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2. Business Statement and Announcement

July 11, 2017

31 speeches by…

  • Elin Jones
  • Jane Hutt
  • Nick Ramsay
  • Bethan Jenkins
  • Joyce Watson
  • Mohammad Asghar
  • Llyr Huws Gruffydd
  • Julie Morgan
  • Mark Isherwood
  • Steffan Lewis
  • Mike Hedges
  • Darren Millar
  • Neil John McEvoy
  • Andrew R.T. Davies
  • Simon Thomas
…and 5 more speakers

Elin Jones

Thank you, First Minister. The next item is the business statement and announcement. I call on the leader of the house to make that statement—Jane Hutt.

Jane Hutt

Diolch, Llywydd. I have added three oral statements to today's agenda. The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport will make a statement on the interim report of the parliamentary review on health and social care. The Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language will make oral statements on the Welsh language strategy and an update on the ministerial task force on the south Wales Valleys. And finally, I've reduced the length of questions to the Counsel General tomorrow. Business for the next three weeks is as shown on the business statement and announcement, found among meeting papers, which are available to Members electronically.

Nick Ramsay

Leader of the house, two things, if I may. Firstly, I attended Monmouth School's speech day on Saturday—a school that is achieving increasingly good results. Meanwhile, just up the road, Monmouth Comprehensive School's new school building is under construction, partially funded by Welsh Government’s twenty-first century schools programme. Two excellent schools, and schools that work closely together. I wonder if we could hear from the education Secretary as to how the independent school sector in Wales and the state sector are working together and how they are being encouraged to work together. I think there’s a lot of cross pollination that can happen between the two. I know, traditionally, the independent sector is allowed to get on with doing its own thing, but I think lessons can be learned. It's certainly happening in Monmouth, and I think that there is good work that can be done across Wales. Secondly, I’d like to thank Julie James, the Minister for superfast broadband—or not superfast in some cases, in some parts of Wales. She attended a meeting in my constituency last night that was well attended, and she reassured my constituents that a prominent notspot just outside Chepstow in the Wye valley does have hope of connection at some point in the medium-term future. I understand the Welsh Government’s consultation on broadband is coming to an end shortly, possibly later this week, and it’s very important, I’m sure you’ll agree, leader of the house, that as many people and businesses contribute to that consultation as possible, so that the Welsh Government knows where notspots are, and the type of services that will be needed—bespoke in many cases—to fill those notspots moving forward. They weren’t dealt with in the phase 1 of broadband roll-out, but it’s important now that people across Wales do contribute to that consultation so that you have the fullest picture possible as to how to move forward.

Jane Hutt

Thank you, Nick Ramsay, for two very positive questions on the business statement. Clearly, I recall visiting Monmouth Comprehensive School and being able, as education Minister at the time, to help secure the funding through twenty-first century schools. I actually would like to revisit, perhaps when I’m passing by, because I’m sure it now has splendid premises that are having an impact on learning, but also, obviously, working in the education community within Monmouth. I know that the education Secretary will have heard your point about the interactions that, of course, are fostered between the independent and our publicly funded sector in education. That’s about sharing facilities, sometimes, as well as shared learning. On your second point, I’m sure that Julie James will very much welcome the fact that you’ve reminded Assembly Members to ensure that they get in their points from their constituents in terms of superfast broadband, in terms of those hotspots and notspots and those particular areas where we have difficulties. I think the consultation on the next stage is, as you say, the final few per cent of premises not covered by Superfast Cymru roll-out, or indeed by the telecommunications companies’ own plans. We do want to make sure that everybody without access takes part in this consultation, and that is a message I’m sure that needs to be shared again. Thank you for that, Nick Ramsay, today.

