Select Committee on Welsh Affairs First Report


2  THE SEPARATION OF THE EXECUTIVE AND THE LEGISLATURE

Background

31. The National Assembly for Wales was created as a single corporate body which discharged both legislative and executive functions.[59] The original reasons for that approach was that it matched existing practice in local government. However, as the White Paper notes, "Welsh local authorities have since moved to a Cabinet style of government, with executive members taking decisions and being held to account by overview and scrutiny committees".[60] Both the Assembly Review of Procedure[61] and the Report of the Richard Commission[62] concluded that the National Assembly should follow that trend.

32. The Government has acknowledged that the Corporate Body, "generated considerable confusion [and that] while those closely involved in the system understand how it works, the wider public in Wales generally is confused about who is responsible for decisions that affect them".[63] The White Paper proposes to end the Corporate Body, and the informal separation between the National Assembly and the Welsh Assembly Government, and replace it with a formal separation. It argues that "this change would make for better government and better public understanding of the differences between the responsibilities of Minister on the one hand and the roles of opposition parties and backbenchers of all parties on the other".[64]

33. In general that view has been backed up by witnesses to this Committee, the National Assembly Committee and also witnesses to the Richard Commission. The latter concluded that the corporate body was "no longer a sustainable structure, and has also contributed significantly to the public's confusion as to who takes decisions",[65] while the Assembly White Paper Committee described the corporate body as "misconceived and confusing".[66] In its evidence to us, the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action, giving a view from the outside, argued that the separation would also provide "clarity and increased understanding amongst the public and the voluntary sector of how Wales is governed".[67]

34. In written evidence to the National Assembly Committee inquiry, two former Members of the Richard Commission restated their positions in favour of the separation of the Executive and the Legislature. Sir Michael Wheeler-Booth, who had also served on the Royal Commission on House of Lords Reform and on the National Assembly Standing Orders Commission, commented that the proposals for separation were "extremely welcome",[68] while Professor Laura McAllister of the University of Liverpool, also argued that it offered greater clarity.[69] Professor Lord Morgan of Aberdyfi, also in response to that inquiry, described the separation as "unquestionably right" and asserted that it removed "a major anomaly in the original scheme, perhaps drawn unwisely from the analogy of local government".[70]

35. We welcome the proposals to make formal the separation of the Legislature and the Executive of the National Assembly for Wales.

Powers to appoint and dismiss Assembly Ministers

36. The White Paper proposes that the terms "First Minister" and "Assembly Minister" be put on a statutory footing, with the First Minister appointed by Her Majesty from amongst AMs on the nomination of the National Assembly. The First Minister would then, with Her Majesty's approval, appoint other Ministers".[71] That move towards a Statutory position has been widely welcomed.[72] The National Assembly Committee compared that approach to that of the Scottish Parliament. It found that in that Parliament, Ministers appointments were subject to the approval of the Parliament. It concluded that the approval of Ministerial appointments by the Plenary was sensible and appropriate and recommended accordingly. We conclude that the approval of Ministers by Plenary of the National Assembly is an attractive proposition and therefore we recommend that provisions to that effect be included in the Bill.

Dissolution of National Assembly

37. Some of our witnesses questioned the procedure for dismissing those Ministers. Kate Cassidy, Head of Policy, Constitutional Affairs Unit, at the Welsh Assembly Government, told us that she envisaged the situation whereby a vote of no confidence in the Welsh Ministers would trigger a process in which those Ministers would resign. However, she argued that there needed to be provision for one Minister to carry on in office, because the officials who are acting derived their authority from the Minister; "we therefore envisage that the First Minister would remain in office until he was replaced but the very act of a vote of no confidence would have triggered the resignation of the rest and would trigger the process for identifying a new First Minister".[73]

38. In its Report, the National Assembly Committee noted that in Scotland, the First Minister was obliged by law to resign if the Parliament resolved that it no longer had confidence in the Scottish Executive.[74] A replacement for the First Minister would then be found. If that was not possible, the Scottish Parliament, should it gain a two-thirds majority of its Members, would be able to dissolve itself and call a special General Election.[75]

39. When he gave oral evidence to us, the Presiding Officer told us that the issue of dissolution needed to be tackled by legislation. He explained that "we cannot dissolve ourselves now, and it does limit the possibilities in certain times, when there are minority governments".[76] The White Paper does not mention this, even though the Scotland Act 1998, which established the Scottish Parliament included provisions for a dissolution. The Presiding Officer argued for equivalent powers in Wales to be included "on the face of the Bill".[77] The Secretary of State reiterated the fact that the National Assembly was a fixed term Assembly, but acknowledged that the possibility of an impasse could prevent the formation of a Government. Therefore he confirmed that the Bill would include provisions for a dissolution in that specific case.[78]

40. We conclude that a mechanism to dissolve the National Assembly in the event of a stalemate between the political parties is a sensible and pragmatic suggestion. Therefore we recommend that the Bill include provision for the National Assembly to dissolve itself in the event of being unable to appoint a Welsh Assembly Government.

