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Mr. Evans: I am not sure which is the greater delusion, calling the assembly a senedd--a Parliament--or thinking that if it had tax-varying powers one of its first measures would be to reduce taxation on the Welsh people. I suspect that it would not be, particularly given the demands that would be made on public expenditure in Wales. Irrespective of what the Liberal Democrats say, there is only one way that taxation would go. It is bizarre

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for a party that thought that putting a penny on the basic rate of income tax was the answer to all evils at the general election to talk in such a way.

Mr. Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire): Why is the hon. Gentleman so frightened of trusting a Welsh senedd or assembly with the authority to make decisions that would surely be supported by the majority in Wales--otherwise the individuals would be voted out of office?

Mr. Evans: When 73.4 per cent. of people in Scotland voted yes to the Parliament, only 63.5 per cent. voted yes to tax-varying powers. We can see the gulf. We must remember that only one in four of the Welsh people voted for the assembly. I shudder to think how many would vote for that assembly to have tax-varying powers. I cannot imagine it happening.

If we were to go down that route, the number of holiday homes in Wales would grow dramatically as people vacated Wales and moved just east of the border to take advantage of the tax haven in England. Let us have some common sense and ditch any idea of calling the Welsh assembly anything other than what it is: a Welsh assembly.

Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli): Amendment No. 142 would delete the word "for" and insert the word "of". There is no deep philosophical or metaphysical reasoning behind it. I simply thought that the draftsman had made a mistake. The right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) also made a mistake, referring to the National Assembly for Wales four times as the National Assembly "of" Wales. Perhaps he does not like the fact that it is "for" and not "of" Wales.

Draftsmen do not usually make mistakes, but even Homer sometimes nods, as somebody or other told us in a poem years ago. Perhaps it is a mistake or perhaps it is a subtle piece of drafting. I do not know what instructions were conveyed. I see that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is getting restive.

Mr. Ron Davies: I was getting comfortable.

Mr. Denzil Davies: My right hon. Friend is smiling, but he does not look comfortable. I do not intend to give way to him yet, but I am sure that he would like to come to the Dispatch Box immediately. I do not understand the words, "National Assembly for Wales". I understand "Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru", which I would translate as "National Assembly of Wales". In French no doubt we would have the National Assembly "of" France. I cannot imagine the French saying "for".

Mr. Wigley: Or the Germans.

Mr. Davies: Or the Germans. It would be one long word in German, with a verb at the end, as in Latin.

If there is a national assembly that is for Wales, there must be another national assembly somewhere. "National" cannot refer to Wales in that context, whereas "National Assembly of Wales" would refer to Wales's own assembly. What is this national assembly that is "for" Wales? Perhaps my right hon. Friend could explain.

Did the Lord Chancellor, with his acute brain, honed at the Bar--for vast fees, we are told, but I do not know about that--say that we could not have the National

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Assembly "of" Wales because of the question of sovereignty? Perhaps the Welsh National party should have tabled amendment No. 142.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General is on the Front Bench. Perhaps he would like to intervene. He may have had something to do with the decision. I do not remember whether this subtle bit of drafting was contained in the legislation for the putative--very putative--assembly in 1978.

I suspect that there has been no mistake, and that it is a deep point. Clearly, "National Assembly for Wales" sends a signal, especially to the nationalists, that sovereignty resides in the House. Otherwise, the draftsman would have put "of". What does "National" refer to in "National Assembly for Wales"? It is pretty meaningless. Is it a British national assembly? There is no such thing as a British nation, as Mr. Gwynfor Evans used to remind us a long time ago.

Why the convoluted formulation? It does not trip easily off the tongue, as the right hon. Member for Caernarfon said. Why cannot we simply say, "National Assembly of Wales"? It is much better English, and much clearer. Why should it be "for"?

Mr. Livsey: I will now give what I believe to be the correct version of the Liberal Democrat amendments and their meaning. Amendments Nos. 2 and 19 refer to the name of the assembly, suggesting the use of the word "Senedd"; new clause 3 would give the assembly legislative powers; and new clause 4 refers to income tax and the ability to vary taxation.

