|Dai Lloyd AC|
|David Melding AC|
|Gareth Bennett AC|
|Jayne Bryant AC|
|Joyce Watson AC|
|Mike Hedges AC||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Simon Thomas AC|
|Dr Nick Fenwick||Undeb Amaethwyr Cymru|
|Farmers' Union of Wales|
|Dr Roisin Willmott||Y Sefydliad Cynllunio Trefol Brenhinol yng Nghymru|
|Royal Town Planning Institute Cymru|
|Dr Victoria Jenkins||Prifysgol Abertawe|
|Dr Viviane Gravey||Prifysgol y Frenhines Belffast|
|Queen's University Belfast|
|Dylan Morgan||NFU Cymru|
|Nigel Ajax-Lewis||Ymddiriedolaethau Natur Cymru|
|Wildlife Trusts Wales|
|Rebecca Williams||Cymdeithas Tir a Busnesau Cefn Gwlad|
|Country Land and Business Association|
|Steve Gibson||Cyd-bwyllgor Cadwraeth Natur|
|Joint Nature Conservation Committee|
|Marc Wyn Jones||Clerc|
|Martha Da Gama Howells||Ail Glerc|
|1. Cyflwyniadau, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau||1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest|
|2. Cyflwyniad ar 'Persbectif Newydd ar Fframweithiau Cyffredin i’r Deyrnas Unedig: y cyfleoedd ar gyfer Rheoli Adnoddau Naturiol yng Nghymru yn Gynaliadwy'||2. Presentation on 'A New Perspective on UK Common Frameworks: the opportunities for the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Wales'|
|3. Ymchwiliad i fframweithiau cyffredin y DU ar gyfer amaethyddiaeth a’r amgylchedd – y sesiwn dystiolaeth lafar gyntaf||3. Inquiry into UK common frameworks on agriculture and the environment - first oral evidence session|
|4. Ymchwiliad i fframweithiau cyffredin y DU ar gyfer amaethyddiaeth a’r amgylchedd – yr ail sesiwn dystiolaeth lafar||4. Inquiry into UK common frameworks on agriculture and the environment - second oral evidence session|
|5. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o’r cyfarfod ar gyfer eitem 6 a'r cyfarfod ar 28 Mehefin||5. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting for item 6 of the meeting on 28 June|
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.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:31.
The meeting began at 09:31
Can I welcome Members to the meeting? We've had no apologies or substitutions, but we have some Members still to arrive. Can I remind people to set their mobile phones to silent and to turn off any electronic equipment that may interfere with the broadcasting equipment? Are there interests to declare under the Standing Orders? No.
Firstly, can I welcome Dr Jenkins? I'll ask her to introduce herself and the background to her work and ask her to begin her presentation. Are you prepared to accept questions as you go through or would you like to wait until the end?
That's okay, I'll take questions as I go through.
It does please us more if we can ask questions as we go through, but the answer, 'I'm coming to it later' is an acceptable answer as well. Okay, whenever you're ready.
,I'm Dr Victoria Jenkins. I'm an associate professor at the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law in Swansea University. I've produced a report as part of the research fellowship scheme currently run by the National Assembly for Wales, and I've been working with the research team in that capacity. I'd like to thank them for their support in doing that, and also the research assistant on the project, Caer Smyth, who was working with me. I'd also like to thank, before I start, the committee for this opportunity to present the report, so thank you.
As the title suggests, what I was attempting to do was to think about UK common frameworks and the idea of how we should move forward with UK common frameworks and how we should develop the UK common frameworks for the protection of the environment from an environmental perspective. I felt that the debate was currently being defined in terms of the politics, the clear concern about the situation for devolved Governments—and obviously that is an important concern, the need not to lose any power in the development or repatriation of powers from the EU. There's also been a clear focus on trading concerns, the implications of the future trading agreement, and that, obviously, again, is a really important concern. And both of those will impact on our ability to protect the environment in Wales. So, I'm not discounting that. I'm not saying that those things aren't important, but I thought that it was important to take some time out and just think about this from the perspective of environmental protection. I thought that that was a part of the debate that perhaps has been lost in the wider public arena.
So, when thinking about that, it's actually really difficult to pin that down to something that you can talk about in concrete terms, because environmental protection is such a vast subject and there's so much EU legislation on environmental protection. So, because my particular research expertise lies in issues related to land management, I focused on sustainable land management, and because I've been interested in my career in local approaches to environmental protection and, more recently, obviously, devolved approaches to environmental protection, I wanted to focus on the sustainable management of natural resources, because that's the framework that Wales has created. So, I've brought it down to looking at how we might achieve the sustainable management of natural resources as it applies to land management. So, that was the way that I've focused the project. I've done that against a background of having recently completed quite a large piece of work on looking at the system of sustainable management of natural resources in Wales. So, that was where I was coming from with the project.
Before I look at that—before look at the specifics in relation to Wales—I think it was important to think about the context in terms of how we have allocated power between the EU and the member states, and also, obviously, then the proposals for the allocation of power between the UK and the devolved Governments, and to just think about that for a moment and how that might apply, or not apply, to what I wanted to think about in relation to SMNR and sustainable land management. So, in terms of the allocation of power between the EU and the member states, I'm sure you're aware that the principle of subsidiarity is the principle upon which we rely. It's largely viewed as a political principle. It's about ensuring that, as we gave up sovereignty to the EU, we would bear in mind the importance of power being held at the member state level. Since 2008, there's also been a reference to the need to consider regional and local government and power at that level. But there's also a functional perspective to this in the sense that it refers to the fact that we might think that certain objectives could be better achieved at EU level, given their scale and effects. So, there are these two aspects to the principle of subsidiarity.
Then we looked at the justifications that are actually given by the European Commission for the legislation that is introduced. It refers to the importance of trade implications, and that's obviously clearly important. Before, there was a legal basis for action on environmental protection in the EU. That was essential in terms of action at the EU level. There is a reference to, obviously, cross-border effects and international obligations—the way that what the EU does impacts in those ways. There's also a reference there to cross-policy considerations. Again, as I'm sure you're aware, as the European Union has increased, not just in terms of its membership but in terms of those policy areas that it acts in, there's been an argument that, because the environment is an issue that impacts on all other policy areas, you then need to act on that issue. Then finally, there's been a reference to a lack of action by member states. So, if the member states haven't taken action, then the EU would use that as an argument for taking action itself and ensuring that they did so.
So, this relates quite clearly to the Joint Ministerial Committee's communiqué, where, again, they refer to functional issues in terms of the internal market, meeting international obligations, managing common resources, and although there's no definition of that, I'm assuming that it means dealing with cross-border issues with shared resources—things like air, those rivers that go across borders et cetera. There's also the political element to it: the idea of increasing the decision-making power of the devolved Governments—so, recognising the power of the devolved Governments—but in a sense, it goes beyond the principle of subsidiarity in that it actually suggests that we should increase the power of the devolved Governments. So, there is a difference there.
So, thinking about what we can achieve in terms of working together in a common framework, but also working at a devolved level or a decentralised level, there are advantages that you can see emerge generally, but also specifically, in relation to environmental protection. So, generally, we think of the advantages of a strategic approach being related to economies of scale, so we can deal better with issues that might arise in that respect. We can deal better, perhaps, with spillover. So, this would relate to cross-border issues in terms of recognising that action at the state level perhaps impacts at a higher end and a lower level. Then, from a decentralised perspective, it's important that action at a decentralised level can respond more clearly to local conditions, and that it can achieve greater accountability to the communities on which that legislation impacts. So, those are the kind of general—that's the general perspective. In terms of the environmental perspective, what I've done is relate that to three key aspects of environmental protection. The first one, and the one that we tend to focus very much on, is this issue of cross-border, physical cross-border issues—the fact that the environment is something that doesn't adhere to national Government borders, it doesn't adhere to judicial borders, it doesn't adhere to any administrative systems that we put in place.
The second one is cross-policy, so the fact that, whatever environmental challenges emerge, we have to think about lots of different responses to them—from transport to energy, et cetera. So, that's another issue. But perhaps what's been missing a little bit from the debate is the idea that the environmental protection is something that we need to address through knowledge, that it's an area where there are so many unknown issues, there is so much in relation to these challenges that is complex, that is uncertain, that developing knowledge and the development and exchange of knowledge are really important. And, in that, I would include scientific knowledge—that is important, obviously, and increasing scientific knowledge is really valuable—but also knowledge that can be provided by those people who work in natural resource management, people at the the local level, those who are involved in management practice that's really significant in that respect. And so, when I talk about knowledge, I talk about all of those things together.
A multi-level governance system can really help with that because, whilst a strategic approach is one where, at a higher level of government perhaps, you can develop scientific knowledge more effectively because you might have the resources to do that, at the decentralised level obviously there's more opportunity to experiment with different approaches, to work with stakeholders who themselves are a resource, who have knowledge that's really important, and you can achieve more effective participation at that level. So, it's an argument for seeing that, really, we need to work at the strategic level and at the local level, and we need to ensure that all this knowledge is put into a process that itself is an iterative process, so that it feeds into the strategic approach and then that is developed. And then we might implement that and decide that that's not working for various reasons, and then that knowledge goes back into the system.
And it's actually, really, been the basis for the sustainable management of natural resources in Wales. This is how the system has been developed. It's based on the natural resources policy providing a strategic framework and then Natural Resources Wales inputting into that both their scientific knowledge but also their knowledge of management practice through local natural resource management—through area management, as we call it. So, that's been the basis of that system, and that obviously works at the lower level, but it could work in a broader governance system. So, from that, and because there are three aspects of the environment that are significant—it's not just cross-border or cross-policy concerns that are relevant—I've come to the conclusion that what we really need is a principle that we base our common frameworks on what's necessary to safeguard natural resources, so that these common frameworks will be based on a shared understanding of what's important to this aim and the most effective means of achieving that. And what is most effective will be based on current levels of knowledge in its broadest sense.
So, that then chimes, really, with the existing approach in EU law, which is based on achieving a high level of environmental protection. That only comes into operation after the principle of subsidiarity has been applied. But, in reality, there have been very few formal challenges to that. Even though some directives have taken quite a long time to come into operation, even though there have been long negotiations and discussions about those directives, there have been few formal challenges either politically or legally.
There seems to be, at the EU level, a shared understanding that this is something that we need to address. And if we take that model then it could be applied at the UK level. We could agree that that is what we need to achieve. And, then, what those common frameworks might do is not just address our international obligations and our cross-boundary issues, but agree targets, standards, management approaches, environmental principles, on which those common frameworks should be based. This would all be subject to agreement across the four nations. We would also have a system there for information-gathering and reporting. So, the last time I was at this committee, we were talking about the importance of institutions in providing accountability and ensuring enforcement of law. But this is about the creation of law. This is about the institutional support that's necessary in the creation of law, and I think that was one of the questions that was asked at the time. So, it's about making that distinction between what's necessary for the creation of law and what's necessary for accountability and enforcement.
It also, in the system, highlights the fact that we're not just focused on standards. Again, the wider debate is focused very much on standards, and, when we think of standards, we often think of very objective, simple measures that are easily enforceable. EU law, as I'll demonstrate, has introduced standards that are not simple, which recognise the complexity of the challenges we're trying to address. And, also, there's a great deal in these directives about management approaches, about agreement on management approaches. And, by management approaches, these are things that I mean—that we agree that we will identify areas of priority or high-risk areas, we agree that it's necessary to carry out prior assessment, or risk assessment, of impacts and threats, that we agree a basic framework for what we need in terms of planning and managing these natural resources. And, again, I think that's something that we don't hear about in the debate so much.
So, moving on to looking at how EU law has impacted in Wales, how these common frameworks relate to the particular circumstances of Wales, our particular opportunities, priorities, for sustainable management of natural resources, I've considered this in the context, as I've said, of sustainable land management, which is about ensuring that we develop our natural resources so that we can see the benefits in terms of forestry, water management, agriculture, rural communities, tourism. And that relies on indicators of the health of our natural environment, soil quality, river quality, sustainable forestry and the condition of special habitats. So, those are the things that we are aiming to achieve. The kind of threats that we see to that can be broken down into climate change, agricultural practice, other development, invasive species, individual behaviour. But the way that I looked at all these was in relation to the specific opportunities for sustainable management of natural resources in Wales that have been identified by Natural Resources Wales itself, both in its report on the state of natural resources in Wales, but also through the work that it did in the area trials that were carried out prior to the new legislation.
So, these are the opportunities that Natural Resources Wales has identified: the importance of green infrastructure in urban areas; the importance of woodland and sustainable woodland management; maintaining and enhancing floodplains and water quality; better soil management; and the use of the uplands. So, I've adopted this really just as a way of identifying and highlighting some of the issues. Obviously, there are overlaps between a lot of these issues, but I'm just highlighting some of the frameworks that operate where we've had an EU common framework and where we haven't, and where we might think that there might some benefit in working together.
So, in terms of developing green infrastructure, this is an area where the EU doesn't really have any impact at all, yet it's a really important area. It's very significant to Wales. Wales has the advantage that its conurbations are very close to the natural environment. There's a lot of emphasis now on the importance of that relationship, both in terms of public health and improving people's health, but also in developing attitudes to the environmental protection to natural resources, understanding the importance of natural resources. So, it's a new and it's a developing area; it relies on laws in relation to access to land. But there are also issues in terms of antisocial behaviour, and this came through in some of the area trials in particular, that antisocial behaviour can have an impact—a negative impact—directly on those natural resources. It's quite a small problem, if you compare it to something like agricultural practice, but, at the same time, that can also impede people from accessing their natural environment.
