28/02/2017 First Minister's Questions


28/02/2017

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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Good afternoon. Welcome to the programme. Our weekly coverage of

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questions to the First Minister. There is a change to the usual

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format today, Carwyn Jones is in the United States so the Leader of the

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House is standing in. She is expected to be asked questions on a

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range of issues from agriculture to the Welsh Government's support for

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start-up businesses. We're on Twitter. At Wales politics is the

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address. For now, let's take a look at today's questions to the First

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Minister. TRANSLATION: I call the National

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Assembly to order and the first item on our agenda this afternoon is

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questions to the First Minister and I have received notification

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understanding order 12.58 that the Leader of the House Jane Hut will

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answer questions today on behalf of the First Minister. Thank you. Will

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the minister replacing the First Minister make a statement on recent

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discussions with the UK Government regarding agriculture and

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countryside policies following the decision to leave the European

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Union? We continue to actively engage with the UK Government in

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relation to agricultural and countryside policies. The Cabinet

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secretary for environment and rural affairs met with ministers from both

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the UK Government and devolved administrations on 23rd February in

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Edinburgh. I thank the Minister for Her reply.

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I have been interested in what happened in that meeting in

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Edinburgh. The Scottish rural economy, Fergus Ewing said today's

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meeting did not achieve anything. There was no factual information on

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any of the serious matters raised by farmers. The Environment Secretary

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in Scotland said the meeting had been a deflection at the meeting by

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Andrea Leadsom when the devolution issue was raised and Scotland's

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Brexit Minister said that Andrea Leadsom may have been at a different

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meeting than everyone else. Does the UK Government actually understand

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what devolution of agriculture and environmental policies means? Is the

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minister in place of the First Minister able to give assurances

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that the Welsh Government will not allow any land grab of our devolved

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policies by the UK Government? Well, I can certainly assure Simon Thomas

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of that as he would agree with me and the Welsh Government in relation

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to the future of agriculture and environment policy in Wales is that

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the Government we have been engaging with stakeholders for the last six

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months, through our round table meetings and the implications of

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exiting the European Union. We've underlined how essential it is that

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devolved administrations play a full part. Of course, the Cabinet

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secretary for finance and Local Government only attended the EU

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joint committee council only ten days ago with the colleagues of

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course from Scottish Government and Northern Ireland devolved

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administration. The health experts are now telling

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us that we shouldn't just eat five a day, but we need to eat ten a day if

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we want to live a long-life. What discussions have been had around

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food security in the light of the reduction of the value of the pound

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and in particularly in relation to makes us more self-sufficient across

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the UK in the production of fruit and vegetables and I wondered

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whether that has been at all discussed in the UK negotiations?

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Well, this is crucially important and of course, we have got our

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action plan for the food and drink industry working closely with food

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security and food safety stakeholders, partners to sustain

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and enhance the food production base in Wales and working with the

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industry and that's about improving resilience, productivity,

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competitiveness of food and farming businesses adding value to our

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supply chains and clearly, the food production does put us at a

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competitive advantage for Wales. Ideally suited, of course, in terms

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of I shall ceasing the variety of our food products, but looking to

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our own needs and that's where Wales' farming businesses make a

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critical contribution to safeguarding the UK's food security.

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TRANSLATION: Thank you. The Leader of the House, the Cabinet secretary

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responsible for agriculture has said that the UK-wide agricultural

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framework maybe appropriate. So in light of this can you tell us what

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kind of framework Government would want to see introduced and can you

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tell us what the Welsh Government's objective is when it comes to such a

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framework? We will play an active part in developing frameworks and

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with the other devolved nations. I think we need to look at where UK

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frameworks and structures are needed to replace those currently set by

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the EU. But we see these as big collectively developed and agreed of

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the that's crucially important, collectively developed and agreed

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and not imposed and most importantly, there must be an

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independent arbitration mechanism to resolve disputes over interms.

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-- interpretations. Secretary, the library of Wales series, thanks to

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Welsh Government assessment... You need to ask the question on the

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order paper. Would the minister tell us how the

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library of Wales series has been promoted in schools? The Welsh

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Government continues to fund the library of Wales series through the

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Welsh Books Council, gifts sets of one copy of each title are being

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secondary to all secondary schools and colleges. Thanks to the Welsh

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Government investment of ?600,000 over the last ten years, 46

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important literary works are now back in print in English. The most

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two recent books Ride The White Stallion are an impressive addition

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to that. Before the recess John Gower and I held an event where we

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discussed the books with local sixth form students. Having invested so

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much in the titles, it is vital that local people get to know about the

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works, about the communities and John Gower is of the view that every

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community within Wales has a title that can tell them something about

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their community and about their past that can help us reflect on our

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common heritage. I'd welcome any further initiatives to make sure

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that schools and colleges make use of the copies they have so we can

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reflect on this important investment.

