Y Pwyllgor Deisebau

Petitions Committee

22/04/2024

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Buffy Williams
Jack Sargeant Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Natasha Asghar Yn dirprwyo ar ran Joel James
Substitute for Joel James
Peredur Owen Griffiths

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Gareth Price Clerc
Clerk
Kayleigh Imperato Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Mared Llwyd Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Masudah Ali Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Samiwel 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 14:00.

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

The meeting began at 14:00.

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

Prynhawn da, a chroeso cynnes i chi i gyd i gyfarfod y Pwyllgor Deisebau.

Good afternoon, and a very welcome to you all to this meeting of the Petitions Committee.

Can I welcome everybody to today's hybrid meeting of the Senedd Petitions Committee? As a reminder, this is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and a Record of Proceedings will be published as per usual. Aside from the procedural adaptations for conducting proceedings in a hybrid format, all other Standing Order requirements remain in place.

Item 1 on today's agenda: apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest. We have received apologies from Joel James, and we have with us Natasha Asghar as a substitute. So, welcome to this committee, Natasha. Can I remind committee Members that they should note any declarations of interest either now or at the relevant point during today's proceedings?

Okay, before we move on to item 2, I would like to bring Peredur Owen Griffiths in to make a factual correction on comments made during the discussion on P-06-1359 and P-06-1362—the childcare petitions that were considered and closed at the meeting on 18 March. Peredur Owen Griffiths.

Diolch, Jack, and thank you for this opportunity just to clarify some comments that I made during the Petitions Committee meeting on 18 March about the childcare offer in England. I would just like to make it clear that eligible working parents of two-year-olds are now able to access 15 hours of childcare in England. Furthermore, eligible working parents of three and four-year-olds are also able to access 30 hours of Government-funded childcare in England.

The September 2025 date that I alluded to is where support is proposed to reach 30 hours for eligible working parents with a child from nine months of age up to school age. So, whether the Conservatives get the opportunity to implement that pledge is another matter, but my attention will be firmly fixed on ensuring that the provision in Wales is as strong as it can be. So, I just wanted to clarify that point and apologise if my comments were misconstrued.

Diolch yn fawr, Peredur Owen Griffiths. Your clarification is noted, and the record of today's proceedings will reflect the comments that you have made. Thank you.

2. Deisebau newydd
2. New Petitions

Moving on to item 2, new petitions, and item 2.1, P-06-1397, 'Introduce an at-home smear test option in Wales'.

'Cervical cancer is the most common type of cancer in women under the age of 35. According to Cancer Research UK, 99.8% of cases in the UK are preventable. Smear tests can save lives by detecting any pre-cancerous changes early when treatment is more effective.

'Currently there are barriers preventing women and those assigned female at birth from accessing this service. England have trialled at-home smear tests, and we believe the option in Wales can help break down these barriers and save lives.'

This was submitted by Molly Fenton and Jessica Moultrie, with a total of 1,543 signatures. I would like to bring Buffy Williams in to discuss this petition first. Buffy.

Thank you, Chair. I'd like to thank the petitioner for bringing forward this really important petition. I can see that, as you have said, there have already been trials, and we are waiting on the UK National Screening Committee's recommendations, but I can also see that the Health and Social Care Committee has done an inquiry into gynaecological cancers and that the Welsh Government has accepted its recommendations. So, I'm not really sure where we can go with this petition, as a committee now, only to say that, as Members, we can continue to highlight this on the Chamber floor. So, in saying that, I'd like to again thank the petitioner and close this petition.

Diolch, Buffy. Are Members content? Any further comments? You are happy. Thank you, Buffy, for that. Just to say, I took part in the Health and Social Care Committee's inquiry into gynaecological cancers, and I was pleased to see the recommendations being accepted around this particular issue. I look forward to the debate on that report, which is scheduled in the next few weeks, I believe.

Moving on to 2.2, P-06-1398, 'To act to increase the effectiveness of Natural Resources Wales in halting pollution on the Teifi'.

'The river Teifi is dying due to levels of pollution.

'We call on the Senedd to increase the funding to Natural Resources Wales to enable it to fulfil its obligations in relation to the monitoring of the health of the river and the enforcement of legal requirements.

'We also call upon the Senedd to ensure that Natural Resources Wales is held to account for its performance. This would help to safeguard the Teifi for future generations as proposed in The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015.'

