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  1. Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee
  2. Plenary begins at 13.30 with Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure
  3. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport
  4. 90 Second Statements
  5. Statement by the Chair of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee on Inquiries and Engagement
  6. Plaid Cymru Debate: Future prosperity of Wales
  7. United Kingdom Independence Party Debate: zero-hours contracts
  8. Short Debate: Enriching lives of carers

Live Reporting

By Alun Jones and Nia Harri

All times stated are UK


That brings today's proceedings in the Siambr to a close.

Senedd Live will be back on Tuesday 7 March.


Wales in one word?

400,000 carers

Finally today is a Short Debate by Jayne Bryant AM. Her chosen topic is:

'Enriching Lives of Carers: Caring for those that Care'. 

She says that there are 400,000 carers in Wales, proportionately more than anywhere else in the UK.  


Addressing use of zero hours contracts in social care

Minister for Skills and Science Julie James says the Welsh Government is taking action to address the use of zero hours contracts in social care.

She cites the work of the Workforce Partnership Council in this area, which led to the publication of the Public Services Staff Commission's principles and guidance on the appropriate use of non-guaranteed working hours arrangements in devolved public services in Wales.

Julie James

'Employment practices are rapidly changing'

Conservative Russell George says that "employment practices are rapidly changing, including an increase in zero hours contracts, self-employment and short-term 'gig' work."

He draws attention to the "work carried out by the UK Government to clamp down on abuses in zero-hours contracts, including the banning of exclusivity clauses."

He welcomes the UK Government's commissioning of the Taylor Review on Modern Employment Practices which will consider the implications of new forms of work on workers' rights and responsibilities.

Russell George

'Ban use of zero hours contracts in all devolved public services'

Bethan Jenkins says that "attempts by Plaid Cymru to ban zero hour's contracts in various sectors on five different occasions during the fourth Assembly were voted down by the Labour Welsh Government and Welsh Conservatives."

She calls upon the Welsh Government to ban the use of zero hours contracts in all devolved Welsh public services. 

She adds that the use of zero-hour contracts, including specifying this through any services that are procured, is prohibited in the Assembly.  

'A life of stress'

David J Rowlands (South Wales East)  proposes that the assembly:

1. Believes that, although zero-hours contracts can benefit employers and workers in the freedom and flexibility they can offer, they can also create problems relating to reliability of income, security of employment, employment status and the balance of power between employer and employee.

2. Notes that, for the majority of those employed on zero-hours contracts, this freedom is more illusory than real and, for those who need a minimum number of working hours per week to ensure financial security for their family, life on a zero-hours contract is one of almost permanent uncertainty;

3. Notes that, for those who have had their hours reduced or changed because of a perceived unwillingness to work the hours their employer requires or following the lodging of a workplace complaint, this uncertainty can be coupled with the anxiety that comes from exploitation.

4. Believes that working on zero hours contracts has the potential to:

a) create a life of stress;

b) impact negatively on the management of household budgets;

c) impinge on family commitments;

d) undermine employment rights and relations; and

e) complicate access to tax credits and other benefits, the continued rise of which is a growing concern

United Kingdom Independence Party Debate

Next in the Siambr is a UKIP Debate on zero-hours contracts.  

Unemployment rate lower than the UK average

On behalf of the Welsh Government, Jane Hutt says that the unemployment rate in Wales has fallen to 4.4%, lower than the UK average, and that the recently-published OECD healthcare quality indicators show Wales is performing at a similar level or better than other countries in the UK on the majority of indicators.

She also notes that the 2015/16 GCSE exam results for Wales show the main performance measure has increased each year since records began in 2006-07, while the attainment gap between pupils eligible for free school meals and their fellow pupils is closing.

Jane Hutt

A bid to join Plaid Cymru?

'One of the most successful nations in the world'

"If Wales were to become an independent nation politically, there is no reason whatever why it could not be one of the most successful nations in the world", says UKIP leader Neil Hamilton.

Neil Hamilton

'Need to think more creatively if we are to transform our economy'

Paul Davies confirms that the Conservatives will support the Plaid Cymru motion.

