|Dawn Bowden AC|
|Janet Finch-Saunders AC|
|Lynne Neagle AC||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Sian Gwenllian AC|
|Suzy Davies AC|
|Albert Heaney||Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr Cyffredinol, y Grŵp Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Deputy Director General, Health and Social Services Group, Welsh Government|
|Julie Morgan AC||Y Dirprwy Weinidog Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol|
|Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services|
|Nicola Edwards||Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr yr Is-adran Gofal Plant, Chwarae a'r Blynyddoedd Cynnar, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Deputy Director, Childcare, Play and Early Years, Welsh Government|
|Tracey Breheny||Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr Iechyd Meddwl, Camddefnyddio Sylweddau a Grwpiau Agored i Niwed, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Deputy Director of Mental Health, Substance Misuse and Vulnerable Groups, Welsh Government|
|Vaughan Gething AC||Y Gweinidog Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol|
|Minister for Health and Social Services|
|Yr Athro Jean White||Prif Swyddog Nyrsio, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, Welsh Government|
|Tanwen Summers||Ail Glerc|
|1. Cyflwyniadau, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau||1. Introductions, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest|
|2. COVID-19: Sesiwn Dystiolaeth gyda Llywodraeth Cymru||2. COVID-19: Evidence Session with the Welsh Government|
|3. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(xi) i Benderfynu Gwahardd y Cyhoedd o Weddill y Cyfarfod||3. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(xi) to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Remainder of the Meeting|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 14:05.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 14:05.
Good afternoon. Can I welcome Members to the virtual meeting of the Children, Young People and Education Committee this afternoon? In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I've determined that the public are excluded from the committee's meeting, in order to protect public health. In accordance with Standing Order 34.21, notice of this decision was included in the agenda for this meeting, which was published last Thursday. This meeting is, however, being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, with all participants joining via video-conference. A record of proceedings will be published as usual.
Aside from the procedural adaptation related to conducting proceedings remotely, all other Standing Order requirements for committees remain in place. The meeting is bilingual, and simultaneous translation from Welsh to English is available. Can I remind everyone that the microphones will be controlled centrally, so there's no need to turn them on and off individually? We've received apologies for absence from Hefin David AM, and there is no substitution. Can I ask Members if there are any declarations of interest, please? No. Okay, thank you. Can I just note for the record that if for any reason I drop out of the meeting, the committee has agreed that Dawn Bowden AM will temporarily chair while I try to rejoin?
Moving on, then, to item 2 this afternoon, which is an evidence session with the Welsh Government in relation to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on health and social services as they relate to children and young people in Wales. I'm very pleased to welcome Vaughan Gething AM, the Minister for Health and Social Services; Julie Morgan AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services; Albert Heaney, deputy director general of the health and social services group; Nicola Edwards, deputy director, childcare, play and early years; Jean White, chief nursing officer; and Tracey Breheny, who is deputy director of mental health, substance misuse and vulnerable groups. Thank you all very much for your attendance today—we appreciate your time.
We've got lots of questions that we'd like to cover, which we'll go straight into, with questions from Siân Gwenllian.
Prynhawn da. Faint ydym ni'n ei ddeall ynglŷn â sut mae'r feirws yn effeithio ar blant a phobl ifanc, a'u rôl nhw wrth drosglwyddo'r feirws? A pha mor bwysig yw hi fod hyn yn cael ei ystyried yn strategaeth ymadael Llywodraeth Cymru, yn enwedig mewn perthynas ag ailagor yr ysgolion?
Good afternoon. How much do we understand about how this virus impacts children and young people, and their role in transmitting the virus? And how important is it that this is considered in the Welsh Government's exit strategy, especially in the context of reopening schools?
Okay. I think it's fair to say that our understanding is developing across all age ranges about the virus and its impact. It's still the case that children and young people are less likely to be affected significantly by COVID-19 than people with a range of healthcare conditions, and in particular the age grade that we've seen, and that's underpinned the advice we've given to the whole population about self-isolation by people in age categories, as well as the extremely vulnerable group we advise to shield.
We still don't understand everything about the role that children have to play in the transmitting of the virus, and this is one of the difficulties we face. Because in cold and flu, children transmit the virus and they're also susceptible, in particular to the flu, as well; that's why we have a childhood immunisation programme for the flu as well. We do know that there's some developing evidence about what's called a Kawasaki-like syndrome, but that's affecting very small numbers of children. We have one possible case in Wales—a child who's in critical care—but that isn't confirmed. That's still a developing knowledge base. So, the rest of the world is still trying to understand that too. But the generals still apply—that children are less likely to be affected than older people, but can nevertheless still become unwell, and that's, if you like, one of the few positives in this condition. But as I say, we're still learning, so I won't try and present a fully accurate or finalised picture of knowledge in this area.
Ac o ran gwasanaethau sydd gan yr NHS yng Nghymru, yn cynnwys y gwasanaethau gofal critigol, oes yna ddigon o gapasiti i reoli unrhyw gynnydd mewn achosion pediatrig o'r coronafeirws petai sefyllfa hynod anffodus yn digwydd, bod hwn yn—?
And in terms—[Inaudible.]
Chair. Sorry. Excuse me, Chair. Sorry—with apologies to the Member, my translation stopped after a while, so I heard the first part translated, and then it just fell off. I'm really sorry, but I didn't want to try to answer a different question to the one that may be being asked, and don't think that's fair to the Member or other members of the committee.
Can we check that translation is back on, please, and maybe Siân could repeat her question?
Ddim o gwbl. Sôn yr oeddwn i am wasanaethau yr NHS, gan gynnwys y gwasanaethau gofal critigol, a gofyn yr oeddwn i oes yna ddigon o gapasiti i reoli unrhyw gynnydd. Gobeithio na fydd dim cynnydd, wrth gwrs, ond cynnydd mewn achosion pediatrig o'r coronafeirws. Dywedwch fod ffasiwn beth—bod y syndrom prin yma, bod yna fwy a mwy o achosion o'r hynny yn digwydd yng Nghymru—oes gennym ni ddigon o gapasiti i ddelio efo nhw, ac efo effaith y coronafeirws yn gyffredinol, felly, ar blant?
