Clause 25

Part of Further Education and Training Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 14th June 2007.

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Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Wales Office 2:00 pm, 14th June 2007

On that point, there are two routes to confer primary legislative powers on the Assembly. One is through the Order in Council process; I did not want to go on at huge length about that, but I think that I explained it. The second is through primary legislation in this place.

Perhaps I ought to take a step back, to explain matters. The White Paper that we published in September 2005 addressed the issue of how to enhance the legislative capability of the National Assembly for Wales, following on from the Richard report a few years before. The problem that was identified was that the Wales Office, through the Welsh Assembly, had to compete with all other UK Government Departments for a slot in the legislative process. We felt that that was wrong. Therefore we proposed two routes for giving the Assembly enhanced powers. One is the Order-in-Council process, which is part 3 of the Government of Wales Act 2006. The other route, which was announced in the White Paper, was that, where appropriate, a UK Government Department would draft its legislation to allow these framework powers to transfer primary legislative powers to the Assembly. So, that process will be the norm whenever a suitable vehicle—a platform in UK legislative terms—comes along. If there is not such a suitable vehicle and the Assembly needs the legislative competence, it can gain it through the Order-in-Council process.

The Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow, was referring to the fact that it is not since the early 1990s that we have had a Further Education Bill going through the House. Obviously, that would be far too long a period of time for the Assembly, which has all the Executive functions that my hon. Friend has but, unlike my hon. Friend, does not, at the moment, have the ability to legislate. That is why we will use UK Government Bills as a platform to transfer powers to the Assembly, in a process that is properly scrutinised by this place.