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House of Commons Hansard
05 July 2016
Volume 612

    [1st Allocated Day]

    Considered in Committee

    [Mrs Eleanor Laing in the Chair]

    Clause 1

    Permanence of the National Assembly for Wales and Welsh Government

  • I beg to move amendment 17, page 1, leave out lines 5 to 9 and insert—

    “In section 1 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (the Assembly), after subsection (1), insert—”.

    The amendment changes the place in the Government of Wales Act 2006 in which the text inserted by Clause 1 appears. Rather than in section 92A, references to the permanence of the Assembly would appear in section 1 of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

  • With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

    Amendment 8, page 1, leave out line 8 and insert “CONSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR WALES”.

    This amendment amends the title of the new Part 2A inserted by Clause 1 in consequence of the proposal in amendment 7 to require the review of the functioning of the justice system in Wales.

    Amendment 18, page 1, line 10, leave out

    “and the Welsh Government are”

    and replace with “is”.

    The amendment gives effect to separate provisions relating to the National Assembly for Wales, as the Legislature, and the Welsh Government, as the Executive.

    Amendment 19, page 1, line 14, leave out “and the Welsh Government.”

    The amendment gives effect to separate provisions relating to the National Assembly for Wales, as the Legislature, and the Welsh Government, as the Executive.

    Amendment 20, page 1, line 16, leave out

    “and the Welsh Government are”

    and replace with “is”.

    The amendment gives effect to separate provisions relating to the National Assembly for Wales, as the Legislature, and the Welsh Government, as the Executive.

    Amendment 21, page 1, line 18, at end insert—

    “( ) In section 45 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (the Welsh Government), for the words in subsection (1) before paragraph (a) substitute—

    (1) There is to be a Welsh Government or Llywodraeth Cymru.

    (1A) The Welsh Government is a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements.

    (1B) The purpose of subsection (1A) is, with due regard to the other provisions of this Act, to signify the commitment of the Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom to the Welsh Government.

    (1C) In view of that commitment it is declared that the Welsh Government is not to be abolished except on the basis of a decision of the people of Wales voting in a referendum.

    (1D) The members of the Welsh Government are—”.”

    The amendment gives effect to separate provisions relating to the National Assembly for Wales, as the Legislature, and the Welsh Government, as the Executive. The amendment changes the place in the Government of Wales Act 2006 in which the text relating to the permanence of the Welsh Government would appear.

    Amendment 22, page 1, line 18, at end insert—

    “( ) In the Government of Wales Act 2006, after Part 2 (the Welsh Government) insert—”.

    The amendment is required as a consequence of changing the location of the provision relating to the permanence of the Assembly.

    Amendment 5, page 2, leave out lines 1 to 6 and insert—

    “Part 2B

    Separation of the Legal Jurisdiction of England and Wales

    Introductory

    92B New legal jurisdictions of England and of Wales

    The legal jurisdiction of England and Wales becomes two separate legal jurisdictions, that of England and that of Wales.

    Separation of the law

    92C The law extending to England and Wales

    (1) All of the law that extends to England and Wales—

    (a) except in so far as it applies only in relation to Wales, is to extend to England, and

    (b) except in so far as it applies only in relation to England, is to extend to Wales.

    (2) In subsection (1) “law” includes—

    (a) rules and principles of common law and equity,

    (b) provision made by, or by an instrument made under, an Act of Parliament or an Act or Measure of the National Assembly for Wales, and

    (c) provision made pursuant to the prerogative.

    (3) Any provision of any enactment or instrument enacted or made, but not in force, when subsection (1) comes into force is to be treated for the purposes of that subsection as part of the law that extends to England and Wales (but this subsection does not affect provision made for its coming into force).

    Separation of the Senior Courts

    92D Separation of Senior Courts system

    (1) The Senior Courts of England and Wales cease to exist (except for the purposes of section 6) and there are established in place of them—

    (a) the Senior Courts of England, and

    (b) the Senior Courts of Wales.

    (2) The Senior Courts of England consist of—

    (a) the Court of Appeal of England,

    (b) the High Court of England, and

    (c) the Crown Court of England, each having the same jurisdiction in England as is exercised by the corresponding court in England and Wales immediately before subsection (1) comes into force.

    (3) The Senior Courts of Wales consist of—

    (a) the Court of Appeal of Wales,

    (b) the High Court of Wales, and

    (c) the Crown Court of Wales, each having the same jurisdiction in Wales as is exercised by the corresponding court in England and Wales immediately before subsection (1) comes into force.

    (4) For the purposes of this Part—

    (a) Her Majesty’s Court of Appeal in England is the court corresponding to the Court of Appeal of England and the Court of Appeal of Wales,

    (b) Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice in England is the court corresponding to the High Court of England and the High Court of Wales, and

    (c) the Crown Court constituted by section 4 of the Courts Act 1971 is the court corresponding to the Crown Court of England and the Crown Court of Wales.

    (5) References in enactments or instruments to the Senior Courts of England and Wales have effect (as the context requires) as references to the Senior Courts of England or the Senior Courts of Wales, or both; and

    (6) References in enactments or instruments to Her Majesty’s Court of Appeal in England, Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice in England or the Crown Court constituted by section 4 of the Courts Act 1971 (however expressed) have effect (as the context requires) as references to either or both of the courts to which they correspond.

    92E The judiciary and court officers

    (1) All of the judges and other officers of Her Majesty’s Court of Appeal in England or Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice in England become judges or officers of both of the courts to which that court corresponds.

    (2) The persons by whom the jurisdiction of the Crown Court constituted by section 4 of the Courts Act 1971 is exercisable become the persons by whom the jurisdiction of both of the courts to which that court corresponds is exercisable; but (despite section 8(2) of the Senior Courts Act 1981)—

    (a) a justice of the peace assigned to a local justice area in Wales may not by virtue of this subsection exercise the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of England, and

    (b) a justice of the peace assigned to a local justice area in England may not by virtue of this subsection exercise the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Wales.

    92F Division of business between courts of England and courts of Wales

    ‘(1) The Senior Courts of England, the county courts for districts in England and the justices for local justice areas in England have jurisdiction over matters relating to England; and (subject to the rules of private international law relating to the application of foreign law) the law that they are to apply is the law extending to England.

    (2) The Senior Courts of Wales, the county courts for districts in Wales and the justices for local justice areas in Wales have jurisdiction over matters relating to Wales; and (subject to the rules of private international law relating to the application of foreign law) the law that they are to apply is the law extending to Wales.

    92G Transfer of current proceedings

    (1) All proceedings, whether civil or criminal, pending in any of the Senior Courts of England and Wales (including proceedings in which a judgment or order has been given or made but not enforced) shall be transferred by that court to whichever of the courts to which that court corresponds appears appropriate.

    (2) The transferred proceedings are to continue as if the case had originated in, and the previous proceedings had been taken in, that other court.”

    This amendment replaces the Bill’s proposed recognition of Welsh law with provisions to separate the legal jurisdictions of England and of Wales, as drafted by the Welsh Government.

    Amendment 9, page 2, line 1, after “law” insert

    “and review of the justice system in Wales”.

    This amendment amends the heading of Clause 1 in consequence of the proposal in amendment 7 to review the functioning of the justice system in Wales.

    Amendment 7, page 2, line 3, at end insert—

    “(2) The Lord Chancellor and the Welsh Ministers must keep the functioning of the justice system in relation to Wales under review with a view to its development and reform, including keeping under review the question of whether the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales should be divided into a jurisdiction for Wales and a jurisdiction for England.

    (3) In exercising their duty in subsection (2) the Lord Chancellor and the Welsh Ministers must have regard to—

    (a) divergence in the law and its administration as between England and Wales,

    (b) the need to treat the Welsh and English languages on the basis of equality, and

    (c) any other circumstances in Wales affecting operation of the justice system.

    (4) The Lord Chancellor and the Welsh Ministers may appoint a panel to advise them on the exercise of their functions in this section.

    (5) The Lord Chancellor must make an annual report on the functioning of the justice system in relation to Wales to the Welsh Ministers.

    (6) The Welsh Ministers must lay the report before the Assembly.

    (7) The Lord Chancellor must lay the report before both Houses of Parliament.”

    The provision in the Bill recognises the existence of a body of Welsh law made by the Assembly and the Welsh Ministers. The new subsections to be inserted after that provision by this amendment require the Secretary of State to keep the justice system as it applies in relation to Wales under review with a view to its development and reform, having regard in particular to divergence in the law as between England and Wales.

    Amendment 10, page 2, leave out lines 4 to 6.

    This amendment removes subsection (2) of the proposed new section 92B of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (recognition of Welsh law). Subsection (2) seeks to explain the purpose of subsection (1) of that section.

    Clause 1 stand part.

    Amendment 23, in clause 2, page 2, line 12, leave out “normally”.

    This amendment removes the word “normally” from the recognition that the Parliament of the United Kingdom will not normally legislate on devolved matters without the consent of the National Assembly for Wales.

    Amendment 3, page 2, line 12, leave out “legislate with regard” and insert “enact provisions relating”.

    This amendment is a consequence of amendment 4, which defines the meaning of “devolved matters”.

    Amendment 24, page 2, line 13, after “Assembly” insert—

    “(a) there is an imminent risk of serious adverse impact on—

    (i) the national security of the United Kingdom, or

    (ii) public safety, public, animal or plant health or economic stability in any part of the United Kingdom,

    (b) the legislation specifically addresses that risk,

    (c) the imminence of the risk in relation to Wales makes it impractical to seek the consent of the Assembly,

    (d) no Bill has been passed under section 110(1)(a) specifically to address the risk, and

    (e) no subordinate legislation specifically to address the risk has been laid before the Assembly and has come into force.”

    This amendment specifies the circumstances in which Parliament can legislate on devolved matters on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales without its consent.

    Amendment 4,  page 2, line 13, at end insert—

    “(7) For the purpose of subsection (6), a provision relates to a devolved matter if the provision—

    (a) applies in relation to Wales and does not relate to a reserved matter.

    (b) modifies the legislative competence of the Assembly, or

    (c) confers a function on, or removes or modifies a function of, any member of the Welsh Government.”

    This amendment defines the meaning of “devolved matters” for the purpose of the statutory recognition of the convention about Parliament legislating on devolved matters proposed by Clause 2.

    Amendment 25, page 2, line 13, at end insert—

    “(7) In this section, “devolved matters” means matters that—

    (a) are within the legislative competence of the Assembly;

    (b) modify the legislative competence of the Assembly;

    (c) modify a function of the Assembly;

    (d) modify a function of a member of the Welsh Government exercisable within devolved competence (and “within devolved competence” is to be read in accordance with section 58A).”

    The amendment defines devolved matters for the purposes of Clause 2.

    Clauses 2 and 4 stand part.

    Amendment 26, in schedule 4, page 94, line 10, at end insert—

    “National Assembly for Wales Commissioner for Standards.”

    The amendment adds the National Assembly for Wales Commissioner for Standards to the list of Wales public authorities.

    Amendment 27, page 94, line 10, at end insert—

    “National Assembly for Wales Remuneration Board.”

    The amendment adds the National Assembly for Wales Remuneration Board to the list of Wales public authorities.

    Schedule 4 stand part.

  • Diolch yn fawr, Dirprwy Lefarydd. Nineteen years have passed since the 1997 referendum to establish the Assembly. It is now clear that to have our own democratically elected Government and legislature is the settled will of the people of Wales. I note with disappointment and surprise the Secretary of State’s recent refusal of an invitation from the Chair of the Assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee to give evidence on the Bill. I would argue that now, especially, is the time for co-operation and the sharing of knowledge.

    Clause 1 is a very welcome addition to the Welsh devolution dispensation. Any clause to recognise the permanence of the institution is, of course, overdue. Amendments 17 to 22 are not controversial, and they deal with two technical issues. First, amendment 17 and amendment 22, which is consequential on amendment 17, change the place in the Government of Wales Act 2006 in which the text of clause 1 would appear. I know that the Presiding Officer in the Assembly, Elin Jones, has made this point, and I share her view that the declaration of the permanence of the Assembly should be given prominence in the Bill. Placing it in section 1 of the 2006 Act would achieve that.

    Secondly, amendments 18 to 21 reflect the constitutional separation of the legislature, the National Assembly of Wales, and the Executive, the Welsh Government, by dealing with them in separate new provisions to be inserted into those parts of the Government of Wales Act 2006 that deal respectively with the Assembly and the Government. These are probing amendments and we do not intend to press them to a vote, but I hope that the Secretary of State will agree to accept these proposals and to table his own amendments at the next stage.

    I do, however, intend to press amendment 5 to a Division. This amendment deals with what was perhaps the key focus of the prelegislative stage of the Bill and remains, in our view, the main reason that it fails to achieve what the Secretary of State has said he wanted to achieve: that is, to produce a lasting devolution settlement for Wales.

    Since the original Government of Wales Act 1998, we have been forced to change the devolution dispensation four times. If enacted, this Bill will become the fifth dispensation. The perpetual modifications have been necessitated by sustained reluctance from successive UK Governments, both Labour and Tory, to legislate with the long term in mind. Although all of Wales’s devolution Acts were described as settlements to settle the debate for a generation, not one of them has achieved that aim. It is clear to me that this Bill will continue that trend, unless, of course, the Secretary of State changes course.

    Many, if not most, of the criticisms of the Bill made by politicians, lawyers, civil society and academics alike have been of clauses or sections that have been justified as necessary by the Secretary of State in order to maintain the single unified legal system of England and Wales. The inclusion of clause 3—this will be discussed next week—and in particular its much debated necessity test is down to the fact that the Welsh legislature operates within a shared jurisdiction. The inclusion of clause 10, on justice impact tests, which have been subject to questioning and criticism since the publication of the latest Bill, is down to the fact that justice is a reserved matter—a reservation that is apparently necessary to safeguard the shared jurisdiction. These are among the contents of the Bill that are intended to prevent the Assembly from making any provisions that will impact on so-called public authorities. Again, these are in the Bill to protect the unified legal jurisdiction. As the Wales Governance Centre and University College London report stated:

    “Complexity is piled on complexity...the potential for legal challenge casts a long shadow”.

    I remind the House that Wales is unique in the world in having a primary law making legislature without a jurisdiction. Scotland has a wholly separate legal jurisdiction, and the Scottish settlement is simpler as a result. It avoids the complex and unnecessary exceptions and reservations. The relative stability of the Scottish devolution settlement, when compared with the turmoil in Wales, is stark. It is rare that Wales passes a law without the threat of legal challenge from somewhere.

    If there were a practical need to maintain the unified legal system, it would be worth making these compromises elsewhere in the Bill and perhaps worth the legal battles. However, I have yet to hear a genuine, practical reason for doing so. The most frequently made argument against creating a separate Welsh jurisdiction is that it is unnecessary and costly, and that divergence between the law as it applies to Wales and the law as it applies to England is minimal. To those who make those arguments I say two things. First, to say that divergence is minimal is to continue the short-term approach of previous Governments and to ignore the fact that divergence will do nothing but increase as the Assembly continues its work and as the institution gains more maturity and responsibility.

  • Like the hon. Lady, I am a member of the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs, and I can back up, to a large extent, what she is saying. Was she as surprised as I was by the body of evidence that came from civil society, the legal profession and beyond during our Select Committee inquiry into the now redundant Wales Bill?

  • I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman. The sheer weight of that evidence underlines the fact that we struggled to find other points of view.

  • Amendment 5 is very well worded, if I may say so, because it was drafted, word for word, by the Labour Government in Cardiff. They wanted a separate legal jurisdiction for Wales, and they promised it as a major pledge before the Assembly election. What does my hon. Friend think it will say about the authority of Carwyn Jones among his colleagues here in London if the Labour party does not support that amendment today?

  • I agree with my hon. Friend. I would expect there to be some concordance between both points of view, but that seems not to be the case.

  • What the hon. Lady has said is entirely fair, but we must come to a practical conclusion. It is clear that the undertaking we gave as a party to support the line taken by Plaid Cymru still stands, but the practical problem is that the Government have firmly rejected it. In these circumstances, the sensible thing to do is to seek a compromise between the two positions, and that is what our amendment is designed to do.

  • It is unfortunate to hear that argument in relation to standing up for Wales. On the one hand we have a Secretary of State who will not meet the Committee in the Assembly, and on the other hand we have a parliamentary Labour party that is not standing up for its colleagues in Wales.

    But we move ahead. The second argument that I would use to those who argue against a separate Welsh jurisdiction is that, in many ways, the significance of divergence is beside the point. It is evident that these complex clauses and tests have to be included throughout the new Bill simply to accommodate the fact that Wales does not have a separate legal jurisdiction. Such clauses and tests, incidentally, have been described by distinguished legal experts, as I have mentioned, as

    “a failure of comparative legal method”,

    and according to the constitution unit they

    “jar with basic constitutional principle”.

    The inclusion of those clauses specifically because of the need to shore up the unified legal system is reason enough in itself, I would argue, to create a Welsh jurisdiction. To argue that it is unnecessary is to disregard completely the wealth of evidence that has emerged since the publication of the draft Bill last autumn. Stubbornly resisting that evidence will only lead to continued cases in the Supreme Court. I challenge anyone to justify making a Government accountable to a judge rather than to a legislature, but the Bill effectively enshrines such resort in law.

    As our explanatory statement makes clear, amendment 5 was drafted by the Welsh Government, and it was included in annex C to the report by the constitution unit at UCL and the Wales Governance Centre earlier this year. I am, as I have mentioned, therefore very surprised to see the amendments tabled by Labour Members, which go against the views of their own party in Wales. I recognise that the official Opposition Front-Bench team has been through something of a reshuffle recently, and I am, incidentally, very pleased to hear that the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) has finally been offered the job that he should have been given a long time ago. I take this opportunity to welcome him to his post.

  • There is a conciliatory note in what the hon. Lady says. In this great new world of conciliation, does she agree with her party leader in Cardiff, Leanne Wood, that what we need at this time is greater working together, even if it sometimes means in Cardiff greater working together between Plaid and Labour?

  • I am sure we will work together when it is for the best for Wales, but I understand that that is not the case in Cardiff, and Plaid Cymru will, of course, be standing for the arguments that we believe in our hearts to be for the best for Wales.

    To reiterate, I ask the shadow Secretary of State for Wales to support our amendment, which will implement what his colleagues in the Welsh Government have been calling for. We have had the prelegislative scrutiny, and the evidence is there. It is clear that we must act to create a new Welsh jurisdiction, and the amendments tabled by Labour would simply kick the issue into the long grass. As I have said, Plaid Cymru is far from alone in making this call. The evidence supports our position and the Labour-run Welsh Government have called for this step—the wording on the amendment paper is theirs.

  • I warmly welcome the inclusion of clause 2. It is essentially a Sewel convention for Wales, setting out that the UK Parliament will not normally legislate on devolved matters without the consent of the Assembly. I stress the word “normally” because it brings me to amendment 23, in my name and those of my hon. Friends, which would remove that word from the clause. Quite simply, we do not believe that it is necessary. The UK Parliament should not legislate on devolved matters full stop. Amendment 24 would add an exception to that rule, allowing the UK Government to pass such legislation if there were an imminent risk to national security and the legislation in question specifically addressed that risk. We believe that is a sensible and pragmatic way forward.

    Amendments 3 and 4, tabled by the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr Williams), seek to achieve broadly the same ends as our amendment 25. Ours are probing amendments. It is for the Government to look at them ahead of the Bill’s remaining stages.

    I reluctantly welcome clause 4, with its accompanying schedule 4. It is an improvement on the utterly unworkable clause in the draft Bill. I have already mentioned that preventing the Welsh Government from modifying the functions of public authorities is one of the many complexities included in the Bill as a result of a blind insistence on maintaining the unified legal jurisdiction. Although the clause goes some way to easing the complexity, in my view creating a separate jurisdiction would negate the need for any complexities. As it stands, we have tabled amendments 26 and 27 to the clause; they would add the National Assembly of Wales Commissioner for Standards and the National Assembly for Wales Remuneration Board to the list of so-called Wales public authorities. The amendments speak for themselves and should not be considered controversial.

  • I begin by genuinely welcoming the two new members of the Opposition Front-Bench team. One, the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris), I have not known for that long, but she has always shown her willingness to work in a non-partisan way when that is called for. The hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) and I go back many decades. Although we have never really agreed, I think it is wonderful that he has found his way on to the Front Bench. I suspect it will take me even longer than him to get there, but you never know. We might even see a nonagenarian on the Front Bench one of these days, and I will put myself up if I am still here.

    I will address the thrust of the Plaid Cymru amendments—most importantly, amendment 21 and the general view that Plaid Cymru Members want to underline the absolute permanence of the National Assembly for Wales within the British constitution. I speak as someone who campaigned against the Welsh Assembly—I was one of the leaders of the campaign against it, back in 1997—and voted against it. Subsequently, there was a discussion among those of us in the no campaign about what we should do next. After all, the Assembly had gone through on a turnout of only 50%, with a majority of less than 1%. About 25%—just one in four—of the Welsh public had voted for a National Assembly of Wales. There were discussions about whether we should demand a rerun, or take to the streets and protest that such an enormous constitutional change was taking place with the support of just one in four of the population. We discussed all those things and the anger that we felt about the plan for the Assembly going ahead.

