Y Pwyllgor Cyllid
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Alun Davies AC|
|Llyr Gruffydd AC||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Mark Reckless AC|
|Mike Hedges AC|
|Nick Ramsay AC|
|Rhianon Passmore AC|
|Rhun ap Iorwerth AC|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Anna Daniel||Pennaeth Trawsnewid Strategol, Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru|
|Head of Strategic Transformation, National Assembly for Wales|
|Chris Warner||Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Jeremy Miles AC||Y Cwnsler Cyffredinol a'r Gweinidog Brexit|
|Counsel General and Brexit Minister|
|Manon Antoniazzi||Prif Weithredwr a Chlerc y Cynulliad|
|Chief Executive and Clerk of the Assembly|
|Matthew Denham-Jones||Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Nia Morgan||Cyfarwyddwr Cyllid, Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru|
|Director of Finance, Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru|
|Y Llywydd / The Llywydd||Yr Aelod sy’n gyfrifol am y Bil|
|The Member in charge of the Bill|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Ben Harris||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|Leanne Hatcher||Ail Glerc|
|Samantha Williams||Dirprwy Glerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:00.
The meeting began at 09:00.
Bore da a chroeso i chi i gyd i gyfarfod y Pwyllgor Cyllid y bore yma. A gaf i nodi bod clustffonau ar gael, wrth gwrs, ar gyfer cyfieithu ar y pryd neu i amrywio lefel y sain? A gaf i hefyd atgoffa Aelodau i ddiffodd y sain ar unrhyw ddyfeisiau electronig sydd gennych chi? A gaf i ofyn a oes gan Aelodau unrhyw fuddiannau i'w datgan? Nac oes. Iawn.
Good morning and welcome to this meeting of the Finance Committee this morning. Could I note that headsets are available for translation or for sound amplification? Could I also remind Members to ensure that any electronic devices are on silent? Could I ask whether Members have any interests to declare? No.
Ymlaen â ni, felly, at yr ail eitem ar ein hagenda ni, sef, wrth gwrs, i dderbyn tystiolaeth bellach ar y Bil Senedd ac Etholiadau (Cymru). Mae'n bleser gen i groesawu Jeremy Miles, y Cwnsler Cyffredinol. A fyddech chi'n hoffi cyflwyno'ch swyddogion?
We move on, therefore, to the second item on the agenda, namely to have further evidence on the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill. It's my pleasure to welcome Jeremy Miles, the Counsel General. Would you like to introduce your officials?
Mae gennym ni Matthew Denham-Jones a Chris Warner.
Matthew Denham-Jones and Chris Warner.
Dyna fe, diolch yn fawr iawn i chi—croeso. Mi awn ni'n syth i gwestiynau, os ydy hynny'n iawn.
Jest un cwestiwn bach syml ar y dechrau, efallai, jest i gadarnhau: a ydych chi'n bwriadu cyflwyno mwy o welliannau, efallai, nag ŷch chi wedi'u rhannu â ni i'r Bil yma? Os ŷch chi, a ydych chi'n mynd i wneud unrhyw waith costio arnyn nhw?
Okay, thank you—welcome. We'll go straight to questions, if that's okay.
Just one simple question at the outset, just to confirm: are you intending to bring forward any more amendments than those that you've shared with us for this Bill? If you are, have you done any costings work on them?
Dim yng nghyd-destun adran 27. Wrth gwrs, mae gwelliannau eraill, ond bydd y rheini yn mynd drwy'r system yn y ffordd arferol.
Not in the context of section 27. Of course, there are other amendments, but those will go through the system in the usual manner.
Wrth gwrs, ie. Ocê, iawn; diolch yn fawr iawn. Felly, dydyn ni ddim yn rhagweld y bydd angen edrych ar rywbeth pellach cyn wythnos nesaf. Na. Dyna fe, diolch yn fawr.
Cwestiwn arall, wrth gwrs, yw pam na ddarparwyd costau ochr yn ochr â'r gwelliannau drafft, fel oedd y pwyllgor wedi gofyn amdanyn nhw, yn hytrach, wrth gwrs, na jest yr amcangyfrif eang sydd gennym ni o gostau gweinyddol y Comisiwn Etholiadol.
Of course, yes. Okay, thank you. So, you don't foresee that we'll have to look at something else before next week. No. Okay, thank you.
Another question, of course, is why haven't costings been provided alongside the draft amendments, as the committee asked for, rather than just the broad estimate of the Electoral Commission's administration costs.
Wel, y bwriad yw darparu costau fel y cytunwyd i'w wneud. Mae'r trafodaethau yn dal yn mynd rhagddyn nhw rhyngom ni a'r Comisiwn Etholiadol a Chomisiwn y Cynulliad, ond y bwriad yw cyflwyno'r costau i chi. Mae'r rhagolygon o ran costau yn seiliedig ar gredu bod y rhan fwyaf o'r gwariant yn mynd i fod yn syrthio ar Gomisiwn y Cynulliad, yng nghyd-destun craffu a phrosesu.
O ran amcangyfrif bras, mae gyda ni—rwy'n edrych ar rywbeth tebyg i [cywiriad: ar graffu yn costio] ryw £39,000 dros bum mlynedd, sydd yn yr RIA hefyd. Dyna fraslun o'r mathau o gostau. Roeddwn i'n bwriadu darparu'r costau cyn cyflwyno'r resolution.
Well, the intention is to provide costings, as we agreed to do. The discussions are ongoing between ourselves and the Electoral Commission and the Assembly Commission, but the intention is to provide those costings to you. The forecasts, in terms of costings, are based on a belief that most of the expenditure will fall on the Assembly Commission, in terms of scrutiny and processing.
In terms of a broad estimate, I'm looking at something [correction: scrutiny costing] in the region of £39,000 over five years—that's in the regulatory impact assessment. Those are the kinds of costs we were looking for. We had intended to provide those costs before introducing the resolution.
O, reit, dyna fe, achos dyna beth oeddwn i'n mynd i ofyn: a oeddech chi'n meddwl ei fod e'n deg ein bod ni'n mynd i'r pwynt yna heb fod wedi eu gweld? Felly, a allwch chi gadarnhau—cyn wythnos nesaf, felly, byddwn ni'n gweld rheini?
Oh, right, because that's what I was going to ask: do you think it's fair that we get to that point before we've seen them? So, can you confirm that we will see those before next week?
Dyna'r bwriad, ie.
That's the intention, yes.
Ocê, iawn. Iawn. Ocê. Diolch yn fawr iawn. Alun Davies.
Okay, fine. Fine. Okay. Thank you very much. Alun Davies.
Dwi wedi bod yn darllen y llythyr at Gadeirydd y pwyllgor. Dwi'n cytuno, ac yn credu bod pob un yn cytuno, ag amcanion y Llywodraeth mewn termau polisi. Felly, y drafodaeth fydd sut ydyn ni'n actually cyrraedd y pwynt, yn lle trafod y pwynt ei hun. Wrth ddarllen e, pan fyddwn i'n ystyried hyn ac yn dod at y materion yma, dwi yn reddfol yn meddwl y dylai'r Comisiwn Etholiadol gael ei ariannu mas o'r consolidated fund, a dŷch chi wedi trafod yn eich llythyr at y pwyllgor sawl rheswm pam dyw hynny ddim yn bosibl. Mae'r rhesymau i gyd yn dechnegol, yn gyfreithiol—rwy'n derbyn hynny. Ydych chi wedi ystyried gwneud y newidiadau angenrheidiol i sicrhau bod y Comisiwn Etholiadol yn gallu cael ei ariannu o'r gronfa, felly, yn lle ei ariannu gan y Comisiwn?
I have been reading your letter to the Chair of the committee. I agree, and I think that everyone agrees, with the Government's objectives in terms of policy. The discussion, therefore, will be how we can arrive at that point, rather than discussing the point itself. In reading it, when I consider this and approach these issues, instinctively I think that the Electoral Commission should be funded from the consolidated fund, and you've discussed, in your letter to the committee, several reasons why that isn't possible. The reasons are all technical, legal—I accept that. Have you considered making the necessary changes to ensure that the Electoral Commission can be funded from the consolidated fund, rather than being funded from the Assembly Commission?
Ydyn, rŷn ni wedi edrych ar yr opsiynau i gyd—rhyw bedwar opsiwn. Dŷn ni ddim yn credu ei fod yn addas i'r Comisiwn Etholiadol—
Well, yes, we've looked at all of the options—some four options in total. We don't think it's appropriate for the Electoral Commission—
Mae 'addas' yn air gwahanol, onid ydy? Mae hynny'n meddwl eich bod chi wedi gwneud dewis polisi a hefyd dewis technegol, cyfreithiol.
'Appropriate' is a different word, isn't it? That means that you've made a policy choice and also a technical, legal choice.
Mae'n gymysgedd o'r ddau, a dweud y gwir. Mae dadansoddiad cyfreithiol, o ran cymhwysedd, o ran cynsail cyfansoddiadol, ac o ran atebolrwydd, yn rhan o'r mix, fel petai, ond mae fe hefyd—. Rwy'n credu bod dadl gyfansoddiadol yn cefnogi'r safbwynt rŷn ni yn ei gynnig fel ffordd drwy'r sialens, fel petai. Mae'r llythyr yn ymgais i esbonio, efallai yn rhy dechnegol, beth yw'r dadansoddiad rŷm ni wedi'i wneud o bob un o'r camau sydd yn bosibl. Rŷm ni'n cydnabod, wrth gwrs, fod sialensiau neu gamau yn codi yn sgil yr hyn yr ŷm ni yn ei awgrymu, ond, ar y cyfan, o gymryd y sialensiau gyda'r llwybrau eraill, rŷm ni'n credu mai dyma'r ffordd symlaf a'r ffordd fwyaf addas a phriodol o wneud hynny.
Well, it's a combination of both, if truth be told. There is a legal analysis, in terms of competence and in terms of constitutional precedent and accountability—that's certainly part of the mix. But I think there is also a constitutional argument supporting our proposed route through this challenge. The letter is an attempt to explain, in too technical a manner, perhaps, what our analysis has been of each of the possible options. We accept, of course, that there would be challenges posed by our preferred option, but, generally speaking, having looked at the challenges posed by the other routes proposed, we think this is the simplest and most appropriate way of doing that.
Dwi'n derbyn mai dyna safbwynt y Llywodraeth, ond fy mhwynt i yw, pan fyddwn i'n ystyried sut mae'r consolidated fund yn gweithio ac yn ariannu yn uniongyrchol yr ombwdsmon, yr auditor a mannau eraill, mae'n teimlo i fi bod y Comisiwn Etholiadol yn cwympo yn yr un lle. Nawr, dwi'n deall y dadleuon—dŷch chi wedi dweud bod y Comisiwn Etholiadol ar lefel y Deyrnas Unedig yn cael ei ariannu mas o'r gronfa gyfunol fanna, ac felly mae'n anodd gwneud yr un peth fan hyn. Dwi'n gweld hynny, a dwi'n gweld y dadleuon dŷch chi wedi eu gosod yn eu lle i gefnogi dadansoddiad felly.
Ond gaf i jest wasgu tipyn bach yn bellach ar hynny? Dwi'n credu eich bod chi'n dweud yn eich llythyr ei fod e'n novel. Dyna un o'r geiriau dŷch chi'n eu defnyddio. I fi, pan wyf i'n darllen hynny, rwy'n dweud, 'So what? So what?' Beth ŷch chi'n dweud yw dyw e ddim wedi digwydd o'r blaen. I fi, mae'n dweud, 'So what?' Dyw e ddim wedi digwydd o'r blaen—dyw hynny ddim yn ein rhwystro ni rhag gwneud unrhyw beth.
I accept that that's the Government position, but my point is, when I consider how the consolidated fund works and funds directly the ombudsman, the auditor and so forth, it feels to me as though the Electoral Commission falls into the same space. Now, I do understand the arguments that you've made—you've said that the Electoral Commission at the UK level is funded from their consolidated fund, so it's difficult to do the same thing here. I see that and I do see the arguments that you've put in place to support that analysis.
But could I just press you further on that? I think you say in your letter that it's 'novel'. That's the word that you use. For me, when I read that, I think, 'So what? So what?' What you're saying is it hasn't happened before. To me, that's a case of, 'So what?' It hasn't happened before—that doesn't prevent us from doing anything.
Dwi ddim yn credu fy mod i wedi defnyddio'r ddadl yna fel yr unig ddadl ar gyfer un o'r opsiynau eraill. Roeddwn i jest yn disgrifio'r ffaith; efallai mai'r ffaith ei fod e'n novel yn golygu dyw'r sialensiau eraill ddim wedi gallu cael eu hateb mewn cyd-destunau eraill. Dwi ddim yn credu bod y ffaith ei fod e'n novel yn ei hunan—rwy'n cytuno â chi—yn rhwystredigaeth, ond mae'n dystiolaeth efallai o'r ffaith bod amryw o sialensiau eraill ar y llwybr i'r pen hwnnw.
