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The Assembly met at 13:30 with the Presiding Officer (Dame Rosemary Butler) in the Chair.
 
13:30
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
Good afternoon. The National Assembly for Wales is now in session.
 
13:30
Statement by the Presiding Officer
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
Before we start, we are all aware of the terrible events of recent weeks, most recently in Paris, but also in Beirut, Egypt and elsewhere. I’m sure Members will wish to join me in remembering those that have been killed or injured in these attacks, and in sending our condolences to those that are grieving.
 
13:30
1. Statement: The Paris Attacks
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
And, now, I have a statement by the First Minister.
 
13:30
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Thank you, Presiding Officer. The people of Wales stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of France following the atrocities in Paris on Friday evening. The people of Paris have paid a heavy price for exercising the right to live in freedom, and we have a duty to protect the values of freedom and democracy on all counts.
 
I know that all Members will want to join in expressing our sorrow and revulsion at the atrocities in Paris on Friday night. The people of Wales stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the French people in this time of mourning. The people of Paris have paid a heavy price for exercising the right to live freely. Freedom is a value we share and a cause we must all defend, everywhere and all of the time. Llywydd, I wrote yesterday to the French ambassador, expressing our sorrow and support, and I attached a copy of that letter to the written statement tabled to Members yesterday.
 
Les gens du Pays de Galles souhaitent montrer leur solidarité pendant cette période difficile pour le peuple français.
 
Flags on Welsh Government buildings across Wales were flown at half mast yesterday and again today as a mark of our respect. I know, Llywydd, that Members and staff who were here yesterday gathered on the steps of the Senedd to mark the Europe-wide minute’s silence and that other groups across Wales have shown their respects in their own ways.
 
Security and intelligence are clearly UK Government competences, but, over the weekend, I participated in the UK Government security briefing, chaired by the Prime Minister—the so-called COBRA committee. The Welsh Government remains in active contact with UK colleagues on security issues, and the Minister for Public Services today met the police for further briefings. Llywydd, I would like to place on record our appreciation for the work of the police and the security services who work day in and day out to protect people across our country.
 
The United Kingdom has itself suffered from terrorism. We know for a fact that a number of other attacks have been foiled at the planning stage. Arrests have been made here in Wales in the past, and we know that individuals have travelled from here to Syria. We cannot be complacent about our own back yard. The public should remain vigilant and should not hesitate to contact the police if they have suspicious or unusual activity to report. Llywydd, I would also like to place on record my support and solidarity for the Muslim community here in Wales, the overwhelming majority of whom share our revulsion at the terrorism carried out in the name of a corrupted view of their religion. Muslims make a powerful and positive contribution to Welsh society and we will all stand together in opposing extremism and aggression in our community.
 
13:34
Andrew R.T. DaviesBiographyThe Leader of the Opposition
Thank you, First Minister, for making this statement this afternoon, which enables us to put our own thoughts on the record, and also pose some questions to you about the role the Welsh Government can play in supporting the efforts of the UK Government and the international community in facing down these dastardly crimes, acts—call them what you will—that are so abhorrent.
 
On Friday night, in my own household, we were welcoming home my son from his placement in college, and it was a happy household, and many households in Paris would have seen their loved ones go off to sporting events, to take a meal, or just to enjoy the life in Paris. But, sadly, unlike our household, where our son came home, many sons, daughters, loved ones did not return from that tragic series of events that were taking place in Paris. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the French people; we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Egyptian people and anyone who faces the abhorrent acts of terrorism that are undertaken to pervert the cause of Islam.
 
I agree entirely with what you have said, First Minister, about the Muslim faith—the Muslim faith is a faith of peace. It is not a faith of war, it is not a faith of terrorism, it is not a faith that should be abused. But, sadly, there are people on the extremities of that faith who have chosen to do that. It is incumbent on us to stand shoulder to shoulder with the French people; it is incumbent on us to stand shoulder to shoulder with people across the world, to face down that evil. I do hope that the solidarity that has been shown on the steps of the Senedd here over the last couple of days, the remarks that have been made in London, Edinburgh and Belfast, show that, across the United Kingdom, we are as one with the French people in their hour of need.
 
There are two points I would like to make to you, First Minister, if I may. The first point is in the field of education, and what help and support we can give our education system in relation to any hint of radicalisation that people might find is coming through the education system. That has been shown as being a route in to trying to take out vulnerable people and show them an alternative course than should be taken on by adopting the radical ways that people have chosen, to take people out to Syria and other parts of the middle east, as we’ve seen from people going from Cardiff. That is not the way forward. We are responsible in this institution for the education system, and I’d be grateful to understand what protocols are in place to make sure that Welsh Government are supporting schools, supporting colleges, to make sure young people are offered an alternative route to radicalisation.
 
