HL Deb 23 June 1978 vol 393 cc1554-96

Put a cross (X) in the appropriate box Rhowch groes (X) yn y blwch pwrpasol

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is marred by one defect, and that is that it contains a small printing error. Your Lordships might think that my minimal knowledge of the Welsh language would make it impossible for me to draw attention to it, but it so happens that it occurs in the letter "a" where it stands on its own in the second line of the Amendment. It should be marked with a circumflex, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, will have already realised.

I will not attempt to read out the Amendment. There are other noble Lords who will be able to do that for us. I do not wish to give the noble Lord the satisfaction of hearing me struggling, with increasing perplexity, with something which is beyond me. What I do wish to tell your Lordships is that this Amendment has the effect of requiring that the ballot paper presented to the Welsh people to decide their own destiny, recognising that these people are very sensitive about their language, shall be printed in both English and Welsh.

I daresay that I shall be told that if this Amendment were not in the Bill it would none the less be printed bi-lingually as a result of the effects of the Welsh Language Act or other legislation. However, it seems to me that to put it into plain English in this Bill, throughout the whole document, lacks a sense of occasion We have to drag our feet on the passage of the Bill, for reasons which I have tried to explain somewhat ineffectively and noble Lords opposite have managed to exploit somewhat effectively. We must be in a position of opposition at every stage so as to elicit the ground the Government stand on when they make a provision in the Bill. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we do not. But, at bottom, this is a great historical occasion, a great question to be put to a great people. If they answer, "No", the occasion will die away in echoes in the history books If they answer, "Yes", it will become a very principal document—not exactly a Magna Carta but a document which marks the opening of a new constitutional stage in the history of the Welsh people. It seems to me to lack a sense of theatre not to put the question in the Bill in the language which the Bill is principally concerned to defend. I beg to move.


As one who is wholly in sympathy with the terms of this Amendment, I confess that I find myself in some- what of a difficulty as regards the form of the voting paper. The voters are asked to say, "Yes", which in Welsh is, I suppose, Ydwyf. But for "No", they are asked to vote Nac Ydwyf, which means "Not yes". Surely there must be an enormous area between "Not Yes" and "No". Although I, too, confess to a minimal knowledge of the Welsh language—it is certainly an easier language than Chinese, but I believe, rather more difficult than Greek or Arabic—I simply ask this in a desire for enlightenment: "Not Yes" could conceivably include a wide category of the "Don't knows". Certainly, it is totally different from saying an absolute "No".

Are not the Government or the movers of the Amendment finding themselves in the predicament of the girl in the adage: "She wouldn't say 'Yes': she wouldn't say, No?—and all that she did say was "Not Yes!". Is the Welsh language, with its mellifluous and musical lilt and beautifiul flexibility, not capable of declaring—I ask out of complete ignorance—a very emphatic and categorical "'Molotov' No!". So that the voters will have no doubt in their minds as to which direction they intend to declare their voices on this major issue?


On this important point, this is the way in which the Welsh declare a categorical "No"! It is just as categorical—and I see that the noble Lord opposite is about to correct me. I understand that Nac Ydwyf is how you say "No". It is so in my elementary textbook and appears to be satisfactory to the very literate people whom I have consulted and who had vetted what appears on the Marshalled List. If the noble Lord thinks there is an area of indecision here, I would ask him to reflect on the area of indecision which must rest on him and his colleagues if they choose to go into the "Not Content" Lobby; for we express ourselves in this House in precisely the same way as the Welsh, without any difficulty at all, and we all know what we mean.


Certainly, we enjoy a more decided advantage than the unfortunate voters who have to decide one way or another—or even the people in the other House.

12.26 p.m.


May I at once make the point that, as in the case of the Community referendum, which provided for a ballot paper and for a Welsh variant of the question in this way, it was not necessary then to include it in the actual Bill but rather, because of the availability of Section 2(1) of the Welsh Language Act 1967—in the preparation of which I had some small part—the thing flowed naturally in regard to the referendum procedure in 1976; and this is the way it will happen in regard to the referendum on the contents of this Bill in Wales.

I appreciate the purpose of the Amendments, and everybody in Wales will commend the noble Lord and his colleagues for their practical concern in providing that this question—"a great question put to a great people", as he put it so felicitously—shall be in both languages. Some quarter of us- some half a million or more—regard the language as the normal language of our thoughts and decisions in many areas, and this is a necessary provision. But it should be made, I think, through the processes we have already used in regard to the only other referendum that I can call to mind since the Welsh Language Act was passed in 1967; that is, the Community referendum. The Welsh Office are in the process of preparing a rendition of this kind which comes very close indeed to that proposed by the noble Lord. We are overwhelmed by this evidence of Celtic erudition and enthusiasm, and we shall certainly make full avail of it.

As to the point raised by my noble friend, I think he is quite wrong about this. He made quite a long speech based on his own translation of the negative proposed in the formalution moved by the noble Lord: that it means "Not Yes". It is nothing of the sort. The affirmative in Welsh, "Ydwyf", means "I do". It is a clear affirmative: "Do you?—I do". I am beset by erudition from both sides of the House. The negative is "Nac Ydwyf"— "I do not". What could be clearer than that. "I do—I do not". Indeed, it is the alternative formulation to the answer to perhaps the greatest question ever put in our lives to those of us who are married: "I do!" or, very rarely, "I do not!". It is clear, it is definite. I cannot imagine anything more un-Welsh than what my noble friend suggests: "Not Yes". This is new to me, in either English or Welsh.

I belong to a race which has somehow survived: always outnumbered, never outmanoeuvred. One reason is that we have always known how to say "No!". If the "No!" is not understood in Welsh, we have learned a little English to say it in English as well. Having given an "A" for effort to the Benches opposite for this excellent attempt—although there are one or two deficiencies; but I will not make too much of that—and, indeed, an "A+" to the Welsh Office for their attempt, I propose personally to consider both offerings and give my own view, hopefully marrying the virtues of both and abandoning the deficiencies of both.

12.30 p.m.


That was most elegantly done and, if there was a patronising element, it was so wrapped in courtesy that I do not resent it. I am not quite clear what the noble Lord is going to do when he has looked into the "Nobel prize competition" and marked the papers. He has said what the result will be, in that the first prize will go to the Welsh Office, who have certain advantages in this, one must admit. But can we not get together over this? The noble Lord declined to reveal the "deficiencies", as he put it—and that is a hurtful word. He spared the Committee the deficiencies but I suppose that would lead us into lengthy discussions on linguistics. If the two formulae are so similar, will he allow me to get together with the Welsh Office, absorb their version and put down an Amendment on Report stage? It would be nice to do something together to express good will across this Table. There has been acrimony. It would be a nice way to bury the hatchet, would it not? Could he not meet us in some way?


Of course we can get together and agree a version. I hope that the noble Lord, from the point of view of his knowledge of the Welsh language, will not assert for himself the right of veto at any point. Of course we can get together on this. But is it necessary to put it into the Bill when in the only example of a test of opinion since the Welsh Language Act was passed in 1967 we did not do it? That too was a great question put to a great people: the question of our permanent membership of the Community. This was not the procedure used then.

I suggest that the Welsh Language Act of 1967—which was a seminal Act—should not be lightly laid aside. It should continue to be used as the central matrix of any procedure of this kind that becomes necessary from time to time Let us have discussions and, in the light of those discussions, perhaps the noble Lord may wish to put down an Amendment I hope he does not, but certainly I will discuss this with him When I say that "A" for effort applies to him, I have not read the papers over again. It may well be that his effort may supersede the other one.


The noble Lord is very kind. He says that it is not necessary; I think it is fitting. I take the point that it should be gone through with a toothcomb and we shall return to the matter later. I beg to withdraw the Amendment.


If the Minister will put everything in this Bill which is nice but not necessary it will be twice as long as it is already.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 12, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 82 agreed to.

Clause 83 [Short Title]:

On Question, Whether the Clause 83 shall stand part of the Bill?

