FMQs, 10th July 2018
Caroline Jones AM (UKIP, South Wales West): UK Government Brexit Chaos
Caroline is convinced the mess the UK Government are making of Brexit is a determined effort to leave us with no choice but to stay in the EU. The Chequers agreement means the UK will remain subject to EU laws and will hamper the UK’s ability to negotiate trade deals. Did the First Minister agree it was a shambolic agreement? She did, however, praise Welsh Government proposals for post-Brexit agricultural grants.
The First Minister repeated that he wanted a “sensible solution” that sees us retain full and unfettered access to the single market. With regard farming, it was still important to maintain single market access as 90% of Welsh food exports go to the EU and a lot of what we produce is perishable and needs to reach markets quickly.
Verdict: Miss – A few interesting new titbits, but the subject’s being done to death.
Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda): UK Government Brexit Chaos
Following the chaos at Westminister, would the First Minister now commit to developing a “No Deal” Brexit plan that he dismissed last week? Unlike Labour, Plaid didn’t consent to the Brexit Bill and didn’t abstain on remaining in the single market. Yet now, the Finance Secretary was complaining about not seeing negotiation papers. Would the First Minister back a second referendum if the choice is between a bad deal or no deal?
The First Minister repeated that a “No Deal” can’t be prepared for. Labour and Plaid developed “the most thought-through policy on Brexit anywhere in the UK” and he believes the Chequers agreement is closer to where things ought to be. He maintains his stance that any deal should be ratified by the UK’s parliaments, but there may be circumstances where a second referendum becomes inevitable – a rejected deal and an inconclusive UK election result, for example.
Verdict: Miss – Ditto above.
Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.): Support for children with learning disabilities
A report by the Children’s Commissioner revealed the Welsh Government is failing to provide enough support for children with learning disabilities, with 83% of parents saying their children were socially isolated or bullied. One way the Welsh Government could move in the right direction is supporting his Autism Bill, which is due to be tabled next week and has the backing of multiple organisations.
The First Minister believed it was important to consider a report before responding to it. He committed to doing all he can to support children and families and make sure all resources are available, but that doesn’t mean it has to be done via a Bill.
Verdict: Hit – A glib answer from Carwyn.
Neil Hamilton AM (UKIP, Mid & West Wales): Will the First Minister make a statement on how the Welsh Government facilitates outdoor leisure activities in Wales (restricting access to publicly-owned land that’s leased to Bike Park Wales in Merthyr)?
The Welsh Government works with partner bodies such as Sport Wales and Natural Resources Wales to provide people with outdoor activities. He didn’t understand how action for trespass on open land could be legally enforced.
Verdict: Hit – This needs further investigation; Carwyn didn’t seem up to speed.
Russell George AM (Con, Montgomery): Will the First Minister make a statement on eligibility to vote in Welsh elections (overseas and absentee voting rights in Wales)?
To be eligible to vote in Welsh elections you need to be registered and aged 18 or over, though the First Minister supports extending the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds. Residency is the only way of establishing voting rights in the absence of Welsh citizenship.
Verdict: Miss – A Tory arguing for Welsh citizenship?
Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales): What support does the Welsh Government provide for children with epilepsy (ketogenic diet access)?
There are ongoing discussions on whether support for ketogenic diets (used to treat epilepsy when drugs fail) can be provided in Wales (services are currently provided out of Bristol). The ambulance service is also undertaking a review of the “amber” 999 call category in relation to epileptic seizures and other conditions. He also hoped the UK will head up a proper examination of the medicinal use of cannabis and cannabis derivatives (as drugs laws are non-devolved).
Verdict: Miss – A frank and honest answer from the First Minister.