Wales Bill - Committee (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 7th November 2016.

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Photo of Lord Howarth of Newport Lord Howarth of Newport Labour 10:00 pm, 7th November 2016

My Lords, I will not embark on a personal excursion into Welsh history. However, apropos the excellent Amendment 46, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, which would establish a working group to review the operation of Schedule 1, I hope that the members of that group would follow the example articulated by the Silk commission and the Welsh Affairs Committee, both of which recommended that, in determining what matters should be reserved and what not, principle guidance should be issued so that there are criteria against which all can judge whether a reservation proposed by a department in Whitehall could be justified. Unfortunately, that guidance as to principle, and the questions that departments should ask themselves, was not issued.

The consequence is that we have this ragbag of reservations which have been accumulated all around Whitehall, apparently on no better basis than what we have we hold or, if in doubt, we will hang on to. That is a very poor basis for the institution of a reserved powers model for devolution, so I hope that all of us welcome the proposition of the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, that such a working group should be set up. I simply want to see added to its terms of reference as set out in his amendment that principle guidance should be provided for that working group, or that that working group itself should develop the principles. But we must have criteria against which judgments can be made on whether particular reservations are appropriate or not.