    We decided in the end that we needed to show some humility. It was not a case of whether we were right or wrong but of listening to the will of the Welsh public. Subsequently there was a referendum a few years later, when I campaigned against further powers for the Welsh Assembly. I do not like to say that I was wrong—no politician ever does—but I accept fully that I was on the losing side and that, once again, the Welsh public had spoken and made clear their support for a Welsh Assembly. I therefore wish to say that, as someone who was probably more anti the Welsh Assembly than anyone else in this Chamber—well, I would have said that a few years ago but now I am not so sure—I totally and utterly accept that the Welsh Assembly is there, and there to stay.

    Despite my constitutional misgivings about the Assembly, and the fact that I predicted at the time that it would always be seeking more powers every couple of years, I have always thought that were obvious advantages to having a body that could take some control over matters that affect the people coming to see us in our surgeries. People always want to talk about health services and the NHS, for example, and I have always thought it easier to get hold of a Minister in the Welsh Assembly than Ministers in Parliament, probably because they do not have quite as much to do. Members of the Welsh Assembly are generally able to be in their constituencies more often than Members of Parliament, for obvious logistical reasons. There were always some advantages to be had; my concern was that we had left the English question unanswered, although we are starting to address that now.

    I want to make it clear that I believe that it would be constitutionally outrageous for any party to come along and try to get rid of the Welsh Assembly. I certainly would not support that. I do not for a second think it is realistic to hold another referendum on the principle of whether we have a Welsh Assembly. I was on the losing side of that argument. Whether I was right or wrong is immaterial; I fought that case, I lost, and the people of Wales have spoken.

  • I am delighted to hear my hon. Friend’s comments, and one always listens to every word he says. Does he regret that there was no mechanism in the first Wales Bill to allow another look at whether the Assembly should exist?

  • There was no mechanism but there was a second referendum a few years later. I forget the percentages, but a much clearer level of support was expressed for the Welsh Assembly in that referendum. Realistically, now, by the time of the next election there will be people who have lived their entire lives with a Welsh Assembly. I do not think that it is a greatly loved institution, but it is not greatly hated, either. It is just accepted, as part of the furniture.

    The only point I would make to the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts) is this. Regardless of whether her amendment 21 gets the support of the Committee today, I think it is absolutely inconceivable that there will ever be any attempt to get rid of the Welsh Assembly. It is our duty to work with it and to remember what the Welsh public have said to us twice through referendums. I hope that we will all take the same view about all referendums in which the Welsh public have expressed their voice.

  • I will speak in favour of amendments 9, 7 and 10. It is always a pleasure to follow my constituency neighbour, the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies). I welcome my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) to the Front Bench. He follows in a fine tradition of octogenarians serving in the Labour Front-Bench team. The one who sprang to my mind was Lord Addison, who left the Attlee Government in 1951 at the age of 82. I am sure that in my hon. Friend we have a fine 21st century successor to Lord Addison. When I first came to this House, I thoroughly enjoyed reading my hon. Friend’s book “How to be an MP”; I look forward to the sequel, “How to be a Front Bencher”.

    I will speak on the issue of a separate legal jurisdiction for Wales. The hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts) spoke about the wording of amendment 5. When the Wales Bill still contained the vast number of necessity tests that it did, there was a more powerful argument for a separate legal jurisdiction, but now that the necessity tests have been all but removed, save in two very specific circumstances, I do not think that any urgency for that remains. That allows us the chance to move forward far more pragmatically.

    We have to be absolutely clear about the consequences of having a separate legal jurisdiction. I should say that prior to coming to this House I spent 11 years as a practising barrister in Cardiff and am still a door tenant, though non-practising, at Civitas Law. I have looked at situations where the permission of the court would be required to serve outside the jurisdiction—in other words, an additional barrier to access to justice would exist—if there was a separate legal jurisdiction. The list includes interim remedies, contracts, claims in tort, enforcement, claims about property within jurisdiction, trusts, claims by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, claim for costs order in favour of, or against, third parties, admiralty claims, claims under various enactments, and claims for breach of confidence or misuse of private information. All those areas would require permission to serve outside the jurisdiction. That may have been rather a legal list, but let us think of its practical consequences. For example, let us suppose a constituent from Torfaen goes to Bristol and falls over. They will be put in a complicated legal position.

    Health is also a cross-border issue. If someone who lives in Wales crosses the border for treatment, there will be complications in cases of medical negligence. When people from Wales drive to London on the M4 and if they have an accident on the other side of the Severn bridge, that will have suddenly taken place in a different jurisdiction. If someone buys a washing machine or some other product from England, consumer protection law will cause complications for someone in Wales who is seeking a remedy for a problem.

  • In his research, has the hon. Gentleman come across figures for how many cases are held in Wales compared with the number of cross-border cases?

  • At the moment, anyone who issues a claim would have a choice about where to issue it. For example, when I practised in Cardiff, it was easy for me to issue something to my client in Bristol if I wanted to, so in a sense those statistics do not really add any meaning to my argument. Companies would have an element of uncertainty introduced to their business if they were to trade on a cross-border basis—the last thing I want is for Offa’s Dyke to become an additional barrier to access to justice.

  • The hon. Gentleman will be aware that Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own separate legal systems. Using his vast experience in that field, how does he think they should overcome those problems? I have been listening carefully to what he has been saying, and it seems as if he is fundamentally disagreeing with those on his Front Bench on this issue.

  • I am not disagreeing with those on my Front Bench—I have made it clear that we are looking for a pragmatic way forward. For Scotland and Northern Ireland the history is very different, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman is aware. In Wales we can go back to the 1530s and the Tudors for the origins of the single legal jurisdiction, but the position is very different for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    Why do we now have the opportunity to consider a more pragmatic way forward? Amendment 7 makes it clear that there will be a review to consider the functioning of the system. The hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd made a point about having two legislatures within the single legal jurisdiction. That is unusual, but it does not mean that there cannot be a pragmatic way forward for the years ahead. Indeed, the amendment includes a proposal to always have regard to the divergence in the law. The Bill explicitly recognises the Welsh body of law, and there will be one because as the legislature goes forward, it will produce the case law to form that. There must be an annual report on the functioning of the justice system—something that I suggest all Members of the House should welcome.

  • Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the current situation, whereby issues or disagreements about the status of legal proposals by the Welsh Assembly are resolved in the Supreme Court, is a satisfactory way for the legislature to proceed?

  • Of course we would all like the Supreme Court to be used far less to resolve conflict between the Governments in Wales and in Westminster, but I am not sure that having a separate legal jurisdiction would have any real substantial short-term impact on that. The Bill is now far better and we have sought to improve it, but the clarity of the provisions—particularly removing all but two necessity tests—has made a great difference and I hope it will mean that there should be far less conflict in the Supreme Court.

  • On reports to what will be the Welsh Parliament, we must look more broadly at justice in Wales, and not exclusively in relation to the jurisdiction. Wales already has a High Court district registry in Cardiff, which no doubt could be developed, and the Court of Appeal often sits in Wales. We need a real open justice system in Wales that is not just stuck in Cardiff, Swansea, Caernarfon or wherever, but is willing to go out and sit in different buildings and genuinely bring justice closer to the people. The pragmatic way forward on jurisdiction is by far the best because we would not bring all those disadvantages into play, but we can also build on the opportunity in amendment 7 to consider the whole justice system in Wales and ensure that we truly have access to justice for all.

  • I rise to support amendment 7, to reaffirm my support for the Bill, and to thank the Secretary of State for bringing it forward so quickly. We would all like it to be enacted as soon as possible. I also thank him for recognising the growing body of Welsh law, and for his initiative to set up a body to consider that. Amendment 7 would confirm that body in writing in the Bill, meaning that a report on the state of affairs is made on a regular basis. As my hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) so eloquently expressed, this is not a simple issue about which we can just have a yes or no discussion; it is a growing body of law and a number of complex issues arise. If that measure was included firmly in the Bill so that a report was made on a regular basis, we would have the opportunity to consider the direction things were going in and whether any changes were needed. The amendment states clearly that the report will consider

    “whether the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales should be divided into a jurisdiction for Wales and a jurisdiction for England.”

    We want that practical, sensible solution included in the Bill so we can be certain that the review will continue to take place, and so that recommendations and reports come from that, which may or may not lead to a different view on things as that body of law grows. I reaffirm my support for the Bill, and I hope that amendment 7 will be included.

  • It is a privilege to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Laing. I reiterate my support for the amendments on the permanence of the National Assembly. I think that they originate in the office of the Presiding Officer who co-represents the Ceredigion constituency, but regardless of our constituency interests, there is huge sympathy and empathy with the principle of permanence right across the Committee—perhaps there are one or two exceptions on the Government Benches.

    Amendments 3 and 4 are probing amendments like those tabled by the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts). I do not intend to divide the Committee on those amendments, but I wish to elicit from the Minister a little more detail that is currently not in the Bill. To avoid clashes between the two legislatures on devolved matters, this Parliament has hitherto adopted a self-denying ordinance, and would not normally legislate on devolved matters without the consent of the National Assembly.

    I believe there is a consensus on the Opposition Benches, which is reflected by my amendment and amendments 24 and 25 tabled by Plaid Cymru, that the new provision does not provide a complete statement of the circumstances in which the Assembly’s consent is required in respect of parliamentary legislation. The Bill fails to mention the circumstances in which proposed legislation would modify the legislative competence of the Assembly itself. The amendments seek to clarify that. The requirement for consent in itself is not the issue. The Bill will at some point require the assent of the National Assembly for Wales, but in the interests of clarity and transparency the amendment sets out the circumstances when the Assembly’s consent should normally be required. I think it provides a tidier definition of devolved matters.

    The meat of this grouping relates to a separate, although interestingly in this debate not a distinct, jurisdiction. I understand the principle behind Plaid Cymru’s amendments. We have heard about a separate jurisdiction and less about a distinct jurisdiction. The Government have gone as far in the Bill as to acknowledge and recognise a body of Welsh law. That is an important principle, but it is where we take that principle that concerns me. I am led in the direction of the Labour party’s amendment, which follows the stance established in the increasingly dated Silk report, which is something of a bible to Liberal Democrats. Silk, in that now slightly dusty report, talked about reviewing the case for devolving legislative responsibility for the court service—sentencing, legal aid, the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary—to the National Assembly. I think he would endorse the speech just made by the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) and the case for a broader review of the legal system in Wales. Silk also talked about the need, in recommendation 34, for a “periodic report” by the UK Government, in consultation with the Welsh Government, to the UK Parliament and to the National Assembly on how access to justice is improving in Wales, and that there should be a regular dialogue between the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and Welsh Ministers on the administration of justice in Wales.

    The groundwork has therefore already been done for the Labour party’s amendment. It requires the Secretary of State to keep under review the justice system as it applies in relation to Wales, with a view to reform. For some of us, the inevitable divergence of English and Welsh law being open to the possibility of reform is critically important. As a Liberal, there is still the question of timing. There is a very clear Plaid Cymru amendment. We have something that has been described as more pragmatic. Simplistically, we could say that it beefs up what Silk was talking about some time ago.

    The Government have acknowledged that this is an issue by providing legal clarity on a Welsh body of law. They have also acknowledged it through the creation of a judicial working group. We talked on Second Reading about the principle of setting up the Government’s working group, which is welcome, but I do not believe it is sufficient to address the issues before us today. I am led to believe that the Welsh Assembly Government have not been invited to participate in its work.

  • I will stand corrected if that is actually the case. I am seeking clarification and it looks like I am about to get it.

  • I can absolutely confirm that an invitation was sent to the Welsh Government some weeks ago. We have not yet received a response.

  • I am grateful to the Minister for that update. That should create some food for thought at the other end of the M4, because co-operation and collaboration between both Administrations on these issues is vital.

    I still have concerns about timetabling. On Second Reading, the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd spoke about timetabling and about the working group concluding its work by September. That suggests this House—or the other place, as the Bill proceeds—would not have much of an opportunity to deliberate on its work, which is a concern. Does the working group have the opportunity to engage with civil society in the way the Welsh Affairs Committee did when it received evidence on distinct and separate jurisdictions? That is important.

    I support the idea of the commission, which follows a suggested precedent that we need to review these matters. As I said on Second Reading, of all the issues in the Wales Bill we have been talking about, legal jurisdiction is the one that will not go away. It needs to be addressed and I am not sure that that can be done in one amendment today. It needs to be addressed in a substantive review. If it is not addressed in a substantive review, I fear that if some of us are lucky enough to be in this House in years to come, we will be returning to another Wales Bill to deal with it.

  • The hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr Williams) ended on a sombre note. Wales Bills are not just for St David’s day, they are for life—possibly for eternity. We have seen the tortuous birth pangs of devolution in Wales go on and on. The Bills we passed were grudging Bills. This place is neurotically power-retentive. We allow little bit of power, we take it back and then we allow it little bit more. Part of the problem has been the divisions that have existed over the years and a lack of conviction on the need for a Welsh Assembly and Welsh Government. Happily, I believe those days are gone. All parties have a desire to provide good legislation that will give the Assembly and the Government in Wales more stability and more durability.

    May I say what a delight it is for me to be in this position as a shadow spokesman on the Opposition Front Bench? It is an extraordinary thing, but these jobs are rather like London buses: you wait 26 years for one and then two come along together. I am delighted to be accompanied by my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris). I am also comforted by the presence of my hon. Friends the Members for Llanelli (Nia Griffith) and for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones), who are on a temporary respite which I am sure will last for days. But I have this job. It is not the best job I have ever had: it is a zero-contract job, a zero-pay job and a zero-hours job that could end at any moment.

    We are all conscious that we are just a matter of weeks from the terrible murder of our colleague, Jo Cox, who said memorably in her maiden speech that

    “we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.”—[Official Report, 3 June 2015; Vol. 596, c. 675.]

    That is what I intend to concentrate on. I agree very much with the points made by the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts) and I certainly do not want any futile dispute. The Government have made it clear that they will not move on some of the main points that we and the Welsh Government are very much in favour of, so we take the position that the sensible thing is to try to find a third way or middle course.

    I believe we are in a better position than we have ever been in. A book entitled “Dragons led by Poodles” on the first devolution referendum was published when there were deep divisions in my own party. We are happy today that, in particular after the example of the Welsh football team, we are dragons led by dragons. We have the great joy of seeing the brilliant success of our footballers—the best we have ever seen. We take great pride in that. It has done so much for Wales that everyone is Welsh now. I heard someone on the radio say they owned two Bryn Terfel records and did that entitle him to call himself Welsh? It is suddenly fashionable and desirable to be Welsh. The whole world wants to be Welsh and that will bring us tangible benefits.

  • I honestly mean it when I say that I warmly welcome the hon. Gentleman to his post. He is a man of great principle, and I am a great admirer of his. Because he is a man of great principle and because he says he supports the meaning and wording of amendment 5, should he not act on those principles and support Plaid Cymru in the Lobby later?

  • We will not be supporting amendment 5, because we think it gesture politics; unless the Government change their mind, it is not going to get through. We are suggesting a practical compromise that might well be accepted by the Government.

  • I also recommend my hon. Friend’s book “Dragons led by Poodles”, and thank him for what he said about me in it. [Hon. Members: “What did he say?”] Hon. Members can read it for themselves later, rather than have me read it into the record.

    Despite what my hon. Friend said about the grudging nature of legislation around devolution, has not the organic way in which Welsh devolution has progressed built support for devolution from the very narrow victory in the referendum back in 1997? Might not imposing a separate legal jurisdiction at the outset of this journey in the creation of Welsh law place unnecessary costs on Welsh citizens having to seek permission to take a case in another jurisdiction, when that matter could be dealt with organically as the Welsh body of law develops in the years to come?

  • I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. In my book, which begins with a dramatis personae, I awarded Welsh politicians a number of pompoms for being poodle-ish or flames for being dragon-like. I think he emerged with no pompoms and five flames, which was the top award. His point is absolutely right.

    During the pre-legislative scrutiny, it became clear that the question of the jurisdiction was a fundamental one that had to be addressed in the Bill. As the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnyddp said, the Plaid Cymru amendment adopts the approach in the Welsh Government’s alternative Bill. That is fine—we agree with that—but we are proposing a compromise that would address the issue in a more consensual way. That is the spirit in which we approach consideration of the Bill. In response to the intervention from the Secretary of State, I must say that I welcome the concept of working with the Welsh Assembly. I know that the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Welsh Assembly will be meeting throughout August to consider the Bill under our former colleague Huw Irranca-Davies. I am sure that it will have a great deal to contribute, and I hope that its suggestions will meet with an open door.

    There is common ground among legal and constitutional experts that the current arrangements are not sustainable. The challenges can only grow as the Welsh statute book develops further in the fifth Assembly term—“the Welsh statute book” has a nice ring to it. We have not yet risen to the heights of cyfraith Hywel Dda and the days in the 10th century when Wales led Europe with progressive legislation. There was a law that said if a starving person had gone to three villages without being fed, he or she was entitled to steal without risk of prosecution. They had wonderful rules on the rights of women that were far in advance of anywhere else and they had practically no capital punishment. Eight hundred years later, England had 220 crimes for which people could be punished with death, including stealing from a rabbit warren and cutting down a tree. So we are building on the shoulders of the giants of the 10th century and Hywel Dda. We are a long way from it, but this is another step towards that progress.

    The joint jurisdiction was based on the premise that there was a common body of law across England and Wales with a single set of administrative arrangements. That premise worked for the centuries following the Acts of Union but is now out of date. In essence, that premise is inconsistent with legislative devolution; it is simply impossible to argue for retention of the joint jurisdiction when the criminal and private law in England and Wales will increasingly diverge as a result of Assembly legislation. The starting point is that there must be robust joint arrangements between the Lord Chancellor and the Welsh Ministers to work through the issues and identify solutions, and the UK Government’s proposed official working group might add some value. In his intervention, the Secretary of State said that an invitation had been sent to the Welsh Government. I do not know about that, but we would like to see that joint working. It is certainly the desire of the Welsh Government.

    Our amendments would achieve three things. First, there would be a duty on the Lord Chancellor and Welsh Ministers to keep the operation of the justice system under review, including the jurisdiction question. Secondly, they would be able to appoint an expert panel to advise them, which could be an invaluable source of legal expertise to focus on the practical issues. Thirdly, the work would have to be transparent and sustained, with an annual report laid before the National Assembly and Parliament.

    The Secretary of State, like his predecessor, wants the Bill to offer a lasting settlement, and so do we, but that will not happen unless they put forward a credible and serious process for reforming the joint jurisdiction. There is a major gap in the Bill as it stands. Amendment 7 is proposed as a constructive solution that deserves cross-party support and we hope to press it to a Division.

    Clause 2 provides statutory underpinning for the Sewel convention. Under our constitution, both Parliament and the Assembly can legislate for Wales on devolved matters, so it is important that there be a clear understanding between the two legislatures as to which will be the principal legislature on these matters. The convention normally resolves that issue in favour of the Assembly. Amendments 23 and 24 address that issue further. The convention also requires that if Parliament proposes to amend the legislative competence of the Assembly, that too should require the Assembly’s formal consent.

    To be fair to the UK Government, they have always acknowledged that the Bill will require the Assembly’s consent if it is to proceed to Royal Assent. This is a matter not of controversy but of common sense and consensus between the parties. This aspect of the convention, however, is only set out in rather obscure terms in a devolution guidance note for civil servants. As drafted, clause 2 makes no reference to this aspect of the convention at all, so it is an incomplete statement of the real position. Clarity would be appreciated.

    Amendment 4 is designed to fill that gap. It would provide a comprehensive statement of the circumstances when Assembly consent is required for parliamentary legislation. In particular, it would make it clear in the Bill that Assembly consent is required when a parliamentary Bill proposes changes to the Assembly’s legislative competence. I note that amendment 25 is broadly to the same effect. This is an important element in the Welsh devolution settlement, so clarity is required; it should not depend on what is written in devolution guidance note. I urge the Government to accept these reasonable and constructive amendments.

  • I join hon. Members in welcoming the hon. Members for Newport West (Paul Flynn) and for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) to their places on the Front Bench. I fear that I have followed the hon. Gentleman’s political career for more than 40 years, which makes me feel very old. When he was the candidate in Denbigh during the 1974 general election, my father was the election agent for Ieuan Wyn Jones, who stood for Plaid Cymru. The hon. Gentleman clearly made a huge impression on my father, who followed his career avidly, but I am surprised that as a resident of Llansannan he did not appreciate the beauty and importance of the agricultural community in the way that he perhaps should have. When my wife had a bookshop, we recommended “Dragons led by Poodles” to many of our customers. It was one of our bestsellers in the year in question, so he undoubtedly contributed to my coffers then.

