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Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, I wish to pose a question to the noble Lord, Lord Roberts. We are dealing with three subsections in a new clause concerning the responsibilities and authority which will be in the hands of the Welsh assembly; the functions for which it will be responsible. It is inconceivable that any Minister of the Crown would enter into any discussions, particularly with the Council of Ministers, without keeping in close contact with the assembly, its officers, its leader and the Secretary of State for Wales. I do not believe that the clause is required in order to place such an obligation on a Minister of the Crown who could never be in a position of entering into discussions and reaching conclusions on matters which have already been given to the assembly.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, we have discussed this amendment on two previous occasions. Two separate issues are involved. Subsections (1) and (3) put the Secretary of State as an intermediary between government and the assembly on policy discussions with European partners. He is to consult the assembly and then report back on what has transpired. That is not what we propose. The position of the Secretary of State as nanny, to coin a phrase, would be enshrined in statute. That is not the arrangement we seek.

We look to the assembly to play a direct role. It is not appropriate that the Bill should attempt to delineate that role by prescribing exactly how there are to be discussions between the assembly on European Union matters in the United Kingdom and European institutions. We believe that they can be handled on an administrative basis where necessary through concordats.

The assembly is to be involved in discussions which decide the UK negotiating line on proposals for EU legislation; for instance, on agriculture and environmental issues. There will need to be close liaison between the assembly and government departments, but we believe that the assembly itself ought to be carrying out conversations and discussions with government departments rather than giving in subsection (1) an intermediary role to the Secretary of State. I should make it plain that the intention is that the assembly should deal directly with relevant government departments on these European matters. We anticipate the same arrangements for the Scottish executive.

I turn to the somewhat different question of whether the assembly secretaries should form part of the United Kingdom delegation at the Council of Ministers' meetings. We do not believe that we need to interpose the Secretary of State, as suggested in subsection (3). We discussed the question of representation at length and on 9th July I wrote to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and placed a copy in the Library. We believe that assembly secretaries ought to be able to participate in policy negotiations, but subject to the agreement of the lead United Kingdom Minister. We

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disagree as to whether it is necessary for the Bill to make provision for that. We do not believe that we need to make provision in the Bill. If an assembly secretary joins the UK delegation he would have to adhere to the UK-agreed line. I am not entirely certain from subsection (2) of the amendment whether the noble Lord intends that "participate" should include speaking or voting. That is not plain to me.

In the letter to which I referred, I replied to the observation made by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, on 1st July. It is plain that assembly secretaries can speak on behalf of the United Kingdom only with authority from the United Kingdom Government. I do not believe that there is any disagreement between us there. I sympathise with the motives behind the amendment--

Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving way. He referred to the letter that he wrote to me. I would have intervened earlier, but I confess that I temporarily mislaid the letter. I am grateful to him for confirming in the letter that in practice, in relation to the major issues such as agriculture, industry and the environment, representation of United Kingdom interests will almost invariably be made by a UK Minister. It will be on other matters that from time to time an assembly minister may speak. That emphasises the importance of having an adequate system of communication and consultation, which is the subject of the amendment.

I wish to ask the Minister a particular point, because he misrepresents the position in his letter. I asked about the right under the treaty for a representative who is not a Minister to speak. The Minister said that anyone who was authorised to commit the Government could represent. I must refer him to the words of the treaty. It states that the council shall consist of a representative of each member state "at ministerial level" authorised to commit the Government. What puzzles me is how an assembly member could be described as a representative "at ministerial level". I should be grateful for a response to that precise question.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I do not see the difference or the distinction between the examples given by the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, that representatives of the German Lander, for instance, by definition would not necessarily be members of the Federal Government in Germany and the example given by the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, that representatives of Catalonia are not ministers in the central Spanish Government but of provincial assemblies, and I use that word without disparagement. Therefore, I do not believe that the noble Lord's point is a good one.

As I was about to say, I have a good deal of sympathy with what the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, is seeking to achieve. However, conscientiously responding to the spirit of his proposal, I say that we do not believe that the Secretary of State should have this intermediary role. We believe that the Secretary of State should be on one side when one is having negotiations and discussions between the assembly, other

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government departments and other institutions. Therefore, we believe that to introduce or to re-introduce the Secretary of State to what is in this context the domestic jurisdiction of the assembly, then extending into the European context, is not the way to do it. We believe that the right way is concordats and sensible working arrangements between the assembly and other government departments.