Those frameworks are very much at the national level. There has been an impact from, perhaps, some EU structural funding, which, at one stage, was specifically designed to address some of these issues, and that could be something that we might consider again in the future. This is an area where there isn't much work being done and we might want to develop some work. If Wales was contemplating doing that, one of the key barriers to this would be the fact that, in a shared jurisdiction, it's going to be difficult to develop your own policy in terms of antisocial behaviour. So, what I'm trying to do is highlight the fact that some of these priorities are not impacted by EU law currently, but, at the same time, there might be opportunities there for development that might be impacted by other issues, and also perhaps we might be able to work together. At the moment, we rely on very informal methods of exchange in terms of our understanding of these issues and how different countries have addressed them, but we might want to introduce some more formal mechanism for that.
Forestry is another area where there is no EU legislation. There is a policy framework. There's an international framework as well, which focuses on the importance of afforestation and sustainable management. What we understand to be sustainable management relies very heavily on the UK voluntary standard. So, there is a model there for developing a common approach through the regulators, who are supported by a research service. We have that mechanism for inputting knowledge into that system and developing a standard. So, it's a different model, but, again, it might be something that could work in other areas perhaps.
And then soil management—again, this is an area that Wales has identified as something that is a concern. We've never focused on soil as a specific issue. But the EU has a policy on this, it's also been concerned about this for quite a long time—there is a draft directive on the books on this. And, if we look at that directive, it's about trying to set up systems for knowledge exchange, it's about trying to set up basic management approaches to this, and it's a good example of how the law might develop as a common framework. So it's, again, highlighting the fact that, although we don't have complex systems in that particular area, we might want to develop them in the future.
And then floodplains and water quality. Now, here there are very significant EU laws that apply. The flooding directive is quite a new directive; it focuses very much on identifying priority areas, risk assessment, introducing a basic management approach. The water framework directive is perhaps one of the best examples as to how EU law has started to really address the complexities of the problems we're facing. It's taken the objective, simple standards that were introduced in relation to particular water types and it's tried to put that into a very complex framework. It's supported by an institutional, again, framework—the common implementation strategy—which recognises that this isn't the perfect system, it needs to develop, it needs to be developed in the future. So, again, it creates a basis for a management approach; it identifies an approach to standards that acknowledges the complexity of those issues and it's a classic example of how we've moved on from the basic approaches that we had originally.
The environmental impact assessment directive—again, it applies in lots of different circumstances. I'm using it here just to highlight how it might address flooding in built-up areas, if we were to carry out this prior assessment of the likely significant effects of that development. The environmental impact assessment directive is acknowledged as a key tool at international level: it's been adopted by countries across the world. It's one of the leading management approaches that we have in terms of environmental protection, and there’s been agreement on the way that it should operate. It has developed over time; it's got a very long history and it's been amended several times. So, we've developed our ideas about how it should operate over time. At the same time, it's not without criticism: I'm not suggesting that all EU law works perfectly. There are criticisms that could be made of it, but I don't think that that takes away from the fact that we should accept that this is a common approach that is necessary in addressing environmental concerns. The fact that we have all three of those also identifies the fact that we need to ensure that they work together—that we streamline any approaches that we have and it may be that that's easier to do at a strategic level. Also, in relation to water quality, there is this issue, as I said, about the complexity of the standards and recognising the complexity of the issues that we're facing.
So, the last issue that was identified as an opportunity in 'The State of Natural Resources Report' was the utilisation of uplands. The uplands are not one issue. You can break it down into different areas of the uplands and there'll be different priorities in different aspects of the uplands, but I’m using it as an example to highlight the importance of climate change legislation and agricultural practice and the protection of special habitats. I didn't refer to anything to do with the protection of species, and that’s not because I think that it's not a false distinction—I do—but for reasons of expediency, I didn't cover that.
So, in terms of biodiversity and climate change, if we think about it, what drives action on that are the international targets and those have then been put into legal frameworks in relation to climate change and policy frameworks in relation to biodiversity, and that helps us to consider what's really necessary: a policy framework or a legal framework? What is the justification for behaving differently when it comes to the protection of biodiversity and then climate change? What can we achieve with a legal framework that we can't achieve with a policy framework?
There are also obviously key frameworks there in terms of the economic perspective, the systems for climate change, the EU emissions trading scheme and the common agricultural policy. Again, these are common frameworks for which we operate an economic system. I think that there's no reason why we couldn't have a UK common framework with the basics of those systems, but I think—and I've said that I'm focusing on the environmental perspective—this is a good example of how it can be difficult to agree even the basics of that system in relation, for example, to the notion of public good. But I do think that, in the interests of environmental protection, it would be good to agree at least the basics of that system.
In terms of agriculture then, we can think about the standards for chemical regulation in terms of things like pesticides and fertilisers. And that's what we tend to think of as our basic notion of what a standard is and we think of it as an objective standard like that, which we can then relate quite clearly to our trading concerns, but what I'm trying to demonstrate is that there are other standards in EU law that are important, but are complex and aren’t going to fit that model as easily. Another example of that in this context is in terms of the protection of special habitats, where the standard is favourable conservation status. That's not an easy thing to understand, to address, but it's nevertheless a standard that has been adopted and that we could apply in future. That's also then addressed through the management approach. That's an agreed management approach, which very much like the environmental impact assessment, relies on this idea of prior assessment, and there's a common agreement on that.
So, just to conclude, the basis of the report, the conclusion to the report, is that the EU has created legal frameworks that support the development of a common understanding of the most effective approach to measures for safeguarding natural resources. There could be an argument for applying this in future at the UK level. It might be that that's a different approach than is adopted in other policy areas. It could be that this is something that is specific to the environment because the environment is an area where we need this common approach. It will necessarily need to allow for discretion among the nations and devolved Governments. It has to do that. It has to be an agreed common framework that allows that discretion, that ability to experiment, to develop innovative approaches. I'm not suggesting that it be very detailed, very specific. It has to be able to do that.
But I'm also recognising that what I am suggesting is going to require a high level of co-operation among the relevant Governments. It is an argument for an institutional framework that, again, might be specific to environmental protection, but that adopts an approach that is really based on that notion of working together, and there may be a need, or there will be a need for a new institutional framework to support that. If we accept that whatever we introduce needs to be based on good evidence, and this idea of establishing knowledge that could incorporate both scientific knowledge and knowledge of practice, then, again, there's going to have to be an institutional framework to support that. When I was here last time, we were talking about reporting requirements, and the importance of those reporting requirements in monitoring and accountability. But here I'm talking about those reporting requirements being important in terms of knowledge exchange and development. So, there's a different purpose here.
Those institutional frameworks then would have a significant impact in terms of what we've also been talking about in terms of the environmental principles, that the law could be based on those principles moving forward. Again, it's going to have an important effect in terms of institutional frameworks because what I'm talking about is distinguishing the existing proposals for governance and creating something new to support the development of common frameworks. Obviously, that's going to involve a significant resource. Also, this approach would have consequences for the current proposals and the framework analysis. Clearly, I'm arguing that more of the issues that have been identified should be developed as common frameworks, and I'm thinking particularly of the habitats directive, the water framework directive. Those are issues on which, currently, there is no proposal for a common framework.
I also wrote this report before the inter-governmental agreement between the UK Government and the devolved administrations. Clearly, what I'm suggesting is a very different model of institutional working and working across Governments than that currently suggests. Thank you.
Thank you very much. Has anybody got any questions at the end of this? No. Ah, Dai has.
A allaf ddiolch yn fawr iawn i chi yn y lle cyntaf am adroddiad cynhwysfawr, a hefyd cyflwyniad bendigedig, rhaid dweud? Wrth gwrs, mae yna sawl her, gan dderbyn lefel y wybodaeth yn fan hyn, o ochr Cymru. Ac rydym yn gwybod, achos rydym ni wedi olrhain o'r blaen yn y lle yma, fod sawl her yn ein hwynebu ni: pryderon, fel rydych wedi crybwyll eisoes, ynglŷn â cholli pwerau o'r lle yma, a hefyd yn nhermau'r amgylchedd. Mae gyda ni rhai mudiadau yma yng Nghymru eisoes, megis comisiynydd cenedlaethau'r dyfodol ac ati, ac rydym ni yn pryderu, mewn unrhyw drafodaeth ynglŷn â llunio fframweithiau i'r dyfodol, beth sy'n digwydd efo'r cyrff bendigedig yna sydd gyda ni ar hyn o bryd. A hefyd, yng nghyd-destun—. Fe wnaf i roi cwestiwn eang hefyd i adeiladu ar hynny: yng nghyd-destun y cydweithio, rydych chi'n dweud yn fan hyn:
'requires a high level of co-operation.'
Buaswn i'n dadlau, o'n hochr ni, nid ydym ni wedi dechrau'n dda iawn ar hynny, o achos beth sydd wedi digwydd efo cymal 11, sydd nawr yn gymal 15, o Bil yr Undeb Ewropeaidd (Ymadael). Hynny yw, buaswn i'n credu y gallech chi ddiffinio beth sy'n digwydd fel bod Cymru yn colli grym o dan hwnnw, ac felly buasem ni'n cael ein harwain gan beth mae San Steffan eisiau, gan fod Lloegr gymaint yn fwy na'r gwledydd eraill yn yr ynysoedd hyn. Felly, mae yna her yn nhermau sut mae Llywodraethau'r ynysoedd hyn yn mynd i gydweithio efo'i gilydd, a beth mae nifer ohonom ni'n pryderu ynglŷn â datblygu fframweithiau ydy sut yn union fydd y datblygiad yna'n digwydd ar y llawr. Hynny yw, a fydd y pedwar Llywodraeth yn cydweithio'n gyfartal i gydlunio fframweithiau, yn cychwyn o'u persbectif nhw ac wedyn yn dod i ryw gasgliad efo'i gilydd, yn cydweithio ac yn cydlynu efo'i gilydd? Ynteu, a ydy San Steffan yn mynd i arwain a bydd yn rhaid i bawb arall ddilyn? Diolch yn fawr.
Thank you very much in the first place for a comprehensive report and also a great presentation, I must say. Of course, there are many challenges, accepting the level of information here, from a Wales point of view. And we know, because we've looked before in this place, that there are many challenges facing us: concerns, as you've mentioned already, about losing powers from this place, and also in terms of the environment. We have some organisations here in Wales already, such as the future generations commissioner, and we are concerned, in any discussion about setting up any frameworks for the future, what is going to happen with those great bodies that we have presently. And also, in the context—. I'll also include a broad question to build on that: in the context of the collaboration, you say here:
'requires a high level of co-operation.'
I would argue, from our side, that we haven't started very well on that point because of what's happened with clause 11, which is now clause 15, of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. That is, you could define what's happened as Wales losing power under that, and therefore we would be led by what Westminster wants, because England is so much bigger than the other countries in these islands. So, there is a challenge in terms of how the Governments of these islands are going to co-operate, and what a number of us are concerned about, in terms of developing frameworks, is how exactly that development will happen at grass-roots level. Will the four Governments collaborate on an equal basis to form and draw up frameworks, beginning from their perspective and then coming to some sort of conclusion together, working, co-operating together? Or will Westminster lead, and everybody else will have to follow? Thank you very much.
Yes. I see that as two questions. In terms of the current bodies and the future generations commissioner, the role of the future generations commissioner is largely related to accountability and enforcement. So, I see that as a separate issue in that respect. In terms of development of law, perhaps one of the things that's missing at the UK level is what we have in Wales, which is an agreement on what the overall picture is in terms of our concerns for the well-being of future generations—or, in my career, I've know it as sustainable development—and I think that is missing at the UK level. In this report, I've focused on environmental protection, which is one aspect of that, but obviously it goes into a broader picture, and I've always argued that sustainable development is a concept that we should understand, first and foremost, as being about the protection of the natural resource base, because that underlies any future development. So, that's my perspective as an environmentalist. So, I do think that that's missing, and would be really important in this approach.
I recognise that what I'm suggesting might be a long way from where we are in terms of the proposals for the development of UK common frameworks. I'm an academic, so what I've tried to do is just to create a report that would highlight some of these issues from a purely environmental perspective, to shine a light on that and what we might aspire to. And I think it gives us a clear argument for what you've described, which is effective collaboration: all four Governments on the same level. I think it's a strong argument for that. That might apply in other areas, but I think it applies absolutely in terms of environmental protection and is really important in environmental protection. I don't think that what I'm suggesting would involve a devolved Government losing power, because it suggests that everybody would be considered to be contributing on an equal basis. Whether that can or does conflict with the model of devolution that we have in UK, I would have to think about more. I think it's a very interesting question, but it's a strong argument for what you've suggested.
Good morning, and thanks for your thought-provoking paper. My question, really, is borne out of the evidence that we've been given by the Wales Environmental Link, who currently have picked up that we have our own individual laws—it's following on from what Dai said—but they're borne out of the laws that we currently have from our membership of the EU. So, therefore, that is potentially going to produce a gap in all of those areas that you covered. So, their concern is—and I'm asking whether you can further enlighten us—that the Welsh Government now ought to be going out to consultation to gather as much evidence as they can so that we don't end up with gaps either in knowledge or structures, and they actually point to the fact that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is already doing that. So, do you have any other further thoughts?
