Considered in Grand Committee
My Lords, the draft order makes changes to the Welsh devolution settlement by amending Schedules 7A and 7B to the Government of Wales Act 2006 in light of the EU exit. This includes removing references that are no longer relevant now that the UK has left the EU, and modifying consenting arrangements in relation to concurrent powers and in relation to the controller of plant variety rights. The order also corrects some minor errors in both schedules. I shall take each element in turn.
Noble Lords will be familiar with the need, in light of our exit from the EU, to amend references to the EU and its institutions as they appear throughout the statute book. A number of such references appear in the list of reservations in Schedule 7A to the Government of Wales Act 2006. For example, at paragraph 20, the schedule reserves powers to the UK Parliament to legislate over elections to the European Parliament; clearly such a reference is no longer necessary. While the majority of the EU references in the Government of Wales Act 2006 were corrected through the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, it amended only the list of reservations where there was a direct read-across to the devolution settlement for Northern Ireland. The Government committed to correcting the remaining references in Schedule 7A through this order to enable the Senedd to have a direct say over the amendments. I make it clear that our approach to these changes is that they are devolution-neutral. Removing these references will not result in the Senedd gaining any additional competence, nor take away any powers that it currently has.
As well as making corrections to the schedule that are necessary as a result of EU exit, we are also taking the opportunity presented by this order to rectify a small number of minor errors in Schedules 7A and 7B which have come to light since the Wales Act 2017 gained Royal Assent. These errors have not affected the competence of the Senedd and their correction will similarly be devolution-neutral.
I now turn to matters related to the consent requirements in Schedule 7B to the Government of Wales Act 2006. Paragraph 11 of the schedule prevents the Senedd from modifying or removing functions of a Minister of the Crown that relate to a qualified devolved function without the UK Government’s consent. A qualified devolved function is defined as one conferred on the First Minister, Welsh Ministers or the Counsel General and is to any extent exercisable concurrently or jointly with the Minister of the Crown or only with the consent of, or following consultation with, the Minister of the Crown. The need for UK government consent was put in place to protect the concurrent and joint functions set out in Schedule 3A to the Government of Wales Act 2006.
EU exit, however, has resulted in many more concurrent functions being established both through statutory instruments made under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and in the UK Government’s programme of primary legislation. This approach was taken to allow for UK-wide approaches to be implemented in a number of areas, principally where powers have returned from the EU. The Welsh Government have raised concerns, however, over the Senedd’s ability to break these concurrent arrangements in future in light of the restrictions that I have already outlined. The UK Government agree that, in these circumstances, the consent requirements are not appropriate.
This order therefore provides that the consent requirements do not apply where the Senedd seeks to remove, or confers a power to remove, a function of a Minister of the Crown that is exercisable concurrently with Welsh Ministers and established through one of the enactments specified in the order. These specified enactments are: statutory instruments made under Sections 8 to 8C of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 or in regulations made under it, the Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Act 2020, the Coronavirus Act 2020, the Fisheries Act 2020, the Agriculture Act 2020, and the Act of Parliament that will result from the Trade Bill, currently in ping-pong. I should make it clear that this carve-out applies only where the Senedd seeks to remove the function of a Minister of the Crown and thereby break the concurrency. It will not apply to any wider modifications that the Senedd may wish to legislate for.
Also, in respect of the Fisheries Act 2020, this carve-out from the consent requirement does not apply to the removal of a Minister of the Crown function to regulate British fishing boats, excluding Welsh fishing boats, in Welsh waters. This is consistent with the protections for the Secretary of State’s wider concurrent functions to regulate fishing boats of a devolved Administration outside that Administration’s waters. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has committed to carry out a review of concurrent fisheries functions to consider whether these arrangements are indeed still appropriate.
Many of the concurrent functions that have been established through the specified enactments provide that the relevant Secretary of State can exercise them only with the consent of the Welsh Ministers. A number also require the Welsh Ministers to consult or to seek consent of a Minister of the Crown before exercising them.
