful lot more offices to light and heat, and everything else that might accrue as a result.

Well, I don't know if it's a third or not. There's a third more Members, so you could envisage a third more Member costs with regard to energy and things like that. So, a fair assumption. I just want to be sure that there is enough assessment of ongoing and recurring oncosts. So, that was one of the things I wouldn't mind understanding.

Yes. I think there's a fair point there. I don't think it's entirely accurate though to assume that costs would increase by a third if you're increasing the number of Members, because we've been able to identify that all of those additional Members will be able to be accommodated within Tŷ Hywel. Now, of course, we are trying to make savings in terms of utilities by utilising the zonal heat systems and, through the project fund, investing in energy efficiency schemes like LED lighting and so forth. But in terms of the additional costs associated with increasing the number of Members by a third, I think it'd be far, far less than an increase in a third on the utility costs, because we already utilise the space that's going to be used for those additional Members anyway. So, if anything, it'd be pretty flat.


I'm reassured by that, and I know there'll be a lot of people wanting to know those sorts of things, so we can make that assessment as we move on. When we look at the—. We talked quite a lot—you already talked about scenarios and the two scenarios you've used. Do you think, with hindsight, that perhaps you should've planned—we've talked about different ways of working—for more scenarios, recognising the complexity or the variety of ways of working we might end up putting in place?

If I can refer back to Alun's earlier comment that we were taking, as our guidance, the parameters that had been laid out in the work of the special committee and then discussed with the Business Committee, and some of the principles there, such as not requiring Members to sit on multiple committees provided, then, a natural break to the upper level of scenarios. Would you like to add?

Yes, I think that's right. And I think, from the point of view of setting that range of cost estimates, very much the intention there was to try and produce a robust, as-reliable-as-possible scenario that would give a good reliable account of what those possible costs could be. But, of course, as we've been discussing, you could cut that cake in many, many different ways, and the Senedd may decide to do that. But in terms of what we were able to develop from the information we had from the special purpose committee, from the work that the Business Committee did and, in effect, using our own knowledge of the business and how the business operates, these were, we feel, realistic estimates. And again, as I said, the Commission consulted with the Business Committee and the independent remuneration board to test that, and, of course, the Commission itself agreed those assumptions too. So, I suppose what I'm saying is, it is of course possible in future that different decisions might be taken, but we're confident—

—that these provide scenarios that will provide a realistic cost estimate for the purposes of this legislation.

Okay. Thank you for that. The RIA outlines the service areas requiring increases in the number of Commission staff. I wondered what was the analysis conducted to ensure all additional work was captured and costed in the RIA.

Again, I'll ask Alun to speak to the detail of that. In general, we used the same method that we do when we're budget planning for the medium term, and we extended that. So, we worked at service level, basing our assessment on current services, just picking up what Alun was mentioning earlier. We've got a start on a sound foundation of the service requirements that we know about at the moment, notwithstanding any different decisions that may be taken by a future Senedd. And then those estimates were checked by our leadership team, which are the service heads, looking horizontally across the organisation, and then they went to the executive board, which I chair, before being presented to the Commission. So, there were several levels of assurance that were provided to those estimates, as they went through.

Thank you, Manon. The additional Senedd Commission staff needed were identified by grade, but the RIA doesn't describe how the related costs were calculated from the full-time equivalent data. Can you expand, perhaps, a bit on how you got there?


Yes. Can I pull you in at this point on this? I think the presentation of the staff costs were according to the methodology adopted by Welsh Government for regulatory impact assessments, and Alun mentioned earlier that, as they appear, they represent the middle of the grade that is talked about, and there is no allowance for inflation, there is no allowance for any pay awards that may be made in future, but on-costs are included. Did I miss anything out?

Just to confirm that the on-costs are the national insurance and pension, as were in place—[Inaudible.]—that was known in 2022-23.

Just on that point, you talked about the middle, the average. Am I right in saying that new staff normally come in at the bottom of the band, and going over time, so that's why you've possibly taken an average rather than a—?

As Alun mentioned, we started off with an estimate at the top of each band, but then we understand that the methodology used by Welsh Government routinely for this is to make a cost estimate in the middle of the band. So, that's why the figures were changed.

But I'm just thinking, reality on day one, potentially, could be at the bottom of the band, and, over time, move to the middle?

Possibly, but what is impossible to foresee is how many of our existing staff will move into those jobs. So, it's a little difficult to—

It's a prudent measure, yes.