I don't think I used that argument as the only argument for any of the other options. I was just describing the fact that the fact that it's novel means that the other challenges haven't been resolved in other contexts. I don't think that the fact that it's novel in and of itself—I agree with you—is any barrier, but it is evidence of the fact that there are number of other challenges facing us on that particular route.
A dwi'n derbyn hynny. Bob tro rwyf fi'n clywed Gweinidog yn dweud, 'Dyma'r tro cyntaf yn y byd mae unrhyw un wedi gwneud hyn, does neb wedi dilyn lein Cymru o'r blaen,' dwi'n becso. [Chwerthin.] Maen nhw'n ei weld e fel rhywbeth i fod yn falch ohono fe a dwi'n gweld, 'Wel, mae yna reswm, efallai'. A dwi'n derbyn hynny, ond mae'n teimlo i fi, wrth ddarllen y llythyr, eich bod chi eisiau symud y cyfrifoldeb at y Comisiwn, a dwi ddim yn siŵr mod i'n teimlo'n gyfforddus gyda hynny.
Yes, I accept that. Every time I hear a Minister say, 'Well, this is the first time anyone in the world has done this, no-one has followed the Welsh line before,' I'm concerned. [Laughter.] They see it as something to be proud of, and I think, 'Well, there may be a reason for that, perhaps'. I do accept that, but it feels to me from reading the letter that you want to shift the responsibility to the Commission, and I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with that.
Wel, i fod yn deg, y llwybr hawsaf fuasai derbyn y dadleuon eraill o ran beth yw'r drafodaeth o'r Llywydd ac ati, ond dyma hefyd, fel mae'n digwydd, y llwybr mae'r Alban yn ei gymryd—nid bod hynny yn ateb hefyd i'r cwestiwn. Ond rwy'n credu ei fod e'n dystiolaeth o'r ffaith ein bod ni wedi edrych ar yr opsiynau ar y cyd. Os edrychwch chi mewn manylder ar yr opsiynau eraill, dwi ddim yn gweld llwybr clir trwyddyn nhw. Does dim corff arall a fyddai'n addas i ariannu. Mae cwestiwn, rwy'n credu, cyfansoddiadol o ran y Llywodraeth yn talu, oherwydd dyw atebolrwydd y corff ddim i'r Llywodraeth. Buasai honno'n egwyddor bwysig iawn, rwy'n siŵr y byddech chi'n cytuno â hynny. Ac wedyn mae cwestiynau o gymhwysedd ynglŷn â sut ŷn ni'n gallu gwneud gwelliannau i ddeddfwriaeth arall er mwyn sicrhau talu'n uniongyrchol, a hefyd mae prosesau lle mae pobl yn cael eu talu yn uniongyrchol oherwydd does dim atebolrwydd i'r Cynulliad—hynny yw, mae angen pellter rhwng y corff a'r Cynulliad. Felly, dwi ddim fy hun yn gweld bod unrhyw un o'r patrymau hynny yn gwbl addas i'r berthynas fydd gyda ni fel sefydliad â'r comisiwn yn y dyfodol. Am wn i, dyna hefyd pam mae'r Alban wedi mynd ar hyd yr un llwybr.
Well, to be fair, the easiest route would be to accept the other proposals in terms of the Llywydd's options, but, as it happens, this is also the route taken by Scotland—not that that answers the question in any way. But I do think that it is evidence of the fact that we have looked at all of the options. If you look in detail at the other options, I don't see a clear pathway through those. There's no other body that would be appropriate to fund. I think there is a constitutional question with the Government paying, because the accountability for the body is not to the Government. That's a very important principle, and I'm sure you would agree with that. And there are issues of competence as to how we can make amendments to other legislation in order to pay directly, and there are processes where people are paid directly because there is no route of accountability to the Assembly—that is, you need distance between the body and the Assembly. So, personally, I don't see that any of those approaches are entirely appropriate for the relationship we'll have as an institution with the commission in the future. I suppose that's why Scotland's followed the same kind of route.
Ac mae hynny'n ddigon teg; dwi ddim yn ffeindio hynny'n anodd o gwbl. Ydych chi wedi trafod—? Mae'n amlwg eich bod chi wedi trafod hyn gyda'r Comisiwn.
That's fair enough; I don't find that difficult at all. Have you discussed—? Well, it's evident that you have discussed this with the Commission.
With the commission?
Y Comisiwn—sori, Comisiwn y Cynulliad.
The Commission—sorry, the Assembly Commission.
Do, do. Mae trafodaethau wedi bod rhwng swyddogion, ond gwnes i gwrdd gyda'r Llywydd wythnos diwethaf i fynd trwy'r opsiynau ac i drafod—rydych chi'n gwybod, wrth gwrs, fod gan y Llywydd gwestiynau ynglŷn â'r hyn ŷn ni'n cynnig, felly, ar un neu ddau o'r mannau yna, rŷm ni wedi cytuno i edrych ar ffyrdd o wneud y broses ŷn ni'n ei hargymell ychydig yn haws, yn symlach efallai, o safbwynt y Comisiwn. Ond rŷn wedi trafod—rydw i wedi trafod yn uniongyrchol â'r Llywydd, ond mae trafodaethau wedi bod yn digwydd ers sbel am hyn.
Yes, we have. There have been discussions between officials, and I met with the Llywydd last week to go through the various options, and you will know, of course, that the Llywydd has some questions on our proposals. So, we have agreed to look at ways of making our proposed process a little simpler, perhaps, from the Commission's point of view. But we've discussed—I've had direct discussions with the Llywydd, but there have also been discussions over a period of time.
Diolch. Rydych chi'n dweud eich bod chi wedi edrych ar bedwar opsiwn cyn dod i'r penderfyniad. Oeddech chi wedi datblygu costiadau o gwmpas y pedwar opsiwn, ac, os oeddech chi, a fydd y rheini ar gael i'r cyhoedd?
Thank you. You say you looked at four options before coming to this decision. Had you developed costings around the four options, and, if you have, will they be publicly available?
Wnaethon nhw ddim cyrraedd y cam hwnnw. Gwnaethon nhw syrthio ar yr hurdles cyn hynny, fel petai, o ran pethau cyfansoddiadol neu o ran y berthynas atebolrwydd, felly wnaethon ni ddim cyrraedd y pwynt lle'r oedd e'n gwneud synnwyr i wneud asesiad o gost. Roedd rhesymau eraill yn eu tynnu nhw i ffwrdd o'r rhestr o'n safbwynt ni.
We didn't reach that point. They fell at earlier hurdles, in terms of constitutional issues or the accountability relationship, so we didn't get to the point where it made sense to carry out an assessment of cost. There were other reasons that took them off the list from our perspective.
Gwnaethoch chi gyfeirio cwpwl o weithiau at y ffordd maen nhw'n ei wneud e yn yr Alban. Wel, wrth gwrs, mae'r corporate body yn yr Alban eisoes yn ariannu'n uniongyrchol gyrff allanol, sef y rôl mae'r Pwyllgor Cyllid yn ei gyflawni fan hyn. Felly, dyw e ddim yn gymhariaeth—allwch chi ddim gwneud y gymhariaeth yn syml, byddwn i'n tybio, oherwydd mae'r cyd-destun yn wahanol.
You referred a couple of times to the way they do things in Scotland. But, of course, the corporate body in Scotland already directly funds external bodies, namely the role that the Finance Committee carries out here. So, you can't make that comparison simply, I would suspect, because the context is different.
Wel, mae Comisiwn y Cynulliad yn ariannu cyrff allanol hefyd, felly mae'r gymhariaeth honno'n gymwys i'r pethau hynny.
Well, the Assembly Commission funds external organisations too, so that comparison applies there.
Oes yna—neu ba drafodaethau sydd wedi bod efo Archwilydd Cyffredinol Cymru ynglŷn â phriodoldeb yr hyn yr ydych chi'n ei argymell?
Have you had—or what discussions have you had with the Auditor General for Wales on the appropriateness of what you're recommending?
Mae trafodaethau wedi bod, ac rwy'n sicr bod yr hyn rŷm ni'n ei argymell fel set o welliannau yn rhywbeth buasen nhw'n gyfforddus gyda fe. Ond rwy'n sicr y byddwch chi eisiau cael sicrhau hynny eich hunan, efallai gyda thrafodaeth gyda nhw. Ond, o'n safbwynt ni, mae'r drafodaeth yna yn cefnogi'r llwybr rŷm ni'n ei argymell.
There have been some discussions and I am confident that our recommendations as a set of amendments are something that they would be comfortable with. But I'm sure you'd need to seek those assurances yourselves. But, from our perspective, those discussions support our proposed route.
Ydych chi'n gallu dweud wrthym ni a drafodwyd y llwybrau eraill posib efo'r archwilydd cyffredinol? A oedd y cyngor a dderbynioch chi, neu'r atebion a dderbynioch chi i'r cwestiynau, yn pwyntio i'r un cyfeiriad yr ydych chi wedi setlo arno fo, ynteu oedd yr archwilydd yn dweud, 'Wel, mae pob un ohonyn nhw'n bosib'?
Could you tell us whether the other routes were discussed with the auditor general? Did the advice that you had, or the answers that you had to the questions, point in the same direction that you settled on, or did the auditor say, 'Well, all of them are possible'?
Wel, roedd rhai o'r gwrthwynebiadau i lwybrau eraill yn wrthwynebiadau o ran cymhwysedd neu o ran cwestiynau ehangach na hynny, ond, o ran trafodaethau manwl, efallai y gallwn i ofyn i Chris roi sylwad ar hynny o ran yr WAO.
Well, some of the objections to the other routes related to competence or broader questions, but, in terms of detailed discussions, perhaps I could ask Chris to comment on that in terms of the WAO.
Yes, we've had discussions with the WAO about the Llywydd's proposals as well as ours, and I think Matthew had the most recent discussions, so might want to add to that. But, clearly, we haven't asked the WAO to adjudicate on our proposal, but we've made sure that we've satisfied ourselves in the discussions that they're aware of what we're proposing to do, and we've been able to raise any issues along the way.
Just to add to that, yes, we've gone through really to test the logic around the accountability constitutional issue that the Llywydd's proposal would trigger, and, from a point of view of then accounting for funding from the Welsh consolidated fund, the accounts that would need to be prepared then additionally by the Electoral Commission in relation to Welsh expenditure if we were to go down that route. So, we just needed to test that with the auditors of the consolidated fund as well.
Ocê. Thank you—diolch yn fawr. O gael proses o roi cyfrifoldebau newydd i Gomisiwn y Cynulliad, mi ydych chi'n dweud y byddai angen newid Rheolau Sefydlog y Cynulliad. Sut fyddai gwneud hynny? Sut ydych chi wedi bodloni'ch hun bod modd newid y Rheolau Sefydlog hynny mewn ffordd sy'n caniatáu dilyn y llwybr rydych chi'n ei argymell?
Okay. Thank you. In giving new responsibilities to the Assembly Commission, you say that there would be a need to change the Standing Orders of the Assembly. How would you do that? How have you satisfied yourself that it would be possible to change the Standing Orders in a way that allows you to follow the route that you recommend?
Wel, y peth cyntaf i'w ddweud wrth gwrs yw mai cwestiwn i'r Cynulliad, y Pwyllgor Busnes ac ati, yw manylder hynny, ond, o ran syniadau bras am beth fuasai angen ei wneud o ran nod, o leiaf, rwy'n credu y byddai angen newid y Rheolau Sefydlog i sicrhau rôl eglur i'r pwyllgor hwn ar yr un llaw, a chorff y Senedd, corff y Cynulliad—beth bynnag fyddai'r corff hwnnw—ar y llaw arall, fel ei fod e'n glir beth yw perthynas un â'r llall, disgrifio'r broses o sut byddai arian Comisiwn Etholiadol yn dod yn rhan o ambit neu gylch gorchwyl Comisiwn y Cynulliad a'r broses baralel o sgrwtineiddio'r ffigurau o ran Comisiwn Etholiadol a chyllideb ehangach y Comisiwn ei hun, ac wedyn disgrifio'r broses sut byddai'r ddau yn dod at y cyd a'r broses o gael hynny yn cael ei graffu gan y pwyllgor hwn. Felly, mae angen disgrifio'r camau penodol hynny, rwy'n credu, yn y rheolau, ond rwy'n credu bod hynny'n berffaith bosib os ydy'r Cynulliad yn hapus i wneud hynny.
Well, the first thing to say, of course, is that this is a question for the Assembly and the Business Committee in terms of the detail. But, in terms of some broad ideas in terms of what would need to be done in terms of the goal, at least, I think we would need to change Standing Orders in order to secure a clear role for this committee on the one hand, and the Assembly body, whatever that may be, on the other, so that it is clear what the relationship there would be. We need to describe a process as to how Electoral Commission funding would become part of the ambit or the remit of the Assembly committee, and the parallel process of scrutinising the figures in terms of the Electoral Commission and the broader budget of the Commission itself, and then to describe the process as to how those two things would dovetail and how this committee would scrutinise that. So, we need to describe those specific steps in Standing Orders, but I do think that's perfectly possible if the Assembly's willing to do that.
