I beg to move amendment 118, page 2, line 28, after “7A)” insert
“and is not ancillary to another provision (whether in the Act or another enactment) that does not relate to a reserved matter”.
Clause 3 establishes the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales. This amendment makes clear that the Assembly has power to make provision touching upon reserved matters for the purpose of enforcing provisions in Assembly Acts that do not relate to reserved matters or otherwise making them effective.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Amendment 148, page 2, line 33, leave out “subsection (2)(b) does” and insert
“subsections (2)(b) and (2)(c) do”.
The amendment restores the Assembly’s competence by enabling it to legislate in an ancillary way in relation to reserved matters.
Amendment 149, page 2, line 34, leave out from “provision” to end of line 6 on page 3 and insert
“which is within the Assembly’s legislative competence (or would be if it were included in an Act of the Assembly).”
The amendment restores the Assembly’s competence by enabling it to legislate in an ancillary way in relation to reserved matters.
Clause 3 stand part.
Amendment 2, in schedule 1, page 41, line 24, at end insert
“(that is, the property, rights and interests under the management of the Crown Estate Commissioners)
‘(3A) Sub-paragraph (1) does not affect the reservation by paragraph 1 of the requirements of section 90B(5) to (8).”
This amendment is consequential on new Clause (The Crown Estate) which would transfer executive and legislative competence of the Crown Estate in Wales to the Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales.
Amendment 6, page 41, line 30 , at end insert—
“2A Paragraph 1 does not reserve the consolidation in English and Welsh of the principal legislation delineating the powers of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government, including (but not limited to) the Government of Wales Act 2006, the Wales Act 2011 and the Wales Act 2016.”
This amendment would allow the National Assembly for Wales to consolidate in both English and Welsh the statutes bills containing the current constitutional settlement affecting Wales.
Amendment 155, page 42, line 20, leave out “prosecutors” and insert “the Crown Prosecution Service”.
The amendment clarifies the reservation so that “the Crown Prosecution Service” is reserved, rather than “prosecutors” more generally, as this could prohibit Assembly legislation enabling devolved authorities to prosecute, such as local authorities.
Amendment 119, page 42, line 26, leave out sub-paragraphs (2) and (3).
This amendment seeks to allow ancillary provision by removing the exception in paragraph 6(2) and the related definition in paragraph 6(3), so that reliance can be placed on the general power to make ancillary provision made clear by the amendment to clause 3 proposed by amendment 118.
Amendment 83, page 47, line 32, leave out Section B5.
This amendment removes the reservation of crime, public order and policing from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 122, page 48, line 9, leave out
“The subject matter of Parts 1 to 6” and insert
“Anti-social behaviour injunctions under Part 1”.
This amendment is intended to narrow the reservation to the system of anti-social behaviour injunctions provided for by Part 1 of the 2014 Act.
Amendment 84, page 48, leave out line 11.
This amendment removes the reservation of dangerous dogs and dogs dangerously out of control from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 85, page 48, line 15, leave out Section B8.
This amendment removes the reservation of prostitution from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 86, page 48, line 24, leave out Section B11.
This amendment removes the reservation of the rehabilitation of offenders from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 117, page 49, leave out lines 5 to 10.
This amendment will remove the reservation of knives from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 123, page 49, leave out lines 24 to 29.
Paragraph 55 of the new Schedule 7A to be inserted into the Government of Wales Act 2006 by Schedule 1 would reserve the licensing of the provision of entertainment and late night refreshment from the Assembly’s legislative competence. Paragraph 56 would reserve the sale and supply of alcohol. This amendment removes both reservations.
Amendment 116, page 49, leave out lines 24 to 26.
This amendment will remove the reservation of the licensing of the provision of entertainment and late night refreshment from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 87, page 49, line 27, leave out Section B17.
This amendment removes the reservation of alcohol from the list of reserved powers.
Government amendments 53 to 58.
Amendment 88, page 55, line 5, leave out Section C15.
This amendment removes the reservation of Water and sewerage from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 89, page 55, line 28, leave out Section C17.
This amendment removes the reservation of Sunday trading from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 90, page 55, line 32, leave out Section D1.
This amendment removes the reservation of generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 91, page 56, line 27, leave out Section D3.
This amendment removes the reservation of coal from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 92, page 57, line 2, leave out Section D5.
This amendment removes the reservation of heat and cooling from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 93, page 57, line 17, leave out Section D6.
This amendment removes the reservation of energy conservation from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 94, page 57, line 24, leave out Section E1.
This amendment removes the reservation of road transport from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 161, page 57, line 35, leave out from “roads” to the end of line 36 and insert—
“107A Speed limits
107B Road and traffic signs”
This amendment would make speed limits and road and traffic signs reserved matters.
Amendment 95, page 58, leave out line 36.
This amendment removes the reservation of railway services from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 96, page 59, leave out line 21.
This amendment is consequential on amendment 61 to Clause 28 which would remove the exception to the devolution of executive functions in relation to Welsh harbours of “reserved trust ports”.
Amendment 140, page 59, line 21, leave out “Reserved trust ports and”.
Section E3 of the new Schedule 7A to be inserted into the Government of Wales Act 2006 by Schedule 1 would reserve certain marine and waterway transport matters from the Assembly’s legislative competence. Paragraph 119 in that Section would reserve trust ports. This amendment removes this reservation.
Amendment 97, page 59, leave out line 23.
This amendment removes the reservation of coastguard services and maritime search and rescue from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 98, page 59, leave out line 24.
This amendment removes the reservation of hovercraft from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 141, page 59, line 28, leave out “, reserved trust ports or”.
This amendment is consequential upon amendment 140.
Amendment 142, page 59, line 37, leave out
“that is not a reserved trust port”.
This amendment is consequential upon amendment 140.
Amendment 143, page 60, leave out lines 4 to 5.
This amendment is consequential upon amendment 140.
Amendment 100, page 61, line 21, at end insert—
“Benefits entitlement to which, or the purposes of which, are the same as or similar to those of any of the following benefits—
(a) universal credit under Part 1 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012,
(b) jobseeker’s allowance (whether contributions-based or income based) under the Jobseekers Act 1995,
(c) employment and support allowance (whether contributory or income-related) under Part 1 of the Welfare Reform Act 2007,
(d) income support under section 124 of the Social Security and Benefits Act 1992,
(e) housing benefit under section 130 of that Act,
(f) child tax credit and working tax credit under the Tax Credits Act 2002.
The benefits referred to in paragraphs (a) to (f) above are—
(a) in the case of income-based jobseeker’s allowance and income-related employment support allowance, those benefits as they existed on
(b) in the case of the other benefits, those benefits as they existed on
This amendment devolves all working age benefits to be replaced by Universal credit, and any benefit introduced to replace Universal credit.
Amendment 101, page 61, line 21, at end insert—
“Benefits entitlement to which, or the purposes of which, are the same as or similar to those of any of the following benefits—
(a) guardian’s allowance under section 77 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992,
(b) child benefit under Part 9 of that Act.”
This amendment devolves to the National Assembly for Wales, child benefit and Guardian’s allowance including conditionality and sanctions regimes.
Amendment 102, page 64, line 17, leave out Section H1.
This amendment would remove employment and industrial relations from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 108, page 64, line 17, leave out Section H1 and insert—
“H1 National Minimum Wage
The subject-matter of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.”
This amendment would devolve employment rights and duties and industrial relations, except for the national minimum wage, to the National Assembly for Wales.
Amendment 124, page 64, line 44, at end insert—
“Terms and conditions of employment and industrial relations in Wales public authorities and services contracted out or otherwise procured by such authorities.”
Section H1 of the new Schedule 7A to be inserted into the Government of Wales Act 2006 by Schedule 1 would reserve employment rights and duties and industrial relations from Assembly’s legislative competence. This amendment provides an exception to ensure that the Assembly retains its legislative competence over terms and conditions of service for employees in devolved public services and industrial relations in such services.
Amendment 99, page 65, line 7, leave out Section H3.
This amendment would devolve employment support programmes to the National Assembly for Wales.
Amendment 109, page 65, line 24, leave out Section J1.
This amendment removes the reservation of abortion from the list of reserved powers, to bring Wales into line with Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Amendment 103, page 66, line 31, leave out Section J6.
This amendment would remove Health and Safety from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 105, page 67, line 14, leave out Section K1.
This amendment would remove broadcasting form the list of reserved powers
Amendment 107, page 67, line 17, at end insert—
The regulation of:
(a) party political broadcasts in connection with elections that are within the legislative competence of the Assembly and
(b) referendum campaign broadcasts in connection with referendums held under Acts of the National Assembly for Wales.”
This amendment would devolve competence to the National Assembly for Wales in relation to party political broadcasts for Welsh and local elections.
Amendment 106, page 67, line 29, leave out Section K5.
This amendment would remove sports grounds from the list of reservations
Amendment 110, page 68, line 2, leave out Section L1.
This amendment removes justice from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 111, page 69, line 25, leave out Section L11.
This amendment removes the reservation of prisons and offender management from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 104, page 72, line 14, leave out Section N1.
This amendment would remove equal opportunities from the list of reserved powers
Amendment 112, page 73, line 24, leave out “bank holidays”.
This amendment, along with amendment 85, will devolve to the National Assembly for Wales, competence over bank holidays.
Amendment 113, page 73, line 27, at end insert “bank holidays”.
This amendment, along with amendment 112, will devolve to the National Assembly for Wales, competence over bank holidays.
Amendment 114, page 74, line 7, leave out Section N8.
This amendment will remove the reservation of the Children’s Commissioner from the list of reserved powers.
Amendment 115, page 74, line 11, leave out Section N9.
This amendment will remove the reservation of teacher’s pay and conditions from the list of reserved powers.
That schedule 1 be the First schedule to the Bill.
Amendment 120, in schedule 2, page 77, line 17, at end insert—
“1A Paragraph 1 does not apply to a modification that is ancillary to a provision made (whether by the Act in question or another enactment) which does not relate to reserved matters if it is a modification of the law on reserved matters in paragraph 6 or 7 of Schedule 7A.”
This amendment provides an exception for ancillary provision about certain justice matters that is not subject to a necessity test.
Amendment 121, page 77, line 18, leave out “a” and insert “any other”.
This amendment is consequential upon amendment 120.
Amendment 156, page 77, line 21, leave out from “matters” to end of line 26.
The amendment removes the necessity test in relation to the law on reserved matters.
Amendment 157, page 78, line 2, leave out paragraph 4 and insert—
“4 (1) A provision of an Act of the Assembly cannot make modifications of, or confer power by subordinate legislation to make modifications of, the criminal law. (See also paragraph 6 of Schedule 7A (single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales).)
(2) Sub-paragraph (1) does not apply to a modification that has a purpose (other than modification of the criminal law) which does not relate to a reserved matter.
(3) This paragraph applies to civil penalties as it applies to offences; and references in this paragraph to the criminal law are to be read accordingly).”
The amendment inserts a restriction so that the Assembly cannot modify criminal law unless it is for a purpose other than a reserved purpose. This would bring it into line with the private law restriction.
Amendment 34, page 79, line 29, leave out from “Assembly” to end of line 39.
The amendment removes the requirements relating to the composition and internal arrangements of the Assembly Committee with oversight of the Auditor General and/or their functions.
Amendment 35, page 80, line 41, at end insert—
“(i) subsection 120(1) as regards a modification that adds a person or body;”
The amendment will enable the Assembly to amend sections 120(1) of the 2006 Act which provide for ‘relevant persons’ which receive funding directly from the Welsh Consolidated Fund.”
