Cofnod y Trafodion
The Record of Proceedings

Y Pwyllgor Deisebau

The Petitions Committee



Trawsgrifiadau’r Pwyllgor
Committee Transcripts




4....... Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau a Dirprwyon
Introduction, Apologies and Substitutions


4....... Deisebau Newydd
New Petitions


11..... Y Wybodaeth Ddiweddaraf ar Ddeisebau Blaenorol
Updates to Previous Petitions


25..... Sesiwn Dystiolaeth—Adolygiad o System Ddeisebau Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru
Evidence Session—Review of the National Assembly for Wales Petitions System


42..... Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i Benderfynu Gwahardd y Cyhoedd o’r Cyfarfod
Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Meeting











Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd.


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.

Aelodau’r pwyllgor yn bresennol
Committee members in attendance


Russell George

Ceidwadwyr Cymreig
Welsh Conservatives

Bethan Jenkins

Plaid Cymru
The Party of Wales

William Powell

Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru (Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor)
Welsh Liberal Democrats (Committee Chair)

Joyce Watson



Eraill yn bresennol
Others in attendance



Dr John Cox


Nesta Lloyd-Jones

Conffederasiwn GIG Cymru
Welsh NHS Confederation

Robert Southall



Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru yn bresennol
National Assembly for Wales officials in attendance


Gill Eveleigh

Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk

Steve George


Matthew Richards

Uwch-gynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Senior Legal Adviser

Kath Thomas

Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk


Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:00.
The meeting began at 09:00.

Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau a Dirprwyon
Introduction, Apologies and Substitutions


[1]          William Powell: Good morning all and welcome to this final Petitions Committee of the term. We have no apologies this morning, a full complement of Members, and the normal housekeeping arrangements apply.


Deisebau Newydd
New Petitions


[2]          William Powell: So, since we’ve got a busy agenda, we move straight to agenda item 2, consideration of new petitions, and the first petition before us today is agenda item 2.1, is P-04-658, ‘The Brimmon Oak’. Now, this petition was submitted by Mervyn Lloyd Jones and Rob McBride, and it collected 4,730 signatures. The text of this petition reads as follows:


[3]          ‘We, the undersigned, call upon the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to adhere to the recommendations of the appointed arboricultural specialist’s report that it commissioned as part of the environmental assessment for the much needed A483 Newtown bypass.


[4]          ‘This would result in the preservation of one of the most significant “Natural Monuments” of Montgomeryshire, whilst facilitating the economic revival of the County Town. People from Montgomeryshire, across Wales and indeed the wider world are aware that sustainability has always been the “central organising principle” of the Welsh Government since the National Assembly was created in 1999.


[5]          ‘The safeguarding of the Brimmon Oak as part of the historic A483 Newtown bypass will be a demonstration of the Welsh Government's commitment to preserving our birth right for the Wellbeing of Future Generations.’


[6]          Now, before proceeding with this, I should declare that I have undertaken a visit to this particular tree and, on that occasion, just gave some procedural advice to Mr Lloyd Jones in relation to his proposed petition. Russell George.


[7]          Russell George: Thank you, Chair. I should also declare an interest and provide some information for the record also. I also visited the tree earlier this year, prior to the summer, and also I know Mr Jones as well. I visited the farm and walked the route of the bypass in conjunction to the tree. I should also say that I have made representations previously, before the summer, asking for accommodations to be made to avoid the tree and I also made representations verbally at the public inquiry in Newtown in the early summer where I asked the inspector to consider amendments to be made to avoid oak trees and this was the oak tree that I was specifically referring to. So, I should put that on the record as well, Chair. But, in taking this forward, I think it’s important to point out that the petitioner is very supportive of the bypass and many of the people who are signing it are and I think it’s important to say that one doesn’t contradict the other. If any small accommodation could be made, and I believe it can, then I think that should happen. So, I certainly think that, Chair, we should write to the Minister, Edwina Hart. We should ask her to update us, because her current letter states that she’s waiting to make an announcement on this scheme and that’s happened now. So, I think we can ask her specifically does she support the retention of the oak tree and, if so, what amendments need to be made and will she agree to that?


[8]          William Powell: Thank you for that comprehensive declaration and for your other comments. I don’t think anyone of us could be in any doubt from the text of the petition that the petitioners are very much in favour of the scheme and don’t see themselves as blockers or wreckers, but I concur with your views there. Joyce, did you indicate? I wasn’t quite sure. 


[9]          Joyce Watson: Just to say that the Minister is saying, you know, that she’s going to bear it in mind, that’s she’s—. And that, we hope, will be good news and I’m ready to support everything that’s been said so far.


[10]      William Powell: Excellent. Well, I very much hope that we will have a positive outcome and I think the timescale is quite short now. Russell, you wanted to come back in.


[11]      Russell George: Yes. Can I add something, Chair, sorry, as well? Very often, developments take place where there is already an accommodation in the planning to save a tree and then what happens during the construction phase is that the developers come along, or a subcontractor, perhaps unaware, and bulldozes something down. So, I think, perhaps, when we’re writing to the Minister, we could also say that, if she is agreeing that the tree should be saved, can she make arrangements with the contractors so that the tree is completely cordoned off so that no harm will come to the tree during the construction phase?


[12]      The final point: I was given a song about the oak tree on a disc. We don’t make, often, best use of our equipment here so, perhaps next time we consider this petition, perhaps you could consider, Chair, playing part of this song before we consider it at the next meeting.


[13]      William Powell: I’d be very happy. I think that would set a good context for discussions, and we’ll see whether that is possible. I remind Bethan Jenkins also that she met Mr Rob McBride in the context of our visit of 13 November 2013 to Gregynog, where we also visited very remarkable trees on that occasion. So, I think we’ve captured all of that, and I’m sure that Mrs Hart will give clear instructions to her officials to liaise with Alun Griffiths contractors, who I believe are the principal contractors in this matter to protect this tree if that is at all possible. Excellent. A good, comprehensive consideration there. I think that concludes agenda item 2.1.


[14]      Item 2.2: P-04-660, ‘The Additional Pressures on Funding for Education Provision Faced by Sparsely Populated Rural Areas’. Now, this petition was submitted by Save Powys Schools and collected 1,049 signatures.


[15]      ‘We, the undersigned, call upon the Welsh Government to recognize the financial challenges of providing an appropriate level of educational provision in sparsely populated rural areas. Spending cuts are adversely affecting school communities to the extent that children are leaving their county of residence (and increasingly, in border counties, such as Powys, leaving Wales) in order to continue their education. Schools and sixth forms are at breaking point, exhausted by continual threat of closure. Our children are forced to travel unsustainable distances on minor roads, breaking up friendship groups and adding up to two hours to the school day. Nursery education is now also under threat, and with continuous cuts to school budgets causing round after round of redundancies, it is impossible to deliver the quality of education that teachers trained for and that our young people deserve. We urge the Welsh Government to immediately investigate the additional challenges to education in sparsely populated rural areas, and to increase the funding to areas such as Powys accordingly. The loss of our schools heralds the death of our communities and our local economies. If a devolved Wales is to thrive, we need our Government to lead the funding discussions in Westminster. We need you on our side!’


[16]      So the petition concludes. Now, a first-consideration letter on this matter was sent to the Minister for Education and Skills on 3 November. We have his comprehensive response, and that is in our public papers. Also, the petitioners have made comments and these are also available in the public papers. Before proceeding, I think, in the context of the reference to Powys, I should declare that I’m a member for Powys County Council and a school governor, just for the record.


[17]      Russell George: I make the same declaration myself, Chair. Thank you.


[18]      William Powell: Okay. I’d very much welcome comments from colleagues. I know that one or two colleagues were able to be present last Tuesday. I think Bethan Jenkins in particular, took a lead role in engaging—


[19]      Bethan Jenkins: Russell was there as well.


[20]      William Powell: And Russell was also there. I’m sorry.


[21]      Russell George: I was there as well, yes. [Laughter.]


[22]      William Powell: Absolutely. So, if you’d like to share your comments or perceptions—


[23]      Russell George: Well, we were both there, Chair, and there was some confusion about the meeting point, unfortunately, so we didn’t meet all the petitioners, but we met over a dozen of them and Bethan and I spent about 10 minutes talking about the situation to them. I think one of the themes to me, which I would agree with, is that children shouldn’t be on a bus for a lengthy period of time when they should be sat in a classroom. So, I think that we should proceed with the petition and support the petitioners as we can.


[24]      William Powell: I think we probably need to share the most recent comments from the petitioner with the Minister in any event. Joyce Watson is indicating.


[25]      Joyce Watson: Did you want to go?


[26]      Bethan Jenkins: I’ll come in after you.


[27]      William Powell: Okay.


[28]      Joyce Watson: Okay. The decision clearly rests with the council that we have just had two declarations from here in the room—whether you keep a school open or whether you don’t and how you manage your budget, and that is evidently clear. I think, for the sake of clarification, that that needs to be put on the table because it is evidently the case. And in that regard, petitioning the Assembly is clearly a good thing to do in terms of highlighting the management in that council. But, we can’t actually as a Petitions Committee in that regard accept responsibility for that because it falls outside our remit, as is advised to us. So, I want to make that clarification first of all, as the Minister has set out in his letter.


[29]      I’m quite happy, having said all of that, that that can be shared back with the petitioners in this case, and they can be advised then where they really need to put their pressure. And we can ask the Minister for his comments on that information that has been supplied by the petitioners, but, nonetheless, the petitioners in this case really need to focus on Powys County Council, which is the deciding body.