Yr unig beth rydych chi'n gorfod ei ystyried ydy cyfreithlondeb y camau, ac rydych chi wedi bodloni eich hunan nad oes yna ddim problem yn y fan honno. Un cwestiwn pwysig iawn, dwi'n meddwl, o ran y broses rydym ni'n ei dilyn fel deddfwrfa: a ydych chi wir yn credu ei bod hi yn briodol i gylch gwaith statudol Comisiwn y Cynulliad gael ei ymestyn mewn ffordd sydd yn dra gwahanol i'r sefyllfa bresennol heb gyfle i graffu Cyfnod 1 ar y newid sylfaenol hwnnw?
The only thing that you have to consider is the legality of those steps, and you're satisfied there's no problem in that regard. But one important question, I think, in terms of the process that we're pursuing as a legislature is: do you think it's appropriate for the statutory remit of the Assembly Commission to be extended in a way that is very different to the current situation without an opportunity to undertake Stage 1 scrutiny on this fundamental change?
Wel, ydw, os ydy'r Cynulliad yn credu bod hynny'n addas. Rwyf yn sicr yn credu bod hynny yn bosib. Er mai nawr rŷm ni'n trafod manylder y peth, fel dŷch chi'n ei ddweud, roedd trafodaeth ehangach am rôl i'r Comisiwn o ran y perthynas gyda'r Comisiwn Etholiadol yn Gyfnod 1. Felly, rwy'n credu bod hynny'n gynsail i'r drafodaeth y byddwn ni'n ei chael.
Well, yes, if the Assembly believes that to be appropriate. I certainly think it's possible. Although we are discussing the detail of this now, as you say, there was a broader discussion on the Commission's role in relation to the Electoral Commission at Stage 1. So, I do think that that is a precedent for the discussion that we'll have.
Felly, manylyn rydych chi'n gweld hyn yn hytrach na newid sylfaenol fyddai, o bosib, yn gwneud i rai pobl feddwl, 'Hold on, dŷn ni'n newid cyfeiriad digonol yn fan hyn i fod eisiau mynd yn ôl un cam er mwyn cael sgrwtini ehangach arno fo.'
So you see this as a detail, rather than a fundamental change that would make some people think, 'Well, hold on, we're changing direction here and we need to go back a step to have proper scrutiny.'
Wel, mae manylder yma, ond o ran y pwynt o egwyddor y gwnaethoch chi godi yn y cwestiwn, rwy'n credu bod trafodaeth ehangach wedi bod ynghynt yn y broses. Nid dyma'r tro cyntaf y mae'r syniad wedi codi yn ystod trafodaeth ar y Bil ynglŷn â'r rôl a'r berthynas rhwng y sefydliad a'r Comisiwn Etholiadol. Felly mae'r drafodaeth ehangach honno wedi bod yn digwydd ers amser. Mae'r manylder yn codi nawr gan fod gwelliannau penodol ar y gweill. Ond rwy'n credu bod y drafodaeth o ran egwyddor wedi bod yn digwydd yn gynt na hyn.
Well, there is some detail here, but in terms of the point of principle raised in your question, I think there has been a broader discussion earlier in the process. This isn't the first time that the idea has been flagged up in relation to the Bill as to the role and the relationship between the institution and the Electoral Commission. So that broader discussion has been happening for some time. The detail arises now because specific amendments are in the pipeline, but I think that the discussion on the principle has happened at an earlier stage.
Chi ddim yn meddwl bod yna elfen o or-gymhlethu'r sefyllfa, fod Comisiwn y Cynulliad yn rhyw fath o sefyll rhwng y Comisiwn Etholiadol a'r pwyllgor yma a'r Cynulliad yn ei gyfanrwydd? Hynny yw, oni fyddai'n haws jest gwneud y Comisiwn Etholiadol yn atebol i bwyllgor yn fan hyn, fel mae cyrff allanol sy'n derbyn cyllid gennym ni'n gwneud yn y rhan fwyaf o gyd-destunau eraill?
Don't you think that there's an element of over-complication, that the Assembly Commission stands between the Electoral Commission and this committee and the Assembly in its entirety? Wouldn't it be easier just to make the Electoral Commission accountable to a committee here, just like the majority of other external bodies that receive funding from us in other contexts?
Wel, dyw'r Comisiwn Etholiadol ddim yn credu hynny. Maen nhw wedi dweud yng Nghyfnod 1 bod yn well ganddyn nhw o ran egwyddor gyfansoddiadol fod yn atebol i gorff sydd ag elfen o annibyniaeth wleidyddol, hynny yw, pleidiol. Felly, mae'r cynnig sydd gennym ni o gorff gyda'r Llywydd neu gorff o fewn y Comisiwn yn ateb hynny.
O ran y cwestiwn ehangach o ran cymhlethu pethau, rŷm ni wastad eisiau sicrhau bod ein prosesau ni ddim yn gor-gymhlethu pethau, wrth gwrs, ond un o'r egwyddorion pwysig yw hynny yn y mix gydag egwyddorion eraill, ac rwy'n credu bod hwn yn faes lle mae lot o egwyddorion yn cystadlu am flaenoriaeth. Felly dwi ddim fy hunan yn credu bod gormod o gymhlethdod yma i orbwyso yr egwyddorion pwysig eraill sydd ar y bwrdd.
Well, the Electoral Commission don't believe that. They have said at Stage 1 that, in terms of constitutional principle, they would prefer to be accountable to a body that has an element of party political independence. So the proposal that we make in terms of a body headed by the Llywydd or within the Commission answers that.
In terms of making things more complex, we always want to ensure that our processes aren't overly complicated, but that's one of the fundamental principles in the mix with many others, and I think this is an area where there are a lot of competing priorities. So I myself don't think that there is too much complexity here that would outweigh the other important principles on the table.
Ocê. Diolch. Mike.
Okay. Thank you. Mike.
I found that last answer strange, and perhaps you can help me out. Because my understanding is that the Commission is made up of representatives of political parties, so how it can be described as not being political is beyond my understanding. Perhaps you could explain it to me.
Well, I think the Llywydd obviously has a role that is beyond party politics. I think that's what I was referring to.
But the Commission itself is made up of Commissioners, and the Commissioners are representatives of political parties.
So it's hardly non political. I think the description of the Commission as 'non political' to me seems extremely strange, but I won't pursue that any further.
What I will pursue, and this really follows on from what the Chair was talking about: we have a situation where both the ombudsman and the auditor general, who are two independent bodies, independent in law, are funded by the Assembly as a whole, so they get scrutinised. Also, they report back to the Finance Committee, who discuss their budget in public. Why is that not suitable for the Electoral Commission? I would have thought that they were no more independent than the ombudsman and the auditor general.
Well, I think there's a question about adding different—. That requires amendment to legislation, effectively, to put the Electoral Commission on the same status, as I understand it, as the other two bodies that you've mentioned. And that's something that we don't have competence to do. But I think, again, the Electoral Commission itself has indicated, I think, a preference—which I think that you'd probably contest, from your earlier question—for a level of accountability that goes beyond the conventional scrutiny committees, which are obviously comprised on a party basis.
Well, if it's not going to be via the Finance Committee, how is the Assembly Commission going to meet in public so that their decisions on this can be seen? People might find lots of disadvantages to this committee, but people can read the transcripts of it, they can watch us if they so desire, they can turn up in their hoards to attend the meeting, but it's actually taking place in public. How will the Commission meet in public to enable scrutiny for the public to know what is happening about the funding of the Electoral Commission? Remember, it's the public's money.
Indeed, it's the public's money. I would support that. I would welcome the Commission choosing to do that and I can't see any obstacles in their path for that to happen.
I'll take that up later. Thank you.
Thank you. Mark.
The accounting officer, in respect of the Electoral Commission for Wales, is that going to be the chief executive of the Assembly?
That's the proposal, and they already serve that function in relation to the activities of the Commission under Schedule 2 to GoWA, where grants are paid. That's an existing function. So, the proposal is that that would be the case here as well.
Might it not make sense to have an additional reporting officer specifically for Wales at the Electoral Commission, along the same model that was used for HMRC on the Welsh rates of income tax?
I have heard that suggestion made. I'm not entirely sure it's required under the proposal that we've made. There's an existing arrangement where terms and conditions are attached to grant funding to, indeed, the Electoral Commission and others, which I don't think requires the creation of a new post. But if the committee has a different view, obviously I'd be interested in hearing that. But I'm not myself persuaded that would be necessary.
And the Electoral Commission hasn't yet consolidated a set of accounts for the UK. Do we have any idea what it's spending in Wales? And we need much greater clarity in terms of the audit of that Wales spending.
We do see an important role for the Wales Audit Office in relation to this. We've included a proposal for there to be a duty on the auditor general to examine and report on the Electoral Commission accounts, which will then be audited by the National Audit Office on a UK-wide basis. But we think that's an important role for the auditor general to play in Wales, to give the level of assurance that your question rightly assumes.
And in terms of value for money, you told me a week or two ago, as Counsel General, that the costs of going to the High Court on the Miller thing was just under £9,000. How does that compare to the sort of money that the Electoral Commission has been spending on electoral court cases, against people—? Darren Grimes is one individual, a young chap who they've pursued three times and lost in court. We saw the National Crime Agency decision hidden away yesterday about Arron Banks, whom they've pursued for years, with Carole Cadwalladr putting all this stuff out for them. How much money have they wasted on that? And what sort of controls are we going to have on that type of spending, compared to the relatively good value that you delivered on your case?
Sorry, is your question in relation to the Electoral Commission's activities in Wales?
Yes. Because how are we going to use this legislation to give us more control and oversight to ensure proper spending by the Electoral Commission when we see examples of extraordinary waste of money, particularly on legal cases, which is your particular area of expertise?
I don't want to be drawn into the political point that you're making. But from the point of view of audit, the proposal that we've suggested is indeed an aim to deliver exactly that outcome.
Thank you, Chair. Moving swiftly on. There is a difference, isn't there, between £0.5 million and £1.6 million? So with your preferred option and the transfer of functionality to the Assembly Commission, what do you anticipate the discussions with the Treasury to be on the transfer of funding to the Electoral Commission? When do you think that those discussions will be complete, or is there a timescale you can attach to that?
There isn't a precise timescale at this point in time. We had, candidly, anticipated that those discussions would be pursued as part of the spending review. But as you will know, the spending review, sadly, was limited to a year, which doesn't take us into the period that would be engaged by proposals that we're making. So I can't, I'm afraid, give you a timescale at this point, but the discussions are under way.
Sorry, Rhianon, Mike would like to come in on this particular point.
On this point, the previous First Minister was very much against having certain powers transferred to the Assembly because he was of the opinion that the Treasury would not give us adequate funding. And he said that on a number of occasions. That was his argument against transferring administrative control of benefits. And that was one that the Assembly accepted, because they felt that it wouldn't get the right funding. How are we to be certain that we'll get our adequate share of the funding, and is there an appeals mechanism that exists for the finance Minister to appeal if the amount of money we get under a settlement is different to that which they calculate? Is there any appeals mechanism to ensure that if the Treasury says, 'You can have £1 million; that's what we think is your share of it, good luck', is there any means by which we can appeal to ensure that we do get the adequate amount?
I'll ask Matthew to come in on the appeals point. But on the overall point that you're making, the estimates provided by the Commission, just to give a sense of the scale, as context really, the estimates that they've provided are between £600,000 and £1.5 million. It is a more complex question than a straightforward Barnett allocation, as you know, and that would be something that we will be negotiating with the Treasury on. On the question of an appeal mechanism, Matthew.
There isn't, formally, an appeals mechanism as such, apart from one that is effectively adjudicated by the Treasury. I know we've had disputes in the past and the committee will be very well aware of those. One of the things the Government and other devolved Governments are looking to take forward as part of the discussions, and also the spending round that hasn't yet happened, was to review the statement of funding policy to put in a proper functioning disputes resolution process.
It's not the sum I'm particularly worried about; it's the principle. If we get half of what we should be getting, or three quarters of what we should be getting on this, it's only a couple of hundred thousand pounds; it's hardly going to have a major effect on the Welsh Government. But, on other things that are devolved, if we've accepted three quarters on this, or half on this, the argument for the Treasury could be, 'Well, it worked for this, why can't it work for the other things being devolved?'
I think you make raise a perfectly valid point, and I agree entirely with you. In fact, that is a challenge across the funding of all devolved competencies, and we, I think, would share the view that the funding system for Wales generally needs pretty fundamental reform.
Thank you, Mike. Rhianon.
Well, you've sort of anticipated the question in terms of the mechanism they'll be using to undertake this. And, in regard to that shortfall, I was going to ask how you have negotiated, and you've partly answered this in terms of your previous response. But, are we just accepting that there will be a shortfall, to piggyback on Mike's question around this, because, as he has said, it is really the principle that matters around this?
We're absolutely not accepting there should be a shortfall.
So, you're exhausting all—.
