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Summary

  1. Plenary begins at 1.30pm with Questions to the First Minister
  2. Business Statement and Announcement
  3. Statement by the Counsel General: Supreme Court Ruling on Article 50
  4. Statement: Transition from the European Union to a new relationship with Europe
  5. Statement: Reducing Infant Class Sizes and Raising Standards
  6. Debate: Working with communities to create better local environments

Live Reporting

By Alun Jones and Nia Harri

All times stated are UK

Hwyl

That's it for today. 

Senedd Live will be back tomorrow morning when we'll be broadcasting the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee.

Senedd
BBC

'Keen to crack down on under-performing local authorities'

Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths says she is "very keen to crack down on under-performing local authorities" on local environment quality issues.

'Hardly a breath of fresh air'

UKIP's Gareth Bennett says that only four out of 42 Air Quality Management Areas have ever been revoked.

"That can hardly be construed as a breath of fresh air."

Gareth Bennett
BBC

Air pollution a 'public health emergency'

Plaid Cymru's Simon Thomas says the Welsh Government's motion "could have had more detail".

He describes air pollution as a "public health emergency".

Air pollution levels reached "very high" or "high" in eight regions across the UK, the government said yesterday.

Simon Thomas
BBC

'Very few Air Quality Management Areas have been revoked'

The Conservatives note "with concern that very few Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA's) have ever been revoked."  

David Melding
BBC

Increased focus on preventative activities

The government debate today is on working with communities to create better local environments. 

The proposal is that the assembly:

1. Acknowledges the combined effect of local environment quality issues on the well-being of communities. 

2. Supports: a) an increased focus on preventative activities with stronger cross-sectoral collaboration; and b) the close involvement of citizens in finding and delivering solutions to improve the places where they live. 

Lesley Griffiths
BBC

Why only infant class sizes?

UKIP's Michelle Brown questions "why this initiative only attempts to deal with infant class sizes, not primary school classes".

Michelle Brown
BBC

'Better ways of spending £36 million'

Llyr Gruffydd from Plaid Cymru says "we need to prioritise resources where we know they will have the most effect.

"The weight of the evidence suggests that there are better ways of spending £36 million."

Llyr Gruffydd
BBC

'Scant evidence base' for the policy

The effectiveness of the policy has been questioned by some education experts.

Conservative AM Darren Millar says there is a "scant evidence base" for the policy.

Conversely, he says there is "growing evidence of Wales' worsening teacher recruitment crisis and so it remains unclear how this policy can be made to work." 

Darren Millar
BBC

7.6% of infant pupils in classes of over 30

Latest figures showed that 7.6% (or 8,196) of infant pupils in Wales were in classes of over 30 - a growing number.

The average infant class size in Wales was 25.6 pupils.

The money will be divided, with £20m going to capital funding, such as new school buildings and facilities, and £16m for revenue funding.

It will start with £7m for the next financial year rising to £11m for 2020/21.

Ms Williams says, when linked with other reforms, it would "create the space for teachers to teach and for pupils to learn".

Kirsty Williams
BBC

New £36m fund

Next is a statement on a new £36m fund to reduce infant class sizes and raise standards. 

Education secretary Kirsty Williams says she had listened to parents and looked at international evidence.

The fund will target classes where learning needs to improve and where there are high levels of deprivation.

The money will be "directed at the frontline" and start with the largest class sizes over the next four years.

Cutting class sizes has been a long-held Liberal Democrat policy commitment and was a condition of an agreement with First Minister Carwyn Jones when Ms Williams - her party's sole remaining AM - joined the Labour cabinet last May.

Class
BBC

AM 'getting very hot under the collar'

'The clanging of an empty vessel'

Carwyn Jones about Andrew RT Davies

'Essential that Wales speaks with one voice'

Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood says that it is "essential as far as we can that Wales speaks with one voice" on a plan for Brexit.

On immigration, UKIP's Neil Hamilton says it is "Quixotic for the first minister to give such importance to a party [Plaid Cymru] that is in denial" while "ignoring [UKIP] that were on the winning side of the argument".   

