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Lord Prys-Davies: My Lords, there is no argument that the views of business representatives must be considered by the assembly when exercising a function in the interests of business. That is provided by Clause 115. When we discussed this clause in Committee, I was particularly concerned about the meaning of the word "business". I wanted clarification that it would include, in appropriate circumstances, consultation with the trade unions representing those employed in business. Therefore, I am grateful to the Government for having tabled Amendment No. 213. It meets my concerns.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I do remember Tom Williams, because my uncle was a farmer in Llanfarian. The mantra was constantly drummed into me as a child that Tom Williams was the best Minister of Agriculture that there had ever been. Others, more sceptical, had a different view, on the basis that the farmers were extremely pleased with what he secured on their account.

I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, and I are in agreement. He quite rightly said what I had sought to say earlier, that pressures of regulation and economic hardship are--and I quote his words--"not confined to rural areas". That is precisely the sort of point I was seeking to make, because the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley, place particular importance on rural areas. I entirely agree with him that agriculture is a business, and that is why our redraft in Clause 13 is intended to deal with these circumstances. I do not regard the noble Lord's amendment as intended to be, or indeed wished to be, a wrecking amendment. I simply point out that I believe our clause covers all reasonable circumstances.

It is necessary and helpful if I remind your Lordships that if there are existing functions relating to agriculture which are transferred from the Secretary of State to the assembly, and where those existing functions carry with them a duty to consult the relevant bodies, when the functions go to the assembly they go subject to the particular duty to consult. I do not want to go into it in any detail, but one should not overlook the protection given to business by Clause 65 as regards consultation where subordinate legislation may have significant effects. That is not to be overlooked either.

I think that Clause 115, as amended by Amendment No. 213 if your Lordships so agree, is a model of drafting because it bites on the problem and tells the assembly what it must do, which is to carry out such consultation as it considers appropriate. Circumstances vary infinitely. It may be right to consult rural interests in one context together with urban interests in the same context, but sometimes they should be dealt with quite distinctly. We are devolving power and we need to devolve discretion, as well as avoiding over-prescription.

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Therefore, I invite the noble Lord, Lord Stanley, to conclude that our amendment gets it about right, particularly when one thinks of what is provided by way of relief and the fact that consultative obligations, when transferred from the Secretary of State, will still inure to the assembly, and when one bears in mind the provisions of Clause 65.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Stanley of Alderley moved Amendment No. 214:

Page 59, line 20, leave out from ("out") to end of line 22 and insert ("consultation with organisations representative of business, including trade associations representative of business in rural areas, where the impact of the exercise by the Assembly of functions on the interests of business is likely to be significant, and shall carry out such other consultation with business and other organisations as it considers appropriate.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I now have an opportunity to reply to the noble Lord, Lord Williams. I suppose that I can start in this way because I was brought up in Wales. I have a long background in Wales in that my family has lived there for a very long time and, if I may put it this way, I "suffered" under the culture of Wales--and I do not regret that at all.

I am trying to point out to the Government that we only have culture as a result of money. My noble friend Lord Roberts has also tried to put that point. The emphasis of the Bill is wrong. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, is not in his place because I would have a real go at him over this. It is fine to have the culture of Wales. I am delighted by the Welsh language and by Welsh culture. My family has been in Wales for many centuries and I do not want to destroy Welsh culture, but we shall destroy it unless there is enough money. That is basically what my amendment is about. It is about consulting and listening to business.

The noble Lord, Lord Williams, led the House slightly off the track when he tried to point out that the assembly has to consult "as appropriate". I tried to say to my wife at breakfast the other day that that was an oxymoron and I was told that it was not--and she is always right; it is not. However, it is very similar to an oxymoron. The provisions say,"You must consult, but only those whom you wish to consult". That means that the assembly can say, "We don't want to discuss this matter with business", and so it does not have to do so.

