§ Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)
I beg to move amendment No. 52,in page 1, line 8, leave out 'an' and insert 'a legislative'.
§ The Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Alan Haselhurst)
With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 10, in page 1, line 8, leave out 'National Assembly for Wales' and insert 'Welsh Assembly'.
No. 2, in page 1, line 9, leave out 'Assembly' and insert 'Senedd'.
No. 142, in page 1, line 9, leave out 'for' and insert 'of'.
No. 19, in page 1, line 9, leave out 'Cynulliad Cenedlaethol' and insert 'Senedd Genedlaethol'.
New clause 3—Power of Assembly to make primary legislation—
- '.— (1) Where a function has been transferred to the Assembly under section 22, Her Majesty may by Order in Council provide that the power to make laws in respect of that function shall be exercisable by the Assembly.
- (2) Laws made under subsection (1) shall be known as Acts of the Assembly.
- (3) An Act of the Assembly is not law so far as any provision of the Act is outside the legislative competence of the Assembly.
- (4) A provision is outside that competence so far as any of the following paragraphs apply—
- (a) it would form part of the law of a country or territory other than Wales.
- (b) its effect would be to modify any provision of this Act,
- (c) it relates to a function in respect of which Her Majesty has not made an Order in Council under subsection (1), or
- (d) it is incompatible with any of the Convention rights or with Community law.
- (5) An Act of the Assembly may modify a provision made by or under an Act of Parliament, whenever passed or made, if the modification is otherwise within its legislative competence.
- (6) Any provision of an Act of the Assembly is to be read, so far as possible, so as to be within the legislative competence of the Assembly and is to have effect accordingly.
- (7) Proposed Acts of the Assembly shall be known as Bills; and a Bill shall become an Act of the Assembly when it has been passed by the Assembly and has received Royal Assent.
- (8) The Assembly shall make standing orders setting out the procedures to which a Bill shall be subject.
- (9) The validity of any proceedings leading to the enactment of an Act of the Assembly shall not be called into question in any legal proceedings.
- (10) Every Act of the Assembly shall be judicially noticed.
- (11) This section does not affect the power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to make laws for Wales.
- (12) An Order in Council under this section may contain any appropriate consequential, incidental, supplementary or transitional provisions or savings (including provisions in the form of amendments or repeals or enactments).
- (13) No recommendation shall be made to Her Majesty in Council to make an Order in Council under this section—
- (a) unless a draft of the statutory instrument containing the Order in Council has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament, and
- (b) in the case of an Order in Council varying or revoking a previous Order in Council, unless such a draft has also been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the Assembly.'.
§ New clause 4—Secretary of State to bring forward tax varying proposals—
- '(1) Subject to section (Power of Assembly to make primary legislation), the Secretary of State shall, before making an order under section 148(1) of this Act, lay before Parliament proposals to put in place an income tax varying power for the Assembly.
- (2) The tax varying power under subsection (1) shall be limited to a maximum variation of three per cent above or below the prevailing basic rate of income tax for the United Kingdom.'.
§ Mr. Wigley
It is a great pleasure to move the first bank of amendments in the Committee stage of this very important Bill. The Government of Wales Bill will, I hope, provide a new structure of government in Wales, which will enhance democracy and enable the people of Wales to take decisions for themselves in those areas that are committed to the National Assembly Wales; they hope that those decision-taking powers will be adequate to make a difference in their everyday lives.
The amendment in my name and those of my hon. Friends, amendment No. 52, refers to our feeling that the assembly should be known as a legislative assembly. Legislative power is a very important power indeed in giving the national assembly the ability to make the difference to which I referred in areas within its competence.
Several other amendments linked with amendment No. 52 deal with the name of the assembly and associated matters, but I shall refer in these opening remarks to the need for legislative powers. In creating a National Assembly for Wales, we are creating a body which I hope will be able to get to grips with issues in Wales on which we need a different policy from that which exists for the United Kingdom as a whole or for England and Wales, within the context of this Chamber.
The logic of creating a national assembly is that, where circumstances are different in Wales, there is a need to be able to follow policies that are different. Under the Bill, the extent of the powers of the assembly will be tied in one direction by financial constraints, in that it will work within a block grant and will have no tax-varying powers. It will be tied in another direction by the legislative framework that has been laid down by Westminster. If it is impossible to move in either direction, the assembly's freedom of action will be very limited indeed.
The areas of competence of the assembly are matters of great importance, such as education, health, local government, language and culture, and many matters in which we in Wales have our own needs and our own characteristics and priorities.
823 Those differences were recognised by the establishment of the Welsh Office in 1964 and by subsequent policy developments of successive Governments. Since then, legislation has been passed by the House that has been deliberately tabled to deal with the needs of Wales alone. I should like the assembly to have legislative powers of that sort, so I hope that the Bill will be interpreted along those lines. I hope that Ministers will be able to tell us about the extent of the assembly's powers to deal with legislative questions.
The White Paper and the earlier debates on the referendum acknowledged that the assembly will have some legislative functions, for example, to deal with orders—secondary legislation, as it is generally called. It is possible that the Bill's functions relating to, for example, the Welsh Development Agency will, in effect, be equivalent to amending primary legislation. To say the least, such a function requires clarification, so that we know the extent to which that power can be developed. In order to discover exactly what the assembly can do, we need to know the precise role of that legislative capacity. Provision for that exists in the Bill, but we need to know how far that goes.
Four years ago, a Bill was put through the House that dealt exclusively with the local government needs of Wales. The assembly should have the power to deal with such legislation in the future. There may be several ways of doing so, which we can explore. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Mon (Mr. Jones) will deal with that, should he catch your eye, Sir Alan.
We should consider how the assembly could be linked with the existing legislative process of Westminster, so that policy changes required to legislation on local government, education or the Welsh Development Agency could include an input from our own assembly. Wales should not be totally dependent on this Chamber and this Parliament for any modifications to existing law.
We are aware that Scotland is to have a Parliament with full legislative functions. It will be possible for that Parliament to make full-scale legislative changes in those areas over which it will have competence. If there was a subsequent change in education policy as a result of legislation passed in the House, that would not apply to Scotland, because the Scottish Parliament will pass its own education Acts. The people of Scotland will therefore be safeguarded against a right-wing Government who sought to impose policies contrary to their democratic wishes. They will be able to withstand that.
My understanding is that the Bill does not offer a similar power to Wales. During the referendum campaign, however, I heard Ministers say that it might be possible to stop the enactment of legislation that would otherwise be imposed on Wales by a Government of perhaps a different colour from the current one. The possibility of that power should be explored in Committee, so that those in the assembly know exactly what they could do in terms of promoting legislation and withstanding that which is not wanted by the majority of people in Wales, as reflected by membership of that national assembly.
I want to clarify the legislative role of the assembly, and it is important to bear it in mind that such legislative powers are not draconian. We should remember that, apart from the proposed Scottish Parliament, the Stormont Parliament of Northern Ireland, when it was up and 824 running, had similar legislative powers, as do the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, which can make their own laws.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)
Stormont was not called the legislative assembly of Stormont. Surely the essential point is that, when one defines, one limits. To call the assembly a legislative one would in part be a deception, because it will be capable of more than that, while having limited legislative powers. Why deceive people?
§ Mr. Wigley
That is a very interesting interpretation, and if that is the interpretation of Ministers, we shall listen to their comments with considerable interest. However, the hon. Gentleman will be aware, as I am, that there are Parliaments in other countries that are known as legislative assemblies, for the reason that that term clarifies the fact that the body is the prime body for making legislation as far as the people are concerned. Of course those bodies have other powers—financial, executive and administrative—but the term "legislative assembly" is used in other parts of the world.
My point is that, even if the assembly is not a fully self-governing Parliament—although we on this Bench would like it to be—there is nothing unusual in having a significant legislative role in a Parliament or assembly that is subordinate to another. We see that in the states of the United States of America, in the Lander of Germany, in Australia and in the provinces of Canada. It is important that the National Assembly for Wales should have those powers.
If we have those powers, it will be possible to develop, for example, our education system in Wales in line with the aspirations, values and wishes of the people of Wales. Over the past 100 years, we have seen education as something of intrinsic importance in Wales. Even 100 years ago, Acts of Parliament were passed that had special relevance to Wales, whose legislative provisions gave Wales a different structure in respect of education. Our education in Wales needs that sort of framework to enable it to develop now.
We hope that the assembly will be set up in spring 1999. Suppose we reach a position where the assembly, despite taking a considerable interest in the administration of education and in applying the secondary legislation and orders that are within the framework of laws passed here, cannot pass primary legislation; but we need changes to primary legislation in order to meet the needs of policy in Wales.
Then the assembly will come, by some mechanism—perhaps cap in hand—to Westminster to find the means of getting the legislative change it needs to implement the sort of policy wished for in Wales. I cannot see how that situation is provided for in the Bill, and, without giving fuller legislative power to the assembly, I am not sure whether it can be resolved.
It may be possible to develop some fast tracks, and, if so, all the better; but there needs to be some mechanism. We Back-Bench Members of Parliament know how long we have to wait to get legislative changes made. If the assembly wants and needs change but has to wait year after year to get them, or if it cannot get changes made 825 that it clearly and manifestly needs and desires, that will build up frustration. There must be a mechanism provided to deal with such situations.
§ The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Ron Davies)
I am listening carefully to the right hon. Gentleman, but, so that we can respond more fully to the case he is developing, will he give the Committee one or two examples of the sort of legislative change he believes might be required in future, which would be frustrated by the absence of primary legislative powers in the Bill as it stands?
§ Mr. Wigley
One can easily give examples relating to local government in Wales. We have had two rounds of changes to local government powers in Wales within my political lifetime—in 1974 and 1994. Legislation passed through this Chamber and was dealt with in Standing Committees. In the most recent instance, the Committee had a majority of Conservative Members, who were not even Welsh Members of Parliament, deciding what sort of local government system we should have in Wales, when they did not have to live with the consequences.
Changes may need to be made in the context of local government—goodness knows, there are weaknesses in the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, as the Secretary of State well knows, judging by Labour's criticisms when the Act was being passed. However, if the assembly feels that changes need to be made to the arrangements enshrined in the primary legislation passed in Westminster, as far as I can tell, it will not be possible for the assembly to make those changes.
If the Government have a mechanism whereby draft Bills introduced by the assembly can be fed into the Westminster system, and can guarantee at least that there will be a fair opportunity to debate them in Westminster, it goes part of the way towards achieving what we want. It does not go the full way, because, if a Conservative Government come to power in Westminster, and if the objectives of the legislation introduced by the National Assembly for Wales are not in line with those of the Conservative Government, we may have to wait five, 10 or, in line with our experience in recent years, even 18 years before getting those changes through. That is unacceptable.
Another example that may or may not need full law-making powers is education. I know that Ministers have been considering matters such as the international baccalaureate and have found certain difficulties with it. Such changes have a broad cross-section of support in Wales, albeit one must find the finances to carry them out.
Only a few months ago, we were discussing changes to pre-school education. The last Government introduced a system that could have led to the privatisation of pre-school education, and they would no doubt have gone on to do the same to primary education. If a law is passed by a Conservative Government in Westminster to privatise primary education or bring in a system of dockets to pay for education, we would be unable, without law-making powers, to introduce an alternative system. We might be able to stop the orders, and we would be locked into the Westminster system.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
We must establish at the outset of the Committee stage that the sort of fast-track system to 826 which the right hon. Gentleman refers is not provided for in the Bill. It is as well to acknowledge that openly. It is also important to establish at the outset that there will be a developing relationship between the assembly and the Westminster Government. The assembly's success will be judged, by and large, by whether it develops a good working relationship with the Westminster Parliament, because it will continue to rely on the Westminster Parliament for its primary legislation.
The right hon. Gentleman has not yet convinced me, because the two arguments that he has used in respect of education did not require primary legislation. The changes to the examination system and the nursery voucher system would have been carried through by the powers that will be vested in the Welsh assembly, as proposed in the Bill.
§ Mr. Wigley
I listened carefully to the Secretary of State's words. He said that the changes would have been carried out by the assembly through its secondary legislative powers. The assembly may be able to block secondary legislative powers and orders, but could not create an alternative, because it would have to work within the framework of the existing primary legislation. To that extent, it stymies the assembly's powers to develop the education system in line with Welsh values. Nursery or primary school vouchers, or any such system, would certainly be out of line with our needs.
I should be even more concerned, if a Conservative Government carrying out that agenda saw that their agenda for Wales could be blocked through the Welsh assembly's order-making powers, and then created primary legislation to avoid those orders. Our freedom to withstand the legislation would therefore be withheld.
§ Mr. Davies
Yes, but let us face the brutal reality: if, by some mischance, such an horrific situation should arise and a Conservative Government were re-elected, it would always be open to them to ensure that their writ would run in Wales, just as it can run in Scotland once there is a Scottish Parliament. This Parliament is sovereign and can do whatever it wants, regardless of legislation passed by this Government.
§ Mr. Wigley
We shall doubtless discuss the sovereignty of Parliament on a future group of amendments. The Secretary of State mentions the Scottish example, and says that the Westminster Parliament could overrule Scotland. This House could take away any devolved regime; it could abolish the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh assembly, just as it abolished Stormont and the Greater London council.
Although that is conceivable, in the context of the Scotland Bill, the primary legislative powers being transferred to Scotland will not, once transferred, be interfered with by Westminster on a day-to-day basis. Notwithstanding an acknowledgement that sovereignty still lies in Westminster, there is an acknowledgement that, when those powers are given to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Parliament is expected to use them. There would be no point setting up the system if it was to be double-guessed from Westminster. The Welsh assembly will not have that facility, and that will create frustration.
§ Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)
I am following as closely as I can the exchanges between 827 the right hon. Gentleman and the Secretary of State. The right hon. Gentleman is arguing that the Bill allows the Welsh assembly to block provisions, such as the nursery voucher scheme, by refusing to exercise its order-making power. Is he certain of that, because, from my reading of the Bill, I am not so sure that that is the position?
§ 4 pm
§ Mr. Wigley
If the hon. Gentleman has doubts about what the assembly will be able to do, I shall listen carefully to his arguments when we explore its order-making powers. At present, order-making powers rest with the Secretary of State and will be transferred to the assembly. A decision by the assembly not to move the commencement orders would prevent orders from being used. Other orders also fall into that category.
I accept that the National Assembly for Wales will be able to prevent provisions from being implemented, but that is a negative role, and I want it to have a creative role, so that ideas that have been bubbling away in Wales in local government, education, health and housing will be able to flourish. If that is true for those areas, how much more true it would be for the Welsh language.
The Welsh Language Act 1993 was dealt with by a Standing Committee which had a majority of Tories who did not represent Welsh constituencies, and who did not know about the prospects and hopes for the language and the need to ensure that we were carrying the whole community with us. Members of the National Assembly for Wales will have that background, because they will be from communities in which that is a material policy. It would be nonsense to have to come to Westminster for the smallest legislative change in the Welsh Language Act 1993 when we have our own national assembly.
The national assembly must have full legislative powers if we are to have a coherent policy. The interface between executive and legislative powers must be clarified. If the national assembly has executive powers but no primary legislative powers, there will be a partial vacuum between the left hand and the right hand, and there is a danger that one will go in one direction and the other in the other direction, especially if there is a difference between the political balance in the assembly in Cardiff, or wherever it may be, and the political balance in the House.
There is also the question of the credibility of the National Assembly for Wales in the context of the European Union. The Secretaries—if that is to be the term—will go to Brussels as part of a United Kingdom delegation dealing with agriculture, the environment, employment and regional policies, which are matters of essential importance to the National Assembly for Wales. If they are regarded as second-class citizens compared with the Secretaries or Ministers of the Scottish Parliament, who will have full, law-making powers under their belt, that will be a retrograde step. The needs of Wales will not have the same credibility as those of Scotland.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
Ought not the right hon. Gentleman to be a little more careful when saying that the Scottish Ministers will have full law-making powers, because it is clear that no one other than a representative of this House can represent the United Kingdom as a whole?
§ Mr. Wigley
That is open to argument. Some people take a different view from that taken by the hon. Member 828 for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell). I know what stance he takes on the Scottish Parliament, and although I fundamentally disagree with his view, I cannot but respect it, having heard it over the years from the 1970s to the late 1990s.
It is up to Ministers to clarify the position, but I think I know what the Government intend. The agricultural needs of the Scottish and Welsh communities are different, in terms of balance, from those in England, which are dominated by the requirements of barley and grain fanners in East Anglia. When a Welsh national assembly and a Scottish Parliament are dealing with specific needs of that kind, it will be crazy if those who are in charge of the executive functions in Wales and Scotland are not out in Brussels as part of the team and able to argue the case, and I hope very much that that will happen.
I am merely saying that the credibility of those people will be that much greater if they are accompanied by Ministers, with the full implication of that term—or Secretaries, as they will be called in Wales—rather than just going as people in charge of an administrative and executive function.
§ Mr. Michael Ancram (Devizes)
The issue is important, and the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) was right to raise it.
The right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) says that he understands that the Government will invite Members of the Assembly who have interests in agriculture and fishing to go to the Council of Ministers, and we have heard from the Secretary of State for Scotland that he intends to establish concordats or agreements to allow that to happen. Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that, in such an important context—in which the voice of Wales and, indeed, that of Scotland will be either heard or not heard in the Council of Ministers—the matter should be left, in the long term, to concordats or agreements? Should not the legislation make the position clear?
