14/11/2017 First Minister's Questions


14/11/2017

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


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Good afternoon, welcome to the

programme and coverage of questions

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to the First Minister. In a sombre

mood today as the session began with

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tributes to the fallen and Carl

Sargeant following his death last

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week. Then they moved on to the

usual session, First Minister's

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Questions and you can follow the

latest on our Twitter feed. Business

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in the chamber has been going on all

afternoon, so let's take a look now

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at today's questions to the First

Minister.

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TRANSLATION:

I call the assembly to

order and the item on our agenda is

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questions to the First Minister on

the first question is Jalen

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Saunders. Full stop procurement

policy is meeting the challenge of

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austerity. Creating sustainable

jobs. As you are aware, the number

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of people waiting more than a year

for surgery in Wales has increased

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this year by 400%. In order to get

those last stand, health boards are

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forced to procure some services and

health treatments outside of Wales.

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In my own health board, I'm aware of

several referrals to the Priory

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clinic for those wishing to access

vital mental health services and

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treatment. To reduce the waiting

list for operations that cannot be

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performed in good time in Wales. Our

NHS is now spending £255 million

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procuring that treatment for people

outside of Wales in one year and the

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total number of patients is 46,000

patients. We have had their volition

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now -- devolution and we still

procure much-needed health services

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outside of Wales. What steps will

you be taking to ensure that our

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patients receive the treatment they

require in good time, and most

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importantly in their own locality

and more available than it is

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currently?

I know you have expressed

strong views that you agree with

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that people should not be prevented

from accessing treatment from across

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the border and I think it's

important that were treatment is

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available, people should seek access

to it and not available or treatment

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in and some special treatment has to

be accessed from bigger cities where

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we can provide treatment, we will.

The original recommendation was to

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move the service out of Wales, I

commissioned a review as a result of

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that review it was possible to move

ahead with it. A recount, we will

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but we should not be afraid from

procuring services outside of Wales.

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First Minister, how does the Welsh

government time to use procurement

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levers in the context of providing

task force delivery plan to create

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jobs and improve prosperity in the

northern valleys.

The valleys task

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force plan, we can exploit the job

creation potential of the major

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infrastructure investments we have

in Wales. The major road schemes,

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the M4, the ongoing a 465. We want

to ensure that outcomes are closely

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monitored so that communities get

the maximum benefit from the scheme

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is moving forward.

What assessment

has a First Minister made of the

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impact that the UK Government's

austerity programme has had in

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Wales?

With the £1 billion less to

spend on services in Wales there is

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a great deal of pressure and be

called on the UK Government to end

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this period of austerity and I hope

that's a message that will be heard

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by the Chancellor Alex Cejka at the

end of this month. -- the Chancellor

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of the Exchequer. Philip Hammond

will deliver his budget.

The Welsh

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and Scottish finance ministers

jointly met with Treasury officials

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at the finance meeting in London. At

that meeting, the Welsh and Scottish

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finance ministers delivered a clear

and unambiguous call for the UK Tory

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government to set up plans to lift

the public sector pay gap and

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reverse the 3.5 billion of

unallocated cuts expenditure in

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2019-20. What message does the First

Minister have for the Chancellor of

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the Exchequer in advance of the

budget for the need of the Tory

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government to abandon this

ideological impact of austerity

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considering the Welsh government has

seen its budget cut in 7% in real

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terms.

It is important the £3.5

billion when allocated and we have

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to be in a position where we got

there the extent of those cuts and

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it is hugely important for the

economy to have more money to make

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sure there is more money for

investment, to make sure jobs can be

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created and to enable the Welsh

government and the Scottish

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Government to be able to invest in

the infrastructure that Wales and

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Scotland need.

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He described your approach to the

public finances on the 23rd of

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April.

You were asked, the Shadow

Chancellor John McDonald said 500

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billion more borrowing is needed to

give the economy a boost -- Joe

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it is ten times the UK deficit, do

you think that would be sensible and

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have a big impact?

I believe it is

hugely important that at that time

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and borrowing has not quite as cheap

as it was but it is historically

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cheap and it is reasonable and

responsible for governments to

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borrow money in order to pump that

money into the economy. I adhere to

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that and I take the view that now is

the time for government to borrow

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that money, inject money into the

economy, create jobs we need and

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create the tax receipts that will

pay them.

If that is the case, I

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agree with you, First Minister

because of the historic low interest

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rates that we are facing,

notwithstanding the recent decision

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to have a slight increase, why are

we borrowing at the full amount

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available to us? We're not in

drawing dead in the next financial

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years, the four and 25 billion we

could borrow would be 50 billion

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short of that, we could be doing

more through the mutual investment

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models. Why are we not using the

borrowing powers? We have to balance

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the power we have to borrow money

against the need to pay it back.

