26/03/2014 The Wales Report


Huw Edwards takes a look at issues that matter in Wales and Helen Callaghan investigates the reality of living in modern Wales.

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Tonight on the Wales Report. Are the natural resources of Wales being


properly protected? There are new concerns about the independence of


the body responsible. The latest twist in the debate about more


powers for the Welsh Government. We'll be talking to the Secretary of


State, David Jones. And why is Wales so slow to promote the interests of


women in public life? Stay with us for the Wales Report.


Good evening and welcome to The Wales Report. Tonight: A special


investigation into the work of Natural Resources Wales. It is a


major new body set up last year with a budget of ?180 million, looking


after some of the most valuable assets of the Welsh economy. Those


resources are worth around ?8 billion. It's meant to be an


independent body making crucial decision about the landscape,


environment and wildlife of Wales. But how independent is it? And is


the Welsh Government exerting an unhealthy influence on the work of


the NRW? The Wales Report has seen evidence which raises questions


about the relationship, reflecting the concerns of some of those who


work inside NRW. Helen Callaghan reports.


In Wales, our natural environment is perhaps our greatest asset. Our


mountains, rivers and wildlife, the business they attract are worth more


than ?8 billion to the Welsh economy each year. The natural environment


is crucial to Wales. It is one of our few US peas, unique selling


points. For the last 12 months the important task of looking after our


environment has been the job of one body, Natural Resources Wales, which


is funded by the Welsh Government to operate independently. It has a wide


remit with responsibilities for planning, forestry and flood


defences to name just a few. With a budget of 177 million and more than


2000 staff it is our large -- largest Welsh government-sponsored


body. But now, there are serious concerns that the Welsh Government


wields too much influence over the bodies decisions. They are meant to


be made independently. One of the first big test for Natural Resources


Wales was how it dealt with proposals to develop this site into


the circuit of Wales racetrack. There are claims it ended up


backtracking on decisions already made by his predecessor, the


countryside Council for Wales. It objected to the plan in March last


year and recommended it be refused as Israelis significant


environmental concerns. It would have an adverse effect. -- it would


raise significant environmental concerns. It listed everything from


noise and light pollution to the impact on biodiversity. Just months


later, it actually alter its recommendation that the application


be refused saying all the concerns could be dealt with and the plan


could now go ahead. The Wales report has been shown e-mails written by


the late Morgan Parry, a former NRW board member. The e-mails show


frustration that staff are being asked to change the recommendations


despite no new evidence coming to light. I don't know who wrote our


submission. It painted a picture of an


organisation where environmental governance seem to have been totally


bypassed. When decisions were made by an individual of a small number


of individuals, ignoring scientific evidence, ignoring advice from its


own officials. It argued the case of circuit of Wales may not be an


isolated example. The Wales reporter spoken to a senior staff member who


claims that advice and decisions have been changed as a result of


pressure from the Welsh Government. The staff member wants to remain


anonymous but believes the organisation is failing to provide


the independent expertise needed to protect the environment. From day


one of the new organisation it is Cleo the Welsh Government ministers


and officials expected to have a strong day-to-day influence on the


decisions and advice of Natural Resources Wales.


Helen Callaghan reporting their statement goes on to say that


NRW's executive team haven't challenged the pressure being


applied by the Welsh Government, they themselves have put substantial


pressure on staff to come with the right answer for Welsh Government


even when that is though evidence to support it. I does recognise that at


all. We much depend on the advice coming forward from our staff and we


support that advice. They are not given a steel on any kind of answer


we expect all we want. We look at the evidence in front of us, we hear


the advice of the staff and we implement on that. Does it surprise


you that there are certain people who feel that way? Any organisation


which is new, which is undergoing a period of change, yes, there will be


people who are uncertain about their position. We are trying to take an


overall holistic approach. Ringing together the various disciplines


from the predecessor bodies to arrive at a similar conclusion.


Criticisms of NRW don't centre on its independence from Welsh


Government influence. The concern is the body's focus is spread too


thinly over too wide a remote which includes the 280,000 hectares of


woodland. When it was first put forward, we were quite concerned


that we were losing an organisation which had a forestry focus. What we


are seeing at the moment is a certain amount of disorganisation.