Well, this report was about the development of a UK common framework specifically. What Wales Environmental Link are concerned about there is the fact that the model that I've suggested is not the model that is currently on the table. The model that's currently on the table is a move to the devolved nations developing their own environmental laws. If that's the case, then we do need to do a lot more in terms of developing the knowledge to move forward with our own frameworks for the protection of the environment. I absolutely agree with them.
Okay, and if I could ask a further question. You've put the threats to the health of the natural environment on one of your slides, and you've put invasive species, and I agree with that. But I would add some things in there, and that's the mass production of plants that we're currently seeing, where they've already been sprayed with insecticides and what have you, and we're bringing those into our own gardens, unwittingly, in some cases. So, I suppose the question here is about not just invasive species, but invasive, I suppose, insecticides or pesticides that aren't necessarily controlled sufficiently because they're already sprayed before we're bringing them in.
Well, again, that would depend on the standards that we have for those pesticides and fertilizers that are addressed—. That is something that is in the suggestions for a common framework. It will also be addressed by anything that we introduce in terms of management practice around the use of those. Again, that's something that we could agree at a UK level, or it's something that we could introduce at the level of the Welsh Government. It may be that that's—. That could be an example of an area where you need quite significant discretion at the Welsh level because it may be that because of the nature of our particular type of farming we use different pesticides or fertilizers—I'm not a scientist or a farmer, but that may be the case. So, that would be an example of how this might operate in future, and something that we would need to address.
And, if I can, finally, on climate change—there will be the issue of mass migration if we have climate change in the way that we expect it to happen. It will produce mass migration, and it will also flag up real concerns in the production of food, adequate water supplies—we're already being asked to supply water to the south-east of England because they don't have it. So, do you have any thoughts about how we could, as a nation, jointly, of course, look at a framework that looks a little bit wider than the frameworks we're currently exploring?
Climate change is not my area of expertise. I've tried to create a report that looks at lots of different aspects of environmental protection to show the broad nature of the issues that we're dealing with, and the approaches that we've used in respect of the different challenges that we face. Obviously, climate change is one of the most complex challenges, and it's clearly an area where we do need a multilevel governance approach right up to the global level. We do need that. It's also an area where there has been working across levels of government. Whether that works effectively, we would need to think about, and we could improve that. But it's an example of where you have a very complex issue and you try to work across levels of government to address it. For me, it's a good example of that, but, as I said, I'm not a climate change lawyer.
Could I say, we have to read an awful lot of material as Assembly Members, and I thought your report was genuinely helpful, crisp and insightful, and does help us frame our considerations? I want to ask, however, a slightly more sharp political question, because I think, if we could construct what you are suggesting—and I've argued consistently, as my party's constitutional spokesperson, that it would be the best way of proceeding, with some sort of shared governance model and really robust frameworks in how they're constructed, and then the flexibility under them and how they are implemented; I think that would be really important—but you ended up, I think, saying we certainly need this approach in the environment, which was kind of tipping your hat to the fact that they don't seem to be emerging in the other areas where we might have frameworks, and it's like a plea: 'Well, at least have it here.' I think that's quite realistic, unfortunately.
But I suppose I'd like to ask about a second-best option. It's not just the UK Government, and, as I said, I'm not uncritical of their approach over these issues, which so actively involve the devolution principle, but the Welsh and Scottish Governments are not innocent here either. They're taking a very maximalist approach to the powers that should be returning to Cardiff and Edinburgh, and that, one could argue, could be part of the problem as well, though I think the principal issue is more the leadership that perhaps we could have seen emerge from Westminster on these things, and the civil service, and getting to grips with new things like shared governance. However, if we do have a fairly narrow focus on international obligations and are therefore prescriptive in that bit, but quite flexible over everything else, it would at least allow the Welsh Government to develop its own more rigorous system, potentially, also shadowing quite closely European governance. Because everything the Commission produces we'd still have access to, even though it won't be taken into our law. And a bit like, I have no doubt, many businesses, no matter what the UK Government says about regulation, will follow EU regulations, because they'll see that as the way of getting access to the markets that are so important to them, we could kind of do the same, couldn't we, in our environmental governance? Would it get around some of the capacity issues, which I do acknowledge are very key, that we can only generate a certain amount of policy capacity and scientific data on all these things? If we drew on European governance, would this model of the UK framework being quite focused, with a lot of flexibility to what we would want to do—could we use that flexibility to perhaps maintain more of what we currently have in the structure of European governance?
It's certainly a possibility. Whether it would work whilst we were outside of the EU, I'm not sure. I think where I'm coming from with this as well, though, is the fact that we talk a lot about the island of Ireland, but we're an island of Scotland, England and Wales, and in that sense there is perhaps a greater argument for saying that we should be concerned about the whole island, and adopting practices that we agree upon as essential to our furthering of environmental protection on this island. And I think that focus on cross-border concerns creates a very minimalist approach, so what I'm thinking about is trying to broaden that.
I've said that this doesn't fit with where we are at the moment. I'm not commenting on whose fault that is, who is responsible for that, I'm just saying that it doesn't fit with where we are. And it may be that we have to respond—well, we will have to respond to where we are. What you've suggested is one option. Moving to an entirely devolved approach is another option. We need to work that out. We do need to work that out. But if the argument that I have made is for working together as far as possible, and the idea that there needs to be some strategic input, then what you've suggested would fit with that.
Can I thank you very much for coming along to speak to us today and for answering the questions? I, as I'm sure the rest of the committee, have found it very informative. You'll get a transcript of the proceedings. I suggest you look through it—not that anything is likely to be wrong, but, occasionally, if you do what I do when I'm talking to somebody and turn away, sometimes, some of the words get missed. So, thank you very much for coming along. We very much appreciate it and we hope to see you again. Thank you.
Bore da. Good morning. Can I welcome you to the committee? If you could introduce yourselves for the record, and if you want to make a short opening statement—otherwise, we'll go straight into questions.
Okay. Good morning. My name is Steve Gibson. I'm a director at the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.
Dylan Morgan, head of policy for National Farmers Union Cymru.
Roisin Willmott—I'm the director for the Royal Town Planning Institute in Wales.
Shall we go straight into questions? Yes. I'll start off with whether the UK Government's provisional categorisation of environmental policy areas is fit for purpose, and, really, which priority areas require legislation within common frameworks, which require non-legislative common frameworks and which do not require common frameworks at all? And are there any policy areas of particular concern in the UK Government’s provisional categorisation?
Well, just from an agricultural perspective, I'd say that, in terms of the work that's been done, I think they've had quite a thorough investigation of all the areas we needed to look at in terms of frameworks, and the provisional assessment that has been made gives a sort of good basis for working on. In terms of agriculture, we know that they're carrying out a lot more detail, looking at things around food, feed law, pesticides and trade issues. From our point of view, the principles that we've got are making sure that we've got frameworks in place that would not affect our ability at all to trade outside the UK and to make new trade deals, and obviously impact on our ability to trade within the UK. Because if we're calling for a frictionless trade with the EU and further afield, obviously we want to make sure that we don't have friction within the UK. So, I think it is important that we look at some of those areas where there is significant trade within the UK to make sure that we have got frameworks in place, whether they be legislative or memoranda of understanding to ensure that we can continue as we do at present.
Jest ar gefn hynny, ac o gefndir amaethyddol, wrth gwrs, mae natur amaeth yng Nghymru yn bur wahanol i natur amaeth yn Lloegr, dyweded, ac wedyn, fel rydym yn mynd i ddatblygu fframweithiau, a ydych chi'n gallu rhagweld unrhyw heriau mewn datblygu fframwaith cyffredin dros yr ynysoedd hyn o gofio bod amaethyddiaeth yng Nghymru yn bur wahanol i amaethyddiaeth Lloegr? A ydych chi'n rhagweld unrhyw broblemau, ynteu a ydych chi'n mynd i adael i bopeth redeg yn llyfn o San Steffan?
May I just come in on that? From an agricultural background, of course, the nature of agriculture in Wales is quite different to that in England, one could say, so, as we develop frameworks, can you foresee any challenges that may arise in developing a common framework over these islands given that agriculture in Wales is quite different to agriculture in England? Do you foresee any problems, or will everything be frictionless from Westminster?
First of all, in terms of any frameworks, they should not be imposed on Wales. What we're talking about, in any sort of framework, whether it's legislative or non-legislative, is that it's mutually agreed and gives full respect to devolution and, as I say, it's agreed by the relevant Governments in each country.
I think when we're talking about frameworks, it's making sure that we're looking at minimum standards, so minimum standards that allow us to make new trade deals and continue to trade and to trade within the UK. So, anything above that, I think we need to make sure that there is significant flexibility to allow different countries to run very different policies, because, as you say, the situation in Wales is vastly different to what it is in England. Eighty per cent of our land is less favoured compared to less than 20 per cent in England. So, in terms of agricultural policy I'd expect that, in the vast majority of things, we'd want to have the ability to doing things completely differently. But there may be some areas, such as what we need to do in terms of taking over from what currently is the Common Market Organisation in Europe—so, things like a safety net mechanism, risk management—and we may want to look at insurance models like they do in America—. On that basis, we may want to work collectively to achieve the best possible deal for Wales and for British agriculture.
But I think, when we talk about frameworks, we should be just looking at those minimum standards, minimum conditions, to allow us to meet external and internal markets. Everything else within there should allow complete flexibility for us to design and implement a policy to, from our point of view, deliver a productive, progressive and profitable agriculture industry in Wales.
Thank you. I saw nodding amongst your colleagues there. I move to Jayne.
Thank you, Chair. Are there any environmental policy areas where existing divergence between the UK and Welsh Government thinking could be problematic for the agreement of frameworks?
Shall I have a go at this? I've been thinking about this one. Chairman, would it help if I very briefly described JNCC's relationship with Welsh Government?
Okay. So, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee was established 27 years ago. It's established in primary legislation, and each of the four country bodies, of which Natural Resources Wales is Wales'scountry body, come together. So, in effect we're a board of boards established by primary legislation. We have three broad functions that the country bodies are supposed to deliver jointly through JNCC, but what we provide is the benefits of working together at a UK scale with the flexibility and the discretion and what is desired by countries.
So, over 27 years ago when we were first formed, JNCC was made up of a group of bodies that were all very similar with very similar legislation, and 27 years later each of those bodies has quite different functions or very different functions, and very different legislation. Over that time, because of the flexibility of those who are coming to the table and because of the enabling legislation, a bit like Dylan was describing, JNCC has adapted continually to provide those benefits at UK scale, and also the discretion and the desirability.
So, if there is anything particular, I couldn't comment, but it's something about the way that it is set up to enable flexibility for the future as well.
Yes, absolutely. JNCC particularly works beyond 12 nautical miles as well, and so we have quite a number of cross-border marine protected areas inside and outside 12 nautical miles. And we've done that initially when all of the waters were Secretary of State waters, and then when some of them became Scottish devolved for administrative purposes, and we're working with Welsh Government and NRW now for that bit that is now devolved to Wales, relating to the offshore zone. So, continued flexibility—we've just been able to continually adapt within a shared purpose.
I'd just add that, in terms of the minimum standards—and I think this would answer the Member's view on whether there are any differences—our starting point should be the minimum standard should be what we have now, so that then there's the potential to improve on environmental policy et cetera going forward, and allow flexibility within that.
Can I just come in? Looking at it the other way, and you said the minimum standard is what we have now, what if there's a proposal to change those minimum standards at some stage in the future, perhaps on the back of a particular trade deal? Is that something that—how do you foresee that a change can be made in that way? Dylan Morgan made the point this should be jointly agreed between the four constituent nations. Is that the only way of doing it or are there other ways of doing it?
The Royal Town Planning Institute—we're proposing a body, an enforcer, if you like, that replaces the role of the European Union and its constituent bodies, which would then be able to enforce that minimum standard, as in where we are now. In order to do that, it needs to take a long-term view. If you think about the way that the European Union operates, whether you like the policies or not from an environmental standpoint, everyone knows about them, everyone knows that great crested newts, bats, et cetera, are protected, across the public. So, we need something that will replicate that as well and have respect. So, it needs to have teeth. We feel that it needs to be owned by all of the Governments—so, the UK Government and the devolved Governments as well—and that would give it more strength, and it would need to have powers such as the ability to hand out fines, et cetera, for not complying.
I won't ask the obvious question of, 'What on earth are we doing?', but there we are.
I'll just answer the specific question on something like future trade deals. I think that opens up another argument really in terms of the fact that a lot of the minimum standards we're talking about would be the standards that we need to meet international trade agreements. I think if we're talking about what we require to meet future trade agreements, then I think, again, we need to make sure that the National Assembly and the Welsh Government have an integral role as well in terms of the negotiations and agreeing those trade deals. So, again, that's about a collective decision making, rather than any one Government making a decision on behalf of the rest of the UK. I think that's a very important principle to take forward.
Just on that, how realistic are the discussions that we're having now, when we don't know anything about these trade deals?
I think that's a very good point. The big picture, from our point of view as an agricultural sector, is to make sure that we've got a market open to us in a few months' time. That is the crucial issue that we need to sort out, to make sure that we have got a market for our produce, and that is above and beyond anything else we're really discussing at this moment in time. So, it's absolutely crucial, Simon.
