HC Deb 05 November 2003 vol 412 cc786-7
5. Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

What recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary on Lord Richard's report on the powers of the National Assembly for Wales. [135532]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain)

On numerous occasions.

Mr. Foulkes

Since it is the House that will have to legislate on any changes, could the Secretary of State please tell us the exact status of the commission and to whom and when it will report? Given that it affects all parts of the United Kingdom, not just Wales, will the Leader of the House tell us when we can debate the matter on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Hain

The National Assembly set up the commission and it is due to report in early spring next year. Its report will go to the National Assembly and the Welsh Assembly Government will consider it. No doubt representations will be made to us. If any changes are sought as a result of the Richard commission, my right hon. Friend is right that it will be for the House—obviously in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government—to decide.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

Should it not also be in partnership with the people of Wales? Will the Secretary of State for Wales now give an undertaking that, if the Lord Richard report states that the National Assembly should have increased powers, the people of Wales will be consulted through a national referendum?

Mr. Hain

If the Richard commission were to propose tax-varying powers—as apply in Scotland, and the Scots held a referendum on that precise issue—Wales would have to hold a referendum. However, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the Labour Government will not support any increases in taxes of that sort for Wales— [interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Once again, there is far too much noise in the Chamber.