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Well,ual' glad that the member has drawn attention to that most

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interesting, I'm sure, visit with John Gower and draw attention to the

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fact that William Glyn Jones is featured in the new series. It is

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important that it isn't just gift sets going to schools. Clearly, they

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have to be, those books have to be used widely. They need to be

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borrowed, shared, read, shared and discussed throughout schools and

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colleges. I think as the member has said, the fact that we have brought

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this new generation of series to readers, 46 titles being published,

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is vitally important, but it actually is also crucial that we see

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this as part of our world developing our world-class education system

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geared to equipping our children and young people to thrive amid the

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challenges of the 21st century. Cabinet secretary, whilst I welcome

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the continued commitment to the national Wales series, are you aware

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of the report that was published last week which talked about the

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reading trends and reading ability of pupils across the UK in that

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particular report, it demonstrated that Wales had seen a slump in

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reading ages. So that actually in terms of the situation against

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chronicle age, pupils in secondary schools are a full year behind on

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average than their actual chronicle, their chronological ages and wonder

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what action the Welsh Government is going to take to address this

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particular problem in terms of addressing these reading ages in our

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secondary schools? Well, in March we published our national literacy and

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numeracy programme. That plan gave us a clear vision of our strategy

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for literacy and numeracy going forward. It ensures there is

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significant on going support for numeracy and literacy. The report

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showed that standards are improving in Wales and we will work to

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maintain that momentum. TRANSLATION: Questions now from the

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party leaders. The leader of the Welsh Conservatives.

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We were all horrified by the story about Ellie May Clarke, the death

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over the weekend, and the tragedy that led up to the sequence of

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events that her mother went to the GP surgery, ultimately sought the

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appointment and given the medical history of little Ellie should have

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been seen by the GP. No right minded person could fail to be horrified by

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what led to those tragic events. I'd be grateful to understand what the

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Welsh Government is doing and I'm not blaming the Welsh Government

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here, what I'm saying is as the Government of Wales, and this

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happened in Wales, what is the Welsh Government doing to work with the

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regulator to address the matters that were raised in the report that

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looked into this incident? Well, I thank you for that question

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because we are all aware here today of the tragic death of Ellie May and

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my thoughts are with her family at this difficult time. It is a

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professional regulatory matter for the GMC who oversee such cases that

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the UK level as the leader of the Welsh Conservatives will recognise

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and as you've acknowledged, it is what role can we play? It would be

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appropriate for Welsh Government to intervene, but I think we have to

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say that from our understanding, the GMC's investigation of the GP's

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actions underlines the need for high standards of care to be delivered at

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all times. I'm also aware that the Crown is now investigate and an

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inquest is due to be held. Leader of the House, it is quite clear if The

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Mail on Sunday hadn't under taken an investigation this report would have

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been buried in the deep, deep recesses of the GMC report. And

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wouldn't have come to light and we owe The Mail on Sunday a great debt

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of gratitude because they have informed the family of the outcome

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because as I understand t the family had not been informed of the outcome

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of the investigation, but it cannot be right that when you look at these

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circumstances, these types of investigations, are conducted behind

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closed doors and that the family and those concerned with these matters

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are not fully informed of the process and the outcome. Do you

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believe, like me, Leader of the House, that the GMC's procedures in

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these matters leave a lot to be required and addressed and not fit

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for purpose? I think the case was reviewed in accordance with the

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current GMC procedures and it is important also say this afternoon

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that the health board took the action to refer the doctor to the

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GMC following their own internal investigation, that's again where we

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must recognise that responsibility that action that was taken. I mean I

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also noticed that Sir Donald Irvine, the former president of the GMC

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himself was calling for greater transparency as a result of this

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tragic case. May be what aren't De Angelis it is

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a proactive approach from Welsh government toy identify that these

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purposes are not fit for purpose and many times the Welsh government is

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called to make representations on various matters, I would look to you

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to try and encourage the Cabinet Secretary for health to write to the

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GMC to address its protocols and procedures because the GMC is there

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not to look after its own but to look after everyone. In this case in

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particular it has fallen down and I hope in responding to my first

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question you indicate that the Welsh government will be writing to the

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GMC to ask them to address the deeply, deeply, deeply held concerns

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of members of this institution and the wider public in this specific

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case which really has led the families down and above all is

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letting Ellie and her memory down. We are certainly going to be looking

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at this case in terms of the GMC, but I think it is important that you

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put your point on record today and I'm sure that those points can be

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made and will be made across this chamber. Leader of Plaid Cymru

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Leanne Wood. You will be aware over the past few years I have pressed

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the First Minister on the question of widening access for drugs and

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treatments in Wales. Today we have some people in the public gallery

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who are living with multiple sclerosis and I would like to

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welcome them to the Senedd. They have asked me to take forward an

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issue which is of utmost importance to the quality-of-life. Everyone in

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the chamber is aware of the difficulties in accessing drugs and

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treatment specifically for MS. Leader of what was the Welsh

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government's review on the availability of those drugs and

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treatments? Clearly there is an opportunity now as a result of the

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discussions that we have had to look very carefully at the opportunities

