Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

Yn ôl i Chwilio

Y Pwyllgor Cyllid

Finance Committee

27/03/2019

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Alun Davies AC
Llyr Gruffydd AC Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Nick Ramsay AC
Rhianon Passmore AC
Rhun ap Iorwerth AC

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Elan Closs Stephens Comisiynydd Etholiadol Cymru
Electoral Commissioner, Wales
Kieran Rix Cyfarwyddwr Cyllid a Gwasanaethau Corfforaethol y DU, y Comisiwn Etholiadol
UK Director of Finance and Corporate Services, the Electoral Commission
Rhydian Thomas Pennaeth y Comisiwn Etholiadol, Cymru
Head of Electoral Commission, Wales

Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru a oedd yn bresennol

National Assembly for Wales Officials in Attendance

Leanne Hatcher Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Martin Jennings Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Ryan Bishop Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:00.

The meeting began at 09:00.

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

Wel, bore da i chi i gyd. Croeso i gyfarfod Pwyllgor Cyllid y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol. Gaf i atgoffa pawb fod yna offer cyfieithu ar gael? Gallwch chi wrando ar y cyfieithiad ar sianel 1 neu gallwch chi amrywio lefel y sain ar sianel 0. Gaf i atgoffa Aelodau hefyd i sicrhau bod dyfeisiau electronig wedi cael eu distewi, ac a gaf i ofyn a oes gan unrhyw Aelodau fuddiannau i’w datgan? Nac oes. Yn iawn. Diolch yn fawr.

Well, good morning to you all. Welcome to this meeting of the Finance Committee at the National Assembly. Could I remind everyone that there are headsets available? You can listen to the interpretation on channel 1 or you can have amplification on channel 0. Can I remind Members also to ensure that any electronic devices are on silent, and can I ask if Members have any interests to declare? No. Okay. Thank you very much.

2. Papurau i'w nodi
2. Papers to note

Awn ni ymlaen, felly, i’r ail eitem ar yr agenda, sef nodi ychydig o bapurau gwahanol. Fe welwch chi yn eich papurau lythyr gan Gadeirydd y Pwyllgor Materion Cyfansoddiadol a Deddfwriaethol ynglŷn â chysylltiadau rhyngsefydliadol rhwng y Cynulliad a Llywodraeth Cymru. Yr ail bapur i’w nodi yw llythyr gan Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru ynglŷn â rhoi Deddf Cymru 2014 ar waith. Ac mae yna gofnodion hefyd o’r cyfarfod a gynhaliwyd ar 21 Mawrth eleni.

We'll move on, therefore, to the second item on the agenda, namely the papers to note. You will see in your papers a letter from the Chair of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee on inter-institutional relations between the Assembly and the Welsh Government. The second paper to note is a letter from the Secretary of State for Wales on implementation of the Wales Act 2014. And there are also minutes of the meeting held on 21 March this year.

The letter from the Secretary of State is a very inadequate response. I take it that he is an inadequate Minister, and so we should probably expect such a response. But the Secretary of State seems to be absolutely determined to avoid any form of scrutiny from this place. I’m sure he’s embarrassed by his own performance and doesn’t want it to be questioned, but I’m not sure that we can simply note this and let this lie.

Dwi’n derbyn y sylwadau. Dwi’n rhannu’r rhwystredigaeth. Mae wedi bod yn destun pryder mawr i’r pwyllgor yma, dros gyfnod nawr, fod yr Ysgrifennydd Gwladol mor amharod i ddod ger ein bron ni i gael ei graffu. Mi fydd yna ddadl yr wythnos nesaf, wrth gwrs, yn y Senedd ar roi Deddf Cymru 2014 ar waith, ac felly mi fydd yna gyfle yn fanna i wneud sylwadau pellach. Ac mi fyddaf i yn sicr, fel Cadeirydd, yn gwneud hynny hefyd.

I accept the comments, and I share the frustration. It has been of great concern to this committee for a considerable period that the Secretary of State is so unwilling to appear for scrutiny before us. There will be a debate next week, of course, in the Senedd on the implementation of the Wales Act 2014, and therefore there will be an opportunity then to make further comments. And I, certainly, as Chair, will be doing that.

Could I ask that you also take this to other Chairs of committees? Because I know that the Secretary of State isn’t simply running away from this committee, he’s running away from all scrutiny in this place, and it would be useful, I think, if other Chairs took a view and perhaps wrote to either the Secretary of State or the Prime Minister to note our concerns about this.

Mi fyddwn i'n fwy na pharod i wneud hynny. Diolch. [Torri ar draws.] Rhun yn gyntaf.

I would be more than willing to do that. Thank you very much. [Interruption.] Rhun first.

Mi fyddwn i’n nodi hefyd fod yna gyfaddefiad, fwy nag erioed, yn fan hyn mai cynrychioli Llywodraeth Prydain yng Nghymru ydy’r Ysgrifennydd Gwladol yn hytrach na’r ffordd arall rownd, achos pan mae o’n dweud mai’r achlysuron eithriadol y byddai fo’n barod i ddod i Gymru ydy pan mae Llywodraeth Prydain yn chwilio am gydsyniad y Cynulliad i weithredu mewn ardaloedd sydd wedi’u cyfyngu i’r Cynulliad ei hun.

I would also note that there is an admission, more than ever, here that he is the representative of the UK Government in Wales rather than the other way around, because when he says that it's on exceptional occasions that he would be willing to come to Wales, when the UK Government is seeking the Assembly's consent to take action in areas that are restricted to the Assembly.

Just to add to that point with regard to the precedent set by previous Secretaries of State. So, this seems to be at odds with that behaviour.

Yr unig bwynt arall a wnaf i, felly, jest i gloi’r mater yma, yw mi wnaeth yr Ysgrifennydd Gwladol ddweud yn ei ohebiaeth flaenorol ei fod e'n barod i gwrdd ag aelodau’r pwyllgor yma yn unigol ac yn breifat i drafod y mater. Wel, i fi, mae hynny’n tanseilio unrhyw ddadl sydd gyda fe i beidio â dod ger ein bron, oherwydd mae’n derbyn parodrwydd i drafod ag Aelodau, ond nid i wneud hynny yn gyhoeddus, ac yn agored, ac yn dryloyw. Felly, mi wnawn ni fynd â’r mater ymhellach i bwyllgor y Cadeiryddion. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Gyda hynny o sylwadau, felly, ydych chi’n hapus i nodi’r ohebiaeth? Diolch yn fawr.

The only other point I'd make, therefore, just to close this issue, is that the Secretary of State did say in his previous correspondence that he was willing to meet committee members privately and individually to discuss the issue. Well, to me, that undermines any argument that he has for not appearing before us, because he does accept willingness to discuss with Members, but not to do that openly, transparently and in public. So, we'll take that issue further to the Chairs' committee. Thank you very much.

With those comments, then, are you happy to note the correspondence? Thank you very much.