Appointment of Deputies

41. At present, the Welsh Assembly Government can appoint Deputy Ministers, albeit on an unofficial basis. Those posts are currently unregulated and therefore, the responsibilities of the Deputy Ministers are unclear. The White Paper proposes to change that position and place the post of Deputy Minister on a statutory footing. In its report on the White Paper, the National Assembly Committee considered this a positive move.[79] We agree with the proposal to put Deputy Ministers on a statutory footing. That statutory footing will need to include a clear definition of the roles and responsibilities of the Deputy Ministers. The Government must be alive to the fact an increase in the payroll vote of the National Assembly will have an impact on the size of the backbench body and the potential to cause strains on the scrutiny functions

Number of Ministers

42. In the preceding paragraphs we have set out the Government's proposals for putting Ministers and Deputy Ministers on a statutory footing. The number of those Ministers within the Welsh Assembly Government will have an impact on the size of the backbenches in the new National Assembly. For that reason, several of our witnesses suggested that the number of Welsh Assembly Government Ministers needed be regulated. The Presiding Officer noted that the number of Ministers in Whitehall was regulated by statutory instrument and the a similar approach to the National Assembly would be desirable.[80] He argued that "a broad limit on the face of the bill would enable flexibility in terms of Ministers, Deputy Ministers or Secretaries".[81] In a supplementary memorandum the Wales Office confirmed that such a limit would be sensible and undertook to include provisions to that effect in the Bill.[82] We believe that a statutory upper limit for the number of Ministers including Deputy Ministers is a sensible approach to the composition of the National Assembly, and we welcome the decision of the Wales Office to include provisions to that effect on the face of the Bill.

Ability to change the name of the Institutions

43. The White Paper states that "the Welsh Assembly Ministers collectively will be known as the Welsh Assembly Government".[83] At present, that term has no statutory basis as it was not included in the Government of Wales Act 1998. Its origins can be found in the National Assembly's Review of Procedure.[84] Part of that separation was a re-branding of the executive as the Welsh Assembly Government.[85] Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan AM, First Minister emphasised the fact that the term Welsh Assembly Government was not in the 1998 Act, but nonetheless that it was important to have a title to distinguish the body that was the Assembly Government.[86]

44. Our witnesses agreed that the establishment of the title Welsh Assembly Government was a step in the right direction, but there were some concerns as whether that title should be changed. Professor Richard Rawlings, Chair in Law, London School of Economics, argued that the UK Government was not referred to as the UK Parliament Government, and the Scottish Executive was not referred to as the Scottish Parliament Government. He asserted that it was important to have "a clear differentiation in terms of the labels" so that on the one hand, there was a clear understanding of a legislature or a parliament - which - comprised all parties; and on the other hand there was a clear understanding of government which comprised a party or parties in coalition.[87] Professor Rawlings concluded that terms along lines of "either the Welsh Executive or the Welsh Administration" would be more appropriate.[88]

45. In his written evidence to us, Barry Winetrobe, Reader in Law at Napier University, agreed. He argued that "the obvious solution would be to adopt something like the Scottish and Northern Irish models, of a 'Welsh Executive'. As in Scotland, this could be a title for everyday use, but with a statutory distinction, if required, between the 'Executive' (the ministerial team) and the 'Administration' (the combined ministerial and official establishment)".[89]

46. The Presiding Officer of the National Assembly was more forthright. He argued that it was "constitutionally incumbent upon us" to change the title Welsh Assembly Government. He argued that "I do not believe that you can couple the name of an administrative body with a parliamentary body, because to me the Assembly Government is confusing constitutionally, which reduces the possibility of rational parliamentary democracy in Wales".[90]

47. In a similar vein, we asked the Presiding Officer whether the National Assembly should consider re- branding itself. He was of the opinion that it was appropriate for the National Assembly to have the right to change its name. In particular he argued that there should not be "anything on the face of the bill that would stop our successors in this place from changing the name to whatever they believed to be appropriate".[91] That said, he saw no present reason or desire to re-brand the National Assembly for Wales.