The second point I would make to you, First Minister, is that it is vital we offer role models in the Muslim community so that they can be used to show that are so many positive aspects to the Muslim faith across all communities, so that we do stand shoulder to shoulder and people do not feel that they are marginalised by society and that they are victims of harassment, whether it be in Cardiff or other towns and cities across Wales. We did hear that in the ‘Sunday Supplement’ programme on Sunday, that there were various Muslims who said that they do face that level of intimidation. That should not be allowed. We do not recognise Islam as a faith that turns to terrorism; it is a faith of peace, and we should make sure we should do all we can to offer the role models that, ultimately, can show that we are one united society, facing down these terrible acts that have been inflicted not just in Paris, but in other countries around the world.
 
13:38
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
I thank the leader of the opposition for his comments. We do, of course, have community cohesion co-ordinators whose role it is to encourage cohesion and to help to identify issues as they arise. We have the faith communities forum, which represents a number of different faiths, and the forum itself is a place where difficulties can be raised and identified, and eventually, of course, dealt with. When it comes to schools, Estyn, of course, has a role in terms of monitoring and inspecting all schools in Wales, and it is for Estyn, of course, to determine whether a school is delivering the curriculum as it should. I think we should emphasise, of course, that we are talking here about a very small minority. All religions in their time have had extremists who have sought to use that religion in order to kill others. The people who carried out the attacks on Friday in Paris are no more representative of Islam than the Ku Klux Klan is of Christianity. They are an extreme fringe, and the vast majority of people who describe themselves and think of themselves as true Muslims would be and are appalled by the attacks that took place on Friday.
 
In terms of role models, there are role models in British society that show that it’s more than possible to rise to the heights of civic society through politics or, indeed, through sport. What’s important, of course, is to ensure that the kind of role models that young men—not exclusively young men, but particularly young men—are attracted to in Syria, in Iraq, and beyond, are people who should lose the appeal that they have to some young men and young women, and to show that what they are, in effect, are gangsters, no more than that, with a bloodlust. They are not representative of Islam. They are not representative of progress. They represent only themselves, and they represent only murder and mayhem.
 
13:40
Leanne WoodBiographyThe Leader of Plaid Cymru
First Minister, I’d like to take the opportunity to add Plaid Cymru’s support to the sentiments that you’ve expressed in response to these attacks in Paris. Plaid Cymru’s thoughts and condolences are with the families of those murdered and injured in Paris last weekend. Our sympathies and thoughts area also with the victims of terror attacks that have and are occurring all over the world on a regular basis.
 
First Minister, over the weekend I listened to your remarks as to how Wales should respond. Obviously, we have very important attractions and events that take place in this country and people will want assurances that such places are made as safe as possible. So, I’d appreciate to hear your thoughts on that point. We’re also having to endure significant cuts to policing, and so I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about how we can reassure people that the threat that we face can be met in the light of these cuts to policing budgets.
 
I’m sure that you’re aware that, today, the Prime Minister has announced further counter-terrorism measures, so I’d be interested to hear what role the Welsh Government is playing in such a process, in order to ensure that there is a Welsh perspective into that.
 
Finally, First Minister, as you’ve already alluded to, it is more important than ever for Welsh communities to pull together at a time like this. I am concerned about a potential backlash and hay, potentially, being made by far-right parties. Welsh Muslims are a part of our society and, of course, the vast majority would reject extremism and violence. So, would the First Minister agree with me that we should not allow what the preachers of hate want us to do, and that is to turn on one another?
 
13:42
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
I thank the leader of Plaid Cymru for those comments. I particularly agree with the comment that she made at the end, that there is no greater victory for terrorists than for people to give up their freedoms and for people to turn against each other within their own communities. That’s exactly what they want, and she is right, of course, to point that out.
 
The Welsh counter-terrorism unit has the role of examining security in Wales. I do receive briefings from that unit. Its role, of course, is to ensure that, where there is a particular level of threat, that level is understood, respected and, of course, that action can be taken regarding that level of threat. It is worth emphasising that the level of threat has not changed since the events in Paris; it remains at ‘severe’. What we have said to people is that people should carry on with their lives as normal. There is no need to change the way that people live their lives but, again, we ask people to be vigilant, as they have been over the course of the last few months, and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities.
 
COBRA is the committee that has been meeting to examine the issues arising from Paris. I was part of the meeting, as was the First Minister of Scotland, on Saturday morning. Officials from the Welsh Government are part of those meetings and we do get briefings back in terms of what those meetings are discussing.
 
I, too, have been worried about the prospect of a backlash against the peaceful and law-abiding Muslim community that we have here in Wales, and I have received briefings in that regard. Whilst it is true to say that individual Muslims are more fearful of their safety, there’s been no suggestion so far of any violent backlash. I sincerely hope it stays that way. Unfortunately, we are aware that there are plans by some far-right groups to organise demonstrations, particularly outside mosques. They have their own reasons for doing that. But thus far, as I’ve said, the people of Wales have stayed together and we as a Government—I’m sure I speak for all in this Chamber—will do all that we can to ensure that cohesion continues in the future.
 
