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Lord Stanley of Alderley: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I point out that he has not answered my question. My Amendment No. 42 proposes to leave out "it considers appropriate" and insert "is reasonably required", which I explained at considerable length. Why is not that better than the provision written on the face of the Bill? I do not believe that the noble Lord addressed that point at all.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the noble Lord is right. I believe that the present drafting is perfectly suitable to bring about any consequence that the noble Lord requires. We thought about the issue quite carefully and took quite a lot of trouble to get it, we thought, right. We believe that if one is devolving powers to an assembly one ought to say that what the assembly considers appropriate is the test that ought to be applied. The noble Lord is right; I omitted to say that and I am sorry.
Lord Stanley of Alderley: My Lords, the noble Lord's answer to the final question is deeply unsatisfactory. I am merely putting on the face of the Bill what the noble Lord said on Report. I am minded to press the amendment to a Division, but I am sure that the noble Lord would find that extremely churlish. In order to be more reasonable, I shall conclude my remarks on this series of amendments by saying something that has worried me considerably throughout our discussions on the Bill. Every time that I have moved an amendment--and this applies also to all noble Lords on this side who have moved amendments-- I have been told by the Minister to trust the assembly. I have been told to get lost.
I gave reasons earlier why I felt it was my job to examine the matter and not necessarily to take everything on trust. If your Lordships did that, it is time they went home. Perhaps we should. I realise that what I am about to say may well upset noble Lords on the Benches opposite because of the matter that I have just mentioned.
I have tried to go beyond that assumption of saying, "Let's trust the assembly", but I must go further. I remind your Lordships that 74.4 per cent. of the Welsh did not vote for an assembly. That means that they, like me, did not really trust the assembly to work for their best endeavours. I am trying--I realise inadequately--to represent the views of that 74.4 per cent. of Wales. In that regard, I know I have the support of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, who raised that issue earlier.
Before the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, has a coronary, I remind your Lordships that I live and earn my living in Wales. Last night I listened to a group of Welsh-speaking farmers who, as is their wont, spoke in English for my benefit. They too are concerned, although, like me, they want the assembly to work well, which means efficiently, to encourage efficient farming and not be the waffle shop which both I and they are most fearful of, and I still am most fearful of, particularly hearing the remarks of my noble friend Lord St. Davids.
Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, briefly on this occasion I should like to say a few words. I am extremely indebted for the support that I have had from noble Lords on this side of the House throughout the five gruelling days in Committee and the two days on Report. We have just been listening to my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderley. To come along the Benches, as it were, we have heard from my noble friends Lord Dixon-Smith, Lord Kenyon, Lord Balfour, Lord Rees, a former Chief Secretary and, of course, my noble friend Lord Crickhowell, who has the distinction of having carried the only amendment that we are sending to the other place.
I believe that it is in order to thank some noble Lords on the Cross Benches. In particular, I thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. I am sure that we have all enjoyed listening to him, as we have the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas. He does not always agree with us but we know it is a passing phase and we shall be somehow together in one way or another on some platform or another. However, my real thanks must go to my redoubtable colleagues; namely, my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Drumadoon and my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. I want to thank the latter most sincerely for the help that he has given me in the heat of the day. Perhaps I may also extend my particular thanks to my noble friend Lord Courtown--
Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord; indeed, he has given me the opportunity to recall my noble friend Lord Onslow of Woking, who has also participated in our proceedings.
Finally, perhaps I may thank the Ministers who have dealt with us with courtesy and who clearly had a genuine desire to deal with our concerns. I and my noble friends have very much appreciated the letters that we have received, which have not been slow in amplifying replies given in debate.
Of course, we still have our concerns about the Bill which are very well known. For example, there is our concern about proportional representation, the whole set-up and, indeed, the indecision as to whether we will have a Cabinet-style or a local government committee system. Frankly, we are appalled by the proposal that the Secretary of State should also be the first secretary because to us that is a complete denial of devolution; indeed, it is a complete nonsense. Similarly, we are not altogether happy with the inclusive political approach. There is a potentially corrupting element within that inclusive politics. I also believe that the values of adversarial politics are underestimated.