Not at all. I was discussing NHS services, including critical care services, and I was asking whether there is sufficient capacity in place to manage any increase. We, of course, hope that there won't be any increase, but should there be an increase, particularly in paediatric cases of coronavirus—let's say such a thing were to happen and this rare syndrome that you mentioned did emerge here in Wales—do we have the capacity in place to deal with these, and with the impact of coronavirus more generally on children?
At this point in time, the answer is 'yes', and there is always a significant caveat, though, and the 'but' that comes in there is that despite the fact that we've got a plan for surge capacity in paediatric care—. So, when we increased critical care right across the national health service, we of course looked at paediatric care as part of that as well. So, we can flex up our capacity. But the challenge in all of that this is—it's part of my caution and the Government's caution about moves out of lockdown. So, it's much easier to go into lockdown than to come out of it, and I know you heard evidence from the Minister for Education last week about the approach that she wants to take and the principles behind doing that. So, actually, we'll need to think carefully about if we are reopening schools, even on a limited basis, what that then does to the circulation of coronavirus within that group of children as well as within the wider community, and then to try to understand whether the current capacity we have planned for in surge capacity is still going to be enough, because, actually, one of the real success stories of the first stage of the fight with coronavirus is that we haven't had our critical care capacity filled up. It's been extended, and the extension has meant that we haven't been overtopped. If we hadn't done that, we definitely would have been. And we'll need to carry on testing ourselves and seeing what's happening and looking at the evidence and making sure that the plan we already have got that we published for paediatric critical care is still fit for purpose, and again to reconsider if we need to do things differently. But that's part of the difficulty of being a Minister at the moment—you don't know everything that's coming, and on this disease in particular, we do know that we're still learning with each passing day.
Okay. Lovely. Thank you very much.
Right, we'll move on now then to some question on access to health services from Dawn Bowden.
Thank you, Chair. Minister, just some concern that you will have heard about in terms of parents and carers maybe not taking their children into the healthcare system for other conditions while the coronavirus pandemic is with us. How are you monitoring that situation at the moment and have you had to look at your own commutation strategy in relation to that?
We've had to look at some specifics around communication, so challenges about not just different languages, but about how we get messages to people in a very different environment, and it's really challenging. So, for example, our health visitor service has absolutely not stopped. We've had to think about the way it works, and I had this conversation earlier this week with the chief nurse. But the bigger challenge are parents refusing to engage with the service. I understand people's fear and anxiety, but that then means that their family, and in particular their child, isn't getting the sort of proactive care that we would want them to have.
So, there's a real concern both at the professional leadership end and for the chief nurse and for Ministers as well about how we can get through. That's actually about rebuilding people's confidence in the service, and that isn't straightforward because there's a broader concern about coronavirus still circulating.
But I think for us it's really important to reiterate that we have thought again about how to provide the service. We've thought about how to protect staff and families and the very clear message to parents is to please make sure that when health and care professionals are calling to help and support your family, please discuss your concerns with them. We're doing even more remotely, via telephone and online as well. There are times you need to be physically in the same place, for example on routine vaccinations, because we certainly haven't stopped that programme either, and I really wouldn't want to see that one of the unintended consequences of what we've done is that if parents don't engage with that service, we could potentially see a rise in other diseases. We're all, I think—not just you in your constituency, but others who are on this call and others as well—seeing an occasional reappearance of measles, and that's because people didn't engage with the vaccination programme. I don't want, either myself or a different health Minister in the future, to be sat here talking about how in years to come the failure to engage in a vaccination programme has led to clearly avoidable but significant harm to children and young people and the communities they live in.
Thank you. I just want to add to what the Minister said. So, I approached the immunisation lead in Public Health Wales to see exactly what has been happening recently and they said at the very beginning of the outbreak parents were very reluctant about coming forward for their routine immunisations, but recently, through lots of energy from the immunisation clinics and the leads within it reaching out to families, that trend seems to have turned and there's now a much better attendance. One of the most important things we can do to protect our children is to make sure they have their vaccinations. So, yes, there was a bit of a downturn, but it does seem to be improving at the moment. Thank you.
Okay, thank you. And that answered my second question, Chair, so I'm happy to leave it there. Thank you.
Okay, thank you very much. We're going to go on now to some questions about mental health from Siân Gwenllian. Siân.
Mae'n bryder mawr i ni gyd, wrth gwrs, beth ydy effaith yr argyfwng yma ar iechyd meddwl a llesiant ein plant a'n pobl ifanc ni. Pa asesiad mae'r Llywodraeth wedi'i wneud o'r effaith ar yr agweddau hyn a pha waith sy'n cael ei wneud i ddeall effaith y pandemig? A pha fesurau mwy tymor hir fydd yn cael eu rhoi ar waith a pha wasanaethau cymorth iechyd meddwl ychwanegol fydd eu hangen?
It's a cause of great concern to us all, of course, in terms of the impact of this crisis on mental health and well-being among our children and young people. So, what assessment has the Government undertaken of the impact on these aspects in young people and what work is being done to understand the impact of the pandemic? What longer term measures will be put in place and what support services will be put in place?
Again, I think it's helpful that you've already heard from the education Minister last week, because I think the first of her key principles for returning to school is the impact on the emotional health and well-being of children. So, children's mental health was a central concern and remains so for both myself and the education Minister.
Part of the honest challenge, again, is that we don't fully understand the impact on the mental health and well-being of children but we do expect there will have been an impact. So, we're working together with both health boards and our own knowledge and analytical services across the Government to both try to further understand what that is and the difference. Until we have more contact with families, we may not fully understand that, and that's a real point of concern for me.
In all of the unknowns within this, the impact on mental health and well-being is absolutely one of them, because we're looking at how we then develop not just a recovery plan for the economy but a recovery plan around mental health, how we support people, and that will have to be informed by the understanding of what's happening when we get more engagement with families about the level of need, and then how we need to think about that. Obviously, it's a key factor for their return to school, but, actually, for the life children and young people lead outside the school environment, and that will be difficult because we're going to phase out of lockdown—it's not going to be a one-hit measure. That absolutely isn't going to happen. We're going to be looking at, at each point, what difference has been made, what more we can do. And, again, there are the efforts we're making to make sure that our online support services and our telephone support services—that we keep on reminding people that they're there and are available, and we want people to make use of them, because I know, as this committee said, we'd much rather be able to support people and intervene earlier rather than wait until there's a much bigger problem in a period of months in the future.
