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National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) (Education and Training) Order 2008

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 12 March 2008

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 6 February be approved.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this draft order, covering additional learning needs, represents the first use of the powers conferred on the National Assembly for Wales under Section 95 of the Government of Wales Act 2006. This enables the National Assembly for Wales to seek legislative competence from the UK Parliament to make a new category of legislation, Assembly measures. These measures will be scrutinised by the National Assembly, just as Parliament scrutinises Bills.

The 2006 Act includes a number of safeguards to the interests of UK government in conferring legislative competence on the National Assembly. For example, measures made by the National Assembly have effect only in Wales and only in respect of the scope of the competence conferred. They cannot remove or modify functions of Ministers of the Crown without the consent of the relevant Secretary of State.

On 5 February, the National Assembly considered and agreed the draft order that is before this House and which, subject to the agreement of this House this afternoon and that of the other place next week, will give the Assembly the power to pass measures in the area of additional learning needs in Wales. The draft order will confer further legislative competence on the National Assembly in education and training, an area that has been largely devolved for many years. Welsh Ministers have wide-ranging powers across the spectrum of education and training, including in relation to schools, nursery schools, universities, further and higher education institutions and special educational needs.

The National Assembly also has legislative competence in many areas of education and training, conferred through framework powers in parliamentary Acts, as set out in Schedule 5 to the Government of Wales Act 2006, the latest version of which is attached to the Explanatory Memorandum that accompanies this draft order. Policy in this area of education has been developed in Wales on a collective, all-party basis; indeed, the draft order originated as a result of the report and recommendations of the National Assembly’s former cross-party Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills Committee. The draft order also reflects recommendations made by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.

The principle of different educational provision is already well established in law and in practice in Wales. This draft order will enable the Welsh Assembly Government to bring forward measures for special educational provision for children, young people and adults with additional learning needs. It is also important to acknowledge the opportunities that this draft order offers to cover all age groups for lifelong learning, so that adult learners in the community, adult, work-based, further education and higher education sectors may also benefit.

The proposed order was considered by this House’s Constitution Committee, the Welsh Affairs Committee and a committee of the National Assembly for Wales. The scrutiny process has provided members of these committees and other interested parties, organisations and constituents with the opportunity to comment, question and suggest amendments. All the recommendations arising from the final reports of these committees have been carefully considered and the draft order laid before the House today reflects the outcome of that consideration.

Under the devolution settlement, the National Assembly has responsibility for special educational needs provision in relation to education and training, but without the legislative powers for it to legislate to change fundamental aspects of provision in this area. At present, the National Assembly has no powers to legislate to strengthen the status of the code of practice for special educational needs in Wales to ensure compliance. The current SEN code of practice provides practical advice to LEAs, schools and other key stakeholders on how to carry out their statutory duties in this area. It is, however, considered to have only weak legal force, as LEAs only have to have regard to it. This contrasts with similar guidance for social services, where established law means that authorities are expected to comply with such guidance.

There is also no statutory basis by which the National Assembly can consider making the current formal assessment of statementing less prescriptive. Although the Welsh Assembly Government have powers to make regulations about the operation of the statementing process, they are unable to make more fundamental changes to the structure of the statutory process, as this is enshrined in primary legislation. While it is too early to suggest in detail what changes might be necessary, this fundamental weakness was highlighted by the National Assembly’s former Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills Committee in its policy review of the statementing process. It called on the Welsh Assembly Government to seek the necessary powers to secure full legal competence for such statutory assessment arrangements.

A further limitation on a statutory level is that the National Assembly currently has no power to alter the range of individuals with the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales, including the right of appeal for children with sufficient understanding to exercise that right, in addition to the right of appeal for parents and carers. The Children’s Commissioner for Wales strongly urged that the Welsh Assembly Government should consider providing a right of appeal for children. He saw this as being particularly consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which underpins all the Welsh Assembly Government’s policies for children and young people. At present the right of appeal is limited to parents and carers of children and young people whose cases have been before the tribunal. It is important that there is opportunity for public consideration of such issues and that widespread consultation with key stakeholders takes place.

The granting of legislative competence on additional learning needs will enable the National Assembly to carry forward its policies and make a real difference to the lives of those Welsh learners, enabling them fully to participate in the many learning opportunities available within Wales. It will enable the Assembly to consider and scrutinise future legislation in this area and to tailor provision in line with Welsh needs. I commend the order to the House and I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 6 February be approved. 11th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.—(Baroness Morgan of Drefelin.)

