21/03/2017 First Minister's Questions


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

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Good afternoon. Welcome to the programme. Carwyn Jones is expected


to face questions on a range of subjects from small businesses,


rough sleeping and having a constitutional convention. Don't


forget we are on Twitter where you can see all the latest business and


the session is already underway. So, questions to the First Minister. I


called a National Assembly to order and the first question is from Paul


Davies. We want a statement to find out what the Welsh Government is


doing to support his knees in West Wales. Business support is available


for small, and medium business, and our focus remains on supporting


entrepreneurs, jobs and the economy. First Minister, I continue to


receive comments from constituents and business in North Wales to say


that although you have announced additional funding, there is indeed


confusion and many business operators don't know whether they


are able to receive this. Can you be more specific about who qualifies


and can you tell us why the Government wanted to target


high-street business without including other business? Of course,


what we have been trying to do is help those who have lost out


temporarily because of the renewal of the business rates and many


people have benefited from that, and of course, those businesses who have


perhaps seen a drop in business rates, we hope we will be able to


help small businesses particularly those who have seen a rise in their


rates. Figures from Lloyds bank have shown that 40% fewer businesses were


established in the last five year in Pembrokeshire, winning and Anglesey


as compared to the 26 across Wales and a 20% in England. Is the First


Minister willing to look into why the figures are so different in the


Westerly counties, as compare it with places such as Gwent, where


there's been a decline of 8% and the award goes to Merthyr, where half a


percent decline was seen. Will the First Minister ask his ministers to


look at what is happening in West Wales, in this particular area.