I am deeply unhappy with the Minister's reply, but I am certainly not going to seek to divide the House on this. I know that my old friend the Chief Whip would be very cross if I invited noble Lords to express an opinion on this matter. I have already spoken to him. However, I advise the Minister to make no mistake about this: I shall bring back a similar amendment on Third Reading, but for now I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Clause 120 [Equality of opportunity]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 215:

Page 62, line 10, leave out ("of the Assembly").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 121 [Sustainable development]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 216:

Page 62, line 29, leave out ("of the Assembly").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 12 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendments Nos. 217 to 219:

Page 128, line 17, at end insert--
("( ) in the entry relating to urban development corporations, after "corporations" insert "established for urban development areas wholly in England",").
Page 128, line 20, leave out from ("Wales") to ("and") in line 21 and insert ("(within the meaning of the Government of Wales Act 1998).",").
Page 128, line 26, at end insert ("(within the meaning of the Government of Wales Act 1998)."").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 126 [Extension of functions]:

Lord Stanley of Alderley moved Amendment No. 220:

Page 63, line 28, at end insert ("and
("(c) at the end there shall be inserted--
"The Agency's purposes apply as much in relation to the rural parts of Wales as in relation to the non-rural parts of Wales.".").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the permission of the noble and learned Lord, Amendment No. 220 is to be dealt with separately from Amendment No. 223. I find it simpler and perhaps quicker to deal with it in this way. This amendment refers to the Welsh Development Agency Act 1975. Section 2 lists the functions of the agency. In subsection (4) it is provided:

    "In exercising their functions the Agency shall have regard to the requirements of agriculture and efficient land management".
I believe that it would reassure rural parts of Wales and farmers if my amendment was included to make explicit that the work of the agency applied as much to the rural parts of Wales as to non-rural parts. I do not ask for a particular balance but I ask that that should be considered. The noble and learned Lord may say that the subsection that I have quoted deals with the problem. However, I differ on that point. As I have been endeavouring to point out throughout our discussions, agriculture has a very different and broader remit from just the growing of crops and breeding of lambs, as much as I would wish that. That activity is now all-embracing. My amendment seeks to emphasise that point. I beg to move.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, Amendment No. 220 was originally grouped with Amendment No. 223. We are quite content that it should be dealt with separately.

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Amendment No. 220 reflects an entirely laudable concern for the needs of rural parts of Wales to be embraced fully in the work of the Welsh Development Agency. The noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley, made a valuable contribution on this issue during our debate in Committee on 2nd June. I repeat the assurances given at that time that the Government have a clear commitment, which will be inherited by the assembly, to meet the needs of rural communities whether or not they fall within the area currently administered by the Development Board for Rural Wales. One need look no further than Pathway to Prosperity, which Mr. Ron Davies published on Monday 7th July, for a clear and unequivocal statement of the Government's intention to spread prosperity throughout Wales and in particular to ensure that the rural areas and the South Wales Valleys begin to enjoy the economic success which the north east and south east of the country have seen in recent years.

However, there is no need to amend the Welsh Development Agency Act 1975 in the manner proposed by the noble Lord. With the greatest of respect to the noble Lord, there is no need for Amendment No. 220. I am also conscious of the contributions which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, has made to our debates to the effect that we should not put into the Bill unnecessary matters because they make it too long. By providing in the Bill for the Welsh Development Agency to assume the geographic responsibilities as well as the functions of the Development Board for Rural Wales, the Government intend that the economic development needs of all areas of Wales shall be given equal consideration as part of an overarching economic strategy for Wales. However, it would not be feasible to make an amendment as proposed by the noble Lord which could be construed as requiring the Welsh Development Agency to devote an even-handed and equal approach to the rural and urban parts of Wales.

The needs of rural Wales are undoubtedly important--I stress our commitment to that--and will be addressed by the agency's new rural policy unit within the context of the overall work of the agency. However, there will be times when the potential gains to the Welsh economy are greater if more resources are devoted to a particular urban project. For example, the LG project will provide over 6,000 direct jobs in Newport and the surrounding areas including the extremely needy South Wales Valleys, but in addition there will be jobs in companies providing services and equipment to LG. It is questionable whether a development of such magnitude would be either practicable or desirable in a rural area. I am sure that many rural dwellers would be horrified at the thought of a large factory sprouting up in their midst. I see the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, nodding.

What the agency will be required to do is to assess the needs of different areas and address them in ways that will be beneficial both to the local community and to the Welsh economy as a whole. The regional directorates of the agency will have the task of considering the different needs and how to make the most of the advantages of each part of Wales.

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Perhaps I may emphasise that my comments do not manifest a lack of support for the rural communities of Wales. I am only too aware that parts of rural Wales, particularly the more peripheral areas, are greatly in need of sound economic development assistance, just as parts of urban Wales need assistance in tackling the problems they are encountering.

The problems of rural Wales and the problems of urban Wales would not be served by an amendment of the type proposed by the noble Lord. In the light of that, I respectfully ask him to consider withdrawing it.

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