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Mr. Rowlands: I understand that. I shall read carefully what my right hon. Friend has said, but I should like a simple answer to a simple question arising from what the right hon. Member for Caernarfon said. Let us consider primary legislation passed in the House of Commons with a series of orders, including commencement orders, the drafting and enactment of which fall to the Welsh assembly. Will the assembly have the power not to implement the relevant parts of that legislation by not moving the commencement orders or seeking to amend them in such a way that they become not just different from but contradictory to the original legislation?

Mr. Davies: I shall take advice and let my hon. Friend know if my answer is not correct, but I think that it depends on whether the primary legislation says "may" or "shall". If the primary legislation offers the assembly discretion, it can exercise that discretion. If the House of Commons says that it shall make a commencement order, no such discretion will be available to the assembly.

Mr. Rowlands: That is a useful clarification. I am interested in that phrase, "different from". How limited is the order-making power? The right hon. Member for Caernarfon suggested that it would be more than possible for the assembly to block measures. That is the phrase that has prompted me to respond. Is it possible for the assembly to block orders for which it has been given responsibility, resulting in aspects of primary legislation never being implemented?

Mr. Ancram: The hon. Gentleman is making an important point. I should also like to know the answer to the question that he has just asked. He is dealing with possible future legislation. The Secretary of State said that

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it is up to the House what it passes and what form the order-making power takes. What happens with existing legislation that has a commencement order that has not yet been exercised or operated by order? Will the Welsh assembly be able to block that without the House being able to do anything about it?

Mr. Rowlands: I have no answer to that. I am seeking clarification of what the right hon. Member for Caernarfon said. It would be useful if Ministers could say how far the legislative powers in the Bill go. Having said that, I cannot possibly support the amendment.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley): I am relieved that the Committee stage of the Bill is being taken on the Floor of the House. The Government, in the guise of their earthly presence, the Secretary of State for Wales, have finally come off their high horse and conceded the importance of discussing this major constitutional issue on the Floor of the House. That is important because it is also an acceptance that this is not simply a Welsh issue, but a United Kingdom issue. All United Kingdom Members of Parliament will have an opportunity to have their say on the Bill.

A source close to the Secretary of State, no less, has been reported in the newspapers as saying that the Conservative party has rolled over and died on the issue. That is wrong. We shall give the Bill careful scrutiny and make constructive suggestions, as our amendments show. We shall speak out on areas in which we feel that the Bill can be improved to serve the Welsh people better. Taking a constructive role in proceedings on the Bill does not detract one jot from our desire for democracy in Wales to be properly served.

A sour smell will hang over the Bill, the Act and the assembly, once established, because of the Secretary of State's refusal to hold a proper, independent inquiry into the conduct of the count of the Welsh referendum vote. The Secretary of State says that with some of our amendments, including amendment No. 10, to which I shall speak, we are looking to wreck the Bill. We do not want to do that, or to tarnish the name of the assembly, wherever it is to be sited, but we say that the Secretary of State's stubbornness in not agreeing to an independent judicial inquiry will tarnish the good name of the assembly--

4.30 pm

The Chairman: Order. We are looking forward rather than looking back.

Mr. Evans: Thank you, Sir Alan. What we are looking forward to, surely, is not only the establishment of the assembly, or whatever it may be called--that is the concern of the amendment to which I am speaking--but its good name, irrespective of what its actual name is when the Bill becomes an Act.

I shall now speak to amendment No. 10, if I may. In terms of the good name of the assembly, most of the amendments before us could be described as "scratch it and see" amendments. We scratch them and see what really lies behind the raison d'etre of the assembly. The nationalists have taken off the kid gloves and the pretence; all they want is there for us to see.

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If any one factor has been established from the beginning, it is the muddle in which the Bill finds itself. More questions will be asked than answers given. I hope that we shall hear some proper clarification from the Secretary of State. I am sure that the nationalists would love it to be a legislative assembly with primary law-making powers. They are pushing at the edges of the Bill.

Mr. Cynog Dafis (Ceredigion) rose--

Mr. Evans: We can forget the White Paper--[Hon. Members: "Give way."] I shall give way in a second.

We can forget the White Paper; we can forget what was put before the Welsh people and what was said about legislative powers in the version of it that went into every Welsh home during the referendum campaign. The nationalists would like matters to be pushed even further.

Mr. Dafis: I was wondering whether the hon. Gentleman would clarify whether he is talking about the Welsh nationalists or the British nationalists who sit on the Conservative Benches.

Mr. Evans: That is an interesting point. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that he can start to meddle with the constitution without there being an impact on the constitution of the United Kingdom as a whole, he is mistaken. Not only Conservatives have been raising questions about various aspects of the United Kingdom constitution since we have gone down the route of devolution; Labour Members, too, will ask those questions. They are legitimate questions that need to be asked.

The nationalists would like us to go further. They are pushing for primary legislative powers and for the Welsh assembly to be turned into a full Parliament--but that is not what the Welsh people voted for, nor what they were offered in the White Paper. Half of those who were asked did not vote at all, and half of those who voted, voted no. Only one in four of the Welsh people wishes to go down that route. That is not a clear endorsement for jumping out of the pan into the fire.

Mr. Ron Davies: On a point of order, Mr. Martin. I am sorry to interrupt, but the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) has already been on his feet for five minutes and we have a fairly tight timetable in which to debate all the clauses in the Bill. We are now dealing with particular amendments and, as the hon. Gentleman has been making a Second Reading speech for five minutes, he should now address himself to the amendments before us.

The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael J. Martin): Order. That should be the case for the whole Committee. The amendments before us are the matters to which we should pay attention.

Mr. Ancram: Who is running the show?

The First Deputy Chairman: I am; do not worry about that. We should confine ourselves to the amendments before us.

Mr. Evans: I am indeed referring to amendment No. 10--we are talking about the name of the assembly.

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The problem is that the Secretary of State for Wales likes to close down debate whenever he can. He may be good at bullying members of his own party, but he will not be so successful at bullying members of other parties--or the Chairman of the Committee.

Mr. Rogers: It is no good going over old arguments again: the referendum result is known. What is critical remains: the relationship between this Parliament and the Welsh assembly when it comes to legislative issues. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) has dramatically asked whether the assembly will have just a blocking power or whether it will be able to initiate secondary legislation. We desperately need to tackle that problem, because it is fundamental to the working of the assembly. My view is that the assembly should have more powers, but for goodness' sake let us return to the argument.

Mr. Evans: We are seeking clarification of the issue--indeed, the Secretary of State said that he himself was seeking clarification at one stage.

Mr. Davies indicated dissent.

Mr. Evans: That is how I remember what he said at any rate. What the assembly will be and what its name will be are important matters. That is why the nationalists want to call it a legislative assembly; it is also why we have tabled our amendment, which maintains that that is the wrong way to go. The Welsh people do not want it either.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West): The hon. Gentleman has thanked the Government for acceding to the Opposition's request to deal with the Bill on the Floor of the House. Does he find it disappointing that, of the 600 Members of Parliament who do not represent constituencies in Wales, only five are present in the Chamber, two of them on my side of it?

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