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Moving ahead with a mutual

investment model, we will explore

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all models of borrowing to deliver

for the people of Wales.

Questions

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from the party leaders.

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Recently we had allocations pipped

by a former cabinet minister and a

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senior special adviser that in the

last assembly government that you

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were First Minister two, there was

bullying, mind games, favouritism,

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delivered personal undermining,

delivered personal undermining and

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allowing that culture to flourish

unchecked. Also, the special adviser

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cited the behaviour as being pure

poison. Can I ask you to comment on

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those allegations. If that is

correct, there is no way like that

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run a government.

First of all I

heard the allegations, I listened to

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what he had to say and heard what

Steve Jones had to say and what I

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will say is this. The people wish to

come forward to me and explain

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things to me of their experience, I

am more than willing to do that and

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they can come to my office or the

office of the Home Secretary.

The

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allegations levelled very much at

your office and the allegations, the

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people making the allegations state

clearly that the reason these

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allegations with you on numerous

locations and just give up. They

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believe they were not being taken

seriously on these issues were not

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being addressed and indeed an

assembly written question to my

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colleague Darren Millar who act the

question in October 2014 that you

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actually responded to him by saying

that no allegations had been made.

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How can people have confidence that

if they do choose to raise these

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serious concerns with you that they

will be taken seriously and in the

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absence of them having had

confidence, would you commit to

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referring these allegations for

investigation by an independent

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third party so that we can fully

understand whether they are serious

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allegations that stack up and

actually require they have no

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substance and they can be discarded.

It is surely important that where

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people have concerns, they are able

to express those concerns to a

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confidential process. I don't think

doing it in the public domain is the

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way to do these things I invite

people to come forward with any

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concerns they might have, contact my

office or the permanent secretaries

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can make an assessment of what was

supposed to be happening at that

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time.

The credited at these

allegations were raised with you at

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the time because both individuals,

senior individuals within the

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government are categorical in their

allegations that they said they were

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raised on numerous occasions with

you, not just on one-off occasion is

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but numerous occasions with you.

Indeed, they were levelled at your

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office. They were not levelled at

the wider government but at the

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office of the First Minister. So can

you confirm that not like the answer

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you gave Darren Millar back in 2014,

that these allegations were raised

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with you and you did investigate

them at that time. If they do stack

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up, will you commit to referring

them to an independent person so

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they can be looked into it and

actually these actions addressed?

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What I can say is that any issues

brought to my attention at the time

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were dealt with, that is the answer

that was given and that answer is

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correct in 2014. If there are other

issues that people want to bring

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forward, they are welcomed to do so.

When these issues or any issues

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raised with me dealt with? The

answer is yes they were dealt with.

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Leader of the UK group.

The First

Minister would have seen on Wales

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online the piece about the subject

of the Leader of the Opposition has

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raised and he said he was invited to

a dinner in late 2014 with senior

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Welsh Labour figures and give him a

disturbing insight into the aspect

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of the Welsh government he wasn't

familiar with. He said he was

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shocked to hear of the poisonous

atmosphere that existed at the heart

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of Welsh government, claims of

instances of undermining and petty

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sniping and you had been told of

these problems but did nothing about

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them. Does that not fly in the face

of what you have just said to the

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opposition.

I cannot possibly

comment on issues I have no

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knowledge of. If others want to come

forward and share what they have

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said unknown to me, with me, I will

happily listen.

I'm sure the First

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Minister will agree that out of the

tragedy of the last few days, it is

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important we should learn lessons

and arising out of Carl Sargeant's

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dismissal and the processes involved

in that, the First Minister as a

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barrister experienced in criminal

law and procedure said he acted by

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the book. Carl Sargeant was given no

opportunity to answer to him the

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allegations which were made because

no details were given. That flies in

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the face of one of the most

fundamental principles of natural

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justice. To hear the other side of

the argument before somebody is

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disadvantaged. Also, because the

sacking was inevitably public and

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the fact that allegations were

understated had been made of sexual

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impropriety, the publicity generated

was inevitably prejudicial, which

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again imperils the presumption of

innocence. If the First Minister

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acted by the book in this instance,

does he know think that book should

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be thrown away and replaced by

another which is informed by of

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fairness? Two things here, with the

independent enquiry and with the

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inquest, the whole story is told

that once. I'm not able to comment

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on various things that have been

said. It's hugely important the

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whole story is there for all to see

rather than in bits and pieces and

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that would be the right process.

Secondly, do I think there are

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lessons for all parties to learn, I

think it's important that we as

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political parties do that. Politics

is a very difficult business. People

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can be sacked from cabinets, they

can be put into cabinets, people can

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go to an election count and they can

find themselves in a job and then

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find themselves out of a job. What

cheering crowd applauds the fact

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they are not in a job. It is a

brutal business.

