14/02/2017 First Minister's Questions


14/02/2017

Full coverage of AM's questions to the first minister from the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to our weekly coverage of questions to the First

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Minister. A little later this week because of the snooker but Carwyn

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Jones has been asked about economic development, train services and the

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role of the third sector in Wales. We are an Twitter and look at the

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website for all the latest on Welsh politics. Let's head over to the

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Senedd for the questions. TRANSLATION: The first item is

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questions for the First Minister. Will the First Minister make a

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statement on the scams. I do not believe that we can overestimate the

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problem with scams both by phone and in person. This can have a serious

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effect on people's lives and can lead to a shortening of their life.

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There are devices which monitor and block phone calls, there is a firm

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in my constituency that makes them. Will the Welsh government convened a

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conference of all interested parties to see what can be done to address

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this problem. I don't believe it can be solved but we can try to reduce

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it. Scams are increasingly sophisticated, particularly online

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and we are working closely with trading standards on a variety of

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scams, dealing with a variety of scams relating to counterfeit goods

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and illicit and illegal tobacco. There is a growing focus on

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cybercrime. We're working with crime commission is on this issue. This

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would be a productive use of this time and we will look to do so. One

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of the other things that can be done to combat scams is the establishment

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of no cold calling zones. This has been extremely successful in my own

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constituency where we have imposed a townwide one. What work can we do

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here to make Wales the first no cold calling nation in Britain? An

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interesting idea. We have provided funding to increase the number of no

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cold calling zones in Wales to protect vulnerable people from

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scams. As the member has commented, we have looked to reduce the number

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of cold calling and then we can declare ourselves a note cold

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calling nation. Question two, Julie Morgan. We plan to invest in

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high-quality infrastructure and improve economic conditions. There

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has been good news on jobs recently. I welcome the fact that the EBI is

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staying in Wales with an increase of numbers. That means that jobs are

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leaving at the same time as there are plans for S4 seek to move to

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Central Square Cardiff and to Carmarthen, at the same time there

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is the tax office is planning to move to Central Square so there a

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huge exodus of jobs into a very small area of the constituency. I

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wonder if you have any suggestions as to what strategies can be

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undertaken to make sure that area continues to be a mixed area with a

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possibility of getting local jobs because this is a big change to the

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job scene there. I am aware that Cardiff seeks to deliver 40,000 jobs

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in the period to 2026 providing a choice of jobs, homes and supporting

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infrastructure. It's today the UK cyber Security Centre is being

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opened in London and the Minister will be aware of the excellent cyber

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Security Academy. It's disappointing that the UK centre is going to be

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located in London as if London hasn't got enough support from the

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UK Government in that respect. What representations did the First

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Minister make to try and get the UK centre to locate alongside the cyber

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Academy in Newport so that our country could have benefited from

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the jobs that will come? Looking to the future, will the First Minister

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commit to designating you bought the cyber security capital of Wales so

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that we can in future leveraged great opportunities to that

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community. An interesting idea that I will look into. I will write to

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the member regarding representations about the cyber security academy. It

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is an issue in principle that we have supported. I will write with

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further details as to how the Academy was established and why it

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was in London. Cardiff continues to create jobs and attract many

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visitors, we see more congestion on the roads. I notice that there is a

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proposal to examine the feasibility of looking in the Taff and the Bay

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as arterial routes around the city. Already popular for tourists, it

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might have a commercial application in moving commuters. Is the

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government prepared to look at it? I did see that. It's a matter for

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Cardiff Council in terms of their management of the waterways. In the

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summer, the service is very successful, in the winter, less so.

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People see the service as a tourism service rather ban a commuting

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service but there are examples elsewhere, around the world, where

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water bus services have been successful. Certainly, I would look

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to work with the operators and the City Council and others to see

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whether the service could be future -- feature will in the future.

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Although the Welsh revenue authority is being created, nearly all the

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staff are being recruited in London because we don't have skilled people

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here in Wales and this is a persistent problem. It begs the

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question about what your government has been doing about skills and

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training over the last 17 years. The Welsh revenue authority was not even

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a twinkle in the eye 17 years ago. This has never been performed in

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Wales before. We should not be afraid of bringing in skills from

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elsewhere to set up the authority and train our own people in order

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that they are able to provide those skills in the future. To criticise

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others for not having the foresight 17 years ago, in terms of

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establishing an authority that no one ever thought would be

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established I think it is stretching things too far. Questions now from

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the party leaders. Do you support the aspiration to achieve a million

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Welsh speakers by 2050 and how would you intend to meet that aspiration?

