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Summary

  1. Public Accounts Committee
  2. Plenary begins at 1.30pm with Questions to the First Minister
  3. Business Statement and Announcement
  4. Debate on the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee report on the implications for Wales of leaving the European Union
  5. Debate: Stage 3 of the Land Transaction Tax and Anti-avoidance of Devolved Taxes (Wales) Bill

Live Reporting

By Alun Jones and Nia Harri

All times stated are UK

Hwyl

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

Senedd Live will be back tomorrow morning when we'll be broadcasting the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee.

Senedd
BBC

Bill passes Stage 3

The Land Transaction Tax and Anti-avoidance of Devolved Taxes (Wales) Bill passes Stage 3.  

Guide to Public Bills and Acts

There is generally a four-stage process for the consideration of a Public Bill involving:

  • Stage 1 – consideration of the general principles of the Bill by a committee, and the agreement of those general principles by the Assembly;
  • Stage 2 – detailed consideration by a committee of the Bill and any amendments tabled to that Bill;
  • Stage 3 – detailed consideration, by the Assembly, of the Bill and any amendments tabled to that Bill;
  • Stage 4 – a vote by the Assembly to pass the final text of the Bill.

'Reflects well on Welsh Assembly'

Summary of changes at Stage 2

Land partly in Wales and partly in England

Mark Reckless,  Nick Ramsay and Steffan Lewis propose amendments relating to land partly in Wales and partly in England. 

The only one accepted by the government is amendment 29 by Steffan Lewis. 

According to a recent report by the Assembly's finance committee, 1,093 registered properties straddle the Wales-England border.

Current legislation states land transaction tax will have to be paid on the proportion of the property in Wales and stamp duty will be raised on the land in England.

As a result, questions have been raised about how the separate valuations should be carried out.

Mark Reckless
BBC
Mark Reckless

Response by the Welsh Government

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford sets out the Welsh Government response to the report of the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee.

The formal detailed response can be seen here .

Mark Drakeford
BBC

'I told you so'

UKIP's David Rowlands says "I look forward to a time in the near future when I, my UKIP colleagues and all Leavers will be able to say 'I told you so' ".

David Rowlands
BBC

Assembly Research Service blog

Recommendations 'important for us all'

"Recommendations one and four are important for us all", says Conservative Suzy Davies.

Recommendation 1. We acknowledge that the Welsh Government's White Paper has provided additional evidence to support the Welsh Government's position. However, we recommend that the Welsh Government publishes all the evidence on which it bases its position, including details of the scenario modelling that has been done across all sectors and the studies it has commissioned internally and from external sources  

Recommendation 4. We recommend that the Welsh Government provides us with its register of risks across all areas where Brexit will impact upon its activity  

Suzy Davies
BBC

Implications for Wales of leaving the European Union

Members now resume the debate that came to an abrupt end on 22 March after the Westminster terror incident.  

David Rees (Aberavon) leads the debate on the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee report on the implications for Wales of leaving the European Union. 

The report has six recommendations .  

Welsh and EU flags
BBC

Legislative Consent Motion on the Farriers (Registration) Bill approved

Members agree that provisions in the Farriers (Registration) Bill , in so far as they fall within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales, should be considered by the UK Parliament.  

Partnership Arrangements Regulations 2017 approved

Members approve that the draft The Partnership Arrangements (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 is made in accordance with the draft  laid  in the Table Office.   

Rebecca Evans
BBC
Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans

Marine licensing regulations approved

Members approve that the draft The Marine Licensing (Notices Appeals) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 is made in accordance with the draft  laid  in the Table Office.  

Ship
BBC

Business Statement and Announcement

Now we have the Business Statement and Announcement where the Leader of the House Jane Hutt outlines the future business of the Assembly. 

Jane Hutt
BBC

Members' Bill

Paul Davies has won the ballot to try to introduce a Members' bill - the ​ Autism (Wales) Bill .

Any Member wishing to propose a Bill must apply to be included in a  ballot  which is held by the Presiding Officer. 

He now has nine months to formally introduce a Bill.

Once introduced, a Members' Bill is subject to the same scrutiny process as other Bills.

Urgent Question 2: grass fires

Vikki Howells, Labour AM for the Cynon Valley, asks about  the Welsh Government’s response to the large number of grass fires over the weekend.

South Wales fire service said its crews had been called to 67 grass fires between Friday and Monday morning - 62 of them deliberate.

They include  two separate incidents at Tylorstown, Rhondda Cynon Taff , at 05:30 and 05:45 BST on Monday.

The Mid and West service tackled a 40 hectare fire at Gorseinon and another at Kilvey Hill, Swansea.

Cabinet Secretary Carl Sargeant condemns people who deliberately start grass fires.  


          A fire on Penrhys mountain, Rhondda Cynon Taff covered 20 hectares (50 acres)
JAMIE JENKINS
A fire on Penrhys mountain, Rhondda Cynon Taff covered 20 hectares (50 acres)

Urgent Question 1: local health boards' overspends

Simon Thomas, Plaid Cymru AM for Mid and West Wales, raises the issue of the  £146m overspends forecast by local health boards this year.  

Betsi Cadwaladr's deficit is now forecast to be £30m, Hywel Dda £49.9m, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University £35m and Cardiff and Vale £31m for the 2016-17 financial year.

The health boards will not face a bill to repay the money, but they will be expected to balance their books in the next financial year.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething says the situation is "unacceptable" and that he expects a "significant improvement in financial planning" in the health boards.  

Simon Thomas
BBC
Simon Thomas

'New Cardiff bus station must be fit for purpose'

 It's important that there's agreement that the new Cardiff bus station is fit for purpose, says first minister in reply to UKIP's Gareth Bennett.  

Border crossing arrangements between Wales and the Republic of Ireland

The first minister says it is important that border crossing arrangements between Wales and the Republic of Ireland are the same as between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.    

Carwyn Jones
BBC

'We should control the tolls of the Severn Crossings'

UKIP's Mark Reckless - called to speak in the absence of Neil Hamilton who is at a family funeral - raises the issue of the Severn Crossings and asks what engagement there is with the UK government.

Our view is that we should control the tolls, says the first minister. 

The UK government has serious legal risks if it continues tolling on the Severn crossings, says Mark Reckless.

The first minister says the bridges are reserved to Westminster but that does not mean the points raised should not be investigated. 

Asked by Mr Reckless if the Welsh Government would contribute to costs, the first minister says it would be easier if there were no tolls at all.  

Severn bridge
BBC

'Not unreasonably concerned' about health board deficits

Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies questions the first minister on health board deficits. "How are you going to be able to maintain services?" he asks.

If NHS boards do not come in budget without harming services, the Welsh Government will have to look at their governance, says Mr Jones. 

Mr Davies acknowledges there are deficits in NHS England too, but asks what specific measures are being taken to address the shortfall. He says that constituents and users of NHS services are "not unreasonably concerned" about health board deficits.

View more on twitter

'Farming subsidies could disappear'

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood asks the first minister what he expects to see in the letter triggering Article 50.  

"I don't expect there to be anything in the letter regarding devolution", replies Mr Jones.  

Ms Wood raises the Demos report which said with more than 60% of exports from Wales going to the EU, it would be the most-affected of the nations and English regions by potential tariffs. 

She adds that  "Wales can't afford to pay a high price for a hard Brexit".  

Some EU citizens living in Wales are concerned they will be deported,  says the first minister and he suggests that farming subsidies could disappear.  

View more on twitter

Grant conditions been met 'thus far'

Tory AM Mohammad Asghar asks if the Welsh Government was aware of redundancy threats at Newsquest last year.

 Grant conditions to Newsquest have been met "thus far", says Mr Jones. 

There is no doubt many of us fear that we will see a steady diminution of national and local news coverage in Wales, he adds.   

Recoup grant money given to Newsquest?

Simon Thomas asks if the Welsh Government will recoup grant money given to Newsquest.

The first minister says they will seek repayment if conditions were breached. 

The Welsh Government gave Newsquest £245,000 in 2015 to expand a sub-editing hub now  closing with the loss of 14 jobs , with work moving to Dorset.

In 2013-14 the company got more than £95,000 from the Skills Growth Fund.

papers
Thinkstock

Wales and Borders franchise from 2018

Mr Ramsay questions the first minister about the Wales and Borders franchise. 

Power to decide who runs the next Wales and Borders franchise from 2018 is due to be transferred to Welsh ministers.  