    On behalf of myself and the Secretary of State, may I also thank the hon. Members for Llanelli (Nia Griffith) and for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones) for their constructive engagement on the Bill prior to the change of guard on the Opposition Front Bench? The Bill has been brought forward in a measured way, and we have attempted at all times to have a constructive engagement with all Opposition parties. The constructive engagement we had with the hon. Members for Llanelli and for Clwyd South was particularly appreciated.

    I need to go through the amendments in some detail to provide reassurance where necessary and to explain the Government’s position on them. Let me deal first with amendment 17, which was tabled by the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts). This is clearly an attempt to change the place where new part 2A is inserted into the Government of Wales Act 2006. The new part inserted by clause 1 enshrines the permanence of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government and recognises the body of Welsh law. Amendment 8, which was tabled by the Opposition, would change the title of new part 2A, making it broader in scope. Amendments 17 and 8 are consequential amendments, so I shall explain the Government’s position on them when I speak to other amendments.

    Amendments 18 to 22, tabled by the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, are designed to insert into the Government of Wales Act 2006 separate statements on the permanence of the National Assembly for Wales and of the Welsh Government. The amendments rightly recognise the importance of new part 2A in confirming without any doubt in law what is widely understood—that the National Assembly and the Welsh Government are a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements.

    I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies) and his work as Chairman of the Welsh Select Committee. I pay tribute, too, to his speech in which he highlighted the permanence of the Welsh Assembly in the UK’s constitutional arrangements. I accept his argument that a majority is a majority in a democratic vote. My mother-in-law argued on Sunday that we should try to avoid the result of the EU referendum, highlighting the fact that it was a very small majority on a very small turnout, whereupon I said to her that she was of the view that the 50.3% of the people of Wales who voted for the establishment of the Welsh Assembly should be respected. I stood by the democratic principle that a majority is a majority, but it was good to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth being so clear in his view that the Assembly is part and parcel of the UK’s constitutional arrangements.

    It is fair to say that a great deal of consideration has been given to the content of this clause and its place in the 2006 Act, not only in the context of the draft Wales Bill, published last October, but in terms of the read-across from the Scotland Act 2016. As in the context of Scotland, I am keen to see this commitment expressed in a single clause to reflect the fact that the Assembly and the Welsh Government belong together as a part of the UK’s constitutional arrangements. I would, however, like to give further consideration to the most appropriate place to insert new section 92A in the Government of Wales Act 2006.

    I shall deal next with amendments 5, 7, 9 and 10, which amend new clause 92B on the recognition of Welsh law. In its second report, published in March 2014, the Silk commission recommended that there

    “should be further administrative devolution in the court system”,

    and it specifically provided for devolution in respect of the various divisions of the High Court, which should sit in Wales on a regular basis to hear cases—other than highly specialist cases—that arise in Wales. The commission stated that a High Court office should be established in Wales to co-ordinate High Court sittings in Wales; that the divisions of the Court of Appeal should continue to sit in Wales on a regular basis to hear cases that arise in Wales; and that High Court and Court of Appeal judges should be allocated to sit in Wales only if they satisfy the Lord Chief Justice that they understand the distinct requirements of Wales.

    I am pleased to be able to state clearly from the Dispatch Box that many of the recommendations relating to administrative devolution in fact reflect the current position in Wales: the senior courts already sit in Wales; the administration of Welsh courts is overseen by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service Wales; and court sittings are co-ordinated locally.

  • As for the broader question on the case for devolving legislative responsibility, this was one of the key issues examined in the St David’s day process, taken forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Stephen Crabb). Hon. Members will be aware that, as set out in the St David’s day agreement, there is no political consensus on devolving justice. It has been clear from the debates we have had—very good separate debates—that it is difficult to argue that there is consensus on this point. Accordingly, my party’s 2015 election manifesto gave a clear pledge to continue to reserve justice and policing in Wales.

    The Labour party’s 2015 election manifesto pledged to take forward proposals from the Silk commission to extend the power of the people of Wales over matters such as elections, transport and energy—all dealt with in this Bill—but it did not propose devolving justice to Wales. Looking at the result of the 2015 general election, it is difficult to argue that there is a majority to move forward on that issue. The votes gathered by the Labour party and the party I represent in 2015 suggest that majority opinion in Wales is firmly behind the proposals in this Wales Bill.

  • There has, of course, been a material change in conditions, following the events of the last few weeks and the EU referendum. From our perspective, we just want to get the Bill on the statute book, so that we can move on to the next big debate about the future of our country. Is the Minister seriously saying from the Dispatch Box today, after the events of the last few weeks, with Scottish independence imminent in the next few years and with Irish unification never being closer since Lloyd George decided to split that country in two, that this Bill will hold Wales together for the next generation?

  • The hon. Gentleman is a passionate speaker and a strong advocate for his position. In a debate in Westminster Hall this morning, however, I warned of the dangers of creating history as we want to believe it to happen. I am not as yet convinced that there is enough evidence to suggest that Scotland is imminently about to leave the United Kingdom—[Interruption.] I am not convinced. There was a referendum two years ago that provided a fairly clear result. I think it would therefore be inappropriate to legislate on the basis of the wish list of the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards)—much as I enjoy that wish list and the passion with which it is articulated.

    The Government are fully committed to maintaining the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales. It has served Wales very well. It is also our firm view that it is the most effective, efficient and consistent way to deliver justice. The issues raised by the hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) highlighted some of the complexities that would be created if we moved away from that single jurisdiction at this point in time. The vast majority of law is not devolved, so there is no justification for a separate jurisdiction that would create significant upheaval and huge costs. It is worth highlighting that cost issues cannot be swept under the carpet. There would be a cost implication with very little benefit. I wonder whether Plaid Cymru Members have carried out a cost-benefit assessment to weigh up the benefits and the costs that would be incurred.

    Amendment 5 envisages separate legal and court jurisdictions, administered by a common judiciary and court staff. It is designed to provide clarity, but I am not sure that it would. I think it would create more confusion, having the opposite effect—a point made by the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan). The same people would be charged with administering two separate legal regimes where there is currently a commonality of law and procedure. This would have downstream consequences and it would impact on how the legal system works. It is difficult to justify such an impact on the basis of the current body of Welsh law.

    We have heard the argument that the situation in Scotland and Northern Ireland is simpler because they have separate legal jurisdictions. I expected to hear that argument, but it ignores the historical reality that there has been—there always has been for that matter—a separate Scottish legal jurisdiction. I have engaged previously with the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr on the laws of Hywel Dda, who is rightly remembered for the legal system he put in place.

  • Does the Minister also accept that Hywel Dda was very well known for the importance he placed on working with the English Government at the time, particularly with Edward the Elder and Athelstan? Is there not a great lesson for all of us here in terms of co-operation with the Welsh Assembly?

  • I appreciate that there are quite a few experts on Hywel Dda in this place. It is certainly the case that he took a co-operative approach. As I said previously in a debate with the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Hywel Dda was perhaps very good in some respects, but he allowed the murder of his brother-in-law for his own personal gain in the kingdom. So perhaps he was not perfect.

    Let me return to the serious issue of the separate legal entity. I think that, for all the talk of Hywel Dda, it would be a mistake to ignore the historical context. We are where we are. We legislate not in terms of what we would like to see, but in terms of what is practical and what is right at this point in time, and I think that the Bill has struck the right balance in that respect.

    We recognise the validity of some of the points that were raised during pre-legislative scrutiny. Wales has a distinctive legal identity. It has two legislatures, and a growing body of law made by the Assembly and Welsh Ministers. The Bill recognises that, and there is clearly a need to ensure that it does so in the context of maintaining the single jurisdiction of England and Wales. Our position is clear: we are recognising reality in the context of a system that currently works very well for Wales and the United Kingdom.

    Amendments 7 and 9 call for the Lord Chancellor and Welsh Ministers to keep under review the functioning of the justice system in relation to Wales, including the question of whether the single legal jurisdiction should be separated into a jurisdiction for Wales and a jurisdiction for England. The case for that was argued by the hon. Members for Torfaen and for Newport West.

    This is an important issue, and it should be considered carefully. The St David’s day process considered the position for and against devolving justice, and ultimately found no consensus in favour of implementing the Silk commission’s recommendation. As I have said, the Government firmly believe that the most effective, efficient and consistent way to administer justice is under a single legal jurisdiction.

    Despite the devolution of powers to Wales, under this Bill and the Government of Wales Acts before it, and despite the increasing amount of legislation made by the Assembly, the vast majority of laws apply equally across England and Wales, and will continue to do so. The Government therefore pledged to continue to reserve justice and policing in their election manifesto, as I mentioned earlier. However, I agree with the principle that the functioning of the justice system must be kept under review, especially given the continuing divergence in law to which I have referred.

    It is for that very reason that my right hon. Friends the Justice Secretary and the Secretary of State for Wales have established a working group to consider the administrative changes needed to meet the administrative and operational demands of diverging legislation in a Welsh context. The group will represent the key areas affected by the changing legislative Welsh landscape, and will consider a range of circumstances affecting the operation of justice in Wales. I can tell the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr Williams), who raised the point in his speech, that the Welsh Government have been invited to be represented on the group, but the invitation was issued to officials in that Government, so there should be no condemnation of any political forces—any Ministers—in the Assembly. We expect a positive response to the invitation.

  • Will the Minister clarify—I am sure that he is on the verge of doing so—the time frame for the joint working group? I understood that it would conclude its work in the autumn. The amendment proposes a real review over a lengthier period as the divergence between Welsh and English legislation becomes a reality.

  • It is currently envisaged that the group will report in the autumn, and, as things stand, that is its aim. I hope that that satisfies the hon. Gentleman, at least in terms of clarity.

    It is important to understand what the group will and will not do. It will consider the administrative and operational implications of a shared but single legal jurisdiction, but it will not discuss broader constitutional questions such as whether there should be a separate jurisdiction. The Government’s view is clear: the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales is the most effective, efficient and consistent way to deliver justice. I hope that provides the clarity for which Members have been asking.

    Amendment 10 seeks to omit subsection (2) of the proposed new section 92B of the Government of Wales Act. Subsection (2) recognises that a body of Welsh law made by the Assembly and by Welsh Ministers forms part of the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales, while giving due regard to the boundaries of competence set out in the Bill. It is important for the Assembly to have full and effective powers to enforce its legislation on devolved matters, and in order to achieve that, a growing body of distinct law will necessarily continue to be made by the Assembly and Welsh Ministers.

    The Bill provides for that throughout. In particular, paragraphs 3 and 4 of new schedule 7B, which schedule 2 inserts into the Government of Wales Act and which the Committee will debate next week, make it clear that the Assembly may modify the private law for a devolved purpose, and that only certain core elements of the criminal law are outside its competence. Those elements are listed in paragraph 4 of the new schedule. The Assembly will, for example, be able to create and modify offences when they are for the purpose of enforcing devolved provisions.

    Subsection (2) of new section 92B is intended to be helpful, explaining that the purpose of the provision is to recognise the ability of the Assembly and Welsh Ministers to make laws forming part of the unified legal system of England and Wales. The new section constitutes a declaratory statement, and does not bestow any further powers on the Assembly than are provided for elsewhere in the Bill. It is, however, important in that it enables the contribution made by the Assembly and Welsh Ministers to the law of England and Wales to be recognised for the first time, while having due regard to the other provisions in the Bill. Subsection (2) is required to clarify that the statement must be considered in the context of the rest of the Bill. Without it, there might be uncertainty about the meaning of subsection (1).

  • So that the public can understand the divergence that has, to a limited degree, taken place so far, will the Minister tell us what proportion of the current law he considers to be distinctly Welsh, as opposed to England and Wales law? May we, in future, be given a regular update on that distinction, so that ordinary people understand where the law is diverging?

  • That is a good question, because it highlights the importance of ensuring that people in Wales understand where law is made. The percentage of Welsh law is currently tiny by comparison with the overall impact of the law on those people, but I think we should keep an eye on the position.

    Clause 1 sets the scene for the new model of Welsh devolution that is presented in the Bill. It inserts a new part 2A into the Government of Wales Act, ensuring that, for the first time, the permanence of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government is confirmed. It recognises both as a permanent element of the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements, and as part and parcel of our nation’s constitutional fabric, and reflects the importance of the National Assembly and the Welsh Government to political life in Wales.

    The Silk commission recommended that it be recognised that the National Assembly for Wales is permanent for as long as that is the will of the majority of people in Wales. In the St David’s day agreement, the Government gave an undertaking to enshrine that commitment in legislation, which we are delivering in clause 1; we did the same for the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government in the Scotland Act 2016. I think it fair to say that most Members welcome that certainty.

    New section 92A also provides that the Assembly and the Welsh Government are not to be abolished except on the basis of a decision by the people of Wales voting in a referendum. I hope that such a referendum will not be forthcoming, but I think it important to recognise that the decision on whether we have a Welsh Assembly and a Welsh Government is a decision for the people of Wales, to be made by them.

    New section 92B underpins the commitment to permanence by recognising that there is a body of Welsh law made by the Assembly and Welsh Ministers that forms part of the law of England and Wales. It is important that we recognise that in statute—which we are doing for the first time—while also recognising the elements that are common to England and Wales. Clause 1 is a declaratory statement, but its recognition of the contribution made by the Assembly and Welsh Ministers to the law of England and Wales is important none the less. Meanwhile, the Justice in Wales working group of officials that I mentioned earlier will consider what changes are necessary to reflect the distinctiveness of Wales within the administrative arrangements for justice, and, as I have said, I expect a report in the autumn.

    Amendment 23, tabled by the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, seeks to broaden the scope of the commitment given in relation to the convention about Parliament’s legislating on devolved matters by removing the word “normally”. The commitment in clause 2 that Parliament will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Assembly reflects the current convention on legislative consent. We gave a commitment to put that convention on a statutory footing in the St David’s day agreement, and that is what clause 2 does. The clause is also in line with the provision made in relation to the Scottish Parliament in the Scotland Act 2016. Since the convention was established, a legislative consent motion has always been sought before Parliament has passed legislation for Wales in relation to devolved matters. This is part of the normal working arrangements between the UK Government and the Welsh Government and we expect it to continue, but to remove “normally” from the clause would fundamentally change the convention. The “not normally” element of both the convention and clause is essential as it acknowledges parliamentary sovereignty and, within the clause, signals to the courts that this clause is not intended to be subject to adjudication.

  • Clause 2 implements a Silk commission recommendation and a St David’s day commitment. The Government have no plans to broaden that commitment.

    Amendment 3 from the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr Williams), amendment 24 from the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, amendment 4 from the hon. Member for Ceredigion and amendment 25 from the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd seek to define the conditions Parliament would have to satisfy to legislate without the consent of the Assembly. Amendment 24 would provide for an exception to the convention on legislative competence by setting out the circumstances in which Parliament could legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Assembly.

    The convention deliberately does not define those circumstances. Parliament is sovereign, so both the Assembly and Parliament can legislate for devolved matters. Defining the instances in which Parliament can legislate for devolved areas would drive a coach and horses through this underpinning principle of devolution. We are talking about a measure that is devolving power, so that principle is important and needs to be retained.

    There are occasions when it makes sense for Parliament to legislate in relation to matters devolved to the Assembly, and since the convention was established a legislative consent motion has always been sought before Parliament passes legislation for Wales in relation to devolved matters.

    Amendments 3 and 4 seek to define the term “devolved matters” more specifically and more broadly than the current convention. That would, for example, also include Executive functions of Welsh Ministers, some of which are conferred in relation to reserved matters, so it could be problematic for those amendments to be supported. Under the current convention the UK Government will seek the Assembly’s consent when Parliament legislates on matters within the legislative competence of the Assembly. If parliamentary legislation seeks to amend a function of Welsh Ministers that is outside the legislative competence of the Assembly, the UK Government normally need only seek the consent of Welsh Ministers. The Silk commission made no recommendation to extend the convention in this regard. In view of the fact that the hon. Member for Ceredigion described the Silk commission as his bible, I think he should take note of that point.

    Assembly Standing Orders already require Welsh Ministers to notify the Assembly in a written statement about provisions in parliamentary Bills that have a significant impact on Welsh Ministers’ functions. It is right that this is a matter for the Assembly and Welsh Ministers, and I see no reason to change the convention clause 2 enshrines.

    In the St David’s day agreement we committed to placing the convention on legislative consent on a statutory footing in the same manner as we have done for the Sewel convention in the Scotland Act 2016. Clause 2 inserts section 107(6) into the Government of Wales Act 2006 to reflect in statute the political understanding that already exists. The practice of obtaining the consent of the Assembly is well-established: a legislative consent motion is always sought before Parliament passes legislation for Wales that we consider is within the Assembly’s legislative competence. This has long been part of the normal working arrangements between the UK and Welsh Government and I fully expect this to continue. We will of course be issuing updated guidance to UK Government Departments to reflect the reserved powers model well before the new model is implemented.

    One of the key aims underpinning the Wales Bill is to deliver much needed clarity to the Welsh devolution settlement. The provisions in clause 4 are important in delivering that aim. The clause helps to draw a clear devolution boundary between what is reserved and what is devolved by defining clearly which public authorities are devolved and accountable to the Assembly and Welsh Ministers. Clause 4(1) inserts new section 157A into the Government of Wales Act 2006 to introduce devolved public authorities as “Wales public authorities”. All other public authorities are reserved authorities.

    New section 157A(1) explains that Wales public authorities are those that meet conditions in new section 157A or those listed in new schedule 9A to the 2006 Act, inserted by schedule 4 to the Bill. The first condition in new section 157A(2) limits Wales public authorities to those bodies exercising functions only in relation to Wales. But there needs to be some flexibility in this rule because the Assembly can legislate in an ancillary way in relation to England, and can impose functions on devolved bodies in relation to England.

    Subsection (3) makes it clear that such functions should be ignored in categorising a body as a Wales public authority. This flexibility ensures that devolved bodies—for instance, Natural Resources Wales—and regulation and inspection bodies for some devolved services can exercise some functions in England and still be Wales public authorities.

    The second condition requires Wales public authorities to exercise functions that are not wholly or mainly reserved functions. Again this provides flexibility to ensure that devolved bodies with some reserved functions, like local authorities in Wales, can be Wales public authorities.

    New section 157A(5) provides an order-making power to modify the list of Wales public authorities in new schedule 9A. An order is subject to scrutiny by both Houses of Parliament and the Assembly—which I think is a pretty good safeguard.

    Clause 4 provides a clear separation between devolved and reserved bodies by defining the former as Wales public authorities and listing those authorities on the face of the Bill. It meets a key recommendation in the Welsh Affairs Committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny report.

    Amendments 26 and 27 seek to expand the list of Wales public authorities in schedule 4 to the Bill to include the National Assembly for Wales Commissioner for Standards and the National Assembly for Wales Remuneration Board. The standards commissioner does important work as an independent authority appointed by the Assembly to safeguard standards and to address the public’s concerns. The Remuneration Board does similarly important work in ensuring that Assembly Members have the right resources to do their jobs properly. The provisions in clause 4, along with schedule 4, are intended clearly to define which public authorities are devolved and therefore which are reserved.

    I understand that the Assembly’s Presiding Officer would like both these bodies included in the list of Wales public authorities for reasons of clarity. I would like to take some time to consider the categorisation of both bodies further and return to this matter on Report. That is not a rejection of the amendments, but we do need more time to consider the impact on the definition we have created in this measure. I hope that, in the spirit of that comment, the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd will withdraw those amendments.

    One of the Government’s key aims for this Bill is to deliver much needed clarity to the Welsh devolution settlement. Schedule 4 is important in delivering this aim, listing Wales public authorities to provide absolute clarity about those authorities that are accountable to the Assembly and Welsh Ministers. The Welsh Affairs Committee highlighted this as being needed in defining public authorities in this Bill, and I hope this revised Bill has delivered that clarity.

    As the Government set out in our response to the Committee, we fully accept its conclusion that a list of reserved authorities would be long, and so the Bill includes a list of Wales public authorities that is far shorter and much easier to use, and which provides the clarity that was requested.

    I therefore propose that clauses 1 to 4 and schedule 4 stand part of the Bill, and urge Opposition Members to withdraw their amendments.

  • I am very grateful for the opportunity to close this debate, Sir Alan. I will restrict my comments to amendments 5 and 7 on jurisdiction, although I appreciate the comments the Under-Secretary made about the areas that he will reconsider. I intend to withdraw amendment 17 and to divide the Committee only on amendment 5.

    In my opening speech, I referred to the arguments about divergence that are made against separate legal jurisdictions, but the overriding need to maintain a single legal jurisdiction leads to many of the complications and areas that cause a lack of clarity in the Bill.

    Other issues were raised during the debate. The hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) made much of somewhat speculative cross-border cases. It is evident that Hadrian’s wall is no more a barrier to the functioning of law in the United Kingdom now than Offa’s Dyke would be in the future. It is effectively an argument for the right of Welsh lawyers to practise in Bristol, which is a very worthy cause but not what we are here to discuss.

  • It was not so much speculation as experience that I was drawing upon. My point was not about lawyers, but about the uncertainty that would be created for my constituents and others by such cross-border cases if there were different jurisdictions.