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We have to make it less brutal than

it actually is and that is something

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all parties may consider in the

future. I have got personal

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experience of being sacked and I can

confirm it is not pleasant, but

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nobody in politics can complain with

any justice about being sacked

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because there is no justice in

appointments in the first place. But

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the point about this, the sacking

was associated with the allegations

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that were made. There is another way

to First Minister could have dealt

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with this. Carl Sargeant was

governed by the ministerial code of

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conduct as well and is expected to

behave in a principal way that

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uphold the highest standards of

propriety. Damian Green has been

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made subject of allegations of

sexual impropriety and those are

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being investigated not by an

internal party investigation, but by

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Sue Gray, the director-general of

the civil service propriety and

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ethics team. By contrast the route

which the First Minister chose was

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to send a special adviser to speak

to the complainants. The solicitors

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now acting for Carl Sargeant's

family say that to appoint a

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political activist in these

circumstances with no specialist

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expertise in undertaking a

disciplinary investigation actually

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prejudices the outcome of this

process. It is as unfair to those

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making the allegations as to those

who are subject to them. If there

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are uncertainties now about the

credibility and the evidence that is

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caused by that because the solicitor

for Carl Sargeant's party says there

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is a real case of the evidence being

manipulated and this creates

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uncertainty about the credibility,

it undermines the whole process for

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everybody involved in it. Would it

not be better in the future for

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these things to be investigated

independently of the political

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process itself.

The real possibility

of manipulation is a very serious

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suggestion and they would need

strong evidence to back that up. The

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family have asked for an independent

enquiry. I have ensured that steps

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are now going ahead for the

independent enquiry to move forward.

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It would not be right for the family

if I were to go into the detail of

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events because it would seem

convenient to do so for me. I am not

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prepared to do that. Rather than

allow the inquiry to take its full

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course and then for all events to be

examined at that time. I realise

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that there are some who will think

the evasive as a result of saying

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that, but it is hugely important

that all of this is examined. I have

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said it is important, I understand

it is important for the family and

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it is important this is examined and

a full picture is presented at the

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right time and the family is owed

that.

First Minister, I have already

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set out my view over the weekend

regarding the difficult situation

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facing the worst government and of

course Welsh politics as a whole.

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Plaid Cymru is not prepared to make

premature statements about anyone's

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political future. The issues have

not yet been dealt with and the

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decisions that were made have not

yet been examined. Would you believe

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that questions must be answered and

we do believe that and we support

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and call for the independent

enquiry. With the inquest having

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already begun can you confirm the

timescale for the independent

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enquiry into the circumstances

leading up to Carl Sargeant's death?

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The first thing to do is for a QC to

be appointed. The terms of reference

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have to be set and that is entirely

a matter for the QC who will act at

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an's length. That will proceed as

quickly as possible. One of the

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comments of the coroner made

yesterday was that he seemed to

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indicate that the enquiry would

influence one of the outcomes of his

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inquest. We need to clarify what

that means, whether he wants the

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enquiry to conclude before the

inquest or not. That needs to be

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clarified. From my perspective I

want to make sure that matters now

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proceed as swiftly as possible.

I

think we can take it that when

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information becomes available you

will be prepared to share it with

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the Assembly as well. Following last

week there are questions over how we

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can ensure that disclosures are

dealt with in a way that is fair to

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everyone involved. I found myself

asking how do we as political

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parties have the resources and the

trained personnel to deal with

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allegations and to operate in a

transparent way. Or could they be

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dealt with in a more independent way

in the future? An independent and

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neutral authority might be more

trusted, more impartial, more

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transparent, and political parties

are able to be. The office of the

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standards Commissioner may not have

the resources at present to deal

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with disclosures of harassment or

other misconduct in full. There is

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also a question about sanctions,

what kind of sanctions could be

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placed on people? Do you believe the

office of standards Commissioner

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could be equipped with better

resources and that they should also

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look at meaningful sanctions to deal

with such disclosures?

The leader of

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Plaid Cymru has raised an important

point. That is how can we create a

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complaints process that is

different, not weaker, but

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different? A complaints process that

supports all parties. This is a

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small country and we are all small

parties. There is great merit in

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exploring with the Presiding Officer

had the standards Commissioner might

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change roles from the current role,

that is a useful discussion to be

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had amongst the parties.

We know

that sexual harassment occurs

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elsewhere in politics and in other

industries as well. In fact we can

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say that it exists in almost every

walk of life. It remains a problem

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experienced by many people not

exclusively but mainly women and it

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is an issue that needs to be

tackled. One point we need to

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consider is how we can create the

conditions and the culture for those

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who have experienced sexual

harassment to be able to make

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disclosures safely in the future.

