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John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance. I was advised by a constituent, Tess Finch-Lees, this morning that an associate of hers, Mr. Ahmed Elzobir, was in Khartoum yesterday on behalf of the Darfur centre for human rights, and in the company of a number of other people who were part of a delegation of African and international civic society leaders attending the African Union summit.
My point is that Mr. Elzobir and approximately 30 other human rights and pro-democracy activists were arrested by the Sudanese security forces for peacefully taking part in a consultation with the Sudan Social Development Organisation and the Sudan Organisation Against Torture. Given that four of the people arrested were British nationals and that the Sudanese security forces are notorious for their practice of tortureboth physical and psychologicalI wonder whether anything can be done to persuade the Foreign Secretary to come to the House to make a statement about the attitude and intentions of the British Government in this matter.
Mrs. Betty Williams (Conwy) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understand that my name was mentioned just before I arrived in the Chamber. May I seek your guidance? Is it not common courtesy to inform an hon. Member if their name is going to be mentioned in the Chamber?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Member for Clwyd, West (Mr. Jones) made no criticism of the hon. Lady. Her name was mentioned because she is his constituency neighbour and had a meeting with a Minister. However, I assure the hon. Lady that there was no attack on her.
[Relevant documents: The First Report from the Welsh Affairs Committee, Session 200506, Government White Paper: Better Governance for Wales, HC 551, and the Government's response thereto, Third Special Report of the Committee, Session 200506, HC 839.]
The Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Alan Haselhurst): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 60, in page 50, line 5, leave out 'National Assembly for Wales' and insert 'Senedd'.
The amendments relate to nomenclature, and our first debate focuses on a point of principle that in many ways marks the dividing line between the different visions of devolution that each party has. The name of the Administration is fundamental to what it represents and the way in which it is perceived. We need to ask ourselves what we want the Administration to represent. For the Welsh Lib Dems, the answer is simple. We want a strong and autonomous Welsh body with primary powers. In other words, we want a Welsh Parliament: a Welsh Senedd.
Wales is not just another region and its Administration should not be just another Assembly. We are not talking about the west midlands or the north-eastWales is a proud nation, so its Administration should have the powers and a title that reflect its status.
My worry is that we are in danger of blowing an historic opportunity. Of the four parties in Wales, only one is opposed to the devolution project. There is certainly only one that believes that giving more powers to the Assembly would be
Presumably, that shows the new progressive face of the Conservative party. I look forward to finding out how things might change during today's debate, but that view seems to have more in common with Whitehall in the 18th century than Wales in the 21st century.
The other two Opposition parties that are represented today believe that Wales is something more than a troublesome colony. The Government know full well that they should have followed the path drawn up by the Richard commission. Had they done so, they would have had our full support, but instead they have been timid when they should have been bold.
We have tabled amendments that point the way to a powerful and capable Welsh Senedd. Using the title "Senedd" would be a sensible signal of the Government's intent. If they are serious about fulfilling the devolution project and getting to the so-called stage 3, at which the Welsh political body would have primary law-making powers, they should be happy to use the name Senedd. Obviously, we look forward to hearing what Ministers have to say. I hope that we will get support from Plaid Cymru, and I will listen with great interest to what the Conservatives have to say. I should point out now that we would like to push this matter to a vote because of its iconic importance.
Albert Owen (Ynys Môn) (Lab):
I am a little confused. First, the hon. Gentleman says that it is demeaning to call the body an Assembly, because that would mean that we were not a nationyet France has a National Assembly, of which it is very proud.
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Secondly, he wants the body to be called the "Senedd"but now that we have a bilingual policy in Wales, we can call it either the National Assembly for Wales or Cynulliad Cenedlaethol dros Cymru, so what does he propose as the English version of Senedd?
Lembit Öpik: On the first point, the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that this is a matter of translation. I think that the French, on grasping the relationship between the word "Assembly" and the word "Senedd" in the context of what we are seeking to achieve in Wales, would understand the Liberal Democrats' aspiration to use "Senedd". Hon. Members, of course, may hold a different view. On the second point, it seems to me that calling the Assembly the Welsh Senedd would be a fairly easy way to describe it. The word "senedd" would work in either language, so I see no confusion there.
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