10/01/2017 First Minister's Questions


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Good afternoon and a very warm welcome to a new programme


covering questions to the First Minister.


AMs are back in Cardiff Bay after their Christmas break


Today we can expect questions on economic growth, energy


and the interests of children and young people.


We're also on Twitter - @walespolitics,


where you can follow the latest developments as they happen.


Well, business in the Siambr is already underway


so let's see today's questions to the First Minister.


I call the National Assembly to order and may I begin by wishing you


all a very happy New Year and we will move onto our first item,


questions to First Minister. Will the First Minister outline his


proposals for supporting economic growth during 2017 in South Wales


West? The priorities include supporting businesses to grow,


investing in high quality infrastructure and improving


conditions for business. Steel-making is a critical element


of the economy in South Wales West and is the heart of the economy in


Aberavon. As the challenges have eased, they have not gone away. I


applaud the Welsh government in honouring its commitment in


supporting the industry with the financial support announced in


December. I am dismayed that the UK Government has done nothing. Before


Christmas, I met with the Chief Executive Officer of Tata Steel UK


and he made it quite clear that the joint venture was still on the


agenda even if the deal is accepted by the trade unions at the end of


this month. With consolidation of the industry and the pension


problems as well, what discussions will you be having with Tata to


ensure that Welsh steelworkers have a more secure future? Any support we


provide will be conditional on economic activity in Wales. Our


financial support will be subject to Tata agreeing to legally binding


conditions and no funding will be drawn down by Tata unless those


conditions are agreed. It is important that workers understand


that the money that has been made available or will be made available


to Tata is conditional. We want to ensure that the money ensures that


we keep those jobs in Wales. Importantly, we have two blast


furnaces. Suzy Davies. Assembly Members finally managed to get a


formal meeting with chief executives and council leaders to discuss the


Swansea Bay city region and it is clear that they see the investment


in transport as a key driver for the economic prospects of the region. Do


you think that Wales' second city, at the heart of this regional


expansion, is ambitious enough to look simply beyond buses, which was


recently suggested by Stuart Cole? I think that transport solutions can


work in any number of different forms of transport. What is


important is that the city deal is approved and receives funding from


the UK Government. Bethan Jenkins. First Minister, in the past you have


recognised the importance of pensions in the economy when I have


raised issues with regards to Christian and the campaign that many


of us were involved in in relation to the South Wales West economy and


if those pensions were threatened in some way, how that would affect the


economy. I am wondering if we could have a discussion on the Tata


pension situation because far be it from us to be criticised for butting


out of this debate, I think it is integral that politicians are part


of this debate so that we can lead on this agenda and I think it is


important therefore for us to have a debate on this that we can


understand what contingency plans your government will put in place on


a number of outcomes that are possible, for example if the deal is


accepted or if it is rejected, the Welsh government will have do have a


view on that, will it not? I think it's unfortunate you use that as an


example because it closed. Unions are looking to represent their


members' best interests. That is a matter for them. What is hugely


important is that there is an understanding that at this moment in


time there is nothing else on the table. If they were genuine


alternatives, that is something we would consider further, but that is


not the case at the moment so we have do consider that fact, that the


UK Government are not prepared to nationalise the industry. Therefore,


the only package that is on the table at this moment in time is the


package that Tata have placed their for the workers and it is up to the


workers and the trade unions to come to their own conclusions regarding


the future. First Minister, one of the biggest challenges facing the


economy in my region during 2017 continues to be poor infrastructure.