4. Sesiwn graffu y Bil Senedd ac Etholiadau (Cymru): y Comisiwn Etholiadol
4. Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill scrutiny session: Electoral Commission

Iawn. Wel, ymlaen â ni, felly, at y drydedd eitem, sef sesiwn graffu bellach ar y Bil Senedd ac Etholiadau (Cymru), a dwi'n croesawu'r Comisiwn Etholiadol atom ni: Elan Closs Stephens, wrth gwrs, comisiynydd etholiadau Cymu; Kieran Rix, cyfarwyddwr cyllid a gwasanaethau corfforaethol yn y Deyrnas Unedig; a Rhydian Thomas, pennaeth Commission Etholiadol Cymru. Croeso i'r tri ohonoch chi.

Os ydych chi'n hapus, awn ni yn syth ymlaen i'r cwestiynau. Neu, os hoffech chi wneud rhyw sylw i gychwyn, mi fyddwn i'n fwy na pharod i wrando.

Well, we move on, therefore, to the third item, which is a further scrutiny session on the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill, and I welcome the Electoral Commission: Elan Closs Stephens, who is the electoral Commissioner for Wales; Kieran Rix, UK director of finance and corporate services; and Rhydian Thomas, head of the Electoral Commission Wales. Welcome to the three of you.

If you are content, we'll move on straight to questions. Or, if you'd like to make comments at the outset, I'd be more than willing to listen.

Fyddech chi mor garedig, Gadeirydd—

If you'd be so kind, Chair—

—a chaniatáu imi jest osod y cyd-destun ychydig bach? Achos mae yna ddau fath o egwyddorion ar waith, dwi'n meddwl. Un ohonyn nhw ydy atebolrwydd—i bwy rydyn ni'n mynd i fod yn atebol—a'r llall ydy'r broses o graffu ar yr arian. A buaswn i'n leicio dweud rhyw ychydig bach o sylwadau ar y ddau. Ac rydyn ni'n ddiolchgar iawn i chi am y gwahoddiad yma i ymhelaethu ar y dystiolaeth yr ydyn ni wedi ei gosod gerbron yn barod.

Fel rydych chi'n gwybod, mae'r penderfyniad i greu atebolrwydd i'r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol yn deillio o Ddeddf Cymru 2017, ac rydyn ni, yn enwedig Swyddfa Cymru yn fan hyn, a'r comisiwn yn gyffredinol, wedi ymateb yn egnïol ac yn frwdfrydig i'r her. Ac rydyn ni wedi cyfarfod gyda'r Llywydd ar sawl achlysur, ac wedi cyfarfod efo prif swyddogion y Comisiwn yn gyson i geisio gweithio allan y dull gorau o fynd â'r maen i'r wal. Felly, diolch i chi am gyfle pellach i wneud hynny. 

Rydych chi wedi cyfeirio eisoes at y ddau gyfaill sydd efo fi heddiw. Dwi'n mynd i wneud darn yn Saesneg, ac wedyn fe fyddaf i'n hapus iawn i ateb unrhyw gwestiynau ym mha bynnag iaith fyddan nhw'n cael eu gofyn. 

—as to allow me to set out the context a little bit? Because there are two kinds of principles at work here, I think. One of which is accountability—to whom we are going to be accountable—and the other is the process of scrutinising the funding. And I'd like to make a few comments on both aspects. And we are very grateful to you for the invitation to expand on the evidence that we have submitted already.

As you know, the decision to create accountability to the National Assembly stems from the Wales Act 2017, and we, particularly the Wales Office here, and the commission in general, have responded energetically and enthusiastically to the challenge. We've met the Llywydd on several occasions, and we've met with senior Commission officials regularly to work out the best way to pursue this. So, thank you for the further opportunity to do that. 

You have referred to my two colleagues who join me today. I'm going to speak in English, and then I'd be very willing to answer any questions in whichever language they are asked. 

I'm grateful to have a few moments of your time to contextualise our appearance in front of you today. You will recall that the Wales Act 2017, which was closely scrutinised by the Assembly, sought to devolve accountability for the proper running of Welsh elections to the National Assembly for Wales. And we have embraced that project with considerable diligence. It seemed to us that if the Assembly sought to diverge from the rest of the UK in terms of matters such as franchise for over-16s, for example, then it made sense and, indeed, was lawful for the National Assembly to take a direct interest in how those elections had been run in accordance with electoral law, and how trust in the voting system as a whole had been maintained.

If you bear with me for a very short while, I'm going to divide the accountability in two headings. First, to whom would the commission report on the proper running of National Assembly and local government elections, because the general elections will still be accountable to the Speaker's committee in the UK?

Let me deal briefly with the first issue—accountability. We've developed three principles, I think, which we have discussed at length with the Llywydd. We believe that the body to which we should account should be independent of Welsh Government. In other words, we should be accountable to the Commission of the Assembly as a cross-party umbrella organisation. We would like the Assembly to explore the provision of a separate committee, and that committee would also set some of our objectives. So, it would be a two-way process—not just reporting, but having objectives set by the committee. Thirdly, we believe it should be chaired perhaps by the Presiding Officer or the Deputy Presiding Officer, and you will understand that our principle is that of being inclusive of all parties and independent of government, as behoves, really, a trusted electoral system. So, that's our first principle.

Secondly, the financing. I think it's a process of understanding that much of the cost will be drawn down to the National Assembly from the Speaker's overall UK allocation, and the same will occur in Scotland. I think we all need to agree on the best method of allocation of funds between work on general elections and work that could be said to be about Welsh elections. And, in our view, that allocation should be as clear and simple as possible so as to be administered easily. 

Thirdly and finally, what is that mechanism, not just for the financial accountability, not just for divvying up the finances, but for accountability of the finances through our accounting officer and to the NAO, and how then that money comes down in a sort of conduit from the Speaker's committee?

So, all these things are a matter of detail, and I think we all have to be comfortable with them, mainly because we would like to achieve best practice in our engagement with the electoral process here in Wales and with the National Assembly for Wales. So, we'd like to start on the front foot with this process, which we regard as very important.   

I don't know whether Rhydian would like to—. 

09:05

I'd only add one thing, and that is we are talking about making ourselves accountable to an independent committee, as it were, for the setting of the commission's objectives and our budget. That doesn't mean that we wouldn't want to work with, and make ourselves accountable to, the Assembly's existing committees, when it came to areas of work and policy areas. We would see that absolutely continuing. We've done that previously and we're doing it now, and we'd want to see that continue in the future. So, if there was a piece of work, whether it was a specific piece of work, like prisoner voting, which we talked about recently with the local government committee, or a report of some kind, we would absolutely see ourselves making that piece of work accountable to an existing Assembly committee—so, working with all the committees as well as this specific committee that Elan talks about.