Felly, mewn gwirionedd, does yna ddim asesiad wedi cael ei wneud oherwydd mae'n anodd i wneud hynny, felly dydy'r darlun llawn ynglŷn â chanlyniadau'r argyfwng—dydych chi ddim yn gwybod beth ydyn nhw ar hyn o bryd.
So, in reality, there's been no assessment undertaken because it's difficult to do that. So, the full picture in terms of the outcomes of the crisis—you don't know what they are at the moment as things stand.
We can't know, because we don't have that level of contact. There is a development—. I wouldn't say that no work's being done, but I couldn't tell you honestly that that work is finalised and we have a definitive understanding of the picture. If I tried to say that, then I'm sure you'd ask me, 'How on earth can you say that? If you're not having regular contact with people, you can't possibly understand the picture.' And it's much better to say, 'We don't understand the full picture. We know there'll have been an impact. We're working alongside health boards and others, but we'll know more as we carry on having more contact with families.'
I'll look at a variety of different areas, again, both to reform the recovery plan, but also then to understand what we need to do at various points in the future, and the picture that we're seeing isn't straightforward and we need to make sure that we don't try to pretend to ourselves or to the public that there is a one-off measure that will allow us to be successful in all the areas that we'd want to be.
Ond allwch chi roi sicrwydd i'r pwyllgor heddiw fod y maes yma, yr agwedd iechyd meddwl a llesiant, yn mynd i fod yn flaenoriaeth i chi fel Gweinidog iechyd?
But can you give the committee an assurance today that this area of mental health and well-being is going to be a priority for you as health Minister?
Of course. Not just on the work we've done in the past; not just because it's one of the key principles for the education Minister about the reopening of schools, but it is a real worry list for me about how we understand the impact on the mental health and well-being of children and young people, and to move forwards, that we don't end up with an entire generation of children and young people who grow up with a range of damage because we haven't thought about what that will look like. So, the mental health recovery plan will of course be of very real importance to me. In amongst all the other priorities I have, I'm certainly not going to allow the mental health and well-being of children and young people to be forgotten.
A sut mae'r capasiti presennol o ran y gwasanaethau iechyd meddwl plant a glasoed yn cymharu â chapasiti y gwasanaethau cyn i'r achosion o goronafeirws ein cyrraedd ni yma yng Nghymru? Ydych chi wedi gorfod sifftio rhai adnoddau draw o CAMHS, er enghraifft, er mwyn delio ag agweddau mwy cyffredinol o'r coronafeirws?
And how does the current capacity in terms of child and adolescent mental health services compare to service capacity prior to the coronavirus outbreak in Wales? Have you had to shift some resources over from CAMHS, for example, in order to deal with more general aspects of coronavirus?
No, we've actually got—. Maybe perhaps it might be helpful, Chair, if Tracey Breheny could say something about the way that we're monitoring the impact we have, in terms of we've got a reporting tool, but also weekly contact with leads in CAMHS services.
Of course. Thanks, Minister. Yes, on that question, we moved pretty quickly at the beginning of the pandemic phase to put in place, as the Minister said, a weekly monitoring tool of all local health boards, so through that tool, we look at that every week in terms of collecting information. Whilst national reporting's been stood down, we are picking up assurance through that tool on things like staff sickness in CAMHS services, referral numbers and so on, so we do have that tool in place, and at the moment, that's telling us that the system can meet the capacity; has the capacity to meet need.
Oes yna staff CAMHS wedi cael eu symud draw i wneud gwaith arall yn ystod y feirws?
Have CAMHS staff been shifted over to do other work during this virus outbreak?
There has been some movement, as I'm saying, around health boards, particularly where in the first phase of the epidemic the concentration was on in-patient provision, providing critical care, but my understanding is from the latest tool that we looked at last week, those staff are gradually not just returning to work from self-isolation or whatever, or from different parts of the system.
Ac wedyn, beth am y capasiti ar gyfer cleifion mewnol y gwasanaethau iechyd meddwl plant a'r glasoed? Oes yna ostyngiad wedi bod yn y capasiti yna ers dechrau'r pandemig? Dyna dwi'n ei glywed, bod yna ostyngiad wedi bod, ond sut felly mae'r cleifion wedi bod yn cael eu gwasanaeth a'u gofal?
And then, what about the capacity for CAMHS primary mental health services? Has there been a reduction in that capacity since the beginning of the pandemic in terms of in-patients? Because that's what I'm hearing, that there has been such a reduction, but how are those patients then treated and served?
In terms of in-patient capacity, that is in the system in both the north Wales and in the south Wales unit at the moment. There were some discharges of young people, but we've had the assurance that that was only undertaken where it was clinically safe to do so and where the community support was in place.
Ac yn olaf yn y rhan yma gen i, felly, o ystyried bod ysgolion wedi cau a bod yr ysgolion mor bwysig ar gyfer arwyddo'r ffordd ymlaen i bobl ifanc ar gyfer cael gwasanaethau, sut mae pobl ifanc yn cael gafael ar y gwasanaethau priodol—y gwasanaethau ar-lein, er enghraifft? Sut maen nhw'n cael eu cyfeirio at y rheini ar hyn o bryd?
And finally in this section from me, given that schools are of course closed and that schools are so very important in terms of signposting young people towards services, how can young people access appropriate services—online services, for example? How are they signposted towards those services at the moment?
Well, we've not closed off general practice and, as you know, we've expanded the ability for people to access services in an online manner. We've expanded a range of telephone advice services, so the telephone advice service we already provide, we've made sure that's maintained, and both myself and the deputy Minister have referred to that on a number of occasions.
I think the real struggle and the real difficulty is actually how you punch through different messages when the broader news agenda is so overwhelmingly focused on headline messages in other areas. That is, again, a worry for me, but the communications we have within the health and care system, people should know where to refer people to and how to provide access to both telephone and online support that continues to be available, and actually, as I say, we've expanded that right across our healthcare system. That's what I’m keen to see continue into the future. Whatever the post-COVID-19 world is, I don't want to miss out on the progress we have made in the online provision of services. Of course, most children and young people expect to be able to access services in an online manner already.