[30]      William Powell: I’m grateful for that, Joyce. Bethan.


[31]      Bethan Jenkins: Roeddwn i jest eisiau dweud fy mod yn credu mai’r pwynt sydd yn bwysig i mi yw’r pwynt bod nifer o bobl nawr yn gorfod mynd i ddilyn eu hastudiaethau y tu allan i Gymru, a byddwn i eisiau gofyn i’r Gweinidog a yw e wedi gwneud unrhyw ymchwil i effaith y ffaith bod yna ddisgyblion yn awr yn cael eu haddysg y tu allan i Gymru o oedran ifanc, ac wedyn effaith hynny ar y system addysg yma yng Nghymru a’r effaith ar y disgybl. Mae Donaldson, fel rydym ni i gyd yn gwybod, yn mynd i gael ei gyflwyno yma yng Nghymru. Os nad yw pobl yn ardal Powys yn derbyn eu haddysg drwy ysgolion yma yng Nghymru, mae’n rhywbeth sydd yn fy mhoeni yn fawr o ran sut rydym yn asesu esblygiad y disgybl drwy’r proffesiwn o fewn yr ysgol. Felly, byddwn i eisiau gofyn i’r Gweinidog ac hefyd efallai ofyn i’r consortia ar draws Cymru a oes ffigurau ganddyn nhw hefyd yn hynny o beth. Rwyf yn gweld bod y system ariannu yn digwydd ar lefel awdurdod lleol. Yn wir, fe wnes i ddweud wrth y deisebwyr bod yr un peth yn digwydd yn fy ardal i o ran ysgolion yn cau, ond nid yw fy ardal i ar y ffin ac felly nid yw’r broblem o ran mynd i ysgolion yn Lloegr yn bodoli. Felly, byddwn i eisiau gwneud mwy o waith ar hynny, os nad unrhyw beth arall.


Bethan Jenkins: I’d just like to say that I think the important point for me is the point that many people now have to go and study outside of Wales, and I would like to ask the Minister whether he has made any research enquiries into the effect of pupils having their education outside of Wales at a young age, and the follow-on effect on the education system in wales and on the pupil. Donaldson, as we all know, is being introduced here in Wales. If people in areas of Powys are not receiving their education in schools here in Wales, then it’s something that concerns me greatly as to how we assess the evolvement of that pupil throughout the school system. So, I’d like to ask the Minister about that and perhaps ask the consortia across Wales whether they have figures in relation to that. I do see that the financial arrangements happen at a local authority level. I told the petitioners that the same thing happens in my area in relation to schools closing, but my area is not on the border and so we don’t have the same problem in relation to attending schools in England. So, I’d like for more work to be done on that, if nothing else.

[32]      Hefyd, byddwn eisiau dweud wrth y deisebwyr fy mod yn rhoi gwelliannau ger bron i Fil yr Amgylchedd Hanesyddol (Cymru) ar hyn o bryd, a byddwn i eisiau edrych mewn i sut mae adeiladau yn cael eu defnyddio ar ôl iddyn nhw gau, fel yr ysgol yma ym Meguildy, fel ein bod ni yn gallu efallai weld sut mae’r Eglwys yng Nghymru nid yn unig yn siarad â’r gymuned yn nghyd-destun beth sy’n digwydd i eglwysi gwag, ond hefyd beth sydd yn digwydd i holl ystâd yr Eglwys yng Nghymru os yw un o’u hysgolion nhw yn cau. Felly, rwy’n hapus i drafod ymhellach gyda nhw ar e-bost yn hynny o beth. 


Also, I would like to tell the petitioners that I am proposing amendments to the Historic Environment Bill (Wales) at the moment, and I would like to look at how buildings are used after they have been closed, like the school mentioned here in Beguildy, so that we perhaps can see how the Church in Wales are not only speaking to the community in the context of what’s happening to empty churches, but also what’s happening to the entire estate of the Church in Wales when one of their schools closes. So, I am happy to discuss further with them by e-mail in that regard. 

[33]      William Powell: Diolch yn fawr.


William Powell: Thank you very much.

[34]      I think that was a very useful contribution indeed. In other adjacent schools to the one that’s been referenced here, the projections are that if a particular high school in the Hay-on-Wye area were to close, something between 40 and 50 per cent of the pupils—and surveys have backed this up—would actually proceed towards Herefordshire and then be away from the cwriciwlwm Cymreig altogether, and would be denied that. There are huge impacts culturally but also in terms of student finance and long-term employment patterns as well. Huge issues, and I think we need to take that into account as we proceed with this petition. Thank you for that, colleagues.


[35]      Agenda item 2.3, P-04-659, ‘Pay Student Nurses their Full Travel Costs’. This petition was submitted by Steffan Thomas, and collected 102 signatures.


[36]      ‘In 2014 the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) changed its policy on travel to placements, the work component of a nursing course. Before this change, students were paid travel expenses from their home to their place of work. Now students are paid the cost of travel from their home, or the university at which they study. The smallest distance is then used to calculate the payment they receive.




[37]      ‘Student nurses without dependents in Wales receive a bursary of approx. £100 to £500 a month. The higher figure, spread across their work hours, reaches the minimum wage at best. On placements, student nurses are expected to take on an increasing number of the responsibilities of a nurse. They provide care—washing, dressing, feeding patients; talking to patients and families; working with healthcare professionals to improve patients' well-being. They are also called on to show learning from these placements, and hone their skills in patient care.


[38]      ‘The cut in travel allowances for these work placements means a total cut in the amount received for being student nurse.


[39]      ‘This change has several ill effects. It creates an incentive for Universities to place students near as possible to campus—limiting the clinical experience of student nurses before qualification. It makes nursing less attractive to people from rural or isolated communities. It privileges nurses who live nearer to their university, and could discourage those who are unable to move because of commitments to children and others. It makes nursing less attractive to people in full-time work, or from deprived backgrounds.’


[40]      Finally,


[41]      ‘We believe that student nurses should be paid their travel costs where they live, to the places they work. We believe this change makes it less likely that people will choose a nursing career, and we believe that it will limit the range of experience that they have prior to qualification. We call on the WAG to reverse this change, for the benefit of student nurses and their patients.’


[42]      Now, a first-consideration letter was sent to the Minister for Health and Social Services on 2 November. We’ve got the response in our pack today, and, at this time, we haven’t as yet heard from Steffan Thomas. I don’t think we’ve had anything late in relation to this, so we’re still awaiting feedback in the light of the ministerial correspondence. I’d welcome any comments from colleagues as to how to go forward. Joyce Watson.


[43]      Joyce Watson: I think at this stage it would be wise to await the views of the petitioners on the Minister’s letter. He has made it clear in his letter that he won’t be changing the situation, unlike the Westminster Government, who actually want to do away completely with nursing bursaries. That would probably have been announced after this letter. So, I think it’s worth waiting for the views of the petitioners in this case.


[44]      William Powell: Yes, if colleagues are happy to do that at this stage.


[45]      Bethan Jenkins: Yes.


[46]      William Powell: Okay. Thank you very much.




Y Wybodaeth Ddiweddaraf ar Ddeisebau Blaenorol
Updates to Previous Petitions

[47]      William Powell: Agenda item 3, updates to previous petitions. We start with agenda item 3.1, P-04-638, ‘Emergency Services—Power of Entry’. Now, as colleagues will recall, this was submitted by Mr Fran Richley and was first considered on 16 June 2015 and has the support of 67 signatures. It was first considered, as I said, on 16 June, and we agreed to write to the Deputy Minister to ask that he provide us with a substantive response to the petitioner’s points, many of which seem, indeed, to be reasonable at face value, and also to the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust seeking their views on the petition. We’ve got, now, a ministerial response and a response from the petitioner, but we haven’t as yet heard from the Welsh ambulance service, and that’s a bit disappointing. We did write initially on 5 August and have chased very recently. We haven’t heard anything as yet, and their perspective on this is pretty critical. We haven’t got further comment from the petitioner in the run-up to this meeting. How do colleagues feel we should go with this one?


[48]      Bethan Jenkins: Aros nes ein bod ni’n cael ymateb gan wasanaeth ambiwlans Cymru, a wedyn gallwn ni ailasesu’r sefyllfa, ar ôl inni ddod yn ôl ar ôl y Nadolig.


Bethan Jenkins: Wait till we receive a response from the Welsh ambulance service, and then we can reassess the situation after that, when we return after Christmas.


[49]      William Powell: I think that makes good sense, if colleagues are happy with that approach, because we really do need to have the ambulance service trust’s input into this so that we can take the matter forward, because on the face of it, as we said earlier, it does seem to be a common-sense issue for these healthcare professionals to do the job that we expect of them. Okay. Good.


[50]      Agenda item 3.2, P-04-649, ‘Welsh-Medium Education—Garland or Albatross’. This petition was submitted, as we will recall, by Norman Hudson and has the support of 117 signatures. Colleagues can re-familiarise themselves with the full text of Mr Hudson’s petition, and also the additional comments and assertions that he’s made with regard to this.


[51]      We first considered this back on 22 September, along with a letter from the Minister, and also we have a detailed commentary on that from the petitioner. The petitioner took particularly careful note of our deliberations, also, when we met. We agreed to seek the Minister’s views on the further comments submitted by Mr Hudson. We’ve got those comments, and it’s clear that he has nothing to add to the comments he made initially. The petitioner has been asked if he wishes to add anything in the light of the Minister’s response, but it doesn’t appear that we’re going to have a meeting of minds here, and I’m not quite clear how we can progress this in a positive way. Joyce Watson.