The Earl of BALFOUR

I should like to make a few comments on this final clause. I know it is not one to which reference is normally made. I particularly ask your Lordships to consider how far this Act should extend. Clause 83 is perfectly all right as it reads: This Act may be cited as the Wales Act 1978". I should like to refer to the equivalent clause in two other Bills that are before your Lordships' House at the moment. May I take the Electricity Bill as an example? It states:

  1. "(1) This Act may be cited as the Electricity (Scotland) Act 1978.
  2. 1560
  3. (2) Subject to subsection (3) this Act extends to Scotland only.
  4. (3) Paragraph 1(b) of Schedule 3 shall extend to England and Wales.
  5. (4) This Act shall come into force on the expiry of a period of one month beginning on the date of its passing".
Taking the same point, the National Health (Scotland) Act provides:
  1. "(1) This Act may be cited as the National Health (Scotland) Act 1978.
  2. (2) Subject to subsection (3) this Act extends only to Scotland.
  3. (3) Paragraph (3) of Schedule 10 extends to other parts of the United Kingdom.
  4. (4) This Act shall come into force on 1st January 1979".

I think that the people of the United Kingdom should be aware how far the Wales and the Scotland Bills extend to cover the whole of the United Kingdom or otherwise. I leave this to the Government to decide. While I am on this point—and not wishing to delay your Lordships at this late stage on a Friday afternoon—I should like to take in one other point. Would your Lordships please turn to page 31, line 31 of the Wales Bill. This is in Clause 79(1). The line reads: Act 1974, a Scottish Assembly Act, any instrument". I do not think that I need to go any further. Exactly the same words appear in the Scotland Bill as amended at its Report stage in this House. I suggest to noble Ministers that either they leave out the word "Scottish" and insert the word "Welsh", or come forward with an appropriate Amendment at Third Reading of the Scotland Bill and substitute in the appropriate place "Welsh" for "Scottish". The wording is exactly the same on page 37, line 31 of the Scotland Bill. It also reads: Act 1974, a Scottish Assembly Act, any instrument". Leave out the word "Scottish" in the Scotland Bill and insert the word "Welsh" so the provision reads, "a Welsh Assembly Act". They cannot both be right. I realise that this is a late time on a Friday afternoon. I do not intend to press the matter any further and I hope that your Lordships will have an enjoyable week-end.


The noble Earl has made a point on which I think I can now satisfy him. There is absolutely no need for an extent provision here. One puts in one as necessary to clarify whether or not Scotland is covered. This is clearly an England and Wales Bill, and no provision is needed. What the noble Earl has said in regard to other provisions of the Bill—notably Clause 79 — is apposite to that clause and not to this one. I confine myself for the moment to the point of clarification that there is no need for an extent provision in the Short Title clause in this Bill. He will wish to consider what I have said between now and later stages. I must indicate now that the attitude of the Government on firm advice is as I have put it to the House.

The Earl of BALFOUR

I am afraid that I must go a little further: as this Bill reads now, it appears to me that the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies could combine together within their devolved powers and introduce legislation which might affect other citizens within the United Kingdom who might not have a chance to say anything about it. I shall say no more.


That, to say the least, is not just improbable but I would say also impossible. The Bill as a whole makes provision for executive action in Wales and confines it, first, to the nature of the action and, secondly, to the areas covered by the clauses and Schedules. So in any case it would be impossible for this Bill to be used and therefore for the Assembly to be used in the way the noble Earl has suggested.

Clause 83 agreed to.

Schedule 11 [Amendments of enactments].

12.41 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 108D:

Page 72, line 36, at end insert—


( ) At the end of section 13(4) of the Education Act 1944 there shall be inserted the following new subsections: (4A) (a) The Secretary of State shall give public notice of his decision to approve the proposals made under this section, with or without modification, or to withhold that approval; and (b) if that decision is a decision to approve the proposals with modifications the notice shall include a statement of those modifications; but, (c) where the functions of the Secretary of State under this section have been discharged by the Welsh Assembly, that approval shall remain provisional until either

  1. (i) the expiry of the period for the submission of objections against that approval laid down under subsection (4B) of this section or,
  2. (ii) where an objection has been submitted during that period, the giving of public notice under subsection (4B) of this section.
(4B) Where the functions of the Secretary of State under subsections (4) and (4A) of this section have been discharged by the Welsh Assembly:
  1. (a) those persons entitled under subsection (3) of this section to submit objections may, within two months of public notice being given under subsection (4B) of this section submit objections to the Secretary of State; and
  2. (b) the Secretary of State may approve the proposals against which the objections have been submitted after making such modifications therein, if any, as appear to him to be desirable; and
  3. (c) the Secretary of State shall give public notice of his decision to approve the proposals, with or without amendment."").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is consequential upon one that was carried earlier relating to Schedule 2. I shall not delay your Lordships by speaking to it, but this may be a suitable opportunity to raise one technical matter which, regrettably, we must have clear before Report state. I could do it by moving another Amendment, which at present I do not intend to; so perhaps it would be quicker to do it here.

Your Lordships will remember the paving Amendment to this Amendment, which was one which excepted this Amendment, when it is in the Bill, from the operation of Schedule 2. As I understood it, the function of Schedule 2 was to devolve to the Welsh Assembly the powers listed under the Acts on the left-hand side, and not excluded with the exclusions on the right-hand side of the relevant page in Schedule 2. By introducing a new power and not getting it printed in the right-hand column, one would be bringing it automatically into the scope of the Education Acts 1944 to 1975, I think, and thus exposing it to the effect of devolution. As the intention of the Amendment is to reserve to the Secretary of State the right of appeal in particular cases, it would seem to me, on a layman's reading, that that power also would be devolved and therefore negated, because the power of appeal from the Assembly would in fact be devolved to the Assembly.

The noble Lord was kind enough to send me a most illuminating and helpful document, explaining the philosophy behind the drafting, which I received only three minutes before I came into the Chamber. That has done a good deal to explain to me what has hitherto been obscure. Indeed, it might be a useful precedent in connection with future Bills of a technical nature if a document of this sort could be made available earlier. I am not criticising the noble Lord for not sending it earlier, because so far as I know this has never been done before. However, it strikes me as being a very useful precedent.

It became clear to me on a first reading that certain assumptions were implicit in the drafting of the Bill, and that on some occasions the operation which I imputed to Schedule 2 was effective and on some it was not. I raise this now because, if the paving Amendment to this Amendment is the solitary exception to the principle which is adduced as that which informs the courts when they look at the Bill and decide whether or not Schedule 2 operates, it may be that this exception will invalidate the assumption on which the interpretation of the remainder of the Bill will rest. I hope I have made that clear.

It seems to me that even if this "paver" is superfluous, in the noble Lord's view, it might be more than superfluous if it led to a different decision in the courts on an analogous case where the "paver" was absent. Having expressed the same thing twice in two different ways, I do not expect the noble Lord to leap up and give an instant reply, because I think the answer to this will have to flow from the same pen that penned the words above his signature on the document which the noble Lord sent to me. However, I think we need to get this right before Report stage.

There is also the technically interesting feature that it would be open to me to move all the Amendments consequent upon the paving Amendments which I did not press earlier because, if the paving Amendments are not necessary, there is no obstacle to placing these Amendments, which are the principal ones, in the Bill at this stage. However, I shall not suspend that sword of Damocles over the Committee any longer: I do not intend to move that sequence, though there are among them one or two minor Amendments I should like to speak to.

The MINISTER of STATE, DEPARTMENT of EDUCATION and SCIENCE (Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge)

Of course, the Government must accept this Amendment, as it is consequential upon the defeat of the Government caused by noble Lords some time last week. On the general question raised by the noble Lord, I think the document I have sent to him contains the answers to his worries; but I, too, have only had the chance to go through it once. We shall both have the opportunity to study it, and if the noble Lord is not satisfied he can come back to me on Report. In accepting this Amendment, the Government would like to point out that we think there is some rather "dicey" drafting in it and it will probably have to be looked at again. In principle, we accept the Amendment.


