Agenda item

Minutes of 15 June, actions and matters arising

Minutes:

ARAC (04-20) Paper 1 - Minutes of 15 June 2020

ARAC (04-20) Paper 2 – Summary of actions

 

2.1        The minutes of the 15 June meeting were agreed.

2.2        In response to a question from the Committee, Arwyn Jones advised that there had been little press coverage from the publishing of the Commission’s Annual Report and Accounts.  Manon Antoniazzi added that the hybrid plenary had been covered extensively on ITV Wales which was extremely positive.

2.3        The Chair welcomed Siwan Davies to the meeting who would update the Committee  on action point 6.4 relating to Senedd reform, specifically around the future funding arrangements for the Electoral Commission.  Siwan explained that Welsh Government had advised of its intention to bring forward further legislation which was needed to make the Electoral Commission accountable to the Senedd and for it to be funded directly from the Welsh Consolidated Fund; however this would not be in place in time for the 2021 elections. She added that agreement had been reached for an interim arrangement whereby the Welsh Government would administer payments to the Electoral Commission. 

2.4        Siwan described the process to make this happen which included changes to the Senedd’s Standing Orders (to be done the following week) to establish a Llywydd’s Committee (to be appointed in the Autumn term) and set out new finance and financial control processes.  She added that inter-institutional agreements on how the Electoral Commission would be funded, and be accountable to the Senedd (via the Llywydd’s Committee), the House of Commons (via the Speaker’s Committee) and the Scottish Parliament would need to be set out by September.

2.5        Nia Morgan reminded the Committee of the Commission’s strong opposition to the initial proposals for the Electoral Commission to be funded through the Senedd Commission in this interim period.  This new agreement would remove the implications for the Senedd Commission’s budget arrangements.  The Committee agreed this was a good outcome, noted the Commission’s efforts to drive this forward within tight timescales through ongoing dialogue and asked to be updated on progress in due course. 

2.6        As a matter arising the Chair asked to discuss how the Committee could play a constructive part in the ongoing management of the Commission’s corporate risk on Constitutional Change.  He advised that he had received an updated report, for his information, out of committee which he had subsequently circulated to Ann and Aled for information.  Siwan provided assurance to the Committee on the Commission’s management of the Constitutional Change risk, including through scenario planning and engagement with the Senedd Commission and Business Committee as well as through political channels including an inter-parliamentary group.

2.7        In response to questions from Ann about the potential impact of the volume of last minute Brexit legislation and its impact on scrutiny of the Welsh Government’s existing legislative programme, Siwan provided further assurance that ongoing scenario planning and discussions with the Welsh Government would try to pre-empt this as much as possible to allow the Senedd to maintain legislative scrutiny.  Suzy Davies highlighted the potential for issues around the relationship between the Senedd and the Welsh Government, as well as the UK Government in terms of legislative competence. 

2.8        The Committee welcomed Suzy’s perspective on these issues and the insightful update from Siwan.  As constitutional issues would have moved forward significantly before the next Committee meeting in November, the Chair asked for an update early in the Autumn suggesting this could be combined with an update on new ways of working to support Senedd Committee and Plenary business in the Covid-19 environment.

 

Action

(2.8) Provide an update on the ongoing management of risks around Constitutional Change early in the Autumn.