Y Pwyllgor Deisebau - Y Bumed Senedd
Petitions Committee - Fifth Senedd26/01/2021
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Jack Sargeant AS|
|Janet Finch-Saunders AS||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Leanne Wood AS|
|Michelle Brown AS|
|Neil McEvoy AS|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Kayleigh Imperato||Dirprwy Glerc|
|Sian Giddins||Dirprwy Glerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:06.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 09:06.
Good morning. Bore da. I welcome everyone to this virtual meeting of the Petitions Committee. In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I have determined that the public are excluded from attending this committee meeting in order to protect public health. The meeting is, however, broadcast live on Senedd.tv and all participants will be joining by video-conference. The meeting is bilingual, and translation is available. A Record of Proceedings will also be published. Aside from the procedural adaptations relating to conducting business remotely, all other Standing Order requirements remain in place. We have not received any apologies as yet.
So, item 2, COVID-19 new petitions. Item 2.1, P-05-1067, 'Allow all non-essential retail shops to continue to trade whilst under the 17 day lockdown'. This petition was submitted by Martin Obbard, having collected 56 signatures. The text of the petition reads—and the petition was submitted in reaction to the firebreak lockdown:
'The Welsh Government, as part of its 17 day "firebreak" lockdown, is banning the selling of non-essential goods. As a review of supermarkets shops is being undertaken of the sale of nonessential goods then all non-essential retail shops should be allowed to remain open if they choose to. We do not agree that this is a prudent or rational measure, and will create more harm than good.'
The committee wrote to the Welsh Government to seek a response to the petition, but we have yet to receive one. The clerking team understands that this is due to administrative error. The petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide further comments in advance of this meeting but has not done so. So, I therefore invite Members to discuss this petition and any actions you wish this committee to take. Neil.
Thanks, Chair. I think we need to wait for the response from the Government.
Yes. Does everybody agree? Okay.
Item 2.2, P-05-1068, 'Allow socially distanced meets in private gardens to follow science and avoid isolation'. This petition was submitted by Rachel Emma Ovett, having collected 273 signatures. And it reads:
'Many people in Wales who were shielding or in care homes with strict measures that were forced upon residents were left in isolation for months at huge cost to mental and physical wellbeing. The government promised this would not happen again. Meeting loved ones outdoors in a controlled private garden is a safe way to avoid isolation for anyone not allowed or too afraid to go to public spaces. This plunges thousands of vulnerable people back into isolation through no fault of theirs.'
A response was received from the First Minister on 13 January. The petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide further information in advance of the meeting but has not done so. How would you like to take this forward? Leanne.
Well, I think we should await further comments from the petitioner before proceeding with this. I fully understand and support the views of the First Minister when he talks about the restrictions that are necessary under the current COVID situation. We're operating under tier 4 and that means that outdoor visits are not allowed, but care home visits are permitted under alert level 4 for compassionate reasons and indoor visits for exceptional circumstances, including, but not restricted to, end-of-life care.
But I think the question, perhaps for us and for this petition, is not what happens under tier 4, but what happens under the tiers that hopefully fall under tier 4 that we will hopefully be able to proceed to quite quickly. If people are fully understanding that when circumstances change, then the rules will change, and that that means that more people can be seen, then I think they'll be more understanding of the current set of rules. But there's no doubt, is there, that if you've got a relative in a care home, who's been stopped from seeing friends, family members, anyone in the outside world—? All of us have probably heard stories of people's mental health and physical well-being deteriorating under these conditions. We all want to get back to a situation where those visits can happen as quickly as possible and, of course, that depends on how people act within the pandemic. But being really clear about what happens next, when restrictions can be eased slightly, when we move into a different tier scenario, then people can expect x, y and z in terms of visits to their families and I think there'll be much more understanding. And, of course, people will want those restrictions to be changed as quickly as possible and maybe it'll mean that we'll all take extra steps to ensure that we comply with the advice.
Thanks, Chair. I agree with Leanne that we need to wait for the views of the petitioner, but I would say that my sympathy certainly lies with the petitioner because there are activities that could be carried out that can be done safely. And my concern with isolation is, first of all, the mental health aspect of things—isolation is hugely detrimental, especially for people in homes, but also, if you're not seeing your family and there is no contact, then you are open to abuse. And I think this is really, really being—it's not being paid attention to, and it just seems the pandemic is being used as an excuse to stop everything and what we should be doing is trying to get back to a different kind of normality and meeting somebody outside in the fresh air, at a distance, is not dangerous. We need some common sense instead of mass hysteria, really.
Okay. So, Members have actually agreed to wait until further comments come from the petitioner before considering whether we are able to take any further action. Does everybody agree?
Item 2.3, P-05-1082, 'Allow choirs to rehearse indoors if they produce a full risk assessment to prevent C-19 infection'. This petition was submitted by Jon Wilks, having collected 498 signatures, and it reads:
'Choirs in Wales are prevented from rehearsing indoors by current Welsh Government C19 guidance which discourages singing indoors. The guidance takes no account of measures which choirs can apply such as face shields, distancing, limiting singing volume, surface & hand sanitising and ventilation. Choirs cannot continue to rehearse outdoors during the winter. The guidance should be changed to allow organised singing indoors if a risk assessment and plan is devised & implemented.'
So, a response was received from the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism on 1 December. Since that time, alert level 4 restrictions have been introduced in Wales. These currently only permit travel for essential reasons with indoor activities not currently able to take place. The petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide further information in advance of the meeting, but has not done so. How would you like to take this forward? I've got Neil, then Jack.
I think we should wait for the views of the petitioner. My views are very much similar to what I said earlier, so I won't repeat those.
I'd agree with that, Chair. I've got nothing more to add, and I agree with Neil.
Okay. Everyone agreed?
Item 2.4, P-05-1101, 'Allow fans to attend sporting events in Wales'. This petition was submitted by Dylan Llewelyn Morgan having collected 105 signatures. I note the petition refers to the situation prior to the increase in restrictions in England, under which spectators are not currently permitted at elite sporting events.
'Football and rugby fans in England are now being allowed to attend grounds to support their clubs whereas Wales are not allowing it. Cardiff City, Swansea City, Newport County and Wrexham FC along with rugby clubs here in Wales are deseparate for fans to return, financially clubs are struggling and so are the fans, including myself who is very much lost without going to watch a football match. Please allow fans of up to 2000 people like England are doing back in to grounds in Wales - it’s needed.'