I am very grateful to the noble Lord. As I drafted the Amendment myself, I expected criticism: indeed, I am only surprised it was not more trenchant. I will also take the opportunity of putting it right at Report stage, possibly with the advice of his helpers.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 108B, 108F, 108G, 108H, 108J and 108K not moved.]

Lord ELTON had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 108L:

Page 72, line 36, at end insert— ("( ) After section 68 of the Education Act 1944 (c. 31) there shall be added the following new section: 68AA. Where the Secretary of State is satisfied, upon a complaint by a local Education Authority in Wales, that the Welsh Assembly have acted or are proposing to act unreasonably towards them with respect to the exercise of any power conferred or the performance of any duty imposed by or under this Act, he may, notwithstanding any enactment rendering the exercise of the power or the performance of the duty contingent upon the opinion of the Assembly, give such directions as to the exercise of the power or the performance of the duty as appear to him to be expedient and in this section references to a local Education Authority shall be construed as laid down in section 68 of this Act."").

The noble Lord said: The noble Lord shakes his head, and my instinct is to rise to my feet! I think the only purpose in so doing is to remind your Lordships that this Amendment, together with Amendment 108K, relates to the specific provision in the Education Act 1944 for guarding against the unreasonable use of powers. It was necessary for me to point out with some force in a previous debate which finished in the early hours of yesterday morning, that it was perfectly normal to guard against the unreasonable use of powers by an elected body such as the Assembly or a local authority.

Both the Amendments I have referred to are dependent on clauses which do that, and I merely say this in vindication of all I said before. Unless the noble Lord wishes to come back at me, I shall not move this Amendment. He shakes his head. I shall not move the Amendment.

12.48 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 108M:

Page 72, line 36, at end insert— ("(2) At the end of subsection 77(2) of the Education Act 1944 (c. 31) there shall be added the following subsection— (2A) Where the duty laid upon the Secretary of State by subsection (2) of this section is performed by the Welsh Assembly a copy of each report made by Her Majesty's Inspectors shall be sent by them to the Secretary of State as soon as it has been made."").

The noble Lord said: Very briefly, in moving this Amendment I want to take the opportunity to ask the noble Lord two questions. I think I may have taken the noble Lord by surprise by moving this Amendment and so I will explain at a little more length. It relates to Section 77(2) of the Education Act 1944 and is a question of the reporting by Her Majesty's inspectors to the Secretary of State when they inspect a school. The inspectors will still be appointed, owing to a reservation in Schedule 2, on the advice of the Secretary of State to Her Majesty. That will not be in the hands of the Assembly, and therefore to that extent the Inspectorate will be responsible to the Secretary of State. However, all the product of their labours at present is intended to go to the Assembly, and I think that may well be proper, because the Assembly is in charge of education. However, one then wonders how they will discharge their responsibilities to the Secretary of State. One has the subsidiary wonder or speculation as to what the people in the Welsh Office, who have recently taken on the functions concerning education in Wales, will be engaged upon if they do not receive these reports, and to what extent the Secretary of State for Wales will be kept informed of education matters within Wales, if he is to discharge any responsibilities towards Wales in this area in the Cabinet.

It seems to me he must be kept informed, and therefore there are two questions here. The first is: Is there going to be any surviving formal link between the educational system in Wales and the Secretary of State for Wales? The other one, which I suppose in a sense is dependent upon it and relates once more to the staffing under the new arrangements, is: Will there be a general posting of civil servants at present in the Welsh Office to work for the Assembly, or will there not? If there is not, what will the remaining civil servants be doing? I beg to move.


This Amendment is one of the Amendments which the noble Lord said he would not move, because he did not move the paving Amendments earlier on. I make no complaint about that, but it means that I have given rather less thought to it than I otherwise should. What it does is to require a copy of an inspector's report to be sent to the Secretary of State, which is a perfectly sensible idea, no doubt providing him with some of the material he needs for the policing of the Assembly's actions—a task placed upon him by a number of the noble Lord's Amendments.

The Government reject any suggestion that the Secretary of State should have such a role. The Assembly must have full responsibility for the education system, if it is to have any power at all in this field. This scheme creates another tier in the administration of education, and creates the right atmosphere for great conflict between the elected Assembly and the Government at Westminster.

The noble Lord asked about civil servants. Clearly, the Bill will not lay down what movement of civil servants there will be, and it would be very odd indeed if there were not some movement towards the Assembly by civil servants working in the Welsh Office. But this is not something which is in the Bill, or which ought to be in the Bill.


I apologise, first. I had not realised that there was a "paver" to this one. But, of course, there must have been. No, I think that I am innocent, unless the receipt of information is a function under the terms of the Act. But, in any case, I apologise for misleading the noble Lord into making that very defensive statement, because I am not intending to press this Amendment; nor am I regarding it as an aspect of policing, as the noble Lord rather emotively put it, of the Assembly. I wanted to establish what would be the relationship in the defensive role of the Secretary of State, if he was called in aid in the Cabinet—because I understand that he is to be a Cabinet Minister. He must be doing something for the Welsh, and he cannot do it if he acts in darkness.

But it is clearly not right to pursue the matter, when the noble Lord is briefed to the effect that I had something else in mind, which was largely my fault, so I shall not press this Amendment. I have a few words to say on Amendments Nos. 108P and 108Q, which are not of great importance; certainly, the first one is not. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 108N not moved.]

12.53 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 108P:

Page 72, line 36, at end insert— ("( ) In section 94(1) of the Education Act 1944 (c. 31) for the words ("two shillings") there shall be substituted the words ("75 pence").").

The noble Lord said: This is rather like a housewife going through the drawing-room with a duster in her hand, and seeing a cigarette in the ashtray. It seems silly not to point out that the regulations dependent on Section 94(1) of the Education Act charge the very small sum of 75p for certain services, yet the parent Act still has the words, "two shillings". The noble Lord can put £50 in the brackets if he likes, but it seems silly to go past and not use the duster. I beg to move.


I think we can deal with this as quickly as with the cigarette end. The fee was increased to 75p by the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Fees) Order 1975; that is, Statutory Instrument 1975 No. 1291. Even if that had not been the case, this Amendment, because it seeks to increase the fee generally and not in connection with the devolution of powers to the Welsh Assembly, would not be within the Long Title of the Bill. But, in fact, it is unnecessary, because the alteration already exists outside the Bill.


The cigarette was obviously trompe d'oeil. I shall not press the Amendment and I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 108Q:

Page 72, line 36, at end insert— ("( ) In section 94(3) of the Education Act 1944 (c. 31) after the word ("crown") insert the words ("or, where the functions of the Secretary of State under this section have been discharged by the Welsh Assembly, to the Welsh Consolidated Fund.")").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is to elicit a view on the question of the management of funds, and I suspect that the answer will again be fairly short. I have to tell your Lordships that I regret I am looking at the last print of the Marhsalled List, and I notified a misprint to the Table last night. It relates to Section 99(3). Is that what the noble Lord has in mind? I see that it is. It appears as Section 94(3) on my copy which does not make sense. Section 99(3) relates to the payment for functions discharged by the Secretary of State, in default of their discharge by managers or governors of schools. It lays down that the debts incurred by this means shall be regarded as debts "due to the Crown".

This is, therefore, a drafting point to know whether, when the function under this section is devolved, the words "due to the Crown" are correct. Presumably, the repayment will be due to the Welsh Assembly and will have to be paid into the Welsh Consolidated Fund. I do not know whether the words, "a debt due to the Crown" include a debt to the Welsh Assembly or to the Welsh Consolidated Fund. It is for the Government to redraw the Bill as appropriate rather than for me, but this is a means of drawing their attention to what may be a defect. I beg to move.

The CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Lord Aberdare)

Amendment proposed, page 72, line 36, after the words last inserted, insert the words as printed, with the amendment of Section 94(3) to Section 99(3).