Well, I believe you are talking about the Lloyds and figures. We


don't know what methodology they used and what the nature of the data


set is. Having said that, the number of businesses has increased by 2025


in 2011. So, 11,025 in 2015, but of course, we will consider the figures


issued by Lloyds bank to see if there's any kind of problem here


that we need to address in one part of Wales. We are talking about


business ones of ?7 million each. The application deadline is in just


five weeks' time, just the same as what happened with the Growth And


Prosperity By, on the 17th of last year, the deadline for the


applications was just four weeks later. The Scottish Government has


created a ?500 million fund with an open window. Every time the Welsh


Government finds a bit of money down the back of their first sofa, we


announce a new fund and its closed before most businesses have had the


opportunity to hear about it. It's the opposite of strategic and I


believe it makes Wales look amateurish. Our economic growth is


better than Scotland and we've done better than Scottish Government in


that regard. The window is short but nevertheless, the schemes are


popular, they deliver and the economic statistics show that. What


is the Welsh Government doing to tackle rough sleeping in Wales. We


have got the legislation that we passed to ensure that rough sleeping


was dealt with. There's a? The moment in terms of trying to


understand the numbers of people who are sleeping rough, it difficult to


assess but we are not complacent and we are trying to provide a programme


to help those who are homeless. Last week, a press report highlighted


people sleeping rough in Neath. People had had difficult times with


job loss, addiction, leaving prison. There is an acknowledgement that the


bear has been great progress. We are told you don't know enough about


rough sleeping to fix it, and there is a comparative lack of housing in


Wales. Will the First Minister look at how the Welsh Government monitors


rough sleeping and help us find out why it happens. The housing Wales


act 2014 has been implemented and there is a report on this, so we can


find out how rough sleepers are being treated. And other systems are


being explored in order to assist with the annual monitoring that


takes place and they will be further information that take place -- that


will take place later in the year. We will look at local authorities


who are responsible for meeting that need a local areas to find out and


help with people not becoming homeless in the first place. Shelter


are gravely concerned about the lack of data being able to monitor what


is happening in Wales, I believe many of your other programmes such


as communities at work, the data and a lack of data is an emerging theme


for your Government. We have strong legislation so wide as this


situation arise where there is such a lack of data on such an important


issue, and what will be gunning to ensure that there is no growth of


the number of homeless people in Wales? Well, one data which is


important is the data from 2016, showing the legislation were


successful in helping 85% of families who felt under pressure,


who had perhaps lost their House because of that, so we know that has


worked extremely well, but as I said earlier, it's important to insure


that the data we have is adequate to ensure that the legislation works in


the most effective way possible. As a member of the multi-agency


cross-party working group that successfully campaigned under TCC to


build a night shelter in Wrexham, is particularly frustrating that the


Welsh Government's rough sleeper couch shows a 72% rise and that the


numbers in Wrexham are up from 17 to 27 from the previous year and with


61, it has the highest proportion of people sleeping rough over a


two-week period in Wales, even higher than Cardiff. How do you


propose the Government should interact with the charities there,


stop blaming each other, and help ask it to grips with the town 's


issues? I have to say, his party, the Conservatives have to take


responsibility for this. The hammering people have had three the


bedroom tax. Yes, it's true to say that we look to use legislation to


prevent homelessness, but of course the UK Government is responsible for


taking money away from people and making people homeless, though his


party has to accept that they are responsible for much of the threat


of homelessness. First Minister, the discussions around rough sleeping


has been completely toxic. Rather than seeing them as poor unfortunate


souls basing hyperthermia, sleeping in shop doorways, many have seen


them as delinquents and a scourge to be removed from our high streets. Do


you agree with me that rather than serving ASBOs on these people


locking them up, councils across Wales should be providing shelter


and working with various agencies in partnership to find them permanent


accommodation. I take your point on stigma. I have been to the Salvation


Army in Cardiff and have seen and met many of the people who are


homeless. Some of them have very different stories, some are


wrestling with addiction, some find it difficult to remain in


accommodation, and there are many Rob learns individuals have to face.