So, a response was received from the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism on 8 January. The petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide further information in advance of the meeting, but has not done so. Okay. Jack.
Thank you, Chair. Again, I'll have to put on record that I sit on the board of a Cymru Premier League club. Just for the record, on that. As you say, we have had another petition similar to this, looking at domestic football in Wales. I'd like to suggest that we join these two petitions up. I think it makes valid points.
I do note that the Government has announced financial support—I think it was £17.7 million, but I'd have to check, around that figure, anyway, which is clearly welcome—to help clubs survive. But is that enough? We'll just have to see where the future takes us. So, I'd like to suggest we keep a watching brief with these petitions and, potentially, we could join it up with the other similar one that we've got already.
Okay. Everyone agreed? Okay.
Item 2.5, P-05-1102, 'Allow a minimum of one parent or guardian to watch children's organised football matches'.
This petition was submitted by John Horn, having collected 52 signatures. Now, again, this petition was drafted prior to the increase in the coronavirus alert level to level 4, under which children's organised sport is not permitted.
'Currently parents are allowed to watch children's football training sessions in an outdoor environment. However, parents are not allowed to watch any organised matches.
'This seems to be contradictory and excessive when other precautionary measures are available and viable. For example England allow parents to spectate from a distance of 3m away from pitch side. It would be a sensible option to introduce this along with all adults to wear a face covering and observe a 2m rule.'
A response was received from the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism on 30 December. The petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide further information in advance of the meeting, but has not done so. How would you like to go forward? Anyone? Neil.
I'd like to keep a watching brief on this and await further comments from the petitioner. I fully take on board what they're saying because stood back from a pitch 3m in the open air is not a risk, and yet airports and ports are still open with people pouring in daily without restrictions. It's ridiculous.
Does everyone agree? Michelle.
I agree with Neil, but I'd just like to make a general comment, I think, about this petition and other petitions of the same type. We're getting a lot of petitions questioning the logic of various measures, and I'm just wondering whether part of the problem at least is that people don't really understand why these rules have been put in place and why these specific rules are being chosen—for instance, the rule against you going to a football match. And I think, perhaps, maybe Welsh Government needs to up its game in terms of justifying these rules and explaining to people the science behind these decisions. Perhaps people would—for starters, they could understand the situation better, and perhaps they wouldn't object as much to the rules if they understood the scientific basis behind it. So, I think, possibly, we could write to the Ministers and ask them just to give the public more information to back up these decisions, so that people can understand why the decision is being made. I know they keep saying, 'Oh, it's because of COVID; it's to prevent deaths', but they need to explain how and why these particular situations are deemed to be risky.
So, there's a suggestion to write to the Ministers to request that more information is put out there for the public and perhaps with a scientific basis. Leanne.
[Inaudible.]—what has already happened if we do that. The Government has written back to us and explained the reasoning behind the rules, and they say this is based on:
'expert behavioural advice…that people should be travelling as little as possible.'
So, I do accept that the rules have changed many times in short periods of time and people can be confused as to what they are, but I think the arguments have been laid out in the response from the Government here. They've been sent back to the petitioner, and the petitioner has been invited to send comments back to us. We should wait for those comments before taking this any further, but I think that repeating this process risks going around in circles.
Thank you. Neil.
Thanks, Chair. Could we ask for the Government's risk assessment to be sent to the committee? Because I'm trying to uncover, I'm trying to find out, what risk assessment was done, therefore weighing up the balance, really, between which is the greater harm: remaining in long-term lockdown or coming out of it, to an extent. So, I've had difficulty in asking questions about this, so maybe through this committee, we could request that they send to us a copy of the risk assessments that they carried out in relation to long-term lockdown.
Okay. Any other—? Is that the consensus, that you would like those risk assessments? Sorry. Jack.
Thanks, Chair. On this particular point, I do think we need to wait for the petitioner's view. We've had a decision made. I'm all for risk assessments, but I think we were quite clear that we should wait on the view of the petitioner to take this forward. So, I'd like to see that myself.
Can I formally propose, then, Chair, that we do actually ask to see a copy of the Government's risk assessment? Because I've been asking for the risk assessment carried out since 20 October, and the only reply I get off the Government is that they'll reply in good time and they'll put the answer on the internet. The reality is that we're in the middle of a pandemic, we are in a prolonged lockdown, and I'm of the view that these risk assessments simply do not exist. So, I'd like the committee to write to the Government—it's a formal proposal—and colleagues can either agree or disagree, really.
Okay. A proposal has been made to write to the Government for risk assessments. I've also had views mentioned here that you'd like to wait until the comments come back from the petitioners. So, on Neil's proposal, who supports that? Okay. Who supports—? Do you support waiting the response from the petitioners at all, Neil and Michelle?
But I'd like to get the risk assessment first, because they're not going to send it, that's the reality. They've not done risk assessments; they don't exist, in my view, otherwise we'd have seen a copy before now. We're in too serious a situation, where people are losing their lives every single day, actually, with lockdown. I mean, cervical tests not done, breast screening not done, more people committing suicide than ever before, and we're in this sort of bubble where, 'Oh, it's the pandemic, the pandemic'. Let's see the data. Show us.
Okay. As Chair, my only concern on this would be that we're being asked very individual requests. I don't know how you would get a risk assessment for every single aspect that comes into all these things about football matches, how many people, about singing indoors, singing outdoors. So, I've got to be honest, I'm going to go with the view that we wait for the petitioners to respond. They may well be happy with the ministerial responses that have come back, so I think we have to take it forward in a more sensible way. So, on that, I'd like to move forward on—Clerk—that we wait for the comments, but I would also request that we push for those comments. Okay.
Moving on, 2.6, P-05-1117, 'Give Police Officers the Covid Vaccination as a priority'. This petition was submitted by Graham Bishop, having collected 10,879 signatures. And it says:
'Police officers are not on the priority list to receive the Covid-19 vaccination, even though they are in a high risk jobs.'
A response has not yet been received from the Welsh Government, even though we wrote on 16 December. Both this petition and the following one have been scheduled for this meeting due to the time-sensitive nature of the issues they raise and the number of signatures received. Further information has been received from the petitioner. Jack.
