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Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): Order. General conversations are breaking out throughout the Chamber. Hon. Members must listen to the hon. Member who is addressing the House.

Mr. Jones: I am grateful for your intervention, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

My question--I am sure that the Minister is aware of the point--is, what ability will the Assembly have to think afresh and to think through new ideas? Will the Assembly have simply to consider what is happening elsewhere? Will the Secretary of State simply override it?

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The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) put his finger on the question--who will have the final say? That is the important question. I hope that the Minister will assure us that, on the issues I have mentioned, the Assembly will have the final say.

Mr. Rogers: On many of those issues, neither the Assembly nor this place will have the final say. Many of the cross-border issues that the hon. Member for Ynys Mon (Mr. Jones) mentioned, such as pollution, are covered by European legislation. European legislation will increasingly cover those issues. As for the Welsh Assembly being able to think afresh about those issues, it just will not happen.

I should like to return to the territorial waters issue. The hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Dafis) said that I made a rather trivial point. The point was not trivial but most significant. Although the Assembly will have a say on oil exploration, mineral development and Celtic sea pollution, those matters are subject to international treaties signed by the United Kingdom Government. The Welsh Assembly will have to operate within those parameters. Unfortunately--this is where I have great sympathy for the three Plaid Cymru Members in the Chamber--the Assembly will not have legislative and tax-raising powers or be able to negotiate as has been suggested.

I do not think that we should create the impression that the Assembly will be an all-singing, all-dancing body that can do all those things. In the foreseeable future, under the terms of this Bill, it will not be able to do so.

Mr. Oliver Letwin (West Dorset): It would be churlish of me to begin my speech without congratulating Ministers on the splendour of their yellow flowers.

Mr. Rogers: Daffodils.

Mr. Letwin: Daffodils. Indeed.

I take pleasure--I think that that is how it was described--in dealing with a small point of definition. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), who made many excellent points in Committee, drew the Minister's attention to paragraph 3(2) of the new schedule in Lords amendment No. 170. In that sub-paragraph, a "cross-border body" is so defined that it means the whole of England, save one part--let us imagine, for example, Dorset. Therefore, Dorset would adjoin Wales if it were the whole of England, save one part.

We are told that the saving grace is sub-paragraph (3), in which the transfer of powers over the whole of England, bar Dorset, would be limited to the transfer of powers over water resources in the whole of England, bar Dorset. A further saving grace, I suppose, is provided by paragraph 6, whereby the Minister--if he feels that a consequence of having transferred to the Assembly power over water resources of the whole of England, bar Dorset, is that that power is being used wrongly--can intervene and overrule the Assembly. I cannot think of a way in which the Government could conceivably have concocted a greater chance of dispute between Ministers and the Welsh Assembly in respect of water, but it is not my purpose to tease the Government or to dwell on the matter

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at length. However, I should like the Minister to guarantee that, despite the latitude defined in paragraph 3(2), the Government have no intention of applying it, and any transfer of functions over water which occurs to Wales will be, in the ordinary expectation of the term, a cross-border function and not an abuse engendered by the drafting of the provision. It would be extremely helpful if the Minister put that on the record and set the matter to rest.

Much was said in Committee about paragraph 5, which continues to make it perfectly clear that, so long as the Minister believes that he is implementing a European Community directive, he can overrule the Assembly. It is left to the Assembly to go to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to argue that the Minister has misinterpreted his own action as an implementation of a directive and that it is in fact something else. I should be very grateful if the Minister could point out--although I very much doubt whether he will--any way in which it will fail to be a cause of continuing friction as EC directive after EC directive rains down on us and Ministers seek to implement them over the Welsh Assembly.

Mr. Wigley: Perhaps I might start by responding briefly to the points raised by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) about the significance to the economy and the environment of Wales of developments that may be out to sea. An oil rig off the coast of Wales can have a significant bearing on the environment and possibly the economic prospects of the area. If it is within the 12-mile limit, the Assembly will have something to say about it, but if it is outside that limit, it may not. A difference of half a mile one way or another makes very little difference to the impact on the environment or the land. We need clarification of the role of the Assembly concerning developments beyond that limit.

I do not need to impress on Ministers the significance of drowning the valleys and extracting water from Wales. The way in which the Liverpool corporation took the Tryweryn valley, kicked out the residents of Capel Celyn and created a reservoir to provide water for industry on Merseyside without any recompense is probably one reason why three of the four hon. Members representing Gwynedd are from Plaid Cymru. The significance of that for the Assembly is very great indeed.

One of the many reasons for having a National Assembly for Wales is to ensure that there is a body to safeguard the land of Wales so that such action--which was contrary to the united view of Welsh Members of Parliament across party borders as they then were--can never again be taken. If the interpretation of the rules could allow the Secretary of State--perhaps of a different political colour--to intervene and overrule the National Assembly for Wales on the development of reservoirs, on augmenting existing reservoirs or on extracting water from rivers, as happens with the River Dee at the moment, that is very serious.

Paragraph 6 of the new schedule proposed by Lords amendment No. 170 seems quite clear. It states:

Sub-paragraph (2) continues:

    "that function shall not in that case be exercisable by the Assembly."

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    In other words, the Assembly will not have that function.

Sub-paragraph (3) refers to part II of the Water Resources Act 1991, which states at section 19:

    "It shall be the duty of the Authority to take . . . such action as it may from time to time consider . . . with the directions of the Secretary of State . . . for the purpose . . . of conserving, redistributing or otherwise augmenting water resources in England and Wales."

Section 20(2) provides that such arrangements

    "may make provision, by virtue of subsection (1)(a) above, with respect to the construction or installation of any reservoirs, apparatus or other works."

If the Lords amendment goes through, the powers of the Assembly will be undermined. I want a lot of persuasion from the Minister that the Assembly will not lose vital powers that we hoped it would exercise.

5 pm

Mr. Win Griffiths: We have had a long and interesting debate. I shall try to sum up the significant issues. The National Assembly for Wales will be consulted about issues such as oil rigs, whether they are in the 12-mile limit or not. The Assembly will be able to exercise additional powers inside the 12-mile limit, but it will be consulted for oil rigs or gas installations on either side of the limit.

On the joint exercise of a power, which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), if the Welsh Assembly does not agree with what the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food wants to do in England, it does not have to implement the proposal in Wales, so there is no problem. The issues of joint powers will be covered in the transfer orders, which will be available in the autumn. They can be considered in detail when they are debated early in the new year. If my hon. Friend or any other hon. Member wants to put any thoughts to us on transfer orders, we shall be pleased to consider them.

Water is an important issue. Part VI of the Water Industry Act 1991, which deals with water undertakers' powers to make compulsory purchase orders, is separate from the Water Resources Act 1991, which is mentioned in paragraph 6 of the new schedule. The National Assembly will decide about reservoirs and similar matters. Part VII of the Water Resources Act 1991 is about laying water pipes. The compulsory purchase power for reservoirs will lie with the National Assembly.

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