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Summary

  1. AMs have called for an end to cuts in further education in a vote in the Senedd.
  2. Budget scrutiny with the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport
  3. Plenary begins at 1.30pm with Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Education
  4. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services
  5. Member Debate under Standing Order 11.21(iv) - Further Education Funding
  6. Debate on the Standards of Conduct Committee report: Creating the Right Culture
  7. Debate on Petition P-05-828 Presumption in Favour of Rural Schools
  8. Short Debate: Transport for Wales: the vehicle to transform rail services in Islwyn.

Live Reporting

By Alun Jones and Nia Harri

All times stated are UK

  1. 'The vehicle to transform rail services in Islwyn'

    The topic chosen for the Short Debate by Rhianon Passmore (Islwyn) is "Transport for Wales: the vehicle to transform rail services in Islwyn".

    She says, "It is a fact that the Wales railway network has been historically starved of investment. Since 2011, only around 1 per cent of the rail enhancement expenditure across England and Wales has been made in the Wales route areas.

    "The Welsh Government has led the way in strongly demanding that Wales' railways are properly funded. Earlier this week, in direct response to Welsh Government's continued and vocal representations, Network Rail has unveiled a £2 billion cash pot of public money for the historically underfunded Wales and borders routes from 2019-24."

  2. 'No further reduction in the amount of funding received by the further education sector'

    The proposal by

    Bethan Sayed (South Wales West)Mohammad Asghar (South Wales East)Helen Mary Jones (Mid and West Wales)Sian Gwenllian (Arfon)Suzy Davies (South Wales West)

    that the National Assembly for Wales:

    1. Regrets that funding for further education has been under significant pressure in recent years as a result of funding cuts.

    2. Notes that the further education sector has been placed under extra demand, in part due to the Welsh Government’s policies relating to lifelong learning, skills and employability, which have been clarified in the recent employability plan updated by written statement in September 2018.

    3. Expresses concern that staff in further education institutions are considering strike action over insufficient pay and concerns over heavy workloads.

    4. Proposes that there be no further reduction in the amount of funding received by the further education sector and that its position as key to productivity, skills, training and employability in the Welsh economy be recognised.

    is passed with 22 for, 3 abstentions and 21 against.

    Three Labour AMs - Jack Sargeant, Vikki Howells and the currently suspended Jenny Rathbone - abstained, allowing it to pass.

    Vote
  3. 'All viable alternatives should be considered before closure'

    Education Secretary Kirsty Williams reminds AMs that changes to the School Organisation Code from 1 November include the presumption against the closure of rural schools.

    She says all viable alternatives should be considered before closure.

    This includes linking up with other schools.

    The new code will be underpinned by 219 schools being designated and listed as rural for the first time under the code.

  4. Consultation underway at Llancarfan Primary School

    Conservative Andrew RT Davies points out that in the Vale of Glamorgan, a month-long statutory consultation on plans to move pupils from Llancarfan Primary School to a new £4m "super primary" building five miles (8km) away in Rhoose has started.

    There has been a school in the village since 1875. There are just over 100 pupils on the roll and the council estimates numbers will continue to fall.

  5. Proposals to close rural schools rushed through?

    Petitions Committee chair David Rowlands reminds AMs that Anglesey council has faced accusations of rushing through the closures of schools before new rules came in that give rural schools more protection.

    Two rural schools are to close on Anglesey following a council vote.

    Ysgol Bodffordd and Ysgol Corn Hir in the Llangefni area will be moved to a new school planned for nearby.

  6. 'Local authorities are free to ignore the new Code'

    We reach a debate on Petition P-05-828 on the "Presumption in Favour of Rural Schools", which received 5,125 signatures.

    The petition "calls on the Government to take steps to ensure that local authorities follow the guidelines within the current School Organisation Code and the new version of the Code (when it comes into force), including that they operate in accordance with the presumption in favour of rural schools.

    "We accept that this does not mean that a rural school will never close, but the recent decision by Anglesey Council's Executive Committee to close Ysgol Bodffordd demonstrates that local authorities are free to ignore the new Code (that they are supposed to act in accordance with its spirit) and close even full and popular schools."

    View more on twitter
  7. Distinction between the assembly and the government

    Leader of the House Julie James responds on behalf of the Welsh Government.

    The first minister should continue to investigate complaints about his own ministers' behaviour, she says.

    The Welsh Government is concerned it could create confusion over the distinction between the assembly and the government.

    The Welsh Government says involving the standards commissioner - appointed by and accountable to the assembly - to investigate complaints about the behaviour of ministers "could create confusion in the minds of the public about where responsibility for ministerial conduct lies".

    The Written Response by the Welsh Government can be seen in full here.