Bethan Jenkins

I met with residents from a housing association in Bridgend recently, Hafod Housing, and I was wondering if we could have a statement from the Cabinet Secretary for housing with regards to some of the issues that they’ve raised with me with regards to how housing associations are monitored by the Welsh Government, what checks are made to ensure housing associations comply with the Welsh housing quality standard, and whether there are any sanctions for those that fail to comply. Could the Welsh Government look at which housing associations charge tenants for their services? For example, some of the tenants that I spoke to at Hafod Housing were saying that they don’t actually need some of the services that they are paying for within these particular service charges, and feel aggrieved by that very point. I understand that we are short on time because we are coming to the end of term, but if we could have a statement on the relationship between the Government and housing associations and monitoring their progress, I would be very grateful indeed. The second statement that I wanted to request from Welsh Government was one from the education Cabinet Secretary with regards to financial education. I note from today’s news that the report from Estyn—its thematic review—has come out, and says that more needs to be done to train teachers on financial education. Again, as I identified through my private Member’s Bill, it’s very patchy from area to area, with secondary schools being less effective in teaching financial education than primary schools. So, I would welcome a statement on this to understand what the Welsh Government is doing in reaction to this particular thematic review, and how we can progress on this particular agenda through the Donaldson recommendations.

Jane Hutt

Thank you, Bethan Jenkins. I think, on your first point, there may be particular issues that you will feel it’s appropriate to write to the Cabinet Secretary on in terms of your meeting and visit to a particular housing association. Your general points are important in terms of the governance and accountability arrangements for registered social landlords and the housing association sector, particularly in terms of progress to the Welsh housing quality standard. On your second point, yes, there are opportunities that I know the Cabinet Secretary for Education would want to take forward and address in relation to the curriculum and other responsibilities, and indeed a forthcoming LCM where we will have a committee scrutiny opportunity to consider the impact on Wales as well.

Joyce Watson

Leader of the house, I’d like a statement on discretionary housing payments, please. Figures from Shelter Cymru have clearly shown that £100,000 of this money, which was there specifically to help people whose housing benefit didn’t cover the cost of their rent, was sent back by local authorities to Westminster last year. Five councils, three of those in my constituency, did account for 75 per cent of the money returned; they were Carmarthen, Gwynedd and Ceredigion. That is in stark contrast to other councils, including Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, and Anglesey, who spent all of the allocation and, as is the case with Torfaen, it was boosted with some of their own funds. The discretionary housing payment fund is extremely important in helping those who are struggling with their rent to be able to stay in their home and to stop them from becoming either evicted or homeless. So, I’m keen therefore to understand if the Welsh Government has had any discussions whatsoever with the local authorities regarding this money being sent back, to understand why it is that some councils can not only spend the allocation but add to it, while others are, in my opinion, completely failing their tenants.

Jane Hutt

Joyce Watson is right in saying how important discretionary housing payments are. In fact, it was very clearly highlighted in the Shelter Cymru campaign, which I’m sure we all heard about last week—the Waste Not Want Not campaign—highlighting their concerns and raising awareness that people could be entitled to additional help through the discretionary housing payment scheme. Clearly, from the outset, in terms of my response, we must recognise that the discretionary housing payments are non-devolved and they are administered by local authorities on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. However, working in collaboration with Welsh local authorities, we have introduced improved guidance, ensuring more consistent handling of applications, targeting those in greatest need, and of course, that must include understanding—. Clearly, the Welsh Local Government Association has an opportunity here to spread the good practice from those authorities that the Member has highlighted, who are not only spending to the limit, but some of them are spending more and deciding that this must be a priority, such as Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Mohammad Asghar

Cabinet Secretary, just following on from Joyce Watson, can we ask for a statement from the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government on the procedure followed by local authorities regarding the issuing of certificates of lawful use or development in their areas? A constituent of mine, who has been running a family business for over 30 years in the same area in Newport, applied to Newport City Council for a certificate of lawfulness of existing use for the same business and paid £380, whereas the initial payment is only £190. After meeting the official and getting scrutiny of the application, he had to pay extra on the £190 to get his application put into the council. After two months, due to a small error in the application, he was refused on the grounds that he could not get approved for lawful use because he did not provide the minimum period required—for 10 years in the same area in the same business. But, as I said earlier, he’s been running the business for 30 years, and the rates department is only next to the licensing department—and he paid £380. The answer he got last week is, if he has to get this licence again, he’s got to pay to reapply again and pay £380 again. Could we ask for a statement from the Cabinet Secretary on what guidance the Welsh Government has issued to local authorities in Wales to ensure common sense prevails over bureaucracy in such situations? Thank you.

