House of Commons
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Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)
|Government of Wales Bill
|EXPLANATORY AND FINANCIAL MEMORANDUM
| The Bill provides for a National Assembly for Wales and for the reform of Welsh public bodies.
| Part I establishes the Assembly and makes provision for the holding of elections for the return of its members. Part II provides for the transfer to the Assembly by Order in Council of functions of Ministers of the Crown in relation to Wales, confers other functions on the Assembly and gives the Assembly ancillary powers. Part III makes provision about the procedure of the Assembly, including provision about standing orders and committees. Part IV makes provision about the financing of the Assembly and the accounting and audit arrangements relating to it. Part V provides for the observance by the Assembly of European Community obligations, obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and international obligations of the United Kingdom and makes provision about relations between the Assembly and the European Community, the United Kingdom Government and local authorities and the voluntary sector in Wales. Part VI provides for the reform of certain Welsh public bodies prior to the establishment of the Assembly. Part VIIcontains supplementary provisions.
| Clause 1 provides for there to be a National Assembly for Wales and gives it the status of a body corporate acting on behalf of the Crown.
| Clause 2 defines the membership of the Assembly as being those returned in ordinary elections to the Assembly from constituencies and electoral regions defined in Schedule 1 and makes provision for members resigning their seats between such elections.
| Clause 3 sets out the timing for ordinary elections to the Assembly. It allows the Secretary of State to determine the date of the first election. Subsequently ordinary elections will be held every four years on the first Thursday in May though the Secretary of State has power to vary the date of any ordinary election by up to one month.
| Clause 4 stipulates that each elector shall have two votes in ordinary elections to the Assembly: one to be given for a constituency member and one to be given either for a party which has submitted a list of candidates for the Assembly electoral region in which the constituency is situated or for an individual who is a candidate for that region.
| Clause 5 provides for the submission by parties of lists of candidates to be members for an electoral region and provides for individuals to be candidates for an electoral region. It defines the persons who may not be included on a list and the persons who may not be individual candidates.
| Clauses 6 and 7 specify the process for determining the return of candidates for an electoral region, based on the number of votes given for each party and for each individual and on the number of constituency members returned for each party in the electoral region.
| Clause 8 makes provision for the filling of vacancies in seats for Assembly constituencies by the holding of by-elections.
| Clause 9 makes provision for the filling of vacancies in seats for Assembly electoral regions. A vacant seat which was held by a member returned from a party list is to be filled by the nomination of another person from the same party list. Where there is no such person or the seat was held by an individual candidate, the seat is to remain vacant until the next ordinary election.
| Clause 10 defines the persons who are entitled to vote in an election to the Assembly as being those who are entitled to vote in a local government election in Wales.
| Clause 11 enables the Secretary of State to make provision by order for the conduct of elections and related matters.
| Clause 12 provides the grounds of disqualification from being an Assembly member.
| Clause 13 provides for exceptions from the disqualifications and gives the Assembly discretion in certain circumstances to disregard particular grounds of disqualification.
| Clause 14 provides that the return of disqualified persons to the Assembly shall be void and their seats shall be vacant. Those who subsequently become disqualified cease to be Assembly members and their seats become vacant.
| Clause 15 provides for legal proceedings to determine whether a person is disqualified.
| Clause 16 provides for the payment of salaries and allowances to members of the Assembly and allows greater amounts to be paid to Assembly members holding particular offices. It also makes provision about the means by which levels of salaries and allowances are to be determined.
| Clause 17 allows the Secretary of State to make provision by order for reducing the salary payable under clause 16 to any members of the Assembly also in receipt of a salary or other allowance as a member of either House of Parliament, the European Parliament or any other elected or unelected public body specified by the Secretary of State.
| Clause 18 provides for the payment by the Assembly of members' pensions and pension contributions and of gratuities and allowances to former members. It also sets out how the means by which the levels of such benefits are to be determined.
| Clause 19 requires the Assembly to publish each year information relating to the remuneration paid to or in respect of Assembly members and former Assembly members.