Well, that process is under way at the moment. We were hoping, as I say, that it would have been wrapped up as part of the spending review, but that hasn't been possible because of the time frames that the UK Government have chosen for the review itself. But, I just want to reassure you that we understand, obviously, the issue that you're raising. It isn't simply a Barnett question; it's a broader question than that, and we will absolutely want to make sure that there isn't a shortfall.
Okay. Finally, then, in terms of working alongside Scottish Government, should we, are we, in terms of the development of a common mechanism for determining the value of such transfers? Could you extrapolate?
Yes. There have been discussions with the Scottish Government on this, and that, obviously, will be taken forward in conjunction now with your discussions with the Treasury around the transfer itself.
Okay. Thank you.
Diolch yn fawr. Nick.
Diolch, Chair. Morning, Counsel General. You said that you'll need to seek consent for some of the amendments relating to the funding and oversight of the Electoral Commission. Can you tell us what amendments these are?
The consents arise from the amendments already tabled. The provisions, as they have been drafted, require the consents because I think that the formulas [correction: the formula is they] 'confer, impose, modify or remove' functions of the Electoral Commission, but also on the Speaker's Committee, the Comptroller and Auditor General, and the Treasury, and under Schedule 7B to GOWA, they're all reserved authorities. So, consent is required from Ministers of the Crown in order to deliver that. The range and the scope, I suppose, of the consents, we're still working on the detail of that, but it's clear that there will need to be consent.
Did you say the consent has already been sought?
It hasn't been sought. So, given the timescales, are you confident that there's sufficient time to obtain them?
Well, there was a discussion about a section 109 Order, which is a much larger, bigger beast, so that would be problematic. There are discussions ongoing at the moment to ensure a smooth process, but, obviously, there's a risk here, isn't there, because it requires—? We don't know what's happening in Parliament in terms of UK Government at the moment, clearly, just to put it at its mildest. So, plainly, that is a risk, but as we stand here today none of us, I think, can evaluate the dimensions of that, but we are very much alive to it.
So, whether we like it or not, is the door open on the timings of Stage 3 being delayed, or being altered in some way?
There isn't much room for that to happen, in terms of the Bill, in terms of slippage. So, we are in constant, ongoing discussion with the Llywydd around the timing of the Bill. If we got to a stage where amendments, having been tabled and passed—the consents weren't forthcoming, then that would not be good. None of us would want to be in that situation. We would need to look at amending the Bill to take them out, I think, at that point. We obviously hope that that doesn't happen, but that would be a possible fallback if it didn't come forward.
It's all sounding like quite a tight timescale.
Yes, well, it is—this is a tight timescale. It's less tight than the section 109 route, which was being discussed earlier. But, ordinarily, it wouldn't be a tight timescale; the issue really arises because of the uncertainty in Westminster and Whitehall at the moment.
Okay. You mentioned the Llywydd. The Llywydd's letter of 13 August sets out her intention to introduce amendments at Stage 2 to remove section 36, relating to the Law Commission's recommendations. Does the Welsh Government intend to introduce any legislation to this effect?
We support removing those provisions, because we don't feel it's appropriate to give Welsh Ministers the powers, the broad powers, that those provisions would have provided us with. I'd just like to note that for the record again.
Very humble. [Laughter.]
Well, there's a constitutional point that I'm sure we all would share. But to the point you're making—does the Government have plans to bring forward, then, primary legislation to give effect to that? The answer, as we stand here today, is that there isn't a plan to bring that forward as part of the Government's legislative programme. Obviously, in my Counsel General capacity, as you know, with the passage of the legislation, the Wales Act 2017, one of the areas that I think it's obvious would benefit from consolidation—in the longer term, certainly—is electoral law. But at this point in time, there isn't a plan to bring forward primary legislation in that field.
Do you think there should be, at some point?
At some point, yes.
Diolch yn fawr. Okay. Any further questions, comments? Rhun.
Mae gen i un cwestiwn. Mae o ychydig yn ymylol, ond mae o'n deillio'n uniongyrchol o'r gwelliannau sydd o'n blaenau ni fan hyn. Yn y testun Saesneg sydd o fy mlaen i fan hyn, yr enw 'Senedd', wrth gwrs, ydy'r gair sy'n cael ei ddefnyddio—'the relevant Senedd body' ac yn y blaen. Mae'r Prif Weinidog wedi datgan ei fod o yn cefnogi'r egwyddor o enw swyddogol uniaith Gymraeg, fel rydych chi'n ei ddefnyddio yn y gwelliannau yma. Allwch chi gadarnhau mai dyna ydy polisi'r Llywodraeth o hyd, ac nad oes yna lithro, neu yn mynd i fod, ar hynny?
I have one further question. It's a bit marginal, but it does stem directly from the amendments that we have before us here. In the English text that I have before me, the 'Senedd' word, of course, is what's used in terms of the Senedd body—'the relevant Senedd body' and so on. The First Minister has stated that he supports the principle of an official monolingual Welsh name, as you use in these amendments. Can you confirm whether that's still the Government's policy, or whether there's going to be any slippage on that?
Rŷn ni wedi sôn ein bod ni'n bwriadu naill ai gyflwyno neu gefnogi gwelliannau i newid enw'r Senedd, o'r gair 'Senedd' sydd yn y Ddeddf nawr. Byddwn ni'n cyflwyno manylion pellach am hynny.
We have mentioned that we either intend to table or support amendments to change the name 'Senedd', and we will present further detail on that in due course.
Hynny ydy, i beidio â chael enw uniaith Gymraeg.
That is, not to have a monolingual Welsh name.
Iawn. Gaf i ddiolch i chi am eich tystiolaeth ac i'ch swyddogion am fod gyda ni y bore yma? Yn amlwg, byddwn ni'n clywed gan y Llywydd yn nes ymlaen, ac er efallai na fydd yna gydweld ar bob dim, dwi'n siŵr ein bod ni i gyd yn awyddus i weld y lefel uchaf o graffu a throsolwg ar gyllidebau a chyfrifoldebau'r Comisiwn Etholiadol yng Nghymru. Felly, diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am fod gyda ni.
Okay. Could I thank you for your evidence and thank your officials for being with us this morning? Evidently, we'll hear from the Llywydd later on, and although there might not be agreement on everything, I'm sure that we're all eager to see the highest level of scrutiny and overview of the Electoral Commission budget and responsibilities in Wales. So, thank you for joining us.
Diolch yn fawr i chi.
Thank you very much.
Diolch yn fawr.
Mi wnaiff y pwyllgor dorri nawr, ac mi wnawn ni ailymgynnull am 10.00 a.m. Diolch.
The committee will have a short break, and we will reconvene at 10.00 a.m. Thank you.
Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 09:33 a 10:00.
The meeting adjourned between 09:33 and 10:00.
Croeso nôl i'r Pwyllgor Cyllid ar gyfer trydedd eitem ein cyfarfod ni y bore yma, sef i barhau â'r craffu pellach ar y Bil Senedd ac Etholiadau (Cymru). A gaf i groesawu'r Llywydd atom ni ar gyfer y sesiwn yma? A gaf i ofyn, efallai, i'r Llywydd gyflwyno ei swyddogion?
Welcome back to the Finance Committee for the third item on the agenda this morning, which is to continue with the further scrutiny on the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill. Could I welcome the Llywydd for this session? And could I ask the Llywydd to introduce her officials?
Diolch yn fawr. Dwi yma fel Llywydd, ydw, ond dwi hefyd yma fel yr Aelod sy'n gyfrifol am y Mesur Senedd ac Etholiadau (Cymru). Mae Manon Antoniazzi yma fel prif weithredwr y Comisiwn, a hefyd swyddog cyllideb y Comisiwn. Nia Morgan yw cyfarwyddwr cyllid y Comisiwn, ac Anna Daniel yw pennaeth trawsnewid strategol y Comisiwn.
Thank you very much. I am here as Llywydd, yes, but I'm also the Member in charge of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill. I'm joined by Manon Antoniazzi, chief executive of the Commission and the accounting officer. Nia Morgan is the director of finance at the Commission, and Anna Daniel is the head of strategic transformation for the Commission.
Diolch yn fawr iawn. Fe awn ni'n syth i gwestiynau, os ydy hynny'n iawn gyda chi? Ac fe wnaf i ofyn yn blwmp ac yn blaen ar y dechrau: a fyddwch chi'n cefnogi gwelliannau'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol i adran 27, fel y maen nhw wedi cael eu cyflwyno?
Thank you very much. We'll go straight into questions, if that's okay? And I'll ask you at the outset: will you be supporting the Counsel General's proposed amendments to section 27, as they've been currently drafted?
Mae yna drafodaeth barhaol, dros y cyfnod ers adroddiadau Cyfnod 1, wedi bod rhyngof i a'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol, a hefyd swyddogion, wrth gwrs, y Llywodraeth a'r Comisiwn, ar y darpariaethau yma. Mae'r rhan fwyaf o'r darpariaethau'n rhai rŷn ni'n medru eu cefnogi. Ond, fel Comisiwn, rŷn ni dal yn credu mai'r dull gweithredu mwyaf priodol yw i ariannu'r Comisiwn Etholiadol yn uniongyrchol o gronfa gyfunol Cymru. Yn llythyr y Cwnsler Cyffredinol at y pwyllgor yma, opsiwn 3 yw hynny yn nadansoddiad y Cwnsler Cyffredinol, a dyna'r opsiwn rŷn ni'n ei ffafrio fel Comisiwn.
Hynny, wrth gwrs, fyddai creu pwyllgor y Llywydd, i gael ei gadeirio gan naill ai'r Llywydd neu'r Dirprwy Lywydd, a gyda Chadeirydd y Pwyllgor Cyllid yn aelod ex officio o'r pwyllgor hynny. Fe fyddai'r Comisiwn Etholiadol yn cyflwyno cyllideb ar eu cynllun pum mlynedd i bwyllgor y Llywydd erbyn 1 Hydref, ac ar yr un pryd fe fyddai'r rheolwr a'r archwilydd cyffredinol yn cyflwyno archwiliad gwerth am arian i bwyllgor y Llywydd er mwyn caniatáu i'r gwaith craffu gael ei wneud ar hynny. Wedyn, fe fyddai pwyllgor y Llywydd yn craffu ar y gyllideb a chynllun pum mlynedd y Comisiwn Etholiadol ac yn eu gosod nhw wedyn, gydag unrhyw addasiadau, gerbron y Cynulliad. Fe fyddai cyllideb y Comisiwn Etholiadol wedi'i chynnwys yng nghynnig y gyllideb flynyddol, ochr yn ochr â Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru a'r Ombwdsmon Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus Cymru, sydd eisoes yn cael eu hariannu o gronfa gyfunol Cymru.
Felly, dyna'r model rŷn ni'n ei ffafrio o hyd, ac mae hynny'n dra gwahanol i'r hyn, efallai, rŷch chi wedi'i glywed y bore yma oddi wrth y Cwnsler Cyffredinol.
There has been an ongoing discussion, since Stage 1 proceedings, between myself and the Counsel General, as well as Government officials and Commission officials, on these provisions. Most of these provisions are ones that we can support. But, as a Commission, we still believe that the most appropriate approach is to fund the Electoral Commission directly from the Welsh consolidated fund. In the Counsel General's letter to this committee, that's option 3 in the Counsel General's analysis, and that is our favoured option as a Commission.
That would mean, of course, that a Llywydd's committee would be created, which would be chaired either by the Llywydd or the Deputy Llywydd, with the Chair of the Finance Committee as an ex officio member of that committee. The Electoral Commission would submit its budget for its five-year plan to the Llywydd's committee by 1 October, and simultaneously the comptroller and auditor general would submit a value-for-money examination to the Llywydd's committee to allow the scrutiny work to be done properly on that. Then, the Llywydd's committee would scrutinise the Electoral Commission's budget and five-year plan and lay them, with any modifications, before the Assembly. The Electoral Commission's budget would be included in the annual budget motion, alongside the Wales Audit Office and the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, which are already funded from the Welsh consolidated fund.
So, that is our favoured model, and that is very different to what you may have perhaps heard this morning from the Counsel General.
Ydy, wir. Ocê, diolch yn fawr iawn. Gaf i jest ofyn hefyd: pa waith sydd wedi cael ei wneud o ran costiadau ar y gwelliannau drafft yma y mae'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol wedi'u gosod? Ydych chi'n ymwybodol o'r costiadau sydd wedi cael eu gwneud, ac a oes yna drafodaethau wedi bod rhwng Llywodraeth Cymru a Chomisiwn y Cynulliad ar y costiadau hynny? Oherwydd yr unig beth rŷn ni wedi gweld yn swyddogol, wrth gwrs, yw'r gost eang, gyffredinol o weinyddu'r Comisiwn Etholiadol. Mae'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol yn dweud wrthym ni fod yna gostiadau penodol wedi'u gwneud ar y gwelliannau. Ydych chi wedi bod yn rhan o'r drafodaeth yna?
Indeed, it is. Okay, thank you very much. Could I just also ask: what work has been undertaken to develop costings in relation to the amendments that the Counsel General has tabled? Are you aware of the costings that have been undertaken, and have there been discussions between the Welsh Government and the Assembly Commission on those costings? Because the only thing that we've seen, officially, of course, is the general cost of administering the Electoral Commission. The Counsel General tells us that there are specific costings on the amendments. Have you been part of those discussions?