[52]      Joyce Watson: We can’t. You’ve got two opinions that are diametrically opposed in some cases—not completely—and it seems that that’s the way they’re going to stay. The petitioner’s argument that there’s a causal link between the medium of instruction and performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment tests is not founded. Whatever action we take, it isn’t really going to change that, and I would suggest we close it.


[53]      Bethan Jenkins: Fel rhywun sydd wedi derbyn addysg Gymraeg, mae’n eithaf anodd i fi dderbyn ei fod yn ein niweidio ni. Fel rhywun sydd wedi dod o gartref di-Gymraeg, a siarad yr iaith a byw’r iaith trwy’r ysgol, nid wyf yn hapus gyda geiriad y deisebwr. Roeddwn i eisiau rhoi hynny ar y record. Rwy’n credu ein bod ni wedi cael ateb cynhwysfawr gan y Gweinidog. Os nad yw’r deisebwr yn hapus, yna wrth gwrs mae yna brotocol  gweinidogol sy’n bodoli, trwy’r Prif Weinidog, ac mae rhwydd hynt i’r deisebwr edrych i mewn i hynny fel cam ymhellach. Ond rwy’n credu bod ystadegau’n dangos bod dwyieithrwydd yn helpu pobl ifanc i ddatblygu trwy eu gyrfa ysgol, a byddwn i eisiau i’r deisebwr o leiaf gydnabod hynny.


Bethan Jenkins: As someone who has had Welsh-medium education, I find it rather difficult to accept that it does us any harm. As someone who is from a non-Welsh-speaking home, but who has spoken and lived the language through school, I am not happy with the wording here from the petitioner. I just wanted to put that on record. I think we have had a comprehensive answer from the Minister. If the petitioner is not happy, then of course there is a ministerial protocol, through the First Minister, and the petitioner can, of course, look into that as a further step that can be taken. But I do think that statistics show that bilingualism does help young people to develop through their school careers, and I would like the petitioner at least to acknowledge that.


[54]      William Powell: Diolch yn fawr. Russell George.


William Powell: Thank you very much. Russell George.

[55]      Russell George: Chair, I think, even if we put aside whether we’ve got disagreements or not, the fact is that we must always consider what more we can do with this petition, and there isn’t anything that we as a committee can do to further take this petition forward. On that basis, we should close the petition.


[56]      William Powell: I think we’ve got an emerging consensus here, and clearly we also have, sitting around the table, one, and probably more, product of Welsh-medium education, and that speaks for itself. But there is a particular issue that the petitioner has sought our views on, and that relates to paragraph 13 of his letter of 2 October. There, he asks us if we have any view on whether pupils with below average language skills have the capacity to be bilingual. I don’t really have any particular reflections on that matter just now, but I would welcome your further thoughts on the issue.


[57]      Joyce Watson: I think, if we start to unpick issues like that, then we would have to unpick abilities across every aspect of every curriculum, wherever that resides. Then, are we saying—and I’m sure it’s not what we would, any of us, agree to—that, just because an individual might not reach the higher end of their qualification, we deny them any opportunity whatsoever to partake to the ability at which they will arrive ? To me, that’s the problem I have with that statement, because, then, do we stop teaching pupils whose ability isn’t the same as those at the very highest end in any other subject? I don’t think there’s a single person here who would agree with that, and that’s my problem.


[58]      William Powell: Bethan.


[59]      Bethan Jenkins: Mae’n dibynnu pa iaith yw hi hefyd oherwydd weithiau mae yna bobl sydd yn medru’r Saesneg yn gymwys a ddim yn medru’r iaith Gymraeg, ond wedyn mae’n digwydd y ffordd arall o gwmpas. Rwy’n gwybod, o dystiolaeth bersonol, fod hynny yn wir. Felly yr un peth gyda dysgu iaith fel, er enghraifft, Ffrangeg. Efallai eich bod chi’n gallu clicio gyda rhywbeth fel hynny, ond ddim gydag iaith arall. Felly, nid wyf yn credu ei fod yn rhyw fath o—. Heblaw ein bod yn rhoi adnoddau i mewn i dystiolaeth—. Fel y mae Joyce wedi’i ddweud, os ydym yn dechrau rhoi emphasis ar hwn, ble fyddwn ni’n stopio wedyn? Gall fod ym mhob maes addysgol wedyn.


Bethan Jenkins: It does depend on what language it is also because sometimes there are people who can speak English very well and maybe don’t speak Welsh well, but it can happen the other way around as well. I know, from personal evidence, that that is true. So, it’s the same thing with learning a language like French, for example. Maybe it clicks very quickly with you, but maybe not with another language. So, I don’t think it’s some kind of—. Unless we put particular resources into finding evidence—. As Joyce said, if we do start putting emphasis on this, where are we then going to stop? In every educational field, it could go on and on.


[60]      William Powell: Absolutely. As a qualified teacher of French and German, I can only agree with that because pupils have different learning styles, and there are differentiated approaches to different languages. Some, as you say, will have a particular facility for a particular type of language—classical languages or whatever. So, I think there is a diverse approach there and I don’t think that we can generalise it. It would be inappropriate to do so. So, I appreciate your comments on that. I think that we have got a collective view that we need to close this petition. We should write to Mr Hudson, thanking him for engaging with us and for raising his particular issues, which have brought forward quite an interesting debate.


[61]      Agenda item 3.3 is P-04-639, ‘Save Further Education in Powys’. This petition was submitted by NPTC Group Students and was first considered on 16 June 2015. It has the support of 1,673 signatures. We last considered this petition on 22 September, and we agreed to share the Neath Port Talbot College Group letter with the Minister and to ask if there’s a wish to reconsider any of the statements that were made in the letter about the impact of cuts. Also, we agreed to await the petitioners’ views on the Minister’s earlier letter, and the one from NPTC. The Deputy Minister has responded, and her letter is in the public papers. As you can see, there’s some engagement with the points made in the petitioners’ letter, but at this stage we haven’t had a response from the petitioner. Whether that relates to some of the petitioners moving on, or not, in their education, we’ll see, but I think we should definitely try to pursue that matter. Russell George.


[62]      Russell George: Thank you, Chair. I do notice, in the Minister’s letter, that he does refer to cuts being imposed by the UK Government, but he then does go on to say that the post-16 budget has been reduced by £14 million, and there’s a—


[63]      Bethan Jenkins: She.


[64]      Russell George: Sorry. She. Yes. And then, with a 50 per cent cut in reduction to funding for part-time courses. I think there are some colleges in Wales that are particularly finding it difficult because of that 50 per cent cut. The Minister almost makes it out as if, somehow, this is a decision out of his hands. Well, this is a particular decision made here, where other administrations across the UK have taken different decisions. So, I think that’s important to point out.


[65]      I would say that the petitioner has not responded yet, but I think we should wait a little bit longer for the reply. Given the fact that there is a break now— it’s the college recess—and students are writing together, I think that rather than just waiting the normal six weeks, perhaps we should say, ‘To the end of January’ to give them time to reply.


[66]      William Powell: Yes. I think that would be entirely reasonable. We should try to chase that matter up. The other issue, of course, is that if further education in Powys becomes more fragile, the issues that we referred to earlier apply again, very much so, in terms of the critical mass that you have in centres like Shrewsbury and Hereford that could further undermine if these issues are not addressed. But I’m very happy to wait that additional time, if colleagues are content, to have a response from the petitioner.


[67]      Agenda item 3.4 is P-04-628, ‘To Improve Access to Education and Services in British Sign Language’. This petition was submitted by Deffo!, first considered on 24 March 2015, and has the support of 1,162 signatures. We last considered the petition on 22 September, agreeing to write to the Minister for Education and Skills for his comments on the most recent comments that we’d received from Deffo!, and also for an assurance that Deffo! would be contacted by staff supporting the Donaldson review. We’ve got a response from the Minister, which is in the public papers, and he has asked his officials to meet with Deffo! to consider their views.




[68]      We’ve also got some further feedback from the petitioners, and they’re asking for a meeting directly with the Minister. And, as I think colleagues will recall, they’re a very determined, admirable group of young people, and, clearly, they don’t want to lose any time in engaging directly with the Minister, maybe not appreciating the pressure on diaries, and so on. But I think it’s clear that we should bring to the Minister’s attention their urgent desire to meet him. How do colleagues feel we should proceed, otherwise, with this petition? Bethan.


[69]      Bethan Jenkins: Rwy’n hoffi’r ffordd y maen nhw’n ysgrifennu eu llythyrau nhw—maen nhw’n llawn pasiwn. Rwy’n credu y dylem ni eu cefnogi nhw, o ran eu bod nhw eisiau cwrdd â’r Gweinidog, ond mae’r Gweinidog wedi dweud ei fod e’n barod i’r grŵp gwrdd â’i swyddogion, yn y lle cyntaf. Ac felly, fe fyddwn i’n gofyn i’r deisebwyr a ydyn nhw’n hapus â hynny, yn yr interim, fel eu bod nhw’n gallu bwydo yn ôl i ni beth sydd yn dod o’r cyfarfod hwnnw, ac, wedyn, fe allwn ni ailasesu a oes angen i ni ymwneud yn fwy â’r ddeiseb, neu a fyddai’r gwaith gyda’r Gweinidog yn parhau yn hynny o beth.