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for once again clearly laying out the details of this order. By and large, we support its whole thrust and our queries—or perhaps criticisms—are about the detail. There was some debate in another place over the definitions involved; overall, the order lacks a certain amount of focus. It is drawn up too broadly to enable it to carry out a specific function, which is what it is meant to be doing.

It might interest the noble Baroness, if she does not know already—I have asked her whether the Government will at some stage look at the Government of Wales Bill—that there are now 13 different ways of legislating in Wales. If she is interested, I have them listed on paper. It is quite a thought but it is a fact.

One of the key definitions is that of disability. I understand that the committee in another place recommended that disability should fall in with the description of the World Health Organisation. I believe—I have tried to find my way through all this—that that was discarded by the Welsh Assembly and the description of “disability” is still open in this order. There is also a question about the amendment to the 2006 Act. At the start of the order there is a phrase which leaves us completely in the air. I had intended to quote it and ask the noble Baroness how she interpreted it but my tag marking it has come off. I cannot find it; I apologise.

Other than that, I have little criticism. We believe that the definition of disability should be clearly linked to that of the WHO.

My Lords, we welcome this order. As a matter of historical significance, it is the first legislative competence order to go through the National Assembly and we welcome that from these Benches. The focus is of course on special educational needs. I want to raise two issues. The first, as the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, said, involves the definition of disability and the second concerns transport, particularly to places of higher education.

The chairman of the Assembly Committee on SEN—this involves legislative competence in particular—is concerned about the definition of the word “communication”. The opportunity has been missed to define it more clearly. The provisions focus on the word “communication”, which, I discovered from reading some of the speeches made in the Assembly when it was considering the LCO, is the subject of some controversy.

The Assembly had a function of scrutiny, which it carried out, and it focused on the definition of disability. As the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, said, there are different views on the word “communication” and whether it should be included in the order. The Welsh Assembly Government assume that the phrase “physical or mental impairment” automatically includes a communication impairment, but the National Assembly for Wales committee disagrees. The Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh Affairs Committee of the other place think that the wording in the order is sufficient.

The Assembly was lobbied by a number of organisations. I have no doubt that they want to live in a perfect world and cannot always get what they want. I refer to the views of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy on the order. It states:

“We have been disappointed that the Welsh Assembly Government did not include communication impairment in the LCO as recommended by the Assembly Committee … Communication impairment is a difficulty in decoding or understanding what has been said and a difficulty in expressing oneself through the spoken word, for example a word finding difficulty, a chronic form of the ‘tip of the tongue’ sensation we have all occasionally experienced, which can go unrecognised and unsupported. Everyone has heard of dyslexia, ‘word blindness’ for the written word ... Few have heard of dysphasia, ‘word blindness’ for the spoken word”.

The royal college makes the point that two or three children in every classroom have communication impairment and 6 per cent of the population as a whole has communication impairment. It states:

“Those people have no special rights to support their impairment”,

at present. It states that there are means to improve the situation for those people, but that:

“Children using alternative means of communication such as sign language do not have the right to ask their school for help to let them use their special form of communication”.

It then mentions the whole problem of, and their difficulties in, communicating. It also makes the fascinating point that 70 per cent of people in prison have those sorts of problems. That means that we are talking about something extremely important.

I want to make one or two other points, which relate to paragraph 12 of the explanatory document—I thank the Minister for providing all these documents. That refers to a geographical limit to Assembly measures. It imposes a prohibition on Assembly measures having effect other than in relation to Wales. I agree totally with that as a matter of principle. However, in practice, there are some difficulties. Some children from Wales with special educational needs have either to attend or reside in establishments in England. I cite my experience as a Member of Parliament for a constituency, Brecon and Radnorshire, which has a very long border with England. This is a cross-border issue, in fact. We had a big problem in Shropshire with children from Powys going there and the same standards not being applied in Shropshire as they were in Wales. I would like the Minister to comment on a situation where a child, though normally resident in Wales, is not able to receive the good treatment and instruction included in this order because they are in an establishment in England.

I am certainly not satisfied with how far the settlement for devolution in Wales has gone so far, in that it is a hybrid. As a Member of Parliament, one could approach the organisations and the local authorities, in Shropshire for example, and communicate the problem. I note that in the order Assembly Members are not allowed to do that. In fact, the Assembly Members have responsibilities for SEN, so there is a problem, which I would appreciate the noble Baroness commenting on.