13:44
Kirsty WilliamsBiographyThe Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Could I thank the First Minister for his statement to the Chamber this afternoon? Presiding Officer, it was with an initial sense of disbelief and then a growing sense of horror that I watched the events in Paris unfold on Friday night. On behalf of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, I would like to express our sincere condolences to the families of those affected, the communities in and around Paris affected, and, indeed, the entire French nation. But, Presiding Officer, we mustn’t forget that the whole point of terrorism is to intimidate and to terrify, and the horrors of Friday night were indeed terrifying, but it’s how we respond now as a nation and as an international community that matters the most. We cannot let those terrorists win. We must never allow them and their actions to change our way of life. We must never allow them and their actions to turn people against one another. We must never allow them and their actions to diminish our values of freedom and of fairness. We must stand up, we must be strong, and we must be united in our response.
 
Could I concur with what the First Minister said about the contribution of the Muslim community to our country? The perpetrators of these horrific crimes preach a perverse corruption of the faith of Islam that bears absolutely no resemblance to what the vast majority of Muslims in Wales and across the UK actually believe in. So, can I ask the First Minister what additional steps the Welsh Government can take to support the Muslim community in Wales not just from the potential backlash that may occur, but to actually support them within their communities to try and fight this perverse corruption, so that they can be resilient communities and they can protect their young people from the messages of hate that some people would like to infiltrate and infect their young people with? Thank you.
 
13:47
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
I thank the leader of the Liberal Democrats for her comments. I know that the Muslim community in Wales is working hard to counter the attraction that there is for some in supporting or joining Islamic State. They fight, of course, against what is available online and the work of those who may be undetected who preach hatred. But I know that much work is done via community cohesion co-ordinators, via community groups, and via the representative organisations of Muslims in Wales, to seek to identify issues as quickly as possible so that they might be dealt with. Thus far, that has worked. We will continue, of course, to work very closely with the Muslim community and the community at large to make sure that the terrorists—because that’s what they are—do not succeed in their aim of setting people against each other. That would be a tragedy for all of us in Wales, and I am sure that the people of Wales will not allow these terrorists to fulfil their aim of setting people against each other because of religion, but also, of course, setting people of the same religion against each other. We mustn’t forget, of course, that these people who carried out the attacks on Friday would not hesitate to carry out those attacks on Muslims who didn’t share their particular view of Islam, and they are as much a threat to the Muslim community as they are to the community at large.
 
13:48
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
Thank you very much.
 
2. Questions to the First Minister
[R] signifies the Member has declared an interest. [W] signifies that the question was tabled in Welsh.
 
13:48
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
We now move to item 2, which is questions to the First Minister, and question 1 this afternoon is Andrew R.T. Davies.
 
The Winter Resilience of Health Provision
 
13:49
Andrew R.T. DaviesBiography
1. Will the First Minister make a statement on the winter resilience of health provision in South Wales Central? OAQ(4)2560(FM)
 
13:49
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Yes. Health boards, local authorities and the ambulance service have developed integrated plans for the forthcoming winter. Positive actions implemented by health and social care organisations include stronger joint working with general practitioner out-of-hours services and extended working hours, to include weekends and evenings.
 
13:49
Andrew R.T. DaviesBiography
Thank you, First Minister, for that answer. I appreciate that many of these plans, in their initial stages, are the responsibility of the local health boards, but, having two health boards covering my electoral region—Cwm Taf and Cardiff and Vale—one of the things that always seems to happen whenever we have inclement weather, particularly very cold weather, is that the roadways within the health estate, shall we say, and the car parks, freeze over because of lack of gritting and lack of preparation for that cold weather, and, therefore, the hospitals themselves come to a stop because, for obvious reasons, you can’t get people in and out of those hospitals. That’s happened on numerous occasions since I was elected here in 2007. I appreciate, again, that the local health boards determine the initial plans, but what role is Welsh Government taking to make sure that the plans put forward are robust enough to deal with this particular problem that, ultimately, has the whole hospital on shutdown because the outside estate hasn’t been maintained?
 
13:50
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
I can say that all integrated winter plans will be published on LHB websites by the end of this month. Welsh Government officials have scrutinised the draft integrated winter plans and provided feedback to the health and social care organisations, seeking further assurances where necessary. All NHS organisations have in place arrangements to help maintain services in the event of severe weather. I would expect that to include, of course, access to hospitals and ensuring that the car parks are kept accessible and safe.
 
Cardiff City Deal
 
13:50
Eluned ParrottBiography
2. Will the First Minister make a statement on the Cardiff city deal? OAQ(4)2577(FM)
 
13:51
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Yes. City deals present an opportunity for Welsh local authorities to drive regional economic growth. I was pleased to support the Cardiff bid and look to the UK Government now to provide its support and funding.
 
13:51
Eluned ParrottBiography
Thank you, First Minister. I welcome your statement and the agreement on a funding package from the UK Government. However, city deals were never just about money. They are, of course, about empowering local authorities and city regions to drive their own economic regeneration, as you’ve said. What powers are the Welsh Government looking to devolve to the Cardiff capital region, alongside this funding package that you hope to obtain from the UK Treasury?
 
13:51
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
At this moment in time, what we have said to local authorities is that we would expect them to administer the match funding that will come from UK Government. It would be for them to decide how that money is spent. Of course, we’d want to work with them to ensure that they weren’t duplicating what we were doing or that there wasn’t competition between each other in terms of the provision of services. That would represent a substantial amount of money that will be available to local authorities and a substantial amount of leeway to them in terms of being able to spend it.
 