Thank you, Chair. Can I start by thanking all the police officers on behalf of the committee? I think we should acknowledge the work they were doing before the pandemic, but during the pandemic as well. You did note at the start of your contribution there is a petition I think we're looking at next, which is prioritising teachers, school and childcare staff. I'd like to propose that we join those both together, and perhaps we debate those together. I've written to the health Minister myself about this issue. I should say I agree with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation for phase 1 and vaccinating those who are really at risk here, but for phase 2, I await the Minister's response and the advice we're expecting from the JCVI about this. I do believe there should be some level of prioritisation for those who are keeping us safe, educating our future generations and doing much more. I'll be the first to come down in the list to allow the front-line police officers to have their vaccination before me. So, I'd just like to put that on record. But I'd like to send this to debate as well, because it is time sensitive, as you say.
Thanks, Chair. I agree we need to have a debate on this, and I agree that it makes sense to put the two petitions together. I also think that there are more people that need to be considered for prioritisation in terms of their front-line work. There are shop workers, there are social workers, there are a whole range of people who organise our refuse collection. I had correspondence just this week from someone who works in recycling, concerned about the high amount of PPE and masks that they are coming across within the waste disposal system. So, there are a whole range of people who work in front-line jobs—jobs that we are all reliant upon—who deserve prioritisation for the vaccination over the lives of healthy people, younger people, like all of us on this screen, I would say.
So, it's this second round of prioritisation that's key now. I think that the list that we have and is being worked to—and there's a huge logistical operation being undertaken in order to deliver the vaccinations to the groups within the priority list that we've got already. But the next group has to include police officers, it has to include not just teachers but all education staff in all education settings, and it has to look at a much wider range of people who deserve to have priority status in all of this. Because some of us can opt not to come into contact with anyone at all, but there are many, many people who have no such luxury. And in the case of police officers, and prison officers fit into this category as well, they're often at the front end of people committing offences like spitting at them, deliberately coughing over them and, in the COVID scenario, that is, of course, a potentially life-threatening assault now. So, they have to be given some sort of reassurance and protection, and a signal from Government that their role matters and that they matter, and that we as people value the work that all of these front-line workers are doing for us.
Thank you. So, proposals there to add the two petitions together and push forward for a debate. Do all Members agree? Yes, okay.
Moving on, 2.7, P-05-1119—sorry, so we've agreed to—[Inaudible]. Thanks.
Right, other new petitions. Item 2.8, P-05-1078, 'Increase funding for mental health services and improve waiting times for people needing help in crisis. We need a change!' This petition was submitted by Laura Williams, having collected 5,159 signatures, and it reads
'Since covid 19 and lockdown people have been stuck inside for months on end, many of these people were suffering before lockdown and during lockdown. I for one suffered myself because of lockdown, and I am concerned about the number of suicides in my area since before lockdown and during. Lockdown has made people’s mental health worse and has put mental health services under severe pressure, young children are suffering adults and the elderly are suffering due to lockdown.
'Our Welsh Parliament should be taking action on mental health and funding more services people are waiting a long time to be seen or given help. Many local doctors and nurses are not trained in mental health.'
Now, we have received a response to the—a response to the petition has not been received from the Minister, and I'm a bit annoyed on this one, as Chair of this committee. The committee wrote on 27 November. Now, a research brief has been provided and additional information has also been provided by the petitioner. So, before I open it up, may I just ask the clerk: we have chased the Government on this, have we?
Yes, Chair. We have chased the Government on a couple of occasions when petitions get this late. I would say we are producing a lot of correspondence for the Government due to the number of petitions we're receiving as a committee, and I'm sure that there are lots of other correspondents as well, but yes, we will have chased that petition since we wrote for the first time.
Okay. So, how would you want to take this forward, Members? Neil.
I'd like to push forward for a debate on this. I congratulate Laura on her—I think it's her second petition that's got over the threshold, 95 per cent are from Wales, of the signatures. It's a huge issue in communities, it's an issue for everyone, so I'd like to debate it.
Thanks, Chair. I agree with Neil. I think we do need to push this for a debate. As I said last week, I think it was Wednesday, twice in Plenary, not only do we need to do more, we need to do better. I, too, am disappointed, really, 27 November and we haven't had a response yet. So perhaps we could request a debate, but perhaps we could write on behalf of the committee, if Members agree, to express a bit of urgency about this, and also the urgency to respond in full to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee's report as well, because I think we need to—well, I don't think I can say any more than 'Do more and do better', perhaps just add 'do quicker' at the end.
I mean, it is two months, it's a long time. Okay, do Members agree with those actions?
Thank you. Item 2.9, P-05-1079, 'Safeguard Kenfig Nature Reserve using compulsory purchase powers'. This petition was submitted by Steven Preddy, having collected 8,435 signatures, and it reads:
'One of the finest nature reserves in Wales is under threat. The internationally important sand-dune habitats at Kenfig need to be managed, otherwise they will lose their exceptional value. Bridgend council carried out this work for many years but has had to withdraw due to financial pressures. The site's owner, a secretive and unaccountable body called the Kenfig Corporation, has not been prepared to agree any future plans. Compulsory purchase may be the only option left.'
So, a response to this petition was received from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs on 23 December. A research brief has been provided and the petitioner has provided further comments. How would you like to go forward? Leanne.
Thanks, Chair. This is a really important piece of habitat and landscape in terms of biodiversity and the local environment. So, I can understand why so many people would be concerned about the future of this, and to ensure that it's looked after properly. I wonder if we could write to Natural Resources Wales and the Kenfig Corporation Trust to ask their views on this petition, and to see if they can provide any further information to us. And it would be useful, then, for us to look at the whole situation again in the light of any comments that they send to us, I think.
Jack? Thanks, Leanne.
I fully agree, Chair.
Are all Members agreed? Moving on to P-05-1083, 'Protect leaseholders in Wales from paying for cladding remedial works'. This petition was submitted by Carl Tubbs having collected a total of 133 signatures, and it reads:
'Thousands of flat leaseholders in Wales are facing huge bills to pay for cladding remedial work, after the Government ruled that all flat buildings, regardless of height, need an EWS1 form to confirm that not only is there no ACM cladding (like Grenfell) but also no "combustible material", regardless of whether the buildings had previously passed regulations. The costs should be covered by the Government and councils as many leaseholders can't afford to pay for these repairs.'
A response to this was received from the Minister for Housing and Local Government on 8 January. A research brief has been provided and the petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide further information in advance of the meeting but has not yet done so. Anyone? Michelle.
