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  1. The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee
  2. Plenary begins at 13.30 with Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs
  3. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children
  4. 90 Second Statements
  5. Statement by the Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee on the Committee's Inquiry into Human Rights
  6. Plaid Cymru debate: Households with children facing eviction
  7. Welsh Conservatives debate: 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment
  8. Short Debate: Animal abuse register

Live Reporting

By Alun Jones and Nia Harri

All times stated are UK

Nadolig Llawen/Merry Christmas

That's it for today, and for this year.  

Senedd Live will be back on Tuesday 10 January 2017. 

Sion Corn

Short Debate

Finally today a Short Debate by Bethan Jenkins, calling for an animal abuse register for Wales. 

Lesley Griffiths says she will give the issue "serious consideration".


'Announcements best made in the chamber'

Llywydd Elin Jones concludes that "the lesson from the last 10 minutes is that if government policies are to be packaged as announcements they are best made here to the chamber."


Urgent Question 3 - infrastructure investment plan

Adam Price (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) asks for further details of the multibillion pound infrastructure investment plan announced today.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates outlined his plans for transport investment over the next five years in a speech at Cardiff Airport.

A consultation on tackling congestion on the A494 and A55 in Deeside costing over £200m will take place in March.

He said a delayed public inquiry into a new £1.1bn six-lane M4 relief road south of Newport will begin on 28 February.

Adam Price

'Bitterly disappointing'

Education Secretary Kirsty Williams acknowledges the results were "bitterly disappointing, simply not good enough." 

"We are not yet where any of us - parents, policymakers, teachers and pupils - would want to be.

"Nothing that anybody can say in the chamber can make me feel any more disappointed."  

Kirsty Williams

'Deeply unsatisfactory Pisa results'

UKIP's Mark Reckless says it is "unacceptable for the Welsh Government to use as a shield for these deeply unsatisfactory Pisa results a report which it will not share". 

The government's amendment cites "the OECD's reflections following its return visit to review the Welsh education system that many things are in place now that are putting Wales on a more promising track."  

Mark Reckless

'Inadequate Labour education policies'

Plaid Cymru's Llyr Gruffydd argues that the Pisa results are a result of 16 years of "inadequate Labour education policies."

He urges the Welsh Government to pursue reforms to the curriculum, initial teacher education and teachers' professional development.  

Pisa Logo

'Litany of failures by successive Labour governments'

The latest set of Pisa test results see Wales' 15-year-old pupils scoring below the international average in maths, reading and science for a third time.

Conservative education spokesman Darren Millar says the figures "place Wales, yet again, in the bottom half of the global education league table and re-confirm Wales' status as the worst performing school system in the UK."

He describes a "litany of failures by successive Labour governments." 

Darren Millar

Welsh Conservatives Debate

The Conservatives propose the assembly:

1. Notes Wales' performance in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment, which were published on the 6th December 2016. 

2. Regrets that scores in reading, maths and science were lower in 2015 than in 2006. 

3. Calls upon the Welsh Government to develop a clear strategy with measurable targets and a clear timetable to ensure improvement in PISA 2018. 


'Shared commitment'

Carl Sargeant says the Welsh Government will support the Plaid Cymru motion "which reflects the work already being done by the Welsh Government and councils  and our shared commitment to take this further."

'Stark' figures

David Melding says rent arrears account for the vast majority of evictions, not anti-social behaviour, and "starkly over three quarters of evicted tenants are still homeless six months later."

David Melding

'16 children will lose their homes'

Bethan Jenkins says: "Between this debate and Christmas, 16 children will lose their homes because they will be evicted. 

"Welsh Public Services will spend over £600,000 dealing with the consequences of these evictions.

"The Welsh Government has been rightly praised for introducing a duty to prevent homelessness on local authorities.

"But legislation is only part of what we should be doing to prevent evictions and prevent homelessness. There is a great deal more that the Welsh Government and Local Government should be doing to ensure that we have a no evictions policy for children."

Bethan Jenkins

Plaid Cymru Debate

We move on to the first of this afternoon's debates, on children facing eviction. 