09:10

Iawn. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am y sylwadau cychwynnol yna. Dwi'n siŵr y byddwn ni'n dod yn ôl at nifer o'r rheina yng nghwrs y cwestiynau y bore yma. Ond mi gychwynna i os caf i, oherwydd wrth gwrs, rŷch chi wedi bod yn trafod gyda Chomisiwn y Cynulliad ers diwedd 2017 ynglŷn â'r trefniadau goruchwylio, a dwi jest yn meddwl, o ran y costau sy'n cael eu nodi yn yr effaith rheoleiddiol ar gyfer eich sefydliad chi, sef yr £19,600 ar gyfer y goruchwylio yna a rŷch chi'n sôn am amser staff dros bum mlynedd a rhyw bethau felly—ydy hwnna'n amcangyfrif manwl gywir? Ydych chi'n hapus bod hwnna'n dal i fod yn ffigwr dilys?

Okay. Thank you very much for those opening remarks. I'm sure that we'll return to many of those in the course of questions this morning. I'll start, if I may. Of course, you've been in discussions with the Assembly Commission since the end of 2017 on the oversight arrangements. I was just wondering, in terms of the costs identified in the regulatory impact assessment for your organisation, namely the £19,600 for that oversight, and you talk about staff time over a five-year period—is that an accurate estimate? Are you content that that remains a valid figure?

So, what you will see over time is that the share of the costs of the commission will vary depending on activity. So, if you have elections in Wales, you would expect to see your contribution go up. That will vary, I think, depending not just on your activity, but on relative level of activity in other parts of the UK. So, if Scotland is having a particularly busy year, they will attract more cost. I would estimate that you typically contribute, say, between 4 per cent and 10 per cent of the commission's budget. That's based on the existing budget. I don't see there being any material incremental costs from moving to us being accountable to you and to the Scottish Parliament. It's about divvying up the budget. So, 10 per cent of our budget is about £1.7 million this year. I suspect your contribution will typically be lower—several hundred thousand.

Ocê, ond jest i ganolbwyntio’n benodol ar y trefniadau goruchwylio yma, y bwriad, mae'n debyg, yw cynnal dau ymchwiliad mewn cyfnod o bum mlynedd. Dyna sail yr £19,600, yn ôl beth dwi'n ei ddeall. Ydy hynny'n sail resymol, ŷch chi'n credu? Ar ba sail rŷn ni'n dod at y casgliad bod dwy sesiwn mewn pum mlynedd yn addas? Sut mae hynny, er enghraifft, yn cymharu gyda threfniadau'r Deyrnas Unedig a San Steffan?

Okay, but just to focus specifically on the oversight arrangements, the intention is probably to hold two inquiries in a five-year period. That's the basis of the £19,600, as far as I understand it. Is that a reasonable basis, do you think? On what basis do we conclude that two sessions in five years are appropriate? How does that, for example, compare with the UK Government or Westminster arrangements?

I think that probably is a reasonable basis. We don't separately cost the costs of reporting to the Speaker's committee and being accountable to them at the moment, so I can't give you an estimate of what the cost of being accountable to the Speaker's committee is—that's just what we do, and I would see it being the same. I would fully expect to be coming and talking to your officials or to the committee on a fairly regular basis, as part of the annual planning cycle. So, incremental costs of reporting to you are very minimal, but I think, as a cost of conducting a couple of inquiries, that sounds probably a reasonable estimate.

Ocê, iawn. Rŷn ni wedi sôn ynglŷn â threfniadau goruchwylio posib, ac, yn amlwg, bydd llawer o'r manylion yma efallai yn dod yng Nghyfnod 2 y Bil trwy welliannau. Ydych chi felly mewn sefyllfa i ddisgrifio unrhyw adnoddau neu gostau ychwanegol a fyddai'n gysylltiedig i'r comisiwn yn sgil hynny, oherwydd dŷn ni ddim yn gwybod beth fydd y gwelliannau mewn gwirionedd?

We've talked about possible oversight arrangement, and, evidently, a lot of the detail will come forward in Stage 2 of the Bill through amendments. Are you in a position, therefore, to describe any additional costs or resources that would fall to the Electoral Commission in the wake of that, because we don't know what the amendments will be, do we?

Na, dŷn ni ddim yn ymwybodol o unrhyw gostau ychwanegol a fydd yn rhan o'r broses hynny ac o'r broses o wneud ein hunain yn atebol i Gomisiwn y Cynulliad, ond, wrth gwrs, byddwn yn cadw i weithio efo'r Comisiwn ac efo swyddogion yn y Comisiwn i drio edrych ar y manylder rhwng nawr a Chyfnod 2 o'r ddeddfwriaeth neu'r broses ddeddfwriaethol. Ond dŷn ni ddim yn ymwybodol o unrhyw gostau ar hyn o bryd a fydd yn rhan o'r broses hynny.

No, we're not aware of any additional costs that would be part of that process and of the process of making ourselves accountable to the Assembly Commission, but, of course, we will continue to work with the Commission and with officials in the Commission to look at the detail between now and Stage 2 of legislation or the legislative process. But we're not aware of any costs at the moment that would be part of that process.

Achos rŷn ni, fel pwyllgor, yn craffu ar oblygiadau ariannol, a rŷn ni nawr yn rhagweld efallai y bydd yna dipyn o newid yn dod yn sgil gwelliannau Cyfnod 2, ac mae'n gwneud ein rôl ni'n anodd, mewn gwirionedd, i ddeall beth yw'r costau hynny yng Nghyfnod 1 y Bil, ac erbyn i ni gyrraedd Cyfnod 2, wrth gwrs, byddwn ni wedi gwneud ein craffu ariannol ac mi fydd hi'n anodd iawn inni gael gafael ar y costau hynny.

Because we, as a committee, are scrutinising financial implications, and we now anticipate that there will be some considerable change in the wake of amendments at Stage 2, which makes our role difficult in understanding what those costs will be in Stage 1 of the Bill, and, by the time we reach Stage 2, we will have done our financial scrutiny and it'll be very difficult for us to obtain those costs.

Efallai y dylem ni atgoffa ein hunain yn fan hyn, mewn gwirionedd, fod y costau yma yn gostau fydd yn gorfod cael eu cynnig i'r Speaker's committee ac mi fyddan nhw'n cael eu rhannu yn ôl amcangyfrif. Ond, wrth gwrs, mae modd gwneud achos am fwy o weithgaredd mewn unrhyw ran o'r Deyrnas Unedig mewn cyfnod arbennig, felly dwi ddim yn meddwl bod hwn yn golygu bod y Cynulliad ei hunan o reidrwydd yn gorfod darganfod rhagor o arian heb fod wedi creu unrhyw amcangyfrif o hynny. Yr unig gostau ychwanegol o ran y Cynulliad ei hunan, buaswn i'n tybio, ydy pe baech chi eisiau inni edrych ar ryw gynllun peilot, er enghraifft—ein bod ni'n goruchwylio rhywbeth ychwanegol sydd yn benodol jest ar gyfer Cymru.