I have a lot of sympathy with the leaseholders, and owners of buildings who have put this cladding on the buildings to help Welsh Government and others reach their carbon reduction targets, particularly since a lot of these schemes have been encouraged by local authorities and the Government over the years. So, I do think that local authorities and the Government should bear some responsibility for this. I don't think it's fair to encourage people to alter the fabric of their building and then to wash your hands of it when it goes wrong.
On a practical level, I'd like to know what the input of the building regs department was in the local authorities in installing these cladding systems. Has anybody actually done the relevant testing, done the relevant research into these systems before—? They must have been signed off by someone. So, I think we should write to the local authority and the Local Government Association, and ask them what they can do in the future to stop this debacle happening again, because I know leaseholders—we've got a current problem with leaseholders and building owners being forced to do remedial works to their buildings; that's the short-term problem, but the long-term problem, I'd suggest, is making sure this doesn't happen again, and I think it looks like some procedures need to be tightened up around sign-off of these new carbon-saving and heat-saving systems.
Thanks, Chair. As a former member of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, that committee has looked at a number of the questions that were raised by the previous Member. I think that what needs to happen is that those reports need to be reviewed on a regular basis, because a number of the different parties involved have promised to do various things, and so they need to be held to account over the longer term.
Now, I understand that the committee is going to look at it again. It's already produced two reports into this, and of course all of the issues are not resolved yet, but I think that it's that committee that needs to do the investigative work that Michelle Brown previously referred to. So, if we could write to the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee to share the details of this petition with them, we can ask that the petitioners' views are included in any future work that they do on this topic. I note as well that the petitioner hasn't responded with further responses in the light of the Minister's response, so it would be useful, perhaps, to receive that information, and then pass that on to the relevant committee as well.
Michelle, is that the sort of action you'd like to see? Then I'll bring Neil in.
Yes, that's fine with me.
Thanks, Chair. I'd like to wait for the response of the petitioner, but also write to the Government in the interim, because I'd like to know exactly how much the Welsh Government has received from the UK Government on this matter, and what they've done with it. The words from the Minister on the page from the letter she sent—they're just very hollow, because they're still advised by Taylor Wimpey, so if they really want to make it clear to these building companies that they have to fulfil their responsibilities, the first thing that they could do would be to sack the adviser, for example. They could also set up a taskforce to look at this issue, because what we have—if we take Cardiff, for example, I've been looking at some buildings, and to establish whether or not things have gone wrong, whether or not things have been done even fraudulently, you need to look at the as-billed drawings at the beginning of the process. Architects under instruction from the building companies are not releasing those drawings. So, what the Government could do is have an investigation, get those drawings, get specialists to look at them, see what went wrong, if things went wrong, who was responsible, and we need to establish facts here. So, I think we could write to the Government asking how much they've had off the UK Government, what have they done with it, why are they still being advised by Taylor Wimpey, and will they set up an investigation.
So, we've had a proposal to write to the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee to share the details of the petition with them, and as has been commented on, two reports have been produced already by that committee. Then we've also—there's a view on whether we should wait for the views of the petitioner, and also there's a proposal to write to the Government as well. Do you want to do all those actions, as a committee? Leanne.
Would it make sense to do any writing to the Government after we've received the views of the petitioner, so that we can follow up any of the issues from there? I remember, for example, one issue that the Minister discussed in giving evidence to the other committee. She said, 'We've got a budget and we spend that budget with housing providers', you know, and made the suggestion that her budget would be used not to support those providers that weren't working with the Government on this cladding issue. Now, I don't know whether or not that was seen through, whether or not further public funding has been given to some of these housing providers and other players, but that would be one of the questions I'd like to ask, for example, in any further follow-up to the Government. Now, it may be that the equalities committee is best placed to do that, and it may be that it makes sense for the clerk to have a conversation with the clerk of that committee to make sure that we're just not duplicating anything. But certainly, if the petitioner comes back with further information and we can get further information from the Government that would assist that committee's work, then that would be helpful, I think, as long as we're just not duplicating the work of officials, really.
Okay. Just so that I'm clear in my mind, shall we write to the Government in the interim as well so that we can actually maybe collate it all together? How do Members feel?
How many pieces of correspondence do you want going back and forth? We can do that now and then write again, potentially, when the petitioner has given us further comments, or we could just wait.
What do Members—? Right, Neil.
Chair, I would ask the Member to consider that people in those flats are really under pressure, and they want to know what the Government is doing. So, if you want to delay, fine, but what we should be doing is doing things as quickly as possible. If we send two letters, so be it, but those are questions that people that I'm in touch with want asked and want answered.
Okay. So, on the table we've got some thoughts going forward about writing to the Government, obviously waiting until the petitioners have responded, and also then referring this through the clerk to the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee. Which way would you like to go as Members? Jack.
Chair, I do feel that the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee do need to take a lead on this. They have produced two reports already, so I do think we need to make them aware of that. If Members feel we need to write to the Government in the interim, let's write to the Government in the interim, but, for me, I am conscious that we would be duplicating work here. And as far as the Petitions Committee goes, perhaps it is a better place for a committee like the local government committee, but I'm happy to support writing to the Government in the interim. I would like that strong conversation with the local government committee, though, because there is lots for both the Government and committees to do in relation to the pandemic. This is a serious issue; we shouldn't be duplicating any work on this.
Okay, so we've got almost like a double approach here. So, we're going to write to the Government, Clerk, and we're also going to, through you hopefully, liaise with the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, yes? I think that covers everything off, doesn't it? Yes. Okay.
Moving on, 2.11, P-05-1088, Trigger by-election for members wishing to change party affiliation. This petition was submitted by Bleddyn Rhys Williams having collected 372 signatures. And it reads:
'In the most recent term of the Senedd, a large number of MSs have changed their political affiliation. This is an undemocratic way for members to further their own political careers, against the parties they were elected to represent. When any member wishes to change their political affiliation, this should be taken to the people of their constituency. This isn't democracy, and can lead to dangerous ideas/parties being introduced to the Senedd.'
Now, a response to the petition was received from the Llywydd on 11 January. A research brief has been provided, and the petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide further information in advance of the meeting, but has not yet done so. How would you like to go forward? Leanne and then Neil.