    Julie James
  8. Independent advisor only used once

    The independent advisor route has only been used once. James Hamilton cleared Carwyn Jones over whether he lied about past claims of a bullying culture in Welsh Government.

    The government said that given the independent advisor had only looked at one case, "the committee's view that public confidence would be improved.... is not one that is shared by the First Minister".

    James Hamilton, a former Irish prosecutor, was tasked with investigating whether Carwyn Jones misled AMs
    Image caption: James Hamilton, a former Irish prosecutor, was tasked with investigating whether Carwyn Jones misled AMs
  9. Current procedure

    Currently, complaints about assembly members are dealt with by the standards commissioner, Sir Roderick Evans.

    But if the complaint is about an AM who is a minister carrying out their government duties, it is a matter for the first minister, who decides whether he or she breached their code of conduct.

    He could refer the matter to an independent advisor, but the first minister would take any decision on punishment.

  10. 'Can't express how disappointed I am'

    Plaid Cymru's Helen Mary Jones says "I can't express how disappointed I am" by the Welsh Government's rejection of recommendation 12.

    She says there should be a unanimous response to the Standards of Conduct Committee report.

  11. 'One rule for assembly members and another for ministers'

    Conservative group leader Paul Davies expresses his "disappointment" that the Welsh Government has rejected recommendation 12 "that the First Minister works with the Standards Commissioner to establish a protocol by Summer 2019 whereby all complaints are referred to the Office of the Commissioner and that the Commissioner subsequently reports to the relevant body".

    Mr Davies says "it sends the message that there is one rule for assembly members and another for ministers".

    Paul Davies
  12. 'Potential for confusion'

    Committee chair Jayne Bryant (Newport West) presents the report, which has 21 recommendations.

    It calls for a simplified complaints system for ministers, arguing that the ministerial code of conduct's requirement that the roles of minister and AMs are kept separate had the "potential for confusion".

    The committee accepts that it should be up to the first minister to decide who should be in their government.

    But it said public confidence in the system could be improved if the commissioner examined complaints in the first instance, before reporting to the FM.

    "If you have taken the important step to come forward to make a complaint about inappropriate behaviour, then you should not have to face the possibility of being told this was not the correct path and then being signposted to other channels," the committee argued.

    "Complaints need to be dealt with from that initial point of contact," it added.

    "We believe this will be simpler to understand and easier to access for the public."

    Jayne Bryant
  13. 'Creating the Right Culture'

    The next debate is on the Standards of Conduct Committee report: Creating the Right Culture.

  14. 'Funding cuts have been caused by Tory austerity'

    Eluned Morgan, the Minister for Lifelong Learning, who has responsibility for further education, says "as a government, we'll be voting against this resolution because it fails to note that the funding cuts have been caused by Tory austerity."

    She adds the Welsh Government has stepped in to ensure that teachers in FE colleges in Wales are paid the same amount as teachers in school sixth forms who are doing the same job.

    She says the £8m additional money will also contribute to an increase in pay for support staff in FE colleges, many of whom are on the living wage.

    Eluned Morgan
  15. 'Chronically underfunded'

    Conservative Mohammad Asghar says "under the Welsh Labour Government, the further education sector has been chronically underfunded".

  16. 'Political choice has been made by this Welsh Government'

    Plaid Cymru's Bethan Sayed says "a political choice has been made by this Welsh Government. Further education has long been viewed as the less prestigious and more junior partner to higher.

    "It's been in some ways an easier target than other sectors for spending constraints".

    Bethan Sayed
  17. 'Significant pressure as a result of funding cuts'

    The first debate of the day is the Member Debate under Standing Order 11.21(iv), on further education funding.

    Bethan Sayed (South Wales West)Mohammad Asghar (South Wales East)Helen Mary Jones (Mid and West Wales)Sian Gwenllian (Arfon)Suzy Davies (South Wales West)

    propose that the assembly:

    1. Regrets that funding for further education has been under significant pressure in recent years as a result of funding cuts.

    2. Notes that the further education sector has been placed under extra demand, in part due to the Welsh Government’s policies relating to lifelong learning, skills and employability, which have been clarified in the recent employability plan updated by written statement in September 2018.

    3. Expresses concern that staff in further education institutions are considering strike action over insufficient pay and concerns over heavy workloads.

    4. Proposes that there be no further reduction in the amount of funding received by the further education sector and that its position as key to productivity, skills, training and employability in the Welsh economy be recognised.

  18. Motion to elect a Member to a committee

    AMs elect Helen Mary Jones (Plaid Cymru) as a Member of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee.

  19. Sian Gwenllian elected a Member of the Assembly Commission

    AMs appoint Sian Gwenllian (Plaid Cymru) as a member of the Assembly Commission in place of Adam Price (Plaid Cymru).