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9.45 pm

Mr. Jenkin: I did indeed utter the words that the Secretary of State so kindly quoted. It must have been a good speech for him to take the trouble to quote me at such length. I am delighted that he did so.

21 Jan 1998 : Column 1110

The amendments have exposed what we most feared about the Bill--that we do not have a proposed settlement between the Westminster Parliament and the Welsh assembly. We have a constantly movable feast, which will provoke the misunderstandings and discords--

Mr. Nick Ainger (West Carmarthen and South Pembrokeshire): That is what the Conservatives want.

Mr. Jenkin: It is not what we want. We want a clean and clear settlement. That is what amendment No. 45 proposes. It proposes that we transfer defined and definable powers to the assembly, as set out in schedule 2. It may take amendments to schedule 2 to shape that into what the Government intend to devolve.

As the Bill stands, we will never know from week to week what powers the Secretary of State wants to devolve. He keeps telling us that devolution is a process, not an event. The Bill makes that clear. However, it is like trying to reassure Charles I, when Parliament was seeking powers to control taxes, that the matter of parliamentary supremacy was a process, not an event. Little did he know--or perhaps he did know--that it would conclude with the chopping off of his head. We are dealing in the Bill with a rolling programme.

We shall press amendment No. 45 to a Division because, through the draft transfer order, which I am grateful to the Secretary of State for providing, the Bill provides for an initial major transfer of powers, but it goes on to explain that those powers are not exhaustive, and furthermore that the powers can be transferred only one way at the behest of Parliament, and cannot be transferred the other way without the consent of the assembly. We have the prospect of unlimited transfers.

I do not know whether the Secretary of State realised what he was saying in his winding-up speech. He implied that tax-raising powers could be transferred by order. [Interruption.] Yes, that is what he said. If he reads Hansard, he will realise that that is what he implied.

Mr. Ron Davies: The hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that. I did not imply that for one moment. In reply to a question raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) about whether tax-raising powers could be transferred by order, I said that that was exactly the type of big issue which any future Government would have to consider dealing with by means of primary legislation.

Mr. Jenkin: The fact is that the Bill contains the authority to transfer those powers by order. That is what we find so unsatisfactory. We want a settled arrangement between the Welsh assembly and the Westminster Parliament, and the Bill simply does not provide that.

There is another matter which we have settled by provoking debate through the amendments. The great advertisement for the Welsh assembly--that it could have stopped the poll tax--is a fraudulent claim. The Secretary of State has been going around saying that which is not, because the order-making powers in the Local Government Finance Act 1988, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) so ably demonstrated, are extremely limited and relate to very limited issues. Hypothetically, even if such powers had been transferred to a Welsh assembly, they would not have stopped Parliament imposing the poll tax.

21 Jan 1998 : Column 1111

We are left with an important question: are we setting up a contract between the Welsh assembly elected by the Welsh people and the Westminster Parliament, a contract which both sides will understand and comprehend, so that, when we come to the disputes that are inevitable between two layers of government, at least the parameters will be understood, and as the disputes are resolved the terms of that resolution will be accepted? Or are we creating a situation where the expectations being raised for the Welsh assembly are far beyond what the Westminster Parliament can practically deliver, aided and abetted by the political opportunism of the Secretary of State and his party, resulting inevitably in disappointment, disillusion and further disputes and playing into the hands of the nationalists, who are, of course, the smiling figures on the sidelines waiting to pick up the pieces of the Secretary of State's scheme?

The Secretary of State's main objection to our amendments was with amendment No. 47. It is interesting that the drafting of clause 21 is curiously elliptical and led the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) to a different understanding of what it means. If the interpretation that the Secretary of State places on clause 21 as it relates to clause 22 is accepted, a certain amount of wording in clause 21(b) is superfluous. Clause 21 states:

when in fact the Bill transfers no such powers. That is a shortcoming in the proposed legislation, possibly created in the rush to get the Bill drafted.

Mr. Ron Davies: In which case, why did the hon. Gentleman not table an amendment to improve the Bill?

Mr. Jenkin: We have. We wish to transfer powers by virtue of the Bill. We are seeking to fulfil what the clause appears to promise but in fact does not, because no powers are transferred by virtue of the Act, except by the order-making power that the Secretary of State will use. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) said, if we accept a fresh structure for the Bill, we do not need amendment No. 47.

If this hotch-potch of powers is to be transferred by order, and there is the rather absurd notion that somehow the Welsh assembly in the midst of a dispute about its powers would willingly give up powers that had already been granted to it by order, we need a simple mechanism to reflect that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If it is right to transfer powers to the assembly by order, it is right to transfer powers back by order.

None of the new powers that would be transferred by order has necessarily been agreed by the assembly or by referendum. Why, then, should not those powers be transferred back without the agreement of a referendum or the assembly? As the Secretary of State rightly keeps reminding the Committee, the House of Commons remains sovereign. Allowing powers that can be given to be taken away in the same fashion merely creates symmetry in the Bill.

I suspect that the reason for the Secretary of State's deep love for the clause is the same as the motivation for the Bill. It is about appeasing nationalism. Just as he has framed a devolution policy to try to capture nationalist

21 Jan 1998 : Column 1112

votes by running before the wind, the clause is necessary to stop the nationalists being driven up the wall with frustration.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: If the hon. Gentleman is given the undertaking that there will be no frustration among Plaid Cymru Members, will he withdraw the amendment?

Mr. Jenkin: We will withdraw the amendment if we can be certain that the Bill will confer a defined and clear structure of devolved power on the Welsh assembly. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The Government's opposition to amendment No. 45 sets up a structure which allows for a state of flux to exist between Westminster and the assembly. We need a power to balance the order-making power to transfer powers to the assembly. We therefore stand by the amendments and we shall vote on amendment No. 45.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 147, Noes 370.

Division No. 137
[9.57 pm


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
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Butterfill, John
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Collins, Tim
Colvin, Michael
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
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
Goodlad, Rt Hon Sir Alastair
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
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
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
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
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Major, Rt Hon John
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
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)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Oliver Heald and
Mr. Nigel Waterson.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Borrow, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brand, Dr Peter
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
Burstow, Paul
Butler, Mrs Christine
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chidgey, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Church, Ms Judith
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
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
Corston, Ms Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dafis, Cynog
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Drew, David
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
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Gorrie, Donald
Grant, Bernie
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
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, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Keetch, Paul
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kirkwood, Archy
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Livsey, Richard
Llwyd, Elfyn
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLeish, Henry
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Maxton, John
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)
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Oaten, Mark
Olner, Bill
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Rt Hon George
(Hamilton S)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
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
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, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Swinney, John
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thompson, William
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tyler, Paul
Vis, Dr Rudi
Wallace, James
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
Welsh, Andrew
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Janet Anderson and
Mr. Jim Dowd.

Question accordingly negatived.

21 Jan 1998 : Column 1116

It being after Ten o'clock, The Chairman left the Chair to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

To report progress and ask leave to sit again.--[Mr. Betts.]

Committee report progress; to sit again tomorrow.

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