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She knows I do. It is a manifesto commitment on the part of my party.

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One of the ways is making sure that the Welsh education strategic plans

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across authorities deliver what they should be doing. I agree that the

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aspiration is a good one. I'm glad that you have mentioned education.

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In your consultation on creating a million Welsh speakers you explain

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how education must play a central role, your main objective and what

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you are asking local authorities to achieve is" a significant increase

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in the number of children and young people educated through the medium

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of Welsh or bilingually in order to create more Welsh speakers" and that

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they should "Move schools along with the language to increase the

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availability of Welsh medium school places". Do you accept it is

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government policy and that means local authorities have to increase

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the number of Welsh medium schools and Welsh medium school places in

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their area? They are expected to show how they will do that by their

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strategic plans. Those plans are subject to approval by ours. We

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intend to make sure that those plans are robust and will deliver. You

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will know that national policy has informed the position in Ysgol

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Llangennech to convert a school from dual stream into Welsh medium. That

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decision needs a decision from you and calm explanation to residents. I

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have serious concerns that the frankly toxic atmosphere that has

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emerged on this question and am aware that a group of residents

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campaigning against the decision, there are some people standing for

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the Labour Party in Llangennech and claim to be working with Ukip

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checking... Can we hear the question please? Is it acts double --

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acceptable to you that Labour Party candidates are working closely with

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Ukip on the question of Welsh medium education and do you agree with me

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that the campaign against Carmarthenshire County Council

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decision has become toxic and unacceptable and will you outline

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what action you will take regarding Labour Party members working with

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Ukip to undermine your own Welsh language policies? I agree that the

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situation in Llangennech has become toxic. I do not think that the words

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used by the leader of Plaid Cymru have helped the situation in terms

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of turning this into a party political issue. Some comments have

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been made that I do not agree with. I think it is hugely important now

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that calm prevails that the toxicity and some of that which we last saw

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some years ago is now reduced and that the council is able to explain

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to people in Llangennech... It is your policy. It was implemented by

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the council. She may want to listen to the answer to the question. She

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has rightly said that the toxicity needs to be reduced. The council has

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been trying to explain what its policy is with regard to Llangennech

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but it is not for us to explain, it is for the Council to explain and it

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is for us, of course, as a government to enable local

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authorities to produce Welsh in strategic plans to continue to

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support the language, as we do, and we continue on our quests to make

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sure we have a million Welsh speakers by 2020. The leader of the

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Welsh Conservatives. There is an urgent question coming on the

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finding of the Kancoat report. I want to ask something else on this

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particular issue given that you were the First Minister when these

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decisions were taken, as that is an important consideration. Even the

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warnings that were given, that there was a week business plan, that due

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diligence was ignored, that the finance was an acceptably high risk,

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what an earth would you suspect possessed the then business and

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enterprise minister to agree to the release of this money, despite all

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the lights flashing on the dashboard showing that this was such a risky

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investment? It has to be remembered that the investment panel

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recommended approval of the investment. At the First Minister

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was guided by that information. This money was released over time. Time

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and time again, those lights were flashing on the dashboard, ?3.4

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million was released to this company and it has been lost, in effect. No

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jobs were safeguarded, that site is now empty, you as a government-held

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liability for that site because the lease was offered as security

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against the loan made available, the government is on the line to turn

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that site back, ready for the landlord to take possession, so

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there is ongoing liabilities, as I said, ?3.4 million were lost. Every

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indication shows that it was, in the first place, the decision might have

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been taken in the best interests of securing that business but as

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applications were made to release more money, more and more warning

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lights were coming on and yet the decision was taken to release more

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money into this company. Do not think taxpayers are owed an apology

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for the loss of money and in particular the inability to

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safeguard any jobs by the 3.4 million put into this company?

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Generally, we deal with heavy goods and businesses. Some of them fold.

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We cannot possibly say that every business we help can be successful.