Thanks, Chair. I'm not sure where we can take this petition now. I've got sympathy with the petitioner in terms of the question of democracy. If someone stands under a particular banner, then they are presenting themselves under a certain set of values and politics. So, if that changes within the course of a term, then there are questions to be asked about that. Now, how practical a piece of legislation along these lines would be, I'm not sure, particularly under the electoral system that we've got where we've got list Members and constituency Members. So, the changes in terms of by-elections for list Members, for example, are not that straightforward. And we are just about to face an election, hopefully, and the chances of legislating between now and the end of term are pretty slim. So, this is probably an issue for the next Senedd term, perhaps something that the next Government would be willing to look at, if not a private Member. I would suggest to the petitioner to consider other ways to progress this matter of principle, but that in terms of the petition and this Petitions Committee, I don't think we can take it any further now.
Okay. Do all Members agree? Neil.
I think I should probably declare an interest here, because I've changed affiliation during an Assembly term, although it wasn't voluntary with me. I think that's a key difference that may not have been picked up by the petition. My concern is the unintended consequences, because I think, especially with the list system we have in Wales, by telling Members that if they do change groups they automatically have to face a by-election, then that gives an enormous amount of control to central parties. If you were in my situation where, for example, I was put under a lot of pressure to stop asking questions about Deryn, the lobbying firm—
Can I just—? Neil, you've declared an interest. It wouldn't be right, I don't think—. We have to discuss this petition.
The issue is that it's easy to put politicians under pressure, then, and maybe control them, as people tried to control me. They were unsuccessful. Thank you for indulging me.
How should we take this forward? I think we've had a proposal put forward by Leanne. Do all Members agree? Yes. Okay.
Moving on, 2.12, P-05-1089, 'Wales should lead on bringing NHS pay back in line with inflation costs over the last 10 years'. This petition was submitted by Dyfan Roberts, having collected 190 signatures.
'Since April 2010 some NHS staff have had their pay decreased by as much as 20.51% in line with inflation.
'It’s time the Welsh assembly discuss about forming a new pay deal that will be taking place in 2021 and drastically reduce or eliminate the loss front line workers have been subject to over the last 10 years.
'Last time we were given a pay rise it was a replica of Westminsters deal! It’s time WAG acted first and gave the NHS a deal it deserves.'
A response to this petition was received from the Minister for Health and Social Services on 22 December. The petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide further information in advance of the meeting, but has not yet done so. I invite Members to discuss this. How would you like to go forward? Jack, and then Leanne.
Thanks, Chair. We discussed a similar petition in this committee on giving nurses a pay rise in line with other front-line staff during COVID. I think we should group these two petitions; all front-line staff and volunteers and care staff have been fantastic. It's been a war, essentially, and they deserve to be recognised and rewarded. I think those were the words we used last time in this committee. So, I would like to group that. We should note, as well, that the NHS pay review body has been asked to make recommendations effective from 2021. So, I would like to group the two petitions together, and obviously send them to the Minister for his response on both petitions.
Thank you for that proposal. Does anyone support that, going forward?
I agree, Chair.
All Members agreed? If you could just nod, or—. Yes, okay. Thank you.
Item 2.13, P-05-1091, 'Remove compulsory Welsh Bac for students looking to go to University'. This petition was submitted by Amber Penquet, having collected 63 signatures. It reads:
'Although Welsh Bac provides many important employability skills, and is good for those going straight into a profession after college, it only holds students who wish to go to University back.
'Previously students could take up to 4 A-levels, even 5 for the best students, but Welsh Bac limits them to 3, in some schools even limits them to 2, stopping students from getting a broad education.'
A response to this petition was received from the Minister for Education on 15 December. A research brief has been provided, and the petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide further information in advance of the meeting but has not yet done so. How would you like to go forward? Neil.
Could we wait for the views of the petitioner, please, Chair?
All agreed? Okay.
Item 2.14, P-05-1093: 'Establish a Wales wide Environmental and Wildlife Enforcement Service to tackle environmental crime'. This petition was submitted by Robert Curtis, having collected 207 signatures. It reads:
'Following the appalling scenes of littering, fly tipping and wildlife crime during and following the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown, we call on the Welsh Government to create a Wales wide Environmental and Wildlife Enforcement Agency whose aim would be to tackle environmental crimes such as littering, dog fouling, fly-tipping and the illegal poisoning and shooting of wildlife.
'These officers need to be funded and accountable to the public sector via a tax on single use plastics and fines.'
A response to this was received from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs on 23 December. A research brief has been provided and the petitioner has provided further comments. How would you like to go forward? Jack.
As you say, the Minister has responded and stated that the draft litter and fly-tipping prevention plan is planned for publication and consultation. The petitioner has welcomed that, so I would therefore suggest we close this petition. I don't think there's any more we can do. But thank the petitioner; I think it's a worthy petition. What I would say is that the petitioner has come back and welcomed the response and commented on the number of organisations referred to by the Minister. He believes that there should be only one. Perhaps we could send that to the Minister for her consideration, just to alert her to that comment. But, in terms of the committee, I think it's run its course now. So, thank the petitioner and close.
Thank you, Jack. Do all Members agree? Yes. Okay.
Item 2.15, P-05-1096, 'Remove RSE from the mandatory element of the Curriculum Bill 2020'—page 133 in your packs. This petition was submitted by Kimberley Isherwood on behalf of Public Child Protection Wales and Education Our Say Our Way, having collected 5,307 signatures.
'Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is part of a Global Roll out of Sexuality Education which is not appropriate for this country. It sexualises children, fails to safeguard, reads like models of offending, has barriers to disclosure, and the local authority departments involved lack adequate training to spot the signs of Child Sexual Abuse, Exploitation, Harmful Sexual Behaviour, and much, more! In addition we have evidence those involved in the Welsh Curriculum lack knowledge of this global roll out.'
A response to the petition was received from the Minister for Education on 15 December. A research brief has been provided and the petitioners have provided further comments. How would you like to take this forward? Jack.
I've sat in some of these committee meetings and scrutinised and there are a number of charities that are 100 per cent behind this provision. I have to say, I tend to agree with them. On this note, I think the committee could keep a watching brief on the issue and see how it goes forward. We should note that it is going through significant scrutiny at Stage 2 in committee. So, let's keep a watching brief on this issue.
Okay. Are there any other comments from Members? Neil.
