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Lord Simon of Glaisdale: That answers it with admirable clarity, if I may say so.

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Clause 82 agreed to.

Clause 83 [Statement of estimated payments etc.]:

[Amendments Nos. 208 to 209 not moved.]

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 209A:

Page 42, line 7, after second ("the") insert ("House of Commons and the").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 209A and with it to speak to Amendment No. 211A.

These two amendments link Clauses 83 and 88. Clause 83 lays out quite clearly that each year the Secretary of State has to produce a written statement that shows how much money he intends to pay the assembly that year, how much other Ministers of government departments are expected to provide and any other sources of revenue to the assembly and other relevant financial information.

This bringing together of the money which is to go to the national assembly of Wales, as I should properly call it, is to be laid out, interestingly enough, by the Secretary of State, who is not a member of the national assembly of Wales. The Secretary of State is to lay before the national assembly of Wales any statement made under this section, in other words a statement about the money which will be provided.

I am adding in, as my amendment, that he should also lay that information before the House of Commons. The Minister may well say that that has already been done because the Votes laid before the House of Commons will contain all that information. But they will contain it in different and diverse places. It seems to me that if the Secretary of State is to go to the trouble of bringing this altogether in order to lay it before the assembly, it would not cause any additional work to lay it before the House of Commons. That seems to me to be a mild request. The information is already going before the House of Commons in the various Votes, but the bringing together would be important, especially as that bringing together is happening as far as the assembly is concerned. It is important that the Welsh Members of the other place--indeed all the Members of the other place--see how much money is going to the assembly.

Clause 88 is linked to that money because it deals with the expenditure. On the one hand, Clause 83 tells us how much money is going to the assembly and then Clause 88 is a statement which lays out the expenditure of the assembly. Clause 87 deals with expenditure by the assembly, but it is Clause 88 that I am dealing with, which is the statement of that proposed expenditure. I have no quarrel with what the clause says. It quite rightly lays out that the assembly will have to know how the money is to be spent. Subsection (4) says:

    "A statement under this section shall be published by the Assembly as soon after being made as is reasonably practicable".

I am suggesting that when the assembly publishes this information it should also be laid before the House of Commons so that the House of Commons can see how much money it has voted in various Votes and has ended up in the Welsh assembly. It can also see how that money is being spent. I think that is wise. I am being careful here because I was reprimanded by the noble

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Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, for attempting to take back powers from the assembly on the last Committee day. I am not doing that; I am just saying "inform the House of Commons". It will be informed about the amount of money it sends. I think it should also be informed properly about how that money will be spent. That seems to me to be logical. As the Secretary of State is doing the one partly, he should do the whole thing, and bring the House of Commons in.

If that is not done and the justification for the expenditure is not laid out--because that is what I am asking for--here is this great pot of money. How will it be spent? That is how it is to be spent, and Members of the other place will be able to see that. I think it is important that Welsh Members of the other place can see that. They are rapidly going to become the forgotten men and women in Wales if they are not careful.

It is also important that the other Members of the House of Commons clearly see, as we have said, why Wales is getting more money per head than England. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Dean of Beswick, is not in his place because we have heard from him this afternoon, as we have already heard from other English regions--not just about Wales because I shall be looking at the same problem with Scotland--and we have heard it in London. Every person from wherever they come in this place who fancies himself as mayor of London is busy saying that the Scots and the Welsh are getting too much money.

I believe that Scotland and Wales can show why their expenditure per head should be higher. I hope that one day we will be able to say that it no longer needs to be higher. That is an ambition which the previous government certainly had. They went a long way along the road to getting that income for Scotland and Wales increased. We brought new jobs and new prosperity to Scotland and Wales. But we have to be prepared in the future. It is not my doing that the United Kingdom is being partially broken up, but the more that happens the more people will look over the garden fence and ask "Why is Wales and Scotland getting this extra money?"

I believe we need to lay out the "whys" and "wherefores" as clearly as we possibly can. There is no better place to do that than in the other place. There is no better occasion than once a year, coinciding with the Statement made and published by the assembly about the various ways in which the money it has received will be spent. That is the right way to do it.

I have little doubt that there will be a few Members of the other place who will want to debate those issues. If the information is there, it will at least be an informed debate. If the information is not presented to the other place, it will be an uninformed debate. That will put Wales--we shall come to Scotland--in a poorer position with regard to the arguments with the rest of the UK, as there assuredly will be. There has always been a bit of argument. My noble friend Lord Crickhowell and I have been present when the Treasury tried to take back money from Scotland and Wales. They are not alone. The Treasury tried to take back money from every department. It does so under every government, if the gossip in the press is to be believed.

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What one needs to fight the Treasury, and perhaps other parts of the Kingdom, is information. I do not believe that my amendments damage the Bill in any way. They are small, sensible amendments. I wonder whether I may perhaps join my noble friend Lord Balfour, who is in his place, and become the second Member of the Committee who has achieved a victory with the Government accepting my amendments. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Crickhowell: My noble friend has, with great clarity, and with more thought than I have given to it, elaborated upon the demand that I made during the previous group of amendments. I set out my reasons then for saying that we should have clear presentation to Parliament so that there would be an absolute understanding of what the money was going for, in order to avoid conflict and not create it.

It is important that we should have openness. I did not challenge the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, who replied on that point, but his response about how the matter was going to be put to the other place was less than complete. If he has now had a greater opportunity to ponder upon the question, it would be helpful were we to have a clear statement as to how information is to be put to the assembly and Parliament.

I would add just one further comment. It was prompted by the little aside made by my noble friend about the Secretary of State's role. As I have listened to the debate this evening, I have remembered again and again the extraordinary debate we had, many weeks ago now, about the remarkable possibility apparently being considered by the Government that the Secretary of State should also be leader of the assembly. Every time I hear the assembly's duty and the Secretary of State's duty being discussed, the more extraordinary a proposition I believe it to be. It is one to which I shall wish to return at a later stage.

Lord Elis-Thomas: I try not to become provoked, but I have been provoked again by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay. Surely he is into second-guessing again. How much of the activity of and decisions taken in Cardiff Bay are to be second-guessed by Westminster in his scenario? As we have said before in our debates, this is a serious devolutionary measure, where responsibility for the allocation of resources, once transferred, lies with the elected people who will make those decisions. That is, once the block has been determined, subject to the variants of the Barnett formula and once it has been--to use the expression--sent down by the 125, it is Cardiff's allocation. If there are to be continual debates at Westminster second guessing the assembly's activities, that is a certain way of undermining it fiscally.

As to the continual persistence by the former Secretary of State on the issue of Mr. Ron Davies, that is a red herring. If Mr. Ron Davies is to be elected, possibly by one member, one vote, as I read in the press by the Labour members in Wales, of whom there must be about 20,000, to become the assembly's first

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secretary, there is no way he could be Secretary of State for more than a short period. It could form an effective part of the transitional period were the Government to decide that. Surely we do not need to repeat the argument again. There would be nothing better than the first secretary negotiating with the Secretary of State on the block grant were he to be the same person.

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