-- problems. We need to find holistic solutions to these


problems. Thank you, Presiding Officer, may I


wish you many happy returns. I have many years to go before I hit a


milestone of 50! I look forward to you telling me what it is like! But


I wish you all the best on your birthday today, and I'd like to send


best wishes to be Minister for rural affairs who is in convalescence at


present. We want to talk about the local deals with authorities, and


creating a combination of projects that will hopefully lift GBA and


employability and skills and the prospect of Swansea city, and its


region, because it's not just Swansea we are looking at here. It's


not in unreasonably put to people that we want to discuss what Terry


Matthews was talking about as the chair of the City Region Board, and


concept has moved away from the people and more to buildings. Do you


share that view and the view that the deal before us could potentially


be built for people to come rather than for people in the region? It


had to be agreed by the local authorities, ourselves and the UK


Government and almost half of the investment will come from the


private sector. It's an example of what happens when Government call


operate, and the public and the private sector as well. The 11


projects are about creating 11,000 jobs. That's opportunities for


people and that's something that both governments and the local


authorities are confident that happening. Are you confident that


GBA which is about 74% in the Swansea region will increase as part


of the deal, so can you give firm indicators that you and the


Government will be benchmarking the success, what we can expect in


three, five, eight and ten years, with this deal coming forward so we


can mark you and the UK Government and need partners about the rising


GBA levels. So we can see this increasing rather than just sound


bites on redevelopment has happened in the Park. One area where


productivity can be improved is with skills and higher paid jobs. The


lead up asks how we can measure this? Firstly with GVA per head and


GVA compared to the rest of the UK. I Hello and welcome to the


programme. But I'd like more definitive markers to see where GVA


will go from where it is at the moment, 74%. Cardiff have got a city


deal, Swansea has got a city deal and Swansea region, the North Wales


desperately needs a great deal to be delivered. Yesterday, in the


Guardian, you accuse the Prime Minister had a 10-year about


concerns you have around devolution and our role in the UK. One of the


things in North Wales that has come out is the ability for the


Government to devolve responsibility to North Wales so those powers


around transport, skills, business rates, there would be a greater


synergy between the northern powerhouse and North Wales to create


a better driver for economic prosperity in North Wales. Will your


Government actively considered evolving responsibilities, or will


you be showing a Kenya to North Wales for business and council


leaders when they are asking you for business responsibilities. The


Swansea Bay and Cardiff City they deals are driven by local


authorities. Something we seek to impose. The same will pry to the


North Wales growth deal, large urban areas, these are the two deals that


were ready first. In the north-east, that would come next. We would look


to devolve as many powers as we can in the future. In terms of business


rates, it's more difficult because we know there are authorities who


would lose out if these were devolve, and we want this main


decisions are attained locally, meaning local authorities are as


much in the driving seats. And working


I would like to wish the First Minister happy birthday. Age is


nothing to fear, as long as you remain in rude health, like me. The


First Minister will agree, whatever our differing views on Brexit,


uncertainty is to be deprecated and the Prime Minister is about to


resolve one answer by triggering Article 50. It is regrettable that


Nicola Sturgeon has now sought to create another uncertainty over a


referendum in Scotland. No doubt confident the Prime Minister would


refuse a request. I wonder if the First Minister would agree with me


the best way to reduce this uncertainty is to call Nicola


Sturgeon's bluff and hold the referendum? Thank you for the good


wishes. From different perspectives. My view is, and I've said this


publicly, if the Scottish Parliament votes to hold a referendum, the UK


Government should not stand in its way, any more than the European


Commission of Parliament should have stood in the way of the UK holding a


referendum on Brexit. If the Scottish parliament seeks to hold a


referendum, then the views of that parliament should be respected. I


agree with him. It is rarely wrong to consult the people. If there were


to be a referendum campaign, it would have some relevance for Wales


because Scotland has a budget deficit of 15 billion a year,


although it has a larger economy than Wales, it is much the same


figure as we have here. 15 billion deficit. And that is effectively a


transfer of funds from one part of the UK to another, which would


disappear if either Scotland or Wales became politically


independent. It is not my view that independence is in the interests of


Wales. I am aware of the substantial financial transfers that take place.


That come into Wales. That is why I am a strong devolutionist, but not


somebody who supports independence. It is important to all those who


believe in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom that we unite on this


point that Wales would be vastly poorer if it were to leave the


United Kingdom. There is no way that any cut in any budget from a UK


department subsequently devolved to Wales could possibly be compensated


for in any other way. Because public expenditure is now nearly 60% of


Welsh GDP, there would be a massive hit for all poor and vulnerable


people, and all those who rely on the NHS and other social services


for their health and well-being. The case for independence by those who


make it in Wales is not built on the economy but on emotion. It is


important that when the UK leaves the EU, we have in place a structure


that reflects a proper partnership of four nations within the UK. It's


not a case of the UK Government imposing its will on devolved


governments. We also have an independent judiciary process to


police the internal market. For me, that will represent for Wales a very


good outcome. My worry is the UK Government itself doesn't create the


conditions were people feel annoyed enough to take the view that the UK


is not worth preserving. That is not something I want to see. It is clear


that Wales is so wealthy and prosperous the status quo is the


only option for us, isn't it? First Minister, in recent years, there


have been a number of scandals concerning the quality of treatment


or some patients in some wards in the Welsh NHS. How confident are you


that the systems for identifying and correcting problems are no robust


enough to prevent another Princess of Wales style scandal? We are


confident the structures are in place to avoid those scenarios and


robust. One area of treatment where problems have regularly been


identified is nutrition and you -- and hydration. That is a basic


health care need. Yesterday, the Public Accounts Committee released


another report on nutrition. This is five years after the last report on


nutrition. The report found, and I quote, a story of a distinct lack of


leadership, stagnant activity and frustratingly slow progress in the


number of important areas. You claim to have introduced new initiatives


to fix this. I have they not yet succeeded? And what reasons can you


give for the slow progress on hospital nutrition? There is a


formal process for responding to reports. The report highlighted good


progress that had been made in a number of areas. It is hugely


important to have reports such as this to make sure there is as much


improvement as we want to see. How many reports do we need? 9% of


patients were not being given enough water to drink. There are other


areas where progress is nonexistent. No progress on a computerised


information catering service, identified in 2011. Not a single


health board has named director with responsibility for nutrition. Not a


single health board has achieved 100% compliance with nutritional


care pathway training, despite it being mandatory since its


introduction in 2011. What you hear from management is very different to


what we as Assembly Members here from patients and our constituents.


