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  1. Plenary begins at 1.30pm with Questions to the First Minister
  2. Business Statement and Announcement
  3. Statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance: JMC (EU Negotiations) Meeting, 22 February 2018
  4. Services Fit for the Future White Paper
  5. 'High Achievement - Supporting our More Able and Talented Learners'
  6. Active Travel Integrated Network Maps
  7. Recycling in Wales
  8. Legislative Consent Motion on the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill

Live Reporting

By Alun Jones and Nia Harri

All times stated are UK


That's it from the Siambr today.

Senedd Live returns tomorrow.

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AMs approve Legislative Consent Motion on the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill

AMs agree that provisions in the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, in so far as they fall within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales, should be considered by the UK Parliament.

No AMs objected.

The legislation, which still needs to be passed by MPs, creates a new aggravated version of the existing offence of common assault or battery when committed against an emergency worker.

It also makes assaults on emergency workers an aggravating factor for other assault offences.

NHS and fire and rescue services devolved

Under existing rules, AMs have to give consent to legislation from Parliament that applies to powers which are devolved to the Welsh assembly and the Welsh Government.

In this case, the Welsh Government has tabled the motion because the law affects the NHS and fire and rescue services, which are all devolved.

'Most practical and proportionate legislative vehicle'

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething says the view of the Welsh Government is that it is appropriate to deal with these provisions in this UK Bill "as it represents the most practical and proportionate legislative vehicle to enable the provisions to apply in Wales".

Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill

The final item today is a Legislative Consent Motion on the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill.

Labour MP Chris Bryant wants to double the maximum sentence for common assault of an emergency worker to a year.

The Rhondda MP said there were 20 such assaults in Wales a day.

AMs will vote on whether the proposed new law aimed at cracking down on attacks on emergency workers should apply in Wales.


£7.5m of funding to support local authority improvements

Hannah Blythyn announces over £7.5m of funding to support local authority improvements in recycling services in 2017/18. The funding will be administered under the Collaborative Change Programme.

She underlines the Welsh Government’s ambition to become a "zero waste nation".

£4m comes from the base budget and £3.5m from departmental underspend.

Hannah Blythyn

Statement by the Minister for Environment

The final statement of the day is by the Minister for Environment Hannah Blythyn on recycling in Wales.

Last Thursday’s UK statistical release revealed Wales continues to be the best municipal recycling nation in the UK, 12% above the UK average.


'Excellent cross-party support'

Labour AM tweets

Direction to resubmit proposals

Mr Skates says the four local authorities "either failed to consult effectively on their proposals or because they do not propose meaningful active travel networks, and in some cases their submission was falling short in both".

To those local authorities he will be issuing a direction to resubmit their proposals by 27 August this year.

Submissions from four local authorities 'unsuitable for approval'

Ken Skates says he has approved the submissions from 14 local authorities outright.

Maps by another group of authorities have been approved even though they fall "a little short of expectations". and given "clear recommendations for addressing weaknesses".

He says he's disappointed that maps by four local authorities are "unsuitable for approval in their current form".

Ken Skates

Statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport

We move on to a Statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport Ken Skates, on Active Travel Integrated Network Maps.

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'At last action is being taken'

Plaid Cymru's Llyr Gruffydd says that "report after report has shown the weaknesses and at last action is being taken".

Llyr Gruffydd

Statement 'a long time coming'

Conservative Darren Millar says the statement has been "a long time coming".

He says "we've known that we haven't been stretching our most able and talented learners for a number of years".

He questions why funding has been allocated for no more than two years.

Darren Millar

Background: Estyn and Pisa tests

School inspection body Estyn back in 2012 expressed concern that more able and talented pupils in Wales did less well than in England.

It also showed up in the international Pisa tests, when the results of the top 10% of achievers at 15-year-olds were compared.

Wales performed particularly poorly, with only the highest achievers in Chile, Turkey and Mexico getting lower scores in reading and maths.

An independent review was ordered and found "considerable variation" in what was provided to able and talented students in schools and colleges in Wales.

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Seren Network to be expanded

Education Secretary Kirsty Williams says it was clear from the evidence that Wales must do more to "identify, support and stretch" able learners, as well as deliver more consistency.

She also wants to expand the Seren network, which helps Wales' brightest sixth formers gain access to top universities.

From September, a pilot Seren project will start connecting younger, able pupils - before they take their GCSEs - with those from other schools and to link up with universities.

Kirsty Williams

Statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Education

The next statement is by the Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams.

She announces funding of £3 million over two years to seek to ensure that support for more able and talented pupils is more consistent across schools in Wales.


UKIP 'supportive of intent of White Paper'

UKIP spokesperson Caroline Jones says she is "generally supportive of the intent of the White Paper".

Caroline Jones

'Function as the voice of the people'

On proposals to abolish Community Health Councils, Rhun ap Iorwerth stresses the need to keep their "function as the voice of the people".

Under the proposals, a single body could replace the existing seven CHCs, which carry out spot checks on hospitals and represent patient interests.

Health boards: Escalation and Intervention

Conservative Angela Burns emphasises that three of Wales' seven health boards are currently in targeted intervention, and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has been in special measures - the highest form of Welsh Government intervention - for more than two years.

Angela Burns

Services Fit for the Future

We move on to a statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething, on the Services Fit for the Future White Paper.

The Welsh Government proposals are aimed at improving the quality and governance of health and social care services in Wales.