Ond, wrth gwrs, mae yna rai yn mynd i fod yn cael eu colli. Mae yna rai yn mynd i fod yn disgyn rhwng dwy stôl oherwydd dŷn nhw ddim yn gwybod lle i droi ato fo.
But, of course, there will be some who are missed; they may fall between two stools because they won’t know where to turn.
Yes, and that, again, comes back to our challenge of how we help children and young people in their context, with their families, to know where support and advice and guidance is. Many people are defaulting to their general practitioner if they can't find advice somewhere else, so that's why there's the information we're providing through general practice to signpost people, so those pathways haven’t been closed off. It's about making sure that people have alternative means that they’re prepared to use at this point in time. If we go back to where we started this evidence session, we were talking about the difficulty of families who don't want to engage in a traditional person-to-person contact or being in the same room as someone else or allowing people into their home. So, there's a real challenge about how we make the service available, but then encourage people to take it up, so that we don’t see much greater harm that we have to try and resolve at a later point.
Okay, thank you. I've got a supplementary from Suzy Davies, and can I remind Ministers about concise answers, please? Suzy.
Yes, thank you. Just as we're speaking about children and young people's mental health, I wonder if you can confirm whether you've seen the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child's reports about what they call the grave physical and psychological effect on children and young people, and whether the operational guidance you've given out is responding to that in any way, or maybe there was something in that that you hadn’t thought of and you can respond to as we go along.
I, personally, haven't read that advice, but the Government's already concerned about the direct physical and mental health impact of lockdown restrictions. You don't need to be a parent to recognise that that’s a potential issue for children and young people. But, I'm sure—. I haven't read it, but that's been signposted, so I can check with officials if they have and if that would change the advice and the position that we're already adopting, because we do regularly look at a range of advice from a range of sources, including the UN, the World Health Organization and others.
Okay, and we are going to come onto children's rights. But, as you know, Minister, the prevention of young suicide is a cause that is very close to my heart. Can I ask what assessment the Welsh Government has made of an increase in suicide amongst children and young people during this pandemic and because of this pandemic?
Apart from the general concern that I've expressed on mental health generally, we are already investigating, we're having a—. We've commissioned, through the Government, the delivery unit to work with the national advisory group, including Dr Ann John and other people, to review the current, unexpected deaths during the start of the pandemic here in Wales, because we want to try to understand the wider concerns about the potential effects of the restrictions on the mental health and well-being of children and young people, and if that is leading to a spike in suicide or not. So, that's why we've commissioned that review to be carried out with the current numbers of unexpected deaths that we have, so we're able then to provide a report to understand where we are. My understanding is that we should have a report on that review before the end of this month and, obviously, I know the committee’s got an interest, so if it's helpful we can write to you once we've had a chance to receive the report and to look at it.
Yes, please. Thank you. In terms of provision of crisis care, then, how has that been impacted by the pandemic? Are those crisis services available for children and young people who need them at the moment?
Yes, they continue to be available. We still have seven-day-a-week crisis care. We've made clear that mental health services, including those for children and young people, are essential services to be provided. They're not services to be scaled down. They were not part of the series of measures that I stopped within the health service on 13 March. We have built up those crisis care services over a period of time, and the last thing we want to see is to see them disappear during this period of time when there are well-understood concerns about emotional and mental health.
Okay, thank you. Moving on to perinatal mental health, this morning I hosted a round-table with the NSPCC where we heard about lots of good practice that's going on in terms of supporting new mothers and their families in this period, but I wonder if you can tell the committee what you are doing as a Government to make sure that there is consistent perinatal support for all women across Wales in what is a difficult time for any new mother, let alone in a pandemic.
We continue, again, to provide our perinatal mental health service. That's not been stopped either. We've also been looking at how that's provided on a phone or online basis where possible, because again the same concerns exist about physical contact with people. So, we're looking to make sure that the progress isn't lost that we've made. We know there is more to go. So, the service may have changed, but it still absolutely exists.
And again, part of the challenge in all of this is about the pause or the interruption in work to create the in-patient capacity that I've previously committed to. So, I want to understand what that really means, but again the problem is, at this point in the pandemic, I can't give you an answer about what that means for that in-patient provision. We're still committed to it, but I'm concerned about the time frame—that is partly about the length and the extent.
But again, I'm really impressed by the continuing commitment of our staff to deliver this service for women in what is a particularly uncertain time. It's difficult enough in terms of the challenge in terms of perinatal mental health in normal times, about people being prepared to come forward and then receiving the sort of response they'd want, and even more so now.
Is the Welsh Government aware that there's apparently been a decrease in the numbers of women being willing to look at mother and baby unit provision, and will you be taking that into account in your planning? Because, obviously, we wouldn't want people to think that was because of a lack of need; it's down to fear and the lockdown.
Yes, we're aware there's been a reduction in people wanting to make use of the service—or being prepared to make use of the service is probably a better phrase—because we know that's the same with a range of other areas. There aren't fewer people having strokes than there were at this period of time last year; the reason why the figures are different is the way that people are behaving because of their concerns about coronavirus. So, I certainly wouldn't be using this period of time to plan for the need that exists for a facility that we want to create. So, I'm happy to give that assurance, Chair.
Thank you, Chair. It's a straightforward one, really. Obviously, we have the detail of the third sector resilience fund and the—there are two funds, aren't there, for third sector organisations? But can you give us some indication of how much of that support is being targeted to children and young people, and perhaps you can specifically mention how much of the £6.3 million for hospices is for children's hospices? I don't mind who answers that one.
Yes. Certainly, I'm sure the committee is aware, as Suzy has said, of the funds that are available for third sector services. The Deputy Minister and the Chief Whip, of course, announced on 6 April the £24 million Welsh Government third sector COVID-19 response fund, and that of course is more than we would have had as a result of consequentials from the UK Government. They can also benefit from the £400 million economic resilience fund, but I am aware that some groups don't benefit from that and they may not qualify for that. So, we've also got third sector support being delivered by WCVA, such as the voluntary services emergency fund, which supports volunteering, and the third sector resilience fund, supporting organisations to stay afloat.