Looking beyond the issue of

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disclosure and anonymity, can you

tell us what steps need to be taken

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to ensure that attitudes change so

that harassment can be prevented

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from taking place in the first

place?

I think that is a question

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for all parties working together to

resolve. We have to create a system

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where complainants can come forward

and we have to create a system that

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is fair, everybody understands that,

and from my perspective I want to

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make sure that we can together as

political parties that we can create

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the correct atmosphere and also to

make sure of course that we are able

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to ensure that the processes, if

they are new processes in the

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future, that they apply to all

parties equally. There are many

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questions. The leader of Plaid Cymru

is right to say there are bound to

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be questions, I accept that. Those

are questions people want answers to

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and I accept that as well. As

political parties we need to see

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whether there is a way of changing

the way the Assembly deals with

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these issues and those are

conversations we may need to have

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over the next few weeks.

Question

three. How will the Welsh Government

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deal with the anticipated spike in

child poverty in Wales as a result

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of changes to welfare benefits?

I am

concerned about the significant

0:23:160:23:21

projected increase driven by the UK

Government's planned tax and benefit

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changes. Our strategy sets out

objectives for tackling child

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poverty to ensure that every child

gets the best start in life.

The

0:23:300:23:35

Institute for Fiscal Studies has

calculated that in Wales we will see

0:23:350:23:40

a spike of 7% as a rate of increase

in child poverty which is

0:23:400:23:47

statistically huge. We know that

those on working age benefits are

0:23:470:23:52

seeing a real cut in the amount of

money they get to live off. What do

0:23:520:23:57

you think can be done to mitigate

the policies of the UK Government

0:23:570:24:05

that obviously are not of our

making? What can we in Wales do to

0:24:050:24:11

try and mitigate the appalling

impact that this is likely to have

0:24:110:24:14

on children in this situation?

Let

me give my colleague a number of

0:24:140:24:19

ways in which we are dealing with

that issue. The early inflammation

0:24:190:24:26

of the childcare offer is taking

place in several authorities

0:24:260:24:29

starting in September, December, and

we have invested £38 million in the

0:24:290:24:39

family 's first programme. We have

allocated a budget of £400,000 for

0:24:390:24:47

2017-2018 for positive parenting.

Those are just some examples of what

0:24:470:24:55

we are doing in order to alleviate

child poverty.

We know that the

0:24:550:25:02

figures show that children growing

up in working households do better

0:25:020:25:08

in school and in adult life. How

would you respond to concerns

0:25:080:25:13

expressed since the recent

publication of the Office of

0:25:130:25:17

National Statistics figures for 2016

showing the number of children

0:25:170:25:22

living in long-term workless

households filled by 92,000 across

0:25:220:25:25

the UK last year and went down in

Scotland and Northern Ireland and

0:25:250:25:29

England and it is down by half a

million since 2010, but increased in

0:25:290:25:34

Wales?

First of all, if we look at

our figures historically we have

0:25:340:25:40

seen an increase in the rate of

unemployment in Wales and the

0:25:400:25:44

decrease in regular employment. But

it is not sufficient simply to look

0:25:440:25:50

at whether people are in work or

not. We have to look beyond that and

0:25:500:25:55

understand what people are burning.

We used to say if people found the

0:25:550:26:00

job, it was a route out of poverty,

yet we know the in work poverty is

0:26:000:26:05

one of the scourges we have. We have

heard of stories of nurses using

0:26:050:26:10

food banks. That is why it is

important for there to be a

0:26:100:26:14

loosening of the bonds of austerity

by the UK Government, for the

0:26:140:26:18

devolved governments to make sure

that we can improve the income of

0:26:180:26:23

our public sector workers, many of

whom have struggled in terms of

0:26:230:26:26

their pay rises for some years.

Question four.

Will you make a

0:26:260:26:37

statement on the future of

enterprise zones in Wales?

It has a

0:26:370:26:41

strong track record with 10,000 jobs

having been supported across the

0:26:410:26:45

eight zones in Wales.

Thank you for

that answer. In July the statement

0:26:450:26:55

was made that stated the enterprise

zones continued to benefit Wales.

0:26:550:27:06

The strategy for Port Tolbert is

based around established employment

0:27:060:27:10

size in the area which has

significant capacity for supporting

0:27:100:27:14

further business investment and it

says the Welsh Government is

0:27:140:27:16

continuing to build on a

world-class, advanced money

0:27:160:27:21

factoring skills in that area. I

fully support that ambition. I want

0:27:210:27:27

to see it come to fruition

particularly as the long-term future

0:27:270:27:32

of the steelworks is still unclear.