Bethan Jenkins: I like the way that they write their letters—they’re full of passion. I think we should support them in their aim of meeting the Minister, but the Minister has said that he’s willing for the group to meet his officials, in the first instance. And so, I would ask the petitioners whether they’re content with that, in the interim period, so that they can feed back to us what arises from that meeting, and, then, we can reassess whether we need to be involved at a greater level with the petition, or whether the work with the Minister would continue in that regard.


[70]      William Powell: Yes, I think that’s the best way forward. Are colleagues happy with that approach?


[71]      Joyce Watson: Yes, fine.


[72]      William Powell: Okay. Good.


[73]      Moving to agenda item 3.5, P-04-637, ‘To Protect the Future of Youth Music in Wales’. The petition was submitted by the Friends of Bridgend Youth Music, and was first considered on 16 June 2015. It has the support of 1,436 signatures. We most recently considered this on 22 September, agreeing to write to the Minister for Education and Skills, seeking his comments on the petitioners’ letter, and, also, on that of the Westminster Minister responsible for this area, specifically on whether the music education hub model has been considered in Wales, and, further, to ask the Minister to set out specifically what the actions agreed for music are within the Government’s five-year ‘Creative Learning through the Arts—An Action Plan for Wales 2015-2020’.


[74]      We’ve got the response from Huw Lewis, and the petitioners have submitted further comments, feeding back on that, both of which are in the public papers. There are some specific issues that they’re keen to pursue further. We clearly need to share those with the Minister. Is there any other action that colleagues would like to take at this time? Bethan Jenkins.


[75]      Bethan Jenkins: Rwyf jest eisiau dweud, yn amlwg—rwy’n credu bod y deisebwyr yn gwybod—fod yna ddadl drawsbleidiol yfory, ar sail y ddeiseb a bod yn onest, yn gofyn am strategaeth, ac yn gofyn am fwy o fuddsoddiad yn y sector. Ac, felly, fe fyddwn i’n eu hennyn nhw i wylio honno, i weld beth y mae’r Gweinidog yn ei ddweud, ac efallai y gallem ni gael transcript o’r ddadl i ni edrych arno fel pwyllgor, yn y dyfodol.


Bethan Jenkins: I’d just like to say—I think the petitioners already know— that there is a cross-party debate tomorrow, on the basis of this petition, to be honest, asking for a strategy, and asking for more investment in the sector. And, so, I would encourage them to watch that, to see what the Minister says, and perhaps we could have a transcript of that debate to look at as a committee, in the future.


[76]      Ond y pwynt roeddwn i eisiau ei godi oedd pwynt 5. Mae’r llythyr gan y deisebwyr yn ôl atom ni yn dweud eu bod yn deall bod CBAC yn mynd i dynnu arian oddi wrth yr adnoddau cenedlaethol. Fe fyddwn i eisiau i ni allu ysgrifennu atyn nhw yn benodol, i ofyn am fanylion hynny. Rwyf wedi ysgrifennu atyn nhw fy hun, ond nid wyf wedi cael ateb—roedd hynny sbel yn ôl nawr. Fe fyddai’n dda i ddeall beth sydd yn digwydd yn hynny o beth.


But the point I’d like to raise is on point 5. The letter from the petitioners back to us says that they understand that the WJEC are going to take money away from the national resources. I would want us to be able to write to them specifically, to ask about the detail of that. I have written to them myself, but I haven’t had an answer—that was quite a while ago now. It would be good to understand what is happening in relation to that.


[77]      Ond, hefyd, rwy’n cefnogi’r pwyntiau y maen nhw’n eu gwneud o ran y grŵp gorchwyl, sydd yn tynnu i ffwrdd o ddweud bod y system hwb yn gweithio, achos rwy’n credu ei bod yn system a fyddai’n gallu bod yn llwyddiannus. Ac, felly, efallai i ofyn i’r Gweinidog ei farn ar hynny, yn ogystal â mwy o fanylion ar y cynllun dysgu creadigol.


But, also, I do support the points that they make in relation to the task and finish group, which moves away from saying that the hub model works, because I think that it can be a successful system. So, maybe we could ask the Minister about his opinion on that, as well as perhaps ask for more details about the creative learning scheme.


[78]      William Powell: Yes, and I think there may well also be some issues in the Minister’s response to tomorrow’s debate. Is it correct that you’re one of the co-sponsors of that debate?


[79]      Bethan Jenkins: Yes.


[80]      William Powell: Okay—just for the record. Good, excellent.


[81]      Bethan Jenkins: Should I declare an interest as a musician? [Laughter.]


[82]      William Powell: Excellent, very good. Okay, we look forward to tomorrow’s debate, and maybe other colleagues will participate in that also. I think it’s good that that is another outcome that comes from the fact that the petition has been raised, and that’s another positive aspect. Okay, good.


[83]      Agenda item 3.6 is P-04-646, ‘Petition against Welsh Draft Non-statutory Guidance for Local Authorities on Elective Home Education’. This petition was submitted by Lucy Bear and was first considered by us on 14 July 2015, having collected 2,846 signatures. We most recently considered this at the busy meeting of 22 September, and we agreed to draw the petitioner’s further comments to the attention of the Minister for Education and Skills. We’ve got a response from the Minister and he does appear to have addressed the concerns expressed, and has previously agreed to ensure that the petitioner’s comments are taken fully into account in the developing of new guidance. The petitioners have also responded and both their letter and that of the Minister are in the public papers. I think, in the context of what appears to be a positive outcome and most of the points having been addressed, it’s probably time for us to move to close this. Colleagues—.


[84]      Joyce Watson: Agreed.


[85]      William Powell: So, if we agree to close and, in doing so, to write to Lucy Bear, thanking her for having brought the issue forward, again, there does appear to be a positive outcome, so, something of a win-win. Good. 


[86]      Agenda item 3.7 is P-04-644, ‘The Future of Further Education’. This petition was submitted by UCU Wales and had collected 2,047 signatures. We most recently considered this on 14 July and, as a committee, we agreed to write to the Deputy Minister seeking her views on the comprehensive dossier that had been provided by the petitioners, and also to seek the views of the Confederation of British Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses on the ability of business to contribute additional funding to skills training provision, which was one of the issues flagged up by the Deputy Minister. We’ve had a response from the Deputy Minister, following a delay in her receiving the original letter—that’s in the public papers—but, unfortunately, we’ve not had a response from the petitioners at this time. So, I think we probably need to chase—. Are there any other actions that colleagues would like us to undertake just now? No. I think we do need to chase that to bring this important issue forward.


[87]      Agenda item 3.8 is P-04-626, ‘De-Trunk the A487 Through Penparcau, Trefechan & Aberystwyth TC’. This petition was submitted by Dylan Jones, Penparcau Community Forum, and was first considered on 24 March 2015, having collected 65 signatures. We considered this again on 22 September and we agreed to write to the Minister, seeking a firm timescale, given that the national transport finance plan had then been published. The Minister has now responded, but in doing so has indicated that funding has not been allocated beyond the current financial year, so it is not possible at this time to identify, with the certainty the petitioners were seeking, the timescales involved and the order in which selected schemes will be progressed. In addition to that, we’ve not heard from Dylan Jones just yet, or when the papers were being assembled, with regard to his view on the Minister’s comments. So, how shall we proceed, colleagues?


[88]      Joyce Watson: We need to wait.


[89]      William Powell: We need to await his comments, but clearly we’ve got some difficulty here because the Minister’s been upfront in saying that we can’t really commit to timescales. But, we’ll see how the petitioner views that particular matter. Good.


[90]      Agenda item 3.9 is P-04-632, ‘Mynyddoedd Pawb’. This petition was submitted by Mynyddoedd Pawb and was first considered on 12 May 2015 and has the support of 1,026 signatures. We considered this most recently on 6 October and we agreed to write to the Deputy Minister, Ken Skates, asking for his comments on the generally very supportive comments that we’d received from Meri Huws, the language commissioner, and the chair of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. We were also to ask whether he’s been in discussion with any other Ministers on this issue, because it’s very much a cross-cutting issue as we understand it, and to pass the correspondence received on to the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee, so that it can be taken full account of in their consideration of the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill. Further, we agreed to seek outstanding responses from Visit Wales and Wales Tourism Alliance and, finally, to make the petitioners—and we remember how committed they were when we met them at the time of the presentation—aware that they’re able to contact other Assembly Members and members of the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee, given their current consideration of the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill.


[91]      We’ve got a response from the Deputy Minister, Ken Skates, in which he indicates that amendments to the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill were being brought forward that would place a duty on Welsh Ministers to create and maintain a list of historic place names. These, just to put it into context, have since been agreed in committee and are now on the face of the Bill. The petitioners have responded and the Minister’s letter is also, along with theirs, in the public pack. What we’ve not received at this time, I believe, unless I stand corrected, is any response either from Visit Wales or the Wales Tourism Alliance, which is disappointing. Maybe we should be chasing that. I’m going to ask Bethan Jenkins to comment because I’m aware that she’s taken a leading role in the scrutiny of the Bill.


[92]      Bethan Jenkins: Yes, it was very stressful.


