Archive for November 20, 2006

16 April 2002

  Q3 Alison Halford: How many issues or pieces of information issued by or on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government and individual Cabinet members have been considered as ‘commercially sensitive’ or ‘commercially confidential’ since the First Minister made a statement on freedom of information in March 2000? (OAQ16836) The First Minister: Requests for information are dealt with on a case by case basis. We do not hold information centrally on this topic. Our initial thoughts are that this information could only be obtained at disproportionate costs. Alison Halford:  We can be rightly proud of the Assembly, not least because it gives unparalleled access to Government information, as with your decision to release Cabinet papers and to impose the ‘substantial harm’ test on releasing documents. However, do you not feel that the use of commercial confidentiality is undermining the overall commitment to transparent Government? The Nolan report requires openness and accountability in public life. Does the First Minister have a view on whether a conflict of interest exists between the Assembly’s use of commercial confidentiality and the principles outlined in the Nolan report? Will you also assure me that I will not have to ask a plethora of questions to …..

14 March 2002 Clinical Negligence Costs to NHS

  Alison Halford:    I am pleased to add my voice to a matter of great concern. As a member of the Audit Committee, I have a small amount of knowledge of the complexities of the clinical negligence process. Almost 75 per cent of UK complainants feel that the procedure is biased and unfair. I welcome the high priority that the Minister is giving to this issue and her search for a flexible approach to achieving the best model. The Audit Committee found that almost £27 million was paid out in 1999-2000 as a result of clinical negligence, with the remaining 1,600 cases that remain unresolved in Wales alone having a potential cost of £107 million. More often than not, all that patients want is an apology at the early stage. If that could be achieved, the more costly and tortuous road of the formal complaints process could be avoided. The Auditor General for Wales also found that a large number—almost one third—of all clinical negligence cases resulted from non-clinical mistakes. This is why I am pleased that most of the recommendations made in the evaluation report centre on procedural reforms. Administrative or communication breakdown often led to mistakes that …..

12 March 2002

Q8 Alison Halford: Will the First Minister make a statement on his visit to BHP Billiton’s visitor centre in Talacre, in my constituency? (OAQ16196) The First Minister: I visited BHP Billiton’s visitor and processing centre in Talacre, and flew, by helicopter, over the Douglas oilfield where its platform and support vessels are located. One of the happiest possibilities we discussed during the visit—and you cannot have known this unless you have 20/20 foresight, Alison—has come into being this morning. The company has announced the transfer of most of its head office employees from London to your constituency, and, in addition, some 85 additional high-class office jobs will now be relocated in north Wales.Alison Halford: I had 19/20 foresight, First Minister. You and your team should be congratulated if you had anything to do with—and I am sure that you did—this excellent piece of news. I congratulate you on it and north Wales welcomes it.The First Minister: There are many steps to be taken in moving towards the knowledge economy, and this is an important step on the way. The 85 head office-type jobs, of which Wales is so short—with the pay, earning ability, and spending power that they bring with …..

28 February 2002

Q14 Alison Halford:  Will the Minister make a statement on what has been done to promote e-business in north Wales? (OAQ15974)   Andrew Davies:  ‘Cymru Ar-lein—Online for a Better Wales’ details how the Welsh Assembly Government plans to transform the economy of Wales through the application of ICT.We support a range of projects that involve the promotion of e-commerce and the provision of advice on ICT to businesses. These include Opportunity Wales, the all-Wales network of ICT support centres, the annual e-commerce awards and a commitment to the development of access to broadband technologies. Opportunity Wales, a large-scale Objective 1 project, will help thousands of businesses benefit from e-commerce. A new Opportunity Wales pilot has recently been agreed for north Wales. Opportunity Wales is not the only e-commerce project running in Wales, but it is the biggest. As part of our commitment to raising the profile of e-commerce we are co-sponsoring the Welsh heat of the UK online for business/InterForum E-commerce Awards. These awards recognise and reward those organisations that have demonstrated excellence through the use of the internet. Access to affordable infrastructure is fundamental to driving forward the e-business agenda. Significant strides have been made including support for Strand …..