Perhaps we should remind ourselves here that these costs are costs that will have to be proposed to the Speaker's Committee and they will be divided according to estimates. But it's possible to make a case for greater activity in any part of the United Kingdom in a specific period, so I don't think that this means that the Assembly itself necessarily has to seek additional funds without having created any estimate of that. The only additional costs in terms of the Assembly itself, I would imagine, is if you wanted us to look at a pilot scheme, for example—that we would oversee something additional that is specifically for Wales.

09:15

Dŷn ni'n siarad am votes at 16, ac yn y blaen, fel rhan o'r ddeddfwriaeth yma. Fe fyddai unrhyw waith sydd ynghlwm wrth y prosiect hynny, wrth gwrs—. Mae yna gost sy'n rhan o hynny, a dŷn ni wedi trafod y math yna o beth sydd ynghlwm wrth ddiwygio etholiadol efo swyddogion. Ond o ran sut dŷn ni'n gwneud ein hunain fel comisiwn yn atebol, dwi ddim yn credu y byddai unrhyw gost yn rhan o'r broses hynny.

We're talking about votes at 16 and so forth as part of this legislation. Any work tied to that project—. There will be a cost to that, and we have discussed that kind of thing, tied to electoral reform, with officials. But in terms of how we make ourselves accountable, I don't think any costs would be associated with that process.

Efallai buaswn i'n gallu ychwanegu, dwi'n meddwl bod rhaid i'r Comisiwn a'r pwyllgorau i gyd fod yn gyfforddus bod y modd yr ydym ni'n dosrannu yn synhwyrol ac yn deg, yn hytrach nag ein bod ni'n creu rhyw gorff sy'n atebol am bob awr—ein bod ni'n cadw rhyw fath o timesheet, os liciwch chi, o bob awr. Mae'n rhaid i ni ddod i ryw fath o ddealltwriaeth lle mae'r costau yn edrych yn rhesymol, ac wedyn, os bydd yna amrywiaeth o flwyddyn i flwyddyn, fod modd ailedrych ar hynna.

Perhaps I could add that I think that the Commission and the committees as a whole have to be content that the way that we allocate funding is sensible and fair rather than us creating some body that is accountable for each hour that it spends—that we keep some kind of timesheet, if you will, for every hour that we spend. We do have to come to some kind of understanding where the costs look reasonable, and if there is variance from year to year, then that could be looked at again.

Ac mi ddown ni at hynny mewn mwy o fanylder mewn munud, dwi'n meddwl. Felly, mi drown ni at Rhun nesaf.

And we'll come to that in more detail later. So, we'll turn to Rhun now.

Oes yna drafodaethau pellach y gellid bod yn eu cael ynglŷn â, os liciwch chi, ddatganoli'n llawnach y cyfrifoldeb am waith etholiadol a refferenda yng Nghymru, fel bod y cyfrifoldeb yn llawnach yma yng Nghymru drwy'r comisiwn?

Are there further discussions that could be had in terms of fuller devolution of the responsibility for electoral work and referenda in Wales and so forth, so that the responsibilities rest more fully here in Wales through the commission?

Wel, petasai mwy o gyfrifoldebau yn cael eu datganoli i'r Cynulliad, buasai rhan o'r cyfrifoldebau hynny ynghlwm wrth waith y comisiwn ac mi fyddai hynny'n rhywbeth y byddai'n rhaid i ni edrych arno. Fyddwn i ddim eisiau rhoi barn ar y materion hynny efallai fyddai'n gallu cael eu datganoli ymhellach. Mae hwnna'n fater i'r Llywodraeth ac i'r Cynulliad ei hunan, wrth gwrs.

Well, if greater responsibilities were devolved to the Assembly, part of those responsibilities would fall on the shoulders of the commission and that would be something that we would have to look at. We wouldn't want to give an opinion on those particular issues that perhaps could be devolved further. That's an issue for the Government and for the Assembly itself, of course.

Un pwynt dŷch chi wedi ei wneud mewn tystiolaeth ydy bod staff yn y swyddfa yn Llundain yn ymwneud â gwaith sydd yn berthnasol i Gymru. A fydd angen edrych ar y balans o le mae staff, ac yn y blaen, wrth i'r cydbwysedd o waith y mae'r comisiwn yn ymwneud â fo rhwng Llundain a Chymru newid?

One point that you've made in evidence is that staff in the London office are involved in work that is relevant to Wales. Will you need to look at the balance of where staff are, and so forth, in terms of a change in the balance of work that the commission does in the context of Wales and London?

Wel, dwi'n siŵr y bydd yna hyblygrwydd i edrych ar y materion staffio. Os gallaf i roi enghraifft i chi, mae gennym ni swyddog yn Llundain sydd yn edrych ar ôl y cenhedloedd a'r rhanbarthau yn eu cyfanrwydd. Wel, wrth gwrs, mae hi'n cymryd diddordeb yng ngwaith Cymru ac yn cynorthwyo i bontio ein gwaith ni gyda'r Alban ac yn y blaen. Felly, fe fyddai'n rhesymol i ddisgwyl bod peth o'i hamser hi ynghlwm wrth hyn. Ond, fel dŷn ni wedi dweud, os ydyn ni'n dod yn atebol i'r Cynulliad, yna mi fyddwn ni'n adrodd yn flynyddol, wrth gwrs, ar ein gweithgaredd, ac mi fydd yna gyfle bob blwyddyn i chi edrych os ydych chi'n hapus gyda balans y gwaith rydym ni'n ei wneud a'r modd yr ydym ni'n ei wneud o. Felly, dydy hwn ddim yn rhywbeth fydd wedi cael ei osod mewn concrit o'r dechrau; mi fyddai'n flynyddol bosib i edrych arno fo.

I'm sure that there will be flexibility to look at staffing issues. If I can give you an example, we have an officer in London that looks after the nations and regions as an entirety. Of course, she takes an interest in Wales and supports the work with Scotland and so on. So, it would be reasonable to expect some of her time would be spent on this. But, as we've said, if we become accountable to the Assembly, then we will be reporting annually on our activities and there will be an opportunity every year for you to look at whether you are content with the balance of work that we do and how we do it. So, this isn't something that will be set in stone from the outset; it will be reviewed annually.

Mi allai edrych ar a oes angen peth staff ychwanegol yng Nghymru, yn hytrach na bod gwaith am Gymru yn rhan o gyfrifoldebau staff yn Llundain, fod yn rhywbeth i edrych arno fo yn y dyfodol.

Looking at whether some additional staff are needed in Wales, rather than work about Wales being part of the responsibility of staff in London, could be something to consider in the future.

Yn sicr. Fel dŷch chi'n gwybod, mater gwleidyddol ydy a fydd yna fwy o bwerau yn dod i Gymru, a mater gwleidyddol wedyn fyddai a ydy'r pwerau hynny yn datganoli mwy o'r comisiwn ym mha bynnag ffordd fyddai'r wleidyddiaeth yn dymuno hynny. Ac felly, fyddwn ni'n gorfod ymateb i'r sefyllfa wleidyddol sydd ar droed.