Arriva
BBC

Public transport provision

Plenary begins as usual on a Tuesday with questions to First Minister Carwyn Jones. 

The first question tabled for today is by Nick Ramsay: Will the First Minister make a statement on public transport provision in south-east Wales?  

Back at 1.30pm

The committee is now meeting in private. 

Senedd Live will be back at 1.30pm for plenary. 

£2.5 million of savings

Emyr Roberts tells AMs that NRW has had a £3.2 million reduction in revenue Grant in Aid compared with 2014/15.

They have also instigated an efficiency campaign called ‘Success with Less’ which realised near £2.5 million of savings.   

Cash
BBC

Operating on market principles

Auditor General Huw Vaughan Thomas' report expressed "doubt" over whether the deal met EU state aid rules, but Emyr Roberts tells the committee they were operating on market principles.


          Huw Vaughan Thomas has said the awarding of contracts to the firm was not "transparent"
BBC
Huw Vaughan Thomas has said the awarding of contracts to the firm was not "transparent"

'Successful outcome'

Emyr Roberts emphasises that "there has been a successful outcome. 

"We have grown markets, we have dealt with the disease and meanwhile normal markets for timber have continued". 

NRW had 'wool pulled over its eyes'?

Emyr Roberts acknowledges that the documentation over the 10 year timber deal was "not good".  

He rejects Lee Waters' suggestion that NRW had the "wool pulled over its eyes" by the sawmill operator.  

Lee Waters
BBC
Lee Waters

More 'open discussion' needed with the Welsh Government

Emyr Roberts tells the committee that with hindsight there should have been a more "open discussion" with the Welsh Government about the timber deal. 

He says there was a "real crisis" at the time in the timber market with the spread of the  Phytophthora ramorum  disease, which happened within the first year of NRW's existence. 

Emyr Roberts
BBC

Sawmill line by the end of March?

Llanelli AM Lee Waters repeatedly asks whether the timber firm has installed a sawmill line.

Emyr Roberts replies, "There is a requirement on the operator to put in a sawmill line by the end of March 2017, and we are in ongoing discussions with the operator on that".  

Mr Waters points out that it is now the 28th March.

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Eight connected timber sales contracts

The identity of the company has not been revealed because NRW said the matter was commercially sensitive.

As a condition of the contract, the company said it would construct and operate a new saw line at its Welsh premises by 31 March 2016 but NRW said that condition was not met and was extended by 12 months.

A report by the auditor general said that in 2014, NRW entered into an agreement with a sawmill operator for eight connected timber sales contracts, in a bid to try to halt the spread of a disease.

The firm purchased both spruce and larch timber, the latter of which was from forests where a fungus disease -  Phytophthora ramorum  - causes extensive damage was present.

But the report said no other potential purchasers were given the opportunity to bid for the timber.

The value of the contract was designed to enable the operator to make a major investment in the sawmill - the operator said four of the contracts for larch would not have been enough to invest in the new saw line.

NRW told auditors it had to act, that there was no alternative and that it was highly unlikely that any other operators would have been interested.

Executive board should have had 'greater involvement'

Emyr Roberts says his executive board should have had "greater involvement" in scrutinising the timber deal, and "that is a lesson learned".

However, he says he is happy with the decision that was taken.  


          Natural Resources Wales is funded by the Welsh Government, but is run at arms length
BBC
Natural Resources Wales is funded by the Welsh Government, but is run at arms length

'Irregular' £39m timber deal

The first issue raised by committee chair Nick Ramsay is a 10-year deal by Natural Resources Wales to sell timber to a sawmill that was made without other companies being allowed to bid. 

For £39m, the firm is buying what is estimated to be up to a quarter of the timber released by NRW every year.

The Auditor General for Wales Huw Vaughan Thomas has said in a report that he was unable to satisfy himself on whether the decision to make the deal was lawful.

Woodland
BBC

Witnesses

Giving evidence are: 

Dr Emyr Roberts - Chief Executive, Natural Resources Wales;

Kevin Ingram - Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Services, Natural Resources Wales. 

Dr Emyr Roberts, Kevin Ingram
BBC

Welcome to Senedd Live

The Public Accounts Committee is scrutinising Natural Resources Wales' Annual Accounts 2015-16 this morning.

Senedd
BBC