Thank you, Manon. What assurance could you give that the additional Commission staff estimated in the RIA will be sufficient to meet the expected increase in workload, particularly since the RIA notes you have kept any increases in head count to a minimum?

Yes, and we keep head count increases to a minimum generally, as I've reported to this committee before. There is a balance there, of course, between ensuring that we are realistic in our estimates and don't envisage situations that are going to put too much pressure on staff or require us to pull in additional staff later. But the process I described is the most robust one we can, working from the evidence that we have, to reach the figures that we did.

I'm interested in the sunk costs that you've identified. Now, some of them I would very much welcome—if you were to tell me, Manon, that you're tearing those dreadful computers out of the Chamber, and doing so this coming weekend, I'd probably write the cheque myself. But it appears to me that you could rip the computers out without necessarily increasing the size of the Chamber. So, I'm interested in where the sunk costs have actually gone. And I presume that the costs that you've described as sunk costs are going to be spent within current budgets anyway, so it's gone, and that's got no relation, then, to a reform process.

The sunk costs—we estimated the costs from next year onwards, in the same way that we did for future years. And it was the Welsh Government's decision then to describe them as sunk costs because they will be spent before the—

But the question I'm trying to ask you, sorry, is what is the difference between these costs and ongoing investment in the estate that you would need to carry out anyway?

Yes. In terms of the Siambr, the main thing is that we need—. If we're to get the work done in time for 2026, then we need to start commissioning professional services in the coming year. That will give us some designs for the future, which will be an asset for the Commission, even should the Bill fall. But that is an example of the kind of thing that we have to commission in advance of the Bill passing.

I accept that, but there's a difference, isn't there, between—? The Chamber is 20 years old now, probably. I'm thinking back to—. I remember being in it—

Two thousand and six.

—just before it opened. And I presume that in terms of any public estate, you would be looking towards a programme of renewal on an ongoing basis, otherwise you'll end up in the same situation as they have in the House of Commons, where they've just accumulated far too much work, in many ways. So, I assume that you'll be able to differentiate between the ongoing replacement work—. I remember a long debate about windows in Tŷ Hywel, which I wish I'd never been a part of, but it scarred me. But that work is ongoing work—ongoing maintenance, ongoing investment in upgrading the estate, and the rest of it—and that needs to be done whatever any reform process is. And I'm wondering whether you can differentiate between those two different processes.


Yes, that's a fair point. Kate, can I bring you in?

Yes, of course. So, in 2023-24, we actually had a ring-fenced portion of our budget for Senedd reform, and that was to support the initial work that needed to be undertaken. The majority of that is actually staff-related costs, so this is additional posts that we've agreed in order to support the early stages of Senedd reform. And those would be costs that would not have been incurred by the Commission, and so the Welsh Government has categorised those as being sunk costs, so they're not connected, with the exception of the experts that we've had to commission this year to create designs, as Manon has noted—it's not costs connected with the adaptations that will come in 2024-25 and 2025-26. It's specifically and predominantly staff costs; 88 per cent of it is actually additional staff costs that was required to support in 2023-24.

Okay, that's fair enough. Can I ask Ken Skates just to provide a clear undertaking that all current elected Members of the Senedd will have sight and oversight, and that an agreement will be sought for any structural changes that take place either in the Senedd building or in Tŷ Hywel? 

Yes, and already work we're carrying out—. I give that undertaking absolutely, and we're already carrying out consultation with Members with regard to expenditure on the estate through Member drop-in sessions, and that will continue. Members are going to have to be a part of decisions over the estate, and I can give you that promise that we will be engaging with Members fully.

Yes, but, sorry, I just want to get this in the transcript. Engagement is one thing but I'm talking about decision making as well. 

Well, yes, absolutely. It's for Commissioners individually to engage with their groups and then, when decisions are made within the Commission, to reflect the sentiments and views of those Members that we engage with. So, of course, as a member of the Labour group, I'll be reflecting the views of yourself and our colleagues, and I'd expect other Commissioners to do so as well when we meet as a Commission. 

That was a very well-worded answer, which I won't pursue this morning, people will be pleased to hear. I'm content with those responses, and I'm content with the way that the Commission has calculated other costs in terms of some of the pro rata issues. 