There's further additional information available to members of the committee and members of the public. This was submitted by Moira Williams, with a total of 1,321 signatures. I invite committee members in to discuss this petition and any actions the committee may wish to take. Peredur Owen Griffiths.

14:05

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Thanks to the petitioner for bringing this forward. Thanks to Moira Williams; a very, very important petition. We've had some comments back from the former Minister for Climate Change and she emphasises that she's extremely concerned about the impact of pollution on the quality of rivers, but states that improving water quality is a very complex issue. In her response, she outlines some of the work that's been going on, and I think that's on the record, Chair.

Whilst the former Minister has provided a detailed response on the ongoing work undertaken, there are some issues and challenges raised by the petitioner. So, I'm wondering if we could write to the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, sharing the Save the Teifi community group's comments and proposals, and wait for a further response on that. And possibly also write to NRW to share the impact the budget settlement will have on the planned work to improve water quality and fulfil its obligations in relation to the monitoring of the health of rivers and the enforcement of legal requirements. Because I know from my own region, and Natasha's region, that there are some serious concerns about river pollution in rivers across Wales, not just the Teifi. So, there are certainly some questions that I'd be very interested in getting answers to. I thank the Save the Teifi community group for responding and bringing those to the fore.

Diolch, Peredur Owen Griffiths. Comments from Members? Natasha Asghar.

Thank you so much, Chair. Can I just please echo what Peredur has said? I think both options should be followed. Writing to NRW is a great option, as well as to the Cabinet Minister for climate change, in relation to this, just so that the petitioner does actually feel that something is being done, and at least a follow-up is then carried out after that.

Thank you, Natasha. I can see all members of the committee in agreement with the suggestions from Peredur Owen Griffiths. We will action them.

Item 2.3, P-06-1399, 'Health Education & Improvement Wales to make PMDD a mandatory CPD module in postgrad medical teaching'.              

'Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a hormone-based mood disorder affecting 1 in 20 menstruators causing severe mental, emotional, and physical symptoms in the 2 weeks before each period with symptoms devastating each aspect of a sufferer’s life. There is no cure, only symptom management. The lacking awareness and poor education within the medical community means that sufferers frequently receive suboptimal care, waiting an average of 12 years before receiving a diagnosis, thus appropriate and safe treatment.'

There's additional information available to members of the committee and members of the public with regard to this petition. This was submitted by Becci Smart, with a total of 717 signatures. I will bring committee members in to discuss this petition now, but wish to welcome Becci Smart to the public gallery today, here in the Senedd. You're very welcome, Becci. I bring Buffy Williams in to discuss. Buffy.

Thank you, Chair. I'd like to thank the petitioner personally, and on behalf of the committee, if I could, for bringing forward this very important petition. As Members will be aware, I did my short debate on PMDD not so long back, and brought it to the Chamber floor. As a sufferer myself of PMDD, I totally understand how frustrating it is, and absolutely mind-numbing is the only word I can say it is when you are trying to get help and support when you suffer with PMDD. It is an uphill battle at the best of times. So, like I said, I'd like to thank the petitioner.

I know that there's a letter to go to the Minister that the petitioner has brought forward, and I think it's up to every Member to continue to support this very important campaign to ensure that girls and women are better informed and able to seek proper help. I also think, as it says in the petition, that the training is available for healthcare providers to ensure that they understand and can recognise the symptoms, then, of PMDD, and it's not put as something else—it is not identified as something else. PMDD is a real serious issue.

Again, I will thank the petitioner. I'll just continuously thank her, because I think it's fantastic that she's brought this forward, and been brave enough to bring this forward. But, as a committee, I'm not sure where else we can go now with this petition, and I do think it's really important that all Members continue to speak on this on the Chamber floor at every opportunity that we have. So, I'm going to thank the petitioner and close this petition.

14:10

Thank you, Buffy Williams, for that. Are there further comments from members of the committee or are we in agreement? I can see all Members are in agreement to, again, thank and congratulate Becci Smart for all the work she has done with this petition, and also to pay recognition to you, Buffy, in your role as Member of the Senedd and the short debate that you led on this matter. We will go ahead and close this petition, but, in doing so, write to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care to share the recommendations for the further improvements that Becci has listed in good detail for us. So, again, thanks to the petitioner, and all those who have been brave enough to support this very important petition and topic. 