Welsh and EU flags
BBC

'Bitterly, bitterly regret'

The white paper follows an agreement between Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats. 

Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies says, "I bitterly, bitterly regret that the first minister chose not to enter into any discussions whatsoever with this side of the chamber".

Call for migration to be linked to work

The Welsh Government white paper calls for:

  • Continued participation in the single market to support "the future prosperity of Wales"
  • A balanced approach to immigration linking migration to jobs, with "properly-enforced" employment practices that protect all workers
  • For the UK government to make good on promises that Wales would not lose funding as a result of Brexit
  • A "fundamentally different" relationship between the devolved governments and the UK government

It also calls for social and environmental protections, and workers' rights to be maintained, and for transition arrangements to be properly considered so the UK does "not fall off" an economic "cliff edge".

The white paper was launched in London at a joint press conference by Leanne Wood and Carwyn Jones on Monday
BBC
The white paper was launched in London at a joint press conference by Leanne Wood and Carwyn Jones on Monday

Statement by the First Minister

The next item in the Siambr is a statement by the First Minister: 'Transition from the European Union to a new relationship with Europe.'

The first minister and Plaid Cymru's leader published a plan for Brexit, calling for freedom of movement rules to be linked to whether migrants have a job.

The white paper, launched by Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood in London yesterday, demands full single market access.

Last week, Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK should leave the single market as she outlined her 12 principles for Brexit.  

TWITTER/LEANNE WOOD
TWITTER/LEANNE WOOD

'Roundheads 8, Cavaliers 3'

The Counsel General summarises the judgement as "Roundheads 8, Cavaliers 3".

 The 11 Supreme Court justices rejected the UK government's argument by eight to three.

Four centuries ago, when England descended into civil war, everyone from commoners to nobles had to pick a side. On one side stood the supporters of Parliament, known as the Roundheads, led by Oliver Cromwell. They believed Parliament should be able to limit the power of the King and impose puritanical rules. On the other side stood the supporters of King Charles I, the Cavaliers, who had a reputation for being pleasure-seeking merry makers.   

English Civil War re-enactment. Roundhead soldier.
Alamy
English Civil War re-enactment. Roundhead soldier.

Article by Assembly's Chief Legal Adviser

The ruling sets out that the Sewel Convention - an arrangement between the UK and Welsh governments where if any new laws come in that affect devolution, they have to be approved by AMs generally by a vote - is a political convention and not a legal one, and so is not legally enforceable.

The assembly research service states the court is not giving the UK government and Parliament license to ignore Sewel, but it cannot decide disputes about whether it had been applied correctly.  

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'Imperative that the devolved administrations play their part'

The Counsel General adds, "the Prime Minister has said that this country is facing a negotiation of tremendous importance and it is imperative that the devolved administrations play their part in making it work.

"The Welsh Government stands ready to do so." 

'Delighted by the outcome'

Mr Antoniw says he is "delighted with the outcome of the judgment. 

"Both with the ultimate outcome, and with the Court’s recognition that the Sewel Convention plays an important constitutional role in facilitating harmonious relationships between the UK Parliament and the devolved legislatures."

He welcomes the prospect of a "full and frank debate in Parliament". 

Mick Antoniw
BBC

Statement by the Counsel General

We now have a statement by the Counsel General, Mick Antoniw on the Supreme Court Ruling on Article 50. 

AMs do not have to be legally consulted on the article 50 Brexit process, the Supreme Court has ruled.

On Tuesday morning senior judges said that the UK government cannot trigger Brexit without consulting MPs.

But in the same judgement the Supreme Court dismissed an argument from the Welsh Government that the assembly should be consulted on the mechanism to leave the EU.

The Supreme Court
BBC

'Need to devolve powers over problem gambling'

Conservative Darren Millar is keen to "put on record how much I agree with Jo Stevens (Shadow Secretary of State for Wales) for a change... in relation to the the need to devolve powers over problem gambling."  