I've got—. Mike Hedges has arrived. That's excellent. Hello, Mike. I'm sorry you've had a bad journey to work this morning, but I'm just wondering if you've got any questions yourself. I know you haven't listened to all of this session, but whether or not you've got any questions about the implications of the Bill. 

Okey dokes. Just looking at how the Commission ensured that the financial implications of the Bill were complete, and looking at things like job sharing and things that are coming down the line as well, your estimate for Members’ travel expenses reflects a pro rata uplift to the current budget, based on the increase in the number of Members, with the cost of Members’ accommodation assuming all Members will, on average, be entitled to the intermediate travel allowance. Why did you not model the current costs in these areas to derive a range of estimates?

I'd probably have to come back to you with a note on that, although it's probably more of a technical decision when the model for the determination was being built up, which one of our colleagues was more directly involved in.

Okay. And what dialogue did you have with the Welsh Government regarding the potential costs of Members' job share? Have you looked at any of that in your modelling?


We haven't had discussions, Chair, with the Welsh Government about that. Because the Bill doesn't contain any firm proposals for job sharing, then those figures weren't requested. 

Okay. I think that's going to be—. Have you got any further questions, Peter?

I think you answered it right at the beginning, probably, in the first question. Have the Welsh Government engaged with you enough to help you do what you're wanting to do here?

I'm fairly sure I speak on behalf of the team when I say that we have had consistent dialogue to clarify any issues that we were discussing. We have a joint assurance board, which is chaired jointly by colleagues from the Welsh Government and a colleague from the Commission staff, and that is a forum for exchange of information and communication as well. So, I have no concerns about that aspect of the project so far. 

Okay. And that's a regular dialogue that you'll obviously be wanting to engage with all the way through this process.

We've got known knowns, and we've got known unknowns, and we've got unknown unknowns, if you look at it like that. So, you've been able to cost the known knowns, you've made a good assumption on the known unknowns, and that's where the modelling comes in. Can you foresee—? It's a little bit like having a crystal ball, but, on the unknown unknowns, what sort of things should this committee be looking for when you come here to present your budget in future years—the stuff that potentially we would need to keep an eye on? Any thoughts on those unknowns that could be coming down the line?

I think that, in terms of the last three or four years, our experience of business continuity throughout the coronavirus pandemic taught us lots of lessons we didn't know we were going to learn, and we were able to take those lessons forward. Again, we described to you when we saw you last week our major ways of working programme, which, alongside Senedd reform, is the other major change programme that we are managing as a Senedd Commission. Parts of that have crystal balls to look into the future, as you put it, and we are going to harness that learning to think about ways in which—. We always try to think about innovative ways of working more effectively in future. The key thing is that we work with Members, and we are here to provide an excellent parliamentary service to support Members and to support business. So, I think it is our job to suggest innovations, but, ultimately, it will be for the Commission to direct us as well on how the Senedd needs to develop.

Diolch. You talked earlier about—and I think it was in answer to Peter Fox's question—full-time equivalents for Commission were less than that for additional Members, due to assumptions that some changes in working practices would be necessary. Can you just tease out that a little bit more? Maybe it's more Alun, or you, Manon.

I think it reflects the fact that, again, the cost estimates were taken at a particular point in time, and very much built on existing service models. There are two programmes that support the executive board in its response, and ultimately support the Commission in its response to Senedd reform, and there are work streams underneath those programmes that are going to be looking at working and refining modelling as we approach the seventh Senedd to really start to think through whether further changes can be made to services, clearly in consultation with Members. But, I think the ambition is to make sure that, from a position of understanding the services that we have and we will be providing to the seventh Senedd, we have foreseen as much as we can, but are ready to adapt to, perhaps, unknown scenarios to an extent, within certain parameters, once we arrive at that seventh Senedd.


Okay. Thank you so much for this morning, and for your answers. Obviously, you are confident that the information that you have provided to the Government for this Bill is as good as it can be within the parameters. Thank you very much for that. 

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod ar gyfer eitemau 5 a 7
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public from items 5 and 7


bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod ar gyfer eitemau 5 a 7 yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).


that the committee resolves to exclude the public from items 5 and 7 of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42, dwi'n cynnig ein bod ni rŵan yn mynd i mewn i sesiwn breifat ar gyfer eitemau 5 a 7. Felly, fe wnawn ni fynd yn breifat, os ydy pawb yn hapus. Gwych. Diolch yn fawr. 