[93]      Roeddwn i jest eisiau dweud fy mod yn credu bod y deisebwyr yn ymwybodol. Wrth gwrs, rydym yn croesawu’r hyn y mae’r Gweinidog wedi’i wneud yng nghyd-destun enwau llefydd, ond fe wnes i roi gwelliannau i mewn i’r Bil a fyddai’n mynd ymhellach o ran defnydd enwau sydd nid yn unig yn Gymraeg, ond sy’n gynhenid, a hefyd o ran mannau o ddiddordeb, sef landmarks. Felly, byddai hynny’n helpu o ran y ddeiseb yma. Nid oedd y Gweinidog wedi ymateb yn ffafriol i’r gwelliannau hynny, rwy’n credu oherwydd yr oedd yn meddwl ei fod wedi mynd yn ddigon pell gyda’i welliant ef. Ond, byddaf yn rhoi gwelliant yn ôl mewn i’r system pan fydd Stage 3 yn digwydd yn y flwyddyn newydd. Felly, os oes syniadau pellach gan y deisebwyr yn hynny o beth, byddwn eisiau clywed ganddyn nhw. Os byddent yn gallu darllen yr hyn a wnes i ddweud yn y pwyllgor pan wnaethom drafod hyn gyda’r Gweinidog, byddai hynny’n help mawr i fi. Hefyd, ni fyddwn eisiau cau’r ddeiseb yma eto hyd nes ein bod yn cael rhyw fath o ateb gan Croeso Cymru a Chynghrair Twristiaeth Cymru, oherwydd rwy’n credu ei bod hi’n amhroffesiynol nad ydynt wedi ymateb, er rwy’n credu nad y lle yma yw’r lle i drafod y materion yma, bellach. Rwy’n credu mai yn y Bil treftadaeth y dylid trafod hwn ymhellach, i wneud unrhyw fath o newid cynhwysfawr. Rwy’n dal i gredu, fel mater o egwyddor, y dylem gael ateb gan y ddau gorff hynny fel cyrff sy’n cynrychioli buddiannau Cymru.


I just wanted to say that I believe that the petitioners are aware. Of course, we do welcome what the Minister has done in the context of place names, but I did put forward amendments to the Bill that would have gone further in terms of the use of place names that aren’t just in Welsh, but are indigenous and also places of interest, namely landmarks. So, that would have helped in terms of this petition. The Minister hadn’t responded favourably to those amendments, I believe because he thought that he’d already gone far enough with his amendment. But I will be putting forward another amendment into the system when Stage 3 takes place in the new year. So, if there are further ideas from the petitioners in that regard, I would want to hear from them. If they could read what I said in the committee when we discussed this issue with the Minister, then that would be a great help to me. I also want to say that I wouldn’t want to close this petition yet until we’ve received some sort of response from Visits Wales and the Wales Tourism Alliance, because I think it’s unprofessional that they haven’t responded, even though I don’t believe that this is the place now to discuss these matters. I do believe that it is in the context of the heritage Bill that we should be discussing this further, to make any kind of comprehensive change. I still believe, as a matter of principle, that we should receive a response from those two bodies as bodies that represent the interests of Wales.


[94]      William Powell: Absolutely, diolch yn fawr. I think it is necessary for us to chase Visit Wales and we also need to be cognisant to the fact that Visit Wales is a much better resourced organisation, in a governmental body. Wales Tourism Alliance is a slimmer operation, but, I hope that they’ll also have a view and they’ll express it because they represent the trade in this regard and I think that is important. Very much the main action centre is clearly your committee with regard to that.


[95]      Bethan Jenkins: The next stage will be the Plenary debate, isn’t it? So, it wouldn’t go back to committee now. So, I would advise the petitioners as well if I’m putting amendments through for them to contact other Assembly Members who may wish to support what I’m doing at the next stage.


[96]      William Powell: A little plug there.


[97]      Bethan Jenkins: So, it wouldn’t go back to committee now, it will be Plenary.


[98]      William Powell: No, okay. Excellent. Thanks for the clarity on that. I think in light of the comments you’ve made it would be premature to close. I sense there is a support for that decision to keep it open and to pursue comments from both tourism bodies. There are just a couple more items now, important items before we move to our evidence sessions.


[99]      I think it’s sensible for us to proceed to agenda item 3.10, P-04-577, ‘Reinstate Funding to the Real Opportunities Project’. This petition was submitted by Aled Davies and was first considered on 15 July 2014 with the support of 25 signatures. An associated e-petition had collected 226 signatures. We last considered this on 22 September when we had available to us a letter from Mr Damien O’Brien, the chief executive of the Wales European Funding Office. The petitioners have since responded and their letter is in the public papers.




[100]   My reading of this one is that it would be more productive if there was a direct dialogue between the petitioners and Mr O’Brien. I’m not sure that we bring a huge amount of value to that. In fact, we might almost be an obstacle in terms of direct communication. Do colleagues think that it would be sensible to close this at this time, but to make sure that there is that direct communication between the two interested parties? Joyce Watson.


[101]   Joyce Watson: I think you’re right that we’re almost a conduit—which is, of course, what we ought to be—but whether that system now is slowing things down or not—. So, I think what I would like to see is that those two bodies liaise directly with each other. But before closing it, I would ask, then, for us to look at it again post May and see what progress has been made. That is what I would like to see.


[102]   William Powell: Excellent. If we can make a request to a future committee, under whatever constitution, that that is done, I’m sure that would make sense. I’m not quite sure how we can best achieve that, but I’m sure we’ll respect that sentiment. Are colleagues happy with that approach? Yes. Okay.


[103]   And finally on this section of the agenda, we have agenda item 3.11, P-04-641, ‘Owners of Un-developed Land’. This petition was submitted by Mr Paul Hunt, with the support of 11 signatures. We recall considering this on 22 September and the committee agreed to clarify with legal advisers whether the Assembly had the power to legislate to implement the petition. We’ve since had a very comprehensive legal brief, which has been made available to us as a private paper. It is pretty clear that this particular matter is not devolved to this Assembly. So, I think in that context, recognising that now, with the more comprehensive legal advice available to us than perhaps was the case when it was considered earlier, I think we have to close the petition and thank Mr Hunt for having brought forward quite an interesting issue and one that we might well empathise with but which we cannot do a whole lot about. Are colleagues happy that we do that in light of the facts presented? Good.


[104]   Bethan Jenkins: Sori. Yn y nodyn sydd gyda ni—a ydym ni’n gallu codi hyn gyda’r Gweinidog, o ran y ffaith nad yw hyn o fewn capasiti’r Llywodraeth? A hefyd, efallai dweud wrth y deisebwr efallai ei fod e am gysylltu gyda phleidiau gwleidyddol unigol sydd efallai yn gweld beth sydd o fewn cymhwysedd y Cynulliad ac wedyn gweld os yw e’n iawn neu beidio a gwneud penderfyniad ar hynny.


Bethan Jenkins: In the note we have—can we raise this with the Minister, in terms of the fact that this isn’t within the capacity of this Government? And also, maybe tell the petitioner that maybe he could contact individual political parties to see perhaps what is within the capacity and the competence of the Assembly, to see what can be done or not, and then make a decision.  


[105]   William Powell: I think that’s a good point. The fact that it isn’t currently within our power doesn’t mean that it isn’t something that could and should be sought to clarify the settlement, and also for the betterment of our environment, which I think is one of the issues Mr Hunt is concerned about. Russell George.


[106]   Russell George: In your comments, Chair, you also said that we’ve got a private paper that explains the rationale behind this and I’m just wondering whether we can—if we haven’t done so already—whether we can extract what we can from that paper and pass that on to the petitioner as well, because I’m sure, if he’s listening, he’d want to know what was said in that paper. So, if we can take what we can from that paper and pass it on to him.


[107]   William Powell: I think we’ve got a confirmation there that that’s possible and that that will happen. Excellent.


[108]   Okay, so we’ve got a minor breathing space ahead of agenda item 4, which is to be our evidence session as part of the review of the National Assembly for Wales petitions system. So, just as we’re about to be joined by our petitioners, if we can just reflect for a moment on how we’re going to approach the session. We’ve got some interesting areas on which to take evidence.




Sesiwn Dystiolaeth—Adolygiad o System Ddeisebau Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru
Evidence Session—Review of the National Assembly for Wales Petitions System


[109]   William Powell: Bore da bawb. Diolch am ddod y bore yma.


William Powell: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for coming this morning.


[110]   Thank you very much for joining us this morning. If you could please introduce yourself for the record and for levels, we’ll then proceed. We’re very grateful to have you here this morning.


[111]   Mr Southall: Rob Southall, I’m a lecturer at Coleg Gwent in Crosskeys and I petitioned on the Cwmcarn forest drive.


[112]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: I’m Nesta Lloyd-Jones. I’m a policy and public affairs officer for the Welsh NHS Confederation. We support the health boards and the trusts in Wales.


[113]   Dr Cox: I’m John Cox. I’ve been involved with three petitions: one that came to fruition after four years, due to your good work, Chair; one that is still pending after three years; and one that was refused at the secretariat level.


[114]   William Powell: That was in terms of admissibility.


[115]   Dr Cox: What was described as ‘admissibility’, yes.


[116]   William Powell: We look forward to exploring that issue further. Excellent. If I could just kick off with a couple of initial questions specifically on that point. What are your views on how petitions that are currently outside the competence of the Assembly should be dealt with? Who wants to lead off?


[117]   Dr Cox: A particular one that I had refused was, I thought, within the competence of the Assembly, because it related to the fact that the Welsh Government gives contracts to firms who are co-operating with Israel in terms of the occupation of Gaza. But that was refused. I would have thought that anything the Welsh Government actually does is within its competence, and therefore within the competence of petitioners to petition about it.


[118]   William Powell: It’s an interesting one. I wonder whether colleagues are able to share their reflections.