§ Mr. Wigley
I am not sure that it is for me to answer that question; it might be better for a Minister to answer it. I certainly think that we need to understand what the assembly's powers will be—and the Secretaries of the assembly, who will be responsible for the functions concerned, will also need to know the extent of its powers. That stands to reason. The position must be clarified, whether that is done by means of primary legislation—our amendment, along with others, is an attempt to move the agenda forward—by order or through guidelines.
Let me put another point to the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram), and to the hon. Member for Linlithgow. I have the impression that it has been acknowledged in regard to the Scotland Bill that, in some circumstances—one thinks of fishing, in the context of Scotland—a Scottish Minister will be able to deliver the United Kingdom vote in the Council of Ministers. If that is so, we shall be looking for similar powers in relation to Wales.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson
Surely, in such circumstances, the Scottish Minister would be speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom by agreement, because of the special interest in Scotland. The same applies to forestry. There is only one member of the European Union—the United 829 Kingdom—and the fact that the United Kingdom chooses to delegate to one or other person responsibility for speaking on a particular subject does not detract from that.
§ Mr. Wigley
I accept, of course, that the Scottish Minister—or, I hope, the Welsh Secretary—will be speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom. I believe that the Welsh Minister would probably have a higher profile in the context of, for instance, minority languages than any other Minister from the United Kingdom. My point is that, in the context of not only the Council of Ministers itself but the negotiations that lead to decisions in the Council, if we have something that is seen to be less than a legislative assembly, a certain amount of the profile and credibility of our Secretaries who go out there will be diluted.
The National Assembly of Wales—or for Wales; we will come to that in a moment—needs to be capable of developing full legislative powers in regard to certain areas in which Wales clearly has special needs. The Secretary of State referred in an intervention to a programme developing over a period. As the Welsh Office has itself developed over the past 30 years—it was established in 1964—it has been able to bring about functions and responsibilities that may not exist in the assembly during the initial period. If, however, the Secretary of State sees the Bill as it stands as part of the programme to which he refers, that is obviously interesting. We accept that everything cannot come to Wales overnight, and that we have to walk before we can run; but I want some clarification in relation to the legislative function referred to in the amendment.
Finally, let me deal with a subject that, although it is covered in the Bill, seems to be covered in a unique way. I refer to the legislative changes with regard to the Welsh Development Agency Bill. I believe that the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) and I are the only remaining Members who sat on the Committee that considered the Welsh Development Agency Act 1975.
§ Mr. Wigley
Of course. The hon. Gentleman was a Minister at that time. I may be the only remaining Member who sat on that Committee. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) was also there.
The Act was important, and it has developed a body that has undertaken an important function for Wales, but the agency needs changing, and changes need to be made to that primary legislation. Those changes are included in the Government of Wales Bill. If people find that similar changes are needed to primary legislation with regard to other bodies in Wales or to other areas of Government policy in Wales, will it be possible to use powers similar to those defined in the Bill for the WDA with regard to those other matters? That is a facility to change primary legislation.
I want to understand whether it will be possible for the assembly to say that other primary legislation needs to be dealt with in this way in order to create the structures— 830 as in the case of the agency—or the policies within which bodies operate in other contexts to meet the requirements of Wales.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
As the right hon. Gentleman is asking a specific question, perhaps I can resolve the matter. There will be a dynamic relationship between the assembly and whichever Government are in Westminster. If the Welsh assembly wishes to make such a submission, I would hope that there would be a reasonable relationship between the assembly and the British Government—the Westminster Parliament—to allow those arguments to be voiced. Ultimately, however, it would be a matter for the British Government and then this British House of Commons to decide whether they wished to give those powers to the assembly. It would be for this Parliament to give it those powers.
It is not possible at this stage to give a blank cheque to the right hon. Gentleman or to say that that is what would happen, but, if he were to want that to happen, it would be for the assembly or the Welsh Secretary to ensure that the British Government adopted that as their policy, and to introduce appropriate legislation before this Parliament.
§ Mr. Wigley
I have listened carefully to what the Secretary of State said and I will want to read Hansard to ensure that I have understood his words and that what is on the record is clear and undisputed. If I understand him correctly, he is saying that, if, to meet other aspirations, there is a need to change this legislation after it goes on to the statute book, another Act will need to go through Westminster—through the House of Commons and the House of Lords—to give the National Assembly of Wales the powers it may seek.
A Government may be in power here who are willing to give time for such an amendment to the Act, or a Government may be in power who have been in office for 18 years and who are not willing to give the time. If the latter is the case, we have a serious problem.
There should be some mechanism whereby, if the National Assembly of Wales expresses in clear-cut terms the desire for legislation to be passed here, that desire has some precedence and can make some progress. It should have some status, despite the fact that it may not represent the view of the then majority party in the House of Commons. If we do not have that, clearly we are totally at the mercy of the majority party in the House of Commons in relation to any such legislative change.
§ Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)
Bearing in mind the narrow majority—some people might say the minority—of people in Wales who voted for the very limited powers of the present assembly, does the right hon. Gentleman—being the great and wonderful democrat that he is, and believing in the people of Wales—think it appropriate that any extension of powers should not be fought for on the Floor of the House, but should go back to the people of Wales in a referendum?
§ Mr. Wigley
Conservative Members seem to agree with that intervention by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers), who I am glad to see has entered the Chamber and joined our debate. Very soon after the referendum, I heard him say that he believed that the 831 referendum had been held, that a decision had been made, and that the important matter now was to build the best possible National Assembly for Wales. I whole-heartedly agree with him in that aspiration—which, in tabling our amendment, we are attempting to realise. I have heard him criticise the assembly, which was proposed by the Labour party, because it was not strong enough or a real Parliament. Our amendment provides an opportunity for him to join us in the Lobby—to show that he is committed to gaining that real Parliament that will do the real job that is needed for the people of Rhondda and elsewhere. I welcome his intervention.
§ Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)
Given what the right hon. Gentleman has just said about the referendum result, does he not feel that, for the reassurance of the people of Wales, there really should be a judicial inquiry into polling irregularities? Given the narrowness of the referendum majority as recorded, would not he and Plaid Cymru feel much more confident if we could all see that those results were thoroughly checked?
§ Mr. Wigley
That is a complete red herring, and a completely unnecessary detraction from the debate. If Conservative Members felt that strongly about the matter, where were they in the two months after the referendum? They had to be goaded into taking any action on the matter by an article in The Scotsman; goodness only knows why it appeared in that newspaper initially, but so be it.
A decision has been taken, and, as hon. Members on both sides of the House—even Conservative spokesmen—have said: it is now time to establish the best possible National Assembly for Wales. We must now establish an assembly that works effectively and efficiently and that meets all the needs of Wales, although everyone will not agree with all the details in establishing it.
Our amendment states that, if we are to be clear about the assembly's role, there will have to be a clearer statement of the meaning of the legislative powers provided in the Bill. We believe that, in establishing the National Assembly for Wales, we will get to grips with the needs of the people of Wales only by including in the Bill primary legislative powers for at least some subjects. I therefore recommend our amendment, and I shall listen with considerable interest to the comments by hon. Members from both sides of the Committee, and to the Minister's reply.
§ Mr. Rowlands
The interesting speech made by the right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) prompts me to speak. Like him, I should like to clarify the situation. We did not propose in the White Paper—or to the Welsh people—that the Welsh assembly should be a law-making body and make primary legislation. I think that he will accept that that was not the basis on which we sought the people's assent and consent. His case is that amendment No. 52 is a paving amendment that would extend the Welsh assembly's scope to include making primary legislation.
In the White Paper and in the Bill, we proposed a legislative character for the assembly in the form of order-making powers. I was interested in the right hon. 832 Gentleman's interpretation of those powers. He said that the Bill provides at least the power to block implementation of legislation from the Westminster Parliament and that it would be possible for an assembly to refuse to move or authorise a commencement order for a Bill—which would be one of the most effective ways to negate legislation from the Westminster Parliament.
If that interpretation of the proposed legislative power is correct, it will be a considerable negative legislative power and it does not require the adjective "legislative" proposed by amendment No. 52. The right hon. Gentleman gave the example of education and said that if an assembly had existed it would have been possible to prevent any nursery voucher scheme. I should be very grateful if my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will confirm that the Bill contains such a power.
Sadly, we must not stray from the subject of the amendment, but I have a horrible feeling that clause 41, one of the most important and confusing in the Bill, may not receive the scrutiny that it deserves. It deals with a complicated matter. I realise that I cannot bring the debate forward, but as the right hon. Member for Caernarfon raised the issue of what functions were or should be in the Bill, I feel that we should have some clarifying statement from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State as to the legislative nature of the Welsh assembly and its order-making powers.
Do the powers go as far as the right hon. Member for Caernarfon suggests? Will it be possible for the Welsh assembly to negate the effective implementation of any form of legislation from Westminster by refusing to move the relevant orders?
§ Mr. Wigley
It would be able to block only legislation that required orders. It would be in the hands of the Westminster Parliament to create primary legislation that did not require such orders.
§ Mr. Rowlands
I appreciate that explanation, but if the United Kingdom Parliament wanted to get around the powers of the Welsh assembly, it would have to reverse the development of shorter primary legislation with considerable order-making powers that has been the pattern of legislative change in the past 50 years.
Many Acts require commencement or implementation orders. Is the power to negate any legislation from the United Kingdom Parliament in the Bill and, therefore, within the legislative capacity of the assembly?
§ Mr. Ron Davies
In a sense, my hon. Friend has answered his own question as he has said that legislation takes many different forms. Those different forms of legislation can confer different powers on the assembly. That is the essence of secondary legislation. It will be for primary legislation to identify the powers of the assembly to deal with secondary legislation. It is a matter not just of blocking, although that may arise, but of the powers that will be available to the assembly to create distinctive secondary legislation, which might be quite different from the parallel secondary legislation that applies to England, to meet Welsh needs.
§ Mr. Rowlands
I followed closely what my right hon. Friend said. I can see how a Welsh assembly might exercise order-making powers within the framework of 833 the primary legislation to create secondary legislation that is different from that which applies to England. Does the term "different from" go as far as making it possible to for the assembly to negate any part of the primary legislation or to prevent it from being implemented, for example by refusing to move a commencement order, or will the United Kingdom Parliament reserve the exclusive right to move commencement orders? Will primary legislation list a series of orders that the United Kingdom Parliament will implement, rather than leave the decision to the Welsh assembly, even in respect of areas and functions that have been transferred to the assembly?
§ Mr. Davies
The areas and functions being devolved to the assembly are not relevant to the argument. If we do not reach clause 41, I shall be happy to write to my hon. Friend to ensure that by the time the Bill is enacted any outstanding questions that he might have are properly addressed.
I must refer back to my hon. Friend's original question. The answer will depend on the primary legislation enacted by the United Kingdom Parliament. It is quite possible, in one Session of Parliament, to pass half a dozen Acts that give the assembly different powers that might or might not require commencement orders. It will depend on the nature of the legislation and the decision of the House as to which powers are given to the assembly and how they can be exercised.
§ Mr. Rowlands
I understand that. I shall read carefully what my right hon. Friend has said, but I should like a simple answer to a simple question arising from what the right hon. Member for Caernarfon said. Let us consider primary legislation passed in the House of Commons with a series of orders, including commencement orders, the drafting and enactment of which fall to the Welsh assembly. Will the assembly have the power not to implement the relevant parts of that legislation by not moving the commencement orders or seeking to amend them in such a way that they become not just different from but contradictory to the original legislation?
§ Mr. Davies
I shall take advice and let my hon. Friend know if my answer is not correct, but I think that it depends on whether the primary legislation says "may" or "shall". If the primary legislation offers the assembly discretion, it can exercise that discretion. If the House of Commons says that it shall make a commencement order, no such discretion will be available to the assembly.
§ Mr. Rowlands
That is a useful clarification. I am interested in that phrase, "different from". How limited is the order-making power? The right hon. Member for Caernarfon suggested that it would be more than possible for the assembly to block measures. That is the phrase that has prompted me to respond. Is it possible for the assembly to block orders for which it has been given responsibility, resulting in aspects of primary legislation never being implemented?
§ Mr. Ancram
The hon. Gentleman is making an important point. I should also like to know the answer to the question that he has just asked. He is dealing with possible future legislation. The Secretary of State said that 834 it is up to the House what it passes and what form the order-making power takes. What happens with existing legislation that has a commencement order that has not yet been exercised or operated by order? Will the Welsh assembly be able to block that without the House being able to do anything about it?
§ Mr. Rowlands
I have no answer to that. I am seeking clarification of what the right hon. Member for Caernarfon said. It would be useful if Ministers could say how far the legislative powers in the Bill go. Having said that, I cannot possibly support the amendment.
§ Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)
I am relieved that the Committee stage of the Bill is being taken on the Floor of the House. The Government, in the guise of their earthly presence, the Secretary of State for Wales, have finally come off their high horse and conceded the importance of discussing this major constitutional issue on the Floor of the House. That is important because it is also an acceptance that this is not simply a Welsh issue, but a United Kingdom issue. All United Kingdom Members of Parliament will have an opportunity to have their say on the Bill.
A source close to the Secretary of State, no less, has been reported in the newspapers as saying that the Conservative party has rolled over and died on the issue. That is wrong. We shall give the Bill careful scrutiny and make constructive suggestions, as our amendments show. We shall speak out on areas in which we feel that the Bill can be improved to serve the Welsh people better. Taking a constructive role in proceedings on the Bill does not detract one jot from our desire for democracy in Wales to be properly served.
A sour smell will hang over the Bill, the Act and the assembly, once established, because of the Secretary of State's refusal to hold a proper, independent inquiry into the conduct of the count of the Welsh referendum vote. The Secretary of State says that with some of our amendments, including amendment No. 10, to which I shall speak, we are looking to wreck the Bill. We do not want to do that, or to tarnish the name of the assembly, wherever it is to be sited, but we say that the Secretary of State's stubbornness in not agreeing to an independent judicial inquiry will tarnish the good name of the assembly—
§ Mr. Evans
Thank you, Sir Alan. What we are looking forward to, surely, is not only the establishment of the assembly, or whatever it may be called—that is the concern of the amendment to which I am speaking—but its good name, irrespective of what its actual name is when the Bill becomes an Act.
I shall now speak to amendment No. 10, if I may. In terms of the good name of the assembly, most of the amendments before us could be described as "scratch it and see" amendments. We scratch them and see what really lies behind the raison d'etre of the assembly. The nationalists have taken off the kid gloves and the pretence; all they want is there for us to see.
835 If any one factor has been established from the beginning, it is the muddle in which the Bill finds itself. More questions will be asked than answers given. I hope that we shall hear some proper clarification from the Secretary of State. I am sure that the nationalists would love it to be a legislative assembly with primary law-making powers. They are pushing at the edges of the Bill.
§ Mr. Evans
We can forget the White Paper—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] I shall give way in a second.
We can forget the White Paper; we can forget what was put before the Welsh people and what was said about legislative powers in the version of it that went into every Welsh home during the referendum campaign. The nationalists would like matters to be pushed even further.
§ Mr. Evans
That is an interesting point. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that he can start to meddle with the constitution without there being an impact on the constitution of the United Kingdom as a whole, he is mistaken. Not only Conservatives have been raising questions about various aspects of the United Kingdom constitution since we have gone down the route of devolution; Labour Members, too, will ask those questions. They are legitimate questions that need to be asked.
The nationalists would like us to go further. They are pushing for primary legislative powers and for the Welsh assembly to be turned into a full Parliament—but that is not what the Welsh people voted for, nor what they were offered in the White Paper. Half of those who were asked did not vote at all, and half of those who voted, voted no. Only one in four of the Welsh people wishes to go down that route. That is not a clear endorsement for jumping out of the pan into the fire.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
On a point of order, Mr. Martin. I am sorry to interrupt, but the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) has already been on his feet for five minutes and we have a fairly tight timetable in which to debate all the clauses in the Bill. We are now dealing with particular amendments and, as the hon. Gentleman has been making a Second Reading speech for five minutes, he should now address himself to the amendments before us.
§ The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael J. Martin)
Order. That should be the case for the whole Committee. The amendments before us are the matters to which we should pay attention.
The First Deputy Chairman
I am; do not worry about that. We should confine ourselves to the amendments before us.
§ Mr. Evans
I am indeed referring to amendment No. 10—we are talking about the name of the assembly. 836 The problem is that the Secretary of State for Wales likes to close down debate whenever he can. He may be good at bullying members of his own party, but he will not be so successful at bullying members of other parties—or the Chairman of the Committee.
§ Mr. Rogers
It is no good going over old arguments again: the referendum result is known. What is critical remains: the relationship between this Parliament and the Welsh assembly when it comes to legislative issues. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) has dramatically asked whether the assembly will have just a blocking power or whether it will be able to initiate secondary legislation. We desperately need to tackle that problem, because it is fundamental to the working of the assembly. My view is that the assembly should have more powers, but for goodness' sake let us return to the argument.
§ Mr. Evans
That is how I remember what he said at any rate. What the assembly will be and what its name will be are important matters. That is why the nationalists want to call it a legislative assembly; it is also why we have tabled our amendment, which maintains that that is the wrong way to go. The Welsh people do not want it either.
§ Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)
The hon. Gentleman has thanked the Government for acceding to the Opposition's request to deal with the Bill on the Floor of the House. Does he find it disappointing that, of the 600 Members of Parliament who do not represent constituencies in Wales, only five are present in the Chamber, two of them on my side of it?
§ Mr. Gareth Thomas (Clwyd, West)
Since the hon. Gentleman seems incapable of making his point, I shall make it for him. His amendment would delete the word "National" in relation to Wales. Does not that reflect the fact that the Conservative party is incapable of recognising that Wales is a nation and should be 837 recognised as such? The Tories fail to recognise the fact that various nations make up the United Kingdom, which is a unitary state.
§ Mr. Evans
That is not what is behind our amendment. I want later to refer to the White Paper the Government published and sent out to people's homes during the referendum campaign.
The Liberal Democrats' amendments are more subtle than their new clauses, the contents of which border on self-delusion. The Liberal Democrats want to call the assembly a senedd—[Interruption.] I hope that the Secretary of State will listen, because I am discussing the name of the assembly, which the Government have changed since the time of the referendum. They now want to call it the National Assembly for Wales. I hope that the Secretary of State does not mind our discussing the final name of the assembly in Committee. I understand that he is grappling with the problems of where to site the assembly. Meanwhile, we are talking about what to call it. The Liberal Democrats want to call it a senedd, which is the Welsh word for Parliament.
§ Mr. Davies
I must explain the cause of my mirth to the hon. Gentleman. Does he not feel that it is presumptuous for him to be dealing with the points that the Liberal Democrats will presumably argue when they have not yet had the opportunity to do so?
§ Mr. Evans
No, I know no shame. I have learnt that from watching how the Secretary of State behaves both inside and outside the Chamber; I have had a good master.
It would be a mistake to call the Welsh assembly a senedd because that is the Welsh word for Parliament and it will be anything other than a Parliament. It is premature and naive to go down that road because that would only be playing the names game. We do not believe in deluding the Welsh people or anyone else and it would be an insult to call it a senedd.
§ Mr. Dafis
The hon. Gentleman should understand that Welsh words were not coined to translate English words—or, indeed, French words, which is what Parliament is. The Welsh word senedd is derived from the Latin word senate and has its own meaning. There is no reason why it should be seen as a translation of an English word.
§ Mr. Evans
I am glad of that clarification. That is lesson in Welsh number one. I am sure that we will have many more during the passage of the Bill. I understand that senedd does not mean a talking shop or an assembly. The senedd was always deemed to be the body that would be there if Wales went down the independence route and thus had its own Parliament. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) 838 came to Wales in the 1970s, he was welcomed by some Welsh nationalist demonstrators calling for "Senedd i Gymru", or "A Parliament for Wales". I am sure that the meaning has not changed that much in the intervening period.
§ Mr. John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)
On a point of order, Mr. Martin. We have been sitting here for some time waiting for the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) to refer to the amendments tabled by the Conservative party. We have not yet heard one reason why "Welsh Assembly" should replace the name in the Bill. Can we please hear why it should?
The First Deputy Chairman
The hon. Gentleman has been speaking to amendments in the group. It makes no difference to me whether he is speaking to his own amendment, as long as the audit is one of the group before the Committee.
§ Mr. Evans
Thank you for your welcome protection, Mr. Martin. It is nice to see the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith) revisiting the House to make his contribution. He should refer to the Government's White Paper—[Interruption.] It is important because, first, it talks aboutA Voice for Wales: The Government's proposals for a Welsh Assembly",to which amendment No. 10 refers. Then, referring to remarks made in the House it states:The referendum offers the people of Wales a new beginning, alongside other successful economic regions"—not economic nations, but regions. We must look at the way in which the Secretary of State refers to Wales, because he signed that foreword.
What is important is how the Welsh people refer to the assembly once it is set up. Will they call it the National Assembly for Wales, or the National Assembly of Wales? Will they call it the senedd or the Welsh assembly? I shall try to introduce a little common sense into what at times is a desert of national thinking. The Welsh people will, I suggest, call it the Welsh assembly. It is a little like Cardiff Arms park. It is all very well taking it down, turning it round and rebuilding it and then trying to call it the millennium stadium, or something bordering on that, but what will the people of Wales call that rugby stadium? Will they call it Cardiff Arms park? I suspect that that is exactly what they will do—or, perhaps, new Cardiff Arms park, rather like calling the Labour party new Labour.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson
The hon. Gentleman is becoming increasingly out of touch with Wales. He seems to be unaware of our great Welsh gift for abbreviation. Hence, the crematorium is the crem and my leisure centre is the lesh. It will certainly not be called the Welsh assembly. It will be the assembly.
§ Mr. Evans
I am delighted that the hon. Member finished off his comparison. After crematorium became crem, I thought that assembly might become something completely different [Laughter.] Thank you, I am here all week folks.
I hope that we will get some common sense. There is no reason why it should not be called the Welsh assembly. I understand that there may well be a legal problem with 839 translating "Welsh assembly" into Welsh as someone may have the copyright to the Welsh version—one cannot have a copyright to the English version of the Welsh assembly. Perhaps the Secretary of State has more information about that and can enlighten us if that is why it is not being called the Welsh assembly. At least the people of Wales and the people of Cardiff, although they voted no, will refer to it as the Welsh assembly, irrespective of whether it is sited in Cardiff, Swansea, north Wales or somewhere else.
Another amendment in the group refers to tax-raising or tax-varying powers for the assembly. That brings us back to the subject of whether we are to have an assembly or a Parliament. The people of Wales did not vote for tax-varying powers. They saw what they were offered in the White Paper. They were not offered the parliamentary version, but they certainly would not have gone down that route. I do not believe that they would have gone down the route of tax-varying powers either.
Today, I was speaking with some of the farmers who are lobbying Parliament about farm incomes, which have dropped 50 per cent. in a short time. They face one of the bleakest crises ever. Some of them may be listening to our debate and others will no doubt read about it avidly tomorrow in the newspapers. It is appalling for us to be talking about burdening them with extra taxes when their incomes have fallen. This is one reason why the Government never suggested tax-raising powers for Wales—because the assembly will not be the same as the Scottish Parliament. Judging from some of the amendments, however, that Parliament is what some hon. Members want to mimic. It has primary legislative and tax-varying powers, but the Welsh assembly has none of that. We are witnessing moves to give the assembly something that the Welsh people did not vote for, by stealth and without the endorsement of the Welsh people.
I fear for the Severn bridge if we go down that route and if a 3 per cent. tax-varying power is given to a Welsh assembly. Taxes would go only one way—up. I cannot envisage that they would go down if the Welsh assembly were given that power, particularly given the Barnett formula. Many taxpayers in England would have something to say if they thought that their money was subsidising one part of the United Kingdom where people's taxes were going down.
§ Mr. Richard Livsey (Brecon and Radnorshire)
May I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the former Member for Conwy said at the time of the referendum vote and the win for the yes campaign that he thought that the Government's proposals did not have enough teeth and that tax-varying powers would be a great advantage? Indeed, the attraction of a reduction in tax is that it would make Wales a tax haven.
§ Mr. Evans
I am not sure which is the greater delusion, calling the assembly a senedd—a Parliament—or thinking that if it had tax-varying powers one of its first measures would be to reduce taxation on the Welsh people. I suspect that it would not be, particularly given the demands that would be made on public expenditure in Wales. Irrespective of what the Liberal Democrats say, there is only one way that taxation would go. It is bizarre 840 for a party that thought that putting a penny on the basic rate of income tax was the answer to all evils at the general election to talk in such a way.
§ Mr. Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire)
Why is the hon. Gentleman so frightened of trusting a Welsh senedd or assembly with the authority to make decisions that would surely be supported by the majority in Wales—otherwise the individuals would be voted out of office?
§ Mr. Evans
When 73.4 per cent. of people in Scotland voted yes to the Parliament, only 63.5 per cent. voted yes to tax-varying powers. We can see the gulf. We must remember that only one in four of the Welsh people voted for the assembly. I shudder to think how many would vote for that assembly to have tax-varying powers. I cannot imagine it happening.
If we were to go down that route, the number of holiday homes in Wales would grow dramatically as people vacated Wales and moved just east of the border to take advantage of the tax haven in England. Let us have some common sense and ditch any idea of calling the Welsh assembly anything other than what it is: a Welsh assembly.
§ Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli)
Amendment No. 142 would delete the word "for" and insert the word "of". There is no deep philosophical or metaphysical reasoning behind it. I simply thought that the draftsman had made a mistake. The right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) also made a mistake, referring to the National Assembly for Wales four times as the National Assembly "of" Wales. Perhaps he does not like the fact that it is "for" and not "of" Wales.
Draftsmen do not usually make mistakes, but even Homer sometimes nods, as somebody or other told us in a poem years ago. Perhaps it is a mistake or perhaps it is a subtle piece of drafting. I do not know what instructions were conveyed. I see that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is getting restive.
§ Mr. Denzil Davies
My right hon. Friend is smiling, but he does not look comfortable. I do not intend to give way to him yet, but I am sure that he would like to come to the Dispatch Box immediately. I do not understand the words, "National Assembly for Wales". I understand "Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru", which I would translate as "National Assembly of Wales". In French no doubt we would have the National Assembly "of" France. I cannot imagine the French saying "for".
§ Mr. Davies
Or the Germans. It would be one long word in German, with a verb at the end, as in Latin.
If there is a national assembly that is for Wales, there must be another national assembly somewhere. "National" cannot refer to Wales in that context, whereas "National Assembly of Wales" would refer to Wales's own assembly. What is this national assembly that is "for" Wales? Perhaps my right hon. Friend could explain.
Did the Lord Chancellor, with his acute brain, honed at the Bar—for vast fees, we are told, but I do not know about that—say that we could not have the National 841 Assembly "of" Wales because of the question of sovereignty? Perhaps the Welsh National party should have tabled amendment No. 142.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General is on the Front Bench. Perhaps he would like to intervene. He may have had something to do with the decision. I do not remember whether this subtle bit of drafting was contained in the legislation for the putative—very putative—assembly in 1978.
I suspect that there has been no mistake, and that it is a deep point. Clearly, "National Assembly for Wales" sends a signal, especially to the nationalists, that sovereignty resides in the House. Otherwise, the draftsman would have put "of". What does "National" refer to in "National Assembly for Wales"? It is pretty meaningless. Is it a British national assembly? There is no such thing as a British nation, as Mr. Gwynfor Evans used to remind us a long time ago.
Why the convoluted formulation? It does not trip easily off the tongue, as the right hon. Member for Caernarfon said. Why cannot we simply say, "National Assembly of Wales"? It is much better English, and much clearer. Why should it be "for"?
§ Mr. Livsey
I will now give what I believe to be the correct version of the Liberal Democrat amendments and their meaning. Amendments Nos. 2 and 19 refer to the name of the assembly, suggesting the use of the word "Senedd"; new clause 3 would give the assembly legislative powers; and new clause 4 refers to income tax and the ability to vary taxation.
"Senedd" refers to a senate, and if it was good enough for Owain Glyndwr in Machynlleth, it is good enough for us. It is an accepted bilingual word in Wales that has been known for many centuries and has a meaning for both English and Welsh speakers. It is a simple description. Obviously, it implies that the body has rather more powers than are given in the Bill, but it is our view that the assembly, or senedd, should aspire to a status that is meaningful for a national legislature. The description is dependent on new clause 3 and amendment No. 52.
We believe that amendments Nos. 2 and 19 would provide a far better distinction, avoiding confusion both with a Scottish Parliament and with regional assemblies in England. The changes would make it absolutely clear that it was a Welsh body and the word "senedd" is easy for everybody to pronounce. We all know about the Senate in America and the part that Welsh people played in constructing the constitution of the United States more than 200 years ago. That means a great deal to people in Wales.
§ Mr. Ancram
Is the hon. Gentleman's idea closer to the model of the Senate in the United States or the one in the Republic of Ireland?
§ Mr. Livsey
I do not want to go into such deep territory. There are certainly similarities with the Senate in the United States, but the Government of southern Ireland have been reasonably successful with their constitution.
§ Mr. Flynn
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the names of most national assemblies and Parliaments of 842 various countries are known to the rest of the world by the name for a Parliament in their own languages? There is only one Knesset, one Duma, one Riigikogu and one Seimas. Is it not inevitable that the press will refer to the Welsh assembly as the senedd, because the press find irresistible the use of two syllables instead of six? While of course I will always loyally support Ministers, it is inevitable that whatever we decide today, the press and the world will know the Welsh assembly as the senedd.
§ 5 pm
§ Mr. Livsey
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that that will inevitably occur and, knowing the ways of the press, might occur rather more quickly than some hon. Members think.
New clause 3 mirrors amendment No. 52 and would give the assembly the power to legislate. It would bring to the fore the ability of the assembly to introduce Bills and to create Acts. Those may be voted on at the end of the Committee stage. The new clause would also give the assembly the power to make primary legislation. I shall not rehash the debate that we have already had about amendment No. 52, but the Welsh assembly will have powers over many areas that have distinctive features in Wales and may require special attention. For example, hon. Members have mentioned education, and we have a long and honourable track record in Wales of pioneering in education. It is sad that education in Wales does not currently reflect its past glories, but a recent turnaround has displayed signs of hope. We have an honourable tradition in education in Wales and many excellent people have been involved.
Another example is agriculture. Welsh farmers, some of whom came here today, are distinctive: their holdings are roughly half the size of those in England and they depend heavily on family labour. A Welsh assembly might need to address the problems of Welsh agriculture, including legislation from Europe. Housing, too, is an area that could be covered, as the housing stock in Wales is the worst in the United Kingdom. Much work has been done, but we still have poor housing that affects the health of the people. The health service needs of Wales are also distinctive. The health of people in Wales, especially in the south Wales valleys, is poor, as we heard yesterday at the meeting in Cardiff of the Welsh Affairs Committee. We have a great natural resource in water, which was privatised in the 1980s. Long-term agreements were made and leases of 999 years granted, so the Welsh assembly might like to legislate on water. Similarly, we have an abysmal transport system, especially the public transport infrastructure. Understandably, this Parliament has not been minded to take a great interest in the transport infrastructure in Wales because hon. Members who represent other parts of Britain do not use that system. if they did, they would be back here quickly to do something about it.
Economic development is also important. We have tabled new clause 3 because we want the Welsh assembly to have a status worthy of Wales and to earn the respect of the Welsh people. Such an assembly is more likely to be successful. The assembly, in its present form, might not be able to achieve all that it would want and might be just a talking shop. In new clause 3, we are trying to push forward the boundaries and we shall seek to put it to a vote.
843 New clause 4 has already been mentioned, and I will not go into it in more detail. The new clause refers to tax-raising powers, which we feel are important for a legislature of the type that we support. Liberal Democrats are federalists and we believe in the devolution of power to the regions and countries of Britain.
§ Mr. Livsey
For once, I accept the accuracy of the hon. Gentleman's comments. As I said earlier, we could have reductions in tax.
§ Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye and Inverness, West)
It is ironic that Conservative Front Benchers should make that pedantic semantic point given that, although the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) campaigned vigorously throughout the length and breadth of Scotland for a no vote, I did not hear him once use the phrase "tax-varying powers"; he always referred to tax-raising powers.
§ Mr. Livsey
The right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) also visited Wales and argued that the Welsh assembly was not powerful enough because it would not have tax-varying powers. He said one thing in Scotland and the opposite in Wales.
§ Mr. Andrew Rowe (Faversham and Mid-Kent)
The argument about devolution and federalism is complicated. Most federations are composed of regions that have given up part of their powers to the centre for purposes of common use. Devolution is more a matter of a central authority giving some of its power to lower levels. Devolution and federalism are different concepts and the ease with which they are blurred, especially in Liberal thinking, is a mistake.
§ Mr. Livsey
There is nothing blurred about Liberal thinking. It is clear that what was achieved in the last century through federalism in Australia, Canada and the United States owes much to Liberal philosophy, because it involves constructing powers that can best be exercised at the appropriate level of government. Devolution, in this centralised country in which we live, is about giving powers back to the people so that they can exercise them in the detailed knowledge of what is happening locally. To be fair to the Secretary of State, he has said that he wants to give away powers to the Welsh assembly and he is right to do so.
§ Mr. Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent)
Does the hon. Gentleman see any contradiction between the wish to give additional, devolved powers to a Welsh assembly and another aspect of Liberal philosophy—the wish to centralise decision making in the hands of an unelected and unaccountable European central bank?
§ Mr. Livsey
Thank you for your assistance, Mr. Martin. I shall say only that our amendments are 844 important in respect of the description of the assembly, its legislative powers and its ability to vary taxes. They would create a senedd with real powers worthy of the aspirations of the people of Wales.
§ Mr. Rogers
I shall briefly deal with the title "legislative" proposed in amendment No. 52. As my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) said earlier, the matter is tied up with clauses 41 and 42. There is a real dilemma, beyond talking about silly name changes, about exactly what the assembly will do. There is confusion about whether it will have the power to vary legislation only if such a power is given in every Act that goes through this Parliament or whether it will have a general catch-all power to vary what happens in Wales in respect of all legislation.