When can we expect to see some leadership from you on hospital


nutrition? When will we get beyond apologies and claims of lessons


learnt, to see that these simple basic problems in the NHS have to be


prevented before they cause a serious harm to some of our


patients? We have already introduced a range of initiatives. We are


considering ways to improve healthy food provision in hospitals even


further, including an upcoming review of the mandatory standards.


There have been huge improvements already achieved by the NHS. The


auditor general in a report says the recognise that two thirds of the


recommendations have been actioned. Must have been done, some have not


yet been done. The auditor general is saying that what is left to do is


the of being done. Will the First Minister provided an update on Welsh


Government plans to create better jobs closer to home? Across


government team is taking forward the programme to better align a


range of commercial projects. It is worth remembering it was in October


2015 the wheels Trades Union Congress launched its excellent


campaign for better jobs closer to home to benefit valleys communities,


such as my constituency. I received a friendly note last week


emphasising that. I was pleased to see the same principles were


contained in the programme for government. I would like to welcome


the speech from yesterday it was recognised regional differences were


addressed. Will the First Minister provide more specifics about the


Welsh Government's approach? Will it tackle economic challenges faced by


those in South Wales, building on existing strengths and the social


capital that exists? The commercial pilots are a start in testing


interventions, to see how they can be as effective as they can. Were


looking to implement a specific strategy regionally in the northern


valleys and across the whole of Wales. There is a ministerial task


force which has been set up across government to address these issues.


The challenges there are differences within the valleys themselves. We


are looking to ensure we can even out economic development and


improvement over the course of the next few years, rather than seeing


some parts of the valleys do well and others less well. Pilot projects


are part of that. The task force is another level. TRANSLATION: All this


means for my constituents is creating quality jobs in North West


Wilts. The Welsh Government is duty bound to show away in this regard to


have deliberate policies to ensure that government jobs are distributed


across Wales. When does the government intend to reform a job


location strategy, to include specific criteria which would lead


to the distribution of Welsh Government jobs in an equal number


across Wales? I would suggest you amend this strategy before the


people of North Wales lose all faith in your strategy? TRANSLATION: We as


a government have moved more jobs out of Cardiff than ever under the


Welsh office. It is not possible to have jobs in every location, but our


record is extremely good, particularly in North Wales. There


are more people working for the Welsh Government in North Wales than


was ever true under the old Welsh office. What about home-working? One


of the problems home workers face in my constituency and in other parts


is pure broadband connectivity. Report last week said some of the


lowest speeds can be found in North Wales. There are still many people


who don't have access to superfast broadband. What are you doing to


hold BT and open reach to account, to make sure they deliver on their


promises and obligations under the scheme? And what action are you


taking to address those 5% of properties which are currently


outside the scope of the scheme, so that those in those areas have the


opportunity to work from home? Many of the 96% of those who have access


to broadband would not have had that without government intervention.


There will be other alternatives which have to be explored. For


example, the use of satellites rather than tables. We are aware of


these areas. We need to ensure the 4% are not forgotten about. I'm


given to understand there are present 175 businesses on lists for


cancel old units in Caerphilly. Some for up to five years. Are there any


government plans to help councils like Caerphilly construct new units


to accommodate such surpluses? Given the fact that obviously there is the


potential to create thousands of jobs closer to home. I'm unaware of


the situation as he describes it. I will write to him on that as it is


specific to that council. We need to avoid a situation where we build


speculatively lot of factory units. Lots of them remained empty in the


1990s. We want to identify existing business is appropriate for


businesses who want them. And to look at where building can take


place where there is demand. Back as part of the economic strategy. What


progress has been made in setting up the Constitutional Convention? I


have been calling for a number of years for this constitutional


convention. The case is now even stronger. This is an important


issue. Would he agree that the unwritten constitution of the UK is


unsustainable in view of leaving the EU and with the threat of a second


Scottish independence referendum? The heart of the problem is


parliamentary sovereignty. All power comes from one place in Westminster.