[119]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: I think for us, one of the issues is around cross-border healthcare. So, there are a lot of residents in Wales going to have treatment in England, and vice versa. I know the Welsh Affairs Committee considered this as part of their inquiry last year. It’s something that is important for the Assembly to look at as well, especially when there are issues with Welsh residents going over to England and the treatments that they’re having in hospitals in England. So, that’s an area that isn’t covered at the moment.


[120]   William Powell: Yes. I think this has come to light very much in the context of the English-votes-for-English-laws discussions over recent months.


[121]   Russell George: I take your point on that, because my constituency is on the border. But surely if there’s a petition raised for a treatment, for example, that was available somewhere else across the border, and wasn’t available here, then surely the committee would then ask the Welsh Government whether they would consider that option. I just want some clarity on what you said about the cross-border issues.


[122]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: So, for example, with the Welsh Affairs Committee inquiry, it was very driven by the Department of Health in England, and while the Welsh Government did provide evidence—they gave a lot of information, and we did as well—it was very much an English inquiry. So, it’s looking at Welsh patients, Welsh residents and having a more in-depth Welsh perspective on an inquiry such as that.


[123]   Russell George: How could our committee do something different, perhaps, to accommodate what you’re—?


[124]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: For example, looking at the protocols that are in place. So, there are protocols in place at the moment with the Welsh Government that they have to consider. So, it’s looking at whether that protocol that the Welsh Government has got with the Department of Health is robust enough. So, it’s questioning those kind of processes and procedures that are cross-border.


[125]   Mr Southall: My view is a common-sense view, really, I suppose. If the Assembly, or the Petitions Committee, will look at a particular issue, if the committee thinks it’s worthy of consideration, then obviously you should consider it. That’s a very broad idea, but let’s leave it up to Assembly Members to decide, really.


[126]   William Powell: Just to clarify, at the moment it’s very much a matter for the Presiding Officer, as you understand. So, you’re advocating a change in practice in that respect.


[127]   Mr Southall: Well, not necessarily. I think, obviously, you’ve got the remit to look at any issues that fall within the areas that the Assembly’s responsible for. But if Assembly Members, and committee members, feel that the issue is worthy of consideration, then I think you should have the freedom to look into it.


[128]   William Powell: I’m grateful for that.


[129]   Bethan Jenkins: Can I ask a question on the non-devolved aspects? Do you think there should be capacity for the public to just collect signatures on a non-devolved issue, which wouldn’t be discussed here per se, but you could have that forum? Or do you just believe that that would be a waste of time because it wouldn’t lead to a debate or a committee inquiry at any level? I’m thinking to do with situations in Syria or something international based. Do you think that that is something that could be added to or not?


[130]   Mr Southall: Yes, I do. I think people should be able to voice their concerns and put forward issues to the committee, and if the Petitions Committee thinks it’s worthy, then they pass the issue on. We’re looking at a sort of quasi-federal system in Britain now, so it may be that the Petitions Committee could refer stuff upwards to the House of Commons, the House of Lords or even the European Parliament.


[131]   William Powell: Shall we say ‘across’?


[132]   Russell George: Yes, across, not upwards.


[133]   Mr Southall: Downwards. [Laughter.]


[134]   William Powell: Yes, exactly.


[135]   Bethan Jenkins: Yes, that’s better.


[136]   Russell George: What you’re suggesting is that, at the moment, the committee just takes petitions that we can actually affect, that Welsh Government can affect. So, you’re effectively saying that we should also examine petitions that we can’t actually affect in this institution.


[137]   Mr Southall: Yes, but you should have the power to be able to refer them on maybe.


[138]   Russell George: Okay.


[139]   William Powell: We do already, in many respects, liaise with the Westminster Government and other devolved administrations on particular issues. For example, a couple of weeks ago, we had the Minister for Education and Skills here looking at issues around asbestos in schools, and we’ve engaged with the former Minister David Laws and with other Ministers on that topic, and we’ve previously been in touch on things like the coastguard stations with Mike Penning, I recall. We liaise in that way, but it’s not a formal referral. So, perhaps there would be room to adapt our approach.


[140]   One other issue that’s been fairly widely debated is the issue around the minimum number of signatures. Do you have any views on that? Some seem to hold strong views; others think we’ve got it about right. It would be useful to have your sense on that one.


[141]   Dr Cox: I wrote on that. I do think that 10 is a ludicrously low figure. Every petition I’ve been involved with has easily got over 1,000, but I almost get the impression by the reaction here that the more signatures you have, the less welcome you are.


[142]   William Powell: Are there any other thoughts on this?


[143]   Russell George: Can I ask why you get that impression?


[144]   Dr Cox: Because it’s sort of more political and you’re trying to rock the boat whereas, if you’re talking about a 30 mph limit in your village and you’ve already got 10 signatures then it’s important to you, obviously, but, you know, the signatures we got on the Welsh peace institute—‘Oh, it looks like a political motivation’ I was told by one former member of this committee who’s now moved on to higher things.


[145]   Russell George: Across. [Laughter.]


[146]   Bethan Jenkins: I would say though, just for the record, that we put quite a lot of work into the peace—.


[147]   Dr Cox: Oh, I’ll put that on the record as well. I mean, in four years, you had to have made a lot of effort.


[148]   Bethan Jenkins: Yes, we did put a lot of effort into it. I just wanted to know whether you think that, if there was a higher bar, it should automatically trigger a Senedd debate or do you think that there should be more emphasis put on the number that sign it as opposed to—? My thinking is sometimes that, yes, I understand what you’re saying in terms of the small little village but not to discriminate too much against the fact that you may only have a small community to sign a petition—you may not have that critical mass—. So, do you think that, for the bigger petitions, perhaps the more political ones, that they should have that instant attention?


[149]   Dr Cox: No. That’s a bureaucratic way of dealing with a political problem.


[150]   Mr Southall: I think 50 would be a reasonable number for admissibility, for you to actually look into the matter. With the use of social media these days, it’s really easy to get a good number of people to sign, and maybe something in the order of about 5,000 then to trigger a debate, possibly. Obviously, we’re not going to go up to 100,000.


[151]   William Powell: That’s interesting. So, you’re in favour of a trigger—?


[152]   Mr Southall: Yes, I don’t see why not.


[153]   William Powell: Currently, we moved to debate those that we report on, and they’re frequently ones with substantial support in the hundreds. They might be something that was triggered by just a small number of people, but maybe we wouldn’t necessarily need to have just one trigger. There could be several that could be considered. Joyce Watson.


[154]   Joyce Watson: There are two parts to this: there are the numbers who sign it and those who do sign it and where they live. Do you have any opinion around any restrictions based on residency, obviously taking account of the border issues that are fairly obvious, and age?


[155]   Dr Cox: Age of the signatories?


[156]   Joyce Watson: Of the signatory.


[157]   Dr Cox: As the 80-year-old here, maybe I—.


[158]   William Powell: We aren’t looking for an upper limit. [Laughter.]


[159]   Joyce Watson: I think we were thinking of children—maybe.




[160]   Dr Cox: The middle petition that I was involved with, the minerals technical advice note petition, which you’ve not yet reported on, received over 1,000 signatures based upon people who basically live in Torfaen and just over the border in Blaenau Gwent, and a few others besides. So, I don’t find 1,000 a problem as a minimum. They were all local residents, you see. So, to my mind, a figure of 1,000 for local people wouldn’t frighten me for the sorts of issues that I am concerned with; but there may be other issues in which it’s unreasonable to expect as many as that. So, I don’t think you’d find an easy bureaucratic solution to link numbers to issues.


[161]   Bethan Jenkins: The question was more about whether you should be a resident of Wales. Some people sign it and they’re not from Wales, for example. Would you stop people from outside Wales either putting a petition in or signing it, or just keep it as it is?


[162]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: I think it’s important to have residents from Wales, and also anybody who is having treatment or education in Wales as well. So, again, education is a cross-border, you know—


[163]   William Powell: Yes. It’s got to be a bit more nuanced.


[164]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: So, it’s looking at those kinds of areas. I guess the residency aspect is the easiest thing to prove or to highlight, while if you’re having cross-border healthcare or education, then it’s a little bit more—


[165]   William Powell: It’s difficult at the enforcement level, isn’t it?


[166]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: Yes, and also for ourselves and our members, I think we would support an increase to 100 signatures as well, especially when it comes to health, because there are so many avenues where people could raise issues, raise complaints with their local health board, with the trust. So, there are other avenues that they can look at and consider before coming to the Petitions Committee, which they may not have gone through before coming to the Petitions Committee. So, they may not have raised an issue with the local health board. So, it’s looking at those aspects before coming to the Petitions Committee as well.


[167]   Joyce Watson: Can I, Chair, come in on that very point?


[168]   William Powell: Joyce.


[169]   Joyce Watson: On that very point, that’s a point about process rather than numbers.


[170]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: Yes.


[171]   Joyce Watson: I believe that we do that. We have some sort of checks and balances to see whether people followed a path before they’ve come to us. I’m not entirely convinced that it’s a numbers issue rather than a process issue. So, why do you—? Because we’re trying to make move forward and make some recommendations, why do you think a higher number would change a process? That’s the bit I’m struggling with.


[172]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: I don’t think it will change the processes. It’s your workload as well, really. If we raise awareness of what the Petitions Committee can do, if we’re getting more people aware of the outreach team that the Assembly have got, and then you have more and more petitions coming forward that you can’t group together, there has to be some kind of way of saying which ones the Assembly need to prioritise, consider and refer to either the Welsh Government or to the Plenary debates. Hopefully, there is more awareness of what the Petitions Committee does, and that will increase over time as does the awareness of what the Assembly does. I know that’s not the process answer, but when people become more aware of the Petitions Committee, how are you going to prioritise if the number of petitions increase?


