Archive for November 2000

30 November 2000

Alison Halford (Delyn): What is the estimated cost in both time and money, of the failure to require the architects to include provisions for the disabled within their original design. (OAQ8195) I congratulate the Presiding Officer and the Deputy Presiding Officer for allowing this new form of scrutiny. It is very welcome. Deputy Presiding Officer: It does not fall within the remit of the House Committee. I apologise, Alison. I should have transferred that question to the Executive. Alison Halford: Does that mean that the scrutiny has gone out of the window? [Laughter.] I shall take that up with the House Committee. The Deputy Presiding Officer: There is House Committee involvement once the building is handed over, so there is co- operation. However, the question is properly one for the Executive and should have been transferred to it. I apologise. Alison Halford: Will you be suggesting a way that the Executive can be brought into the scrutiny regime? The Deputy Presiding Officer: It will have heard what I have just said.

28 November 2000

Alison Halford (Delyn): What discussions has he had with UK Cabinet Ministers regarding the serious flooding situation in Wales. (OAQ8039). The First Minister: I have had frequent discussions with the Secretary of State for Wales and his colleagues on a wide range of matters including flooding. Sue Essex represented the Assembly at a meeting of Ministers, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, on 4 November. The Assembly is represented on the Cabinet Office Flood Working Group of officials chaired by Elliot Morley MP.

23 November 2000

Alison Halford (Delyn): Would the Minister make a statement on the report by the National Audit Office on behalf of the Auditor General for Wales on "Accommodation Arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales". (OAQ7975) The Minister for Finance Local Government and Communities (Edwina Hart): It would not be appropriate to make a statement until the Assembly Cabinet has formally responded to the Audit Committee’s report to the Assembly on the Auditor General for Wales’s Report. The response must be laid before the Assembly within one month of the First Minister receiving the Committee’s report. If the response is an interim one, then a final response needs to be laid within a further two months.

21 November 2000

Alison Halford (Delyn): Would the First Minister make a statement about the appointment procedure and accountability of special advisers within the Welsh Assembly. (OAQ7908) The First Minister: Special advisers are appointed in accordance with the Civil Service Order in Council 1995 as amended in March 1999. They are accountable to their appointing ministers for the way in which they serve the objectives of the National Assembly for Wales. You will be aware that our special advisers were appointed in open competition and that advisers have never been appointed in that way before. Alison Halford: That is exactly what I wanted to hear. I congratulate you on the fact that you have appointed your advisers in an open and fair way. Will you ensure that all special advisers are appointed in that way in future? The First Minister: I can give that assurance on behalf of the partnership Government also. We anticipate that there will be two Liberal Democrat special advisers and I understand that they will be appointed through open competition in the same way as our original four—now reduced to three—were appointed. David Davies: Does the First Minister have any plans to appoint a special adviser to the opposition …..

16 November 2000

Alison Halford (Delyn): Would she make a statement on the cost of improving the North-South Transport links, as outlined by the "Welsh North South Transport Links Study" of May 2000. (OAQ7770) Sue Essex: I am committed to improving links between north and south Wales. The report prepared by Babtie estimated that the total cost to implement the schemes to improve the north to south road route is £270 million. I have to consider the levels of investment in the context of the funding provided in the draft budget. My decision must also take into account the needs for transport infrastructure and public transport investment across Wales. In terms of public transport, I am expecting improved rail links between north and south Wales to be included in the new Wales and Borders franchise with revenue subsidy from the shadow strategic rail authority.

14 November 2000

Alison Halford (Delyn): What actions has he taken to ensure that the weaknesses in the link between Whitehall and civil servants in Wales, as highlighted in the Phillips Report, do not occur in the future. (OAQ7729) The First Minister: The National Assembly brings a new political dimension to the working of Government within the UK. The option of ignoring or dismissing Welsh concerns is no longer available. The Minister for Rural Affairs meets the UK agriculture Ministers regularly. The creation of the independent UK Food Standards Agency, with specific arrangements to advise and account to the National Assembly, means that in food safety matters we in Wales are not dependent on a Whitehall link. In addition, the National Assembly is now fully informed on the deliberations of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, the expert committee advising the UK Government on BSE and new variant CJD matters. As with the other devolved administrations, the National Assembly sends an observer to the SEAC meetings. Following devolution, the concordats with Whitehall departments formalise their commitment to keeping the National Assembly informed on, and involved with, matters of common concern. The action that is underway by the UK Government to respond to the Phillips …..

9 November 2000

Alison Halford (Delyn): Would the Minister give us an update on the state of the plans for the Millennium Centre. (OAQ7635) Jenny Randerson: My officials met with the chief executive of the Wales Millennium Centre on 18 October. She was asked to prepare a detailed action plan for the next stage of the project, outlining the critical path to achieving a complete design for the centre to the Royal Institute of British Architects’ stage D by February 2001, and the detailed costs involved with getting to that point. That paper has been received and is currently being evaluated by officials.

2 November 2000

Alison Halford (Delyn): Has she any plans to review the salaries of the further education sector in Wales in the light of a drop in the relating sector earnings. (OAQ7480) Jane Davidson: The salary of staff employed by further education institutions is a matter for the employer or the Further Education Corporation or governing body. There is no centrally determined pay structure. I am aware of concerns expressed by some further education institutions about the differences in salary between schools’ sixth form teachers and sixth form college lecturers, and that the Department for Education and Employment in England has budgeted additional resources in 2001-02 to help reduce the gap between the two pay structures. I am considering what, if anything, should be done in Wales.