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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The treatise spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, provides a very firm foundation for the debate to continue. The d'Hondt formula was the formula on which we campaigned in the referendum, although not explicitly. The examples provided were based on that formula. The noble Lord, Lord Mackay, has also referred to the Sainte-Lague formula and pointed out, quite correctly, that the formula proposed by noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, is not quite the Sainte-Lague formula but something between the two.

There is great debate about which system produces greater proportionality. One view is that Sainte-Lague produces greater help for smaller parties. The proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, is not quite the Sainte-Lague formula. Analysis suggests that where one has comparatively few additional members, which is the position here, Sainte-Lague will not produce a materially different result from d'Hondt--all the more so when one is not going all the way with Sainte-Lague, as in the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas. We adopt d'Hondt because it is simple, easy to understand and leads to proportionality. In the light of the number of seats that we are dealing with here it makes no difference. It seems to us to be the sensible method to adopt. It is the system on which we campaigned in the referendum. In our view, the argument is strongly in favour of using d'Hondt as opposed to any other formula.

I repeat what I said before dinner. The Secretary of State has made clear that the Government may look again at the electoral arrangements if in the light of experience after 1999 they fail to meet the expectations that we have of them. If the Secretary of State looks at the electoral arrangements and they fail to meet the expectations that we have of them we will have to ascertain the reasons for that, and that will necessarily include the system. On that basis, I respectfully ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

8.45 p.m.

Lord Elis-Thomas: I am grateful to the Minister for his response. To reply to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, I have modified Sainte-Lague for the very reason that a system which raises the first divisor from one to 1.4 makes it more difficult for small parties to win their first seat. It is fairly obvious from where I come. I recognise

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that the operation of the formula is almost like the d'Hondt system as far as concerns a party winning its first seat, because the difference between 1.4 and three is about the same as between one and two. But the Sainte-Lague system for seats afterwards respects the position of smaller parties more effectively. I have received an assurance from the Minister that this will be part of the review. In the spirit of unity which predominates in this Committee, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 21 to 23 not moved.>

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Additional member system: return of members]:

[Amendments Nos. 24 to 26 not moved.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 27:

Page 4, line 43, leave out from ("list") to end of line 44.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 27 and speak also to Amendment No. 31. These are technical amendments which provide for the updating of party lists. It has two purposes: first, to provide for the deletion from the list of the names of any persons who have been elected to the assembly either from a constituency or at each stage in the allocation of the additional members. At present, the Bill provides only for the name of someone returned from a constituency to be deleted from the list. It does not provide for the name of someone allocated an additional member seat to be deleted. The existing wording is therefore defective since the system for the allocation of additional member seats would not work without this amendment.

Secondly, the amendments provide for the deletion of the names of any persons whose election has been declared void. This is important. Without it the name of an assembly member whose return had been declared void would still be "live" on the list which the returning officer would be obliged to revisit to determine who should fill the vacancy resulting from the member's election having been declared void. One would be faced with the absurd spectacle of a returning officer having to declare elected a person whose earlier election had been declared void. There is a similar provision already in the Scotland Bill.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: I am grateful to the Minister for these tidying-up amendments. One provides that if a listed candidate is elected as an assembly member for a constituency he or she ceases to be available for selection as a regional member from the list. I believe that to be a sensible provision. The rearrangement within the clause is a clear improvement. The words in parenthesis are commendable in that they anticipate a situation that might arise.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 28 to 30 not moved.]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 31:

Page 5, line 18, at end insert--
("( ) For the purposes of subsection (5) and section 9 a person included on a list submitted by a registered political party who is returned as an Assembly member shall be treated as ceasing to be on the list (even if his return is void).").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Elis-Thomas moved Amendment No. 32:

After Clause 7, insert the following new clause--

Selection of candidates for Assembly

(" .--(1) The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 shall be amended as follows.
(2) After section 49 there shall be inserted--
"Candidatures for National Assembly for Wales.
49A. Nothing in Parts II to IV shall render unlawful any act done by or on behalf of a registered political party within the meaning of the Government of Wales Act 1998 if it is an act done for the purpose of, or in connection with--
(a) selecting female candidates only, or male candidates only, for election to the National Assembly for Wales ("the Assembly"), or
(b) taking any steps preliminary to, or in connection with, such selection which either favour or subject to a detriment either female or male candidates,
provided that in the opinion of the party concerned the act in question is in the circumstances necessary to attempt to secure an equal number of members of the sex favoured as there are of the other sex as candidates of that party for election to the Assembly".").