In accordance with Standing Order 17.42, I propose that the committee resolves to exclude the public for items 5 and 7. So, we'll go into private session, if everyone's content. Great. Thank you very much. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

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

Motion agreed.

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


Ailymgynullodd y pwyllgor yn gyhoeddus am 10:47.

The committee reconvened in public at 10:47.

6. Bil Senedd Cymru (Aelodau ac Etholiadau): Sesiwn dystiolaeth gyda Bwrdd Taliadau Annibynnol y Senedd
6. Senedd Cymru (Members and Elections) Bill: Evidence session with the Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd

Croeso nôl i'r sesiwn yma. Rydyn ni rŵan yn mynd i mewn i sesiwn gyda'r remuneration board.

Welcome back to this session. We are now going to go into a session with the remuneration board.

Welcome to this session on the independent remuneration board and the evidence session on this Bill. Could I ask you to introduce yourselves for the record, please?

Of course. Thank you very much, Chair, for inviting us to take part in your deliberations. My name is Elizabeth Haywood, and I'm the chair of the Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd.

My name is Daniel Hurford. I'm clerk to the remuneration board.

Diolch. Thank you very much. Obviously, this session is going to be recorded and a transcript will be sent you for accuracy afterwards. We've only got half an hour or so, so we'll crack on and hopefully get through all our questions. If we don't, then, we might want to write you if there's anything extra that we need to do.

What role has the independent remuneration board played in respect of the assessment of the financial implications of the Bill, for which the Senedd Commission provided core information to the Welsh Government, and did the Senedd Commission seek your views on the information?

Yes, Chair. We were consulted to agree the common assumption—so, the high-level bit. We didn't actually take part in the calculations; those were undertaken by the Commission and the Welsh Government, but the Commission did indeed consult us, and we discussed it at board.

And did you agree with their assumptions? Obviously, when you were in those discussions, you managed to get to a point where you agreed both assumptions.

We did. It think it's fair to say that we started off thinking, 'We don't know exactly how the new Senedd is going to work, and it's not for us to decide that.' So, there's a lot there that is unknown, and still remains unknown at the moment, but you have to start from somewhere. So, it's a good starting point to use this set of assumptions to come up with a figure.

Great. Okay. So, the RIA—. In preparation of the estimates, the Senedd Commission adopted those common assumptions with you. To what extent does the RIA now reflect the assumptions that you had when you first started?

Well, there are a couple of small points that we will raise in a second, but I think, overall, the assumptions are still valid. Obviously, the assumptions were made on the basis of a previous year's determination, and it just so happened, most unfortunately, in a way, that it was after that that we ended up with a period of severe volatility. So, costs have obviously gone up since then. It might have been more helpful to base it on the current year's budget, but then how do we know what's going to happen next year? So, as I say, I come back to my original point, which is that you have to start from somewhere. It's a good starting point.


I think probably we'd better—. There's a minor issue that we found, which is around the political leaders' pay. That takes into account—and I'll defer to Daniel in a second on this one—it takes into account the core allowances that are paid to groups, group leaders, but it doesn't actually take into account the payment that is made on the basis of members of a group, so—. They're fairly small figures in actual fact. Daniel, do you want to pick that one up, and there's another one you've got as well?

Yes, of course. So, the assumptions are broadly based on the methodology that there are obviously an additional 36 Members. So, the last year's determination was used as the basis for calculating that, and uprating, in the main, most salaries or budgets for accommodation, office costs et cetera by 36 Members with the minimal greater change options, of course, with additional committee members, additional Ministers et cetera factored in. So, the methodology is predominately based on an uprating of an additional 36 Members, and the point the chair has just noted is that there's a small figure that probably needs to change. The political group leaders are entitled to a core salary, but then also circa £1,000 per member in their group. So, if there's a group of three, a group leader of three, the estimates in the RIA need to be uprated by £3,000 for the one group leader in the minimal change, and up to just over £6,000 in the maximum. So, it's only a small change on the face of the RIA.

Thank you. What's your view on the estimates? Do you think they are a reasonable assessment of the implications of the Bill or not? Have you got a view on that?

It's quite a difficult question to answer, because I come back to the fact that we really don't know what the impact is going to be on ways of working. That's why I say I think it's a good starting point, and it may well be that, even if the whole shape of the structure of the determination, which we might decide to change, and we'll come back to that in a second—. But, if the structure of the determination changes, the overall budget might not change a huge amount from these assumptions. So, it's quite a difficult question to answer at the moment. There are too many unknowns.