Can I just finish the point and go back to Roisin Willmott? I suggested a mini European Commission. You talked about this body, which, of course, is being discussed—something is being discussed—and we don't know what it is yet. You talk about it as an enforcer and you talk about fines and you have that kind of vision. But, of course, what the Commission does as well is actually come forward with proposals for standards. Is that what this body would also do, or should we be looking to the Governments of the UK, post Brexit, to bring forward proposals for standards, or can this be incorporated in the one body?
We see it as very much the enforcer and we expect it to keep the standards as we have them currently, and then the opportunity to adapt policy, et cetera, but by the devolved Governments. But, the enforcing body, if you like, would be a check—are the new proposals coming forward at least at the minimum for that?
Given that environmental and agricultural policy is, I would say, the most accomplished level of European governance—you may not agree with it all, but it's a very, very strong system. It's certainly not a minimum-standard system. I think that's quite the wrong way to describe it. It sets required standards and there is certain flexibility beyond that. It requires a very integrated, developed machinery, and I'm not sure that's consistent with what you said in your opening remarks, Dylan, about, you want flexibility and you want the devolved Governments to be agreeing to everything—that's going to be a core principle or standard and the enforcement. That sounds a very different model. So, are you fairly comfortable with what seems to be emerging, insofar as we can tell, from the UK Government and that our governance in these areas will not be the European model—it would be very much a prescriptive model, more narrowly focused on international trade? So, it would, around that, allow an enormous amount of flexibility, frankly, and certainly the point that Simon Thomas just made in terms of who's going to develop the policy is hugely significant in terms of capacity to do that. So, we're going to have a much looser model. It will take us fundamentally away from current European governance. Do you agree that that is what is now emerging and how sanguine are you about it?
Well, I think you're right—our industry is probably more intertwined with the EU than arguably any other sector, given the common agricultural policy over 40 years. We have had a framework decided by Europe, and then member states and devolved regions within those member states have had some flexibility under that—not a huge amount, but some flexibility. I think the vote that took place was to leave Europe—it wasn't to move powers back to Westminster. So, in terms of what you're talking about, I think, the devolution settlement has consistently said from the beginning that agricultural policy is devolved to the National Assembly and to the Welsh Government. So, in terms of designing future agricultural policy and what the future of the CAP would look like, we would say that that should be something that should be designed and implemented within Wales. But, what I'm saying in terms of a framework, we do need a minimum standard that makes sure that what one country does doesn't potentially impact on the ability of other countries to trade. That's what I'm talking about, and also the ability to make sure we can continue to trade across borders.
I think you're being candid and clear that you want it focused on trade. You see there are the environmental concerns and that some things will need to be in the framework—the use of chemicals, for instance. But it's a very different model, for instance, to the sustainability one or the protection of the environment, which is much more embedded in European governance. And it seems to me that if the UK model does develop around what we need to agree in common so that we can have international trade agreements and then certain fixed standards for clearly important issues like fertilizer use, chemical compositions and such—. So, I'm going to ask you again: what's emerging at the moment, though not perfect, from the UK Government, does seem to fit in with your aspirations, in terms of what's now going to develop in terms of the level of common governance we'll need around these issues within the UK.
I think, from what I've seen, I'm aware that the Welsh Government and DEFRA are currently working in detail on 24 policy areas where they're deciding whether legislative frameworks are needed or not. And there are other areas where they are agreed that there is a need for legislation because it's not a devolved competence, or areas where they believe there isn't a need for a framework, or a non-legislative solution is the answer. And, I think, in terms of those 24 areas, again, in terms of the vast majority of them, we would agree that there is a need for the Governments to work together. Again, it's the Governments jointly agreeing that that's the way they want to go forward, not one Government telling the others what to do.
You've covered the areas very well, in terms of where we think those frameworks should be—pesticides, food and feed labelling and things like that—where the market is a UK market. But I would go back again to say, in terms of agricultural policy, for example, that there are areas where the four countries may decide they want to pool their resources, and that could be in terms of developing a risk management or an assurance scheme. But there are areas where, very clearly—and that is probably around your economic resilience, your public money for public goods, what element of base support or direct support there may be in future—those are issues where the different countries may want to do vastly different things. And as you say, they are already doing that within the confines of the EU architecture. For example, Scotland still has a very significant payment to their upland areas, whereas the rest of the UK doesn't. So, it's just an extension of what we're doing currently, I would argue.
Just to test out some of this, if I may, because I think what's emerging from Dylan Morgan and Roisin Willmott's evidence are slightly different takes on what this framework should be and the body behind it. Of course, we have the ability to craft that now, because that is to be decided. First of all, just with Dylan, you'll know how important exports to the rest of the EU are for Welsh farmers. You've talked about the minimum standards in that sense. We know that Michel Barnier has said very clearly in a speech this year that, in order to continue to trade with the EU, they would expect high standards and robust accountability. It seems, when I read what Michel Barnier says, that in order to maintain trade with the EU, he's expecting, more or less, that we continue to follow the EU standards, whereas if we're doing a more flexible approach, which is striking these 40 trade deals before breakfast, we should have had something much more flexible, more like the model that was being described by David Melding. So, with the reality of the fact that, from 30 March, we have to maintain trade and we'll still be exporting to a lot of the rest of the EU, is it at all feasible that we could have such a highly flexible mobile body up and running by then, or is it not the case that we'll just be continuing to follow the EU standards, in effect?
I think, in terms of minimum standards, perhaps 'minimum standards' are the wrong words. It's agreeing the standards that we need to access our export markets.
But if the EU says that the standards you need to access our market are the standards you've got today, Welsh farmers meet them already, so that's fine.
Yes, exactly, but those are the minimum standards that all four countries need to meet to make sure that that market is open. We're not talking about a lowering of standards in any shape or form, and if we want to export to Europe on 1 April next year, they will have to be exactly the same standards. That doesn't mean that the way we run things on 1 April next year has to be the same as it will be in five years' time, because we can look at other countries. In New Zealand, for example, which very much run an outcomes-based system looking at regulation, rather than have exactly the same regulations as what Europe's got, they've got a system to prove that they are meeting the standards required to meet all their 120 export markets. So, I think our long-term aim is to meet that. When I say 'minimum standards', that doesn't mean, in any shape or form, that we're looking at lowering our standards, because in Wales in particular we've got to make sure that we sell ourselves as a country that's producing the highest possible standards of food to the highest environmental standards. What we need to make sure is that every country is meeting standards that make sure that we can all access those markets.
Chair, if I might, I think Dylan and myself are talking about slightly different perspectives. I'm less interested in the trade deals, and more about land use and how we manage Wales in that sense. So, perhaps slightly different perspectives, but again, the minimum standards we would want to see are where we are currently at the moment.
A gaf i droi i'r Gymraeg, felly, jyst i amrywio pethau? Hyd yma, mae'r arweinyddiaeth ar sefydlu rhyw fath o gorff neu ryw fath o fframweithiau wedi dod gan Lywodraeth San Steffan, er eich bod chi i gyd, rydw i'n meddwl, wedi tanlinellu pa mor bwysig yw cydweithio rhwng y gwahanol Lywodraethau yn yr ynysoedd hyn, ond a oes yna rywbeth, o'ch profiad chi o'r hyn yr ydych chi wedi ei weld yn yr hyn y mae Michael Gove wedi ei ddweud, a'r Llywodraeth bresennol, sydd yn dangos bod yna absenoldeb o bethau sydd o bwys i Gymru? Hynny yw, a ydyn nhw wedi anghofio rhai agweddau ar hyn wrth drafod y fframweithiau? A oes yna unrhyw enghreifftiau o lle y dylem ni fod yn arbennig o wyliadwrus i wneud yn siwr bod Cymru, a sefyllfa arbennig Cymru yn hyn, yn cael ei hadlewyrchu yn y fframweithiau hynny?
If I may turn to ask my question in Welsh, to provide a little variety. Thus far, the leadership on establishing some sort of body on frameworks has come from the Westminster Government, and I think you've all emphasised how important collaboration is between the various Governments of these islands, but is there something, in your experience or in terms of what you've seen from what Michael Gove has said, and the current Government, that shows that there's an absence of something that would be important for Wales? Have they forgotten some aspects on this in discussing the frameworks? Do you have any examples of where we should be particularly on our guard to ensure that Wales and its unique situation in all this is reflected in those frameworks?
I think the one that stands out for me is that Wales has legislated on a number of things with the recent set of Acts that the other countries of the UK have embedded in things like land use strategies or 25-year plans and so on. So, 'being on your guard' and things are a bit dramatic from that perspective, but I think there is just that difference that you will want to be aware of—and I'm sure you already are—that you have legislated with very significant intent on things that have been handled somewhat differently, and therefore that lens of looking at a framework will be different.
So, just an example: we have legislated for carbon reduction targets. That's legislation, not a political target, and it drives policy in a different way to—
Yes, and future generations and things like that. You very specifically legislated, whereas—. So, it will give a different lens, and I think that's the thing for me to be aware of.
I wouldn't comment on any specific detail, but I'd echo what Steve said about the current legislation that we have here in Wales. I'm obviously not party to the specific discussions that are going on between Welsh Government and UK Government, but I'm not getting any feeling of—I'm not being convinced of the UK Government's commitment to the devolution settlement per se in terms of practical arrangements, such as an enforcing body. Would it be owned by all of the Governments et cetera? So, I'm still open to being convinced on that side.
Just to ask a follow-up about one specific thing, which you've just mentioned, we have a future generations commissioner in Wales. She is not an enforcing body, as I think she's quite keen to tell people who ask her to enforce things, but she is a sounding board for how we test out our policies for future generations. Clearly, if we have a framework, that's one thing, but if we have a body set up to do something on the environment then there's the possibility of the two not being well thought out. This is something that the committee did ask Michael Gove when we went down to London. I wasn't completely convinced by the reply. So, have you got any evidence at all about that aspect? You asked us to be on our guard about it. Have you got evidence that that is actually being thrashed out at the moment—how these things might mesh together?
I don't have any knowledge or evidence as to how that's being done, no.
I can see from your body language that not only do you not have evidence; you don't think it's being done. I don't think I'm misinterpreting things. [Laughter.]
If there is a body, and it is going to be UK-wide body, it's very important that it's seen as something that is there for all four Governments and for all four Assemblies, isn't it? So—
—its location, how it's employed. Is it accountable to Government? Because, if it is, it could effectively be sort of the Government marking its own homework, or should it be accountable to the Parliaments of the four countries? So, I think there are issues that need to be discussed and considered around that.
But, of course, we need to remember that, if it was only UK legislation, the future generations commissioner doesn't have any influence over that. She can speak, but she doesn't have any powers there.
I want to talk about principles, and I want to ask you all about the principles that should be used to guide the development of environmental frameworks, including views on the principles agreed at the JMC in October, and whether you have an opinion on the balance between the environmental, the economic and the political—maybe you won't answer the last—principles for consideration by the UK Government.
Just from our view, in terms of principles going forward, we think we should be very much looking at science-based and evidence-led regulation and legislation going forward. That would be our guiding principle. I think we've had some concerns in the past about the use of the precautionary principle within the development of EU legislation, so I think it is about making sure that we've got that science base and that it's evidence led. From our point of view, in terms of how we operate as an organisation in Wales, clearly, we operate to the future generations Act, so we are looking at environmental, economic, social and cultural elements of any future policy going forward. So, that's how we've been operating as an organisation. I'm sorry—in terms of the detail, in terms of what you actually asked in terms of the UK Government, I wouldn't be able to answer that.
I couldn't comment on UK Government. Certainly, Welsh Government has been very progressive in this area in terms of integrating, and we can see that through the future generations Act and the commissioner, with far more foresight into looking at that, and that's what we need for this area. I think environmental policy, the topic that we're talking about today, has been very much run from the European Union, but of course, let's remember that a lot of this comes from UN conventions, so we still need to subscribe to those; it's how we implement those.
We are looking at research at the moment to see how we integrate things like environmental impact assessments et cetera, and how that integrates with the planning system, because that is an area that perhaps we could make more efficient, more effective, in that sense. But it is very important that—. The environment is extremely important, and we need to understand it in the context of our economy in terms of social, infrastructure and cultural as well. So, we do need to look at them all together.
I think Roisin makes a very good point about international conventions—[Inaudible.] I think the only thing I'd observe is a set of principles that are designed now for now. As we talked about earlier, 27 years later, we look quite different from what we looked like, but also quite similar. And I think it's going to be about taking those principles that are designed now, and then asking, 'Well, now won't stay now, so, in 10 years' time, if we have a result from applying these principles, how does it stand?' And I think that's an important question in using the principles.
In terms of the balance between environment, social and economic, our legislation—. The original legislation was 1991, it was refreshed in 2006—and I've chosen that term carefully because it looks very similar, but there were differences. Sustainable development came in to the terminology, and I think over time, we'll see this importance of bringing together environment, social and economic, as you already have in Wales. So, it is about balance; I think they've all got to be in there in some way, in some appropriate way, and looking forward, there will be new things that come along that we'll need to be ready for. But to me, I think balance implies some kind of place now, and I think there is just a care needed that that won't remain at the same balance in future.