| Clause 20 requires each Assembly member to take an oath of allegiance or a corresponding affirmation. Members who fail to do so will cease to be Assembly members and will not be eligible for remuneration.
| Clause 21 states that the functions of the Assembly shall be those transferred to it, or made exercisable by it, by or by virtue of the Bill and those conferred or imposed on it by or under any other enactment.
| Clause 22 provides for the transfer to the Assembly of functions of Ministers of the Crown in relation to Wales. The transfer will be effected by Order in Council. The clause requires the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament, before the first ordinary election of Assembly members, the draft of an Order in Council which makes provision for the transfer of functions in each of the fields set out in Schedule 2.
| Clause 23 is supplementary to clause 22. It allows a transferred function to continue to be exercisable by a Minister of the Crown for the purpose of implementing Community obligations and specifies functions which are to be deemed to relate to Wales.
| Clause 24 provides for the Assembly to acquire the property, rights and liabilities of a Minister associated with functions transferred from that Minister to the Assembly under clause 22.
| Clause 25 makes a number of further provisions regarding the transfer of property, rights and liabilities to the Assembly.
| Clause 26 provides for the Secretary of State to make specific transfers of property, rights and liabilities to the Assembly.
| Clause 27 allows the Secretary of State to certify that a transfer of property to the Assembly under clause 24 or by virtue of clause 26 has taken place.
| Clause 28 provides that the Assembly may reform health authorities in Wales by transferring to itself by order any or all of the functions of such health authorities. It also enables the Assembly to abolish a health authority where all of its functions have been transferred to the Assembly.
| Clause 29 provides that the Assembly may by order reform the Welsh public bodies listed in Schedule 3 by transferring functions to other bodies listed in the Schedule, to a Welsh local authority or to itself. Where all the functions of a body have been transferred, the Assembly may abolish the body. Welsh local authorities cannot lose functions under this clause.
| Clause 30 allows the Assembly to be designated under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 so that it may make provision under that Act for the purpose of implementing Community obligations of the United Kingdom so far as relating to Wales.
| Clause 31 provides for the Assembly to be consulted about public appointments relating to Wales.
| Clause 32 requires the Secretary of State to consult the Assembly about the Government's legislative programme for each Parliamentary session.
| Clause 33 allows the Assembly to promote Welsh art, culture, heritage and sport and the Welsh language.
| Clause 34 provides that the Assembly may consider and make representations about any matter affecting Wales.
| Clause 35 provides that the Assembly may appoint staff. Such staff will be members of the Home Civil Service and subject to the same terms as normally apply to persons in that Service.
| Clause 36 provides that the Assembly may cause inquiries to be held into any matter relevant to its functions.
| Clause 37 provides that the Assembly may be party to, or otherwise appear in, legal proceedings relating to matters affecting any of its functions.
| Clause 38 provides that the Secretary of State may, by order, apply the Local Government (Contracts) Act 1997 to contracts entered into by the Assembly.
| Clause 39 provides that the Assembly may do anything which is conducive or incidental to the exercise of any of its functions.
| Clause 40 provides that the Assembly may arrange with another public body for the Assembly or the body to discharge functions on behalf of the other or for them to provide professional, technical or administrative services to each other.
| Clause 41 provides that where there exists a function of making subordinate legislation in relation to England and Wales and the Assembly has power to exercise that function in relation to Wales, the Assembly may make provision in relation to Wales different from any made in relation to England.
| Clause 42 stipulates that references in existing enactments to Ministers of the Crown or government departments shall be construed where necessary as including references to the Assembly.
| Clause 43 removes any need for secondary legislation made by the Assembly to be subject to Parliamentary procedures, except where such legislation is made by the Assembly together with a Minister of the Crown or relates to certain cross-border matters.
| Clause 44 removes any need for reports or statements to be laid before Parliament where they relate exclusively to functions exercised by the Assembly. It provides that such reports and statements shall instead be laid before the Assembly.
| Clause 45 provides that, subject to provision elsewhere in the Bill and other enactments, the Assembly's procedures shall be governed by its standing orders. It sets out procedures for the revising and remaking of the standing orders.
