|Andrew R.T. Davies AC|
|Dai Lloyd AC|
|Gareth Bennett AC|
|Jayne Bryant AC|
|John Griffiths AC|
|Joyce Watson AC|
|Mike Hedges AC||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Dr Christianne Glossop||Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Keith Smyton||Pennaeth yr Is-adran Fwyd, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Head of Food Division, Welsh Government|
|Lesley Griffiths AC||Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros Ynni, Cynllunio a Materion Gwledig|
|Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs|
|Tim Render||Cyfarwyddwr, Tir, Natur a Bwyd, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Director, Land, Nature and Food, Welsh Government|
|Elizabeth Wilkinson||Ail Glerc|
|Marc Wyn Jones||Clerc|
|1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau||1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest|
|2. Craffu ar Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros Ynni, Cynllunio a Materion Gwledig||2. Scrutiny of the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs|
|3. Papurau i'w nodi||3. Papers to note|
|4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o’r cyfarfod||4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. 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 11:02.
The meeting began at 11:02.
Bore da. Croeso cynnes iawn, Gweinidog.
Good morning, and a warm welcome to you, Minister.
Can I welcome John Griffiths to the committee, who's replacing Dawn Bowden? Croeso, John. Can I place on record the committee's thanks to Dawn Bowden for her contribution to its work?
Can I remind people to set their mobile phones to silent and to turn off any other electronic equipment that may interfere with the broadcasting equipment? We've had no apologies. Are there any declarations of interest, apart from the fact that we all eat food?
Can I just again welcome the Cabinet Secretary and your colleagues? If for the record you can introduce your colleagues, or they can introduce themselves.
I'm Christianne Glossop, Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales.
Tim Render, director of environment and rural affairs.
Keith Smyton, head of food division for Wales.
Thank you very much. If we can move directly into questions, if you're happy.
And if I can ask the first question, which I've managed to lose—. Could you set out the scope of the work under way to revive the current food strategy and action plan, including how you expect the new strategy to differ from the current strategy and the emphasis you would like to see the new strategy place on public sector procurement, and when the work is likely to be completed?
Okay. So, you'll be aware of the current food and drink action plan, 'Towards Sustainable Growth', which started in 2014, and you will have heard me say I remember my predecessor's predecessor coming to Cabinet and saying that he wanted to grow the food and drink sector to £6 billion in 2020, and me thinking what an ambitious, unrealistic target that was. But I'm pleased to tell colleagues—I think this is the first time I've said this publicly, so you're the first ones to hear—that the interim Office for National Statistics figure for the end of 2017 is that we've actually reached the target of £6.5 billion, so way, way ahead of schedule. So, you wouldn't expect me not to say that the new strategy and action plan will absolutely build on the success of the current one. We are making good progress in bringing it together. It's going to be done in development with the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, and I know a lot of scoping work has been undertaken over the summer by board members and the board chair, as well as with my officials. So, we'll have that new strategy from 2020. For the timescale, I hope to go out to consultation next year.
I understand from the work, the consultative work, that has gone on over the summer that there are three broad themes coming out. One is growing our businesses, and part of that is growing stronger supply chains and looking at the cluster network, and I'll say a bit more about cluster networks in a moment; promoting Wales as a food nation, and I have to say, I've been very privileged to be able to go round the world, really, and promote Welsh food and drink because I think that brand is very well known and it's an easy ask for me to do, really; and the third theme is benefiting our people and society, and that links very much to the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. So, the work is being undertaken this year. I think the next meeting of the food and drink industry board is on 5 December. If I can't go to the board meeting, I'll certainly hope to meet to see how the work is going.
If I can just say a bit about cluster networks. I'd never really heard about cluster policy until the food and drink officials brought it to my attention when I first came into portfolio. I went out to Catalonia and the Basque Country in June for a couple of days to have a look at their food and drink networks, and they've been using a cluster policy right across Government for about 30 years, where you have this—what it says, really—you bring together groups of people in the same sectors, and I think that's why we've been able to achieve so much so quickly. I'm a real believer in the cluster networks.
So, you asked a bit about procurement, and, obviously, coming out of the EU, we look for opportunities, don't we? And I think one opportunity is that we won't have the EU procurement rules, which I have found, personally, quite frustrating in a variety of portfolios across Government. We will, of course, have other—there are other restrictions around World Trade Organization et cetera, but I do think there is a lot more we can do around procurement, and particularly from a food and drink point of view. We need to make it easier for people who are doing the procurement to be able to procure, I think. Tim has done—before he came to Welsh Government, he was with the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, and I know Tim's done a lot of work on this, so we're going to be able to use that expertise going forward.
So, I think we need the new food and drink strategy to fit in with public procurement and you'll be aware my colleague Mark Drakeford is having a review with the National Procurement Service and Value Wales. He announced that earlier this month. So, I want to make sure that we link up the two before we publish the new food and drink strategy, which has got—. Obviously, the old one finishes in December 2019. I want to produce another one in autumn 2019.
I'm interested, Cabinet Secretary, in how the vision in the strategy links with the tourism strategy in Wales, because I guess we're all familiar with going on holiday and understanding how a very distinctive local food and drink offer adds to the enjoyment of the holiday and the appreciation of the nature of the region and area that we're visiting. So, it would be really good if we could have a very good offer in Wales, obviously, but obviously also to market it and promote it effectively, including new apps and all the new technology and websites, so that that becomes an integral part of that tourism experience. Is there much happening in that regard?
Yes. I've had meetings with Ken Skates; he's very keen to promote food tourism. One thing I want to do—I mentioned I was out in the Basque Country, and my plane was cancelled, so I ended up spending quite a bit of time in Bilbao airport, and the one shop that really struck me was a shop selling just food from the Basque Country. Quite a big shop, probably the size of this room, constantly full, and a stream of people coming out carrying whole serrano hams et cetera. So, Welsh Government owns Cardiff Airport, so I came back—this was in June—and spoke to Keith, and said to Keith, 'We need a shop in Cardiff Airport selling Welsh food and drink.'
We're making progress. I would like it to be up and running by the end of the year, but I'm looking at Keith thinking probably that might not be happening by the end of the year—it's happening. So, you're absolutely right: people can come to Cardiff Airport and have that food there for them either when they arrive or when they go. So, again, going around Wales visiting particularly small independent food producers, they're very keen to have it as part of tourism. A wine trail, for instance—people look quite shocked when you talk about Welsh wine because, one, they don't know we've got it, two, how many vineyards we've got—I think we've got either 15 or 17 now. Unfortunately, I've only been able to visit two since I've been in post. But they want to link up and have a wine trail. Again, when I was out in New Zealand, that's something that they have really sorted. They said to me, 'Probably 30 years ago, we were in the same position as Wales.' Obviously, the climate's different in New Zealand, but I think we could do a lot more around tourism in relation to our vineyards, and certainly the vineyard owners are very up for doing that. So, I think there's a huge amount more we could do and we are having those discussions, and I hope that we can move it forward with the new strategy.
Ar gefn yr un math o gwestiwn yr oedd John Griffiths yn holi, a dweud y gwir, ynglŷn â thwristiaeth bwyd a'r holl fusnes yma o sut rydym ni'n mynd i wella gwerth bwydydd sy'n cael eu cynhyrchu yng Nghymru—rhan o hynny ydy beth yn union sy'n mynd i fod yn wahanol yn y strategaeth newydd caffael cyhoeddus sydd yn mynd i sicrhau bod canran uwch o fwydydd a diodydd yn dod o Gymru i'n hysbytai ni ac i'n hysgolion ni ac ati. Beth yn union sy'n mynd i ddigwydd yn wahanol nawr i beth sydd wedi digwydd i fyny at rŵan?
I olrhain eich profiad chi yng Ngwlad y Basg a'r neuadd yn llawn o fwydydd lleol a brandio lleol, roedd rhai ohonom ni wrth gwrs yn y Sioe Frenhinol eleni yn Llanelwedd ac roedd y neuadd fwyd yn fanna hefyd yn llawn cynnyrch Cymreig y gwahanol gwmnïoedd bach lleol ac unigolion lleol a oedd yn cynhyrchu hufen ia neu gaws neu winoedd Cymreig, ond wrth gwrs roedd y brandio i gyd efo jac yr undeb arno fe a'r logo 'Food is Great, Britain and Northern Ireland'. Dim Cymraeg. Y lliwiau oedd coch, glas a gwyn, nid lliwiau Cymru. Ac wedyn mae yna her yn fanna, buaswn i'n dweud. Wrth gwrs, mae Gwlad y Basg wedi llwyddo i'w choncro, ond rydym ni'n amlwg—. Rwy'n croesawu'r bwriad i gael siop ym Maes Awyr Caerdydd, yn naturiol, ond hefyd ein siop fawr ni ydy’r Sioe Frenhinol bob blwyddyn, ac roeddwn i'n credu ei bod hi'n warthus bod yr ailfrandio yna wedi digwydd.