  • That very question is dealt with across the land border between Scotland and England. There is also a tradition in respect of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    I felt that Labour was almost clutching at straws to find ways to disagree with what Plaid Cymru was proposing. Indeed, our amendment 5 uses the very words proposed by the Labour Welsh Government.

    I reiterate what the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr Williams) said: the issue of jurisdiction will not go away and we will continue discussing it in the future. It is an argument about gradualism that we have here today. We know that a separate body of Welsh law is developing, and as the Welsh Assembly matures, that body will grow. These questions cry out for an answer in the shorter term, rather than this piecemeal approach.

    In closing, the historical realities of Northern Ireland and Scotland are indeed different from that of Wales, but we are making the historical reality of Wales today in this Committee and we should be proud of what we achieve. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Amendment proposed: 5, page 2, leave out lines 1 to 6 and insert—

    “Part 2B

    Separation of the Legal Jurisdiction of England and Wales

    Introductory

    92B New legal jurisdictions of England and of Wales

    The legal jurisdiction of England and Wales becomes two separate legal jurisdictions, that of England and that of Wales.

    Separation of the law

    92C The law extending to England and Wales

    (1) All of the law that extends to England and Wales—

    (a) except in so far as it applies only in relation to Wales, is to extend to England, and

    (b) except in so far as it applies only in relation to England, is to extend to Wales.

    (2) In subsection (1) “law” includes—

    (a) rules and principles of common law and equity,

    (b) provision made by, or by an instrument made under, an Act of Parliament or an Act or Measure of the National Assembly for Wales, and

    (c) provision made pursuant to the prerogative.

    (3) Any provision of any enactment or instrument enacted or made, but not in force, when subsection (1) comes into force is to be treated for the purposes of that subsection as part of the law that extends to England and Wales (but this subsection does not affect provision made for its coming into force).

    Separation of the Senior Courts

    92D Separation of Senior Courts system

    (1) The Senior Courts of England and Wales cease to exist (except for the purposes of section 6) and there are established in place of them—

    (a) the Senior Courts of England, and

    (b) the Senior Courts of Wales.

    (2) The Senior Courts of England consist of—

    (a) the Court of Appeal of England,

    (b) the High Court of England, and

    (c) the Crown Court of England, each having the same jurisdiction in England as is exercised by the corresponding court in England and Wales immediately before subsection (1) comes into force.

    (3) The Senior Courts of Wales consist of—

    (a) the Court of Appeal of Wales,

    (b) the High Court of Wales, and

    (c) the Crown Court of Wales, each having the same jurisdiction in Wales as is exercised by the corresponding court in England and Wales immediately before subsection (1) comes into force.

    (4) For the purposes of this Part—

    (a) Her Majesty’s Court of Appeal in England is the court corresponding to the Court of Appeal of England and the Court of Appeal of Wales,

    (b) Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice in England is the court corresponding to the High Court of England and the High Court of Wales, and

    (c) the Crown Court constituted by section 4 of the Courts Act 1971 is the court corresponding to the Crown Court of England and the Crown Court of Wales.

    (5) References in enactments or instruments to the Senior Courts of England and Wales have effect (as the context requires) as references to the Senior Courts of England or the Senior Courts of Wales, or both; and

    (6) References in enactments or instruments to Her Majesty’s Court of Appeal in England, Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice in England or the Crown Court constituted by section 4 of the Courts Act 1971 (however expressed) have effect (as the context requires) as references to either or both of the courts to which they correspond.

    92E The judiciary and court officers

    (1) All of the judges and other officers of Her Majesty’s Court of Appeal in England or Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice in England become judges or officers of both of the courts to which that court corresponds.

    (2) The persons by whom the jurisdiction of the Crown Court constituted by section 4 of the Courts Act 1971 is exercisable become the persons by whom the jurisdiction of both of the courts to which that court corresponds is exercisable; but (despite section 8(2) of the Senior Courts Act 1981)—

    (a) a justice of the peace assigned to a local justice area in Wales may not by virtue of this subsection exercise the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of England, and

    (b) a justice of the peace assigned to a local justice area in England may not by virtue of this subsection exercise the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Wales.

    92F Division of business between courts of England and courts of Wales

    (1) The Senior Courts of England, the county courts for districts in England and the justices for local justice areas in England have jurisdiction over matters relating to England; and (subject to the rules of private international law relating to the application of foreign law) the law that they are to apply is the law extending to England.

    (2) The Senior Courts of Wales, the county courts for districts in Wales and the justices for local justice areas in Wales have jurisdiction over matters relating to Wales; and (subject to the rules of private international law relating to the application of foreign law) the law that they are to apply is the law extending to Wales.

    92G Transfer of current proceedings

    (1) All proceedings, whether civil or criminal, pending in any of the Senior Courts of England and Wales (including proceedings in which a judgment or order has been given or made but not enforced) shall be transferred by that court to whichever of the courts to which that court corresponds appears appropriate.

    (2) The transferred proceedings are to continue as if the case had originated in, and the previous proceedings had been taken in, that other court.”—(Liz Saville Roberts.)

    This amendment replaces the Bill’s proposed recognition of Welsh law with provisions to separate the legal jurisdictions of England and of Wales, as drafted by the Welsh Government.

    Question put, That the amendment be made.

  • Division 31

    5 July 2016

    The Committee divided:

    Ayes: 41
    Noes: 270

    Question accordingly negatived.

    View Details

    Amendment proposed: 7, page 2, line 3, at end insert—

    “(2) The Lord Chancellor and the Welsh Ministers must keep the functioning of the justice system in relation to Wales under review with a view to its development and reform, including keeping under review the question of whether the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales should be divided into a jurisdiction for Wales and a jurisdiction for England.

    (3) In exercising their duty in subsection (2) the Lord Chancellor and the Welsh Ministers must have regard to—

    (a) divergence in the law and its administration as between England and Wales,

    (b) the need to treat the Welsh and English languages on the basis of equality, and

    (c) any other circumstances in Wales affecting operation of the justice system.

    (4) The Lord Chancellor and the Welsh Ministers may appoint a panel to advise them on the exercise of their functions in this section.

    (5) The Lord Chancellor must make an annual report on the functioning of the justice system in relation to Wales to the Welsh Ministers.

    (6) The Welsh Ministers must lay the report before the Assembly.

    (7) The Lord Chancellor must lay the report before both Houses of Parliament.”—(Paul Flynn.)

    The provision in the Bill recognises the existence of a body of Welsh law made by the Assembly and the Welsh Ministers. The new subsections to be inserted after that provision by this amendment require the Secretary of State to keep the justice system as it applies in relation to Wales under review with a view to its development and reform, having regard in particular to divergence in the law as between England and Wales.

    Question put, That the amendment be made.

    Division 32

    5 July 2016

    The Committee divided:

    Ayes: 217
    Noes: 274

    Question accordingly negatived.

    View Details

    Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clauses 2 and 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Schedule 4 agreed to.

    Clause 5

    Power to make provision about elections

    Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

  • With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

    Amendment 28, in clause 6, page 7, line 2, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—

    “(b) for ‘The Secretary of State may by order provide for the poll at an ordinary general election to be” substitute “The Presiding Officer may propose that the poll at an ordinary general election is.’”

    The Bill as drafted transfers the power to vary the date of an ordinary general election from the Secretary of State to Welsh Ministers. The amendment transfers the power to the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales.

    Amendment 29, page 7, line 2, at end insert—

    “(7A) Leave out subsection (2) and insert—

    (2) If the Presiding Officer makes a proposal under subsection (1), Her Majesty may by proclamation under the Welsh Seal—

    (a) dissolve the Assembly,

    (b) require the poll at the election to be held on the day proposed, and

    (c) require the Assembly to meet within the period of fourteen days beginning immediately after the day of the poll.”

    The amendment inserts provision for the arrangements for varying the date of an ordinary general election. The amendment also extends from seven to fourteen days the period within which the Assembly is required to meet following the day of a poll.

    Amendment 30, page 7, line 2, at end insert—

    “(7B) In subsection (4) for ‘An order under this section may’ substitute ‘If the Presiding Officer makes a proposal under subsection (1), the Welsh Ministers may by order’”.

    The amendment replicates existing provisions in the Government of Wales Act 2006 with a modification resulting from the transfer of the power to vary the date of an ordinary general election to the Presiding Officer.

    Amendment 31, page 7, line 6, at end insert—

    “(10A) Section 5 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (Extraordinary general elections) is amended as set out in paragraphs (a) to (d)—

    (a) In subsection (1) for “Secretary of State” substitute ‘Presiding Officer’.

    (b) In subsection (4) for “Secretary of State” substitute ‘Presiding Officer’.

    (c) In subsection (4) for ‘Order in Council’ substitute ‘proclamation under the Welsh Seal’.

    (d) In subsection (4) for ‘seven’ substitute ‘fourteen’”.

    The amendment inserts a new provision transferring the power to propose the day of an extraordinary general election from the Secretary of State to the Presiding Officer. The amendment also extends from seven to fourteen days the period within which the Assembly is required to meet following the day of a poll.

    Clauses 6 and 7 stand part.

  • Clauses 5 to 7 deal with elections to the Assembly and local government elections in Wales. Clause 5 concerns the power to make provision about Welsh Assembly elections. It flows from the St David’s day agreement, which states that powers relating to elections to the National Assembly for Wales should be devolved. Essentially, the clause gives Welsh Ministers an order-making power to make provision about the conduct of Welsh Assembly elections. It also gives the Secretary of State, subject to the agreement of Welsh Ministers, the power to make regulations to combine the polls at Welsh Assembly elections with UK parliamentary elections and in theory—this will not matter much in future—with European parliamentary elections, too.

    Clause 5 substitutes section 13 of the Government of Wales Act with a proposed new section 13. It broadly transfers to Welsh Ministers the power exercised by the Secretary of State to make provision by order about the conduct of Welsh Assembly elections. The new section provides that the powers of Welsh Ministers are aligned with the legislative competence of the Welsh Assembly. It also sets out the scope of the order-making power and makes it clear that it enables provision to be made on a number of matters, including the registration of electors and the limits of election expenses for individual candidates. It also allows Ministers to combine polls: when more than one poll is held on the same day, they will decide how the polls will be administered.

    The clause also devolves matters relating to the allocation of regional members at an election, the process for challenging an election and what should happen if there is a vacancy in the Assembly. It also inserts a new section 13A into the 2006 Act that gives the Secretary of State the equivalent power to combine polls at Welsh Assembly elections with UK parliamentary elections and European parliamentary elections. For example, an extraordinary general election for the Assembly could be held on the same day as a general election for the UK Parliament. The exercise of this power by the Secretary of State will be subject to the agreement of Welsh Ministers and subject to the affirmative resolution procedure here in the UK Parliament.

    Clause 6 concerns the timing of elections in Wales and implements the St David’s day agreement, which states that while conduct of Assembly elections and local government elections in Wales should be devolved, the Assembly should not be able to decide to hold its elections on the same day as general elections to the UK Parliament, the European Parliament or local government elections in Wales. This aspect of the administration and conduct of Assembly and local elections will therefore remain reserved to the UK Parliament.

    By way of background, to date, each general election that has been held to the Assembly—there have been five in total—has been held in a different year from ordinary local elections in Wales. Further, the Wales Act 2014 amended section 3 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 so that ordinary general elections to the Assembly are now held every five years rather than every four. This, and the provision in the Fixed-terms Parliaments Act 2011, which it superseded, avoided the Assembly general election and the UK parliamentary general election clashing in 2015 and will avoid such a clash in 2020, as the next ordinary general election to the Assembly is now scheduled to be in 2021.

    The next scheduled local elections in Wales are due to be held in 2017. The Local Authority Elections (Wales) Order 2014, made by Welsh Ministers, provided for the local government election date to be moved by one year in order to avoid a clash with this year’s Assembly election. The clause says that in the event of a clash, Welsh Ministers can make an order specifying the alternative day on which the poll of the ordinary Welsh Assembly general election shall be held. It also transfers the existing power of the Secretary of State to move the date of an Assembly ordinary general election by up to one month to Welsh Ministers, and that where this power is exercised, that new date cannot fall on the same date as a UK parliamentary general election or European parliamentary election.

    The clause also includes provisions that prevent local government elections in Wales from being held on the same day as an Assembly general election. If there is a clash, Welsh Ministers can make an order specifying the alternative day for the local government election to held.

    Clause 7 ensures co-operation between Welsh Ministers and UK Ministers over the online individual electoral registration digital service for Assembly elections and local government elections in Wales. The Assembly is free to decide on a franchise and a registration process for these elections, but as a practical matter, where the Welsh Government wants changes to the GB-wide Digital Service, they will need the approval of UK Government Ministers to do so.

  • To clarify, if Assembly Ministers have the ability to change the provisions about the registration of electors and potentially to move to an automatic system of registration, which ensures that we have people registered, unlike the current system, how will that work with future UK parliamentary elections or other elections? Will they then be using the system that the Welsh Ministers have decided on or will there be a different register for those elections?

  • As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, we already run two very heavily overlapping but subtly different electoral registers for local council elections and parliamentary elections. There are different qualifications. For example, an EU national who currently lives in a British city might be eligible to vote in a local council election and not in a UK parliamentary election, so we have two heavily overlapping but not identical registers. The same applies to Scottish parliamentary elections to Holyrood. That will continue, and should the Cardiff Assembly decide that it wants to change things in some way it will have the competence to do so for the electoral roll for Cardiff Assembly elections, but it will not have the competence to change the registration process or scope for UK parliamentary elections as that is a reserved matter to be decided in this place. I hope that clarifies things for the hon. Gentleman.

  • It helps to clarify things in one respect, but does the Minister not accept that there could end up being a very significant discrepancy in the numbers registered for an Assembly election versus a UK parliamentary election? The public do not understand these things in the context of the complexities of all the registers and lists; if they have registered to vote, they would expect to be able to vote in all elections. Given the huge discrepancy between registration for UK parliamentary elections and registration for the EU referendum—and given the fact that the Boundary Commission is not using the figures for the EU referendum—does he not accept that there might be a huge discrepancy in this regard too?

  • There has been a difference for many years between local election registers and parliamentary election registers. That is a very long-standing principle. We are not changing that. It would be possible, should the Welsh Assembly so decide, to make further changes and enfranchise other groups of people whom we would not necessarily want to enfranchise for UK parliamentary elections. At the moment, however, there is already a difference between the two electoral registers. There has been for a very long time. Nothing about this will change any of that, but in future it will be up to the Welsh Assembly to decide whether it wants to make further changes that might narrow or widen the existing long-standing differences.

  • The Minister seems to be saying that the Welsh Government should have the right to displace coincidental elections, but that they do not have to. He seems to be saying that under the rules a general election, an Assembly election and even a European election could occur on the same day. At the same time, he is saying that it would be delayed by only a month. In the last such episode, we saw political parties in Wales campaigning up to the Assembly elections and not really mentioning Europe, but then we had only six weeks to persuade Wales that it was better off in. That was not enough. Is a month long enough?

  • I fear that I was not clear enough. I am saying that there are explicit provisions in the Bill to prevent the elections the hon. Gentleman just mentioned from happening on the same day. It will not be possible to hold an Assembly general election, for example, on the same day as a UK parliamentary general election. That is explicitly prevented in the Bill and if some future accident of diary meant that the two things were to fall on the same day, we are talking about the powers for Welsh Ministers to move their date, should it be necessary, by up to a month, and about their having that power rather than the Secretary of State.

  • On the second point, one question would be whether a month is long enough. It would seem to me that it is not. Secondly, it seemed to me that the Minister said that there are powers to move the dates but that Welsh Ministers are not obliged or required to move them. Could not the Welsh Assembly Government choose to have the two elections on the same day under this provision?

  • I am not saying what the hon. Gentleman fears I am saying. I can reassure him on that. The power to move things by a month already exists. It just happens to be vested in the Secretary of State. All we are seeking to do here, as part of the St David’s day agreement and following the principles set out in it, is to devolve that power from the Secretary of State to Welsh Ministers. We are not seeking to change the power in one direction or another; we are just making sure that it is being exercised more locally in Cardiff rather in than Westminster. It continues to be legally the case that the Assembly elections and the UK parliamentary elections cannot happen on the same day, so it would only be a question of moving some of these elections around in that case—although there might be other reasons why one might want to—if at some point, many decades hence, an accident of the diary meant that the two happened to coincide. In order to comply with the constraint, they cannot happen on the same day and one would have to move, whereupon this power would apply.

    I was talking about the online voter registration system and the way that that needs to be adjusted, if it is to be adjusted, by mutual consent. As I said, the Assembly is free to decide on the franchise and the registration process for Assembly elections, but as a practical matter, where the Welsh Government want changes to the Great Britain-wide Digital Service, they will need the approval of UK Ministers to do so. That is because the Digital Service is a series of interconnecting digital applications, including online voter registration, for people living in England, Wales and Scotland, as well as British citizens resident overseas. We all need to ensure that any changes to the franchise or registration process for Welsh Assembly and local government elections in Wales do not adversely impact on voters in other parts of the UK or abroad.

    With these considerations in mind, the clause allows Welsh Ministers to make regulations concerning the Digital Service in relation to Assembly and local government elections in Wales with the agreement of a Minister of the Crown.

  • I apologise to the Committee for my voice today. My daughter Enlli came back from nursery the other day with a slight tickle, and that has led to world war three breaking out in my larynx, unfortunately.

    My hon. Friends and I support the motion that clauses 5, 6 and 7 stand part of the Bill, preferably along with our amendments 28 to 31 to clause 6. These are probing amendments and I would be interested in hearing the Minister’s response.

    As the Assembly has grown in competence, it is reasonable that the power over the timing of its own elections, as well as powers over the conduct of those elections and the registration of electors, should be devolved. Any ambitious democratic body would surely seek such powers. The amendments in this group, as Members on both sides of the Committee will be aware, were originally drafted and published by the office of the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly. In a letter dated 30 June, the Presiding Officer set out that the aim of this set of amendments is to

    “deliver a constitutional settlement that is workable, clear and provides a firm foundation for the Assembly’s future.”

    She noted in the same letter that these amendments were informed by evidence given during pre-legislative scrutiny of the previous draft Wales Bill to the then Assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, and were equally informed by the Assembly’s experience of working under the current settlement.

    Amendments 28 to 31 would transfer the power to vary the date of an ordinary general election, as well as the power to fix the date of extraordinary Assembly elections, from the Secretary of State directly to the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly, rather than to Welsh Ministers. The amendments are underpinned by the principle that the Assembly should have powers over its own internal affairs.

    It is worth pointing out, as the context, that the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 set a precedent for moving decision making over the administration of elections away from the Government. Our amendments in this group, though probing, have this same underlying principle at their root—that is, that powers over determining the date of Assembly elections should be moved away from the Government. To our mind, this power should not be conferred on the Executive, so as to remove the possibility of any accusations of political interference. Were this change to be made by our amendments, it would add to the competence and responsibility of the legislature, which should surely be welcomed by all parties. It would also increase public confidence in the independent nature of election management in Wales.

    As drafted, the Bill transfers the power to vary the date of an ordinary Assembly general election from the Secretary of State to Welsh Ministers. This is in contrast to the system operated in Scotland, whereby this power is bestowed on the Presiding Officer. Amendment 28 would put the Welsh Assembly’s arrangements on the same footing. Amendment 29 relates to conferring powers over varying the date of an ordinary general election. Although the Bill devolves powers over electoral arrangements, it does so in an unnecessarily impractical way.

  • Can the hon. Gentleman expand on his thinking about why those changes would be helpful? There are different approaches, as he will appreciate. Does he believe that there is anything unclear about the criteria that must be satisfied under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act as to whether a majority has been achieved in an Assembly or Parliament, or does he have other concerns about potential political game playing? Does he believe that the measure might put the Presiding Officer in a politically contentious position?

  • I have considered that, and it is my opinion and that of the Presiding Officer that it would not put her in that difficult position. These amendments are hers, after consideration. The point about parity and similarity with Scotland is persuasive, to our minds.

  • Is it not the case that under the Bill as drafted, the Welsh Government could act unilaterally if they so decided, whereas if the spirit of the amendments were accepted, adapted by the Government and incorporated in the Bill, the power would reside with the Presiding Officer, but only with the support of the legislature, which means that there would have to be cross-party support before she acted?

  • I take my hon. Friend’s point entirely. The four Assembly elections held so far have not produced a majority Government, so the consent of the Assembly collectively would be required in that situation. I am not casting any aspersions on the motives of Governments in Cardiff, London or anywhere else, but the amendment would remove any suspicion of political advantage being sought.

    By adding a strict seven-day timeframe, during which period the Assembly must meet and elect a Presiding Officer, the Bill once again puts Wales on an unequal footing with Scotland. The Scottish Parliament is allowed 14 days to carry out this function. Given the history of the outcomes of elections to our Assembly, as I said a moment ago, and the obvious consequence that time has been required for the parties to discuss all manner of arrangements, seven days for this particular exercise seems unreasonable. That is why amendment 29 extends this period to 14 days for the Welsh Assembly.