13:52
Jenny RathboneBiography
Obviously the announcement yesterday by the BBC that they’ve signed a contract to move to Central Square in Cardiff is very welcome news, because that secures the bus and tram station to fit in with the train station. How will this city deal enable us to fast-forward phase 2 of the metro scheme?
 
13:52
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, with regard to the metro, we are putting money on the table for an integration fund. That would include the metro. We have to bear in mind, of course, that the metro has been talked about as a concept, but we have not identified money for the metro. As part of the city deal we are prepared to put new money into the city deal; the metro will be part of that. We trust that that will then attract the match funding from the UK Treasury.
 
13:53
William GrahamBiography
First Minister, I’ve had the privilege to meet with members of the Cardiff capital region, and I’m very impressed, as I’m sure you are, by their depth of vision for the region. I’m hopeful that what they have proposed can take place. It’s also, perhaps, a first to get 10 local authorities to come to actually combine and engage in such a visionary project. I would assure you of support from the Welsh Conservatives in this matter and we will do our bit to influence Government where we can.
 
13:53
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
I’m grateful to the Member for his comments. This is an opportunity to show that the UK Government, Welsh Government and local authorities can work together for Wales, despite party differences. We have done our bit, local authorities have done their bit, and we now look to the UK Government to do its bit.
 
13:54
Mick AntoniwBiography
First Minister, you’ll be aware that I’ve raised on numerous occasions the importance of schemes such as the metro—economically and socially transformational for areas such as Taff Ely, Pontypridd and for the south Wales Valleys. I wonder if you could outline the discussions you may have had with local authorities such as Rhondda Cynon Taf and how you actually see the Cardiff city deal, despite the perhaps slightly misleading name, being of benefit to the whole of that area, and transformational for Taff Ely, for Pontypridd and for the Valleys of south Wales.
 
13:54
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Very much so. The metro would be delivered in three phases. That is our intention. It would include a number of options in terms of transport, particularly with regard, in the future, to new light rail connections, and to bus rapid transit as well, to extend the current network. It is right to say that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform not the capital, but the areas around Cardiff—to connect the area far more closely than is the case at the moment—in order not just for people to travel more quickly into Cardiff, but of course to attract investment out of Cardiff, through improving transport links to our communities further north, west and east.
 
Questions Without Notice from the Party Leaders
 
13:55
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
We now move to questions from the party leaders and first this afternoon is the leader of the opposition, Andrew R.T. Davies.
 
13:55
Andrew R.T. DaviesBiographyThe Leader of the Opposition
Thank you, Presiding Officer. First Minister, last Thursday I think it was, you held a Carwyn Connect meeting in Holyhead, I believe it was. As usual in north Wales—quite rightly so—many of the questions that you took were on health. In answer to one of the questions, you talked about Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board and that one single health board—these were your words:
 
‘may not be necessarily the right option going forward’.
 
That is, one health board delivering health services across the whole of north Wales. We’ve had two health reorganisations under Labour already in the last 12 years. Is it your thinking as First Minister, and the current Government’s thinking, that there do need to be more health boards in Wales, delivering health services, and in particular in north Wales? If that isn’t the case, why did you respond in that way to the question?
 
13:56
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
There are no plans to change anything before the election. I can say that. But there is an issue with regard to whether one single board is the way forward for the whole of the north, or whether alternative options should be looked at. Those issues will need to be explored in the future.
 
13:56
Andrew R.T. DaviesBiography
That’s interesting thinking and I’m not quite sure how that helps the health board up there that is currently in special measures, being told that it’s going to be placed in special measures for two years and, at the end of it, it will emerge as an organisation fit for purpose. I think that’s the language I’ve heard spoken by your Deputy Minister and the Minister for health himself. So, you clearly say that there are other plans being formulated by the Welsh Government. But also, what’s come forward today is the announcement that, obviously, Betsi are paying the salary of the former chief executive to be seconded into the English NHS. Can you understand how frustrating, how annoying, that must be for residents, for patients and for clinicians the length and breadth of north Wales, who are finding that £200,000-worth of taxpayer money that was allocated for health services in north Wales is paying for someone who the Welsh Government didn’t deem a fit-and-proper person to run the health services in north Wales?
 
13:57
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Let me be clear: ultimately, this is a matter for the employer, but I will provide some further information this afternoon for Members. First of all, there’s been no severance package for Trevor Purt. He has stepped down from his role as chief executive. By mutual agreement, he has been seconded from Betsi Cadwaladr to work with the NHS in England, but, as part of that secondment, he will produce a lessons learned report to Betsi Cadwaladr and the chief executive of the NHS in Wales on integration across partner organisations and the NHS more generally. At the end of that secondment period, in October of next year, he will cease to be an employee of the board.
 
13:58
Andrew R.T. DaviesBiography
First Minister, that’s pretty expensive homework in anyone’s exercise book, to be honest with you. But I hope you can share my understanding of the complete frustration that many people in north Wales will feel when they see this package put together and, ultimately, question how the hell it’s come about.
 