A thriving economy is dependent upon good transport links. With the rail


network and electrification, businesses in South Wales West are


at the mercy of the traffic flows on the M4. What plans does your


government have to reduce congestion on the M4 over the coming months? We


want to see the UK Government making good on its commitment to Elektra


fibre line between Cardiff Central and West Wales. They have not given


a date on that. The original plan was to Elektra five from Cardiff to


Bridgend and then to Swansea. But at the moment there is no date for the


electrification of the line. We need to have that date so we can proceed


with the modernisation of the rail networks we know will take more cars


off the road. Question two. Will the First Minister made a statement on


the Welsh government's priorities for children and young people in


Torfaen? I have set up my priorities in the new programme for government,


Taking Wales Forward. I want every child to have the best start in life


and to recognise that focus. I'm sure that you will be aware of my


concern that the decision was taken to end schools challenge country in


the draft budget and that this decision was taken before the Welsh


government received the evaluation of this scheme and it is clear that


lots of areas have seen very significant benefits through the


programme but it is also clear that there is more work to be done in


areas like my own where we have a number of challenge schools. Can I


ask whether you have any plans to make continued additional funding


available to schools which were benefiting under the programme but


have yet to make further progress? And how will we make sure that the


good practice that has happened in the other parts of Wales can be


ruled out everywhere? It is certainly the case that most schools


have benefited from the scheme. They no longer need that support, they


are able to stand on their own two feet. There are some schools not in


that position and we are looking at how we can help those schools that


have not done as well to make sure they are not left behind and to make


sure that best practice found in other schools is passport did to


those schools that haven't done as well as we would want in order for


them to be able to succeed in future. Mohammad Asghar. Happy New


Year to everybody here. The Welsh government is committed to created


conditions to give every child the best chance in life in Wales. Will


the First Minister advise how cancelling the scheme offering 16-18


years old a third of their bus pass travel will help young people in


Wales to access jobs or training? The current scheme is coming to a


natural end. It's right to say the uptake of the scheme has not been as


substantial as was originally intended. Nevertheless, the Minister


has been in discussions with the bus and coach companies in order for


them to come forward with a suitable alternative school -- scheme by


April this year. It is not a case of the scheme coming to an end with


nothing to replace it, we are looking at making it more effective.


Questions from the party leaders. Leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood.


As we start the New Year, the familiar waiting time problems in


Accident and Emergency and ambulances showed no sign of


dissipating but there is an urgent question on that so I want to ask


you about a crisis in waiting times that doesn't often get the attention


it deserves. At the start of last term, I asked you about waiting


times for children and adolescent mental health services. You said at


that time the resources have been put in and I fully expect the


waiting times and the numbers to go down as those resources work through


the system. First Minister, have the waiting times gone down? If we look


at waiting times in terms of mental health admissions, we know they were


9570 admissions in the year ending 21st of March 20 16. 1400 resident


patients in hospital and units across Wales. So we know that the


number of admissions has stayed steady and we now expect to see the


money, ?8 million extra that has been put into children's mental


health services, help to cut waiting lists, waiting times, I beg your


pardon. The answer to the question I asked you is that waiting times have


not improved. The numbers of people waiting for over 16 weeks got


slightly worse, over the course of the year, and as well as stagnating


over the past year, the waiting times remain substantially worse


than they were three years ago. One explanation that you have given for


this is that there are too many children being referred. For


example, in November 2015, you said, evidence suggests that around a


third of young people referred to specialists have no mental illness


and you said a further third have low-level difficulties that wouldn't


reach the threshold for treatment by a specialist service. These


sentiments were echoed by your previous Health Minister. Do you


stand by that do? Yes. There is no evidence whatsoever that children


are being added to waiting lists without reason. The children and


young People's committee report of 2014 highlighted that many children


have to wait until their condition worsens to access support and the


charity Young Mines have said many children and young people tell us


they have been frequently turned away from accessing services because


the threshold for treatment is too high for them. The evidence is


growing that there aren't enough services for young people with


mental health problems. I will ask you the same question as I asked you


in September last year, when can people expect to see improvements in


the waiting lists which you have promised to this Assembly time and


time again? Cambs is an acute service. I would not expect them to


be referred to them automatically. I would expect young people to see


their GP and the GP to refer if necessary. Every secondary school


has a counsellor and those services are available for those who require


it. I wouldn't expect everyone to be referred. We have made significant


investments, there is no dispute about that. We expect to see further


significant progress over the course of this year. I will have two right


to the Leader of the Opposition in terms of the evidence that we have


of the nature of referrals to Cambs and I will provide that information


to her. Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies.