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No banker could do that and it is the same for any government. Of the

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projects that we have supported, only 2.4% of them have failed to

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deliver on the objectives that were attached to their request for

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financial support. We have a success rate of well over 90% in supporting

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businesses. That means there are some businesses that are not

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exceptional but they are the exception. We should not continually

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review the way that we do due diligence. It needs to be put into

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context. The vast majority of businesses we have helped our

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successful which is why unemployment in Wales is so low. You will be

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First Minister at the time and I do accept these decisions are based on

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risk and some will go wrong. The point I had made with the two

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questions, there were numerous warnings highlighting the risk to

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the government and to the taxpayer by releasing the money into this

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company. Finance Wales which is a lender of last resort said it was

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too risky to release the money on a lonely business from themselves. The

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remit of operation is to be a lender of last resort after commercial

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banking has been exhausted. I do take that point that ultimately

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there is an element of risk in all decisions you take. It is a fact

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that ?3.4 million has been lost. Not one job guaranteed or protected. And

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the taxpayer is out of pocket and the Welsh Government have

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liabilities. Do you think there should be an apology on your behalf

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from the Welsh Government to the Welsh taxpayer. I offer that

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opportunity again. Will you apologise for this loss of the money

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that is taxpayers money in this instance when so many warnings were

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made and so many warnings were ignored by your then Minister and

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ultimately the taxpayers lost out? I accept what the leader of the Welsh

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Conservatives has said, he understood the situation in terms of

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the initial grant of support. This was a start-up business which is

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inherently risky. There must be risk by government or else we would not

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support anything. It is the same for commercial banks. They will find

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themselves in that situation from time to time. This organisation, the

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business was set up at the time when the economic security -- economic

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situation was precarious in the near aftermath of the financial crisis.

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The Cabinet Secretary will go into detail in terms of the timetable. I

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can say that we are proud to say that unemployment in Wales is so

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low. It is lower than Scotland and Northern Ireland. Historically that

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is a tremendous achievement. We have supported over 1000 businesses to

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bring jobs to Wales, to bring investment to Wales. The best

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figures for 30 years. It is correct to say that on occasion businesses

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will fail and the decision is then for the money to be returned to

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government. 97.6% of the businesses we support our successful in

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providing jobs for the people of Wales.

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It is quite clear that the policies of the American government is going

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to change in many respects as a result of the election of President

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Trump. Not least in respect of policies on climate change. The

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nominee has been removed from the climate change website for America.

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Given that the United States, China and India between them are

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responsible for more than half of the carbon dioxide emissions in the

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world and China have not signed up to any absolute reduction in levels

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of those omissions, regardless of the view of whether climate change

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is man-made or not, does it make sense for Britain and Wales in

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particular, which is responsible for only 0.05% of world carbon dioxide

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emissions, to be saddled with an energy policy that is a millstone

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around the neck of manufacturing industry, with the steel in

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particular? I look at the weight of evidence. It is overwhelmingly in

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favour of showing that the climate change is happening and that human

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activity is causing it to happen or to be ex-aspirate -- exacerbated.

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I look at the weight of evidence and it is clear to me... He was a lawyer

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once, he knows to look at the weight of evidence and not select what best

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support your argument when it flies in the face of scientific reality.

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It is right to say that China and India faced challenges. China is up

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to the challenge and is investing heavily in alternative fuel sources,

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it knows it has a problem. Anybody who has been to Chinese cities knows

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that is a problem with air pollution and the Chinese government recognise

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this. That is why they are looking for alternative fuel sources. They

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know they can not continue with the current situation. Whilst they are

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going in the right direction, my fear is the US will go in the

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opposite direction of flying in the face of scientific evidence. My

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question is not to do with the argument about whether man-made

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climate change is a reality are not. My question relates to what

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difference does it make if we sign up to targets that are going to

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impose enormous costs upon us, not just in costs for industry but also

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on ordinary people. Nearly one quarter of the households in Wales

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are in fuel poverty, spending 10% of the income is keeping themselves

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warm and the winter. This is a burden on poor and vulnerable

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people. It makes no difference to the terms of global emissions, by

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degrees saddled ourselves with these enormous bills? China and India are

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not signed up to reduce the absolute level of the omissions, they have

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signed up to the Jews energy intensity. That takes into account

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the rate at which they expect the economies to grow, and they will go

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to a greater extent than reducing the field intensity. Emissions will

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increase in China and India and the full stack are paying the bills.

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That view can only be accepted if you're happy to see environmental

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degradation and air quality reducing. I remember the era in

:21:54.:22:04.

Salford being flammable. And the river would have different colours

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in my hometown depending on what had been thrown into it. The journey

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away from seeing climate change is unimportant is seeing the

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environment is not important. People do not accept climate change is

:22:18.:22:21.

happening and do not accept there is the need for environmental

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regulation. This is not something we can dismiss. We cannot say it is

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something we can put to one side. Nor do I accept that it imposes

:22:29.:22:36.

costs. I had heard him argue for more coal-fired power stations. The

:22:37.:22:41.

call would have to be imported. There are issues of energy security.