Dwi ddim yn uniongyrchol wedi bod yn rhan o'r rheini. Mae gyda ni ein hamcangyfrifon ein hunain ynglŷn â'r costiadau o ddarparu gwelliannau'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol a'r model y mae'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol yn ei awgrymu. Fe fyddai hynny, wrth gwrs, oherwydd y byddai'n fodel sy'n dod drwy'r Comisiwn—Comisiwn y Cynulliad, mae'n rhaid i fi ddweud hynny drwy'r amser yn y drafodaeth yma.
I haven't directly participated in those. We do have our own estimates on the costings of the Counsel General's amendments and the model proposed by the Counsel General. And, of course, as that would be a model funded through the Assembly Commission—I need to make that distinction in this discussion.
Ie, i wahaniaethu.
Yes, to differentiate.
Comisiwn y Cynulliad. Fe fyddai'n rhaid inni fod wedyn yn darparu gwaith ein swyddogion ni i sicrhau bod yr elfennau cyfrifo y byddai ein swyddog cyfrifo ni yn gyfrifol amdanynt yn cael eu gweithredu. Felly, ar hyn o bryd, ein hamcangyfrif ni o hynny, sef model y Cwnsler Cyffredinol, yw y byddai'n rhaid inni fod o leiaf yn darparu rhywbeth rhwng hanner swyddog ar lefel—beth ŷch chi'n ei alw?
I am talking here of the Assembly Commission. We would then have to provide our officials to ensure that the accounting elements that our accounting officer would be responsible for are properly implemented. So, at the moment, our estimate of that, which is the Counsel General's model, is that we would need to provide something in the region of half an official at—how is it described?
Hŷn—i fod yn gwneud y gwaith yna. Hanner swyddog i swyddog llawn, sy'n mynd â ni o rywle rhwng £35,000 i £70,000 o werth arian swyddog, i ddarparu gwaith rŷn ni ddim yn gyfrifol amdano ar hyn o bryd.
Senior level—to undertake that work. That's half an official to a full-time official, which takes us to something in the region of £35,000 to £70,000 to provide work that we're not currently responsible for.
Iawn, achos mi ddywedodd y cwnsler y bore yma y byddai'n rhannu'r costau hynny gyda ni cyn wythnos nesaf, felly byddem ni'n amlwg yn awyddus i weld y rheini cyn ein bod ni mewn sefyllfa i wneud pleidlais ar ariannu'r Bil. Iawn, diolch yn fawr. Alun.
Okay, because the Counsel General said this morning that he would share those costs with us by next week, so we'd be eager to see those before we're in a situation to undertake a vote on funding the Bill. Okay, thank you. Alun.
Ydych chi'n bwriadu parhau â'r trafodaethau gyda'r Llywodraeth a gyda'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol i ddatrys yr anghytundeb yma rhyngoch chi?
Are you intending to continue discussions with the Government and with the Counsel General to resolve this dispute between you?
Ydyn, wrth gwrs. Rŷn ni wedi bod yn trafod hyn ar hyd yr haf, ac wedyn, wrth gwrs, fi a'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol yn uniongyrchol yr wythnos diwethaf. Ar hyn o bryd, dŷn ni ddim wedi dod i gytundeb ar rai o'r materion craidd, sydd yn golygu bod rhywfaint o'n barn ni ynglŷn â'r opsiwn mae'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol yn ei ffafrio, neu pam dyw e dim yn ffafrio'r opsiwn rŷn ni'n ei ffafrio—bod yna rywfaint o anghytundeb ar hynny. A dwi'n barod i fynd i mewn i rywfaint o'r manylion ar hynna os ydych chi'n awyddus.
Yes, of course. We have been discussing this through the summer months, and then, of course, myself and the Counsel General met face-to-face last week. At the moment, we haven't come to an agreement on some of the core issues, and therefore our view on the Counsel General's favoured option, or why he doesn't favour our favoured option—there has been some disagreement on that. And I'm happy to go into some detail on that if you're eager for me to do that.
Mi liciwn i ofyn i chi wneud hynny, achos mi oedd y Cwnsler Cyffredinol, y bore yma, wedi dweud dau beth, sef bod polisi'r Llywodraeth—cywirwch fi os dwi'n cael hwn yn rong—bod y Llywodraeth yn meddwl mai'r model maen nhw'n ei ffafrio ydy'r ffordd addas, dwi'n credu y dywedodd e, o wneud hyn. Ond hefyd, beth oeddwn i'n darllen i mewn i eiriau Jeremy Miles oedd eu bod nhw hefyd yn gweld hyn fel ffordd bragmatig iawn o ddatrys problemau cyfreithiol hefyd. So, ydych chi'n derbyn achos y Llywodraeth pan mae'n dod i'r dadansoddiad cyfreithiol o'r sefyllfa sy'n ein hwynebu ni?
I would like to ask you to do that, because the Counsel General this morning said two things, which are that the Government policy would—correct me if I'm wrong—that the Government thinks that the model that they prefer is the appropriate way, I think he said, of of doing this. But also, what I read into the words used by Jeremy Miles was that this is also a way that they see as being a pragmatic way of resolving legal problems as well. So, do you accept the Government's case when it comes to the legal analysis of the situation that faces us?
Dwi'n meddwl, o'n nadansoddiad i o'r hyn a ddywedodd y Cwnsler Cyffredinol wrthych chi'r bore yma, fod y Cwnsler Cyffredinol o'r farn bod y model rŷn ni'n ei ffafrio, sef ariannu'n uniongyrchol o'r gronfa gyfyng, y tu allan i'n cymhwysedd ni a bod yna ddim modd inni fedru cyflawni hynny. Fe gaiff Anna roi bach mwy o fanylion i chi ar hynny a'r farn gyfreithiol. Ond rŷn ni'n sicr yn credu ei fod o fewn ein cymhwysedd ni i ddilyn y model rŷn ni'n ei ffafrio. Mae yna fwy nag un opsiwn cyfreithiol i wneud hynny, ac mae'n gywir, yn fy marn i, fod yna un model sydd ddim o fewn cymhwysedd, ond mae yna ffyrdd o'i gyflawni fe sydd o fewn ein cymhwysedd ni ac fe fedrwn ni fod yn gwneud hynny o fewn cymhwysedd.
I think, from my analysis of what the Counsel General told you this morning, that the Counsel General is of the view that our preferred model, namely funding directly from the Welsh consolidated fund, is outwith our competence and that we aren't able to deliver that. Anna can provide you with a little more detail on that and the legal view. But we are certainly of the opinion that it is within our competence to follow our favoured model. There is more than one legal option in doing that, and it's true to say, in my opinion, that there is one model that is outwith competence, but there are ways of delivering that that are within our competence and we could do that.
So, dŷch chi ddim yn derbyn achos y Llywodraeth ar y sefyllfa a'r dadansoddiad cyfreithiol.
So, you don't accept the Government's case on the legal analysis.
Rŷn ni yn credu bod yna gymhwysedd inni fedru cyflawni hyn, o ariannu'r Comisiwn Etholiadol yn uniongyrchol o'r gronfa gyfyng—o fewn ein cymhwysedd ni ar hyn o bryd. Fe wnaiff Anna jest gyfeirio at hwnna'n gyflym, a gallwn ni, os ŷch chi'n moyn, roi mwy o nodyn cyfreithiol i chi ar hynny.
We do believe that there is competence for us to be able to deliver this, funding the Electoral Commission directly from the Welsh consolidated fund—within our competence as it stands at the moment. Anna will just briefly refer to that, and we can provide you with a legal note on that if necessary.
Efallai y buasai'n hwylus petai chi'n ysgrifennu atom ni gyda'r manylion hynny.
Maybe it would be better if you wrote to us with the details of that.
Ie, ond efallai y gall Anna jest—
Yes, but maybe Anna can just—
Ie, mae'n werth jest clywed.
Yes, it's worth hearing.
Yn gyflym, achos mae'n eithaf creiddiol i hyn oll.
Quickly, because it underpins all of this.
Mae ein cyfreithwyr ni wedi bod yn trafod â chyfreithwyr Llywodraeth Cymru, ac yn amlwg mae gwahaniaeth barn. Felly, mae adran 124 o Ddeddf Llywodraeth Cymru 2006 yn caniatáu i daliadau cael eu gwneud allan o gronfa gyfunol Cymru i gyrff heblaw am y rhai sydd wedi eu nodi yn isadran 124, paragraff 3. Rŷn ni'n derbyn bod ddim modd ychwanegu sefydliadau i'r paragraff penodol yna, ond mae yna baragraff o fewn adran 124 sydd yn caniatáu gwneud taliadau os ydynt at ddibenion cwrdd â gwariant sy'n daladwy yn unol â deddfiad perthnasol. Felly, yn yr achos hwn, hwn fyddai'r deddfiad perthnasol. Buasem ni'n diwygio Deddf Pleidiau Gwleidyddol, Etholiadau a Refferenda 2000 ac yn gwneud honno'n Ddeddf berthnasol, fel bod modd gwneud taliadau yn uniongyrchol allan o'r gronfa. A dŷn ni ddim yn credu bod yna unrhyw reswm cymhwysedd pam na fedrwn ni ddefnyddio'r rhan yna o fewn adran 124.
Our lawyers have been discussing this with Welsh Government lawyers, and clearly there is a difference of opinion. So, section 124 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 does allow payments to be made from the Welsh consolidated fund to bodies other than those noted in subsection 124, paragraph 3. We accept that we can't add organisations to that particular paragraph, but there is a paragraph within section 124 that allows payments if they are for the use of making payments in accordance with a relevant enactment. So, in this case, this would be the relevant enactment. We would reform the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and make that the relevant enactment, as a means of making payments directly from the fund. And we don't think that there is any reason of competence why we couldn't use that particular part in section 124.
Ac nid ni fyddai'r cyntaf i ddefnyddio'r union drywydd yna o gymhwysedd, achos fe sefydlwyd Audit Scotland drwy enactment yn yr un modd, hynny yw a'i ariannu o'r consolidated fund yn yr Alban.
And we wouldn't be the first to use that very route, because Audit Scotland was used through an enactment in the same way, and it was funded from the Scottish consolidated fund.
Mae Rhianon eisiau dod i mewn ar hwn.
Rhianon wants to come in on this.
With regard to your discussions with the Counsel General and the preferred route, from your perspective, around amendment of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, what has been the reasoning from the Counsel General as to why Welsh Government wouldn’t want to go down that route in terms of the Welsh consolidated fund?
I think that's probably for the Counsel General to answer rather than for us to answer—
But in terms of your interpretation.
In terms of the legal advice that's been given to the Counsel General—I wouldn't have been privy to that, of course.
So, you don't have any understanding or comprehension as to why Welsh Government would prefer that route rather than this. What's the analysis as to why you can't go down this route? There must be some understanding.
Sorry—I misunderstood the last part of that.
So, in regard to your preferred option compared to the Welsh Government's preferred option, what is the impasse in regard to why you prefer yours compared to Welsh Government preferring theirs?
All right. Well, we believe that the Assembly has competence to fund the Electoral Commission work in Wales directly from the Wales consolidated fund. So, we believe that we have competence to do that. There are then many practical reasons, pragmatic reasons, why we believe that that is the preferred model to follow, and we can go into some of those. If it’s funded via the Assembly Commission as a grant from the Assembly Commission to the Electoral Commission, there are several issues that arise from that. One that I think you may have discussed already is the Assembly Commission was never envisaged to be a grant-giving body of this nature. It doesn't do it currently—it’s novel. But then, just because it’s novel doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. And that applies also to the use of the consolidated fund for funding the Electoral Commission. And, of course, you've heard the Counsel General say in his letter that that’s a novel approach also, and is reluctant for a novel approach in that context. So, all of this is novel. I think we need to just establish that—that all of this is novel and will require a novel route to put it into action. This is a UK body that will remain a UK body—the Electoral Commission—but for its functions within Wales on local government and Assembly elections, it will be accountable through this legislation to the National Assembly, and similarly in Scotland. So, however we devise this, it will be novel.
In terms of some of the pragmatic issues, then, if this is funded from the Assembly Commission, one of them is a timing issue. If the scrutiny is then done by the Assembly Commission itself of the budget estimate, you’ll know that the Assembly Commission budget, in the Standing Orders, needs to be laid by 1 October—next week—and then you as a Finance Committee are responsible for scrutiny of that Assembly Commission budget. The Electoral Commission budget, by the amendments from the Counsel General, will not need to be—the estimates will not need to be given to the Assembly Commission until 1 October, and therefore you instantly have the issue that they will not form part of the Assembly Commission budget that is laid on 1 October. The Electoral Commission have said that they would find it very difficult to provide estimates before that time, because, remember, they have to prepare their UK budget, their budget for Scotland, their budget for Wales, and asking them to do their estimates to Wales in June/July time is, to them, impractical—that’s what they've told us.