Having read clauses 41 and 42, which I hope we will eventually reach, I am more confused than I was when I started. I support the proposal that the assembly should be a legislative assembly because I do not want an assembly that has no more than the power to vary nursery vouchers, for example, or an assembly that is falsely said to have powers that it does not in fact have. One Minister has said that we would not have had the miners' strike if we had had a Welsh assembly; he needed reminding that the strike started in Nottingham. It has been said that we would not have had the effects of Thatcherism with a Welsh assembly, as though the Severn bridge would have cut off the disease of Toryism and Thatcherism at that line. The proposed assembly will not do that for Wales, unfortunately. It will not have the necessary legislative or tax-varying powers. It will not be able to do anything for the economic development of Wales because it will not have the power.
I should like the assembly to have legislative power, but I think that the Welsh nationalists—I must be careful to use parliamentary language—are being a little devious. They have their agenda: a separate Wales with its own Parliament and legislative powers. That is an honest position but it has nothing to do with this debate. What was put before the people of Wales was the proposal that there should be an assembly with the powers contained in the Bill. After all the cuddling that the leader of Plaid Cymru has done over the past few months, he ought to cwch up a little closer now and vote with us.
§ Mr. Dafis
In responding to my right hon. Friend the Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), the Secretary of State asked for examples of how primary legislative powers would be useful and of how their absence would be a disadvantage. I thought that I would give some examples involving education.
It is clear that the key task for the assembly, in the context of the priorities that the Government have set, will be to create a first-rate school system in Wales. I shall stick to schools for the moment, and not consider higher education. Our purpose must be to raise standards so that we have the best in the world. That is part of the Government's rhetoric, and I strongly identify with that. The question is whether the assembly will have the necessary powers to achieve such aims.
The previous Government decided that the means to drive up standards in schools was the creation of a competitive market. That was the logic that they applied to the education system, believing that it would achieve 845 the purpose. Parents choosing schools, schools selecting pupils and league tables are all part of the same mechanism. In many ways, the present Government are still pursuing that agenda. The School Standards and Framework Bill has many similar provisions. Without going into the rights and wrongs of that approach in principle, I believe that it is not likely to yield results in Wales. The geography and demography of Wales mean that parents cannot be provided with the significant choice between schools that they need to make decisions on the basis of the standards that schools can offer. It is not a useful mechanism for Wales. We need another approach, but one that nevertheless emphasises excellent standards.
We inherited from the previous Government's reforms a structure that is not conducive to promoting high standards. Key functions, at an all-Wales level, are provided by an unsatisfactory organisational structure. First, there is the Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales, which was established by the Education Act 1993. It is responsible for curriculum development, the provision of materials and testing, and it is now also responsible for vocational qualifications. The previous Government decided not to give those functions to the body that existed at the time, the Welsh Joint Education Committee, because they did not want to do anything to strengthen local government. The WJEC was a local government body. It lobbied for the functions to be given to it and that was debated in Committee, but the Government did not want it.
We now have two bodies in Wales: one responsible for curriculum and assessment and the WJEC, which is the examining body. The WJEC is now a limited company owned by local authorities. I cannot see how it makes good sense to separate curriculum development and assessment from examination. Assessment and examination are part of the same process and there is a good argument for merging the two.
§ Mr. Dafis
I am addressing amendment No. 52 and establishing the case for legislative or equivalent powers. I remember that you, Mr. Martin, were one of the Chairmen of the Committee that considered the matter, so you understand my point. I am considering whether it makes good sense to merge the two bodies. As a matter of interest, the establishment of an all-Wales body, which we might call the education council for Wales, is Plaid Cymru policy. Such a body would have strong local government representation.
§ Mr. Dafis
Indeed, it would be a body not unlike the WJEC, but it would have the functions of the Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales, and would have to be established by statute in primary legislation. It would also have representations from those in higher and further education.
The assembly will have powers in relation to the Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales, which is a body from which powers can be taken or to which 846 powers may be added. Under schedule 2, the authority could be abolished. However, I do not think that the assembly could transfer such powers to the WJECI— would like to be enlightened on this—or, better, revamp it to create an integrated body responsible for curriculum, examination and testing. A further possibility would be to bring in the inspectorate, which is ensconced inside the Welsh Office. We would then have an integrated body for quality control. It seems to me that that would be a very useful instrument in raising education standards in Wales.
It is worth considering local government and its responsibilities in relation to schools. The previous Government exercised a pincer movement on local government which weakened its position and its ability to deliver services to schools. First, they introduced local management of schools. I had no objection in principle to LMS, but the way in which it was done had an effect on local government. Following LMS, the Conservative Government reorganised local government and created small counties and small local education authorities in Wales. The evidence suggests that those small bodies lack the ability to deliver the support services that schools and teachers need to respond to the demands and pressures on them to raise standards.
Small local education authorities do not have the benefit of economies of scale. Some of them are setting up ad hoc co-operation with each other to provide support services. There is a strong case for delivering support services through a national organisation. When I say national, I mean an all-Wales organisation. I think that the word "national" will increasingly be used in Wales to apply to Wales rather than to the whole of the United Kingdom. Some people might disagree with the idea of creating an all-Wales body to be responsible for delivering services, such as in-service training, to schools. Some people might see it as a centralising process, but I do not see it that way.
The important issue for us tonight is whether, if it wished to do so, the National Assembly for Wales would have the power to bring about changes and create structures and systems that are appropriate, suitable and acceptable to Wales in order to raise standards. Most of the reforms of the past 18 years were not ideologically acceptable in Wales. I believe that the answer to my question is no because I do not believe that the assembly would be empowered in that way. It would find itself constrained. It would have to work, manoeuvre and manipulate the situation within severe constraints. It would find itself hobbled like a gipsy's horse in an area crucial for the advancement of Wales as a successful country, which is the enterprise that we are all about.
I applied to sit on the Standing Committee which is considering the School Standards and Framework Bill, but I was not accepted. As a result, there is no Member of Parliament from Wales on that Committee, apart from the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain). There ought to be a Back-Bench Member from Wales on the Committee, but that is by the way. Clause 93 of the School Standards and Framework Bill contains provisions to encourage selection on the basis of ability or, as it calls it, aptitude in a number of subjects. It is not clear to me that Wales would not be subject to the provisions of that Bill. I believe that the selection process would apply to Wales.
847 It is true that the School Standards and Framework Bill contains a disclaimer in clause 118(6), where it says:Any order or regulations under this Act may make different provision in relation to England and Wales respectively.I am not sure what the word "respectively" is doing there. As I understand it, that clause does not make provision for Wales not to be subject to the provisions of the School Standards and Framework Bill. I should like an answer to my question. How will the Welsh assembly be empowered to do what, for practical reasons, it might feel it necessary to do?
The assembly's lack of legislative power will certainly be a cause of frustration and dissatisfaction to Members of the Assembly. Conservative Members would be delighted at that; it is what they hope for. They hope to see dissatisfaction and frustration in the assembly. If we want to prevent that and, if as I presume is inevitable, the Government do not give the assembly primary legislative powers, some other mechanism must be created. Plaid Cymru Members have suggested this fast-track mechanism. The Secretary of State spoke cautiously and promisingly on this important issue.
The amendment should be acceptable to hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber because it accepts that primary legislative powers should remain at Westminster. That is not where I come from, and the Secretary of State understands that; I do not have to explain the point. The amendment respects the conviction of people in this place that this is where primary legislation ought to be made. It does not seem to me unreasonable that the National Assembly for Wales should have the serious power to tell the House of Commons that it wishes primary legislation to be enacted in a particular way, and that the House of Commons should respond positively. That is a practical way ahead which would enable the assembly to do its work effectively and set in place the type of measures that we all want in order to make it a success.
§ Mr. Rowlands
I am following the hon. Gentleman's remarks closely. He has used as an illustration a Bill that is before the House and that will spawn orders even after the assembly has been established. What is his reading of the provisions in the Government of Wales Bill with regard to orders? How does he see it working with the orders that might come out of the School Standards and Framework Bill?
§ Mr. Dafis
I shall not hold a seminar on the contents of that Bill except to say that, in some clauses, the Secretary of State is given power to bring orders before the House. In those circumstances, the assembly could pursue its own priorities and not implement them as they are likely to be implemented in England. On Second Reading, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment told me clearly that any discretion that the Welsh assembly would have—he said that it would have considerable discretion—would be subject to the principles set out in the Bill.
The principles in the School Standards and Framework Bill are not all that different from the principles of the previous Government. The Bill is about selection and competition. However, in some clauses it is clear that the provisions of the Bill would not have to apply to Wales. The clauses on education action zones are one example. I 848 do not believe that the Secretary of State for Wales would have the ability to opt out of selection, and schools in Wales would be empowered to set about the process—
The First Deputy Chairman
Order. The hon. Gentleman is dwelling on selection in education for far too long. We are talking about amendments on legislative powers. Education could be one of those powers, but to dwell on education is to stray away from the amendment before us.
§ Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)
The amendments cover a variety of subjects, and I should first like to consider whether the introduction of tax-varying powers would make sense or not. In the light of the referendum result, there is no question of supporting their introduction, because that referendum was fought on Government proposals that excluded such powers. Their subsequent introduction would be such a departure in principle from what was put before the people of Wales at that referendum that it would invalidate the legislation, because it would invalidate that very referendum. There is no question about that.
I should also like to refer briefly to the amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) and my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands). My right hon. Friend was quite right to say that there is a dissonance between the Welsh and English versions of the title of the assembly, which is unacceptable. Either the Welsh should read "Cynulliad Cenedlaethol dros Gymru" or the English should read, "National Assembly of Wales". Perhaps it does not matter which version is used, but there should not be a difference between the Welsh and English versions. Someone has got something wrong, and we need to change either the Welsh or the English. That difference must be overcome.
I must admit that my instinct is to support the amendment proposed by my two distinguished Back-Bench colleagues. I do not believe that it makes a huge amount of difference, but I hope that the Government will show some flexibility on the matter.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
I am rather amused to hear my hon. Friend's reference to a dissonance between the English and Welsh language versions. I understand that the proposition that the assembly should be called the National Assembly for Wales was first put forward in the other place by the chairman of the Welsh Language Board, and that that suggestion commanded all-party support. There is a pretty strong body of support for that option.
§ Mr. Morgan
Pretty strong is as pretty strong does, but that is not a sufficient reason for a distinction between the Welsh and English versions. That needs to be sorted out. It is not a sufficient reason to deny the House the right to differ from someone even as distinguished as the former hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, Dafydd 849 Elis-Thomas. We should make our own minds up about it, and if we differ from a distinguished Member of the House of Lords and the chairman of the Welsh Language Board, so be it.
I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is not suggesting that that individual, as chairman of the Welsh Language Board, approved the translation into the Welsh, which is incorrect—it is more likely that an error has been made in the English version.
§ Mr. Davies
I am not suggesting that. I am listening carefully to my hon. Friend's argument. I suggest that the other place will want to reflect on its original debate and on the debate in the House about the dissonance between the English and Welsh language versions and whether that is acceptable.
§ Mr. Morgan
Let me put it more frankly, so that the other place can reflect upon it more honestly—the chairman of the Welsh Language Board was talking rubbish.
It is clear that the introduction of tax-varying powers is a no-no following the referendum. That would defraud the people of Wales, and render the entire referendum campaign nonsense. Those of us who slogged our guts out during that campaign would not like to think that we would have to do it all again to seek approval for the assembly to have tax-varying powers. That option is absolutely out for all of us.
The question of law-making powers is slightly different, because of the possibility that the Bill offers a law-making element in a Henry VIII clause which is equivalent to primary legislative powers. That possibility has accounted for the bulk of our discussions since 3.40 pm. I believe that the Secretary of State has referred to that possibility in some of his interventions. We are referring to the power either to block or to initiate legislation.
A lengthy discussion has been held between my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney and Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru Members about whether the power to block legislation is contained in the Bill. That power could be construed as equivalent to being able to block primary legislation from the House. The Secretary of State placed more emphasis on the ability to be creative and the power of the assembly to initiate the equivalent of primary legislative powers through a Henry VIII clause.
I am not a parliamentary draftsman, so it is difficult for me to define exactly where that power appears in the Bill. Somewhere between clauses 29 and 41 there appears to be an opening provided by such a Henry VIII clause. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State appears to have made it clear in his interventions that such a possibility exists. Although that power would be under a secondary legislative one, in certain minor areas it would be equivalent to primary legislative powers. In the end, it does not matter whether that power is described as primary or secondary: it is the power itself that is of interest to people.
It seems that it is my right hon. Friend's intention that the assembly should have the power to initiate legislation. Whether the assembly would have the power to block 850 adverse legislation which is passed by a Government of a political party of a different colour from that representing the majority in the Welsh assembly needs to be clarified, either when a Minister responds to the debate or at a later stage in our deliberations. It would be preferable if one of my right hon. Friend's colleagues sought to answer that question in the response to the debate.
We are satisfied that it is my right hon. Friend's intention that the assembly should have the power to initiate. That important power to an extent answers some of the objections and whinges expressed by the president of Plaid Cymru, the right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), who moved amendment No. 52. We would be grateful for some further elucidation of the possible powers to block legislation and where that authority rests in the Bill. There has been a great deal of talk about that this afternoon.
I differ from my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) about the name of the proposed Parliament. What does one call a legislature, debating chamber or body? There is a case for allowing the assembly to make its own choice. I disagree with the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans), who said that it will be known as the Welsh assembly. He is trying to predict the future, which is difficult, but the principle behind his remarks is right.
We should try to fit in with what the people of Wales call that Parliament. We should not be too prescriptive. If we offered the Welsh assembly the freedom to decide its name, would it be terribly pompous and try to inflate its importance, or it would follow what the man or woman in the street called it anyway?
The problem with the name "Welsh assembly" and the objection to it which arose during the referendum campaign is that the word "Welsh" has two meanings. One means the Welsh language, and the other that it is of Wales. It is one of those things that we cannot get away from.
One of the main purposes of changing from the name Welsh assembly to National Assembly either of or for Wales is to clear up the confusion that exists in some people's minds. They ask whether, if one calls it the Welsh assembly, that means that one must be able to speak Welsh to take part in its proceedings. It is a big problem, which we met during the referendum. I believe that the alternative title of National Assembly gets around it, although I prefer National Assembly of Wales to National Assembly for Wales.
Is there a further advantage in trying to give the assembly a bit of local colour by encouraging the use of the word senedd? The hon. Member for Ribble Valley is incorrect to say that that word is used only as a direct translation of the Anglo-French word Parliament. I must tell him that, until the first world war, the word senedd was not used very much, and the Welsh word for Parliament was Parlmant, with an "a" not an "e" and without anything between the "1" and "m". It was the Welsh version of the Norman French instead of the English version of Norman French. The use of the word senedd started to gain a grip only after the first world war.
The hon. Member for Ribble Valley has already been told, quite correctly, by the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Dafis) that "senedd" is a translation of senatus. It may have a bit of the word "synod" in it as well. It is confusing for us all, but if it was a direct translation from 851 senatus I am told that it should be spelt senawd, not senedd. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Ceredigion can confirm that, but perhaps it comes from the Greek word "synod", which has an entirely different meaning, but which, fortunately, tends to mean the same kind of thing—a debating body.
It is all very confusing, but the names of Parliaments are always confusing. I am afraid that my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West is wrong. The BBC always refers to the Japanese Diet, but that word is unknown in Japan. The Japanese word for its Parliament is Kokkai. The BBC refers to it as the Diet perhaps because it thinks that the Japanese word is open to misinterpretation. What does Diet mean? It means a body that meets for one day.
The lesson we must learn is that there is never an accurate translation of the names for assemblies, Parliaments, councils, diets, folketings, sejms, majlises, or any word for Parliament. Any name must develop in a way that is natural and meets with the approval of the people whom that body is trying to serve. That is the important point—the name should evolve naturally, but we are trying to predict what will evolve naturally in Wales.
Will the people of Wales prefer to use a Welsh-language but easy-to-pronounce term like "senedd", or will they prefer a word like "assembly"? Do they like the Welsh word "cynulliad"? I do not think they do: the word cynulliad is rather complicated, as if one had chewed a dictionary for breakfast. Many people do not like it, and will probably never use it, so we need a simpler Welsh version.
That is the main reason for looking for something else. "Cymanfa" has associations with singing in chapel, but it is probably a better translation of assembly than cynulliad. I admit that I have never liked the word cynulliad; I do not think the word trips happily off the tongue even of Welsh speakers, let alone those who are learning Welsh or who have no Welsh at all. We must try to evolve words—possibly leaving the matter to the assembly itself—which trip naturally off the tongue of the people of Wales and which indicate the affection and respect in which the body is held by the people of Wales.
The question whether we should aim at a full primary legislative body is ruled out by the terms of the referendum, but—provided the Secretary of State confirms that there is a clear intent to have a Henry VIII power in the legislation—there is nothing to stop the assembly reforming public bodies in Wales and dealing with other matters. The House is always bored when dealing with such matters—we remember the farcical proceedings over the reform of Welsh local government and the Welsh Language Act 1993—and, in future, Parliament will generally expect the Welsh assembly to deal with them.