:22:42.:22:46.

Should we not invest in wind power offshore or tidal energy? Rather

:22:47.:22:51.

than over relying on energy sources that have to be imported into

:22:52.:22:56.

Britain. Energy security and mitigating climate change, to be

:22:57.:22:58.

imported into Britain. Energy security and mitigating climate

:22:59.:23:01.

change, toonie, run hand-in-hand. The First Minister is refusing to

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address the issue behind my question. Wales is responsible for

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0.05% of global carbon dioxide emissions. It is not a flammable

:23:12.:23:17.

gas. What he said about the air quality in Peking is irrelevant.

:23:18.:23:22.

Salford omissions are completely different. The argument about

:23:23.:23:30.

particular it everybody accepts. -- Salford. Everybody is in favour of

:23:31.:23:37.

the clean air act. This is a different question. My point is that

:23:38.:23:42.

Wales is one of the poorest parts of Western Europe. We have nearly one

:23:43.:23:46.

quarter of households in full -- fuel poverty. They have to spend

:23:47.:23:50.

hundreds of pounds they can ill afford every year paying for our

:23:51.:23:54.

renewable obligations under EU directives. If the United States is

:23:55.:24:02.

now going to move away from commitments to reduce emissions. If

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China and India are not signed up to it anyway, what is the sense in us

:24:07.:24:11.

making a small difference to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in

:24:12.:24:15.

the world? It is an obligation which is causing real harm and a real

:24:16.:24:21.

poverty in the households in Wales. I do not think I said that the era

:24:22.:24:26.

in Beijing was flammable. I do not think the hydrogen or oxygen content

:24:27.:24:31.

is so high that the ear would catch fire or explored. I was referring to

:24:32.:24:35.

the river, the contacts of which is well known. I do not accept that

:24:36.:24:45.

regulations for the environment is a burden on industry. The wind is

:24:46.:24:51.

free. The tide will be there as long as there is the Britain in the sky.

:24:52.:24:57.

Once the infrastructure to generate energy in place, the generating

:24:58.:25:02.

costs are very low. He talks about call. He did his best to wreck the

:25:03.:25:09.

coal industry. We will never produce enough coal in Britain now to suck

:25:10.:25:14.

ply our energy needs. We would have to imported from Australia. We would

:25:15.:25:19.

have to import natural gas from countries not looking to do us a

:25:20.:25:25.

favour. Whilst I know the energy mix in the UK is going to continue in

:25:26.:25:32.

the future. 25% of natural gas in the UK... That'll continue in the

:25:33.:25:37.

future. I do not see the wisdom in seeing what we need to do is go back

:25:38.:25:40.

to the technology of yesterday with the pollution of yesterday and look

:25:41.:25:48.

to ignore the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence and put our

:25:49.:25:54.

heads in the sand. He is somebody who he says is proud to be British.

:25:55.:25:58.

Let him display his pride by saying he wants the UK to lead the way when

:25:59.:26:02.

it comes to dealing with climate change.

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Will the First Minister make a statement on what the Welsh

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Government is doing to help economic activity in south Wales Central? We

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are delivering a range of actions to help new and existing businesses to

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help to grow and support. Advice, support and investment in digital

:26:25.:26:28.

transport infrastructure. I am not sure why the backbenches are

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muttering. I have commended the Welsh

:26:30.:26:40.

Government previously for the money they have made available for

:26:41.:26:43.

transitional relief around the business rates scheme. They made an

:26:44.:26:50.

announcement on December the 17th of an additional ?10 million to assist

:26:51.:26:57.

in the revaluation exercise for businesses in South West Central and

:26:58.:27:01.

across Wales. No more information has came from the Welsh Government

:27:02.:27:05.

about how that money will be delivered despite us on these

:27:06.:27:09.

benches and others and the chamber pressing for more information. We

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were told that information would come out in early February. That

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information has not been forthcoming from the Welsh Government. When will

:27:17.:27:19.

the Welsh Government be coming forward as to how you will

:27:20.:27:24.

distribute that money so that businesses can make decisions ahead

:27:25.:27:28.

of the new financial year? By the end of this week. In the climate

:27:29.:27:35.

change committee we have evidence that businesses who have done the

:27:36.:27:39.

right thing and put solar panels on their roofs have been charged

:27:40.:27:44.

additional business rates. My question is, what levers does the

:27:45.:27:49.