Certainly. As you know, it's a political issue as to whether additional powers will come to Wales, and it will then be a political decision as to whether those powers would devolve more of the commission in whichever way that the politicians would wish that to happen. So, we would have to respond to the political situation that is before us.

Os gwnawn ni symud ymlaen at faes arall a rhai o'r costau sydd wedi cael eu hamcangyfrif a'u nodi, mae'r asesiad effaith rheoleiddiol yn cynnwys amcangyfrifon o gostau yn ymwneud â sawl maes, yn cynnwys: codi ymwybyddiaeth; dylunio ffurflenni cofrestru newydd; treialu’r ffurflenni hynny ar ran y Comisiwn Etholiadol. Allwch chi sôn wrthym ni am y cyfraniad wnaethoch chi at y gwaith o baratoi a llunio'r amcangyfrifon ar gyfer y costau hynny?

Moving on now to another area and some of the costs that have been estimated and identified, the RIA does include estimates of costs in several areas including: raising awareness; designing new registration forms; and piloting those for the Electoral Commission. Could you talk about the contribution you made to the work of preparing and creating those estimates for those costs?

09:20

Gwnaf i ddechrau ac efallai gwnaf i basio draw i Kieran. Mae'r ffigurau hynny yn dod allan o'r dystiolaeth gwnaethon ni ei rhoi i banel Laura McAllister, dwi'n credu, ar refferendwm Senedd yr Alban yn ôl yn 2014. Felly, dŷn ni wedi rhoi ffigurau indicative, fel petai, ar gostau o redeg yr ymgyrch gyhoeddus ar y pryd hynny a hefyd ar ddylunio a phrofi'r ffurflenni cofrestru i bobl yn gyffredinol, ond yn fwy penodol hefyd i bobl ifanc, gan taw dyna'r tro cyntaf i bobol ifanc 16 ac 17 oed gymryd rhan mewn digwyddiad etholiadol. So, dyna o le mae'r ffigurau wedi dod. O beth dŷn ni wedi edrych ar, fel dŷch chi wedi'u newid nhw ar gyfer Cymru, maen nhw, i ni, yn gwneud synnwyr, ond bydd yn rhaid i ni edrych ar y ffigurau unwaith eto i wneud yn siŵr eu bod nhw'n hollol iawn.

I'll start and then, perhaps, I'll pass you over to Kieran. Those figures emanate from the evidence that we gave to Laura McAllister's panel on the Scottish referendum back in 2014. So, we've presented indicative figures on costs from running the public campaign at that time and for designing and testing the registration forms for people in general, but more specifically for young people, because that was the first time 16 and 17-year-olds took part in an electoral event. So, that's where the figures have come from. From what we've looked at, the way you've adapted them for Wales, they, to us, make sense, but we would have to look at the figures anew to ensure that they are entirely accurate.

A ffigurau penodol yn hytrach na'r ranges dŷn ni wedi bod yn eu cael. Ydych chi'n hapus bod y ffigur yn ddigon cywir i ni beidio â gorfod meddwl yn hytrach am ystod o gost posibl?

And specific figures other than the ranges we've been receiving. Are you happy that those figures are accurate enough for us to not to have to look for a range of possible costs?

Ydyn, dwi'n credu. Kieran?

Yes, I think we are. Kieran?

I think they're a reasonable estimate. When we come to actually doing the work, we will, of course, try to work them down and, certainly, our commercial approach to campaigns and things like that is always to try and do it for less than the previous campaign. So, the actuals will undoubtedly turn out to be different, because that's what happens in life, but I think they're a reasonable estimate for regulatory impact and policy purposes, yes.

Ydych chi'n edrych hefyd, nid yn unig ar y costau i chi, ond ar y costau cyffredinol fuasai'n cael eu gwario ar elfennau o hyn? Er enghraifft, pan mae'n dod at godi ymwybyddiaeth, nid dim ond y Comisiwn Etholiadol fyddai wrthi—mi fyddai awdurdodau lleol, mi fyddai Llywodraeth Cymru, dwi'n siŵr, yn rhan o'r gwaith codi ymwybyddiaeth, ac mi fyddai yna orgyffwrdd rhwng y gwaith yna. Ydy o'n rhywbeth dŷch chi'n edrych arno fo i sicrhau bod yna ddim, os liciwch chi, gormod o orgyffwrdd, a drwy hynny gormod o ddyblygu costau ac ati?

Are you also looking, not only at the costs for you, but the general costs that would be spent on elements of this? For example, when it comes to raising awareness, it's not just the Electoral Commission that would be doing that—local authorities and the Welsh Government, I'm sure, would be part of that process, and there would be overlap in that work. Is that something that you're looking at to ensure that there's not too much overlap, and through that, too much duplication of cost and so forth?

Wel, dŷn ni wedi gosod i fyny nifer o bwyllgorau yn ystod yr ychydig o flynyddoedd diwethaf, ac un o'r rhai pwysicaf o'r rheini, mae'n siŵr gen i, ydy'r bwrdd cydlynu etholiadol sef yr electoral co-ordination board. Nawr, yn yr Alban, mae hwn yn statudol, ac mae yna arweinydd statudol iddo fo. A'i bwrpas o ydy cydlynu swyddogion etholiadol. Ond, dŷn ni hefyd wedi gosod i fyny bwrdd ymgynghorol yn y Cynulliad, a dŷn ni hefyd yn cyfarfod gyda swyddogion y pleidiau yn gyson. A holl amcan gosod i fyny'r fath rwydwaith ydy gwneud yn siŵr ein bod ni ddim yn dod â ffurflenni allan y mae rhywun arall wedi'u paratoi eisoes, fel ein bod ni yn arbed arian ac yn ymddwyn yn effeithiol. Dŷn ni wedi dod â phobl o'r Alban i lawr i bwyllgor ymgynghorol y Cynulliad. Daethon ni ag arweinydd y Gwyrddion Ifanc, er enghraifft, i lawr i siarad am y modd roedden nhw wedi bod yn codi ymwybyddiaeth. Ac, wrth gwrs, roedd adran addysg yr Alban hefyd, dwi'n meddwl, yn edrych ar gostau ynglŷn â chodi ymwybyddiaeth sifig yn yr ysgolion. So, mae yna gostau sydd y tu hwnt i unrhyw beth sy'n ymwneud â'r comisiwn, ond mi fyddan nhw'n dibynnu ar y brwdfrydedd fydd gan y Cynulliad ar y pryd ynglŷn â, dyweder, newid yr oedran pleidleisio. 