In future, if legislation of a primary, secondary or hybrid nature is required, hon. Members here would prefer not to slog away until 10 pm on matters that should be dealt with by the Welsh assembly. That is the way the two bodies will come to work together naturally. I do not see any problem with allowing a matter that was in the White Paper and therefore was there when the people of Wales voted in the referendum to be expanded, but we cannot introduce something completely new, such as tax-varying powers, which were clearly excluded when the proposition was put to the people of Wales.
852 We must also be aware that, if the Welsh assembly is to participate in certain supranational bodies, such as the council of the isles mooted by the Government—depending on whether that idea comes off as part of the Northern Ireland peace process, what the council can do and the right to participate being granted—it may be that we will need to consider whether any adaptation of the legislative powers referred to in the Bill is necessary in order to permit the Welsh assembly to play the part intended for it in that council.
§ Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Môn)
I have been listening carefully to the debate on this group of amendments, especially the amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) on the issue of legislative powers. Despite his eloquence and the powerful case he put forward, I suspect from his interventions that the Secretary of State is unlikely to concede the amendment. However, another possibility is open to the Secretary of State, which has been put to him on more than one occasion.
In the absence of legislative powers being transferred to the national assembly, how will Westminster deal with a legislative framework to develop its powers in respect of secondary legislation? The Secretary of State has said that the assembly will need to find a dynamic relationship with Westminster. There will always be such a dynamic relationship, but I suspect that it will work best when the Welsh assembly is governed by a party that is largely in sympathy with the party governing in Westminster. The right hon. Gentleman has to accept that his case tends to fall down when the Government in Westminster want to introduce legislation that is diametrically opposed to what the settled will of the Welsh people, through the Welsh assembly, wants to achieve.
We have to look at circumstances in which that might happen. The Secretary of State has said that, in future, the Conservatives might have a majority in Britain that would enable them to govern in Westminster. I am not interested in the likelihood that, in the first term of a Welsh assembly, there will be a Labour Government and an assembly in Cardiff that is sympathetic to that Government; but I ask the right hon. Gentleman to address the situation in which there is a Conservative Administration here in Westminster and a non-Conservative Administration in Wales.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
The principle has to be the same, regardless of the nature and political colour of the Government here in Westminster. The hon. Gentleman should not strain too much against the prospect of improvements in the Conservative party. It is a serious point that the Conservative party is currently going through an ideological debate and will eventually emerge as a party that recognises that power is best devolved. It was interesting to hear the Conservative spokesman arguing strongly that the assembly would provide a powerful voice in Europe and that we should put on the face of the Bill the assembly's representative powers in respect of Europe. If that sort of progressive thinking develops, who knows what sort of Conservative Government we might have in 10 or 15 years' time?
§ Mr. Jones
That is an interesting point and it has merit, because the logical outcome of the Conservatives' attacks 853 on the Bill is that they would either abolish the Welsh assembly and the Scottish Parliament, or opt for the federalist solution. Nevertheless, the great danger facing the Welsh assembly is that it might find that it wants to put something right in a way that requires legislation, but is unable to act quickly because of the Westminster logjam.
Let me give the Secretary of State two brief examples. He will know that, occasionally, Bills come to the House simply to raise the borrowing powers of the Welsh Development Agency, because that requires primary legislation. We can assume that that will be necessary in future, and, although such legislation passes through the House quite quickly, a time and a slot have to be found in the Westminster timetable. Let me give the right hon. Gentleman another example.
§ Mr. Davies
Before he does, the hon. Gentleman should reflect on the fact that the previous Conservative Government allowed for those increases to be dealt with in future through secondary legislation.
§ Mr. Jones
That was a change.
Let me put another point to the Secretary of State. He will know that we have had some interesting discussions in the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs on the issue of conterminosity. The Welsh assembly will be given powers to change the boundaries of quangos, but not of local authorities. There is a powerful argument in favour of conterminosity—in other words, that services should be developed within boundaries shared by quangos and local authorities. Major legislation might not be needed for that to happen—a small Bill might suffice.
If we had a fast-track procedure—which might not require amendments to the Bill, but only changes in the Orders of the House—and the Welsh assembly made it clear to Westminster that it wanted a small legislative change to be made, all that would be needed would be for the Bill making that change to go through a revamped Welsh Grand Committee. It would not tie up the House in a lengthy procedure. It could adopt an easy procedure—the Welsh Grand Committee. I see no reason why that could not be considered.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Before we leave the subject of conterminosity, will the hon. Gentleman forgive me for asking whether he will be a conterminous Member of Parliament?
§ Mr. Jones
I shall not enter that debate; I simply wish to put a serious point to the hon. Gentleman.
In north Wales, many local authorities deliver social services, and a trust delivers community care. When Gwynedd health authority and county council were in existence, community services could be developed on the basis of geographical area. That possibility has been lost as a result of the changes in local government and how the health service has developed.
There may be other ways of proceeding, but the Welsh assembly will be unable to follow that course, because, while it can change the boundaries of the quangos, it cannot change the boundaries of local authorities. Therefore, although the Government could consider using 854 other procedures, a fast-track procedure would assist the Welsh assembly in implementing its policies, provided that a major piece of legislation is not involved.
It is generally accepted that one of the dangers for the Welsh assembly in its early years is that it might be frustrated from making simple changes—those that call not for major legislation but simply for minor amendments of the kind that I described. It would be frustrating for the Welsh assembly, in its first term, to find that the Westminster Parliament could not find time to implement Welsh legislation. A fast-track procedure would remove the intense frustration which Assembly Members may feel.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
The hon. Gentleman has argued that case before, and I have always listened carefully when he has done so. First, it is important to establish the assembly, and the assembly will have a heavy responsibility to prove itself. Secondly, what the hon. Gentleman argues for cannot be legislated for in the Bill, because it is for the Westminster Parliament to adopt its own procedures.
I have long argued that constitutional change is a process of evolution. The assembly must establish itself, and if circumstances arise in which relatively minor changes are needed, it will be a case of waiting for the relationship between the Welsh assembly and the Westminster Parliament to mature. The assembly must establish itself in such a way that the House feels comfortable about adopting new procedures to facilitate the assembly's wishes.
§ Mr. Jones
That was an extremely helpful intervention. The Secretary of State acknowledges the fact that circumstances could arise in which that procedure could be used. I am grateful to him for acknowledging that there is a strong case for that. I suggest that the Committee considers that that option will be available to the House. Now that we have it on the record that it is a matter for discussion, we should pursue it when the opportunity arises.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson
Clause 1 is the foundation clause for the Swansea assembly. I draw three conclusions from the debate so far. First, the Conservative party in Parliament has not come to terms with the result of the referendum. Its spokesman, the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans), used expressions such as out of the frying pan and into the fire. His speech was negative and carping—and some distance away from what I hear from Conservative party members in Wales.
Secondly, all the interesting wordplays that we have heard, adding to or subtracting from the definitions in the Bill, tell us something about those who suggest them. They are trying to reconstruct the assembly as they would like it—with more legislative powers, with tax-raising powers or diminished powers—not as it was broadly endorsed by the people of Wales and in the White Paper.
Thirdly, the right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) and the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Mr. Jones) put their fingers on a key point relating to the interface between this Parliament and the proposed assembly. Of course there are likely to be frustrations, because politicians in the assembly will 855 have a vested interest in pushing the boundaries further, while some hon. Members in this Parliament will take a minimalist view.
However, the Secretary of State should answer this simple question: are there circumstances in which the assembly can refuse to implement an order that applies to the rest of the United Kingdom? If so, in which circumstances will that be possible? I hope that he will answer not just in a letter to my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney but will tell all hon. Members. How do we deal with the serious problem described by the hon. Member for Ynys Mon and others: how to implement speedily relatively minor matters relating to the assembly on which everyone agrees and which do not detract from the sovereignty of this Parliament? I invite interested hon. Members to make a submission, perhaps in the light of experience of the workings of the assembly, to the Modernisation Committee. If it is a problem, I hope that it can be dealt with reasonably by people of good will on both sides.
Perhaps I may outline a few of the principles that the House should adopt. This is an evolutionary situation because we have no constitution and the Bill is not set in stone. No institution is static; institutions are dynamic and will progress. A big step has been taken: we are to have an assembly for, or of, Wales. It is therefore a matter of adapting. I believe that the European Parliament was first called the European Assembly. I have used the analogy of the Welsh Office before in the House. The Welsh Office was a pretty puny creature when it was first created; the fact that it now has much greater powers simply reflects the fact that all institutions are dynamic and evolve with the passage of time.
The second principle is that constraints are imposed on us by the referendum. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) ably said, although the referendum showed an acceptance of the Government's proposals, it only just showed acceptance. The slim majority imposes certain constraints. For example, no one who wanted the assembly to have much greater powers would have voted against it. Hence one can conclude that, had the Government proposed greater powers—in terms of primary legislation or taxation for example—the people of Wales would not have accepted the assembly. That should impose a certain humility on us as we frame the legislation to establish the assembly.
The third principle concerns the constraints imposed by the nature of Wales. I shall not go into the divisions in Wales between the north and the south, and between those who use the Welsh language and those who do not. Happily, through wisdom, we have developed a consensus and we should do nothing to upset it.
The final principle is clear. Wherever possible we should trust the assembly people. We should not be too prescriptive. We should give them as much discretion as possible so that they can work out their own rules and procedures. We should not put a straitjacket on them, but trust them to make up their own rules.
I shall briefly apply those broad principles to the amendments. The ability to make primary legislation would be against the spirit of the referendum and should not be adopted. I understand the argument about the word senedd, but language can be an explosive issue in Wales. 856 Happily, we now have a consensus. I pay tribute to the previous Government for the Welsh Language Act 1993, which drew the sting out of what might, in other circumstances, have been a highly divisive matter. The use of senedd may have sent out the wrong signal, whereas the term Welsh assembly gives the right consensual signal.
On whether it should be the National Assembly of Wales or for Wales, I do not understand the semantics. Although for Wales may sound a little patronising, it assumes a unitary government for the United Kingdom. The danger is that an assembly of Wales may imply that Wales is a single entity separate from the United Kingdom. That may or may not be the reason. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West mentioned the German precedent. I knew a German called Mr. von and zu Guttenburg; we used to say that he did not know whether he was coming or going. I hope that we do not have a messy compromise: I am happy with the present formulation.
I promised to be brief. I have explained the spirit in which I believe we should approach the amendments, given the constraints. We should proceed on a consensual basis and, above all, trust in the assembly so far as is possible. We should be ready to smooth the way if necessary by sensible amendments to our procedures in the House.
§ Mr. Dalyell
As the first, and possibly only, non-Welsh contributor from the Labour Benches, I feel like a guest who is expected to behave himself at the party. I want to ask the Secretary of State two questions. First, when he intervened during the speech of the right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), he referred to a developing relationship; later, in another intervention, he referred to a dynamic relationship. Other hon. Members from all parts of the United Kingdom are deeply affected by the Bill. I am curious to know at what point there will be a stop to this developing relationship. The Secretary of State's remarks were very interesting and revealing and we are entitled to know what is in his mind.
Secondly, the Secretary of State referred to The Scotsman. As a Scot, I believe what The Scotsman says about births, marriages and deaths. I also believe The Scotsman when it comes to football scores. Beyond that, I tend to be sceptical. I am not jumping to the conclusion that The Scotsman has got it right. Day after day, we are regaled by the so-called iniquities of the Welsh referendum. Will the Secretary of State put on record his view of what The Scotsman has been up to, because it has written a heck of a lot about that? I am a simple seeker after truth.
§ Sir Raymond Powell (Ogmore)
I shall be brief, unlike some people who say that they will be brief and then take 25 minutes when everyone is waiting to finish the debate at 6 o'clock.
I want to refer to amendment No. 52, because I would be appalled by the creation of a legislative assembly in Wales. I have made myself abundantly clear on that topic and my view accords with Labour party policy. As a supporter of Labour party policy on most issues, I resist Plaid Cymru's advocacy of a legislative assembly. There is no doubt in my mind that the nationalists want a legislative assembly in Wales: they have wanted to 857 achieve that in all the 35 years that I have been active in politics. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) would say the same with regard to Scotland.
We will not have a legislative assembly in Wales: that was made abundantly clear in the White Paper. That is also what the people who voted in the referendum decided. Will the Secretary of State tell us whether any of proposals in the first set of amendments were included in any way, shape or form in the White Paper?
§ Dr. John Marek (Wrexham)
I agree that the Bill should be as close as we can get it to what the people of Wales voted for in the referendum. It may not be exactly what we want: all of us wanted something different. I should have liked parts of the Bill to be different, but I accept that any large measure of legislative powers for the Welsh assembly would be inappropriate. It is easy to say that, but it is not so easy to define the word "legislative". The Bill uses the word "legislation" but it is always preceded by the word "subordinate". The legislative powers of the Welsh assembly will be subordinate.
We can explore that a little further and try to define subordinate legislative powers. It is conceivable that, when the Welsh assembly is established, the House could pass an enabling Bill that left everything to be decided by order or by regulation. Technically, that would be subordinate legislation. However, it is easy to envisage a different Administration introducing not an enabling Bill but legislation in which everything is prescribed, thus making any subsequent orders or regulations completely unnecessary. In that case, the Welsh assembly would have no powers, because it could not even block an order or regulation. What is primary legislation in one scenario is subordinate legislation in another.
I would not say that there is confusion, but a wide interpretation is available of what constitutes legislation—whether it is subordinate or primary. I hope that we will set up a Welsh assembly and that the Bill will complete its Committee stage successfully, but, if that is to happen, we must adopt the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson): we must not put the assembly in a straitjacket.
One of the amendments says that there should be a National Assembly of Wales rather than a National Assembly for Wales. Let us suppose that, having come into existence, the assembly wanted to call itself the National Assembly of Wales, perhaps after consultation in Wales. I understand that, simply because the name would be in the primary legislation that we would be passing here, it could not be changed. That cannot, or should not, be the House's intention. The House cannot think it right for decisions that it would probably wish to devolve to the Welsh body not to be devolved because of what was in primary legislation—the Government of Wales Bill.
Let us not put the Welsh assembly in a straitjacket. Let us be a little generous. It must be possible to design a way of retaining the safeguards for the House: the Scotland Bill may show us how that can be done. Let us, however, allow the Welsh assembly some latitude in regard to matters that, according to any sensible person, it ought to be able to debate and decide on. Let us not 858 have laws and rules that remind us of the well-known phrase about the guidance of wise people and the obedience of fools, preventing the Welsh assembly from carrying out its proposals as it would wish to do.
How are we to arrange that? I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be able to consider the matter. I do not expect instant answers, but my right hon. Friend has heard pleas from my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East, from my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) and, probably, from a number of other hon. Members, including me. There must be safeguards preventing the Welsh assembly from assuming legislative powers beyond those that the Welsh people expected when they voted in the referendum on 18 September, but there are other legislative powers that I think it would be sensible to allow. We should at least allow the possibility.
Let me give an example that is, or was, dear to the Secretary of State's heart. I refer to the Cardiff bay barrage. Any reasonable argument would suggest that the matter should have been decided by people in Wales, preferably people in south Wales. It certainly should not have been decided by the House of Commons. The Secretary of State will remember very well our debate at 3 am, or 4 am, when, by the force of sheer argument, we defeated the proposals that had been submitted to the House—only for English Members representing constituencies well away from Cardiff to force through legislation that most Welsh Members did not want.
I hope that legislation such as that would be considered appropriate for the Welsh assembly to pass. Cannot a form of words be incorporated in the Bill to allow such sensible measures to be debated and decided on in the assembly?
§ Mr. Wigley
The hon. Gentleman has drawn together many of the strands that have arisen in the debate. Surely what we need is an order-making facility in Westminster, allowing the National Assembly of—or for—Wales to take on a legislative role for a specific purpose. If that were provided, there would be a longstop here with regard to the functions that could be transferred, but the assembly would be able to get on with the job rather than having to wait for an inordinate time in the queue for legislation here.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
I must put one point on the record, because I do not want the impression to be gained that the right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) will gain the success for which he is arguing. I refer him to our earlier debate with the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Mr. Jones). What we must do now is get the assembly established.
My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) asked me to explain what I meant about a developing relationship. The assembly will have to establish itself. There will be concordats between it and this place; there will be working relationships between it and the Westminster Government. It is in the light of the way in which the assembly operates, and in the light of needs that will be demonstrated in the future, that this place will have to look to its own procedures—but that is a matter for Parliament, not a matter for the assembly. It is for the assembly to make recommendations, but not to decide.
§ Dr. Marek
Clearly the position will develop, so I will not go into it now; but the argument stands that we should not let the precise wording of the primary legislation that we are passing here now prevent any future relationship from developing.
I will not say too much, because I know that hon. Members want to proceed to the next debate. Let me say, however, that the Scottish way of doing things was easier, and more all-embracing, simply because a different referendum was held in Scotland. As a result of the proposals for us in Wales, rather than being given permissive powers, we have been given virtually all the Bill's proposals in a straitjacket. There is a churlish acceptance that certain functions must be devolved, and it has been promised that certain powers will be handed over by the Secretary of State for Wales; but the powers are circumscribed as much as possible, wherever possible. The problem lies with the principle that guided the drafting of the Bill. I ask the Secretary of State to consider this proposition. If the assembly is to be constrained by a tight corset preventing it from exercising certain powers, there will be precious little room for beneficial development of its role.
