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Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 247F:


Page 61, line 38, at end insert--

15 Jun 1998 : Column 1346


("( ) In the year following each ordinary election (after the first) the Assembly shall publish a report containing an assessment of how effective its proposals (as set out in the scheme and implemented) have been in promoting sustainable development.").

The noble and learned Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

[Amendment No. 247G, as an amendment to Amendment No. 247F, not moved.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 121, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 122 to 124 agreed to.

Clause 125 [Stamp Duty]:

On Question, Whether Clause 125 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My purpose in opposing that this clause stand part is that the provisions relating to stamp duty and the assembly would be best placed in Schedule 9 to the Bill. With the Committee's agreement, this change will be effected by Amendment No. 254 which I will move in our proceedings later today.

Clause 125 negatived.

Clause 126 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 248:


Page 62, line 21, leave out ("the Assembly") and insert ("Parts I to IV and this Part").

The noble and learned Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 126, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 9 [Minor and consequential amendments about Assembly]:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 249:


Page 98, line 40, at end insert--
("The Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 (c. 13)
. The Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 has effect subject to the following amendments.
. In section 3(2) (performance of functions of Parliamentary Commissioner by officers of his or of a Health Service Commissioner), for the words "or may be performed" onwards substitute ", by any member of the staff so authorised of the Welsh Administration Ombudsman or of the Health Service Commissioner for Wales or by any officer so authorised of the Health Service Commissioner for England or of the Health Service Commissioner for Scotland."
. In section 4 (departments etc. subject to investigation), after subsection (3) insert--
"(3A) No entry shall be made if the result of making it would be that the Parliamentary Commissioner could investigate action which can be investigated by the Welsh Administration Ombudsman under Schedule (Welsh Administration Ombudsman) to the Government of Wales Act 1998."
. In section 11(2A) (disclosure of information between Parliamentary Commissioner and a Health Service Commissioner)--
(a) after "office as" insert "Welsh Administration Ombudsman or", and

15 Jun 1998 : Column 1347


(b) for "such a Commissioner" substitute "Welsh Administration Ombudsman or a Health Service Commissioner".
.--(1) Section 11A (consultations between Parliamentary Commissioner and Health Service Commissioners) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1) (duty of consultation)--


(a) after "jurisdiction of" insert "the Welsh Administration Ombudsman or of",
(b) for "office as that Commissioner" substitute "the office concerned", and
(c) after "a complaint under" insert "the Government of Wales Act 1998 or".
(3) In subsection (2) (matters which may be covered by consultation), after "with the" insert "Welsh Administration Ombudsman or a".
(4) In the sidenote, after "and" insert "Welsh Administration Ombudsman or".
. In Schedule 2 (departments etc. subject to investigation by Parliamentary Commissioner)--
(a) in note 1A, insert at the end "; and no investigation under this Act shall be conducted in respect of any action in connection with functions of the Environment Agency in relation to Wales (or an area of the sea adjoining either the coast of Wales or an area of the sea forming part of Wales).", and
(b) after that note insert--
"1B. In the case of the Forestry Commission no investigation under this Act shall be conducted in respect of any action in connection with functions of the Forestry Commissioners in relation to Wales."").

The noble and learned Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 249A:


Page 98, line 42, leave out from ("In") to ("A") in line 2 on page 99 and insert ("Part II of Schedule 2 to the Pensions (Increase) Act 1971 (official pensions), before paragraph 39 insert--

"National Assembly for Wales

38B.").

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 249A I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 250A, 254, 256 and 258.

The amendments proposed by the Government to Schedule 9 are technical matters which should not detain us too long.

"Official pensions" within the meaning of the Pensions (Increase) Act 1971 are subject to periodic review and uprating. The purpose of Amendment No. 249A is simply to insert into that Act reference to pensions paid by the assembly to its former members, so that they are "official pensions" and the periodic review and uprating machinery bite on them. An equivalent provision is to be made in the Scotland Bill.

Amendment No. 250A would allow the Auditor General for Wales to be excused from jury service under Part III, Schedule 1 to the Juries Act 1974. That is currently the case with respect to the Comptroller and Auditor General.

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Amendments Nos. 254 and 258 are technical changes. The stamp duty provisions simply replicate what had been Clause 125. This ensures that the assembly is exempt from stamp duty in relation to a conveyance, transfer or lease. Amendment No. 258 extends the definition of "government department" in the Value Added Tax Act 1994 to include the assembly, thus enabling, among other things, the assembly to be able to reclaim VAT as government departments can.

Finally, Amendment No. 256 amends the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1992 so that the definition of "Minister" for the purposes of that Act includes the assembly. One of the reasons for this is to ensure that where the assembly makes procedural rules of tribunals it will be required to consult the Council on Tribunals. That does no more than ensure consistency on both sides of Offa's Dyke. I beg to move.

Lord Elis-Thomas: I shall speak briefly to Amendment No. 249A. This seeks to ensure consistency in all the nations of the kingdom. The amendment would enable the national assembly to arrange by subordinate legislation for the variance of national holidays. There was such a power, as no doubt the Minister will tell me, in the Wales Act 1978. There is a similar power for the Scottish parliament and there is a power for Northern Ireland. I now find, from reading the Western Mail this morning, that the amendment is completely and entirely supported by the Conservative Party. Mr. Michael Settle, under the banner headline "Tories call for St David's Day holiday", writes:


    "The Welsh Conservatives are to put at the head of their Assembly elections campaign a commitment to fight to make St David's Day a national holiday in Wales".

The report goes on, and I am sure that it is accurate:


    "The campaign for St David's Day to be made a national holiday in Wales appears to be part of a drive within the Welsh Tory Party to help make it a distinctively Welsh party in the eyes of the public in Wales, many of whom have to date regarded the Conservatives as a party of England".

So I look forward to the support of the party opposite for my amendment.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: The noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, is right. I was there on Saturday at Llangollen to hear this impassioned speech calling for St. David's Day to be a national holiday in Wales, as would befit our Saint's day. But I am bound to warn the noble Lord that St. David's Day was recommended as a public holiday in Wales in place of the May Day holiday, for which we can find no justification.

Viscount St. Davids: To add to the list of days which perhaps we should celebrate, I am surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, has not suggested 18th September.

Lord Elis-Thomas: As St. Ron's day!

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: As the noble Lord indicated, Amendment No. 249B would confer a power to enable the assembly to alter Bank Holidays as they apply to Wales as well as to declare other days as bank

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holidays in Wales. One effect of the amendment would be to allow the assembly to declare St. David's Day as a bank holiday in Wales. While I recognise that the amendment does not require St. David's Day to be a bank holiday, I suggest to the Committee that we need to consider carefully the wider implications associated with the amendment. Having different bank holidays in Wales and England would not be cost-free for business. The economies of Wales and England are deeply intertwined.

The Government's general policy has been clear. It is to transfer to the assembly the powers currently exercisable by the Secretary of State for Wales. Those do not include powers relating to bank holidays. If the national assembly had views on this issue, it could, of course, debate it and make representations. But we do not agree that the current legislative arrangements for settling bank holidays should be changed.


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