He speaks about the "need to think more creatively if we are to transform our economy in Wales".

Paul Davies

'Inspire our future'

"We can use events from our past to inspire our future" says Rhun ap Iorwerth, citing the NHS and the industrial revolution.   

Industrial revolution

Plaid Cymru Debate

Now the first of this afternoon's debate. 

It's a Plaid Cymru Debate on Wales' prosperity. 

Plaid Cymru propose that the assembly:

1. Notes Wales's prominent contribution to the industrial revolution, to the creation of the National Health Service and its leading role in the development of secondary education provision.

2. Regrets:

a) that recent GVA statistics released in December 2016 show that GVA per head in Wales in 2015 was 71 per cent of the UK average, the lowest amongst the devolved countries and English regions;

b) that patients in Wales will wait substantially longer for diagnosis and treatment than they would for the same conditions in England and Scotland; and

c) Wales's most recent performance in the OECD's 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment , published in December 2016, which revealed that scores in maths, reading, and science were lower in 2015 than in 2006, and lower than the UK average.

3. Recognises:

a) the essential role of education and skills as an important driver to improve Wales's economic productivity levels;

b) the need for sustained improvement in Welsh waiting times for diagnosis and treatment; and

c) the potential of the blue and green economy in ensuring the future economic prosperity of Wales.

A stronger voice for Wales?

The committee has launched a  public consultation  to seek views. The deadline for responses is 5 June 2017.  

Engaging with Westminster and the devolved institutions

Mr Irranca-Davies says the  Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee  is undertaking an inquiry into inter-institutional working with Westminster and the devolved institutions in order:

  • To produce best practice principles for inter-institutional working for constitutional legislation.
  • To reflect and build on the work of other legislatures on inter-institutional working as it relates to broader policy areas.
  • To seek, establish and promote opportunities for inter-parliamentary working, including promotion of citizen engagement.
Huw Irranca-Davies

Statement by the Chair of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee

The members are now listening to a statement by the Chair of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, Huw Irranca-Davies on Inquiries and Engagement. 

Issues of topical interest

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

Resources for Social Care Wales

Social Care Wales will come into effect from 3 April 2017 and will replace the existing Care Council for Wales. Suzy Davies questions the government on how it has evaluated how much more resources it will need.

Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans announced yesterday that the board will be chaired by Arwel Ellis Owen who is the currently the Chair of the Care Council for Wales board.  

Rebecca Evans

Statistics on GP appointment availability 'should be published'

Plaid Cymru's Rhun ap Iorwerth raises January A&E waiting times, with 74.1% of patients seen within four hours. He says statistics on GP appointment availability and waiting times should be published.

The NHS in Wales has faced "exceptional" challenges this winter, the head of the organisation , Dr Andrew Goodall has said.

It includes some of the busiest days ever faced by hospital emergency units and the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Rhun ap Iorwerth

39,000 mental health issues

UKIP's Caroline Jones says that last year South Wales Police dealt with nearly 39,000 mental health issues. She says that people facing mental health issues should be cared for by specialist mental health services rather than the criminal justice system.  

Caroline Jones

Call for a full public inquiry into contaminated blood tragedy

In response to Julie Morgan, Mr Gething calls again for a full public inquiry into the contaminated blood tragedy which led to the deaths of 70 people in Wales.

Thousands of people developed Hepatitis C and HIV after being given infected blood in the late 70s and 80s.

Last year, the Welsh Government  announced extra financial support  for patients living in Wales who had received contaminated blood.


Treatment of rare diseases

Now questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport, Vaughan Gething.

David Melding (South Wales Central ) begins: Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on the treatment of rare diseases?  

£3m for S4C's Yr Egin

Ken Skates confirms that the £3m that the Welsh Government will give towards building a new headquarters for S4C in Carmarthen, comes from his economy budget. 

The University of Wales Trinity St David asked for public funding after a bid for European money for Yr Egin was turned down.

Yr Egin
University of Wales Trinity St David

'Critical period' for the Swansea Bay City Region deal

Mr Skates says "we are in a critical period" for the Swansea Bay City Region deal.  

