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Lord Hooson: He can be in the chair.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Yes, as the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, says, he can be in the chair. Although I hesitate to say this when dealing with any Bill, this is perfectly simple and plain.

Again, it seems to me that subsection (5) is perfectly plain. It contains the injunction that the subordinate legislation scrutiny committee is not lawfully enabled to delegate that function under Clause 59(3). For my own part, subject to any further persuasion and any correspondence in which the noble and learned Lord and I may engage, I cannot see the difficulty.

Lord Mishcon: The Minister needs no help from me, but is it not clear that subsection (7) covers with clarity the situation where the Bill might have provided that the largest party is the party which has a majority over all other parties? The subsection makes it perfectly clear that the definition of "the largest party" is the party with a majority over any single party.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: I simply do not know how the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, manages to think that the largest party means the party with a majority over all the rest. The largest party is the largest party. That is all there is to it.

Lord Mishcon: I hear the noble and learned Lord.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Perhaps I may intervene as a referee. I think that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, has the argument. I understand what is meant by "the largest party", but thanks to the noble and learned Lord asking questions about it, I think that the point of subsection (4) is to

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prevent the party which provides the executive from occupying the chair of the committee. I imagine that that is the intention.

However, what happens if the largest party is not a member of the executive because a number of other parties have got together in a coalition? It seems to me that the party in opposition--if I may so describe it--will not be allowed to occupy the chair of the committee whereas I believe that the clause is designed to try to ensure that the largest party does not run the executive and chair committees. Perhaps I am wrong, but I believe that I have created a scenario in which the largest party may not be running the executive and will not be allowed to chair the committees either. I suspect that that is not what the noble Lord intends should happen. One wonders whether it is an unintended consequence to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, has drawn the attention of the Committee.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: No. Clause 60(3) plainly provides that the assembly first secretary and an assembly secretary are both disqualified from being members of the subordinate legislation scrutiny committee. The noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, posits the question whether one wants a member of the executive on the subordinate legislation scrutiny committee. The answer is plainly not. These individuals are disqualified by virtue of subsection (3). One then considers subsection (4) which provides:

    "The Assembly shall elect one of the members of the subordinate legislation scrutiny committee",

the first secretary and assembly secretary already having been excluded by subsection (3),

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

That leads us happily to subsection (7) where the largest party is defined. As the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, interjected sotto voce, if there is no "largest party" there will be no consequent disqualification. All is plain, all is pure, all is light.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I do not believe that all is plain, pure and light. I was not bothered about whether the assembly first secretary or an assembly secretary would be the chairman of the committee but whether a member of his or her party would be able to be chairman in those circumstances. If it was not the majority party and therefore not excluded from the chair those individuals could be in the governing party or the party whose members formed the executive and they could chair it. I believe that a distinction should be drawn, which is very clear in my mind. If I do not express it very well I apologise. I can see a circumstance in which a party which is the majority party is locked out of being part of the executive and is then locked out from having any of its members as chairmen of these committees. Equally, a party that is in the executive--perhaps the party holding all of the executive seats--may have members sitting as chairmen because they are not from the largest party. Perhaps the noble Lord

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should look at this matter. I do not believe that in certain scenarios this provision would fulfil the Government's sensible and enlightened intention under this clause.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The noble Lord is confusing "executive". I take it that by that he means the first secretary or an assembly secretary whom he describes, according to his second thoughts, as "of the executive party". Let us assume that the largest single party is the Labour Party. There may well be some Labour Party members who will be the first secretary or an assembly secretary. By virtue of holding office as first secretary or assembly secretary, not by virtue of being the majority party, they will automatically be disqualified from membership of the subordinate legislation scrutiny committee, because that is plain from Clause 60(3). The scenario put forward by the noble Lord does not derive anything by way of prohibition or injunction that is in Clause 60. I shall consider this matter again but I am pretty certain that the noble Lord has got it wrong. Perhaps I have got it wrong, in which case I shall write to the noble Lord and to others and place a copy in the Library.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: There is one question that the noble Lord has not dealt with which arises on Clause 63. This is fundamental to all the provisions about delegation. Is the Welsh assembly a delegate? If it is a delegate it cannot sub-delegate without authority; if it is not a delegate it can do so. In the background that I suggested there is the puzzling situation that it deals primarily, although I gather not exclusively, with delegated legislation. That is the background. I would be very grateful if the noble Lord would consider it further.

Clause 60, as amended, agreed to.

6.45 p.m.

Clause 61 [Audit Committee]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 160A:

Page 31, line 31, at end insert ("or Pwyllgor Archwilio").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 160A seeks to insert the words "or Pwyllgor Archwilio". That is the Welsh translation for Audit Committee. As the Bill presently stands this committee is the only body or person that has the misfortune of not having its name in both languages. Therefore, I beg to move this amendment which will provide consistency in this respect.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 161 to 163 not moved.]

Lord Elis-Thomas moved Amendment No. 163A

After Clause 61, insert the following new clause--

Environmental auditing

(" . The Assembly shall designate one of its committees to be responsible for the environmental auditing of the Assembly's work.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment will be rejected by the Minister and the Liberal Democrat Benches because it includes the word "shall". As the Committee

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will have discovered by now, that word is intended in these amendments to flag up issues of concern to the assembly and its structure. The proposal is quite simple and I do not need to spend much time upon it. The issue of sustainable development will be debated again in the context of this Bill. I do not believe that it is possible to have sustainable development without a mechanism to deliver it. There is a mechanism in another place in the Westminster Parliament; namely, the Environmental Audit Committee. That includes among its members one of my party colleagues Mr. Cynog Dafis, the Member for Ceredigion, and a potential colleague in the national assembly, Mr. Gareth Thomas, the Member for Clwyd West, who I understand hopes to be elected on behalf of the other party of Wales--the bigger party, to revert to the earlier debate--to the assembly. The work of that committee is to consider the extent to which policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, to audit their performance against such targets as may be set for them by Ministers and report to the House. I believe that that would be an ideal committee to be established in Cardiff. It could be the main mechanism for delivering the sustainable development objectives to be placed upon the assembly as a duty. We shall debate this later. I beg to move.

Lord Rees: I do not know whether it is entirely appropriate for me to make the following point. I thought that we rushed through this rather too quickly. I was about to get to my feet when Amendments Nos. 162 and 163 were called. Those are the responsibility of my noble friends Lord Roberts and Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. The point that we have just debated arises also under subsection (4) of this clause. It may well be that a minority party forms the administration. It would not normally be the case but it would be possible for a Minister or one of the executive to be appointed chairman of the audit committee and not be disqualified from being so appointed because he would not be the first secretary or an assembly secretary and he would not be a member of the majority party. I do not know whether my fears are fanciful but perhaps the Minister can reassure the Committee that no executive person, who obviously is not a member of the majority party, can be appointed chairman of the audit committee.

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