Amendment 36, page 80, line 42, at end insert—
(iii) subsection 124(3) as regards a modification that adds a person or body;”
The amendment will enable the Assembly to amend sections 124(3) of the 2006 Act which provide for ‘relevant persons’ which receive funding directly from the Welsh Consolidated Fund.
Amendment 37, page 81, line 22, leave out from “taxes” to end of line 23.
The amendment removes the requirement for Secretary of State consent for the Assembly to amend the provisions of Part 5 of the 2006 Act which are not specifically referred to in paragraph 7(2)(d) and section 159, where the amendment is incidental to, or consequential on, a provision of an Act of the Assembly relating to budgetary procedures.
Amendment 128, page 82, line 30, leave out paragraph (c).
This amendment is consequential upon amendment 127.
Amendment 127, page 82, line 44, at end insert—
‘( ) Paragraph 8(1)(a) and (c) does not apply in relation to the Water Services Regulation Authority.”
This amendment would extend the existing exception for the Water Services Regulation Authority to include the matters that would otherwise be outside competence by virtue of paragraph 8(1)(c) of Schedule 7B.
Amendment 129, page 83, line 42, leave out paragraph (c).
This amendment removes the restriction in paragraph 11(1)(c) of the new Schedule 7B to the Government of Wales Act 2006 to be inserted by Schedule 2 to the Bill which would prevent the Assembly from legislating to remove or modify functions of a Minister of the Crown exercisable in relation to water and sewerage matters (including control of pollution) and matters relating to land drainage, flood risk management and coastal protection.
That schedule 2 be the Second schedule to the Bill.
New clause 7—Levies in respect of agriculture, taking wild game, aquaculture and fisheries, etc.—
“(1) In Schedule 7A to the Government of Wales Act 2006, section A1 is amended as follows.
(2) In the Exceptions, after the exception for devolved taxes insert—
““Levies in respect of agriculture, taking wild game, aquaculture and fisheries (including sea fisheries) or a related activity: their collection and management.”
(3) After the Exceptions insert—
“agriculture” includes horticulture, fruit growing, seed growing, dairy farming and livestock breeding and keeping, and the use of land as grazing land, meadow land, osier land, market gardens and nursery grounds.
“aquaculture” includes the breeding, rearing or cultivation of fish (of any kind), seafood or aquatic organisms.
“related activity” means the production, processing, manufacture, marketing or distribution of—
(a) anything (including any creature alive or dead) produced or taken in the course of agriculture, taking wild game or aquaculture, or caught (by any means) in a fishery,
(b) any product which is derived to any substantial extent from anything so produced or caught.””
This new clause would give the National Assembly for Wales general legislative competence in respect of agricultural, aquacultural and fisheries levies.
New clause 10—Water Services Regulation Authority—
“(1) In section 27 of the Water Industry Act 1991 (general duty of the authority to keep matters under review)—
(a) in subsection (3), after “may” insert “subject to subsection (3A),”;
(b) after subsection (3), insert—
(a) matters in relation to which functions are exercised by water or sewage undertakers whose area is wholly or mainly in Wales,
(b) licensed activities carried out by water supply licensees that use the supply system of a water undertaker whose area is wholly or mainly in Wales, or
(c) licensed activities carried on by sewerage licensees that use the sewerage system of a sewerage undertaker whose area is wholly or mainly in Wales.”;
(c) in subsection (4), in both places where it appears, after “Secretary of State” insert “, the Welsh Ministers”.
(2) In section 192B of the Water Industry Act 1991 (annual and other reports)—
(a) in subsection (1), after “Secretary of State” insert “and the Welsh Ministers”;
(b) in subsection (2)(d), for “as the Assembly” substitute “or activities in Wales as the Welsh Ministers”;
(c) in subsection (4), for “Assembly” substitute “Welsh Ministers”;
(d) after subsection (5) insert—
“(5A) The Welsh Ministers shall—
(a) lay a copy of each annual report before the Assembly; and
(b) arrange for the report to be published in such manner as they consider appropriate;
(c) in subsection (7), omit “the Assembly,””.
(3) In Schedule 1A to the Water Industry Act 1991 (the Water Services Regulation Authority)—
(a) in paragraph 1—
(i) in sub-paragraph (1), after “Secretary of State” insert “and the Welsh Ministers acting jointly”;
(ii) in sub-paragraph (2), omit paragraph (a);
(b) in paragraph 2(2), after “Secretary of State” insert “and the Welsh Ministers acting jointly”;
(c) in paragraph 3—
(i) in sub-paragraph (2), paragraph (a), after “Secretary of State” insert “and the Welsh Ministers”;
(ii) in sub-paragraph (2), paragraph (b), after “Secretary of State” insert “and the Welsh Ministers acting jointly”;
(iii) omit sub-paragraph (3);
(d) in paragraph 4—
(i) in sub-paragraph (1) and (2), in each place where it appears, after “Secretary of State” insert “and the Welsh Ministers acting jointly”;
(ii) in sub-paragraph (3), for “determines” substitute “and the Welsh Ministers acting jointly determine” and at the end insert “and the Welsh Ministers acting jointly”;
(e) in paragraph 9(3)(b), for “Assembly” substitute “Welsh Ministers”.”
This new clause would amend the Water Industry Act 1991 to confer functions relating to the Water Services Regulation Authority (OFWAT) (which exercises functions in England and Wales) onto the Welsh Ministers and it would adjust the functions of the Secretary of State to better reflect the current devolution of water matters to Wales.
Amendment 61, in clause 28, page 23, line 32, leave out from “Wales” to the end of line 33.
This amendment removes the exception to the devolution of executive functions in relation to Welsh harbours of “reserved trust ports”.
Amendment 134, page 23, line 38, leave out subsection (4).
Clause 28(4) provides an exception to the general transfer of functions by clause 28 so that where a function relates to two or more harbours the function is transferred only to the extent that both or all of the harbours to which it relates are wholly in Wales and are not reserved trust ports. This amendment is partly consequential upon amendment 61, but it would also ensure that the Welsh Ministers retain functions where one harbour is in Wales and the other is not.
Amendment 62, page 23, line 40, leave out “and are not reserved trust ports”.
See amendment 61.
Amendment 63, page 24, leave out line 6.
See amendment 61.
Clause 28 stand part.
Amendment 64, in clause 29, page 24, line 13, leave out
“, other than a reserved trust port,”
See amendment 61.
Amendment 65, page 24, line 17, leave out
“, other than reserved trust ports”.
See amendment 61.
Amendment 66, page 24, line 21, leave out
“or a reserved trust port”.
See amendment 61.
Amendment 67, page 24, line 25, leave out
“other than a reserved trust port”.
See amendment 61.
Amendment 68, page 24, line 26, leave out subsection (5).
See amendment 61.
Amendment 69, page 24, line 31, leave out
“other than a reserved trust port”
See amendment 61.
Clauses 29 to 31 stand part.
Amendment 137, in clause 32, page 25, leave out lines 34 to 39 and insert—
(a) will be wholly or partly in England or in waters adjacent to England up to the seaward limits of the territorial sea, and.””
This amendment is consequential upon amendment 61.
Amendment 71, page 25, line 39, leave out “a reserved trust port”.
See amendment 61.
Amendment 138, page 25, line 41, leave out from beginning to end of line 3 on page 26 and insert—
(a) the harbour facilities are wholly or partly in England or in waters adjacent to England up to the seaward limits of the territorial sea, and.””
This amendment is consequential upon amendment 61.
Amendment 72, page 26, line 2, leave out from “and” to end of line 3.
See amendment 61.
Amendment 73, page 26, line 4, leave out subsection (4).
See amendment 61.
Clauses 32 to 35 stand part.
New clause 1—The Crown Estate—
“After section 89 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, insert—
“89B The Crown Estate
(1) The Treasury may make a scheme transferring on the transfer date all the existing Welsh functions of the Crown Estate Commissioners (“the Commissioners”) to the Welsh Ministers or a person nominated by the Welsh Ministers (“the transferee”).
(2) The existing Welsh functions are the Commissioners’ functions relating to the part of the Crown Estate that, immediately before the transfer date, consists of—
(a) property, rights or interests in land in Wales, excluding property, rights or interests mentioned in subsection (3), and
(b) rights in relation to the Welsh zone.
(3) Where immediately before the transfer date part of the Crown Estate consists of property, rights or interests held by a limited partnership registered under the Limited Partnerships Act 1907, subsection (2)(a) excludes—
(a) the property, rights or interests, and
(b) any property, rights or interests in, or in a member of, a partner in the limited partnership.
(4) Functions relating to rights within subsection (2)(b) are to be treated for the purposes of this Act as exercisable in or as regards Wales.
(5) The property, rights and interests to which the existing Welsh functions relate must continue to be managed on behalf of the Crown.
(6) That does not prevent the disposal of property, rights or interests for the purposes of that management.
(7) Subsection (5) also applies to property, rights or interests acquired in the course of that management (except revenues to which section 1(1) of the Civil List Act 1952 applies or are to be paid into the Welsh Consolidated Fund).
(8) The property, rights and interests to which subsection (5) applies must be maintained as an estate in land or as estates in land managed separately (with any proportion of cash or investments that seems to the person managing the estate to be required for the discharge of functions relating to its management).
(9) The scheme may specify any property, rights or interests that appear to the Treasury to fall within subsection (2)(a) or (b), without prejudice to the functions transferred by the scheme.
(10) The scheme must provide for the transfer to the transferee of designated rights and liabilities of the Commissioners in connection with the functions transferred.
(11) The scheme must include provision to secure that the employment of any person in Crown employment (within the meaning of section 191 of the Employment Rights Act 1996) is not adversely affected by the transfer.
(12) The scheme must include such provision as the Treasury consider necessary or expedient—
(a) in the interests of defence or national security,
(b) in connection with access to land for the purposes of telecommunications, or with other matters falling within Section C9 in Part 2 of Schedule 1,
(c) for securing that the management of property, rights or interests to which subsection (5) applies does not conflict with the exploitation of resources falling within Section D2 in Part 2 of Schedule 1, or with other reserved matters in connection with their exploitation, and
(d) for securing consistency, in the interests of consumers, in the management of property, rights or interests to which subsection (5) applies and of property, rights or interests to which the Commissioners’ functions other than the existing Welsh functions relate, so far as it affects the transmission or distribution of electricity or the provision or use of electricity interconnectors.
(13) Any transfer by the scheme is subject to any provision under subsection (12).
(14) The scheme may include—
(a) incidental, supplemental and transitional provision,
(b) consequential provision, including provision amending an enactment, instrument or other document,
(c) provision conferring or imposing a function on any person including any successor of the transferee,
(d) provision for the creation of new rights or liabilities in relation to the functions transferred.
(15) On the transfer date, the existing Welsh functions and the designated rights and liabilities are transferred and vest in accordance with the scheme.
(16) A certificate by the Treasury that anything specified in the certificate has vested in any person by virtue of the scheme is conclusive evidence for all purposes.
(17) The Treasury may make a scheme under this section only with the agreement of the Welsh Ministers.
(18) The power to make a scheme under this section is exercisable by statutory instrument, a draft of which has been laid before, and approved by resolution of, the National Assembly for Wales.
(19) The power to amend the scheme is exercisable so as to provide for an amendment to have effect from the transfer date.