On the same kind of question John Griffiths was asking about food tourism and this business of how we are going to improve the value of foods that are produced in Wales—part of that is what exactly will be different in the new public procurement strategy that will ensure that a higher percentage of food and drink comes from Wales to our hospitals and schools and so forth. What exactly will happen differently now to what has happened up until now?
Following on from your experience in the Basque Country and the hall full of local foods and branding, some of us were at the Royal Welsh in Llanelwedd this year and the food hall there was full of Welsh produce and different small local companies and local individuals producing cheese, wine and ice cream from Wales, and of course all of the branding had the union jack on it and the logo 'Food is Great, Britain and Northern Ireland'. Nothing in the Welsh language and everything in blue, red and white—none of the Welsh colours. There is a challenge there, I think. The Basque Country has managed to overcome that, but we clearly—. I do welcome the intention to have a shop at Cardiff Airport, naturally, but our biggest shop is the Royal Welsh every year, and I think it's disgraceful that that rebranding has happened .
I'll deal with the Royal Welsh point first, Dai. You will have heard me say in other places how disappointed I was to see that, but it was a commercial decision with the Royal Welsh Show, the week before the show. Obviously, our funding goes to the food hall, they receive significant funding from us to have that food hall, which, as you say, was full of fantastic Welsh food and drink producers. The week before the Royal Welsh, the Royal Welsh Show took sponsorship money off DEFRA, and that was why DEFRA had and the UK Government had that branding outside the hall. I'm very keen that it doesn't happen again. Obviously, it's a commercial decision, so I need to—well, my officials are having those discussions. They've already begun. I think they began two weeks after the show, because I was so keen to ensure that doesn't happen again, because I do think that is a big window.
I would say, in relation to the food hall, and probably a lot of you who go to the Royal Welsh wouldn't know about this—upstairs we have what we call the business lounge, and the business lounge is where producers meet up with businesses. So, there was literally—I don't know if Keith's got a figure, but there was millions of pounds-worth of investment. I visited the business lounge every day. I made sure I went there so if there were any large companies who wanted just to speak to me I was able to do that. And I remember there was one company—I think it was B&M—the directors flew in by helicopter to spend a day at the Royal Welsh Show talking to Welsh food producers.
So, whilst, don't get me wrong, I was very annoyed about the sponsorship deal, I just think, well, up in that business lounge, that's where the real business was done. Don't get me wrong, it's great that visitors to the Royal Welsh can go and buy Welsh food and produce. But, upstairs, we literally have millions of pounds-worth of business that will, obviously, last for, hopefully, many years to come. So, I think—as I say, whilst I was very annoyed, let's not be distracted from the fact that we did get a lot of business out of that.
I mentioned that the new strategy—that the consultative work that's been done over the summer has shown the three themes, and one of them is promoting Wales as a food nation. And I think we have done that, but, again, I think we can do it much more. When we come out of Europe, if there is no deal, which I think is looming large, I think there's even more of an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the other UK counties. I think we've got a very good story to tell. I think we all tell it. I don't think it's party political at all—I think we all go out and we sell Wales, and, certainly from a food and drink perspective, that's easy to do.
Thank you, Chair. I was just coming back to some of John's points, actually. I dropped somebody at Cardiff Airport who was going back to Italy over the summer, and he wanted to buy some Welsh cakes, and was quite shocked that there was no produce to buy. So, that was one thing I was going to raise. And also, on the wine tours, I think we need to also make sure that that food offer is there as well. Because, if you go to vineyards in other countries, you get the opportunity for good food and good quality food.
The other point I'd like to touch on was around producers like Tiny Rebel brewery in my constituency, who've done a great job in going out and selling their product around the world. But they also do—. They've done some great work on the digital side, with trying to show people who can't come to Wales—or advertising their brewery tours, for example, digitally. And I was just wondering how we're trying to encourage—how you're working with other departments to try to maximise those sort of benefits.
Thanks, Jayne. I think you're quite right about the airport. And I hadn't thought about it before—it was just when I saw it. And I sat there—as I say, because I think I was in the airport about five hours—and I just watched this constant stream of people coming out carrying large bags. And I just thought, 'We can do that.' We own the airport; it should be really easy to do. And, as I say, the team have worked very hard. And, if they do it by the end of this term, I'll be even more impressed. Just thinking, though, when you said about Welsh cakes, because I was in the Welsh cake shop in the bay yesterday, I'm not sure how we're going to manage—. I was thinking more of bottles and jars and things that have, obviously, longevity. But wouldn't it be great if we could have fresh produce there as well? So, that's another challenge for Keith. He's making a little note now.
And cheese, absolutely. The wine tours—I think you're right about them linking in and, certainly, I visited White Castle Vineyard in August, and we had lovely local cheeses with our wine. And I've noticed, going round—. I opened a fish—. 'Fishmongers' is too small a word, because, again, it was a wholesalers as well; they were providing fish to hotels. This was up in Llandudno. They linked in with the butcher's shop across the way, and, when I went to the butcher's shop across the way, they were selling Halen Môn salt and different jams and chutneys. So, I think the producers themselves are leading on this work. I don't think they need Government to direct them at all. I think they're making up their own networks and they're all very keen to share each other's success. And that goes back to the cluster policy.
So, I think we've got about seven clusters now. We've just started a honey cluster—I always want to say honey nut; a honey cluster—because, again, we're seeing so many honey companies coming forward. You sometimes think—. I had this conversation with Carwyn at one of the cheese producers, who was saying he didn't think you could get any more cheese producers. But there are, and they're being really, really successful. So, I think they're doing that for themselves, if you like, and maybe it's our cluster policy that started it, but they're not just looking to Government; they're going out and doing it.
I've visited Tiny Rebel as well; it's amazing. They're just young people with a passion for brewing and they have just taken it to another level. And I didn't answer John's question, because he was asking about apps. I had a meeting with Julie James not long ago to look at how we can link in with, obviously, her digital transformation. People shop very differently now, don't they, and probably somebody in America would want to buy Tiny Rebel beer. So, it is really important that, again, if they need assistance, we look to doing that through either resources or funding.
Thank you. Politicians are nothing if not parochial—can I also invite you to visit Tomos Watkin, which is a brewery, very similar to Tiny Rebel, in Swansea East? Andrew.
Thank you. Just on the points you talked about the Royal Welsh—I was a bit surprised at the language that you used, Minister. You said 'does not happen again' and that you were annoyed. Last time I looked, we were part of the United Kingdom. I see no problem with us linking up with colleagues in other parts of the United Kingdom to offer a strong presentation, a strong offer. So, was your annoyance because you were outbid for the job, and so the Royal Welsh did have an option that they could choose, either Welsh Government or the UK promotion offer? Because, surely, there should be nothing to be annoyed about about having that joint platform to promote the virtue of Welsh produce and UK produce. And, in particular, the language used—'does not happen again'—what do you propose to do to make sure it doesn't happen again, then? Because I'd very much like to see greater collaboration.
Okay. Well, we come from very different sides, then, because I don't want to see the union jack all over the Royal Welsh Show food hall, to be perfectly frank. You wouldn't see it—. England don't have a show now, but I'm sure you wouldn't see it in England.
Yes. At the highland show, they were kitted out the same way in their food hall.
Yes, well, that's a matter for them. I, personally, want to see the Welsh dragon all over the food hall. Were we outbid? No, I don't think it was a consideration, was it? I think they just did this deal. So, no, it's nothing—. My annoyance has nothing to do with being outbid. 'It doesn't happen again': I don't want to see the union jack on the food hall. I'll be perfectly frank with you; I do not want to see that. Now, it could be that they might say, 'Well, you will need to fill that sponsorship gap' and they would need money, and I will have to look at that within my budget. So, that's what I mean by, 'It doesn't happen again.' But, no, I'm sorry, I don't agree with you.
So, it is Welsh Government policy not to see the union jack on the food hall at the Royal Welsh Show.
Yes, but you are the Minister representing the Welsh Government here—
My view is that we do not want to see the union jack on the Royal Welsh Show food hall. For me, that, as Dai said, is our big shop—it's our big shop to the world, and I don't want to see—.
I'm sorry you find it concerning. I don't think the majority of people would share that concern, because I think we have fantastic food and drink producers who can absolutely fill that hall. We don't need anybody from outside of Wales.
And the winter fair, the winter fair that's coming up in November, I think they have had so many bids from Welsh food and drink producers they don't need to look outside of Wales.
I think we've really exhausted that, and I don't want—[Interruption.] I don't want to open that up because we'll still be here at 12.30 p.m. discussing it.