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for those judged to be made available and of course this is part

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of the way forward in terms of the review of the prescribing of those

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drugs. Thank you, Leader of the House. We know that Wales was the

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first country in the UK to approve the cannabis -based drug in 2014,

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the evidence from patients is consistent and clear. It is

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effective, it reduces pain and spasms but access to Sativex is

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patchy. The survey found only 1% of the blue said they were eligible for

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Sativex actually had access to it. The survey also suggests that a

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number of people living with MS who take disease modifying therapies

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appears to be lower than in Scotland or England. There is a real concern

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that other new drugs and treatments coming through the system will be

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equally as difficult to access. If you accept there is a patchy

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availability of these drugs and that is a major obstacle to the

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quality-of-life of citizens Wells, what resources is the Welsh

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government prepared to allocate to the infrastructure around MS, MS

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nursing and neurology, in order to help patients get support they need?

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I very much welcome the engagement of the MS Society, an organisation

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that has represented patients with MS so effectively in Wales. And of

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course their evidence is vitally important and the considerations of

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very clear clinical arrangements in terms of prescribing of drugs. But

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it is important we look at the impact and availability of access in

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terms of those medications such as Sativex which you have just raised.

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I think your second point also relates to the wider services we can

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provide to MS sufferers. Much progress has been made in terms of

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availability, in terms of research, and drugs and appropriate

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treatments. But it also has to be the wider care pathway is way. I

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very much hope we do see of extra resources. The lack of availability

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Sativex has led people to pursue alternatives of their own. I

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recently went with the 60th -- 64-year-old woman who has primary

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progressive MS, and she experiences pain and spasms every day. Her daily

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drug regime includes morphing, coding, paracetamol and diazepam.

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Because Sativex is not available in her area she uses cannabis as a

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replacement, obviously risking problems with the law. How is it OK

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to take morphine but by buying cannabis she risks prosecution? On

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every tenth following a government review, we joined many countries

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around the world in recommending that cannabis should be legalised

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for medicinal use. There is also support for this in Scotland and we

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have heard at least one police and crime commission for Wales

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recommending that the same thing happens here. Will the Welsh

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government follow our Irish and Scottish counterparts and advocate

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the decriminalisation of cannabis to relieve the symptoms of multiple

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sclerosis and other conditions? What I would like to do is ensure that we

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can make those medications and drugs are available such as Sativex which

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obviously has proven benefits. I certainly would want to ensure from

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your questions today that we look very carefully at access and

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availability of those proven and clinically beneficial medications

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for people with MS in Wales. The leader of the Ukip group Johannsson.

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If you exclude the leader of Plaid Cymru raised -- Neil Hamilton. The

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First Minister appealed for calm. Is then the leader of Plaid Cymru has

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interpreted calmness in a rather unusual way. Plaid Cymru have said

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that internet trolls upon the activists who want to maintain

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medication in the village and have twisted innocent Facebook posts in

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an attempt at character assassination. Jonathan Edwards, the

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MP for Carmarthen East supported by the leader of Plaid Cymru has

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engaged in a public campaign of intimidation for having the temerity

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to seek my help as one of the AMs in the fight against Plaid Cymru

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intolerance and indeed the leader of Plaid Cymru has even published on

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her Facebook page a photograph of one of them following which this

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lady has been verbally abused in the street and spat at. As Leader of the

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House will you defend our collective rights as members in this assembly,

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as representatives of the people of Wales to seek redress and grievances

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on half of all the -- all our constituents and condemned the

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attack on the constitutional rights of all my constituents to seek help

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on the future education of their children? I have to say I'm

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concerned that the leader of Ukip is not helping to reduce the toxic

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situation, in fact the maybe as has been described. This is something

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where in terms of our responsibilities and indeed your

:20:34.:20:35.

responsibilities, we must be very clear here, the Welsh government

:20:36.:20:43.

can't comment on any proposals for change that are under consideration

:20:44.:20:47.

by a local authority. It is the responsibility for the local

:20:48.:20:51.

authorities, the planning of school places rests with them. I fully

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accept that but the process by which the decision was arrived at in the

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county council has wide imprecations and calls for change in legislation.

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There was a consultation exercise which was carried out which was a

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complete sham. There was 1418 responses, 698 responses in support

:21:15.:21:21.

of the proposal, 720 against. But one of the responses against had 757

:21:22.:21:28.

signatures, that was regarded as one vote. You do not have to provide an

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address or postcode if you respond to the consultation, 27 of these

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were anonymous, not even a name. In these circumstances given that there

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is clearly a very substantial opposition within the catchment area

:21:48.:21:53.

to the imposition of Welsh language only instruction surely there is a

:21:54.:21:57.

case here for a stay in the proceedings whilst we consider

:21:58.:22:00.

whether this change, which in the longer term may be desirable, should

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be brought in so that public opinion can come with us rather than

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fighting it. These are as I have said matters for Caernarfonshire

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Council. As a gum and we are supportive of the Welsh language you

:22:16.:22:21.

want to see an extension of it and more children involved. But it is

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for the Council to justify the decisions it takes. Clearly

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sensitive to the fact that local authorities must comply with the

:22:31.:22:34.