48. Our witnesses from the Wales Office explained that it would not be possible to change the statutory titles of the institutions from those that appeared in the Act.[92] However, the First Minister took a pragmatic view on the issue. He argued that the term Welsh Assembly Government had been common usage for the past four or five years. Therefore he believed the best course of action would be to continue with it. The First Minster concluded that should the public wish to use a different title then that new title would gradually replace the former:[93]

    "I do not know what people will be saying in 10 or 15 years. None of us can predicate that. In the end, the people will rule because it is the people's convention".[94]

49. Concerns remain that the current title of the Welsh Assembly Government may have the potential to continue the confusion over the status of the Executive and the Legislature. In respect of the Bill, we believe that Welsh Executive would be a more appropriate term to use in Statute.

Size of the National Assembly

The potential pressures on the current size

50. In its Report, the Richard Commission recommended that the number of Assembly Members be increased from 60 to 80, and that they should be elected through the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, with all Assembly Members being elected from multi-member constituencies. In the White Paper, the Government disagreed with that recommendation.[95] Later in this Report we set out the arguments that surround the proposals for electoral reform.[96] In this section we consider the arguments for and against the increase in the number of members of the National Assembly.

51. Lord Richard explained that his Commission had recommended that increase to take account of the growth in the legislative capacity in the National Assembly and was disappointed that the White Paper had rejected its recommendation.[97] Professor Miers from Cardiff Law School, Cardiff University, agreed. He argued that a direct result of the creation and transfer of a much more extensive set of powers to the National Assembly would be a higher workload which would place increased time demands on Assembly Members. He was also was concerned that it could "impinge upon the capacity of the National Assembly to do the job that it will be enabled to do".[98]

52. Similar concerns were raised with the Wales Office during its consultation on the White Paper. The Wales Public Law And Human Rights Association told the Wales Office that "an Assembly of 60 members will place unreasonable strains on both government and opposition AMs".[99] That point was reiterated by the Standing Committee on Legal Wales.[100]

53. Lord Elis-Thomas acknowledged that one option to counter the increased duties of the National Assembly would be for it to reconsider its working hours. He argued that to meet the new demands, "the National Assembly might have to sit on Tuesday morning at half past ten, and from half past two until half past six on Tuesday afternoon. Similar arrangements might have to be established for Wednesday with the possibility of extending those arrangements to Thursday".[101]

54. Some of the concerns raised about capacity would therefore be addressed by lengthening the sitting hours of the National Assembly, but several structural problems remained; in particular, in relation to the number of Assembly Members. In its report the National Assembly Committee noted that:

    "In an Assembly of 60 Members, if one party of, say, 30 forms a Government, it may have 13 Ministers and Deputy Ministers and one of the Presiding Officers. That would leave only 16 other Members of the Government party to make up the majority on all committees. We assume that committees' workloads are to increase significantly. If committees meet weekly, then it will be impossible to have Members serving on more than one principal committee and perhaps one subsidiary committee. In these circumstances, to distribute 16 Members around committees so that they form half of each means that we could only have three principal committees of 10 Members, or four of eight, or five of six".[102]

55. That point was not lost on Sir Michael Wheeler-Booth. He was of the opinion that the institutionalising of Deputy Ministers would expand the pay-roll vote resulting in an even greater proportion of National Assembly membership being salaried front benchers, and not part of the back bench section of the National Assembly. He concluded that "in an Assembly of only 60, to lower the percentage of members available to question the Welsh Government seems questionable".[103] Lord Richard also questioned the effectiveness of such a small number of backbenchers: "The extent to which 60 AMs, 12 of whom will be Ministers, will be able to cope with this is at this stage unknown".[104]

INCREASING THE NUMBER OF ASSEMBLY MEMBERS

56. The First Minister was adamant that there was little, if any, support in country for increasing the number of elected politicians. He believed that a better solution would be for the existing membership to use their time more efficiently: "you do not need more Assembly Members, you simply need the existing number of Assembly Members dealing with more important issues which they do not have the ability to do now but they would have the ability to do under the provisions of the White Paper".[105] The Secretary of State admitted that he had originally considered the inclusion of provisions in the Bill to increase the numbers of Assembly Members. In particular he told us that the decision not to follow that route was down to the complexity of providing those provisions. He argued that any change in the number of Members would require a corresponding change to the electoral system:

    "The only way you can sensibly do it, to increase the number of list members, you change the immediate political configurations and balance within the Assembly between 20 list and 40 directly elected - which in itself is quite an important decision - but you also change the party balance, potentially".[106]

The Secretary of State concluded that a decision to change the number had a much wider impact on the constitutional balance between constituency members and list members as well as potentially the political balance, and "therefore you cannot do that lightly".[107]

57. The Government has taken a strong line against the possibility of increasing the number of Assembly Members from 60 to 80. However, a 60 Member Assembly may not prove sufficient to carry out its scrutiny and legislative roles. In that event, the National Assembly for Wales and Parliament may at some date in the future wish to reassess the size of the National Assembly, at which time the electoral process will also need to be considered.

National Assembly Committees

58. Paragraph 2.16 of the White Paper states that "the Assembly should generally be able to establish such committees as it sees fit in accordance with its Standing Orders".[108] It also explicitly stated that "the crucial point is that the Assembly's committee structure should in future be a matter for Assembly discretion rather than be fixed by statute".[109] When we took evidence from the Presiding Officer, he voiced his support for that approach. He argued that the National Assembly should be allowed to construct its committee structure as it sees best, so long as it was "within a framework of legislation which is broad and flexible enough to allow it to do that".[110]

59. The Presiding Officer highlighted what he saw as the structural problem of a National Assembly of 60 Members: "of 60 people, 15 of them are either in cabinet or are party leaders or are chairs of committees. That is more than 20 out of that number to begin with. Naturally, if they are committee chairs, they are to be counted amongst committee members; but, as you all know, the role of a chair is slightly different to the role of a committee member as far as being part of a committee is concerned. In order to be an ordinary committee member, that only leaves us practically 30 plus members who would be free to carry out committee work".[111]

60. With respect to Committees, we reiterate the concerns raised with us that the 60 member limit on the National Assembly and the size of the National Assembly payroll vote has the potential to place serious strains on the National Assembly Committees' ability to carry out its scrutiny of the new Welsh Executive. The Government will need to be alive to this potential danger when it introduces its Bill.

REGIONAL COMMITTEES

61. In evidence, the Presiding Officer also raised the future status of the Regional Committees. He stated his belief that those committees would be abolished in the post 2007 National Assembly. He argued that he did not think that they would be necessary in the future. In their place he wished to see "committees looking at the [Assembly] Measures, and the select committees scrutinising the administration to travel regularly around".[112]

62. The structure of the Committee System in a reformed National Assembly will be a matter for that institution to decide. However, as Members of Parliament for Welsh constituencies, we recognise the important role that the regional committees have played in taking the National Assembly out of Cardiff to other parts of Wales. We recommend that this important part of the Regional Committees' work is retained in any new Committee structure. We further recommend the retention of the statutory provision for a North Wales Regional Committee.

REMOVAL OF MINISTERS FROM COMMITTEES

63. At present, Assembly Ministers are required to sit on the Committee whose remit mirrors that of the Minister, as full committee members. The White Paper proposes to remove the statutory need for that Minister to sit on the relevant committee.[113] Many of our witnesses agreed that this was a positive proposal. The National Assembly Committee welcomed the proposals, as did Lord Richard, whose Commission also recommended the removal of Ministers from committees.[114] In evidence to us Lord Richard argued that current position was "cosy" and that the "high level of intimacy between the Chairman, the Committee and the Minister" limited the level and effectiveness of committee scrutiny.[115]

64. Hugh Rawlings, the Director of the Local Government, Public Service and Culture Department, Welsh Assembly Government, confirmed that the position of the Minister on a Committee had been one of the main criticisms of the 1998 Act, and that the Government's intention was to remove that requirement so that "committees will be able to take evidence or call ministers before them, but those ministers will not be members of the committee".[116]

65. Although there was a high degree of agreement on this issue, the National Assembly Committee did highlight the fact that it was normal in Parliament for Ministers to participate in committee proceedings when legislation was being considered. Its Report also highlighted the position of the Leader of the House at the House of Commons who despite being a Cabinet Minister, was able to Chair the House of Commons Modernisation Committee. For that reason the National Assembly Committee recommended that "there should not be any statutory prohibition on appointing Ministers to Committees".[117]

66. We agree with the Government's proposals to remove Ministers from being members of scrutiny Committees of the National Assembly. However, we note the recommendation of the National Assembly Committee that flexibility on this issue is necessary with respect to legislation and other specific Committees. We look to the Government to ensure that the necessary flexibility is contained within the Bill.