(20) If an order amends a scheme and does not contain provision—
(a) made by virtue of subsection (12) or (19) of that section, or
(b) adding to, replacing or omitting any part of the text of an Act, then, instead of subsection (18), the instrument containing the legislation shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
(21) For the purposes of the exercise on and after the transfer date of functions transferred by the scheme under this section, the Crown Estate Act 1961 applies in relation to the transferee as it applied immediately before that date to the Crown Estate Commissioners, with the following modifications—
(a) a reference to the Crown Estate is to be read as a reference to the property, rights and interests to which subsection (5) applies,
(b) the appropriate procedure for subordinate legislation is that no Minister of the Crown is to make the legislation unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by resolution of, each House of Parliament,
(c) a reference to the Treasury is to be read as a reference to the Welsh Ministers,
(e) a reference to Parliament or either House of Parliament is to be read as a reference to the National Assembly for Wales,
(f) the following do not apply—
(None) in section 1, subsections (1), (4) and (7),
(None) in section 2, subsections (1) and (2) and, if the Welsh Ministers are the transferee, the words in subsection (3) from “in relation thereto” to the end,
(None) sections 5, 7 and 8 and Schedule 1.
(22) Subsection (7) is subject to any provision made by Order in Council under subsection (9) or by any other enactment, including an enactment comprised in, or in an instrument made under, an Act of the National Assembly for Wales.
(23) Her Majesty may by Order in Council make such provision as She considers appropriate for or in connection with the exercise by the transferee under the scheme (subject to subsections (5) to (8)) of functions transferred by the scheme, including provision taking effect on or before the transfer date.
(24) An Order in Council under subsection (23) may in particular—
(a) establish a body, including a body that may be nominated under that section as the transferee,
(b) amend, repeal, revoke or otherwise modify an enactment, an Act or Measure of the National Assembly for Wales, or an instrument made under an enactment or Act or Measure of the National Assembly for Wales.
(25) The power to make an Order in Council under subsection (24) is exercisable by Welsh statutory instrument subject to the affirmative procedure.
(26) That power is to be regarded as being exercisable within devolved competence before the transfer date for the purposes of making provision consequential on legislation of, or scrutinised by, the National Assembly for Wales.
(27) In this section—
“designated” means specified in or determined in accordance with the scheme,
“the transfer date” means a date specified by the scheme as the date on which the scheme is to have effect.””
This new clause mirrors the Scotland Act 2016 in transferring executive and legislative competence of the Crown Estate in Wales to the Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales.
Since we met in Committee last week, we have had the wonderful celebration of the Wales team’s great achievement in the European cup, which is a matter of enormous pride to us as a nation. I was delighted to see the celebrations on Saturday, which were the biggest thing to happen in Cardiff since VE-day and VJ-day, which I am sure we both remember, Mr Hoyle, if not since when Cardiff won the FA cup in 1926. These events will bring many benefits for the people of Wales. We feel pride not just in the skills of our team, but in the behaviour of our fans.
I saw a performance by the Secretary of State on television yesterday in which he was dancing with a ball on his head and foot. It seemed to be a wordless message; I did not quite get the point. Given these uncertain political times, he might have been auditioning for a future job as a circus performer, but perhaps there was a subliminal message that had he been substituted for Aaron Ramsey, the result of the Portugal game might have been different. None the less, we have had a moment of great happiness for our country. It is a joy to think that the beautiful national language in our anthem was probably heard by more people than at any time in its 3,000-year history. That intrigued many people, and Wales has been given a much sharper identity that will bring about practical benefits.
The Bill’s is proceeding in a consensual way. A great political tumult is going on about our ears, in various forms, but here is an oasis of calm and good sense, as all parties support a beneficial Bill that will give Wales further devolution. Progress on that is slow and endless, but the Bill is a step forward.
I will speak first to amendments 118 and 119. Amendment 118, together with consequential amendments to paragraph 6 of proposed new section 7A to the Government of Wales Act 2006 under schedule 1, and to paragraph 1 of proposed new schedule 7B under schedule 2, take us back to issues flowing from the Government’s insistence on retaining the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales. In accepting that position, as we must following last Tuesday’s Division, we must now ensure that the Assembly has, within the single jurisdiction, powers that enable its legislation to be enforceable and effective, which is what amendment 118 would achieve.
In our view, the Bill as drafted would restrict the Assembly’s legislative competence inappropriately and reverse the competence given to the Assembly under the 2006 Act, section 108(5) of which allows the Assembly to make what might be termed “ancillary” provisions. At present, the Assembly has competence to legislate on matters relating to one or more of the listed subjects in part 1 of schedule 7 to the 2006 Act. That Act also provides that the Assembly has powers to make provision about non-devolved matters when that is done to make a devolved provision effective or to enforce a provision if it is otherwise consequential or incidental to the devolved provision. My understanding is that this is not the UK Government’s intention, meaning that our old friend unintentional consequences might well apply.
I am sure that the Government do not, in common with all parties in the House, intend to prevent the Assembly from making provision to enforce or to make effective devolved legislation. However, the Bill currently either prevents that, or is unclear about whether the Assembly will have the same ability as at present. Under the reserved power model, an Assembly Act will be outside competence if it relates to a reserved matter in proposed new schedule 7A. There is no express equivalent in the Bill to section 108(5) of the 2006 Act. Provisions relating to reserved matters will be outside competence and will not be law even if the intent of the provision in question is confined to making legislation effective or to enforce it. Other provisions are designed to address this issue, but Welsh Government officials have provided the Wales Office with several examples of when the Bill as drafted would have prevented uncontentious provisions in Assembly Acts from being included in that legislation.
These are not hypothetical problems. We have a strange history of the consequences of legislation. We have sometimes had legislation that was cumbersome and slow, while we have also seen judge-driven legislation involving Acts that were subject to adjudication by people outside Wales. Unless the Bill is amended as we propose, the Assembly’s ability to make its legislation enforceable and effective will be inappropriately constrained, and I do not believe that that is the Secretary of State’s intention. We shall not press the amendments to a Division, but I urge the Secretary of State to give very careful consideration to the issues that they raise, to instruct his officials to discuss them further with Welsh Government officials and to table amendments on Report that reflect an agreed position on this important issue.
Let me mention some of the general principles that should apply to our consideration of the schedule of reserved matters. In a reserved power model, it is for the UK Government to explain why the relevant subject matter must be reserved to the centre—to the UK Parliament and Government—for decision. Much of the schedule’s content is uncontroversial. It is common ground that matters such as foreign affairs, the armed forces and the UK’s security system should be determined at a UK level. On other matters, however, the situation is more contested. If reservations affect the Assembly’s existing competence, it is vital that the case for them is made explicitly and that the drafting of the relevant provision is precise and specific. That is essential to protect the Assembly’s ability to legislate coherently and within its competence.
Amendment 83 deals with policing, which is an interesting subject area in which change is desirable. The UK Government’s own Silk commission recommended devolution of policing on the basis that it is a public service that is a particular concern to people in their daily lives, and therefore similar to health, education and the fire service. That conclusion was reached in the light of extensive evidence, including from professional police bodies, chief constables and police and crime commissioners. I understand that the four present PCCs in Wales are in favour of such a change, and opinion polls show clear public support for it.
Silk noted that devolution would improve accountability by aligning police responsibility with police funding, much of which already comes from devolved sources. In short, he argued that devolution would allow crime and the causes of crime to be tackled holistically under the overall policy framework of the Welsh Government. As Silk noted, present arrangements are “complex”, “incoherent” and “lack transparency”.
Policing is the only major front-line public service that is not at present the responsibility of the devolved institutions in Wales. That anomalous position means that it is significantly more difficult to achieve advantages of collaboration with other blue light services, which is strongly advocated for England in current Government policy, as well as with other relevant public services. Deleting the reservation would address that anomaly, but responsibility for counter-terrorism activity should not be devolved—I would continue to argue that it should be reserved under paragraph 31 of new schedule 7A. The Assembly would be able to legislate in respect of bodies such as the National Crime Agency and the British Transport police only with the consent of UK Ministers, because they are “public authorities” within the meaning of paragraph 8 of new schedule 7B, which restricts the Assembly’s powers in respect of such bodies.
After reflecting on the Silk commission’s recommendations, what is envisaged is the devolution of responsibilities predominantly for local policing. The key point is that devolution would enable police services in Wales to work even more closely alongside other devolved public bodies, with greater opportunities to secure improved community safety and crime prevention.
In England—this is a fine example on which we can base our recommendations—the UK Government are pushing forward the devolution of policing and justice powers with the greatest enthusiasm. Only last week, it was reported that the Minister responsible for prisons—the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Andrew Selous—declared himself as
“a firm fan of devolution”.
Having signed over new powers to the mayor of Greater Manchester, he hailed
“a new dawn for the justice system” that is
“run by locals, for locals” and is an effective justice system that meets the needs of local people. However, in a reserved power model of devolution for Wales, there is an overriding imperative to keep the control of these matters in Whitehall. Where is the consistency and fair treatment for Wales? If something is good enough for Manchester, surely it is good enough for Wales.
Amendment 122 deals with antisocial behaviour. Whatever the outcome on policing, it is imperative that we do not reduce the Assembly’s existing competence for dealing with antisocial behaviour in devolved contexts. That is why there needs to be an amendment to paragraph 41 of new schedule 7A, which relates to antisocial behaviour. As drafted, the Bill would reserve matters that are currently within the Assembly’s legislative competence, such as antisocial behavioural matters relating to housing or nuisance. That would represent a significant reduction of the Assembly’s existing competence, so the Welsh Government amendment would narrow the reservation to more closely reflect the current situation.
Amendment 123 is on the vexed subject of alcohol. As drafted, the Bill would reserve the sale and supply of alcohol, and the licensing of provision of entertainment and late-night refreshment. The amendment would delete the reservations and allow the Assembly to legislate on those matters.
Alcohol misuse is a major public health issue and a principal cause of preventable death and illness in Wales. It can lead to a great many health and social harm problems, in particular for a significant minority of addicts and people who drink to excess for other reasons. Given those impacts and the direct link with devolved responsibility for public health and the NHS, there is a pressing need to tackle alcohol misuse, so the Assembly and Welsh Government must have the full range of tools at their disposal. Policies that control the way in which alcohol is sold and supplied are widely acknowledged to be among the most effective mechanisms for tackling alcohol-related harms. Regulating the availability of alcohol is an important way to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, particularly by tackling easy access to alcohol by vulnerable and high-risk groups. Licensing controls are an essential tool which must form part of the Welsh Government’s strategy to tackle alcohol- related abuse. The reservations place unnecessary and inappropriate constraints on action to tackle alcohol availability in Wales. Those powers are devolved in Scotland and in Northern Ireland, where similar public health challenges were faced, and they should also be devolved in Wales.
The Bill, as drafted, would enable the Assembly to legislate on ports and harbours, and would also transfer additional Executive functions in respect of them from the Secretary of State to Welsh Ministers. That is welcome, and is in line with the Silk recommendations. However, the Bill also creates a specific category of “reserved trust ports”, on which the Assembly could not legislate and in respect of which Welsh Ministers cannot exercise any powers. The Bill defines reserved trust ports in such a way that only Milford Haven would be such a port.
Why is that reservation necessary? Silk did not recommend reserving any trust port, and neither did the St David’s day Command Paper. When giving evidence on the draft Bill to the Welsh Affairs Committee, the then Secretary of State said that the purpose of the clause was to reserve Milford Haven specifically as a strategic energy port owing to its status, but the United Kingdom Government, inconsistently, declined to cite energy security as a policy driver for an investment in Milford Haven to support the sale of the Murco refinery in 2014. Aberdeen trust port could equally be seen as a strategic energy port, given the importance of North sea oil to the UK, yet it was devolved to the Scottish Government. Why on earth should the same not happen to Milford Haven? Why should its control not be devolved to the Welsh Assembly?
The concept of a reserved trust port is unnecessary and inappropriate, and should be removed from the Bill. That would enable the Assembly to have legislative competence in respect of all trust ports in Wales, including Milford Haven. As recommended by Silk and the Welsh Ministers, powers should, by virtue of the amendments, extend to Milford Haven, as they will to other harbours in the country.