Over the Christmas period and over the last couple of days, there has


been considerable speculation over the merits or not as the case may be


of the deal before the steelworkers at Port Talbot and the other plants


across Wales. Before we broke for the Christmas recess, you clearly


said to me in a line of questioning, this is a very good deal and it was


a deal we can endorse and it provides a future for the plan. Does


that still the thinking that the First Minister has around the deal


because I am unaware of any plan B. I am aware there are concerns around


the pension scheme but I have to say that I do not see there is any other


alternative on the table and so although it is a matter for workers


to make their own decisions, the proposal that is on the table is I


believe one that will preserve the steel industry in south Wales. There


is no plan B. Thank you for the charity because it is important to


understand the gravity of the decision that the steelworkers do


face. And it is their decision because they are being asked to give


up something in return for assurances around the long-term


future of the steel industry in Wales. We understand from Plaid


Cymru that it is there opinion that this deal should be rejected. What


do you think will be the consequences if this deal is


rejected for the long-term and medium-term future of those plans


that occupied so much of the political agenda as well as the


community agenda in those communities through the whole of


2016? I understand the concerns of members. But as I have said before,


there is no other alternative on the table. The other consortia who were


interested in taking over were all concerned about the pension scheme


as well so the issue is never going to go away. The alternative is the


UK Government could nationalise the industry. Your party made it very


clear you will not do that. So it seems to me that it is this plan at


the moment or no plan. That is what the workers have to consider. It is


a matter of regret that the UK Government, things were different


under the previous Prime Minister, have not taken an interest in the


steel industry in Wales. They have not addressed the issue of energy


prices properly. They have had no discussion with us on the future of


the steel industry since the new Prime Minister came into place. I


regret that. I noted carefully what Theresa May said yesterday about


intervening in the market but we see no evidence of that Indians of help


for the Welsh steel industry. I believe you have a very supportive


UK Government. An Stephen Kinnock. I can hear the


deputy minister champing from a different position but he might like


to listen to the question first to give an answer to inform his


constituents and the other people in Wales. Do you agree? Can we allow


the leader of the Conservative Party to be heard, please? Do you agree


that the proposals put forward on the table by Tata Steel are


impressive proposals and actually, these do unlock significant


investment for the steel plants across Wales and all for a secure


future, certainly in the short and medium term for the many thousands


of jobs that depend on this investment being unlocked? 7000


jobs... I did ask for the leader of the Conservative Party to be heard


and I intend to be listened to when I ask that. 7000 jobs depend upon


the steel, do you agree with that? In the absence from anything from


the UK Government and the lack of interest from the UK Government


since the last Prime Minister left his office, I believe this is the


only deal that is on the table, we provided a substantial amount of


money, the UK Government provided nothing and we believe it will


demand that that package secures the jobs in the steel industry in Wales.


Neil Hamilton. Can I welcome the First Minister back from his trip to


Norway and perhaps he could tell us what conclusions he arrived at as a


result of that. Is he aware that 70% of the Norwegian people are still


adamantly opposed to membership of the EU? Regarding membership of the


EEE, will begin from that Norway is a member of the Schengen Agreement


and so unfettered access to the single market, which the First


Minister has always advocated, that will require also unfettered access


to the UK for unlimited numbers of EU immigrants? People in Norway,


your rightly point out that they do not support EU membership, but they


strongly supported EEE membership and freedom of movement, but there


is a difference and I believe this is an issue which is a profitable


route for us to pursue in the UK. Freedom of movement in Norway allows


freedom of movement to work, it is not unlimited, there are some rules


surrounding how people can look for work if they lose their job but it


is not an unfettered right of freedom of movement. All the


actually do is follow the European rules to the letter, which the UK


did not do. UK was more liberal in its approach and went beyond what


was required by the rules. If that is what is required in order to


access single market, I would have thought people would have found that


perfectly reasonable. We discovered the answer to that question with the


result of the referendum itself because it was overwhelmingly, the


result of which, was motivated by fears about unfettered migration...


Yes, that is correct. All of the evidence shows... All of the


evidence shows that that was the clinching factor in the result.