Welsh Government have to support businesses that have a positive

:27:50.:27:53.

social and environmental impact? Such is healthy food establishments.

:27:54.:27:58.

And discourage businesses with the negative impacts such as betting

:27:59.:28:04.

shops, payday lenders and other organisations that were raised

:28:05.:28:10.

earlier by Mike Hedges. The procurement policy for Wales

:28:11.:28:12.

encourages the public sector to apply approaches for social

:28:13.:28:17.

benefits. Social clauses are important to criteria. The contract

:28:18.:28:24.

awards can be verbose suppliers were strong evidence of is the loving

:28:25.:28:29.

towards social requirements. It can be an effective tool in encouraging

:28:30.:28:30.

good business practice. First Minister, the real question

:28:31.:28:41.

you should be cancelling is what you are going to do to try to restore

:28:42.:28:46.

some credibility in the Welsh Government after getting the

:28:47.:28:51.

business community in Wales this reasons to lose faith in you. At

:28:52.:28:56.

least ?53 million is how much your your government has lost in gross

:28:57.:29:02.

incompetence with business support and land deals. ?53 million lost at

:29:03.:29:07.

least. When will a thorough investigation take place?

:29:08.:29:17.

97.6% of the businesses we support our successful and that is an

:29:18.:29:25.

excellent record. Will the First Minister make a statement on how the

:29:26.:29:30.

Welsh government is promoting job creation in Newport? We are

:29:31.:29:37.

safeguarding quality jobs in Newport and through the whole of Wales. A

:29:38.:29:45.

data science campus is being opened in March which will act as a hub for

:29:46.:29:49.

the analysis of big data allowing collaborative work between

:29:50.:29:54.

academics, government, the public sector and third sector partners who

:29:55.:29:59.

wish to push the boundaries of delivering services providing rich

:30:00.:30:02.

informed measurement and analysis on the economy, the global environment,

:30:03.:30:07.

wider society and the campus will become a world-class facility. The

:30:08.:30:11.

aspiration to create a Silicon Valley for Wales is the intention

:30:12.:30:16.

and it will be a hub for innovative data science research and create

:30:17.:30:21.

jobs and attract investment. Will the Welsh government work with

:30:22.:30:27.

partners and the ONS to create a Silicon Valley for Wales? Yes, we

:30:28.:30:35.

will. We know that where there is existing expertise, clustering new

:30:36.:30:39.

businesses and new innovations in that area helps everybody and

:30:40.:30:42.

Newport is acquiring very rapidly a good reputation for the software and

:30:43.:30:49.

more generally. It is something we aim to encourage in the future.

:30:50.:30:57.

Newport is one of the worst performing towns or cities in the

:30:58.:31:02.

United Kingdom when it comes to empty shops. More than a quarter of

:31:03.:31:07.

shops in the city were empty in the first half of 2016, according to a

:31:08.:31:12.

local data company. What scheme does the Welsh government offer to

:31:13.:31:18.

provide an incentive in terms of tax break to open new businesses in

:31:19.:31:22.

areas where there are large numbers of empty shops, such as Newport to

:31:23.:31:29.

create jobs and regenerate our city centres? Councils do a good job of

:31:30.:31:32.

encouraging businesses but landlords have to play their part. Landlords

:31:33.:31:38.

have to understand that the days of charging unrealistic rents for

:31:39.:31:43.

long-term leases are gone. It's important that landlords are

:31:44.:31:48.

flexible and look to encourage pop-ups, businesses that want to

:31:49.:31:51.

test the market for three months but don't want to get involved with long

:31:52.:31:58.

leases. Landlords will find that by doing that they will potentially

:31:59.:32:06.

fill their swaps. -- shops. It's also important that landlords work

:32:07.:32:11.

flexibly to provide opportunities for businesses for the 21st-century.

:32:12.:32:17.

Will the First Minister make a statement on the role of the third

:32:18.:32:23.

sector in Wales? The third sector plays an important roles in Wales,

:32:24.:32:34.

there are over 3000 organisations providing services. Are you aware

:32:35.:32:37.

that public affairs Cymru that lobbyists have been asked

:32:38.:32:56.

not to say certain things that the Welsh government does not agree

:32:57.:33:04.

with? I and fought lobbyists had no contact with the government. Your

:33:05.:33:08.

government is leaning on organisations and is undemocratic.

:33:09.:33:13.