I've got a lot of concerns, really, and I'm still going through the detail of the concerns in what is being alleged. I note that the Minister, in the letter, said that there was basically misinformation. Well, I'd like to know what is misinformation and what is correct. I think there is a danger that children are sexualised too young. I get complaints from teenagers feeling really pressured about the education they're having right now, in terms of what they think they should be and how they should approach things. They don't feel that they're being left to develop, I would say, along their own lines, without being told what they should be and feeling that they have to declare maybe what they'd prefer not to declare. I think we should keep a definite watching brief on this, with a view to, possibly, debating it in the future, because it did reach over 5,000 signatures, 85 per cent from Wales. This is a real, live issue. I'm going to pay particular attention to the debate at Stage 2, at the moment, where we are.
Are there any other comments? Leanne.
The opportunity to have that debate is now, isn't it, with the Bill going through. It's currently going through Stage 2, and at Stage 3 Members can submit amendments. So, to have that debate—. I mean, this issue is probably going to have more attention given to it than most other petitions that we receive, because there's a piece of legislation going through at the moment. So, I think that I agree; keep a watching brief and let the children's committee do its work, but also, perhaps, suggest to the petitioners that they could lobby and ask their own Senedd Members to submit amendments as they want. Then, the democratic process enables those amendments to be fully debated and fully aired in Plenary, everybody gets to have their say, everybody's views get to be aired and a vote is taken at the end, just as good democratic practice would say it should.
Okay. I've got Michelle, have I?
Please. This is something that really, really concerns me and, to be honest, I don't think this can be scrutinised too closely. There can't be enough scrutiny of this, not only in terms of the content of the RSE curriculum but also in terms of the removal of the opt-out for parents—I think that's very sinister. I don't think it's for the Welsh Government, local authorities or schools to dictate to parents when their child should be introduced to certain types of information. I think the opt-out was a very valuable thing that should have been retained. I'm horrified that parents aren't going to be able to opt out, particularly in view of the fact that they're not going to be opting the children out of this subject unless they've got deep concerns about what's on the curriculum. I'd like to see a debate on this, but I agree with the comments that have been made so far by all of the Members of the committee. I think we certainly should keep a watching brief on it.
Chair, can I just add a point of information there? Not all Members of the Senedd are allowed to put amendments forward or have them considered, and not all Members of the Senedd are allowed to speak. I'm in a situation where I cannot put—well, whenever I put amendments forward they're rejected and I'm not called to speak. In an ideal world, we would have a democratic Senedd; here we don't, so, Leanne, we don't all have the, I'd say, luxury or the—
Okay. We need to concentrate on this petition. We've got a consensus, really, to keep a watching brief on this petition. We have had suggestions put forward by a Member that there is the actual scrutiny and challenge side of our Senedd that takes place when the Bill is coming through. Clerk, do you understand how the Members want to take this forward? We're going to keep a watching brief on it and then, maybe, advise the petitioner about aspects of how Bills are scrutinised.
Yes, that's clear to me, Chair. Thank you.
Okay. We move on to item 2.16, P-05-1097, 'Ban game bird cages'. This petition was submitted by the League Against Cruel Sports, having collected 5,287 signatures.
'Millions of pheasants and partridges are estimated to be factory farmed in Wales each year so that they can be shot for "sport". To breed them, tens of thousands of parent birds are confined to cages, often for much of their breeding lives. Cages are cruel and cause animals to suffer. The Welsh Government has previously indicated support for Wales to become a cage-free nation. We call for the Welsh Government to ban the use of cages to produce game birds.'
So, a response to the petition was received from the Minister for Energy, Environment and Rural Affairs on 30 November. A research brief has been provided, and the petitioners have provided further comments. How would you like to go forward? Jack.
Thanks, Chair. Can we write back to the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs to share the further comments by the petitioner and seek an update on the review of the code of practice, which was commenced in 2019, and any further evidence and research that's been considered regarding this issue? I think we need to understand that before taking this forward for any further action.
Okay. Do all Members agree? Michelle.
Could I add something to the letter? I'd like to ask the Minister why she's content to allow this system of raising game birds to be used in Wales at all. Why does she want to regulate the misery instead of eliminating it?
Okay. We can add that to the letter.
Do all Members agree? Yes. Okay.
Item 2.17, P-05-1115, 'Stop giant Solar farm which will destroy ancient meadows near Abergavenny'. This petition was submitted by Mr John Sullivan, having collected 258 signatures.
'103 acres at Penpergwm on prime farmland in Monmouthshire.
'It is almost as big as the three existing solar arrays in the area combined. Where will the next be?
'Due to its size and prominence any planning application will be determined by the Welsh Government not Monmouthshire County Council, who have refused the Environmental Screening Application made by the developers for Great House Energy.
'The Welsh Government have accepted it despite there being many questionable findings.'
Now, a response to the petition was received from the Minister for Housing and Local Government on 29 December, and the petitioner has also provided further comments. How would you like to go forward? Anyone? Leanne, thank you.
Given this is a planning matter now really, and I may well have concerns about how much the climate crisis is being taken seriously within planning decisions, planning guidance, and the planning legislation, notwithstanding that, this is a planning application, and so, I think we should note the petition and the correspondence received, but given that it's a planning application, then I can't see where else we can take it as a committee now.
Do all Members agree? Neil.
Chair, given the context of it and the lack of an environmental impact assessment, which isn't needed apparently, I'd like to maybe just keep it there, and keep a watching brief on it and come back to it in the future.
Okay. Do I have any other Members' comments? No. Okay. So, how do Members want to go forward on this? You've heard the two proposals put forward. Do you want to keep a watching brief, or do you feel that—?
We could keep a watching brief and bring it back to committee if any further information comes to light, but, at present, I'm not sure that information will. But if there is further information to come forward, then fair enough.
Do all Members agree? Okay. We'll go forward on that basis.
Item 3.1. Now, these are updates to previous petitions, item 3 on your agenda. Item 3.1, P-04-522, 'Asbestos in Schools'. Now, the petition was submitted by Cenric Clement-Evans and was first considered in December 2013, having collected 448 signatures. The committee has now considered this petition on 25 occasions. We last discussed it on 4 February 2020 and we agreed to await the publication of the high-level information about asbestos management in schools, with a view to ending our consideration of the petition once this had been done, and to await the views of the petitioner on the response provided by the Minister.
An update was received from the Minister for Education on 7 January. The petitioner was offered the opportunity to provide further information in advance of this meeting, today, but has not yet done so. How would you like to go forward? Jack.