Well, we have set up a number of committees during the past few years, and one of the most important of those, I would imagine, is the electoral co-ordination board. Now, in Scotland, that's on a statutory footing, and there is a statutory lead for it. And the purpose is to co-ordinate electoral officials. But, we've also set up a consultative board at the Assembly, and we also meet with party officials on a regular basis. And the purpose of setting up that kind of network is to ensure that we don't publish forms that have already been prepared, so that we save money in that regard and operate efficiently and effectively. We've brought people from Scotland down to the consultative board meeting at the Assembly. We brought the leader of the Young Greens to talk about how they raised awareness. And, of course, the education department in Scotland also looked at costs with regard to raising awareness on a civic basis in schools. So, there are costs beyond anything that the commission does, but they will depend on the enthusiasm that the Assembly will have at the time with regard to, for example, changing the voting age.

A phan dŷn ni'n cael trafodaethau efo swyddogion, p'un ai yn y Cynulliad neu yn Llywodraeth Cymru, dŷn ni yn pwysleisio'r ffaith bod y syniadau newydd yma yn grêt a dŷn ni'n barod i weithio efo'r unigolion yn y Llywodraeth neu mewn llywodraeth leol i sicrhau bod y syniadau’n cael eu cyflwyno yn y ffordd fwyaf effeithiol. Ond mae'n hynod bwysig fod yna adnodd ynghlwm â'r syniad hwnnw, y polisi, hefyd. Dyw'r comisiwn ei hunan ddim yn costio beth fyddai rhywbeth fel pleidleisiau i unigolion 16 oed yn ei gostio i lywodraeth leol, ond dŷn ni'n pwysleisio'r ffaith bod yna gost ac adnodd ynghlwm â hwnna—efallai bod e ddim yn direct cost, fel petai, ond hyfforddiant i swyddogion llywodraeth leol, er enghraifft—a bod yna adnodd ynghlwm wrth unrhyw un o'r polisïau newydd yma.

And when we're have discussions with officials, whether that's in the Assembly or in the Welsh Government, we do emphasise the fact that these new ideas are great and we're willing to work with individuals in the Government or in local government to ensure that the ideas are taken forward in the most effective way. But it's very important that there is resource that's tied to the idea and the policy as well. The commission itself doesn't cost what something like votes at 16 would cost for local government, but we do emphasise the fact that there is a cost and a resource that's tied to that—maybe it's not a direct cost as such, but training for local government officials, for example—and we do emphasise that there is a resource that's tied to any of those new policies. 

09:25

Ac wrth gwrs, hyfforddiant ychwanegol mewn materion megis gofal am ddata ar gyfer pobl sydd o dan 16 oed, er enghraifft. Wrth iddyn nhw gofrestru yn 15 a thri chwarter oed, maen nhw'n dal i fod yn unigolion sy'n rhaid eu hamddiffyn o ran data. Felly, mae mater o hyfforddi hwnna. Os dŷch chi'n ychwanegu at y franchise mewn unrhyw ffordd—carcharorion neu bobl 16 oed, ac ati—mae yna fwy o bobl yn cael eu cofrestru, ac mae hynny'n adnodd ychwanegol ynddo'i hun mewn llywodraeth leol, sydd wrth gwrs o dan bwysau mawr yn barod o ran toriadau, fel dŷn ni i gyd yn gwybod. 

And of course, additional training with regard to issues such as safeguarding the data of those under 16 years of age. When they register, they will be registering at 15 and three quarters, and they will still be individuals who have to be protected with regard to their data. So, there's an issue of training in that regard. If you add to the franchise in any way—prisoners, for example, or young people aged 16 and 17—then more people will be registered, and that's an additional resource in itself in local government, which of course is under a great deal of pressure already in terms of cuts, as we all know. 

Thank you, and that leads nicely on to my line of questioning. In regard to the hard-pressed Welsh local government, in that regard, we've mentioned that some of the data is quite old, in terms of how you've pieced the costed fundings together. The majority of the costs of this Bill, as you are aware, fall in regard to local government. I think the figure that we've got is £1.5 million. So, in that regard, that obviously is funded by the Welsh Government in the round. Do you feel that that's an appropriate figure in regard to the legs carrying out the work in regard to this Bill?

The £1.5 million sounds like the top-end range of contributions to our budget, which would come, obviously, from the Assembly. That covers the whole range of activity that the commission undertakes, including all of the political finance regulation, all of the electoral administration guidance and observation activity, and a contribution to our overheads, as well as the campaigns work that we do. So, I don't think it's for me to tell you whether that's a reasonable bill or not.

I have looked informally at what it would cost to do it separately. I think it's probably an efficient way of doing it. We work pretty hard to keep our budget very stable. It has been well below its 2011 level ever since then. It is rising somewhat in the coming year, but that represents a big investment in IT systems that have been delayed. After that, I think we will probably see our budget rising broadly in line with inflation. So, I think we are pretty modest in our budgets—certainly in line with UK Government spending plans. That's where we try to set our budgets, and we try to live within that. I'm not trying to claim any greater virtue than anybody else, but I think it's a reasonable budget.

And while we wouldn't—. Sorry, if I could just add: we wouldn't comment specifically on the budget allocated to local government for this particular area of work, but we would certainly—

We would certainly be committed to working with local government through the networks that have been established already, and in any new ways, to ensure that costs are kept at a minimum and, more importantly, that local government, electoral registration officers and returning officers—who are obviously separate to local government, in a sense—would work together across Wales, so that there's a consistent and uniform approach. I think that that, in itself, would hopefully keep costs to a minimum.

One of the things that we already do is provide a lot of our campaigns material to local authorities for their use. We don't charge for that.

I suppose that what I'm trying to establish is whether you feel that that is realistic, in regard—. You've mentioned or touched upon safeguarding in data protection and around the numbers that are involved.

Yes, but one of the reasons for setting up—well, the main reason for setting up—the electoral co-ordination board is in order for local authorities to learn best practice from each other. We have the regional returning officers for each large area of Wales present on that. We've also got Welsh Government officers. We've got a Cabinet Office officer. You know, it's a good board for thrashing out what costs can be avoided, what costs can be shared, what sort of dates can be shared—so, just to maximise the efficiency of the running of the election.

For example, in Scotland, where you have an electoral management board—a statutory board—they are able to make decisions such as central printing. So, one printer would do all of the work for Scotland, and they are able to direct on that. In Wales, it's a voluntary board, but that's the kind of area that we're working towards, so that we can cut costs and also make decisions a little bit more straightforward for what are busy individual officers—returning officers. They have other things, clearly, within the local authority as chief executives to focus on. So, that's the ultimate aim, but it's still a new body, but that's what we'd like to work towards.

09:30

Perhaps I could add as well, just for you to feel satisfied that we are doing as much as we can to support local authorities, we've also, under that electoral co-ordination board, set up a mentoring scheme for new returning officers, and we're just about to set the same thing up for electoral registration officers, so that people coming into this area, new and without previous experience, can learn from somebody highly experienced in the field and therefore save themselves perhaps some expense of doing things that have already been tested elsewhere.