§ Dr. Marek
The hon. Gentleman must not take me too far along that road. It is a road that I would be prepared to travel, but I am bound by a self-denying ordinance. The Welsh people voted for a particular model of assembly, and I think that, by and large, we should deliver what they voted for. I do not think that we need any development of law-making powers.
Is this to be an assembly for Wales, or an assembly of Wales? That ought to be something for the Welsh assembly to decide, but under the present rules it will not be able to do so. We shall have to do it here, which shows something of the problem involved in drafting devolution legislation as it has been drafted in the Bill.
Let me suggest to the Secretary of State that, on this minor matter, he should consult the other parties. He will probably resist the amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies). If it were pressed to a vote, I would be tempted to vote for it, but I would fear for my safety from the Government if I voted against them again too soon after 10 December—or 11 December, or whenever it was. I think that we can get together and see whether there is general agreement in favour of a change. If the Liberal Democrats, the Welsh nationalists and the Conservatives—if they have any interest in these matters; I do not know whether they do—think that it would be better for us to have a National Assembly of Wales, why do we not have such an assembly? It does not matter. It is a trivial point.
The important point is that the assembly will not be able to decide its name. The Government need to think about whether they can loosen the tight straitjacket, as my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East said, so that the Welsh assembly has a little legislative freedom.
§ Ms Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North)
I am pleased to be called to speak. I will be brief because I am aware that 860 we have been at this debate for three hours, but it is important that a woman from Wales should speak to the proposals.
When we were knocking on doors during the referendum campaign, two main points came over from people in Cardiff. One was that they were concerned that Welsh speakers would dominate the assembly. We addressed that issue a little when we discussed the name. The other point was that the assembly was about jobs for the boys. We have heard much from all the boys tonight, but I hope that, when we discuss the clauses on election methods, we will be able to talk more about that aspect.
Most of the points that I wanted to make have been covered. Most of the amendments have to be resisted because, in the referendum, we campaigned on the fact that there were to be no tax-raising powers and no primary legislative powers. I said in many places that that was what we were campaigning for and we are bound to keep to the spirit of that policy.
We should not play down the powers that are in the White Paper, the Bill and the secondary legislation. There is tremendous scope there for building Wales and for making a truly representative and strong assembly. The Bill presents us with a tremendous opportunity.
§ Ms Jackie Lawrence (Preseli Pembrokeshire)
I have sat for around three hours listening with great interest to the debate, which covers primary legislative powers, tax-varying powers and dissatisfaction with the intended name of the assembly. However, we are dealing not with details but with fundamental and basic principles here. The basic principle outlined in paragraph 1.7 of the White Paper is:The Assembly will take over the responsibilities that the Secretary of State exercises in Wales.Our view on that should be coloured by the referendum. In that referendum, the people of Wales did not vote for further legislative powers, tax-varying powers or an assembly by another name.
There were genuine fears in Wales at the time that tax-varying powers could lead to increases in taxation. Those of us who campaigned in Wales—at least Labour and some Opposition Members—recognised that countering those fears effectively led to a 30 per cent. increase in the yes vote over that in 1979, culminating in the decision to go ahead with the assembly. People have therefore already voted to establish that principle. We are governed by the widest possible democratic remit within Wales—to consult and to give every person in Wales an opportunity to take part in that democratic process.
Those are the promises that we have made as a Government to the Welsh people. It is vital that we keep our promises. Our colleagues on both the Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru Benches joined us in supporting the principles in the White Paper proposals for a Welsh assembly and for a more democratic legislative framework in Wales that would restore faith in democracy there. The referendum turnout reflects the feeling of the people of Wales that their voices are not being heard any more. Any diversion from the basic principles outlined in the White Paper would be a total denial of the democratic process.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Win Griffiths)
We have had a wide-ranging 861 and interesting debate on the first group of amendments. To some extent, some of the amendments concern what might be regarded by the Welsh public as a minor issue—the specific name of the assembly—but they have given us an opportunity to have a thorough canter over all the ground that we argued over during the referendum campaign and while the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill was going through the House.
As nearly every Labour Member has said, there is the issue of honouring the White Paper as set out during the referendum campaign. The majority was not huge, but it was clear. The count was undertaken by counting officers throughout Wales, who did their jobs effectively within the law. For five months, no one made an observation just to create trouble.
Let us be clear about the matter. We cannot accept amendment No. 52. The word "legislative" introduced at this point would be misleading because, in the broad range of things, the assembly will not have primary legislative powers. It will have some specific powers arising from clause 29 in particular and there will be an opportunity to debate the extent of that clause later. The Scottish Parliament is called a Parliament because it does have those legislative powers. In Wales, we have an assembly because it does not have primary powers, except in specific areas.
That has given rise to a debate about how some of the subordinate powers—the secondary powers—might be dealt with by an assembly in Wales. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales made the position clear in his usual straightforward and forthright way—in some ways, it is a straightforward point, but it is not a simple point because the way in which the secondary powers work will depend on the way in which they are framed in any Act of Parliament.
I throw in one example going back to the heady days of 1988, when I first came into the House and sat on the first of many Committees that considered education Bills—on that occasion, the Bill that became the Education Reform Act 1988. That provides for the Secretary of State for Education and Employment and the Secretary of State for Wales to create city technology colleges. For whatever reason, that power was never exercised in Wales; the power lay with the Secretary of State for Wales. If the assembly had been in charge, it probably would not have exercised that power either, so we must examine existing legislation and even Bills that are going through the House to determine how the assembly will be able to use its secondary powers.
The hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Dafis) mentioned the School Standards and Framework Bill, which is going through the House, and some of its ramifications. We must consider exactly what powers are conferred on the Secretary of State. For example, I understand from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Wales that the Secretary of State will have powers in relation to admissions, which will deal with the problems to which the hon. Gentleman referred.
§ Mr. Rogers
Is my hon. Friend saying—or shall we leave discussion of the issue until we debate clauses 41 and 42—that the assembly will have powers to introduce secondary legislation only if such powers are 862 included in the primary legislation passed in Westminster, and that the assembly will not otherwise have the power to initiate secondary legislation?
§ Mr. Griffiths
The assembly will have all the powers vested in it by the draft transfer order that was published yesterday. My hon. Friend will undoubtedly have seen just how extensive those powers will be. The assembly will be able to initiate secondary legislation only when it has been given the power to do so. It will not be able to conjure legislation from the air and call it secondary legislation. The power will be specific.
As I said, clause 29 will provide the assembly with some primary powers, but they will apply only in very specific circumstances, which we can tease out when we debate the relevant clauses.
The right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Mr. Jones) and my hon. Friends the Members for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers), for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan), for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) and for Wrexham (Dr. Marek) have all raised procedural points on the legislative powers. I hope that they will examine the draft transfer order in some detail, and join the debate on the relevant clauses with all the knowledge that will be at their disposal.
§ Sir Raymond Powell
The Minister mentioned the powers that the House will give to the Welsh assembly. Will he explain what will be left for Members of Parliament to deal with after all those issues have been assigned to the Welsh assembly?
§ Mr. Griffiths
There is a straight and easy answer to that question: all primary legislation will still be considered by the House. My hon. Friend will have every opportunity to sit on Committees considering health, education and industry Bills, all of which will have an impact on Wales. The job of hon. Members at Westminster will be to ensure that Wales's interests are best served.
§ Mr. Rogers
The right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) implied that the assembly would have the power to block legislation in Wales. Will that be possible?
§ Mr. Griffiths
It depends on how one uses the word "block". Some people might regard as blocking, for example, situations in which the Secretary of State has power to initiate action under secondary legislation and decides not to do so. The ability to block will depend on the nature of the orders and on whether they have to be introduced by a certain date. For example, some people might say that, in the past nine years, the Welsh Office has blocked the creation of city technology colleges.
§ Mr. Griffiths
If in legislation the Westminster Parliament provides a discretion for the Secretary of State 863 of Wales and for the assembly in Wales, they will be able to decide whether to use that power, as Secretaries of State for Wales have done in the example that I cited.
§ Dr. Marek
Based on my time in the House debating Bills that provide for orders and regulations, one aspect of this Bill worries me, and I wonder whether the Minister will be able to help me. Many regulations and orders use the phrase "the Minister may". What is to stop a succeeding, unfriendly Administration saying that "the Minister shall"—removing all the permissive powers that Welsh Office Ministers currently exercise?
§ Mr. Griffiths
My hon. Friend is making the point that legislation sometimes states "may" and sometimes states "shall", but gives some leeway about when that "shall" will be used. We shall have to consider exactly how the House deals with legislation, and the assembly will have power to operate under the secondary powers.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson
Does my hon. Friend accept that it might be worth while stating in each statute the implications for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh assembly—just as we currently state the public expenditure implications of Bills?
§ Mr. Griffiths
That will be a matter for the House to decide at the appropriate time.
The House will have to decide on establishing a fast-track procedure or something like it, either within this legislation, if the House were minded to act so quickly, or at a later date—such as, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West said, with the establishment of a council of the isles, as part of a solution to the Northern Ireland problem.
§ Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex)
I apologise to the hon. Gentleman for missing the beginning of his speech. He is telling the Committee that the Bill is not a settlement, but an unholy mess in which the assembly will have no idea, from one Act of Parliament to another, how much power will be devolved to it. Is that not so?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has already had an opportunity to study yesterday's draft transfer order. The very long list of powers that will be held by the assembly in Wales shows that there is absolutely no uncertainty over many powers. In future—through the Secretary of State, through hon. Members at Westminster and through representations in response to White Papers and Green Papers—the assembly will have an opportunity to participate from Wales in the Westminster legislative process. There is no question of there being an uncertain muddle. A dynamic and developing relationship is a positive part of the process and growth of government of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Although it is not formally written, one of the great strengths of the British constitution is that, as the issue of sovereignty has grown over the years, it has 864 responded to the demands of certain groups of people. Those in power who have responded to change have saved themselves, whereas those who have not—like poor old Charles I—have lost their head. It was the Conservatives' failure to respond to change that resulted in their severe truncation at the general election.
§ Mr. Rogers
I am still a little confused about the blocking power—it was the right hon. Member for Caernarfon, not the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Dafis), who threw that cat among the pigeons. It has been said that certain Conservative diseases, which were desired by some odd people, might not have been inflicted on Wales if we had had a Labour assembly.
The poll tax is a graphic illustration. During the referendum campaign, we heard about a range of things that would not have happened to Wales had there been an assembly; we certainly would not have had the poll tax. The right hon. Member for Caernarfon said that an enlightened, Labour-controlled Welsh assembly would not have implemented that disease. I want to know whether a Labour assembly will have the power to stop such measures, as has been claimed.
§ Mr. Griffiths
My hon. Friend has raised an extremely helpful point. The legislation allowed the Secretary of State to implement orders to introduce a scheme for the poll tax. Although the poll tax itself would have been introduced, had there been a Welsh assembly, there could have been differences in banding, there could have been more bands in Wales and there could have been different discretions. The poll tax could and would have been an entirely different animal.
The name of the assembly, which is addressed by amendments Nos. 10 and 142, should not detain us. As my hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff, West and for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn)—and to a certain extent the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans)—have intimated, usage will determine what the assembly will be called in common parlance. For the purposes of the Bill, a great deal of discussion arose out of a proposition in another place by the chairman of the Welsh Language Board that received support from both sides of the House. We debated the matter at some length before deciding on the form included in the Bill.
§ Mr. Oliver Letwin (West Dorset)
The Minister unintentionally misled the Committee a moment or two ago when he referred to banding in respect of the poll tax. There was no such banding. What did he have in mind?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I believe that the orders—and we can check them—included powers to introduce different ways in which to implement the poll tax. However, we shall return to the matter at another point in the debate.
As to whether the title should include "of" or "for", there is a national orchestra of Wales and a national museum of Wales, but there is a Sports Council for Wales. We felt that an assembly for Wales would produce a better feeling of inclusiveness, rather than giving the impression that it related to a particular group in Wales or only to people who had been born in Wales—I would be in a bit of trouble in that respect. Although we are not absolutely wedded to that title and we are prepared to discuss it later, I hope that the amendments will not be pressed so that we do not have to resist them altogether.
865 Although the word "senedd" may enter popular usage, we do not want to put it in the Bill as it may raise fears among some people. An interesting debate developed about whether the word originated from the Latin for senate or from the Greek for synod, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West pointed out. However, in modern English parlance, the word "senedd" is the equivalent of parliament, which is derived from the French word "parlement", but the French "parlement" was nothing like the modern National Assembly, which is the French equivalent of our Parliament.
§ Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)
I did not intend to intervene in the debate, but I am driven to do so by what the Minister has just said. Is he honestly saying that the word "senedd" would imply that everyone in the assembly spoke Welsh? Why should people worry about that name? Is not Tai Cymru doing roaring business? Is CADW not rather well known in Wales?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I was not saying that. Clearly, the assembly will be a bilingual institution. As it will be the National Assembly for Wales, if we put the word "senedd" in the Bill some people may think that we are being partial. We do not want to give that impression because we want to bring everyone with us.
I should add that we reject new clauses 3 and 4 as they go against the wishes of the people of Wales as expressed in the referendum.
§ Mr. Wigley
I thank hon. Members for taking part in this afternoon's extremely interesting debate. I shall address the nomenclature first as I can do so fairly rapidly. We do not support the Conservative amendment proposing the name "Welsh Assembly", although I readily agree that the term will be used colloquially. However, I accept the arguments of the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) that a body "of Wales" belongs to Wales, that a body "for Wales" sounds as though it belongs to someone else and that "of" would, therefore, be better than "for". I understand that Ministers will look again at the matter, so we shall not push it to a vote at this stage.
Obviously, we support the use of the word "senedd" as it reflects the nature of the institution in that it has law-making powers. We should like the assembly ultimately to have full law-making powers. I readily accept that the Bill does not provide full law-making powers. It was, however, interesting to hear the Minister's reply to the debate and the comment made by other hon. Members that the division between secondary legislation and primary legislation was not as clear cut as some people might think.
As the Minister said, the White Paper contained provisions for the assembly to have certain primary law-making powers. The Bill provides mechanisms in respect of those powers. The White Paper on which the people of Wales voted included changes of a primary legislative nature within the capability of the assembly.
The hon. Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek) made the interesting point that the extent of the powers of the assembly dealing with secondary legislation would be 866 determined largely by the nature of the primary legislation passed here. Therefore, there may be times when the assembly will require primary law-making powers to achieve what might otherwise have been achieved by secondary law-making powers had the primary laws been drawn up differently. There is a substantial overlap.
The main thrust of the debate came from the hon. Members for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan), for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson), for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Livsey) and for Wrexham and from some of my hon. Friends who said that the issue was not set in stone for all time and that, in drawing up the provisions for the assembly in the Bill, we were providing for certain legislative functions—most of them secondary legislative functions and some of them specific primary legislative functions. They also said that the provisions need not necessarily be the formula for ever and a day, and that if the democratic wishes of the people of Wales, as expressed to the assembly, sought a change in that balance, it might be possible to facilitate that.
I accept that idea as a reasonable way forward, but it would be silly for the Bill not to include mechanisms to allow for at least some of those functions to be achieved without the House having to resort to primary legislation every time we needed a facility to change the name of the assembly, for example, or every time Members of the Assembly wanted a change in respect of other relatively small provisions.
We have heard that discretion is being provided by the House—it could be called a discretion of the House—in terms of blocking secondary legislation. The assembly will be able to say that it does not want to use orders that are allowed because they are not appropriate for Wales—in other words, that it does not want to adopt the secondary legislation applied to England. That is the nature of the assembly and of the powers of the Secretary of State. However, we do not have the positive discretion to allow the assembly to do things. The Bill may need a mechanism to enable an order to be passed in Westminster allowing primary changes on relatively small matters of the sort mentioned by several hon. Members, without the whole primary mechanism in Westminster having to be gone through again. Building such an order into the Bill would be of tremendous benefit, saving the House a lot of time, but leaving the ultimate decision to the House, because the order would have to be passed by Parliament before the powers could be transferred.
Given that that is where the argument lies and having heard the Secretary of State's acknowledgement that we are talking about an evolving assembly, we could well look at the issue again on Report or in another place. I hope that it will be possible to find a mechanism that avoids unnecessary work for this Chamber and avoids the confrontation that there might otherwise be between the assembly and this Chamber purely because of lack of time.
We have had a constructive debate on these powers. On the basis of that debate and the evolving nature that the Secretary of State has described, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.867
§ Mr. Ancram
I beg to move amendment No. 4, in page 1, line 10, at end insert—
'(1A) Notwithstanding the establishment of the Assembly, or anything contained in this Act, the supreme authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall remain unaffected and undiminished over all persons, matters and things in Wales.'.Having listened to the previous debate, I am even more confirmed in my view that the amendment is necessary. The leader of Plaid Cymru asserted his determination to ensure that the Bill is part of a slippery slope towards achieving an independent Wales. Many of the comments made during the previous debate raised serious doubts in my mind—and, I suspect in the mind of many of my hon. Friends—about the effective sovereignty of this House.
On Second Reading, the Secretary of State asked why such an amendment would be necessary, saying that this House was sovereign anyway. We have heard suggestions tonight that the sovereignty of this House could be thwarted. I did not intervene on the Minister a few minutes ago because I felt that it was proper to raise the issue on this amendment. If the assembly could thwart the sovereignty of Parliament by refusing to implement a commencement order on legislation that the House had deliberately and consciously voted to apply to Wales—I am uncertain about that after what has been said—serious questions would be raised.