Plaid Cymru is calling on the Welsh Government to work with local authorities to ensure that no households with children face eviction in Wales. 


'Mystified' by issue of human rights

Gareth Bennett of UKIP says he hopes that the inquiry will bring to light many areas of interest, "not least to me, as the whole issue of human rights has tended to mystify me over the years".

He says he was working in a call centre when the Human Rights Act 1988 was implemented, but he didn't notice any improvements in employment rights.

Gareth Bennett

Focus of the inquiry

Welcoming the inquiry, Conservative Mark Isherwood asks to what extent the inquiry will focus on broader equality issues to which human rights apply.

John Griffiths says that today is the launch of the inquiry, and that a whole host of organisations will raise many matters, and that many will be on the ground that Mark Isherwood has set out.

'Fighting to keep women's rights following Brexit'

Plaid Cymru AM, Sian Gwenllian says that one specific area of the inquiry that will be of great significance is the equality between men and women. 

She argues that women's rights are under threat following the Brexit vote and emphasises the importance of fighting to keep the rights that we currently have.

Sian Gwenllian

How many refugees are living in Wales?

According to the committee, there are currently 2,872 asylum seekers in Wales, mainly living in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham. 

It is not known how many refugees are living in Wales, as asylum seekers who are granted refugee status are not required to live in a particular area and may move elsewhere. 

However, 112 Syrian refugees have been specifically resettled in Wales since October 2015 in response to the displacement from the Syrian civil war, compared to 862 in Scotland.  

Committee's inquiry into human rights

The next item is a statement by the Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, John Griffiths, on the committee's inquiry into human rights. 

The committee has been looking at how much support is available for refugees and asylum seekers in Wales and how well Wales is responding to the large-scale displacement of Syrians.

John Griffiths

Issues of topical interest

We now have the 90 Second Statements, where three AMs have the opportunity to raise issues of topical interest.  

Urgent Question 2 - proposed M4 relief road

Neil Hamilton (Mid and West Wales) asks: Will the Minister make a statement regarding the announcement today on the public inquiry into the proposed M4 relief road?

A delayed public inquiry into a new £1.1bn six-lane motorway south of Newport will begin on 28 February.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates has published his revised case for an M4 relief road, following updated traffic projections.

It comes as a formula predicting future traffic, published by the UK government earlier this year, has been changed following Welsh Government complaints.

The Welsh Government wants to build the new motorway to relieve congestion on the current M4 north of Newport through the Brynglas tunnels.

The inquiry, which will examine the controversial plan and alternatives, had been due to start on 1 November.


Post offices 'provide important services'

The Minister recognises the "importance of post offices and the important services they provide to local communities".

He says it is not a devolved a matter but he understands that the UK Government is consulting on the post office network, and that the consultation does not contain specific proposals for rural post offices.

Urgent Question 1 - Post Office provision in rural areas

Llyr Gruffydd (North Wales) asks: Will the Government make a statement on the effect of the UK Government’s plans for a reduction in Post Office provision in rural areas?

Llyr Gruffydd

Wales has one of the highest poverty rates in UK

The Conservatives' Mark Isherwood asks why "low household incomes continue to be a significant problem in Wales", and that Wales "continues to have one of the highest rates of poverty in the UK in all age groups". 

Carl Sargeant says this is why they have pledged to create 100,000 apprenticeships for all ages, Communities for Work and the Lift programme that aim to help people: "We have to work together - governments can't fix poverty."

Mark Isherwood

Asylum seekers living in 'awful conditions'

On behalf of Plaid Cymru, Bethan Jenkins refers to her recent meeting with asylum seekers in Swansea who face "awful living conditions" with regard to Home Office provision via Clearsprings company. She asks the minister to "make representations to show the severity here in Wales."

Carl Sargeant says he is supportive of the member's question, and, even though it is a non-devolved function, is interested in trying to resolve the problems.

Accommodation in Swansea

'What assistance to owner-occupying families?'

UKIP spokesperson, Michelle Brown asks what assistance does the Welsh Government offer owner-occupying families at risk of being evicted from their homes by their mortgage company for mortgage arrears.