But I’d also like to raise with you the issue that ‘Week In Week Out’ are covering tonight on health matters closer to home, around the Princess of Wales Hospital and, in particular, the families that have taken part in that programme, who have said that what they require to bring closure to many of the issues that they, as grieving families or patients who have had poor treatment at the hospital, are having to deal with—. To bring closure to those issues, they require a public inquiry—an independent public inquiry. Indeed, experts connected with this particular field, Dr Bill Kirkup and Julie Bailey, who’ve dealt with these types of issues across the whole of the UK, say that the only way to address the historical problems that blight ABMU and the Princess of Wales from being able to move on is to have that independent inquiry. I’ve asked you several times to commission such an inquiry. Will you, based on the evidence that keeps coming forward, and to allow these families to have closure on the episodes of care that they refer to, commission such an independent inquiry, so that families, clinicians and the Princess of Wales Hospital can move on?
 
13:59
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Firstly, I haven’t seen the programme. Secondly, the programme makers obviously have to be careful, given the fact that there is still a current legal process being gone through against three of the nurses. They must be careful what they say in terms of the programme tonight, but that’s a matter for them. We have recognised the issues at the Princess of Wales Hospital. That is why, of course, we commissioned the Andrews report. That gave us the recommendations that we needed to move forward with. They have led to more stringent checks on hospitals, particularly unannounced checks, and we believe that in dealing with it in this way, the issue has been dealt with. No new evidence has come forward to suggest that Professor Andrews was in any way wrong, so it wouldn’t be the intention of the Government to commission a public inquiry at this stage.
 
14:00
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
We now move to the leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood.
 
14:00
Leanne WoodBiographyThe Leader of Plaid Cymru
Diolch, Lywydd. I’d like to return to events over the weekend and the aftermath, and in particular to drill down on this question of community cohesion, First Minister. An important point that you made over the weekend and that you’ve reiterated again here this afternoon is the need to pull together, to stand together, and not to allow ourselves to be divided by terror. I agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve said on that, but I’d like to ask what measures you intend to take to help unite Welsh communities to ensure that there is no backlash against the many thousands of Muslims in this country who live here in peace and who find terror as repulsive as the rest of the population. You mentioned earlier the community cohesion co-ordinators that you have. I wonder if you can tell us what kind of work those co-ordinators can do to help prevent such a backlash.
 
14:01
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
The first thing that I did was to ask for more information regarding any potential threats to the Muslim community. I received that information. Secondly, we do have a close network that enables us to work with the Muslim community to identify problems early on, whether that’s done through the community cohesion co-ordinators as part of their role, whether it’s done through the faith communities forum, or whether it’s done informally with officials. So, I’m content with the pipeline that we have in order for information to be fed back and forth, but I did feel it was important to satisfy myself that all is being done that could be done in order to protect our communities, and particularly, of course, law-abiding and peace-loving Muslims who make up the vast majority of that community.
 
14:02
Leanne WoodBiography
First Minister, without a doubt, people are going to be increasingly fearful of the threat posed by ISIS/Daesh, and there will be a need to work on promoting unity and cohesion within our communities. Of course, the current conflict is linked as well to many other issues, such as the refugees and the pressures on the EU in trying to cope with that particular crisis. Do you agree with me that, as we are trying to accommodate those people who are fleeing the horrors of war, we must at all times ensure that local people are treated fairly and are seen to be treated fairly in terms of access to services and housing and that we must have a programme of integration that promotes cohesion and fair play to all? Would you agree with me that, if we fail on that front, there’s a real risk that bad feeling and resentment in communities could grow if public bodies are not seen to be acting in the most sensitive way that they possibly can?
 
14:03
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Yes. Our point of view is that, as refugees arrive in Wales, the funding to support them should come from the UK Government, rather than coming from the Welsh Government budget, because this is a non-devolved issue. There is one point that I think is worth emphasising, and that is that there will be some, no doubt, who will be concerned that, amongst those people arriving as refugees, there will be some people who arrive with ill intent, who are using the refugee crisis as a cloak to hide under as they arrive in Europe. What I can say is that the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is involved in screening refugees. There is a security process in place, and the vast majority of people of course are just fleeing war, at the end of the day. So, it is important to emphasise that in case people are fearful as a result of the flow of refugees into Europe. It is right to say that, where we resettle ultimately very small numbers of people, extra funding is made available so that they can be resettled as quickly as possible, so their needs can be met, yes, but also, of course, so that their skills can be utilised, because so many of the people who are refugees are highly skilled, and to be able to utilise their skills in our economy will be important.
 
14:04
Leanne WoodBiography
Thank you for that answer, First Minister. I think that there is no doubt that there are some people who will try to make political capital out of this situation, and you’re right to say what you’ve just said. I think it’s right to say that, at times like this, we can all feel pretty helpless. However, I think there is something practical that we can do from Wales. Would you agree that, as representatives and leaders of political parties, we have a crucial role to play in promoting unity in our communities and that we should take every opportunity to stand against allowing people to turn against each other as citizens of Wales, as united we stand, divided we fall? Muslims in Wales are an integral part of our society—that’s already been established this afternoon. Therefore, would you be prepared to initiate some sort of statement to be signed by all party leaders in this place, which aims to show unity, not division, between all communities in Wales, so that we can demonstrate that we are, indeed, one Wales?
 