This is to the script now. Cabinet Secretary, after 11 years, I've seen various reincarnations of public sector procurement and the benefit that public sector procurement can bring, obviously, using the Welsh pound to buy local produce. What is your vision, as the Cabinet Secretary, for public sector procurement here in Wales going forward?
So, I mentioned in my opening answers to Mike that I think there's a lot more we can do, and because we won't have EU regulations as much around procurement—we will have other restrictions, I know—I think this is an opportunity. So, coming out of Brexit, when we're desperately looking for opportunities, I think this is a big opportunity. So, one of the areas we've been looking at is around how we can help—as I said, make it easier for the procurers to procure. So, I remember, when I was health Minister—hospitals, I did a big piece of work around food in hospitals because, to me, it was like medicine. And we had a general menu—I don't know if you remember all this—but we couldn't have Welsh lamb because it was too expensive and, obviously, you've got to get value for money, and I absolutely understand that and about every pound being spent wisely of public money, et cetera, but it seemed wrong to me that we couldn't do that. So, I suppose, part of my vision is now to make sure that we make that much easier.
One of the pieces of work we're doing, which I was hoping to announce probably next month, when I do a statement in the Chamber—. We're looking at—. You'll be aware of a large-scale project going on up on Anglesey, and it's about having one place for the company to go to to procure food. So, Tim's just said—we all, or a lot of the public, go to a supermarket because we don't want to go to 15 shops. So, it's about the same sort of principle for people who are procuring. So, that's what I would like to see—contractors used more, wholesalers used more—because, sometimes, small companies don't want to take part in public procurement. So, I suppose it's about getting the best use of Welsh food and drink, and I think that's going to be even more important as we come out of Europe.
Wasn't that the idea behind, obviously, the national procurement framework, which Mark Drakeford the Cabinet Secretary has done a pause-and-review exercise over, in that there's this one-stop shop that purchasers could go to from the public sector? And, sadly, that didn't turn out to be as efficient as we'd all have liked it to have been. So, there's a lot of scepticism, is there not, from purchasers out there about some of these models the Government brings forward. I appreciate that you can't give us much meat on the bones of this announcement, because I presume that there is still work to be done on it, but how confident are you that what you're looking to do, which makes sense, will be any better than the framework?
I think you're right about the NPS. I know it's only, what, five years old, but I think Mark's right to have a look, because I don't think we've seen the efficiencies that we want. I mentioned—that was before the NPS, actually—about the Welsh lamb in hospitals, but I don't think we've—again, pardon the pun—sweated it enough. I think there is a lot more that we can do. So, we are developing plans around the transformation of procurement, so obviously I'll be working closely with Mark, but I think another aspect that we need to do at a higher level is work with stakeholders and find out why they haven't engaged with the NPS in the way that we would have wanted them to as a Government.
Is it not true that, if you want smaller companies to bid, you make small contracts; if you want big companies to bid, you set big contracts, and it would exclude all the small companies because it's only the big companies that can even bid? Isn't that one of the problems that we have with procurement, that we set very big contracts, which minimises the number of contractors, especially those in Wales, who are able to bid?
I agree. I agree, and I think that is part of the work that we need to do now, taking the NPS forward.
Thanks. I don't know if there's much you can add to what you've been saying about the NPS. How do you think it will increase public procurement of food and benefit Welsh suppliers and the public as a whole, and can you give us any information about the time frame for implementing the changes?
You're probably right; I think I just answered those questions. I want to see more Welsh food and drink being used, for instance, in our schools. It's the time of year of food festivals, and, again, I'm very fortunate to be able to—. I'm opening Brecon on Saturday; I was at Wrexham food festival a week last Saturday, where I had a conversation with the dinner ladies—that's what I call them; you know, the catering staff from the schools—and they were telling me that, in Wrexham certainly, they were procuring a lot more local food and drink. So, it can be done. So, again, it's working with the public sector to make sure that you can do that. I remember there was a very large company—Mike referred to large companies and small companies—up in the Rhondda when I was health Minister. I remember visiting there to look at how we could procure more Welsh food and drink for our hospitals from there. I think it is about getting the balance between wholesalers and contractors, but it does seem—. I would say that the information I've had over the last couple of years is that small companies don't see the value, because perhaps we make it too difficult. I go back to what I was saying at the beginning; we need to make it easier for procurers.
Yes. Minister, what would you make of the comment of the chair of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, which I think you referred to, that
'businesses don't see public procurement as an accolade'?
I think he was speaking from the perspective of the whole food and drink sector, and it goes back to what I was saying before about large producers and small producers and, I suppose, also high-value producers. So, again, I've been very fortunate to meet some very high-value producers across Wales who want to see their produce, for instance, in, again, high-end hotels or maybe with airlines. I can think of, say, Radnor Preserves, who—I hope I've got this right—. I think she's got a contract with, I want to say Emirates, but I know that's wrong, but you know what I'm saying—the sort of very high level. Now, perhaps she wouldn't want to look at procurement, from her perspective. So, I think it's about finding the wholesalers and the contractors who do, and I think probably that's what he meant.
But would you say, though, that there's a confidence issue when it comes to public procurement from the business end because of some of the—and I'll use the word—'brutal' experiences people have had regarding the framework, where they've gone through the accreditation process, they've put themselves through it, they've thought they've got in the right space to be able to bid, they wasted a lot of time and money doing that, and so, there is a confidence issue from businesses now to come back into the public sector and start that procurement process again, then?
I'm sure that's the case for some. I wouldn't say it's a general view, but I'm sure there are people who've been damaged by the process. And, again, I go back to—it's about making it easy to procure. So, I don't think you're wrong in saying that that doesn't affect some people.
One other point, if I may, I'm not sure whether you're familiar, or any of the colleagues you have with you are familiar—the French Parliament passed the French agricultural Bill recently. You talked about procurement in your opening remarks, and one of the benefits that you see of coming out of the European Union will be a freeing up of procurement rules that govern—. Well, France is very much a member of the European Union and, in the Bill that they've just passed, they have a goal to have 50 per cent public procurement of French produce by 2022, and 20 per cent being organic of that 50 per cent. So, there's an ability to do that. Will you be looking to do the same sort of legislative process in the Bill that I think you've indicated you're going to be bringing through around public procurement, given that there are good examples to show that you can use procurement practices in law?
I wasn't aware of the French agricultural Bill. I'm looking at Tim—did you know about that about procurement? Yes, but certainly, it's something we can look at. I'd be very happy to look at it.
Whilst we're looking at tourism, I just want to bring us briefly back, and on to pollinators particularly. Since your remit spreads into biodiversity, it might be a really useful idea to link those two things as well, so it's more than just a trail of food, but it feeds back to the idea that you need to look after the land that looks after the producers as well. So, that was an aside.
Moving on, when we're talking about procurement, we need to be certain that those people who are dealing with procurement have the relevant skills to do that. So, I want to ask, when you're considering your new policy on procurement, if, running alongside that, you're also considering the skills necessary for those people who are dealing with procurement.
Thank you, Joyce. I think the point you make about looking after the land and biodiversity is absolutely crucial, and, certainly, the majority, of course, of our farmers look after their land, and our land managers. And, I have to say, an area where I think we can do more and we haven't is around horticulture. I went to a very large horticultural farm—I'm not sure that that's the right expression—in Carmarthenshire, I think it was, certainly west Wales, in August. And the way that they rotate their fields and the level of detail that they look after their land with was really amazing, and I would like to have more of a focus on horticulture, going forward, with the new policy.
In relation to skills, I think you're quite right. I think it was the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board that we were referring to before, they organised a big skills conference—well, they did two, actually; they did one in south Wales and one in north Wales. The last one was in north Wales in Llandudno. There are something like 250,000 people who work in the food and drink sector in Wales, if we take everybody, from producers to waitresses to chefs—everybody. It's about 250,000 people, so, a very diverse range of skills are needed, and the skills conferences were aimed at years 10, 11 and 12 young people. You could see that they hadn't realised the scale of jobs that were available within the food and drink sector. Obviously, procurement is one area, so we are looking at it already. Again, once the new policy is taken forward by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, I'd be very happy to have those discussions with him.
Could you confirm that data on public sector spend on food will be published on a biennial basis, and who will publish the data?
If only all questions were that easy. [Laughter.] Joyce Watson, again.
I'd like, Minister, for you to confirm when a consultation on the new waste strategy will come forward, how it will differ from its predecessor, and whether it will include your previously announced target of halving food waste by 2025.
The last point first—yes, it will. This is obviously a piece of work that Hannah Blythyn, Minister for Environment, is taking forward, but we do aim to consult on a new waste strategy next spring—spring 2019. We're currently evaluating the current strategy, 'Towards Zero Waste', to see where we can identify possible areas for change. We also need to take account of the new EU circular economy package. So, there are new definitions of municipal waste, for instance.