Carl Sargeant says that there are pathways through local authorities where there are opportunities to speak with anti-homelessness officers. He says there has been a 63% reduction in homelessness figures in Wales.

Michelle Brown

'Aware of the 10% levy'

Carl Sargeant says he is aware of the issue around the 10% levy and is giving this further consideration. He will make a further statement. 

Carl Sargeant

Economics of the park home industry

Now questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant. 

Andrew RT Davies asks for a statement on the Welsh Government's report 'Understanding the Economics of the Park Home Industry.' 

It includes consideration of the fees which park operators are permitted to charge and provides conclusions and recommendations on the current 10% commission rate.

Andrew RT Davies

NVZs 'will push farmers out of business'

UKIP spokesperson, Neil Hamilton, continues with the consultation on NVZ (nitrate vulnerable zones). He says the NFU's survey on the impact the introduction of NVZs would have on farmers comes to the conclusion that the cost of complying with them will be high. Mr Hamilton argues that this will mean many farmers will go out of business.

Lesley Griffiths says she has met with the NFU. The consultation continues and she says the cost of compliance will be minimal.

Neil Hamilton

Assessment on air quality ruling?

Plaid Cymru spokesman, Simon Thomas, asks what assessment has the minister made for the high court ruling last month that DEFRA's air quality plan under the air quality directive did not comply?

Lesley Griffiths says that officials are looking at the court case that was undertaken. The information isn't available at present, but is happy to share when she has it.

Simon Thomas

'Why proceed to a consultation?'

Conservative spokesman, Paul Davies, asks why the Welsh Government has proceeded with a European Directive consultation to introduce nitrate vulnerable zones, given the First Minister's comments that it's up to the Welsh Government which laws should be retained and not be retained following the UK's decision to leave the EU?

Lesley Griffiths responds by saying it is because we are still part of the European Union.

Paul Davies

Providing support to communities

Referring to the example of Taff Bargoed, Lesley Griffiths says that the Welsh Government provides support to communities working with local energy companies.

Lesley Griffiths

Support for local energy generation projects

Plenary is about to begin with questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths. 

The first of the tabled questions is by Dawn Bowden (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney): What is the Welsh Government doing to support local energy generation projects?  

Back at 1.30pm

The committee is now meeting in private. 

Senedd Live will be back at 1.30pm for plenary. 

'Urgent conversation' with Defra officials

Responding to Sian Gwenllian, Lesley Griffiths says that the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales needs to have an "urgent conversation" with Defra officials to seek assurance that no culling of badgers will take place within two kilometers of the border with Wales. 

Sian Gwenllian

'No vaccine supply before 2018'

Asked by Vikki Howells about vaccine supplies, Lesley Griffiths responds "it's unlikely we'll have any supply before 2018."  

Vikki Howells

Reducing compensation cap to £5,000

David Melding refers to the proposal to reduce the compensation cap for individual cattle to £5,000.

Lesley Griffiths replies that "only around 1%" of cattle would likely to be affected by the change.

David Melding

£25.9m spent in 2015-2016

According to Prof Glossop, £25.9m was spent by the Welsh Government in the financial year 2015-2016 on payment for TB testing, breakdown management and compensation to keepers whose animals are slaughtered because of TB. 

Prof Glossop

Only 18 responses to consultation

Lesley Griffiths tells AMs that she is a "little disappointed" that the Welsh Government has only received 18 responses to its consultation.  It remains open until 10 January 2017.

Lesley Griffiths

Scrutiny of the Welsh Government

Giving evidence are: 

Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, 

Prof Christianne Glossop, Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, 

Martin Williams - Head of Plant Health & Bio-Technology Unit. 

Welcome to Senedd Live

The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee is scrutinising the Welsh Government's work in tackling bovine tuberculosis.

Vaccination of badgers against bovine TB was suspended in December 2015 due to interruption of vaccine supplies.

The vaccination programme was announced by Labour ministers in 2012, when they abandoned the previous Labour/Plaid coalition government's intention to cull badgers in the intensive action area (IAA).

The Welsh Government is consulting on proposals to "refresh" the TB Eradication Programme.