We are working very closely with the third sector on issues such as support for fostering services, care leavers and repurposing funding so that they can support the crises. Voices from Care Cymru has developed a specific offer for care leavers, and the Fostering Network provides extended helplines. We've got lots of examples of third sector partners working with children and young people. Childline bases in Wales remain open and operational, and are still providing information and support. And, actually, about 50 per cent of contact with Childline at the moment is to do with COVID-19.
NSPCC has put together a support page for young people about COVID-19. The NSPCC UK helpline have also reported a decrease in calls resulting in a referral to children's social services at the start of the lockdown period, but, since then, the numbers have actually risen. So, there are lots of examples of help for children. Meic, Action for Children, and, of course, Voices From Care Cymru have come up with their own specific package.
In terms of the actual percentage that is being spent on children, I can't give you an actual figure for that, but, certainly, there are a whole range of projects that are there helping children. I think the Minister for Health and Social Services will be able to respond to the hospice question.
It's about £1.5 million from the £6.3 million that's gone to Tŷ Gobaith and Tŷ Hafan, Suzy.
Thank you very much for that. So, it's about 25 per cent. Perhaps if you could ask the Deputy Minister, when she's in a position to do so, to let us have a note. Before we finish on this point, could I ask the Deputy Minister, again, about whether any of the things you've been talking about now is additional money, because, obviously, you mentioned yourself one of these funds is £24 million. Some of the work you mentioned is continuity of existing work. So, again, if you don't have the answer to hand, perhaps you could send us a note in due course about how much extra is going in.
Yes. I think most of those things I mentioned are things that are already there, and the £24 million is for support and extra help. So, any more information, I can send to you.
Thank you very much. The next questions, then, are from Dawn Bowden on safeguarding and child protection.
Thank you, Chair, and thank you, Deputy Minister, because one of the questions I was going to ask was around some of the work that you've been doing with the third sector on safeguarding and child protection, and I think you've covered that.
But what I'm particularly keen to find out is how you're monitoring the impact of coronavirus on child protection and safeguarding in the round. I know the health Minister raised this as a concern in Plenary only recently, and it's really how we are monitoring it, what concerns have been identified, and how we're going to start to tackle some of those.
Yes. Thank you very much, Dawn, for that question. Obviously, it is difficult to monitor if there's not easy access to the children that we're referring to, and that's why we have been trying to encourage the vulnerable children to go into school or childcare settings. And there's been a lot of encouragement for that happen. The Minister, the director of education and the director of social services sent out a joint letter recently to all the local authorities, asking them to try to encourage the vulnerable children and the families to get the children to go to school. In fact, we've now got 890 vulnerable children attending school settings, and that's the highest number that we've had at all since the opening of the scheme. But it's still only a tiny drop in the ocean. But it's very good, and it is progress that the numbers attending are now going up.
But, of course, there are a lot of children who are not attending school and the social services are not necessarily seeing. There has been a drop in safeguarding referrals to social services. Those numbers are now beginning to go up, but there certainly was a significant drop, which is a great deal of concern. One local authority, in fact, reported a drop of 27 per cent in terms of safeguarding referrals compared to this time last year.
So, I issued a written statement on 1 May, setting out the work taken forward under our cross-departmental vulnerable children, young people and safeguarding work stream, and encouraging people to report any safeguarding concerns there are. Because, obviously, we are dependent on the public authorities—you know, schools and health services—to report any concerns, and at the moment, obviously, they're not there to report them. So, we have made this public appeal for everyone to look out for each other, and I was very interested in what Siân Gwenllian told me about what was being done in Anglesey in terms of sending out a message via social media to get people to look and listen, and to raise their concerns, because, obviously, safeguarding is the concern of everybody in the community.
But I think that we are reassured in terms of our contact with the local authorities that they are, in fact, keeping close touch, as far as they possibly can, with all the children that are vulnerable. For those where it is very critical, face-to-face contact is still taking place, and there are imaginative ways of trying to keep in touch with all the other children and families. So, it is a difficult situation and we are concerned about it, but I think as much as possible is being done.
Just to add to what the Deputy Minister was saying, the health visiting service has not been stopped or stepped back. It has consolidated some of the ways that it does the Healthy Child Wales Programme, but, for those families that are identified as having particular need or have children that are particularly vulnerable, all the normal contacts have been maintained, so they're not unseen to the normal health visiting service. That covers both Flying Start and general health visiting areas. Thank you.
Thank you, Jean, for that, and, Deputy Minister, would there be any value at this point in actually revisiting the current Welsh Government definition and guidance around vulnerable children, in terms of who we identify as vulnerable? Because this opens up a whole new group of children that are not necessarily known to services but can still be vulnerable. So,it's just looking at the current guidance that we have. Do you think that needs revisiting at all?
The definition of vulnerable children and young people includes those with a social worker and with statements of special educational needs, and the most vulnerable of these should be prioritised. But we have now looked at this again, and we've set out an expanded definition, and we intend to publish that this week. This does include discretion for local authorities to have some flexibility and to be able to offer a place for those who may be on the edge of receiving care and support if they are known to be vulnerable by the school or by family support services. Because, obviously, the children that we know about, we know about, but there are those other children who may be on the edge of care—the children that we've been trying very hard, as part of our policies in the Welsh Government, to keep with their families, with a lot of support. Those are the ones that we also want to support. So, we are giving discretion to the local authorities in order to have a degree of flexibility, and that will be published this week.
Thank you. We're going to move on now, then, to talk about looked-after children and children on the edge of care, with questions from Janet Finch-Saunders.
Thank you, Chair. Can you set out the impact the coronavirus emergency has had on the care system, including edge-of-care services, and where have there been areas of concern?
Well, local authorities have obviously had to change their working practices in response to the COVID emergency, so a red-amber-green rating risk assessment was adopted by all local authorities at the start of the pandemic to ensure that vulnerable children and families receive the right way of receiving services and the frequency of contact from the services. This is being dealt with on a case-by-case basis, so every case that is known is being RAG rated and services are being linked to that.