Okay. Thank you for those comments. And I suppose if I go back to my original point at the beginning when I asked this, in regard to the electoral registration process and the reform of 2014, do you have any views on whether this, as stated at the beginning, is actually based on all the data? And I accept what you're saying in terms of the good practice that is ongoing in terms of avoiding duplication and looking at best practice in Scotland, and that's fine, but in regard to the fact that the costing—and I'm coming back to the same point—the pressure on local authorities in terms of resource capacity and how many staff members local authorities have in this regard, do you feel that—you mentioned that you would need to look at it again in terms of, potentially, that figure of the costings based on 2010-11.

We can potentially look at it again and make some comparable—

Because it would need to be clear to local authorities that this would not be onerous.

Absolutely, yes. And we want to make sure that, whatever the changes are, they are introduced effectively and implemented effectively, and that means that they're resourced properly. So, yes, we can look at that again and maybe provide you with some information.

Okay, thank you. And finally, in regard to your experience around efficiencies or complexities regarding lowering the voting age to 16, would it be anticipated that that will lead to further cost savings?

I think there will be costs associated with any campaign introduced for votes at 16. We would need to organise a specific campaign aimed at that particular audience. We have already committed to producing a pack that could be used in schools. We have already committed to producing separate resources that could be used in schools. Much of that will be cost-neutral because it will be online material, but, clearly, for a media campaign, whether it's social media or however we do it, there would be a cost associated with that, but we would want to learn from what colleagues in Scotland have done since 2014 and also in 2016 and 2017 to see what the most cost-effective way of introducing a campaign like that would be.

Also, in addition, what we'd want to do is, rather than—I think a colleague mentioned earlier that it's not just about the Electoral Commission or local government. There are a number of partner agencies out there that are used to working with these specific groups and used to working with them in cost-effective ways. We want to work in partnership with those groups to ensure that the messages that we have that we all want to put to this new group are introduced effectively and in a proper way in terms of costs.

Could I just add that it will be more of a challenge, I think, to engage our young people, in my estimation, than it was in Scotland? Because in Scotland at that exact time there was a sort of existential referendum about the future of Scotland, which I think grasped the public imagination completely, whereas we will be asking them to vote in a, I suppose, let's assume—

You know, in 2021 or 2022, we'll be asking them to—in a less febrile atmosphere. So, actually, raising awareness is a little bit more difficult, and we would need to engage with civic partners and others, and we are quite good at partnering in that way, I think.

09:35

Sorry, Chair, if I may—so, I suppose I go back to the same point: do you feel, then, that you have the costings around this in the right area? Because it seems very low compared to the scale of task that could be in front of us.

The costings we've provided are about our activity; we haven't taken a position on the costs to local government, except that we are acutely aware of the pressures on local government across the UK and that that does need to be addressed. But we haven't sought to provide costing information on that particular issue, but we do recognise that that is absolutely a concern for electoral administrators.

Just to pick up on the exceptional circumstances in Scotland, shall we say, where some of these changes were implemented there. Of course, the Assembly Commission has based some of its costings on the Scottish legislation. Now, the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill was actually an accelerated Bill and there was no financial scrutiny by the Scottish finance committee of that Bill, and neither are we aware, I think, of any post-legislative scrutiny. So, how do you feel about us here in Wales using the explanatory notes prepared for that Scottish Bill as a basis for some of our estimates, when it really, clearly, hasn't been tested?

You have to use the best information available to you; that's the best comparator. We tend to deliver comparable campaigns for less than previously, and, certainly, we've moved our approach more and more into digital campaigning. I imagine that that's the way you'd seek to reach this sort of group. You can achieve a lot for relatively small amounts of money compared with, say, television advertising, billboards. So, I would have thought that we've tried to do this in quite a cost-efficient sort of a way. Having said that, of course, it is a different set of circumstances, that's why, at some point, we'll need to work up a proper costing. But as a policy estimate, I think it's the best that could reasonably be done.

If we can look at it from the other side—you know, we've had more time to prepare for this. We've seen what's happened in Scotland, we've seen the benefits of the fact that young people who voted in the referendum maintained their interest in politics, even at local government level, which is not what usually happens. And therefore, we've taken quite a proactive role in asking friends from Scotland to come down and meet with officers here. But you've also, as an Assembly, already started with quite a few initiatives—for example, the Youth Parliament. So, there's a lot of what I would call 'braenaru'r tir'—there's a lot of work on the ground that's already happened, and I think we can build on that.

I'd just add one thing: there were different pressures at that time, given the legislation was being pushed through in Scotland. And I'm not here to speak for Scotland, but, as Elan mentioned, we do have the luxury of more time to deal with all of the relevant partners and to discuss complex issues such as costs relating to these areas, and also open ourselves up to scrutiny from this committee and from whomever else, and we welcome that.

Diolch. Morning. Do you think—? This is clearly a groundbreaking Bill, a groundbreaking area for the Assembly to be legislating over its electoral arrangements, and it's been a long time coming. Do you think we could be more ambitious, particularly in relation to the costs? We've talked about Scotland. Is there a tendency to look at elsewhere, where this sort of process has been done and to say, 'Right, that's what it's cost there, therefore we'll implement those sorts of structures'? If we had a much more root-and-branch approach here in Wales, could we get those costs down even further? Could we eliminate duplication? Could we really have something that is totally tailor-made to Wales and, actually, then costs a lot less in the longer run? It's more of a blue-sky-thinking question than detail.

We would look to do this for the best price. I'm going to be kind to my colleagues—I think our communications campaigns are really commercial and are very good at seeking out opportunities to work with others to do that sort of thing, to find, as Rhydian was saying, free ways of doing things, using social media. You have to create the material, but then you can distribute it really, really cheaply. We will look to do this in a way that works for Wales, and work with the partners and do it for the cheapest possible price, consistent with getting the result you need. So, we do take a really commercial approach to procuring and delivering campaigns work.

09:40

And I think, to answer your question, yes, it is possible, but the key thing is—another thing you may have mentioned—in the long term: we have to plan for these things properly.

Yes. And we know that there are other initiatives that have been discussed in previous consultative measures, initiatives such as a central register for Wales, for example, and aspects of automatic registration. If those initiatives do come to fruition—we don't know, but if they do come to fruition and you see additional measures of electoral reform, I think that will help, at least in eliminating some of the wastage that we currently see around things like duplication that you mentioned. But I think that has to be a medium to long-term aspiration in terms of where we are in Wales at this moment.

More research in the future into electronic voting—is that a potential—? I mean, I know that when we've taken evidence in a different inquiry from the Welsh Revenue Authority, they cut their costs down by moving away from paper to computer-based systems. I know that within electoral arrangements it's much more complicated because those systems have to be totally—well, of course, they have to be robust in tax terms as well. So, is that something that you'd look to move to in the future?