He supports Living Room Cardiff's initiative of a "flutter-free February".

Business Statement and Announcement

The next item is the Business Statement and Announcement where the Leader of the House, Jane Hutt, outlines the future business of the Assembly. 

Jane Hutt
BBC

Air pollution from Wales' largest coal-fired power station

Plaid Cymru's Simon Thomas and Conservative David Melding express concerns about air pollution from Wales' largest coal-fired power station and its handling by the Welsh Government.

Last September, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found the Aberthaw plant had been emitting illegal levels.

The first minister says that emissions have reduced from the plant. 

report from two environmental bodies last year claimed 400 premature deaths a year in the UK were likely to be due to nitrogen oxide exposure from Aberthaw.

RWE is set to downgrade the plant from April 2017 so it only generates electricity at times of peak demand.

Aberthaw employs 600 workers on the Vale of Glamorgan coast
BBC

'Too many people go to A&E who don't need to be there'

"Every (A&E) consultant will tell you there are too many people who go to A&E who don't need to be there," says first minister.  

'You could be Donald Trump's press secretary'

"You are failing to drive up standards" in education says Andrew RT Davies.

Mr Jones suggests Mr Davies could be Donald Trump's press secretary.   

Donald Trump
Getty Images

'Damning indictment' of a 'failure of leadership'.

Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies says today's Estyn report is a "damning indictment" of a "failure of leadership".

"What a load of nonsense," says first minister.  

The quality of teaching in Wales is weak, according to the education watchdog Estyn in its annual report.

It was the "weakest aspect" of provision across most areas of education in Wales, its chief inspector Meilyr Rowlands said.

Teaching was "good" or "better" in only a minority of secondary schools inspected this year.

Andrew RT Davies
BBC

'Touch and go' for commuters on the Valleys Lines

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood says it can be a "touch and go" situation for commuters trying to get to work on the Valleys Lines.

The first minister says when they get control of the franchise he wants to see a Metro system.

But Leanne Wood says it could take years for a Metro service to be established.

The first minister gives an assurance he will not repeat alleged mistakes made by the UK government in awarding the Welsh train franchise.  

Leanne Wood
BBC

'No humanitarian crisis' in NHS in Wales

The first minister says Wales has not had a humanitarian crisis, as the Red Cross suggested there is in NHS hospitals in England.

Mr Hamilton claims patient pressure in some GPs surgeries is 'excessive'.  

'Lowest number of GPs per thousand people in the UK'

UKIP group leader Neil Hamilton says Wales has the lowest number of GPs per thousand people in the UK, and suggests there is a lack of morale among them.

Neil Hamilton
BBC

'Some in DEFRA say no farming subsidies'

Some in DEFRA (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) suggest there should be no farming subsidies at all, says the first minister. 

'Stick approach is not working'

UKIP's Caroline Jones suggests Welsh should not be compulsory in schools. "It's time that we accepted that the stick approach is not working."  

Welsh language skills in each Flying Start scheme

There should be at least one person with good Welsh language skills in each Flying Start scheme, says Conservative Suzy Davies.  

Suzy Davies
BBC

Welsh language target of one million speakers by 2050

The first minister says they are currently consulting on a draft strategy on how to achieve the goal to almost double the number of Welsh speakers to one million by 2050.  

The 2011 census reported a drop in the number of Welsh speakers from 582,000 in 2001 to 562,000, about one in five of the population.

Traditional Welsh-speaking communities have been said to be under threat from young people moving away to find work and new housing developments attracting incomers who do not speak the language.

Welsh
BBC

Welcome to Senedd Live

Plenary begins as usual with Questions to the First Minister Carwyn Jones. 

The first question tabled for today is by Dai Lloyd (South Wales West): Will the First Minister make a statement on plans to increase the number of Welsh speakers in South Wales West?   

The foggy view from the Senedd this morning
Twitter/lesley4wrexham
The foggy view from the Senedd this morning