The proposals include common standards and joint complaints handling; better decision-making across health boards including a new Duty of Quality for the Population of Wales and a clearer process for service change; as well as further promoting a culture of openness in the health and social care system through a new Duty of Candour. There are also proposals for strengthening the boards of NHS organisations and involvement of the public across health and social care, and for regulation and inspection.

Vaughan Gething

Finance Secretary 'eviscerating UK Government'

Political commentator tweets

Welsh Brexit bill: We cannot delay any longer, Drakeford says
Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford says the Welsh Assembly needs to pass its own law to protect devolution from a post-Brexit "power grab".

Drakeford 'displayed the patience of Job'

UKIP leader Neil Hamilton says plans for a Continuity Bill are "necessary, as a tactic at least".

He says Mark Drakeford has "displayed the patience of Job" in his negotiations with the UK government.

Unanimous backing in an assembly vote in January

Simon Thomas reminds AMs that a continuity bill was previously proposed by his party colleague, Plaid Cymru's Brexit spokesman Steffan Lewis last year.

His proposal received unanimous backing in an assembly vote in January.

Simon Thomas

'We cannot delay any longer'

Mark Drakeford explains, "We have come to the point where we cannot delay any longer if this legislation, even as an emergency bill, is to have a reasonable opportunity to get on the statute book in time for us to be able to take the steps necessary to secure legislative continuity."

He says a Continuity Bill "remains a fall-back, fail-safe option" but it "will do the job required" if there's no change to the Withdrawal Bill.

He hopes to reach agreement at next week's JMC meeting. If they succeed to get agreement, the Continuity Bill will be withdrawn.

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'Progress that goes beyond warm words' needed

Mr Drakeford calls the meeting "constructive" but calls for "further progress that goes beyond warm words which makes agreement possible.

"I remain hopeful that such an agreement can be reached".

He says the Welsh Government is to press ahead with plans for a law to prevent what ministers have dubbed a post-Brexit "power-grab".

The assembly will be asked to back as an emergency measure a Continuity Bill that will give it powers in devolved areas currently held at EU level.

The Welsh Government remains opposed to UK government Brexit legislation that will hold many of the powers in Westminster.

The Continuity Bill, if passed in the assembly, would place EU laws covering subjects such as farm subsidies and food labelling into Welsh law.

Mark Drakeford

Joint ministerial committee meeting of 22 February 2018

The first statement of the day is by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance Mark Drakeford, on the joint ministerial committee (JMC) EU negotiations meeting of 22 February 2018.

Welsh flag and EU stars

Motion on proceeding with the Continuity Bill

There will be a motion in the Senedd on proceeding with the Continuity Bill as an emergency bill next week, says Julie James.

M4 relief road: 'things have moved quickly'

BBC Wales political editor tweets

Business Statement and Announcement

The next item is the Business Statement and Announcement.

Leader of the House Julie James remains on her feet to outline the Assembly's future business and responds to requests from AMs.

Wales 'could lose the right to benefit from clinical trials'

Plaid Cymru's Steffan Lewis asks for a commitment that Welsh Government will oppose any attempt by any government in Westminster to deny citizens access to treatment - he warns that exiting the single market would result in Wales losing the right to benefit from clinical trials.

Julie James replies, "we need to stay inside those arrangements, it's disastrous for research of all sorts."

Steffan Lewis

Call for use of bamboo handle toothbrushes

Is the Welsh Government going to follow the Royal Family and the BBC in reducing the use of single use plastics, asks Conservative David Melding.

Julie James says she will take up the suggestion, and calls for people to use bamboo handle toothbrushes.

David Melding

'Very robust' bidders for Wales and Borders rail franchise

Abellio Rail Cymru's decision to withdraw its bid for the next Wales and Borders rail franchise is "bitterly disappointing" says Andrew RT Davies. He asks whether the remaining bids are robust and will go the duration.

The two remaining bidders are very robust, says Julie James.

Abellio Rail Cymru exit from the process leaves just MTR and KeolisAmey bidding to run the franchise, which will operate the South Wales Metro.

Existing franchisee Arriva dropped its bid last year.

Likely to be a 'to note' debate on M4 relief road

Mr Davies says Julie James seems to indicate a budget vote on the M4 project is not needed.

Julie James indicates that it is likely to be a "to note" debate, rather than a budget.

What kind of vote on M4 relief road?

Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies says a letter from Economy Secretary Ken Skates highlighted the intention of the government to have a vote on the M4 relief road. He asks if it will be a budget vote or a substantial vote around the inquiry itself.

Julie James responds, "until we know the outcome of the M4 public inquiry we don't know what we can form the debate around".

Andrew RT Davies

'Sensible to have a range of options'

This is a negotiation - if you rule everything out that is not a negotiation, says Julie James, adding it is sensible to have a range of options.

'Welsh Brexit position being undercut by the whims of Westminster'

Rhun ap Iorweth accuses the Welsh Government of regressing from a position of being in the EU customs union - from the Brexit paper it agreed with Plaid Cymru.

It feels at every corner that the Welsh Brexit position is being undercut by the whims of Westminster, including the opposition, he says.

Rhun ap Iorweth

The EU customs union or a customs union?

Rhun ap Iorweth, standing in for Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, asks if the Welsh Government favours staying in the EU customs union or a customs union.

Its important that we maintain an open mind in Brexit negotiations, responds the Leader of the House.

'Emily Thornberry undermined the first minister's statement'

Neil Hamilton said Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry had undermined the first minister's statement that Wales was outward looking by calling Donald Trump an "asteroid of awfulness".

"There's a huge difference between the president of the United States and the United States as a country," responds the Leader of the House.