Chair, thank you for this. I know the response and where we've got to with this petition does not go as far as the petitioner originally wanted, but I think it is as far as we can take this as a committee now. I think you said '25 occasions'; we're not going to get any further on 26. Perhaps individual Members can take it up, if they feel it's necessary, but I think that the Petitions Committee has run its course, I think.
Do all Members agree? Thank you.
Health and social services now, so, 3.2, P-05-812, 'We call for the Welsh Government to encourage trusts to implement the NICE guidelines for Borderline Personality Disorder or justify why they do not do so'. The petition was submitted by Keir Harding and was first considered in May 2018, having collected 137 signatures.
We've considered this petition on nine occasions. We last discussed it on 25 February 2020 and we agreed to write to the Minister for Health and Social Services to ask how the Welsh Government is considering recommendations recently produced in the Royal College of Psychiatry's position statement on personality disorders, and what action the Minister can take against health boards that are shown not to take full account of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence's clinical guidance. A response was received from the Minister on 11 January and the petitioner has provided further comments. So, if I can just remind Members that we've discussed this on nine occasions. How would you like to take this forward? Michelle.
Could we refer this petition to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee to look at? It's raising a really, really important issue. We don't seem to be getting a clear answer from the Minister about why compliance with these guidelines is so patchy, so perhaps it's something that the health committee might be better placed to look into than the Petitions Committee.
Clerk, is that possible? I suppose I have to ask why we may not have done this previously.
Yes, thank you, Chair. I'd have to check whether we have previously made the health committee aware of this petition or not. I suppose it's open to this committee to write to the health committee to make it aware of the petition and ask what work it has done on this subject. Usually, we would also ask what work a committee planned to do in the future, but given the short number of weeks left before the election and dissolution, then I imagine that their work programme is already fully mapped out for the remainder of this term. It may be something that we ask in terms of whether they have looked in general at NICE guidelines and their implementation in Wales during this term, and if not, whether that could be considered by the next health committee, but that may be as far—. If we did that, a response is not going to be received before the election, I wouldn't have thought, although work would be done, so that may be as far as this committee could take the issue then.
Okay. Do all Members agree with that? Sorry, Neil, I can't hear you.
On Michelle's proposal to refer, I think I'd agree with that. We're not looking for immediate action, but I think it's a good proposal.
So, do you want to keep the petition open and refer it, or do you feel now that, having been through this committee nine times, we should close it?
I think we should send it to the health committee, and probably close it in that case, as far as we're concerned.
Okay. Do all Members agree with that? Okay. So, may I thank the petitioner for bringing it? I feel that this committee has, obviously, discussed it. The suggestion now is to see exactly how the health committee can address these concerns.
We move on to 3.3, P-05-960, 'Fund the funeral costs of all NHS staff who die from or with Covid-19'. This petition was submitted by Professors Jane Henderson and Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, and was first considered in May 2020, having collected 414 signatures.
The committee has now considered this petition on five occasions. We last discussed it on 17 November, and we agreed to write back to the Minister to thank him for the consideration given to this issue and ask whether the option to administer the scheme through funeral homes and to pay a fixed sum representing the average cost of a funeral was considered as part of this, as proposed by the petitioners. You have the response there that was received from the Minister on 11 January, and the petitioners have provided further comments. How would you like to go forward? Neil, then Leanne.
Thanks, Chair. I think it's worth noting the response of the Minister. It's a very short letter. So, we're actually talking about NHS workers who have lost their lives due to COVID-19, and the Minister simply said, 'Thank you for your letter about funeral costs.' And this was his answer:
'We can confirm that consideration was given to a range of options to access the feasibility of paying funeral costs for NHS workers who have sadly lost their lives to COVID-19, unfortunately due to a number of issues none were deemed to be practical, workable or timely solutions.
'I hope this information is helpful.
Well, it's not helpful. The petitioner calls it dismissive. I agree with the petitioner, and the petitioner says in their response that they've not been given any detail. I think the letter from the Minister is nothing short of a disgrace. I'm not sure what we can do as a committee, other than maybe let the Minister know that, but it is dismissive and it beggars belief where we are right now with this crisis that people who've lost their lives can be dismissed so easily. It's a disgrace.
I find it difficult to believe that all options have been considered, and so I would like to have more information about what those options were, and why each option has been considered unworkable. I think that it's shocking to note that there are 883 health and social care workers who have now died of COVID-19 since March. They are still battling now for adequate PPE; they are still now battling with ridiculous levels of overwork in some cases because so many of their colleagues are off; and, of course, every day when they go to work, they face serious, serious ill health or even worse. This petition came about as a result of family and friends needing to crowdsource to pay for the cost of the funeral of one of these workers. I just cannot accept that crowdsourcing is the only option for this group of people. So, if we can go back to the Government and ask for more information about those options, more information about the consideration that has been given to those options. I, for one, don't want to let this issue go. I feel very, very strongly that, as a society, we owe these people and, as the Government, who we all pay our taxes to to make these decisions, the Government has a responsibility to look after them and their families as well.
Do all Members agree with that? Okay. Okay, we'll move on to the next one. Thank you.
So, 3.4, P-05-943, 'We call on the Welsh Government to take urgent action to secure improvements to the A487 between Gellilydan'—I hope I've said that right—'and Maentwrog'. This petition was submitted by Carron Jones and Sioned Wyn Williams and was first considered in March 2020, having collected 5,450 signatures.
So, the background is: the committee considered the petition for the first time on 10 March 2020, and we agreed to write to Councillor Elfed Roberts and Liz Saville Roberts MP to seek their views on the road improvements currently being implemented and any further safety measures required, as a result of the public comments they had made previously, and also to write to Gwynedd Council to seek their views about this section of road, the improvements currently being implemented, and future work proposed. A response was received from Councillor Roberts on 2 April, but no responses have been received from Gwynedd Council or Liz Saville Roberts MP. The Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales wrote to Members of the Senedd on 24 September to detail the results of the national speed limit review. This proposed no changes to the stretch of road covered by the petition. The petitioner has provided further comments. How would you like to go forward? Leanne.
I just wonder if we could write back to the Minister for economy and transport to ask for an update on the safety improvement works that were planned to this stretch, and any other information on any further measures that may be being considered.
Do all Members agree? Yes.
