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Mr. Llwyd: It probably does—the Welsh were a very scholarly people and would have taken in a few useful words from Latin, as and when necessary. I shall not spin things out—my Latin is not that good—except to say that I fully support amendment No. 193, and I hope that the Government will give a full response to it in due course.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Nick Ainger): May I welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Gale?

The hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) is right to say that we rehearsed these arguments last Tuesday. In fact, I wrote to him to clarify some of the points that he wanted clarifying. The purpose of the clause is to ensure that, in emergency circumstances, the Assembly can introduce Bills to address a problem. The   hon. Gentleman expresses concerns that perhaps the Standing Orders could be used to truncate the
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proper scrutiny of the legislation. I am sympathetic to the view that Assembly Acts must receive proper scrutiny, but clause 110(2) will not circumvent that. Instead, it recognises that there may be circumstances in which the Assembly's standard scrutiny procedures may not be appropriate, because the Bill under consideration requires urgent attention.

The important thing is that the Assembly should be able, as the House is, to introduce legislation to address a particularly urgent problem. In my letter to the hon. Gentleman, I referred to the fact that the House had to pass a new Act to delay the local government elections in England because of practical problems that related to foot and mouth disease. That is a good example. I assure him that I am absolutely certain that the Standing Orders will ensure proper scrutiny, although it may well be truncated in order to pass emergency legislation, as happens in the House.

On amendment No. 193, both the hon. Member for Beaconsfield and the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) make interesting points, but I assure them that the wording will not prevent an Assembly Act from including words in languages other than English and Welsh if their use proves necessary.

Bearing in mind that we had a good debate on the issue when we were considering part 3 and following my letter, I urge the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.

Mr. Grieve: I am most grateful to the Minister for his response. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 110 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 111 and 112 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 113

Power to Intervene in Certain Cases

Mr. Llwyd: I beg to move amendment No. 45, page 61, line 38, leave out paragraph (a).

The Temporary Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 148, page 61, line 41, leave out paragraph (b).

No. 46, page 61, line 43, leave out paragraph (c).

Mr. Llwyd: We had a full if not lengthy debate on these issues last week. In my view, clause 113 gives the Secretary of State almost carte blanche to prevent Assembly Bills from going forward if he is so minded to do. In the debate last week, we considered in detail the provisions in subsection (1)(a), which are very broad. It says that a Bill could be stopped by the Secretary of State if it

Paragraph (c) is also very broad and says that a Bill could be stopped if it

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I took even greater exception, however, to paragraph (b), which refers to water resources. In the debate last week, I took an intervention from the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) and we discussed the issue. I continue to be of the view that what I said about water resources is legally correct. I was hoping that I would be proved wrong by letter or by advice, but I am afraid that I am right and that, in future, if the National Assembly decided as a matter of policy that it would not sanction the creation of any further dams for water resource purposes, that Bill could be overridden by Parliament.

Nick Ainger indicated dissent.

Mr. Llwyd: The Minister shakes his head, but one of us is right. I am not saying that I must be right but if I am wrong, prove me wrong. He need not do that tonight; he can do so between now and Report. I will gladly accept an explanation and I will fully and humbly apologise if I am wrong. However, I think that I am right, so we need to get the matter clear. The clause could be far reaching and damaging. Members from throughout the Assembly have said that it does not treat them in an adult manner and used other quite flowery language. They, like us, are owed a full explanation so perhaps the Minister will take advice from parliamentary counsel. If I am wrong, I will gladly admit it.

I will not delay the Committee any further, because we had a debate last week and even had a Division on the issue. I would be grateful if the Minister could respond in due course, if not necessarily today, in the manner that I have requested.

Nick Ainger: The hon. Gentleman is quite right. We debated this issue when we discussed very similar amendments to clause 100. We had a Division, and I remind him that the result was 317 to seven.

The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue. Paragraph 6 of schedule 3 to the Government of Wales Act 1998 is replicated in this clause. It is a direct replication; nothing new is added. In the six years since the Act was enacted, an issue relating to this subject has not arisen. Perhaps we have just been fortunate, but all the provision does is provide a fall-back position.

6.15 pm

Many cities in England are very dependent on water supplies from Wales and it is important to consider what the Bill says. The hon. Gentleman is understandably exercised by this issue and by clause 113(1)(b), which contains the words

If the Assembly introduced a Bill that would prevent further valleys from being flooded to supply water to England, we would have to consider whether it would seriously affect the water supplies and the quality of them in England. That is the point that I made last Tuesday, and I reiterate it.

I will, however, seek further advice, because I recognise that the issue has caused some consternation. I will also double-check. The first check shows that when we debated schedule 3 to the Government of Wales Bill in 1998, there was no debate on this issue either in this
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place or in the other place. However, before report, I will be able to let the hon. Gentleman know what I subsequently discover. With that reassurance, I hope that he will withdraw the amendment.

Mr. Llwyd: I am grateful for that reassurance and for the manner in which the Minister has responded. I am pleased to beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 113 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 114 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 115

Welsh Seal and Letters Patent

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mrs. Gillan: This clause is about the Welsh Seal and the Letters Patent and I did not want it to pass by completely unnoticed. When I saw that it was in the Bill, I was absolutely fascinated and wanted to do a little research so that I could ask the Minister a couple of questions.

The Great Seal of the Realm, the chief seal of the Crown, is used to show the monarch's approval of important state documents. In today's constitutional monarchy, the sovereign still acts on the advice of the Government of the day, but the seal remains an important symbol of the sovereign's role as Head of State and goes back, I believe, to the 11th century.

The seal meant that the monarch did not have to sign every official document in person and authorisation could be carried out instead by an appointed officer. I can find reference to the separate seals that exist for Scotland—the Great Seal of Scotland—and for Northern Ireland, but I found little if any reference to a Welsh seal. My first question for the Minister therefore is whether this is the first Welsh seal ever. If so, is it not right and proper to mark its arrival in the Bill and eventually in statute by holding a short debate?

Her Royal Highness Her Majesty the Queen has had to have two seals in the time that she has been on the throne. The Great Seal of the Realm—the monarch's stamp of approval—has worn out because it has been used approximately 5,000 times since 1953. In 2001, Her Majesty had to have a new seal commissioned.

If this is the first Welsh seal, it is an historic moment. However, my second question is about how it will be used. The Great Seal matrix is obviously used to cover a wide range of documents requiring royal approval, including Letters Patent and royal proclamations, commissions and some writs. Can the Minister therefore tell us whether the Welsh seal will be used in relation to the writs for the election of Members to this place? The seal is also used for documents that give power to sign    and ratify treaties. At the moment, about 100 documents a year pass under the Great Seal. Will the Minister tell us how it is envisaged that the Welsh seal will be used and the documents for which it will be used?
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Interestingly enough, when the sealing occurs in the other place in the office of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery, the seals are colour coded. Dark green seals are affixed to letters patent that elevate individuals to the peerage. Blue seals are used for documents relating to close members of the royal family and the scarlet-red seal is used for the appointment of bishops and most other patents. As part of a run around the field of the history of our great countries and in view—hopefully—of a big mark in the history of Wales, will the Minister tell us how he envisages the Welsh seal and how it will be used?

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