14:05
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Building on the statement that I’ve given this afternoon—what’s been suggested will build upon that statement. I think it’s important. Sometimes, people question me, as, indeed, they will all Members in this Chamber, about immigration. I ask them, ‘What percentage of the population of Wales is descended from immigrants?’ The answer, of course, is 100 per cent. All of our families came from somewhere, at some point. Where do you draw the line? That does get people thinking and others dismiss it, as we know, with these things. But yes, I think it’s important over the coming days for us all to consider, as party leaders, how we continue to ensure cohesion amongst our communities, and particularly to ensure that the terrorists do not get their wish, namely to divide people.
 
14:06
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
Finally, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams.
 
14:06
Kirsty WilliamsBiographyThe Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Thank you, Presiding Officer. First Minister, does your Government believe that children learn better in larger classes?
 
14:06
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
It rather depends on a number of factors—the teacher, the facilities, the school or the facilities that the school has, sometimes the age of the building, and it will depend on the particular skills or particular specialists within a school. As long as a school delivers the curriculum in the way that parents would expect, then that is the determining factor.
 
14:06
Kirsty WilliamsBiography
First Minister, the school inspector here in Wales, Estyn, says that
 
‘there is much evidence to suggest that teaching and learning are much better in classes under 30’.
 
Two years ago, there were 218 classes with more than 30 pupils in them. Now, today, there are 246 classes with more than 30 pupils in them. Why is your Government allowing the number of classes over 30—when the evidence suggests that learning is better below that number, why are you allowing that number to grow?
 
14:07
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, you must ask the local authorities that. As you know full well, local authorities are responsible for delivering education. We have done our bit; we’ve protected education spending relative to the block grant that we have received and it’s a question that’s best answered by them.
 
14:07
Kirsty WilliamsBiography
Oh, that’s all right then. We’ll just wash our hands and let it happen, will we, First Minister? What parents want is to know that teachers have the time to give the appropriate amount of attention to children in a class. There are 7,835 children in classes that contain over 30 pupils. Yet, this year, over 800 teachers and support staff are being made redundant in Wales. How many more pupils are you willing to sit back and see be taught in classes over 30 if it’s not your responsibility?
 
14:08
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, it shows the Liberal Democrats don’t care about outcomes, doesn’t it? It’s all about figures. If you look at the outcomes, we see prospects improving for Welsh children, we’ve seen GCSE results improve, we’ve seen A-level results improve, we’ve seen extra money being put into schools, and we’ve seen the pupil deprivation grant that her party suggested. Welsh education is moving in the right direction with a level of resources that has been improving. We saw last week the public expenditure statistical analyses figures when they came out. They said that spending in Wales is 4 per cent higher than in England when it comes to education. Incidentally, it was 7 per cent higher when it came to health and social services and 1 per cent higher per head than health. So, we see that the resources are in place. The teachers who are working with us are delivering for our pupils and that is what counts. We are proud of our record on education and the opportunities it gives to so many of our young people.
 
14:08
Y Llywydd / The Presiding OfficerBiography
We now move back to questions on the paper and question 3 is Keith Davies.
 
The Media in Wales
 
14:09
Keith DaviesBiography
3. Will the First Minister make a statement on the media in Wales? OAQ(4)2575(FM)[W]
 
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
We are fully involved in media developments in Wales. We have secured a formal role in the BBC charter review. Last month, I wrote twice to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport calling for urgent reviews of S4C and the BBC’s delivery for Wales.
 
14:09
Keith DaviesBiography
S4C has an excellent record in producing Welsh-language television programmes for young people. However, there are fewer and fewer Welsh voices on English-language programming for young people. What can we do in Wales to increase English-language output which is relevant to young people on our television and on other media in Wales?
 
14:09
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, what we must do, of course, is to ensure that more money is spent on broadcasting and on programmes that are produced in Wales—in Welsh, of course, but also in English, because what has happened over the years is that there’s been a withdrawal from producing and making English-medium programmes about Wales. So, we’ve said that the UK Government should ensure an additional £30 million to ensure that there are more programmes available for the people of Wales—in Welsh, of course, but also in English.
 
14:10
Suzy DaviesBiography
One of the pleasing developments over the past 18 months is the agreement that public service broadcasters operating in Wales should be accountable to this Assembly, as well as the UK Parliament. Have you had any preliminary negotiations on how this could work in practice? Specifically, what influence would an Assembly report have in a non-devolved context?
 
14:10
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
My view is that it’s perfectly possible to ensure that there is accountability to the Assembly itself and not just to the UK Parliament. We have, of course, secured a formal role as regards to the charter itself, but there is no reason why some responsibility could not be given to the Assembly, not only for S4C but for broadcasting in Wales, to ensure that this Assembly has a role. As regards the devolution of broadcasting, that, of course, is another matter. The funding would have to follow, and we would have to look at the question of whether we should just look at broadcasting in Welsh or should there be some devolution of broadcasting through the medium of English about Wales. But there are financial questions relating to that.
 