Plaid Cymru, of course, are not only in favour of full membership of the


single market, they also favour full membership of the customs union


which would prevent us entering into deals with third-party countries as


well, at least the Labour Party has not gone that far in its arguments


to EU membership! The reality is, I did not, First Minister, that 508


million people currently have arrived being EU citizens in this


country to work and everyone members of the IEEE that led to all intents


and purposes be the same as it is at the moment? No, because if you


interpret the rules strictly, that is what you get, I believe people


will accept that. If people believe that someone was coming to a job


that they had, that would be reasonable, a reasonable position to


adopt. We must also remember that the UK will have an open border. It


will have an open border in Ireland which will not be in any way police


or monitored. Whenever this is mentioned in discussion by UK


ministers it is like an ostrich plunging its head into the sand,


they continue to tell us it will be fine, but the reality is that given


the fact it will be an open border with the EU, given the fact that the


UK Government will want to monitor what someone has the right to work


in the UK, how does an individual proof that right? Passports and


driving licences are optional, but you end up with a compulsory system,


there is no other way of doing it, it has the right to work in the UK,


how does an individual proof that right? Passports and driving


licences are optional, but you end up with a compulsory system, there


is no other way of doing it, it is not properly been thought through


and there are many question Jet2 be answered by the UK Government. In


the nicest possible way I would like to encourage the First Minister to


spend more time abroad and going to other countries where they can learn


something about how the world operates outside of the EU, and in


particular, I would like to encourage him to go to South Korea,


not just because it is about as far away... Via Los Angeles, possibly!


Because South Korea has actually managed to negotiate a free trade


agreement with the EU, it is not part of the single market, but it


has all of the trade benefits of the membership as part of a single


market without any of the problems with the freedom of movement of


people. As this has been lauded by the trade Commissioner of the EU, in


these terms, she says, the evidence of the agreement with South Korea


should help convince the unconvinced of Europe that there is great


benefits to be had by this way. It creates jobs. I am sure that the


First Minister and I are in agreement on that point and


therefore it would be very helpful for the UK in general if he were to


add his considerable weight to the argument for more free trade


agreements with the rest of the world, something we could negotiate


on outside the customs union and outside of the EU. I will try to be


optimistic by what he means! The reality is this, the free trade


agreements take many years to negotiate, the UK will not have such


agreements within two years. When I have spoken to officials involved in


such discussions they find it laughable that we would even suggest


that, it takes almost two years to send up a framework for discussions.


The concern I have is then that two years the UK will have fallen off


the edge of the cliff and we will have deals with no one because there


will be no transitional arrangements and they are absolutely crucial


beyond March 2019, otherwise they will be nothing. He mentioned South


Korea, I do not want the UK to become a European kind of North


Korea that is cut off from the rest of the world and has no trade deals


with anyone, that cannot be in the interest of anyone. We must be


realistic. It has been said that the world will follow the fate of the


UK, I do not believe that. The UK is small compared to other trading


blocs, we must be realistic and enter negotiations with an open


mind. We also have to understand that as far as market access is


concerned, there is a quid pro quo, we cannot demand from the European


Union everything they want and expect to get it, that is not going


to happen that way. For me, there is a choice. Either UCB will limit


immigration which is impossible because of the order -- open border,


UCB will have access to the single market, that is absolutely the most


important issue for us in Wales and therefore anything else can be


compromised on. If we say to the people of Wales that there is the


freedom of movement to work, that is something that most will accept as


perfectly sensible. Will you make a statement on the


importance of economic development to achieve the government's target


of a million Welsh speakers by 2050? Well, we have consultations in or


craft to achieve that figure by 2050. The finalised document will


discuss the relationship between the Welsh language and economic


government and we will publish the final strategy later this year. --


draft. Thank you, Plaid Cymru strongly


believe that they must have social activity and economic prosperity in


the Welsh speaking areas of Welsh language is to be strengthened. We


believe developing urban areas. Do you agree that we need to take all


possible opportunities to involve national institutions in areas with


the Welsh national out the strong as part of the strategy and do you


agree that creating the new financing body that will be required


to administer taxation in Wales will be an excellent opportunity to


create high-quality bilingual jobs in an area such as the Menai area of


north-west Wales and may I suggest some ideal locations because the


government has a half empty building they are already which is ready for


use and the establishment of the revenue authority there would be a


great boost to the Welsh language both locally and nationally. That is


a very important question, I understand why the member supports


the Carmarthen bed, but that is something I have asked officials to


consider. The point raised is whether it really possible to ensure


that there is prosperity to have skills in those less urban areas and


that is an open question at the moment but I do understand where


anybody is created, a new public body in that regard, we should look


beyond Cardiff and look beyond the south to see whether there is a way


to ensure that that can be located somewhere else in Wales. This is


something we are currently considering.


Evidence from the review suggested there were differences between how


SMEs and larger businesses use the Welsh language with many SMEs saying


that the Welsh language was a cost, rather than a benefit since the


review was published three years ago, can I ask what practical


support the Welsh Government has provided to specifically help SMEs


increase the commercial advantages of operating bilingually? Two


points, firstly, it is an opportunity for businesses, the


businesses seem to provide a service in Welsh, it will be receive more


favourably by the community, there is no question of that in my mind.