It wouldn't be for the commission to give a view on moving to electronic voting, but, again, we know that there have been discussions around potential pilots that could be included in future local government measures; we saw that in the two previous consultations. I think that would be a proper way of doing things—to test such a measure in the first instance before moving to it—but, as you say, there are lots of things to think about in terms of security of the vote. People are concerned about the security and integrity of the vote now, with a paper system. If we were to move to an electronic system, what does that mean? Do we mean voting online or do we mean voting electronically in a polling station? If we were to move to that, I think there would be lots of questions that we would need to answer, and a lot of reassurance that we would need to give to people to ensure that they were clear that their vote was absolutely secure.

The first step would have to be a digital register before anybody could vote digitally, and that, in itself, would be cost saving, because, at the moment, in some electorates, there is a huge amount of duplication of people registering who are already registered and who'd forgotten that they'd registered, or who think that they've got to register again for a new election. So, that sort of thing needs to be addressed from a savings point of view, and that would be the first step, I think, towards the more ambitious voting system.

Can I just go back to—? You said that this was groundbreaking for the commission and for the voting system. In a sense, the groundbreaking aspect has already been done by the Wales Bill in 2017. That was the time at which all of this became possible. What we're trying to do is to implement it in the best possible way. And I repeat: a lot of the costs will be drawn down and you just need to be assured that we're drawing down in a proportionate way that doesn't short-change Wales in any way. That's what we've been trying to achieve.

Certainly in relation to the commission, yes.

Okay. A slightly different aspect now. Do you agree that the current allowances provided to electoral returning officers should be reconsidered as part of making changes to the system?

I think that's a political matter for you.

The commission would not provide a view specifically on fees for electoral officers. What we would say is we want elections and electoral events in Wales to be run and managed properly, and that means that they're resourced properly. People talk about fees and such things; fees can also account for training for individual officers within local authority areas, so I think it has to be looked at in the round. But the Electoral Commission would not provide a view or have a view on the provision of fees to chief officers. 

09:45

I think I've only known one time during my tenure as an Assembly Member where the high sheriff exercised their right to be the returning officer at one point, and I think that was a development in a different direction to what we all anticipated.

I think we do retain the right in England and Wales at least to address at the count.

But it's actually the acting returning officer, who is actually the chief exec, usually, who manages the whole thing. I don't think the high sheriff managed the election.

I think the power went to their head in that particular example.

But that's for parliamentary elections, obviously. We don't see that, unless you wanted to introduce it for Assembly elections.

Okay. And finally from me, then, are there any direct costs or unintended consequences—I always think it's funny asking people about unintended consequences, because they're unintended, so you wouldn't know, would you—in relation to change in the election franchise that you think could be a problem in terms of putting the costings out?

I'm not sure—. Could you explain the details?

Yes. Are there any direct costs or unintended consequences in relation to change in the election franchise that you feel have not been included or catered for in the Bill costings?

Not unless there are amendments that we don't know about at the moment.

As we currently stand—.

You mentioned earlier automatic registration, and I was just thinking, in terms of 16-year-olds, we've had a proposition put to us based on value for money that there might, or maybe there should be, automatic registration for 16-year-olds when they receive their national insurance numbers. Now, I don't know whether you think that's a plausible suggestion or not.

I think the commission has previously said that certain elements of automatic registration would be beneficial in terms of targeting specific groups that were currently under-registered. The balance comes with the principle attached to individual electoral registration. We moved to IER in 2014 and the important thing behind IER was to give the individual the right to register to vote, rather than the old system of the head of household doing so.

But do you acknowledge that that kind of approach, when we're looking at 14, 15, 16-year-olds, is easier because you know where they are? That's been suggested to us. They're in school or in full-time education, whereas once you're 18, then you could be anywhere.

Oherwydd dwi'n fodlon gyda'r atebion dŷn ni wedi'u cael, fell dwi'n hapus iawn. Roeddwn i'n meddwl, yr Athro Stephens, fod eich datganiad cychwynnol wedi bod yn help mawr i ni fel pwyllgor, ac oherwydd hynny, dwi'n fodlon gyda'r atebion dŷn ni wedi'u cael y bore yma.

Because I've been content with the answers that we've received, so I'm very happy. I was thinking, Professor Stephens, that your initial statement was a great help to us as a committee, and so because of that, I'm very content with the answers that we've had this morning.  

Wel, dyna ni. Iawn, grêt. Wel, mi oedd hynna'n adlewyrchu bodlonrwydd llwyr. Iawn. Oes yna unrhyw sylwadau, unrhyw gwestiynau pellach gan Aelodau? Iawn. Oes yna rywbeth ymhellach rŷch chi'n teimlo rŷch chi eisiau ei rannu gyda ni cyn imi ddod â'r sesiwn i ben?

Well, that's it. Okay, great. Well, that did reflect a great deal of contentment. Are there any further questions or comments from Members? Okay. Anything further that you want to share with us as witnesses, before I bring this session to a close?

Dim ond i ddweud diolch. Os oes yna unrhyw wybodaeth ychwanegol y gallem ni ei rhoi i chi—dwi'n gwybod bod ambell beth yr hoffem ni anfon ymlaen fel gwybodaeth atodol ar ôl y cyfarfod, os gallem ni, ond os oes yna rywbeth dŷch chi eisiau o'r comisiwn, unrhyw wybodaeth, cysylltwch â ni. Diolch yn fawr.

Only to say thanks. If there's any additional information—I know that there are a couple of things that we'd like to send on as additional information, if we could, but if there's anything that you want from the commission, any information, you're welcome to contact us. Thank you very much.

A dŷch chi'n gwybod ein bod ni yma er mwyn gwneud yr arfer gorau ar gyfer etholiadau Cymru.

And, as you know, we're here to conduct best practice in terms of elections in Wales.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Diolch i chi am ymuno â ni y bore yma. Pob hwyl. Diolch yn fawr.

Thank you very much. Thank you for joining us this morning. All the best. Thank you.

Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Thank you very much.

5. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod ac eitem gyntaf y cyfarfod ar 4 Ebrill.
5. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting and the first item of the 4 April meeting.

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod ac eitem gyntaf y cyfarfod ar 4 Ebrill yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting and the first item of the 4 April meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Mi fydd y pwyllgor nawr yn symud i sesiwn breifat. Felly, dwi'n cynnig, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi), fod y pwyllgor—[Torri ar draws.] Mae'n ddrwg gen i. Iawn. Dwi'n cynnig bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu cwrdd yn breifat ar gyfer gweddill y cyfarfod hwn a hefyd ar gyfer eitem gyntaf ein cyfarfod ni ar 4 Ebrill. Ydy'r Aelodau yn hapus â hynny? Iawn, diolch yn fawr.

The committee will now move into private session. So, I propose, under Standing Order 17.42, that the committee—[Interruption.] Sorry. Okay. I propose that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of this meeting and also for the first item of the meeting on 4 April. Are Members content with that? All right, thank you very much.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 09:49.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 09:49.

Archwilio Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru