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Summary

  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. Statement by the First Minister: Article 50 Response
  5. Debate on the Children Young People and Education Committee Report of the inquiry into statutory advocacy provision
  6. Debate on the Petitions Committee Report on a Petition on Ovarian Cancer
  7. United Kingdom Independence Party debate: Welsh-medium, English-medium, dual-stream and transitional schools
  8. Short Debate: Credit Unions: A key contribution to tackling financial exclusion
  9. Short Debate: Chronic traumatic encephalopathy and sport – can Wales lead the way?

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 on Tuesday 4 April.

Senedd
BBC

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy and sport

Finally today is a Short Debate by Steffan Lewis.

The subject: Chronic traumatic encephalopathy and sport - can Wales lead the way?

Encephalopathy
BBC
Encephalopathy

Credit Unions

Next in the Siambr is a Short Debate by Dawn Bowden. Her subject:

Credit Unions: A key contribution to tackling financial exclusion.

Dawn Bowden
BBC

Motion amended

The Welsh Government's amendment is passed. 

'Disappointing'

Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies says the tone of this debate has been disappointing.

He proposes that the assembly:

  • Welcomes the Welsh Government’s intention to publish a White Paper this year for consultation on provisions for a new Welsh Language Bill as part of plans to increase the use of the Welsh language.
  • Recognises the additional investment in 2017-18 to improve and increase Welsh in the workplace provision and to promote the Welsh language.
  • Notes the Welsh Government’s commitment to review the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan process.
  • Recognises local authorities and other proposers must comply with the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the School Organisation Code and must consider a range of factors when proposing significant changes to schools in their jurisdiction.
Alun Davies
BBC

'You've behaved irresponsibly'

Leanne Wood accuses Llanelli AM Lee Waters "of joining forces with the leader of UKIP to oppose this development [in Llangennech] which is a policy by your own government. You've behaved irresponsibly".   

Mr Waters replies, "the mask has slipped. You've shown your true colours, trying to weaponise this debate".

Lee Waters
BBC

'Trying to reopen old wounds'

Plaid Cymru's Simon Thomas criticises UKIP for "trying to reopen old wounds in one particular community in Carmarthenshire".

Plaid Cymru point out "that Carmarthenshire County Council's Welsh in Education Strategic Plan 2014-2017, which included the decision to establish a Welsh-medium school at Llangennech, was approved unanimously by the Labour-led Cabinet in July 2014, and that all subsequent decisions were approved by the appropriate authorities".

'Debate is being used to hone in on one issue in one part of Wales'

Conservative Darren Millar says he is "disappointed that the debate is being used by UKIP to hone in on one issue in one part of Wales".

He says that there has been a fall in the number of Welsh speaking teachers entering the profession, and that school closures have disproportionately affected Welsh medium schools.

Darren Millar
BBC

'Unhelpful' cross the border call

Neil Hamilton refers to "unhelpful comments" last month by Michael Jones, a co-ordinator for Parents for Welsh Medium Education.

Parents unhappy their children's school has been changed to a Welsh medium primary should move over the border, the leading campaigner said

'Must involve genuine local consultation'

UKIP's Neil Hamilton proposes that the assembly:

1. Commends the Welsh Government's aim of achieving one million Welsh-speakers by 2050 and recognises the key role of schools in achieving it.

2. Believes that flying in the face of local public opinion will limit the chance of success and that changes to educational institutions covering Key Stages 1 to 5 should be made in a manner supported by the majority of parents, guardians or local residents, who are best placed to make educational decisions on behalf of their children.

3. Believes that proposals to convert English-medium, dual-stream or transitional schools into Welsh-medium schools or to close them must involve genuine local consultation whereby:

a) all respondents supply their names, addresses and postcodes;

b) each individual named in any submitted petition is recorded as a discrete observation unit; and

c) the opinions of unrelated third parties should not be given priority over the wishes of parents or local residents.

4. Believes that the consultation exercise carried out by Carmarthenshire County Council prior to deciding to close the Llangennech dual stream federated infants and junior schools and convert them to a single Welsh-medium school was flawed.

5. Believes that the council should rescind its decision pending a further consultation based on the principles set out in paragraph 3 above.


          In January, Carmarthenshire council voted in favour of making Ysgol Llangennech, near Llanelli, a Welsh medium primary from September.
BBC
In January, Carmarthenshire council voted in favour of making Ysgol Llangennech, near Llanelli, a Welsh medium primary from September.

UKIP debate

We now have a UKIP debate on Welsh-medium, English-medium, dual-stream and transitional schools. 

Classroom
BBC

Two of the three recommendations accepted

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Social Services and Public Health, explains the government accepts two of the three recommendations.

