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Mr. Touhig: With the leave of the House, I wish to reply to the debate.

We have had another good but brief debate on the Bill. The outcome has confirmed the constructive and co-operative approach that the House has taken to the Bill since its publication in draft form in April 2003. I pay tribute to Government spokesmen and Opposition Members—in the other place, too—for the positive way in which they have responded to the Bill. I also welcome the support that hon. Members have given the Bill in Committee and this evening.

The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) welcomed the Bill, and I am delighted that he did so—as he will know. He asked whether the Bill could be made more effective, as he was concerned that it replicated a number of existing practices. However, what is in place has been tested; it is proven. When things work, we should not change them merely to be new and different.

The hon. Gentleman rehearsed some of the arguments about criminal sanctions that he made in Committee. I regret that we shall have to differ on those
 
19 Jul 2004 : Column 112
 
points. He was also concerned about co-operation between the Auditor General for Wales and the National Audit Office. During the passage of previous Bills, we have stressed the importance of cross-border co-operation and we shall certainly see that under this measure.

The hon. Gentleman had a little spat about press releases with the Liberal Democrat representative, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Williams). The hon. Member for Leominster showed the Committee a Liberal Democrat press release in which the party claimed great success in securing changes to the Bill, but he topped that with a press release of his own that was worthy of a prize for fiction, in which he laid claim to what I described as the "Wiggin clauses". We take that in good humour, but we recognise the importance of co-operation and collaboration on the Bill.

The Government acknowledge that there are differences in the matter of criminal sanctions. Where functions have been devolved to the Assembly, there is scope for secondary legislation in respect of criminal offences to diverge, but the Government take the view that, where possible, sanctions should be common to England and Wales, because we have common legal and criminal justice systems.

The hon. Gentleman thinks that the Bill is unimaginative and a lost opportunity. Again, we have to differ. The main purpose of the Bill is to allow for a unitary audit structure, and it goes a long way to deliver that for Wales.

The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire talked about transparency. It is vital that any audit is as transparent as possible and that everyone can see that auditors' work on our behalf, scrutinising both public spending and the services provided for us, is open and transparent. I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman welcomes the changes we proposed to clause 54. I have given my pledge that the Government will continue along the lines that I indicated in Committee and this evening, although I am not sure whether I shall be able personally to see them through—that will depend on something that may take place shortly.

The right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) spoke at some length about waste and inefficiency in Wales. Obviously, in all aspects of public service we have to examine whether we are getting value for money and ensure that we are not wasting the valuable resources at our disposal, whether in the Westminster Government, the Assembly or local government.

Of course, the right hon. Gentleman knows a lot about waste. In his time as Secretary of State for Wales, we saw the waste of mass unemployment in Wales. There was waste when our industries were being run down while his party was in power, but there was a thin red line of Labour local authorities protecting services from the ravages that he and his party were perpetrating on the people of Wales.

Mr. Redwood: That nonsense is not worthy of the Minister, so I shall not reply to it. Will he tell the House what is the waste per person in Wales under the
 
19 Jul 2004 : Column 113
 
Chancellor's waste watch? For every adult countrywide, £450 a year is being tipped down the drain. How much is it for every Welsh person?

Mr. Touhig: The right hon. Gentleman has the advantage of me. I am not able to give him or the House that figure. However, I agree with him that waste and inefficiency should be tackled. I certainly tried to do that in a previous incarnation when I was chair of the finance committee of my county council, again in opposition to the policies that he was pursuing in the Wales Office and which led to a great deal of waste and inefficiency in Wales.

Audit practice has moved on. As I said when I was introducing the amendment, under clause 3 the Auditor General will have the opportunity to look forward, to look at policy development and public expenditure proposals. That is a benefit. We should not merely be looking backwards.

I note the comments about whistleblowers made by the right hon. Member for Wokingham. Of course, if I am not mistaken he had already left the Government in 1996, when I introduced a Bill to protect whistleblowers. Nevertheless, the Conservative party—I assume that he supported his party line—totally opposed that Bill and, in fact, left whistleblowers unprotected until a Labour Government were elected and did something about it, with the support and generosity of an Opposition Member.

This Bill will rationalise public audit arrangements in Wales. In doing so, it will greatly help the public's understanding of the audit system. We all talk about audit and say, "Oh, audit is boring. Audit is uninteresting", but when things go wrong, the first people to whom we turn are auditors and we ask, "Why has this happened? Why has something gone wrong?" So it is important that we recognise the Bill's value.

The Bill will vest overall responsibility for ensuring audit standards across the Welsh public sector in the hands of the Auditor General for Wales. It will bring a wealth of accounting and audit expertise within a single organisation and enable the Auditor General for Wales and his staff to build on the already generally high standards of public financial accountability that we enjoy in Wales. I am grateful to hon. Members on both sides of the House and those in the other place for the support that they have given to the Bill. We have worked together. That shows Parliament at its best, as I have said twice before. The Bill is hugely beneficial, in the public interest and has widespread support on both sides of the House. I am happy therefore to commend it to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.

DELEGATED LEGISLATION

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): I propose to put together motions 6 to 11.

Hon. Members: Object.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I propose to put together motions 6 and 7.
 
19 Jul 2004 : Column 114
 

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),


Extradition



That the draft Extradition Act 2003 (Amendment to Designations) Order 2004, which was laid before this House on 17th June, be approved.
That the draft Extradition Act 2003 (Repeals) Order 2004, which was laid before this House on 17th June, be approved.—[Mr. Jim Murphy.]

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),


Terms and Conditions of Employment



That the draft National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2004, which were laid before this House on 17th June, be approved.—[Mr. Jim Murphy.]

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),


Education



That the draft Student Fees (Amounts) (England) Regulations 2004, which were laid before this House on 1st July, be approved.—[Mr. Jim Murphy.]

The House divided: Ayes 250, Noes 153.

Division No. 233
[9.12 pm


AYES

Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Borrow, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mark
Heppell, John
Heyes, David
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, rh John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNamara, Kevin
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moran, Margaret
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
Owen, Albert
Perham, Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, rh John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Short, rh Clare
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Ward, Claire
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Fraser Kemp and
Mr. Nick Ainger


NOES

Amess, David
Ancram, rh Michael
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies (NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Collins, Tim
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, Edward
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hague, rh William
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howard, rh Michael
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury & Atcham)
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Dame Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Hugh Robertson and
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown


Question accordingly agreed to.


 
19 Jul 2004 : Column 117
 

Mr. Deputy Speaker: We shall take motions 10 and 11 together.


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