Restrictions in paragraph 8(1)(c) of Schedule 7B provide that the Senedd cannot confer, impose, modify or remove functions specifically exercisable in relation to a reserved authority without the consent of the UK Government. Welsh Ministers’ ability to give consent to the Secretary of State, as well as requirements to consult or seek the consent of a Minister of the Crown, constitutes a function in relation to a reserved authority. As a result, this order also provides that these restrictions do not apply when the Senedd seeks to remove a concurrent function of a Minister of the Crown established through the specified enactments. The Government believe that it is appropriate that the relevant Minister is informed of plans to remove their functions. As such, under the provisions of the order, the Welsh Government must consult the relevant UK Government Minister before a Senedd Bill can remove such a function.
The order also makes changes to the consent arrangements in relation to the Controller of Plant Variety Rights. The Controller of Plant Variety Rights is the UK-wide body responsible for administering UK plant breeders’ rights. Intellectual property as it relates to plant varieties is a devolved matter. However, as the controller operates on a UK-wide basis, and therefore undertakes functions for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland which are outside the Senedd’s competence, it is classified as a reserved authority under the Welsh devolution settlement.
As I have already noted, Schedule 7B to the Government of Wales Act 2006 places restrictions on the Senedd’s ability to impose, modify or remove functions of reserved authorities without the consent of the UK Government. There are however a small number of reserved authorities that are carved out of these consent requirements because they exercise a mix of devolved and reserved functions. These include the Electoral Commission and the Food Standards Agency. In the light of the devolution boundary in this area, it is appropriate that the Senedd be able to modify the devolved functions of the Controller of Plant Variety Rights without needing the consent of a UK Government Minister. The order therefore adds the controller to the list of mixed function authorities.
The order is the result of significant and very positive engagement between both Governments and has been laid before the Senedd for its approval. I beg to move.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield, for her succinct and clear explanation, and I hope it will not astonish her or your Lordships if I start by congratulating the Government on bringing forward this order—I am not in the habit of congratulating this Government. The order represents a rare example over recent months of the Government working constructively with the Welsh Government to preserve and protect the rights of the Senedd, the elected Parliament of Wales. It is also a reminder, perhaps, of how Brexit has up-ended much of the conventional wisdom about how our constitution should function.
When what was to become the Wales Act 2017 was introduced in the other place in 2016, the assumption was that concurrent powers between devolved and UK Ministers were a constitutional oddity which were on the wane. However, with the regrettable necessity of ensuring that there would be a functioning statute book after the end of the EU transition period, using concurrent powers was agreed by all four Governments in the UK as a necessary way of amending legislation, much of it from before devolution, which is now within devolved competence.
The Wales Act 2006—for which I was responsible as Secretary of State for Wales and introduced—provided for the full-law making powers Wales now has. It contained a provision which is unparalleled in the settlements in Scotland and Northern Ireland: that if the Senedd, in legislating, wished to remove concurrent powers from UK Ministers, it could do so only with their consent—something which is clearly anomalous when we are talking about issues wholly within devolved competence. That is why this Order in Council is necessary: to amend the legislation so concurrent powers created as a result of Brexit-related legislation can be removed by the Senedd if and when it so chooses.
One might imagine that this Government might have decided that this toe-hold was one which could be used in future as a bargaining chip, so I am pleased that a commitment entered into by, I believe, Theresa May’s Government, to bring forward this order has been honoured. I therefore commend this way of working to the Minister as an example of how to deal with the devolved Administrations in future. I make no personal observation about her, because it is her highers and betters who have been responsible for damaging the relationship with the devolved Governments. I commend it rather than, for example, following the appallingly arrogant precedent set by the UK internal market Act —where, as noble Lords will remember, the Government first undertook a tokenistic public consultation on a set of proposals which the devolved Governments had had no prior sight of; next, failed to publish the responses; then introduced a Bill within days of the consultation closing; went on to ignore the closely argued and rational objections of the devolved Governments to their approach; and only after three rounds of ping-pong produced some limited compromise amendments. Now, I understand that, having exhausted the political process, the Welsh Government are taking the Secretary of State to court on the basis that if he had wanted to diminish the Senedd’s powers, he should have done so overtly, not by legislation which pretends to leave them untouched. I am sure that many in your Lordships’ House will wish—as I do—the Welsh Government well.
I conclude by simply asking the Minister whether she recognises the damage done to the United Kingdom by that legislation and whether she agrees that the consensual way of proceeding which we have reflected in the order is a much better precedent for the Government to follow in future.