Do you feel you are managing to fulfil that wide remit? We are


unique organisation but we are managing all that work very well in


my opinion. I am pleased with things. We're looking at things from


an overall perspective which did not exist before. They have had nearly


12 months. They have got the next year to sort themselves out. We have


to see results. Joining me now is the Minister for Natural Resources,


Alun Davies. Is this an independent body or not?


It certainly is. The big story is there is no story at all. When I


wrote the order, when I sighed the order bringing Natural Resources


Wales into existence a year ago, I remember this duty was full of these


Jeremiahs wringing hands and telling is nothing was going to work. The


whole place would collapse. Since then, the BBC has not run a


single-storey in the last year on all of those scare stories and all


of those scare tactics we had a year ago. NRW is in a smooth and


controlled fashion. They have had to deal with the biggest challenge.


That was from floods, to storms, to forestry and three disease. It is


succeeding in your view because it is carrying out its work


independently or because you are telling it what to do? It is


listening to advice from its own specialists and giving us advice.


For example, you have spent the last two or three months reporting on the


chaos in England about the floods. You haven't been reporting about


that in Wales. We haven't seen the same chaos in Wales. You have got


somebody like NRW investing in flood defences and the management of them.


We have already ensured that all the funding required to rebuild the


flood defences in places like Aberystwyth has been delivered. That


is done as a consequence of the work of NRW, both managing and leading


the response to the storms. But also understanding the impact on that.


NRW didn't just respond to what happened in those storms are both


planned how we should respond in future. I have listened to them.


What is your relationship with them? Do you intervene and meddle in


what they do? I have just provided a remote letter for the next year.


That'll outlined the main areas and want them to focus on and the areas


I want them to lead on in the next 12 months. That is about dealing


with green growth, investing in sustainable management of our


natural resources and to ensure largely unable to provide the advice


we need in government. I understand the sensitivity around the circuit


of Wales but that is the kind of case people have brought up. They


have said that is why the are concerned about the independence of


this new body. What can you say to reassure them? A single anonymous


source, that is a generalised... What about Morgan Parry? The person


you quoted was anonymous. Look at the practice of the work that NRW is


doing daily in, day out, throughout its first year. It has delivered on


its expectations and I expectations. We are building on a firm


foundation. When you look at the organisation, the number of staff,


the focus will be slightly changed from where it was before. You


mentioned forestry and timber work, concerned about how efficiently that


is being run. You happy with that? Certainly. Does criticisms I have


heard in the last 365 days. The real challenge facing NRW in the next


year isn't what was in the film but is in working as a part of the


country of Wales in protecting and managing our naturally is. And doing


that independently? Yes, but also changing how we do governance in


Wales. We want to say this is how we can manage developments. This is how


we can manage sustainability. This is how we can deliver. We want to


see economic growth. We want our natural resources contributed to it.


That is a fantastic challenge for NRW, it is a fantastic opportunity


for Wales. I want to work with NRW to see that vision. You dismiss most


of the film but it is to do with the culture of this new body. Whether


you as a minister are ready to give it a bit of space to make its


decision without looking over his shoulder all the time, worrying


about what you might be thinking. It is hard the space to take those


decisions. That it has had. The point that you are making are


correct. It -- that there is need to be a culture change. It can't be a


body that says no to everybody. That must not be how NRW operates. It


must recognise its role is to manage the natural resources of Wales in a


sustainable way. It is not for me to say how that is achieved. That is up


for the senior management team and all the staff of NRW to deliver on


the ambitions that all of us shared across Wales. Minister, thank you


very much. It was pensions and bingo that


dominated the headlines following last week's Budget so maybe only the


very observant would have noticed the Chancellor's reference to The


Wales Bill which sets out plans for the further devolution of tax and


borrowing powers. The bill was published the day after the Budget.


If it becomes law, it would give the Welsh Government the power to borrow


more money to fund major projects, and subject to a Yes vote in a


referendum there would be scope to adjust income tax. There are some


who see this as a positive development, others accuse the


coalition government of having less than honourable intentions. We will


not be seeking income tax varying powers in future. We fear there is a


trap being laid for the Welsh people by the Conservative party. Labour is


used to the regular attacks by David Cameron, who accuses the Labour


government in Wales of a disastrous record, especially on education and


health. There are people on NHS waiting lists dying in Wales because


the waiting lists are too long because the NHS is not being


properly managed and Wales. They need to get their act together. In


just 14 months, people will vote in the General Election. To what extent


will Mr Cameron's campaign feature Wales as a weapon to attack Labour?