Item 2.4, P-06-1400, 'Fair and Adequate Resourcing of General Practice in Wales'. 

'General Practice in Wales is under significant and growing strain. GP numbers are declining, demand is rising, and practices are struggling to recruit and retain staff.

'General practice is being forced to try and cope with inadequate resources, an unsustainable workload, and a workforce under pressure across the whole of Wales, with some areas in crisis.'

Again, there's additional information with regard to this petition available to members of this committee and members of the public. This was submitted by Lewis Williams, on behalf of the British Medical Association Cymru, with a total of 21,620 signatures. Can I bring committee members in to discuss this petition and any action they may wish to take? Again, Buffy Williams. 

Thank you, Chair. I'd also like to thank the petitioner. I wonder if, as a committee, we could write to the Health and Social Care Committee and see if there's anything they are doing around this. Rather than duplicate any work that's being undertaken, I think that a letter to the Health and Social Care Committee to see what they've got in their forward work programme would be helpful, and then take it from there. So, leave this petition open at the moment, but gain information from the Health and Social Care Committee on what their forward work programme is. 

I'd agree with Buffy there with regard to writing to the health committee, but I think it's so important to highlight the strength of feeling around this, and access to GPs. I know a number of GPs personally that are really under the cosh at the moment, they're really struggling, and they feel that the Government isn't always listening, and obviously with the pay awards being done in different parts of healthcare, I think it really needs to keep the highlight on this to make sure that we don't lose sight of the fact that GPs are really the unsung heroes, if you like, in the medical world, as, basically, they effectively keep people out of hospital, as well as the fact that longer waiting lists means that there's more and more pressure on GPs. It's systemic of a problem that needs a whole-of-the-NHS solution for it, and it can't be just piecemeal. So, I think there are quite a few aspects to this that need some highlighting.38

So, writing to the committee would be a good start, and maybe, depending on what comes back from that, maybe a debate at a later date if we don't get certain useful answers from there—[Inaudible.]

14:15

Okay, thank you, Peredur Owen Griffiths. Natasha Asghar. 

Thank you so much. I know I'm a newbie to the committee, but I echo again what Peredur has said. I think that each and every single one of us, regardless of which part of Wales we come from—we've all experienced various GPs getting in touch, complaining about how difficult things are for them, and quite frankly I don't think they're seeing light at the end of the tunnel. So, I do think, if you're willing to wait for a response from the Minister, that's absolutely fine, but I do think they have hit the threshold. Hats off to all the people that have signed the actual petition, but I think that it should be debated going forward as well, once the response is received, and depending on the committee, when you decide, I do think a debate should be imminent. 

Thank you for that, Natasha. Just to say in my capacity as a Member of the Senedd I've had a number of meetings with local GP surgeries at present to discuss similar issues. In fact, I saw this petition being shared on one of the noticeboards in a GP surgery in my constituency, so credit to the work of the BMA and partners. I think there is agreement to write to the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, just to understand what their forward work programme might be to help inform our thinking of this particular petition, when we'll bring this petition back for a further discussion here. But I hear what all Members have said with regard to the importance of this particular petition, both as committee members and the importance of local members who can raise this in the weekly way that they can in other proceedings. 

Okay, 2.5, P-06-1405, 'We want and need a Mental Health unit for men in North Wales with beds'. 

'There are so many men suffering with mental health issues. It was bad enough before lockdown but now it’s devastating. As a landlady, I can see for myself the many men struggling with many issues. They are crying out for help and told to
speak up and ask for help, yet when they do it is non-existent.'

This petition was submitted by Lynda Leigh with 261 signatures, and I'll invite committee members in to discuss this petition and any action they may wish to take. Can I bring Peredur Owen Griffiths in, please?

Diolch, Gadeirydd. I know that this is a subject that's very close to your heart, Jack, and obviously mine as well. You've been very open about it in the past, and just to congratulate you on the work that you've done on raising the issues. We all suffer with our mental health issues, and I'm no exception to that in the past, and I can see the need for this, potentially, in north Wales.