Amendment 124 covers employment and industrial relations in devolved public services. The devolved public service workforce, comprising those working in “Wales public authorities” as defined in the Bill, or engaged in public services that are contracted out or otherwise procured by such authorities, are intrinsically inseparable from the services and functions of those authorities, all of which work within the devolved sphere. The workforce are the main means by which authorities carry out their functions and provide services for the public. There is a well-recognised link between good employment practices and industrial relations within authorities, and the quality of the services that they provide for the public.
As the Bill is drafted, the Assembly would not be able to legislate on workforce matters in devolved services. The amendment proposes an exception, so that the general reservation preventing the Assembly from legislating on matters relating to employment and industrial relations would not undermine the Assembly’s ability to legislate in respect of devolved public services and the devolved public service workforce. The amendment would not undermine the shared framework and protections in respect of employment and industrial relations spanning the private and public sectors across the United Kingdom, but would give the Assembly a chance to augment them where appropriate, to support the effective delivery of devolved public services by Wales public authorities.
Amendment 195 deals with teachers’ pay and conditions. We agree that this reservation should be omitted. Education has been a devolved matter since the establishment of the Assembly, and retaining the reservation would be anomalous by comparison with the other devolution settlements, as confirmed by the Silk commission. Teachers’ pay and conditions are an integral part of the school system, and closely interrelated to the devolved education function. Maintaining this reservation and the associated Secretary of State’s functions, when the two education systems in England and Wales are diverging year on year, makes it more difficult for the Welsh Government to deliver Welsh priorities with the national pay systems and structures set up to support a different, English employment model. This is the whole principle of devolution on which we all agree.
The UK Government’s academisation programme, for example, does not require the same statutory compliance with the “School teachers’ pay and conditions” document that is required for all maintained schools in Wales. Additionally, the freedom in England for academies not to comply with the same professional registration standards does not operate in Welsh maintained schools. This means that the School Teachers Review Body report every year tends to reflect a different educational context. The relevance of the current process, driven by the fact that the Secretary of State’s remit to the review body does not reflect Welsh issues, is diminishing in relation to Wales. The Assembly should have legislative competence in this matter, and Executive responsibility should transfer to Welsh Ministers to allow for the development of an effective workforce strategy that reflects the needs of Welsh schools.
Water and sewerage are covered in amendments 128, 127 and 129, and we seek the deletion of the reservations 90 and 91. There are several different aspects to policy on water. The Secretary of State is well aware of how sensitive a matter this has been for generations; I think he agrees it has been a matter of great contention. I recall many years ago going to inspect public toilets in mid-Wales and seeing a notice on them saying, “Please flush twice; England needs our water.”
There has been a recognition that water is a great national resource of Wales that is available in great abundance. We have a great richness in water resources, but, sadly, there is the great history of Tryweryn and other matters that concerned us over many years, when Wales was plundered for its natural resources without compensation.
The hon. Gentleman mentions Tryweryn, and it is of course 50 years since Gwynfor Evans won that famous by-election in Carmarthen in 1966. The major stimulus of that great victory that changed Welsh, and, arguably, UK, politics was, of course, the drowning of Tryweryn. Does the hon. Gentleman think it would be a fitting memorial to that great victory by Gwynfor Evans that this Bill finally contains the devolution of water resources to Wales?
I think that would be entirely appropriate. The hon. Gentleman reminds us of matters that were subjects of great passion at the time. I believe they did—as many points in history have—concentrate the feelings of those in Wales about their national identity and what was seen to be an injustice against the people of Wales. I remember the events vividly.
On the subject of Tryweryn, will my hon. Friend be so kind as to put on record his admiration for Lord Thomas William Jones who was of course at the time the Member of Parliament for Meirionnydd and chaired the action committee? Originally, of course, he was a native of Ponciau as well,
I am very happy to record that. It is also worth mentioning that Tryweryn was opposed by every Welsh Member of this House. That opposition was not confined to any one group or party, although there were certain people who led it, as my hon. Friend has suggested. I look back with pride to the time when Labour MPs and peers took part in the early days of establishing a Welsh identity, particularly in the north Wales area. We had a large number of Welsh-speaking Labour MPs here, and they could only dream about a day like today when we are passing the legislation that their generation sadly failed to do, even though they and organisations such as Cymru Fydd were full of high hopes. We are now taking these steps forward, and the dreams of past generations are being fulfilled and honoured.
The scope of the Assembly’s legislative competence in this field is interesting. The Welsh Government are seeking full devolution of water and sewerage to be aligned with the geographical boundary with England, as set out in the Silk report and the UK Government’s St David’s day Command Paper. A joint Governments water and sewerage devolution programme board was set up following the publication of the St David’s day paper to consider the alignment of legislative competence with the national border. The programme focused on the impact on consumers and engaged with the regulator, consumer representatives, the water companies and both Governments. The work of the programme has now concluded, and I understand that the evidence confirms that these changes can be achieved with minimal impact on the consumers of water and sewerage services, so legislative competence for water should be aligned with the national border.
I shall take this opportunity to mention the related aspects of policy on water, including new clause 10 and the amendments to clause 44. Clause 44 would amend section 114 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 by adding to the grounds on which the Secretary of State can intervene to prevent the Presiding Officer from submitting an Assembly Bill for Royal Assent. Section 114 currently allows such intervention if, inter alia, the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe that the Bill contains provisions which might have a seriously adverse impact on water resources, supply or quality in England. The Wales Bill would add to this by allowing intervention if a Bill might have a seriously adverse impact on sewerage services or systems in England.
In the view of the Welsh Government, with which I totally agree, the intervention power in respect of water should be replaced by a memorandum of understanding between the Welsh and UK Governments on how cross-border water issues should be managed. This was also the view of the Silk commission, which recommended that
“a formal intergovernmental protocol should be established in relation to cross-border issues”.
It also recommended that
“the Secretary of State’s existing legislative and executive powers of intervention in relation to water should be removed in favour of mechanisms under the inter-governmental protocol”.
It follows that the Welsh Government are opposed to the proposed extension by clause 44 of these intervention powers to sewerage, and would also wish to see sections 114 and 152 of the 2006 Act amended to remove these intervention powers in relation to water.
The hon. Gentleman has mentioned sections 114 and 152. I should like to draw to his attention our amendment 81, which I hope will be debated later and which I hope to press to a vote. It would remove those sections from the legislation. I do not want to pre-empt the debate now, but I want to give him fair warning that we will be taking that stance, which would achieve precisely the end that he has just described.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for pointing that out. We agree with many of the amendments that he and his party have tabled, although we want to have further consultations on some of them. The speed at which the Bill is going through—although very agreeable—means that we have not yet consulted certain groups or individuals. We might not support the hon. Gentleman’s amendments in the Lobby, but we agree with a great many of them. However, we hope to divide the Committee on our amendment 123 later.
Finally, new clause 10 relates to Ofwat accountability. Ofwat should be fully accountable to the National Assembly for Wales in respect of the functions it exercises in relation to Wales, especially as legislative competence in respect of water and sewerage would be fully devolved. The new clause would make it a requirement for Ofwat to produce a report for Welsh Ministers and for that report to be laid before the National Assembly. New clause 10 is proposed to section 27 of the Water Industry Act 1991 to require the Secretary of State to seek the consent of Welsh Ministers before giving directions to Ofwat in respect of such matters.
I am grateful to the Committee for its patience in listening to my remarks on a large number of amendments. For the ones relating to Ofwat, we suggest that the changes are necessary so that Ofwat is fully accountable to the National Assembly and Welsh Ministers for these functions exercisable in relation to Wales. They represent another step forward for devolution and I will be grateful if the Government and the Committee give the proposals serious consideration.
I will speak briefly to amendment 161 in my name and those of my hon. Friends the Members for Brecon and Radnorshire (Chris Davies) and for Vale of Clwyd (Dr Davies). It would amend schedule 1 to the Bill by reserving the setting of speed limits in Wales and the design of road and traffic signs. The whole purpose of devolution should be to make life not more difficult but easier. We will be debating a great many practical amendments to the Bill this evening and this is one where the practical purpose of devolution would be better served by reserving such competences.
Dealing first with speed limits, I strongly suggest that it would be highly counterproductive for speed limits to differ between England and Wales because the road systems of England and Wales are closely integrated. Every day, many thousands of commuters travel backwards and forwards across the border. At certain times of year, such as holiday periods, there are considerable numbers of visitors from other parts of the United Kingdom and the continent of Europe. Such people are not confined to the principal arterial routes of the M4 and the A55, because several other important routes—going both east to west and north to south—cross the border. I am particularly thinking of the A483, the principal route between Manchester and Swansea that crosses and re-crosses the border at several points, and the A490, another well-known border route. To have different national speed limits at distances of possibly every two or three miles would be at the very least confusing and at the very worst positively dangerous.
The context of England and Wales is different from the context of England and Scotland because the integration of the road network between England and Wales is far closer. Given the practicalities, it makes no sense whatsoever to devolve the setting of speed limits to Cardiff.
I am following the right hon. Gentleman’s argument with considerable interest. Is he saying that motorists are unable to cope with speed limit changes that are signalled by appropriate signs? I know of a stretch of road in my constituency where the limit goes from 40 mph to 30 mph to 20 mph and then back to 30 mph and then 40 mph over a distance of about a mile.
I think it is fair to say exactly that; the hon. Gentleman will remember the former chief constable of North Wales who generated substantial funds out of motorists’ inattention to speed limits. My point is not so much about local speed limits but about national speed limits. It is far more sensible if the national speed limit is set by the Department for Transport in London—if necessary, in consultation with the Welsh Assembly Government. Given that there is such a closely integrated main transport road network between the two nations, it makes no sense to have differential speed limits.
The second point I wish to make is about road signs and I do so principally on the same grounds; as we have such a closely integrated road network, there is the potential to cause considerable difficulty if the Welsh Government were to decide, for whatever reason, completely to redesign road signs. Again, that would be not only confusing, but positively dangerous. The competence for the design of road signs should remain with the DfT in London, although there should be consultation with the Welsh Government.
Is the right hon. Gentleman’s contention based on any research? I recall, and so will he, the extensive debate in Wales about having Welsh language road signs or bilingual signs. Research was done on various aspects of that, by the Road Research Laboratory, the AA and various people, and they predicted all kinds of doom should we have bilingual signs. Can he point us to any similar research on road signs or differential speed limits?
I have no objection whatever to bilingual road signs—they should be positively encouraged. This is not so much about the language as about the design of the signage. Most of our road signs follow standard European norms, although they may not in the future. If we are to have consistency and avoid danger to motorists, we should have consistency in the design of road signage.
My constituency contains roads that traverse both England and Wales. What a pity it would be if our gorgeous countryside was to be littered with even more road signs, up and down those roads, up and down Wales, and up and down the Marches. What a great shame it would be for the visitors who come to Wales for that wonderful experience.
I am sure we could have fewer signs, although we might have more. My concern is that they should not be so different as to cause accidents on the part of motorists wondering what the heck a sign meant as they passed it. On practicality, there is not a persuasive case being made here; I never really understood the case for the devolution of road signs.
Is the far more distracting and dangerous thing in country fields not all these Tory posters we get at election time? They cause far greater danger and distraction to motorists than any road signs.
I have never received anything but praise for Conservative signage, and I received even more praise for the vote leave signs that were notable by their presence throughout Wales.
This is a probing amendment and I do not intend to press it to a vote, but I would be grateful to hear from Ministers the rationale for these two proposals. Let me say again that at the very least they are confusing and at the very worst they have the potential to be positively dangerous.
I must take this opportunity to congratulate the Welsh team on giving us the brightest, most joyful memories of the past few weeks—it is safe to say that.