As the noble Lord suspects, the Amendment is unnecessary. As the Assembly acts on behalf of the Crown, the present wording covers the recovery of a debt owing to it, and any payments it obtains under this provision will, in any case, be payable into the Welsh Consolidated Fund under Clause 42(3) of the Bill. I think that that is a satisfactory answer to the noble Lord.


It is entirely satisfactory, and I am grateful to the noble Lord. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 108R not moved.]

12.57 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 108S:

Page 72, line 36, at end insert— ("( ) After subsection 105(1) of the Education Act 1944 (c. 31) there shall be inserted the following new subsection— ("(1A) Where a loan is made under subsection (1) of this section by the Welsh Assembly the consent of the Treasury to the making of that loan shall not be required.".").

The noble Lord said: This is not quite an analagous point, but it is an interesting one. It also relates to funds. Under the 1944 Act, there is provision in Section 105(1) for the making of loans for certain purposes, such as the rapid expansion or alteration of the nature of schools. I imagine that this section has been fairly widely used during the comprehensive reorganisation. So long as the Secretary of State was authorising the loans, it was necessary for him to have the concurrence and approval of the Treasury. Noble Lords are always accusing us, in a full House, of producing policemen and apron-strings, and the House is miraculously empty when I suggest that they are producing too many policemen and apron-strings as well. So that, perhaps to this select audience, the noble Lord can justify the policemen, the truncheon and the apron-strings. I beg to move.


I am not certain about the relevance of what I have to say, and I do not intend to make a Second Reading speech. But at this juncture, because there are a number of probing Amendments, I should like to make a statement which also probes and it is in reference to loans. I am concerned about higher education in Wales and the university grants system. I am not sure how the grants system for the University of Wales will be related to the Assembly.

The Welsh may have very funny ideas about education, and the system may be slightly different and need more money. In the 'thirties, and in the old days of the Depression, most children living in Welsh counties had a better chance of secondary or university education than many in the richest parts of England, because of the gracious and great grants that were made in order for worthy children to get to university. I do not expect an answer now, but I hope that there will be some clarification of the relationship between the Assembly and university education and medical schools. At Cardiff University there is a wish to extend the medical school in relation to the university. I believe that the Chairman of Committees would rule me out of order if I went further. Consequently, I shall not trespass further on the time of the Committee.

1 p.m.


I can give the noble Lord a very clear answer about universities. Universities are not devolved. After devolution, they will depend upon the University Grants Committee, as they do now.

Turning to the noble Lord's Amendment, the effect of the Wales Bill, as drafted, is to remove the need for Treasury consent when a loan is to be made by the Assembly. The Bill devolves ministerial powers in relation to the enactments listed in Schedule 2. Where an existing provision requires the Minister to act with the consent of another or of the Treasury, then in effect the consent requirement disappears. I therefore suggest that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, may feel satisfied that his Amendment is not necessary.


I am, of course, satisfied with the noble Lord telling me that this is the effect of the Bill. As we are getting well into Friday afternoon, I shall not ask him how the Bill arrives at this effect, though I should like to know. However, I do not wish to tempt the Minister to his feet again. Looking at his words over the weekend, I shall probably work it out for myself. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 108T not moved.]

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 108U:

Page 73, line 2, at end insert:


( ) In section 15 of the Education Act 1946 there shall be inserted after the word "expenses"— (1)" and at the end of that section of that Act there shall be added"; but (2) Notwithstanding the provisions under subsection (1) of this section any such increases incurred by the Welsh Assembly shall be defrayed out of the Welsh Consolidated Fund."").

The noble Lord said: Again I am in quest of information. Section 15 of the Education Act 1946 is very short. It merely lays down that: Any increase attributable to the passing of this Act in the expenditure of the Minister under the enactments relating to education shall be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament". It is possible that this point was covered during our debates on the financial provisions. However, when we come to Wales I do not know what exactly are the "moneys provided by Parliament". Does this mean that the expenses will automatically be defrayed out of the Welsh Consolidated Fund or the Welsh Loan Fund? If so, I have nothing further to say. If not, then somebody ought to be aware of it. I beg to move.


The answer to the noble Lord's question is, Yes. The Assembly will assume ministerial functions under the Education Act 1946 by way of Part III of Schedule 2. Clause 55(1)(c) effects the necessary conversion—which I think is the point at issue—of the references to the Secretary of State and moneys provided by Parliament into a reference to moneys paid out of the Welsh Consolidated Fund. Therefore the Bill already achieves the effect sought by the noble Lord's Amendment.


I am much obliged to the noble Lord. May I ask him whether the reference was to Clause 55(3)?


No, to Clause 55(1)(c).


I am much obliged. I shall not press the Amendment further.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 108A: Page 74, line 39, leave out second ("and") and insert ("(2)").

The noble Baroness said: This is another in the series of Amendments which deal with the making of statutory reports to the Assembly and their publication by it. In this case, the Amendment is concerned with the provision of abstracts relating to the registrations by the Registrar-General and their publication by the Assembly. I beg to move.


If I may make a very small drafting point, I do not see how we can start with a "2" unless we have a "1" inserted before it.

Baroness STEDMAN

It seems to me to be a good point. We shall have a look at it.


If I am right, this may well be a point which could be dealt with by the clerks. It is only a question of numbering the introduction in the right sequence. I should be happy if that were done.

Baroness STEDMAN

We shall certainly have a look at the point.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 108B: Page 74, line 42, at end add ("; but the Assembly shall publish every abstract that it receives under that section").

The noble Baroness said: The same remarks apply to this Amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 108C:

Page 75, line 6, at end insert— ("(2) The expenses referred to in section 7 of that Act do not include expenses incurred by the Assembly.").

The noble Baroness said: This is a technical Amendment to put it beyond doubt that the Welsh Assembly will have no access to the National Land Fund under Section 7 of the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953. Schedule 3 to the Bill provides that both the Assembly and the Secretary of State will have powers under Sections 4 to 6 of the 1975 Act to purchase and maintain historic buildings and to provide grants for their purchase and maintenance.

As the Assembly will be financed purely from the block fund, it is intended that any expenses incurred by it under Sections 4 to 6 should be financed from that fund and not from the National Land Fund. However, the Secretary of State will be able to use moneys from the National Land Fund if he exercises his concurrent powers under Sections 4 to 6. Thus, Wales will continue to be able to benefit from the National Land Fund in the same way as the rest of the United Kingdom. Provision for drawing money from the National Land Fund is made in Section 7 of the 1953 Act. The powers under this section are reserved in Schedule 2, but the wording of Section 7 is such that it is not clear whether this is sufficient to deny the Assembly access to the Fund. The proposed Amendment alters the wording of Section 7 so as to remove any doubts. I beg to move.


May I urge my noble friend to read the current number of Country Life which contains a leading article on the National Land Fund. There is a report now before the House on that Fund. This Fund is almost completely under the control of the Treasury. That should not be so. Wales is concerned about control over the National Land Fund. This is an important point. It should be on the record that action ought to be taken to lessen the powers of the Treasury over the National Land Fund. May I urge Members to read the latest number of Country Life and the Select Committee's Report on the National Land Fund.

Baroness ELLES

Before the noble Baroness replies, may I remind her of the remarks I made yesterday in connection with Schedule 9, which would have put listed buildings under Part I of that Schedule, thus enabling the Secretary of State to intervene and hold a public inquiry on precisely this kind of matter. This Amendment reinforces my point that as the Bill stands at the moment the Welsh Assembly will not have direct access to the National Land Fund. If the Secretary of State were to be given the power to intervene in the case of a building or monument of historic importance not only to Wales but to the nation as a whole and to hold a public inquiry, obtain public support and force the Treasury to release money from the National Land Fund, the hand of Wales would be strengthened, not weakened. That would be the result if the Amendment which I suggested yesterday were to be included. I think that what the noble Baroness and the noble Lord have said reinforces my argument.