We've got a really good story to tell around waste. I was out at the Global Climate Action summit in San Francisco last month, and it was just incredible—the success that we've had. I was able to share a platform with people whose jaws dropped when they heard the level of our municipal waste—that now it's 64 per cent. That is going to get harder to do, because I suppose we've had the low-lying fruit; we've worked really hard to do this. And the mayor of Milan was on a panel with me, and he asked what did I think was the biggest thing that we'd done to get our recycling rates up to 64 per cent, and I said there were a couple of things. There was leadership, and I think Welsh Government have shown incredible leadership over the last decade in relation to recycling. I think the money—when I add it up, we've put £1 billion into infrastructure, supporting local authorities. Of course, you've got to work with the public—you would not be able to do it if the public didn't want to do it. So, I think those are the three big things—leadership, the funding and taking the public with you. It is going to be harder, I think, to get that. Whereas we've seen jumps of 2 per cent, 3 per cent every year, we're not going to see that, because it is going to be more difficult to reach the people—. You're always going to have a group of people who don't want to recycle, and it's great to see local authorities going out and engaging with the local population, but they are going to have to do that.
Again, you mentioned food waste, and I say, yes, we are going to have that target of halving food waste by 2025. And, again, I think 99 per cent of houses now can recycle their food waste. We came from such a low base. I think when devolution began, we were near the bottom, if not at the bottom, of EU recycling levels. We've come such a long way, and it's such a great story to tell.
We're talking about food waste, and I've got a memory that it was something like £17 million-worth of food being thrown away, in recycling—whatever you want to call it—from houses. At the same time, we've got a situation where people are going to food banks. You know, those two don't, somehow, fit together to me. So, I think it would be really, really good if we could help people to use the food that they have effectively, and also I think it feeds into—no pun intended—labelling and people understanding 'best before', and throwing stuff away that they could eat but they don't believe they can eat.
I think you're right. I was brought up in a house where my father—it didn't matter what it said on the label about best before, we ate it. I think you're right; I think perhaps people put too much emphasis on that. I attended—gosh, a long time ago—Cardiff University when they were doing a piece of work around labelling. So, I think you're right—I think it was in one of our food innovation centres. I think there is more we can do around that.
Again, I think having those caddies where you put your food waste in does make you think about how much food you are wasting, and I hope that, again, will make people think about how they can use that food, rather than just putting it in that caddy. As you say, it's the cost—it's billions of pounds. Again, I think the one thing, when I look back at this portfolio—it's milk. I hate throwing milk away, having been on farms and watching cows being milked, whereas there was always a bit—. Not any more, I will never throw milk away now because I just see the work that's gone into producing that pint of milk, and I wish everybody could go on farms and see that. But I think you're right; in this day and age, when so many people are using food banks, it's just—well, it's appalling.
But, we do need to do a piece of work around labelling. I think you're absolutely right. Certainly, we've had funding from the EU's transition fund, and perhaps that's something we can look at as we come out of Europe and we've got that bit more freedom to do that.
Just briefly on the labelling point, Minister. Michael Gove has made various announcements over the last week, and also leading up to his commitment to bring legislation forward on food labelling in particular, and, obviously, there have been some tragic news stories as well in the press. But, just building on the recycling argument, I presume this falls into consumer law. So, as a Government, you don't have much responsibility or ability to change this. But what interaction are you having with the UK Government to take on the points that Joyce has raised? Because the better informed the consumer is, the better choices they can make, then, and there is going to be change around food labelling. So, has there been interaction to date with UK Government, and are you able to give us a taste—excuse the pun—of that level of dialogue that you've had to date?
I have more interaction, and my officials have more interaction, with the UK Government than any other ministerial portfolio, for obvious reasons. So, yes, these are obviously part of our discussions. You'll be aware I meet Michael Gove on a six-weekly basis, and at every quadrilateral, obviously, we focus on different things, but labelling is certainly something that officials are having discussions on. Because you're quite right: there has been a particularly tragic case, and it is morally correct that we are able to help people understand the labelling in a much better way than they do at the current time.
Could I maybe invite some of the officials to say, then, with the Chair's prerogative, because you said that it's officials who are having these discussions—
—whether there is progress to getting some uniformity around labelling and what progress we might see in that area?
On the very specific, most recent case around labelling of ingredients and allergens, we are—. As you say, Mr Gove has said that he wants to take action. We are talking with colleagues in DEFRA about the evidence and what they are thinking about. It is a devolved area of policy, so we would have to legislate in parallel in Wales, should we choose to do so. But we are talking this week with DEFRA about the evidence and the sort of mechanisms that might work to be able to ensure that we can understand and reflect on the same issues and, where appropriate, ensure that that legislation is aligned.
This is exactly the sort of thing, post Brexit, where the frameworks will come in, where these issues are devolved policy choices, but where, clearly, a lot of alignment, both for consumer understanding, is helpful, and also for business.
I'm interested in the commercial sector, Cabinet Secretary, and how you are working with them. I think we're familiar with the food collections now for household food waste, and some of the bigger players, like the supermarkets, are quite good at linking with food banks, and also anaerobic digesters, but there's a whole host of smaller players in the food industry. I don't like waste. I think, you know, a certain generation, we were brought up in the era when food was more expensive and tended to be valued more and not thrown away. When you eat out, for example, you see an awful lot of food waste—you know, eat as much as you like, and people piling up their plates and leaving it virtually untouched—and I just wonder, you know, at that level, below the big players, whether we're linking with the food sector to do something about that waste.
So, I think there's a piece of work to be done, and with producers, around packaging, as that's a big part of waste as well. I don't think it's just food. And I think you just said something very pertinent: I don't think people value food in the way that we should. You're quite right. Our generation—we didn't have the choice, for instance. I was in the supermarket last year and counted something like 85 varieties of cereal. Well, I'm sorry, I don't think we need 85 varieties of cereal. And because we have that choice, we don't value it.
At a commercial level, I certainly haven't had discussions. I'm looking at Keith—I don't know whether we've had, at official level, in relation to that.
Diolch, Gadeirydd. Jest i symud ymlaen i'r adran nesaf, a hynny yw'r dyfodol ynglŷn â gwarchod enwau bwyd, fe fyddwch chi'n gwybod, yn amlwg, am gynllun enw bwyd gwarchodedig yr Undeb Ewropeaidd—fel cig oen Cymru, cig eidion Cymru. Mae yna res ohonyn nhw yn y fan hyn: Halen Môn, ham Caerfyrddin, cregyn gleision Conwy, caws Caerffili traddodiadol—enwau fel yna, wrth gwrs. So, beth sy'n mynd i ddigwydd? Pa gymorth sydd ar gael rŵan? Mae hyn yn rhannol ynglŷn â'r busnes brandio ac mae'n rhannol ynglŷn â beth rydym ni'n ei gynnig i ymwelwyr i Gymru ynglŷn â bwydydd sy'n benodol Gymreig. Mae cadw'r enwau yma a chadw'r tarddiad yn hanfodol bwysig, ond, wrth gwrs, cynllun Undeb Ewropeaidd ydy hwn. Rydym ni'n gadael Ewrop, i fod. Pa gymorth sydd i'r dyfodol i warchod yr enwau yma?
Thank you, Chair. Moving on to the next section, and that is the future in terms of protecting food names, you will know, obviously, about the protected geographical indicator scheme of the EU—such as Welsh lamb and beef. There's a list of them here: Halen Môn, Carmarthen ham, Conwy mussels, traditional Caerphilly cheese—those kinds of names, of course. So, what's going to happen? What support is now available? This is partly to do with this branding process and partly about what we offer visitors to Wales in terms of foods that are Welsh-specific foods. Keeping these names and keeping the origin is very important, but, of course, this is an EU scheme. We're supposed to be leaving Europe. What support will there be in the future to protect these names?
You're quite right, these are very important. The list of companies that you just read out, I know how much they value having a protected food name. I have to say, we've managed to get quite a few through the pipeline. They were already there and they have been moved through at a pace, so I think we've now got a family of about 15 protected food names. There are very regular discussions between us and the UK Government about how we're obviously going to have to transfer the EU law into the UK. We want the protected food name system to be sustained. You don't have to be in Europe to have those names. I know there are companies in Thailand, for instance, that have protected food names. So, there are some details that we need to conclude.