School standards and organisation Wales act 2013 and the code and look

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at the range of factors when proposing change. It is true they

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must comply with the legislation but they can comply with the letter of

:22:43.:22:46.

the whilst wholly ignoring its spirit which is exactly what has in

:22:47.:22:50.

this case. There hasn't been a consultation, there has been a

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nonsultation because the decision was arrived at before the

:22:59.:23:02.

consultation exercises. Isn't it time for a proper consultation

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exercise which is independently conducted of all those within the

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catchment area alone and ignoring the responses which are nothing to

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do with the area which is most concerned. Again I have to say it is

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not a matter for Welsh government to intervene. Of course it is important

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that any local authority does take into account the views of those who

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live locally. And indeed the consultation was held between

:23:28.:23:34.

January 28 and 18 of March last year to which there were 267 responses.

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It is now for us to elect the process redress in terms of the

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legislation. The School standards act 2013 and the school organisation

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code. Question three, Dawn Bodenham. Will the Cabinet Secretary please

:23:57.:23:59.

make a statement on the Welsh government support for start-up

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business. We continue to provide support through the business Wales

:24:05.:24:08.

service and we encourage business start-up from a young age through

:24:09.:24:12.

our big ideas campaign. 'S thank you for that response. Last week I met

:24:13.:24:22.

with representatives from the borough council and training to talk

:24:23.:24:25.

about the support they gave to new businesses in the area. One of those

:24:26.:24:34.

successes is the meanwhile use programme which replaces funding and

:24:35.:24:40.

under that scheme the enterprise centre encourages local landlords

:24:41.:24:46.

with vacant properties to let them out to new businesses. That enables

:24:47.:24:54.

new enterprises to test out and amend their business models based on

:24:55.:24:59.

working experience. And allows the landlord to realise the potential

:25:00.:25:02.

benefit of letting out vacant premises for business to the

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element. This has enabled seven new businesses to start-up up in vacant

:25:06.:25:09.

premises in the town centre. Additionally through the effect

:25:10.:25:13.

programme Merthyr Tydfil enterprise Centre has given support to around

:25:14.:25:18.

170 businesses in the area, creating 51 jobs and safeguarding a further

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151 jobs. Does the Cabinet Secretary agree with me that it is support

:25:25.:25:29.

like this which is contributing to the situation where Merthyr Tydfil

:25:30.:25:32.

has become the leading growth Centre for new business in Wales and can

:25:33.:25:36.

she gave an assurance that funding under vibrant and viable places,

:25:37.:25:40.

which has been so crucial to the success of these schemes, will

:25:41.:25:43.

remain a key component of the Welsh government strategy to encourage new

:25:44.:25:49.

start-ups for small businesses? Dawn Bodenham illustrates a very good

:25:50.:25:54.

way, constructive way in which we have been able to invest the vibrant

:25:55.:26:01.

and vital places investment in investment in Merthyr Tydfil

:26:02.:26:03.

obviously in partnership with the local authority and other partners.

:26:04.:26:07.

I think in terms of the way forward, if there is a flagship regeneration

:26:08.:26:15.

programme over ?124 million capital funding, in 18 areas across Wales,

:26:16.:26:23.

and forecasting a programme to and deliver more than 2000 jobs and

:26:24.:26:28.

support my Busby bling to work. So this of course takes us forward with

:26:29.:26:34.

regards to the future particularly with regard to the capital

:26:35.:26:36.

regeneration programme. Data shows the number of new

:26:37.:26:49.

businesses starting up across Wales has fallen by a staggering 26% over

:26:50.:26:54.

the last five years. Can I ask what the Welsh Government is doing to

:26:55.:26:57.

reverse this trend and also can I ask what the Welsh Government is

:26:58.:27:01.

doing to encourage younger people to consider starting up their own

:27:02.:27:04.

business as a positive life choice following leaving school? Well, I

:27:05.:27:10.

don't know where those figures that rustle George quotes this afternoon

:27:11.:27:16.

are emmating from in terms of the evidence, but I'd like to put the

:27:17.:27:20.

record straight that the latest data shows the number of business births

:27:21.:27:24.

in Wales has grown every year since the financial crisis and in 2015

:27:25.:27:32.

reached a record high of 11525. I'm sure Russell George will agree with

:27:33.:27:36.

me that the results are extremely encouraging and they demonstrate a

:27:37.:27:38.

climate in Wales where businesses are confident to start, grow and

:27:39.:27:46.

thrive. A group of London-based investors

:27:47.:27:53.

accelerate me are looking to create a new fund with four million of

:27:54.:27:58.

their own money, hopefully backed by ?6 million of Welsh Government money

:27:59.:28:05.

to back Welsh start-ups and create a home-grown version of the highly

:28:06.:28:13.

successful start-up accelerator programme. Does the Leader of the

:28:14.:28:19.