Jane Hutt

Well, I think the Member clearly is listening to and representing his local constituent, a business. But I think you have explained, indeed, in terms of recounting the experience, that that business, local constituent has had, why he or she has found themselves in that situation. This is a matter for the local authority, and it is a matter, not just in terms of regulation and statutory underpinning, it is a matter of discretion on many occasions, but it is also in terms of compliance. And businesses do need to comply.

Llyr Huws Gruffydd

A fortnight ago, a motorcyclist was killed on what is unfortunately called the ‘“Evo” triangle’, which is a series or network of roads in the Pentrefoelas-Cerrigydrudion area, which has been promoted by the ‘Evo’ car magazine as a good place to test your driving skills and to push your car to the limit. Now, all of this, over a period of time, has created a culture where you can now buy car stickers and t-shirts that promote this as some sort of destination. It’s described as a life-size Scalextric track. It’s called ‘Disney World for driving enthusiasts’. But the result, of course, is that people are killed on these roads. Just Sunday, there were two fatal accidents on the A5, a stone’s throw from that area. So, could I ask for a statement by the Cabinet Secretary for the economy explaining what the Government is going to do to tackle this issue, because we need a multi-agency approach to tackle this, or otherwise I do fear that we won’t see this coming to an end? But, I would also ask the Government to consider whether ‘Evo’ magazine has crossed a line here in the way that they have been promoting the ‘“Evo” triangle’. And is there scope to refer that publication to IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, because public roads aren’t racetracks, and we must put a stop to this, once and for all? I’m also aware that the communities Secretary has made a series of statements around fire safety recently, but following the terrible tower fire that, of course, we all know about of late, could we also have a statement from the Cabinet Secretary explaining what the Government is going to do to ensure that the fire service in north Wales doesn’t face further cuts after what has been a decade of cutting back on services? We know that 20 per cent of Welsh firefighters have been lost over the last 10 years, and that there are now proposals as well to cut around 24 of our firefighters in north Wales—that’s one in six of all the firefighters that we have—and also to scrap one of the two fire engines that serve the Wrexham area. It’s austerity that’s driving this agenda, whereas our priority, of course, should be saving lives. So, do you not agree that cutting front-line services like this is wholly unacceptable, and we need a statement explaining exactly what the Government is going to do about it?

Jane Hutt

I thank Llyr Gruffydd for those two questions. In terms of the first question, which, as you say, is not just a matter of road safety, which of course, the Cabinet Secretary regards as a high priority, but about a particular area in north Wales, where there has been this attraction, and, clearly, risk-taking, encouraged, it appears, and fatalities as a result of it, and you mentioned the latest with the motorcyclist. So, that’s something that the Cabinet Secretary, I think, will certainly look at, but it may be helpful if you could also put that in writing to Ken Skates, just to highlight the particular situation and the occurrences that you’ve described. On your second point, clearly the Cabinet Secretary for communities is working very closely with the Welsh fire safety advisory group that‘s been established, and it is very important, in terms of those responsibilities that fire and rescue authorities have in terms of their legal duties to promote fire safety, and recognising their huge responsibilities. And, again, we can only say that recognising not only their responsibilities, but their courage and their skills, is vitally important. But, of course, this is back to the point where we would say to the UK Government, ‘Well, it is very clear that the people, the public, and certainly the public of Wales, and this Government, want for them to step up to the mark, in terms of anti-austerity, and giving us the resources in order to support our public services.’