Secondly, only more practical point, there is a pilot project that has


been operating in Don Valley operating local businesses to help


them provide a service in the Welsh language and help them understand


the economic benefits to members of business by operating bilingually.


That project is important in terms of being able to gather the evidence


as to what might work in a future in terms of helping SMEs to develop


their language for a spot of the business.


What recent discussions has the First Minister had with Cabinet


Secretary is regarding the Environment and Sustainability


Committee of the fourth assembly report, a smarter energy future for


Wales? I know that the Cabinet Secretary has given great


consideration to this and has led on this and given her response on


energy matters and there were complaints of response to this


report was to work across government and is available on the web page.


Thank you for that answer. He will know that a new year is often a time


for New Year resolutions as well. Could I ask the First Minister


whether he and the very able Cabinet Secretary will undertake and resolve


to work with the assembly and across government to take forward as many


of possible as those 19 recommendations which included a


commitment to near zero carbon homes, which included a commitment


to driving forward a revolution towards community and localised


energy that would tackle the monopoly of the big energy


providers, using planning and other policy tools and horrible boost


immunity energy, and the drive that revolution as well within clean,


green energy jobs, right across Wales, urban and rural, likewise. A


hallmark of that government and its assembly in successive


administrations has been a commitment to champion the


environment and real sustainability. Will this be the parliament and will


this be the assembly that will be -- and will this be the government that


makes this a reality, a real green M Georgi -- a real, green energy


revolution and the jobs boost for the future of Wales? I believe so.


The 19 recommendations we are willing to accept 12 of in full in


principle. In terms of how this is being taken forward we have seen the


success of a locally owned wind farm that was featured on the Money Box


programme this weekend. There was an event on Friday is being posted.


Ofgem are making sure that Welsh voices will be heard on a smart


flexible energy system. I commend this excellence --


excellent report. It is important the drug worked hard on reflect on


the importance and success of previous reports. I know you will


return to this. But about ambition, we want that ambition reflected in


the government's programme and there is a real chance year, the Welsh


economy was built on more or less a single source of energy and we


suffered for that after the 1920s with the replacement of coal with


oil. New opportunities are before us and those opportunities could help


us to transform the Welsh economy and make it much more greener and


resultant and locally controlled. Wind is there, the tie will always


be there as long as the wind is a nice guy. These are truly renewable


resources if properly harness can drive our energy consumption and


energy exports infinitely, potentially, these are issues we


must move forward with. We will, of course, in the Wales Bill have more


powers over energy consenting but the financial aspect of energy


development remains with the UK Government. We of course look


forward to see what the Henry review will tell us in terms of the tidal


lagoons and bebop with the UK Government to ensure that we do have


renewable energy that is and has a very low energy and revenue cost in


terms of generation and is there for the foreseeable future.