    Amendment 30 amends the Government of Wales Act 2006 so as to confer powers over varying the date of an ordinary general election to the Presiding Officer, as opposed to transferring this power directly to Welsh Ministers under the Bill as currently drafted. Finally, amendment 31 amends the 2006 Act so as to ensure that powers over proposing the date of an extraordinary general election are given to the Presiding Officer. The amendment once again extends the timeframe during which the Assembly is required to meet following an election to 14 days, thus establishing parity with Scotland.

    These amendments are meant to probe and promote discussion. We do not intend to press them to a vote.

  • I thank the hon. Gentleman for laying out his case so clearly and so helpfully. He is right to point out that the provisions in the Bill seek to mimic the existing provisions to which his four amendments relate and to devolve the existing arrangements from the Secretary of State down to Welsh Ministers. However, he is also right to point out that this is not quite the same thing as has already happened in the parallel situation in Scotland, where the powers were devolved not to Scottish Ministers but to the Presiding Officer. We therefore already have in British constitutional arrangements two parallel but subtly different approaches.

    The reason I asked my question of the hon. Gentleman is that there are competing views on this issue. I am not sure that either is necessarily automatically better or worse than the other, but there are different strengths and weaknesses, and different pros and cons, to both. Some people are concerned that devolving these powers to the Presiding Officer could put them in a politically contentious position. I do not think that that is the view of the Scottish Presiding Officer, the Welsh Presiding Officer or many politicians in the Welsh Assembly, but some people would certainly cleave to it—perhaps here, for example.

    Equally, the question is whether the criteria that have to be satisfied for a fixed-term Parliament to be altered in length and for an early, extraordinary election to be called, are clear. For example, for this Parliament, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act says that we either have to have a Government who cannot command a majority and who, over two weeks, have failed to find one, or we have a two-thirds majority. Those are fairly clear criteria, so there is relatively little opportunity for political game-playing, either by Ministers or a Presiding Officer.

  • I am grateful to the Minister for the tone of his reply and for his clarification. Having read up on the potential implications of the Brexit situation, whereby the new Prime Minister may decide to call a snap election, I wonder whether it would be possible, under the terms of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, for the new Prime Minister to call a vote of no confidence in him or herself, therefore triggering an election.

  • If the hon. Gentleman is not already in his party’s Whips Office, he probably should be, because that is a proper Whips Office wheeze. Were such a thing legally possible—I defer to others to decide whether it would be—I do not think it would pass the test of democratic credibility. Any Government who sought to precipitate their own downfall through that kind of mechanism—voting against themselves and saying they were not competent—would, as a practical matter, probably be judged quite harshly by voters in the polls. However, I appreciate that we are talking about theoretical circumstances, and we will have to leave that issue to the future to decide.

    The point I was trying to make is that there are legitimate arguments on both sides, and both systems—one here, and one in Scotland—already persist quite happily side by side in British constitutional arrangements, and the question is now being raised in relation to the Welsh Assembly. I do not want to say that one system is inherently legitimate or illegitimate, or that one is necessarily better or worse than the other. It has to be a question of what is acceptable to local decision makers—in this case, Assembly Members and their officials in the Welsh Assembly.

    We are therefore sympathetic to taking this issue away and thinking about it carefully. I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising it, and he makes a thought-provoking case. If he agrees, I would be happy to take his amendments away—I think he indicated they were probing amendments—to see whether we can take this issue forward or at least develop his ideas and thinking a little further.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Clause 5 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clauses 6 and 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 8

    Super-majority requirement for certain legislation

  • I beg to move amendment 32, page 10, line 3, leave out subsections (5) and (6).

    The amendment removes the requirements on the face of the Bill for the National Assembly for Wales’ Standing Orders to include requirements for the publication of a statement in Welsh and English.

  • With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

    Clauses 8 to 11 stand part.

    Amendment 33, in clause 12, page 12, line 24, at end insert—

    “(a) for a sum paid out of the Welsh Consolidated Fund not to be applied for any purpose other than that for which it was charged or (as the case may be) paid out”.

    The amendment sets out that Welsh legislation must provide that the Assembly has to authorise any drawing from the Consolidated Fund and that such funds can only be utilised for the purposes for which they were authorised.

    Clauses 12 to 14 stand part.

    Amendment 38, in clause 15, page 14, line 3, leave out “translation of references” and insert “consequential provision”.

    The amendment replaces “translation of references” with “consequential provision”, to reflect the overall effect of Clause 15.

    Amendment 39, page 14, line 5, at end insert—

    “( ) Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru,”.

    The amendment clarifies that any references in legislation, instruments and documents to “Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru” is also to be read as a reference to the new name, in Welsh.

    Amendment 40, page 14, line 6, at end insert—

    “( ) Comisiwn Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru,”.

    The amendment clarifies that any references in legislation, instruments and documents to “Comisiwn Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru” is also to be read as a reference to the new name, in Welsh.

    Amendment 41, page 14, line 7, at end insert—

    “( ) Deddfau Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, or”.

    The amendment clarifies that any references in legislation, instruments and documents to “Deddfau Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru” is also to be read as a reference to the new name, in Welsh.

    Amendment 42, page 14, line 11, after “to”, insert “Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru,”.

    The amendment provides that if the Assembly changes its name then any reference in legislation, instruments and documents to the “Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru” is to be read as a reference to the new name.

    Amendment 43, page 14, line 12, after first “Wales,” insert “Comisiwn Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru,”.

    The amendment provides that if the Assembly changes its name then any reference in legislation, instruments and documents to the “Comisiwn Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru” is to be read as a reference to the new name.

    Amendment 44, page 14, line 12, after “Commission,” insert “, Deddfau Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru”.

    The amendment provides that if the Assembly changes its name then any reference in legislation, instruments and documents to “Deddfau Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru” is to be read as a reference to the new name.

    Amendment 45, page 14, line 17, after “name”, insert

    “in Welsh or English (as the case may be).”

    The amendment clarifies that the clause applies to any new names listed in the clause be they in English or Welsh.

    Clauses 15 and 16 stand part.

    Amendment 14, in clause 17, page 15, leave out lines 29 to 31.

    This amendment and amendment 15 make provision for the definition of devolved competence in Clause 17 to be applied for the purpose of the amendments made to Clause 19 by amendment 13.

    Amendment 15, page 15, line 35, at end insert—

    “( ) In this section and section 58B ‘within devolved competence’ and ‘outside devolved competence’ are to be read in accordance with subsections (7) and (8); but for the purposes of section 58AB no account is to be taken of the requirement to consult the appropriate Minister in paragraph 11(2) of Schedule 7B.”

    See the explanatory statement for amendment 14.

    Clauses 17 and 18 stand part.

    Amendment 13, in clause 19, page 17, line 27, at end insert—

    “(2) After section 58A of that Act (inserted by section 17(1) of this Act) insert—

    ‘58B Transfer of functions within devolved competence

    (1) Functions conferred on a Minister of the Crown by virtue of any pre-commencement enactment or pre-commencement prerogative instrument, so far as they are exercisable within devolved competence by a Minister of the Crown, are to be exercisable by the Welsh Ministers instead of a Minister of the Crown.

    (2) Provision for a Minister of the Crown to exercise a function with the agreement of, or after consultation with, any other Minister of the Crown ceases to have effect in relation to the exercise of the function by a member of the Welsh Government by virtue of subsection (1).

    (3) In this section “pre-commencement enactment” means—

    (a) an Act passed before or in the same session as this Act and any other enactment made before the passing of this Act;

    (b) an enactment made, before the commencement of this section, under such an Act or such other enactment; “pre-commencement prerogative instrument” means a prerogative instrument made before or during the session in which this Act was passed.’”

    Clause 19 makes provision about transfer of Ministerial functions. The amendment provides for the transfer of all functions currently exercisable by Ministers of the Crown within devolved competence to the Welsh Ministers.

    Clause 19 stand part.

    That schedule 3 be the Third schedule to the Bill.

    Amendment 16, in clause 20, page 18, line 8, at end insert—

    “(ab) section 58B,”.

    Clause 20 amends the power in section 58 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 to make provision by Order in Council for the transfer of functions to the Welsh Ministers to authorise provision to be made in respect of “previously transferred functions”. This amendment extends the definition of “previously transferred functions” to include functions transferred by the general transfer proposed by amendment 13.

    Clauses 20 and 21 stand part.

    New clause 2—Welsh thresholds for income tax—

    “(1) Part 4A of the Government Wales Act 2006 is amended as follows.

    (2) In section 116A(1)(a) (overview), after ‘of’ insert ‘and thresholds for’.

    (3) After section 116D insert—

    ‘116DA Power to set Welsh thresholds for Welsh taxpayers

    (1) The Assembly may by resolution (a “Welsh threshold resolution”) set one or more of the following—

    (a) a Welsh threshold for the Welsh basic rate,

    (b) a Welsh threshold for the Welsh higher rate,

    (c) a Welsh threshold for the Welsh additional rate.

    (2) A Welsh threshold resolution applies—

    (a) for only one tax year, and

    (b) for the whole of that year.

    (3) A Welsh threshold resolution—

    (a) must specify the tax year for which it applies,

    (b) must be made before the start of that tax year, and

    (c) must not be made more than 12 months before the start of that year.

    (4) If a Welsh threshold resolution is cancelled before the start of the tax year for which it is to apply—

    (a) the Income Tax Acts have effect for that year as if the resolution had never been made, and

    (b) the resolution may be replaced by another Welsh threshold resolution.

    (5) The standing orders must provide that only the First Minister or a Welsh Minister appointed under section 48 may move a motion for a Welsh threshold resolution.’”

    This new clause would allow the National Assembly for Wales to determine the income thresholds at which income tax is payable by Welsh taxpayers.

    New clause 3—Income tax receipts—

    “(1) Section 120 (destination of receipts) of the Government of Wales Act 2006 is amended as follows.

    (2) The Comptroller and Auditor General must certify for each tax year that Her Majesty’s Commissioners for Revenue and Customs have transferred the full amount of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers in that tax year into the Welsh Consolidated Fund.”

    This new clause would require the receipts from income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers to be paid into the Welsh Consolidated Fund.

  • I rise to speak to amendments 32, 33 and 38 to 45. My hon. Friends will seek to catch your eye later, Sir Alan, to speak on the aspects that concern them. I also wish to speak to clause 18 stand part.

    Amendment 32 is a technical amendment. Clause 8 provides that Assembly legislation dealing with certain protected matters—the name of the Assembly, who is entitled to vote at Assembly elections, the voting system and so on—would require a super-majority of the Assembly. It requires the Presiding Officer to decide whether an Assembly Bill relates to a protected matter and to state that decision, and I do not disagree with any of that.

    However, the clause then requires that that statement be in both English and Welsh and that the form of that statement be dealt with in the Assembly’s Standing Orders. While we agree that such statements should be made in both languages, amendment 32, which is in my name and those of my hon. Friends, would remove those two provisions. It does that for two reasons. First, including them is at odds with much of the rest of the Bill, which recognises the Assembly as a mature legislator and allows it to determine its own internal arrangements rather than what is required by Westminster. Secondly, both Welsh and English are official languages of the Assembly—as someone rather paradoxically put it, English is a Welsh language in that respect—and both must be treated equally. Therefore, providing that the Presiding Officer’s statement must be made in both languages is unnecessary—nugatory.

    Amendment 33 seeks to amend clause 12, which inserts a new section into the Government of Wales Act 2006. This would replace the previous arrangements for financial controls and provide that Welsh legislation should make provision for the matters contained within that section, such as accounts to be prepared of their expenditure and receipts by the First Minister or other Ministers who draw sums from the Welsh consolidated fund. We believe that the new section should include basic safeguards in the form of minimum requirements that Welsh legislation should provide for, and that reflect good governance. Section 124 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 currently provides for authorisation by the Assembly. Amendment 33 proposes that funds should be issued from the Welsh Consolidated Fund only in accordance with legislation or authorisation by the Assembly, and can be utilised only for the purposes for which they were authorised. This simple addition to the Bill would improve accountability and responsibility, and it would reflect the provisions for Scotland—that is, section 65 of the Scotland Act 1998.

    Amendments 38 to 45 are technical in nature. They amend clause 15, which provides that if the Assembly changes its name, then any reference in legislation, instruments and documents to the “National Assembly for Wales” is to be read as a reference to the new name. This saves having to change each reference to the “National Assembly for Wales”, of which there may be many thousands. However, the clause neglects the fact that Assembly Acts are prepared bilingually, and so references to the Assembly and the commission will be in Welsh and English. Moreover, it does not address the issue of legislation, instruments and documents that refer to “Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru”. The amendment clarifies that any reference in legislation, instruments and documents to “Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru” is also to be read as a reference to the new name in Welsh.

    The same issues arise with regard to any change in the names of the National Assembly for Wales Commission or Acts of the National Assembly for Wales, which are also addressed in the amendment. The heading of the section inserted into the Government of Wales Act 2006 by clause 15 refers to “translation of references”. The amendment would change that to “consequential provision”. That is more appropriate, given the overall effect of clause 15, and avoids confusion between legal translation—that is, consequential provisions—and linguistic translation of references. I look forward to the Minister’s response and hope that he might consider adopting some of these changes on Report.

    I now turn briefly to clause 18 stand part. This clause shows the speed of political change. After nearly five years of discussions about Silk and powers for Wales, we are now providing that Wales Acts are relevant to the European Communities Act 1972, although the UK has just voted to leave the EU. Obviously, this provision should remain in the Bill. We are still in the EU, and unpicking EU legislation from our domestic legislation will take many years and will not be easy. There are questions as to how decisions will be taken about which EU legislation remains.

    I hope that the UK Government, of whatever stripe, but particularly of a right-wing Conservative complexion, will not take it upon themselves to decide what is, or what is not, relevant to Wales. We have already heard the comments from one Conservative leadership contender at the weekend calling for a “strong Union”, and we suspect that we know what that actually means. We need to know where Wales stands and how these powers will be determined. So-called Henry VIII powers, lying either with the UK Government or with Whitehall bureaucrats, will not be democratically acceptable.

    My party, Plaid Cymru, is the official Opposition in Wales and the second largest party after the elections two months ago. The balance of competences review did not consider Wales in particular depth, but, post-Brexit, we must consider the question of which powers should be in Wales’s hands and not those of Westminster. The vote in Wales to leave the EU was not a vote to centralise power in Westminster.

    I draw the House’s attention to today’s Assembly debate on a motion standing in the name of our former colleague, Simon Thomas, which states that the Assembly

    “believes that following the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, provisions should be made to ensure that all legislation giving effect to EU Directives or Regulations pertaining to areas such as environmental protection, workers' rights, food safety and agriculture are retained in UK and Welsh law unless they are actively repealed by the relevant Parliament.”

    The debate will repay close reading.

    Whether or not Vote Leave was in a position to make the promises it made, they must be honoured by the Westminster Government because they were the Brexit promises that people voted for. That means additional money for the NHS through the Barnett formula, as well as protecting funding for our farmers and regional and structural funds post-2020.

    It is right for clause 18 to remain part of the Bill, as it will be relevant until any official departure from the European Union takes place. However, the clause, like so many others, shows how the Bill has already been overtaken by events and why Wales should have so much more power than it provides. The Bill is far from being a once-and-for-all settlement, and we give notice that we will return to this matter later in this Parliament.

  • Thank you, Sir Alan, for calling me to speak on this hugely important Bill. The work leading up to it has played a significant part in my time in politics.

    I pay tribute to the shadow Secretary of State for Wales, the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn). I have a special reason for welcoming him to his position: of all the other Welsh Members of Parliament, I am probably the nearest to being an octogenarian, and his wonderful example gives me promise and ambition for the future. If he can do it, there is no reason why I cannot. I thank him for that, as well as for the great wit with which he has entertained me over many years.

    The Bill is wide-ranging. Inevitably, opinions on it will differ and there will be an element of compromise. In his response to earlier amendments, the shadow Secretary of State said that we need to be pragmatic. We all have different opinions, including in my own party. We all, I think, want this Bill to go through, but we need to accept that we are going to have to compromise.

    The big compromise that I have to make relates to the fact that the Bill transfers energy powers to the Welsh Government, the idea of which fills me with horror. I would find it difficult to support the Bill, except that the Welsh Government have, disgracefully, already taken unto themselves those powers through their local government responsibilities. That makes the Bill’s transfer of energy powers much less damaging to mid-Wales and much less of an attack on the people of mid-Wales than it would otherwise have been.

    The intention behind the Bill is to provide a much more stable, long-lasting and permanent settlement for Wales and to provide clarity on it. I am not sure about the word “permanent”. I do not think it is wise to have a Wales Bill every five years, which is pretty much what we have been doing. This is not permanent: I think we will come back to developing devolution at a pace at which we can bring the people of Wales with us. Plaid Cymru Members spoke earlier about the judicial position. When the body of Welsh law is no longer tiny and grows to be substantial, we may have to revisit the issue in the future, and the same may be true of other issues that we have not entirely foreseen.

  • Today, I want to make specific reference to clause 16, because it is absolutely fundamental. It deals with the power to vary income tax levels in Wales, which is hugely important, providing financial accountability to the Welsh Government. Like the Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee, I was opposed to devolution but came to terms with it almost immediately, which is what we should do when there is a referendum. It was a very close result but, as I was driving home from the count, I accepted that we would have a Welsh Assembly, and I am in total support of it. Not only that, but I think that we should accept the decision of the people and make a success of it. We are doing our best to do that.

    When I became a Member of the Welsh Assembly, I was asked to be the Conservative financial spokesman. Clearly, one came upon the annual budget debate. As I was preparing to speak in that debate in the Assembly, I thought to myself, “This isn’t a budget; what we are dealing with here is just a spending plan”. When I was chairman of the finance committee on Montgomeryshire District Council, the biggest meeting of the year, by a long way, was the meeting at which we set the rates. We set aside a whole day to debate whether or not to put a penny on the rate. Every budget I have ever seen has on one side what will be spent and on the other how it will be raised.

    I know from talking to people at election time that that is what is on their minds. It engages people to know that, if money will be spent on something, it will be taken from them in some way to pay for it. That is what elections should be about—but not in Wales. In Wales, if the Government are spending money, generally on something that the people might approve of because it is popular, they say, “This is what we are doing, aren’t we great?” However, occasionally in politics we find that Governments have to support a law that is not so popular and is difficult to argue for in public because people are not altogether convinced. It is not acceptable just to say, “We can’t do that because we don’t have enough money from the Westminster Government”. The Government have to be financially accountable to people; that is what makes a parliament.

    In this Bill, we intend to change the position and call the National Assembly for Wales the Welsh Parliament. I fully support that. However, if it is going to be called the Welsh Parliament, it has to have the powers and responsibilities, and particularly the financial accountability, that we would expect a Parliament to have. That is why that is so important in this Bill.

    There is a division of opinion on this issue. Some of my colleagues do not agree with me, and we have had this debate previously. This is not an occasion on which I want to be political, but what I am about to say could be interpreted as being politically against the Labour party. It is not intended to be, but rather it is an attempt to demonstrate the position that we are in. A lot of people are opposed to granting the ability to vary income tax to the Welsh Government because they will always be led by Labour. I do not know why people are quite so pessimistic; the day will come when the Welsh Government will not be led by Labour. In fact, we are not so far from that day now. We had a Welsh Assembly election in which the total Labour vote was about 30% or 31%, and an EU referendum in which the advice of the First Minister, who was leading the campaign, was virtually ignored in Labour strongholds. It was not ignored by people who do not support Labour, but the very people who support Labour just dismissed the First Minister’s leadership of the campaign. The First Minister must wake up in the night thinking, “My position is looking a bit dodgy, a little weak. I’ve got 30% support and that may well have been halved in the EU referendum among Labour voters.”

    I genuinely believe that we are on the verge of creating a proper democracy in Wales, one in which not everyone assumes that Labour will rule, but we have competition instead. People will be much more engaged and interested. My comments might be perceived as being against Labour, but they are not meant to be. I am saying that I am in favour of a genuine political debate whenever we have an election in Wales. I think we are not too far away from that.

    One issue that has caused some controversy, on the Conservative Benches in particular, has been the need for a referendum on whether income tax powers should be devolved. I think we have had enough of referendums. As a general principle I am not in favour of them, and on this particular issue I do not think one is necessary. That has been my view for a long time. The referendum is suggested, and supported, as a blocking mechanism to make sure that the Welsh Government never become financially accountable. That is not the right way to go.

    That is now the Government’s view—they have moved on from previous positions. The Silk commission’s recommendations may be the bible of the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr Williams), but the commission was wrong to recommend a referendum. It was a weak recommendation. The commission should simply have recommended that the only way to financial accountability is to allow income tax to be varied by the Welsh Government, so that they become responsible. A referendum has been proposed in the past but is not what we should do now.

    The Bill is broad-ranging and hugely important. It is the next step forward in making the Welsh Assembly into a Parliament. It will settle the constitution for some years to come—I would not like to predict how long it will be until we are back here talking about another Wales Bill; I might be an octogenarian by then. The Bill is an important step forward and I very much hope that it passes through here and the other place unhindered.