In the light of these scandalous allegations, why won't you

:33:14.:33:17.

investigate this matter? I don't know if he is suggesting that the

:33:18.:33:25.

third sector is involved in this. The question was to do with the

:33:26.:33:32.

third sector. I think this is mainly in his own mind, what evidence is

:33:33.:33:36.

given to a committee is for them to consider. Not to say in the middle

:33:37.:33:45.

of an enquiry, it is not appropriate to comment on the process ongoing in

:33:46.:33:52.

the middle of an enquiry. As far as we are concerned, we don't tell

:33:53.:33:56.

organisations what they should or should not say, otherwise there

:33:57.:33:59.

would be little point having organisations whose job it is to

:34:00.:34:03.

hold governments to account, as well as this assembly. Will the First

:34:04.:34:10.

Minister join me in celebrating the recent anniversary of one of the

:34:11.:34:16.

leading third sectors organisations in my constituency, tiddlywinks,

:34:17.:34:25.

which is the first of its kind in Wales and is now a self-sustaining

:34:26.:34:30.

social enterprise. I was with the Minister for lifelong learning

:34:31.:34:37.

yesterday to see them providing key childcare services and a source of

:34:38.:34:42.

important. Willian knowledge the invaluable role of the third sector

:34:43.:34:47.

in providing childcare both in Neath and across Wales and does he agree

:34:48.:34:52.

that a vibrant third sector can shape policy and deliver services to

:34:53.:34:58.

our community is making them more resilient and as he agree with me

:34:59.:35:01.

that it is and should be a priority for the Welsh government to support

:35:02.:35:08.

the sector? I would like to congratulate the staff, trustees and

:35:09.:35:12.

volunteers who have been part of the journey of Tiddlywinks over the

:35:13.:35:20.

years. I hope they are able to continue in the future. First

:35:21.:35:32.

Minister, fair trade fortnight runs from 27th of February to the 12th of

:35:33.:35:35.

March. We should be proud that we are a fair trade than she. 93% of

:35:36.:35:45.

universities are fair trade status. 150 schools and 50% are registered

:35:46.:35:51.

on the fair trade school scheme. The Welsh government has fair trade

:35:52.:35:55.

status but concerns have been raised about ambiguity about how you are

:35:56.:36:00.

applying the fair trade model. Will you look into this to ensure that it

:36:01.:36:05.

isn't just a status, that there is a culture of fair trade

:36:06.:36:08.

acknowledgement, in terms of procurement within your own

:36:09.:36:10.

departments across the Welsh government. If the member could

:36:11.:36:15.

provide me with further information I would be pleased to look at this

:36:16.:36:22.

for her. The third sector and its army of volunteers save the public

:36:23.:36:27.

purse millions of pounds each year and provide valuable services which

:36:28.:36:31.

the public sector cannot. The third sector protectors when we go to the

:36:32.:36:35.

beach or the run in and provide valuable research into numerous

:36:36.:36:39.

diseases and conditions, campaign for better rights, housing and a

:36:40.:36:44.

whole host of other services. Without the third sector, our lives

:36:45.:36:48.

would be much poorer. What more can the Welsh government do to ensure

:36:49.:36:55.

the third sector can continue to thrive in Wales and provide

:36:56.:36:57.

recognition and thanks for the volunteers who drive this sector?

:36:58.:37:03.

Research suggests that the value of the third sector employs 79,000

:37:04.:37:12.

peoples and works with a startling number of volunteers. Nearly one in

:37:13.:37:17.

three people in Wales volunteering in some capacity. We provided 4.4

:37:18.:37:23.

million pounds in 2017 as core funding to voluntary councils across

:37:24.:37:31.

Wales. We are in a good position to assist voluntary organisations in

:37:32.:37:36.

understanding where they should go to seek financial help and that

:37:37.:37:39.

money goes a long way in terms providing support to so many

:37:40.:37:43.

organisations who provide so many services so many people. Will the

:37:44.:37:50.

First Minister make a statement on rail services in south-east Wales?

:37:51.:37:56.

We are procuring an operating and development partner for Wales and

:37:57.:38:02.

border services in 2018. That process is includes discussions with

:38:03.:38:06.

bidders on how services in the south-east Wales may best be

:38:07.:38:09.

delivered as part of the Wales metro. As you are well aware, the

:38:10.:38:20.

Newport- Ebbw Vale rail link remains a top priority for many people.

:38:21.:38:24.