Julie Morgan

There are two issues I wanted to raise. First of all, I had been intending to ask the Welsh Government what more could be done to ensure that there was a public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal, following the letter from all the party opposition leaders in Westminster, and, of course, support from all parties here in this Assembly. But it is great news that the Prime Minister has finally announced, during the last few hours, that there will be a public inquiry. And I think it’s a tribute to all those patients and families who have campaigned for decades to get this public inquiry, because, in Wales, 70 people died, and many more families have had their lives absolutely ruined, and they deserve answers. So, it’s very welcome there will be this public inquiry. But, of course, there are lots of questions now about the public inquiry—what form it will take, who will head it, how will people in Wales be involved. So, can I call for a statement, as soon as possible, from the Government, about how they see the setting up of this public inquiry, and how Wales will take part in it? It is absolutely essential that Welsh victims have representations in the process. So, I ask for a statement, as soon as we possibly can, to look at what is a victory for all those people who’ve campaigned for so long. But we want to make sure now that this public inquiry does answer all those questions. Now, the second point I wanted to raise, which is linked, because it is about hepatitis C, of course, which was also, in some cases, contracted through contaminated blood—we had a very successful debate here on hepatitis C on 14 June, and everybody agreed that the big challenge is to get more people tested, to come forward. And there’s an event tonight to launch the ‘I’m worth…’ campaign, to highlight this issue. But how would we be able to get regular updates from the Government about whether the campaigns that the Government, and the NHS and others are doing to get more people to come forward—how are we able to keep track of how that is actually working? And I’d like to ask the leader of the house whether there are some ways that the Assembly can be kept updated on how what has been so successful—you know, the Welsh Government paying for these drugs, 95 per cent success rate in curing people, absolutely tremendous developments, and everybody we know of being treated, although at least 50 per cent of people who have got hep C don’t know they’ve got it.

Jane Hutt

Thank you, Julie Morgan, for those questions. And it was Julie Morgan who led the debate on this issue—in terms of your first question—here in the Senedd. And there was unanimous support from AMs and the Cabinet Secretary for health in terms of pressing for a full public inquiry. And we do, of course, now welcome the Prime Minister’s confirmation that an inquiry will be held into the contaminated blood scandal. And I think it is important, as Julie Morgan has said, that families particularly of those who lost their loved ones, as a result of the contaminated blood, are consulted about the form that that inquiry will take. I understand that it has been expressed—that desire to consult families has already been expressed. It’s right that we now—. I know that the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport, who added his support for the call for the UK inquiry, will make a statement to that effect. I think we have to say that we are pleased, as Welsh Government, that, at last, the UK Government is going to recognise the strength of feeling of those affected, and their families, but clarify what had happened to them, and fully respect and engage with them, in terms of the form that the inquiry will take. And I would also like to pay tribute to the role that Julie Morgan has played in taking this forward. Also, in terms of your second question, we need to make sure that we do continue not just the cross-party work, which you lead, Julie, but also, as a Government, that we’re responding in terms of taking forward awareness, in terms of hepatitis C, enabling people to come forward. The campaign launch is very important. And I know that the Cabinet Secretary will want to update on future engagement of the Welsh Government in terms of that opportunity.

Mark Isherwood

Could I call for a single statement on diagnosis of autism spectrum conditions? Only today, I received a letter from Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board regarding a constituent’s daughter who had not received the diagnosis of autism through her child and adolescent mental health service, but did receive a diagnosis from an independent, experienced doctor—a clinician, who is actually so esteemed in the profession that she contributes to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines, is part of the NICE insight community and part of the World Health Organization's internet-based study group in relation to the diagnostic criteria, which is supposed to apply in this country. And worryingly—of course, that was a diagnosis that she was on the spectrum, but, worryingly, the letter from the health board said that the two assessments do not suggest significant differences, only a difference in label, and it’s not an issue because Flintshire CAMHS do not work exclusively upon a diagnostic label and most of the interventions on offer do not require a specific diagnosis. However, as no doubt you’re aware, yesterday, across Wales, there was widespread media coverage that failure to correctly diagnose autistic children could lead them to self-harm; of a mother saying that if her daughter had had an earlier Asperger's syndrome diagnosis it would have saved her much anguish; and of the Swansea University medical school academic who warned that parents fear children are suffering mental health problems because autism spectrum conditions are not being recognised. She said: ‘What is consistent across the research is you are more at a risk, if you have autism, of suicidal thoughts or engaging with self harming behaviours. It's particularly prominent in females and particularly prominent in females who have remained undiagnosed until adulthood.’ Given that the new Welsh Government autism service that’s being rolled out through the WLGA is going to take some time to reach north Wales and remains non-statutory, and that Paul Davies’s long-awaited and hoped for Bill is going to take some time to pass through the Assembly—hopefully with universal support—we need to know what guidance and what interaction the Welsh Government will have with our health boards and CAMHS services to ensure that this sort of situation doesn't keep occurring.