POWERS

67. Although it is for the National Assembly to decide upon the structure of its committee system, certain powers will need to be provided in the Bill for those Committees to be effective. The National Assembly Committee considered the issue of powers and in evidence to that Committee the First Minister argued that National Assembly Committees should have the same powers as committees of the House of Commons.[118] In the opinion of the Presiding Officer, the important issue was "for us to act as proper scrutineers of the powers of the Ministers who are accountable to us".[119]

68. As a Parliamentary Committee we would not wish to see a committee of another institution hamstrung by not having sufficient powers. Those powers would need to be given in legislation. In Scotland, they were given to the Scottish Parliament by sections 23 to 26 of the Scotland Act 1998. In a supplementary note the Presiding Officer explained that the Scotland Act "only makes provision for witnesses and documents to be called if the subject is one for which a member of the Scottish Executive has general responsibility. The Parliament may only impose this requirement on a person outside Scotland when it directly relates to discharge of functions of the Scottish Administration or those of a Scottish public authority or cross-border public authority".[120] We agree with the National Assembly Committee that these powers should be replicated in Wales. We recommend that provisions equivalent to Sections 23 to 26 of the Scotland Act be enacted in respect of the powers of Committees of the National Assembly for Wales.

69. A related issue is the ability for a National Assembly Committee to demand the attendance of a representative of the Welsh Assembly Government. In Parliament, House of Commons Committees expect Ministers and civil servants to give evidence, while the Government may choose whether a Minister or a civil servant presents that evidence. The National Assembly Committee was in favour of a similar model for the National Assembly. In its Report that Committee recommended that "there should be a rule in Wales that if a Committee insists on attendance by Government witnesses, then the Government will always send either a Minister or an official".[121] The Presiding Officer confirmed that he wished to ensure that National Assembly committees were able to "call witnesses in the same way as a parliamentary committee does".[122]

70. We agree with the National Assembly Committee that the Welsh Assembly Government should send either a Minister or an official when a National Assembly committee insists on attendance by Government witnesses.

CO-OPTED MEMBERS

71. Lord Elis-Thomas explained that specific National Assembly Committees, including the Equality Committee, have had co-opted non-voting members-for example organisations like Stonewall Cymru.[123]

72. Mr Silk explained that there had been an issue over co-optees in Scotland in relation to their status and protection in terms of defamation. He explained that the National Assembly Committee report had raised the need to protect the position of thse co-optees in the future, so that it was absolutely clear that they were participating in proceedings of the National Assembly, and therefore covered in the protection from defamation for Members of the National Assembly and proceedings in committee.[124]

73. The use of co-opted members is a matter for the National Assembly. However, we agree that, should the National Assembly wish to continue with that practice, the protection of those Members needs to be made explicit. We look to the Government to ensure that co-opted Members of National Assembly Committees are protected from defamation to the same level as Members of the National Assembly, when serving on Committees.

Standing Orders

74. The proposal that legislative procedure should largely be regulated by Standing Orders-together with the proposed separation of the Executive and Legislative arms of the National Assembly, and the proposal that the National Assembly's committee structure should in future be regulated by Standing Orders rather than prescription in statute-will all require major amendments to the National Assembly's current Standing Orders. The content of those Standing Orders is a matter for the National Assembly and we do not make comment on how those Standing Orders should look. However, we did consider the proposal in the White Paper that the Secretary of State take powers to make a new set of Standing Orders for the National Assembly, to take effect when the separation of the executive and the legislative elements comes into force.