I stress that we have not dismissed the issue, but we believe that although our objective is not entirely dissimilar the way of reaching it is different. I hope that having explained the Government's position, the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. I am afraid that there is a major difference between us in that we still believe that the Secretary of State has a very important role to play. He will be on the same footing as the lead United Kingdom Minister in most negotiations that take place in Europe.

The other factor which affects our view of the matter is the enormity of the problems which are facing us in Europe and the discussions which will take place.

With all due respect to the assembly, it will be very much a novel body when it is established as a result of the elections next May. I doubt whether it will be able to develop the expertise required to oversee the negotiations which will decide much of the future of Welsh agriculture and other aspects of Welsh life. There are extremely important issues arising for discussion in Europe, as we all know. It seems to me that we should have a Secretary of State in charge of those negotiations.

7 p.m.

Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, it seems a very strange argument. Is the noble Lord suggesting that Conservative candidates who might be elected to the national assembly would not understand the CAP?

Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, I do not believe that any of the candidates for the assembly of whom I am aware have had any experience whatever of European negotiations. I am not speaking about Conservative candidates. I am thinking of all the other candidates of whom I know to date. I am sure that in due course they may well acquire sufficient experience. However, the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, will know of the extremely important, crucial discussions which will be taking place in Europe in the not too distant future.

The Government's view is that the assembly should take full responsibility for those discussions, albeit under the leadership of a UK Minister. I wish the assembly well. But I should feel safer about the outcome being favourable to Wales if those matters were the responsibility of the Secretary of State. There is a difference between us which I am sure will persist. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Clause 42 [Different exercise of functions by Assembly]:

Lord Simon of Glaisdale moved Amendment No. 30:

Page 23, line 39, after ("section") insert ("and sections 43 and 45").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is grouped with Amendments Nos. 31, 32, which is not perhaps quite on a par with the others, and 33. This group of amendments is exactly parallel with the others which the Minister moved earlier and to which I put my name which resulted in some economy in the statute.

Clause 42 ends:

    "In this section 'enactment' includes an enactment ... (a) contained in an Act passed after this Act, or (b) made after the passing of this Act".

Clause 43, to which Amendment No. 31 relates, is in exactly the same terms. It states:

    "In this section 'enactment' includes an enactment",

and so on. So it is in Clause 45(4)(b) which states:

    "'enactment' includes an enactment contained in an Act passed after this Act or made after passing of this Act".

That is exactly the same but expresses it more succinctly.

The amendment seeks to provide in Clause 42(6):

    "In this section and sections 43 and 45 'enactment' includes",

and so on. That enables one to omit the other provisions in Clauses 43 and 45 which are referred to. Up to that point it is absolutely clear. There is a mere repetition in the subsequent clauses and all one has to do is to refer to those clauses the first time it occurs. That is exactly what was done by the Government in relation to the earlier amendments.

I sought from the noble and learned Lord an assurance that the Government would accept this group of amendments because, as I suggest, they are exactly comparable with the earlier amendments. However, he said that the Government were not prepared to do so and so far as my aged and unagile mind managed to pick up the argument on the hoof, so to speak, I believe that he was referring to Clause 155. That provides:

    "'enactment' includes subordinate legislation".

The important matter is that in each of the provisions that I have cited, including Clause 155, the crucial word is "includes". It does not say "means" which the draftsman sometimes uses in an interpretation clause. Therefore, there is absolutely no inconsistency between Clause 155 and the earlier clauses to which I referred.

Moreover, if there were anything in the point about Clause 155, it would apply equally to Clauses 42 onwards to which I have referred. Therefore, I fear that there is nothing whatever in that point. It is most unfortunate that Third Reading is following so quickly on the Report stage. There has been only the minimum of three clear sitting days and one was a Friday. Therefore, the Minister had no opportunity to answer my query on the point. If he had, I should have been reasonably confident of convincing him. In fact, I do not despair of it, even at this stage.

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As your Lordships know, every brief for an amendment ends either "accept" or "consider" or, all too frequently, "reject". It is perfectly obvious from what the noble and learned Lord, said earlier that his brief ends "reject". But I would venture to remind him that he and not the draftsman of the brief is in charge of the amendment. I call to his attention the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, when he was a Home Office Minister. An amendment was moved to a Home Office Bill relating to touting. There was already a provision relating to touts operating outside football grounds where the mischief was established. The amendment sought to extend that to touts working outside Wimbledon. The noble Earl read through his brief, which was obviously going to end with the word "reject"; but, to everyone's surprise, he contradicted it by saying: "My Lords, I accept the amendment". I commend that course to the noble and learned Lord. I beg to move.

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