§ Mr. Ancram
I shall give way to the right hon. Gentleman, but if he is going to say that the House could revert to primary legislation in such a case and retrieve the commencement order to apply it from this House, he will raise serious questions about the whole project.
§ Mr. Davies
I am not going to say that. The answer to the right hon. Gentleman's question is clear. The assembly can exercise only the discretion that the House gives it. A future Government may want to give the assembly discretion to implement, or not to implement, a measure through secondary legislation or to vary provision in Wales according to Welsh circumstances. The assembly will not be able to exercise any judgment outwith that given to it by the House.
I should like to make two other points briefly. There is no need to make it explicitly clear that sovereignty rests with the House, because it clearly does. Nothing that the assembly or any future Government do can undermine the sovereignty of Parliament.
There was an interesting debate on the previous amendment. The important point is that there is a body of opinion that wants to make the assembly work. The discussions that are taking place and the concept of developing relationships derive from the broad consensus that the assembly must be made to work. I hope that the Conservative party accepts that the project is on course. We are going to have an assembly and it is in the best interests of the House and of the people of Wales to have one that is soundly based and has a good working relationship with Parliament. That means that there will be developing changes.
§ Mr. Ancram
One other developing change is a galloping response to an amendment as it goes along. The 868 Secretary of State has responded to my points during my remarks rather than at the end. I do not know whether he will be responding to the debate—
§ Mr. Davies
No, it will be the Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths).
§ Mr. Ancram
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman will not because, with great respect, he has greater authority than his hon. Friend. However, I look forward to hearing the response.
§ Mr. Davies
I shall not allow the right hon. Gentleman to get away with that unwarranted slur on my hon. Friend, who speaks with the full authority of the Government. There is no question of his statements carrying any less weight than mine. There is no reason why I should have chosen to reply to the debate. I had no knowledge that the right hon. Gentleman was going to move the amendment. Had he had the courtesy to notify me that he wanted me to reply to the debate, I should have considered it, but he cannot assume that this is the most important debate just because it is on a Conservative amendment. I think that the amendment is the least worthy of all those that we are due to debate.
§ Mr. Ancram
The right hon. Gentleman is indulging in his usual tactics. He will find that, after four years in Northern Ireland, I am not as easy to bully as some of his Back-Bench colleagues. I shall certainly not be bullied by him. I know what he is up to. When he decided to sneak the Bill away into Committee upstairs, he was not prepared to come to the Dispatch Box to announce it himself. He was sitting in the Chamber at the end of the Second Reading debate and he got the Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths), to do it, perhaps because he foresaw that he might have to back down and did not want his own words thrown back in his face.
Let me return to the amendment. We have heard some doubts about what an assembly will be able to do to legislation passed by the House. I asked a question during the previous debate to which the Secretary of State has not responded—perhaps his hon. Friend will do so in due course. Parliament can decide whether a commencement order will be in new primary legislation to keep it out of the hands of the assembly or whether discretion will be given to the assembly. However, there is a lot of existing legislation with orders passed by the House on the understanding that, if the Secretary of State did not use the discretion given to him, he would have to answer to this sovereign House for not doing so. That is how the sovereignty of the House is exercised on that discretion. If an assembly is able to decide not to exercise such discretion, even though it was Parliament's intention that it should do so, there will be no come-back because there is no accountable relationship between the assembly and the House on that.
§ Mr. Ancram
I shall give way to the right hon. Gentleman, but I hope that he will leave something for his hon. Friend to say at the end. He appears to be responding as we go along.
§ Mr. Davies
The right hon. Gentleman has not put a lot on the table yet, so there will not be a lot for me to 869 leave to my hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman does not understand the scheme that we are proposing. The issue is not the assembly taking powers to itself. The assembly will have only those powers given to it by Parliament. During the passage of the Bill, Parliament will have the opportunity to delete clause 29 if it wants to withhold those powers from the assembly. We shall have a further opportunity when the transfer order, which I published yesterday, is put before us. The right hon. Gentleman has the opportunity to look at all the Acts that will be affected. There will be no question of hiding that information from the public domain. There will be a full process of discussion, we shall publish the final draft order in the autumn and Parliament will have a final opportunity some time next year to approve it.
The powers will have been described, debated and approved by this House of Commons, and this Parliament will decide that those powers can be exercised by the assembly. If that is not the exercise of Parliament's sovereignty, I do not know what is.
§ 7 pm
§ Mr. Ancram
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for one thing; he may save me from having to table a question, because I had intended to ask him which of the Acts of Parliament referred to in the draft order still had commencement orders outstanding on them. Once we have the answer to that, we should then be aware of what discretion we should be passing to an assembly that will not have the accountability back to Parliament that is at present exercised by the Secretary of State. If the right hon. Gentleman can tell me that he will do that during the Committee stage, I shall not table the question—but if he cannot 1 shall, because I feel that that would force him to make the position clear.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he thought my amendment one of the least important. However, its real purpose is simple. Essentially, it is to establish the veracity of the claim made during the referendum campaign, that the measure is Unionist in intent, and is intended to strengthen the United Kingdom—I believe that the right hon. Gentleman will recollect those words having been used in relation both to Scotland and to Wales—not to detract from the sovereignty of this Parliament here at Westminster.
§ Mr. Rhodri Morgan
Is the right hon. Gentleman seeking to persuade the Committee that the purpose of his amendment is declaratory rather than practical?
§ Mr. Ancram
It has to be declaratory because such an amendment, or such an assertion, describes an existing situation. As the Secretary of State rightly said on Second Reading, this Parliament can change that situation if it wants to. It would not be unusual or unprecedented to include such assertions. They are made where there is a question mark over whether what is being done is intended to diminish the strength and unity of the United Kingdom or intended, as was said during the referendum campaign, to strengthen it.
I said on Second Reading that there was within the body of United Kingdom statute a clear precedent—that of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, as amended in 870 1922. Section 75 of that Act is still outstanding and, with suitable changes, forms my amendment. Obviously, I have changed the words "Northern Ireland" to the word "Wales".
That provision is there, and is still on the statute book, because it served to give a reassurance that what was being done in the Government of Ireland Act, especially as it related to Northern Ireland, was not part of a slippery slope leading to a united Ireland but would retain the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament over all matters in Northern Ireland, and retain Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Morgan
I promise that this will be my last intervention. Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not seek to compare the Government of Ireland Act with the Bill that we are debating, when the degree of devolution in that Act is 100 times greater. There is no comparison. There was a need to provide reassurance in respect of the Government of Ireland Act because that was similar in nature to the Act that set up the Dominion of Canada, which contained a colossal amount of devolution and reserved few matters to the United Kingdom Parliament. The purpose of such an Act might have created a clear political necessity, which is hardly justified by a measure such as that before us, in which there is only one hundredth as much devolution.
§ Mr. Ancram
The difficulty that I have with such an intervention is that it suggests that the amendment is unnecessary.
§ Mr. Ancram
If the sovereignty of this Parliament is complete, what is there to prevent the amendment from being accepted? If it is an assertion, as I have said it is, and if it is in line with what the hon. Gentleman and the Secretary of State believe to be the case anyway, what have they got against inserting it into the Bill? [Interruption.] They say that it is unnecessary.
However, if we turn to the Scotland Bill, concerning devolution north of the border, although we do not find that assertion—I should like to see it there, too, and will table an amendment accordingly—we do find another assertion, equally drawn from Northern Ireland legislation. In that case, the legislation is the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, which asserts in another way, but extremely clearly, the supremacy of this Parliament over Scotland.
In clause 27 of the Scotland Bill, we read:This section does not affect the power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to make laws for Scotland.That provision is in the Northern Ireland legislation as well. One could equally well argue that it is unnecessary there too, because as it is clearly the case that this is a sovereign Parliament, obviously it can do that. So why is that assertion in the Scotland Bill?
It is there for the same reason that it is in the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973—because the assertion was needed to reassure. If there is no concern in the mind of the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) that what is proposed for Wales might lead further down the road to the independence of Wales and the separation and 871 break-up of the United Kingdom, what has he against the amendment, which would provide belt and braces for the intended position?
The only possible reason for leaving such an assertion out is that one knows that, ultimately, it is likely to be disproved, or may have to be reduced in some way.
§ Mr. Ancram
The Secretary of State has himself said that the Bill is not stable, because devolution is not an event but a process. He himself envisages things moving on, and if he puts his hand on his heart he cannot say that he is certain that we shall end up with the sovereignty of this Parliament still intact. That is why he will not put the assertion in the legislation.
§ Mr. Llwyd
I am curious to find out how many times the right hon. Gentleman, as a Minister, has used the word "otiose" in such proceedings. It is the proper legal definition, and it is parliamentary language, too. If something is unnecessary, it should not appear on the face of a Bill. That is pretty obvious.
§ Mr. Ancram
I do not believe that the assertion is unnecessary, but to those who say that it is, I say that I should prefer to see it on the face of the Bill. If there are those of us who think that it is required, and if it would not affect the position either way, I do not see the objection.
It is interesting that new clause 3, proposed by the Liberal Democrats, replicates the clause that I mentioned in the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, because they, too, believe that there is a need for such an assertion. We are asking not for a statement that would change anything, but for the Government to give those of us who have always been nervous about the effect of devolution on the United Kingdom a reassurance that the United Kingdom will remain intact, as will the sovereignty of this Parliament.
Mr. Edward Gamier (Harborough)
I do not want to take my right hon. Friend's arguments out of order, but will he project forward to clause 30, which deals with the power to implement Community law—a delegated power that the Bill gives to the assembly? At present, he is arguing about the effect on this Parliament of internal devolution within the United Kingdom, but clause 30 provides an example of extra-territorial law being handed straight to the Welsh assembly, bypassing this Parliament. Does not that underline all the more emphatically the argument in favour of my right hon. Friend's amendment?
§ Mr. Ancram
I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for making that point. He has found an example of a potential erosion of sovereignty on the face of the Bill. Again, it is important in that respect to have the assertion on the face of the Bill. We must start from the position that this Parliament is sovereign and will remain so, and that is all that the amendment says, so I find it surprising that we meet such resistance from the Government side.
I shall ask the Secretary of State one question. I am not a suspicious character, but at the back of his mind there may be some element of what I am about to suggest. I do not know whether, in three years' time, the right hon. 872 Gentleman will be a Member of the Welsh assembly or a Member of this Parliament, retaining his office of Secretary of State. I do believe, however, that those who see the assembly as their natural home will always argue for fewer restrictions on its potential for growth and for the maximum ability to undermine the sovereignty of the UK Parliament. By contrast, those who remain here will want this Parliament's sovereignty to be maintained.
§ Mr. Ancram
I do not accept that; and I do accept that authority will be delegated to the Welsh assembly. This Parliament has the right to tell the Welsh assembly that, although it has delegated authority, the authority of this House and the sovereignty of Parliament will not be diminished.
It is clear to me from the previous debate that there is something of a muddle on the question of sovereignty. The Secretary of State and his ministerial colleagues have not answered the important points made by the hon. Members for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) and others. I believe that they still harbour doubts about the extent of the powers of the assembly and the effect of those powers on the sovereignty of this Parliament.
The Government's approach this evening has been ambivalent. There seems to be an element of schizophrenia: will the assembly be strong and powerful with sovereignty of its own, or will it always be subject to the sovereignty of the UK Parliament? It is because of that schizophrenia, ambivalence and muddle that the amendment is necessary. I commend it to the Committee.
§ Mr. Öpik
Judging by its tone, this is something of a wrecking amendment. That is not to detract from what the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) has been saying, but words like "undiminished" give one the feeling that the Conservatives are worried about giving the assembly delegated powers that will enable it not to look over its shoulder to Westminster all the time.
Hence, we would be minded to oppose the amendment. It is also rather provocative; it implies that the Welsh assembly cannot be allowed to function without close scrutiny by Westminster. That goes dead against the idea of devolution.
It is all very well to talk about belt and braces; it is surely even safer not to put on trousers at all but to stay in the constitutional bed and not try to move decision making out from the centre to Scotland and Wales.
§ Mr. Dalyell
May I, out of curiosity, ask the hon. Gentleman whether he hopes to be a member of the Welsh assembly or to remain here as a Member of the Westminster Parliament?
§ Mr. Öpik
I do not see the relevance of that question to the points that I have been making. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that an Estonian in Parliament has far more to contribute than an Estonian in Swansea or 873 Cardiff. I can foresee no circumstances in which I would stand for the Welsh assembly. I hope that that unequivocal statement reassures the hon. Gentleman.
The Liberal Democrats feel that the amendment is not in the spirit of devolution or of what was voted for on 18 September. Perhaps it is all a matter of judgment; perhaps the words would not undermine the effectiveness of the assembly, but they send out the wrong message. Having accepted the principle of devolution, we must now trust the Welsh people to elect individuals who are capable of operating effectively and wisely on their behalf. We do not see the need for endless insurance policies just in case the assembly gets it wrong. Responsible people act responsibly. I like to think that the Welsh assembly will behave responsibly and constructively in relation to Westminster; and that, if there are problems, they can be resolved by discussion and negotiation—and then possibly by legislation. We must not tie the hands of the assembly before it has even been elected.
§ Mr. Gareth Thomas
A remarkable concession by the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) rather suggested that the amendment has more to do with mischief making and raking over the coals of an argument that the Conservative party has long since lost than with anything constructive. It is, in the right hon. Gentleman's words, purely declaratory: it has no practical purpose. Why then introduce it? As a lawyer, he ought to know the definition of otiose. There can be no better example of an otiose amendment than this one, because it is unnecessary. It is a propaganda exercise designed to create fear about the assembly. We should be concerned to engender precisely the opposite emotion.
The purpose of the package of reforms leading to this measure is to strengthen the unity of the United Kingdom and to reform the relationship between its constituent parts. That is eminently sensible and reasonable. It is not an attack on the sovereignty of the UK; it is a way of strengthening that sovereignty and improving our parliamentary processes.
§ Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire)
Unlike Labour Members, I see this issue as important. If the amendment is purely declaratory—I do not believe it is; it also has a utilitarian purpose—then there are many precedents for that in law. My right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) gave examples from similar constitutional legislation of the past. As I recall, the Family Law Act 1997 includes a similar provision at the beginning, declaring that the purpose of the Act is to reinforce family life. So the fact that an amendment is declaratory does not diminish its importance or invalidate its consideration by the Committee.
I found the Secretary of State's interventions in my right hon. Friend's opening remarks extremely difficult to follow. He says that he wants the assembly to work. I am reconciled to the idea that there will be an assembly, although I am not glad about it, and I share the Secretary of State's view. I am a former member of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, and I am concerned for the Principality. It is only just over the border from my county, and I want the people of Wales, if they are to have one at all, to have an assembly that works.
874 But if the assembly is to work as a secure part of the constitution of this kingdom, it must have not just the whole-hearted support of the Welsh people but more than the grudging acceptance of the English people. The latter need to be reassured that the assembly will work in their interests, too.
That is why I think the Secretary of State was profoundly misguided to describe the amendment as unworthy. It is a matter for incredulity that the amendment was not accepted on the nod. It does no harm, and it would provide a real reassurance to the people of England that their concerns will be taken into account in the process of devolving power to Wales.
I declare an interest—I shall soon get bored with hearing myself say this; I have said it in three debates in the House in the past week—in that Worcestershire stands to be disadvantaged by the Bill and by the Government's regional development agencies for England. We shall be caught between the Welsh powerhouse set up by part VI of the Bill, and the Birmingham-based RDA. That is why I know that my constituents are worried about the Bill's implications for them. Thus, a reassurance in the Bill to the effect that it will work for the benefit of the whole kingdom, and that the supremacy of this place will remain intact, would be of benefit to my constituency.
As an English Member, I would appreciate it if Welsh Members could see that perspective as they consider this matter. The amendment goes beyond being purely declaratory, and provides some practical safeguard for my constituents' interests and those of other hon. Members in England.
The Welsh people have not declared themselves that enthusiastically for this Bill and the assembly. There has been a grudging, half-hearted acceptance, and three quarters of them seem to be saying that they also value the United Kingdom. They want some reassurance that the supremacy of this Parliament will still be very real. I accept that "supremacy" is not the most attractive of words. Perhaps its connotations are not entirely happy, but it was right for my right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes to draw on precedent in other legislation in drafting the amendment.
Why should the Government resist the amendment? Frankly, I do not understand it. They say—indeed, the Welsh nationalists have been saying this too—that the amendment is superfluous and unnecessary. I am deeply suspicious about the direction from which I am hearing that claim. Some people who are telling me that have clear agendas—which, to their credit, they do not conceal. Why are they saying that an amendment to the Bill that would reassert the primacy of this place in the consideration of United Kingdom matters is superfluous? That concerns me.
I see the amendment as an insurance policy for the people of England and, indeed, of Scotland in the relationship between the Welsh assembly and this Parliament. A devolved Parliament in Scotland will inevitably lead to pressure for independence for Scotland. I am as yet unclear whether the National Assembly for Wales will have a similar impact. I suspect that it will become an ineffectual talking shop, and that the 875 enthusiasm of the people of Wales will diminish. However, the amendment is a useful safeguard should the Welsh assembly take off in the direction I fear.