  • I speak in support of amendment 11 on income tax powers. I am interested in much of the Bill, but during the past week, in the aftermath of the Brexit result, a thought has come to me. I am now absolutely determined that, like highly calorific chocolate, constitutional experts are to be valued, savoured and enjoyed, but not indulged in very frequently. I spent the referendum evening sitting around a table in a television studio in the company of a constitutional expert—I would argue that he is probably one of Wales’s finest. As we looked at the results coming in, many of them fairly miserable, the constitutional expert sprang to life and said, “Do you realise the impact of that on parts of the Wales Bill? Do you realise its impact on this and on that?” I sat there thinking that I was a little more interested about potential job losses at Airbus, what would happen to farms and all the rest of it.

    Let us get back to the amendment. I have always supported a referendum on devolving income tax. Our amendment 11 would do something really practical. We argue that income tax powers should not be devolved to the Welsh Assembly until a full fiscal framework for Wales has been approved by both Houses of Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. That is an agenda of total respect.

    I will tell the House why that is important. We all sit around discussing what it means to be Welsh, our patriotism and our different interpretations of it, often with the view that we have the one complete, absolute truth on the issue. But there is one thing that matters more and more, especially in the aftermath of the Brexit result. I can think of a million ways in which every single one of us in this Chamber could express our Welsh patriotism, but there is one way we can never do so: by supporting a deal under which ordinary Welsh people become poorer. That must be our litmus test, and that is why we must not only vote on this issue in both Chambers of this House, but we must also place it in the hands of our Welsh National Assembly.

    I agree with part of what the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Glyn Davies) said, but it is a pity that he has an obsession about never wanting a Labour Government in Wales again. Last week the Secretary of State said some interesting and thoughtful things on television in the wake of the EU referendum.

  • Let me clarify my view on that. We should not be in a position where we never have a Labour Government in Wales from time to time, but I object to the idea that we should never have anything but a Labour Government, and the assumption that Wales must always have a Labour Government or be led by Labour. We need variation—let us have somebody else, and then Labour can come back.

  • It does not much matter what I or the hon. Gentleman think—it has far more to do with what the electorate in Wales think. In all seriousness, this is about how we get the best deal for people in Wales, and for those of us who have never had an ideological objection to the Assembly having tax-raising powers, what we are proposing is sensible, workable, and goes with the grain of the majority of opinion in the Assembly, in this House and across Wales. The hon. Gentleman will probably disagree with me, but he said something interesting about how the Welsh Assembly, which was elected in 1997 with a small majority, has turned into something that very few people in Wales would want to get rid of, and quite right too. I think that this change and incremental increase in devolution, and the support for further fiscal powers, is right and proper, and it is time that the House supported it.

  • I rise to speak against clause 10 and the imposition of an obligation on the Assembly to undertake and publish justice impact assessments for Assembly Bills. Such assessments are intended to set out the potential impact of a Bill’s provisions on the justice system in England and Wales, and specifically on the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office, courts and prisons. The obligation to undertake justice impact assessments—or justice impact tests—in Westminster Departments is voluntary in the sense that the UK Ministry of Justice provides guidance as a tool to help policy makers find the best way to achieve their policy aim. If the guidance approach is appropriate for Westminster, why should it be deemed acceptable to place an obligation on the Assembly by means of its own Standing Orders?

  • I share the hon. Lady’s concerns over clause 10. In many ways the Bill includes a welcome approach for the Assembly to regulate its own affairs, so does she agree that this measure is inconsistent with the rest of the Bill?

  • It is also being imposed on the Assembly through its own Standing Orders. In that same spirit, surely the Standing Orders of the Assembly should be a matter for Assembly Members alone, especially bearing in mind that the Bill trumpets its credentials as the harbinger of a new model of reserved powers. No other legislature in the UK is denied the freedom to decide on its own legislative process and Standing Orders. There is nothing of the kind in Northern Ireland, Scotland or England, and nothing currently in Wales. No reciprocal arrangement is in place whereby UK Government Bills are required—voluntarily or otherwise— to assess what impact they will have on Assembly responsibilities in Wales. What impact, for example, will the building of the super-prison in Wrexham have on public service provision in the area, the national health service and transport?

  • As a matter of principle, this approach—I refer to the one of mutual consideration and respect—might be welcomed, but the arrangement proposed in clause 10 can be compared with Goliath ordering David to assess the impact of his slingshot while chucking boulders around at will. This requirement, coupled with the powers of the Secretary of State to veto Welsh legislation under Section 152 of the 2006 Act, causes me some concern.

    Finally, I take this opportunity to refresh the memory of the Committee that, were Wales to be equipped with a separate legal jurisdiction, there would simply be no need to jump through the hoops implicit in justice impact assessments. Clause 10 once again reminds us that underpinning the Wales Bill is the need to prioritise the single unified legal system of England and Wales, hedging the Assembly’s legislators about with an excess of checks and balances, rather than empowering them. We oppose clause 10 and we will vote against it when the time comes.

  • I wish to speak on clause 16 and the referendum on income tax powers. I preface my remarks by saying that I have always been an instinctive pro-devolutionist. I worked in the Assembly when it first began and I supported its establishment. I would go further than some aspects of the Bill in devolving powers and giving responsibilities to the Welsh Government. I support, as the First Minister has, a federal UK. I would like a constitutional convention and a written constitution that properly settles the duties and responsibilities of the respective Administrations across these islands. This is even more crucial in the aftermath of the EU referendum. I genuinely fear for the future of the UK at the moment. I have always considered myself a proud Welshman, but also proudly British and proudly European. I will continue to do so, but we have unleashed a whole series of very difficult questions in the aftermath of the vote that make our deliberations on the Bill all the more important.

  • Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the citizens of Switzerland and Norway are Europeans and may be proud to be European? They are just as European as anyone else in Europe, and he would be just as European as a Norwegian or a Swiss person is after Brexit takes place.

  • I am not going to be taken down that rabbit hole. I want to concentrate on the details of the Bill. I make my point because, despite having those views and pro-devolutionary instincts in supporting the most of the Bill—as I said, I am even willing to go further—I have also always believed in applying two tests to proposals put before us.

    First, whatever is proposed must deliver better outcomes for the people of Wales. It is absolutely crucial that we look at this in the context of our unique history. Our history is not the same as that of Scotland, our legal history is not the same as that of Scotland, and the nature of our polity and development is not the same as that of Scotland. There are distinct and unique things about Wales that we should consider that do not apply to Scotland. We always have to ask: is this the right solution? I apply that particularly to issues such as policing, the justice system and criminal jurisdiction. I am not saying that they should not be looked at in the future, but I believe in a practical test of whether they will deliver better outcomes. It is not just about sticking a dragon on something and saying it will be done better; this has to be approached in a very cold and hard-headed way.

    Secondly, I have always believed in the consent of the Welsh people when making major constitutional change. I support very much the intent of amendment 11, which I will support if it is pressed to a Division. We have considered the fiscal framework for Wales before moving forward with any devolution of income tax powers. There is a fundamental principle at stake here. Clause 16 would remove the requirement for a referendum. We have had two referendums in this country, one in Wales and one in Scotland. In Scotland, the question related to the devolution of income tax powers. It was the second question in the Scottish referendum of 1997 and it passed by 63.48%. The Scottish people were asked that question and voted for it separately from the question on whether there should be a Scottish Parliament. In Wales, we had a referendum on 3 March 2011 on a much lesser question, which was whether the Assembly should be able to make laws on the areas for which it already has responsibility. I did not think we needed that referendum at all. It was obvious that Wales should have had primary law making powers—it should have had them from the beginning. I always thought it absurd, sitting there in the early days of the Assembly discussing odd details of secondary legislation, that we did not have that primary law making power, so I am glad we have moved in that direction in terms of the Assembly’s core competences.

    Whether or not people agree with devolving income tax powers, the question is a very fundamental one that changes the nature of the settlement for the Assembly and the Welsh Government. The question should be put to the Welsh people. I think it would pass in the current context, despite what some people say. Many in Wales would want to see it pass, and it should be put to them. It is a matter of precedent: we have had the two previous referendums, but we are not getting one on this question. I cannot understand why. We are not giving the Welsh people a voice. Whatever side people were on in the referendum campaign, it was crucial that the British had their say on such a fundamental decision.

    I think that clause 16 is a mistake, but I will support our amendment 11, which goes fundamentally to the question of getting a fair fiscal settlement for Wales.

  • I rise primarily to speak to new clauses 2 and 3 in my name and those of my hon. Friends the Members for Arfon (Hywel Williams) and for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts). I intend to push them to a vote, with the leave of the Committee, but I understand that that will take place on the second day of the Committee, as opposed to today.

    Amendment 32 is a technical amendment that should not be controversial. The Welsh language has thankfully gained official status in Wales. The National Assembly is a bilingual body and official statements must be made in both languages. There is, therefore, no need for the Bill to include such a provision. I support the principle of clause 8, which essentially means that before any changes can be made to the new constitutional powers devolved in the Bill, the support of two thirds of Assembly Members would be required. This would essentially require cross-party consensus to change the name of the Assembly, people’s entitlement to vote, the electoral system, constituency numbers and the number of elected representatives in the National Assembly.

    I look forward to a swift consensus developing around renaming the National Assembly “the Senedd”, which would help to create clearer boundaries between the legislature and the Executive. Despite previous changes to the Welsh constitution, far too many people and commentators cannot distinguish between the work of the Executive, the Welsh Government, and the work of the legislature, the National Assembly. I also look forward to a consensus developing around votes for 16-year-olds. If an individual is old enough to start full-time employment or serve in the armed forces, they must have a say over who gets to form the Government. Extending the franchise to 16-year-olds during the Scottish referendum was a huge success, and we should aim to replicate it in Wales, not least because it would mean only eight more years before my daughter can vote for herself, as opposed to filling in my ballot paper—following strict instruction, I hasten to add.

  • The hon. Gentleman and I disagree on many issues, but on this we are in firm agreement. I have heard from many constituents, particularly when visiting schools and colleges, that young people want the franchise extended to 16 and 17-year-olds. I spent a lot of time campaigning on the Scottish referendum, and it was clear to me that, if we engage younger people in the political process, not only can they take part fully in the debate but they can add to it. We should all support that.

  • I am grateful for that intervention. I think that we can move swiftly on this in Wales and build a consensus in the Assembly. It would be a very progressive move, as the hon. Gentleman has just outlined.

  • Did the hon. Gentleman also detect from polls in the last fortnight a healthy appetite among 16 and 17-year-olds for participation in the decision that we, as adults, were able to make and which they, as young people, should have been able to make?

  • That is another valid dimension. It was clear that the younger generations were very much in favour of remaining a part of the EU. The morning after the referendum, I was the guest speaker at the graduation service of Coleg Sir Gâr, the local further education college, and in particular the Gelli Aur campus, which specialises in agriculture courses. I started my speech by apologising to those generations of young people—mostly 16 and 17-year-olds—who had been unable to participate in the referendum but for whom the decision made on their behalf will arguably leave a far greater legacy.

  • A consensus seems to be growing here on 16 and 17-year-olds having the vote. Rather than Wales mirroring some other parts of the United Kingdom, we should be radical in moving forward even further by talking about compulsory voting in Wales. Seventy four per cent. voted in a referendum, but if those others who felt disfranchised voted, the result might have been different. What we are talking about is radical Welsh politics.

  • I am grateful for that intervention, and what the hon. Gentleman says will be part of the debate as we go forward. I recently took part in a radio programme with the hon. Member for Cardiff Central (Jo Stevens), and we had a vibrant debate on this issue. My one concern about compulsory voting is that it moves voting from being a civic right to a civic responsibility, which is a very big change in attitude. I am not saying that I have closed my mind to it, and I acknowledge that the hon. Member for Cardiff Central made some persuasive arguments, but I shall reserve my judgment until the time comes.

  • Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that civic responsibility is a good thing per se? Rather like jury service, it is a means by which people can give something back to society. Compulsory voting, whereby someone votes for a party or just turns up and registers the fact that they have come to the polling station, is a responsibility that we should all have.

  • I appreciate that intervention, and the National Assembly has, of course, legislated on that basis through the organ donation Bill, whereby donating has become a civic responsibility for people in Wales as opposed to a voluntary responsibility in which people had a choice. All these things will be part of the mix when these powers are devolved. I believe our politics will be far healthier for that. Luckily, these issues will be determined by people further up the chain of command in my party than myself—by those who sit in our own sovereign Parliament in Cardiff.

    I look forward to a consensus developing around the need for a proportional electoral system. If we are talking about compulsory voting, it has to go hand in hand with a change to a more proportional electoral system. We cannot allow one party to gain 50% of the seats on the basis of 30% of the votes, as we saw last May. That is bad for democracy and it is a hugely corrupting influence on our politics. There is a chance here for Labour Members to show that they are genuinely interested in the national interest as opposed to the interests of the Labour party. I shall hold my breath on that one, as Labour colleagues seem to be more interested in compulsory voting than having a proportional electoral system.

  • Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that, in the interests of democracy and effective representation, a strong case can be made for maintaining the constituency link between a representative and his or her constituents?

  • I fear that we are getting into a debate about PR, and my party is strongly of the view that we need to go down that road. We will have to address these issues as we go along. The last election was a wake-up call where one party had 50% of the seats but only 30% of the votes.

  • Speaking as someone who was involved in the first referendum, I know that this was a big issue. It was argued that the Assembly would be different and we would have a hybrid system, which was put in place to help the smaller parties such as the hon. Gentleman’s party. It is not the fault of the Welsh electorate that they do not vote for his party or do not like it. We have moved considerably from this place, which has a full first-past-the-post system, to a hybrid system. In north Wales, Labour topped the poll but did not get one Member.

  • I am grateful for that intervention. The people of Wales will listen to what politicians have said today, and they will make their own judgment. My personal view, for what it is worth, is that the number of seats that a party has within an electoral body should reflect the percentage of votes they receive during the election. We will see how things develop in Wales.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd spoke at some length about clause 10. Needless to say, I agree with every word she says, and I will join her in the Lobby to vote against it later this evening.

    Amendment 33, tabled by my hon. Friends, is designed to ensure that the legislature of Wales has to authorise the drawing of money from the Consolidated Fund and that such funds can be used only for the purposes for which they were authorised. This is straightforward, and I hope that the UK Government will accept it.

    Under clause 14, the Secretary of State will no longer be statutorily bound to visit the National Assembly each year. This is a positive move, which equalises the relationship between the Westminster Parliament and the National Assembly. It might also save the embarrassment of some of the less active Members in the National Assembly. I seem to recall a story from the last Assembly in which the previous Secretary of State for Wales, the right hon. Member for Clwyd West (Mr Jones)—I am disappointed that he is not in his place, because I think he would have enjoyed this—had spoken more words than the previous Assembly Member for Islwyn.

    Amendments 38 to 45 are technical, and I hope the UK Government will accept them. They deal with the naming of the legislature and the establishment of a legislatures commission in the event of a name change, and ensures that the provisions in clause 15 extend to both the English language and the Welsh language names.

  • I am afraid that amendment 11 leaves me in some anguish. On the face of it, in view of legitimate concerns over the debate about the fiscal framework that will need to accompany the devolution of income tax powers to Wales, there needs to be some sort of “safety trigger” advice enabling the National Assembly of Wales to protect itself should the Treasury decide to pull a fast one. The fact that Scotland has secured a favourable deal in relation to its fiscal framework is of little comfort when we are discussing the Welsh situation. Following the bitter experiences of the Barnett formula, there is a danger that Wales will once again be handed an inferior settlement, with huge potential costs to the Welsh taxpayer.

    On Second Reading, I said that I wanted to see a Treasury statement of some sort before finally making up my mind about fiscal framework provisions in the Bill. I am pleased to see that a representative of the Treasury is present, and listening to the debate. In fact, however, the National Assembly does have such a “safety trigger” device. Political parties can, if they so choose, vote down the Bill during proceedings on the legislative consent motion, once it has been triggered by the Welsh Government.

    It is clear that the Labour party in Wales is desperate to avoid fiscal responsibility. While I have to say—although the Financial Secretary is present—that I do not trust the Treasury as far as I can throw it to protect the interests of Wales, I should add, if the Shadow Secretary of State will forgive me, that neither have I much faith in the Labour party to put the interests of Wales first. It seems to me that amendment 11 is intended to ensure that Labour will be able to veto the devolution of income tax powers to Wales. I do not believe that a Government should be able to choose whether they should be fiscally responsible, and, with that in mind, I cannot and will not support the amendment.

    I fully support clause 16. The principle of fiscal devolution has already been conceded with the devolution of minor taxes. I said on Second Reading that referendums should be held on issues involving a major constitutional change. Wales is on a journey towards a system whereby more of its tax receipts will be kept directly in Wales, as opposed to being collected by the Treasury and sent home. I welcome the change in approach, and hope to lubricate the process so that the vast majority of taxes are kept in Wales. In my opinion, the only major reserved tax should be national insurance, to cover the costs of social protection.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Arfon (Hywel Williams) has already spoken about clause 18. I support amendment 13, tabled by members of the official Opposition, which transfers all functions currently exercisable by Ministers of the Crown in devolved areas to Welsh Ministers. Having read amendments 14 and 15, I am none the wiser about what they endeavour to achieve. Amendment 16 appears to back up amendment 13, which, as I have said, I support. We have no problems with clauses 20 and 21.

    That brings me to new clauses 2 and 3. I begin my argument with a simple truism. Every single member of the Conservative and Labour parties in the House of Commons supported full income tax powers for Scotland during the passage of the Bill that became the Scotland Act 2016. I cannot understand the political reasoning for supporting the devolution of a major job creation lever to Scotland while denying it to Wales.

    During discussion of the Bill, the Conservative party’s position was presented by the Secretary of State for Scotland, who said:

    “The Scottish Parliament will see a huge increase in its financial accountability to the people of Scotland.

    The major new powers of tax, welfare and other matters will give added weight and effectiveness to the powers it already possesses.

    So significant are the changes to its powers, and so immense the potential for their use, the Scotland Bill will create, in effect, a new Scottish Parliament.

    In tech-speak, you could say that this will be ‘Holyrood 2.0’.”

    Labour Members were equally excitable. The former shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray), said:

    “When this Bill becomes law, it will present the Scottish Parliament with the opportunity to make Scotland the fairest nation on earth.”

    I could have a lot of fun reading out quotes relating to the Scotland Bill, but this raises a serious question for my political opponents.

    My new clause 3 would enable income tax receipts from Wales to be paid directly into the Wales Consolidated Fund. Effectively, there would be 100% devolution of income tax, as enjoyed by Scotland. If the Conservatives supported full income tax powers for Scotland to make the Scottish Parliament more accountable to the people of Scotland, why do they oppose the same powers for Wales? If Labour supported those powers because they would enable the Scottish Government to create the “fairest nation on earth”, why are they opposed to empowering their own Government in Wales with the same powers to achieve that laudable aim?

  • The hon. Gentleman is in full flight, but would he continue to support all those moves if the net result was to make Wales poorer?

  • In what sense would it make Wales poorer? I am more confused by the Labour position the more Labour Members intervene. The hypocrisy of Labour’s position does nothing to further the good name of politics. Most depressingly, it shows that both the Labour party and the Conservative party rejoice in treating the people of Wales as second-class citizens and Wales as a second-class nation.

  • Will the hon. Gentleman not accept the fundamental and basic point that unfortunately Wales is a far poorer country than Scotland and that the danger in what he is proposing is that he will make Wales poorer?

  • That is a damning indictment of the current situation. I have faith in my own people and my own country to be able to develop our own economy and create wealth. The big plus of devolving fiscal powers is that it would incentivise the Labour Government in Cardiff to stop spending money on their pet projects and start concentrating on increasing tax revenues to spend on public services. That is why I support the devolution of fiscal powers.

  • I have great faith in the Welsh people as well, and I have a lot of faith in the Welsh Labour Government. However, does the hon. Gentleman not accept that even in the short to medium term Wales would be poorer? Wales is a net recipient of funding from the rest of the UK, and that helps benefit all the people in Wales. In the short term, we would lose out. Does he not accept that?

  • The powers as envisaged do not involve the complete block grant. The block grant—the total money available to Wales—will not change on day one. The only issue of contention is the fiscal framework; I have been making that point. The devolution of the fiscal power itself is not an issue in terms of making Wales poorer on day one.

    There is also a technical reason why we should be fully devolving income tax powers. It is far more difficult to create a fair fiscal framework to accompany the partial devolution of income tax as opposed to full devolution. The result of this would be to enable future Welsh Governments to continue to avoid responsibility for their mistakes. In the interests of transparency, accountability and—critically—incentivisation, I hope even at this late stage that the UK Government will accept my new clause 3.

    A key element of ensuring that the devolution of income tax is devolved successfully is the empowerment of the National Assembly to set income tax thresholds. New clause 2 aims to achieve this objective and I will press it to a vote on the second day of Committee, with the Chair’s permission. If we have time, I would also like to press new clause 3. We will discuss these new clauses on Monday.