Press Minister, the enterprise zone

0:27:320:27:40

in Port Talbot actually includes

industrial Park which has a covenant

0:27:400:27:48

which says it must be used for

industrial purposes. Can you listen

0:27:480:27:53

to the voices of my constituents and

reject the quotas by the Ministry of

0:27:530:27:59

Justice to not use that land, but to

use all the land to support business

0:27:590:28:06

investment and deliver economic

growth and job creation.

My friend

0:28:060:28:15

has been a staunch advocate for

views and those of many in his

0:28:150:28:21

constituency. As a government we

have written a letter to the

0:28:210:28:26

Ministry of Justice. We have sought

clarification in terms of the number

0:28:260:28:30

of questions we have asked. I have

not yet seen a response. The

0:28:300:28:35

response to that letter will inform

our further consideration in terms

0:28:350:28:38

of how the land might be used.

First

Minister, since the creation of the

0:28:380:28:46

Ebbw Vale enterprise zone 94.6

million has been spent to create,

0:28:460:28:52

safeguard or assist just 390 jobs.

That is figures published by the

0:28:520:28:58

Welsh Government. That is a cost of

around a quarter of a million per

0:28:580:29:02

job. Given that the key plank of

enterprise zones is job creation,

0:29:020:29:10

these figures indicate to me there

is a huge level of investment which

0:29:100:29:15

has not been good value for money.

Can Wales afford another five years

0:29:150:29:21

of investment on this kind of scale

for the kind of return that I have

0:29:210:29:27

highlighted?

What I will say to the

member is that enterprise zones take

0:29:270:29:33

time to come to fruition. The huge

amount of investment is going to the

0:29:330:29:41

ever Vale area. He will know we are

investing a substantial sum in

0:29:410:29:53

developing a technology park in the

area. Enterprise zones have to be

0:29:530:29:59

judged on the long term rather than

the short-term.

0:29:590:30:04

Thank you very much.

0:30:040:30:08

Local people do not want a super

prison on the site and as the

0:30:120:30:16

landowner, the Welsh goal can

prevent it. What are you doing to

0:30:160:30:21

stop selling this land to the

Ministry of Justice?

We have written

0:30:210:30:28

to the Ministry of Justice with

questions, we have not seen the

0:30:280:30:31

response. The response to those

questions will form part of our

0:30:310:30:36

future consideration. They revolve

around what the plans are for the

0:30:360:30:40

site in terms of the type of prison,

they revolve around what the future

0:30:400:30:47

is for Swansea and Cardiff prisons

and we are not in a position to

0:30:470:30:51

proceed further with this until we

get answers to those questions on

0:30:510:30:54

those answers must be satisfactory.

First Minister, enterprise zones

0:30:540:31:02

should be a fantastic way of

regenerating some of Wales's most

0:31:020:31:06

deprived regions but the reality is

somewhat different. Some of the

0:31:060:31:10

zones are working well. Attracting

private investment and rejuvenating

0:31:100:31:15

the local economy. Others are simply

operating because the government

0:31:150:31:19

support a handful of jobs. If the

enterprise zones were truly

0:31:190:31:24

successful, there wouldn't be the

land available to build a prison in

0:31:240:31:28

one of those zones. What does the

government planned to do differently

0:31:280:31:32

to ensure that all enterprise zones

attract private sector and

0:31:320:31:37

infrastructure investment into their

respective regions and create new

0:31:370:31:40

jobs for local people.

Some will

agree more than others. There will

0:31:400:31:48

be some parts of Wales because of

their locations, they will find it

0:31:480:31:52

easier than other enterprise zones.

It is there to overcome some of

0:31:520:31:59

those difficulties. We must judge

them on what they do in the longer

0:31:590:32:02

term because as much investment is

put into that and it is often put

0:32:020:32:08

into training and it is through the

development of that investment that

0:32:080:32:13

we see jobs being created long-term.

Gareth Bennett.

What steps is the

0:32:130:32:24

Welsh government taking to alleviate

the increasing congestion on

0:32:240:32:27

motorways and trunk roads in South

Wales Central?

We follow advice from

0:32:270:32:35

party leaders, reducing immigration

would be the key to do this! We'll

0:32:350:32:41

continue to work for transport of

Wales to deliver transport system in

0:32:410:32:49

Wales, high-quality, safe and

affordable transport for all.

I

0:32:490:32:57

agree that integrated transport is

crucial. One aspect I wanted to

0:32:570:33:01

touch on was a information. Many

motorists have observed that the

0:33:010:33:07

major roads in England there is

often better information available

0:33:070:33:11

on digital road signs than in Wales.