Simon Thomas. May I recommend to Assembly Members that if they want a


vision of the future that is anticipated any committee report


that they visit the solar village in Pembrokeshire where new social


housing has been opened by the Cabinet Secretary and I was also in


attendance last Thursday and those are the kind of developments that


are possible now in Wales and we should see far more of that


developed here. But specifically the committee recommendation made on


energy suggests the creation of a not-for-profit energy company for


the whole of Wales to be an umbrella body for developments such as those


that you have just listed. Developments that bring people


together and get the best possible deal for the customer as well as the


environment and the government. What steps are you taking to undertake


that sort of development? Discussions have taken place between


officials and several bodies with regards to developing schemes to


establish a green energy company for Wales and we have to be clear about


what the purpose of such a company would be before we move forward. But


those discussions have taken place. Mike Hedges. Will the First Minister


make a statement on primary care provision? Health boards are


collaborating with partners to invest in primary care as the


mainstay of our health and care system, working in communities to


tackle poor health and to do what matters and to diagnose and treat


problems with a occur. I received a number of complaints since Christmas


regarding primary care provision basically in two practices within


Swansea East, one about not being able to make an appointment, being


told to phone back the next morning, difficulty getting vaccinations, and


unwillingness to make home visits. I also know that the other surgeries


cavilling my constituency. What can the government do to standardise the


care and bring all doctors surgeries up to the level of the best? It is a


point I hear from people on occasion. They ask why the services


are not consistent. Those services are provided by health boards and


are consistent but we know that most GPs are independent contractors and


that is what the situation will be for some years to come. It is


important for the public to be able to access services when they need


them. I expect local GP practices and health boards will be focusing


on them. There is money on the table. The primary care fund of ?43


million. That is there in order to improve ways of delivering services,


for example developing the role of nurses so people don't feel they


have to visit their GP or the time. And placing pharmacists,


physiotherapists and social workers alongside GP teams. Then they can


get the right professional that they need. Angela Burns. You make the


absolutely fundamentally correct point about needing more of the


Allied health care professionals in place in general practices in order


to help to maintain a good quality service. My question is, last year,


there was an absolutely right focus on getting more doctors into Wales,


whether it was secondary or primary care. This year will you be able to


look at how we may recruit more people into the allied health


professions, how we might have adequate training creations --


places for them, how we might encourage young people that this


might be a real career path for them and show them there is a real career


development because we are not going to solve our primary care issues


without having that broad structure of competent individuals offering


holistic services to people. We launched the first phase of the


national and international recruitment campaign last October,


attracting doctors, but Italy GPs, to live and train in Wales, and the


numbers of applications have increased, including in those areas


where we have introduced an incentive -based approach. I can say


that the Cabinet Secretary has agreed plans for phase two of the


recruitment campaign earlier this week aimed at other health care


professionals in primary care. Rhun ap Iorwerth. Thank you. With


emergency departments in our hospitals in crisis, the words of


the Royal College of medicine is -- the Royal College of Emergency


Medicine, would the First Minister agreed that the erosion there has


been in the percentage of NHS funding provided to primary care and


the stress that places on our GPs surgeries, then that causes problems


for our A departments. And there's the First Minister agreed,


therefore, that it is now time to look again at how health funding is


allocated in Wales in order to ensure fair funding for primary care


in order to maintain a sustainable NHS the future? Two things. I don't


think it is just about having more and more doctors. We need to make


sure that people do go to the relevant professional for them. That


could be a pharmacist or it could be a nurse or a physiotherapist. It is


right to say that we need to ensure that we do maintain the right number


of doctors but it is not just about having doctors. It is important that


people don't remain in hospital for too long. We have seen the problems


that have arisen in England because they have cut back on expenditure


for social services and social care in particular. In Wales, we


maintained the level of funding to ensure that didn't happen. It is


true to say that there are pressures in our health service, that happens


every year, especially in our emergency departments. They have


been plans put in place and those have worked, despite the pressure


that has been placed on doctors. May I pay tribute once again to all


those who work in our health service, especially those who work


in the emergency services, for the excellent they were -- work they do


at this time of year. Adam Price. What plans does the Welsh government


have two encourage Wells consumers to buy Welsh produced goods and


services? Direct support through business Wales and we are also


working alongside the national procurement service to increase the


amount of Welsh produce coming into the public sector. And the food and


drink industry, Welsh produce is far more, far better labelled now than


it was 15 years ago. He may have the experience that I have of going into


local shops and seemed that Welsh produce is first off the shelves.


Norway, which he visited recently, the Republic of Ireland, the German


region of Hesse, and others, all have an visual and widely recognised


country of origin brand which is largely aimed at domestic consumers.