| Clause 46 requires the Assembly in conducting its business to treat the English and Welsh languages on the basis of equality and requires the standing orders to be made in both English and Welsh.
| Clause 47 requires the Assembly to make arrangements for securing that its business is conducted with regard to the principle of equality of opportunity for all.
| Clause 48 stipulates that the first meeting of the Assembly shall be held on a date and at a time and place determined by the Secretary of State and that the Secretary of State or his nominee shall chair that meeting until the Assembly has elected its own presiding officer.
| Clause 49 requires the Secretary of State to appoint Commissioners to prepare draft standing orders for the Assembly and requires him to make the first standing orders after considering the Commissioners' draft.
| Clause 50 makes provision about the Commissioners.
| Clause 51 makes provision for the Assembly to elect a presiding officer and a deputy presiding officer.
| Clause 52 makes provision for the Assembly to elect the Assembly First Secretary.
| Clause 53 stipulates that the Assembly must establish the committees required by the provisions of Part III. It provides that, where other committees are established by the Assembly, the committees must (unless they exist solely to provide advice) be elected to reflect the party balance in the Assembly.
| Clause 54 makes provision for committees to set up sub-committees.
| Clause 55 sets out the terms on which the Assembly and its committees may delegate their functions to committees, sub-committees and staff.
| Clause 56 requires the Assembly to establish subject committees with responsibility between them in all of the fields listed in Schedule 2.
| Clause 57 sets out the terms for the chairing and membership of the subject committees and provides for the leader of each subject committee to be an Assembly Secretary. It makes provision requiring that the party balance in the Assembly be reflected in the membership of each committee and in the membership of the panel of persons who chair the committees.
| Clause 58 requires the Assembly to establish an executive committee consisting of the Assembly First Secretary and the Assembly Secretaries. It provides that the executive committee may delegate any of its functions to the Assembly First Secretary.
| Clause 59 requires the Assembly to establish a committee to scrutinise and report on draft Assembly subordinate legislation.
| Clause 60 makes provision about the membership of the subordinate legislation scrutiny committee. It prohibits the Assembly First Secretary and the Assembly Secretaries from being members of the committee and requires that the party balance in the Assembly be reflected in its membership.
| Clause 61 requires the Assembly to establish an Audit Committee. It makes provision about the membership of the Committee and prohibits the Assembly First Secretary and the Assembly Secretaries from being members. It also requires that the party balance in the Assembly be reflected in the membership of the Committee.
| Clause 62 requires the Assembly to establish committees for North Wales and for each of the other regions of Wales. The function of such committees is to give advice to the Assembly about the regions with which they are concerned.
| Clause 63 stipulates that the Assembly's standing orders must set out its procedures for making subordinate legislation.
| Clause 64 requires the Assembly to carry out an appraisal of the costs and benefits of general subordinate legislation before it is made.
| Clause 65 outlines the provisions which the Assembly must include in the standing orders about the making of general subordinate legislation.
| Clause 66 allows the standing orders to provide that the procedures for making general subordinate legislation may be disregarded where it is not reasonably practicable to comply with them. Where, as a result, subordinate legislation is made without being laid before or approved by the Assembly, Assembly members are to be entitled to move to revoke the legislation.
| Clause 67 stipulates that the recommendation of the executive committee must be given for any proposed subordinate legislation which, if made, may entail payment being made by the Assembly.
| Clause 68 requires the Assembly's standing orders to include provision for the purpose of maintaining order in Assembly proceedings. It allows the standing orders to provide for the exclusion of Assembly members.
| Clause 69 requires the Assembly's standing orders to provide for openness in the Assembly's activities by providing for the holding of proceedings in public, the publishing of reports of proceedings, the making available of Assembly documents and the making of arrangements for investigating complaints against the Assembly.
| Clause 70 requires the Assembly's standing orders to provide for accountability in the Assembly's activities by providing for the attendance of Assembly members at meetings of committees of which they are not members, for the questioning by Assembly members of the Assembly First Secretary and the Assembly Secretaries and for the making available of certain Assembly documents to Assembly members.
