Wales Bill - Report (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 14th December 2016.

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Photo of Lord Howarth of Newport Lord Howarth of Newport Labour 7:30 pm, 14th December 2016

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Griffiths of Burry Port is rather charitable, indeed flattering, to the Government in referring to their creation of a paradox. I would say that this is simply confused and bad policy-making and endorse what my noble friend Lady Morgan of Ely said at the outset. First, it is not a good way to treat the House for the Government to insist on mixing up, in one group, amendments on this variety of topics—energy, the Crown Estate and gambling. This is not a basis for rational scrutiny of legislation and it should not have happened.

I want to dwell on the gambling issue for only a moment, as much more important is the confusion in the handling of it. To make this distinction between different sizes of bank or stake—I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord James, for his elucidation of the issue—and to attempt to make a distinction between responsibility for supervision of machines that are already in Wales and for machines that may in future be in Wales is to fragment responsibility. If the Government are going to devolve responsibility for a very important social issue, they should devolve it properly and produce a coherent solution. Fragmenting responsibility can only make for confused and ineffective policy-making. This issue matters far too much to Welsh society, and in particular to the prospects for significant numbers of young people in Wales, and we need a coherent and proper policy for it.