House agree this kind of approach supporting indigenous business and

:28:20.:28:23.

connecting them with external capital and knowledge should be at

:28:24.:28:27.

the heart of the Welsh Government's new economic strategy and on that

:28:28.:28:31.

basis would she urge her Cabinet colleagues to meet with the

:28:32.:28:36.

proposals of the idea? Well, I don't think there is a word I would

:28:37.:28:41.

disagree with. I think the Cabinet secretary would only be too

:28:42.:28:44.

delighted to meet with the London-based investors. I think it

:28:45.:28:49.

is important you mention indigenous businesses and we are continuing to

:28:50.:28:53.

support indigenous business and we have got a record number of

:28:54.:28:58.

enterprises headquartered in Wales and Wales has the highest number of

:28:59.:29:03.

new businesses in over a decade and to date ?13 million has been

:29:04.:29:09.

invested and 1703 start-ups in Wales through the start-ups loan company.

:29:10.:29:12.

This is encouraging that there are more who want to invest in Wales.

:29:13.:29:17.

TRANSLATION: Question four is withdrawn. John Griffiths. What

:29:18.:29:23.

steps will the Welsh Government to strengthen Wales' international

:29:24.:29:29.

relationships? This week the First Minister hosted the London-based

:29:30.:29:32.

diplomatic core and will be visiting and is visiting the United States,

:29:33.:29:36.

the Cabinet secretary for environment and rural affairs and

:29:37.:29:41.

finance and Local Government are in Dubai and will be in Brussels this

:29:42.:29:46.

week and last week the Cabinet secretary for infrastructure visited

:29:47.:29:48.

China. Thank you for that. Cabinet

:29:49.:29:54.

secretary, the European Union is a great economic social and political

:29:55.:30:00.

force in the world and leaving the European Union threatens to greatly

:30:01.:30:06.

diminish the standing of Wales and UK in the world. So could you

:30:07.:30:10.

reassure me that as far as Wales is concerned, Welsh Government must

:30:11.:30:15.

find new ways of working with the European Union and European Union

:30:16.:30:19.

member states in the run-up to Brexit and beyond and that the UK

:30:20.:30:25.

Government should commit through its Brexit negotiations to securing

:30:26.:30:30.

continuing participation in key European Union programmes open to

:30:31.:30:37.

non member states such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus Plus and secure

:30:38.:30:43.

continuing participation in trance national economic development

:30:44.:30:45.

programmes particularly with our close neighbour, the Republic of

:30:46.:30:49.

Ireland. I thank John Griffiths for that

:30:50.:30:52.

question because we make it very clear in our White Paper, securing

:30:53.:30:57.

Wales' future, Wales is leaving the EU, but not Europe and we strongly

:30:58.:31:01.

believe that Wales and the UK should continue to participate in those key

:31:02.:31:06.

EU programmes. You mention Horizon 2020. That's supporting research and

:31:07.:31:12.

development projects between higher education, private sector, partners,

:31:13.:31:17.

erasious Plus again, those education exchanges that can transform the

:31:18.:31:19.

prospects and opportunities of young people. We want to see a

:31:20.:31:24.

far-reaching and far clearer commitment from the UK Government to

:31:25.:31:27.

securing this outcome from the Brexit negotiations and of course,

:31:28.:31:32.

they form part of the negotiations which Cabinet secretaries are

:31:33.:31:35.

engaged with, but you also mentioned our Ireland. That is also crucially

:31:36.:31:42.

important because we have the Ireland-Wales programme which we are

:31:43.:31:46.

responsible for and which also includes a number of very important

:31:47.:31:53.

R D projects and indeed, projects and initiatives that can improve and

:31:54.:31:59.

constructively help Wales as well as Ireland.

:32:00.:32:04.

It is clearly vital that we develop stronger economic links across the

:32:05.:32:07.

world in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union. And if we

:32:08.:32:13.

could still in some way access schemes such as Horizon 2020 and

:32:14.:32:17.

similar programmes following Brexit in some way then that would be a

:32:18.:32:20.

bonus. I was pleased to hear you mention that. However, I would say a

:32:21.:32:23.

trade mission and the First Minister is away on a trade mission at the

:32:24.:32:27.

moment, a trade mission only works if enough planning has gone into it

:32:28.:32:31.

and the right companies have been unviteded in good time and the

:32:32.:32:35.

mission is clear about its objectives, that didn't happen

:32:36.:32:39.

entirely in 2012 on the previous US mission of that time. Has it

:32:40.:32:43.

happened this time around? Who is on that mission with the First Minister

:32:44.:32:47.

and have they been given adequate preparation time? Well, I am

:32:48.:32:53.

disappoint that you speak of trade missions disparagingly and don't

:32:54.:32:56.

welcome the trade missions and I will go on to your point about the

:32:57.:33:01.

US trade mission, but mean last week, I'm sure he'd welcome the fact

:33:02.:33:09.

that the Cabinet secretary actually had an important visit to China.

