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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:15 pm on 7th November 2016.

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Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales 10:15 pm, 7th November 2016

My Lords, turning to the next group of amendments, I am pleased to speak, first, to government Amendment 47A, which was tabled as a result of discussions with the Welsh Government.

Paragraph 6(5) of new Schedule 7A provides for an exception from the reservation for courts and civil and criminal proceedings as part of the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales. The exception is for the,

“provision of advisory and support services in respect of family proceedings in which the welfare of children ordinarily resident in Wales is or may be in question”,

so that the provision of such services is not reserved by paragraph 6(1). This exception was intended to reflect the existing exception for what may be described as the functions of CAFCASS Cymru.

The Welsh Government have argued—in our view with some force—that the wording of the exception is too broad and does not sufficiently closely reflect the Assembly’s current competence in respect of CAFCASS Cymru. Amendment 47A seeks to insert into paragraph 6(5) modified wording which, I understand, the Welsh Government support.

Government Amendment 47B would remove sub-paragraph (2) from the defence reservation. It would have no effect on the substance of the defence reservation but it would remove a tautology. Removing this sub-paragraph would not change the powers that Welsh Ministers have under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 to appoint marine enforcement officers, who then enforce legislation in relation to sea fishing; nor would it change the automatic appointment of certain members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as marine enforcement officers under the same Act. I am pleased to say that UK Government and Welsh Government officials have worked together closely to come to the conclusion that this sub-paragraph should be removed.

Government Amendment 52A is a technical amendment. It seeks to provide clarity in relation to Section C2 in new Schedule 7A by providing a definition of “business association”. There is already such a definition in Section C1, but interpretation provisions in the schedule cannot be read across to apply to other sections.

Government Amendments 53A and 53C would make minor adjustments to the consumer protection and product standards reservations to ensure that the Assembly’s competence in these areas remained unaltered from the current position.

Amendment 48, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, proposes the devolution of policing. As the noble Lord will know, the Government have been clear that, in the absence of a consensus around the Silk commission’s proposals in this area, policing is not being devolved. We believe that the current England and Wales arrangements for policing work well, and the proponents of devolution have failed to adequately address some of the risks that would arise if these arrangements were disrupted.