Amendment 56A

Part of Professional Qualifications Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 22 June 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Randerson Baroness Randerson Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport) 4:15, 22 June 2021

My Lords, I am pleased to have the opportunity to support the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay. I shall take a moment to express my concern about the chaotic state of this Bill. I will not waste more of the time of this House by repeating what the noble Baroness said, but the omission of the social care regulator from the Minister’s letter was such an obvious error. I cannot help thinking that a lot of work still needs to be done to make this Bill ready to pass into legislation.

As the noble Baroness has said, as the Bill is drafted, the regulator confers a suite of regulation-making powers on the appropriate national authority. Welsh Ministers are that authority for the devolved professions and have a right to be fully recognised as that, not to have to ask for permission from the UK Government nor to have their existing powers overridden by this legislation. According to the Bill, those powers are to be exercised concurrently with the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor, who could legislate in devolved areas and, as the Bill stands, would not need the consent of Welsh Ministers on those regulations.

It is worth adding that the situation in Wales is always slightly more complex, because of the nature of Welsh devolution; it started from a bad place, has moved forward significantly in gaining clarity and logic, but is not 100% there yet. There are areas where Welsh Ministers have some Executive powers that are not reflected in the legislative powers of the Senedd, and that has to be recognised.

The reassurance that we received from the noble Lord the Minister—I realise that the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist, will respond to this group of amendments—that the power to override Welsh Ministers would not normally be taken is of no great reassurance to us, because the UK Government have said that in the past and then overridden the decision of the Senedd or the wishes of Welsh government Ministers.

This is a serious issue for the Government and this Bill. I warn them that, as the Bill stands, the Government will not get consent from the devolved Administrations or the Senedd in Wales. They have to take that into account as, to get this on to the statute book, they must start by overriding Welsh Ministers and Senedd powers.