My Lords, this is a complex order, and although I have been involved in all the devolution legislation since 1998, it is not easy to follow. This is a problem in Wales, but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland, as the noble Lord, Lord Hain, just explained. I entirely concur with his comments on the internal market Act.
To try to define the problem, the consequence of the proposed repatriation of powers from Brussels was a lorry-load of legislation pushed through at breakneck speed in Westminster. We all suffered for it. The Welsh Government co-operated in giving consent in devolved areas where it was necessary, but the result was that the Minister of the Crown in Westminster acquired from Brussels concurrent powers with Welsh Ministers in devolved areas. As a result, Welsh Ministers are restricted in the exercise of their devolved powers, long established by a number of Government of Wales Acts since 1998. In a wide area of policy where there are concurrent powers, the consent of the Minister of the Crown would now be required for Welsh Ministers to exercise their long-established powers, if it were not for this order.
The original purpose of the order was limited. Originally, it was intended to correct a number of deficiencies arising from the UK’s exit from the European Union and to change some drafting errors in the 2006 Act, as amended in 2017. However, the order has been extended to provide a carve-out from the consent requirements, mainly in respect of current and concurrent- plus functions created by the EU exit legislation, but also by the swathes of coronavirus legislation through which we have been wading.
My understanding, therefore, is that the order removes the need for the Minister of the Crown’s consent to the exercise by Welsh Ministers of their powers where concurrency is caused mainly by Brexit. I hope I am right in that.
The illustration of the purpose of the order given in the report of the legislative committee of the Senedd was in relation to fisheries. Power over British fisheries was taken back from Brussels so that British Ministers could exercise full powers over UK fishing—pause for a sea shanty or two, followed by a chorus of “Rule Britannia” by those British fishermen who are now expressing such delight at the predicted failure by the Prime Minister in the negotiations.
In Wales, those ex-Brussels powers run concurrently with the powers of Welsh Ministers—for example, for the regulation of Welsh fishing vessels in the so-called Welsh zone. Will the Minister confirm that, as a result of this order, the British Fisheries Minister will not interfere with Welsh Ministers in regulating Welsh fisheries and that Welsh Ministers will be able to get on with their job without needing Westminster consent? I understood her to say that the Westminster Government will concurrently control British fish in Welsh waters. I do not know what will happen if there is a clash; I am not sure which side the Royal Navy will be on.
This principle of non-interference applies not just to fisheries but to the whole range of Welsh devolved competences. The Senedd report referred in particular to the Trade Bill going through Parliament, but there will be others, as the Minister has pointed out. In giving evidence to that committee, the Welsh Counsel General said there would be a need for a further order after the end of the transition period. Was he right? Is there another order now on the stocks?
Is it the Government’s policy in future to ensure that Welsh Ministers do not require the consent of a Westminster Minister to legislate in any devolved matter? If the answer to that question is yes—and I note that the noble Lord, Lord Hain, seems to think it is—and that such permission is not required, a large number of concerns in Wales will be assuaged. If the answer is no, or is qualified in some way, it will mean that Westminster Ministers have a power of veto over the exercise by Welsh Ministers of their devolved powers. Further, it will mean that central government envisage exercising their newly acquired concurrent powers derived from Brussels in Wales. It is obvious that there is a vital constitutional question wrapped up in this order. It gives meaning to the charge of power grab, which the Government have so hotly resented and denied. I hope to be enlightened.
My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, and am so glad to see that he is in such fine fettle following the ill health that he suffered last year. It is also good to have a Minister in charge of this debate who has a genuine interest in Wales and wants to make the devolved settlement work, in contrast to one of two of her party’s candidates in the Senedd election next May, who seem hell-bent on destroying devolution, and in contrast to our recent experiences with other legislation to which the noble Lord, Lord Hain, referred. I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, is right in relation to the veto.
I am particularly glad to acknowledge the significant role played by the noble Lord, Lord Hain, in the formulation and passage of the 2006 Act. I was at that time very much involved in the lobbying process agitating for a new enactment following the recommendations of the Richard commission on the need to enable the National Assembly, as it then was, to pass primary legislation in those matters devolved to it. Fortuitously, the noble Lord, Lord Hain, was in the right place at the right time to bring forward such a Bill earlier than had been generally expected, and his opportunism was widely saluted in Wales, as the 2006 Act found its way on to the statute book. In many ways, it was only a bridging exercise leading on to more comprehensive legislative powers being devolved following the 2011 referendum, which gave a thumping 2:1 endorsement to change the National Assembly into a legislative Parliament.