Item 3.5, P-05-993, 'Make retail in Wales fully accessible to disabled people'. This petition was submitted by Angharad Paget-Jones and was first considered in September 2020, having collected 173 signatures. Now, we considered the petition on three occasions. We last discussed it on 15 September 2020 and agreed to await the publication of the Welsh Government's response to the recommendations produced by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee before deciding whether there is any further action that it can take, and also to ask for a legal note outlining the legislation in relation to disabled people's rights. The Government has responded to the recommendations made by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee in its report on inequality during the COVID-19 pandemic. A legal note has been provided and the petitioner has provided further comments. How would you like to go forward? Anyone? Leanne. Thank you.
Given the work of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, and the responses by Welsh Government, I'm not sure where we can take this now, Chair, any further. Maybe we should agree to thank the petitioner for their work and close the petition.
Right, okay. Do all Members agree? Yes. Can you clearly indicate? Thanks.
Item 3.6, P-05-895, 'Rosa's Legacy: Introduce a scheme to help people access veterinary care for their companion animals'. This petition was submitted by Linda Joyce Jones and was first considered in October 2019, having collected 95 signatures. So, we've now considered this petition on four occasions. We last discussed it on 23 June 2020 and we agreed to await a further update from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, once she'd been able to undertake further discussions with the Animal Welfare Network for Wales and the British Veterinary Association, and also to write to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to seek their views on the issues raised by the petition and in the petitioner's subsequent comments. A response was received from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons on 20 July 2020. No further update has been received from the Minister, and the petitioner has provided further comments. How would you like to take this forward? Neil.
We could write for a further update from the Minister for environment on any discussions on these issues held with the Animal Welfare Network for Wales and the British Veterinary Association.
Okay. Everybody happy with that?
Now, the following three items will be grouped together for consideration, and they are items 3.7, 3.8 and 3.9. So, 3.7, P-05-856, 'Ban the sale of puppies by pet shops and all commercial 3rd party dealers in Wales'. This petition was submitted by C.A.R.I.A.D., and was first considered in January 2019, having collected 11,195 signatures. The next petition is P-05-915, 'Call for better enforcement of puppy farms in Wales'. This petition was submitted by Laura Clays, and was first considered in November 2019, having collected 112 signatures. And finally, 3.9, P-05-939, 'Immediate embargo on new dog breeding licences, licence renewals and planning applications until regulations are fit for purpose and enforceable'. This petition was submitted by C.A.R.I.A.D., and was first considered in February 2020, having collected 1,738 signatures.
Now, we last considered these petitions in January and February 2020, agreeing to await a further announcement by the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs of actions to be taken following the review of dog breeding regulations. Updates were issued by the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the form of written statements on 4 March and 5 October 2020. The petitioners were offered the opportunity to provide further information in advance of this meeting, but have not done so. Jack.
I know we've looked at this a couple of times, and just over a year ago now, but the Minister has said on 16 December that this work was on track. Given that we're coming up to the end of a Senedd term, and I think this has been quite a supported petition, and a number of petitions supported by this committee, I'd like to write to the Minister just for an update on what 'on track' means, just to see where we are.
Okay. Do all—? Oh, Leanne, and then Michelle.
I'd like to support that. What does 'on track' mean? The petitioners have asked for a ban—are we going to get a ban before the end of this Assembly term? That's the question I think we need to ask. Are we on track to see that ban coming into place? Because that's the crux of all of these petitions that we've got in front of us, and it's the response that the public wanted when they were consulted on this issue. So, we do need to see some action on this now, and insist on a firm answer to that question, I think, Chair.
Okay. I've got Michelle, then Neil.
Well, to say that I'm frustrated over this is an understatement—bouncing with anger and disgust is maybe a bit closer. There's been no significant progress that I can see. I know the Minister's promised to introduce the legislation before the end of the Senedd term, but there's no assurance that the legislation will be on the statute book before that, before the dissolution of the Senedd. There's no assurance either that the legislation will introduce an effective ban. There's huge public support for the banning of third-party puppy and kitten sales. The Minister's been quite evasive with me when I was asking for the reason for the delay, the reason why there's been such glacial progress on this issue over the years. And she was evasive, so, I'd like to write to her and chase her and say, 'Well, you know, let's have an update on the work that you've done. Where are you with it, will it all be finished in time for dissolution, and will third party puppy and kitten sales be actually banned?'
It's unbelievable this is still happening. We shouldn't be still having this conversation. We've been asking the Minister to ban this for a long, long time. She's had—. The Welsh Labour Government have had plenty of opportunity—this isn't the first Senedd term they've had an opportunity to ban this practice, and they've not done it. Where's the delay come from? Where?
I just want to put it formally on the record, as well, from me: when is this going to happen? We thought this was going to happen a good while back. We're at the end of the term now, and it doesn't seem as if it's going to get through, so, yes, let's write for an update.
I think we'll ask—. We'll write in a robust fashion as well, because I can feel that there some tensions there. Okay. So, moving on—everyone is happy with that? Yes.
Item 3.10, P-05-996, 'To call on the Welsh Government not to remove, damage or destroy any historical symbols in Wales'. This petition was submitted by Aled Thomas, having collected 415 signatures. So, we considered the petition for the first time on 15 September, we agreed to await the outcomes of the audit commissioned by the Welsh Government and the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee’s inquiry into who gets remembered in public spaces, and to inform the petitioner how to submit their views to that inquiry. The Welsh Government published the results of an audit of Welsh statues, streets and buildings connected to the slave trade on 26 November. The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee’s inquiry is still ongoing, and the petitioner has provided further comments. How would you like to take this forward? Leanne.
I think the work is ongoing. I'm not sure where we can take this petition further now. I think the question about who gets remembered is a really interesting one. It's only very recently that we did see the first statue of a woman in Wales. So, this is a debate that needs to be had, because we all know that women existed before that statue was made, and there are plenty of other people who are not represented in art, in sculpture and in other expressions of celebration of people in the past. So, I'm glad that it's being considered, but that process is ongoing now, and I don't think there's any further that we can take it in terms of this committee.
Do all Members agree? Okay. So, that brings us to the end of the petitions process.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
Now, we move to item 4 on the agenda: motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting for the following business: item 5. So, I propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42, that the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of today's meeting. Are Members content? Can you indicate? Okay, thank you.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:33.
The public part of the meeting ended at 10:33.