I rise to speak to the amendments standing in my name and those of my Plaid Cymru colleagues. They seek to amend schedule 7A of the Government of Wales Act 2006 and, thus, relate to clause 3 of this Bill, which deals with the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales. The vast majority of our amendments in this group seek to omit certain reservations from that schedule. The amendments are intended in some cases to restore competence in areas that are already devolved. In others, they are intended to devolve competence to the Assembly in areas that are devolved to Scotland. If the Government are not prepared to give the Welsh Assembly parity with the Scottish Parliament in these areas, we would ask for specific reasons to be given in each instance. Both the Welsh Affairs Committee in this place and the National Assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee have written reports on the draft Wales Bill, with both calling on the UK Government to provide individual justifications for each of the reservations now contained in schedule 7A. As such, it is a great disappointment to my colleagues and I that the Government have not seen fit to provide us with these justifications. I invite the Secretary of State to explain why the Government have not been forthcoming in this instance. If valid justifications cannot be provided, the Government should amend the schedule so as to omit those areas outlined in our amendments.
Plaid Cymru has not been alone in saying—over many years—that the National Assembly should move to a reserved powers model. Indeed, the independent, cross-party Silk commission made just such a recommendation. Legal experts and much of civil society in Wales, recognise that adopting a reserved powers model should, in theory, provide greater legal clarity and workability. The idea of moving towards a reserved powers model has also been taken in Wales to symbolise a shift in Westminster’s attitude towards the Assembly, because it was assumed to be synonymous with a maturing of relations between the two institutions. Rather than having to justify devolving an area of competence, Westminster would be compelled to justify reserving an area of law; again, that should have represented a significant attitudinal shift, and a recognition of greater parity. The sheer length of the list of reserved areas in schedule 1 has made a mockery of that notion.
It should therefore have come as no surprise to the Wales Office that the original draft Wales Bill was met with such dismay by the Welsh Assembly and by civil society in our nation. The dismayingly long list of reservations, and the way in which the Bill went so far in some cases as to curtail powers already devolved, would fundamentally undermine the Assembly’s competence. It would do the opposite of what was, presumably, intended. Although we are grateful that the previous Secretary of State announced a pause in introducing the legislation, we still believe that schedule 7A shows a paucity of ambition for Wales and her legislature, and that is why we have drafted the amendments in this grouping.
Amendments 83, 86, 110 and 111 should be considered together, as they seek to devolve aspects of the justice system to the Assembly: the legal profession and legal services are dealt with in amendment 110; crime, public order and policing are dealt with in amendment 83; the rehabilitation of offenders is dealt with in amendment 86; and prisons and offender management are dealt with in amendment 111. As has been pointed out in this House on many occasions, and as was championed by my predecessor, Elfyn Llwyd, Wales is the only legislature that has no separate or distinct legal jurisdiction of its own. The matter of a separate legal jurisdiction was debated last week, so I will not repeat my arguments. Although I accept that the Tories fundamentally disagree with the need for a separate jurisdiction, I remain somewhat confused by the position of the official Opposition, who said last week that they supported it but abstained because the Government do not support it. If the official Opposition can only vote in favour of measures that are supported by the Government, they are not well fitted to being the official Opposition. However, given that our amendment was defeated last week, we will use the Report stage of the Bill to bring forward proposals on a distinct, rather than separate, jurisdiction. I hope that the House will be more open to working with us when that time comes.
As is well known, the Silk commission recommended the devolution of policing and related areas of community safety and crime prevention, and my party is resolute in our standpoint that Wales, like the other nations of the United Kingdom, should have responsibility for its police forces.
We are presenting amendment 83 at a time when it is being proposed that policing is devolved to English city regions—Manchester and Liverpool, for example. If the policing of these cities can be held to account in a devolved landscape, why not the policing of Wales?
The First Minister of the devolved Assembly supports the devolution of policing. All four police and crime commissioners support the devolution of policing. I welcome what was said by the shadow Secretary of State for Wales earlier about the devolution of policing, and I argue strongly, therefore, that the time is right for that to move ahead, to enable the police of Wales to work directly to improve the lives and safety of the people of Wales, according to their unique needs and priorities. With that in mind, I intend to press amendment 83 to a Division.
We believe also that prisons and offender management should be devolved so that sentences, magistrates and probation can reflect the distinct priorities of a separate legal jurisdiction. Wales should have a prison system that meets the needs of our society so that decisions can be made that best support the needs of Welsh inmates and their families, and which allow for far better rehabilitation into our communities when inmates leave prison.
Does my hon. Friend not think it scandalous that there is no provision for women prisoners in Wales? There are very few women prisoners, but they are held in England in Styal and in Eastwood Park outside Gloucester. That causes problems for prisoners’ families, particularly from the west of Wales.
Indeed. We are aware that in the north that there is no prison for women or for young offenders. There are many steps afoot, which are to be welcomed, to improve how women who enter the criminal justice system are treated in Wales, alongside imprisonment. HMP Styal is a long way from people’s homes and there must be a better way to deal with offenders’ families.
The hon. Lady mentioned the rehabilitation of young offenders. Devolution of these matters would support the critical interrelationship between health and education services in making rehabilitation successful. Recognition of that fact is a gross omission from the Bill.
I can only agree.
As always, my hon. Friend is making a compelling case, full of strong arguments. Does she agree that it is slightly ironic that a referendum has just been won by those arguing for the UK to leave the European Union, partly on the basis of democracy and sovereignty, yet here we are, debating a Wales Bill which, compared with the settlement for Scotland and Northern Ireland, seems to deny sovereignty and democracy to Wales?
With the Bill we are moving ahead in small steps—inching forward, painfully. I await the time when we will move ahead in a way that grants sovereignty to the people of Wales.
Many of the amendments that I have discussed so far were recommended by the Silk commission, as I mentioned previously. Other amendments in the group include amendment 85, which would remove prostitution from the list of reserved powers; amendment 117, which would remove the reservation of knives; and amendment 109, which would remove the reservation of abortion, to bring Wales into line with Scotland and Northern Ireland. Again, I challenge the Secretary of State to stand up and tell us why he voted for Scotland to have those powers, but is now telling us in Wales that we cannot have equivalent powers.
Amendment 155 is distinct in that it seeks to clarify a reservation contained in schedule 7A, and not to omit it entirely. The amendment would clarify as a reserved matter “the Crown Prosecution Service”, rather than the broader term “prosecutors”, as currently drafted. This amendment is crucial, as the existing wording of the schedule could prohibit Assembly legislation from enabling devolved authorities, such as local authorities and Natural Resources Wales, to prosecute. I hope that the Government will take note of this distinction and amend the schedule accordingly.
Amendment 156 would remove the necessity test in relation to the law on reserved matters. The test of necessity is objectionable on grounds of clarity and workability, as it is capable of a number of different interpretations. One possible interpretation is extremely restrictive and would represent a reduction in the Assembly’s current competence. The difference between a “reserved matter” and the “law on reserved matters” is explained in paragraphs 409 to 411 and 413 and 414 of the explanatory notes to the Bill.
The notes give the example of an Assembly Bill which related entirely to planning, which is not a reserved matter, but which modified a provision of a UK Act concerning telecommunications. That modification might be within the Assembly’s competence, as its purpose might relate entirely to planning, and so it would meet the test set out in new section 108A(6) of the Government of Wales Act 2006, inserted by clause 3. However, by modifying a provision of a UK Act of Parliament, which concerned a reserved matter, it would modify the “law on reserved matters”. The Assembly should be able to do so in a purely ancillary way, without also having to show that the modification made has
“no greater effect…than is necessary”.
An equivalent to the Bill provision is contained in the Scotland Act 1998. However, in the context of the Scottish devolution settlement, it is much less restrictive, as the Scottish Parliament has competence over considerably greater fields, including, of course, justice matters, and the Scottish system of civil and criminal law. Therefore, what might appear to be wider latitude for the Assembly would in practice still amount to narrower competence than that of the Scottish Parliament.
Amendment 157 would remove the criminal law restriction in paragraph 4 of schedule 7B and replace it with a restriction which provides that the Assembly cannot modify criminal law unless that is for a purpose other than a reserved purpose. It reflects the Assembly’s current competence—that is, the criminal law is a silent subject, and the Assembly can modify the criminal law if it relates to a devolved subject, or if the modification is ancillary. The Assembly, therefore, could not modify the criminal law if it was for a reserved purpose, thus protecting the criminal law around the 200 or so reservations in the Bill. The amendment would also make it clear that the Assembly could not modify the criminal law for its own sake: there must be a devolved purpose behind the modification of the criminal law. It would align the criminal law restriction with the private law restriction in paragraph 3 of schedule 7B. This would provide consistency and clarity.
I have already spoken of my party’s dismay that the Bill threatens in places to dilute, rather than augment, the legislative competence of the Assembly. In this vein, a number of the amendments in this group seek to clarify the Assembly’s powers in relation to its internal functions, as well as its overall competence to legislate. Amendments 148 and 149 seek to restore the Assembly’s competence closer to its current level. Currently, the Assembly is able to affect, in a minor way, matters that are listed as exceptions from competence in schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006. Most of these exceptions have been converted into reservations in the proposed new settlement—for example, consumer protection. However, under the new settlement, the Assembly would have no competence to legislate in a way that touches on reserved matters at all.
The Assembly can currently legislate in relation to “silent subjects”—that is, topics that are not listed either as subjects of competence, or as exceptions from competence, in schedule 7 to GOWA. The Assembly can do so only where it is also legislating on a subject that is specifically devolved by schedule 7. Many of these silent subjects—for example, employment rights and duties—have been converted into reservations in the Bill. The amendment would restore the Assembly’s competence to affect those topics in a purely ancillary way. However, that ancillary competence would still be narrower than the Assembly’s present competence to legislate on “silent subjects” when that legislation also relates to expressly devolved subjects.
In an attempt to allow the aforementioned institution to have control and oversight over its law making, amendment 6 would give the Assembly the power to consolidate, in both English and Welsh, the statutes containing the current constitutional settlement affecting Wales. No matter what our position on empowering the Assembly, I am sure we can all agree that it is important, whatever settlement we have, that that settlement is easily understood. It is disappointing that this Bill does not consolidate all existing legislation, but the amendment would allow the National Assembly to do that, in the interests of clarity. It would not allow the National Assembly to go beyond current legislation and broaden its competence.
Amendments 34 to 37 would amend paragraph 7 of schedule 2, which sets out the sections of the Government of Wales Act 2006 which the Assembly will have competence to modify. Paragraph 7(2)(d) specifically refers to those sections of part 5 of the 2006 Act which are amendable without restriction. As it stands, this does not include the ability to amend sections 120(1) or 124(3) of the Government of Wales Act 2006 which provide for “relevant persons”—otherwise known as “direct funded bodies”—which receive funding directly from the Welsh consolidated fund. That means, for example, the Welsh Government, the Assembly Commission, the Auditor General and the public services ombudsman for Wales.
Amendments 35 and 36 would allow the Assembly competence to add to, but not remove from, the list of “relevant persons”. It would allow it to enable a body that is independent of the Welsh Government also to be financially independent where that is deemed appropriate. Any use of such competence to add to the “relevant persons” would require an Act of the Assembly.
Paragraph 7 of schedule 2 provides that the remaining provisions of part 5 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 are amendable where the amendment is incidental to or consequential on a provision of an Act of the Assembly relating to budgetary procedures, and the Secretary of State consents to that amendment. I see no reason why the consent of the Secretary of State should be required to an amendment that will have no impact beyond the Assembly’s financial procedures, so amendment 37 removes that requirement.
