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Summary

  1. 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 Public Accounts Committee on Committee Led Inquiries
  6. Debate on the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee's report on its inquiry into winter preparedness 2016/17
  7. Plaid Cymru debate on social care services
  8. Short Debate: Striking the City Deal – the next steps for the Cardiff Capital Region

Live Reporting

By Alun Jones and Nia Harri

All times stated are UK

Hwyl

That's the end of today's proceedings in the Siambr.

Senedd Live will be back next Tuesday 7 February.   

Senedd
BBC

Short Debate

Fnally in the Siambr today, a Short Debate by Nick Ramsay. 

The subject: Striking the City Deal - the next steps for the Cardiff Capital Region. 

If agreed, the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal will see £734m invested in the Metro transport scheme and £495m on other projects.  

Cardiff Capital Region City Deal
BBC

'A national approach to respite'

Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans says the Welsh Government is committed to developing "a national approach to respite to ensure that respite is responsive to individuals' needs in a consistent manner across Wales".

She also cites "the investment in extra care services made possible through the £60m Intermediate Care Fund in 2017-18," and "the new £40m fund announced in the 2017-18 Budget to develop new integrated health and social care centres across Wales".

Rebecca Evans
BBC

Cottage hospitals 'vital'

UKIP's Caroline Jones says that cottage hospitals (smaller hospitals, often in rural areas) are "vital", and calls for their "closure to be reversed, and funding for social care services to be increased". 

Caroline Jones
BBC

'Reducing avoidable demand for social care'

Conservative Suzy Davies talks about the role of "allied healthcare professionals in reducing avoidable demand for social care".

She calls on the Welsh Government to update the Assembly on the operation of S35 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, with regard to meeting carers' respite needs.   

Suzy Davies
BBC

Plaid Cymru debate

Next a Plaid Cymru debate on social care services.  

Rhun ap Iorwerth (Ynys Môn) proposes that the assembly:

1. Believes that good social care services play an essential role in keeping the NHS sustainable.

2. Notes that unpaid carers make a critical and unappreciated contribution towards ensuring the sustainability of health and social care and regrets the fall in the number of nights of respite care provided since 2011.

3. Believes that community hospitals could play a vital role in providing respite care, and in easing the transition back to community health settings for those who have required hospital settings.

4. Calls on the Welsh Government to reverse the practice of closing community hospitals and explore ways of restoring the availability of beds for use by both health and social care services.

Social care
Thinkstock

'There will be more difficult days before winter is over'

"There have been difficult days and there will be more difficult days before winter is over," acknowledges health secretary Vaughan Gething. 

NHS winter pressures: The picture across Wales

The BBC has recently looked at how each health board in Wales is coping with winter pressures.  

Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales has Wales' busiest A&E unit but 80% are seen within four hours
CVUHB
Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales has Wales' busiest A&E unit but 80% are seen within four hours

'Scope for better joint planning and delivery of services'

Committee chair Dr Dai Lloyd sets out a number of key themes that emerged from the evidence the Committee received and heard, including:

  • Service integration: there was scope for better joint planning and delivery of services between health and social care, and there was limited involvement of the independent sector;
  • Demand: there are spikes in activity during the winter, but also significant and growing pressures all year round, driven especially by an ageing and frailer population – many of who have a number of complex needs. In addition, there are growing numbers of people with chronic conditions needing greater support from primary, community and hospital services. There was also evidence of increased numbers of children needing care for respiratory problems during the winter months;
  • Service capacity: concerns about the capacity available to meet this demand across health and social care, with pressure points including primary and community care, hospital beds and increasing concerns about the domiciliary and care home sector;
  • Workforce: difficulties in recruiting and retaining sufficient GP and hospital doctors, nurses and staff for domiciliary and care homes.
Dai Lloyd
BBC

Health, Social Care and Sport Committee's report

Now the first of this afternoon's debates, on the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee's report on its inquiry into winter preparedness 2016/17.

The Committee consulted on this topic – the responses have been published.

Hospital
Thinkstock

'People firmly at the heart of each of our inquiries'

Mr Ramsay says the committee "intends to place people firmly at the heart of each of our Committee led inquiries".  

Statement by the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee

Now in the Siambr we have a statement by the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Nick Ramsay on Committee Led Inquiries. 

Nick Ramsay
BBC

Eye care delivery plan

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething refers to the  eye care delivery plan which sets out a range of actions to improve the eye health of children and adults.  

Vaughan Gething
BBC

'Fragile eye care services harm patients'

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru AM for Ynys Môn, asks about the Welsh Government's response to the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales report on ophthalmology services in Wales.

Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) said ophthalmology services in hospitals were "fragile" and did not have enough capacity to meet demand.

It leads to patient backlogs, breached waiting times targets with potential for "avoidable harm to patients".

HIW looked at wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of irreversible blindness.

But its report said there were similar failings in treating other eye conditions.

The report makes 22 recommendations for improvement
Thinkstock
The report makes 22 recommendations for improvement

'Pay data should be available to public sector workers'

UKIP's Michelle Brown says that "pay data at all levels should be available to public sector workers to facilitate the enforcement of their equal pay rights".

Mr Sargeant says "there's lots of data out there around pay and pay scales".

Michelle Brown
BBC

Financial controls around Communities First

Conservative Mark Isherwood raises Communities First and the "failure" of the Welsh Government to impose financial controls.

Mr Sargeant says his officials are continuing to discuss NSA Afan with the police.  

Mark Isherwood
BBC

'Indirect consequence of NSA Afan not having funding'

On the Port Talbot community regeneration charity NSA Afan, which has had its funding terminated by the Welsh Government, Mr Sargeant says he is "conscious of the indirect consequence of NSA Afan not having funding in terms of services to the local community" and his officials are in advanced discussions with the council.

NSA Afan, based in Sandfields, was receiving Welsh Government funding through the Communities First and Communities for Work schemes.

Grants under both have been terminated. Funding had already been suspended in December.

NSA Afan
BBC

Capital regeneration programme 'under consideration'

Mr Sargeant says a "future capital regeneration programme is under consideration". 

Questions to Carl Sargeant

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

Sian Gwenllian asks for a statement on funding plans under the Vibrant and Viable Places programme for 2017/18.

Carl Sargeant
BBC

Future of Gower cockles

Suzy Davies calls on the Welsh Government to promote Gower cockles throughout the EU after Brexit. 

Cockles have been harvested off Gower since Roman times and the Burry Inlet is where most of the beds can be found.  

Report on improved management of marine protected areas

In response to Conservative David Melding, Lesley Griffiths says that the marine protected areas steering group will publish its report on improved management by the summer. 

Red throated divers make their winter home in Cardigan Bay
CCW
Red throated divers make their winter home in Cardigan Bay

Biosecurity requirements for poultry and captive birds

Plaid Cymru's Simon Thomas warns that if free range status is removed from eggs at the end of February, "consumers won't know what they are buying".

The prevention zone requires keepers of poultry and other captive birds to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

The zone is in place until 28 February. 

There have been eight UK documented cases of the H5N8 strain of the infection, including in Llanelli and Pontyberem.  

Simon Thomas
BBC

Extra protection for sea birds and porpoises

UKIP's Neil Hamilton welcomes the steps taken to strengthen the protection for sea birds and harbour porpoises in Wales.

Three new Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) have been approved by the Welsh Government and will now go before the European Commission for consideration.

They are North Anglesey Marine, West Wales Marine and the Bristol Channel Approaches.

Mr Hamilton says, however, "I'm not sure the same progress has been made on improved management of marine protected areas."

The new conservation areas have been chosen based on 18 years of data collected on harbour porpoises
PA
The new conservation areas have been chosen based on 18 years of data collected on harbour porpoises

'Many questions and uncertainties' for the fishing industry

Lesley Griffiths responds that Brexit raises "many questions and uncertainties" for the fishing industry

"My department will be developing a forward-looking fisheries policy".  

Lesley Griffiths
BBC

Impact of Brexit on the Welsh fishing industry

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

The first of the tabled questions is by Neil Hamilton: Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on the impact of Brexit on the Welsh fishing industry? 

Counsel General Mick Antoniw has previously warned that Brexit will lead to an "open season" for illegal fishing in Welsh waters.

In September three vessels were fined a total of £62,000 for scallop fishing offences in Welsh waters.

fish
IOM GOVERNMENT

Back at 1.30pm

The Committee is now meeting in private. 

Senedd Live will be back at 1.30pm for plenary.   

Welsh produce 'could keep protection'

Asked by Jane Bryant about the future of produce with EU protected product status when Britain leaves the EU, such as Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes, Halen Môn and Welsh lamb, Lesley Griffiths says "the early discussions we've had is that we can continue to use the scheme." 

Kevin Austin - from the Sustainability and Development Division of the Welsh Government - points out that Mexican tequila has protected status through the EU.

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission means that certain approved foods - from champagne to Cornish pasties - can only be produced in certain locations.  