    New clause 2 is of vital importance as we embark on the journey of devolving income tax powers. The setting of thresholds is a key component of being able to use those powers based on domestic considerations. The Welsh economy in comparison to other parts of the UK is, regrettably, currently a lower-wage economy, a concern raised by Labour colleagues. New clause 2 would enable the National Assembly ultimately to determine the number of income tax thresholds and the levels at which they are set, including, critically, the basic rate. That freedom would enable the Finance Minister of the Welsh Government, whoever he or she may be, to set innovative income tax structures aimed at maximising revenues for the Welsh Exchequer to invest in Welsh public services, but also to encourage wealth creation and encourage investment.

    It has been a consistent policy of the current Chancellor to increase personal allowances—in other words to increase the rate at which people begin paying income tax. Brexit may lead to a radical reversal of this policy in the coming months and years by the next Chancellor as revenues reduce. However, the key point is that as long as the ability to set personal allowances is reserved to London and Wales has a low-wage economy, decisions by Chancellors here could have a significant impact on the revenue available to invest in Welsh public services.

    It really is all or nothing when it comes to the devolution of income tax and, as someone who supports making the Welsh Government fiscally responsible, I very much hope that the UK Government decide to support the former. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

  • I shall speak to several amendments, in particular amendment 11, which provides that income tax powers may not be devolved to the Welsh Assembly until a fiscal framework has been approved by both Houses of Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.

    We have always said that a fiscal framework must ensure that Wales is not disadvantaged by taking on the devolution of some income tax powers. In the wake of the EU referendum result, it is all the more urgent that the Government develop a coherent and redistributory regional funding strategy not just for Wales, but for the whole of the UK.

    The EU uses specific criteria for designating the areas that should receive structural funds by comparing the income of an area with the EU average. Areas in Wales such as the valleys and west Wales have benefited because they have a GDP that is less than 75% of the EU average, as has Cornwall, and many other areas have benefited because their GDP is between 75% and 90% of the EU average, including south Yorkshire and Merseyside. It is, broadly speaking, a needs-based system. As Members across the House will remember, Holtham recommended that funding for Wales should be based on a needs-based formula. However, a sophisticated formula would take time to develop.

    It is simply unacceptable for Wales to accept the devolution of income tax without an order in both Houses and the consent of the Welsh Assembly, because those measures would give elected Members the chance to discuss the funding and the fiscal framework so that we do not see a cut to our funding and then get told to make up the rest by increasing income tax.

  • I wholeheartedly agree with the point about the potential trap for Wales. Does my hon. Friend share my concern and that of many of my constituents about the uncertainty that is being created for projects such as the south Wales metro, which was due to be funded by the EU? We are not clear where that £150 million of funding will come from. If we do not have clarity on Wales’s fiscal framework and on whether we will be better off or not, projects like that will be in doubt.

  • I very much agree with my hon. Friend. It is even more serious than that because many jobs depend on EU funding. People might find that they no longer have the apprenticeship opportunities, training opportunities and many other things that are supported by the EU but that are not quite as obvious as the concrete structures.

    It would be very difficult for the Welsh Government to make up a significant shortfall in the block grant. The block grant is some £15 billion per annum, whereas the total income tax raised in Wales amounts to some £4.9 billion. It would be very difficult to make up any percentage cut to that £15 billion, particularly if we wanted to protect the standard taxpayer. It is therefore vital that there is an opportunity for negotiation and for a vote and approval before any devolution of income tax.

    People might think that I am very suspicious of the Conservative party and that I do not trust it an inch. [Hon. Members: “No!”] Well, I just think that we have to look at the facts. Look at what it has done with councils in England. It has told them that if they want to increase social care funding, they can raise it through council tax hikes. If anyone thinks that the UK Government run by the Conservative party are committed to fair funding or needs-based formulas and are free from partisan bias, I remind them that between 2012 and 2020 the average cut in spending power per household in Labour council areas in England is more than five times higher than the average cut in Tory local authority areas.

  • I regret to inform my hon. Friend that the situation is worse than she describes, because when special funding was identified for councils, 85% of it went to Conservative-held authorities.

  • My hon. Friend confirms my very worst fears. Instead of having needs-based funding, the average cut per household in a Tory area will be in the region £68 by the end of the Parliament, whereas in Labour council areas it will be more than £340. My fear is that the block grant will be cut and we will be told to make up the rest through income tax hikes in Wales. As Members are well aware, there has been no full assessment of the impact on Wales of different rates of tax on the different sides of a very porous border, so we really have no idea what will happen.

  • I will not repeat our many previous arguments about the importance of keeping the UK together and of having an income tax base right across the UK. All of us in the many regions of the UK contribute to the wealth that is generated in London through the companies that people work for in Wales and other parts of the UK. London therefore has an enormous tax take compared with other areas and is the only place that consistently provides a surplus, whereas other areas have to take from the pool. That is why we should not go down the route of complete separatism, as suggested by Plaid Cymru. Any tampering with income tax must be done with the consent of both Houses here and the Assembly to ensure proper negotiation and a proper agreement about funding for Wales, so that we are not left short of money.

  • Thank you, Mr Gray, for giving me the opportunity to speak about the Bill today. I am delighted to see my neighbour, the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris), on the Opposition Front Bench.

    By and large, I am happy with the measures and the devolution of some further powers to the Welsh Assembly. To be perfectly frank, I have never been a devolutionist, but I accept where we are and we must make it work. I know that the Secretary of State for Wales, my right hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Alun Cairns), and the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, my hon. Friend the Member for Aberconwy (Guto Bebb), will be doing everything that they can in the Wales Office to ensure that these further provisions are a success and contribute in a positive and constructive way to the Welsh economy and Welsh national life.

    However, my concern about tax-raising powers is long standing, and it would be remiss of me if I did not raise on behalf of the people whom I represent in Gower the issue of a referendum on tax-raising powers. I am well aware and have no doubt that we have all seen enough of referendums to last a lifetime, but one on tax-raising powers for Wales would be slightly less contentious and would take place in a slightly better spirit.

    The National Assembly for Wales, and devolution in Wales, has been on something of a journey over the past two decades. There have been mistakes, many potholes in the road and things that could have been done differently, but we have taken this course together and I am sure that everyone is committed to working to ensure that devolution works for the people of Wales. There is no doubt that Welsh national life has benefited from devolution, and it is important that people feel that our institutions are close to the decision-making process. There is still work to do on such issues, but things do not happen overnight at such a young institution. Speaking as a recent former Assembly Member, it is promising to have seen some progress and maturity in the Assembly as an institution since the last election.

    I want to make it clear that when there has been a major decision that would greatly affect the devolution process, the people of Wales have been consulted every time. There have been close votes. Indeed, the one that created the National Assembly was on a knife edge, but the Assembly was created. The Welsh people then voted to give the Welsh Government law making powers. Now, the next stage of that process, and perhaps one of the most important, is to give the Welsh Government the power to levy taxes. It is argued that such powers are vital to economic growth, families’ security and the future prospects of the Welsh nation. If used well, tax-raising powers could create huge economic opportunities that drive our economy forward and increase the fortunes of our people, their children and things that they consider important to them. If they are used poorly, however, that could place a burden on family budgets, put encumbrances on small and medium-sized business, which are the lifeblood of the Welsh economy, and drive key companies and economic figures away from the burdens of a tax-laden Wales to Scotland, Ireland or England.

    These powers are as crucial as any that have gone before, and if we are to be true to the Welsh people and to the devolutionary process that we have undertaken over the past two decades, it is only right and correct that we allow the Welsh people a voice on these powers. It is their democracy, their devolutionary process and their futures that are being decided, and some might quite rightly say that if they were worthy of being given the choice then, why not now?

    The Under-Secretary has previously said that a referendum was not an absolute manifesto promise, but I contend that it was implied to the people of Wales and to my constituents that a referendum would be offered. I must admit that I am disappointed that it will not be on offer as I campaigned fiercely on the issue. However, after a great deal of soul searching, I will not vote against the Government on this. I hope that we can continue a dialogue on this issue and others to ensure that this Bill provides the very best outcome for our people in Wales.

  • It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship once again, Mr Gray. Many points that I was going to make have already been raised by other Labour Members, especially by my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Nia Griffith). None the less, I wish to discuss the idea of a referendum on income tax that was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty), who is no longer in his place. The hon. Member for Gower (Byron Davies) talked about the Conservative manifesto, but I am more concerned with the fact that, under the Wales Act 2014, it is clear that if there were to be a referendum on the devolution of powers to raise income tax, it would be held before the powers could be transferred to the Assembly.

    I said on Second Reading that I am a devolutionist. I have long argued that major constitutional changes should be made by referendums, and I supported that in 1997 and 2011. However, in recent weeks I have been persuaded by some of the arguments on whether we should hold referendums on this specific issue and a range of others, including on having a go at the Government of the day. I make that point seriously, because I am not convinced that this is the major constitutional change that it once was. The Assembly already has tax-raising powers, but we do need some safeguards, which is why I will support amendment 11.

    I know that you will not allow me to digress too much, Mr Gray, but let me say that I used to support the single transferable vote for elections. In theory, it is great textbook stuff, but as someone who has campaigned regularly in the Republic of Ireland, I can say that the practical implication of that has put me off. I have also been put off referendums over the past few weeks. None the less, we do need to move forward on income tax, and amendment 11 is the right vehicle to help us do that. What it suggests is that both Houses of Parliament in London and the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Bay would make that decision. They would have a mature debate on income tax, in which we would look at the whole fiscal framework and the settlement that we have at present.

    Like my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli, I am worried that if we were to give the Assembly the power to raise income tax, this Government would say, “There you are. You now have the tools to do the job. Get on with it and start raising your own taxes”, while they cut the block grant and other fiscal measures. Our Welsh constituencies would end up poorer, which worries me considerably.

    It would be fair and right to have safeguards, and it is what the people of Wales want. This Chamber of elected Members and the second Chamber should look at the matter in greater detail along with the National Assembly for Wales. It is right to have that consensus and some safeguards to ensure that the people of Wales are not worse off as a consequence of the measure.

    We all know that the Barnett formula has a flaw, and we all argued that in the 2015 election—it was in all our manifestos. I have concerns because for every pound that is spent in the UK, Wales gets £1.15 in return. It gets more than England, but not as much as Northern Ireland or Scotland. In the future, if these income tax measures were given to the Welsh Assembly by a Government who were keen to get rid of them without having that proper debate in both Houses of Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, I would worry that the people whom we are here to represent would be in a worse position. I understand the theory, but it is the practice that worries me, and for that reason, I will support amendment 11.

  • With regret, I stand to oppose clause 16, which relates to the removal of the requirement for a referendum on the devolution of income tax or a proportion of it to the Welsh Assembly. I want to give my reasons for that. In Scotland there was a referendum before such a change took place. Also, the manifesto on which I stood for election—both the UK version and the Welsh version—reiterated the requirement for a referendum. When I and other members of the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs scrutinised the draft Wales Bill, it contained no such proposals. We must ask ourselves why at this stage we want to remove the requirement to have a referendum. In other words, why do we want to repeal this requirement that is in the Wales Act 2014? It is clear that the Welsh people would not vote in favour of the devolution of income tax, so this is an attempt to circumvent the will of the people, in my eyes.

    Why do we wish to devolve income tax? Financial accountability has been talked about, but I believe that unless and until the Welsh Assembly Government levy the vast majority of taxes, they will continue to blame this place for not being in a position to provide them with limitless funding. Of course, any situation whereby they would levy most taxes would equate more or less to Welsh independence, which I feel the Welsh population do not favour.

    If these powers are transferred, what will happen to the level of taxes? We are told by some that the powers would not be used, and if that is true then why would we wish to transfer them to Cardiff? Some, of course, fear that tax levels would be increased and, clearly, from my point of view, that would harm the Welsh economy. Some have suggested that tax could actually be reduced. That is highly unlikely, but if it ever occurred it would undoubtedly lead to calls from some nearby English regions for similar reductions. Any competitive advantages would be eliminated.

    From a north Wales perspective, there are 50,000 cross-border commutes every day and 1 million people of working age live on either side of the border. This is a political border that does not reflect how people live their lives or how businesses operate, and there is already cross-border disparity in the standard of public services, which leads to much frustration. Why would we want to make the situation worse? I believe that differential tax rates could lead to confusion, further complication of an already complex tax system, additional associated costs, and consequences, intended or otherwise, for where people choose to live and work, whether that is in England or Wales.

    We have just undergone the latest Assembly elections and, as in the past, disinterest and disengagement were evident, with votes cast primarily on the basis of politics in this place and with reference to the EU referendum, and I am afraid that sums up the level of enthusiasm for more Welsh devolution, at least in my area. It is clear that there is no call or mandate for additional powers and particularly not for tax-raising powers, and I see this as simply yet another step in the gradual break-up of the UK, which my residents do not want. Indeed, now that the prospect of partial income tax devolution has been raised, we are already seeing calls for further tax devolution. I feel strongly that this is an unnecessary and undesirable proposal and, with great regret, I will have no choice but to vote against the clause.

  • Last week, I had the great pleasure of congratulating the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) on regaining his seat on the Front Bench after a gap of 27 or 28 years. That was in a slightly different role to the one he has taken today, but I am delighted to see him there. I am also more than delighted to see the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) sitting next to him. Many Members will not know that a certain television company did a programme—it should have been a series—about two MPs trying to get to Westminster. They were me, now the Member for Brecon and Radnorshire, and the hon. Lady. She was my leading lady and I was her leading man, and I am delighted to see that the star is now shining brightly on the Labour Front Bench. That, I am afraid, is where the pleasantries stop, and pleasantries they are, I say to the hon. Lady.

    I, too, have reservations and concerns about clause 16. I made my objections clear on Second Reading just a few weeks ago, and here we are, too quickly for my liking, already at Committee stage. I have great concerns about a referendum on income tax. I stood on many a doorstep, on many a street, on many a farm throughout two and a half years of the election campaign, and as we got closer to the election, it was a clear manifesto commitment that we would deliver a referendum on this very important matter. I am deeply disappointed that the Government have decided to do away with that referendum. I have made these feelings clear to various members of the Government and I have made my views clear in this place. Sadly, the Government have decided to go on with the clause and I, too, will vote against it today.

  • Do the people of Wales want this clause? Do they want the possibility of the Assembly raising a proportion of their taxes? I have yet to hear one person mention that they would like the Welsh Assembly at Cardiff Bay to have this opportunity. During many hours, over many weeks, and what seem like many months I have, as a member of the Welsh Affairs Committee, heard specialists, lawyers and academics saying that it would be a very good idea, but I have not heard one constituent or one member of the public from Wales request that. It would be a great shame to go ahead with the clause today.

    Scotland had the opportunity of a referendum; Wales does not. Bringing forward the clause is wrong and the timing is wrong. The Assembly has not yet, over 17 years, fully delivered on many matters for which it has responsibility. I could go on for hours about health, education and agriculture.

  • I heard the hon. Gentleman speak on Second Reading and I am sure he is going to repeat a lot of what he said then about how he dislikes the Assembly, but before he does that, will he seriously consider Labour’s amendment 11, which suggests that we have a pause and that both Houses of Parliament and the Assembly debate this important issue, on which we are to represent our constituents? I respect the hon. Gentleman’s view. He has heard the reasons why I am moving away from demanding a referendum. Will he consider supporting that amendment?

  • I may consider it, but at the moment I am thinking about going further, with deep regret, and looking to my first vote against the Government—my first rebellion, which is of great concern to me.

    My position is not a criticism of the Welsh Assembly per se or of devolution. It is a criticism of the present incumbents down in Cardiff Bay. They have not delivered for us. Why on earth are we now looking to give them tax-raising powers? Sadly, I do not feel that they would be able to deliver that properly for the people of Wales. With great regret, I will not be able to support the Government’s proposal in this matter.

  • I apologise for the fact that I was not here at the beginning of the consideration of this group of amendments. Sadly, I was detained by another engagement.

    Like my hon. Friends the Members for Vale of Clwyd (Dr Davies) and for Brecon and Radnorshire (Chris Davies), I have huge concerns about clause 16. I speak as the Secretary of State who took the Wales Bill 2014 through this House. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Clwyd, I was an enthusiast for tax-varying powers for the Welsh Assembly, because I thought that that would introduce a measure of accountability and potentially give the Assembly Government some incentive to introduce a more competitive tax regime in Wales. However, the Wales Act 2014 clearly states that such tax-varying powers should not be implemented until they are triggered by a positive vote in a referendum, and it is still right that such a referendum should be held; after all, tax-varying powers include the power to increase taxes.

    If one expects the people of Wales potentially to pay more tax, it is only right that they should first be asked if that is what they want. That is what happened in Scotland in 1997, when the referendum had two separate questions, including one on taxation. Unlike hon. Members who have already spoken, I do not believe that it is beyond the bounds of possibility that the people of Wales would vote for tax-raising powers; after all, that is what the Scots did. However, imposing such a competence on the Welsh Assembly Government without giving the people of Wales the right to have their say in a referendum is utterly disrespectful of the people of Wales; after all, what was good enough for the Scots should be good enough for the Welsh.

    I also share the concerns of my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Clwyd. I stood in a general election only 14 months ago on a manifesto that made it entirely clear that there would be a referendum before tax-varying powers were triggered, and I do not believe that anything has changed 14 months later. If we make a manifesto pledge, we should adhere to it, so, like my hon. Friends, I will, sadly, be voting against the Government on clause 16. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan), who is also a former Secretary of State, has asked me to indicate that she will do likewise. Sadly, she is not able to be here at the moment, but she too regards this as a point of principle. I urge my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to reconsider. By pressing ahead, he is breaking faith with the electorate of Wales.

  • The opening words of the splendid book I referenced earlier are:

    “Only the future is certain. The past is always changing.”

    We have seen splendid examples today of people fictionalising the past. I am proud of the Welsh Assembly, and I am proud that it was a creation of the Labour party in this Parliament. In deciding on its form, it would have been possible for us to adopt a first-past-the-post principle, which would have given Labour a majority in perpetuity. However, for very honourable reasons, it was decided not to do that. We also feared creating what was described at the time as Glamorgan County Council on stilts. There are other examples of socialist and social democrat countries, such as the Nordic countries, which have had parties equivalent to Labour for many decades, and which have produced some of the finest social services and human rights policies in the world.

    It is absolutely wrong and mean-spirited not to recognise that the Welsh Assembly, as set up, is probably the finest example of democracy in the British Isles. Many of us were unhappy about the number of UKIP Assembly Members in May, but they gained 13% of the vote and they got 13% of the seats, which is absolutely right. However, for two Parliaments, including the ones when we set up the Assembly, when we could have done anything we liked, 20% of the voters in Wales voted Conservative and did not have a single Conservative Member of this Parliament. Why do people not object to that?

    We intend to divide the House on amendment 11. Clause 16 has obviously taken up a great deal of the House’s attention, but Wales is suffering from referendum revulsion, and so are other parts of the country. We have had enough. We have been having these all through my childhood, on whether we close the cinemas on a Sunday or close the pubs on a Sunday. We have overdosed on referendums.

    Let us look at examples of public votes, such as the decisions taken by the public to call a boat “Boaty McBoatface”, and in the European referendum. The choice in the European referendum was between two sets of lies by each party. Both sides are embarrassed by what they said a few weeks ago, because it has not happened, after all the dire threats. We do not have £365 million for the health service and we do not have an emergency Budget; one could go on. I am afraid that the referendum on the alternative vote was even more disreputable, with two sets of outrageous lies put before the public. On Vauxhall bridge there was a sign saying, “If you vote for AV you’re in favour of taking protection away from our soldiers in Afghanistan and taking protection away from babies in hospitals”, suggesting that only that sort of person would vote for AV. It was nothing to do with the facts of the case. The propaganda in referendums has got to a level where the results are degraded and distorted. That certainly happened in the European referendum, and I think that faith in the process has gone.

    In Wales, with each vote we have—it was a tiny minority the first time—there is momentum to build up trust in the Welsh Assembly. As the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Glyn Davies) argued very persuasively, it is not a real parliament unless it has its own tax-raising powers. That is a normal, essential development if we are to see the parliament of which we are so proud, on the soil of our own country for the first time for centuries, grow and take on its own decisions and responsibilities. Clause 16 provides for the removal of the requirement of a referendum on this.

    We are grateful for the wisdom and generosity of the Government in how they have treated this Bill. It was a fairly ugly Bill to start with, but they have amended it and accepted all the various suggestions that were made to remove some of its less wise implications. It now has widespread support in the House from all parties and Government Members. Our problem now is that the removal of these powers also takes away the involvement of the Assembly in the process of deciding when they should be brought into force. Quite rightly, several of my hon. Friends have expressed anxieties about what would result from this, because we certainly do not want to legislate for a reduction in the amounts of money that the Welsh Assembly has.

    The introduction of Welsh rates of income tax will represent a step change in devolution to Wales, replacing about £2 billion of the Welsh block grant with a more volatile revenue stream. It will therefore be essential that fair and robust new funding arrangements are established before this takes place. A new fiscal framework is required, agreed by the Welsh Government and the Treasury, which addresses each of the new factors that will affect the level of spend on devolved public services in Wales. That fiscal framework should not only cover the offsets made in return for devolved tax revenue but include a long-term commitment to the funding floor announced by the Chancellor in November. The UK Government’s Silk commission, to which we owe a great debt of gratitude, recommended that devolution

    “of income tax powers…should be conditional upon resolving the issue of fair funding in a way that is agreed by both the Welsh and UK Governments.”