Diolch, Gadeirydd. Rwy’n credu bod fy nghwestiwn i, yn rhannol, wedi cael ei ateb yn barod, ond roeddwn i jest yn mynd i fynd ar ôl, efallai mewn ychydig bach mwy o fanylder, y broses o ddatblygu fframweithiau cyffredin—hynny yw, y broses rhwng y gwahanol Lywodraethau. Wrth gwrs, mae rhai ohonom ni'n dod o’r cefndir ein bod ni’n credu bod Cymru yn dechrau o dan anfantais yn y lle cyntaf. Rwy’n agored i’r syniad, ac rwy’n agored i gael fy narbwyllo, y bydd pedair Llywodraeth yr ynysoedd yma yn cydweithio yn gyfartal â’i gilydd i ddatblygu fframweithiau cyffredin. Ond rwy’n credu bod y rheithgor yn dal allan ar hynny, yn y bôn, achos y broses sydd wedi datblygu i fyny at rŵan, efo’r Bil ymadael, efo colli pleidlais yn fan hyn ynglŷn â chydsyniad deddfwriaethol i drio arbed colli pwerau o Gymru yn nhermau'r Bil ymadael, ac wrth gwrs, yr wythnos ddiwethaf yn San Steffan, dadl ar y gwledydd datganoledig a’r Bil ymadael ac ati, a’r ddadl yna’n gallu para dim ond 18 munud allan o’r holl oriau o drafodaethau sydd wedi bod ynglŷn â’r Bil ymadael yn San Steffan—18 munud a oedd wedi cael eu dosrannu i fuddiannau'r Alban a Chymru. Felly, nid ydy’r math o bethau fel yna’n llenwi rhywun efo hyder ynglŷn â thryloywder y ffordd ymlaen ynglŷn â chynllunio fframweithiau cyffredin. A’r holl broses yma o rannu llywodraethiant—hynny yw, fel yr ydym wedi ei grybwyll eisoes, nid ydym eisiau sefyllfa lle mae San Steffan yn penderfynu rhywbeth ac wedyn yn ei wthio fe allan dros y gwledydd eraill i gyd. Ond hefyd, mae yna rai ohonom ni sydd ddim yn gallu gweld sut mae’r pedair gwlad yn mynd i allu cytuno pethau efo’i gilydd a bwrw ymlaen mewn rhyw fath o undod, a dod i gasgliad aeddfed ar ddiwedd y dydd. A oes gyda chi unrhyw sylw ar hynny i ddechrau?
Thank you, Chair. I think my question has partly been answered already, but I was just going to go after, in a little bit more detail, the process of developing common frameworks—that is, the process between the different Governments. Of course, some of us come from the background that we believe that Wales starts at a disadvantage in the first place. I'm open to the idea, and I'm open to be convinced, that the four Governments of these islands will work on an equal basis to develop common frameworks. But I think the jury is still out on that, essentially, because of the process that has developed up until now with the withdrawal Bill, with losing the vote on the legislative consent to try and avoid losing powers from Wales in terms of the withdrawal Bill, and of course, this last week in Westminster, a debate on the devolved nations and the withdrawal Bill and so forth, and that debate could only last 18 minutes. Out of all the hours of discussion in relation to the withdrawal Bill, 18 minutes had been allocated to the interests of Scotland and Wales. Therefore, those kinds of things don't engender confidence in terms of transparency and moving forward in drawing common frameworks. And all this process of sharing governance—we've mentioned already we don't want a situation where Westminster decides something and then pushes it to the other countries. But some of us can't see how the four nations are going to be able to decide together on things and go ahead in some sort of unity, and come to a mature conclusion at the end of the day. I don't know whether you have any comments on that, to begin with.
I couldn't say anything about the politics of that. The only thing I would say is about how we make it work once it's working. So, I'm sure you'll understand that.
Yes, similarly, I think—. Obviously, at the moment, we've got the JMC. As you say, it probably does need to be on a more formal, and meet more regularly than it probably has over the previous seven or eight years or so, and a mechanism needs to be worked out to work out how they deal with dispute resolution mechanisms and various other things, and, as you say, again, who that body is accountable to, and how it works at both a political level and at an official level. So, as you say—. In terms of the detail of how that works, I wouldn't have the knowledge to be able to answer that.
I'd just add that perhaps—. Well, there's the British-Irish Council, which is perhaps a model that could be considered, replicating that—that's set up by the Good Friday agreement—and looking at how you come together in that format. We can report that the chief planners—at an officer level, the chief planners of the four nations all come together, and they have the Republic of Ireland as well, and they work very well together. But that is at an official level, rather than a political level. It is an area—and the timeline is concerning, with only March to work towards this. But, perhaps, the British-Irish Council, there's something in there that could be used as a model. But it is very, very important that it has ownership from all Governments.
Diolch yn fawr am hynny. Ac, wrth gwrs, mae David Melding a minnau yn aelodau o bwyllgor arall yma yn y Cynulliad sydd wedi gwneud adroddiad sy'n dod i'r un un casgliad, bod angen diwygio'n sylweddol Cyd-bwyllgor y Gweinidogion, a dweud y gwir. Achos mae'n rhaid ei newid o'n sylfaenol. Yr unig gwestiwn arall, buaswn i'n dweud, ydy ynglŷn â rôl rhan-ddeiliaid, hynny yw, y cyhoedd, yn hyn i gyd. Mae pobl weithiau yn gallu dweud pethau eithaf adeiladol ynglŷn â bod yn rhaid i ni gael pobl efo ni wrth ddatblygu fframweithiau, ac ati, ond, fel rydym ni wedi ei glywed yn y dystiolaeth mor belled, mae'n anodd iawn i rai gwleidyddion gael gafael ar beth sy'n mynd ymlaen yn nhermau diffyg tryloywder a'r holl blymio dwfn yma sy'n mynd ymlaen, a rhewi 24 o'n pwerau ni mewn rhyw rewgell am saith mlynedd. Mae'n ddigon anodd i wleidyddion gael gafael ar hynny o beth, wedyn sut ydym ni'n mynd i ddatblygu rôl rhan-ddeiliaid ynglŷn â gwella tryloywder? A fuasech chi'n cytuno, efallai, y dylai fod yna ryw fath o ymgynghoriad cyhoeddus ar lawr gwlad Cymru i ddatblygu fframweithiau sy'n gwneud synnwyr i bobl gyffredin?
Thank you very much for that. And, of course, David Melding and I are members of another committee here in the Assembly that has produced a report that comes to the same conclusion, that there is a need for reform of the JMC. Because it needs to be changed fundamentally. The only other question, I would say, is about the role of stakeholders, the public, in all of this. People can sometimes say, of course, quite constructive things, and we need people to come with us in developing frameworks. But, as we've heard from the evidence so far, it's very difficult for some of the politicians to grasp what's going on, in terms of a lack of transparency and all these deep dives that are going on, and the freezing of 24 of our powers in some sort of freezer for seven years. It's difficult enough for politicians to grasp that, but how are we going to develop then the role of stakeholders in relation to improving transparency? Would you agree that there's a need for a public consultation at a grassroots level in Wales to develop frameworks that would make sense to the general public?
I think, from our point of view, over the last year or so, we've had quite a bit of involvement, both with Welsh Government through the Brexit round table, which is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, and the Secretary of State has also set up an expert implementation panel, which has spent quite a bit of time looking at frameworks and the areas that we may need to look at to work together, or where we believe that there isn't a need for frameworks. So, that has been quite a useful exercise and mechanism for us as stakeholders over the past year or so. But I'd 100 per cent agree that, going forward, in terms of what we're looking to do in terms of taking forward any policy or area, the stakeholders need to be fully involved. Because, at the end of the day, we're representing many thousands of small farming businesses, and we're talking about policies that could very much impact on their profitability and viability going forward. So, I would argue that anything that would impact on business needs to be properly consulted, and properly discussed, and we need to make sure that we as stakeholders are involved, and fully involved from the beginning, not at the end, and also that the National Assembly is also fully involved in terms of this as well. A lot of the things that we're talking about, if it's going to be memorandums of understanding and not legislation, we still need a mechanism to make sure that there's proper scrutiny and accountability, and we need that in Wales as much as anywhere else.
Just specifically, the Welsh Government has proposed that we have a council of Ministers, in effect, in the UK—replace the JMC with something much more formal. Is that something that you've looked at or has Welsh Government talked—? I suppose, specifically, this is for Dylan. Has Welsh Government talked to you about models like that? Do you see that as a way of working?
They haven't talked to us about it. Obviously, I see that the First Minister has mentioned it in one of the papers that he's produced. I can see some merit in it. As national farmers unions throughout the UK we try and get together on a regular basis to, again, discuss and agree common lines that we can take forward to our respective Governments on some issues where we feel we need to work together at a UK level. So, we certainly see merit and positivity in terms of that, as organisations, as industry bodies, working together.
So, I would—. I think that what the First Minister's talking about has certainly got some merit and some legs and you'd like to think that there are maybe some positive elements of how Europe works, in terms of their Council of Ministers structure, to see if there are good bits from that that we could take to agree a process, going forward, and if there's anything from the JMC or the British-Irish Council—. We've got the opportunity to start from scratch and look at a new model. But I think there is certainly a need for some sort of structure in place for Ministers to get together at that level.
Yes. Another key aspect of governance is how the legislative function is exercised. Do you see particular challenges or opportunities in terms of reviewing and updating and scrutinising the frameworks in how the Assembly operates and potentially how it might co-operate with other legislatures?
I think there has to be opportunity for continued review. The JNCC, we haven't existed in isolation for 27 years, we've been reviewed repeatedly—I've lost count—and what's really important is that the voices of the Governments and the country bodies—. We pre-date devolution, but still the voices of those individual administrations were very important in determining how we function, where our focus is and how the countries get the best from it. So, that is our experience and it's been a universally positive one—trying at times, of course, reviews are, but positive.
I'd agree with this. What we need to make sure is that any body does have longevity, though, that it doesn't fall foul of perhaps different Governments having different perspectives in time, such as the Sustainable Development Commission being disbanded in England, for example. So, it needs to have longevity, but the ability to be flexible and review it as well.
In terms of the legislative—
Well, legislative scrutiny at the moment on agricultural and environment policy is enormous, both at the state level and in the European Parliament. Are you confident that these things—or, are they necessary and, if they are, whether they are likely to emerge, given the state of our discussions at the moment?
Well, there's a huge piece of work in terms of moving legislation back from the EU to the UK, isn't there? The Cabinet Secretary suggested that, in Wales alone, there are 5,000 pieces of legislation within her portfolio. So, certainly, there is this huge piece of work for all of us, really, to be able to properly scrutinise and legislate, going forward, isn't there? And I think—
There is an argument, with the legislation, there is a mechanism already in place—
—for us to do that, isn't there, but a memorandum of understanding or those other agreements—we've got to make sure that there is ability to scrutinise that and challenge that as well, I think. That's for stakeholders and—
So, at the minute, you are expending huge amounts of your efforts in this direction on the European Parliament. Where will that effort be focused, as far as you can anticipate at the moment, in the new regime, as we exit?
Well, as an organisation that has got very close links with our colleagues in NFU, obviously, we will try to make sure that we have the expertise that's required, wherever decisions are being made. As far as NFU Cymru is concerned, we are very much focused on the work that takes place within the Senedd here, but, obviously, as part of the wider NFU as well, we have got our offices and expertise within Westminster as well, so we need to look there. And, as I mentioned earlier, we work closely with our colleagues in the Ulster Farmers Union and the National Farmers' Union of Scotland as well. So, you know, there is—. We need—. Our organisation needs to amend on the basis of the new political structure going forward, but we also obviously need to keep a very close eye on what goes on in Europe, because, as Simon has mentioned earlier on, in terms of our trade agreements, we need to make sure that what standards they require we are able to meet and we can have as much influence as possible in terms of making sure that the future standards they have are things that we can achieve as Welsh farmers.
Thanks. My question is to do with UK common frameworks and where they might be necessary. There have been calls for the UK Government and the devolved Governments together to commission an independent analysis of where common frameworks might be necessary. I don't know what your thoughts are on that subject. Do you want to kick off, Roisin?
Thank you. Yes, this is very important, and UK Governments can feel relaxed that the Royal Town Planning Institute is actually doing some work on this at the moment. We've commissioned some work on this. But it is necessary. We will, obviously, be focused on those areas that are related to the town and country planning system, spatial planning, so not the wider environmental factors. But it is, yes, very important. It's the work that needed to be done maybe a year ago or, you know, before time—.
I think it's hard to disagree that, given how difficult a thing this is that we're all wrestling with, independence of view is going to be valuable. I know you had an academic in earlier. I think these kinds of things are almost universally beneficial.
What about who could actually—? What would be the right body to carry out this kind of review?
Now, there's a challenge, yes. It can be difficult to get an independent—. We've—. Our world of—. We'd be operating at a different level, but we've gone abroad for independence when the science has been contested or the interpretation of science has been contested. We've tended to go abroad for a very different mindset, but that's the only experience I can offer you in this field, I'm afraid.
If there are no more questions and no more answers, can I thank you very much for coming along this morning? I think we've all found it very informative and helpful. You'll obviously get a transcript of what's happened today. I would urge you to check it, because, as I've discovered to my own cost, if you turn away in the middle of an answer, sometimes the microphone doesn't pick up one or two of the words. So, please check it to make sure no words are missing. Thank you very much. We'll break until 20 past.
Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 11:08 ac 11:20.
The meeting adjourned between 11:08 and 11:20.
Bore da. Good morning. Can I welcome our witnesses to the meeting? I think that the first thing I've got to do is ask you if you could introduce yourselves for the record and then, if any of you want to make a short introductory speech or a few introductory comments, or we can go straight into questions. If we start at one end—.