It is in that context that we should see the order today. First, I acknowledge that, as the Minister asserted, the Welsh Government broadly support the provisions of the order, so I am in no way challenging the need for such adjustments. However, there are a couple of points on which I would be grateful for clarification.
The wording of the order provides for amending Schedule 7A on reserved matters to omit the words
“and obligations under EU law.”
I accept that regrettably, following Brexit, EU regulations, however sensible they may have been, no longer hold sway, that henceforward legislation formulated and adopted in these islands will deal with matters previously covered by European legislation, and that in non-reserved matters, Wales’s Senedd should draft and enact such legislation. Can the Minister confirm that it will indeed be Senedd Cymru that will take such steps in each and every instance and that, in areas where competence is not reserved, legislation drawn up at Westminster will not be imposed on it?
Secondly, can the Minister confirm that every single EU obligation has been or is being reconstituted into UK law at Westminster for reserved matters and in Senedd Cymru for all other matters, unless a specific decision is taken to amend or annul them—decisions made in Senedd Cymru for all non-reserved matters? If the Minister can give me such undertakings, my reservations are not so much about the mechanics of the order before us today but to ask whether by themselves they cover all the ground that needs to be covered by such orders and that nothing will fall in between the tracks, those between the EU and the UK and those between Westminster and Senedd Cymru. I will be grateful for such assurances.
First, I thank the Minister for her very clear exposition of this somewhat arcane order and for dealing with anything that involves amending the Government of Wales Acts, which are so inherently complex. I thank the Minister and Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom for bringing this forward, primarily to correct an anomaly that has arisen in the devolution legislation, and for doing so at the behest of the Welsh Government. It is right on this occasion to say thank you. This is a good example of what can be achieved by acting pragmatically, consulting properly and resolving issues consensually. That is the message I wanted to convey—not much more and certainly nothing less. I hope for the future that this is the example of the way the four nations of the United Kingdom can move forward together. Indeed, we must move forward in this way at a time when the union is subject to such great strain.
There will be opportunities to say that such an approach of working together is the way of the future. It will arise very soon—for example, in relation to further steps needed as a result of the United Kingdom Internal Market Act, such as the undertakings given in respect of the Act itself, the common frameworks being developed, and the new competition regime. A particularly good example of the need for this new way of working is what is to happen in relation to procurement, where there is a draft common framework in existence but also, as the White Paper explains, the possibility of new legislation. There can be little doubt that there is a real need to simplify the legislative framework which sets out the current devolution settlement. I hope the Minister will appreciate this when she has had to explain this complicated instrument. There may also be a need for new and better structures, but this afternoon is not the time to develop that issue.
I confine my message simply to saying thank you for acting in this way, trusting that the future will therefore be one where the way forward is founded on the UK Government genuinely working together with the Governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to deal with issues through consultation and consensual decision-making in a union that properly respects devolution but which also looks to agreed common solutions to UK-wide issues. I very much hope that I will have many more occasions to make a speech of this kind saying thank you rather than having to press for changes to be made to try to hold our union together.
My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this debate on the amendments to the Government of Wales Act 2006 and thank the Minister for her detailed introduction to the proposed amendments. I am also delighted to follow all noble Lords who have spoken.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Hain, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, I was pleased to note that this statutory instrument is the result of officials from the Welsh Government and the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales working in conjunction to develop and negotiate its contents. That the two Governments have worked so co-operatively and have come to an agreed conclusion should provide a blueprint for future negotiations and, as such, we have no objections to the order.
The first group of amendments, those to Schedule 7A to the Act, deal with deficiencies in the Act. The majority of these deficiencies give rise to amendments to remove our obligations under EU law, which even I, as someone who voted to remain in the EU, accept are now obsolete. Like the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, I regret their loss but reluctantly accept the inevitability of these changes.