I think we've had a response from the former Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being before the change in the Cabinet, and I think it would be good now to write to the Minister for Mental Health and Early Years to ask about the 24/7 provision. I'd also possibly like to wait for the outcome of the consultation on the suicide and self-harm prevention strategy and the new mental health and well-being strategy being published. I'd like also, if we could, to seek clarification from Betsi Cadwaladr health board on the number of in-patient places that they currently have, and maybe, if we're asking Betsi, then we ask the other health boards as well, just for us to inform ourselves of the understanding of what the provision is like across Wales, and then maybe revisit that once we've had some of that information back. 

14:20

Diolch, Peredur Owen Griffiths, for those suggestions and also for his kind words at the start of his contribution as well. It seems the petitioner, I think, is a landlady, and it seems to me that the role of pubs as community hubs plays an important for the nation's mental health, as do safe spaces like football clubs, sports clubs and, indeed, barber shops, where men, in particular, can feel safe to open up and talk. We should certainly seek to do all we can to do that. I fully support Peredur's comments. Buffy Williams wanted to come in.

Just to say that I completely support what Peredur has said. Mental health support is something that I think we've all spoken about in the Chamber at one time or another, or lack of, especially where men are concerned. I think it's more difficult to get them to speak. It's one of those things, and it shouldn't be. But I agree that we need to see, across all health boards, exactly what is on offer and how it is advertised, and how men can access provision, because it shouldn't be as difficult as it is. 

Thank you, Buffy. Are there any further comments or are Members content to—? They are. Thank you.

Okay, item 2.6, P-06-1407: this is the petition in relation to the record-breaking number of signatures around the objection to the 20 mph default speed limit in Wales. This was submitted by Mark Baker with a total of 469,571 signatures in total. Members will be aware that this is by far the highest-ever number of signatures received for a Senedd petition by some way. There have also been a number of petitions on this topic submitted to the Petitions Committee, and also in other areas as well. 

Given the unprecedented weight of opinion on this petition and the variety of petitions that we have received, can I suggest as Chair of the committee that we write to the Senedd's Business Committee requesting a debate on the matter at the earliest opportunity? Are Members content or are there any comments from Members? Natasha Asghar. 

Chair, I concur with everything you said. I think we should call for a debate. I know it's not a declaration of interest, but it's no secret that I am shadow Minister for transport, so, naturally, it does fall into my remit. But I do have to commend Mark for putting this petition together and for achieving such a record-breaking petition. It's never been done before, so I commend him for everything he's done and all the signatories as well, but I do look forward to bringing the debate to the Senedd sooner rather than later.

Thank you, Natasha. As I said in my contribution just now, I think we will write to the Business Committee of this Senedd requesting the debate at the earliest opportunity that we can, and I agree—congratulations to Mark Baker for his work in getting the number of signatures that he has. I'm aware of your role in assisting the petitioner in some of that as well. 

Okay, moving, then, to 2.7, P-06-1412: this again is a petition in favour of the 20 mph default speed limit in Wales, submitted by Roger Davies with 5,399 signatures in total. I'll refer committee members to the points raised in the petition in the last item, 2.6, and the consideration of that petition there. I suggest that we keep both petitions open pending the scheduled debate here in the Senedd. Members of the Senedd then can make their contributions known either in favour or against, or whatever they may feel, during that time. Are Members content? They are. Again, thanks to the petitioner for bringing that petition forward.

Okay, 2.8, P-06-1418: 'New legislation should be introduced to protect sports pitches from dog fouling'.

'Dog poo on sports pitches creates serious health risks for players of all ages. Current legislation such as Public Spaces Protection Orders have proved insufficient to prevent this problem, meaning sports club volunteers are having to inspect and clear pitches of dog mess every time pitches are used for training or fixtures.

'New legislation is required as the current legislation has proved useless because of lack of enforcement by local authorities.'

Additional information is available for members of the public and members of the committee. This was submitted by Abercarn Rugby Football Club, with a total of 2,518 signatures. I invite committee members to discuss this petition and any actions they may wish to take. Peredur Owen Griffiths.

