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Mr. Llwyd: I oppose the amendments, as I do not believe that the step change contained in part 3 justifies a referendum. Nevertheless, I agree that the referendum provided for in relation to part 4 is warranted, and I would be happy for that to be called. I agree with the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan), however, about the correspondence between Lord Dahrendorf and Lord Holme and the Secretary of State. I have also seen copies of letters placed in the Library dated 12 and 13 January, which are, to put it mildly, strident. Whatever has been going on, her call to see a copy of the Secretary of State's response is well made.
Mrs. Gillan: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is alarming that we should be led to believe one thing on Second Reading when in fact the truth is completely different? In relation to the procedure under discussion, therefore, the Government have not come cleanpassing on primary legislation is an enormous step forward, and the people of Wales should be consulted.
Mr. Llwyd: The hon. Lady does not expect me to agree with the second part of her question, but I agree with her on the giving of information on Second Reading. During that debate, we also had a long discussion of little substance about dual candidature. I have yet to see any raison d'être for that provision. I have scoured the Library, and I cannot find mention of that arrangement anywhere but in relation to pre-revolution Ukraineif that is the example we will be following, heaven help us. In due course, I hope that we can have a copy of the Secretary of State's response to their lordships.
I earnestly hope that it will not create difficulties between this place and the other place. Traditionally, the other place has had an unsympathetic view of the Order in Council procedure anyway, and I do not think that this matter will assist very much. We will wait to see the response, and I hope that it was placatory.
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Mr. Gummer: I wonder whether it is reasonable to remind the House that those of us who represent English constituencies but come from Welsh stock also have a concern to promote the best possible government for Wales, and have no concern to remove the devolution arrangement, which is now part of our history. Whatever the arguments at the time might have been, that is the point that we have reached. The question that we are asked to discuss today is whether the change being made is sufficiently large to invalidate the decision made when the referendum was held, and to demand another referendum to ensure that the people of Wales wish to make such a step.
As the House will know, I am a disbeliever in referendums, which I consider to be a foreign and non-parliamentary activity. I would not have had a referendum in the first placeif the imperial Parliament, as it was once called, has decided to devolve its powers, that is a decision that the whole nation makes. That is not what happened, however. In this case, we established that a decision was reached as a result of a referendum. I have voted against referendums in every other circumstance, and I only think it possible to hold one in this case because of continuity with a previous decision that was made as a result of such a referendum.
Having said that, the Government are being peculiarly difficult in trying to pretend, on the one hand, that the changes are so minor that they do not require this reference to the people of Wales, and on the other, that they are too complicated for the people of Wales to make a decision. The Minister cannot have it both ways. The truth is that the changes are complicated because they are intended to hide the fact that they are so fundamental. The difficulty that the Minister must face is that I can find no parallel for this kind of legislative change outside of the desires of Napoleon III of France to avoid democracy. He used to so complicate the system that, at various points, people had a bit of a say, but, in the end, he gave himself the final say.
Were I voting in a referendum in Wales, therefore, I would want to ask a lot of questions about the role of the Secretary of State, about where, in the end, the power will lie, and about whether I wanted this change, which removed the power from the democratically elected Parliament of the United Kingdom but did not give it directly to a democratically elected Assembly in Wales but rather passed it through a series of sieves, one of which was the Secretary of State for Wales, as well as many other mechanisms.
It seems to me, therefore, that a referendum would give not just the people of Wales but the rest of us an opportunity to be quite sure what the Government are about. In a sense, the more complicated that is, the more important a referendum is. In a referendum, the details would have to be presented to the people of Wales in a form that would allow them reasonably to be expected to be able to make up their minds.
Mr. Gummer: I am a great believer in the Parliament in Brussels. We often find ourselves very much on the side of the French, if we only recognised it. One of our problems is that we do not fight our corner properly in the European Union, because we are always semi-detached from it. Some of my colleagues make it more difficult for us to do that. I think that we ought to be right in there, part of the European Union, determined to make it work more and more effectively.
That is my view of the European Parliament. I also want the Welsh Assembly to work more effectively, but it will not work effectively if the proposals are so complex and the democratic deficit so obvious that the Minister is not prepared to put the proposals to a vote.
There is another problem with not having a referendum. I do not think that the Minister recognises the growing anger in the rest of the United Kingdom, particularly in England, about the fact that, increasingly, power is being removed from the House of Commons in relation to Wales and Scotland, but representatives of Wales and Scotland can make decisions on issues in parts of England where people have no right to say anything about Wales and Scotland. The referendum is crucial in that regard. At least my constituents must know that the people of Wales want this. That will give them a start. They may ask for a change in the way in which things work here, but I think it very bad in today's society to make changes in the constitution when there is uncertainty about whether they are wanted by those for whom they are being made. I believe that the deficit in trust that the Government have extended should concern us all, wherever we come from.
Mr. Llwyd: Let me make two points. First, the people of Wales voted overwhelmingly at the last election in favour of three parties that promised a strengthened National Assembly akin to a Parliament. Secondly, the logic of the right hon. Gentleman's argument suggests that he should be pressing for an English Parliament, and good luck to him.
Mr. Gummer: I agree with the hon. Gentleman so often that I do not want to fall out with him on this issue. I am sufficiently concerned about the unity of the United Kingdom to say that I would prefer the simpler course of enabling English Members of Parliament to vote on English matters, and not allowing those who do not represent English seats to vote on matters that are devolved to their areas. That would mean that in some cases Welsh Members could vote and in other cases they could not, and that in many cases Scottish Members could not vote at all. It strikes me as a reasonable solution. I do not want a separate Parliament, and I do not think that it would be suitable.
Let me remind the hon. Gentleman that the issue before us is the nature of the referendum. I think that if I took up his point about an English Parliament, Sir Michael, you would rightly call me to order. I find it odd that the hon. Gentleman, who has upheld the democratic way in a manner that is not always observed on the Labour Benches, does not want a referendum that would give his party an opportunity to explain why it would like to go further than the Government are going. I should have thought that it would also give him an opportunity to dissect the divisions in the Labour party that have resulted in this ridiculous proposal.
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As we know perfectly well, notwithstanding all the ideas about Orders in Council and the Secretary of State for Wales and an hour and a half of discussion in the Select Committee, all this has come about purely because there are two diametrically opposed groups in the Labour partythose who want more powers for the Assembly, and those who want fewer powers for it. They have produced a result that appears to give more powers, but in such a complicated way that the Minister is not even prepared to try to explain it to his electorate. He clearly does not want the opportunity to do so, because it would be too difficult. He found it difficult enough to explain to the Committee, let alone the electorate.
I should have thought, however, that the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) and his party would be delighted to give this dying Government, in particular, an opportunity to push the proposal in the Principality. The fact that he does not want a referendum makes me worry considerably on his behalf. However, I urge the Committee to vote for the referendum not because I believe in referendums, but because I believe in keeping our word. In the last referendum, the word was that there would be a limited kind of devolution, different in nature from that provided for Scotland, and by a very small majority the proposal was passed. Whatever we hear sotto voce from the Minister about the referendum, I know perfectly well what went on. It was very simple. The Labour party snatched the last few votes by promising that it would not be all that different.
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