My Lords, I rise to strike a slightly more optimistic note than that already struck. I would like to celebrate today because this is the first such order to come before us since we took the legislation through to allow this. In my view, the scrutiny process has worked well; it is consistent with recognising the unique needs of people in Wales and it extends the competence of the National Assembly for Wales to meet those needs. It seems eminently sensible that the provision for those with special educational needs can be appropriately addressed, as recommended by the review of the committee in the National Assembly for Wales.

The order will ensure that those with special educational needs are protected from discrimination, and it also gives a right of appeal. It will remove the anomaly of the wriggle room that educational authorities have had, which has been confirmed in case law, to get out of spending on those with special educational needs.

I turn briefly to the scrutiny process. My view is that it has proven its worth. The Welsh Affairs Committee’s recommendations on the draft Order in Council, on the provision of travel arrangements for those in higher education and the extension of that to cover under-twos in nursery, have been incorporated. That process revealed the further problem of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Therefore, it has also resulted in modification of the legislative council order to allow provision for those diagnosed with a progressive health condition, such as a brain tumour, before the disability is manifest, rather than them having to wait until it is manifest and then be assessed. By that time, their disability has usually progressed further, and they are always playing catch up in relation to their needs.

The iterative process has worked well, too. Not all the recommendations from the Welsh Affairs Committee have been taken up. As the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, said, the committee recommended that the WHO definition of disability should be used in the order, but that definition is very broad and neither Parliament nor the National Assembly for Wales have any control over it, so it becomes a catch-all.

The problem is that there is no specific definition for the types of disability that the Assembly may need to pass legislation for. Disability and need vary widely across the whole group, which is extremely heterogeneous. No specific definition is included in the order; that seemed to be the right decision because it leaves the National Assembly for Wales with some leeway and flexibility for the different situations that will arise.

The other recommendation from the committee related to the problem of communication, which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Livsey of Talgarth. The Welsh Assembly Government have taken the view that the words “physical or mental impairment” are in fact a catch-all. Those terms will include communication. I agree with that decision, and I will explain briefly to the House why I think it is helpful to have it as a broad catch-all.

Conditions such as dysphasia are due to a problem with central processing. We do not yet have very sophisticated imaging techniques to use widely on everyone presenting with word blindness, but I think that we will before too long. My guess is that we will find that within the speech area of the brain there is altered physical processing and that the physiology is not working as well as it should for one reason or another. Speech therapy can retrain the plastic brain—there is plasticity in neurones—to reform connections and to develop and find compensatory ways around a problem. That term “physical” would encompass it. Similarly, deafness is “physical”. You might want to say that because the dysphasia is in the central brain it would come under the catch-all phrase “mental”. I even have a concern about trying to separate “physical” and “mental” too widely, because I think that it is just that the science has not advanced enough for us to identify the physical component of the condition that manifests itself as a mental disorder.

As communication is absolutely key to all issues around consent in society, it is important that anything at all that impairs the ability to take in, process and weigh up information is considered, as well as anything that impairs the ability of a person to simply communicate. That is why it is helpful to have the much broader framework and not to separate it out as a separate class under the name of “communication”.

I hope that other noble Lords will join me in celebrating that a process—namely, the Orders in Council procedure—that we set up, and about which many were sceptical, has indeed been shown to produce an order that should be fit for purpose for Wales.

My Lords, the face of this statutory instrument in itself is Welsh history of a kind. It is wordy, but it is historic, and it is a first. It is a development arising from the context of the 2006 Westminster legislation that required London and Cardiff to work closely together and to trust each other. In itself, it is a straightforward order; it is bespoke and it is in coherent terminology. Of course, it is not law-making as such, but it grants a competence, and it is for the Welsh Assembly Government and the Assembly to make law and, in this instance, for local education authorities to implement it. That is the pathway, and it is full of good intent. It certainly demonstrates the collaborative capacity of Whitehall, Westminster, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh Assembly to work together. Surely it augurs well for the future.

I rather think that an order entitled “Constitutional Law Devolution, Wales” is pointing to considerable future increases in the constitutional powers of the Assembly. I do not think that we should underestimate the long-term consequences of such orders. There are consequences for British governance and for our British constitution, as well as for our country of Wales.