The noble Lord said: This is an issue of some substance which was debated, again in detail, in another place on an amendment proposed by Julie Morgan, the honourable Member for Cardiff North, at col. 788 of the Official Report of 2nd March. I think it is important that we come back to these issues of relationships between the national assembly and gender. I do this not in the spirit of seeking to exploit any of the difficulties of other parties. I say that in advance of anything that may emanate from certain quarters in this Committee.

It appears to me from reading the Western Mail that the Conservative Party has a serious problem about gender balance in that the first 10 members selected for the assembly are of the male gender. I sincerely hope that at least a significant proportion of the members selected by Plaid Cymru, the party of Wales, will be of the male gender, in that I have some personal interest in that process. However, it is important that the whole question of relationship between sex discrimination legislation and the purposes of trying to secure gender balance in the assembly should be discussed in this debate.

The amendment seeks to ensure that there is no conflict between the wording of the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act or of the relevant European legislation as at present enacted and the process of selection of candidates for the assembly that could ensure that a registered political party could, in selecting candidates, take steps to achieve a gender balance in the selection. I am aware of the history of this matter and I do not need to repeat the various relevant legal cases

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about which the learned Front Bench has much greater knowledge than I have. I am merely a literary critic and textual analyst, and they are learned lawyers.

However, I am well aware of the case of Jepson v. The Labour Party in 1996 and of the relevance of that the Marschall v. Land judgment, and also of the consultation undertaken by the EOC earlier this year on the whole issue. It would be helpful if Ministers could indicate where they are in relation to the consultation of the EOC and whether indeed there has been consideration of whether the present amendments to the Treaty of Amsterdam make the situation clearer in this whole area--positive non-discrimination on the basis of sex, racial or ethnic origin, disability, religious belief, age or sexual orientation, which are the new aspects of that treaty, enabling member states to take appropriate action in those areas. That would indeed make it possible for the United Kingdom or any other member state to take the kind of action in the selection of candidates that is set out in the amendment.

It is not clear to me from reading the relevant papers that there is a clear indication of the legal position. The fact that the decision of the industrial tribunal in the Jepson case was not appealed does not make it clear, from what I have observed, that there is no basis for affirmative action, as set out in the amendment. The reason why this issue is so important is because Welsh politics have been traditionally gender-dominated by males, and there is a strong sexist political culture in Wales which does not benefit our democracy. We need to ensure that the national assembly, from day one, is a representative and inclusive body--representative of the multicultural nature of our society and indeed also of both genders.

There has been serious under-representation of women at all levels on public bodies in Wales: at local government level, in appointments to various public offices and indeed in this Chamber and the other place, although the situation there has improved recently. We are, by perpetuating that under-representation, ensuring not only a lack of equality in terms of gender but an under-use of resource in society and in the nation.

The typical traditional attitudes of certain members of Welsh local government historically, and indeed as regards Welsh Members in another place historically, has been discriminatory against the development of balanced gender representation. Some of us over the years in our various political parties have sought to right some of these wrongs. So far as the party of Wales, Plaid Cymru, is concerned, we have adopted a procedure whereby constituencies will select, but there will be a decision by the party nationally to use the regional additional member system to correct any gender imbalance that may appear during the selection procedure by the constituency parties for individual constituencies in first-past-the-post. I am advised that this course is within the law as currently drafted in the Sex Discrimination Act.

We need to have a clear indication from government that the intention is that the national assembly shall be as gender balanced as possible and that all the political parties involved in trying to select candidates for the

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assembly will ensure that this is the case. I hope that we will have agreement from all parties that this should be so and that my amendment will be supported. I beg to move.

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