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Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her full response. I am sure that I speak for all noble Lords when I say that she genuinely wants to be helpful in this regard and in relation to a number of issues that we have confronted on Report. I am also genuinely grateful to her for ensuring that we had sight of the guidance in good time before Report. That was helpful to all of us. The guidance, however, is only guidance and, with regard to the licensing objectives and the question of amenity, we believe that it is insufficient.

We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Clarke of Hampstead, for his support for Amendment No. 22 and his appreciation of our view, which we hold very strongly, that it is important that we have an objective that addresses the protection of those living in the area surrounding a premises. As I said earlier, Amendment No. 23 is even better because it holds out a proper balance—a fair balance—between those who want to enjoy the premises and what those premises provide, and those who wish to have, as I said in Committee, the right to live as a community in peace.

We are asking to have in the Bill a licensing objective that gives clarity to local authorities when they make those very important decisions about their local communities. We do not feel that the Government have met that need. We believe that they support all that we have been trying to do. I am afraid that the Government have not gone far enough despite their helpful references, for example, to the cumulative effect in the guidance. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 22.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

24 Feb 2003 : Column 79

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 23:

    Page 3, line 11, leave out paragraph (c) and insert—

"(c) the prevention of unreasonable diminution of the living and working amenity and environment of interested parties in the vicinity of the premises balancing those matters against the benefits to be derived from the leisure amenity of such premises;"

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the amendment has already been spoken to. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

7.31 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 23) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 135; Not-Contents, 99.

Division No. 4


Aberdare, L.
Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Bell, L.
Best, L.
Biffen, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bramall, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Buscombe, B.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chester, Bp.
Clement-Jones, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Courtown, E.
Craig of Radley, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dundee, E.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falkland, V.
Fearn, L.
Feldman, L.
Fookes, B.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Geraint, L.
Goodhart, L.
Greenway, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanham, B.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Henley, L.
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Home, E.
Hooper, B.
Hooson, L.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Inglewood, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kimball, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Laird, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Liverpool, E.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Montrose, D.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Newby, L.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Northbourne, L.
Northesk, E.
Northover, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L. [Teller]
Rawlings, B.
Razzall, L.
Reay, L.
Redesdale, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roper, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Russell, E.
Saatchi, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandberg, L.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sheppard of Didgemere, L.
Shrewsbury, E.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Skidelsky, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Weatherill, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Willoughby de Broke, L.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Bhatia, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Elder, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gilbert, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Greengross, B.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Layard, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Radice, L.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Simon, V.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thornton, B.
Turnberg, L.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

24 Feb 2003 : Column 81

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I beg to move that consideration on Report be now adjourned. In moving the Motion, I suggest that that the Report stage begin again not before 8.41 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

The Lord Chancellor: Leave of Absence

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): My Lords, I take this opportunity to inform the House that I shall be attending ministerial and other meetings out of London on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, I shall be attending the enthronement of the new Archbishop of Canterbury. In those circumstances, I trust that the House will grant me leave of absence.

National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2003

7.41 p.m.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 30th January be approved [9th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of the draft order is to bring, so far as is practicable, the provisions relating to elections to the National Assembly for Wales into line with those which apply when there is a parliamentary election anywhere in the United Kingdom.

The statutory authority is Section 11 of the Government of Wales Act 1998, which empowers the Secretary of State to make provisions relating to Assembly elections. The order regulates most aspects of the process for electing and returning Assembly Members, as well as establishing mechanisms for questioning an election, and for remedying irregularities.

The first Assembly elections were conducted under the terms of an order made in 1999. That order drew heavily on the provisions of the Representation of the People Acts, which govern parliamentary elections throughout the UK and local government elections in England and Wales. That was absolutely right as we were aiming for consistency of practice. The 1999 order successfully achieved that objective.

However, since 1999, the Government have taken great strides forward in their commitment to modernise electoral law. Much of that was achieved through the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, which, among other things, established the Electoral Commission as an independent overseer of UK electoral processes. That Act, together with the Representation of the People Act 2000, made significant changes to the legislation on which the 1999 order was based.