Jane Hutt

Well, Mark Isherwood, you know, as a Welsh Government, we’re committed to delivering the improvements that people with autism and their parents and carers tell us they want to see. Indeed, the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 is beginning to transform the way that people receive care and support. We’re also delivering on the priorities of our new autistic spectrum disorder strategic plan, investing £13 million in a new national integrated autism service. Now, this is crucially important—it's about that single, Wales-wide assessment pathway. Of course, you're reflecting concerns about how that can be taken forward and be meaningful for children—because it's a new, single, Wales-wide assessment pathway it will make the system much clearer for families. It does include a 26-week waiting time target for children referred for possible ASD or ADHD. And also, referrals to CAMHS can be made across different areas. So, it is important that parents who have concerns about their children contact their GPs, but the wider strategic arrangements and investment is very clear.

Steffan Lewis

Today the Westminster Government published the Taylor review into workers in the gig economy and I think it's fair to say that the report has been seen as pretty much a damp squib. There's nothing concrete on the eradication of zero-hours contracts. There is a right to request guaranteed hours from an employer, but, of course, in an age where workers have to fork out £1,200 to get to a tribunal, it's very difficult to see how such so-called rights are going to be enforced. But a particular concern is the suggestion that a new category of worker should be introduced in UK employment law—a dependent contractor, which looks like it's the result of special pleading from those companies who don't like paying taxes, and also not that keen on paying the minimum wage either. I wonder whether the dependent contractor category might become something that increases over the years, especially as we leave the European Union and workers’ rights are replaced by UK frameworks. Could we have a statement from the Welsh Government as a matter of urgency, especially given that this country is now increasingly becoming the exploited workers capital of the UK?

Jane Hutt

It is important that this report was raised. It is an independent report, as Steffan Lewis has said. I think, in Wales, we’ve talked about the importance of the way in which we’re tackling these issues. We have a consultation at present and, indeed, Rebecca Evans is taking forward the consultation about zero-hours contracts in terms of the social care sector. I hope Assembly Members will be responding to that consultation. But I think also, importantly, in terms of tackling the gig economy is our Government’s code of practice on ethical procurement, and looking at the ways in which we in Wales in terms of fairer work—. And, of course, the work that we’ve been taking forward as a Welsh Labour Government as far as that’s concerned—our workforce partnership, particularly with trade unions—Is crucial for us to take forward what we are proposing to do in Wales to tackle the inequities, and also the abuse of this economy, which we’re, of course, very aware of.

Mike Hedges

Can I ask for two statements? I make no apology for asking for one on the tidal lagoon. I know the tidal lagoon has been mentioned twice this afternoon in questions to the First Minister, but I think it is of such great importance to those of us who live in the Swansea bay city region that I think we would like to have a statement on it, covering two points: one is the marine licence that the Welsh Government is responsible for; and, secondly, what discussions the Welsh Government has had with the Westminster Government about giving it the go-ahead. It’s of such great importance, and I think of how Aarhus in Denmark has created a whole industry in terms of wind turbines, because it was the first to do it. We’ve got an opportunity in south-west Wales to be the first to do tidal lagoons and get the whole benefit of that. The second statement I would like to ask for really follows on from what Steffan Lewis was asking. We have had a large-scale casualisation of the workforce over recent years. We’ve gone from the days of people queuing outside docks to being called to now getting a text message, but the principle is exactly the same. This casualisation of labour is not good for the workforce, it’s not good for the country and it’s not good for the taxation system. So, I think I would add my voice to that of Steffan Lewis in asking for a statement on what we can do. And I know what the Welsh Government can do is limited because of what is devolved and what isn’t, but we need to try and reduce the number of people who are plainly being exploited within this system.