There is impatience that it is not yet established. Are you able to

:38:25.:38:29.

provide further reassurance today that that rail link between Newport

:38:30.:38:34.

and Ebbw Vale remains a priority for worse government and are you able to

:38:35.:38:38.

provide any timings as to when it will be in operation? It's not

:38:39.:38:44.

possible to give a time as to when the service might be in operation I

:38:45.:38:49.

give the member and operation assurance that the service is being

:38:50.:38:53.

examined as part of our project. He has emphasised over the years the

:38:54.:38:58.

importance of the service going to Newport and that is very much part

:38:59.:39:03.

of the developing thinking over how the Metro will operate in the

:39:04.:39:10.

future. The renewal of the Wales and West border franchise is fast

:39:11.:39:13.

approaching. Has the Welsh government at least begun the

:39:14.:39:18.

process of ordering or considering ordering new rolling stock for that

:39:19.:39:22.

franchise? I asked the question because although given it takes up

:39:23.:39:33.

to four years to share my concern is that the new rail operator will have

:39:34.:39:38.

two rely on existing stock at the start of the franchise and will end

:39:39.:39:42.

up refurbishing it which would hardly be the fresh start for the

:39:43.:39:45.

new franchise that the public would hope to see.

:39:46.:39:49.

It would be cleared as part of the proposals that rolling stock should

:39:50.:39:56.

be modern, not 40 years old as some stock is. That stock should provide

:39:57.:40:02.

facilities to passengers such as Wi-Fi that is not provided at the

:40:03.:40:06.

moment. I can give the member Anna Sheridan is that this is very much

:40:07.:40:09.

part of the proposals for the new franchise. -- I can give the member

:40:10.:40:24.

and assurance. Following on from the question from John Griffis, the Ebbw

:40:25.:40:31.

Vale line is at full capacity with those wanting to travel to Cardiff.

:40:32.:40:38.

Only a twin track through to Ebbw Vale would relieve this problem, are

:40:39.:40:44.

there any problems to implement this option? It can be double track or

:40:45.:40:48.

partial double track and it can be signalling which makes the

:40:49.:40:52.

difference. The good news is that the service is so well used that

:40:53.:40:56.

vacancy needs to be increased and these things are amongst things we

:40:57.:41:01.

have looked at working with organisations such as network rail.

:41:02.:41:05.

That is very much part of the thinking on the Metro and the new

:41:06.:41:13.

franchise. We'll be First Minister make a statement on support for the

:41:14.:41:17.

shellfish industry following the decision to leave the European

:41:18.:41:23.

Union? We are working with the industry and Kyleakin to the UK

:41:24.:41:27.

Government the fundamental need to secure unfettered access for Welsh

:41:28.:41:36.

shellfish after the exit from the EU. In 2015, Emma Green agriculture

:41:37.:41:47.

was worth ?10 million to the Welsh economy. -- Marine agriculture. It

:41:48.:41:53.

is a big employer in my constituency and the ability to sell in a single

:41:54.:41:59.

market without controls is and important contribution to the future

:42:00.:42:04.

of the industry. 98% of the banger muscles produced are exported to the

:42:05.:42:16.

Netherlands. -- 19%. Leaders who have praised the negotiations

:42:17.:42:20.

internally in Wales since the vote but he has said that he fears the

:42:21.:42:26.

worst for Wales because of the fact that Wales, Scotland or Northern

:42:27.:42:30.

Ireland will not have a direct voice in the negotiations on exiting the

:42:31.:42:34.

European Union. Can the First Minister tell us what the Welsh

:42:35.:42:37.

Government's strategy will be to try to safeguard the future of this

:42:38.:42:46.

industry? 90% of the fish caught in Wales are exported. Any tariff or

:42:47.:42:54.

obstacle will be bad for the export market. We know the United Kingdom

:42:55.:42:58.

market is too small to secure a future for them. That is why it is

:42:59.:43:03.

so important to ensure that the United Kingdom government sticks to

:43:04.:43:07.

its word to ensure that there is a strong voice for Wales, Scotland and

:43:08.:43:14.

Northern Ireland over the ensuing discussions. I hope that the Cabinet

:43:15.:43:21.

secretaries meeting in April will be fruitful in promoting shellfish to

:43:22.:43:24.

the rest of the world, not just the European Union. The levels of

:43:25.:43:31.

parasites in cockles are higher than expected. If we are to meet the

:43:32.:43:36.

global demand we need our cockles to survive. The European Court of

:43:37.:43:39.