:33:10.:33:23.

With two new investments announced with the creation of 38 hi-tech jobs

:33:24.:33:28.

and two new stores in Wales by Flooring Republic. The clear links

:33:29.:33:33.

with the US in terms of the fact that we have not only those US

:33:34.:33:39.

companies based in Wales, who are informing our trade mission, but

:33:40.:33:44.

also demonstrating the impact that we can have for a leader, a Welsh

:33:45.:33:51.

Labour First Minister, going to the States saying that Wales is clearly

:33:52.:33:58.

open for business. TRANSLATION: Thank you. As chair of

:33:59.:34:04.

the cross party group on Wales internationally it has been good to

:34:05.:34:09.

see a consensus developing across the parties on the need to develop

:34:10.:34:16.

relationships and to develop the potential of close links between

:34:17.:34:23.

Wales and its diaspra. There was agreement on the need for the Welsh

:34:24.:34:29.

Government to develop a clear strot gee on how to secure that and that

:34:30.:34:37.

in addition to the kinds of international relationships that's

:34:38.:34:39.

currently undertaking and trade visits and so on and so forth. Does

:34:40.:34:42.

the Leader of the House agree with the group on this point and what

:34:43.:34:47.

steps are being put in place by Government to ensure that those

:34:48.:34:53.

links with the Diaspra are developed? It is important that we

:34:54.:34:57.

have a cross party group and you are chairing that and bringing together

:34:58.:35:01.

that consensus that we need here in this chamber to support our First

:35:02.:35:05.

Minister who is in the US. Welsh Government has always promoted Wales

:35:06.:35:09.

around St David's Day and that's a key focus of these visits. And also,

:35:10.:35:15.

indeed, not only in terms of visits to USA, China, Dubai, Brussels,

:35:16.:35:22.

there are also events happening in embassies, high commissions across

:35:23.:35:27.

Europe and elsewhere. I think it is important that we recognise that for

:35:28.:35:33.

example, the First Minister his programme in the US includes

:35:34.:35:36.

business and political meetings. He'll make a statement as Cabinet

:35:37.:35:41.

secretary's always do on their return from the trade missions and

:35:42.:35:48.

recognise it is with the Diaspra that we engage, it is with the

:35:49.:35:53.

companies in Wales that are US companies, but also that the trade

:35:54.:35:58.

mission and cultural visiting delegation visiting China also

:35:59.:36:02.

provided a profile. So I've already given you some outcomes from the

:36:03.:36:06.

Chinese trade mission. I'm sure we will have outcomes from the US visit

:36:07.:36:13.

by the First Minister in due course. TRANSLATION: Question 16, Neil

:36:14.:36:15.

Hamilton. Will the First Minister make a statement on what the Welsh

:36:16.:36:20.

Government is doing to assist park home residents who face paying a 10%

:36:21.:36:26.

commission on the sale of their homes. It delivered important

:36:27.:36:34.

safeguards for park home residents. As the Cabinet secretary knows there

:36:35.:36:39.

will be a review of the 2013 legislation this year. Will the

:36:40.:36:44.

Welsh Government be contributing to that and will the Welsh Government

:36:45.:36:50.

intend to do anything about this 10% commission which is compulsorily

:36:51.:36:55.

extracted from those who want to sell their homes in exchange for

:36:56.:37:01.

which mobile home park owners do nothing. Since the 2013 Act they

:37:02.:37:07.

have no role in the sale of the mobile homes. It is a significant

:37:08.:37:11.

inhibition on people from selling their homes especially if they tend

:37:12.:37:16.

to be elderly and on low incomes, it is a significant problem. I

:37:17.:37:20.

appreciate that Neil Hamilton wasn't here during the session when we have

:37:21.:37:25.

supported and the Welsh Government supported the mobile homes

:37:26.:37:27.

legislation presented by Peter black. It then became the mobile

:37:28.:37:31.

homes Wales Act 2013 which you refer to. I just need to remind the member

:37:32.:37:38.

that this legislation consolidates previous legislation relating to

:37:39.:37:42.

park or residential homes and it is much further than legislation in

:37:43.:37:49.

England. We require all seats to be relicensed and for site managers to

:37:50.:37:54.

fit a proper person test. The Welsh Government did commission an

:37:55.:37:56.

independent review of the economics of the park home industry in 2015.

:37:57.:38:03.