Devolution in Wales and in Britain is getting more substantial by the day. I heard Professor Anthony King say the same in these buildings yesterday. Parliamentary power is being devolved across all of Britain. In the debating Chamber of your Lordships’ House one may consider where it might it lead and where it will end. Certainly, devolved Government in Wales is here to stay—it will not go backwards.

One recollects the difficulties encountered in the first referendum in 1979, which was lost. The noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, who is in his place, probably knows every nook and cranny of Welsh legislation for a whole generation. He was on the winning side then and I was on the losing side. The second referendum was secured by the narrowest of margins in the late hours, and it was the traditional narrow swing.

I support the principal purpose of the order. It surely presages the much-needed reform of children’s special educational needs in Wales. Our Minister in Cardiff, Jane Hutt, has a commitment to those with such needs and she is conscientious in her approach. All of us in public life know that our schools are under unique pressure to deliver on standards and targets. There have been advances but still the child with special educational needs in Wales—and elsewhere—often loses out. I dare say that none of us here can adequately imagine or quantify the miseries of the parents of such children; they will always worry. The Assembly is clearly determined to act.

I hope that the good intentions of this order are transmitted into practical advantages for every Welsh child with special educational needs. The Explanatory Memorandum, which is helpful, certainly gives that impression.

Finally, as the years pass, I expect the Welsh Assembly to accrue stronger powers. I do think it is fanciful to envisage genuine law-making powers in Cardiff within a decade. I am far from being sure whether the Mother of Parliaments foresaw that prospect, but here we are. The daily lives of the Welsh people are increasingly decided by the Welsh Assembly; I refer, for example, to the fields of housing, education and training, health and transportation. I cannot be sure what that means for Members of another place. I dare say that they have considered carefully the legislation. One thing is certain: the order certainly aims to do good.

My Lords, I, too, have been mainly interested in the process and passage of this first order under Part 3 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, which will enable the National Assembly to legislate and pass Assembly Measures relating to specific aspects of education and training. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, I think we have reason to be pleased with the pioneering procedure that has been followed, and I trust that equal care and diligence will be taken with similar orders that come before us in future.

This historic first order, although the substance is important in its educational and disability context, arose from legislative shortcomings found by the Assembly in the course of an in-depth examination of special educational needs. The subject matter was selected not, I am glad to say, for political or media impact but by policy considerations, and I commend the promoters for their integrity and restraint. Neither does the choice of subject suggest that there is an overwhelming demand in the Assembly and in Wales for a major programme—a veritable flood of legislation that can be met only by a referendum bringing Part 4 of the Act into operation and by full legislative powers for the Assembly. However, that may be a mistaken impression. I am told that there are more orders like this one on the way.

The order was subject to rigorous and effective scrutiny not only by the Assembly committee that dealt with it but by the Welsh Affairs Committee in the other place and by our own Constitution Committee. All this is admirably summarised in the very adequate documentation accompanying the presentation of the order. Of course, it all took time. The first draft was laid before the Assembly committee on 12 June last year, and I am sure that it will be June this year, at the earliest, before we have an Assembly measure to achieve the order’s objectives. Perhaps the Minister will assist us on the timing.

The question of the precise nature of the Assembly measure to be presented haunted the minds of some of the participants, notably Alun Cairns of the Conservatives and Janet Ryder of Plaid Cymru, in the Assembly’s hour-long debate on the order on 5 February. We too have asked similar questions about the propriety of giving legislative competence without knowing precisely what it will be used for. It is clear that the more detailed knowledge we have of proposed measures, the easier the passage of orders allowing them will be. However, what impressed me about the Assembly debate was the appreciation of the Minister, Jane Hutt, of the value of the process of examining the order as, “our opportunity”—that is, the Assembly’s opportunity—

“to demonstrate our maturity and confidence to handle these new powers”.

Jane Hutt paid tribute to Eleanor Burnham, who chaired the first scrutiny committee, and described it and her collaboration with the Welsh Affairs Committee in further scrutiny as “a steep learning curve”.

The good quality of the Assembly debate on the order was very reassuring. I do not propose to deal with the points of difference that arose in the course of scrutiny, except to say that they were sensibly and fairly dealt with. I happen to agree with the conclusions, and I am glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, agrees with me. Others who participated in the ensuing arguments may take a more controversial view when the order is considered in the other place.