Baroness STEDMAN

Yes, we shall certainly look at that point. So far as the new report on the National Land Fund is concerned, that is not within the purview of this Bill. I am sure that when they look at it the Government will bear in mind the comments which have been made both here and in another place. Without advertising, I can give my noble friend an assurance that I shall have a look at the article in Country Life, which is on my desk but which I have not yet had time to read.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 108V not moved].

1.10 p.m.

Baroness STEDMAN had given Notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 108W:

Page 75, line 29, at end insert—


21A. In section 28(2) of the Mental Health Act 1959 after the words "Secretary of State" there shall be inserted the words "or the Welsh Assembly".").

The noble Baroness said: This is another Amendment by the Government to the Mental Health Act 1959. When we discussed the Amendment to the entry for the Act in Schedule 2 we agreed to withdraw it to allow for further discussion at a later stage. In the circumstances I think it better not to move this Amendment. but to deal with that also at a later stage.

The Marquess of TWEEDDALE moved Amendment No. 109: Page 76, leave out lines 9 to 30.

The noble Marquess said: This is another Amendment on forestry and is consequential on a previous Amendment. beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

The Government accept this Amendment as a consequence of the earlier decision to delete forestry from Schedule 2, and it is of course without prejudice to the possibility of the restoration of it after the Bill returns from another place.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 109B not moved.]

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 109A:

Page 79, line 7, at end insert—


39A.—(1) In relation to a development area or intermediate area in Wales, subsection (1) of section 7 of the Local Employment Act 1972 shall have effect as if—

  1. (a) for the words "the Minister in charge of any Government department" there were substituted the words "a Minister of the Crown"; and
  2. (b) the words "for which the department is responsible" were omitted.

(2) After that subsection there shall be inserted— (1A) Where it appears to the Welsh Assembly that adequate provision has not been made for the needs of any development area or intermediate area in Wales in respect of a basic service for which the Assembly is responsible, and that it is expedient with a view to contributing to the development of industry in that area that the service should be improved, the Assembly may make grants or loans towards the cost of improving it to such persons and in such manner as appear to the Assembly appropriate".

(3) In subsection (3) of that section after the words "Minister of the Crown" there shall be inserted the words "or of the Welsh Assembly".").

The noble Baroness said: I heralded this Amendment when proposing an earlier paving Amendment to Schedule 3. I explained that for technical reasons it is necessary to provide for Section 7 of the Local Employment Act 1972 in Schedule 11 to the Bill rather than in Schedules 2 and 3 as previously proposed. Section 7 of the Local Employment Act enables Ministers in charge of Government Departments to make grants and loans in respect of "basic infrastructure services" in development and intermediate areas. Our intention is that Ministers should continue to be able to do so after devolution in respect of the full range of infrastructure services. This reflects their continuing responsibility for industrial and regional policy. It is also our intention that the Assembly should have a concurrent power in respect of those particular services for which it will be responsible in other contexts (roads, sewers and water are examples). As the power is simply one to pay grants or loans, concurrency should not lead to conflict. For other services (such as gas and electricity) only the Government would be able to exercise powers.

The difficulty is that Section 7 is in such terms that it only confers power on a Minister in charge of the Department responsible for the service in respect of which the grant or loan is to be made. After devolution the Assembly, and not Government Departments, will be responsible for services such as roads and sewers. Thus the Government would, it appears, not be able to make grants or loans in respect of these services unless we broaden the terms of Section 7 so far as Wales is concerned. That is what is achieved by this Amendment. I beg to move.


I was slightly distracted at the beginning of what the noble Baroness said and I am not certain whether she said that this Amendment would keep this Bill in step with the Scotland Bill. If so, the move to bring this in was initiated by my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, to whom I now express thanks.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord SKELMERSDALE moved Amendments Nos. 109F to 109J:

Page 80, line 41, at end insert ("any order establishing or varying the constitution of the Welsh authority").

Page 80, line 42, leave out ("five") and insert ("twenty-one")

Page 81, line 1, leave out ("five") and insert ("twenty-one")

Page 81, line 2, at end insert— ("( ) the county council of each county in Wales; ( ) the councils of the districts within each county in Wales;").

The noble Lord said: We now return to the matter of the powers of appointment of county councils to various water-type authorities. I think it will be to the convenience of the Committee if I move Amendments Nos. 109F to 109J en bloc and leave Amendment No. 110A to stand alone. These first four Amendments concern the powers of appointment by the county councils to the Welsh Water Authority. I think perhaps we have covered a lot of this ground already, but it might be for the convenience of the Committee if I were to repeat what the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said when we discussed this matter on a previous occasion. He said: The net effect for the Welsh Water Authority is that the Assembly order reconstituting the Authority … must provide for one member to be appointed by the Government, and four by local authorities in England. The appointment of the remainder will be a matter for the Assembly to decide—a power resting with the Assembly—but it may wish to continue"— "It may wish," I repeat, "to continue"— the present arrangements whereby a number of appointments are made by the Welsh local authorities".—[Official Report; 15/6/78, col. 661.]

Obviously one quite understands that the noble Lord can give no commitment as to what the Assembly may or may not decide in the future, but he is absolutely clear in this matter that there will not necessarily be any representation from the Welsh county councils on the Welsh Water Authority and these Amendments are designed to ensure that there will continue to be the representation that we have at the moment.

These Amendments are intended to protect the Welsh local authorities' right to direct representation on the Water Authority. They are based on the same formula as that set out in Section 3(6)(b) of the Water Act 1973 and the Welsh National Water Development Authority (Establishment and Constitution) Order 1973. They would provide for a total of 16 members to be appointed by Welsh local authorities, one from each county in Wales and one to be appointed jointly by all the districts in each county. I beg to move.


I think these are worthy Amendments, which extend the democratic control. I do not know whether my noble friend will accept them or what answer she will give but nevertheless I think it is a constructive effort to give local authorities and others a say in water affairs. I shall welcome them if they are accepted.

Viscount AMORY

I hope I may be allowed strongly to support what my noble friend Lord Skelmersdale has said. Two or three times in the course of the debate on this Bill I have called attention to statements by Ministers giving assurances that nothing in this Bill will change or detract from the rights and responsibilities of existing local authorities but here we surely have precisely that taking place.

At present, the local authorities have the right to appoint members of these Water Authorities. It is now proposed that, instead of that, they should lose that right of appointment, as I understand it, but the Assembly should have that right. The Assembly then will have more power in this matter than Ministers have now, but water and land drainage—which we shall be discussing later—are two matters of the greatest interest to local authorities, and, in view of what Ministers have said, I think it is wholly wrong that these rights and responsibilities for appointment should in spite of what has been said, now be transferred to the Assembly.

I hope the noble Baroness will tell us that she appreciates this and that this matter will be looked into again. Otherwise, I hope my noble friend will press this matter to a Division because it is a great discouragement to the local authorities involved and conflicts with assurances which have been given on a number of occasions in the discussions on this Bill.


I should like to associate the Front Bench on this side with the remarks made by my two noble friends. They have been made concisely and eloquently and I need not add to them except to say that I agree with all they have said, as I do with the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek.

Baroness STEDMAN

I am obviously being assailed both from in front and behind. The Government consider that water is an important domestic concern to people who live in Wales, and therefore they have given the Assembly quite substantial powers. An essential part of the proposals is that the water authorities should be fully accountable to the Assembly over their activities in Wales. The Bill provides for the Assembly to exercise the powers to constitute the Welsh Authority Water. But since the Authority's area, as defined by the Water Act of 1973, includes parts of England, paragraph 53 of Schedule 11 to the Bill, with which these Amendments are concerned, ensures that those English interests must continue to be represented on the water authority. The Government take the view that this essential safeguard of English representation does not justify fettering the discretion given by the Water Act in relation to the remaining Welsh appointments, and that it should be for the Assembly, as it is now for the Secretary of State, to decide what is the appropriate balance of Welsh representation.