The report has been published and clearly the Cabinet secretary is

:38:04.:38:08.

looking at that and the options. I think it is very important that we

:38:09.:38:14.

have a system that is transparent and fairly reflects the costs that

:38:15.:38:19.

site owners have and also the ability for people who, the

:38:20.:38:23.

residents of mobile homes to, you know, have a knowledge of what the

:38:24.:38:26.

costs are to and to challenge them if necessary. At the moment it is

:38:27.:38:31.

very opaque and it seems very unfair and in terms of where the power is,

:38:32.:38:36.

it is lauded against the mobile homeowners. Well, there is a

:38:37.:38:45.

balanced view about the site owners and those, of course, who are

:38:46.:38:51.

purchasing those homes on the park home sites and I am I aware that

:38:52.:38:57.

there is a lot of concern that's been raised. There is a petition

:38:58.:39:02.

that's also come forth. I think it is very important to, again repeat,

:39:03.:39:07.

that we have done more to protect park home residents which is crucial

:39:08.:39:10.

than other parts of the UK. All park home sites in Wales have had toy

:39:11.:39:16.

afor a new licence and I have said about the fit and proper person

:39:17.:39:23.

tests and we have allowed time for a stricter regulatory regime resulting

:39:24.:39:26.

from the mobile homes Wales Act which was supported by the whole

:39:27.:39:30.

Assembly as it came through and in fact I remember Peter black was

:39:31.:39:36.

congratulated by Mark I shaller wood when the Bill came through, but we

:39:37.:39:40.

must look at the points that's been raised this afternoon and that's

:39:41.:39:44.

what the Cabinet secretary is doing. A mart majority of park home

:39:45.:39:49.

residents in Wales are over the age of 55 and the most recent report

:39:50.:39:54.

suggests they are on average 71 years old and they don't envisage

:39:55.:40:00.

leaving or selling their homes in the foreseeable future. Increase in

:40:01.:40:03.

pitch fee to say cover losses incurred by park owners which would

:40:04.:40:07.

result from the reduction of sales commissions is not a good long-term

:40:08.:40:11.

solution and what considerations has your Government given to this? Well,

:40:12.:40:16.

the independent report didn't actually recommend that removal of

:40:17.:40:20.

the commission rate, but the Cabinet secretary obviously is looking at

:40:21.:40:25.

the recommendations of the report. He's not bound by them. He's

:40:26.:40:28.

considering a range of options on whether further action is merited.

:40:29.:40:36.

TRANSLATION: Question 7. Will the First Minister make a statement on

:40:37.:40:40.

concessionary travel schemes? Our concessionary bus travel scheme is

:40:41.:40:47.

hugely popular with 760,000 older or disabled pass holders resident in

:40:48.:40:52.

Wales and we are continuing to support the discounted bus travel

:40:53.:40:56.

arrangements for 16, 17 and 18-year-olds throughout Wales while

:40:57.:40:59.

we design a different scheme over the coming months.

:41:00.:41:03.

TRANSLATION: Thank you for that response and further to that,

:41:04.:41:09.

naturally there has been some concern particularly among young

:41:10.:41:12.

people following that uncertainty that you've already mentioned

:41:13.:41:15.

surrounding the My Travel PASS scheme. I was pleased to hear the

:41:16.:41:20.

statement by the Cabinet secretary for infrastructure talking about the

:41:21.:41:22.

Government had committed to establishing a similar scheme as

:41:23.:41:25.

we've mentioned to encourage young people to use busesment now, we need

:41:26.:41:29.

assurances in this area. So when can you expect the consultation on the

:41:30.:41:33.

new scheme to commence? Well, as you say, the Cabinet secretary for

:41:34.:41:37.

economy and transport did issue a written statement on 21st February.

:41:38.:41:43.

He outlined his plans. We have agreed with local authorities and

:41:44.:41:48.

the bus industry that the existing discounted travel arrangements will

:41:49.:41:52.

continue. As I said in answer to your first question, we have

:41:53.:41:58.

accepted the offer to come forward with proposals for a new marketing

:41:59.:42:03.

campaign because we know we needed to increase the uptake of passes. We

:42:04.:42:08.

intend to launch a new travel pass from 2018. We will be consulting

:42:09.:42:09.

over the summer. Could I ask what assurances you can

:42:10.:42:20.

give under the preparation for the end of the current funding agreement

:42:21.:42:25.

on concessionary fares next year, discussions with the bus industry

:42:26.:42:28.

and local authorities will be given plenty of time so that the stability

:42:29.:42:34.

of the scheme is maintained. I mean I think in terms of the commitment

:42:35.:42:39.

we have made to concessionary bus fares over the years, the fact that

:42:40.:42:45.

we are estimating local authorities reimburse bus operators in 2016-17

:42:46.:42:53.

between 65 million and 70 million including ?10 million from their own

:42:54.:42:55.

budgets for carrying older and disabled pass holders for free, we

:42:56.:42:59.

are continuing of course with a scheme for young people. And clearly

:43:00.:43:07.

this is an important plank of our Welsh Labour government 's

:43:08.:43:13.

programme. We had a petition delivered to the assembly last year

:43:14.:43:19.

by a pupil at Treorchy comprehensive, this petition calling

:43:20.:43:23.

for rail travel to and from school to be restored, free rail traveller

:43:24.:43:27.

should say, to be restored by Arriva trains who had decided to end the

:43:28.:43:32.

scheme. With the rail franchise for renewal next year I wondered if Ford

:43:33.:43:36.

be given by the government to giving Arriva shove towards restoring the

:43:37.:43:39.

free fares scheme they previously offered. I think rail concessionary

:43:40.:43:47.

travel is a very important way particularly where bus services are

:43:48.:43:50.

limited. It is of course concessionary travel passes can be

:43:51.:43:55.

used on certain train lines and the rostrum has ensured that.