It has the ability to do whatever it wants. I think there are several


centres of democratic accountability, of which this


assembly is one. For me, the UK has to move more towards a system of


shared sovereignty. It works in Canada. We need to get away from


this idea that somehow everything is subordinate to Westminster. That is


not the model I believe. It might have worked in the 19th century, I


don't think it will work in this century.


Moving forward, we know that the Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru White


Paper has been rejected out of hand by the UK Government. We know the UK


Government has broken its promise to other UK wide approach to EU


negotiations before triggering Article 50. Doesn't bode well ahead


of the repeal Bill and the legislation. The First Minister


could trigger an article, which would bring a continuity bill to


this assembly now to defend the current Welsh constitution from a


power grab from Westminster. There has been no formal response to the


White Paper that we have produced. Secondly, the great reform Bill is


designed to be a bill that will reserve EU law in the jurisdictions


of the UK. The laws of the different parts of the UK. That is all it


does. But we would oppose any suggestion there will be a claw-back


in devolved powers. Or that powers returning from Brussels would sit


through a period of time in Westminster. We would argue against


that strongly. We will not support that if that is proposed as part of


that Bill. I think the problem with the convention as you can only have


one until after a second referendum in Scotland, which at some point in


the future does look a possibility. I just wonder if you're more


immediate aim to be with the Prime Minister to see out the G system


could be strengthened. I commend the remarks on how that might happen,


although not the style he made them. I think he was to course when he


compared it to since I gets community council. He made some


interesting points about how this could be made more robust. Over the


next two years, there is a golden opportunity to restructure the way


in which decisions are taken across the UK. It's no good waiting until


that periods of time has elapsed because then when you find ourselves


in a situation where there is no way to put in place an alternative


system. It means the GMC should evolve into a proper council of


ministers. Where joint decisions are taken in areas which are devolved.


In might be there is merit in having a common fisheries policy for


example. We know when the UK leaves the EU there is the distinct


possibility that state aid rules will no longer apply. In which case,


there will be a free for all in terms of the insider market in the


UK. It is in no 1's interest for there to be a trade war. We want to


put together a set of rules in the UK agreed by the four governments.


And by an independent body to police those rules. The US Supreme Court


performs that function in terms of interstate commerce in the US. And


internal single market without a proper policing of rules is not


working properly and I don't want to see that.


Personally I welcome the initiative the First Minister is showing, but


regarding David's important question, following that fascinating


session speaking to students at the University of South Wales looking


on, if we don't achieve this polarity, what is your prognosis


going forward as we transition to exiting the EU to a very different


framework in the UK, what's your promise if we don't get those


mechanisms in place? There is a danger that the UK will start to


unravel, in particular, one thing that is not often mentioned what is


worth noting is what might cause the rise of English nationalism, leaving


England agreed that the system. This can be dealt with, our four distinct


nationalities, but that means putting in place a structure that


reflects that this is a partnership of nations, rather than believing


that this is something like a unitary state, before it entered the


common market. These issues are resolvable, they need to be resolved


so that when the UK leads the EU, that structure is already in place


in terms of the single market, the council ministers, rather than doing


it in a few years' time and leaving a vacuum. Will the First Minister


make a statement on the Welsh Government's efforts to combat


homelessness in Romney. We have the legislation to help those at risk of


homelessness. My concerns are similar to those raised by Jeremy


Miles, but I have one specific point. I had the opportunity from


January through to this week to volunteer in the wheel winter night


shelter provided by the council in my constituency, and I would like to


thank the council there for providing that night shelter and for


providing selfless volunteers who worked throughout that period to


assist residents there, but perhaps what I was moved by most was the


total hopelessness of people who find themselves homeless now. There


are many people there who are homeless for a number of reasons,


health problems, drug dependency and so forth, but I'm struck by the


number of those who are there because of relationship and family


breakdowns. They didn't have anywhere else to live and it was the


kind of downward spiral. You do need to come to a question. The question


came with a discussion I had between two men who could lift themselves


out of homelessness by joining together to get a place to rent.


