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Paragraph 48: Welsh Consolidated Fund
847. This paragraph imposes a duty on the old Assembly to pay, on 2 April 2007, all monies standing to its credit immediately before that day into the Welsh Consolidated Fund.
Paragraph 49: Grants
848. This paragraph ensures that clause 117(2), that is, the power of Ministers of the Crown make payments to the Welsh Ministers has effect as a power to make payments to the office-holders continuing to hold office under paragraphs 20 to 23 until a First Minister is appointed.
Paragraph 50: Statement of estimated payments
849. This paragraph provides that in relation to the financial year beginning on 1 April 2007, clause 118 has effect also in relation to the old Assembly, so that the Secretary of State is required to lay a written statement of estimated payments before that Assembly.
Paragraph 51: Destination of receipts
850. This paragraph provides that clause 119 (which deals with which sums need to be paid into the Welsh Consolidated Fund and which do not) has effect, until a First Minister is appointed, as if references to the Welsh Ministers etc. and to the Assembly Commission were references to the old Assembly.
Paragraph 52: Borrowing
851. This paragraph provides that clause 120 has effect, until a First Minister is appointed, as if the reference to the Welsh Ministers were references to the old Assembly. It further makes provision for relevant amounts outstanding immediately before 1 April 2007 to be treated as outstanding (and therefore to be repaid to the Secretary of State) as if borrowed under the clause.
Paragraphs 53 and 54: Payments out of the Welsh consolidated fund
852. Paragraph 53 provides that clause 123 has effect, until a First Minister is appointed, as if the reference to the Welsh Ministers etc. or the Assembly Commission were references to the old Assembly. This is so that sums paid out of the Welsh Consolidated Fund to meet expenditure of the old Assembly are deemed to be regular.
853. Paragraph 54 makes transitional provision in respect of certain minor amendments made to other Acts, in Schedule 10 of the Bill. Those amendments come into force on 1st April 2007. They provide that, where the Welsh Ministers are guaranteeing certain loans, the sums required for fulfilling the guarantee will be charged on the Welsh Consolidated Fund, rather than on the UK Consolidated Fund. Paragraph 54 operates so that, until the Welsh Ministers come into existence at the end of the initial period, sums required for fulfilling guarantees given by the
Assembly under the provisions in question will also be charged on the Consolidated Fund.
Paragraph 55: Annual Budget motions
854. This paragraph provides that the requirement for authorisation of a budget resolution of the Assembly (before sums can be paid out of the Welsh Consolidated Fund is a requirement for a resolution of the old Assembly so far as clause 124 has effect in relation to the financial year beginning of 1 April 2007.
Paragraph 56: Supplementary Budget motions
855. This paragraph ensures that in so far as clause 125 has effect in relation to the financial year beginning of 1 April 2007 references to motions of the Assembly are references to the motions of the old Assembly and references to the First Minister or a Welsh Minister are to members of the "executive committee" under GoWA.
Paragraph 57: Contingencies
856. This paragraph provides that the power to use or retain resources or cash to be paid out of the Welsh Consolidated Fund for an emergency situation (any such amounts not having been approved under a budget resolution), applies to the old Assembly until a First Minister is appointed. Paragraph 57 limits to £50 million the total amount that can be used.
Paragraph 58: Approvals to draw
857. This paragraph provides that the provisions in clause 128 in relation to approvals of the Auditor General before payments can be made available out of the Welsh Consolidated Fund apply to the old Assembly until a First Minister is appointed.
Paragraph 59: Auditor General
858. This paragraph provides that the person who immediately before the repeal of the section 90 GoWA is the Auditor General for Wales, is to be taken, after such repeal, to have been appointed under paragraph 1 of Schedule 8.
Paragraph 60 : Advocate General for Northern Ireland
859. This paragraph makes provision necessary for the period before the coming into force of section 27 (1) the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002.
Paragraphs 61and 62: The Supreme Court
860. These paragraphs make provision necessary for the period before the coming into force of section 23(1) of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.
SCHEDULE 12: REPEALS AND REVOCATIONS
861. This Schedule makes the usual provision for repeals and revocations of other enactments consequent upon this Bill.
PUBLIC SECTOR FINANCIAL COST AND MANPOWER EFFECTS
862. The Bill will not have any additional impact on public expenditure. It does not alter the basis on which the resources for the Welsh "block" are determined: it only provides for those resources to go into a Welsh Consolidated Fund. The Welsh Ministers and the Assembly Commission will only receive payments from the Fund if the payments have been authorised (or deemed to have been authorised) by a Budget resolution of the Assembly and if the Auditor General has granted approval to draw the sum involved.
863. There will be provision within the Bill that would give power to the National Assembly for Wales Commission to fund the Electoral Commission to promote the Assembly elections. The estimated cost of this would be £1,000,000. This is based on the cost of the promotion, by the Electoral Commission, of the Assembly elections in 2003 and is inserted here to provide a rough guide only.