Jane Hutt

I’m glad that Mike Hedges has taken the opportunity to ask another question on Swansea tidal lagoon. As the First Minister has said, we continue to be supportive of the benefits of the proposed Swansea bay tidal lagoon, and we are waiting for the UK Government’s response to the Hendry report—waiting with exasperation, I would say, in terms of the slowness. It is interesting that the Prime Minister is asking for ideas and engagement with other parties. Well, at least she’s got something on her doorstep that she could say ‘yes’ to straight away in terms of engaging. Of course, there is cross-party support from this Assembly for the tidal lagoon. The Welsh Government’s been meeting with Tidal Lagoon Power on the proposed Swansea project for a number of years across a range of areas to ensure Welsh businesses and the local economy gain maximum benefit. In fact, in his review, Hendry recognised the integrated approach we’ve taken on skills and supply chain development in support of this important sector. And, indeed, we’re recognising the role that the private sector and investors have played in taking this forward, to the point where we now await the response from the UK Government. I think Huw Irranca-Davies earlier on reported on the fact that there’s going to be a cross-party meeting, I think, with Greg Clark as chair. So, I think that is very welcome. We would want to hear from that, but, again, we will be pressing the UK Government for a speedy response. I can only say, ‘Yes, Mike Hedges is absolutely right’. I think the Welsh Labour Government is doing a great deal to tackle the casualisation of labour and the inequities of zero-hours contacts, particularly in relation to social care. So, I will seek a statement to update on all aspects of that work.

Elin Jones

We are over time on this statement, but I will call a few additional speakers if they promise to be succinct in their questions, and we’ll have succinct answers as well. Darren Millar.

Darren Millar

Can I second the calls from Llyr Huws Gruffydd for a statement from the Minister with responsibility for transport on the Evo triangle in my constituency? I’m very concerned that safety is deteriorating as a result of the glamorisation of this route to irresponsible motorists. One of the other features, which Llyr was unable to mention in his contribution to request a statement, was the fact that the internet is being used to glamorise this significantly. There are YouTube videos that are encouraging people to go and visit and petrol heads to gather in order to speed around this route and, indeed, there are gaming companies, as well, which are also doing versions of this within their games in order to encourage people to visit. We have had some record improvements in road safety in Wales in recent years. I certainly don’t want things to go in the opposite direction because we failed to deal with this particular problem in my own constituency. I do wonder whether there can be some move towards actually getting not just visiting enforcement, but some speed cameras along this route because that would absolutely stop this problem once and for all.

Jane Hutt

Thank you. Darren Millar strengthened the case for a focus on the Evo triangle and the way that it’s been promoted. In fact, Assembly Members can also—and they have today—usefully highlight the dangers, and you can also raise those points yourselves with magazines promoting it and, indeed, in terms of social media. But, GoSafe—the Cabinet Secretary was out there in the spring with GoSafe, and it’s very clearly high on his agenda.

Neil John McEvoy

Leader of the chamber, this is just a quick statement on something that came up today in the Petitions Committee. A very courageous Beth Baldwin gave a really moving testimony about diabetes 1 and her family’s campaign to improve early detection through policy. Fourteen hundred children in Wales have the condition, and parents need to look out for the four Ts: thirst, tiredness, going to the toilet often, and getting thinner or losing weight. The Baldwin family lost their son, Peter, through the condition, and his mother was very, very brave today. The Petitions Committee wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for health back in February asking for a meeting with the family—they were here today. The Cabinet Secretary for health replied that he was unable—unable—to meet the family. So, that’s from February until today that he’s been unable to meet this family with something so important to discuss. Could you provide a statement on the availability of Vaughan Gething to possibly, maybe, fit the family into his busy schedule?