[173]   William Powell: Bethan, you indicated.


[174]   Bethan Jenkins: I just wanted to ask whether you were suggesting that there should be some sort of protocol whereby if somebody hadn’t sort of exhausted other avenues that we wouldn’t potentially look at that. Because I would just be cautious of that because, obviously, that’s the case with the ombudsman, and then people have to go back. I wouldn’t want to close doors to people, and, regardless of our work pressures, that everything would be open to them from the outset, really.


[175]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: Yes, very much, and I think it is a question of checking with the petitioner what processes they’ve gone through—not preventing them. It’s a question of—. And also, when it comes to health boards, it’s going back to them for them to provide you with all the information, the history of that particular issue, because, you know, from speaking to the health boards, for most of them, the process for responding to a petition is very similar not to a complaint but an issue that’s been raised with them. So, for example, Betsi has a very similar procedure, whether it’s a petition from here or whether it’s somebody local who has raised an issue with them. So, they are following very similar processes.


[176]   Mr Southall: Just to go back to the original question, I think that only residents and organisations based in Wales should be able to raise petitions, but I think that it should be available to people outside Wales to sign. I found with the Cwmcarn forest drive that a lot of people from outside Wales, and a lot of people from outside Britain actually wanted to sign it, because they’d been there, they’d enjoyed the facilities there, and they didn’t want to see it close permanently.


[177]   William Powell: We’ve seen that in one or two of the new petitions we considered for the first time just this morning. So, that’s a good point.


[178]   Just to move back to the issue of healthcare, I think it would be only proper for us to thank you, Nesta Lloyd-Jones, for the help that you’ve brought to us, and your organisation has brought to us, in navigating the path with some of the very substantial petitions we’ve had on health issues in recent times. I think, when we’ve engaged with the confederation, it’s been easier to get timely responses to our concerns, which proved, earlier in this Assembly, to be a matter of great difficulty and concern to us. You facilitated that and we’re grateful to you for that, which has also eased our workload as well, to a good extent.


[179]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: On that point, Chair, I just want to thank the clerking team as well, because having met and discussed some of the issues, we became aware of some of the discussions that you had around delays in responses. Again, it’s a process thing, and I am fully aware of the process that each health board goes through, and things may not have gone to the correct people within each health board. I think what the board secretaries have said is that it’s mostly board secretaries that actually deal with the petitions, and so it’s having that conversation with us, so that we can keep you up to date with who is best within each organisations, so that you get a response in a quick time, really.


[180]   William Powell: That knowledge has been invaluable to us. I think, at one stage, we thought, because of turbulence in particular organisations, that that was a general issue, but obviously you helped us to shine a torch into what the problem actually was and helped to resolve it.


[181]   If I could move on to ask a question about what your views are on whether or not we should have the power to consider issues that are principally operational matters of local authorities. There’s been a divergence of view on this one, and I wonder what your thoughts are on that particular question.


[182]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: I think, for the confederation, we would support petitions that are looking at local authorities. There’s a big shift for integration between health and social care, with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. For example, the confederation is doing a lot of work with the Welsh Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru around a project called ‘Delivering Transformation’. So, there is a shift towards integration—and integration across all public bodies, really—around planning. Local authorities make significant decisions around local issues, but also that could affect Wales-wide issues. So, we would be in support of petitions around local authorities’ operations.


[183]   William Powell: That’s interesting. I suppose the advent of the public service boards and local government reform also have some input to that issue. I wonder what other colleagues think.


[184]   Mr Southall: I’d agree completely, really. I think it’s an important aspect of the Assembly’s watchdog function anyway. Really, I suppose the petitions are just another way into it.


[185]   William Powell: John, any thoughts on that?


[186]   Dr Cox: Well, the nearest connection I have is with the petition we had, which was, in effect, in support of Torfaen County Borough Council having carried out National Assembly guidelines about an opencast application, and upholding the decision that there should be a 500m zone. This particular petition we put forward is the one that I am, in some ways, the least happy about, regarding what has happened, because—I’m 80 years old, I can say it bluntly; it doesn’t matter—I think the committee received the runaround from the Minister, who basically refused to examine the issues. The councils are being told that they’re supposed to abide by guidelines for 500m buffer zones, but the Minister has refused to engage with the situation that has arisen, where paid inspectors of the Welsh Government can say publicly that they’re not interested in guidelines, and that he’s making up his own law. And the Minister came—


[187]   Bethan Jenkins: Because it is guidance, though; that’s why. It’s an interpretation of the guidance, isn’t it? That’s the problem.


[188]   Dr Cox: If councils are supposed to carry out guidance, I would have thought that employees of the National Assembly and the Welsh Government also have to carry out the guidance, but that’s not how it works. And I think it’s a really quite serious constitutional situation that you’re paying people to act as free agents to carry out their personal views, despite the fact that there are those unanimous decisions of the National Assembly.


[189]   So, I do have a view on it; it may be peripheral to your actual question, but I do think, you know, it would be logical if the National Assembly have said to the councils, ‘Make your own mind up about this guidance’, but they haven’t. They’ve said, ‘Carry out this guidance’, and so we’re now wasting money in terms of councils coming to planning decisions and determinations based upon the guidance, and then being overturned. It’s a ridiculous situation.


[190]   William Powell: I don’t think it’s peripheral at all. You’ve given a particular example that helps us to focus in on the question I asked originally. Russell George.


[191]   Russell George: Just thinking, there’s a couple of suggestions that if we do take on local authorities on matters that are reserved for local authorities, and also that we take on petitions that are perhaps outside the competence of this institution, then our workload is increasing. We’ve already got probably more petitions on our books because, as the Petitions Committee grows, we get more petitions in and we’re looking at petitions historically. So, we either have to limit something else we do, or we have to expand the committee and meet more and have more members. So, do you have an opinion on that?


[192]   Dr Cox: To meet more I think I would go along with, particularly in relation to the first of the petitions I spoke of, because you’d have a situation where a committee decides, ‘We will write to the First Minister’. If the First Minister hasn’t replied within the time period, you’ve lost two months before you get a reply, and then you think about it. And the total time for that petition was four years, you know, and we’d actually asked at the beginning, and the very first thing I asked for—the only thing I picked up on beforehand—was a task and finish group that would last for about four weeks at the most. And, in fact, the petition was resolved after four years, and I’m very happy with the report that was written and the debate that followed, but four years is a ridiculous amount of time.


[193]   Russell George: I’ve got to ask the other two witnesses as well perhaps to add to that, if there’s a way that we could work better or more efficiently, or perhaps you think we’re being inefficient in some ways, and any other suggestions you could add to that.


[194]   Mr Southall: Without increasing the number of Assembly Members, I suggested a citizen’s panel maybe to be involved in the process in some respect.


[195]   Bethan Jenkins: I like that one. I thought that was a really good idea, because I think that is a way of engaging the public.


[196]   William Powell: On a grass-roots level.


[197]   Bethan Jenkins: It could be a view on a petition online. Did you see that as more of an interactive thing, as opposed to a physical panel having to meet together?


[198]   Mr Southall: I saw it as a physical thing, really, but as an interactive thing, it would be good—it would work, I think. And it would certainly ease your workload.


[199]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: I think with regard to local authorities, we don’t really understand why local authorities are different to health boards, because they make important decisions as well as health boards. So, that’s one area.


[200]   With regard to time frames, I think from speaking to the clerking team what I’ve said is that if you give a health board a very clear deadline, they will meet that deadline. If you don’t give them a deadline, it will just go into the ether, really. So, you know, that’s something that we’ve discussed, and whenever I’ve seen a petition I have gone back to the clerking team and said, ‘What is the deadline? When is this going to be discussed again?’ A couple of board secretaries have said that when they’re responding to a petition, it’s very complicated to go back to the beginning of that petition by going through the website, and you’re clicking here, there and everywhere to get to the first decision. So, those kind of things could be tightened up a little bit when you first have them.


[201]   Bethan Jenkins: So, we could give them a synopsis of the petition—we get a private paper with that type of synopsis when we’re writing to a given health board.


[202]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: Yes.


[203]   William Graham: Any further feedback on that point that would help practice for the next Assembly would be good. Joyce Watson.




[204]   Joyce Watson: I would like some thoughts around—. Dr Cox alluded to four years being ridiculous; I agree four years is ridiculous. In terms of timeliness, I think that’s a key for everybody. It’s a key for us, so that we keep focused, and it’s key for people’s resolution. Have you given any thought to dealing with that? We’re not going to have more committee members, so you’re right, we’re going to only have this committee in its current form, but it’s not going to be hugely expanded, I don’t think. I could be wrong, of course.


[205]   Bethan Jenkins: We don’t know, yet.


[206]   Joyce Watson: I could be wrong, of course. But taking things as they are, rather than what they might be in terms of time, have you got any suggestions how we can stop, if you like, the frustrations that were obviously felt by your time frame, and also, very often, sometimes by us? Because there are two sides, aren’t there? It’s how we respond and how others respond to us.


[207]   Dr Cox: Can I say, in the time that the committee is meeting, which is two hours or three hours—?


[208]   William Powell: Two hours.


[209]   Dr Cox: Two hours, and then it’s every two weeks.


[210]   William Powell: That’s correct.