On the remaining amendments in this group tabled in my name and the names of my hon. Friends, as I have already said, the majority of these amendments highlight areas of competence that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, yet for some unstated reason are being reserved to Westminster in the case of Wales. No justification has been given for reserving those matters. Consequently, I shall list a number of amendments: 84, 87, 88, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 97, 98, 106 and 103. I give the amendment numbers for a reason. It feels like the Secretary of State is allowing Whitehall to pick and choose the powers it wants to hold on to. We argue strongly that he must draw up a list of reservations based on principles. These reservations make no practical sense and the absence of principle is obvious. They range from the reservation of dangerous dogs to hovercraft, sports grounds and health and safety. We need a reason why those areas should be reserved.
In addition, there are amendments 105, 107, 104, 112, 113 and 89, which is on Sunday trading and safeguards the long-standing tradition in Wales of protecting shop workers’ terms and conditions, and amendments 114 and 115. Over and above that, Plaid Cymru has long argued that Department for Work and Pensions functions should be devolved to the Assembly. Thus amendment 100 would devolve all working age benefits that are to be replaced by universal credit and any benefit that is introduced to replace universal credit. Amendments 101, 102, 108 and 99 all relate to those areas of DWP functions that we have long argued should be devolved.
Amendments 96, 61 to 63 and 69 deal with the newly created Welsh harbours of “reserved trust ports”. Once again, this creation has no justification. A port will now be devolved unless it has a turnover of above a certain threshold. Again, that is the case not for Scotland or Northern Ireland, but only for Wales. It is yet another example of Westminster holding on to as much power as possible while appearing to be offering significant devolution. Once again, I challenge the Secretary of State to tell us why this is necessary in Wales, when he voted to devolve full control to Scotland.
Amendment 2 is consequential on new clause 1, which seeks to devolve Executive and legislative competence of the Crown estate in Wales to the Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales, as has been done in Scotland. New clause 7 would devolve general legislative competence in respect of agricultural, aquacultural and fisheries levies. Again, those are areas that Plaid Cymru has long argued should be devolved to the National Assembly.
Before I come to a close, I wish to note concerns expressed to me by the Welsh language commissioner regarding the Bill’s potential effect on the National Assembly’s powers to legislate in matters concerning the Welsh language. A possible effect of schedule 2 is that the National Assembly, should it wish to legislate for the Welsh language, would require the consent of the relevant UK Minister to confer, impose, modify or remove within that legislation the Welsh language functions of Ministers of the Crown, Government Departments and other reserved authorities. Under the current settlement, that ministerial consent is required only when legislating to impose Welsh language functions on Ministers of the Crown. The ministerial consent provisions of the Wales Bill in relation to the Welsh language would appear to be applicable to a wider range of persons than is currently the case, and would thus be more restrictive. I hope that that can be considered in the later stages of the Bill.
The amendments in this group should not be considered as mere separate, distinct “tweaks” to the Wales Bill. Rather, we present them as a collection of amendments, which, by their sheer number, make evident the many ways in which the current proposed legislation is deficient. No justification has been given by the Government as to why these many policy areas have been reserved, and no justification has been given as to why the Welsh Assembly should not be granted the same competence as the Scottish Parliament in these areas.
In the absence of these justifications, I respectfully urge the Government to amend their bill, and to present a bolder version of this legislation. This Government should not miss the opportunity to enable the Welsh Assembly to grow in competence and confidence. With responsibility comes capability. The Senedd should be given the power to legislate in these areas. I commend the amendments to the Committee.
Although I have misgivings about a number of elements of this Bill, I wish to speak very briefly on amendment 161, which addresses the proposed transfer of powers over national speed limits from Westminster to Cardiff Bay. I have already spoken about this issue during the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Welsh Affairs Committee and also at the Welsh Grand Committee.
To be clear, the power to set specific speed limits, such as 20 mph zones outside schools, or 40 mph or 50 mph zones as preferred for reasons of safety, quite rightly already lies with local authorities and the Welsh Assembly Government. As it stands, the Wales Bill proposes transferring powers over national speed limits. Those include 30 mph speed limits in built-up areas and 60 mph limits in non-built-up areas, and of course a 70 mph limit on dual carriageways and motorways. In my mind, those are etched on the brains of all of us via the Highway Code, and, in the absence of any signage, they are usually clear, based on the type of road.
We all live on a small island, and more than 200 roads straddle the England and Wales border. In the case of many smaller roads, the border is not, at present, marked by any signage at all. In some cases, the border cuts across housing estate roads, or even runs lengthwise along roads and splits them in half. Roads across the UK are essentially subject to the same safety criteria as vehicles. Taking all that into account, it is clear to me that the prospect of additional different national speed limits in England and Wales simply would be neither desirable nor realistic.
The hon. Gentleman describes the complexity of the border in some areas, but does he have no confidence in the Welsh Assembly to administer different speed limits sensibly?
It is perfectly possible that it can be done, but I just do not see the point. It would create extra confusion, and there would be a plethora of signs at the border where currently there is none. There would also have to be a huge information exercise, which would, in many cases, fail to get to the users of those roads.
Welsh devolution was meant to improve the lives of people, but it is very difficult to see how the devolution of a national speed limit, among other items in the Bill, would bring that about. It surely needs to be accepted that this is a matter most sensibly overseen at UK level. I respectfully urge the Government to reconsider.
It is a pleasure, Mr Hoyle, to serve under your chairmanship today.
I wish to speak specifically in support of amendment 124 in the name of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I know that a number of Members wished to add their name to the amendment. It does not look as though that has been done, so I wanted to make it clear that it has my full support.
The amendment relates to the experience that many of us had during the passage of the Trade Union Bill. We had extensive discussions around the relative competence of devolved Administrations and the UK Government over trade union and industrial relations and employment matters that related to devolved public services. I want to draw a very clear distinction here. I am not in favour of having some sort of potential beggar thy neighbour approach on employment and industrial relations across these islands. It is important that there are common standards and provisions that do not go into some sort of race to the bottom. I also believe in the Welsh Government and the Welsh Assembly having full power over the partnerships and industrial relations practices that they choose to pursue in areas where there is clear devolved competence such as in the public services, particularly in health and education, but also in other areas.
During the passage of the Bill, the Government regularly used the excuse that they were not interested in the positions of the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government or other Governments on issues such as check-off and facility time in the public services because those were exclusively reserved. However, the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and others made it clear that they did not believe that this Parliament and the UK Government had full legislative competence in those areas, particularly in relation to the administration of public services.
That is crucial, because the Welsh Labour Government have pursued a different approach to industrial relations, which has led to an absence of some of the strikes and industrial disputes we have seen in other parts of the UK, and we had a clear example in the health service. The Welsh Government have taken a sensible partnership approach with the trade unions and a sensible approach to issues such as facility time and check-off. They have properly recognised the importance of those things, and particularly of partnership working, as opposed to the confrontational approach taken by the Government in Westminster at various points, and I would not want to see that undermined in any way.
Amendment 124 therefore makes it clear that the Assembly would retain its legislative competence over terms and conditions of service for employees in the devolved public services and over industrial relations in those services. That is entirely reasonable. This is not about a complete devolution of these issues—it is important that we retain common standards—but about taking a sensible approach and allowing the Assembly to handle relationships in, for example, the Welsh NHS, our schools and our further education institutions in the more positive and constructive way they have done.
The amendment would also enable the Welsh Government to take the action they clearly want to, without people resorting to the courts, as we have seen on other matters. The UK Government famously took the Welsh Government to court over the Agricultural Wages Board, which was a wholly foolish decision. The Welsh Government were trying to take a different approach—the right approach—but the UK Government wanted to waste tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money attempting to sue the Welsh Government. That is why, in areas such as this, we have to have a clear distinction in legislation, and why we should not attempt to hamstring devolved Administrations in areas where they have clear competence. In that way, we can avoid the resort to the courts and the expending of public money that would otherwise occur.
The amendment has the support of many of the trade unions in Wales, which have practised the different type of industrial relations I described, and I declare my interest as a proud member of the GMB, which is very supportive of the amendment. I hope the Government will accept that there is a clear distinction here and that there is a clear place for these responsibilities in relation to the public services where Wales has taken a different route. I therefore urge the Government to accept the amendment.
It is good to have this opportunity to say a few words about this mammoth group of amendments. I want to speak in support of a range of amendments to schedule 1 that remove certain reservations. I endorse amendment 83, on policing; amendment 112, on antisocial behaviour; amendment 84, on dangerous dogs; amendment 85, on prostitution; amendment 86, on the rehabilitation of offenders; amendment 117, on knives; amendment 123, on entertainment and late-night refreshment; amendment 116, on licensing; amendment 87, on the sale and supply of alcohol; the amendments on water and sewerage; amendment 89, on Sunday trading; amendment 90, on electricity; amendment 91, on coal; amendment 92, on heating and cooling; amendment 93, on energy conservation; amendment 94, on road transport; amendment 161, on speed limits; amendment 95, on rail services; amendment 141, on trust ports; amendment 97, on coastguards; amendment 98, on hovercraft; amendment 114, on the Children’s Commissioner; amendment 115, on teachers’ pay; amendment 113, on time; and amendment 112, on equal opportunities.
When I last read out the list of reservations in the Welsh Grand Committee, when we had the ill-fated draft Bill, it was somewhat longer, and I was saved from hyperventilation only by Mr Jones, who helped me out. The Government should therefore be praised and congratulated to a small degree on reducing the length of the list of reservations, which is what the Select Committee said they should do.
I will not go too much into the specifics of the amendments, other than to say that I still question whether there was a write-around to various Departments. Who was calling the shots on the different subjects? Was it the former Secretary of State and his team? Was it our friends in the Assembly Government? Was it officials and Ministers in other Departments? Like my neighbours from Plaid Cymru, I would like to see the justification for the reservation list as it has been presented.
I was fully aware of the St David’s process. We looked through Silk systematically, and we looked at every one of Silk’s recommendations. If there was a consensus between the four parties, we would proceed; if there was not, we would not. However, in either eventuality, officials would go away and talk to Departments, so my hunch—my suspicion—is still that certain Departments were involved, not least the Department of Justice, given the discussions we had when we previously sat in Committee on a distinct or separate jurisdiction, and it is great to hear that, on Report, we will be discussing the need for a distinct jurisdiction in a way we did not then.
If these powers—these reservations—were controlled in Wales, would that mean the unravelling of our constitutional arrangement? Would it mean the end of the Union if we devolved the power over hovercraft, time or the Children’s Commissioner? Should there not be a principle—I suggest there should be—that if something is good enough to be devolved to Northern Ireland and Scotland, it should be devolved to Wales as well? Better still, perhaps we should have started from the principle that all powers are devolved and that it is the duty of the Wales Office and Westminster to argue the case for reserving them to Westminster. Whitehall would not have had a difficult time—from some of us at least, and I part company with my friends in Plaid Cymru on this —convincing us that defence should be reserved. However, I would love to hear the argument for why most of these other powers are still being reserved to this place.
Many of these items were referred to in Silk—for instance, ports and their development, harbour orders and the oversight of trust ports. There is no mention in Silk of reserved ports at Milford Haven. Silk also talked about speed limits and drink-driving limits. I respect those hon. Members who moved amendment 161, but they should have more faith in their Front Benchers, in the Department for Transport and, indeed, in our friends in the Cynulliad. I remember sitting, as the Liberal, in the St David’s day discussions at Gwydyr House, and the Conservatives, the Labour party and Plaid Cymru were all united on the Government’s suggestion. Members must have more faith in members of their own parties.