75. The Secretary of State agreed that redrafting the National Assembly's Standing Orders was a task for the National Assembly, and he explained that he had made that position clear to the Presiding Officer. The National Assembly is already considering how to proceed in this area to ensure that a draft of the Standing Orders will be ready in advance of the next National Assembly elections in 2007.[125] The Secretary of State has two functions with regard to Standing Orders. First, he has the legal power to make the Orders.[126] Second in the event of the National Assembly being unable to reach an agreement on its Standing Orders, he would act as the final arbiter. The White Paper states that the Secretary of State would be assisted in this task by an advisory committee with a broad-based representative membership, which would prepare a draft of the new Standing Orders for his approval.[127]

76. Witnesses to both our inquiry and that of the National Assembly took exception to that role. Barry Winetrobe argued that the role of the Secretary of State appeared to be "wholly unnecessary and inappropriate for an already functioning Assembly",[128] while Sir Michael Wheeler-Booth commented that parliamentary procedure was "normally left to the Assembly concerned to regulate".[129]

77. When we asked the Wales Office why it was necessary for the Secretary of State to be involved, we were told that "ultimately there needs to be the possibility of someone away from the proceedings themselves deciding. There has to be a capacity to press to decision on what Standing Orders should be".[130] That position was reinforced by Hugh Rawlings from the Welsh Assembly Government who averred that "the overriding concern is that there must be a set of Standing Orders available to the Assembly from the beginning of the new regime".[131]

78. The Presiding Officer remained unconvinced by this argument. He was strongly of the opinion that it was for the National Assembly itself to select its Standing Orders so long as they were within the law and within the tradition of parliamentary procedure.[132] He put it to us that "I do not believe that it is appropriate for anyone except the Members of the National Assembly for Wales to write their own standing orders".[133] This view was also the view of the National Assembly in general. The Presiding Officer continued:

    "we have clearly indicated that we wish to be responsible for our own Standing Orders, which has cross-party support in this report; and our wish is to go ahead and begin drafting our Standing Orders as soon as practical".[134]

79. When pressed on the role of the Secretary of State as the final holder of decision making power, the Presiding Officer stated that "where there is no agreement, then a Presiding Officer is in a more appropriate position to impose a rational solution upon the Members and an elected Assembly, than is a Secretary of State of another Government".[135]

80. The Secretary of State was at pains to reassure us that he did not wish to interfere with the drafting of the Standing Orders, but he argued it was important to have that fallback power in the event that the National Assembly could not agree on a set of Standing Orders.[136] Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan AM, was confident that it would not come to that, but reaffirmed that it was necessary to avoid the possibility of having "an Assembly with enhanced legislative powers but no modus operandi".[137]

81. We understand the legal requirement for the Secretary of State for Wales to give statutory effect to the Standing Orders for the National Assembly for Wales. We are less convinced with the need for that Office to be the final arbiter of any disagreement over those Orders. We believe that the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly, not a Government Minister of another institution, is a more appropriate location for that role. Therefore we recommend that the Government include in the Bill, provisions to ensure that the Presiding Officer, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State for Wales, be the arbiter on Standing Orders for the National Assembly.

Human Resources

82. The separation of the Executive from the Legislature has an impact on the staff that serve the National Assembly. The White Paper proposes that "staff serving the Welsh Assembly Ministers would continue to be civil servants. Staff supporting the National Assembly would, like servants of both the UK and Scottish Parliaments, not be part of the civil service. The National Assembly as a legislature and scrutinising body would employ its own staff".[138] This is a sensible proposal and one that has universal support. However, there are a number of practical issues that need to be clarified.

83. The first issue was that of the relative strengths of the staff that would support the two institutions. Paul Silk, Clerk of the National Assembly, told us that while there were around 285 staff currently working for the Assembly Parliamentary Service, the number of staff working for the Welsh Assembly Government was roughly 4,200. That figure would be supplemented by a further 1,300 people who currently work for the Assembly-Sponsored Public Bodies, (ASPBs).[139] The Wales Office confirmed that the staff carrying out the functions of the ASPBs would become Welsh Assembly Government staff.[140] That difference in resources available to the two institutions is marked, and will be put into stark relief when the new National Assembly undertakes its enhanced scrutiny and legislative roles.

84. Paul Silk reminded us the National Assembly's new roles would necessitate enhanced resources in areas such as research, Committee and Table Office services. He further argued that the National Assembly would also benefit from additional resources for legal advice to committees and to members in general. Without setting out a precise figure, Paul Silk confirmed that all those services would probably need some enhancement.[141] In addition, the Presiding Officer also highlighted the fact that additional legal resources would need to be found to support back-bench Assembly Members and National Assembly committees in the instigation and preparation of Orders in Council.[142]

85. It would be undesirable to include in the Bill provisions for specific increases in staff for the National Assembly as they have yet to be identified in detail. Furthermore, future demand will best dictate the level of necessary resources. However, it is clear, that in moving from the Corporate Body model to a "free-standing" legislature, enhancements will be necessary to support Assembly Members in their new tasks. We look to the Government to provide those resources where they are clearly necessary.

