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Lord Thomas of Gresford: I see nothing constitutionally difficult about the proposal that the Secretary of State for Wales and the first secretary should be the same person. If the same political party is in power both in Westminster and in Cardiff, it would seem to make complete sense that he should be in a position to convey to his executive in Cardiff the policy of the Westminster government, and at the same time he should be able to convey to the Cabinet the policy of the Cardiff government. There seems to me to be no difficulty or inconsistency in that. If, of course, there are different parties involved, different considerations would have to apply. But whatever arrangement there may be, I would hope that in a reformed second Chamber the first secretary of the Welsh assembly would, for the period of his office, play his role within the second Chamber and thereby have a communicative role to this Chamber as to the policies of the government which he represented.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 44:

Page 8, line 2, leave out ("members of the Assembly") and insert ("Assembly members").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 45 not moved.]

Lord Crickhowell had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 46:

Page 8, line 9, at end insert (", or
(e) he is a Minister of the Crown in the Government of the United Kingdom.").

The noble Lord said: Earlier this evening I believe the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, said that Mr. Ron Davies was now known as "Ron the Assembly". I rather fear that if this amendment is not passed, there is a danger that he will be known as "Ron Double Bed". The trouble with people who share beds is that they sometimes find that the loyalty to wife and mistress causes grave difficulties and is likely to create conflict.

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It is interesting that the noble Lord speaking for the Liberal Benches has talked over the past few weeks about this wider collective view of the assembly. It has been said that it will be all embracing and will take a Welsh collective view which embraces all the parties which will play a part. However, now it appears that the same political party will exert power at each end. Even with the same political party exerting power at each end, the head of an assembly in Cardiff will frequently find himself in an intolerable position of conflict if he is also a member of a British Cabinet. I note that the Minister understands full well my determination to return to this issue on a later occasion when we can debate the matter adequately and in full. On that basis, I shall not proceed with the amendment.

[Amendment No. 46 not moved]

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 47:

Page 8, line 23, at end insert--
("( ) An Order in Council under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) may designate particular offices or offices of any description and may designate an office by reference to any characteristic of a person holding it; and in that paragraph and this subsection "office" includes any post or employment.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 48 not moved.]

Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Effect of disqualification]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 49:

Page 9, line 19, at end insert--
("( ) Subsection (2) also has effect subject to section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (mental illness) and section 427 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (bankruptcy etc.); and where, in consequence of either of those sections, the seat of a disqualified Assembly member is not vacant he shall not cease to be an Assembly member until his seat becomes vacant but--
(a) he shall not participate in any proceedings of the Assembly (including proceedings of a committee of the Assembly or of a sub-committee of such a committee), and
(b) any of his other rights and privileges as an Assembly member may be withdrawn by the Assembly.").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 49, I speak also to Amendment No. 253.

I am sure Members of the Committee will find these amendments entirely non-controversial. They extend to the assembly provisions similar to those which apply in another place in respect of the treatment of Members who are suffering from mental illness or have been declared bankrupt.

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Mental illness is a ground for disqualification from membership of the House of Commons at common law and therefore under Clause 12(2) of the Bill becomes a ground for disqualification from the assembly. Section 427(1) of the Insolvency Act 1986 provides that where a court has adjudged an individual to be bankrupt that individual is disqualified from membership of the House of Commons and thus by extension under Clause 12(2) of the assembly.

The effect of Clause 14(2) as it stands is that on being disqualified from membership of the assembly in either of these circumstances, a member's seat would become vacant. This is not what happens in the House of Commons because Section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983, taken with Section 427 of the Insolvency Act 1986, allow, in effect, for a six-month period of grace before the seat becomes vacant. If the circumstances of the disqualified Member are restored before the end of that period membership is restored, but if circumstances remain the same after six months his seat becomes vacant.

These amendments amend the Mental Health Act and the Insolvency Act to extend to members of the assembly similar six-month periods of grace.

The amendment to Clause 14 makes clear that during the period of his disqualification while his seat is not vacant, the disqualified member may not participate in any proceedings. The assembly would have discretion to withdraw other rights and privileges as appropriate.

We do not think that it is appropriate to treat members of the assembly differently from Members of the House of Commons in these respects. That is the basis upon which I urge Members of the Committee to accept these amendments.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: We have the utmost sympathy with members of the assembly who may become mentally ill or insolvent and agree that they should be treated like Members of the House of Commons in the same circumstances.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am most grateful. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 14, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 15 to 20 agreed to.

Lord Carter: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

        House adjourned at twenty-six minutes before eleven o'clock.

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