If, as it seems, we are going to be rejected out of the single market by


that regressive alliance of Corbin and made. --, import substitution


will be even more important to us in the future so can we have a made in


Wales brand as the first line of defence from the economic lunacy


emanating from Westminster? This has been looked at in the past as to


whether there is a need for brand for Welsh produce or whether it is


better approached through having strong brand recognition for


individual products. These days, most food producers to label their


products as Welsh. That is seen as a great advantage to them. For some,


less so, but it is certainly more prevalent than it was 15 years ago,


and people are far more likely now to buy Welsh produce. I remember at


the time of the foot and mouth crisis, one of the big supermarkets


didn't label anything as Welsh. That has long changed and things are


better for it. The domestic market in Wales is important but it is a


small market. That is why we continue to make sure we have an


emphasis on exports and having Welsh branded


products going to export. When we look at Welsh food, the one thing we


must avoid is the Norwegian situation where there is a tariff on


food. They were saying to me that the tariffs are so detailed, there


is one tariff for smoked salmon and one for fresh salmon, which gives


you an idea how difficult trading negotiations are. But for Norway,


they do have tariffs imposed on the agricultural produce going into the


European market. The very last thing we need is to see the same thing


happened to us. Jeremy Miles. I was pleased to hear the First Minister


referred to the role of Welsh public bodies in supporting not just Welsh


producers and suppliers but also in proactively supporting their local


economies. What a difference it would make if all Welsh public


bodies or all bodies in Wales in receipt of Welsh public funds acted


deliberately proactively and collaboratively with one another to


support their local economies and including fostering the development


of local suppliers and local supply chains. What steps can you take to


bring that about? We continue to work on marrying the risk-based


approach, simplifying the process for suppliers in bidding for the


public sector work and helping to ensure that all suppliers have a


fair chance of winning that work? One of the issues in the food and


drink sector which was a problem was that they were too small. Companies


were too small to supply big organisations like the NHS is in,


week out. That was overcome through the pretty woman initiatives that


were put in place and we have seen far more produce now taking place


locally than was the case 15 years ago. Moving local authorities away


from compulsory competitive tendering, we talk about best value


for local authorities, it is about making sure that as much money as


possible is retained in the local economy. Nick Ramsay. I am pleased


that Adam Price has raised this question. Only you could make Jeremy


Corbyn and Theresa May sound like a 1960s folk group. I would rather


focus on the food and drink issue that the First Minister mentioned in


answering. I agree, Wales does have a great story to tell in terms of


our home-grown food and drink and you are right to point out labelling


as an important tool. Would you agree with me that food festivals


and models such as that are very important way for us to sell Welsh


produce not just a Welsh consumers, as Adam Price's question originally


said, but also to English consumers coming across the border?


Abergavenny I'm sure is well respected as a food festival as you


will know, but he is right because the events showcase Welsh bodies.


The fool hall at the Royal Welsh Show at one time was too small, it


was too small, and now it is too small again. That shows the success


of the Welsh food and drink industry in its diversification and the fact


that so many businesses that were set up over the last decade are


still there and are still able to go to the supermarket. There has been a


change of heart in terms of the number of supermarkets as well,


whereas in the past they prefer to purchase from larger suppliers, they


have become more interested in small suppliers and local produce, which I


very much welcome. But what we have to avoid more than anyone else is


our biggest market, which is Europe, being either closed to us or the


terms of trade with that market being less advantageous to us. The


US will never replace the European market. The US is very protectionist


when it comes to agriculture. Welsh farmers being able to sell on the


current terms to the European market is absolutely vital to the future of


Welsh farming. Joyce Watson. Will the First Minister made a statement


on the outbreak of avian flu in Wales? It is a matter of serious


concern. We have a strong track record of controlling animal disease


outbreaks and the Cabinet Secretary will be providing an update in her


oral statement this afternoon. I look forward to that statement later


today. It was the case that during the Christmas break there was a type


of duck that landed on Llanelli wetlands Centre and I want to praise


the actions that were immediately taken by that wetland Centre to


closing their doors to the public for nine days because as a


consequence of that, I'm sure that they helped reduce the spread of


that avian flu within that area. We do know however that it did spread


and it has been an infection in that area. What we also know is that


birds don't understand boundaries and I think we would be well advised


to take note of the very cold and sharp spell of weather that is now


happening in Eastern Europe which might, and in my opinion probably


will, create further migration from birds looking for food further


south. To us, that is West, of course. My question will be, and I


will address it to the minister later, the Cabinet Secretary, how


are we going to deal with that and how are we going to inform the


public to be aware of those newly migrated birds that could possibly


be a source of further infection here.


Is it we of course work with the other Great Britain governments to


take appropriate action. I would not encourage -- I would


encourage other members to report problems to the helpline. It is


updated continually, the website, with advice. I would urge all


poultry keepers and those involved working with the wild of wetlands


trust to check the website frequently. I know that the Cabinet


Secretary will provide more information this afternoon.


First Minister, in light of these cases of avian flu, what additional


work are you as a government doing to assess the impact that this


disease could have on the poultry sector?


Well, there is of course an effect because there is a period of time.


After that period it is not possible to see if poultry are free range


because the fact that they have had to be kept him. We know that and we


know the effect of those who do keep poultry will be. Presently what is


vitally important is to ensure that there are people to deal with the


issues and we must understand what the situation is in terms of poultry


farmers. As the situation should continue like this.


Thank you, First Minister,. There we are, that was


First Minister's Questions. If you want more coverage


of the National Assembly, you can go online to BBC


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