Also, there is very close contact between Welsh Government officials and the local authorities. There are weekly meetings between officials and the heads of the children's services. I can't speak too highly, really, about the amount of support and mutual work that has been going on. We've been assured that there have been no significant increases in the numbers of looked-after children, and the number of placement breaks are minimal.
The other interesting good point is the children services workforce remains at 90 per cent plus, and, obviously, that is a great testimony to the dedication of the workforce. So, there's very close contact. The children are all being monitored individually, and I think in the circumstances we're all doing what we possibly can. I know that Albert Heaney is able, probably, to respond in more detail to the contacts, if you'd like to have that.
I think we'll move on to the next section. Can I remind everyone again: sharp focused questions and concise answers? Janet.
Thanks. How is Welsh Government ensuring that vulnerable children have access to the necessary technology to maintain contact with their social workers and other support workers and networks?
It is normal practice to ensure that children and families do have appropriate access to technology to keep in touch with social workers, so that is part of our normal practice. We're very keen as a Welsh Government that no children are left behind in their education during this period. So, last month, as you will know, the Minister for Education announced £3 million of funding to help digitally excluded learners so that they've got access to the internet, so that they can fully participate in online learning. So, we do normally ensure that they've got digital contact for social workers.
Thank you. Can you set out the picture regarding children's residential care? What are the challenges these care settings are facing, and have any children's homes closed?
Residential children's homes are not really reporting any particularly difficult issues, and certainly they have been able to resolve any issues that have happened. So, I'm very pleased to report that.
We obviously expect all children in residential care to be supported, and to keep contact with their families and with their siblings, and that is going on, although it may be by technology rather than face to face. We know that some young people have found the social distancing a challenge, and I think it’s easy for us to understand that they have found that quite difficult. So, there have been a few issues related to that, but, where that has happened, local authorities have been able to resolve that on a case-by-case basis, and really there are not any major issues.
In terms of residential care, Hillside is functioning well—no reporting issues. The staffing levels are normal. There are fewer children and young people there, so, in fact, there's been an opportunity to give a great deal of attention to the children, and I think we've had very good reports about how that has happened. So, I am absolutely reassured by our officials here that everything is as well as it could be. I also meet with the children's commissioner once a week, who is an independent source, and she said when I met her last week, 'Well, as far as we know, it's all good news'. So, I don't think we have any concerns at the moment about the residential care.
Okay. Moving on to foster care, how is Welsh Government working with local authorities to meet the challenges set out by the Association of Fostering and Adoption Cymru and its fostering guidelines?
We have worked with the fostering organisations. We have had close communications with them, and we've supported AFA Cymru to develop guidance for foster carers, and that guidance has been very strongly welcomed across the sector. We're working with the third sector. I think I mentioned before specific issues such as support for fostering services and, of course, care leavers. The Fostering Network has extended its helpline hours, and, of course, Voices from Care—I mentioned them before—have developed this particular offer of support for care leavers. I've been reassured, as well, from Voices from Care that the young people appear to be more stable now—that they have contact with. But that's online help for them. So, we have had quite a lot of contact with the fostering services.
So, the final point on that, then: the Fostering Network and others, as you know, have called for foster parents who can temporarily no longer foster due to the current virus emergency to be paid a retainer, with all foster carers receiving extra financial support for additional expenses. What is your position on this, please?
Well, we haven't had any specific representations from local authorities asking for support for foster carers, but some local authorities have paid retainers and some people, I believe, have increased the amount of money that they are paying. They've also given support for various activities and things—have helped sometimes, I think, with broadband access and that sort of issue. And, obviously, foster carers who do require additional support should be approaching their local authorities or the independent fostering agency.
Okay. Thank you. Albert, I just wanted to check there wasn't anything you wanted to add, please.
Thank you very much, Chair. I think the only thing to add was relating to monitoring. The Minister has indicated that we are speaking weekly with heads of children's services, and we do now have a data collection that's been implemented to capture the critical data in relation to the children's services. So, that will assist us in our monitoring arrangements going forward. Thank you, Chair.
Okay. Thank you very much. And the next questions, then, are from Suzy Davies.
Thank you, Chair. I just wanted to have a quick answer from probably the Minister, I think, about the primary legislation and the regulations that followed, about which children's rights impact assessments have been done. Have any been done, and can they be shared with the committee if they have? Sorry, Deputy Minister—my mistake.
Well, it's been a very difficult time, as you appreciate, in terms of having to make legislation very quickly, and it hasn't been possible to do the impact assessments that we would normally do. However, I am very pleased to say that we're actually launching a survey of children. We're going to be launching it next week. And this is to try to get from children their views of what's happened, what we've been doing, and their views on the whole COVID-19 situation. So, we're doing this in conjunction with the children's commissioner and with Young Wales and with the Youth Parliament. So, this is an online survey that we hope will be going out to thousands of children, and we will get their response in terms of what are the important issues that have arisen for them, what they feel about what's happened during this period, what they feel about the way that we've dealt with the schools, the way that they've had to cope in not going school and being at home for so long. And so we're trying to get feedback from young people.
So, I'm very pleased that we're doing that, but, in terms of an impact assessment, it has been very difficult, as I'm sure you can imagine, to be able to do those at these times. I think that Albert wants to come in on that.
Thank you. Thank you, Chair, and I think Nicola indicated before me, so apologies, Nicola. Just to say for the committee, really importantly, that we haven't introduced any easements in relation to children's services legislation. I think that's really quite crucial. So, from a Welsh context, the standards that are in place do remain, so therefore there wouldn't have been a necessity for us to do a children's rights impact assessment in relation to the primary legislation. I think that's particularly a strong point to us in Wales, both in terms of safeguarding arrangements, but also ensuring that children's rights are protected at a crucial time.
Thanks. In terms of childcare and education, we're obviously looking at the provisions under the coronavirus Act to allow us to maybe ease some of the statutory requirements, and we are going to be undertaking a full suite of impact assessments on those. Obviously, the coronavirus Act itself was UK Government legislation and they ran their own impact assessments, but, in terms of how we implement it in the childcare and education space—and I think Albert was just saying the same thing—we definitely will be looking at those impacts in terms of going forward.
