Archive for November 22, 2006

12 March 2002

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 …..

14 March 2002 NHS Negligence

14 March 2002 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 …..

16 April 2002

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 …..

18 April 2002

Q13 Alison Halford: What long term financial assistance is being provided to support farms in Wales that decide to convert to organic production? (OAQ16924) Carwyn Jones: I am conscious of the arguments in favour of an ongoing subsidy for organic farming, particularly in recognition of the environmental benefits it provides. However, the case for such a subsidy has yet to be conclusively demonstrated. I have therefore asked the agri-environment sub-group of the common agricultural policy reform steering group to consider the issues and to report back with recommendations.

18 April 2002

18 April 2002 Q6 Alison Halford: What action is the Minister taking to increase female participation in all sports in Wales? (OAQ16879)   Jenny Randerson:  Increasing female participation in sport in Wales is one of my priorities. This is set out in the Assembly Government’s ‘Plan for Wales 2001’. I have asked the Sports Council for Wales to focus on this issue, and it is reflected in many of its initiatives, for example, the women and girls action plan, the Girls First initiative and the golf development plan.   Alison Halford:  As we know, if sport funding was divided equally between the genders, we would have celebrated the opening of the Millennium Stadium for women’s rugby long ago. What can be done to support young girls to access fields and facilities that presently view them as different and second class, and to challenge the traditional images of some sports as male or female orientated? Initiatives such as the recently released film, Bend it Like Beckham, are excellent examples.   Jenny Randerson: The answer to that question has many strands. Broadcasters have an important role in this issue. It is vital that the sports council ensures that governing bodies do not …..

23 April 2002 Disposal of the land to Wales Millennium Centre company

23 April 2002 The Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language (Jenny Randerson):  On Monday 14 January, I tabled a statement in which I proposed to authorise a notifiable transaction to which Standing Order No. 19.13 applies, namely the disposal of the land at an undervalue to the Wales Millennium Centre company for the purpose of constructing and operating the Wales Millennium Centre. That statement indicated that it would also be necessary to enter into separate agreements with Cardiff County Council and Grosvenor Waterside, which would contain contingent liabilities. In the Plenary debate on 22 January, I explained that details of these contingent liabilities were still being negotiated, and I anticipated that it would become necessary for me to authorise the terms of those agreements in accordance with the urgency procedure, under Standing Order No. 19. I am now providing details of those transactions in accordance with Standing Order No. 19.20. 19.20. Before describing the details of the contingent liabilities that have been entered into with Cardiff County Council and Grosvenor Waterside, it would be helpful to remind the Assembly of the history of the WMC site and why the need for these liabilities has arisen. When Cardiff County …..

26 April 2002

26 April 2002 Q2 Alison Halford: In light of the review into ombudsman services in Wales, announced last April, what plans has the Minister to reform the role and powers of the local government ombudsman in Wales? (OAQ16946)   Edwina Hart: We jointly announced with the Secretary of State for Wales that we will undertake a review of all public sector ombudsman services in Wales with the aim of ensuring that the service meets our citizens’ needs. The jurisdiction of all ombudsmen will be considered and you will have an opportunity to contribute to the review as part of a public consultation, which will begin by the end of May.Alison Halford: While the reform of the ombudsman services is a great step forward towards accountability and transparency, combining the role of the monitoring officer with the head of legal services will mean that such officers will investigate themselves, their colleagues and—most importantly—their employer. Does it not cause you concern that so much power and influence is vested in an individual?   Edwina Hart:  I would be concerned if I believed that too much power was being vested in an individual. If you consider the example of a clerk to a …..

25 April 2002

25 April 2002 Q14 Alison Halford:  What action has the Minister taken to ensure that coastal defences, particularly in north Wales, will withstand the rises in sea levels caused by global warming? (OAQ16961)   Sue Essex: I have encouraged the authorities responsible to prepare shoreline management plans, which by considering the wide range of issues affecting the coast, including the impact of sea level rise, aim to provide a basis for sustainable coastal defence.

30 April 2002 Strategic Advisory Structure for Museums, Libraries, and Archives in Wales

30 April 2002 The Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language (Jenny Randerson): This is a statement on my consultation paper, ‘A Strategic and Advisory Structure for Museums, Libraries and Archives in Wales’, which I am launching today. It marks the beginning of an extremely important process to find the best arrangements for determining and disseminating policy and strategic direction for the more than 500 museums, libraries and archive services throughout Wales. My aim is to bring about long-term solutions and opportunities that will result in improved services to users..Museums, libraries and archives play a central role in the cultural and educational life of Wales. We have already implemented changes, such as providing increased funding for ICT facilities at local level and the introduction of public library standards. In the past, there were several organisations in representative and policy-making roles, some of which covered England only, and others covered the UK as a whole for part or all of their activities. In the last two years these have been replaced with Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries. Resource is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It has a varying remit, similar to that of …..

30 April 2002

30 April 2002 Q12 Alison Halford: What discussions has the First Minister had with the UK Government over the implications for Wales of the budget announced on 17 April? (OAQ17074) The First Minister: I regularly meet the Secretary of State for Wales to discuss all matters relating to Wales.