14:25

Diolch, Cadeirydd. It's a problem across Wales, I think. There's a link in my notes here to something that was in the media from Sioned Williams down in south-west Wales, and I know that in south-east Wales, across the region, there are issues, and it's good that Abercarn RFC has brought this petition forward to highlight the issue. We've had some responses from the Minister, who says that they're not currently looking to legislate. But some councils have been using bye-laws to do some of this work as well, which, again, is commendable. We have been invited, I believe, to go and visit and see the issue for ourselves—whether that is you as the Chair, or as a committee to go and visit. As a local MS, I'd be able to arrange a time to go, and we've got another local MS in the meeting today as well, so, potentially, we could all go and visit, to see this issue. But I think it's an issue all over Wales, and it's something that we should be looking into, but maybe a further discussion with the petitioner might be a way forward. But I don't know, because of the response that we've had, whether or not we could do a visit that would help to highlight the issue, but the work that this committee could do, going forward, is limited. Maybe by highlighting the issue, and putting it into the press again, and doing work as local Members—that we do it like that, and that we close the petition, but that we take up the invite to go and visit.

Diolch, Peredur. Any further comments from Members? In agreement? I can see that you are. I hear what you're saying around a potential visit to Abercarn RFC. In establishing this committee in the early parts of this Senedd term, the committee did say they would try and get around Wales and be visible around Wales as much as they possibly could, where that would add value. So, certainly, I will see if the committee can arrange to visit the sports club there, and, indeed, invite local Members too, or make local Members aware that that is going on, and if they want to join, and if they can, then we're more than happy for them to do so. Okay.

3. Y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am ddeisebau blaenorol
3. Updates to previous petitions

Item 3 is updates to previous petitions. Item 3.1, P-06-1209, 'Create a national list of all unpaid carers in Wales'. This was submitted by Mike O'Brien, with a total of 77 signatures. As a reminder to committee, this was when the threshold of signatures was at 50 signatures to be considered by this committee. Members will be aware of the change to Standing Orders at the start of this Senedd, which makes the threshold now 250 signatures for a petition to be considered by this committee. Moving on, I'll invite committee members in to discuss this petition and any extra actions the committee may wish to take. I think this is the fifth time we've considered this petition to date. Buffy Williams.

14:30

Thank you, Chair, and I'd like to thank the petitioner, again, for putting forward this petition. It's an extremely emotive petition and a very important one. I can see that the Minister has offered to have a face-to-face meeting with the petitioner to discuss any potential misunderstandings that have gone on with the Welsh Government previously, because there has been an awful lot, I understand, of correspondence between the petitioner and Welsh Government. As you said, this petition has been before us now—this'll be the fifth time—and I'm not quite sure where we as a committee can go now with this petition. I loathe to close this petition, but I think it's the right thing to do, because I don't know what else we can do. But I would urge the petitioner, if they have been offered a face-to-face meeting with the Minister, to take the Minister up on that offer.

Yes. Thank you, Buffy. Are Members content? Yes, I can see they are, and I would agree. It seems the offer has been made and I hope that can be taken forward between Government officials and the petitioner. I think you're right, this petition has come to a natural end of the road and, therefore, we will thank and close.

Item 3.2, P-06-1217, 'Open Long Covid one stop medical hubs / clinics', submitted by Lawson Webb, with a total of 1,214 signatures. Again, I think is the fifth consideration of this petition. I'll bring committee members in to discuss this petition and any actions they may wish to take. Peredur Owen Griffiths.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. This is—. Again, we've talked about this petition quite a bit over the years now, as this is a very emotive topic again. The committee wrote again earlier this year as it appeared that an offer to meet the petitioner had not been followed up. Following our letter, the petitioner has now met with officials, and it seemed to be a productive meeting from the correspondence back, and useful action points were promised. The petitioner did say that the only other comment—and I'm reading verbatim now—

'The only other comment I would like to add is that it has been disappointing that the Heath Minister herself has again declined to meet with us—it gives the impression that hearing about the lived experience of people with long covid is not a priority.'

I don't want to comment on that, but that would be the petitioner's response. It's been nearly three years since the petition was originally opened. Many people in Wales are still suffering the lingering effects of long COVID, but I think we've probably done as much as we can on this committee. But, obviously, individual Members can keep championing this with people within our regions and within our constituencies, but I'd like to thank the petitioner and close this petition.

Thank you, Peredur Owen Griffiths. I can see all committee members are in agreement with your suggestions there.

Item 3.3, P-06-1247, 'We call on the Welsh Government to lead the way by supporting trials of a four-day week in Wales'. This was submitted by Mark Hooper, with a total of 1,619 signatures.