Hi, my name is Viviane Gravey. I'm a lecturer in European politics at Queen's University Belfast. I'm co-chair of the Brexit and environment network of academics, looking at Brexit and the environment.
Bore da. My name is Rebecca Williams. I'm director of the Country, Land and Business Association here in Wales.
I'm Nigel Ajax-Lewis, representing Wales Environment Link, one of the environmental NGOs in Wales.
Nick Fenwick, head of policy for the Farmers' Union of Wales.
Thank you. If we can perhaps go straight into questions, then. Can I start by asking whether the United Kingdom Government's provisional categorisation of environmental areas is fit for purpose? Are things in the right areas? Have things been decided and put into those three categories? Are there some that do not require frameworks? Are there any policy areas of particular concern in the Government's provisional categorisation? And any comments on the categorisation? What do you think of it and why, effectively?
I guess, in terms of categorisation, whether you agree with them or not kind of depends on how you justify it. So, in the written evidence we submitted, we found that there are three potential ways of justifying it: it can be economic, it can be all about the single market; it can be about the environment; and it can be about politics—about subsidiarity principles and bringing as many powers to Wales as possible. What it looks like to me is that the economic has been central for central Government. Everything connected to trade has been put under these legal frameworks. And then, for the rest, it looks to me like central Government has tried to buy off the Welsh and Scottish Governments by giving them lots of competence, perhaps, while not really considering the environmental dimension. So, if you look at things like water and air, the fact that, for water, there are going to be no common frameworks at all when you evidently have trans-boundary questions—you know, these kinds of things, it looks like no-one with an environmental background actually looked at the list and said, 'This does not make sense if you think of the actual thing on the ground.'
I was part of the Secretary of State for Wales's expert implementation group where some of these headings were looked at and the process of trying to decide what kind of frameworks may be needed in the future was considered. So, I think there is merit in looking at the list and understanding the scope of what needs to be considered going forward, but I think it is a very simplistic understanding of what needs to be done and what needs to be achieved. And also it's retrospective. We are starting from the position of what we had and how we replicate it as opposed to what we need in the future, so there's no real thought being given to what kind of frameworks we need, how we need to work together and what those relationships need to be. It's more of a kind of tick-box exercise to ensure that nothing falls through the gaps, and while that's important, and understandable possibly, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to review and reflect on what the future needs to look like, and I just don't think we're going far enough to ask the difficult questions that we have in terms of how we might look back at this in 10 years' time and how we'll know we've achieved something good.
I agree with everything that's been said so far. The only thing that I would add is the things they've missed out altogether, like invasive non-native species, which are particularly important for a whole range of things.
I would agree to a degree with what's been said already, but we need to be careful that we don't throw the baby out with the bath water. We have established frameworks across the EU over a period of 40 years or so, and if you look at the debates currently raging within the EU over the potential adverse impacts of renationalising policies, following the announcement on 1 June by the agricultural Commissioner of the new common agricultural policy proposals, it gives you some flavour of why we need to be careful when it comes to missing things out of frameworks, as has been referred to earlier on, or moving away—to any significant degree—from frameworks. It strikes me that some, including those who are very pro-EU, seem to forget that the EU was built on the common market, and the common market is established on the principle of having common policies and commonality. We need to recognise why that is the case, rather than looking inwardly and thinking, 'Great, this is a great opportunity to try and grab some powers.' Indeed, that is the case, whether you're talking about powers coming to Wales or indeed powers leaving Wales. That wasn't consulted upon during the referendum.
Thank you, Chair. Are there any environmental policy areas where the existing divergence between UK and Welsh Government thinking—? Do you see that being problematic for the agreement of frameworks, particularly around cross-border issues perhaps?
I think that might be—. Not that it's problematic or divergent, I think we just started from a different place in Wales. Because we've had the conversations around the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 for the last four, five or six years, possibly, as a nation and as stakeholders, and engagement with the general public on that, our understanding of how things work together and the interconnectivity between environment, society, culture and our identity is much more advanced than it possibly is in England. The way they've taken forward some of their understanding is in things like the 25-year plan, which has come much later to the table, really, in terms of a national strategy. So, I think the concern for me is that there is no recognition that we're starting at different places. It's not that it's diverging, it's just that the focus is in a different way.
I have the disadvantage of being profoundly deaf, so I'm listening to all this through a hearing loop, and I missed your example of the last bit.
Oh, right. We have developed quite a long way from within the UK in terms of the way we operate—in bizarre things. The most recent news I have on my desk is that Natural England has become even more gun-happy than it's ever been, and has licensed the shooting of ravens in Lancashire, Derbyshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire and Dorset. That's it. Two days ago I was sitting there thinking, 'Shooting ravens: presumably this is an agricultural problem. It ought to be a lambing problem. Why are they doing it now? It's too late.' I presume it's an administrative problem in terms of sorting out the licensing issue. Whereas if you're a sensible biologist who is interested in controlling a population like that, you'd actually shoot them at Christmas before they laid in the first place. That would reduce your problem. As a conservationist, I wouldn't have you shooting them at all, but that's beside the point.
Another example in terms of how we've moved is: we have a priority list of species of importance for biological conservation in Wales, which has got the lesser black-backed gull on it because our population is crashing. In the UK as a whole, there is a general licence for shooting pests, and a short list of things like pigeons, crows and what have you, where you can shoot them on having a general licence without actually going for a specific species licence. Our list has got the lesser black-backed gull on it because of a declining population. The English general licence list has got the lesser black-backed gull on it for—[Inaudible.]—because it is a pest of agriculture, which is a problem for the lesser black-backed gull because they nest—. On the Pembrokeshire islands, the chicks all actually go down to Cornwall and beyond—in fact, into France—once they've hatched, and migrate. So, I happen to think that the Cornish probably don't shoot them, but, you know—.
It's bizarre. So, there is a whole range of ways of things that are changing in terms of our borders.
Clearly, species don't respect borders, they don't acknowledge them, and that's a fair point. We already have problems in terms of different rules. We have to bear in mind we have a border that is three times longer than the border between England and Scotland. We have large water bodies across that border, sometimes more than once, so, obviously, some continuity in terms of the rules for things cross-border absolutely makes sense.
At a higher level, we need to see some sort of framework, or frameworks, which respect the need for similarities while respecting devolution. We do potentially face a situation whereby, at the moment, Scotland could divert all its money, in theory, to looking after even one species, for the sake of argument. It could spend all its budgets on looking after golden eagles, for the sake of argument, while Wales could go on a completely different course and spend all its budget on potentially just dealing with water issues. Now, obviously, you need some flexibility between different areas, because different areas have different attributes, but if you see such diversion, you end up with huge disparity in terms of whether it's impact on species or impact on businesses. So, that absolutely needs to be addressed.
I would advise committee members to read the debates that are raging within the EU at the moment over precisely these issues, and what's being proposed in the EU is nothing like as liberal as what is being proposed or discussed here in the UK.
I think this question of divergence really depends if you still have a common baseline, because currently what we have for EU environmental law is that EU environmental law proposes a baseline, and then member states, or devolved regions, can then diverge upwards. So, if you keep that baseline, and you have Wales being more ambitious in one area, England potentially more ambitious in another, and Scotland in yet another—I wouldn't say Northern Ireland being more ambitious—but, then, that could still work, as long as you still have that common baseline. The problem is if you have England going down whilst Wales is going up, and that would start creating lots of problems.
Just another aspect of this is the fact that there are different legislative approaches in England and Wales, even now, without what might emerge over the coming years with devolution. So, I think Rebecca Williams mentioned the 25-year plan, but a lot of things like that are actually more embedded in our legislation. We have future generations legislation, for example, and a commissioner specifically to look after that legislation, which already looks—it was designed to replace—[Inaudible.]—obviously, and, in fact, our foundational legislation as an Assembly has adherence to EU legislation as part of it. So, we'll have to amend that at some stage as well. But it was designed within that construct.
But now that we're moving beyond that, we will need to ensure, won't we, that our legislation is respected with any inter-governmental agreements? Is that something that you're looking at? And also, particularly to Viviane Gravey here, is that something that, in the wider context of devolved Governments, is a feature of how the UK should be working? It's not in the UK tradition, is it?
No, it's not. Wales has really been leading the discussion in saying the JMC is not enough. The current system of the four Governments working together—well, three Governments, plus civil servants for Northern Ireland, working together—is not enough.
The EU, for all the criticism you can lay at the EU door, is a rather transparent decision-making system. Parliament will be in public, you know that there's a public register for lobbyists and all of that, and the JMC is a complete black box. So, if you have all of these common frameworks drawn there, that is really, really problematic in terms of making sure that stakeholders are heard, making sure that scientists are heard, and all of that. So, it's definitely not just about the common frameworks, it's also about the logistics and the institution that agrees these common frameworks, how we revise these common frameworks, and what happens when we disagree on actually implementing the common frameworks we have agreed to.
I think that's the important point, that in the framework discussion generally, framework has come to mean everything to everybody, and there's not enough distinction between what we mean by a subject area, where we need to discuss what the common standards may be, to the institutions and the organisations and the people involved in delivering, arbitrating, reviewing, and deciding on frameworks. And we're very quickly plummeting down the rabbit hole of deciding that these are the headings that we need a framework for, without actually taking a step back and understanding why we need frameworks, what we're trying to achieve, and what are the purpose and outcomes of those frameworks. And there are some fundamental questions that we need to ask first around inter-governmental relationships: how we work together, where is the trust base, is there an opportunity for penalties, arbitration, who is the master of the frameworks, if you like. And until we understand these bigger questions, the number of frameworks or how they're developed are kind of moot points really, and we need to really understand the principles at the higher level before we start digging down in terms of each of the topics and deciding how many frameworks we need.
Can I just follow up on that? Because I distinctly remember coming to a CLA breakfast in the Royal Welsh Show, just after the referendum—so it's two years ago now—and that was the first time that I started talking about UK frameworks. And these questions that you've just mentioned were the questions that we were debating then, and, two years down the line, we have no further flesh on them whatsoever. And just to add another spanner in the works, as it were, all this depends on what trade deals are struck. We have to do this wonderful Cinderella ball kind of thing of maintaining a relationship with the EU, because that's our immediate trade—after 1 April, that will be there, and they've made it very clear, Michel Barnier has said, 'High standards, you have to maintain those standards to trade with us'—whilst trying to strike alternative trade deals to make up for the loss of income and GDP that we'll have by moving out of the single market and customs union. Obviously, that's a political point, you may not want to respond to. But, in that context, doesn't this just fill you with despair?
I have been banging on about this for some time; I'm just grateful that people are now starting to listen and consider the issues. And, absolutely, it depends on what trade deal we get, but, regardless of what trade deal we get, we still need some sort of frameworks. The role of the frameworks may be more limited if we have a closer relationship to Europe, but we will still need to have mechanisms in place where we can report to Europe and demonstrate those standards and ensure consumer credibility in the system. So, it's not a matter of, if we get a deal with Europe we don't need frameworks—absolutely not. We will still need something. It may be different, and the amount of work involved in the short to medium term may be reduced if we are closer aligned to Europe, but if we don't get a deal, we have to be ready to have a more detailed and deeper understanding of what else may be needed to enable us to trade with the rest of the world. So, sitting back and doing nothing until we know whether we have a trade deal is really not the right option here.
Because, just to underline, we need standards and to demonstrate those for WTO as well.
Whoever we trade with—if we trade with America, China, whoever, around the world—to think that they won't need to know what our standards are is ludicrous. Anyone we trade with will want to have that evidence base, to show that whatever standards they're at, and whatever level, there are processes in place to maintain and regulate those.
I think it's fair to say that the big issue, or the biggest issue, with WTO would be animal health standards certification, and that sort of thing, rather than environmental issues. I completely agree with what Rebecca has been saying. Like the CLA, the FUW has been banging on about this since the start, in the hope that discussions would start at an early point. We absolutely agreed with what the First Minister said very early on about how inappropriate the current structure was. And it's one of the advantages of the European Commission: for all its failures and all our frustration with the Commission, it's apolitical, it's politically neutral, so it takes the politics out of it. And let's not beat around the bush: what has prevented us moving forward on this issue, as the UK, has been politics—politics within parties, politics between parties, politics between nations. In particular, the politics between Scotland and England have been particularly problematic, because people try to make political capital out of a situation, where we actually need some sort of apolitical discussion, and a commonsense approach.
As a lecturer in politics, I'd like to stand up for politics on this one. I think it's not just about politics, it's about trust; it's about the lack of trust between the UK and the EU. The EU does not trust the UK anymore. That means that you're going to have to show that these frameworks are there and really be able to testify. But it's also about trust within the UK and trust within the nations, making sure that, yes, England is not going to do certain things that could have a negative impact on Wales. And that's where the central Government also has to be open to perhaps think—. It's not just about devolved powers; it's perhaps also about giving some devolved power, or at least more consultation on central power, like trade and migration, making sure that these powers that will have such an impact on how, in Wales, you can set agricultural policy, you can still feed into that and that's also why this opening up as well in central Government is necessary.
Perhaps I can follow that up with another question—rather than ask it later on, I'll ask it now.
Yes, you can scrap that—I'll have done everything then.
