I beg to move,
(1) the matter of—
(a) the Autumn Statement as it relates to Wales, and
(b) the Government Response to Part I of the Commission on Devolution in Wales
be referred to the Welsh Grand Committee for its consideration;
(2) the Committee shall meet at Westminster at 9.30am and 2.00pm—
(a) on Wednesday 22 January to consider the matter referred to it under paragraph (1)(a);
(b) on Wednesday 5 February to consider the matter referred to it under paragraph (1)(b); and
(3) on each such day, the Chair shall interrupt proceedings at the afternoon sitting not later than two hours after their commencement.
The House will recall that Standing Order No. 108 specifies that a motion may be made by a Minister of the Crown providing for the Welsh Grand Committee to sit on specified days at Westminster or in Wales, at such hours as may be specified. The motion will allow the Welsh Grand Committee to meet twice in the next month to consider the autumn statement as it affects Wales and, separately, the Government’s response to part I of the Commission on Devolution in Wales. The sittings will take place on Wednesday 22 January and Wednesday 5 February at Westminster. They have been proposed in consultation with the Opposition and Plaid Cymru.
The timing of the second sitting has been scheduled with the intention of informing the work of the Welsh Affairs Committee as it undertakes pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Wales Bill. The House will recall that the Secretary of State for Wales made a statement on 18 November. The draft Bill was subsequently published on 18 December, following publication of the UK Government response to the Silk commission’s first report on the devolution of tax and borrowing powers to the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government. The House will further recall that the UK Government agreed to almost all the recommendations, in whole or in part.
The Welsh Affairs Committee will take evidence on the draft Wales Bill this month, including at an oral evidence session on Tuesday 14 January. The Committee has set a deadline for written submissions of Thursday 16 January. It is the intention of the Committee to report in late March on the two main areas of the Bill—the devolution of taxation and borrowing powers, and the electoral arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales. A meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee in the form proposed in the motion and focused on the devolution of taxation and borrowing powers will enable it to inform the pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill.
The two sittings will be the 10th and 11th Welsh Grand Committee sittings held during this Parliament. Since the 2010 general election, the Welsh Grand Committee has debated Budgets, Queen’s Speeches, the Commission on Devolution in Wales, legislative programmes, energy matters and the comprehensive spending review. The 2013 autumn statement and the draft Wales Bill can now be added to that long list. I commend the motion to the House.
Question put and agreed to.