Estimate travel times to particular

0:33:110:33:16

junctions which can warn motorists

of imminent congestion. Would you

0:33:160:33:19

agree that more digital information

could be made available and can the

0:33:190:33:23

Welsh government help to provide

this?

I am aware of the signs we see

0:33:230:33:27

in England but I have to say they

are not accurate often. I have time

0:33:270:33:33

to myself so when they see those

signs, they cannot provide for what

0:33:330:33:36

is ahead what might happen, a number

of things can interfere with the

0:33:360:33:41

flow of traffic. That said, of

course we continue to keep under

0:33:410:33:45

review was further information might

be available for drivers in order

0:33:450:33:49

for their journeys to be made

easier.

First Minister, flexible

0:33:490:33:54

working patterns could provide one

key to alleviating pressure on our

0:33:540:33:58

motorways and trunk roads in key

terms. What worked as the government

0:33:580:34:04

done to speak to employers about the

benefits of flexible working?

This

0:34:040:34:08

is something we want to ensure it is

very much part of working in the

0:34:080:34:13

future. In terms of flexible

working, we have funded a travel

0:34:130:34:17

plan and they have worked with

employers across Wales to encourage

0:34:170:34:22

sustainable travel. Travel planner

coordinators work from organisations

0:34:220:34:24

and local sectors. Anchored

companies and regionally important

0:34:240:34:30

companies across Wales and the

provide advice and support them and

0:34:300:34:35

measures that could be adopted and

support sustainable travel and as

0:34:350:34:42

part of those measures, advice was

given to promote active travel, car

0:34:420:34:50

sharing, video conferencing,

home-working.

First Minister, I

0:34:500:34:56

would welcome the investment on

areas such as the 4119, but no

0:34:560:35:04

matter how much we invest in the

roads, they are becoming congested

0:35:040:35:08

and Lewis in the area in terms of

traffic and it only real solution

0:35:080:35:15

has got to be the extension of the

Metro that has been outlined in

0:35:150:35:24

respect to that. Can you confirm

those plans still feature as part of

0:35:240:35:28

the government's metro plans in

order to resolve that, particularly

0:35:280:35:33

bearing in mind the extent of

housing development in those areas.

0:35:330:35:37

It was the Metro's designed to be

expandable, of course the initial

0:35:370:35:41

phase of the metal, we looked at

what was in place. I don't know if

0:35:410:35:46

it is entirely intact between the

mainline. Level crossing a

0:35:460:35:52

stillbirth. It is -- the level

crossing is still there. How can we

0:35:520:36:01

look at bringing services to areas

where previously there were not

0:36:010:36:03

services. What services are

appropriate for communities as they

0:36:030:36:09

grow, how can we create a

sustainable travel we want to see by

0:36:090:36:13

putting in place good value and

frequent alternatives and as far as

0:36:130:36:19

this is concerned looking at that in

the longer term will be part of

0:36:190:36:25

those plans. Will Minister make a

statement to attract GPs do not

0:36:250:36:38

Wales?

The government is committed

to increase GPs in all parts of

0:36:380:36:49

Wales, including Northern Wales. One

of the practical difficulties

0:36:490:37:00

causing problems is the situation in

terms of the cost of indemnity

0:37:000:37:04

insurance for doctors, a cost of

£10,000. Clearly I wouldn't expect

0:37:040:37:09

them not to have that cover but it

can be a very practical problem in

0:37:090:37:14

trying to attract retired doctors

act to assist in certain areas. The

0:37:140:37:19

BMA raised this regularly with

assembly members and they have

0:37:190:37:23

received clear messages to that end.

Can I see what the government will

0:37:230:37:27

do to try to tackle that practical

problem?

This is an important point

0:37:270:37:35

and I would imagine there had been

an increase in the cost of indemnity

0:37:350:37:39

insurance, may I write to the member

to give him the details that would

0:37:390:37:45

come as regards this?

And as regards

the British Medical Association.

0:37:450:37:54

Many of my own constituents have

faced receiving letters to the post

0:37:540:37:59

regarding their own local surgeries,

particularly in the Colwyn Bay area

0:37:590:38:03

being vulnerable to changes and some

of the GPs have handed back their

0:38:030:38:07

contracts to the local health

boards, another Welsh government is

0:38:070:38:10

working with health boards to try to

overcome some of these challenges in

0:38:100:38:14

the short term but do you accept

that one of the reasons we are

0:38:140:38:17

facing this shortage of GPs is

because of successive Welsh

0:38:170:38:20

government is having failed to train

sufficient numbers in the past and

0:38:200:38:25

are you now confident that you have

the systems in place to be able to

0:38:250:38:30

attract the number of GPs that Wales

will need going forward?

Yes I am.