The detailed response is here .  

Committee's three recommendations

Mike Hedges, chair of the committee, presents the Committee’s three recommendations

Mike Hedges
BBC

Petitions Committee Report

The next debate is on the Petitions Committee Report on a Petition on Ovarian Cancer.  

The following petition was submitted using the National Assembly for Wales’s online petitions system by Margaret Hutcheson, a retired palliative care nurse. 

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Welsh Government to support yearly screening for ovarian cancer (CA125 Blood Test)". 

The petition gathered 104 signatures online.   

Ovarian Cancer is one of the major causes of mortality of women in the UK. It is the sixth most common form of cancer diagnosed in women in Wales, with 365 cases diagnosed in 2014, and the fourth most common cause of cancer death for women in Wales, with 238 deaths in 2014.  

Ovarian cancer
BBC
Ovarian cancer

Response by the Welsh Government to the report

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant outlines the government's response to the report, which can be seen in detail here

He rejects one recommendation, while another is accepted in principle rather than fully. 

Committee recommendations

Lynne Neagle, chair of the committee, presents the report which has eight recommendations

Lynne Neagle
BBC

Children Young People and Education Committee Report

Members now hold a debate on the Children Young People and Education Committee Report of the inquiry into statutory advocacy provision.  

UKIP's Neil Hamilton called to order by the Llywydd

'Serious questions'

Paul Thomas and Adele Baumgardt were first suspended in November, along with the entire Sport Wales board, over concerns the  organisation was dysfunctional .  

In February, Welsh ministers  re-instated the Sport Wales board , but the chair and vice-chair remained suspended, and they have now been sacked.  

Plaid Cymru's spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth says there are serious questions on the original recruitment process and on the assurance review which was conducted.

UKIP's Gareth Bennett questions why the announcement was made the day the triggering of Article 50 happened.

Rebecca Evans says the government has taken "appropriate action at every step".  

She denied that the Welsh Government was seeking to bury bad news by making the sackings public less than an hour after the UK government triggered Article 50. She said,  "I don't time my announcement for the convenience of Gareth Bennett or any other AM. 

 "I have to say I didn't want the process to take any longer than it had to, and I didn't want it to drag on, for the benefit of all those people concerned." 

View more on twitter

Interim chair

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Social Services and Public Health, says that Lawrence Conway has agreed to be interim chair of Sport Wales until the end of the year.

Rebecca Evans
BBC

Urgent Question: Future Management of Sport Wales

We now have an Urgent Question to the Minister for Social Services and Public Health.

Russell George asks the Minister to make a statement on the future management of Sport Wales following the decision to terminate the positions of the Chair and Vice Chair of the organisation.

Mr George says the dismissals "leave us none-the-wiser as to what went so spectacularly wrong in the board of Sport Wales".  

Sport Wales
Sport Wales

Impact of triggering Article 50

There is a proposal by Simon Thomas for an Urgent Debate so that the "Assembly considers the impact of triggering Article 50 on Wales".

The First Minister believes the debate should take place next week.

The proposal is defeated - 20 for, 34 against.  

Simon Thomas
BBC

'Money will stick to fingers in Whitehall'

First Minister Carwyn Jones says he is worried "money will stick to fingers in Whitehall" instead of coming to Wales.  

View more on twitter

'Great day for Wales'

UKIP group leader Neil Hamilton says today is a "great day for the UK and a great day for Wales. 

"What we are seeing is the beginning of a process of restoration of democratic self-government to assemblies such as this". 

He summarises, "I say to the first minister, do cheer up."  

Neil Hamilton
BBC

67% of Welsh exports go to the EU

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood says that "67% of Welsh exports go to the EU, a higher level than any other part of the UK".

She asks what will happen if tariffs are raised on Welsh exports after Brexit, and what will the Welsh Government do to increase the powers to protect and boost the Welsh economy post-Brexit. 

She believes that Brexit means it's time to talk about another Wales Bill.  

EU and Welsh flags
BBC

Prime Minister been to Wales five times

Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies rejects the claims that Theresa May had not listened to and consulted the Welsh Government. He also welcomed the Prime Minister's commitment to give greater powers to Wales. 

He says Prime Minister Theresa May has been to Wales five times, and that David Davis the Brexit secretary has engaged with the Welsh Government many times.  

Andrew RT Davies
BBC

'Unacceptable'

The first minister says it is "unacceptable" that he did not see the letter triggering Article 50 before today and was not invited to contribute to its drafting.

He says this it was "the culmination of a deeply frustrating process in which the devolved administrations have been persistently treated with a lack of respect".