No, I can acknowledge that. You've already reflected on, perhaps, your concern or slight concern about using perhaps the 2022-23 determination to make some of those assumptions. Is there anything more you wanted to add on that?

I wouldn't say it's a concern. I think it's just a point to be noted, really, because, wherever you start from, something is going to change. Just to use as an example at the moment, this is always an ever-evolving organisation, so we're now looking at what to do in terms of what sort of level of pay to provide for Co-chairs. Well, we've never had Co-chairs of a committee before. I don't know how many committees are going to use Co-chairs in the future. It's not for us to decide. That's for you to decide as Members, not for us. We then simply provide the framework and the determination for what sort of pay levels there would be for additional office holders.

Why would a Co-chair have anything except 50 per cent of the Chair's allowance? 

Because it's not a job share. They're equal.

Yes, but there are two people performing one job, one role.

But they're dually doing it. They're not actually taking one half and then another half, so a Co-chair is different from a job-share role. But I'm using that purely as an example; it's not a part of the new Bill coming up. I'm just saying that, as things evolve within the Senedd, we have to take those things into account.

Myself and another member of this committee, Mike Hedges, suggested we job share a role of Chair, which, apparently, was against Standing Orders at the time. It's not against Standing Orders now, but there we go, that's politics.

Well, that's another example of evolution.

Well, it's an example of a Government coming to different decision. But the assumption was made then that if there was any allowance to be paid, it would simply be shared. And I'd be surprised as a Member—. I do not believe that we should be establishing precedents for increasing those overall allowances on the basis of Co-chairs.


The board is going to be discussing this tomorrow, so I will take your views into account.

Well, I think that’s not what we expected as Members when we took that decision.

[Inaudible.] I’m conscious there are so many unknowns about ways of working, but you’ll know that the RIA has been built, it seems, on two scenarios. Do you think, with hindsight, perhaps more scenarios should have been considered for you to reflect on?

I don’t really see that it would necessarily have been particularly helpful. For me personally, I think it would just have given me a headache to have a whole bunch of more scenarios to try and look at. I think it’s better to have an envelope—or two envelopes, an envelope between this and this—that we can look at, so that we can keep an eye on where the value add is, where the costs are, and also, obviously, made provision for, again, the unknown unknowns that you’ve mentioned, which is very difficult to do.

This might be a very short session; my coffee might last longer. I find it quite difficult to have this conversation with yourselves, quite honestly, because I’ve always assumed that the remuneration board will take decisions on supporting Members and staff and the institution, how it should be, on the basis of the roles performed. I've never—. I don’t remember—. Correct me, Dr Hayward, if I’m wrong on this, but I’ve never heard a rationale from the remuneration board that is based on the number of Members of the institution; it’s always been based on the funds required to perform the role. Now, with more Members, the role will evolve and change—I accept that completely—but when I look at the additional costs that that may or may not create, it goes back to the Commission, rather than the remuneration board. I would have issues, for example, to take up with you on decisions that you’ve taken, and I would—. Let’s use one example here. My office costs are very, very low, because of where I represent. Mike Hedges has much higher costs, because of where he represents, and you have those differential costs across the country. Certainly, new Members would require additional office space—I would expect it—but I wouldn’t have anticipated that you would take a decision on the costs of that, or the allowances available, on the basis of the numbers of Members. My assumption would be that you would look at the market rate, as you have in the past, you would take decisions on what is right and proper to create an office space, and you would do that. Your methodology wouldn’t be fundamentally different if there were to be 30 Members, 60 Members or 90 Members.

I think our methodology will be different depending on what we see in terms of ways of working changing, and we have already started to talk to Members, but of course you must bear in mind that, in the new Senedd, there are probably going to be—. Maybe 50 per cent of the Members are actually going to be new, so may want to conduct their business in a different way. So, you might have some of them who don’t want any office at all and actually prefer to act in a completely hybrid way—at the moment, we only have one who does that. But we also have to be prudent, and assume that people will want the traditional office structure. And we haven’t yet taken any decisions on that office cost figure, or indeed on the staffing figures for the future. That’s all work that we are doing some preparatory work on at the moment. 

And we’ll be coming out to Members to engage with you to find out what your thoughts are, and also to other people.