14:11
Bethan JenkinsBiography
First Minister, have you had any discussions with the UK Government or with companies such as Trinity Mirror, who have recently bought out Local World and now dominate the newspaper market here in Wales? What is your view as a Government that there is no plurality in the system, because of the fact that this has happened? Do you have concerns in that regard, that there is a potential that jobs could be lost at a local level? That is the previous track record of Trinity Mirror with closing offices in Merthyr, the ‘Neath Guardian’ and so on, which undermines what local newspapers are trying to achieve.
 
14:12
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
In observing what’s happened as regards the newspapers in west Wales—the ‘Carmarthen Journal’ and the ‘Llanelli Star’—those newspapers are at the heart of the community and I wouldn’t wish to see any reduction in the coverage or the staff that they have. But we have seen newspapers close altogether in some parts of Wales, there have been cuts in the number of journalists and less local news. One of the points that I would like to make is that a system is being established here where local papers aren’t reporting stories about local councils. Now, if they don’t do it, who will? I would not like to see some of the things that have happened, namely newspapers being closed down and less local coverage, happening to papers that have been bought by Trinity Mirror.
 
14:13
Peter BlackBiography
First Minister, with the comprehensive spending review due next week, and with the BBC charter up for renewal, there are increasing messages coming out of Westminster about the future of S4C and its funding. What discussions have the Welsh Government had with the UK Government about the future of S4C and whether we can continue to have sustainable funding for the future?
 
14:13
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
There have been discussions, and it’s certainly an issue that I’ve raised with S4C as well in the discussions I’ve had with them. S4C does not have a sustainable base of funding at the moment. It’s all very ad hoc and there is no certainty, going forward. We have urged the UK Government to provide that certainty; we will have to wait and see, of course, what the CSR brings in terms of news in that regard.
 
Law Commission Report
 
14:14
Julie MorganBiography
4. What assessment has the First Minister made of the recently published Law Commission report on wildlife law? OAQ(4)2573(FM)
 
14:14
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
The Law Commission published its work on 10 November. I do welcome the work that has been done on this subject, and careful consideration will now be given to the recommendations before deciding on the way forward.
 
14:14
Julie MorganBiography
I thank the First Minister for that response. I’m sure the First Minister would agree that the practice of using snares to trap animals can be very cruel and often results in injuries to animals that are not considered pests, including domestic animals. Recent polling by the League Against Cruel Sports shows that 80 per cent of people in Wales support a ban on snares. Given that animal welfare is a devolved issue, what will the impact of this change in the law in England be on the Welsh Government’s powers to regulate or, ultimately, ban the use of snares in Wales?
 
14:15
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, we have, of course, published an improved code of practice on the use of snares in fox control, which places the welfare of animals at its core, but of course what the Law Commission’s recommendations will allow us to do is to consider what primary legislation may be needed in the next Assembly in order to ensure that the welfare of animals remains paramount.
 
14:15
Russell GeorgeBiography
First Minister, in its report the Law Commission recommends the creation of a single set of provisions that consolidate and rationalise all relevant wildlife legislation in England and Wales. Can I ask how you intend to take this recommendation forward, perhaps in conjunction with the UK Government?
 
14:15
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
We would not see England-and-Wales legislation as the way forward in areas that are devolved. Welsh legislation is considered first and foremost. That’s not to say, of course, that there will be some areas, particularly with regard to secondary legislation, where it makes sense to have England-and-Wales legislation, for example, and the control of invasive species being one example. But certainly, in a devolved area, we would not normally look to pursue an England-and-Wales Bill where a Wales Bill in a devolved area would be more appropriate.
 
14:16
Jocelyn DaviesBiography
First Minister, your recently published code of practice on the use of snares in fox control may very well give the impression that the Welsh Government approves of the use of snares in controlling foxes. Can you clarify whether the Government does in fact approve of the use of snares?
 
14:16
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
No. There’s no way with current legislation, to our thinking, of banning the use of snares. That would probably require primary legislation. That would be for the next Assembly. But where snares are used, it is important, of course, that the highest standards of animal welfare are respected in their use. It will be a matter then based on what the Law Commission has said for the next Assembly as to how to take forward further provisions with regard to animal welfare.
 
A More Active and Healthier Wales
 
14:17
John GriffithsBiography
5. Will the First Minister make a statement on Welsh Government policy for a more active and healthier Wales? OAQ(4)2568(FM)
 
14:17
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
The evidence shows that physical activity makes a significant contribution to maintaining good health and wellbeing. In recognition of this, the Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and Sport Wales have made a joint appointment of a physical activity champion to develop and implement a cross-sector, all-Wales physical activity plan.
 
