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Nick Ainger: That was an interesting little speech. May I congratulate the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan), or perhaps her researcher—

Mrs. Gillan: No, it was me.

Nick Ainger: I congratulate the hon. Lady on her work. I do not think that I will be able to answer all her questions, but I will certainly write to her if there are any omissions.

Mrs. Gillan: I will be grateful if the Minister will write to me, but it would be nice to have his comments on record in Hansard. Will he thus answer me by way of written statement?

Nick Ainger: I will certainly consider that.

The hon. Lady asks whether the seal will be the first Welsh seal. We think that it will be, but I will check and let her and the rest of the Committee know. Let me set out the position. As the Bill stands, the Welsh seal will be relevant only if we enact part 4 following a successful referendum to give the Assembly the power to enact Acts. The seal is relevant in the context of Royal Assent because clause 114(4) provides that Royal Assent is given only when letters patent under the Welsh seal are signed with Her Majesty's own hand to signify her assent to a Bill.

I do not know the answers to the hon. Lady's questions about treaties and Members of Parliament, but I will write to her.

Mr. Grieve: I think that the Minister is likely to find that there were previous Welsh seals. Llewellyn the Great undoubtedly had a seal to evidence his Acts.

Nick Ainger: My research will reveal what the situation is.

Hywel Williams: May I draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that Owain Glyndwr had a seal, which was appended to the Pennal letter—Llythyr Pennal—that was sent to the King of France?

Adam Price: A French letter.

Nick Ainger: We will not go down that route.

David T.C. Davies : I must remind the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Hywel Williams) that Owain Glyndwr, of whom I am a distant descendant, did not control the whole of Wales and was quite unpopular in large parts
 
30 Jan 2006 : Column 69
 
of Monmouthshire, which he ravaged. In fact, Newport was so badly damaged that there was a great debate about whether it should even be rebuilt after Owain Glyndwr had finished his depredations.

Nick Ainger: I will not respond to the hon. Gentleman because we need to make progress.

I shall write to the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham. She raised interesting points and I am sure that all hon. Members will be enlightened when they read the responses.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 115 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 1


The Assembly

Jenny Willott (Cardiff, Central) (LD): I beg to move amendment No. 67, in page 1, line 7, leave out subsection (2) and insert—



'(1A)   The Senedd is to consist of eighty members elected through the single transferable vote from multi-member constituencies.'.

The Temporary Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Amendment No. 1, in page 1, leave out lines 8 and 9.

Amendment No. 2, in page 1, line 17, at end insert—



'(3A)   The system of election shall be a single transferable vote system under which—



(a)   a vote is capable of being given so as to indicate the voter's order of preference for the candidates, and



(b)   a vote is capable of being transferred to the next choice—



(i)   when the vote is not required to give a prior choice the necessary quota of votes, or



(ii)   when, owing to the deficiency in the number of votes given for a prior choice, that choice is eliminated from the list of candidates.'.

Amendment No. 3, in clause 2, page 2, leave out line 2.

Amendment No. 4, in page 2, line 7, leave out 'four' and insert 'sixteen'.

Amendment No. 71, in clause 6, page 4, line 6, leave out 'two votes' and insert



'one vote which will be cast preferentially'.

Amendment No. 72, in page 4, line 7, leave out subsections (2) to (6).

Amendment No. 73, in clause 12, page 8, line 16, leave out paragraph (a).

Amendment No. 7, in clause 13, page 8, line 26, at end insert



'and



(d)   the number of Assembly constituencies.'.

New clause 7—Senedd constituencies—



'(1)   The Senedd constituencies shall each be formed from more than one parliamentary constituency in Wales.



(2)   Each Senedd constituency shall be comprised of no more than one-tenth and no less than one twenty-fifth of the eligible electorate of Wales.



(3)   The Boundary Commission for Wales shall periodically recommend Senedd constituencies.'.

 
30 Jan 2006 : Column 70
 

New clause 8—Elections and franchise—



'(1)   This section applies to elections of members of the Assembly, including by-elections.



(2)   Each vote in the poll at an election shall be a single transferable vote.



(3)   A single transferable vote is a vote—



(a)   capable of being given so as to indicate the voter's order of preference for the candidates for election as members for the constituency; and



(b)   capable of being transferred to the next choice when the vote is not needed to give prior choice the necessary quota of votes or when a prior choice is eliminated from the list of candidates because of a deficiency in the number of votes given for him.'.

New clause 12—Elections and franchise—



'(1)   This section applies to elections of members of the Assembly, including by-elections.



(2)   Each vote in the poll at an election shall be a single transferable vote.



(3)   For the purposes of subsection (2), a single transferable vote is a vote—



(a)   capable of being given so as to indicate the voter's order of preference for the candidates for election as members for the constituency; and



(b)   capable of being transferred to the next choice when—



(i)   the vote is not needed to give a prior choice the necessary quota of votes, or



(ii)   when a prior choice is eliminated from the list of candidates because of a deficiency in the number of votes given for him.'.

Jenny Willott: There are two points behind our amendments in the group, both of which are crucial to the future capacity and legitimacy of the Welsh Assembly. The first refers to the fundamental point of how big we want the Assembly to be. The Government seem deeply opposed to increasing the size of the institution. Our primary concern is the quality of the scrutiny to which legislation in the Assembly will be subjected. One does not have to be Carol Vorderman to work out the maths. If a party with 30 Members forms the Government of a 60-Member Assembly, and thus appoints 12 Ministers and deputy Ministers along with a presiding officer, it is left with 17 Members to make up a majority on all the Committees. If one accepts that no Committee can be properly run with fewer than eight Members, one is left with a maximum of four Committees. However one does the sums, one is left with an unsatisfactory answer.


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