| Clause 71 requires the standing orders to provide for integrity in the Assembly's activities by providing for the registration and declaration of interests of Assembly members and for the prohibition of Assembly members from promoting any matter in the Assembly in return for payment. It provides that any member who contravenes provisions of the standing orders under the clause commits an offence.
| Clause 72 provides for the publication of the standing orders of the Assembly.
| Clause 73 provides for the Assembly to require persons who are members or employees of the bodies listed in Schedule 4 to attend proceedings of the Assembly or to produce documents to the Assembly.
| Clause 74 stipulates that anyone summoned under clause 73 may be required to give evidence on oath or affirmation. It provides for a person to be guilty of an offence if he fails to comply with a proper request to attend, answer questions or produce documents.
| Clause 75 allows the Secretary of State to participate (but not vote) in meetings of the Assembly.
| Clause 76 makes provision about defamation. Statements made in Assembly proceedings, and matters published by or on the Assembly's authority, are to be absolutely privileged. The clause applies to the Assembly provisions of the Defamation Act 1996 about qualified privilege for fair and accurate reports of proceedings.
| Clause 77 makes certain provisions regarding the law of contempt of court and its effect on published accounts of Assembly proceedings.
| Clause 78 stipulates that the Assembly is a public body for the purposes of the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 to 1916.
| Clause 79 provides that Assembly members are Crown servants for the purposes of the Official Secrets Act 1989.
| Clause 80 provides for the Secretary of State to make out of money provided by Parliament such payments to the Assembly as he shall determine. It also authorises Ministers and government departments to make payments to the Assembly.
| Clause 81 requires the Secretary of State to make a statement detailing certain matters regarding payments made by him and other Ministers under clause 80 and related matters.
| Clause 82 allows the Secretary of State to make loans, payable out of the National Loans Fund, to the Assembly to meet temporary deficits or to provide the Assembly with a working balance.
| Clause 83 requires the Secretary of State to prepare accounts of loans made under clause 82 and makes provision for their audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
| Clause 84 allows the Treasury to direct that enactments requiring receipts to be paid into the Consolidated Fund shall not have effect in relation to the Assembly.
| Clause 85 allows the Assembly to incur expenditure only in connection with its functions or under express statutory authority.
| Clause 86 stipulates that the Assembly must publish before the start of each financial year a report showing its proposed income and expenditure.
| Clause 87 makes provision about loans made by the Assembly in the exercise of a power to lend money issued out of the National Loans Fund. It makes provisions as to the interest rate which the Assembly is to charge and the terms of repayment.
| Clause 88 requires the Secretary of State to prepare accounts in connection with sums which he makes available to the Assembly (out of money issued to him out of the National Loans Fund) for the Assembly to lend in exercise of its functions.
| Clause 89 provides that, where any payment falls to be made by the Assembly, any provision charging that payment on the Consolidated Fund or making it payable out of money voted by Parliament shall cease to apply.
| Clause 90 provides for the appointment by Her Majesty of an Auditor General for Wales ("AGW") and makes provision for the termination of his appointment in specified circumstances.
| Clause 91 stipulates that the AGW's salary, and any pension or gratuities, provided for by his terms of appointment shall be paid by the Assembly.
| Clause 92 provides that the AGW may make agreements with the Comptroller and Auditor General ("the C&AG") for the provision to the AGW of administrative, professional or technical services by the National Audit Office. It provides that the AGW may appoint staff and that his staff and others working for him may in certain circumstances discharge his functions.
| Clause 93 stipulates that the AGW's expenses shall be met by the Assembly to the extent that he cannot meet them from income received. It allows the AGW to levy charges for audit services provided by him otherwise than to the Assembly. It makes provision as to the agreement of the AGW's estimated annual expenditure by the Assembly Audit Committee and provides for the AGW to prepare accounts for each financial year.
| Clause 94 makes provision for appointing an auditor for the AGW's accounts. It specifies the qualifications such an auditor must hold, the basis for meeting his expenses and his rights of access to documents and other information.
