Wales Bill - Report (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 14th December 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 6:30 pm, 14th December 2016

My Lords, I am saying that. The noble Lord is not often unfair, but I think that he is being unfair on this occasion. The issue in relation to the permanence of the Assembly is an aspiration and a declaration that was sought by his party and agreed by others. This is a very different issue. It is a statement of what this particular Act will do. This Bill as it is at present does not do anything in relation to the situation he is referring to—so it would be most extraordinary to claim that it did.

Turning to the broader issue of the protocol, once again I am conscious that the protocol is clearly important, but the Government have not claimed anything that is untrue or indeed misleading. We have said that the existing intervention powers will be substituted by a protocol. That remains the case. I understand noble Lords wanting information on what the protocol will cover, and perhaps some timetable for how it will be agreed, but noble Lords cannot have thought that I would be able to produce an agreed protocol at this stage of proceedings when we have only just agreed across government that this will be the way forward. I certainly undertake to write to noble Lords with a timetable for how the protocol will proceed and what it will cover, but I hope that they will accept that there has been no misleading in relation to the protocol. What we claimed is what we are delivering.