So, the Assembly Commission budget would be scrutinised by you. If there is a setting up of a Llywydd committee, which is another model that the Counsel General has agreed, the Llywydd committee would scrutinise the estimates from the Electoral Commission, and then, of course, that would happen in parallel to the Finance Committee scrutinising the Assembly Commission budget. There would be two committees scrutinising what, in the end, becomes the Assembly Commission budget. That’s a model for you to consider whether you think that that will create problems down the line. But also, the further complicating factor in all of this is the role of the Assembly Commission’s—
Yes—swyddog cyfrifo. Accounting officer—and the role of the accounting officer. I'm just going to ask Manon to touch on that because it follows from here, if that's okay.
If I could begin, Chair, just by clarifying that I'm not expressing a view on policy or taking a position on policy here, and both the alternatives that are favoured by the Llywydd and that are favoured by the Government are workable; we can make them work in different ways. But there are degrees of complexity and fit with current arrangements that we see as different.
As the Llywydd said, if the responsibility for the Electoral Commission's budget were to be within the Assembly Commission's budget, then I, as accounting officer, would be personally responsible, would assume all the accountability for that. So, it weakens that direct line of accountability between the Assembly and the Electoral Commission because it comes via me. Obviously, it is possible to do that, but I would be just as accountable for that novel arrangement, then, as I am now for the Commission's budget. So, there would need to be extremely robust mechanisms set up to provide me with the assurance, the oversight and the monitoring from year to year.
Now, that is the situation that is proposed in Scotland, but there are precedents in Scotland. There are many other organisations that are funded via the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. So, that is not such a change for them. It would be a significant change for us to set up these new arrangements, whereas if, by contrast, the money was being drawn as a charge on the consolidated fund, the accounting officer would remain the Electoral Commission's accounting officer in London, and that would be a more clear-cut situation. The accounting officer for the Welsh consolidated fund would then be responsible for the cash transactions only, and it isn't as complicated as the option that the Government is proposing.
Diolch. Nick does want to come in as well on this and then we will come back to Alun.
I'm just trying to clarify what's in my head and get things straight. So, under the model that you've just been talking about, the Electoral Commission would be responsible to you, in the first part, as the accounting officer.
Yes. For their Welsh budget.
For their Welsh budget. We, as a Finance Committee, or the Assembly or whatever committee—it would be the Finance Committee—would then scrutinise you. So, if we want to take issue with the Electoral Commission, it would be you who'd signed off what they'd done, so you would be responsible to us for them. Is that right?
Yes. There are a number of models being explored at the moment. I mean, if, for example, there were a Llywydd's committee that was scrutinising the Electoral Commission's budget separately, then I would be talking to you about the Commission's operating budget—the Assembly Commission's operating budget—and I would be talking to the Llywydd's committee about the Electoral Commission's budget. If there wasn't a Llywydd's committee and it was the Assembly Commission itself that was doing the scrutiny, then there would be a slightly difficult to negotiate overlap between the role of the Finance Committee and the role of the Commission. And if there were contrasting recommendations as a result of that scrutiny, we'd need to think through how that was resolved.
Coming back to the point that the Llywydd made about timetabling, there is a very real timetabling issue as to how this would all be done in time. In Scotland, their parliamentary budget is approved much later than is the case here, so it would be a significant problem. It sounds trivial, but it is something that we would have to address.
Oh, no, we're always worrying about timetabling. I'm all for doing novel things, and I don't think that's a bar, necessarily, but my only concern with hearing what you've said is that—. Thinking back to the past, I fully understand that these models have been put forward as a realistic attempt to try and deal with the real problem on the ground, but then, years later, problems could have arisen and then a future Assembly's tried to untangle what a previous Assembly's done and thinks, 'Why on earth did they set about doing it like that?' when at that time, it seemed pretty obvious, or that was the common sense way to do it. I'm a bit concerned about the transparency element, so I think that would all have to be pretty much thrashed out in advance.
I think one way of thinking about it is—. The simplest way of doing this and the way that is most aligned to current practice, referring to the auditor general and the ombudsman, is for funding directly from the consolidated fund and accountability directly to the National Assembly rather than via the Assembly Commission, because that's what the Counsel General model is: that the accountability is to the National Assembly via the Assembly Commission rather than a direct accountability to the National Assembly through the processes that have already been set up and through a Llywydd committee with the finance Chair sitting on that committee.
Okay. Thank you for your patience, Alun.
No, I'm enjoying the conversation. It's an unsatisfactory position that this committee's been placed in. This is not the conversation that's being had in the Dog and Duck. This should be sorted between the Commission and the Government and there should be a consensus, in my view, on what the legal position is. And I know that we discussed this when I was a Minister and I recognise these conversations have been held in good faith on both sides and I recognise that there are conversations being had. But we are running up to a conversation where we need to create statute on this matter now, and it is a matter, I think, of some disappointment that, as a committee, we appear to be placed in a position of having to take a view on different legal interpretations. I don't feel comfortable about being in that position as a committee.
If you look at the structural lines of accountability that you describe, Llywydd, and that the chief executive has described, I find that a more attractive option. I think it's clearer, it's cleaner and it's a direct line. Your argument in terms of the principle is one that I accept; I think it's a much clearer model of accountability than the position the Government is taking. However, I'm also a pragmatist in the sense of wanting to get this done. We are really in the engine room of constitutionality here, aren't we? We should be able to make these amendments and changes to processes and structures without it being so difficult and painful. And the principle is that of accountability, of devolution of accountability and devolution of responsibility and I think there's wide agreement on that. So, is there any opportunity, do you think, that, perhaps, before Members are placed in quite an invidious position, yourself and the Counsel General could spend some time and find an agreed position to place before this committee and the National Assembly prior to us being placed in a difficult situation, potentially, next week?
I understand the difficulty for this committee, and at the moment, it would be a difficulty that would be also replicated in the committee of the whole house in scrutinising amendments that would come both from the Commission and the Welsh Government, which would have a different policy intent of how this is devolved. So, I understand that point. And certainly, if there is a way that better understanding can be formed between the Government and ourselves on this, then, yes, I'm open to having that conversation. All I can say is that we seem to have issues around the legal interpretation of competence and also the use of the Welsh consolidated fund for this. We haven't managed to get an agreement on this prior to today.
If I can just say that this isn't just me as the Member in charge saying this at this point. If I can just speak as also the Chair of the Commission, the Commission did discuss this on Monday, and it was the Commission's view as well that the model of the Welsh consolidated fund directly funding the Electoral Commission and then scrutiny directly accountable to the National Assembly was the model that the Commission favoured as well. They saw the many issues that could come before us, both as a Commission and as a National Assembly in the scrutiny via the Assembly Commission.
I'm surprised, because there's always been a level of tension between Government and the Commission about issues on competence. As a Minister myself, we've had conversations around these areas, but they've never been that difficult to resolve, in my experience. There have been different interpretations, but I can't think, as a Minister, where I've sought to do something where the Commission has questioned our competence to do that—to legislate in that field—and where it's reached an impasse. And so I am somewhat bewildered as to why we're in this position, at the moment. But I don't think we're going to get any much further this morning, Chair. So, it may well be useful that the committee considers this at the end of our session this morning, and considers how we can resolve this matter before this arrives on the floor of the National Assembly.
Well, that's why we're here, I think, and, yes, although time is against us, I suppose, you make a fair point. Rhun.
Dŷn ni wedi bod yn trafod y cwestiynau roeddwn i yn mynd i ofyn am yr 20 munud diwethaf. Ydych chi'n meddwl bod y modd mae'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol wedi pwyso a mesur pedwar opsiwn yn erbyn ei gilydd wedi bod yn broses lle mae'r cwestiynau cywir wedi cael eu gofyn? Hynny ydy, nid ar chwarae bach mae o'n dweud bod e wedi dod at ei ganfyddiad o.
We have been discussing the questions I was going to ask for the last 20 minutes. Do you think that the way in which the Counsel General has weighed up the four options against each other has been a process where the right questions have been asked? It has been no small matter, according to him, in terms of reaching his findings.
Na, ac o ran pedwar opsiwn y Cwnsler Cyffredinol yn ei lythyr, yna rŷn ni'n cytuno nad yw'r ddau opsiwn cyntaf yn briodol, ac, felly, mae'r gwahaniaeth barn yn dod rhwng opsiwn tri ac opsiwn pedwar. Dwi'n hollol hyderus bod yr hyn mae'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol wedi'i ymchwilio yn briodol. Mae e wedi dod i gasgliadau gwahanol ar gymhwysedd ac ar ymarferoldeb ac ar atebolrwydd i'r hyn rŷm ni wedi dod ato.
Ar y pwynt roedd Alun Davies yn ei wneud, bob hyn a hyn, mae yna wahanol farn gyfreithiol ar gymhwysedd. Fel mae'n digwydd, dwi ddim yn gwybod a yw e'n rhywbeth sy'n unigryw i'r Bil penodol yma, ond mae e mewn elfennau eraill o'r Bil hefyd ar y cymhwysedd o ran deddfu ar y newid enw, er enghraifft, lle roedd yna, ac mae'n para i fod, wahaniaeth barn rhwng y cyngor cyfreithiol i fi a'r cyngor cyfreithiol i'r Llywodraeth. Felly, dwi'n gobeithio ein bod ni wedi amlinellu, hyd yn hyn, er bod y pethach yma yn ddigon cymhleth i gael dealltwriaeth ohonyn nhw'n glir, pam ŷm ni yn ffafrio yr opsiwn o gyllido'n uniongyrchol o'r gronfa gyfun ac atebolrwydd uniongyrchol i'r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol, yn hytrach na thrwy Gomisiwn y Cynulliad, felly.
No, and in terms of the Counsel General's four options in his correspondence, we agree that the first two options are not appropriate, and, therefore, the difference of opinion comes in-between option three and option four. I am confident that what the Counsel General has done is appropriate. He's come to different conclusions on competence and practicality and on accountability to the conclusions that we have reached.
As to the point that Alun Davies made, on occasion there is differing legal opinion on competence. As it happens, I don't know if it's unique to this particular Bill, but it relates to other elements of the Bill too in terms of competence in legislating on the name change, for example, where there was, and continues to be, a difference of opinion between the legal advice that I have received and the legal advice received by Government. So, I do hope that we have outlined so far, although these things are hugely complicated and difficult to explain clearly, why we favour the option of direct funding through the Welsh consolidated fund and direct accountability to the National Assembly, rather than accountability through the Assembly Commission.
Beth sy'n anodd ydy, mewn wythnos lle mae yna sylw mawr wedi cael ei roi ar ddyfarniadau cyfreithiol, yn hytrach nag unfrydedd, fod gennym ni ddwy farn gyfreithiol yn gwrthdaro â'i gilydd. Lle mae'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol yn dweud ei fod o wedi dod i'r farn bod y cynnig dŷch chi'n ei ffafrio yn amhriodol yn gyfansoddiadol ac yn ariannol, mae'n anodd gweld lle mae'r cyfaddawd yn dod rhwng hynny a'r cyngor cyfreithiol dŷch chi yn ei gael. Ydy hynny'n sylw teg?
What's difficult is, in a week where there's been a great deal of attention placed on legal rulings, rather than having a unanimous view, we have conflicting legal opinions. Where the Counsel General says that he has come to the opinion that the proposal you favour is inappropriate constitutionally and financially, it's difficult to see where the compromise can be reached between that and the legal advice that you're having. Is that a fair comment?
Anna, wyt ti eisiau dweud rhywbeth ychwanegol i beth rydw i wedi ei ddweud?
Anna, do you want to add anything to my comments?
Roeddwn i eisiau sôn ein bod ni, wrth ystyried yr opsiynau yma yn ofalus, fel Comisiwn, wedi bod yn trafod gyda Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru hefyd i gael eu barn nhw ar yr opsiynau, a does ganddyn nhw ddim objections neu consýrn gyda'r opsiwn dŷn ni yn rhoi yn ei flaen, sef ei fod yn cael ei gyllido yn uniongyrchol o'r gronfa. Felly, dydyn ni ddim yn derbyn bod yna gonsýrn ariannol. Yn sicr, mae yna gymhlethdodau y buasai'n rhaid i ni eu trafod ymhellach gyda Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru ynghylch sut mae rheini yn mynd i weithio, a gyda Llywodraeth Cymru, ond dydyn ni ddim yn deall y rhesymau cyfansoddiadol yna a'r rhesymau ariannol pam na allwn ni fynd ar ôl yr opsiwn rŷn ni'n ei ffafrio.
I wanted to mention that, in considering these options carefully, we, as a Commission, have been discussing with the Wales Audit Office too in seeking their views on the options, and they have no objections or no concerns with the option that we have favoured, namely that it should be funded directly from the Welsh consolidated fund. So, we don't accept that there are financial concerns in relation to that. Certainly, there are some complexities that we would need to discuss further with the WAO as to how that would work, and we'll need to discuss it with the Welsh Government too, but we don't understand the constitutional rationale and the financial rationale as to why we can't pursue our favoured option.