:43:56.:43:58.

Concessionary rail travel is available on some routes, which you

:43:59.:44:04.

will be aware of particularly in Wrexham, Swansea, and the heart of

:44:05.:44:15.

Wales. As you know we have no powers to injuries mandated tree schemes

:44:16.:44:21.

but we do fund voluntary concessionary schemes with Arriva

:44:22.:44:24.

trains Wales. But clearly this is an area where we will be looking at

:44:25.:44:31.

future prospects. What actions is the Welsh government taking to

:44:32.:44:37.

support people from disadvantaged communities? We will take forward a

:44:38.:44:40.

cross government all Wales approach focused on helping people into

:44:41.:44:43.

decent jobs, giving people the best chance in life and ensuring local

:44:44.:44:48.

people are engaged in the design of local services. On February 14 there

:44:49.:44:56.

was a statement regarding these actions and in that statement there

:44:57.:45:00.

was the ambition to get to those furthest from the Labour market.

:45:01.:45:04.

Unfortunately some of those furthest from the market in skills are also

:45:05.:45:09.

physically furthest because they live in communities that are not

:45:10.:45:14.

served by services. What are you doing to actually get jobs closer to

:45:15.:45:22.

them or get them to jobs? The national transport financial plan

:45:23.:45:26.

published in July 20 15th sets out investment for transport

:45:27.:45:30.

infrastructure services across Wales. It has to provide

:45:31.:45:35.

comprehensive solutions for local transport needs. But as the member

:45:36.:45:43.

says it is about improving local public transport and I think an

:45:44.:45:47.

integrated transport type in your area will be a major significance

:45:48.:45:54.

and importance. But we also have very important jobs closer to home

:45:55.:46:01.

initiative and enables people to access jobs. Of course we will hear

:46:02.:46:06.

more from the Cabinet Secretary for economy and transport very shortly

:46:07.:46:08.

in terms of the future of bus services. Will the Minister make a

:46:09.:46:20.

statement on female genital mutilation protection orders.

:46:21.:46:23.

Gunnestad until September 2016 no protection orders were issued in

:46:24.:46:27.

Wales. The Welsh government does not tolerate any form of violence

:46:28.:46:31.

against Wales including FGM and together with our partners we are

:46:32.:46:34.

working hard to tackle this heinous crime. I thank you. It is somewhat

:46:35.:46:43.

amusing that there have been no protection orders whatsoever issued

:46:44.:46:50.

and then consequently no prosecutions for FGM in Wales. It is

:46:51.:46:54.

a crime against the Person and it is the brutal abuse of minors and we

:46:55.:46:59.

need to really in my opinion call it out for what it is. It is child

:47:00.:47:05.

abuse. Nothing more, nothing less. What I am going to ask the Cabinet

:47:06.:47:13.

Secretary is, according to the charity currently supporting 788

:47:14.:47:18.

families affected one way or another by FGM in Wales whether the

:47:19.:47:24.

government will work more closely with them to see if that support can

:47:25.:47:32.

be increased to allow those people to move forward if it is required.

:47:33.:47:42.

To seek some pretension orders. So that we can actually start

:47:43.:47:48.

prosecuting people in this country and send a very clear message that

:47:49.:47:52.

this will not be tolerated, because it seems at the moment that it is

:47:53.:47:58.

being tolerated. I thank Joyce Watson for the leadership she has

:47:59.:48:01.

taken in terms of addressing this and also I thank Jenny Rathbone who

:48:02.:48:08.

chaired the recent events which was attended by many members here today.

:48:09.:48:16.

It is crucial that we enable and support the leadership group, which

:48:17.:48:23.

concerns data collection, ensuring we have FGM safeguarding leads in

:48:24.:48:25.

all our health boards, ensuring that we develop effective FGM care for

:48:26.:48:32.

Wales so we can have referrals into primary health care or third sector

:48:33.:48:37.

provision. Public Health Wales is revising and updating image is

:48:38.:48:41.

worth's safeguarding training and also we have the social services and

:48:42.:48:45.

well-being at strengthening safeguarding procedures. While all

:48:46.:48:49.

of this of course will lead to the point where we feel that mandatory

:48:50.:48:53.

reporting and the ability to take things forward to protection orders

:48:54.:48:59.

will be much more easily facilitated. STUDIO: There we are,

:49:00.:49:05.

that was First Minister's Questions this week. If you want more coverage

:49:06.:49:12.

you can go online to the Senedd live page one our website. More Welsh

:49:13.:49:19.

politics this week, the Wales report after the Ted Ginn news tomorrow. --

:49:20.:49:26.

ten o'clock news. But from all of us on this programme, thanks for

:49:27.:49:27.

watching.

:49:28.:49:30.

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