0:38:300:38:35

The Cabinet Secretary will make a

statement shortly to members on the

0:38:350:38:39

definitive numbers recruited to the

GP training scheme. This will show

0:38:390:38:44

positive for the recruitment better

than the initial rate of 91% which

0:38:440:38:48

has been reported in this chamber.

That will represent significant

0:38:480:38:54

improvement in the Welsh GP training

numbers.

Will the First Minister

0:38:540:39:01

make a statement on preparatory work

on the franchise?

The further

0:39:010:39:09

statement issued by the Cabinet

Secretary for economy and transport

0:39:090:39:12

on the 6th of November regarding the

service procurement.

I think the

0:39:120:39:19

First Minister and I have read that

statement. It was released as a

0:39:190:39:23

result of the fact that the trains

had withdrawn from the franchise

0:39:230:39:29

process.

0:39:290:39:30

Reading between the lines and

reports around that, then it turns

0:39:330:39:36

around the fact that a reader had

decided there was no commercial

0:39:360:39:42

value in that franchise, including

the Metro and building another Metro

0:39:420:39:48

and it reflects the fact we were

still reliant on a subsidy from

0:39:480:39:55

Westminster and responsibility being

transferred from Westminster because

0:39:550:39:57

this process hasn't been completed

by your government. What can you do

0:39:570:40:02

us today -- tell us today which can

give passengers assurances and the

0:40:020:40:08

staff on these trains that those

jobs will remain in place and the

0:40:080:40:13

services will remain in place and

there will not be any problems in

0:40:130:40:17

providing this franchise as you have

pledged to? First of all, there are

0:40:170:40:25

issues to be discussed with the

Department for Transport in London.

0:40:250:40:28

There is no dig problem as far as I

know as regards preceding with the

0:40:280:40:35

process, it is not unusual for a

company to withdraw and we know that

0:40:350:40:39

there are companies that are still

part of that process. May I say that

0:40:390:40:44

what we would have preferred to see

is that a situation where the

0:40:440:40:49

finance and the funding would have

been transferred and that we could

0:40:490:40:52

then direct Network Rail that hasn't

been given to us and would be given

0:40:520:40:59

an opportunity to run the franchise.

That is something which has been

0:40:590:41:08

made available to Scotland but not

gifted to us and we are completely

0:41:080:41:11

angry about that. There is no reason

know why this should not proceed and

0:41:110:41:18

of course it is something we want to

ensure to see a better service for

0:41:180:41:21

the people of Wales.

You're quite

right to say the decision of them to

0:41:210:41:26

drop out of the bidding process. It

does happen, we shouldn't get too

0:41:260:41:32

worked up about it deciding that

it's not for them. At what point did

0:41:320:41:36

you know that they were dropping

out, was sudden, did they give

0:41:360:41:41

advance warning and I'm wondering,

did the Welsh government receive any

0:41:410:41:44

feedback from the company and the

staff involved that would be

0:41:440:41:51

beneficial now moving forward with

the rest of the process because

0:41:510:41:53

clearly, if other franchise

businesses were to drop out, we

0:41:530:41:57

could end up in a tricky situation

down the line so to speak.

The exact

0:41:570:42:05

date that a they withdrew... That is

not unusual and they have done this

0:42:050:42:18

for their own commercial reasons.

There are some issues I cannot

0:42:180:42:27

disclose for commercial reasons.

A

few weeks ago it became apparent

0:42:270:42:37

that new trains for the great

Western Railway service won't

0:42:370:42:44

include any bilingual signage or

announcements and as expected there

0:42:440:42:47

were a number of complaint is made

to the company by passengers

0:42:470:42:49

following this news, condemning the

decision taken, including by the

0:42:490:42:52

former Welsh language minister. The

company's excuse was that these

0:42:520:42:58

trains served areas of England as

well as Wales and therefore using

0:42:580:43:03

bilingual signage and making

bilingual announcements would not be

0:43:030:43:07

appropriate. Some passengers in

England have expressed support to

0:43:070:43:11

having Welsh services talking about

their experiences of travelling from

0:43:110:43:17

one country to another and in Europe

pursuing the language change

0:43:170:43:21

regularly. Ensuring bilingual

signage and announcements on trains

0:43:210:43:25

as a matter of fundamental respect

for the Welsh language is, so can

0:43:250:43:28

you commit to ensuring that language

standards will be introduced by the

0:43:280:43:33

government in the transport sector,

standards that have been on the

0:43:330:43:38

government's desk for almost one

year and therefore companies such as

0:43:380:43:44

GW are would be able to provide

services and the respect that Welsh

0:43:440:43:47

speakers deserve. I ask the Minister

therefore to write to you about this

0:43:470:43:53

issue.

They are able to offer the

service now, of course.