Silk talked about water and sewerage. He asserted that they should be devolved, but that the boundary for legislative competence should be aligned with the national boundary—a tall order indeed. He called for further consideration of the practical issues of alignment, with particular interest given to the interests of consumers, and for discussions with the regulator, consumer representatives, water companies and both Governments. When we discussed these matters, it was agreed that, to get consensus between the four parties, a joint Government water and sewerage devolution board would be established to consider aligning legislative competence with the national border. That work has now concluded, and I would be grateful to hear the Government’s interpretation of the conclusions. Is it not true that the conclusions that have been reached could be enacted with minimal impact on the consumers of water and sewerage services? Why, therefore, have this reservation?
I want to talk specifically about teachers’ pay and conditions. The issue is dear to my heart because I was a teacher before coming to this place. I taught in England and in the great county of Powys—indeed, I taught in the great constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire, at an excellent school called Ysgol Llangorse. I had a seamless move across the border from England into Wales, and I was able to benefit from remaining on the same teaching pay spine—it must be said that I had a bit of a promotion at Llangorse, for which I was very grateful—with the same conditions. I should also say, although not to infuriate friends on the Conservative Benches, that I remain a very proud member of NASUWT and pay my subs regularly.
For some, those arrangements might be a case for retaining the status quo. Silk acknowledged, as have the Welsh Government—this is now getting a little dated, but it was relevant then and is relevant now—that teachers’ pay and conditions are an integral aspect of the school system and should be closely related to the devolved education function. However, time has moved on with regard to the English and Welsh education systems. As Paul Flynn said—I think we might have a brief from the same source, but this is a valid point, so I will repeat it—priorities in Wales are different. The national pay systems and structures were established to support a different employment model. There is now not even consistency within England as academisation means that schools are not required to comply in the same way with the schoolteachers’ pay and conditions document. We also operate different professional registration standards. There is still a General Teaching Council for Wales—I still send off my £35 a year to be a member—but the General Teaching Council for England no longer exists. The freedom not to comply with the professional registration standards when working in academies in England does not operate in Welsh maintained schools. That all means that when the School Teachers Review Body reports each year, it reports on different things, reflecting an educational context that is not relevant to Wales. We need to recognise that changing policy in England means that the role of the School Teachers Review Body is diminishing in Wales.
Welsh Ministers need the capacity to deal with these issues. It is, very occasionally, refreshing to have brief opportunities to talk about the delivery of policy. As a former teacher, I suppose I should rely on the great Kirsty Williams, my colleague in the Cynulliad, to deliver on these matters. However, there are practical problems. The difficulty of recruiting headteachers in rural Wales and of keeping staff in village schools represents a real challenge. If we permit the National Assembly to have powers on teachers’ pay and conditions, it can address some of these concerns—if, of course, sufficient resources go to Wales as well. Silk was clear that teachers’ pay and conditions must be devolved to the National Assembly, although the issue of pensions stays here. That is why it is so important to remove, through amendment 115, the reservation in section N9 in proposed new schedule 7A.
The issue of time will still be reserved to this place. Those who have read the Bill from cover to cover will have seen, tucked away in section N4, the reservation on time: the Assembly Government will have no capacity to change:
“Timescales, time zones…the calendar…the date of Easter” and the subject matter of the Summer Time Act 1972, as if there was ever a call to change those things. Section N4 also refers to bank holidays. The Committee may or may not recall—probably not; attendance was not great on St David’s day this year—that I introduced a ten-minute rule Bill to devolve responsibility for bank holidays to the National Assembly. I have probably exchanged views with most Members on this subject, not least the Under-Secretary during a Westminster Hall debate some time ago. There are different views about this that will lead to a spirited debate, but the essential principle is that the designation of St David’s day as a bank holiday should be a matter not for us here, but for our colleagues in the Assembly. We now, unfortunately, have five parties in the National Assembly, but when there were four—the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives, Labour, and Plaid Cymru—all endorsed the call for the Assembly to have that power.
I remember the right hon. Gentleman making that point in a previous Westminster Hall debate. I am not going to make that judgment because it is for the National Assembly. When the Under-Secretary responded to my debate, he talked about a review, but regrettably its results were parked in the proverbial long grass and are now in a cul-de-sac. This is a matter not for me, the right hon. Gentleman or the rest of us sitting on these green Benches, but for colleagues and friends in the Cynulliad.
Without digging into the depths of the argument, I have made the position clear. Let the tourist industry make its representations to Ministers in our Cynulliad in Cardiff, not here. Let us not sit here, viceroy-like, dictating to the National Assembly. We should let the Assembly have that discussion with the tourist operatives, with the responsible Minister engaged with them, and then it can make the decision. It is a decision not for the right hon. Gentleman and me, but for our friends in the Assembly. That is what devolution means.
I want briefly to talk about policing. Silk said that:
“policing and related areas of community safety and crime prevention should be devolved”.
I must describe—I do not know whether Chatham House rules applied to our discussions in Gwydyr House, but they probably did—the genuine shock and anguish that was felt when we reported back on this matter to our National Assembly colleagues. Two of us from each party were sitting in an office somewhere in this House that I had never been to where big board meetings happen. There was shock and dismay that matters of youth justice were not, as recommended by the Silk commission, followed through in the St David’s day document. I understand how the Government have reached this position, and how the process was set in train when they talked to their colleagues in the Ministry of Justice, but that does not negate the case. Youth justice, of all issues, given its links between education, skills and health as part of rehabilitation, was not followed through in a devolutionary way.
I will now conclude my remarks, although such is the list of reservations that we could go on for hours. I hope that the Minister will respond to some of the concerns that many of us still have about the list, slightly shortened though it is.
One could talk about a lot of aspects in the Bill, as we know, because at one time or another most of us have done so. I will therefore concentrate on one particular amendment: amendment 123, which has been signed by my hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State and others, which concerns the devolution of licensing of the provision of entertainment and late-night refreshments, and the sale and supply of alcohol.
My hon. Friend is a great scholar of Welsh history, so I am surprised that he did not mention that the first Wales-only legislation came with the Sunday Closing (Wales) Act 1881. That means that there is real sense of history behind this amendment. Most of us would agree that it makes perfect sense to devolve such provisions to the Assembly’s legislative competence so I, for one, strongly support the amendment. We must recognise that there needs to be a greater debate about this whole subject, because alcohol abuse has relevance to health services as well as local government services. We are not living in the days of the 1881 Act, following which areas voted on whether to be wet or dry. People from dry areas would often travel a little further along the lanes to get to a wet area. However, we are now dealing with problems of alcohol abuse and of pre-loading in many of our communities. Years ago, the mudiad dirwest—the Welsh temperance movement—would often decry other cultures and say, “Fancy the French—they give wine to their children!” In reality, alcohol and food have always gone together naturally in many continental cultures, but that is not the case with pre-loading. We need to think about that very seriously indeed.
We also need to consider our rural areas. I am sure that all of us take very seriously issues relating to drink or drug-driving. Those of us who represent rural and semi-rural areas will know from talking to our constituents and others that some people still take chances on country roads and drive when they are above the legal limit. I appreciate that the culture has changed for the better in many ways and that fewer people do that, but it is still a problem in many of our rural communities. Frankly, if someone in a car finds themselves on a narrow single lane faced by a drink-driver, their chances of survival are fairly low.
Devolving the relevant powers would affect how we consider health, social care and local government provision. Great problems are connected to alcohol and drug abuse. I do not wish to sound like a member of the Committee that considered the 1881 Act, because I think that many of us welcome wine, real ale and the conviviality provided by food and drink, but we do not welcome alcohol or drug abuse. We would, however, welcome sensible devolved provisions to make tackling those problems easier.
It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Chair, Mr Hoyle, and to respond to Members’ comments about the amendments. I echo what was said about the Welsh football team. The Prime Minister has already congratulated them, and it is a pleasure for me to do so as Secretary of State for Wales.
The amendments go to the heart of the new devolution settlement for Wales that the Bill puts in place. Clause 3 and schedules 1 and 2 insert new section 108A and new schedules 7A and 7B into the Government of Wales Act 2006 to provide for a reserved powers model of Welsh devolution. The Bill devolves significant new powers and will enable the Welsh Government and Assembly Members to legislate on the things that really matter to Wales.
Clause 3 sets out the parameters of the legislative competence of the Assembly under the reserved powers model. An Act of the Assembly will be outside competence—it therefore will not be law—if it falls foul of any one of the five tests set out in paragraphs (a) to (e) of new section 108A(2). I will first say something about how it is intended that each of those tests will work before turning to the proposed amendments to the clause.
The five tests are separate and independent assessments, each of which must be satisfied for a provision to be within competence. The first test is that an Assembly Act provision cannot form part of a legal jurisdiction other than that of England and Wales. We debated many aspects of that during our first day in Committee.
Test 2 is that an Assembly Act provision cannot apply
“otherwise than in relation to Wales”.
There is an exception to that prohibition, however, because new section 108A(3) states that an Assembly Act provision can apply beyond Wales, but only when it is ancillary to a provision that is within competence and if there is no greater effect beyond Wales than is necessary to give effect to that provision. It is worth noting that we have used the word “ancillary” as shorthand for the Assembly’s existing enforcement and consequential-type powers under section 108(5) of the Government of Wales Act 2006.
In the context of the draft Wales Bill, there was much debate about the words “necessity test”. Let me be clear that “necessary” does not mean that there would only ever be one option that would satisfy that test. There could be a number of different options to achieve the same policy objective, all of which could satisfy the requirement not to have effects beyond Wales that are more than necessary.
Test 3 is that an Assembly Act provision must not relate to a reserved matter listed in proposed new schedule 7A, which we will come to later. The question of whether an Assembly Act provision relates to a reserved matter is to be interpreted by reference to the purpose of the provision, having regard to, among other things, the effect in all the circumstances set out in section 108A(6). The test is the same as that which currently applies in the context of the conferred powers model. It has become known as the “purpose test”.
Let me explain the technical issues that I have highlighted. Although the policy documents that give rise to an Assembly Bill may be relevant in determining its purpose, the essential question is what the Bill provision is seeking to achieve and what effect the provision has in legal, practical and policy terms. In other words, it will not be enough for the Welsh Government simply to assert the purpose of the provision. Why it is being enacted and what it actually does is what is really relevant in determining its purpose and, ultimately, whether an Assembly Act provision is within the Assembly’s legislative competence under test 3.
Test 4 is that an Assembly Act provision must not breach any of the restrictions in new schedule 7B, which I shall say more about in a moment. Finally, test 5 is the requirement that the Assembly Act provision must comply with the European convention on human rights and EU law. Those five tests represent clear, proportionate and reasonably parameters on the Assembly’s legislative competence, and it is important that I have put them on the record.
I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman has listed a number of tests, but does he agree that, for them to be justifications in a reserved power model, we should see how the reservations apply to each area?
I will cover those points, but I have sought to underline the importance of the tests because they are so fundamental to the reserved powers model. Of course, the reservations will be equally fundamental. The hon. Lady mentioned a significant number of them. As I make progress, I will cover many of the points she made and invite her to intervene then.
Amendments 118 and 119, tabled by the main Opposition party, and Plaid Cymru’s amendments 148 and 149 seek to broaden the Assembly’s competence significantly by enabling it to legislate in relation to reserved matters so long as the provision is ancillary to a provision on a devolved matter. These amendments would drive a coach and horses through the key principle underpinning the new model, which is a clear boundary between what is devolved and what is reserved. They would give the Assembly the power to make unfettered changes to reserved matters such as the justice system, which we debated in detail last week, provided only that some connection to a devolved provision was established. What is more, they are simply not needed. We want to ensure that the Assembly can enforce its legislation and make it effective. We provide for this in paragraphs 1 and 2 of new schedule 7B by enabling the Assembly to modify the law on reserved matters. This is suitable to ensure that the Assembly’s devolved provisions can be enforced without compromising the principle of reserved matters.