§ Mr. Luff
I do not want to detain the House long, and I am trying to draw my remarks to a conclusion, but I would point the hon. Gentleman to clause 23(6) on page 14, which states:Any function exercisable by a Minister of the Crown in relation to … a cross-border area, or … a committee, board or undertaker which carries on activities in, or with respect to, a cross-border area".From my reading of the Bill, it seems to me that the assembly will be given powers over any cross-border areawhich includes a part (but not the whole) of England"—I am relieved to say—simply on the say-so of a Minister of the Crown, with no assurance that this place will have any say over the giving of those powers over important chunks of England.
The hon. Gentleman will understand that, as I come from Worcestershire, where we historically fought the Welsh for many years, we are a little more sensitive on that point, perhaps, than those in other parts of the United Kingdom. The amendment will provide a useful and practical safeguard against that sort of frank abuse of its power by the assembly.
I genuinely believe that this is a useful amendment, which will safeguard the supremacy of this place. People are becoming more aware of the dangers of the Bill for the rest of the United Kingdom, and I honestly hope that, if the amendment is only superfluous, as the Government seem to suggest, they will accept it and give me great peace of mind.
§ Mr. Win Griffiths
This has been a brief, but nevertheless interesting, debate, even if it only showed us the shortcomings of the Opposition's thinking and that of the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram).
From the outset, I must make it clear that there is nothing in the Bill to imply that the establishment of a National Assembly for Wales would undermine the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament. The powers are clear. We discussed the background to the amendments at some length on Second Reading. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman can remember that discussion well. We set down in detail our reasons why the official Opposition's concerns were, frankly, misplaced. That remains our position. Nothing has happened since that debate to change our minds about this amendment, which is unnecessary.
§ Mr. Ancram
Can the hon. Gentleman answer this question? If he thinks the amendment unnecessary in this Bill, why did the Secretary of State for Scotland decide that an assertion-of-supremacy clause was necessary in the Scotland Bill?
§ Mr. Griffiths
That is a good point, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I will deal with it as I develop my argument. It is important—in fact, it is crucial to the whole of our consideration of the Bill.
876 First, we believe that the views of the official Opposition on this point are based on a faulty grasp of the British constitution and of the powers of the assembly as contained in the rest of the Bill. I should have thought that it was obvious that it is this Parliament that is debating the passage of the Bill and that will be able to amend or repeal it after it is enacted. I should have thought that proof enough of this Parliament's sovereignty.
Any guarantees that the House attempts to add to the Bill could simply be overturned by a future Parliament. That is the basis of our parliamentary democracy. Each Parliament has the right to determine what should remain as part of our legislative structure.
So the Bill has no bearing on Parliament's sovereign power to legislate for Wales. This Parliament will still be able to legislate for Wales once the National Assembly for Wales has been created. That assembly will carry out its functions under legislation enacted by this Parliament. This Bill does not confer powers to make primary legislation on the National Assembly for Wales.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I shall move on to the specific circumstances.
The Bill does not allow general primary legislative powers, but it would pass on to the National Assembly for Wales those powers that are vested in the Secretary of State and certain order-making powers, which are precisely described. Therefore, primary legislative powers can be discussed when we debate clause 29, where the powers are specifically circumscribed. The right hon. Gentleman is wrong to raise issues relating to the thwarting of the powers of Westminster. The National Assembly for Wales will be able to act in specific areas.
I agree that the question is not simple. Yes, it is complicated, and we have to think about the vast array of secondary powers that would be passed to the Welsh assembly, or the National Assembly for Wales, or the Assembly of Wales—we will all pick our own version for the future. However, there can be no doubt that, apart from clause 29, which mentions some specific powers, the rest are secondary.
The right hon. Member for Devizes cited as the big precedent section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which was amended in 1922, as he pointed out. In further developing his argument, he claimed that clause 27 of the Scotland Bill contains a similar statement—based, he thought, more closely on the 1973 legislation, although I think that he would admit that it really comes out of the 1920 stable. His argument was about the principle of having a statement about the sovereignty of Westminster as the United Kingdom Parliament.
It is unnecessary and otiose for a similar statement to be included in the legislation for the Welsh assembly, because the National Assembly for Wales will not have the same wide-ranging primary legislative powers as the Scottish Parliament. The referendums were conducted on that basis.
If this Parliament should ever decide that the National Assembly for Wales should have such powers, that will be the point when the amendment becomes active and relevant and should be made. Today, for this legislation, it is otiose and unnecessary. We heard those words for 877 18 years when we were in opposition. I hope that the right hon. Member for Devizes will have the good grace to accept that there is no need for us to vote on the amendment.
§ Mr. Jenkin
Most of what the Minister said was completely irrelevant to the amendment. The Government have a narrow view of parliamentary sovereignty. It is, of course, a legal concept and, legally, any message of Parliament's sovereignty in any Act of Parliament is superfluous; but the secondary purpose of a provision such as the amendment—this is why it has been used in other legislation, where the Minister's argument about its being otiose equally applies—is political.
We do not want the relationship between Westminster and the Cardiff assembly, if that is where it is to be, to be one in which Westminster is constantly interfering and reasserting its supremacy. That is precisely why it is necessary to include a message in the Bill to explain to everyone who reads it that Parliament is and intends to remain sovereign.
Sovereignty exists only as long as it has the means to sustain itself. Charles I was mentioned in an earlier debate. Charles I was legally sovereign—there is no doubt about that—but he did not have the means to sustain that sovereignty, which is why he got his head chopped off. We are not in the business of having this Parliament's head chopped off at some stage in the future.
Parliament's sovereignty is vital, because we do not have a written constitution. We are not like United States Congressmen, who swear allegiance to the constitution of the United States: we swear allegiance to the Queen, who represents the sovereignty of Parliament. That is our only guarantee of our liberty in this country.
For the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) to say that we need no insurance policies because we have such confidence in the happy relationship between Parliament and the Welsh assembly is completely wrong. It is precisely to plan for all eventualities that we need to make the amendment.
§ Mr. Jenkin
No. I want to be brief.
The Minister says that there will be no difficulties between Westminster and the Welsh assembly, but that is entirely his own view, because Welsh nationalist supporters of his legislation, who are sitting in the Chamber, deny the sovereignty of Parliament. They deny that the settlement will be stable, and want it to lead to precisely the destruction of the United Kingdom that he professes to be against.
In unwritten constitutions, the tendency is for powers that are not used to disappear through that disuse. We do not want Parliament to have to reassert its sovereignty by regularly interfering with the Welsh assembly. It would be much better to write into the Bill a clear assertion of sovereignty, so that everyone knows the ground rules by which the assembly will use its powers, preferably with no interference from Parliament.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—878
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 133, Noes 365.881
|Division No. 134]||[7.34 pm|
|Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)||Laing, Mrs Eleanor|
|Amess, David||Lait, Mrs Jacqui|
|Ancram, Rt Hon Michael||Lansley, Andrew|
|Arbuthnot, James||Leigh, Edward|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)||Letwin, Oliver|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)|
|Baldry, Tony||Lidington, David|
|Bercow, John||Lilley, Rt Hon Peter|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)|
|Blunt, Crispin||Loughton, Tim|
|Body, Sir Richard||Luff, Peter|
|Boswell, Tim||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)||McIntosh, Miss Anne|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia||MacKay, Andrew|
|Brady, Graham||Maclean, Rt Hon David|
|Brazier, Julian||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||Malins, Humfrey|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Maples, John|
|Burns, Simon||Mates, Michael|
|Butterfill, John||Maude, Rt Hon Francis|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)||Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian|
|May, Mrs Theresa|
|Chope, Christopher||Moss, Malcolm|
|Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Norman, Archie|
|Collins, Tim||Page, Richard|
|Colvin, Michael||Paice, James|
|Cran, James||Paterson, Owen|
|Curry, Rt Hon David||Pickles, Eric|
|Davies, Quentin (Grantham)||Prior, David|
|Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)||Randall, John|
|Day, Stephen||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen||Robathan, Andrew|
|Duncan, Alan||Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)|
|Evans, Nigel||Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)|
|Faber, David||Ruffley, David|
|Fabricant, Michael||St Aubyn, Nick|
|Fallon, Michael||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Forsythe, Clifford||Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian|
|Forth, Rt Hon Eric||Shepherd, Richard|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman||Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)|
|Fox, Dr Liam||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Fraser, Christopher||Spelman, Mrs Caroline|
|Gale, Roger||Spicer, Sir Michael|
|Garnier, Edward||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Gibb, Nick||Streeter, Gary|
|Gill, Christopher||Swayne, Desmond|
|Gillan, Mrs Cheryl||Syms, Robert|
|Gorman, Mrs Teresa||Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)|
|Green, Damian||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Greenway, John||Taylor, Sir Teddy|
|Grieve, Dominic||Tredinnick, David|
|Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie||Trend, Michael|
|Hammond, Philip||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Hawkins, Nick||Walter, Robert|
|Hayes, John||Waterson, Nigel|
|Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David||Whittingdale, John|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas||Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann|
|Horam, John||Wilkinson, John|
|Howard, Rt Hon Michael||Willetts, David|
|Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)||Wilshire, David|
|Hunter, Andrew||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Jack, Rt Hon Michael||Woodward, Shaun|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Yeo, Tim|
|Jenkin, Bernard||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Johnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Key, Robert||Mr. Oliver Heald and|
|Kirkbride, Miss Julie||Sir David Madel.|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)||Cousins, Jim|
|Ainger, Nick||Cox, Tom|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Cranston, Ross|
|Alexander, Douglas||Crausby, David|
|Allan, Richard||Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)|
|Allen, Graham||Cummings, John|
|Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Armstrong, Ms Hilary||Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)|
|Ashton, Joe||Dafis, Cynog|
|Atherton, Ms Candy||Dalyell, Tam|
|Atkins, Charlotte||Darling, Rt Hon Alistair|
|Ballard, Mrs Jackie||Davey, Edward (Kingston)|
|Banks, Tony||Davidson, Ian|
|Barron, Kevin||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)|
|Bayley, Hugh||Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)|
|Beard, Nigel||Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)|
|Begg, Miss Anne||Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)|
|Beith, Rt Hon A J||Dean, Mrs Janet|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Denham, John|
|Bennett, Andrew F||Dewar, Rt Hon Donald|
|Benton, Joe||Dismore, Andrew|
|Berry, Roger||Dobbin, Jim|
|Best, Harold||Donohoe, Brian H|
|Betts, Clive||Dowd, Jim|
|Blackman, Liz||Drew, David|
|Blears, Ms Hazel||Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth|
|Blizzard, Bob||Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)|
|Blunkett, Rt Hon David||Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)|
|Borrow, David||Edwards, Huw|
|Bradley, Keith (Withington)||Efford, Clive|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Ellman, Mrs Louise|
|Bradshaw, Ben||Ennis, Jeff|
|Breed, Colin||Etherington, Bill|
|Brinton, Mrs Helen||Fearn, Ronnie|
|Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)||Field, Rt Hon Frank|
|Brown, Russell (Dumfries)||Fisher, Mark|
|Browne, Desmond||Fitzpatrick, Jim|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Flint, Caroline|
|Buck, Ms Karen||Flynn, Paul|
|Burden, Richard||Follett, Barbara|
|Burgon, Colin||Foster, Rt Hon Derek|
|Burnett, John||Foster, Don (Bath)|
|Burstow, Paul||Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)|
|Butler, Mrs Christine||Foster, Michael J (Worcester)|
|Byers, Stephen||Foulkes, George|
|Cable, Dr Vincent||Fyfe, Maria|
|Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)||Gapes, Mike|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||Gardiner, Barry|
|Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)||George, Andrew (St Ives)|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||George, Bruce (Walsall S)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Gerrard, Neil|
|Cann, Jamie||Gibson, Dr Ian|
|Caplin, Ivor||Gilroy, Mrs Linda|
|Casale, Roger||Godman, Norman A|
|Cawsey, Ian||Godsiff, Roger|
|Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)||Golding, Mrs Llin|
|Chaytor, David||Gordon, Mrs Eileen|
|Chidgey, David||Gorrie, Donald|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Grant, Bernie|
|Clapham, Michael||Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)|
|Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)||Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Grogan, John|
|Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)||Gunnell, John|
|Clwyd, Ann||Hain, Peter|
|Coaker, Vermon||Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)|
|Coffey, Ms Ann||Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)|
|Coleman, Iain||Hancock, Mike|
|Colman, Tony||Hanson, David|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Harris, Dr Evan|
|Cooper, Yvette||Harvey, Nick|
|Corbett, Robin||Heal, Mrs Sylvia|
|Corston, Ms Jean||Healey, John|
|Cotter, Brian||Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)|
|Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)||McNulty, Tony|
|Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)||MacShane, Denis|
|Hepburn, Stephen||Mactaggart, Fiona|
|Heppell, John||McWilliam, John|
|Hesford, Stephen||Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Hewitt, Ms Patricia||Mallaber, Judy|
|Hill, Keith||Marek, DrJohn|
|Hinchliffe, David||Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)|
|Hoey, Kate||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Home Robertson, John||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Hoon, Geoffrey||Marshall-Andrews, Robert|
|Hope, Phil||Martlew, Eric|
|Hopkins, Kelvin||Maxton, John|
|Howarth, Alan (Newport E)||Meacher, Rt Hon Michael|
|Howells, Dr Kim||Meale, Alan|
|Hoyle, Lindsay||Michael, Alun|
|Hughes, Ms Beveriey (Stretford)||Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)|
|Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)||Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)|
|Humble, Mrs Joan||Milbum, Alan|
|Hurst, Alan||Miller, Andrew|
|Hutton, John||Mitchell, Austin|
|Iddon, Dr Brian||Moffatt, Laura|
|Ingram, Adam||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)||Moore, Michael|
|Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)||Moran, Ms Margaret|
|Jenkins, Brian||Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)|
|Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)||Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)|
|Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)||Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)||Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)|
|Jones, Helen (Warrington N)||Mullin, Chris|
|Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)||Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)|
|Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)||Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)|
|Naysmith, Dr Doug|
|Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)||O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)||O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)|
|Jowell, Ms Tessa||O'Hara, Eddie|
|Keeble, Ms Sally||Olner, Bill|
|Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)||Öpik, Lembit|
|Keetch, Paul||Organ, Mrs Diana|
|Kelly, Ms Ruth||Osbome, Ms Sandra|
|Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)||Palmer, Dr Nick|
|Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)||Pearson, Ian|
|Khabra, Piara S||Perham, Ms Linda|
|Kidney, David||Pickthall, Colin|
|Kilfoyle, Peter||Pike, Peter L|
|King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)||Plaskitt, James|
|King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)||Pollard, Kerry|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Pope, Greg|
|Kumar, Dr Ashok||Pound, Stephen|
|Lawrence, Ms Jackie||Powell, Sir Raymond|
|Laxton, Bob||Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)|
|Leslie, Christopher||Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Levitt, Tom||Prescott, Rt Hon John|
|Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)||Prosser, Gwyn|
|Linton, Martin||Purchase, Ken|
|Livingstone, Ken||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|Livsey, Richard||Quinn, Lawrie|
|Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)||Rammell, Bill|
|Llwyd, Elfyn||Rapson, Syd|
|Lock, David||Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)|
|Love, Andrew||Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)|
|McAllion, John||Rendel, David|
|McAvoy, Thomas||Robertson, Rt Hon George (Hamilton S)|
|McCafferty, Ms Chris|
|McDonagh, Siobhain||Roche, Mrs Barbara|
|McDonnell, John||Rogers, Allan|
|McFall, John||Rooker, Jeff|
|McGuire, Mrs Anne||Rooney, Terry|
|Mclsaac, Shona||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|McKenna, Mrs Rosemary||Rowlands, Ted|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Roy, Frank|
|McLeish, Henry||Ruane, Chris|
|McNamara, Kevin||Ruddock, Ms Joan|
|Russell, Bob (Colchester)||Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)|
|Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)||Timms, Stephen|
|Ryan, Ms Joan||Tipping, Paddy|
|Sanders, Adrian||Todd, Mark|
|Savidge, Malcolm||Touhig, Don|
|Sawford, Phil||Truswell, Paul|
|Sedgemore, Brian||Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)|
|Shaw, Jonathan||Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)|
|Sheerman, Barry||Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)|
|Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert||Twigg, Derek (Halton)|
|Shipley, Ms Debra||Tyler, Paul|
|Short, Rt Hon Clare||Vaz, Keith|
|Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)||Vis, Dr Rudi|
|Skinner, Dennis||Wallace, James|
|Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)||Walley, Ms Joan|
|Smith, Angela (Basildon)||Ward, Ms Claire|
|Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)||Wareing, Robert N|
|Smith, John (Glamorgan)||Webb, Steve|
|Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)||White, Brian|
|Snape, Peter||Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd|
|Soley, Clive||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Squire, Ms Rachel|
|Stevenson, George||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Stewart, David (Inverness E)||Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)|
|Stewart, Ian (Eccles)||Wills, Michael|
|Stinchcombe, Paul||Winnick, David|
|Stoate, Dr Howard||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Stott, Roger||Wise, Audrey|
|Stringer, Graham||Wood, Mike|
|Stuart, Ms Gisela||Worthington, Tony|
|Sutcliffe, Gerry||Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Swinney, John||Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)|
|Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)||Wyatt, Derek|
|Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Taylor, David (NW Leics)||Mr. David Jamieson and|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Janet Anderson.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.