86. The White Paper states that under the proposals "staff supporting the Assembly would, like civil servants of both the UK and Scottish Parliaments, not be part of the civil service".[143] Those staff would be employed by the National Assembly, which the White Paper expects would maintain terms and conditions for staff broadly comparable to those applying to the Assembly Government civil service.[144] The National Assembly Committee highlighted the need to establish a statutory "broadly in line" provision in relation to National Assembly staff.[145] It also confirms that National Assembly Staff would continue to be eligible for membership of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme, along the same lines as House of Commons and Scottish Parliament staff. [146]

87. In its Report the National Assembly Committee welcomed the separation of Government and National Assembly Staff but recommended that the Bill include "a Statutory 'broadly in line' provision" with respect to the salaries of National Assembly staff. We agree with the recommendation of the National Assembly Committee.


59   Cm6582, para 1.7 Back

60   Cm6582, para 1.8 Back

61   www.wales.gov.uk/subiassemblybusinessreview/index.htm Back

62   Report of the Richard Commission, para 20-26. Back

63   Cm 6582, para1.10 Back

64   Cm 6582, para 1.18 Back

65   Report of the Richard Commission, p 79 Back

66   National Assembly Committee Report, para 7. Back

67   Ev 82 Back

68   National Assembly Committee Report, p 67. Back

69   National Assembly Committee Report, p 85. Back

70   National Assembly Committee Report, p 83. Back

71   Cm6582 para 2.6 Back

72   National Assembly Committee Report pp 11 to 16. Back

73   Q7 Back

74   Scotland Act 1998c 45 (2) Back

75   National Assembly Committee Report, para 13. Back

76   Q151 Back

77   Q151 Back

78   Q201 Back

79   National Assembly Committee Report, para 15. Back

80   Q150 Back

81   Q150 Back

82   Ev80 Back

83   Cm6582, para 2.6 Back

84   www.wales.gov.uk/subiassemblybusinessreview/index.htm Back

85   www.wales.gov.uk/subiassemblybusinessreview/index.htm  Back

86   Q198 Back

87   Q61 Back

88   Q61 Back

89   Ev 87 and 88 Back

90   Q148 Back

91   Q148 Back

92   Q6 Back

93   Q200 Back

94   Q198 Back

95   Cm6582, para 4.3 Back

96   paras 146 to 156 Back

97   Ev 27 Back

98   Q53 Back

99   www.walesoffice.gov.uk/2005/bgfw/bgfw_wales_public_law_and_human_rights_association_20050912.pdf Back

100   www.walesoffice.gov.uk/2005/bgfw/bgfw_standing_committee_on_legal_wales_20050915.pdf Back

101   Q153 Back

102   National Assembly Committee Report, para 46. Back

103   www.wales.gov.uk/keypubassembettergov/content/bgw2-ev1.pdf Back

104   Ev 28 Back

105   Q228 Back

106   Q228 Back

107   Q230 Back

108   Cm6582, para 2.16 Back

109   Cm6582 para 2.17 Back

110   Q161 Back

111   Q152 Back

112   Q153 Back

113   Cm6582, para 2.16 Back

114   Richard Commission Report, Chapter 14, para 258. Back

115   Q74 Back

116   Q8 Back

117   National Assembly Committee Report, para 45. Back

118   National Assembly Committee Report, Q447. Back

119   Q158 Back

120   Ev 57 Back

121   National Assembly Committee Report, para 54. Back

122   Q157 Back

123   Q155 Back

124   Q155 Back

125   Q202 Back

126   Q203 Back

127   Cm5682, para 3.31 Back

128   Ev 88 Back

129   National Assembly Committee Report, p69. Back

130   Q10 Back

131   Q11 Back

132   Q164 Back

133   Q164 Back

134   Q164 Back

135   Q164 Back

136   Q202 Back

137   Q202 Back

138   Cm6582, para 2.20 Back

139   Q177 Back

140   Ev 80 Back

141   Q179 Back

142   Q170 Back

143   Cm6582, para 2.20 Back

144   Cm6582, para 2.20 Back

145   National Assembly Committee Report, para 28. Back

146   Cm6582, para 2.20 Back


 
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Prepared 13 December 2005