Just to say, for the record, I know Mark Hooper. I'm sure I'm not the only Member of this Chamber—I can see others saying that they do as well. And then, to comment on this petition, Members will be aware and remember that this committee held an inquiry and reported and then debated on this topic, where there was a minority view on the agreed report, from Joel James. In response to that report and debate, the Welsh Government set up a working group to look through the proposals, and that working group is with the Welsh workforce partnership council. They have now reported on their findings; they have recommended a pilot, but also note the complexity of the issues. They have also set out a set of principles that should be considered if any pilot is delivered in the future. So, can I thank the Welsh workforce partnership council for their detailed report? I think this has been a successful petition from the start, including the report that we've also delivered, and thank them for the in-principle agreement that a pilot could be worth while if there was one in the future. I would suggest that we close the petition again, and thank Mark Hooper. I can see Peredur Owen Griffiths wanted to come in.

14:35

Just to say and declare that I went to a conference on this in Valencia that was particularly interesting, and, having done quite a bit of research into this, it's an extremely progressive way forward of looking at how businesses work. I think that there is a fair bit to myth bust. Condensed hours isn't the same as a four-day working week, and that's a real point, that they're two different and distinct things, and, when I hear this discussed on the media sometimes the condensed hours model isn't different from a four-day week model, which is unfortunate, that that still hasn't quite permeated through, but I know of businesses in my region that are using this, and using it effectively, and I was talking to a couple of public bodies that are looking at seeing how this might work in their fields as well. So, it's been a successful petition. I'd like to congratulate Mark Hooper—I know him as well, Jack—but I agree with you that this petition has run its course and it's achieved what it needed to achieve. So, thank you.

Diolch, Peredur. Are Members content? Yes, I can see they are.

Item 3.4, P-06-1299, 'Welsh Government "Freeze on road building" to include a clause for cases that pose a danger to life'. This was submitted by Susan Blaney with 455 signatures in total. I'll invite committee members to discuss this petition, and any actions the committee may wish to take. Again, Peredur Owen Griffiths.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. The response from Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council implies the relief road is still a live option, included in local strategies, but it's not yet progressed beyond some indicative work done about 10 to 15 years ago. So, we've had some information back from RCT council on this. The petitioner argues that developments in the area, including a new school, and the absence of useful public transport, mean that the relief road is needed more than ever. My concern is that, having written to the local authority and done everything we can as a committee, it will probably be more to do with local Members to take this up further, but I'd thank the petitioner very much for bringing this to the fore and close this petition.

Diolch, Peredur. I can see Members are content with that.

Item 3.5, P-06-1338, 'Extend the bus emergency scheme and develop national bus recovery plan', submitted by Andrew Jenkins with a total of 1,025 signatures. I'll invite committee members in to discuss this particular petition, and any actions they may wish to take. Also, just before I do that, I'd like to thank Carolyn Thomas MS for providing her thoughts, as one of the Members who has expertise in this area, who has sent a detailed letter to committee outlining the issues faced by the industry. Okay. On that note, I'll bring Buffy Williams in to discuss this petition.

Thank you, Chair, and I'd like to thank the petitioner for bringing this petition forward. I'd also like to offer my thanks to Carolyn Thomas, as I know she's done an enormous amount of work on transport. I know there's a great deal of concern across Wales about public transport, and especially the bus service, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the bus Bill, which is due later this year, brings forward. It comes down to money, doesn't it, as with everything. So, therein lies the challenge.

I'm not quite sure what we as a committee can do with this petition now, going forward. I think it is for us to wait on the bus Bill and see what that brings. I think we should close this petition and, as Members, continue to monitor and scrutinise the Government where transport and especially bus services are concerned. But I think it's really important that all of us as Members do that because our constituents deserve a first-class bus service and first-class transport if that is what they are paying for.

14:40

Thank you, Buffy. Members are content, I can see, with those suggestions. Just to note, the committee will be considering a report, in private session later this afternoon, around the petitions and evidence we heard on free travel for young people. And in some of the sessions, we certainly heard some of the same comments that have been made in this petition and been brought to our attention. And then can I also, finally, before we do move on, praise the friends of the No. 65 group community of bus users that use social media to promote a route once threatened with closure, and congratulate them, and add my voice to that of the petitioners and the older people's commissioner in praising that group? So, well done—da iawn—to them.

Item 3.6, P-06-1348, 'Commission suitable NHS services in Wales for people with EDS or hypermobility spectrum disorders'. This was submitted by Natasha Evans-Jones, with a total of 1,125 signatures. I'd like to bring in committee members at this point to discuss this petition and any actions. Buffy Williams.