Halen's Mon's produce has the same EU's Protected Designation of Origin status as given to champagne
BBC
Halen's Mon's produce has the same EU's Protected Designation of Origin status as given to champagne

'We need to explain what farmers do'

Lesley Griffiths says, "Up to now my predecessors have not had to sit around the Cabinet table and argue for public funding for farmers because it has come from Europe.

"Myself and my successors will have to do that. We need to get away from the negativity and explain what farmers do because they are so much more than food producers."

'Large influx of New Zealand lamb would destroy the Welsh lamb industry'

"I'm very concerned about the Welsh lamb industry" says Vikki Howells.

She asks whether Brexit and the importation of lamb from Australia and New Zealand "could lead to the decimation of the Welsh lamb industry?"

"Yes" replies Lesley Griffiths. "If we have this large influx of New Zealand lamb it would destroy the Welsh lamb industry."

Lesley Griffiths
BBC

'I'm not able to give a commitment'

Committee chair Mark Reckless says "If the UK Government does ensure a continuation of prior EU funding to Wales in full, then we call on the Welsh Government to make a commitment in return. We ask that the Welsh Government agrees to protect funding, once transferred to Wales, for the support of agriculture, environment and rural development policy.

"Are you able to give such a commitment?"

Lesley Griffiths replies, "I'm not able to give a commitment because we just don't know what funding we are going to have post 2020."

Mark Reckless
BBC

Witnesses

Giving evidence are:

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

Andrew Slade, Director, Agriculture, Food & Marine, 

Kevin Austin, Deputy Head of Division - Sustainability and Development Division,

Rhodri Asby, Deputy Director, Climate Change & Natural Resource Policy Division.

Andrew Slade, Lesley Griffiths, Kevin Austin, Rhodri Asby
BBC
Andrew Slade, Lesley Griffiths, Kevin Austin, Rhodri Asby

Background: agriculture, land management and rural communities

Following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, the future shape of policies and finance to support agriculture, land management in Wales and rural communities may be decided in Wales.

The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee wants to explore the principles that should underpin the new Welsh polices that will be needed to replace those currently set by the European Union.

The committee says it will help "to shape the committee’s work and inform the approach it takes to developing principles from which new policies can be developed".

Future of agricultural and rural development policy

The committee members are now discussing the future of agricultural and rural development policy in Wales, with a scrutiny session of the Welsh Government. 

Should microbeads be banned?

'Designated sites without a management process in place'

Plaid Cymru's Simon Thomas says "It seems to me that what we've done in Wales is to designate sites without a management process in place and therefore nothing has happened."

Nodding from the witnesses.

"Totally agree" says Tim Glover from the Blue Marine Foundation.  

Tim Glover
BBC
Tim Glover from the Blue Marine Foundation

Marine Protected Areas 'reduce fishing pressure'

Steve Fletcher says that "largely when an MPA is designated it reduces fishing pressure on the area concerned.

"An immediate side effect of that is a greater breeding and a greater fish stock."

Steve Fletcher
BBC

Committee's online survey

'Faster progress needed with marine planning'

Vikki Howells, Labour AM for the Cynon Valley, asks "whether the Welsh Government had previously given sufficient resource and priority to enable effective MPA management?"

Prof Lynda Warren, Aberystwyth University replies, "No I don't think they have, but that's not really a criticism of the Welsh Government, it's a criticism across the piece.  It's really difficult. It's expensive."

She adds, "where I think Welsh Government is not helping particularly is that things might have improved more if we had made faster progress with marine planning."

Prof Lynda Warren
BBC

Background: Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Area (MPA) is the collective term for all forms of protected nature conservation sites in the marine and coastal environment.  

The seas around Wales make up over half the area of Wales. There are 128 MPAs covering over 5500 square miles, or 35% of the Welsh seas and 75% of the coastline. 

This includes sites such as Skomer Marine Conservation Zone in Pembrokeshire that has been an MPA in some form for over 25 years.  

Skomer Island, off Pembrokeshire, is well known for its puffin population
Getty Images
Skomer Island, off Pembrokeshire, is well known for its puffin population

Witnesses: introduction from academics

Tim Glover, Blue Marine Foundation

Dr Sue Gubbay, Marine Environment Consultant

Prof Lynda Warren, Aberystwyth University

Steve Fletcher, Head of Marine Programme, UN Environment – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and Associate Professor in Marine Policy, Plymouth University.

(left to right) Steve Fletcher, Dr Sue Gubbay, Prof Lynda Warren, Tim Glover
BBC
(left to right) Steve Fletcher, Dr Sue Gubbay, Prof Lynda Warren, Tim Glover