14:17
John GriffithsBiography
I’m very pleased to hear that, First Minister. I think it’s entirely in keeping with the Welsh Government’s stress on a preventative approach to healthcare. In Newport East, I’m working to bring together the health board, Newport City Council, the leisure trust and different sports organisations and bodies, along with others, to develop a joint agenda and collective approach to having a more active and healthier population. It seems to me, First Minister, that the one key aspect of that is the health budget being used more for that preventative approach rather than being overly reactive. Would you support that use of health budgets to hopefully take that more preventative and, I would say, progressive approach?
 
14:18
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
It’s a very sensible approach. The Member is right, and let me point to one area where that is happening. We have the national exercise referral programme. That’s funded to the tune of £3.4 million. Those sections are running leisure and community centres. That’s one example of the preventative agenda. We have, of course, as well, the physical activity executive group. I suppose that this is also drawn into the concept of prudent healthcare, encouraging people to look after their own health. It’s not just, of course, within the field of health. There is the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, which, of course, will help to promote cycling and walking, not just as a means of exercise but as a means of travelling and getting to work. That, of course, has the added benefit of ensuring that people’s health is improved.
 
14:19
Mohammad AsgharBiography
First Minister, one of the aims stated in your document, ‘Creating an Active Wales’, is to increase participation in sport by all sections of the population. The lack of basic English and Welsh has been identified as a major barrier to people from an ethnic minority background, particularly older people taking part in sports and recreation. What is the Welsh Government doing to support the teaching of English and Welsh to adults from ethnic minority groups to promote integration and encourage greater participation in sports in Wales? Thank you.
 
14:19
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Of course, we work with schools, particularly, to ensure that young people are able to acquire the languages that they need. We also work with communities to make sure that the availability of lessons, usually in English, particularly in this part of Wales, are concerned—. But if there is an issue with regard to being able to promote sport in our ethnic minority communities because of a language issue, the Member is welcome to write to me with evidence of that, and that would be something, of course, that would be taken up with the physical activity champion.
 
14:20
Simon ThomasBiography
First Minister, it’s difficult to live a healthier lifestyle if it isn’t possible to make an appointment with a GP to discuss health. I receive a number of complaints, particularly in areas such as Pembroke, Pembroke Dock and Tenby, where people are having to wait at least a fortnight by now to come to an arrangement for a general appointment with a GP—not an urgent appointment but a general issue to discuss health problems. What steps are you taking, therefore, to enhance primary care in this area, and also to enhance senior nursing practitioners to become part of this process with GPs?
 
14:21
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
Well, of course, GPs are more or less private companies and they’re being contracted into the health service—some are not, of course. We know that some GPs are much more effective in the way that they ensure that people can secure appointments—using the internet, for example, if people want a new prescription or make an appointment online or over the phone. Others don’t do that at all.
 
We urge GPs, of course, to develop new technology, to be more effective and efficient, and ensure that they don’t allow people to wait far too long. I’ve seen this working in many parts of Wales, where things are better for people, and where it’s possible for them to make appointments in various ways. That ensures that it’s quicker and easier, therefore, for them to get an appointment. It’s up to any surgery to explain their methods of working, but we would expect everybody to consider new ways of working and new technology in order to ensure that people are able to see a GP more quickly.
 
Budget Monitoring
 
14:22
Llyr GruffyddBiography
6. How does the Welsh Government ensure effective budget monitoring? OAQ(4)2576(FM)[W]
 
14:22
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
The Welsh Government has well-established processes in place for planning and monitoring expenditure, so that value for money is maximised.
 
14:22
Llyr GruffyddBiography
Thank you for that response. Of course, a number of Welsh Government budgets—or there is close working in terms of departments with Westminster Government departments. We’re aware of a number of cuts that have happened in that context, but we have also now learnt that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for example, will see a cut of around 30 per cent in its budget for next year. DEFRA works very closely with the UK Government on issues such as biosecurity, for example, fisheries, the environment, and so on. Can you tell us what discussions you as a Government have had with DEFRA and the UK Government before the decision was taken that it was appropriate to cut 30 per cent of that budget? How will you monitor the impact of that on Welsh Government services, because without doubt it will put additional pressures on your budgets?
 
14:23
Carwyn JonesBiographyThe First Minister
We haven’t been part of those discussions. They have been discussions between Whitehall departments and the Treasury in Whitehall. We hear what has been said about DEFRA. It’s true to say, of course, that DEFRA does offer services to Natural Resources Wales and of course we’ll carry out an assessment once we know exactly the nature of those cuts in the DEFRA budget.
 
14:23
Angela BurnsBiography
First Minister, with regard to budgets, I would like to raise a point regarding the 1 per cent additional funding to schools in Wales. We know that the increase in funding for schools via the revenue support grant for 2010-11 to 2015-16 was actually 0.83 per cent, not 1 per cent. However, during the scrutiny session by the Children, Young People and Education Committee, the Minister for Education and Skills told us that authorities will continue to be required to evidence the 1 per cent commitment being built into their budgets for 2015-16. First Minister, does this mean that the revenue support grant—which is, to my understanding, supposed to be unhypothecated—is, indeed, not unhypothecated after all? If so, how will you actually monitor that they really are reserving 1 per cent as per your election manifesto commitments?