Thank you, Chair, and I'd also like to thank the petitioner. I know that this is the fifth consideration of this petition that has been before the committee. I can see that the petitioner is in contact with NHS officials and they intend to meet, and that's really good news. As a committee, we've probably done all that we can do at this time. So, I'd like to thank the petitioner again for raising this issue and wish them well in their continued campaign, and close this petition.

Diolch yn fawr, Buffy. I can see Members agree. They do. Thank you.

Item 3.7, P-06-1387, 'Provide humanitarian aid to Gaza'. This was submitted by Sam Swash, with 1,795 signatures. Before I bring Members in to discuss this petition, just to note for the record, I know Councillor Sam Swash. He's a councillor in Alyn and Deeside who I know well, and therefore I will remove remove myself from any decision making on this petition. I'll bring in Peredur Owen Griffiths, who wants to speak to this petition.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. I'd like to thank Sam for bringing this petition. All our hearts break at what's happening in Gaza and beyond following the atrocious Hamas attack on 7 October, and everything that's followed on since then; it has been absolutely devastating in the area. I've been working quite closely with different groups on responding to the ongoing war in Gaza and calling for a ceasefire as—well, a ceasefire now. That's what we need to be able to get humanitarian aid into Gaza, and I think it would be premature to close this petition down before we get a chance to do that. I think the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal will be forthcoming once a ceasefire is in place, and hopefully that will be very, very soon. But I think this needs to be in our consciousness, and it needs to be in our thoughts and prayers that what's going on there is horrendous. And we need to keep it highlighted so that we don't forget what's going on. We need to get humanitarian aid in as soon as possible, as soon as we get a ceasefire. Every voice needs to be chiming to do that, and a ceasefire means a ceasfire in all parts, on all sides. I'll leave it there, Chair, but I wouldn't want to close this petition until there's an DEC appeal in place. I know that the Government has said that they would be willing to support a DEC appeal, or at least consider it. I know other Governments in the UK have already given aid in different formats.

The other point that we need to bear in mind—and it's not part of this petition in particular—is that we need to be mindful of all those Welsh citizens who have been affected by this. We heard from people whose daughter and granddaughters were living in Israel and part of the Jewish community that was attacked by Hamas on 7 October, and the son-in-law is still a hostage. They are going through grief because the daughters and granddaughters were killed. Also, in the Muslim communities, and in all other communities, people have been affected. So, I think we need to impress upon the Government that they need to be offering help to all those families affected, with bereavement counselling, with all sorts of different aspects. So, this is something that is very poignant at the moment and we need to keep the pressure up on the Government, and all Governments, to bring a resolution to what's happening in Gaza.

14:45

Diolch, Peredur Owen Griffiths. Are there any further comments from Members? No. I can see that Members agree with your comments on the way forward. 

Item 3.8, P-06-1391, 'Introduce regulation of the dog grooming sector, to protect the welfare of dogs and rights of owners'.

This was submitted by Brian Howell, with 284 signatures. I'll invite committee members to discuss this petition and any actions they may wish to take. Buffy Williams. 

Thank you, Chair. I'd like to thank the petitioner for bringing this petition forward. I can see that the Minister has written back to the committee on this subject and has confirmed that it is in the scope of the consultation and has been accepted as a late submission. She notes that evidence is now being considered and a summary will be published in due course. 

I'm not quite sure where we can go as a committee with this petition. But I wonder if it's worth keeping the petition open, pending publication of the Welsh Government's summary of evidence on this issue, rather than closing the petition and then not knowing what's happened.

Thank you. Are Members content? Are there further comments? No. I can see they are content. So, we'll keep it open and we will bring it back at a later stage once the Minister has responded to the consultation on animal welfare.

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog Rhif 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting

Cynnig:

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

Motion:

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 4. That does now conclude today's public business. So, can I propose in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix) that the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of the meeting, where will discuss a draft report and have a discussion about our forward work programme as well? Are Members content? They are. Can I thank all Members for joining today's committee, and Natasha Asghar for substituting for Joel James? We will meet again as a committee on 13 May. I look forward to seeing you then. Diolch yn fawr. Meeting closed. 

14:50

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 14:50.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 14:50.