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Mr. Öpik: What evils and catastrophes does the hon. Gentleman foresee, if the amendment is not accepted?

Mr. Luff: I do not want to detain the House long, and I am trying to draw my remarks to a conclusion, but I would point the hon. Gentleman to clause 23(6) on page 14, which states:


From my reading of the Bill, it seems to me that the assembly will be given powers over any cross-border area


    "which includes a part (but not the whole) of England"--

I am relieved to say--simply on the say-so of a Minister of the Crown, with no assurance that this place will have any say over the giving of those powers over important chunks of England.

The hon. Gentleman will understand that, as I come from Worcestershire, where we historically fought the Welsh for many years, we are a little more sensitive on that point, perhaps, than those in other parts of the United Kingdom. The amendment will provide a useful and practical safeguard against that sort of frank abuse of its power by the assembly.

I genuinely believe that this is a useful amendment, which will safeguard the supremacy of this place. People are becoming more aware of the dangers of the Bill for the rest of the United Kingdom, and I honestly hope that, if the amendment is only superfluous, as the Government seem to suggest, they will accept it and give me great peace of mind.

Mr. Win Griffiths: This has been a brief, but nevertheless interesting, debate, even if it only showed us the shortcomings of the Opposition's thinking and that of the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram).

From the outset, I must make it clear that there is nothing in the Bill to imply that the establishment of a National Assembly for Wales would undermine the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament. The powers are clear. We discussed the background to the amendments at some length on Second Reading. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman can remember that discussion well. We set down in detail our reasons why the official Opposition's concerns were, frankly, misplaced. That remains our position. Nothing has happened since that debate to change our minds about this amendment, which is unnecessary.

Mr. Ancram: Can the hon. Gentleman answer this question? If he thinks the amendment unnecessary in this Bill, why did the Secretary of State for Scotland decide that an assertion-of-supremacy clause was necessary in the Scotland Bill?

Mr. Griffiths: That is a good point, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I will deal with it as I develop my argument. It is important--in fact, it is crucial to the whole of our consideration of the Bill.

20 Jan 1998 : Column 876

First, we believe that the views of the official Opposition on this point are based on a faulty grasp of the British constitution and of the powers of the assembly as contained in the rest of the Bill. I should have thought that it was obvious that it is this Parliament that is debating the passage of the Bill and that will be able to amend or repeal it after it is enacted. I should have thought that proof enough of this Parliament's sovereignty.

Any guarantees that the House attempts to add to the Bill could simply be overturned by a future Parliament. That is the basis of our parliamentary democracy. Each Parliament has the right to determine what should remain as part of our legislative structure.

So the Bill has no bearing on Parliament's sovereign power to legislate for Wales. This Parliament will still be able to legislate for Wales once the National Assembly for Wales has been created. That assembly will carry out its functions under legislation enacted by this Parliament. This Bill does not confer powers to make primary legislation on the National Assembly for Wales.

Mr. Ancram: But it does.

Mr. Griffiths: I shall move on to the specific circumstances.

The Bill does not allow general primary legislative powers, but it would pass on to the National Assembly for Wales those powers that are vested in the Secretary of State and certain order-making powers, which are precisely described. Therefore, primary legislative powers can be discussed when we debate clause 29, where the powers are specifically circumscribed. The right hon. Gentleman is wrong to raise issues relating to the thwarting of the powers of Westminster. The National Assembly for Wales will be able to act in specific areas.

I agree that the question is not simple. Yes, it is complicated, and we have to think about the vast array of secondary powers that would be passed to the Welsh assembly, or the National Assembly for Wales, or the Assembly of Wales--we will all pick our own version for the future. However, there can be no doubt that, apart from clause 29, which mentions some specific powers, the rest are secondary.

The right hon. Member for Devizes cited as the big precedent section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which was amended in 1922, as he pointed out. In further developing his argument, he claimed that clause 27 of the Scotland Bill contains a similar statement--based, he thought, more closely on the 1973 legislation, although I think that he would admit that it really comes out of the 1920 stable. His argument was about the principle of having a statement about the sovereignty of Westminster as the United Kingdom Parliament.

It is unnecessary and otiose for a similar statement to be included in the legislation for the Welsh assembly, because the National Assembly for Wales will not have the same wide-ranging primary legislative powers as the Scottish Parliament. The referendums were conducted on that basis.

If this Parliament should ever decide that the National Assembly for Wales should have such powers, that will be the point when the amendment becomes active and relevant and should be made. Today, for this legislation, it is otiose and unnecessary. We heard those words for

20 Jan 1998 : Column 877

18 years when we were in opposition. I hope that the right hon. Member for Devizes will have the good grace to accept that there is no need for us to vote on the amendment.

7.30 pm

Mr. Jenkin: Most of what the Minister said was completely irrelevant to the amendment. The Government have a narrow view of parliamentary sovereignty. It is, of course, a legal concept and, legally, any message of Parliament's sovereignty in any Act of Parliament is superfluous; but the secondary purpose of a provision such as the amendment--this is why it has been used in other legislation, where the Minister's argument about its being otiose equally applies--is political.

We do not want the relationship between Westminster and the Cardiff assembly, if that is where it is to be, to be one in which Westminster is constantly interfering and reasserting its supremacy. That is precisely why it is necessary to include a message in the Bill to explain to everyone who reads it that Parliament is and intends to remain sovereign.

Sovereignty exists only as long as it has the means to sustain itself. Charles I was mentioned in an earlier debate. Charles I was legally sovereign--there is no doubt about that--but he did not have the means to sustain that sovereignty, which is why he got his head chopped off. We are not in the business of having this Parliament's head chopped off at some stage in the future.

Parliament's sovereignty is vital, because we do not have a written constitution. We are not like United States Congressmen, who swear allegiance to the constitution of the United States: we swear allegiance to the Queen, who represents the sovereignty of Parliament. That is our only guarantee of our liberty in this country.

For the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) to say that we need no insurance policies because we have such confidence in the happy relationship between Parliament and the Welsh assembly is completely wrong. It is precisely to plan for all eventualities that we need to make the amendment.

Mr. Öpik: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Jenkin: No. I want to be brief.

The Minister says that there will be no difficulties between Westminster and the Welsh assembly, but that is entirely his own view, because Welsh nationalist supporters of his legislation, who are sitting in the Chamber, deny the sovereignty of Parliament. They deny that the settlement will be stable, and want it to lead to precisely the destruction of the United Kingdom that he professes to be against.

In unwritten constitutions, the tendency is for powers that are not used to disappear through that disuse. We do not want Parliament to have to reassert its sovereignty by regularly interfering with the Welsh assembly. It would be much better to write into the Bill a clear assertion of sovereignty, so that everyone knows the ground rules by which the assembly will use its powers, preferably with no interference from Parliament.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

20 Jan 1998 : Column 878

The Committee divided: Ayes 133, Noes 365.

Division No. 134
[7.34 pm


AYES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Butterfill, John
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
(Rushcliffe)
Collins, Tim
Colvin, Michael
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Forsythe, Clifford
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. Oliver Heald and
Sir David Madel.


NOES


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Breed, Colin
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Stephen
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chidgey, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Ms Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dafis, Cynog
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorrie, Donald
Grant, Bernie
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mon)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Keetch, Paul
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kirkwood, Archy
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLeish, Henry
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Rt Hon George
(Hamilton S)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Sanders, Adrian
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Squire, Ms Rachel
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Swinney, John
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tyler, Paul
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Wallace, James
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
White, Brian
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. David Jamieson and
Janet Anderson.

Question accordingly negatived.

20 Jan 1998 : Column 881

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.


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