This does not mean that local authority representation will be excluded. Surely it will be no less apparent to the Assembly than it is to the Secretary of State now that the Welsh local authorities have had significant experience and have a lot to contribute in this area. Knowing the Welsh authorities, at least from a county council point of view, I think they are very unlikely to remain silent if they feel that the Assembly is not treating them fairly. But devolution means leaving decisions of this kind to the Assembly. Therefore, I must ask the Committee to reject these Amendments.

Viscount AMORY

May I ask the noble Baroness one question? She did not reply to what I had said, I hope not too offensively, about the assurances Ministers have given that existing powers and responsibilities of local authorities would not be diminished by this Bill. It seems to me that this is exactly what is going to happen if this is done. She says that the Assembly may realise the value of local authority representation, but that is a hope expressed. Would the noble Baroness say whether I am right in thinking that it is difficult to reconcile this proposal with the assurances that Ministers have given?


What the noble Baroness has just said is immensely important and helpful. It has done what we have been trying to do for a very long time; it has revealed the attitude of the Government as between the Assembly and local authorities. They have claimed from the housetops that what they want to do is to make government more local. But when we now say, "Let us have local voices in decisions on really important matters like water", and others we are now discussing, they say, "No, these must go to the Assembly". Which is closer to the voter, the chap who turns on the tap, the local authority or the Assembly? The answer is obvious. This is not devolution downwards, it is absorption of power upwards. It is the reverse of what the Government have been claiming throughout is the purpose of this Bill. It reveals everything. It was a very valuable speech and I am glad the noble Baroness made it.

Baroness STEDMAN

We are not deviating from the line we have taken right through this Bill. Where the position has been that the Secretary of State has power to do certain things those powers are transferred to the Assembly. What we are saying is that we do not dictate to the Assembly that they must have certain number of local authority representatives on the Welsh Water Authority. But we are equally certain that the Assembly, which will be constituted of people who are concerned about what happens in Wales and concerned about the administration, who know the valuable work the local authority members on the Welsh Water Authority have done, will be careful of this and will ensure that the local authorities are represented. But we cannot dictate and we should not dictate to them how many local authority members ought to be appointed.

Viscount AMORY

Surely the noble Baroness is not quite right when she says that it is only a question of transferring responsibilities at present exercised by the Minister. Surely in this case more than that is being transferred to the Assembly. As I understand it, at present local authorities have the right themselves to appoint these members. That right is not exercisable by the Minister but by the local authorities themselves. It is now being transferred, as my noble friend Lord Elton said, upwards to the Assembly, which I think is an awfully bad thing to do and, to my mind, does not seem to fit in with any of the assurances we have had. When somebody has suggested this before, transference upwards, Ministers have said, "No, we have to intention of having responsibilities transferred upwards, only downwards from the Minister". That is where I think this proposal conflicts rather dangerously with the principles on which Ministers have advocated the Assembly's responsibilities should be allocated.


I am always afraid of bureaucracy, never mind whether it is Welsh, Scots or English. Where we can get the devolution of power and where we can undermine bureaucracy, there I think we increase democracy. Local Government in Wales is noted particularly for the assiduity with which local councillors attend to their jobs and master the committees on which they sit. While I would not like the noble Lord to press this Amendment to a Division, nevertheless I do believe you could not have local democracy without first-class local representation, particularly in these two questions of water services and land drainage. The apt illustration was given by the noble Lord Lord Elton; where the person turns the tap on there he wishes to get immediately some quick answer to his problem—such as damage while on holiday, plumbing, stopping of water: all these things are of vital importance to the happiness of people living under local authorities. If you move upwards, as the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, said, there is a danger. Although we have spent a little time on this it is time well spent to show that we are watching that, whether we get an Assembly or not, we want to keep alive democracy in local government, whether it is English, Scottish or Welsh.


I think it would be better spent if we find that other noble Lords agree with us. I do think this is an essential point. I leave the decision to my noble friend, but it seems to me an important matter.

Baroness STEDMAN

We are not transferring any powers upwards. The constitution of the water authority is not laid down in the Act; it is laid down in an order. The order is at present made by the Secretary of State and it will in future be made by the Welsh Assembly. We have no reason to believe that the Welsh Assembly will not lay down in such an order that there shall be a certain number of local authority representatives. We are not trying to move anything upwards or take anything away from the local authorities. As my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek said, everyone in Wales knows the tremendous way in which local councillors at all levels have served Wales, and I am sure the Assembly will be aware of that. If they are not aware of it, I am equally certain we can rely on the Welsh authorities to tell them how good they are.


It seems to me that the main platform of the Government throughout this Bill has been that its purpose is to transfer powers from the Secretary of State. Nothing the noble Baroness has said on this occasion convinces me that the powers were with the Secretary of State. They have never been with the Secretary of State. It is laid down in an Act of Parliament that these appointments shall be from the local councils. I do not regard this as a water issue at all. I agree very much with the noble Baroness on many points she has raised regarding the central water issue, but I do not regard this as a water issue; I regard it simply as a county council matter, a matter of direct representation to, as it happens, a water authority, by local people. I think everybody must accept that the Assembly is going to be that much further away from the local people, the man or woman who turns on the tap, as my noble friend said. I really believe that this is the crucial issue and I should very much like to have the opinion of your Lordships on this matter.

Baroness STEDMAN

I rise on a point of correction. The noble Lord must have misheard me or I did not make myself plain. The Act does not lay down what shall be the constitution of the water authority. The duty which the Act lays is on the Secretary of State, by order, to say what the constitution will be. It will be for the Welsh Assembly, by order, to do it in future.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

1.38 p.m.

Lord SKELMERSDALE moved Amendment No. 109G: Page 80, line 42, leave out ("five") and insert ("twenty-one").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is consequential upon the last Amendment. I beg to move.

Lord SKELMERSDALE moved Amendment No. 109H: Page 81, line 1, leave out ("five") and insert ("twenty-one").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is also consequential. I beg to move.

Lord SKELMERSDALE moved Amendment No. 109J:

Page 81, line 2, at end insert— ("( ) the county council of each county in Wales;

1.30 p.m.

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 39; Not-Contents, 32. ( ) the councils of the districts within each county in Wales;").

Amherst of Hackney, L. Elton, L. Mottistone, L.
Amory, V. Emmet of Amberley, B. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Balfour, E. George-Brown, L. Sandford, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Gridley, L. Sandys, L.
Cathcart, E. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Cockfield, L. Skelmersdale, L. [Teller.]
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Ilchester, E. Spens, E.
de Clifford, L. Kinnaird, L. Stamp, L.
Denham, L. Lauderdale, E. Trefgarne, L.
Derwent, L. Long, V. Tweeddale, M. [Teller.]
Drumalbyn, L. Loudoun, C. Vivian, L.
Effingham, E. Lyell, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Ellenborough, L. Mancroft, L.
Elles, B. Morris, L.
Beswick, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Sainsbury, L.
Brockway, L. Kirkhill, L. Samuel, V.
Collison, L. Leatherland, L. Segal, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Stedman, B.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Gaitskell, B. Lovell-Davies, L. Stone, L.
Gordon-Walker, L. McGregor of Durris, L. Strabolgi, L.
Goronwy-Roberts, L. Murray of Gravesend, L. Wallace of Coslany, L. [Teller.]
Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Northfield, L. Winterbottom, L. [Teller.]
Hale, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Henderson, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (109F) be agreed to.

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is also consequential. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 109C not moved.]

Baroness ELLES moved Amendment No. 109D: Page 84, leave out lines 13 to 28.

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment is consequential. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 110:

Page 84, line 28, at end insert— ("(3) The Welsh Assembly shall publish each report received by it under this paragraph.").

The noble Baroness said: This is a further Amendment for the sending of statutory reports to the Assembly and their publication by it. Paragraph 87 of Schedule 11 provides for the Welsh Development Agency to make reports to the Assembly and to the Secretary of State on different aspects of its work and for the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament the reports which he receives. This Amendment fills a gap by requiring the Assembly to publish the reports which it receives. I beg to move.