One of my big concerns at the moment—and I haven't, unfortunately, had a satisfactory answer to this, and I was hoping I would before I came to committee—is that I'm concerned that the EU could legislate to stop us using them. I've raised it in quadrilateral and haven't had a satisfactory answer, mainly because I think they don't know, not because they're not telling us. But I also attended something called the ministerial forum, which my colleague Rebecca Evans attends on behalf of Welsh Government. It's chaired by Chloe Smith, one of the constitutional Ministers, and it discussed agri-food two weeks last Monday. So, I went to it because it was discussing agri-food and I raised it there. Again, I asked for a 'yes' or 'no' answer and I haven't had it. So, I am very keen to pursue that because I think it's really important that that does not happen—that they don't legislate for us not to be able to use them, because I do think we should be able to use them.
I was also a bit concerned to hear anecdotally that it's being used as a bargaining chip in relation to Brexit, because, again, I think it's far too important for that. But we do provide support to producers to be able to access that, and we will continue to do it. We've only got six months now, but we are trying to get those through the pipeline, as I say, and we have had quite a lot of success. I think there was only eight when I came into portfolio two years ago and it's now 15.
Jest ar gefn hynny, wrth gwrs, yn naturiol, mae gwarchod yr enw yn hanfodol bwysig achos mae'r busnesau wedi elwa yn syfrdanol o'r enw bwyd gwarchodedig. Ond, hefyd, i fynd nôl i'r faner a fydd ar unrhyw fwydydd rŵan, a oes yna beryg y byddwn ni hefyd yn colli baner Cymru oddi ar y bwydydd yma a bydd rhaid cael baner â llun Andrew R.T. Davies arno fe fel rhywbeth amgen? Er, rydym ni yn trio gwerthu'r bwyd ar ddiwedd y dydd. Fe fyddwn i'n licio gweld baner Cymru ar fwydydd Cymru, nid baner jac yr undeb. Nid wyf i'n gwybod a oes gyda chi unrhyw sylw ar hynny hefyd.
Just on the back of that, of course, naturally, protecting the name is vital because the businesses have profited astonishingly from the protected food name. But, going back to the badge that will be on any food, is there a risk that we will lose the Welsh badge on that food and we will have to have a badge with a picture of Andrew R.T. Davies as an alternative? Although, we are trying to sell the food, ultimately. I'd like to see the Welsh flag on Welsh food, rather than the union jack. I don't know whether you have any comments on that too.
I absolutely agree with you. I want to see the Welsh flag. I remember sitting in a stakeholder group and somebody saying to me, 'Well, I suppose we could just have the one', and I said, 'No, sorry, we need the Welsh dragon.' So, I think officials are very aware of my views on that. And again, talking to producers, some of them aren't as hung up about it as I am or you are, and I will absolutely accept that. Some of them have worked very closely with DEFRA and Food is Great in the UK. So, obviously, we have to listen to their views as well. But, from where I'm coming from, I think the Welsh dragon is very much recognised. It's a massive selling point. People are far more interested in the provenance of their food than they used to be, and Wales is know for its high-quality food and drink.
Fe wnaf i symud ymlaen i'r cwestiwn nesaf a symud ymlaen at daliadau uniongyrchol i ffermwyr. Efallai fyddwn ni ddim yn cytuno ar y pwynt yma, ond y cyd-destun, wrth gwrs—gan fod y rhan fwyaf o fy nheulu i'n ffarmio—yw mai ar rywbeth fel 5 y cant o dirwedd Cymru y gellir codi cnydau, ar 5 y cant o dirwedd yr Alban y gellir codi cnydau, a'r un peth yng Ngogledd Iwerddon. Ond mae 55 y cant o dirwedd Lloegr yn gallu codi cnydau. Felly, mae'r dirwedd yn wahanol, mae'r amaethyddiaeth yn wahanol.
Ac, wrth gwrs, yn nhermau taliadau uniongyrchol, rydym ni'n sôn am beth sy'n mynd i ddigwydd wedi Brexit rŵan, ac rydw i'n gwybod eich bod chi allan yn ymgynghori ac ati, ond rydym ni yn cael ffermwyr—a ddim jest ffermwyr; pobl yn gyffredinol yn ein hardaloedd gwledig ni—yn mynegi pryder ynglŷn â'r dyfodol. Rydym ni'n sôn bod angen sefydlogrwydd, achos mae ffarmio yn fusnes teuluol, lleol sydd hefyd yn cyfrannu'n sylweddol i'r gymdeithas leol, ddim jest i'r ffermwyr yn unigol. Wrth gwrs, mae'r taliadau sengl yma yn cario ymlaen yn Ewrop, maen nhw'n cario ymlaen yn yr Alban a Gogledd Iwerddon, sydd â'r un un dirwedd a'r un un math o amaethyddiaeth â ni—yn ôl i'r 5 y cant yna. Wedyn, pam rydym ni wedi dilyn, felly, Lloegr, sydd â thirwedd amaethyddol hollol wahanol?
I'll move on to the next question and to direct payments for farmers. Maybe we won't agree on this point, perhaps, but the context, naturally—given that the majority of my family are farmers—is that crops can be grown on something like 5 per cent of the Welsh landscape, 5 per cent of the landscape in Scotland, and a similar figure in Northern Ireland. But crops can be grown on 55 per cent of the English landscape. So, the landscape is different and the agriculture is different.
And, of course, in terms of direct payments, we're talking about what's going to happen post Brexit, and I know that you're out to consultation on that, but we are having farmers—and not just farmers but people in general in our rural areas—voicing concern about the future. We are talking about the fact that we need stability, because farming is a local, family business that makes a significant contribution to the local community, not just to the farmers individually. O course, the single payments are carrying on in Europe, and in Scotland and Northern Ireland, which have the same kind of landscape and the same kind of agriculture as us—back to that 5 per cent. So, why have we followed England, which has a very different agricultural landscape?
Okay. Well, we haven't followed England. I think that's the first thing to put on record. So, 'Brexit and our land' has been brought forward following really detailed discussion with stakeholders and you will have heard me talk many times about the round-table stakeholder group, which was set up and met for the first time within a fortnight of the referendum vote, back in June 2016. We were way ahead of the game, I think, so we certainly haven't followed England.
It is about getting a policy that's right for Wales. And I have to say—and I think I answered this to Andrew yesterday in his questions to me—the farming unions, obviously, sit on the round-table group, but I have lots of meetings with the unions, and neither of them were surprised at what came out in 'Brexit and our land'. It is a consultation—I want to make it very clear that it is a consultation—and we will certainly review all the responses we get, and, please, encourage everybody to put their views forward. It doesn't close until 30 October.
What we've said is, 'We're going to get away from direct payments—we are going to have these two schemes.' Now, the first thing to say is, I still don't know what funding we're going to get from the UK Government, and that's out of my control in a lot of respects, and I don't think the Prime Minister's interview last week really reassured us that we are going to get that funding. But we were promised we would not lose a penny and, at the moment, we are holding the UK Government to account about that.
So, we get £333 million, which, as you say, has gone out in direct payments. Some farms get 81 per cent of their income from direct payments. I think that tells us something. I think it tells us that the productivity is not where we would want it to be. I don't want any farmers to go bankrupt. I don't want to see any farmers lose their farms. I'm asked that question—no, of course I don't. The whole point is to keep farmers on the land, farming. They're the ones best placed to do that. So, this is what we think is the best policy for our farmers and for the future.
But, as I say, it is out to consultation, and we'll certainly look at ensuring the scheme—. Again, we're down to two schemes: the economic resilience scheme, which is much more focused on food production than England—I can't see a lot of food production in their consultation—and the public goods scheme. One of the things about the public goods scheme—and, again, I want to make this point—is that farmers can apply for both schemes. Now, at the moment, a lot of our farmers are not getting paid for the public goods that they bring forward. I don't think that's right. So, that's where we're coming from with the consultation paper.
Just very briefly, Minister. You drew on the questions that I put to you yesterday in the Chamber there. Could I just seek clarification on the first question that I put to you? Because it's been put to me over the last couple of weeks that the Government did seek legal opinion on whether some of the proposals within the consultation were compatible with WTO rules. You shook your head in the Chamber in agreement with that, but could we just—
You nodded. Could we just have confirmation that that opinion was sought and that the consultation proposals—and I appreciate that they're consultation proposals—are compatible with WTO rules?
Thank you, Chair. You've touched on it a little bit already, but can you give us some more details about the proposed economic resilience scheme and how you see that would support and increase the processing capacity in Wales?
This is, again, a question I got yesterday from Andrew. I think increasing processing capacity needs to be a little bit more market driven than Government driven. The economic resilience scheme, I've said, is about supporting our farmers to be more competitive, to increase their productivity, which we haven't seen over the past couple of decades. I think the important thing is that we need a market for what our farmers are producing, and my concern, coming out of the single market, for instance, is: where are those markets going to be? Also, farmers need to, obviously, produce food that market wants in terms of quality, and I think any desired increase in processing capacity—and I think we do need to make sure that we protect the processing capacity that we have—. I am concerned, and, again, my answer yesterday to Andrew was around the number of EU nationals that work in our processing plants, and I referred to the one I went to in Merthyr, where 80 per cent of their staff are EU nationals. They are seeing a lot of them leave now because they don't feel welcome, for instance. How do you make those sorts of jobs attractive to the local population? So, I think there's a lot of concern around that also.