Yes. Just to follow up on your point, you are correct, it doesn’t matter, the scale, in terms of some of the changes in terms of pay et cetera, but, certainly, each Member, as currently set out in the determination, is entitled to a certain amount for office costs, office and constituent liaison fund, or staffing costs. So, those have been uprated by 36 additional Members because those are the core costs, but, as the Chair said—

But—sorry, if I could come in there—you wouldn’t calculate the core costs, the allowance that you're describing—and I think office allowance is as good as any to use as an example—on the basis of a number of Members, would you? Because I've never seen that in the determination in the past.


I don't know whether we're talking at slight cross-purposes here. It is as you say. For instance, when there was an uplift—a biggish uplift—within the Assembly, as it then was, before, that was on the basis of increased complexity and responsibility. And that, I'm sure, will be the way that it will go in the future as well.

So, have you had any discussions within the remuneration board on that matter?

We are starting those discussions. We didn't want to pre-empt the Bill, which, of course, is only now in front of the Senedd, because that's not our role. But that's why I say that we will be coming out—and we've already given notice to the representative groups that this is where we need to go—in our thematic reviews, we'll be coming out and actually talking to Members and to staff about how they see the future, how things might work in the future. I think, with multi-member constituencies, things may also be very different.

Well, because, at the moment, we have constituency Members and regional Members. So, the regional Members have a much larger area to cover, they're doing less—generally speaking; I'm generalising here—in the way of casework. Constituency Members are doing more in the way of casework and they have a much smaller area to cover. Now, constituency Members, assuming they stay on, are going to have a larger area to cover, so they've got to get used to that and how they're going to approach it. Whereas regional Members, if they stay on, will actually be in a smaller area. And so I think the ways that people work—whether it affects travel, whether it affects office space, whether it affects the number of staff or indeed the type of staff—I think that's all open for question. For example, one of the aspects that we were told was hoped for with the changes that are proposed was that, obviously, there'd be more Members available to carry out scrutiny of legislation and, hopefully, to specialise in certain areas. Now that might mean a change in the type of staffing that they need to help them with that. It's one of the things that we want to find out about.

If I may, just to come back on that point, the board will, and has previously, but will, ahead of the seventh Senedd, look at what costs, what support, does a Member need to discharge his or her parliamentary constituency duties. And so we'll come up with a figure in terms of staffing costs, in terms of office accommodation costs, and they will typically be—. Albeit you've noted there are variations regionally in terms of costs of offices, for example, they have previously been set at a fixed budget. Where there have been differentials between Members, of course, is around the residential accommodation expenditure—the inner, intermediate, outer—because Members have different travelling needs, accommodation needs et cetera. So, the board may or may not—I don't want to pre-empt the decisions of the board—look at different models for Members in different regions and what they might need as a Member in a particular constituency compared to another. So—.

But going back to the allowances, I was a Member, of course, that represented the largest region—the Mid and West Wales region—and then I was elected to represent one of the smallest constituencies in Blaenau Gwent. And so I went through exactly the change that you're describing there, and your description, Dr Haywood, is absolutely accurate in terms of the change in my working practices. But the allowances didn't change at that time. I took the decision to stand for my own constituency and then the sort of people I employed, the jobs, certainly did change—there was exactly that change. But my allowances didn't change and they didn't need to change, because I had taken a decision.

And we had a discussion earlier on on travel allowances: for example, you do far less travelling in Blaenau Gwent than you do in Mid and West Wales, but you do more of it. I've got three engagements this afternoon and this evening in my constituency; I probably did two—one, two, three—in a day in Mid and West Wales for the same reason, because you've got the distances involved. So, you do less travelling as a regional Member and more as a constituency Member, but it's very different travelling in that sense, and you employ different people in terms of casework and policy and the rest of it—that's absolutely true, but that didn't make a difference to my allowances, and that's the point I'm trying to get at. The decisions that individual Members take about the sort of support they believe they require within their area, shall we say, is dependent on how that Member wishes to approach that role. And I'm unsure as to how it affects the allowances that would be paid. 


The differential between regional and constituency Members, of course, will go—

—assuming we get multi-member constituencies. And it was before my time, but, as I recall, the decision to have the same allowances for both was not a decision that was taken by the board; it was a decision that was taken by the Assembly, by the Commission.