Baroness ELLES

May I refer to the previous Amendment, which left out lines 13 to 28, which was consequent on a Division we had earlier in the Committee proceedings? I quite see that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor may wish to produce this Amendment at a later stage of the Bill, but as it stands lines 13 to 28 have, in fact, been removed by the previous Amendment.

Baroness STEDMAN

I am grateful to the noble Baroness and will withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

1.41 p.m.

Lord SKELMERSDALE moved Amendment No. 110A: Page 84, leave out lines 30 to 32.

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is not quite the same as the last Amendments to which I spoke in that it concerns the Welsh regional land drainage committees. As lines 30 to 42 stand, they have the effect of removing the Welsh local authorities representation on the land drainage committees. There is a considerable interest, both of district and counties, in land drainage which is implicit in the constitution of the regional committees prescribed by the 1976 Act. My noble friends and I believe that Welsh local authorities must continue to be represented.

The effect of paragraph 88 of the Schedule would be that although in England local authorities continue to have a majority representation on land drainage committees, in Wales they will have no such representation at all, despite the fact that their interest in land drainage is not changed one iota by the Bill. The Amendment that I have tabled would have the effect of preserving the status quo whereby Welsh local authorities would continue to have a right of appointment. Other members, who are at present appointed by the Minister, would in future be appointed by the Assembly as that power of appointment under Section 2 of the Land Drainage Act 1976 is devolved by Part X1 of Schedule 2 to this Bill.

I take what the noble Baroness said when I moved the last Amendment, but it still seems to me that Ministers have to accept appointments made by English local authorities, whereas in Wales the Assembly is to be given overall power to make all appointments. I beg to move.

Viscount AMORY

I should like strongly to support what my noble friend Lord Skelmersdale has said, for the same reason as I supported him when he moved the Amendment on which we divided just now. It seems to me that here we are taking away from the local authorities a right which they have held, and we ought to maintain the status quo as far as we possibly can.

Baroness STEDMAN

If I were to reply in detail to what the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, said, it would, in great part, merely be to repeat the arguments of last time. I recognise the view which the Committee has just come to, but I would ask the noble Lord to consider this, that due to the very difficult situation which this Amendment would leave in relation to the Severn-Trent Regional Land Drainage Committee, it should not be pressed at this stage. We can all reconsider the position, perhaps get together on it and come back to it on Report.


While we are gathering our wits—because things have moved so fast and also the order of the Amendments is different on the Marshalled List that the noble Baroness is using from the one I have been working from—I understood her to say something which sounds very much as though she might meet us on Report if we were prepared to wait until the Report stage; or is she saying that she expects to convince us between now and the Report stage? There is a difference, and we should like to know.

Baroness STEDMAN

At this stage I am not saying either. I am saying: can we get together, give further consideration to the position in which we are now left and perhaps come back to it again at the Report stage, either with an agreed Amendment or with something on which the noble Lord would prefer to go alone?


The decision rests with my noble friend Lord Skelmersdale, but from our point of view that sounds like a very reasonable offer. We would not commit ourselves to abandoning this point by any means. If the noble Baroness thinks that something can be done between now and the Report stage to make it different, I think that my noble friend would wish to listen to it.


Perhaps I can quote the noble Baroness back at her: I think that we reserve our position without prejudice. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Lord Amherst of Hackney)

I must warn the Committee that if Amendment No. 109E is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 111 and 112.

Baroness ELLES moved Amendment No. 109E: Page 85, leave out lines 12 to 31.

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment is consequential and I think that the same situation arises as arose in the previous couple of Amendments.

Baroness STEDMAN

The Government are happy to accept this, again without prejudice.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 111 and 112 not moved.]


If Amendment No. 112B is carried, I do not think that I can call Amendment No. 112C.

1.47 p.m.

Lord SANDYS moved Amendment No. 112B: Page 85, leave out lines 44 to 47.

The noble Lord said: I hope that I may be permitted to help the Lord Chairman out of a little difficulty here. Amendments Nos. 112B and 112C are co-ordinated together, but Amendment No. 112A cannot be called should Amendment No. 112B be proceeded with. If I may refer to Amendments Nos. 112B and 112C together, I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee.

We are in some difficulty in this particular situation because it seems some long time ago that the Government moved Amendment No. 47B, which sought to devolve Sections 8(1)(b), 29 and 34 to 43 of the National Health Service Act 1977 to the Welsh Assembly. In Schedule 11 they wish to empower the Secretary of State to tell the Assembly what to do and how to manage a group of affairs through giving directions. We, on these Benches, believe that the Government are under a misapprehension here, and there are a variety of reasons for this.

First, the Government are looking upon the situation of doctors, dentists and others involved in the medical services, as an industrial situation—the scene in which there is an employer-employee relationship. Although to some limited extent that may be true, there is no management function in general practice in this situation. Management is within the contract and delegated to the contractor, and the situation ends there. So under the Bill the Secretary of State is now placed in the position to legislate under Schedule 11, and to do this act without the assistance of either House of Parliament.

We believe it to be an anomaly that this situation has arisen, and I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the very powerful speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Hill of Luton, in this regard on Thursday, 15th June. At that time, the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, was persuaded to withdraw the Amendment which he had moved. I wonder whether the Government would like, first, to comment upon the situation as it now stands. We believe that it would be a difficult situation if the Government proceeded on the basis that they have in mind at the moment, and for reasons which have become apparent to your Lordships today.

In our earlier discussions it became apparent when we were looking at Amendment No. 106A—that was the first Amendment we discussed this morning, in which we were concerned with the powers of a Minister of the Crown to alter a statute by order—that the order would be subject to the Negative Resolution procedure. It is apparent under the Bill as drafted that ministerial powers are available (ministerial powers are naturally available to the Secretary of State) to act in a manner which he thinks fit and both expedient and necessary.

I am particularly grateful to my noble friend Lord Tweeddale for putting down this Amendment because it bore out so exactly what many of us thought about the situation as drafted in the Bill. We do not believe that it would be either prudent or desirable to alter the status quo here, and I am much reinforced by the views expressed by the Welsh Committee of the British Medical Association. They are strongly of the view that it would be not in the best interests of both the profession and the Welsh people generally if the situation were departed from as the Government have in mind. I beg to move.

1.52 p.m.

Baroness STEDMAN

May I say that it was not the Government's intention, if we arrived at it, to move Amendment No. 112A, because we did have some discussion about it, and it is linked to Amendment No. 47B which was tabled to Schedule 2 last week and was withdrawn. The Amendments which the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, has talked about are concerned with the Secretary of State's power to give directions in relation to Sections 29 and 34 to 43 of the National Health Service Act 1977. When we debated it last week, the Government's policy in relation to this power was explained in full, and the reasons why we thought it necessary to include it in the Bill. There is really nothing I can add to what was said then.

Last week, the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, was good enough to withdraw his Amendment. This left Schedule 2, Part VI as it was, thereby devolving most of the ministerial functions in the sections of the 1977 Act concerned. If these Amendments were to be carried, the directing power will be lost and the Assembly will therefore have competence to determine the terms and conditions of service, including the remuneration of general practitioners, dentists, opticians and pharmacists. I am sure this is not the effect the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, wishes to achieve; and it is most certainly not something the Government can accept given our policy that the remuneration of Health Service staff should be reserved. In the light of this explanation, I hope that the noble Lord might withdraw his Amendments.


I regret that we are reaching a somewhat sterile situation in this argument, and I hope that it will be for the benefit of the Committee if I were to refresh your Lordships' memory over this particular problem. The noble Baroness quite rightly said that the Government have reserved their powers in regard to the remuneration of the medical profession. She included both dentists and pharmacists in that particular field. We are in considerable difficulty here because the terms and conditions and remuneration are intertwined, and I think this phrase has recurred through discussions both in another place and in your Lordships' House.