Ac, wrth gwrs, mae'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol yn dweud y bydd yr archwilydd yn dweud nad oes yna broblem efo'r model mae o eisiau mynd ar ei drywydd o chwaith, sydd yn cadarnhau'r hyn y mae'r Prif Weithredwr wedi'i ddeud, sef bod y ddau opsiwn sydd o'n blaenau ni yn rhai sydd yn gallu cael eu gweithredu—mi wnewch chi iddyn nhw weithio. Felly, y mater dŷn ni'n ei drafod yn fan hyn yw prosesau gwaith a beth sy'n gweithio orau i chi fel Comisiwn ar hyn o bryd. Ydy hynny'n deg?
And, of course, the Counsel General says that the auditor general says that there's no problem with the model that he wants to pursue, which confirms what the Chief Executive says, namely that the two options before us are ones that can be implemented—you will make them work. So, what we're discussing here is work processes and what works best for you as a Commission at present. Is that fair?
Wel, ydy, mae elfen o hwnna'n deg, ond byddwn i'n gofyn i'r Pwyllgor Cyllid ystyried hefyd sut mae'n effeithio ar sgrwtini'r Pwyllgor Cyllid o gyllidebau yn y lle yma, achos chi'n gyfrifol am sgrwtineiddio cyllideb Comisiwn y Cynulliad ar hyn o bryd. Fe fyddai, oherwydd yr amserlen, fel dwi wedi esbonio eisoes, y sgrwtini angenrheidiol gan Gomisiwn y Cynulliad o'r gyllideb yna cyn cael ei gosod, o estimates y Comisiwn Etholiadol. Oherwydd yr amserlen, byddwn ni ddim yn cael yr estimates mewn pryd i Gomisiwn y Cynulliad fedru sgrwtineddio nhw er mwyn cyflwyno—
Well, yes, an element of that is fair, but I would ask the Finance Committee also to consider how it impacts the Finance Committee's scrutiny of budgets in this place, because you are responsible for scrutinising the Assembly Commission's budget at present. Now, because of the timetable, as I've already outlined, the necessary scrutiny by the Assembly Commission of that budget before it was laid would arise from the Electoral Commission estimates. Because of the timetable, we wouldn't receive those estimates in time for the Assembly Commission to scrutinise them properly in order to bring forward—
Ond mae'r rhain i gyd yn bethau a all gael eu newid. Dyna'r awgrym gan y Cwnsler Cyffredinol—mae modd newid Rheolau Sefydlog y lle yma, mae modd gwneud addasiadau, ac yn y blaen. Dŷch chi ddim yn derbyn ei bod hi mor syml â hynny?
But these are all things that can be changed. That's the suggestion from the Counsel General—you can change the Standing Orders and you can make adjustments and so forth. You don't accept that it's as simple as that?
Nid mater o Reolau Sefydlog yw hwnna; mater o bryd mae'n ymarferol bosib i gael yr estimates oddi wrth y Comisiwn Etholiadol, a'n dealltwriaeth ni o'r Comisiwn Etholiadol yw y bydden nhw ddim mewn sefyllfa i wneud hwnna tan yn gynnar yn yr hydref, erbyn 1 Hydref, a'u paratoi nhw ar gyfer yr Alban a Chymru yn yr un modd. Dyw e ddim yn broblem yn yr Alban. Mae proses sgrwtini'r gyllideb yn yr Alban yn hwyrach yn y flwyddyn na beth yw e fan hyn. Mae'n broblem ymarferol fan hyn oherwydd bod ein proses sgrwtini ni ynghynt yn y flwyddyn ariannol.
Nawr, un ffordd rownd hyn i gyd yw, yn hytrach na bod Comisiwn y Cynulliad yn gyfrifol am sgrwtineiddio cyllideb y Comisiwn Etholiadol—yr estimates hynny—fod yr estimates hynny'n mynd i bwyllgor Llywydd. Mae'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol wedi dweud bod yr opsiwn yna hefyd yn briodol, a dwi'n derbyn bod hwnnw'n sicr yn well opsiwn na'r opsiwn o sgrwtineiddio o fewn Comisiwn y Cynulliad. Ond, o wneud hynny—mae'n ddrwg gen i godi fy mys—rhywbeth i'r Pwyllgor Cyllid fod yn ymwybodol ohono fe yw y bydd pwyllgor y Llywydd yn sgrwtineiddio estimates y Comisiwn Etholiadol ar yr un pryd ag y bydd y pwyllgor yma'n sgrwtineiddio cyllideb y Comisiwn a phopeth arall mae'r Comisiwn yn ei wneud. Wedyn, ar un pwynt, fe fydd y ddwy gyllideb yna'n dod i mewn i gyllideb y Comisiwn ar gyfer y budget motion a fydd yn dod o flaen y Cynulliad. Dwi'n rhagweld, o bosib, y byddai yna densiwn yn y ddwy elfen yna a hefyd rôl swyddog cyfrifo Comisiwn y Cynulliad, heb unrhyw fodd o fedru fod yn gyfrifol mewn ffordd glir am yr elfen yna o gyllideb y Comisiwn Etholiadol.
That isn't a matter of Standing Orders; it's a matter of when it's practicably possible to get the estimates from the Electoral Commission, and our understanding from the Electoral Commission is that they won't be in a position to do that until early in the autumn, by 1 October, and to prepare them for Scotland and Wales simultaneously. It's not a problem in Scotland. The budget scrutiny process in Scotland happens later in the year than it happens here. It's a practical problem here because our scrutiny process takes place earlier in the financial year.
Now, one way around all of this is that rather than the Assembly Commission being responsible for scrutinising the Electoral Commission estimates, they should go to a Llywydd's committee. The Counsel General has stated that that is an appropriate option, and I certainly accept that that is a better option than the option of scrutinising within the Assembly Commission, but, in doing that—I'm sorry for pointing—something for the Finance Committee to be aware of is that the Llywydd's committee would scrutinise the Electoral Commission estimates at the same time as this committee would scrutinise the Commission's budget and everything else that the Commission does in financial terms. Then, at some point, both of those budgets would merge into the Commission budget for the budget motion that would come before the Assembly. And I would anticipate that there may be some tension between those two elements and the role of the Assembly Commission accounting officer, without any means of being responsible in clearly defined terms for that element of the Electoral Commission's budget.
Ocê, diolch. Dŷn ni wedi clywed y neges yna'n glir, dwi'n credu. Diolch yn fawr. Mike.
Okay, thank you. We've heard that message clearly, I think. Thank you very much. Mike.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't we really discussing whether it's funded directly or indirectly from exactly the same money, which is the Welsh consolidated fund? Because the Assembly Commission is funded through the Welsh consolidated fund. So, really, it's come down to whether it's funded directly or indirectly. If it cannot be legally funded directly, how can it be legally funded indirectly?
Well, you're perfectly right in the interpretation that it's the same money and that it's matter of being directly funded to the National Assembly and accountable to the National Assembly, or via the Assembly Commission budget. Our view, clearly, is that the accountability should be directly to the National Assembly.
I agree with you, but the argument that seems to be being made, and it might be one that you might want to—. It's probably a legal question. I mean, how can you not legally fund somebody directly but you can legally fund somebody indirectly?
Well, we certainly believe that it's within competence to fund directly. You'll have to—. Well, I'm not the person to answer the second part of that.
Okay. And the other question is: is it a fee that we have to pay, or is it part of the budget where we can, as an Assembly, decide that we don't agree with their estimates? Can we change it? If the Commission bring a budget here and you put a 50 per cent increase on it, we may well have a view that that is far too large and that we would like to discuss it and would not be mindful to recommend to the Assembly to give you that 50 per cent increase. If, however, this body comes along and wants a 50 per cent increase, are we, as an Assembly, able to say, 'We're not prepared to fund all that'? Is it just a fee charge to buy them, which is set by them, over which we have no control?
Well, we would have control, yes. Via the scrutiny process of the estimates, the Llywydd committee, then, if it's done via that route, could certainly lay a different budget.
Which would then go in front of the—
The whole Assembly.
The whole Assembly, which would either agree it or not. If it can be altered—which you just said it can—if it's not a fee or a charge, but it's actually a budget that is part of the overall budget—. I'll put it as a question: can you see why somebody would want to be funded indirectly rather than directly by the body responsible?
You're asking why the Electoral Commission would prefer to—
No, why would we, as an Assembly, want to fund—? If it's changeable—. If it wasn't changeable, it wouldn't matter who funded it, it would just be a charge, and we have that, don't we, with the termination of Members' salaries, et cetera? You have no control over it and we have no control over it. It is a determination and, as such, you put it in your budget and you can't add to it or subtract from it. That's there. If this is not in that situation of being dealt with in exactly the same way, where people are just saying, 'You have to put this money in', and that it can be altered, it's going to end up in front of the Assembly anyway, whether directly or indirectly. So, the Assembly could reject the Commission's budget because they thought that the amount of money being given to the Electoral Commission was too high. So, I'm just saying it puts the whole of the Commission's budget at risk because of something over which we have limited control. Do you see a danger in that?
The point you're making is that, in order to object to the Electoral Commission estimate, the Assembly Commission budget would have to be voted down, then. That's how that—I'm presuming, in terms of timetabling—would work, because there would be no laid budget estimate by the Llywydd committee; it would be via the Assembly Commission. Yes?
The draft provisions that the Counsel General is putting forward—. The Llywydd is right; the Llywydd committee would be able to make modifications to the estimates and lay them before the Assembly, and the Counsel General's proposals are that those estimates are then incorporated into the annual budget motion. So, it's more akin to the ombudsman process, or the Wales Audit Office process. There is a question, of course, and this is one of the complex issues that is left to determine through Standing Orders, potentially, as to whether it becomes part of the Assembly Commission budget when the Commission's budget is voted on, or whether it simply becomes part of the budget later on in the process in the annual budget motion. That's one of the complexities, I think, that needs to be unpicked.
Very briefly, it's not for us, probably, to have a view on this in the Finance Committee, but wouldn't it be easier and simpler if it was dealt with later on in the proceedings? Because it's a budget over which you have no control, as you have no control over the auditor general or the ombudsman, where we do talk to them, we have views on it and we actually make suggestions about how they might want to change it.
That's why the option of a Llywydd committee, rather than the scrutiny itself being also the responsibility of the Assembly Commission, is a preferred model in our thinking as well, even if it's not directly from the Welsh consolidated fund.
Iawn, diolch yn fawr. Rhianon.
Okay, thank you very much. Rhianon.
Thank you. In regard to the Government of Wales Act 2006, sections 124 and 125, which seem to be the Counsel General's underpinning premise in terms of what can be directly funded, I'm just still trying to get my head around the difference of legal opinion, and we've said that we can do both. Scotland does it, but it's got its precedent there. Is your view, then, that this is just too messy in terms of the Counsel General's view, or is there a wider accountability issue underpinning that in terms of the accounting officer? I'm trying to unpick why you feel so strongly.
Well, we believe that we have the competence to do it via this Bill, so there's a difference of—
It's a huge difference here in terms of the Government of Wales Act. That seems to be fundamental.
—legal opinion on that issue of competence, we believe. But the reasoning that we're outlining for you this morning is that, putting that aside, in terms of the options that we have, we believe that the direct route of accountability straight to the National Assembly is far more straightforward, in line with how the auditor general and ombudsman are currently accountable to the Assembly, via the Finance Committee, and that there is a simplicity to that. And then we've outlined some of the issues that the route via the Assembly Commission provides—problems—especially in terms of the accounting officer role in being responsible both for the Assembly Commission budget, understandably, but also as the accounting officer for the portion of the budget that comes from the Electoral Commission, where the Electoral Commission accounting officer is also responsible for the totality of that budget in the UK.
I just find it concerning, and we know that we get different legal opinions—we all know that—but surely there should be clarity around the Government of Wales Act on which it's predicated, and I'm concerned that there's a view that that isn't at the core of this determination from the Counsel General, but I'll put that to one side. So, in your view, is it appropriate, then, for the Assembly Commission's statutory remit to be extended in such a manner without Stage 1 scrutiny?
Well, I think we rehearsed in the previous committee—it's not ideal for this to be introduced in the context of Stage 2 scrutiny, but I was very clear in that committee and in introducing the Bill that this was under discussion, that these matters were now able to be devolved via this law-making mechanism of this Bill, that everything was not ready for Stage 1, but rather than think of enacting this via a stand-alone Bill, that both the Electoral Commission were keen to see this happening, Welsh Government were keen to see this Bill be the mechanism for that happening, as we were as well. So, yes, I agree, all things being perfect, this should have been part of the Stage 1 scrutiny, but we did make everybody aware that these policy issues were under consideration, and, in fact, they were obviously part of some of the discussion during Stage 1 as well.
So, if the Welsh Government's amendments are accepted, what is your view in terms of the Llywydd's committee? Will that still be necessary?
Obviously, if the Welsh Government amendments are accepted and they form part of the Bill, the Commission will put into action what the National Assembly decides. That's obviously what would happen.