864. As to the costs of a possible referendum, the Bill provides that these may be met out of the Consolidated Fund or the Welsh Consolidated Fund. The expectation is that the main referendum costs will be met out of the Welsh Consolidated Fund but that the costs of those functions which are statutorily reserved to the Electoral Commission will be met from the Consolidated Fund. However the Bill does not in itself preclude all costs being met from the Welsh Consolidated Fund.
865. The estimated costs of running a referendum (i.e. those costs not statutorily reserved to the Electoral Commission) is £2,500,000. This figure is based on the cost of running the referendum held in the North East of England in 2004, and again should only be seen as a rough guide. Following the selection of two designated lead campaigns by the Electoral Commission (i.e. the 'yes' and 'no' campaigns) funding is provided up to a maximum of £600,000 per campaign (based on UK wide referendum). The total cost (including funding of campaigns, training and promotion) for the Electoral Commission in carrying out their statutory functions for the North East referendum in 2004 was in the region of £4,500,000 and this can again be used as a rough guide for the costs that might be incurred for any future referendum in Wales.
866. The Bill may have implications for public service staffing levels to a minor extent. The Assembly will need access to more independent expertise on both legal and financial matters. However this needs to be considered alongside the scope for the Assembly to streamline some of its procedures which are currently prescribed in the Government of Wales Act 1998. The Welsh Assembly Government is currently leading a programme of public service reform in Wales. The organisational and business process changes rendered necessary by the Bill are being treated as an integral part of this ongoing change programme, of which benefits realisation is a key part.
SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT
867. Cabinet Office's Better Regulation Executive have confirmed that an RIA is not required for the Bill as there is likely to be no impact on business, the voluntary sector or charities.
868. The statutory duties placed on the current National Assembly for Wales, in respect of the regulatory impact assessment of subordinate legislation will become duties of the Welsh Ministers under this Bill.
EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
869. The proposals are compatible with the Convention on Human Rights. The Bill expressly prevents the Assembly from being able to legislate in contravention of the Convention rights and from amending the Human Rights Act 1998. The existing restrictions on the Assembly being able to make subordinate legislation or otherwise act in contravention of the Convention rights will be imposed on the Welsh Ministers.
870. Section 19 of the Human rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement, before second reading, about the compatbility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention Rights, as defined by section 1 of that Act. The Rt. Hon. Peter Hain MP, Secretary of State for Wales, has made the following statement under section 19(1)(a) of that Act: "In my view the provisions of the Government of Wales Bill are compatible with the Convention Rights".
871. The provisions of the Bill when enacted will be brought into effect immediately after the Welsh general election in 2007, except the following clauses which are the subject of special commencement provisions:
Provisions which come into force on Royal Assent:
872. Schedule 2, paragraphs 5 and 6 (promotion of awareness of Assembly elections etc.) ; Clauses 94 and 95 (power to amend Schedule 5, which details the extent of the Measure-making competence); Clause 108 (power to amend Schedule 7 which details the extent of primary legislative competence); Clause 118 (requires written estimate of payments to be made by Secretary of State); Clause 119 (designation by Treasury of receipts); Clause 124 (requirement of annual budget motion); Clauses 156-158, 159(2)-(4), 160-161, and 163-164 (supplementary provisions; and various consequential repeals under Schedule 12.
Provisions which come into force on 1st April 2007:
873. Clauses 116-117; 119 (1)-(4), (6)-(8) and (10); 120-121; 123(1)-(5) and 126-129; all of which make provisions in relation to the Welsh Consolidated Fund.
874. Clause 125, which allows one or more supplementary budget motions to be moved in any financial year.
Provisions which come into force immediately after the first appointment of a First Minister under clause 46:
875. Any provision which confers or imposes a function on the First Minister, the Welsh Ministers, the Counsel General or the Assembly Commission, and any provision in Schedule 12 which repeals a provision of GoWA which previously conferred or imposed those (or substantially the same) functions on the Assembly.
876. The amendments to and repeals of provisions of GoWA made by Schedule 10 of this Bill, and the entries in Schedule 12 relating to them.
Repeal by Schedule 12 of section 83 GoWA:
877. Comes into force when that section (which requires the Secretary of State to prepare accounts of loans made by him to the Assembly under s.82 GoWA and repayments and interest payments made to him under that section) has been complied with for the financial year ending 31st March 2007.
Assembly Act provisions:
878. Clauses 102 and 104 come into force immediately after the Welsh general election in 2007. Clause 102 provides for the holding of a referendum on whether the Assembly Act provisions (Clauses 106-107, Schedule 7, and Clauses 109-114) should be brought into force. Clause 104 provides that if the majority of voters in such a referendum vote in favour of bringing the Assembly Act provisions into force, then the Welsh Ministers can bring them into force on such date as they may specify by making a commencement order.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
879. In these Explanatory Notes, the terms set out in the left-hand column of the table below have the meanings attributed to them in the right-hand column of the table.
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