I turn now to the proposed new schedule 7A to the Government of Wales Act, which sets out the reserved matters, referred to in general in the legislation as the “reservations”. These matters must be seen through the prism of the purpose test. A reservation is a succinct description of the subject area covered. It includes reserved authorities carrying out functions relating to that subject and criminal offences relating to that subject.
The general reservations in part 1 of the new schedule reserve the fundamental tenets of the constitution: the Crown, the civil service, defence and the armed forces, the regulation of political parties, and foreign affairs. As a single legal jurisdiction operates in England and Wales, we also reserve matters such as courts and non-devolved tribunals, judges, and civil and criminal proceedings. However, we have made appropriate exceptions to these reservations to enable the Assembly to exercise devolved functions. For example, the Assembly can confer devolved functions on the courts or provide for appeals from devolved tribunals to reserved tribunals.
Amendment 6, tabled by Plaid Cymru, seeks to modify these core reservations by allowing the Assembly to consolidate the constitutional arrangements for Wales. It surely must be a fundamental principle that the UK’s constitutional arrangements, including Parliament’s authority to devolve its own powers, are reserved. We have a constitutional settlement for Wales, the Government of Wales Act 2006 as amended, and amendment 6 is simply not necessary.
Part 2 lists the specific reservations. We want there to be no doubt where the boundary of the Assembly’s legislative competence lies. The list is lengthy because it is quite specific in its reservations and provides exceptions to those reservations. Previously, in the draft, there were some broad headlines, but the current Bill is far more specific, which necessitates further detail on what is included.
During this afternoon’s debate, the Secretary of State has been challenged on many of the reservations listed in part 2. In the interests of transparency, and before we get to the remaining stages of the Bill, will he commit the Wales Office to publishing a document outlining why each reservation has been made?
The hon. Member is aware that I have an open style and am happy to maintain dialogue and work with all opposition parties, as well as with the Welsh Government, in seeking to come to an accommodation. However, hovercrafts, for example, have been highlighted a couple of times. That reservation relates to technical standards and is about a distinct class of transport, such as ships in relation to shipping and planes in relation to aviation. Therefore, although, on the face of it, one might ask what the purpose of a reservation is, very often there are technical issues well beyond that. I am happy to continue a dialogue in that respect, as we continue to do with the Welsh Government.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider breaking the pattern we have had of passing Wales Bills and, then, five years later, coming back to try to undo the damage we have done with the previous Bill? Will he accept the spirit of unanimity on this side of the Committee when we point out the problem with many of these reservations? Take, for instance, the reservation on dangerous dogs, as was mentioned by Mr Williams. If there is any issue on which this Parliament has proved its legislative incompetence over the years it is the Dangerous Dog Act 1991. That is an example of how not to legislate. Wales could do better perhaps.
The hon. Member is well aware that 90% of the Welsh population live within 50 miles of the border between England and Wales. Clearly, some reservations are sensible so that people can walk their dogs across that boundary; otherwise, it could lead to significant complications. The hon. Member raised that specific practical example, and I am happy to maintain the dialogue on that.
Mr Hoyle, you would not believe it, but the vast majority of reservations are not contentious. They simply reflect those areas of policy that are best legislated on a Wales basis or at a UK level, and the further powers that are being devolved in the Bill. Constructive discussions on the reservations will continue between the UK Government and the Welsh Government, and, happily, with Opposition Members. I recognise that some reservations reflect the difference in policy between us. Others are subject to further detailed discussions, which I am happy to continue. In the context of the purpose test, the list of reservations before us today will ensure greater clarity and certainty in determining what is within the competence of the Assembly and what is not.
I turn now to the amendments to schedule 1.
The Secretary of State says with a flourish and extreme confidence that the list of reservations is sensible. If so, why is he so reticent about publishing his reasoning? He asserts, but he does not explain.
The hon. Gentleman will know that I am happy to continue open dialogues. As Secretary of State, that is the style I have sought to use, to build on that set by my predecessor. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will want to continue working in such an open and constructive way.
I would like to make further progress, if I may.
A whole host of amendments have been tabled in relation to policing and justice. The St David’s day process found no consensus to devolve the criminal justice system in Wales. The Government gave a clear manifesto commitment that policing and criminal justice will remain reserved. In our first day in Committee last week, I made clear the Government’s commitment to maintain the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales. Crime, public order and policing are inextricably linked to the criminal justice system. There already exists an All Wales Criminal Justice Board, which consults fully with the Welsh Government and extends to prison provision. The Welsh Government are also in regular dialogue with the National Offender Management Service about its functions.
Amendment 116, tabled by Plaid Cymru, and amendment 87, tabled by Labour, seek to remove the reservations for late-night entertainment and alcohol licensing respectively. There was much debate within this group surrounding this. The Government consider both subjects to be closely connected to policing and maintaining public order. Given that policing and criminal justice remain reserved matters, late-night entertainment and alcohol licensing should also be reserved under the principle that has been established.
Amendment 155, tabled by Plaid Cymru, seeks to reserve “the Crown Prosecution Service” rather than “prosecutors” in the general reservation on the single legal jurisdiction. There is no intention to prevent the Assembly from continuing to specify devolved prosecutors for devolved offences in the legislation. The reservation of prosecutors would not prevent the Assembly from legislating to, for example, make local authorities in Wales the prosecuting authority for particular devolved offences, as was highlighted by Liz Saville Roberts. I agree, however, with the underlying policy intention of the amendment and will consider further, before Report, whether the reservation of prosecutors should be modified. I am happy to return to this at that stage.
Government amendments 53 to 58, tabled in my name, seek to put Wales in the same position as Scotland in respect of the reservations in C5, which reserves all prohibition and regulation of imports and exports in and out of the United Kingdom. It does, however, allow the Assembly to control movements of certain things, such as plants, animals, foods and fertilisers, for specified purposes. The amendments seek to put the Assembly in the same position as the Scottish Parliament by extending its competence to regulate movement of these things both within Wales and in and out of Wales.
Significant attention has been given to transport reservations, with a number of amendments being tabled by both Plaid Cymru and the Labour party. The transport reservations were subject to close scrutiny when the Bill was at a draft stage, and there is no basis on which to devolve railway services, coastguard services or aspects of road transport, as Hywel Williams proposes. It is not what the Silk commission recommended, and my focus has been on delivering powers for a purpose.
The amendments are also designed to remove the reservation of reserved trust ports, on which there has been further debate. The Bill devolves responsibility for all ports in Wales other than the largest, nationally significant trust ports. It applies a threshold in order to define reserved trust ports in Wales. In consequence, Milford Haven is expected to be the sole reserved trust port in Wales. Milford Haven is one of the UK’s largest leading energy ports, with around 62% of the nation’s liquefied natural gas passing through it, and it plays a crucial national role in securing the nation’s energy supplies. It is right that it should be a reserved trust port. That is in the interests of the United Kingdom and in the interests of Wales.
Amendment 161, tabled by my right hon. Friend Mr Jones, is designed to move in the other direction by reserving speed limits and road traffic signs. The devolution of speed limits was a Silk commission recommendation, and there is consensus under the St David’s day process to proceed with its implementation. Traffic signs are devolved in Scotland following the Smith agreement and, given the wider competence of the Assembly and Welsh Ministers in relation to highways and transport matters, it is sensible to devolve responsibility for them to Wales.
I am happy to explain that given that local authorities already have the power to vary speed limits, it is a logical, sensible extension to give further powers to the Welsh Government in this area.
Time does not permit me to address in detail all the remaining amendments to schedule 1. That is in part because hon. Members from Plaid Cymru seem to seek the devolution of just about everything, and they seem to want to reverse the principles on which the Bill is based. I am pursuing a pragmatic, practical approach as we amend and develop the Bill, so I reject the amendments to devolve Sunday trading, the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity, coal, heat and cooling networks, energy conservation, working-age benefits, child benefit, guardians allowance, most employment and industrial relations, employment support programmes, abortion, health and safety, broadcasting, safety at sports grounds, equal opportunities, bank holidays and the Children’s Commissioner.
Amendment 124, which was tabled by Paul Flynn, seeks to carve out from the employment reservation terms and conditions of employment in relation to Wales public authorities. The Government believe strongly that the underlying legislative framework of rights and responsibilities in the workplace must be reserved for the labour market to work most effectively across Great Britain.
Does the Secretary of State accept that, as a Minister told me during proceedings on the Trade Union Bill, the reserved powers granted under the legislation effectively allow any Minister in the UK Government to undermine a partnership or industrial relations decision made by a Welsh Minister in the running of the Welsh NHS or the education service, for example?
The hon. Gentleman will be familiar with the legislative background of the Government of Wales Act 2006, and the Bill seeks to expand on the 2006 Act in relation to employment rights. There was no intention in that Act to devolve those purposes, and we have continued the principle that was well established by the previous Labour Government.
I shall deal with amendments on three further areas. First, in relation to amendment 88, which was tabled by members of Plaid Cymru, and amendments 127 to 129 and new clause 10, the Government are considering the conclusions of the joint Governments’ programme board in relation to the Silk recommendations on water and sewerage. The joint committee reported only a couple of weeks ago, and it is only appropriate that the Government give proper, full consideration to that report. I hope that we can find a consensus among the Welsh Government and the opposition parties on a way forward, but there are a whole range of technical issues that need further consideration.
Secondly, in response to amendment 107, I assure the hon. Member for Arfon that the Assembly will have the competence to legislate in relation to party election broadcasts at Assembly and local government elections in Wales. Party political broadcasts are considered to be part of the conduct of elections, and there is no need to modify the broadcasting reservation to achieve that. Thirdly, on amendment 115, which relates to teachers’ pay, I am in principle in favour of devolving teachers’ pay and conditions, but there is a case for further discussions between the UK Government and the Welsh Government about how that can best be achieved.
Finally, new clause 1 and consequential amendment 2 are intended to devolve the management functions of the Crown Estate commissioners in relation to Wales to Welsh Ministers or to a person who is nominated by them. That broadly reflects the provisions in the Scotland Act 2016. The devolution of the Crown Estate in Scotland was recommended by cross-party consensus in the Smith agreement but, as hon. Members know, the St David’s day process found no similar consensus in respect of Wales.
Paragraph 1 of proposed new schedule 7B to the Government of Wales Act 2006 will prevent an Assembly Act from modifying the law on reserved matters. Paragraph 2 will provide flexibility for an Assembly Act provision to be able to modify the law on reserved matters, where doing so is ancillary to a provision that does not relate to a reserved matter and there is no greater effect on reserved matters than is necessary to give effect to the purpose of the provision. The restriction relating to the private law in paragraph 3 and the restriction concerning the criminal law in paragraph 4 are intended to provide a general level of protection for the unified legal system of England and Wales while enabling the Assembly to enforce its legislation.
The protected areas of private law include core subjects such as the law of contract and property. However, the Assembly is given the power to modify the private law where the purpose of doing so does not relate to a reserved matter. Importantly, the Assembly is not permitted to modify the private law for its own sake and cannot make wholesale changes to the private law, such as the wholesale rewriting of contract law. Any modification of the private law must be for a range of devolved purposes.
On the criminal law side, in paragraph 4 the serious offences protected from modification include treason, homicide offences, sexual offences and serious offences against the person. It is right that these serious offences remain consistent across the UK. In addition, the Assembly will not be able to alter the law that governs the existing framework of criminal law, such as sentencing and capacity to commit crimes.
I am conscious of the fact that a whole host of issues have been raised, so I will conclude. This has been a full and wide-ranging debate. I hope I have been able to assure the Committee that the reserved powers model will provide a clear, robust and lasting devolution settlement for Wales. I urge Opposition Members to withdraw amendment 118.