Going back to the economic resilience scheme, as I say, there is a focus on food production because people are very concerned that we weren't looking at food production. Back in Feburary, when I was at the NFU conference in Birmingham, I brought forward five principles that we would then take into any new agricultural land policy, and I made sure that food production was very high, and not that they were in a numerical order, but I thought, if people thought that, it was really important to have them near the top.
Great. And could you give us an update on your discussions with UK Government on the process for agreeing regulations relating to the WTO agreement on agriculture?
Yes. So, you'll be aware that we've sought powers from the UK Agriculture Bill, which will be used as transition powers until we bring forward our own agricultural Bill sometime in this term of Government. So, there are two areas where we're not completely happy with the UK Agriculture Bill. One is around the red meat levy and one is around WTO. So, those discussions are ongoing. I raised it at the last quadrilateral meeting we had, on 17 September. The boundaries of what's reserved and what's devolved around WTO are not as black and white as other areas, so, as I say, we are talking at a ministerial level and an official level to make sure that we're not just consulted; that we really are able to bring forward our views and that our views are reflected on.
Can you provide an update on discussions around including powers to redistribute the red meat levy in the UK Agriculture Bill and whether the UK Government has agreed to bring forward an amendment to this effect?
I haven't had assurance that the Government are going to bring forward a Government amendment. Just stepping back, as I said, there are two areas where we're not completely happy—one was Jayne's question around WTO and the other was the red meat levy. So, this is the first agricultural Bill we've had for decades. So, this is a fantastic opportunity, I think—or I thought—to put it on the face of the Bill. So, I had a bilateral, actually, with Michael Gove around this, and his first indication was it wouldn't be on the face of the Bill but there would be a backbench amendment. I don't think that's good enough. I think it really needs to be a Government amendment. So, I raised it with him at the quadrilateral. As I say, I had a telephone conversation with him as well. I've now followed it up with a letter, but, unfortunately, I can't give you that assurance at the moment.
Just taking the conversation a little further, given that the DEFRA Minister has indicated there might likely be a backbench amendment rather than a Government amendment, is he sympathetic, when talking to him about the issue around livestock travelling into England to be processed, hence the haemorrhaging of levy income at the moment, or has he alluded to a different form of amendment in redressing the levy across the whole of the United Kingdom? Is this likely to be an amendment that's specific to the Welsh situation where there is a haemorrhaging into the English processing sector, or is it a wider reform of the processing levy?
He hasn't given me an indication. I think he's thinking about that. I think he is sympathetic, I have to say. I think Michael Gove wants to rectify this because it is completely unfair. You'll be aware we've got the interim sort of arrangement at the moment. Scotland are very keen to see it as well, so I would think it will be a UK one, but I can certainly—. Chair, as I said, I have written to the Secretary of State, and I'd be very happy to share the letter with committee. But I'm very grateful, in fairness, to Andrew who, yesterday, did say he would put some pressure on as well. So, I think we all recognise that it's something that's just gone on for too long.
This committee may, at about half past 12, also want to send a letter on behalf of this committee.
That's only a guess, but I think this committee will want to do that later. Okay. John.
David Rutley has been appointed as a Minister at DEFRA. He's been described as the food supplies Minister in the media, and it's about Brexit-readiness. I think his appointment has been welcomed by the food and drink industry, and I just wonder how you'd respond to that appointment. In terms of the issues that he will be dealing with, are we well covered in Wales in that respect?
Yes, I met David Rutley—he came to the last quadrilateral that I referred to on 17 September, so I think his title is 'food and animal welfare', so, obviously, it might not be in my title, but it's certainly in my responsibilities so, probably, I'm the food supplies Minister as well, if you look at it from that—. I noticed that it was in the media; I think it was The Guardian that first mooted that.
We've worked very hard, I think, as a Government in relation to Brexit—and officials too; I must pay tribute to officials, because it's just like another level of work on top of day-to-day business. I think, as a Government, we've been very clear, we've been very consistent in our approach to Brexit. I think the First Minister has been very prescient in some of his remarks and his suggestions and his policies around Brexit. I rarely go to a meeting when I don't talk about Brexit; it's just not known. I can't remember the last meeting I had when we didn't discuss Brexit on some level. Right across my portfolio, it's just everywhere—in my regulations, in my legislation, in my funding. So, I'm very happy that we're covering off everything that David Rutley does.
Thank you for that. I don't know what we used to talk about before Brexit.
Also, the £3.2 million you announced for the EU transition fund—I wonder if you could give us a bit more detail, particularly around the £700,000 for sustainable brand values for food products and the £96,000 to support the possible need for export health certification.
Okay. So, my portfolio's done very well from EU transitional funds. So, in the first tranche I think we had four schemes, and the £3.2 million you referred to—I think it was last Thursday I announced that. And we've got another five schemes. Again, I think the transition fund as a whole—the £50 million that the First Minister announced has been very welcomed. Again, it's about Brexit-readiness, which is a horrible word, but I think it's about helping our companies be prepared for when we leave the European Union.
So, there are five schemes that we announced. The £700,000 for sustainable brand values—that's work that Keith is leading on. So, again, it's about differentiating those Welsh food products in a changing market. So, it's going to be over two phases. This is the first phase, and I know officials are working right across Government, actually including tourism, for the next phase that we hope to get funding for. So, it's about looking at the food and drink exports from Wales that are threatened by any potential Brexit outcomes, obviously trade barriers and non-trade barriers or free trade outcomes as well because we know there are discussions now around free trade agreements. The export health certification—Christianne's leading on that. So, at the moment, animal product that goes to the EU doesn't need that certification; it's only if it goes outside. So, we are anticipating that those certificates could be needed for our animal product that then goes to the EU, so that funding is again—we're going to see a significant increase, I think, in the number of certificates that are needed, so that funding will go towards that.
Just on the two questions that just came to you, Minister, you've indicated that the department's very involved, and not a day goes by where you're not dealing with Brexit issues, especially on animal health, plant health and exports et cetera. How is the department coping with the increased workload? I believe Welsh Government recently announced an extra 50 officials—I think I'm correct in saying that—or just over 50 officials. Perhaps there's a reallocation, rather than additional. Has the department seen any increase in capacity to deal with this input that you're having to deal with on a day-to-day basis?
I'm very glad you asked this question. I think we've asked a huge amount of our officials across Government and they've really all stepped up to the plate. If I tell you that DEFRA has had 1,300 new officials and I had none, initially—they had 1,300. That tells you who is getting rich out of Brexit—lawyers and civil servants. Sorry. [Laughter.] So, I have to say, since Tim came into post, he has done an amazing job at accessing additional staff for us. You mentioned 50; it was actually 35 that I found out of my own budget. So, they were new posts and we've nearly got all those 35 in. The Government actually just recently announced, I think it was 192—
You didn't do justice to the number. [Laughter.] We're having 192 and out of that 192, I'm having 144, which tells you that it's my portfolio that's obviously got the most work around Brexit. So, we are having, as I say, 192, and I'll be having 144 and that recruitment process will be starting soon.
The other area where we need more is legal. So, again, you think of somewhere in my portfolio like fisheries—incredibly complex, and we are really desperate for more lawyers. I understand there are 19 new legal jobs out for advert now. So, you can see where the gaps are, but certainly, my department, I think, on top of the day job, they're all doing Brexit as well. But you make a really serious point that the UK Government, DEFRA, have seen 1,300. They've taken over half the Home Office now as well, space-wise.
They've got a lovely lift in that office. [Laughter.].
Could I ask, Minister, that you provide a note to the committee about that—how it's all fitting together, that increase in capacity? You know, 144 new officials are a lot of officials. Are they permanent officials or is it just temporary capacity?
But is it possible to get an understanding of how that's going to help the department deal with these huge areas of responsibility that will be repatriated? Because I do think it's important, as scrutineers, that we understand how the department can respond and react.
Absolutely. I'd be very happy to do that. As I say, the 35 that I found out of my own budget—I think we've got the majority of them in, so I can certainly do that now. The 144, as I say, we haven't got in post yet. But if you think about when we come out of Brexit, for instance—I'll go back to fisheries—we are going to inherit the common fisheries policy, so the level of work that's going to be needed to do that—. That's where we need more staff to help. Because, alongside that, I've also got the day-to-day business of running fisheries, but we want to be ready for the opportunities that are going to come for Welsh fisheries. So, I can send you the initial note, if that's okay, around the 35—
Well, yes, whatever information, to give us an understanding of that capacity.