An amendment order in 2002 implemented the most essential changes which needed to be in place in the event of a by-election. However, it was always recognised that further amendments would be needed.

24 Feb 2003 : Column 82

Including these further changes in a second amendment order would have caused practical difficulties both for electoral administrators and for the political parties and their candidates, who would have needed to consult at least three separate documents to clarify every detail of the rules and procedures. We therefore decided to consolidate into a wholly new order all the changes which have become necessary since 1999.

So this order restates the amendments made in 2002. In addition, it introduces new changes covering, in particular: offences in relation to false statements in applications for absent and proxy votes; false statements in nomination papers; restrictions on the publication of exit polls; control of donations to candidates; candidates' expenses; the broadcasting of local items; and, finally, provisions relating to the consequences of conviction for corrupt electoral practice.

The order is lengthy and detailed—more than 250 pages long. In view of that, I hope that the House will find it helpful if I concentrate my comments on areas where we are bringing forward significant changes. The first is in Article 13, which clarifies the legal implications of making false statements in relation to an application for a postal or proxy vote. Anyone found guilty of such an offence will be liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale. It may be of assistance to the House if I explain that level 5 is the highest point on the standard scale of penalties for criminal offences. It currently stands at £5,000. That is consistent with the provisions for parliamentary elections in Schedule 4 to the Representation of the People Act 2000.

Two further offences appear as "new" in relation to National Assembly elections, although, again, they replicate provisions already applying to parliamentary elections. Article 32 deals with false statements in nomination papers and related documents, while Article 34 extends to Assembly elections the prohibition on the publication of exit polls, as introduced for elections of other kinds through the Representation of the People Act 2000. It will be an offence to publish any such details until after the poll has closed at 10 p.m.

Article 39, together with Schedule 6, makes new provisions about the control of donations to candidates. Those reflect provisions for other elections implemented in Schedule 2A to the Representation of the People Act 1983. The rules make absolutely clear that, as well as direct financial support, they also cover sponsorship, donations in kind, and loans on non-commercial terms. Assembly candidates will be subject to the same list of permissible donors as candidates for election to Parliament. The schedule also sets out clear rules for the reporting of donations, thus ensuring that all sums are accounted for.

I move ahead to Article 66, which introduces new provisions to regulate the broadcasting of local items during the election period. They require the broadcasting authorities to adopt a code of practice with respect to the participation of Assembly

24 Feb 2003 : Column 83

candidates in items about the constituency or electoral region in which they are standing. The provisions reflect changes in respect of other elections introduced by Section 144 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

Part IV of the order makes provision for legal proceedings. It is designed to ensure that comparable procedures apply in connection with Assembly elections as apply in connection with elections to Parliament. The one change of significance is in Article 122. It deals with the circumstances in which an individual is convicted of corrupt or illegal practice while acting as a sitting Member of the Assembly. The conviction would require such a person to vacate his or her seat. However, it is right that a short period of grace should be allowed while the Member has an opportunity to appeal against conviction. That is now provided for in the expanded Article 122. However, during any such period of grace, the individual would be suspended from performing the functions of an Assembly Member.

Schedule 4 deals with the combination of polls when Assembly elections are held on the same day as those for local authorities. These provisions are essentially unchanged from the existing order. However, they have been altered to reflect the future possibility of mayoral elections in Wales.

This is a complex order. It has to be to ensure comprehensive coverage and to provide us with the necessary reassurance that Assembly Members will be elected through an equitable and transparent process which everyone can trust. In accordance with the requirements of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the draft was the subject of consultation with the Electoral Commission before it was laid before Parliament. The commission has confirmed that it is content with the version we are now considering.

In addition, the Government have consulted with the Assembly, in view of the wide ranging obligations that the order places on it. Comments were also invited from representatives of Welsh electoral administrators, and from the four political parties currently represented in the Assembly. The final draft now being considered takes full account of all comments received from those sources. I commend the order to the House.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 30th January be approved [9th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Evans of Temple Guiting.)

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