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Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, I rise only to make one brief point, although I intend to return in a later amendment to the general issue of Europe and to some of the points on which my noble friend has touched. However, because I believe he is absolutely right that there is no way an assembly secretary will be allowed to represent the United Kingdom on crucial questions of agricultural policy, I should like to reinforce and reiterate the question posed by my noble friend about the ability of Members of Parliament to question Ministers when they return from Europe on what has happened in European negotiations.
I hope there is no question of their being told, "It is not a matter for Members of Parliament because agriculture has been devolved to the assembly". It is clear that the negotiations on behalf of the United Kingdom, including Wales, will still have to be led--the Government admit that they will have to be led--by a UK Minister. In practice, the negotiations will have to be carried out by a UK Minister. We need reassurance that Parliament will be able to cross-examine Ministers about their performance in Europe.
Lord Stanley of Alderley: My Lords, I have put my name to this amendment. I am sorry that it has come up at this time because it is rather important. But perhaps noble Lords think that agriculture does not matter as far as the assembly is concerned.
Following the explanation of the noble Lord, Lord Williams, I accept that Schedule 2 is not specific and that more matters could be placed in the schedule or indeed taken out. In my words, that translates into the phrase "Schedule 2 is not worth the paper it is written on". However, assuming that the noble Lord, Lord Williams, persuades me that, as far as concerns agriculture, Schedule 2 means what it says and agriculture will be devolved, I have, like my noble friend, some reservations.
I am sorry to say that the letter which the noble Lord, Lord Williams, kindly wrote to me in answer to my questions in Committee on 2nd June (at col. 288 of the Official Report) does not greatly clarify the matter as to how Welsh farmers will proceed; to whom they must make obeisance; and which aspects of agriculture will be directed from Brussels, Whitehall or the assembly. The noble Lord was specific in answering my Amendments Nos. 60 to 63 when he stated that health and safety and pesticides would not be transferred to the assembly. As far as concerns animal health, welfare and
I did not quite understand how that will work in practice. I presume that the assembly, or rather the assembly's civil servants, will merely initial or approve anything coming from Westminster or Brussels. If that is not to be the case, perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Williams, will enlighten me, and, for simplicity's sake, give me an example of what alterations or additions the assembly could make, and how.
Turning to European Union grants, I gather from the noble Lord's letter that the assembly--and I believe I quote his words--"will have very little discretion". I shall be interested to hear if it has any discretion at all at the moment. As to the future--and the noble Lord quotes Agenda 2000--surely it would be wise to leave things as they are until that occurs, if it ever does, and then to take a decision to transfer powers to the assembly if that seems to be correct. That seems to me to be a fairly easy thing to do. That seems to be the case as regards HLCA and BSP payments and the less favoured areas.
I was interested to read that the assembly will control agri-environmental schemes probably through the Countryside Council for Wales. I am pleased to note that funding for such schemes will be ring-fenced and not come out of the Welsh budget. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Williams, will confirm that. Therefore, it appears that the great majority of funding and influence on Welsh farmers will not be in the assembly's jurisdiction. So, like my noble friend Lord Mackay, I find it hard to understand how the assembly can produce a meaningful, long-term agricultural plan, much as I should like to see one.
So far as Welsh farmers are concerned, the crux of the matter lies, as my noble friend said, in what deal can be done for them in Brussels. That is where I find myself in total agreement with the explanation of my noble friend Lord Mackay of the problem so well explained that even I could understand it, at Committee stage (cols. 305 to 308 of the Official Report) and again this evening. I shall not repeat my noble friend's case, but I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Williams, will address his points very carefully indeed. I fear, too, that the assembly will be able to exert little influence on the proceedings in the CAP barter wrangle. That is what concerns me most because, needless to say, I want the best deal for the Welsh farmer.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, hinted at something which I am about to say; namely, that some of the questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, relate to Amendment No. 43 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, which is related to Clause 29. That deals specifically with representation in Europe. It is probably more sensible if I deal with those matters when I deal with the observations on the amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell.
I shall reply to the present amendments because otherwise one is going to become hopelessly confused. They are specific and seek to exclude functions relating to CAP and the common fisheries policy from Schedule 2. That proceeds on a misapprehension about what Schedule 2 can do and therefore what might be brought about by these amendments.
Schedule 2 simply lists the areas where the Secretary of State for Wales now has functions. Where he does not have them now, they are not listed in that schedule. Where a particular area is listed in Schedule 2, the Secretary of State has to consider transferring functions in that field to the assembly but--and this is the heart of it--excluding a field from Schedule 2 does not prevent the transfer of functions order relating to it because the schedule itself does not and cannot limit the scope of the transfer order under Clause 22.
I understand and sympathise with the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, but these amendments cannot prevent the assembly acquiring functions as regards the common fisheries policy or the common agricultural policy. That is the short answer to these particular amendments.
I have written on a number of occasions to various of your Lordships. The noble Lord, Lord Mackay, referred to the letter of 24th June. It echoes what the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, said. I simply said,
Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, before too many assumptions are made of that kind, the noble Lord had better await the discussion that we are going to have on Amendment No. 43. I am going to have some very strong reservations about the way in which representation can take place.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I should have kept to the advice that I gave myself; namely, to try to deal with things in their appropriate place. But I did not want to appear discourteous either to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, or the noble Lord, Lord Stanley, when they had deviated from the point of the present amendments. Therefore, I shall obey with gratitude what the noble Lord said. I shall not overlook the points that have been raised. However, this is a particularly limited amendment. It tries to say, "Limit Schedule 2 by excluding the transfer of CAP or the CFP". The short answer is that that would not have the result the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, wants for the reasons that I have given, because Schedule 2 cannot limit the transfer order powers in Clause 22. I shall return to the other questions in due time and in their appropriate place.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I believe that I did not deviate from the amendments, because the argument in favour of exempting the CAP and the CFP from devolution is exactly the argument about who represents them in Brussels and how that is reported back to either the other place, the Welsh assembly and therefore to the representatives of the Welsh people. I may be particularly stupid, but if Schedule 2 says,
Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. Can he specify how he distinguishes between agricultural policy and the common agricultural policy when the whole of agriculture, in terms of financial support, measures and regulations, are held within the common agricultural policy?
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