It seems

0:43:530:44:00

like the story has been told in the

way that suggests it is not possible

0:44:000:44:07

at present, but it would be possible

in my view because the train company

0:44:070:44:11

have used the Welsh language on

their trains, although the trains

0:44:110:44:15

travel through England, they don't

physically change the language on

0:44:150:44:19

the signage as they travel through

England, so there's no reason

0:44:190:44:23

whatsoever why the great Western

Railway shouldn't do both Welsh and

0:44:230:44:27

English and its writers or people

would respect the that both

0:44:270:44:32

languages are used and the people of

England would be better to see at!

0:44:320:44:39

Will the First Minister confirmed

that his policy of the Welsh

0:44:390:44:42

government not to allow any new

opencast development in Wales?

We

0:44:420:44:48

will be consulting early next year

on amendments to plan policy Wales

0:44:480:44:51

to prevent that.

I thank the First

Minister for that confirmation. We

0:44:510:44:58

have seen a number of instances

where companies involved in the

0:44:580:45:02

opencast industry have failed to

honour their obligation to reinstate

0:45:020:45:08

sites, either partially or wholly

once activities have ceased. It's

0:45:080:45:12

incredible that the company

previously owned has been allowed to

0:45:120:45:19

rescind its guarantee of some £50

million. The council Institute in

0:45:190:45:27

its place, an escrow account which

the owners which will be expected to

0:45:270:45:32

pay into, swapping and guaranteed

sum of money to one dependent on the

0:45:320:45:38

efficacy of the new company. Is the

First Minister able to shed any

0:45:380:45:42

light on what seems to be an

extraordinary decision.

The council

0:45:420:45:48

have the responsibility for the

enforcement of planning. I have seen

0:45:480:45:53

instances elsewhere. The mining has

finished and the site had not been

0:45:530:46:01

restored because it is an issue with

the bonds that the companies were

0:46:010:46:07

required to produce in the days when

call was privatised, there was a

0:46:070:46:12

limit placed on the bonds they

required and it was not sufficient

0:46:120:46:16

to cover the restoration of the

land. That is an historic problem.

0:46:160:46:23

It comes to explain, I'm not aware

of the circumstances on why they

0:46:230:46:27

have taken the decision that they

have?

0:46:270:46:42

Will the Prime Minister make a

statement on the proposed white

0:46:420:46:45

paper language Bill.

The

consultation closed on the 31st of

0:46:450:46:52

October and we are currently

analysing the responses and will

0:46:520:46:54

make a further statement in due

course.

Many organisations have been

0:46:540:47:00

in touch with me in order to express

concerns about your intention to

0:47:000:47:05

abolish the role of the Welsh

language Commissioner and to weaken

0:47:050:47:10

the fundamental rights of Welsh

speakers. Unfortunately your

0:47:100:47:16

government has accused the language

organisations of being too

0:47:160:47:19

conservative. Groups are doing a

great deal to assist the language.

0:47:190:47:30

Given the concerns expressed by many

organisations and specialists in

0:47:300:47:34

this area is it now time for you to

reconsider the decision to abolish

0:47:340:47:40

the role of Welsh language

Commissioner?

Well, we have

0:47:400:47:49

naturally consulted on the bill

itself and we will now analyse the

0:47:490:47:53

responses we have received. It is

rightly important that they are

0:47:530:47:57

considered in detail and became of

the government is to improve the

0:47:570:48:01

situation and reinforce and

strengthen the rights available to

0:48:010:48:07

speakers to ensure that we can

attain the target of a million Welch

0:48:070:48:10

speakers by 2050 and so what we are

now doing is considering the views

0:48:100:48:17

of organisations and other bodies to

see whether we can understand their

0:48:170:48:21

concerns.

I wonder if you can tell

us whether on examining the case for

0:48:210:48:30

the new body to replace the language

Commissioner the government has

0:48:300:48:34

considered how carefully for any

staff might be affected and whether

0:48:340:48:42

there will be transfers of staff.

Can you tell me whether officials

0:48:420:48:46

have already scoped the lengthy

costs of TUPE and the costs

0:48:460:48:55

associated with managing

individuals' data protection?

0:48:550:49:05

Can I give assurances that when it

is change we want to make sure and

0:49:050:49:11

we are in the situation where

people... We want to get comfort to

0:49:110:49:21

people as soon as possible. Any

regulatory assessment of the bill

0:49:210:49:26

will follow process and members will

have the opportunity to scrutinise

0:49:260:49:29

them. Our new political programme is

on tomorrow, BBC Wales at 1030. For

0:49:290:49:40

more coverage, you can go online to

BBC Wales news page, the address for

0:49:400:49:47

that. From all of us on the

programme, thanks for joining us,

0:49:470:49:51

goodbye.

0:49:510:49:53

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