"Senedd" refers to a senate, and if it was good enough for Owain Glyndwr in Machynlleth, it is good enough for us. It is an accepted bilingual word in Wales that has been known for many centuries and has a meaning for both English and Welsh speakers. It is a simple description. Obviously, it implies that the body has rather more powers than are given in the Bill, but it is our view that the assembly, or senedd, should aspire to a status that is meaningful for a national legislature. The description is dependent on new clause 3 and amendment No. 52.

We believe that amendments Nos. 2 and 19 would provide a far better distinction, avoiding confusion both with a Scottish Parliament and with regional assemblies in England. The changes would make it absolutely clear that it was a Welsh body and the word "senedd" is easy for everybody to pronounce. We all know about the Senate in America and the part that Welsh people played in constructing the constitution of the United States more than 200 years ago. That means a great deal to people in Wales.

Mr. Ancram: Is the hon. Gentleman's idea closer to the model of the Senate in the United States or the one in the Republic of Ireland?

Mr. Livsey: I do not want to go into such deep territory. There are certainly similarities with the Senate in the United States, but the Government of southern Ireland have been reasonably successful with their constitution.

Mr. Flynn: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the names of most national assemblies and Parliaments of

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various countries are known to the rest of the world by the name for a Parliament in their own languages? There is only one Knesset, one Duma, one Riigikogu and one Seimas. Is it not inevitable that the press will refer to the Welsh assembly as the senedd, because the press find irresistible the use of two syllables instead of six? While of course I will always loyally support Ministers, it is inevitable that whatever we decide today, the press and the world will know the Welsh assembly as the senedd.

5 pm

Mr. Livsey: I agree with the hon. Gentleman that that will inevitably occur and, knowing the ways of the press, might occur rather more quickly than some hon. Members think.

New clause 3 mirrors amendment No. 52 and would give the assembly the power to legislate. It would bring to the fore the ability of the assembly to introduce Bills and to create Acts. Those may be voted on at the end of the Committee stage. The new clause would also give the assembly the power to make primary legislation. I shall not rehash the debate that we have already had about amendment No. 52, but the Welsh assembly will have powers over many areas that have distinctive features in Wales and may require special attention. For example, hon. Members have mentioned education, and we have a long and honourable track record in Wales of pioneering in education. It is sad that education in Wales does not currently reflect its past glories, but a recent turnaround has displayed signs of hope. We have an honourable tradition in education in Wales and many excellent people have been involved.

Another example is agriculture. Welsh farmers, some of whom came here today, are distinctive: their holdings are roughly half the size of those in England and they depend heavily on family labour. A Welsh assembly might need to address the problems of Welsh agriculture, including legislation from Europe. Housing, too, is an area that could be covered, as the housing stock in Wales is the worst in the United Kingdom. Much work has been done, but we still have poor housing that affects the health of the people. The health service needs of Wales are also distinctive. The health of people in Wales, especially in the south Wales valleys, is poor, as we heard yesterday at the meeting in Cardiff of the Welsh Affairs Committee. We have a great natural resource in water, which was privatised in the 1980s. Long-term agreements were made and leases of 999 years granted, so the Welsh assembly might like to legislate on water. Similarly, we have an abysmal transport system, especially the public transport infrastructure. Understandably, this Parliament has not been minded to take a great interest in the transport infrastructure in Wales because hon. Members who represent other parts of Britain do not use that system. If they did, they would be back here quickly to do something about it.

Economic development is also important. We have tabled new clause 3 because we want the Welsh assembly to have a status worthy of Wales and to earn the respect of the Welsh people. Such an assembly is more likely to be successful. The assembly, in its present form, might not be able to achieve all that it would want and might be just a talking shop. In new clause 3, we are trying to push forward the boundaries and we shall seek to put it to a vote.

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New clause 4 has already been mentioned, and I will not go into it in more detail. The new clause refers to tax-raising powers, which we feel are important for a legislature of the type that we support. Liberal Democrats are federalists and we believe in the devolution of power to the regions and countries of Britain.

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