They'd... You really need to get to your question. I need to explain.


You've explained your explanation. They couldn't find a guarantor


because they didn't have any access to anyone who could guarantee their


rental with a private landlord, could you, First Minister, gives


some indication about what the Welsh Government could do, possibly


working with local authorities and riders to break down the barriers


that make it difficult for homeless people to secure rented


accommodation. There are many points she has made. People can't get


themselves out of the rut they find themselves in. They can't look the


part for the job because they haven't got any money, they can't


get health or mental health help for problems, or they have addiction.


There are a number of pathways but getting the monster that pathway is


the difficult part. A tailor-made approach to that individual will


work most effectively, but we also face a situation because people have


nowhere to live and can't claim housing benefit because of their


age, and that is something that could have been prevented by the UK


Government. The Conservative Government announced a ?14 million


programme to help those endangered by homelessness, to provide


educational opportunities, helping long-term rough sleepers with poor


mental health and substance abuse, we'll be First Minister find out


what measures can be taken to tackle homelessness in south-east Wales?


There are lots of young people who are homeless because of the UK


Government's decision to not provide housing benefit. They end up living


on the streets as a result of that. That money could have been better


targeted if it had been used in that way. Our supporting people programme


has played its part, we will protect that budget from 2017-2018. We have


distinct approaches to support those in our community most at risk,


ex-service personnel, ex-offenders, trying to help young people avoid


homelessness because of the actions of the UK Government. I would argue


to him that the UK Government is try to catch up with us already. Were


the First Minister -- will the First Minister explain how work is being


supported in south-east Wales, please? This is through... What


about the sub editing hub in Newport which has been raised in this


Chamber before, it has been revealed that the business has been provided


with ?95,000 and ?245,000 to expand its sub editing hub last year, what


conditions apply to these grants and what action would the Welsh


Government take to stop this from happening in Newport? We gave money


to the company to create 115 jobs. That was exceeded, but the award was


conditional on the jobs being in place until May 20 20. If that


condition isn't met then we will look to recoup the money. What is


the Welsh Government doing to help employment practices in chains in


South Wales? We expect the Welsh public sector to improve the


well-being of workers in our supply chain. It's heartening to hear about


the new code of practice within the employment for supply chains in the


public sector. But it's only by working together that we can deliver


a fairer deal for workers in the supply chains in Wales and


throughout the world. Can I seek assurance from you that we will make


this happen in Wales through the long reach of the public sector,


third agencies and others, but reaching deep into other nations,


including developing nations so that our supply chains, including


sourcing overseas do not exploit any work-out, anywhere. It demonstrates


the eradication of illegal practices, based in Wales and


beyond. We need the longest reach possible to ensure that this role is


not just through the public sector but the private one as well, we hope


to raise and level the playing field for ethical businesses. So those who


do so cannot be undercut by illegal methods. Will the First Minister


outline how the Welsh Government is supporting disabled people to remain


active members of their community? We aim to support those in their


communities independently. We will be looking to renew the framework


this year,. I have been dealing with a constituent whose wheelchair went


into repair. He was left without a suitable turn a tip as it this boat.


He has been done unsuccessful in contacting anybody.


Frankly, this is unacceptable. I'm told that waiting time for


wheelchairs is excessive. How can we hope to support disabled people to


remain active members of our community if we can't provide such


basic needs? What are you doing to eliminate this time waiting for


wheelchairs and dealing with the repairs for an ailing person's


support. It's evident that this constituent has gone through a bad


experience. Can I ask you to write to me and I will write back to you


with an explanation. That's it. First Minister's Questions is over.


If you want more coverage, you can go to the Senedd live page. Don't


forget the Wales Report, With Hugh Edwards is on, but from us on the


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