We are also very much concerned--as, indeed, are Members in all parts of the House--with the absolute discretion left to the Secretary of State as far as concerns the financing of the assembly. We know that the assembly will start with a great many commitments that have been entered into by those who become members of the assembly. Despite yesterday's announcement about spending by the Secretary of State, and later the assembly in Wales, my own simple view is that such increases as we have seen will be totally inadequate to meet the needs of the assembly.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, it is my pleasant task to congratulate the Government on a great achievement in bringing forward the Government of Wales Bill. It is an important milestone for Wales and the fulfilment of the longings and expectations of many of us on these Benches over many years. The first stirrings of a parliament for Wales can be traced to the Cymru Fydd movement at the end of the 19th century led by David Lloyd George. It was a tenet of the Liberal and, subsequently of the Liberal Democrat faith, that there should be devolution and that Wales should have its own parliament.
We are most of the way with the Bill. We have said from the beginning--indeed, from Second Reading--that we feel that there is a logic which will drive the assembly to require primary legislative powers. I have in mind the conflict which will exist between the programme laid down by the Westminster government and the reduced role of the Welsh assembly in merely dealing with the secondary legislation under that programme. We believe that that tension will ultimately lead to the sort of parliament that we have sought all our lives. I pay tribute to my noble friends for carrying on that fight over many years. Both my noble friend Lord Geraint and my noble friend Lord Hooson have been foremost in projecting the concept of the parliament of Wales over that period of time.
I believe this Bill has shown the value of inclusive politics. We are grateful for the way in which since this Bill came to your Lordships' House. We have been involved at all stages of its consideration with the Government and with others as regards the way in which
I pay tribute to others who have contributed to our discussions. The noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley, said a moment ago that he has constantly heard the phrase, "Trust the assembly". I pay tribute to the way in which the noble Lord has constantly reminded us of the most serious crisis and challenge that faces us in Wales at the moment; namely, the agriculture crisis that affects so many of the people for whom he has spoken. But when the noble Lord uses that expression, "Trust the assembly", he brings to mind the words of William Ewart Gladstone--the centenary of whose death we celebrated last week in Hawarden, in my part of the world--when he said that the Liberals trust the people and the Tories fear the people. That is something that I read 30 years ago. It has remained with me and it has inspired my Liberal politics throughout that time. Trust in the people and trust in the assembly will make the assembly succeed.
I also pay tribute to the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, who has, without question, abandoned many of the former demands that his party has made and has contributed so much to these debates. I was disappointed to hear the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, say that the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, would be joining the Conservative Benches. I think that was the force of what he was saying. It was once said of the noble Lord that he walked around with a copy of Marx's Das Kapital under his arm. It is said to be the Good Food Guide these days. Perhaps in the future it will be the works of the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher. I do not know, but I hope the noble Lord is not moving too far in that direction.
I, of course, pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, and to the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, whose contributions have been so important. Finally, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, for the way in which they have steered this Bill through the House, answering all the questions that have been put to them in a succinct, amiable, sharp but pleasant way.
Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, in pursuance of my role as the honorary president of the Welsh national culinary team, I am very happy to carry the Good Food Guide under my arm. It reminds me of the wonderful eating places that we have which I shall not name. I do not need
I say to the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, that when he discourses upon the values of adversarial politics, I shall respond by saying that the only platform I intend to share with him is that wonderful platform at Llandudno Junction station, when I shall be, God speed, en route to Cardiff by train.
In endorsing everything that has been said, I wish to pay two tributes. I want to mention in particular, if I may do so without embarrassing him, my noble friend Lord Prys-Davies. He has been a beacon of light to me over many years and in many contexts in Welsh politics. He inadvertently lost a certain by-election, which was won by my previous leader in another place, Gwynfor Evans. Certainly he is also with us still in the great debate on the national question in Wales.
The noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, perhaps more than any other member of the Labour Party, has played his role in bringing us to where we are today. He has argued the national question, in and out, in difficult times. I remember him as a political adviser to the previous Welsh Office administration under the right honourable John Morris, the Minister in another place. I remember the difficult times that we had following the failure of the Wales and Scotland Bills and of the referendum. My noble friend kept faith, and the changes that have taken place in the Labour Party since have been in no small measure due to him. I hope that I do not embarrass my noble friend. We are both Meirionnydd boys at heart, and that is important to us.
Finally, by convention we never speak in this place of the unsung heroes of our debates, who are those who sit in the Box. I thank the officials for their effective briefing at all stages of the Bill. They have kept Members of all parties in touch. I say that because I hope to work with them again!
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