| Clause 95 sets out the AGW's rights of access to books of accounts, documents and other information. These rights cover all bodies whose accounts he audits and cases where the AGW is investigating the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of a body's use of resources.
| Clause 96 makes miscellaneous provision about audits, including provision regarding the capacity of the AGW to be appointed to undertake audit work for other bodies.
| Clause 97 requires the Assembly to prepare annual accounts under Treasury direction. It sets out matters which the Treasury may direct the accounts to include and specifies the role of the AGW in auditing and reporting on the accounts.
| Clause 98 requires the Treasury to designate the Assembly's principal accounting officer from among the Assembly's staff and provides that the principal accounting officer shall have the responsibilities specified by the Treasury. It makes further provisions regarding the designation and duties of additional accounting officers for the Assembly.
| Clause 99 provides that the AGW shall for the purposes of examining the Assembly's accounts have a right of access to documents relating to the accounts of an Assembly subsidiary and to information from persons holding such documents.
| Clause 100 provides that the AGW may investigate the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which the Assembly has used its resources.
| Clause 101 provides for the C&AG's rights of access to documents and other information for the purpose of examining the finances of the Assembly.
| Clause 102 allows the Audit Committee to consider and report to the Assembly on any matter presented to the Assembly by the AGW or by an auditor appointed under clause 94. It also sets out the terms on which the Audit Committee can make enquiries on behalf of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee if that Committee requests it to do so.
| Clause 103 sets out the terms on which the Assembly is to publish material presented to it by the AGW or the auditor of the AGW.
| Clause 104 provides that Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in Wales shall be provided with such funding by the Assembly as the Assembly considers appropriate. Schedule 5 makes provision consequential on this clause.
| Clause 105 prohibits the Assembly from doing anything which is incompatible with European Community law or with the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights which are incorporated into UK law.
| Clause 106 sets out the circumstances in which a European Community obligation of the United Kingdom is also an obligation of the Assembly.
| Clause 107 gives the Secretary of State power to direct that any proposed action of the Assembly shall not be taken if it would be incompatible with international obligations of the United Kingdom. It also allows the Secretary of State to direct the Assembly to take specified action where to do so is required for the purpose of complying with such obligations.
| Clause 108 gives effect to Schedule 6 which makes provision about the resolution of disputes relating to the Assembly's exercise of (or failure to exercise) its functions.
| Clause 109 gives courts and tribunals power to limit the retrospective effect of decisions that the Assembly has acted beyond its powers to make subordinate legislation.
| Clause 110 requires the Assembly to make a scheme for promoting local government in Wales. It also requires the Assembly to establish a Partnership Council for Wales consisting of members of the Assembly and members of local authorities in Wales. The Partnership Council will advise the Assembly about the Assembly's functions and about local government in Wales. The clause introduces Schedule 7 which contains supplementary provisions about the local government scheme and the Partnership Council.
| Clause 111 requires the Assembly to draw up a scheme setting out its proposals for promoting the interests of voluntary organisations in Wales.
| Clause 112 sets out the Assembly's obligations for making documents available for public inspection.
| Clause 113 requires the Assembly to make arrangements for having regard in exercising its functions to the principle of equality of opportunity for all people.
| Clause 114 provides that English and Welsh texts of Assembly subordinate legislation shall be of equal standing.
| Clause 115 provides that the Treasury may in certain circumstances require the Assembly to provide information.
| Clause 116 exempts the Assembly from payment of stamp duty.
| Clause 117 gives effect to Schedule 8 which contains minor and consequential amendments about the Assembly.
| Clause 118 amends the Welsh Development Agency Act 1975 to allow the Welsh Development Agency ("WDA") to further the social, as well as the economic, development of Wales and to allow it to make grants in accordance with programmes approved by the Secretary of State.
| Clause 119 gives effect to Schedule 9 which contains amendments for the purpose of giving the WDA powers analogous to those currently exercised by the Land Authority for Wales ("LAW").