It will be quite interesting, considering all things are going to be wonderful after we've left the EU and we're going to have all this freedom with what we do—. It seems to me that there will be a cost to all these appointments and I would find it quite enlightening to know what the cost is and where else that money might have been spent, rather than in the red tape that we're going to have to sign off in terms of the rules, because that was one of the arguments. So, I would be very very interested, and I'm sure other people would be too, about the real cost, now, of implementing our own policies.
I think Joyce raises a very important point and you will have heard Mark Drakeford say in the statement on the draft budget in the Chamber on Tuesday just how much more money we would've had. I think, when I said, 'You can see who is getting rich from Brexit', it was a bit tongue in cheek, but, seriously, 1,300 extra officials—and that's just in DEFRA. We obviously have to have extra officials; it is a huge, huge cost to the country, and I don't think people understand that. I heard Andrew shout 'Taking back control'. Well, I think at the end of this, when we come out of Europe, everybody's going to be disappointed, because the people who believe we're taking back control—we're not—and, equally, people like the majority of people in this room, I would say—passionate remainers—we're going to be disappointed, too.
I don't know if Tim wants to say anything about cost. Is that what you were saying? I couldn't hear you, sorry.
Obviously, there's additional money provided to Whitehall departments by the Treasury. We've had a consequential budget allocation as a result of that, so this doesn't affect the pre-existing Welsh Government money, but it's new money that has come in. But, yes, it's money that, in principle, could have been spent on something else had we not had the need.
I just want to pick up the point about new money. No, it's not new money—it's taxpayers' money. It hasn't come from a money tree or anywhere else—it has come from the taxpayer, and at a time of limited budgets for public services. It's not new money—it's redirected money that's now being used in this way. I just couldn't accept what you said in the way you said it.
Tim's right—that consequential we're getting could have been used for public services, for instance.
I await the success of the Welsh sheep farmer who I listened to going on my way to the Royal Welsh Show in 2017, who said coming out of Europe is going to be wonderful because he will now be able to export his sheep to New Zealand. I await to see his success at doing that.
But if we perhaps move on now to general scrutiny, and we've got 18 minutes for that, so if I start off with Dai Lloyd.
Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. Yn eich adroddiad—a diolch am eich adroddiad, Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet—i droi at faterion amgylcheddol, ac rydym yn sôn, yn eich adroddiad bendigedig, am baragraff 17 i baragraff 20: yn benodol, ym mharagraff 20 rydych chi yn ymrwymo i barhau i weithredu egwyddorion amgylcheddol craidd yr Undeb Ewropeaidd ar ôl gadael yr Undeb Ewropeaidd. Roeddwn i jest eisiau holi mewn ychydig bach o fanylder beth yn fanna ydych chi'n ei ddiffinio fel 'egwyddorion amgylcheddol craidd'? A hefyd, rŵan, wrth inni adael Ewrop, wrth gwrs, mae'r cytundeb rhynglywodraethol rhwng y Llywodraeth yn fan hyn a Llywodraeth San Steffan ym Mil ymadael Ewrop—rydym ni i gyd yn gwybod bod y pwerau datganoledig amgylcheddol wedi'u rhewi. Bydd San Steffan yn penderfyn ac fe fyddwn ni'n dilyn, er bod gyda ni ddiffiniadau gwahanol, yn enwedig o dan Ddeddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau'r Dyfodol (Cymru) 2015 ac ati, o beth yn union ydy datblygiad cynaliadwy.
Mae'r sefyllfa'n gymhleth—dyna beth rydw i'n trio ei ddweud—ac rydw i eisiau mynd ar ôl mwy o fanylion, ym mharagraff 20 yn fanna, o'ch diffiniad chi o 'egwyddorion amgylcheddol craidd'. Hynny yw, ai jest y pedwar egwyddor craidd, ynteu a ydych chi'n mynd ar ôl holl egwyddorion yr Undeb Ewropeaidd yn fanna, y mae o leiaf dri ohonyn nhw bellach yn rhoi hawliau i unigolion fynd ar ôl materion amgylcheddol, efallai mewn llys?
Thank you very much, Chair. Looking at the report—and thank you for your report, Cabinet Secretary—turning to environmental issues, and we are talking, in your splendid report, about paragraph 17 to paragraph 20: specifically, in paragraph 20 you commit to continue to implement the core environmental principles of the European Union after Brexit. I just wanted to ask in a bit more detail what in that context do you define as 'core environmental principles'? And also, now, as we leave Europe, there is the inter-governmental agreement between here and Westminster in the withdrawal legislation—we know that those devolved environmental powers have been frozen. Westminster will decide and we will follow, even though we have our own definitions, especially under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and so on, of what sustainable development is.
The situation is complex—that's what I'm trying to say—and I want to go after more detail, in paragraph 20 there, of your definition of 'core environmental principles'. Is it just those four core principles, or are you going after all of the principles of the European Union there, of which at least three now give rights to individuals to pursue environmental issues, perhaps in a court?
Okay. I think, again, as a Government we were very prescient in bringing forward the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 and the future generations Act. So, I've been very clear from the outset that we're not going to see a drop in our environmental standards. Mike referred to a conversation he had with a sheep farmer in 2017, and I remember when I first came into portfolio my very first farm visit, and saying to the farmer, 'Would you mind telling me what you voted?', and he said he voted 'leave', and the reason that he voted 'leave' was because Boris Johnson had told him—well, not him personally, but generally—that he would be able to bury his dead cow on his farm, rather than take it to be disposed of correctly. So, I thought it was very important to set out right from the outset that we would not see a drop in our environmental standards. I think in Wales we're known for our very good environmental standards. So, I want to continue to improve them.
We have made it very clear that we're going to close the environmental governance gap that will be caused by leaving the EU, but that has to fit in with our two pieces of legislation. I referred to the environment Act and the well-being of future generations Act. We've got the EU habitats directive and the wild birds directive; they play a vital part in helping us to meet our international biodiversity obligations, and we're not going to change or alter in any way those protections and safeguards, and we are going to retain special areas of conservation, special protection areas for birds, and also European protected species.
You referred to the inter-governmental agreement, and I think—you know, the Agriculture Bill was probably the first test of that, and I've been very pleased at the way DEFRA have engaged with us. I think that, when you look at Whitehall as a whole, the way that we have engaged has been a very good example to other departments in Whitehall that haven't engaged in the way that we have. So, it's making sure that we—. Because we've got our legislation and we've got our environment Bill, obviously, as the UK Government bring forward their environment Bill, we will have to ensure that devolution is respected, and I think that's what the IGA does, and, as I say, I'm very pleased with the way it's done with the Agriculture Bill.
Thank you very much. On planning, Minister, in your portfolio, you recently suspended, on a temporary basis, paragraph 6.2, which obviously allows developers, where there's not an LDP in place, to obviously promote sites.
As I understand it, that was a temporary suspension. Have you any idea how long that suspension might stay in place, or is the department looking to actually replace that paragraph with a completely new direction under planning policy? Because, given the time frame it is taking local authorities now to develop LDPs—and I think six are up by 2021, and the average LDP takes 10 years now, as opposed to four to six years, historically what they used to be—there's a real issue about the ability to bring sites forward if that type of guidance is not in the planning policy that obviously developers work to. So, could you enlighten us as to the thinking around that, please?
It was temporary, and it is still viewed as being temporary. I'm actually meeting with the housebuilders. On the basis that you can't please all the people all the time, you can imagine half of the—. So, the local authorities were very happy about the disapplication and the housebuilders aren't. So, I think it's about trying to reach some sort of agreement between the two. So, in answer to your question, it was temporary.
I'm trying to remember if it was six months. I think it was six months; it may have been a year. I will have to clarify that, sorry. But, certainly, you're right about LDPs, and we are now seeing—I think we've got 21 LDPs, but some of them haven't got the land supply that's needed. We are seeing a lot of planning applications that are very speculative, and that was one of the reasons for trying—. You know, too many are ending up in appeals, and then local people are turning them down, then they're going to the planning inspectorate and they're getting passed. So, this temporary disapplication of paragraph 6.2 in TAN 1 was done for that reason.
Yes, I just wanted to ask a little bit about community involvement in environmental issues, Cabinet Secretary. We're very lucky to have a green and pleasant land in Wales, but, you know, there are issues around litter, fly-tipping, getting people to take part in recycling, impressive though our statistics are to a great extent. So, the more people value their environment, the better the sense, I think, of pride in place and, indeed, health and well-being coming from a perception that you live in a quality environment. So, you know, things like allotments, community growing, community orchards, I think, quality green space in places where people live in considerable numbers, help foster that sort of Wales that I think we'd all like to see, and I just wonder how Welsh Government policy is supporting the sort of grass roots of community activity around these environmental issues.