Joining me now from our Westminster studio is the Secretary of State for


Wales, David Jones. Is that a concern? I think people will have to


examine what Labour do in power than the closest example that we have at


the moment is Wales. The only part of the country in which they are


actually in power, and it is right people should examine it very


closely. If people get the impression that David Cameron is


brandishing Wales as a basket case, how does that leave us? I do not


think that is the case but it cannot be ignored that Wales has the worst


health outcomes and education is on the decline and economic development


has not doing too well. I think it is an parallel right to examine what


has happened in Wales and compare it with the UK. When you look at


coverage in our newspapers, should Wales be getting this coverage and


what does that say to investors? I would say it is a challenge to the


Welsh government to get the house in order and stuff like the remarks by


Mark Draper about bagging Wales from the mud is not the right answer.


They should be ensuring Wales gets the same standard of care as the


rest of Britain and they are entitled to it. To pretend there is


no problem is not really good enough. How will the Wales Bill will


change things? What it will do in terms of fiscal accountability is


the Volvo two small taxes, but what it'll do addition is the Volvo to


the assembly the power to hold a referendum. -- devolve. 10p of each


band of tax will be given to the assembly if there is our yes vote.


We think the assembly government should be grasping the opportunity


for going for a referendum as early as possible, and that would have to


be predicated on the pledge to reduce the Welsh rate of tax, and I


think that is a massive opportunity for the Welsh government. Do you


recognise the claim by Labour and others that this is a trap you are


setting? Not at all. If the Welsh government want to be treated as a


McEwan institution and be held accountable, they need to be in a


position where they can see we are responsible for this element of tax


and will treat it with respect and deliver a lower rate of tax. I think


that is a massive opportunity to grow the Welsh economy and it also


gives them access to a larger borrowings dream which is what the


Labour Party say they want. Why would it make sense to embrace these


powers of the fundamental settlement is not in place? Carwyn Jones may


see that but his administration agreed with us in 2012, a formula by


which the issue of convergence would be examined at this stage. This has


happened and what expenditure at a national level declining, there is


less likely to be convergence. I think it looks awfully like the


Welsh government making excuses for not taking on the accountability


that I think people want to see. Are they also when your view making


excuses about rail electrification? Rail electrification is important to


South Wales. We made the commitment and entered agreement with the Welsh


government and that was evidenced in correspondence between Justin


Greening and Carl Sargeant, the Welsh Minister. There is also a long


audit Trail of correspondence following that which makes it


absolutely clear what we have the United Kingdom government are doing


and what they as the Welsh government had expected to do,


including most importantly an e-mail from the office of rail regulation


that says the Welsh government would pay for the relevant work. I think


that really what people want to see is the lion lecture five and rather


than engaging in megaphone diplomacy, I would prefer if he ask


Edwina Hart to have an early meeting with Patrick McLoughlin, the


transport secretary, and resolve whatever difficulties they seem to


have. If you cannot afford, talk to the transport secretary, but to


engage in this sort of grandstanding does not help matters much. When the


Prime Minister said, I know we need these infrastructure investments in


Wales and it is this government that is putting money into


electrification, and of course the Valley lines. When he said that was


he wrong to include the Valley lines? The Prime Minister indicated


we are supporting directly and indirectly the upgrading of the


infrastructure, but really, one has to look at the correspondence that


has continued between ministers and between officials in the Department


of Transport and the Welsh government. It is absolutely crystal


clear of the Welsh government weren't going to be paying for the


portion of the work, and if they are now saying they are having


difficulty affording that, they should be speaking to the transport


secretary. Thank you for joining us. It seems big business is becoming


less of a man's world. Women now account for 20% of board members in


FTSE 100 companies, but it is not reflected in Wales. New research


shows little progress has been made in getting more women into positions


of power and influence. The Wales Report has surveyed 61 of Wales's


key public sector organisations and just one in five is led by a woman.


In the private sector, the latest figures from the Equality and Human


Rights Commission Wales found that among the 100 top companies


operating in Wales, just two had female chief executives.