Justice took action to limit the amount of spells in the area to

:43:40.:43:43.

limit the rise of certain bacteria but because of the disease affects

:43:44.:43:47.

cockles reaching maturity is still unclear. I hope the environmental

:43:48.:43:53.

laws will go some way to protect the health of cockles after the great

:43:54.:43:58.

repeal bill but we need some further study on the causes and prevention

:43:59.:44:04.

of early cockle death. I can say about investigations into cockle

:44:05.:44:11.

mortality will continue. The information will be released by

:44:12.:44:14.

natural resources Wales. We are working with the industry to develop

:44:15.:44:21.

the management and sustainability of the government managed cockle

:44:22.:44:25.

fisheries as well. It is a complex issue. I remember direct shellfish

:44:26.:44:30.

poisoning affecting the cockle beds but there was never a clear reason

:44:31.:44:39.

for what happened. The affliction was in the cockle beds. It is

:44:40.:44:42.

important that a thorough investigation is finished in good

:44:43.:44:46.

time so we have an answer. Once we have answers we can provide the most

:44:47.:44:50.

effective legislative response possible. The First Minister is a

:44:51.:45:01.

way as Minister for fisheries and agriculture how crucial the

:45:02.:45:05.

shellfish industry is to the Welsh coastline. The shellfish industry

:45:06.:45:15.

was never part of the core moral fisheries policy or the common

:45:16.:45:21.

agricultural policy. Is it reasonable to expect that this

:45:22.:45:26.

industry could continue to sell into the European continent as it has

:45:27.:45:30.

done for years. It is important because we know that shellfish is

:45:31.:45:33.

important to the fisheries industry in Wales. The majority of votes that

:45:34.:45:44.

we have are relatively small. -- boarding vessels. They do not go far

:45:45.:45:50.

from the coast and there is a strong market in Europe. If anything was to

:45:51.:45:55.

happen to weaken their position in that market, they do not have any

:45:56.:46:00.

alternative means of making the same profit. That is why it is important

:46:01.:46:05.

to ensure that the European market is open on the same terms in the

:46:06.:46:11.

future as it is now. The 21st-century schools programme. The

:46:12.:46:20.

local authority has over ?86 million earmarked for the 21st century

:46:21.:46:23.

schools education programme that extends until 2019. Over ?66 million

:46:24.:46:30.

have been approved with six projects either under construction or getting

:46:31.:46:36.

under way. I was delighted to welcome the Cabinet Secretary for

:46:37.:46:39.

education to officially open two new primary schools. These have been

:46:40.:46:48.

constructed as part of the 21st-century schools programme. The

:46:49.:46:59.

investment combined will be ?20.5 million. Will you join me in

:47:00.:47:04.

welcoming the commitment and investment by the council and by

:47:05.:47:08.

Welsh Government who are working in partnership to deliver first-class

:47:09.:47:11.

education facilities for our children? Indeed. More than ?20

:47:12.:47:18.

million invested in schools is a good example of the local authority

:47:19.:47:21.

working with the Welsh Government to deliver the best for our children.

:47:22.:47:27.

Another example of the Welsh Government and the Labour-controlled

:47:28.:47:29.

local authority delivered in schools that are fit for the 21st century

:47:30.:47:37.

and good for the children. Existing sixth forms in St Albans will be

:47:38.:47:50.

phased out soon. Six from staff from the schools will have to compete for

:47:51.:47:54.

jobs that the new centre. Though the First Minister advise how many

:47:55.:47:59.

redundancies are expected as a result of this reorganisation and

:48:00.:48:03.

what discussion his government has had with the Council in this regard?

:48:04.:48:08.

Local authorities are responsible for the organisation of education in

:48:09.:48:13.

the areas. They are looking to provide the best and most modern

:48:14.:48:19.

provision possible. That was First Minister's Questions. If you want

:48:20.:48:23.

more coverage of the National Assembly you can go online to our

:48:24.:48:30.

Senedd live page. Let me remind you that The Wales Report will be on

:48:31.:48:35.

tomorrow night after the Ten O'Clock News on BBC One Wales. We will not

:48:36.:48:41.

be here next week for First Minister's Questions as the Assembly

:48:42.:48:46.

is in recess. We will see you in two weeks' time at 1:45pm.

:48:47.:48:58.

Make your own bottle rocket. Search BBC Terrific Scientific.

:48:59.:49:13.

# I knew you were trouble when you walked in

:49:14.:49:16.

# Now I'm lying on the cold, hard ground

:49:17.:49:20.

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