On these Liberal Democrat Benches, we also regret further amendments to Schedule 7A which remove references to the European Parliament, remove the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 from the definition of “existing election Acts” and remove the reservation concerning the free movement of persons within the European Economic Area. The rights we enjoyed as European citizens in Wales under the Act will now be consigned to history and oblivion by the pressing of a delete button on a computer somewhere in Whitehall. For those of us who live in Wales, especially in west Wales and the valleys, there were far more advantages to our membership of the EU than merely citizenship of Europe, and it seems appropriate that I take this opportunity to put on public record my gratitude to the EU for the investment it made in our region.
Nearly 20 years on from the decision that west Wales and the valleys qualified for Objective 1 status, our road infrastructure is in a far more positive place, laying the groundwork for future economic development through improved connectivity. Our rural communities have had life breathed back into them as unused buildings have been repurposed for community use. Enterprise has been encouraged, new businesses have been created and our skills shortages were being tackled. But this was just the start; there is still far more to be done. Twenty years of funding was never going to make up for many years, even centuries, of neglect. That neglect is set to return.
A letter from Jeremy Miles, Wales’s Brexit Minister, published on Monday by the Welsh Affairs Committee in the other place, says:
“The programmes which are ending are worth £375 million annually to Wales. What is on offer from the UK Government is £220 million across the whole UK to run a pilot SPF scheme in 2021-22.”
That is a far cry from the UK Government’s claims that Wales would receive more money from the UK Government than it did from EU funding.
I am grateful that we in Wales benefited from a true levelling-up agenda. As one of the poorest areas in Europe, we benefited from investment that was awarded based on an ethos of co-operation, consultation and, above all, equality. We experienced working in a system that gave us the dignity of contributing to our own solutions in a partnership of equals—a stark contrast to the future ahead of us, as we face the prospect of schemes and projects being imposed on us. If the UK Government are to take one lesson from Wales’s experience of working with the EU, it is that far more can be achieved by co-operation, joint planning and partnership working than by imposition and diktat.
I turn very briefly to the other two groups of amendments. Those amendments which correct errors in drafting in Schedule 7B of course have our support. The third category removes some of the Minister of the Crown consent requirements and is important to protect the Senedd’s legislative competence. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford for his detailed and expert analysis of the amendments, and like him I look forward to the Minister’s response.
I also thank the Minister for introducing the draft Order in Council, which we welcome and are happy to support. It clearly had a long genesis, as evidenced by the reference along the bottom of the Explanatory Memorandum to DExEU, which clearly did the work at that point. I assume this is because the earlier draft was concerned only with some Brexit issues, and that now, as we just heard, the other carve-outs have been added.
Before I ask just a couple of questions, I echo my noble friend Lord Hain and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, by thanking the Government for the order and the changes in it, which respond to a request from the Welsh Government. As they have said, it seems to reflect a much better dialogue than that witnessed over Brexit and the internal market Bill. I hope it signals a closer working relationship, with regular scheduled meetings at Prime Minister and First Minister level.
This is important, not just for the future of devolution as a living, working, evolving way of our democracy functioning. Especially in these challenging times, it evinces a better way of working together for the future health, welfare and economic recovery of the UK. As we have heard, such working has to be collaborative and reach beyond and above party lines. It means discussing problems facing the UK openly and developing policies together, not just consulting on ones that are already fully formed. If the order is anything to go by, the seeds of that approach appear to have been sown.
The carve-outs in the order for the removal of certain functions from requiring UK ministerial consent, as agreed by the Welsh Parliament, are sensible and welcome. I have therefore only a couple of questions. First, as there remain concerns about the Welsh Government’s reliance on the UK Government to legislate on their behalf, could the Minister confirm that if any further corrections are needed as a consequence of our exit, the Welsh Government will be able to legislate to make such corrections?
Secondly, as the order does not cover concurrent-plus powers over similar functions in the Environment Bill, despite a previous commitment to carve out such powers from Schedule 7B to the 2006 Act, could the Minister undertake that this will be dealt with in the Environment Bill itself, with it being amended along the lines of the order? Given that, as we learned last night, the Government have again delayed the Environment Bill—I think now for the third time—and as it will now not reach your Lordships’ House until just before the summer, there is plenty of time to get it right with regard to the parallel issues to those covered in the order.
Lastly, given that suggestions have been made to the Senedd’s legislation and justice committee that
“the transition period would generate the need for another Order in Council”,
as the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, mentioned, could the Minister clarify whether a further order is indeed envisaged?