Trust and institutions go hand in hand. One of the reasons that trust is breaking down in politics more widely at the moment—and I would agree with your analysis—is that the institution of the European Union has been—. The majority of people, by a slim majority, said, 'We don't believe this institution is good for us' and therefore, inevitably, you get this breakdown of trust that actually has a knock-on effect then—it's a domino effect. So, to address the frameworks and the environmental body, Governments have to work together. Yet, as I think Nick Fenwick reminded us, we didn't have this structure—the current structure is inadequate for those purposes because it hasn't been designed for those purposes. Welsh Government has suggested, for example, that we have a Council of Ministers kind of approach throughout the constituent parts of the UK. Is that something that you think could be a robust enough structure to work institutionally, and secondly, restore some of that trust?
England is so much bigger. So, the problem with the Council of Ministers approach is voting rights. Is it unanimity? Is it—? The problem then is that if you had the EU with Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus, then, of course, Germany would win all the time. So, there's a question here in terms of: is it one nation, one vote? Is it by population? Is it a mix? No-one is going to be happy with the result of that. So, it's going to be very, very difficult to come up with a solution, which is why you need some kind of trying to work together. Because in the EU, you have voting rights, but most of it ends up being consensual—
But will that work like that here? Because consensus develops over time; it takes a long, long time to be built into institutions. So, hopefully, it would work here, but—.
America works though, doesn't it? Rhode Island has the same number of senators as New York. So it does work in other countries, where you have huge population differences. California's population is substantially larger than that of Oregon and substantially larger than that of Washington, but they still have the same two senators, no matter how big they are.
If you want to replace a House of Lords by this kind of—. That is one way to go. It's having an upper chamber that is actually representing the four nations. But that's a lot of reform to do at the same time as you do Brexit.
One of the things that we've considered or raised questions about recently is, Wales is quite well represented in the Senedd—we do have you guys to shout about Wales and raise its profile; the problem comes in England, in that there is no differentiation between the UK and England. Actually, there is no-one there to be an equal to England and then the Secretary of State finds himself in a position where, on the one hand, is England, and the other hand is the UK. And you see this in many of the consultation documents that DEFRA and other departments put out—that they don't see the difference between the UK and England.
So, I'm not suggesting that that solves everything, but we're looking at it from a buyer's perspective somehow, and I think we need to consider also how that might look on the other side of the border. And if we're talking about fair representation and equal voice, there are some difficult questions to ask there as well: what is the role of UK Ministers in relation to Wales and how would that fit together, and how would that fit within our understanding of the conversation around frameworks and the institutions that might be needed for the longer term?
Given that the discussion is primarily on environmental issues, there is a problem in terms of the weighting of voting: is it weighted at all? Is it one Minister, one vote? Is it weighted on land area? Is it weighted on population? Is it weighted on the number of lapwings in your country or on rainfall, because water is an important issue? Yes, it's a problem, but notwithstanding that, it needs to be addressed; it needs to be at least discussed and it needs to be discussed in some sort of neutral forums. I would hope that those discussions are already going on between civil servants—I expect they probably are. But, again, we're into the problem of the politics, because you can understand why England would be reluctant to be outvoted on issues, given the size of the country. But we need to get over those hurdles, otherwise we end up with, what I fear is probably the worst of all scenarios, which is the politicians, effectively, kicking it into the long grass by not having frameworks. Because the easiest way to get rid of the issue is you just go, 'Oh go on devolved nations, you go and do whatever you want', and then you get complete divergence between member states, which is bad for the environment, bad for species and bad for habitat, and bad for businesses as well, from a farming point of view.
As opposed to—. One of our key points was we were recommending that the four Governments of the UK should commission a thorough independent and objective analysis of where common frameworks are necessary for the continued strong protection and enhancement of the environment. The ability to get all four of you together, well no, three—does Northern Ireland function at present?
Better than normal, probably.
The whole session has a life of its own, so we're covering a lot of the points that I would have put otherwise. I'll perhaps roll my questions into one as well. It seems to me, the real challenge we have in terms of the development of frameworks is that they're not really going to be the output of shared governance. Whatever you say about the EU, it's a shared governance model and, as has been very insightfully pointed out, at the moment has 27 members, small, large—all sorts of voices and interests there—and if you're not going to get consensus out of that, or compromise and consensus on how to manage that, you're not going to get it anywhere. Replicating that in the United Kingdom is powerfully difficult, because England doesn't have strong regional government—far less devolved legislatures.
So, is there some logic in Whitehall's emerging model, which, it seems to me, is reserved frameworks, the minimum core that we need to have for the market's viability and the ability to negotiate international agreements, and we let the devolved units have everything else? Which I think was very much what Dr Gravey said in her initial remarks that—. This is slightly controversial here, but I do agree with your analysis that talk of the power grab—I can see because of the lack of, sometimes, consultation and core decision making, it's a reasonable accusation to put. But, actually, what's happened is that an enormous amount of decision-making power is going to be given to the devolved units. Is that what Whitehall are trying to do? You know, 'We have to reserve some things to us; we realise that we're not in a federation. We're going to have to make these judgments. We'll consult with you. There will be the channels—both official and at governmental level. The civil service will work, and Governments, through the JMC, will certainly discuss these things. But, you know, at the end of the day, the UK Government will call the major shots in terms of decision making around the frameworks.' So, how on earth are we going to have a different model to that, if that's the one that's emerging?
I think there are really very, very big problems right now with—
I think it looks like it's giving a lot of power to devolved Governments, but what it actually is doing is making sure that Wales and Scotland get no votes at all over what England is doing. There's also a lot of power in preventing England from doing things. Because England is a bigger market, so, having different standards can be quite difficult for businesses. But also, air pollution will definitely cross borders, right? So, if you have different standards for air pollution in England, Wales and Scotland, well if you're sitting by the border you're going to breathe really bad air coming from pollution in England, and so you're not going to be able to protect your citizens against that. So, I think it's really important to think it's not just about, 'These new powers are great', but it's also, actually, you can get that really bad impact. It is very specific. If you look at the 25-year environmental plan, something—. On water, for example, there's talk about moving away from the water framework directive, stopping to look at 'good' status, but saying it's going to be 'close to natural state', but we have no idea what 'close to a natural state'—whether it differs from 'good' status. You know, transboundary water bodies will have to be checked according to different standards on both sides of the border. How can you then even actually work together if you've got divergence in technical standards and if you look at different pollutants? So, it's going to be extremely complex, and that's the problem with those discussions: it turns from the pollutants you are looking at to whether you need an English Parliament—everything together—and that's what makes it super complex right now.
And I think the elephant in the room is budgets. You can have as much powers as you like and policy responsibility to do whatever, but if you have no money to deliver on them, what is the purpose of that? So, I think we need to be cautious that we don't fall into the trap of thinking about, 'We want as much power as we can', whichever side of the M4 you sit on. We need to ensure that whatever outcome we get to for everyone, the money follows the policy and that there are proper discussions had about how much money goes with that and how that is distributed. And another element about the frameworks and why there is a need for some sort of mechanism is that budget allocation becomes much more complicated domestically in a post-EU world than it is currently. And we know, in a few years' time, the Treasury will be looking at a comprehensive spending review; we need to be ready for that to understand how money will be distributed across the UK for all the budgets, and the frameworks are the means through which that money needs to be considered.
I would agree with Mr Melding's analysis in terms of some powers being, effectively, withdrawn in some respects, and yet other powers being given out liberally, and I come back to my point: I certainly don't have a mandate from our membership to advocate a movement of powers in relation to agriculture and environmental issues one way or the other, towards London or towards Wales. In the past, we have consulted. There have been Government consultations on changes of devolved powers. That hasn't happened, you know. As I said earlier on, that wasn't on the piece of paper on 23 June, or whenever the referendum vote took place in 2016. And, again, as I said earlier on, a lot of this is to do with passing the political baby on into the future because it is such a difficult issue to deal with. Maybe it's an overly simplistic way to put it, but were we to freeze all the EU legislation, including the nuts and bolts down to the nth degree, at least for the intermediate term, including environmental legislation, CAP legislation—you know, how much of the budgets are allowed to be allocated towards certain areas such as climate change, which are set in EU law at the moment. That would at least give us time to sort these problems out, rather than us creating the potential to, within a few years, create a huge, huge problem because of disparity between what we're doing in countries that are very close to each other. The dangers there are huge.
I could go further on this, but I think we're getting enough of a taste of the challenge without inviting the witnesses to describe what the solution is because I don't think any of us quite know what that might be.
Can I look at a different aspect of the challenge, and that's the way legislatures at the moment scrutinise and review and suggest ways to update policy, and we're looking at frameworks? What sort of role do you see for the devolved institutions and also Westminster, and how the dynamics are going to play? Because at the moment there's a huge amount of parliamentary scrutiny in the European Parliament over the European frameworks. Now, where's that function going to be? Presumably, Westminster. I mean, how's your union going to—? You know, you're going to have to be very active—more active, probably, in Westminster than you've ever been before, and it could be quite challenging, I'd imagine, because other farming unions might take a very different attitude in Westminster to what you are lobbying for. Previously, you may have picked up the phone to a like body in Portugal that has lots of land of less agricultural output. How are these dynamics going to be managed in terms of the scrutiny role and how that's exercised at the moment?
We as a union are engaging with Westminster probably more than before devolution. More than foot and mouth in 2001—I think that was the last peak when people were running backwards and forwards to London to meetings, and certainly, before devolution, that was what we had to do, because there was central Government, notwithstanding the role of the Welsh Office. So, you're absolutely right in terms of that.
On the other hand, in many regards, notwithstanding the fact that Westminster has to represent the whole of the UK, as a union it's far more easy for us to establish the position because we don't have to worry about sugar beet growers, we don't have to worry about raspberry growers in East Anglia, or whatever they may be. So, in some respects it's more easy. That probably makes lobbying less easy, actually, in terms of Westminster. We will ultimately argue for what is best for Welsh farmers because we're not influenced by any other interests, let's say.
I was going to say, I think the important point to consider also in terms of where we lobby is where ministerial accountability lies, and what we don't want is to land up in a position where Ministers from both institutions are able to hand off and say, 'That's not my responsibility. That bit is devolved', or 'That's not in the framework'. So, in terms of the accountability of people making the decisions, we need to be clear where that lies, and how we influence that. It may need to change when we have frameworks in place, but that needs to be transparent as well, and we need to understand who is accountable, who is making the decisions, and how we hold that individual or that post to account. That needs to be part of the external-facing role of developing the frameworks. It's not just about us all sitting in rooms together looking inwards. It's how the frameworks also engage with the wider public and members or constituents as a whole. It needs to be part of the process as well.
So, if I've read it right, in the memorandum that has been agreed between the Welsh and the UK Government, the idea is that the UK Government would put forward frameworks and then give 40 days to the devolved Assemblies to grant consent. Now, 40 days is not long to get stakeholders' involvement, and then it's just consent. It's 'yes' or 'no'. So, there's a question then—if the UK Government is incredibly good at getting all the relevant stakeholders involved beforehand, that's fine, but then if not, it's really problematic.
I agree with that, and I think some are going to get very exercised, potentially, about it. But I just want to go a bit wider. In terms of how the union is balanced, the power of England in the Westminster Parliament is going to be enormous, despite the representation of England and, to some extent, Scotland and Northern Ireland—there are all sorts of issues there: half of Northern Ireland's representation never take up their seats. Do you think the devolved institutions, the legislatures—let me be specific—could work more effectively together and be something of a united voice? Or are we just not going to get the level of agreement on—? We might on agriculture, actually, but on an awful lot of environmental issues there may not be that sort of potential consensus there. So, are there any lessons for the devolved legislatures that you might want to pass on?
I think our MLAs right now in Northern Ireland have a lot of time on their hands, so if you want to invite them to Cardiff—. Of course, if you're talking about Assemblies, the fact that the Northern Ireland Assembly is not sitting right now makes all of this extremely problematic, because at least you have an Assembly that can grant consent. You have a Government that can say 'yes'. We don't, so that doesn't work well. But, of course, I think if we want to make this about taking back control and rethinking UK governance, it also has to be not just speaking to London, but Cardiff talking with Belfast and Edinburgh, and doing things together, pooling resources and also having parliamentarians working together.
I was just going to add—common ground has been found. Compared with what was happening in June 2016, common ground has been found. There was a point at which people were effectively disagreeing over whether we even needed frameworks. Within six months, we had every party, as far as I can remember, agreeing that we need frameworks. Therefore, we are moving in the right direction, it's just that we need a number of years to get where we need to get to.
Dim ond yn fyr, achos mae'r rhan fwyaf o'r pwyntiau hyn wedi cael eu gwneud hefyd. Rydym ni yn sôn am faterion sydd wedi'u datganoli fan hyn i Gymru, ac, wrth gwrs, yn nhermau gweithredu fframweithiau cyffredin, rydw i'n credu bod y pwyntiau pwysig wedi cael eu gwneud gennych chi i gyd, i fod yn deg, yn enwedig y pwynt ynglŷn â chyllidebau—nid oes gwahaniaeth lle mae'r pwerau yn bodoli os nad yw'r arian gyda chi. Ond beth sy'n mynd i fod yn allweddol bwysig ydy sut mae'r fframweithiau cyffredin yma yn mynd i gael eu datblygu—hynny yw, ymhle mae'r grym i'w datblygu nhw. Rydym ni'n cael ein cyfarwyddo i feddwl bod yna rannu llywodraethiant yn mynd i ddigwydd—hynny yw, bod y pedair Llywodraeth yn gweithio efo'i gilydd yn gyfartal ac yn dod i ryw fath o gydsyniad ar ddiwedd y dydd, ac nad oes, felly, yna un Llywodraeth, yn benodol San Steffan, yn dod i ryw benderfyniad ac yn gwthio'r penderfyniad yna ar y Llywodraethau eraill.