I conclude with the request to Ministers at all levels to consider carefully the experience gained in the passage of this first order, to learn whatever lessons there are to be learnt and to seek future benefit from them. We have set a pattern here, and it seems to provide a good, if slow, start.

My Lords, like the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, I come to praise this order. I do so because it meets the criteria that emerged from the exhaustive discussions we had on the Government of Wales Bill about how to assess or judge an order. Three elements emerged from those discussions—three criteria to test whether we should—or should not—approve an order. The first is whether there is proper justification for seeking such competence. It has been shown that there is overwhelming justification in this case; it derives from an excellent, painstaking and very sensitive review by the Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills Committee into this difficult, and in many cases distressing, area of special needs. Anyone who has had constituency cases—and many here like myself have had such experiences over 30 years or more—will know what angst and anguish is caused in the desperate search to find what is best for a child, for parents and for the local authority. There is the question of state-maintained schools and mainstream schools versus special schools and the issue of rights and tribunals. The painstaking and excellent work of that Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills Committee review, as summarised in paragraph 7.10 of the Explanatory Memorandum, perfectly justifies the extension of legislative competence into this field. So the first criterion has been qualified and very clearly justified in the best possible way.

The second criterion we agreed during the course of the Government of Wales Bill was that we should not be presented with wide, sweeping orders seeking competence in education—for example, the whole of secondary education or further education. The type of competence sought should be specific and clearly defined so as not to be a back-door method of acquiring legislative competence in the broad sense. This order meets that criterion. Besides the issue of disability, it is very specific and well defined in as much as it is confined to the issue of competence in relation to special needs. Therefore, it passes the second test. The accumulative capacity of the Assembly to legislate in education is pretty formidable. Given the statutory instruments, statutory legislation and framework powers from various Bills, plus this new legislative competence—and that which is in the pipeline on learning and skills—I would be interested to know from my noble friend what in legislative terms does not come under the competence of the Assembly in the field of education and learning.

The third criterion—I remember it being a fundamental issue for many of us—is that we do not want to be presented with these orders without proper prior legislative scrutiny. That scrutiny should be carried out primarily by the Assembly and the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, although this House would have a role of one kind or another. The process by which this order has arrived here is proof that that criterion has been well and truly met. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, was rightly impressed by the work of both the Assembly committee and the Welsh Affairs Select Committee and the response by the Welsh Assembly Government, who made amendments in the light of that process. The Government in Westminster should perhaps take a leaf out of their book. We sometimes unnecessarily dig in heels here. So the criterion of legislative scrutiny before an order reaches us has been adequately and well fulfilled.

Finally, I am a member of the Constitution Committee of this House. It decided that it would accept responsibility for a 12-month experimental period to look at these orders. We intend to use this period purely to decide whether an order is constitutional rather than to look at the content.

Defining the term “disability” seems to be the only issue to cause a measure of dissent. I find the Welsh Assembly Government’s case, in paragraph 9.6 of the Explanatory Memorandum, for not accepting a WHO definition quite convincing. It states:

“It has concluded that it would not be appropriate for the Assembly’s legislative competence to be determined by reference to a definition that neither Parliament nor the Assembly has any control over”.

As a passionate supporter of parliamentary sovereignty, I support that sentiment.

My Lords, I can be brief, as the points that I proposed to make have been made already, particularly in relation to the way in which this order meets the three criteria set out by my noble friend Lord Rowlands. I am happy to join other noble Lords in the celebration. I think that I shall join the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, at the party she talked about. It was good to have her considerable medical experience applied to this order.

I welcome the order, but I particularly welcome the process. It is clear that the process in respect of this order has been enormously painstaking and lengthy, as the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, said. Perhaps one should not expect quite such a painstaking series of hurdles in future. In Wales, I suspect that there was always a temptation to be different for its own sake. Clearly, many special educational needs will be the same on both sides of the border. But the joy of the Assembly is that it has been able to experiment and, in a pioneering way, has lighted the path for others, such as with the Children’s Commissioner; it is good that he supports this.

Yes, I very much approve of the process. This is a first. This is not big-bang devolution, which many of us would have been concerned about. This is the British way of doing it: step by step and following the process. I believe that the Assembly and others involved have done us a great service. Clearly, we can now look forward to this same process being used in other ways. So, yes, I am happy to join the party.