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their valuable contributions to the debate this afternoon, particularly for the gracious remarks many have made towards the statutory instrument and the close and collaborative work between the Welsh and UK Governments that has resulted in it. I take the comments made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and yes, it is arcane, but it is also very complex and it has taken me many hours to master. I am hoping, like him, that future legislation reflecting the devolution settlement is a lot less complex.
The order makes a number of amendments to Schedules 7(a) and 7(b) of the Government of Wales Act 2006. It enables the Senedd to remove concurrent powers, established in specified enactments, without needing the agreement of the UK Government. This directly addresses the concerns raised by the Welsh Government. It also clarifies the schedules by removing references that are no longer relevant following the EU exit and provides for a number of corrections where they are necessary.
I will endeavour to answer a number of the questions asked by noble Lords. I turn to the noble Lord, Lord Hain. I am particularly grateful for his kind words because I am well aware of his seminal role in the Government of Wales Act 2006. I am also very pleased that we removed the toehold that he feared we might try and retain. I note his comments on future dealings with the Senedd and will continue to pass these up to my “olders and betters” as he termed them.
As to his point about UKIM, the provisions in the Act will help the UK internal market, which will be of benefit to Wales. It should not be views as a threat to devolution. The Act merely seeks to maintain open borders for trade within our United Kingdom and it has the broad support of Welsh business. The Minister’s powers to spend in relation to specific devolved areas enables the Government to spend in Wales on UK-wide priorities and does not impact on the powers of the Senedd or the Welsh Government. The Act confirms the renewed status of subsidy control. State aid was previously, of course, an EU-level competence.
The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, asked whether I could confirm the point about fisheries. The UK Government will not interfere with fisheries policies. The continued application of the consent requirements in relation to functions to regulate British fishing boats in the Welsh zone is consistent with the position under wider fisheries legislation, in which the Secretary of State retains concurrent powers in certain cases to regulate fishing boats of a devolved Administration fishing outside that Administration’s waters. Defra has committed to carrying out a review of concurrent fisheries functions to consider whether these are appropriate. The order will not affect the ability of Welsh Ministers to regulate Welsh fishing boats in Welsh waters. The noble Lord also asked whether Welsh Ministers and the Senedd can continue to exercise their functions unimpeded by the UK Government, and the answer is absolutely, yes, they can. This order facilitates that by enabling the Senedd to cease certain concurrent functions without requiring the UK Government’s consent.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, did not actually ask me any questions but gave a lot of interesting background. I share his hope that the four nations will now move forward together in a more collaborative way, as we have seen in this statutory instrument. The noble Lord, Lord Wigley, asked about the removal of obligations under EU law. I can confirm that it will be the Senedd Cymru that will deal with all such non-reserved matters. In the 66 areas now transferred from Brussels to Cardiff Bay, it will be up to the Senedd to choose how they exercise those powers. I also confirm that all such EU obligations have been reconstituted into UK law, unless specifically amended by Westminster or the Senedd.
I acknowledge the tone of the noble Baroness, Lady Humphreys, and her regrets. I am therefore doubly grateful for the supportive comments on this instrument. I look forward to all the areas she mentioned seeing continuous support as we all work together to strengthen the union and continue to try and level up those areas that have been left behind. The power provided in the UKIM Act makes sure that the UK Government can invest UK taxpayers’ money in Wales. It will support Welsh people and businesses to recover and grow.
There will also be the new shared prosperity fund from 2022 and additional funding for 2021-22 which will total £220 million across the UK, enabling pilot projects to be launched. Wales will not be worse off; EU structural funds have a substantial tail of funding over the next three years. As that funding tails off, the shared prosperity fund will increase.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, asked whether further corrections are needed as a result of exit and whether the Welsh Government can make those corrections themselves. The answer is yes, if those corrections are in the devolved areas. The Environment Bill will include the equivalent provision to this order; it will be done by amendment. I share her frustration that it has been postponed but, to preserve the Bill, it was deemed appropriate that it be put off until early summer. The absolute goal is that it must obtain Royal Assent before COP 26 in the autumn.
I welcome the productive work that has taken place between the two Governments in the preparation of this order. I commend it to the House.
That completes the business before the Grand Committee this afternoon. I remind Members to sanitise their desks and chairs before leaving the Room.
Committee adjourned at 5.26 pm.