And, just finally, in the same regard, Newport food festival takes place this weekend. It's the eighth. It has thousands of visitors, and, obviously, that's really important in terms of connecting local people to local food producers and people becoming genuinely aware of environmental issues. I'm sure you'd like to congratulate Newport on building that food festival over those eight years.
Let's start with the easy one, shall we? I'll certainly be very happy to congratulate Newport. As I said, I'm opening Brecon food festival on Saturday. I think food festivals are just such a success. I've been really happy to financially support some of them—not all of them. My own in Wrexham, for instance, they didn't have any Government funding, but we do put significant funding into food festivals. And I think they're just—you know, it's not just about the food producers that are there, it's about the cooking that goes on outside, people coming together and sharing food and drink in just a really relaxed environment. I don't know how many food festivals we've got now across Wales, but certainly we're seeing them—[Interruption.]—44, which is great. So, I'm sure most constituencies have got one if we've got 44. So, I hope you have a very enjoyable time at Newport.
I think you're right about fly-tipping. Again, it goes back to value, doesn't it—how we were talking before about valuing food. It's about valuing our environment and those wonderful landscapes that we have in Wales that our farmers and our land managers protect. The policies that we're bringing forward are to protect those as we come out of Europe. I think in fact we're certainly way ahead of England around our environmental standards and I'm sure we're ahead of Europe as well.
You referred to the waste recycling being very good, and I said the same thing. There are a group of people who I think probably will never recycle—it doesn't matter how much work you do with them—but how we're supporting local authorities is with funding. You will have picked up in the Cabinet Secretary for Finance's announcement on Tuesday that we've had again significant funding for recycling infrastructure, so we can share that with local authorities. I mentioned earlier on that we've put £1 billion into waste infrastructure and recycling with our local authorities over I think it was the last decade. So, that's what our policies are and where our funding is going.
Around allotments, it would be great to see more allotments. I think local authorities are now doing that. I know, in Wrexham, I think we've got an increase in allotments there—so, speaking with my Assembly Member hat on for a moment—and I'm sure other local authorities are. One piece of work I've been very keen to pursue with local authorities is around the farms that they own, because most local authorities in Wales own farms and it's great for young farmers and I've made a priority to try and do more with young farmers. If you're not fortunate enough to come from a farming background and live on a farm and, hopefully, take that farm forward as a next-generation farmer, how do our young people who want to enter farming from cold, if you like, how do they manage to acquire a farm? One of the areas is local authority tenant farms. So, unfortunately, because of austerity, we have seen local authorities selling off their farms for different purposes. So, we've done a piece of work—Powys County Council have led on it—which has been quite successful. So, I think it's not just about allotments, it's about farmland as well and protecting the environment in that way.
That leads me nicely onto the environment being the river and the pollution that we keep seeing. So, my question is, and I raise it at every opportunity, how we're going to deal with the continual, and it is continual, pollution, sometimes deliberate, by dairy farmers and chicken farms, which is now going nicely along the river bed, in such a way, if the evidence that I've received is true, that the polluter actually pays and it isn't part of a business plan, like I have been informed, and I've raised this before now too. That can never, ever be satisfactory. So, what I would hope for, Cabinet Secretary, going forward and fairly soon, is some meaningful legislation that really, really gets a hold of this.
I want to start by saying we are seeing too many agricultural pollution incidents. Certainly, since I've been in portfolio, I've seen an increase, which is completely unacceptable and it is so damaging for our environment—poor land management. It's just a minority of people—as in all aspects of life, it's always the minority that spoils it for the majority—but we have seen an increase. We had a very long, wet winter and I was being sent photographs, probably on a weekly basis, of farmers spreading slurry on top of snow or when the rain was coming. But, I want to say, it is the minority. I think the majority of farmers, and I'm sure Andrew will back me up here, take great pride in the way they look after their land. What is really important is when people do have these incidents, and if they're found guilty, they are punished in a way that is meaningful. And I think, unfortunately, that hasn't always been the case.
In relation to what we're doing as policy, I have worked with—. If you remember back, probably in December last year, I issued a statement in response to the consultation on nitrate-vulnerable zones. Again, that highlighted how agricultural pollution is having a major effect on our water quality, for instance, and we needed to do something to rectify this. So, I've been working with a wide range of stakeholders—that includes the farming unions, farmers, environmental bodies—trying to get a balance of regulatory measures, voluntary measures and investment. Again, it's about slurry stores. It's about making sure, if we can support, in a way, if they need financial support, not to bring them up to legal requirements—I'm not going to do that; they should be of a legal requirement—but, if they want to enhance them, to ensure that these incidents don't happen.
You mentioned poultry, and that is one area that does concern me, because I think, as we approach Brexit, we are seeing more poultry units being put up around Wales. So, we are reviewing our controls on polluting emissions from intensive farming from a poultry point of view. Because I can see, a bit further down the road, that could be an issue. So, we're doing that now, ahead of it. I think we are making progress, but we need to make some quicker progress, and I will be bringing forward a statement in the near future.
Thank you, Chair. I just wanted to raise the issue around animal welfare. Firstly, on the ban on wild animals in circuses, which I think most people would agree is a very positive step forward, perhaps you could give an indication around the timescale on a ban. I think everybody's quite keen for that to happen, because it seems like it's been a long campaign, over many years.
And, secondly, on the issue of puppy farms and Lucy's law, I think that still much of the public is concerned around puppy farming—again, over many years in Wales—and I think we've seen some progress in England on this, but we still, I think, perhaps could be doing more in Wales to make sure that puppy farming isn't seen on the scale it is now.
And perhaps, just finally, on work about responsible advertising of pets, I know that in your report you mention about kittens and how you're working with the standards on responsible advertising. Are you doing similar things on exotic pets as well, because that's become an increasing issue as well?
Okay. Thank you, Jayne. So, the wild animals in travelling circuses—you'll know that I've committed to bringing forward legislation there. So, we started the eight-week public consultation on 1 October. So, that's the timescale— we've got eight weeks for that. You'll be aware of the legislative programme and the timeline for that. I just want to reiterate that there are no circuses that use wild animals licenced in Wales. So, some people say, 'Why are you bothering?' Well, we're bothering because we don't want to become a haven for circuses in Wales. So, I think there are something like 29 animals, if I remember rightly—I'm looking across now—
I think it might be less now.
I think it might be less now, that are used, but it's 29 too many. I think, in 2018, it's just—. To me, it's a kind of an archaic principle. So, I think it does send out a very clear message that we think it's unethical, and, whilst I appreciate it's only a small number, I still think it's a piece of legislation that's absolutely worth while doing.
So, last year, I consulted about mobile animal exhibits and we took the opportunity to ask the public for their views on wild animals, and it came back overwhelmingly that they thought they should be banned. So, the eight-week public consultation seeks views on legislative proposals to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Wales. So, we're not seeking views on whether they should be banned—that's absolutely a commitment.
In relation to Lucy's law, you're quite right about puppy farms. I think we've seen far too much of that horrific practice. So, we've already introduced a number of animal welfare measures, and you referred to—. We've done it before England. I think they've caught us up in lots of respects. So, what I've asked officials to do is to look at this. I think there's a really robust campaign around Lucy's law, and I think it's something that I would want to do. So, I'll ask Christianne to say where officials are in relation to that.
Thank you. So, we have to look at this in the round. This is about responsible animal ownership and people understanding their roles and responsibilities when they own an animal. So, alongside having our own legislation on dog breeding—as you know, we have that already—the question is: what can we do to stop the purchase of an animal from a third party? And that's the whole of this. We can't allow ourselves to be in a position where it's not possible in England but it is possible in Wales, because you can imagine what would happen then. So, we're working really closely, looking at the arrangements England are considering. In some respects, as you absolutely say, they're behind us and, in other respects, it looks as if they're an inch ahead right now. So, it's about making sure we have our own rules that dovetail in with England so that we don't create this kind of perverse imbalance, and I think that's about working together. So, we're working very closely with our colleagues, in fact across the whole of the UK, because we know that puppies don't just come across the England-Wales border; we get puppies from Ireland and puppies from Scotland as well.
Well, we've run out of time. So, can I thank you very much, Minister, and your colleagues, for coming along and answering our questions?
Papers to note: the correspondence from the Chair of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee to the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs on the UK Agriculture Bill. Happy?
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
And can I now move, under Standing Order 17.42(vi), to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting for item 5? Yes, but the public are not excluding themselves very quickly. [Laughter.] Thank you.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 12:32.
The public part of the meeting ended at 12:32.