| Clause 120 gives effect to Schedule 10 which makes other amendments relating to the WDA.
| Clause 121 provides for the functions of the Development Board for Rural Wales (DBRW) to cease to exist and gives effect to Schedule 11 which makes consequential amendments relating to the DBRW.
| Clause 122 provides for the transfer of the DBRW's property, rights and liabilities to the WDA.
| Clause 123 contains transitional provisions about the DBRW.
| Clause 124 contains provisions about the winding-down of the DBRW.
| Clause 125 provides that the DBRW shall cease to exist when the Secretary of State by order so directs.
| Clause 126 provides for the functions of the LAW to cease to exist.
| Clause 127 contains amendments consequential on clause 126.
| Clause 128 provides for the transfer of the LAW's property, rights and liabilities to the WDA.
| Clause 129 contains transitional provisions about the LAW.
| Clause 130 contains provisions about the winding-down of the LAW.
| Clause 131 provides that the LAW shall cease to exist when the Secretary of State by order so directs.
| Clause 132 provides for the functions of Housing for Wales, together with its property, rights and liabilities, to be transferred to the Secretary of State. It introduces Schedule 12 which makes amendments of enactments relating to Housing for Wales.
| Clause 133 contains transitional provisions relating to the transfer of the functions of Housing for Wales.
| Clause 134 contains provisions about the winding-down of Housing for Wales.
| Clause 135 provides that Housing for Wales shall cease to exist when the Secretary of State by order so directs.
| Clause 136 provides that the Secretary of State may by order make provision regarding the accounts, audit and reports of Welsh public bodies listed in Schedule 13.
| Clause 137 provides that the AGW may investigate the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which any of the bodies listed in Schedule 13 have used their resources.
| Clause 138 provides for the Secretary of State by order to transfer the functions of the C&AG relating to specified bodies to the AGW.
| Clause 139 amends section 8 of the National Health Service Act 1977 so that an order establishing a Health Authority may provide for one Health Authority to act for the whole of Wales.
| Clause 140 amends section 2 of the Agricultural Wages Act 1948 so that there may be established one agricultural wages committee for the whole of Wales.
|Financial effects of the Bill
| The Bill is not expected to lead to any overall increase in public expenditure.
| The Bill requires the Secretary of State to make payments to the Assembly out of money provided by Parliament. The Assembly will thus become responsible for most of the £7 billion annual budget which is currently controlled by the Secretary of State for Wales. This budget will be updated in future using the existing (population-based) "Barnett" formula, so that its amount will change in line with changes in comparable English spending programmes.
| The Assembly may also receive payments from Ministers and government departments. And the Secretary of State will have power to make loans to the Assembly on terms and conditions approved by the Treasury (up to a maximum of £500 million) for the purpose of meeting a temporary deficit or for providing the Assembly with a working balance.
| From the money received the Assembly will meet its own costs and the costs of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in Wales. The Bill also provides that the costs of the Auditor General for Wales will be met by the Assembly or (in advance of the first elections to the Assembly) by the Secretary of State.
| The capital cost to public funds of establishing the Assembly is not expected to exceed £17 million. The annual running costs of the Assembly (estimated to be between £15 and £20 million), which are in addition to current Welsh Office running costs, will be met from the Assembly's budget.
| The merger of the Welsh Development Agency, the Development Board for Rural Wales and the Land Authority for Wales, and the winding-up of Housing for Wales, are expected to result in annual running cost savings of up to £3.5 million. There may be additional savings as a result of the rationalisation of accommodation and other changes. Some short term costs will be necessary to enable these savings to be realised. The precise level of these costs and savings will be informed by the results of the reviews currently being undertaken by the bodies concerned.
|Effect of the Bill on public service manpower
| The Bill will require an estimated 100 extra civil servants. Once established, it will be for the Assembly to determine its own staffing levels from within the total budget made available to it.
| In addition, the transfer of the functions of Housing for Wales to the Welsh Office could result in up to 70 staff ceasing to be employees of that body and becoming civil servants.
|© Parliamentary copyright 1997
|Prepared 27 November 1997