In the world of politics, just seven of 40 Welsh MPs are women. There are


three members of the Welsh cabinet and just over a quarter of


councillors in Wales are women. In a moment I'll be talking with one of


Wales's most prominent business women, Laura Tenison, about the


challenges. But first, Professor Laura McAllister, chair of Sport


Wales, offers her thoughts on getting more women into boardrooms


and businesses. When I was playing football, when I


got selected to play for Wales I believe that was because I was the


best player in that position. I don't think that happens in other


areas of professional life, because there are whole layer of more


complex factors that determine how women get selected to do things.


In lots of environments, it becomes apparent that the setup, whether the


meeting or conference or dialogue, has been designed by men for men so


often it is the loudest voice that gains most credibility. The


traditional setup for the lot of leadership situations has been very


old-fashioned and I think it is important that by having more


diverse leaders we push the boundaries and debunk them as valid


ways of operating a business. I do not tolerate lack of diversity


at any stage in our organisation, so we would put up -- never put up a


panel of all-male Laurel female voices to speak to an audience


because I think it is important to have different views and life


experiences. There are lots of men and women who


would say, I want to be chosen on merit, not simply because I'm a


woman only black person. I understand that but let's examine


that meritocracy concepts. If you really believe that we


operate according to a meritocracy, you need to ask yourself, why 80% of


the powerful jobs in Wales held by men? What I always say when I talk


to audiences about this is especially fathers with daughters,


are you comfortable with the fact your eight-year-old daughter will


not have the opportunities as you have eight-year-old son? The answers


is one of complete horror. We have two really accelerate the changes


that are happening and unless we are prepared to sacrifice our daughters


and their daughters until we get proper equality.


That was Laura McAllister, chair of Sport Wales. Joining me now is Laura


Tenison who founded JoJoMamanBebe, the high street clothing chain for


babies and mothers. Good to have you back. It was a bit depressing in


those terms because she laid it on the line. What is your analysis of


what is still going wrong and 2014 in trying to correct this balance?


We have to remember how far we've come. When I was growing up, gender


stereotyping from childhood was rife. Today's parents want their


children to succeed regardless of their gender and I think things are


improving, have improved hugely in the last 20 years, and if we put


quarters in place, it could set us back at least ten years. -- quotas.


Her point is if we have an open meritocracy it is not getting as the


results so maybe it is time to look at more rigorous ways of forcing the


balance? Yes, but they do not give the right impression. If we become


talk ends on board we will get more discrimination. Where men can prove


they are good at their job. It is like the here and tortoise. Women


can run businesses for longevity without too many mistakes and men


rush ahead looking for an exit strategy. When a look at building


communities. It is well proven that women reinvest their local


businesses and run businesses with a safe mantra. Ambition is something I


want to talk about because Laura mentioned the eight-year-old girl in


comparison with her brother. Is there a problem with levels of


ambition in particular in Wales and those that become more acute


relating to young girls and teenage girls looking at career prospects? I


get slightly depressed when I see how obsessed with fat US seems some


of the generals in this country are, because the reality is we should be


aspiring to be brain surgeons or at least managers in the workplace. The


other statistic that stood out was 80% of top jobs in Wales are held by


men. Is that simply a traditional cultural thing? Is that really


telling us that in 2014 we still have attitudes which are frankly


old-fashioned and I am wondering is Wales lagging behind the rest of the


UK? We absolutely are lagging behind. We are something like three


percentage points behind the UK and it is something that needs to be


done but not with a quota. We need to accept that where men are good at


things and promote them. We hold ourselves back and lack the


confidence. When you need a job done, ask a busy woman. She will fit


it somehow rant juggle everything else. Where men are very good at


multitasking in a way men are not always. We need to be careful not to


gender stereotype ourselves but the reality is where men are great at


adding diversity to the workplace and adding qualities men do not


always have. In Wales, we have a lot of dinosaurs and that comes from the


fact we had male dominated industries in the past but things


are changing, so let's just be patient and let the dinosaurs


retired and there is a new breed of ambitious girls coming through. I


think we will have a different story in about ten years.


That's all we have time for tonight. We'll be taking a break for a few


weeks, but will return to your screens after Easter. In the


meantime you can get in touch with us about the issues discussed


tonight, or indeed anything else. Email us at


[email protected], and we are Twitter: @thewalesreport.


Thanks for watching. Good night. Nos da.


Huw Edwards asks the questions that matter to you about your job, your health, your future. Confronting decision makers with the consequences of their choices and each week Helen Callaghan will be investigating the reality of living in modern Wales.

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