Power to Enter into Concordat

Part of Orders of the Day — Government of Wales Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:30 pm on 25th March 1998.

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Photo of Mr Denzil Davies Mr Denzil Davies Labour, Llanelli 9:30 pm, 25th March 1998

I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be able to give the hon. Member for Ynys Mon (Mr. Jones) the reassurance that he seeks. I too read the paper that my right hon. Friend kindly and rightly placed in the Library. I do not want to seem churlish, but it does not reassure me completely.

I feel some sympathy for the person who wrote the paper because he did not know what was in the draftsman's mindßžand it is always difficult to draft something when it is not clear in one's own mind. I understand his problems. At least the paper begins by saying that, basically, the aim of the concordats is to preserve the good working relationships which currently exist between the Welsh Office and other Government Departments. Throughout its three pages, the hope is constantly expressedßžexplicitly or implicitlyßžthat those good working relationships will continue.

Of course, as my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) pointed out, we are talking about a different situationßža different form of cohabitation. The good working relationships that now apparently exist between the Welsh Office and other Whitehall Departments need not necessarily exist between Whitehall Departments and a completely different animalßžthe National Assembly for Walesßžfor the simple reason that the assembly will not be a Whitehall Department.

In the main, Whitehall Departments have to live together. They may fight and quarrel but, at the end of the day, they have to reach an agreement, not necessarily because they want to but because they live in the same little pond and the same little village. That is not the case with the National Assembly for Wales; it will be from outside, from the next block.

The document has all the hallmarks of a demandeur, if I can use a French word.