    That is absolutely essential. There are fears that this might well be a Trojan horse that could be abused in the way that my hon. Friends have suggested. This issue remains unresolved beyond the next five years. Until the fiscal framework has been agreed, there must be no move to implement the Welsh rates of income tax. The UK Government have agreed a fair fiscal framework with the Scottish Government. It is appreciated that the model of the Welsh Senedd will develop along the lines of the Scottish Government, but it would be unacceptable for the fiscal framework proposed for Wales to have any less favourable terms than those agreed for Scotland. Amendment 11 addresses that issue by ensuring that the Assembly and both Houses of Parliament have clearly defined roles in ensuring that the conditions are right for income tax powers to be devolved to Wales. It cannot be right that the UK Government could commence powers over income tax in Wales without the approval of the Assembly. I urge the Government to consider those amendments seriously.

  • We believe that clause 10, which is a new addition to the Bill, is unnecessary and inappropriate. Justice impacts are only one part of a much wider process of assessing the impact of Bills. The measure is already provided for in the Assembly’s Standing Orders. The clause goes against the whole thrust of the Bill, which is to sweep away micromanagement of the Assembly and to give it full responsibility for its own procedures. If there are areas of Assembly scrutiny that need strengthening, that is a matter for the Assembly itself to determine. If aspects of Welsh Government planning for Bill implementation need strengthening, they should be addressed through an appropriate intergovernmental protocol.

    The clause deals with practical matters that need not be addressed in statute. The key issue is to create a proper joint process for addressing the future of the jurisdiction, as proposed in our amendment to clause 1. The issue is a distraction from the main picture presented and it devalues the Bill.

    We have also tabled amendments 14, 15, 13 and 16. Amendment 13 makes provision for the Executive competence of Welsh Ministers to be aligned with the legislative competence of the National Assembly—that is to say that Welsh Ministers should gain all relevant Executive functions in devolved areas. Given that the Government’s intention in producing the Bill was to provide clarity and coherence on the Welsh devolution settlement, it is difficult to understand why such a simple provision as the alignment of Executive and legislative competence has not been included.

    The Government have made it clear that they believe that the reserved powers model of devolution is superior to the conferred powers model. That major improvement to the Bill is warmly welcome. It is a great about-turn by the Government and we are glad that they had the humility to accept the criticism they received—some of it was very cruel—about their ugly and hideous first version of the Bill. We are on common ground, but why does the Bill provide for reserved legislative competence while continuing to operate on the basis of the conferred powers model in respect of Executive powers for Welsh Ministers? The continued heavy reliance on transfer of function orders, with their itemised listing of the statutory powers available to Welsh Ministers, is a relic from the past and it should be swept away. We need now fully to accept the logic of the reserved powers model and align legislative and Executive competence in the way proposed by the simple and straightforward formula suggested by amendment 13. It is an amendment of rare literary merit and it should be accepted on that basis alone.

    It has become clear that the Government have used the Scotland Act as a guide in developing this Bill, so it is difficult to understand why a fundamental principle of the Scottish devolution settlement is not being replicated in the Wales Bill. The Bill provides for the extension of the competence of the National Assembly in a number of areas. Surely, as the legislative powers of the Assembly expand, it is essential that closer alignment between the legislative and Executive responsibilities is achieved. That is what amendment 13 would achieve, and I urge the Government to accept it.

    The further point I would like to make is on the question of borrowing. The current level of capital borrowing permitted to the Welsh Government, £500 million, is unreasonably low given their annual spend of about £14 billion. The Bill provides an opportunity to redress this imbalance by giving Welsh Ministers a more meaningful degree of borrowing power. Both the Holtham commission and the Silk commission recommended setting what amounts to a higher level of capital borrowing for the Welsh Government. The Scottish Government saw an increase in their borrowing capability as part of the recent Scotland Act, and now is the time to do the same for Wales. The new fiscal framework to be agreed by the Welsh Government and the UK Government will set out the terms for any future increase in capital borrowing. At the very least, however, the introduction of Welsh rates and income tax should be accompanied by a significant uplift in the borrowing season.

    New clause 6 has been prepared to address this omission. It is a logical consequence of the partial devolution of income tax, which will produce a new revenue stream for the Welsh Government. Increasing the borrowing cap in this way would strengthen the range of financial tools available to the Welsh Government, allowing them to invest in Wales with vital infrastructure. I urge the Government to accept the amendments.

  • It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship in this important debate, Mr Gray.

    In opening, I say that it is a pleasure to welcome the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) to his place. He is the Member of Parliament for my parents-in-law, and an active constituency Member. We all know how active he is, usually on the Back Bench, but it is a pleasure to see him on the Front Bench. I extend a welcome to the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris)—I have some roots in Swansea, having been brought up in that part of the world. I also pay tribute to the hon. Members for Llanelli (Nia Griffith) and for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones), for the work that they have put into consistent scrutiny of the Bill in its early stages. I am grateful for the co-operation and support they gave me as we sought to bring about broad agreement on where the Bill stands. There is not agreement on everything, but I am grateful to all Members who have contributed for the broad consensus that has come forward.

    Clauses 8 to 21 and the amendments related to them deal with changes to Assembly processes, the devolution of income tax powers, and the functions of Welsh Ministers. Clause 8 would insert a new section into the Government of Wales Act that determines what types of protected subject matter would, if contained in an Assembly Bill, require that that Bill be passed by a super-majority, which is two thirds of all Assembly Members. The protected subject matters in clause 8 include the name of the Assembly, those entitled to a vote in the Assembly elections, the system used in Assembly elections, the specification or number of Assembly constituencies and regions, and the number of Members returned for each constituency or region. These are in line with the protected subject matters included in the Scotland Act 2016, with two exceptions. The Bill provides that any change to the name of the National Assembly for Wales be subject to a super-majority requirement. The Bill also provides for the specification of constituencies, regions or equivalent electoral areas as protected subject matter. The super-majority requirement will ensure that there is broad support across the Assembly for those fundamental changes.

    In the first instance, it would be for the Presiding Officer to determine and make a statement on whether or not an Assembly Bill relates to any of those protected subject matters. It is this part of the clause that amendment 32, tabled by Plaid Cymru, seeks to change. The amendment would remove the requirement for the Presiding Officer’s statement to be made in both the English language and the Welsh language. It would also remove the requirement for the Assembly’s Standing Orders to determine the form of the statement and the manner in which it is to be made.

    It goes without saying that the Government are fully committed to the Welsh language. The Wales Office has two Ministers who speak Welsh, of which I am one, and a third Minister who is learning Welsh. It is good to see that the political tension around the Welsh language seems to be a relic of history, which is, I am sure we would all agree, a positive move. But the intention behind proposed new sections 11A(5) and 111A(6) of the Government of Wales Act 2006, as inserted by clause 8, is to ensure that the Welsh language is treated equally with English when the new super-majority processes are incorporated into the workings of the Assembly.

  • Does the Secretary of State agree that it is outrageous for those organisations supporting the Welsh language to assume that because we are leaving the European Union the support for the Welsh language will in some way be greatly diminished? The UK Government and Welsh Government have been huge supporters of the Welsh language, and there is no earthly reason why that should not continue in future.

  • My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point. A broad consensus has developed on the Welsh language over the past few decades, which is very different from what we might have seen before.

  • Does that mean we will have a fully bilingual Welsh Grand Committee? I am just hoping.

  • The hon. Lady knows that the Welsh Grand Committee is fully bilingual when it sits in Wales, but when it sits in this place its proceedings are in English, the language of the House.

  • I am not going to give way, because there are many technical amendments I need to cover and I want to make some progress.

    I say to the hon. Member for Arfon (Hywel Williams), who moved amendment 32, that he has made a persuasive argument that the Assembly processes would ensure that Welsh is treated equally anyway, without adding a prescriptive provision to the Government of Wales Act. I would like to give the matter more thought but undertake to return to it on Report. I therefore hope that he will consider withdrawing the amendment.

  • I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that response and will listen to the rest of his speech with interest. I will withdraw the amendment. There is a progression in the normalisation of a language such as Welsh, from a point where it has to be specified to one where it is assumed, which is where we are in the National Assembly. That is an important point to make.

  • The hon. Gentleman makes an extremely important point that demonstrates the maturity of the debate and the acceptance of the language.

    Clause 8 also provides for the Counsel General or the Attorney General to be able to refer the question of whether a provision of an Assembly Bill relates to a protected matter to the Supreme Court for a decision. The Counsel General or the Attorney General may make such a reference to the Supreme Court at any time during a period of four weeks from either the Assembly rejecting the Assembly Bill or its being passed.

    There is precedent for a requirement for a super-majority on matters of constitutional importance. Under the Government of Wales Act 2006, the Assembly vote that triggered the 2011 referendum on Assembly powers required two thirds of Assembly Members to vote in favour. The Government believe that the safeguards in the Bill are sensible and command broad support across Wales.

    Supplementing clause 8, clause 9 amends requirements for the Assembly Standing Orders on Assembly Bill proceedings, to reflect the new processes required as a result of a reference to the Supreme Court. The clause provides for Assembly Bills to be reconsidered by the Assembly in the event that the Supreme Court rules against the Presiding Officer’s decision on whether the Bill relates to a protected subject matter. That is in line with procedures put in place for the Scottish Parliament in the Scotland Act 2016, which has been passed by both Houses.

    Clause 10 relates to justice impact assessments, on which there was considerable debate. The UK Government and Welsh Government have a number of well-established processes for assessing the impact of legislation on matters ranging from regulation to equalities. Indeed, on Second Reading I discussed the fact that Assembly Bills are assessed against their likely impact on the Welsh language and on equalities. It is also important to recognise that, through the Treasury and a range of other Departments, Her Majesty’s Government issue guidance and requirements relating to expectations of how public spending will be conducted and how public interests will be guarded. That is the principle under which the justice impact assessment should be considered, rather than how it has been interpreted by many.

    Within the UK Government, Departments bringing legislation forward to this House are required to assess its likely impact on the justice system. The importance of that assessment is self-evident: for legislation to be effective it must be enforceable. It is vital that that enforcement process is ready and resourced sufficiently to cope with new demands placed upon it.

  • We recognise the need for Assembly legislation to make effective enforcement provision, and we are putting that beyond doubt in the Bill. Schedule 2 introduces new schedule 7B to the Government of Wales Act 2006, to make it clear that the Assembly may modify private law for a devolved purpose, and that only certain core elements of criminal law are outside its competence. The Assembly will be able to create and modify offences for the purpose of enforcing devolved provisions. It has the power to create civil or criminal sanctions against wrongdoing, defer decision making to the courts, or provide for appeals on a range of devolved matters—indeed, it does so already.

    The England and Wales justice system shoulders a significant portion of the burden of enforcement regimes. Impacts are felt across the justice system, including by the courts, the judiciary and lawyers—many of those points have been rehearsed in this debate and on Second Reading. I underline the need for proper consideration of any new legislation, so that the Ministry of Justice and the justice system can adjust their working practices to cope with those necessary changes.

    Clause 11 makes a minor change to Assembly procedure to enable the Presiding Officer to submit Bills for Royal Assent. As the Silk commission recommended, and as we set out in the St David’s day agreement, we are aligning Royal Assent processes for the Assembly with those in Scotland. That means that in future the Presiding Officer, rather than the Clerk of the Assembly, will submit Bills for Royal Assent and deal with other related processes.

    Clause 12 allows the National Assembly for Wales to design and put in place accounting and audit arrangements for devolved bodies. Taking on those responsibilities is a natural next step in the progress of devolution to the Assembly. Under the Scotland Acts, the Scottish Parliament has similar arrangements. The Government of Wales Act 2006 is extremely prescriptive about the budgeting process of the National Assembly for Wales, but the Government believe that such arrangements are outdated and no longer appropriate for a mature legislature. Clause 12 therefore allows the Assembly to legislate for comprehensive accountancy arrangements, including the preparation and publication of accounts, and the functions of the Auditor General for Wales. That replaces previous arrangements for financial controls in the 2006 Act. Given the significant powers now devolved to the Assembly, the Government believe that the time is right to update those arrangements.

    Amendment 33 would add to clause 12, but I believe that it goes further than is necessary. Clause 12 concerns what the Assembly must legislate for to ensure that its practices fit with international best practice and what the people of Wales want. I do not believe that we should change that arrangement in the way proposed in the amendment. Under clause 12, the Assembly will have significant control over its own affairs, but it would not be in line with international best practice or arrangements in other devolved Administrations to give the Assembly the extra responsibility that amendment 33 would provide. Clause 12 already devolves significant responsibility to the Assembly, and amendment 33 is not the right way to do that.

    Clause 13 relates to the composition of Assembly Committees, and clause 14 relates to the Secretary of State addressing the National Assembly for Wales, as I will be doing tomorrow with pleasure. However, those clauses are out of date and undermine the maturity of the Assembly, because it is not for this place to dictate the composition of Assembly Committees, or to say that the Secretary of State should have the right to address the Assembly once a year. I am therefore pleased that we are acting to remove those clauses.

    Clause 15 makes consequential changes that arise from the Assembly changing its name in an Act. The Bill will empower the Assembly to manage its own affairs, including changing its name if it wishes. The Assembly will be able to change its name to the Welsh Parliament or the Welsh Senedd, or whatever it deems appropriate, and the clause will ensure that any change of name in law is reflected throughout the statute book.

    Amendments 38 to 45, tabled by the hon. Members for Arfon, for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts) and for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards), seek to amend clause 15. The amendments would ensure that if the Assembly changes its name, any Welsh language references in the statute book to the National Assembly for Wales, the National Assembly for Wales Commission and other related bodies would reflect the change. The amendments seek to change these references across the statute book in the same way that the clause currently provides for changes to the Assembly’s name in the English language. Amendment 38 also seeks to change the title of the clause, presumably because references to translation could be misinterpreted in the context of the other amendments proposed.

    As I have already said, the Government are fully committed to the Welsh language. It is our greatest inheritance as a nation and we have a responsibility to continue to develop it. On the face of it, the amendments would make sensible changes to the clause to ensure changes to the statute book, as a result of the Assembly changing its name, would be reflected elsewhere in legislation. I would like to reflect on the amendment, consult Opposition parties, and return to this subject on Report.

    Clause 16 and amendment 11 dominated much of the debate. Clause 16 removes the need for a referendum before Welsh rates of income tax are introduced. Back in 2012, the Silk commission’s first report recommended a referendum before a Welsh rate of income tax could be implemented. The Government agreed to the recommendation and the Wales Act 2014 provided for a referendum if the Assembly voted, by a two-thirds majority, to trigger one.

    The debate, however, has moved on substantially since that time. There is clearly a strong consensus that Welsh devolution has moved on since the 2014 Act and the Welsh Government should not have to call a referendum before assuming the power to raise, vary or even reduce a portion of income tax. The Welsh Government cannot carry on being akin to a large UK spending Department. That does not create a positive environment for political debate, with a healthy level of accountability. There is already a precedent for devolving tax-varying powers without the need for a referendum.

  • Will my right hon. Friend explain what extraordinary event has happened in the past 14 months to move devolution on to such a large extent?

  • I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his intervention. I was about to go on to say that two important principles have been acknowledged. First, the Assembly is more mature. That is reflected in the legislation we are passing to enable the Assembly to reach out and respond further to Welsh needs.

    Secondly, when my right hon. Friend was Secretary of State for Wales, he established the principle of devolving significant tax-varying powers without a referendum. In the 2014 Act, the devolution of stamp duty land tax and the aggregates levy, in addition to powers over council tax and the subsequent full devolution of business rates to Wales, account for a broad income of £2.5 billion. The Welsh rate of income tax, which we propose to devolve is—at about £2 billion—significantly less than that. This important principle has been accepted positively by the Welsh public and by civic society. That stands firm and is a backstop to clause 16.

  • Does my right hon. Friend not accept that the significant difference is that very many more people pay income tax than pay stamp duty land tax or landfill tax? Is that not the point, that it affects nearly everybody in Wales?

  • I remind my right hon. Friend that a similar number of people who pay income tax also pay council tax, and that many will be business owners who pay business rates.

    Much reference has been made to the Welsh Conservative manifesto and I remind right hon. and hon. Members what it said. Our manifesto for Wales stated that a funding floor would be introduced in the expectation that the Welsh Government would hold a referendum. We have fulfilled our end of the bargain, having introduced a funding floor of 115%, as has been mentioned. That is the floor—if I may gently correct the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Albert Owen)—and the spending level is currently higher. If the Welsh Government are not going to introduce a referendum—I do not think that any of us want one after the events of recent weeks—we will need to take steps, so I hope that the House will agree clause 16 as it stands.

    Clauses 17 and 20 deal with the functions of Welsh Ministers and devolve important new powers to them. Clause 17 will insert new subsection 58A into the Government of Wales Act 2006, conferring common law-type powers on Welsh Ministers—the kinds of powers exercised by a natural person, such as the power to enter into contracts, make payments or set up companies. It is difficult to believe that Welsh Ministers do not already hold these powers, and it demonstrates how current legislation is out of date with modern thinking and concerns.

    Clause 19 deals with the transfer of ministerial functions. The Bill provides for a clear separation between devolved and reserved powers, an important component in which is being clear about which so-called pre-commencement Minister of the Crown functions in devolved powers are to be exercised in the future. We intend to transfer to Welsh Ministers as many of these functions as we can. We will do so in a transfer of functions order made under section 58 of the Government of Wales Act and will bring forward a draft order during later stages of the Bill. Several other transfer of functions orders have been made under section 58 since the Assembly was established.

    I turn now to amendment 11, tabled by Labour, which would place a requirement in the Bill for a so-called fiscal framework. I should underline that the precedent in Scotland was not for the inclusion of such a provision in legislation; instead, the UK and Scottish Governments negotiated an agreement. I would hope that a mature relationship has developed between the Welsh and UK Governments, and between the First Minister and me, in respect of how we conduct our affairs. Clearly, there is no way I want to see Wales in a detrimental position—that is the starting point of our negotiations—and I am optimistic that we can come to an agreement over the appropriate adjustments to the Welsh block. Holtham has made some recommendations that are a good starting point for those discussions. Few people believed we would ever get to the position of introducing a funding floor. I hope, therefore, that that funding floor of 115% might give people confidence.

    I would like us to reach a position where the Welsh Government can grant a legislative consent motion. Under the model we followed in Scotland, a legislative consent motion came only after the fiscal framework was agreed. I would hope that, once we have reached an agreement on a fiscal framework and a Barnett adjustment, a legislative consent motion could then be used as proof and evidence. For that reason, the amendment proposed is unnecessary—appropriate structures are in place to allow for that mature discussion to take place.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

  • We have had a wide-ranging debate, including on issues not really to do with the lead amendment. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 10

    Introduction of Bills: justice impact assessment

    Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

  • Division 33

    5 July 2016

    The Committee divided:

    Ayes: 294
    Noes: 228

    Question accordingly agreed to.

    View Details

    Clause 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clauses 11 to 15 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 16

    Welsh rates of income tax: removal of referendum requirement

    Amendment proposed: 11, page 14, leave out lines 30 and 31 and insert—

    “(a) for subsection (1) substitute—

    (1) Before the commencement of sections 8 and 9, the Secretary of State must lay a statement (“a fiscal framework”) before each House of Parliament setting out the arrangements for calculating and making payments into the Welsh Consolidated Fund under section 118 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 following the commencement of those sections.

    (1A) The Secretary of State must send a copy of the fiscal framework to the First Minister for Wales and the First Minister must lay it before the Assembly.”

    (b) after subsection (2) insert—

    “(2A) But an order may not be made under subsection (2) until a fiscal framework laid under this section has been approved by resolution of both Houses of Parliament and of the Assembly.”

    (c) for the heading substitute “Fiscal framework and commencement of income tax provisions.””—(Paul Flynn.)

    Clause 16(3)(a) omits subsection 14(1) of the Wales Act 2014, which applies the power of the Treasury to commence the income tax provisions of that Act by order where the majority of the voters in a referendum in Wales vote in favour of the income tax provisions coming into force. This amendment omits the provision but replaces it with provision for a fiscal framework to be prepared by the Secretary of State, which must be approved by the Assembly and each House of Parliament before the income tax provisions may be commenced by order made by the Treasury.

    Question put, That the amendment be made.

    Division 34

    5 July 2016

    The Committee divided:

    Ayes: 181
    Noes: 285

    Question accordingly negatived.

    View Details

    Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

    Division 35

    5 July 2016

    The Committee divided:

    Ayes: 285
    Noes: 7

    Question accordingly agreed to.

    View Details

    Clause 16 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clauses 17 to 19 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Schedule 3 agreed to.

    Clauses 20 and 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    To report progress and ask leave to sit again.—(Charlie Elphicke.)

    The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

    Progress reported; Committee to sit again tomorrow.