Jane Hutt

I thank Neil McEvoy for drawing attention to what clearly is a very important petition that’s come before the Petitions Committee about diabetes 1. Indeed, of course, the Welsh Government—and I recall when I was health Minister, being very engaged in particular how children are affected, and, indeed, early intervention and diagnosis and all the important points that have been made by this family who gave evidence. Clearly, the Cabinet Secretary will be aware now of that particular need and of that family’s request.

Andrew R.T. Davies

I’d like to raise with the leader of the house, the possibility of having a statement. Although not in my constituency, I’ve been approached by workers who are deeply distressed by the news about Coilcolor today and the potential that 50 jobs could be lost by the end of the week in Newport. There does seem to be a dispute between the Welsh Government and this particular company. I don’t particularly want to prejudice any discussions and negotiations that are ongoing, but the crux of the matter seems to be a claim against the Welsh Government that now is putting a question mark over the long-term viability of the business and, in particular, the 50 jobs that are within this business. It does seem to have got a strong order book from what I can deduce from talking to some of the employees this morning. To bring clarity to the picture that has emerged over the last couple of hours, could I encourage the Cabinet Secretary sitting next to you to make a statement and put as much information as possible in the public domain, as I say, without prejudicing any claims that might be before the Government, so that employees and, indeed, the owner of this company can have clarity as to exactly where any dispute resolution might be and the financial implications for this company, because the last thing I think any of us want to wake up to on Saturday morning—i.e. the end of this week—is 50 people out of work in Newport because of a dispute that seems to have been going on for some months.

Jane Hutt

I thank Andrew R.T. Davies for that question. I think it is most appropriate if the Cabinet Secretary writes to all Members, given the issues that you raise in terms of not pre-judging the outcome. I think the Cabinet Secretary will ensure that he writes to fully update Members on the situation as soon as possible—I’m sure over the next 24 hours.

Simon Thomas

Thank you, Llywydd. May I ask for two statements from the Government before the end of term, because there’s no time for discussions or debates now? First of all, what assessment has the Government made of the importance of Euratom in terms of works in Wales? In particular, of course, we have two nuclear sites, but there’s also nuclear waste being stored in sites in Wales, and, of course, the use of nuclear material within the health service is also related to the regulations discussed and agreed at a European level through the Euratom mechanisms. The letter to withdraw from the European Union, that famous letter on article 50, mentioned withdrawal from Euratom too, although that agreement goes back much further than the agreement to take us into the European Union. I think it is now important that the Welsh Government should set out its position clearly in terms of the assessment that they have made in relation to the relationship with Euratom and our work in Wales and how we can continue in that process as we exit the European Union. And the second statement I’d like to hear, particularly with the Royal Welsh Show about to take place—well with lots of agricultural shows taking place, but the Sioe Fawr specifically in the next fortnight or so—is a statement from the Government as to when we are likely to see the rural development plan opening for organic farming and transition to organic farming. We, now, in Wales are the only country within the UK who do not have an organic conversion programme. The increase in organic farming and purchasing of organic produce is 7 per cent per year. Every pound spent produces £21 in trade in organics, and it seems very strange to me that we still need to spend that European funding before we exit the European Union while the Government has been sitting on its hands as far as opening an organic conversion scheme is concerned. I don’t want that to continue over the summer without some sort of answer and particular guidance from the Cabinet Secretary as to when this programme will be open here in Wales.

Jane Hutt

Thank you, Simon Thomas. Certainly, we will look at the most appropriate response on the assessment of our relationship with Euratom in terms of impact on Wales. As you say—and I think it’s been in the news that radiologists are concerned—it’s medical as well as environmental, and we will certainly look to the most appropriate statement to be made and at what point on this assessment. On your second point, yes, indeed, and, with the Royal Welsh forthcoming, I know the Cabinet Secretary will be expecting questions on this and she will want to know—and we will make sure that she knows—that the question’s been put today about any transition to organic conversion schemes in Wales through the RDP.