My Lords, I am delighted to respond to an historic and celebratory debate and I hope very much that, in picking up some of the many questions asked by noble Lords, I will be able to continue in a celebratory tone.

The first question, on the definition of “disability”, was well addressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and my noble friend Lord Rowlands, but perhaps I may say for the record that the Welsh Affairs Committee recommended that the order should contain a definition of the term “disability” and refer to the WHO definition and that the Welsh Assembly Government should have the power to change the definition, should that become necessary. As noble Lords will be aware, however, the term “disability” is omitted from the draft order following careful consideration. The Welsh Assembly Government decided against taking forward this recommendation, as my noble friend Lord Rowlands said. They concluded that it would be inappropriate for the National Assembly’s legislative competence to be determined by reference to a definition that was not within its control.

The noble Lord, Lord Livsey, asked about the inclusion of travel for higher education learners. As explained in the Explanatory Memorandum, policy in respect of travel to higher education institutions in Wales has traditionally been dealt with by way of grant-making powers, which are provided for in the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998. It is not envisaged that that position will change. However, the Welsh Assembly Government have accepted the committee’s recommendation to the extent that a measure could make provision about the travel to and from higher education institutions. I believe that noble Lords have picked up on that example of how valuable the scrutiny process has been.

The noble Lord, Lord Livsey, also asked about communication. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, eloquently explained why the use of a broad definition could be so much in learners’ interests. For the record, again, the Welsh Assembly Government gave that recommendation careful consideration and are confident that the words “physical or mental impairment” would include communication impairment. Indeed, it would appear that to accede to the committee’s recommendation would have had the perverse effect of potentially casting doubt on the generality of the current formulation, which is specifically designed to be all-embracing. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, carefully explained that for us. It would be possible for the Welsh Assembly to pass a specific measure about communication difficulties, if it so wished, with the powers contained within the legislative competency order—or the LCO, as I was going to call it.

Cross-border implications, which the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, raised, are also important. Assembly measures, as the noble Lord rightly pointed out, can apply only in Wales and any measure that the National Assembly may make will apply to those in education and training who live in Wales, regardless of where that education and training takes place. If they are placed with an institution in England, it will have been assessed as appropriate for their needs in accordance with Welsh criteria. I hope that it is helpful to put that on the record.

The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, was indeed celebratory, and I found her illustration of the need for a wide, all-encompassing term to be very helpful. I also felt reassured that she was celebrating the process and that she felt the process had worked well. The noble Lord, Lord Roberts, said that it is important that we should learn the lessons. This is the first order to come through in this way and I feel reassured that your Lordships have welcomed the process and been pleased with how it has worked. During the passage of the Government of Wales Act, there was much concern about how the scrutiny would work. With the help of noble Lords on the Constitution Committee, committees in the other place and the Welsh Assembly, we have been able to put the concept of rigorous scrutiny into practice.

The noble Lord, Lord Roberts, also asked when we might see the Assembly considering measures following this legislative competency order. It is fair to say that proposals for a measure will have to be considered in the context of all the requests for measures in the Welsh Assembly Government’s next legislative programme. However, as I know that the noble Lord was concerned about the time that all of that takes, the First Minister will make a statement on the legislative programme in June—so we will have news on the timing then.

My noble friend Lord Rowlands offered us reassurance from the perspective of the Constitution Committee, which I know has worked hard on the criteria by which it will consider these Orders in Council. I am delighted that it is prepared to put the work in on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales and for the successful implementation of the 2006 Act. I am interested that we are already, perhaps, hearing that the National Assembly might be giving lessons to the Westminster Government, and I imagine that that might continue.

My noble friend Lord Anderson joined in the celebration, but highlighted what was, for me, an important point; that this legislative competency is being devolved to Wales very much in a step-by-step process. It is about building confidence between all the parties involved—your Lordships’ House, the other place, the Welsh Assembly and the Welsh people—through a successful process in which there is rigorous scrutiny, transparency and an opportunity for all those concerned with the question of devolution in Wales to have a chance to have a say and make an input.

I will close by saying that the granting of legislative competence on additional learning needs will enable the National Assembly to carry forward its policies and make a real difference to the lives of those Welsh learners, enabling them to fully participate in the many learning opportunities available in Wales. As I said earlier, it will enable the Assembly to consider and scrutinise future legislation in this area and to tailor provision in line with Welsh needs.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at 6.31 pm