He adds, "I do not see how the Prime Minister can claim to negotiate on behalf of the whole country when she disregards the rights of this Welsh Government to speak up for the people of Wales."

View more on twitter

Statement by the First Minister

Carwyn Jones makes a statement on the day that the UK's permanent representative to the EU handed a letter to the president of the European Council confirming the UK government's decision to invoke Article 50.  

View more on twitter

Agency nursing

UKIP's Caroline Jones says the "over spending by the local health boards can be equated to the large amount spent on agency nursing.

"Last week, the Welsh NHS was spending £2.5 million each week  on agency staff".

Four health boards are forecast to over spend by £146m this year.

Caroline Jone
BBC

Reducing sickness absence 'a priority'

Conservative Angela Burns asks the Secretary to "address as a matter for urgency" the levels of sickness absence within the Welsh NHS.

Mr Gething says "this is a priority for discussion with health board chairs".

Vaughan Gething
BBC
Vaughan Gething

Call for a specialist Mother and Baby Unit

Plaid Cymru's Rhun ap Iorwerth calls on the Welsh Government to consider opening a specialist Mother and Baby Unit in Wales. 

Vaughan Gething says he has "commissioned a review of the evidence of what is available in Wales".

Mother and baby units (MBUs) provide specialist care to women with mental health problems such as severe postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis.  

A Freedom of Information Act request  found that the body that commissions specialist NHS services, the Welsh Health Specialist Services Committee (WHSSC), estimated that the cost of sending mothers to MBUs outside of Wales was estimated to be £377,000 this year. 

Rhun ap Iorwerth
BBC

Impact of Brexit

Leanne Wood raises concerns about the impact of Brexit and points out that 22% of GPs in Cwm Taf health board are not originally from the UK.

Mr Gething replies,  "It's a concern of this government too". 

Leanne Wood
BBC

Access to the health service in the Rhondda

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

Leanne Wood is asking the Cabinet Secretary to make a statement on access to the health service in the Rhondda.  

Nurse
Getty Images

'Rigorous process of due diligence'

Asked by  Eluned Morgan (Mid and West Wales)  about when the Welsh Government will make a decision on funding the Circuit of Wales track, Mr Skates replies "we will make a decision on funding once we have all the submission details and the rigorous process of due diligence has been completed."   

He says there will be no announcement until mid May.  

He told AMs that the developers did not provide the paperwork needed to start the due diligence until late last week, adding: "It's also regrettable that the information is currently incomplete". 

Circuit of Wales
Circuit of Wales

'Rebalance Welsh exports'

Conservative Russell George refers to the Demos report which says that Wales stands to be the part of the UK worst-hit by a so-called hard Brexit.  

Nearly two-thirds of the country's exports go to the EU, Demos said, whereas London and the south west export just more than 40%.  

Mr George asks what the Welsh Government has planned "to rebalance Welsh exports in favour of large markets such as China". 

Mr Skates replies there are "huge export opportunities, particularly in the food and drink sector in China".  He refers to the Welsh Government’s Project HELIX which "provides funding support for research into global food production, trends and waste to help small to medium sized food manufacturers across Wales to increase production and reduce waste". 

Russell George
BBC
Russell George

Call for independent trade and inward-investment promotion agency

Plaid Cymru's Adam Price "pleads" with the Cabinet Secretary to "consider the case for an arm’s-length, independent trade and inward-investment promotion agency for Wales". 

Mr Skates says he has proposals to create "regional economic units that would be able to drive economic growth and promote economic activities".  

Adam Pric
BBC

'We will be looking at the Ebbw Vale line'

UKIP's David Rowlands asks the Cabinet Secretary to "explain the decision not to electrify the Ebbw Vale rail line".

Ken Skates replies that "moving forward with the franchise for the metro, we will be looking at the Ebbw Vale line".

David Rowlands
BBC
David Rowlands

'Excellent news for my local authority'

Transport for Wales is  assessing bids  by four companies to operate train services in Wales and services on the South Wales Metro.

The organisation will be based at the  new Taff Vale regeneration site in Pontypridd , as will the company that wins the franchise. A contract will be awarded in early 2018.

The Welsh Government has also decided that the Welsh Revenue Authority  will be based in nearby Treforest .  

Vikki Howells says it is "excellent news for my local authority".  

Headquarters of Transport for Wales

Plenary is about to begin with questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates. 

The first of the tabled questions today is by Vikki Howells:

What assessment has the Cabinet Secretary made of the benefits of locating the headquarters of Transport for Wales within Rhondda Cynon Taf? 

Vikki Howells
BBC

Back at 1.30pm

The members are now meeting in private. 

Senedd Live will be back at 1.30pm for Plenary.