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Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his response and for his clear statement on the issue of discrimination generally and the need for inclusivity. On that basis, I shall withdraw the amendment. However, I may well return to the issue at Third Reading so that we may keep up with the progress of the Conservative Party in achieving equality of opportunity. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 [Constituency seats]:

Lord Simon of Glaisdale moved Amendment No. 17:


Page 6, line 6, after ("section") insert ("and section 9").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I had not proposed to move this amendment because it is incorrect. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Williams, got the message that it was incorrect and that he was not to waste time puzzling out what it meant. It goes with Amendment No. 19 and is another attempt, in the face of the obduracy of the noble and learned Lord the Solicitor-General, to economise on statutory language.

An amendment that I shall table at Third Reading will relate to subsection (9) of Clause 8, so that the subsection would read: "References in this section and in section 9 to the presiding officer include references, etc.". That would permit subsection (8) of Clause 9 to be removed. I mention the real intention in the hope that the amendment will commend itself to the Government pending Third Reading. In the meantime, I shall not move this amendment.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Strabolgi): My Lords, I am afraid the noble and learned Lord must move the amendment if he wants it to be considered by the House. I shall therefore put it to the House.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, I hope that the noble and learned Lord rising to reply has made more sense of the amendment than I have.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the point is plainly a good one. There is no point in including the same reference twice. The matter can be dealt with by including in Clause 8 a reference to Clause 9. If the noble and learned Lord will withdraw his amendment, we will bring forward an appropriate amendment at Third Reading.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, I thought the

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noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, was being even more clever than normal; I could not understand his first amendment. However, my attention has now been drawn to the wording of the two subsections. We all exercise the function that we excise "for the time being", unless we are immortal. It seems to me to be the most amazing piece of legal mumbo-jumbo and perhaps when we return to the matter the noble and learned Lord will try to explain why we need to say "for the time being" when we all hold our various posts for the time being.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, I am absolutely delighted by the response of the noble and learned Lord. It makes me feel rather ashamed that I referred to his "obduracy". I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Roberts of Conwy moved Amendment No. 18:


After Clause 8, insert the following new clause--

Seat of member ceasing to be member of party to be vacant

(" . If an Assembly member returned for an Assembly electoral region as a candidate for a registered political party ceases to be a member of that party, his seat shall be regarded as vacant for the purposes of this Act.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, there is no question but that the assembly member who secures his seat through the PR system proposed in the Bill obtains it by virtue of his membership of his party. Unlike the constituency assembly member, the electoral region member owes his election above all else to membership of his party. The vote is cast for that party.

The electoral region member therefore is clearly a party representative and his constituency representation is secondary to that; indeed, he is one of four representing his electoral region. It is arguable therefore that, if the assembly member for an electoral region ceases to be a member of his party--the party in whose name he was elected--then he ceases to be a member of the assembly and the seat becomes vacant.

Cessation of party membership could easily arise in a number of ways. First, there is always the possibility of expulsion for wrongdoing; secondly, there is the possibility that the member may simply change his politics, cross the floor of the assembly and join another party, and so forth. But such events could have serious repercussions within the assembly where the composition of the committees is closely allied to the balance of the parties. It is for that reason that we tabled Amendment No. 18. I beg to move.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, Amendment No. 18 proposes that if a person elected on a regional list changes party, leaves the party or is expelled by his party, then he must cease to be a member of the assembly. That is an extremely centralising power which is expected to be taken into the Bill.

As the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, knows, there is a long tradition in British politics of tolerating Members who cross the Floor. It will not be in the interest of anyone if we seek to expel an elected party list member simply for moving from one allegiance to another. If the

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noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, strongly believes in the principle expounded by the amendment, I wonder why he has not found it equally valid for other members of the assembly--independents elected for an electoral region and all those elected from the assembly constituencies. The British political tradition is one that extols the virtues and advantages of the representative rather than the delegate and we should be loath to depart from that principle.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I have been following the argument of the noble and learned Lord with some care. Is it not inconsistent with the argument he was putting forward earlier this afternoon in relation to the open list, when he indicated that members of the electorate would not be voting for an individual on the list; they would only vote for the party? We are now being told that they are voting for an individual. The noble and learned Lord must make up his mind.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, there is no inconsistency. The electorate is given the choice to elect specific people, whether by voting for a specific party in the regional list or for a constituency member in the constituencies. Once those people are elected then, in accordance with British political tradition, they are entitled to stay until the end of their electoral mandate. We on this side of the House should be loath to depart from that principle in respect of membership of the assembly.

In voting for a party list, voters express a degree of approval of the candidates put forward on that list. That endorsement should hold good for any member for the duration of the term for which he has been elected. That is a principle which has long been applied under the British electoral system and should be extended to all members of the assembly. In those circumstances, I respectfully urge the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

5.15 p.m.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, I disagree strongly with some of the remarks of the noble and learned Lord the Solicitor-General. He has not reflected the true situation and the difference that clearly exists between the constituency member and the electoral region member. The first is elected by virtue of standing in his own name; he may have a party label attached to him, but his name is clearly there. If he is elected in the traditional way, on the first-past-the-post basis, as Members of the other Chamber are elected, no one would deny that the votes given to him have a personal attribution.

The noble and learned Lord conceded that, when it came to the electoral regional representative--in Wales it would be one of four in each region and there are five regions altogether--he said that there would be a degree of personal association with his success in the election. But the election is primarily won by votes cast for his party. It is known that the name of the winning candidate is on the list; nevertheless, the order of

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preference is not clear to the electors and the votes are cast in that additional member system for the party, rather than for the individual.

It seems to me to be quite logical therefore that, if there is a change of party on the part of an electoral region candidate who succeeds, in view of the fact that he is there by virtue of his membership of the party and the success of the party in the election, and as such a change on his part affects the workings of the assembly and its committees, a vacancy will in effect have occurred and there should be another election. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9 [Electoral region seats]:

[Amendment No. 19 not moved.]

Clause 11 [Power to make provision about elections etc.]:

Lord Roberts of Conwy moved Amendment No. 20:


Page 7, line 26, at end insert--
("( ) No order made under subsection (1)(a) shall provide for the limitation of the election expenses of registered political parties where such expenses were not incurred in relation to a particular Assembly constituency or Assembly electoral region.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Secretary of State's order-making powers under Clause 11 can provide for the limitation of election expenses of candidates and registered political parties. Clause 11(2)(c) covers that situation and, indeed, criminal offences can be created in connection with that specific limitation.

We believe that that is right. But, as our amendment suggests, we do not believe that such limitation by order should extend beyond the individual constituencies or electoral regions to the general activities of parties in Wales and elsewhere. If there is to be any such curtailment of the general activities of parties beyond the individual constituencies or electoral regions, the Bill is certainly not the place for such limitations to be imposed. I beg to move.


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