28 February 2002

Q13 Alison Halford: What action has the Minister taken to ensure all supermarkets in Wales deal fairly with farmers and give them a fair price for their goods? (OAQ15921) Carwyn Jones: This issue was the subject of an eight-month investigation by the Office of Fair Trading and was then referred to the Competition Commission for a full monopolies inquiry. The Department of Trade and Industry recommended that a binding code of conduct be developed for the industry. The code will enter into force on 17 March 2002.

14 February 2002

Q10 Alison Halford: Will the Minister make a statement on the sudden rise in calls to the Teacherline helpline? (OAQ15651)   Jane Davidson: Teacherline provides a valuable, confidential counselling and advice service for teachers. It currently operates in England and, although Welsh teachers can use it, it is not publicised in Wales, nor is a service offered through the medium of Welsh. I am pleased to say that I will make funds available to help establish Teacherline Cymru early next financial year. That will be a service dedicated to Welsh teachers.

14 February 2002 Richard Rogers Partnership

    The Presiding Officer: I have accepted a request from the leader of the opposition to ask the Minister for Finance, Local Government and Communities an urgent question under Standing Order No. 6.31.   The Leader of the Opposition (Ieuan Wyn Jones): Will the Minister make a statement on the arbitration action between the National Assembly and the Richard Rogers partnership? (EAQ15866)   I had not made this information known previously because adjudication is a confidential process between two parties, and participants are required to refrain from publishing details. I am only releasing these details now because they have been released from another quarter, although I am not suggesting that they came from Lord Rogers. Members will recall that in answer to WAQ12863 from Alison Halford in July 2001 concerning projected fees to be paid by the Richard Rogers Partnership, I stated that it was necessary to conclude a settlement with RRP due to the termination of its employment. However, in order to protect the Assembly’s position, the details needed to remain confidential.  In December 2001, RRP served a notice of adjudication on the Assembly for outstanding fees totalling £530,000 for work undertaken on the National Assembly’s building project. …..

7 February 2002

Q11 Alison Halford: Will the Minister update us on the discussions that she is having with local authorities to combat budget underspending? (OAQ15504) Transferred for written answer under the Minister’s local government portfolio.   Edwina Hart: The Assembly collects information on authorities’ budgeted expenditure and their out-turns, to inform the standard spending assessment formula for the annual settlement and to create and improve performance indicators, as well as providing indicators of local government spending and priorities. However, budget management, including budget underspend, is a matter for individual local authorities, not the Assembly.

5 February 2002

Q6 Alison Halford: What discussions has the First Minister had with the Secretary of State for Wales over their joint review into ombudsman services in Wales, announced last March? (OAQ15448)   The First Minister: Since that review was announced, officials have worked on producing a comprehensive consultation paper on the future of ombudsman services in Wales. We have considered in detail the scope, content and outcome of the reviews in England and Scotland, as we said we would. We are comparing their outcomes and identifying common themes. We have considered issues raised by Assembly Members, particularly those of advocacy, statutory powers to enforce recommendations and the extent of jurisdiction, which were the matters that you raised, Alison. Alison Halford:  In the light of progress made in England and Scotland, will you explain the situation, in terms of your review, when primary legislation is needed? Will Wales have to wait for a time slot, or will our requirements be fast-tracked? When do you think Members will be consulted on this important review? The First Minister:  We hope to publish the consultation paper jointly with the Secretary of State, and therefore I cannot give a cast-iron promise. However, we think that it …..

January 29 2002 POINT OF ORDER

POINT OF ORDER January 29, 2002 The Presiding Officer:  Order. Before I call Members on this point of order, I make it clear that calling Members to speak in this Chamber is entirely a matter for me, and for the Deputy Presiding Officer when he is presiding. Clearly, I have regard to decisions made by the Assembly, to Assembly guidance and to our Standing Orders because the interpretation of Standing Orders is also a part of my responsibility. I receive advice from many quarters about whom I should call to speak, not least from Members who want to be called. I also receive advice from party groups about their proposed selection of speakers. That has happened during almost every debate here. It often falls to the Deputy Presiding Officer or myself to vary that selection or to indicate that we cannot call some Members. That happened to the Plaid Cymru group last week when it was not in the interest of the balance of an hour’s debate for five members of that group to be called. I cite that example because it is the most recent. While I am Presiding Officer, I will continue to ensure that all Members, whatever …..