The Welsh Government amendments, of course, allow for at least two options then to be decided through Standing Orders, primarily, and I've talked about those slightly. One is that there would be a Llywydd committee; the other is that the Assembly Commission would be entirely responsible for the scrutiny of the Electoral Commission. We believe that that model—total Assembly Commission responsibility for scrutiny—is not workable due to the timetabling issue I've referred to and the Electoral Commission estimates and therefore there would have to be—. I've always been of the view that there should be a Llywydd committee, as has the Electoral Commission been clear that there should be a Llywydd committee, just as there is a Speaker's committee, to hold the Electoral Commission to account and to scrutinise their estimates in that model.
Okay, thank you.
Thank you. Mark.
Could you clarify the role of the Llywydd's committee and of this committee under your preferred model in terms of (a) authorising and (b) then scrutinising the budget of the Election Commission for its activities here?
Directly from the Wales consolidated fund, the Electoral Commission would be taking their estimates to a Llywydd committee—a Llywydd committee would be set up. The scrutiny of those estimates would then be a matter for the Llywydd committee, and it would involve, then, the UK auditor general view on value for money and also any other scrutiny witnesses that the Llywydd committee would take. The Llywydd committee obviously would meet in public for all of that, and then the Llywydd committee would lay its recommendations directly to the Assembly.
I've said in previous correspondence, I think, following the Stage 1 scrutiny of this Bill that the Chair of Finance Committee would be an ex officio member of the Llywydd committee and that the statement of principles, is it, that you’ve adopted as a Finance Committee would form the basis of the scrutiny work. So, the Electoral Commission would be accountable directly to the Assembly via the Llywydd committee, not via the Finance Committee, as is the auditor general and the ombudsman. So, it does differ in that respect, but you will know that the Electoral Commission itself has said that it prefers for the scrutiny and accountability to be via a committee that is—I don't recall what their terms are, but non-political, or chaired by a non-political office, then, as the Llywydd or Deputy Presiding Officer would be.
The Electoral Commission has spent a significant part of its budget chasing Carole Cadwalladr conspiracy theories. With the National Crime Agency decision yesterday to clear Arron Banks, those cases have completely collapsed. Which of the two models would give us greater assurance that the Electoral Commission couldn't waste public funds in that way here?
Well, I think you've just made the argument as to why the Finance Committee in a party political representative role should not be the committee that scrutinises the Electoral Commission. You've got party politics or issues around the referendum into the discussion on the Electoral Commission this morning, and I think that's why probably a Llywydd committee that has a specific purpose is the mechanism to undertake that.
So, in that context, can I clarify in terms of the invitation—was that from you as Llywydd or from the Assembly Commission, for Carole Cadwalladr to—[Inaudible.]
Sorry, I didn't hear that.
I'm going to have to look at the Chair of the committee—
Surely it is relevant, in terms of assessing who is going to be most dispassionate and most effective in carrying out the value-for-money things—[Inaudible.]—the Electoral Commission.
I think the question we should be asking is who would be on the Llywydd's committee, then, if we need to be confident that there aren't any party political agendas emerging in the Llywydd's committee, because, clearly, somebody made the point earlier that the Assembly Commission is made up, of course, of political AMs, so in what way would the Llywydd committee be different?
Well, I think the point to make about the Commission is that it's set up—yes, it's chaired by the Llywydd, and it then has representatives, members of all political parties, as Commissioners. The remit of those Commissioners is very different to the remit of you sitting around this table as representatives of your political parties in one of the committees of the Assembly, and their role is to undertake the role of Commissioners of the Assembly Commission. The remit of the Llywydd committee, in the context of how the Standing Orders and any description of the Llywydd committee for the purposes of the Electoral Commission, would be outlined in a way—I suspect not in exactly the same way as the Assembly Commission, but in a similar way in terms of what its role would be.
The Electoral Commission is responsible for the running of elections and referenda. It needs to do so in a way that means it is not compromised by party politics in any way. That works in a different context, as we all know, and therefore I think it's important—and that's the model that the Speaker's committee in the UK Parliament has established—that it is taken separately to the usual committees of a Parliament.
Llywydd, some of us consider the Electoral Commission to be completely compromised in how it carries out its functions, so I just wonder, at the inaugural election of the Assembly back in 1999, when I think the roles for the electoral administration oversight were taken by the Home Office, were there any problems in that, do we know, or did that pass satisfactorily and could that be a potential future model?
Well, I have no recollection of whether there were any problems or not at that time. This National Assembly, this Parliament, is a very different body to the one that I was elected to in 1999, and its responsibilities are very different. And I suspect that going back to 1999 is not the way forward.
Can I follow up on Alun's question, or perhaps suggestion, earlier around the different legal advice and position of Welsh Government and the Commission and the difficulties that causes for our committee and, potentially, Plenary? Can I ask what steps have you and Welsh Government taken to try and reconcile your legal advice and positions? Have you shared your legal advice, for instance, with the Government or vice versa? Could your lawyers meet, perhaps, and appoint an agreed person to assist to try and bring them together? Could those assist in taking this forward?
Well, we've certainly had those discussions—I've had them—with the Counsel General. I'm open to having a conversation after this meeting, again, with the Counsel General and officials to see whether there is anything that has been learned as part of the scrutiny this morning. And I'm expecting Welsh Government to have watched some of this scrutiny as we did the scrutiny of the Counsel General, and we will have heard the message that seems to be coming from this committee, that it's not pleased with the invidious position it's been put in by both Welsh Government and the Commission. And I understand that completely, although, after saying all of that, I'd be very keen to hear some of the emerging views that you as a committee have on not just the legal competence issue but more particularly the model that you would favour—setting aside the legal competence issues—the model that you think would be the appropriate one for the scrutiny of the money. It will be the same money, as Mike Hedges has said, but what is the right model to ensure that there is proper scrutiny and accountability of the Electoral Commission to the Assembly?
Finally from me, Chair: which of the two models leads to the greater risk of Electoral Commission funding in Wales being challenged and ruled out of order by the courts?
I have no idea how to answer that question in terms of what the courts would decide, if at all, on this matter. It would, of course, depend on how that legislation was finally framed and what views the courts would have at that point if there was any challenge to it. I think that the Counsel General has also referred to the fact that Minister of the Crown consent is required, also, for these amendments—all of them, whichever model—to be fully enacted.
Diolch yn fawr. Nick.
Thanks, Chair. I think the first of my questions has pretty much been answered. You covered the Scottish situation earlier and the comparisons there.
The second question was to do with the discussions between the Welsh Government and the Treasury regarding the mechanism for transferring funding into the Welsh consolidated fund. Have you been involved in any of those discussions, or is that something that you've left for others?
Well, we're aware of the fact that this requires—. We're obviously aware of the fact that this requires the discussions, both—. There are two aspects to this, of course. One is the inter-institutional formula for the allocation of the estimates and the funding to Wales and Scotland, and then the transfer that would be required to fund that via the Wales consolidated fund from the Treasury. We are involved in the discussion around the formula for basing the allocation to Wales and to Scotland, and the inter-institutional agreement that would be required to do that. It is a matter for Welsh Government and the UK Treasury to be discussing the Wales consolidated fund. I don’t think we’re involved in that, are we? No.
Ocê. Iawn. Diolch. Jest—
Okay. Fine. Thank you. Just—
Yes, go on then, Mike.
I'll start off. My personal preference would be for it to be funded through the consolidated fund directly—that’s the simplest method. Has anybody gone to leading counsel to get a definitive opinion—either you or you in conjunction with Welsh Government—whether it can be done that way or not? Because, if it’s not legally able to be done, then it has to be done in the indirect route. But my personal preference is to do it the direct route, and I would suggest that somebody needs to get leading counsel’s opinion on if it’s legal or if it isn’t.
We've not broached that vehicle as a—
Wel, mae neges wedi cael ei—
Well, the message has been—
Mae'r mater yma wedi codi'i ben yn gyson, onid yw e, y bore yma? Felly, yn amlwg, rwy'n credu bydden ni fel pwyllgor yn awyddus iawn i weld y Llywodraeth a'r Llywydd a'r comisiwn yn eistedd i lawer eto, efallai—
That issue has been raised several times this morning. So, evidently, I think we as a committee would be eager to see the Government and the Llywydd and the commission sitting down again—
Yes. As I said, the message has been received.
—i drafod hyn. Gaf i jest gofyn am un pwynt diddorol a gododd yn y sesiwn flaenorol, jest i gloi? Trwy greu rhyw fath o ffordd newydd o ddelio gyda chorff allanol—bod y Comisiwn Etholiadol yn cael ei gyllido drwy Gomisiwn y Cynulliad—ydyn ni'n creu risg neu'n sefydlu cynsail, efallai, y byddai rhai o'r cyrff eraill sy'n cael eu hariannu'n uniongyrchol ar hyn o bryd yn dod atom ni ac yn dweud, 'Pam na allwn ni gael ein hariannu drwy Gomisiwn y Cynulliad hefyd?'
—to discuss that. Could I just ask one interesting point that arose in the previous session, just to close? In creating a new way of dealing with an external body—that the Electoral Commission is funded through the Assembly Commission—are we creating a risk or setting a precedent that some of the other bodies that are directly funded at present will come to us and say, 'Well, why can't we be funded through the Assembly Commission as well?'
Wel, mae'n siŵr ei fod e’n agor drysau i bob math o ystyriaeth newydd ar beth yw’r modelau priodol i wneud hyn. Yn yr Alban, dwi’n meddwl bod saith corff yn cael eu hariannu’n uniongyrchol o corporate body Senedd yr Alban. Felly maen nhw wedi mynd i lawr trywydd gwbl wahanol i Senedd Cymru yn y cyfnod o sefydlu’r cyrff yma, ac felly mae e’n newid gweddol o arwyddocaol o beth, hyd yn hyn, mae’r ddealltwriaeth o rôl Comisiwn y Cynulliad wedi bod.
Well, it would, I'm sure, open doors to all sorts of new considerations as to what the appropriate models are. In Scotland, I think seven bodies are directly funded through the Scottish Parliament corporate body. So they've gone down an entirely different route to the Welsh Parliament as these bodies have been established, and therefore it is quite a significant change to what the current understanding of the Assembly Commission's role has been.
Ac mi allen ni ddefnyddio’r ddadl o safbwynt ymyrraeth pleidiol wleidyddol drwy’r pwyllgor yma o ran rhai o’r cyrff eraill hefyd, onid allwn, o bosib?
And we could use the argument in terms of party political intervention through this committee for some of the other bodies as well couldn't we, possibly?
Rhetorical rwy'n meddwl oedd hynny.
That's a rhetorical question, I think.
Ie, dyna fe. Wel, gaf i ddiolch yn fawr i chi am eich tystiolaeth? Os nad oes unrhyw gwestiynau—
Yes. Could I thank you for your evidence? If there are no further questions—
Chair, if I may—.
Oh, go on then—very briefly; we've got two minutes left.
Sorry, just very briefly—I know we’ve come to the end of the session, and I think that the comments in terms of wider legal interpretation are absolutely at the heart of this, but, in regard to the point that was made on a number of occasions around party political bias and the nature of the Commission and the nature of Commissioners, in your view then, surely that would be much more predicated if it went to the floor of the general Assembly than if it went through an adjunct body.
Well, the accountability via the Wales consolidated fund—from the Wales consolidated fund—would be via a Llywydd committee, which would be chaired by—. The Llywydd committee would be set up in a different way to all other committees of the Assembly—the Finance Committee, for example. So, rather than do it via the Finance Committee, which has been proposed by some at various points, it would be via a Llywydd committee, respecting the fact that it is a pretty unique situation with the Electoral Commission, but then, of course, having the chair of committee on—
Would it be a public committee?
I would expect that any of this, when it comes to scrutiny of the Electoral Commission and its estimates, that it would meet in public, yes. Even if it was the Assembly Commission, it would need to meet in public for that, and the Assembly Commission can do that, if needs be, for any aspect of its work.
Yn union, ac mae hwnna'n bwynt pwysig i'w danlinellu, felly diolch am hynny. Diolch hefyd i'r Llywydd am y dystiolaeth, a'r swyddogion hefyd—dŷn ni'n ddiolchgar iawn i chi. Yn amlwg, mae gennym ni nawr ychydig ddyddiau i adrodd ar y mater yma, ac mi edrychwn ni ymlaen at drafodaeth bellach yn y Cynulliad llawn yr wythnos nesaf. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi.
Exactly, and that's a very important point to emphasise, so thanks for that. Thank you also to the Llywydd for the evidence, and to the officials as well—we're very grateful to you. We now have a few days to report on this issue, and we look forward to a further debate in the whole Assembly next week. Thank you very much to you.
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.
Mi awn ni nawr i mewn i sesiwn breifat. Felly, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi), dwi'n cynnig bod y pwyllgor yn gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod. Ydy Aelodau'n fodlon â hynny? Iawn. Diolch yn fawr. Mi awn ni i mewn, felly, i sesiwn breifat.
We will now go into private session. So, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi), I propose that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting. Are Members content with that? Fine. Thank you very much. We'll go into private session.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 11:00.
The public part of the meeting ended at 11:00.