Dyna, o'n hochr ni, ydy beth rydym ni'n pryderu yn ei gylch, achos, wrth gwrs, cyd-destun hyn i gyd ydy ein bod ni'n gwybod ein bod ni wedi colli pwerau yn fan hyn o'r Cynulliad yma efo Deddf Cymru 2017, yn y lle cyntaf, a hefyd mae Bil ymadael Ewrop wedi cael ei ddefnyddio hefyd i gymryd grymoedd yn ôl o fan hyn yn ddiweddar. Rydw i'n gwybod bod yr holl blymio dwfn yma'n mynd ymlaen, ond mae'n wir i ddweud bod yna 24 o feysydd datganoledig nawr wedi'u rhewi mewn rhyw rewgell yn rhywle tra bod y fframweithiau yma yn cael eu gweithio allan. A'n pryder ni ydy bod hynny'n mynd i gael ei ddefnyddio fel esgus i lusgo pwerau o fan hyn.
Yn nhermau penodol, felly, dyna'r cyd-destun i rai ohonom ni wrth wynebu hyn. Rydym ni'n ei weld fel bygythiad enfawr i'n bodolaeth ni fel Cynulliad, hyd yn oed. Felly, yn nhermau fframweithiau—dywedwch amaeth, felly. Yn ôl beth sydd wedi cael ei ddweud, mae sefyllfa amaeth yng Nghymru yn ddigon tebyg i'r sefyllfa amaeth yng Ngogledd Iwerddon ac amaeth yn yr Alban. Hynny yw, mae dros 80 y cant o'r ffermio yn digwydd ar lefydd sydd yn llai ffafriol, ac, wrth gwrs, mae yna ddosraniad uchel iawn o incwm y ffermwr yn dod yn uniongyrchol o daliadau CAP fel canlyniad. Dim ond 5 y cant o dirwedd Cymru y gallwch chi dyfu rhywbeth arno fe, o'i gymharu â 55 y cant o dirwedd Lloegr. Felly, mae'r sefyllfa ynglŷn ag amaethyddiaeth yn gyfan gwbl wahanol. Sut, felly, mae cysoni fframwaith? Ynteu a ydym ni'n mynd i fod yn styc efo fframwaith amaethyddol sydd yn cael ei benderfynu yn Llundain ac yn mynd i gael ei orfodi ar y gweddill ohonom ni, achos ni fydd arian i weithredu yn wahanol?
Briefly, because most of these points have been made as well. We are talking about issues that are devolved here to Wales, and, of course, in terms of implementing common frameworks, I think the most important points have been made by all of you, especially that point about budgets—it doesn't matter where the powers exist if you haven't got the money. But what's going to be key is how these common frameworks are going to be developed—that is, where the power to develop them is going to be. We are directed to think that there is going to be shared governance—that is, that the four Governments will work together on an equal basis and come to some sort of consensus at the end of the day, and that, therefore, there is no one single Government, namely Westminster, coming to some decision and forcing that decision on the other Governments.
That is, from our side, what we're concerned about, because, of course, the context of all of this is that we know that we've lost powers here from this Assembly with the Wales Act 2017, in the first place, and also that the EU withdrawal Bill has also been used to take powers back from here recently. I know that all this deep diving is going on, but it's true to say that there are now 24 devolved areas that have been frozen in some sort of freezer somewhere while these frameworks are being worked out. And our concern is that this is going to be used as an excuse to drag powers from here.
In specific terms, therefore, that's the context for some of us as we face this. We see it as a great threat to our existence as an Assembly, even. So, in terms of frameworks—say, for example, agriculture. In terms of what's been said already, the situation of agriculture in Wales is the same as the situation of agriculture in Northern Ireland and Scotland. That is, over 80 per cent of the farming occurs in less favourable areas, and, of course, a high allocation of the farmers' income comes directly from CAP payments as a result. It's only 5 per cent of the Welsh landscape that you can grow things on, compared to 55 per cent of the land in England. So, the agriculture situation is completely different. So, how can you have a consistent framework? Or are we going to be stuck with an agricultural framework that's determined in London and will be forced on the rest of us, because there will be no money to work differently?
Ar hyn o bryd, o beth allaf i weld, bydd pethau'n mynd y ffordd arall. Rydym ni'n gweithio o dan y syniad y bydd yna fwy o ddatganoli, i raddau, o ran y rheolau. Efallai y gwnaiff hynny newid. Mae'n achosi pryderon os ydych chi'n ystyried beth, efallai, fydd yr Alban yn ei wneud, ac os ydyn nhw'n mynd i wneud rhywbeth sy'n hollol, hollol wahanol i beth sy'n digwydd yn fan hyn, er enghraifft, er bod y gwledydd yn eithaf tebyg. Ar hyn o bryd, mae'n edrych i fi fel ei fod yn fwy tebygol o symud i'r cyfeiriad arall, fel y bydd yn fwy hyblyg i Gymru. Rydym ni wedi trafod y pwynt yma i raddau pan oeddem ni'n sôn am gyngor Gweinidogion. Hynny yw'r ateb amlwg, er bod y ffordd mae hynny'n gweithredu yn broblem fawr o ran faint o bleidleisiau sydd gan bob Gweinidog ac ati. Mae yna atebion, ond nid oes gennym ni'r amser i ddatrys y problemau.
O ran amaeth, mae'n dod nôl i'r math o enghraifft sydd gyda ni. Dylai pobl ystyried beth sydd gyda ni yn barod llawer mwy, yn lle dathlu'r ffaith efallai y bydd yna fwy o ryddid neu boeni am lai o ryddid. Fe ddylen nhw astudio beth sydd gyda ni ar hyn o bryd. Ar hyn o bryd, mae'n rhaid i bob un gwlad wario hyn a hyn yn y maes yma, hyn a hyn yn y maes yna. Mae yna hyblygrwydd o ran faint ydych chi'n gwario ar amaeth. Mae yna enghraifft dda o ran trosglwyddo pres o biler 1 i biler 2. Rydym ni i gyd yn gwybod beth wnaeth ddigwydd yng Nghymru. Roedd yna hyblygrwydd yn 2014, ac fe wnaethom ni yng Nghymru benderfynu—roedd yr hyblygrwydd yna yn gadael inni drosglwyddo rhwng 0 a 15 y cant o biler 1 i biler 2. Fe wnaeth Cymru ddefnyddio'r hyblygrwydd i fyny at 15 y cant, ac fe wnaeth gwledydd eraill—y rhan fwyaf yn Ewrop ar y pryd—fynd am 0 y cant. Mae gennym ni, ar hyn o bryd, sefyllfa lle mae gan bob gwlad yn y Deyrnas Unedig ffigwr gwahanol. Mae'n 0 y cant yng Ngogledd Iwerddon, mae'n 15 y cant, yn dal i fod, yn fan hyn, a dros Ewrop mae o tua 4.5 y cant.
Felly, y mwyaf o hyblygrwydd sydd gyda chi, y mwyaf mae pobl yn mynd i ddefnyddio'r hyblygrwydd yna. Mae'n rhaid i ni dderbyn bod angen system sy'n rhoi hyblygrwydd i ni yng Nghymru, neu i'r Alban neu Loegr, ond tu fewn i derfynau, fel gwnes i ddweud yn gynharach, fel ein bod ni ddim yn mynd i lawr llwybr lle mae un yn gwario 100 y cant o'r gyllideb ar un peth, a gwlad arall yn ei wario fo ar rywbeth hollol, hollol wahanol. Er enghraifft, pryder mawr sydd gyda ni yw eu bod nhw'n mynd i'w wario fo—rhai gwledydd, efallai—ar daliadau ar wartheg, er enghraifft, sydd ddim yn rhywbeth sy'n debygol o ddigwydd yn fan hyn i unrhyw raddau, buaswn i'n meddwl. Byddem ni wedyn yn gwerthu ein cig eidion ni i mewn i Loegr, efallai bydd yna wlad arall yn sybsideiddio'r cig eidion o'u gwlad nhw, a bydd hynny'n cael effaith mawr arnom ni. So, mae'n rhaid i ni dderbyn hynny.
Currently, as far as I can see, things will go the other way. We are working under the assumption that there will be more devolution, to some extent, because of the regulations. That may change. That does cause concern if you consider what Scotland may do, and whether they will do something that is entirely different to what is being done here, for example, although the nations are quite similar. Currently, it looks to me as if it's more likely that we'll be moving in another direction, leading to greater flexibility for Wales. We have discussed this point to some extent when we talked about a council of Ministers. That is the obvious solution, although the way that that operates is a great problem in terms of the voting power of each Minister and so on. There are solutions, but we just don't seem to have the time to solve those problems.
In terms of agriculture, it comes back to the type of example that we have. People should consider what we already have to a greater extent, rather than celebrating the possibility of greater freedom or being concerned about there being less freedom. Rather, people should study what we currently have. At present, every nation has to spend a certain amount of expenditure in one area and in another. There is flexibility in terms of how much you spend on agriculture. There is a good example in terms of the transfer of funding from pillar 1 to pillar 2. We all know what happened in Wales. There was flexibility in 2014, and we in Wales decided—that flexibility allowed us to transfer between 0 and 15 per cent from pillar 1 to pillar 2. Wales used that flexibility up to the 15 per cent, and the other nations in Europe went for 0 per cent. We're now in a situation where every nation in the UK has a different figure. It's 0 per cent in Northern Ireland and it's 15 per cent here still, and throughout Europe it's about 4.5 per cent.
So, the greater flexibility you have, the more people are going to use that flexibility. We do have to accept that there is a need for a system that gives us flexibility as Wales or England or Scotland, but within limits, as I said earlier, so that we don't go down this track where one spends 100 per cent of their budget on one aspect, and someone else will spend that funding on something entirely different. For example, our great concern is that they're going to spend it in some nations on payments for cattle, for example, which is not something that's likely to happen here to a large extent, I would have thought. So, we would then be selling our beef into England and another nation might be subsidising their beef and that would have a huge impact on us. So, we have to accept that.
Rydw i'n meddwl bod yna bwynt pwysig i godi yma—bod yna linell cul iawn rhwng dangos parch tuag at ddatganoli a hyblygrwydd a chysondeb ac angen cadarnhau safonau i allu gweithredu ar draws y Deyrnas Unedig er mwyn marchnata ac ati. Rydym ni'n trafod y ddau yn yr un lle, ond mae'n rhaid i ni ddeall efallai bod yna le yn y canol mae'n rhaid i ni fod ynddi er mwyn i fusnesau weithio, a nid yw hynny'n meddwl ein bod ni ddim yn dangos parch i un ochr, ond mae'n rhaid i ni fod yn realistig hefyd am beth sydd yn bosib, a heb fod yn wleidyddol amdano fe hefyd. Mae'n rhaid i ni fod yn bragmatig, edrych ar beth sy'n bwysig i fusnesau, a symud o'r fan honno yn lle symud o bwynt gwleidyddol.
I think there is an important point to raise here—that there is a very narrow line between showing respect towards devolution and flexibility and consistency and the need to confirm standards in order to operate across the United Kingdom in order to market and so forth. We will discuss both in the same place, but we need to understand that there's a place in the middle that we need to be in for businesses to work, and that doesn't mean that we're not showing respect to one side, but we have to be realistic as well in terms of what's possible, and without being political about it. We have to be pragmatic and look at what's important for businesses, and move from that position, rather than from a political point.
There are two people who haven't answered and we're in the last two and a half minutes.
Yes. So, you're basically talking about power grabs. I think the question is, as well, between Parliament and Executive. What you also risk is having the four Governments finally arriving on an agreement and telling all their Parliaments, 'We've spent so long getting to that agreement, don't you dare amend it.' And I think there's also the problem there; it's not just between central and devolved.
I just think that if we have more common approaches, they need common agreement, then, and the power of England in any sort of model of, say, a council of ministers or enhanced JMC is going to have a big practical influence. I mean, it's just silly not to acknowledge that. But having thought about all this very extensively, I still come to the conclusion that—let's just call it a council of ministers for however it's constructed—notwithstanding that, it still gives the maximum protection you can possible envisage to the devolved governments, because although it's, as I said, not perfect, you're going to get much more chance of really influencing the common position than in bilaterals or processes that largely are consultation, and you may negotiate something around the margin but not really affect the central decision.
Yes, but I don't see—. I think it's a very bold political move to say, 'We leave the EU, and by leaving the EU, we'll also import some of their institutions' ways of working.' So, I think, find another name, don't ever call it 'council of ministers', and that might work.
I don't think we'll get away with that.
Can I, at this stage, thank you all very much for coming along and for sharing your ideas with us, and especially answering our questions? You'll be sent a transcript of it. Can I suggest you check through it? Because as I've discovered to my cost, if you turn away whilst speaking, sometimes it doesn't quite pick up the whole of a word or might miss the odd word. So, please check it, and again, thank you very much for coming along. It's been very much appreciated by all of us.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod a'r cyfarfod ar 28 Mehefin yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting and the meeting on 28 June in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
Can I move a motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting for item 6 and the meeting on 28 June? Thank you.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 12:10.
The public part of the meeting ended at 12:10.