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Lord Williams of Mostyn: It is indeed an important issue. As the noble Earl, Lord Russell, indicated, there is no doubt at all that the assembly, in the way that it chooses, will be obliged to give careful scrutiny to draft legislation and proposals for policy development. But that is the important proviso: the way in which it decides.

I take up a particular point made by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. I say quite firmly that the Government would anticipate, with every confidence, that careful scrutiny would be given. It might be that the assembly would want to establish a committee with specific responsibility for European matters. Perfectly sensibly, it might take an alternative view that each of the subject areas, for which assembly secretaries will be responsible, would wish subject committees to look at the legislation and policy developments in that particular area. That is an issue for the assembly to decide as matters develop.

I am grateful if the purpose of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, is to flag up a point because it is well received. There is nothing at all to stop scrutiny on a UK-wide basis by parliamentary committees at Westminster. The assembly is to enable a separate process of Welsh scrutiny to take place as a supplementary and distinct process. It will be for the Foreign Office, as at present--which receives the appropriate documentation to which the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, referred--to distribute it to those who have an appropriate interest. We anticipate that there will be no difficulty at all about that happening to the Welsh assembly in the future. It will not necessarily be every piece of European policy development in every context or every piece of draft European legislation that is of interest to the assembly or appropriate for scrutiny.

But that is the point of devolution. People are given the powers and opportunities to carry out the scrutiny processes in two ways. The first is what kind of mechanism is used and, secondly, what sort of policy and draft European legislation do they wish to scrutinise. I am most grateful to the noble Lord who indicated that perhaps in the past there has been insufficient opportunity for scrutiny and that this is the opportunity for the Welsh assembly in the future to play its full part.

It seems to me that there are no real difficulties here. Parliament at Westminster can continue the scrutiny as it thinks appropriate and the Welsh assembly, in whatever mechanism it chooses, can also carry out the scrutiny. I am grateful to the noble Lord for raising this question. It is useful to have it ventilated but we do not believe that this over-rigid prescription is suitable for the way ahead.

Lord Elis-Thomas: I am grateful to the noble Lord for his response. I have been accused of many things. Now I am an over-rigid prescriber. I am very pleased at the cross-party support which this amendment has received. In particular I would like to thank the noble

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Lord, Lord Kenyon, for giving us the benefit of his experience on the Committee of the Regions. That reminds us that that committee itself by treaty is a consultee within the procedures of the European Union. Therefore, if for any reason documentation is lost between the FCO and the assembly, I am certain that the electronic copy of the Committee of the Regions can appear instantaneously in Cardiff Bay. All kinds of networks operate.

As we have done this evening, it is important to flag up the assembly to take up seriously European responsibilities. I was pleased also to have the support of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, although I believe that it tended to peter out towards the end of his speech, if I followed him correctly. However, I do not criticise him for that.

I do not understand the distinction between European matters which are about Wales and those which concern Wales. Clearly, all European Union matters, particularly in the field so beloved by the noble Lord opposite and myself--namely, agriculture, fisheries and the environment--are of deep concern to Wales as an environmental landmass with agricultural problems. I thank the noble Earl, Lord Russell, and particularly for mentioning a mutual friend of many of us in this House, Jordoi Pujol. I may return to this matter at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 60 [Members of scrutiny committee etc.]:

[Amendments Nos. 157 to 159 not moved.]

6.30 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Turner of Camden): We now come to Amendment No. 160. I call the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: Hear, hear!

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 160:

Page 31, line 20, at beginning insert ("But").

The noble Lord said: Perhaps I should quit while I am ahead! This amendment seeks to insert the word "But"--

Lord Roberts of Conwy: Is it a conjunctive or a disjunctive "But"?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I think that I shall be entitled to an epitaph on my tombstone saying that I was a man who introduced an amendment containing only the word "But".

This is a drafting amendment to clarify a possible ambiguity. As I say those words, I feel a chill upon my heart because I know that one Member of this Committee will say that, far from providing clarification, the amendment introduces such constitutional problems as to render the whole of the Bill unworkable. The possible ambiguity is as to the relationship between subsections (5) and (6) of Clause

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60. The amendment is intended to make it clear that subsection (6) provides an exception to the general principle in subsection (5), which is that the scrutiny committee may not delegate its function of making reports to the assembly on draft assembly orders. I beg to move.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: I can think of no one more appropriate to introduce an amendment containing only the word "But" or to have that mentioned on his tombstone than the noble Lord who lived and practised for so long in Swansea where that word has a particular meaning. Indeed, quite a large number of people may gather around the tombstone and think that he was their "but".

On Question, amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 60, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: Perhaps I may make two points on this Clause. The first relates to subsection (7) which defines,

    "the largest party in the Assembly"


    "the party (if any) which is represented by more Assembly members than any other single party".

What else could it be? This is what the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, once described as Gertrude Stein drafting: the largest party is the largest party is the largest party. If there is to be such a definition, should it not at least contemplate the fact that there might be two large parties, equally numbered? Should not that be cleared up?

My other point is general to this Bill. It relates to subsection (5) which deals with delegation. In fact, a whole clause of the Bill, Clause 63, deals with delegation and other references to it are scattered throughout the Bill. Certain matters may be delegated while certain matters may not be; certain bodies may delegate while certain bodies may not. I surmise that what is in the draftsman's mind is the legal rule of general application, and extending to statutes, that a delegate may not sub-delegate without being given the responsibility and power to do so.

Many of the provisions in this Bill as to delegation do not fit into that pattern. They seem frequently to be quite unnecessary. My question is: for the purpose of this Bill, is the assembly itself regarded as the delegate? It is true that it deals with delegated legislation and perhaps we shall be told in due course that it deals primarily (although I think not exclusively) with delegated legislation. However, I do not think that that is sufficient to make the assembly a delegate. If it is not, it has the full power of delegation.

As to the other instances, I think that they need to be considered in the light of the rule which I have suggested. If I have suggested wrongly, the Minister will correct me. I should be grateful if the noble Lord could deal with those two matters.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: On the noble and learned Lord's last point, it seems to me that Clause 60(7) points

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to the possibility of a practical outcome which the noble and learned Lord himself recognised; namely, that there may be no single party with more assembly members than any other single party. One might have two parties each with 30 members; three parties each with 20 members; or four parties each with 15 members. It is perfectly plain that the largest party is that party, if any, which has a majority over any other single party.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to intervene. How does that fit in with subsection (4), which states that

    "a member who represents the largest party in the Assembly may not chair it"?

If a number of parties have equal support, how does subsection (7) answer the question raised by subsection (4)?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Because there is no question in subsection (4). That subsection states that

    "a member who represents the largest party in the Assembly may not chair it".

If there is no such largest party in the assembly, as defined in subsection (7)--

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