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Lord Sewel: My Lords, the regional returning officer has to announce the additional regional result. To achieve that he will have to go through a process of calculation. That is published as part of the proceedings of declaration. As my noble and very helpful friend, Lord McIntosh of Haringey has indicated to me, it can be recalculated on demand as well. That is an open and explicit part of the process so that people know where they stand and make a subsequent judgment on whether they are content with how the process has been applied.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for indicating that the calculation can be done again if someone asks for it. The calculation will be very easy. If the returning officer is not too quick, other people will probably obtain the result quicker than he will. It is a fairly straightforward calculation to use the D'Hondt calculator. I still believe that the problem remains that when one gets to the seventh seat there could be a severe difficulty.
I hear what the Minister says about the counts. Like the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, I am not convinced that there is not a way round it which is far superior to going to court, which is both expensive and lengthy. I appreciate that the problem with orders is that, even if the Minister were to agree with us, there is probably not much that can be done at this stage.
I fear that there has been an oversight, which perhaps indicates that if these orders had come before us sooner we might well have picked up this matter. Albeit hedged about with qualifications as to when somebody could call for a recount, the ability to call in all the papers the following day and have a general recount would certainly seem to be by far the fairer and better option.
Lord Sewel: My Lords, I take note of what the noble Lord has said on that matter. I believe that we have a way forward for these elections. We are in unknown territory to a significant extent. We can reflect on the basis of experience. I am sure that no party represented here, or likely to be represented in the Scottish Parliament, would wish to see its representation
I believe that I have dealt with all the new issues. I realise some arose from the procedures which have already been adopted for election to the other place. Quite understandably, noble Lords were using this debate to rework some arguments heard there. I do not believe that they are particularly appropriate to these orders. I believe that I have dealt with the particular new issues which relate to the new orders before us today.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Government of Wales Act set the framework for devolution to the National Assembly for Wales, but it left some major tasks to be dealt with in subsequent secondary legislation. Before us tonight are three orders which, taken together--although they are not being taken together--fill in much of the remaining picture. The elections order sets out comprehensively the regulatory framework needed to conduct the Assembly's first election under the additional member system; the disqualification order clarifies who is and who is not eligible to stand in that election; and the transfer of functions order prescribes the comprehensive list of powers and duties which are to be handed over from the Secretary of State and vested in the Assembly.
In preparing the order the Secretary of State has had to recognise that there are no direct parallels in the national Assembly within the United Kingdom. He has decided that it would not be appropriate to put in place for the Assembly disqualification provisions that mirror those which apply under the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975. The Assembly will not be a comparable body to the House of Commons. The listing under the 1975 Act is an extensive one, running to several hundred bodies and post-holders. That listing would not fit the circumstances of the Assembly.
The draft order before your Lordships takes account of responses to a consultative exercise which invited views on the range of disqualification and the need to avoid conflicts of interest and to preserve the impartiality of these bodies. In addition, disqualification is to extend to the broadcast interests, given the role which they would have in reporting on the Assembly. In identifying the offices and employments subject to disqualification, the Secretary of State has decided that it would not be appropriate to apply disqualification to all employees of the listed bodies. Therefore, the order proposes only a limited application to employees, mainly civil servants.
Part I of the order lists 28 bodies where all members are disqualified from membership of the Assembly. Part II identifies a further 43 bodies and offices, the members of which (or post-holders) are not able also to be members of the assembly. In Part II the distinction proposed is for those employees who by virtue of their employment are ex officio members of the board.
Many of the Welsh public sector bodies listed in Part I and Part II will have a direct link with the Assembly and the funding dependency will be a clear one. There are then bodies which operate in a quasi-judicial manner.
Impartiality is the reason for disqualifying members of the Audit Commission, the Commission for Local Administration in Wales, the Health Service Commissioner for Wales and the Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner of the Boundary Commission for Wales.
I should also outline why it is necessary to extend disqualification to the listed social security bodies. Although the Assembly will not exercise functions in the field of social security, these bodies have a duty to decide appeals in Wales on matters which can directly or indirectly affect the Assembly's activities or expenditure;
The Social Security Commissioner and the Child Support Commissioner, who are analogous to High Court judges, are disqualified by the provisions of Section 12 of the Government of Wales Act, which apply to the House of Commons Disqualification Act. Therefore, it would be consistent to ensure that disqualification from Assembly membership was extended to the social security appeal and tribunal structures, which are responsible for precedent-setting decisions or have a deciding influence over the way that a particular tribunal carries out its business. Similar considerations apply to the pensions bodies listed in the order where we wish to avoid actual or potential conflicts of interest and compromising impartially.
Outside of the draft order the Secretary of State will rely on his contractual relationship with the Training and Enterprise Councils and the career service companies in Wales to disqualify their board members. For the Welsh European programme executive he will enter into an agreement with the company to preclude Assembly Members from serving on its board. Under the Assembly elections procedure order which I have already described to your Lordships, those in a disqualifying office or employment who intend to stand as a candidate for election to the Assembly would be required to resign before making their formal consent to nomination. The final date for the formal submission of nomination papers will be 8th April. That would mean that people holding a disqualifying office would need to resign by that date at the latest. Where a person resigns their membership to stand for election to the Assembly and is unsuccessful in that election, there is discretion to decide whether to reinstate that person to the body concerned. For an employee, reinstatement would depend on the terms and conditions of employment that apply. I beg to move.
Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 10th February be approved [9th Report from the Joint Committee].--(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)
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