To separate these two strands is a matter of very great complexity; so much so that we believe that it would be much better if the status quo were adhered to. I think the first consideration must be for the maintenance of standards and good management within the medical professions in Wales. The Government have advanced the case that the Assembly should manage the Health Service in Wales in a manner which they think fit. While it is very desirable that they should have as large a remit as would be suitable, it appears to be extremely difficult to separate these two functions: that is, the ones I have just referred to of remuneration and the means whereby they organise their affairs.

The noble Lord, Lord Hill of Luton, put it very well. May I be allowed to take a few moments of the Committee's time to refer to column 572 of the Official Report of the 15th June. The noble Lord, Lord Hill, said: Therefore, I am bound to ask: if the assurance given that the intention is to sustain the standards that obtain today, why not leave the responsibility where it now is rather than engage in this transparently bogus effort of transferring the responsibility to the Assembly and then, by means of a second Amendment, nipping in with the authority of the Secretary of State who will tell it what to do? It does not make sense. May I ask the noble Lord to look at this point. We do not want unreality. We want the standards of consultants and specialists in Wales to be maintained, in the interests of the Welsh people, at the level which obtains in the Island as a whole". The noble Lord, Lord Hill, has vast experience of the medical profession both as a Minister and also through his responsibilities in a previous Government in regard to Wales, and I think that his views should be closely adhered to. We believe that there is a distinct and apparent difficulty here which it is not possible to resolve, and I am not surprised that the noble Baroness felt that she could not add at any great length to what her noble friend Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge said on the previous occasion. I regret from these Benches that we must sustain our position, and therefore I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

I am sorry that the noble Lord has decided to press his Amendment. I accept that the noble Lord, Lord Hill, made all the comments that the noble Lord has referred to us. But my impression was that he was talking about the consultants rather than about those who are involved in more general terms in the Health Service. What we have done in Wales is to try and cope with the problem of ensuring that the Assembly has the powers it needs for the administration of the Health Service, but we have reserved to the Government the power to determine remuneration because we think it would be wrong that the Assembly should be able to dictate perhaps better or worse terms for any of the practitioners in the Health Service.

It is a complicated procedure. It is made difficult because of this linking between the Administration and the terms and conditions of services. I would have hoped that the noble Lord would not press it at this point, that we might perhaps have further discussions, and that he might talk to my advisers and see whether we can satisfy him and allay his fears between now and the Report stage, still reserving his right to come back if he is not satisfied.


I am only too willing to consider the matter with the noble Baroness's advisers should she be willing to offer opportunity between now and Report stage. I cannot commit ourselves to alter our position on this particular Amendment, but I am only too willing to go further into the matter, and in addition to bring in those aspects which relate specifically to the Welsh Committee of the British Medical Association. If the noble Baroness feels that there is ground for further discussion on this, then I would be willing to withdraw this Amendment.

Baroness STEDMAN

Our position in the Government would remain the same. We would want to try and preserve the status quo in the Wales Bill as it is at the moment, with the Assembly being responsible for the administration and with the Secretary of State being responsible for remuneration and the terms and conditions of service. If we can ease the problem at all by discussions, well and good; if not, the noble Lord must test the feeling of your Lordships.


We are in a difficult position here. If it is decided to divide on this issue, what the Government have drafted will be changed, and the other place will be given the opportunity to review an aspect of the Bill which has not been examined hitherto. This is a matter of very great importance to Wales. Of course we may reach the position in question in any event, should we proceed on Report. Having listened very closely to what the noble Baroness has just said, I believe that it might ultimately save both the Government's time and fruitless discussion on this side if we divide on this issue and give another place the opportunity of a very full discussion, which would permit Welsh Members of the other place to digress upon it further.

2.1 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 112B) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 39; Not-Contents, 26.

Amherst of Hackney, L. Elton, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]
Amory, V. Emmet of Amberley, B.
Balfour, E. George-Brown, L. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Gridley, L. Sandford, L.
Cathcart, E. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Sandys, L.
Cockfield, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Ilchester, E. Spens, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Kinnaird, L. Stamp, L.
de Clifford, L. Lauderdale, E. Swinfen, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Long, V. Trefgarne, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Loudoun, C. Tweeddale, M.
Effingham, E. Lyell, L. Vivian, L.
Ellenborough, L. Morris, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Elles, B. Mottistone, L.
Banks, L. Kirkhill, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Beswick, L. Leatherland, L. Stedman, B.
Brockway, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Collison, L. Lloyd of Kilgorran, L. Stone, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Gaitskell, B. McGregor of Durris, L. Wallace of Coslany, L. [Teller.]
Goronwy-Roberts, L. Murray of Gravesend, L. Winterbottom, L.
Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Northfield, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Hale, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

2.9 p.m.

Lord SANDYS moved Amendment No. 112C: Page 86, leave out lines 1 to 3.

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is consequential upon Amendment No. 112B. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 113: Page 86, line 19, leave out ("laid before") and insert ("made to and published by").

The noble Baroness said: This is the last of the series of Amendments which deal with the making of statutory reports to the Assembly and their publication by them. In this case it relates to the making to the Assembly of reports of the Health Service Commissioner for Wales, and their publication by the Assembly. I should like to move that Amendment, and I think that it will be a considerable relief to Members of the Committee that this is the last Amendment on this Committee stage.

With the leave of the Committee, I should like also to take this opportunity to say thank you to the noble Lords opposite for the way in which they have handled their side of the debate, for their co-operation, for their consideration and for their good humour through the long hours that we have spent on it. Although my colleagues on the Bill team are not very much in evidence at the moment, I am sure I speak for all of them. I beg to move.


Earlier today the noble Lord, Lord Elton, felicitously referred to this Committee stage as "a great historical occasion, dealing with constitutional issues of the rights of people in a great nation". As a Welshman I thank him for those words; but now this last, small Amendment has in my view an intrinsic merit fitting for Lord Elton's great occasion. It is an Amendment to remove from the Wales Bill at Anglo-Saxon phrase, "laid before the Assembly", which is characteristic of procedures in a Westminster-modelled Parliament. The Welsh Assembly will be a unique Assembly, quite different to Westminster. This Amendment therefore casts out the Anglo-Saxon phrase, "laid before the Assembly", and introduces a Welsh freshness and finality to the Wales Bill Committee stage.

May I join with the noble Baroness in praising particularly Lord Elton and his team for good humour and hard work over many hours; and may I also thank and praise Baroness Elton—I am sorry; Baroness Stedman: that shows how near we have come to agreement in this Assembly—and ask her to thank her team, for the great work they have done on this Committee stage.


My pleasure at the noble Lord's earlier remarks is perhaps equalled by my astonishment at his latter remark. I must say that if he is unable to distinguish the proper relationship between myself and the noble Baroness I despair of his ever appreciating the proper relationship between Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, or its local authorities. But it was nice of him to make the points that he has made, or, at least, that he intended to make.

I, too, should like to thank the Government team for playing against us, outnumbering us, as they do, with such patience. I am deeply grateful to my noble friends on both the Front and the Back Benches for displaying an astonishing versatility and an ability to master briefs which I think means that our Party is the richer for their participation. I presume that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will not be moving the Amendment which stands in his name on the Marshalled List as No. 114, which would appear to be an expression of an opinion of the proceedings so far with which many of us would concur. I think that all Members of this Committee who have worked the really very long and arduous hours, which we have to do in addition to our normal duties, deserve the thanks, not only of myself but of the Government; as, indeed, do those who have toiled behind the scenes, working not on one but on two Bills. We too often overlook the duties which fall on the Public Bill Office and the various other departments of the House, and the printing agencies. All of them have supported us with great effect and efficiency.

Finally, of course, I think one should not forget the staff. This is only a half-term speech, not an end-of-term speech; nonetheless, I think the cheerful patience of the staff of the House has done much to make me return to get my feet on the floor at moments when I thought they might leave it. I think we are accepting an Amendment—I have quite forgotten where we started—but I have said what I wanted to say, and I say it with gratitude and sincerity.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 11, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with Amendments.