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Lord McCarthy: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, in the light of what he has said about trade union representation, I hope that the Government will look kindly on an amendment to new Section 43D, which at the moment reads:

Surely the Government would look kindly on an amendment which stated,

    "obtaining advice from a recognised trade union".

Lord Haskel: My Lords, the short answer is that if the noble Lord would like to table an amendment we shall certainly consider it.

Lord Borrie: My Lords, I thank my several noble friends and other noble Lords for taking part in this debate and for welcoming the main thrust and purposes of the Bill. I am particularly grateful to the Minister who has comprehensively answered a large number of questions raised in the debate and done so in a most helpful manner. I particularly welcome the fact that he said that the Bill is not intended to increase the risk of employers being sued for breach of confidence. That was a most helpful comment.

Obviously, there is no need for me to duplicate or replicate the many points the Minister made. As regards my noble friends Lady Turner and Lady Dean and also my noble friend Lord McCarthy and trade unions, although the phrase "trade unions" does not appear in the Bill, there is no doubt whatever that they are, have been and will be most helpful in the preparation of codes of practice and other forms in enabling workers to take advantage of the Bill and to bring about the change of culture to which the noble Lord, Lord Newby, referred. Trade union representatives will inevitably and happily be most helpful in their advisory role which clearly is needed if only for the types of questions which my noble friend Lord McCarthy very properly raised concerning the difficulties of interpretation. However good the Bill is, I suggest that there will be difficulties of interpretation. This Bill will become a statute which will not be easy for the ordinary worker in the workplace to interpret without some help. Undoubtedly, trade unions will have a role in that.

I thank noble Lords for their contributions and I ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

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Government of Wales Bill

8.31 p.m.

House again in Committee on Clause 5.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6 [Additional member system: calculation of electoral region figure]:

[Amendment No. 19 not moved.]

Lord Elis-Thomas moved Amendment No. 20:

Page 4, line 13, leave out ("the aggregate of one and") and insert ("a divisor determined by").

The noble Lord said: Before we broke for dinner, the noble Lord who leads for the Scottish section of the attack from the Opposition Benches referred to my right honourable friend in another place, Mr. Ron Davies, as "Ron of the Assembly". Clearly, he has not been watching enough Welsh movies. In his early career our great leader and national hero, Ron Davies, was known as "Ron the Rents" when he was the rent rebel of Bedwas & Machen. More recently he has been known in the style of "Davies the Ocean" and that great entrepreneur from Wales as "Davies the Assembly". No doubt his noble friend on the other side of the Chamber is known as "Roberts the Doom".

But that is by way of enlivening my amendment, which is on a technical issue. However, it is an issue of principle. It relates to the formulae used in the allocation of seats in relation to votes in the proportional representation system. As the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, intimated earlier, obviously, how one fiddles or twiddles the electoral system affects the results. It is important to point out that the formulae for distributing the votes (as aggregated for the regional additional members) affects the election of those members. Some formulae are more party-friendly to certain parties than others. The d'Hondt divisor, which the Government have adopted for the European Parliament, the national assembly and the Scottish parliament, is a system which, because of its way of operating, favours the larger parties, but clearly the system I propose in this amendment and the divisor that I have set forward tends to favour smaller parties. That should not come as a surprise to the Committee.

The intention behind looking at the whole question of how the divisor operates in relation to the allocation of votes to seats is to draw attention to the fact that we need to review these aspects as well as the number of members who are elected. I had an assurance earlier from the Solicitor-General that the question of the way in which the proportional system operated would be reviewed after the first election. Can he assure me that the formulae or the mathematics of the aggregation of votes to seats will also be reviewed as part of any review that may take place?

I shall not go into the detail of the Sainte-Lague formula or my version of it, which appears here except to say that in the system proposed in the amendment there is a bias in favour of the smaller parties just as there is under the d'Hondt rule favoured by the Government, a bias against smaller parties. I take as my Bible on this the great work by Arend Lijphart entitled

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Electoral Systems and Party Systems: a study of twenty seven democracies 1945-90 which I am sure the Welsh Office will have read in detail, along with all its other preparations for this Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: This is an interesting amendment. Perhaps I may ask the Minister to justify--as he jolly well ought to do--the particular system chosen by the Government. As the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, rightly said, they chose the d'Hondt system. That means that the first time one divides the total number of votes cast for all the parties in the second ballot. The second time, one divides it by the number of seats won the first time round, plus one. In some of the examples I gave earlier on, that means that those parties which had achieved no seats the first time round have a divisor which is set at only one. The next time one party gains a seat, the new divisor for that party is the number of seats won, plus one again. So it goes on until all four seats have been apportioned. That is the d'Hondt system, named after a mathematician. I cannot remember when he lived, but it was some time ago.

There are variations of it. One of the variations is called Sainte-Lague. I am not sure how to pronounce it and no one has helped me. Everyone gives a different pronunciation. Under that system, the divisor is one and then it goes up to three, five, seven and nine principles. Undoubtedly, that will help the smaller parties.

Earlier in the day I said that in my view proportional representation was a fiddled system. We did some fiddling before dinner and looked at various ways in which we could fiddle the number of additional members to achieve whatever result we wanted. Now we consider the divisors and how we can fiddle the different results. I suspect that, given some time and a good computer, I could devise a system which meant that Plaid Cymru won all of the seats regardless of the vote to begin with. That might be quite hard, but I could try.

The Sainte-Lague divisor is one, three, five, seven, nine. There is a variation of that which means that on the first divisor the square root of two that is, 1.4 is adopted. One divides by 1.4 and then three, five, seven, nine as one goes up the list. The d'Hondt system is used in Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Holland. The Sainte-Lague system is used in some countries. The modified version which begins at 1.4 is used in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. I am not entirely sure where the noble Lord's variation of the Sainte-Lague system is used. That starts at two and not at the square root of two and then three, five, seven.

But all of the systems are designed to try to achieve proportionality in various ways and to various degrees. To a certain extent, you pays your money and takes your pick; or perhaps it rather depends on where you are in the electoral system. I have made it perfectly clear that despite the position in which my party finds itself in Scotland and Wales I would rather continue the first-past-the-post system. In that way the electorate has clear cut decisions. This afternoon I have been shown that the Government and the Liberal Democrats are at one in wanting to change. I am surprised that the Liberal Democrats have not intervened in this debate. I would

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be interested to know whether they approve of the d'Hondt system. I suspect that the latter does not entirely favour that party and that one of the variations of Sainte-Lague would favour that party even more.

For my part, I disapprove of all of them. It is a case of a plague on all your house. However, I would like to know why the Government have chosen d'Hondt so that I can understand it. I should also like to know why the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, has chosen the two, three, five system instead of either one, three, five or the square root of two, three, five which at least appears to have the legitimacy that it is used in some other countries. I look forward to hearing the interesting mathematical treatise of the noble and learned Lord, the Solicitor-General, on voting systems and their divisors.

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