[211]   Dr Cox: I don’t find that that’s where the problem is—it’s what happens in between. Let me give you one example and it won’t be typical of everything, but a letter was sent to the First Minister, which was Rhodri at the time, and the reply that came back, everyone understood, was that he’d been misinformed about what the purpose of the petition was, because he replied saying, ‘We’re not in favour of extra university courses on peace education’, which was not mentioned in the petition and nor were we asking for money, but he replied as if he thought that was the case. Now, why he thought like that, we don’t know. It might have been in his head, or he might have had an adviser who told him that. But what happened because of the formalistic way in which the committee works is that that letter is received and tabled to the next available committee meeting, where people ponder on it, you see. Now, in my view, the back-up staff for this committee should, in this situation, be a bit more dynamic and say, ‘Hey, a mistake has occurred, let’s go and have a word with the adviser or whoever it was, and say, “Hey, you got it wrong. Rip up that letter and come up with the letter that should’ve been written”.’ But the committee staff don’t think in that way, they think in terms of you over here, then getting a reply from over here and such like, and it goes over committee meeting after committee meeting, which could be resolved. This is why, at the beginning, we said, ‘Let’s have a task and finish group, at which we could talk informally and come up with a report’. I think that you are overpowered by bureaucratic procedures, and that’s the reason why it took four years, not because of anything that happened in the committee meetings. You know, add up all the time that’s spent on it and it probably didn’t amount to about two hours over the four-year period, but it took four years because of the procedure involved with it, you see. So, that’s my reaction to it.


[212]   You need to lighten up a bit and the job of the staff, it seems to me, once a petition is being considered, is to promote the petition in the sense of making sure that it’s understood. I’m not saying that they should promote it in the sense of saying, ‘We’re in favour of this petition’, but it does seem to me the staff have a duty to make sure that what the petitioners are trying to do is fully understood by all the people involved in the consultation. And that’s not happening at the moment.


[213]   William Powell: I think that’s very useful to have that feedback. Just a couple of observations, if I could offer them, on the context of your particular first petition. I believe that there was a significantly less stable membership of the committee in the third Assembly. I don’t know whether we can regard ourselves as stable, but at least we’re—


[214]   Bethan Jenkins: I think I’m quite stable [Laughter.]


[215]   William Powell: I wasn’t talking about the state of health—[Laughter.]—but the composition—


[216]   Bethan Jenkins: No, I’m not; I wasn’t saying that. I’m saying that I’ve been here from the start. I wasn’t talking about my own stability, personally. That’s another debate. [Laughter.]


[217]   William Powell: No, no, but I meant the overall group of four. There was a lot of movement in and out, I believe, at chairmanship and membership level.


[218]   Bethan Jenkins: Are we trying to blame previous committees now, are we, Bill? [Laughter.]


[219]   William Powell: Not at all. I’m just making the observation that there was a lot of in-and-out movement because of health and swapping of various kinds, I think, and you’ve been a figure of continuity throughout that, which is much valued—


[220]   Dr Cox: A tower of strength throughout the whole time.


[221]   William Powell: I’m trying to get out of the hole that I’ve been digging for myself. [Laughter.] But also there has, over time, been quite a change in terms of the secretariat, and I think, at this time, we’re fortunate in that the corporate memory of the current line-up is perhaps stronger than it’s been for a while. Obviously, those things relate to things we can’t always control, but I just thought that was possibly a contributory factor to some of the issues that you mentioned. But we can learn from the points you’ve made.


[222]   Are there any other responses? John’s given a very interesting and detailed analysis from his particular experience.


[223]   Mr Southall: Can I go back to the question?


[224]   William Powell: Sure.


[225]   Mr Southall: Can you give me the question again? [Laughter.]


[226]   Bethan Jenkins: How stable are we as a committee? [Laughter.]


[227]   Mr Southall: How stable are you for asking the same question? [Laughter.]


[228]   Joyce Watson: That’s not the question. The question was: how could we make it more focused, I suppose, and sharp, therefore reducing, hopefully, at the same time the time that people are waiting?


[229]   Mr Southall: Without increasing the numbers of the committee, maybe increase the numbers of the secretariat, or possibly an ability to pass the petition on for other specialist committees to look at, maybe.


[230]   William Powell: That’s an interesting point.


[231]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: I think we’d support that as well. And also, with regard to time frames, things change quite quickly at health-board level, so you may have a petition that, say, takes three years, and things have dramatically changed. So, possibly having oral evidence from—I wouldn’t say to put the chief execs in front of you every week or every fortnight, but it’s going to the health boards and seeing whether they would be prepared to give oral evidence, and giving that bit more in-depth detail. And I’m sure, because they do come in front of most of the committees, through us, and, you know, you could have a director talk in a bit more detail than you’d have in a letter, really. So, it’s looking at those time frames and also, possibly, having oral evidence.


[232]   William Powell: Yes, excellent. Bethan Jenkins.


[233]   Bethan Jenkins: I just wanted to ask, with regard to other committees, I find it quite frustrating because, quite often, the other committees will say that they’re too busy, potentially, to deal with it. So, is there a way that you can suggest that would make it easier for us to say, when a committee is dealing with something along the lines that is pertinent to their current working stream, that they would be obliged to do that? We don’t want to duplicate the work that’s happening elsewhere—we want to be able to concentrate on things that no-one else is doing. But then, quite often, we can’t refer because we know that that petition will be, potentially, not taken forward by that committee.


[234]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: We have, for example, responded to the Health and Social Care Committee, and we’ve also referred to another committee in their reviews. And I think the feeling is that the Health and Social Care Committee have spent a lot of time looking at legislation, which is very important, and possibly not so much on policy in this term. So, how you get around that, I don’t know. But I think it is very important for them to consider policy development. They have looked at the cancer delivery plan, for example, but there are other delivery plans, other policies, that the Health and Social Care Committee could, or should consider, which you may be getting petitions on, whether it’s stroke services, diabetes—. So, it is capacity there as well, and I think they’ve spent a lot of time—. You know, the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 took a long time. The Public Health (Wales) Bill is taking a long time—a lot of their time. So, that’s a question, I guess, for the next term, really. You know, health and social care is such a huge issue—48 per cent of the budget—and if you’ve got a committee considering both legislation and policy, it’s their timings as well.


[235]   William Powell: Absolutely. I’m conscious that time is a little against us. I wonder whether there’s one final message that each of you would leave with us that we can build into our report for the betterment of the petitions process in the fifth Assembly?


[236]   Mr Southall: I’d like to see maybe committees generally having more power, you know, as in Congress, where committees work very, very effectively, overseeing Government, that they can compel the Executive to do certain things. And obviously they control the budgets as well. Personally, I would give the committee more power to call witnesses and the like. You probably need more support from the secretariat to do that, though, I would have thought.


[237]   Russell George: We’ve got the power, it’s just that we don’t have the time to do it.


[238]   Mr Southall: The time, absolutely.


[239]   Russell George: That’s the issue.


[240]   William Powell: It’s that resource, isn’t it? Excellent.


[241]   Ms Lloyd-Jones: I think, for us, it would be raising awareness of the Petitions Committee—that the process is here and that that is another route in for people, which they may not be aware of. So, it’s the committee working with other teams within the Assembly, whether it’s the outreach team or another, and other committees highlighting that the Petitions Committee is here and the work that you do. I know that a lot of your evidence sessions are in private, or your discussions are in private, so I’m not sure whether that is something that you would want to address, to have more public debates and public discussions to raise awareness of the work that you do.


[242]   William Powell: Excellent. The last word, John Cox.


[243]   Dr Cox: The last words. [Laughter.] I think the first petition that I did on the Wales Peace Institute, I’ve already said my piece on it. On the one on making the MTAN law, the big lesson I got out of it is that you have virtually no powers, because you really didn’t get any answers out of the Minister, and when you asked to speak to the Planning Inspectorate in some form or other, they refused and you weren’t able to question them. The heart of the petition was that the Planning Inspectorate isn’t, apparently, bound by the guidance that the National Assembly passes. It seems to me that unless you’ve got the powers to actually get witnesses in front of you—. And a general point about accountability: there’s a lot of paid servants of the National Assembly and all of them, in layman’s terms, you think are carrying out a policy adopted by the National Assembly or the Government or suchlike. It would appear that that’s not the case and that they are not only not accountable, but they don’t even have to appear before a Petitions Committee to explain themselves. I think you should be asking for the powers to cross-examine, a bit like a Westminster—dare I say it—committee, which really puts civil servants through the mill when they are before them. That doesn’t happen here and I think it should.


[244]   William Powell: Okay. I think we’ve all got lessons to learn and, ‘Could do better’ is probably the overall final line of the report. But, we thank you very much for spending the time to share your thoughts and reflections with us this morning.


[245]   Diolch yn fawr iawn am y sesiwn ddiddorol.

Thank you very much for the interesting session.


[246]   It’s been really interesting and useful to us and we’ll ensure that you have a transcript of today’s session so that you can check it for accuracy and then we’ll be building that into our further deliberations on the recommendations that we’ll be bringing to the Presiding Officer for the petitions system in the fifth Assembly. Thank you very much indeed.




Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i Benderfynu Gwahardd y Cyhoedd o’r Cyfarfod
Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Meeting





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

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


Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
Motion moved.



[247]   William Powell: I move now under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting for the following items of business:—


[248]   Dr Cox: All of them?


[249]   Joyce Watson: Yes, all of them.


[250]   Bethan Jenkins:


[251]   William Powell: —items 6, 7, and 8. Diolch yn fawr.


[252]   Russell George: Yes, agreed.


[253]   William Powell: Okay.


Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Motion agreed.


Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:28.
The public part of the meeting ended at 10:28.