Minutes - Business Committee


Meeting Venue:

Committee Room 5 - Tŷ Hywel

Meeting date: 23 March 2020

Meeting time: 17.10 - 19.00


Private

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Attendance

Category

Names

Committee Members:

Elin Jones AM, Llywydd (Chair)

Rebecca Evans AM

Darren Millar AM

Siân Gwenllian

Caroline Jones AM

Committee Staff:

Siân Wilkins (Clerk)

Others in attendance

Ann Jones AM, Deputy Presiding Officer

Manon Antoniazzi, Chief Executive & Clerk of the Assembly

Siwan Davies, Director of Assembly Business

Bethan Garwood, Chanber Secretariat

Gwion Evans, Head of the Llywydd's Private Office

Elin Roberts, Policy Adviser to the Llywydd

Helen Carey, Welsh Government

 

<AI1>

1       Introductions, apologies and substitutions

</AI1>

<AI2>

2       Minutes of the previous meeting (17.03.20)

The minutes for the meeting were agreed by the Committee for publication.

</AI2>

<AI3>

2.1   Minutes of the previous meeting (18.03.20)

The minutes for the meeting were agreed by the Committee for publication.

</AI3>

<AI4>

3       Organisation of Business

</AI4>

<AI5>

3.1   This Week's Business

The Trefnydd informed Business Managers that the motion to suspend Standing Orders at the start of the meeting will allow the Ministerial questions not to be asked – Ministers have agreed instead to provide written answers. The motion will also allow the business scheduled for Wednesday to be taken on Tuesday.

 

The Trefnydd also informed Business Managers that the Minister for Education has to attend a quadrilateral meeting, so the government has swapped her Statement with the Statement by the Minister for Housing and Local Government. She also suggested that a lunch break should be factored in to Tuesday’s business.

 

The Llywydd informed Business Managers that there will be no fixed seating for Tuesday’s meeting, so as to enable social distancing in the Chamber. She also told Business Managers that she did not want more than fifty percent of Members from each party in the Chamber at any one time. Members are to be encouraged to find a seat close to their assigned seat within their party group if possible.  Business Managers agreed that they would stagger voting time so that all Members did not need to be in the Chamber at the same time.

 

The Llywydd agreed to propose that the Stage 1 and Financial Resolution motions for the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill are grouped both for debate and for the vote.

 

The Llywydd also informed Business Managers that she will not be accepting any topical questions, as she considers that all of the issues can be raised in either FMQs or relevant statements.

 

Tuesday

 

·         Plenary will start at 10am.

 

·         Plenary is unlikely to run past 18.10pm.

 

Wednesday

 

There is no business on Wednesday.

</AI5>

<AI6>

3.2   Three Week Timetable of Government Business

Trefnydd has removed everything from the three-week timetable of Government Business other than First Minister’s Questions, Ministerial Questions and the Business Statement and Announcement in order to focus on COVID-19 items.

</AI6>

<AI7>

3.3   Three Week Timetable of Assembly Business

Business Managers discussed this under item 4. 

</AI7>

<AI8>

4       Assembly Business

</AI8>

<AI9>

4.1   Assembly Business

To facilitate essential business during the COVID-19 outbreak, a majority of Business Managers were in favour of a smaller emergency Senedd for future plenary meetings. Business Committee agreed to weighted voting, on the model of Business Committee. Business Managers agreed to work through their groups to reduce numbers further (6 government, 3 Conservatives, 2 Plaid Cymru, 1 Brexit), and to reduce quorum for plenary to 4. Business Committee agreed to recommend amendments to Standing Orders where necessary to facilitate all of these decisions , and to collate all new and existing emergency Standing Orders in a new standalone Standing Order 34.

 

Business Managers agreed that the Llywydd should write to independent members to advise them political groups are now rationing attendance in plenary, and encourage them to do the same. The Llywydd will also indicate that she would call independent Members proportionate to their representation.

 

Business Managers agreed to cancel Easter recess, and schedule plenary every Tuesday for the foreseeable future; Business Committee will decide on the preceding Friday whether each plenary session should go ahead. Business Committee agreed to recommend the suspension of those parts of Standing Orders requiring FMQs, OAQs to all Ministers and Commission Questions to take place each week / four weeks. There would be no limit on WAQs, but this would be kept under review.

 

The Llywydd asked officials to look into whether an emergency Senedd meeting could be held remotely.

 

Business Committee agreed to recommend changes to Standing Orders to allow the Llywydd to recall the Senedd with the agreement of the Business Committee.

 

Business Committee agreed to recommend changes to Standing Orders to remove the requirement for the LJC committee to consider and report on statutory instruments.  The emergency Senedd could consider any briefing the Committee would usually have had from officials.  Business Committee also agreed that committees should no longer meet.

</AI9>

<AI10>

4.2   Easter Recess Tabling Arrangements

As Business Committee had agreed to cancel Easter recess, the paper was not discussed.

</AI10>

<AI11>

5       Legislation

</AI11>

<AI12>

5.1   Legislative Consent Motion on the Coronavirus Bill

Business Committee did not refer the LCM for committee scrutiny, due to the pace that the Bill is expected to move through its UK Parliament stages. Business Managers noted that a Legislative Consent Motion would be tabled for consideration in Plenary tomorrow.

 

</AI12>

<AI13>

6       Any Other Business

Government legislation

 

The Trefnydd updated Business Managers on the government’s legislative programme.

 

The Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill and the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill are the two key priorities.

 

The government will consider the timescales for the Renting Homes (Amendment) Wales Bill and the Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Bill; the latter will still be sent for the Llywydd’s determination as planned.

 

The Social Partnership Bill may be for the next government to introduce – the government will try to consult on a draft Bill. Scrutiny on the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill and the Bus Services Bill will be paused and the government will reconsider at a later date.

 

The government will prioritise subordinate legislation to respond to COVID-19 and European transition, as well as any that are of legal necessity.

 

LCMs will continue to be considered if possible.

</AI13>

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