Okay. Well, just to come back on that then, are you saying to me that, as a result of the various coronavirus regulations that we've had, no assessments for children's needs have been postponed, cancelled or done very quickly online rather than in person?
Well, I think, as Albert said, that there was no relaxation of regulation for children's social care. You know, that's—there haven't been any in Wales.
No, but that's what—. There's no relaxation, but what's happening in practice? We're down on staff across all our councils and in our third sectors—who's doing the children's needs assessments, particularly for young carers?
I think the first thing to say to the committee is that, going back, we took a very strong line at the beginning that we weren't going to introduce easements in requirements to children's social services. Of course, through the way that practitioners and social work practitioners have to operate, they are having to operate through a different time. So, assessments are still taking place for child protection and safeguarding concerns; assessments are still taking place, and especially in relation to—as you mentioned—young carers, to support their needs. So, arrangements—[Inaudible.] But they're having to be slightly differently done—so, some of the technology, and keeping in contact and keeping those visits. So, we've used, for example, the St David's Day fund to make sure that care leavers are well supported in terms of having contact and are accessible and able to engage as well. So, we're having to be a little bit more—and social services departments are having to be a little bit more—innovative in the use of technology in the way that they've engaged as well. But personal visits are taking place, and visits especially, as the Minister mentioned earlier on—they actually individually assess each case to determine the frequency of visits, to make sure that those contacts are maintained with children at a critical time.
Okay. Thank you. I don't want to take this much further, but personal visits and social distancing could be slightly problematic. I just want to finish with this one question, if I may. We've had recommendations from the Carers Trust, or Carers Trust Wales. Have they been accepted by Government, and is it those that are driving the agenda of the task and finish group that you announced the other day, Deputy Minister?
Well, those will certainly be considered by the task and finish group. I've had a letter from the Carers Trust about those issues, and we are setting up this group, as you know, and we will be looking at those issues in the group.
Maybe we could have a note on that, Deputy Minister. Can I just say, we are running short of time? We did start late, so, if the Ministers are happy, we'll carry on until 2.10 p.m.—3.10 p.m.—if that's okay. And the next questions are from Siân Gwenllian.
Roeddwn i eisiau gofyn cwestiynau ynglŷn â'r sector gofal plant. Ac mi fyddwch chi, Ddirprwy Weinidog, yn gwybod, oherwydd dan ni wedi trafod hyn—
Hold on a sec, Siân, we've lost translation again. Can we just see what can be done to get the translation back? Sorry, Siân.
Is there anyone who can help with the translation? There you go, Siân. Thank you.
Mi fyddwch chi'n gwybod, Ddirprwy Weinidog—oherwydd dan ni wedi trafod hyn mewn sesiwn breifat—fy mhryder mawr i ynglŷn â'r sector gofal plant, a sut fath o sector gofal plant fydd gennym ni ar ddiwedd yr argyfwng yma, wrth i deuluoedd ddechrau dychwelyd i'r gwaith. Mae yna dal rai darparwyr gofal plant sy'n disgyn rhwng dwy stôl a ddim yn cael cymorth ariannol. Ydych chi'n cytuno—oes yna bobl sydd yn dal ddim yn cael eu cefnogi, a pham nad ydy Llywodraeth Cymru ddim yn gallu rhoi'r gefnogaeth i bawb yn y sector gofal plant?
You will know, Deputy Minister—because we have discussed this in private session—my major concerns with regard to the childcare sector, and what kind of childcare sector we will have at the end of this crisis, as families start to return to the workplace. There are still some childcare providers who are falling between the cracks and aren't receiving financial support. Do you agree—are there people who are still not being supported, and why isn't the Welsh Government able to provide that support for everyone in the childcare sector?
Thank you, Siân, for that question. And I know that we have had a discussion about this before. Basically, we are aware that there are some sectors in the childcare sector that do fall through some of the loops. We have guaranteed that we will pay the money for the childcare offer for three months. So, that is guaranteed to them, and they are able to take advantage of the Government's job retainer scheme, but that does mean that there is a problem, as I think we've discussed before, of the double funding issue, and that is something that we have been trying to resolve and there have been discussions with the Treasury in Whitehall about ways forward on this. I'm going to ask Nicola to come in in a minute, because she's much more up to date with the discussions about that, but, so far, I don't think very much progress has been made on that.
But we are looking to see if there are any other ways that we can get help to the childcare sector, and I'm actually following this meeting with a meeting with the Deputy Minister for equality and chief whip, who is responsible for the voluntary sector, because obviously many of the groups that we're talking about would come under the voluntary sector, because they have voluntary committees, but they fall between many stools, because they rent premises rather than own premises and they don't have high turnovers that would qualify them for some of these grants. So, perhaps I could ask Nicola to come in to expand on that.
I'll try and be brief, because I'm conscious of time. So, some childcare settings can access funding under the small business rate relief scheme, but certainly not all of them; some of them can access funding under the economic resilience fund, and, as the Deputy Minister said, we're following up for some of them to be able to access funding under the third sector resilience funding. All of the childcare settings can apply for the UK Government's coronavirus job retention scheme, but there are some complications around that in that it's a salary-based scheme and you can't claim two types of public funding for the same individual member of staff. So, if you were using funding under the childcare offer to pay for a particular member of staff's salary, you can't access CJRS and furlough that individual with Government money as well, and that has led to some confusion and complication about how that balances, which we're trying to work through with the sector and with local authorities around the rules and regulations that the Treasury and HMRC have put in place around that.
Alongside that, there's a whole range of different loans and services that are available. Some of those are less attractive to some childcare settings, but they are still available and Business Wales is offering support and advice for settings on how they can help weather this storm and support their workers as best they can. We're also having some conversations now with our economy colleagues and with Business Wales about what happens next, the recovery and the return of the sector, and we've just come out of a meeting with the childcare sector around the support they think they would need to have in place to be able to return from this as well. So, it's a topic that's very much live at the moment.