City councillors have backed the plan - which could deliver  a £3.3bn boost  to the regional economy.

The  Swansea Bay City Region  would boost digital technology for advances in areas such as healthcare and energy.

Swansea city centre and marina
Swansea city centre and marina

Borders franchise and the Metro project

On plans for the Wales and Borders rail franchise and the Metro project, UKIP's David Rowlands emphasizes that the holder of the rail franchise and the chosen infrastructure company will have to work very closely together.

David Rowlands

'Pointless first minister'

Responding to the first minister's comment that it is "pointless" to go to Detroit to meet USA Ford bosses because all decisions about Bridgend are taken in the European HQ in Cologne, Plaid Cymru's Adam Price says "in view of the gravity of the situation, he seems a pretty pointless first minister".

Historic Wales

Conservative Suzy Davies asks when can we expect a full report on Historic Wales.

Mr Skates says he's received the steering group's report and is considering its findings. 

The  creation of Historic Wales  was a commitment in Labour's election manifesto - one which Mr Skates said would "help build a heritage sector that is global in ambition and internationally renowned" and ensure the institutions were more "financially resilient".  

Government-controlled Cadw will become independent  in recommendations to Mr Skates.

Suzy Davies

Developing bus services

Members move on to questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates. 

The first of the tabled questions today is by Dai Lloyd: Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on his plans for developing bus services?  


'Pointless' to go to Detroit

When did Mr Skates find out?

Plaid Cymru's Bethan Jenkins repeats a questions from her colleague Adam Price - when did Mr Skates find out?  

Mr Skates does not address the question directly.

Bethan Jenkins

'Proven track record' of protecting jobs

Ken Skates says that the first minister has a "proven track record" of protecting jobs, such as at Tata Steel  and GE Aviation

Spoken to the 'decision maker' at Ford

Mr Skates is asked by Conservative Russell George if Carwyn Jones will change his US plans to go to Detroit.

Mr Skates did not answer the question, but did say he had spoken to the "decision maker" at Ford and would do so again.

The first minister is on a trade mission to Washington and New York.

'Will do whatever it takes'

'Worst case scenario'

Mr Skates says that reports of more than a 1,000 job losses at Ford's Bridgend engine plant were "a worst case scenario".  

The American car giant currently manufactures 655,000 engines in Bridgend but the contracts for these are coming to an end and there is only guaranteed work for 125,000 in future.  


'What's good for Nissan is surely good for Ford'

More "meaningful" engagement with Ford is needed from the UK Government,  says Mr Skates. 

"What's good for Nissan is surely good for Ford", he adds.  

 Last year, Nissan confirmed it will build both the new Qashqai and the X-Trail SUV at its Sunderland plant following UK Government " support and assurances ".  

          Nissan's announcement protected thousands of manufacturing jobs in Sunderland
Nissan's announcement protected thousands of manufacturing jobs in Sunderland

Objective is to 'avert a crisis'

Plaid Cymru economy spokesman Adam Price asks Mr Skates if he feels misled by Ford.

Mr Skates says the objective is to "avert a crisis". 

Adam Price

'No employment risk in the short-term'

Mr Skates says he spoke this morning with Ford's vice-president "who confirmed there is no employment risk at Ford in Bridgend in the short-term, and that employment levels will remain broadly similar to today until 2021". 

Ken Skates

Job cuts projected in leaked report

Plenary begins with an Urgent Question to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates.

Plaid Cymru's Adam Price asks for a statement on reports that Ford plans to cut over 1,000 jobs from its engine plant in Bridgend.

Ford is projecting a reduction of 1,160 workers by 2021, according to a leaked document from the company seen by BBC Wales.

Mass meetings are being held at Ford's Bridgend engine plant later.

The projection, which would leave 600 workers at the site, is based on the assumption that it is unable to bring any new work in.

Ford would not comment on the document but said it could "fully understand" concern for the longer term.

Ford in Bridgend

Back at 1.30pm

The Committee is now meeting in private. 

Senedd Live will be back at 1.30pm for plenary.