It was contested, yes. I accept that.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. I've got a question on pensions first. My expectation, and I'm not sure whether you would agree, is that we'll have 36 new Members—that's a fact—we'll probably have 10 to 15 new Members because of retirements, and that means that over half the Senedd will be new, and newer Members have historically been younger than Members who are retiring. Would you expect the pension scheme to have a short-term benefit but there would be a long-term claim on it?

I would hesitate to answer that directly, Mike, because I'm not an actuary. But we are actually seeing the actuary tomorrow because we're looking at the pension, because there's just been a valuation of the pension scheme now, and the next one is due, Chair, just before the next election, which is actually very timely. So, it's one of the questions that we have, that we're planning on asking the actuary tomorrow, as to what, in terms of the proposals, what differences that might make. And you're absolutely right to say that, obviously, if you have younger Members, certainly initially, the costs go down. What the demographic life expectancy is is obviously going to affect things at a later stage. But that's all I can say at the moment. But we will certainly be asking the actuary for a bit more information. 

Okay. Thank you. Really it was a question for you to pass on to the actuary rather than for you to answer directly.

Absolutely. We will do so tomorrow.

At the moment, you undergo a full review of the determination every five years, which makes a lot of sense as we have five-year terms. Will you be moving to four years if we move to four-year terms?

Again, that was the answer I was hoping for and expecting and, yes, I'm happy.

Great. Thank you very much. The discussion that you were having with Alun is really interesting and it's understanding more about how you come to decisions and doing that. Obviously, we get correspondence from you regularly and I know you do other meetings, drop-ins and that sort of thing. Mike, sorry, did you want to come in?

Because I missed the beginning of the meeting I didn't declare that I'm a member of the pension board. I think the remuneration committee know that I'm a member of the pension board, members of this committee know that I'm a member of the pension board, and I think that it's fairly common knowledge, but I'd just like to put it on the record.

No problem. Thank you, Mike. That's good to put on there. I'm just wondering, from this committee's point of view—obviously we don't scrutinise your budget, but we look at that as a quantum when it comes as part of the Commission's budget—is there anything that you would want from this committee, going forward? If you're looking at potentially changing some of the determination, or you mentioned earlier that it might evolve as time goes on, is there anything that you would want us to consider when we're doing some of the scrutiny of the Commission's budget?

I welcome the invitation, just as I thanked you for inviting us here today. I think the key thing from our point of view at the moment is that as we come out to consult in terms of these five areas that we have, that we can ask you for your views on the future. So, that's ways of working; it's staff pay and grading, which we're starting on at the moment; there will be a whole session that I'm championing on Members' pay and the office costs, et cetera, allowances; and of course there's simplification, which is one that we've been working quite hard on, which I think most Members will appreciate, in that we are trying to simplify the determination so that it's much easier for Members to understand and also for staff to understand and for MBS to work with. So, we're working with the Commission on that. So, your help on that, when we come out—and, indeed, encouraging your colleagues to do so—will be really gratefully received. But I think we'd like to take away and reflect on anything that we might request from the Finance Committee, unless you've got something right now.


No. You, obviously, scrutinised the Commission's budget last week, and there were references to the remuneration board's budget in there, which has increased in recent years, in the run-up to the Senedd new term. And there have been discussions about the amount of resources available, particularly in terms of external expertise to support some of the thematic reviews that the Chair has mentioned. So, I think you've already discussed that with the Commission last week.

Yes. Obviously, the Commission is going through a series of looking at reducing costs and things. I'm making an assumption that you do the same within the remuneration board as well, and looking across the Senedd estate and, obviously, at the impact that your decisions have on other aspects as well.

Yes. We recognise that. I think it's fair to say that some of the work that we're doing now we'd have needed to undertake in any case, because there are a number of reviews that we feel need to be done. They haven't been done for some time, and support staff pay and grading was one of them. But the scope and complexity of the reviews that we're doing has increased as a result of looking at the proposals for a larger Senedd. So, we're trying to draw it all together and make that work.

Okay. Thank you very much. Unless anybody has got any further questions, thank you so much for making time to come and give evidence to us. It's very much appreciated and, yes, it's good to get your views on this, and especially because we don't get to see you that often in this setting, anyway.

We do have a drop-in session this afternoon, everybody. Please come.

Of course. Thank you very much.

So, as I said earlier, under the Standing Order, we'll now go into private for our last session.

Diolch yn fawr iawn am ddod. Diolch.

Thank you very much for coming.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 11:12.

The public part of the meeting ended at 11:12.