Achos dwi'n siŵr rydych chi'n rhannu fy mhryder i a phryder Cwlwm, sydd yn cynrychioli'r sector gofal plant a Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin, fod yna nifer o ddarparwyr sydd ddim yn cael cefnogaeth o gwbl ac yn debygol o fynd i'r wal oherwydd y sefyllfa yma. Beth dwi methu ei ddeall ydy pam na allwch chi, mewn cydweithrediad efo'r Gweinidog economi, Ken Skates, ddim dyfeisio pecyn grant penodol ar gyfer y darparwyr sydd ddim yn cael cefnogaeth ar hyn o bryd, neu fyddwn ni yn wynebu sefyllfa anodd iawn pan fo pobl yn chwilio am fynd a'u plant yn ôl i lefydd i gael gofal a bydd y llefydd yna ddim ar gael. Pam does dim posib cael cynllun bespoke ar gyfer y rhai sydd yn disgyn rhwng dwy stôl yn y sector yma?
I'm sure you can share my concerns and the concerns of Cwlwm, which represents the childcare sector and the nursery school sector, that there are a number of providers that aren't receiving support at all and are likely to collapse as a result of this. What I can't understand is why you, in collaboration with the Minister for the economy, Ken Skates, can't devise a specific grant package for the providers that aren't currently receiving support, or we'll be facing a situation that is very difficult when people are seeking childcare for their children and those settings won't be available to them. Why isn't it possible to have a bespoke scheme for those that are falling between the cracks in this sector?
Well, that is what we're looking to see—if we can get a bespoke scheme. I absolutely agree with you: it is absolutely vital that we keep this sector going, because it is a fragile sector in any case, and I think about 50 per cent of the childcare settings have temporarily closed down and the reason they've given for closing down is because they haven't had enough children to make it viable to keep their settings going. So, it is a very worrying situation. They are heavily reliant on the fees that parents pay and, of course, with the social distancing and the lockdown, this has meant that we've had to discourage children from attending. So, that means the number of children they've had has been much reduced and it hasn't been viable for them to keep going, although obviously it's great that about half have stayed open so we have somewhere for the children of the critical workers and the vulnerable children to go. But, I absolutely agree with what you're saying, Siân, and we are looking for a solution, because we know it's vital not only for the children and their parents, but for the economy as well, that we do have that sector there, surviving after this is all over. So, I can assure you, we're working very hard, and I think Nicola's working day and night to try to achieve this.
A jest yn olaf gen i, felly, dwi'n falch bod chi'n gweithio ar hyn, a gobeithio y gwelwn ni becyn cymorth fydd yn cyfarch pawb o fewn y sector cyn bo hir, achos mae'n wythnosau, rŵan, ers i hyn gychwyn, a does yna dal ddim golau ar ddiwedd y twnel i rai ohonyn nhw. Ond jest i orffen, pa mor effeithiol ydy'r ddarpariaeth wedi bod yn gyffredinol yn ystod y cyfnod yma o ran rhoi cefnogaeth i weithwyr allweddol?
And just finally from me, I'm very pleased that you are working on this, and I very much hope that we will see a support package that will reach everyone in the sector, because it's been weeks now since all of this started, and if there's still no light at the end of the tunnel for some of them, then that needs to be dealt with. But just to conclude, how effective has the provision been in general over this period in terms of providing support for key workers?
I think it's been crucial, because how would the majority of the key workers have been able to get to work and do all the wonderful things that they've been doing if it hadn't been for childcare for those who need it? And we were very pleased to introduce the coronavirus childcare assistance scheme, which means that critical workers and families with vulnerable children are able to have free access to childcare aged 0 to 5, and I believe that we are the only country in the UK that is providing that free service to the vulnerable children, and so—. I mean, that scheme has only really taken off now since Easter, so we don't have any particular statistics.
I do have some early numbers, if you'd like me to announce them?
Yes. In terms of the provision in schools, we're looking at around 4,000 children a day in schools at the moment. In terms of the children accessing the coronavirus childcare assistance scheme, it has only been two weeks up and running really, so the numbers are quite low, but there were nearly 1,500 children accessing that childcare last week, and of those, just over 100 would fall within the definition of vulnerable children. So, it is picking up there; it was 900 children the week before that, so we are seeing some traction now that parents are aware that that support is there.
Thank you. And, can I just ask, in terms of the other vulnerable children, what assurance can you give that all the vulnerable children who need to keep in contact with social workers and other key workers are being provided with the necessary technology to do that? Is that happening in a uniform way?
Well, that is the intention—that everybody should have the opportunity to have the necessary technology, and certainly, that is what is intended.
Thank you. Suzy, very, very briefly, one question on the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, please.
Just generally, have you had any feedback on the effects on the family courts and the execution of the—well, the child arrangement orders, the various versions of that?
Yes. In terms of the family courts, as you probably know, a lot of the hearings are going on virtually, but the hearings that are more complex are being postponed to be heard at a later date. So, that's one of the issues, really—that we may expect a lot of demand on the court service after this period has finished. And obviously, the president of the family division has issued guidance on compliance with family court child arrangement orders, which were his guidance, and obviously, this is directed at separated families subject to the family court, and that offers general advice to parents, recognising that the circumstances for each parent and each family will be different. And the Welsh Government has also provided guidance about staying at home and away from others.
But of course, where parents have joint parental responsibility, as you know, the Government has said that children under 18 can be moved between the two households. With the other children, it's on a case-by-case basis, really, what actually happens. I have met with CAFCASS to see how their operations are going, and all the CAFCASS officials are not attending any courts at all; they're sending in any of their views virtually, but it appeared to be that there weren't any major issues arising.
Okay, thank you, and we have definitely now come to the end of our time. So, can I thank the Ministers and officials for attending? We do recognise what an immensely pressurised time this is for Welsh Government, and we are very appreciative of having your time this afternoon, so thank you both to Ministers and officials. As usual, you will receive a transcript to check for accuracy following the meeting. Diolch yn fawr.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(xi).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(xi).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
Item 3, then. Can I propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42, that the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of the meeting? Are Members content? Thank you very much.
This is, of course, our last formal business of the National Assembly for Wales before we become the Senedd tomorrow, and it seems fitting that the National Assembly's last formal proceedings are focused on children and young people, and I'm sure that we would all agree that it is vital that they continue to be at the centre of the work of our Parliament going forward. We are now going to proceed in private.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 15:11.
The public part of the meeting ended at 15:11.