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Lord Thomas of Gresford: The noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, has introduced an interesting discussion on subject committees. Although Clause 58 sets up the subject committees, it does not attempt to set our their responsibilities; nor does it set out their relationship with the cabinet system that is now to be put in place. As we understand it, the executive committee of the assembly secretaries--that is, the cabinet--will be the body that will be responsible for formulating policy, taking decisions and, through the civil servants in their various areas, carrying out those decisions. It seems to me that the role of the subject committees is an advisory one. The committees do not appear to share the executive responsibility of the cabinet that is to be formed in the Welsh assembly. It is interesting that the working group suggested that assembly secretaries should not be members of the subject committees at all.

The noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas has highlighted the fact that one function to be performed by the subject committees is to monitor the way in which the non-departmental public bodies carry out their role. But that is only one of many roles. They will presumably be concerned to meet together to discuss the various proposals that are put to them by the executive. They will be there to advise and have input into policy but will not be responsible for it or for its being carried out. As I understand it, that is the essential distinction to be drawn between the cabinet system that the Government are adopting now in response to representations, pressure and general feeling from all sides of this Chamber and from another place. The cabinet system alters completely the role of the subject committees. Initially the committees were seen as being rather like council committees, carrying out executive tasks. That

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will no longer be the position. The noble Lord has introduced an interesting topic, to which we shall no doubt return.

Lord Elis-Thomas: I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. In particular, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, for taking on my argument. This is an important issue. The Minister referred to the advisory group report. That group seems to be going for a separation of powers, with an executive structure, which might reduce the subject committees to mini-assemblies in which there is a government in opposition, as it were, rather than more participative, and democratic bodies.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: Hear, hear!

Lord Elis-Thomas: I am always grateful for the support of my noble and learned friend Lord Simon of Glaisdale. We need to explore this issue. The national advisory group's initial recommendations have been referred to. I am a little concerned. I feel that important public bodies such as NDPBs should respond not just to the secretaries and officials but also to the subject committee as a whole. They are public bodies created by, and accountable to, the whole of the assembly as a body corporate. I do not want the notion of the body corporate to be lost. It is cynulleidfaol. It is the whole congregation, as it were, the cynull gathered together. That is what the cynulliad is. Therefore it is a congregation in that sense, and I do not want to see that lost. I do not want to see the Scottish model of ministers and Crown in parliament imposed upon a democratic people such as the Welsh. We need to create models of public administration that are more in line with our tradition. I hope that we can continue this debate and flag the matter for the assembly itself.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I can perhaps help the noble Lord. Clause 75 states:

    "The Assembly may require any person to whom subsection (2) applies--

    (a) to attend proceedings of the Assembly for the purpose of giving evidence, or

    (b) to produce ... documents".

The bodies to which subsection (2) applies are listed in Schedules 3 and 4. Unless Wales has a plethora of quangos of which I know not, the list seems to me to cover every possible non-departmental body which exists, both inside Wales alone and in the wider UK, including Wales--including the Sea Fish Industry Authority, which I mentioned earlier. Perhaps, whatever happens and whatever way the assembly decides to organise itself, the power exists in Clause 75.

Lord Prys-Davies: Before the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, responds to that intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, as I see it, the critical issue raised by Amendment No. 154A is whether the subject committee itself will be responsible for monitoring the performance of the non-departmental public bodies. When the White Paper was published, it was a general

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understanding that these subject committees would themselves exercise executive authority. That idea seems to have gone. We are therefore entitled to ask what will be the role of a subject committee and to what extent it will enable the members of the assembly to participate fully in the work of the assembly. If that is the point which is being made by the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, I have great sympathy with it.

Lord Elis-Thomas: I thank the noble Lords, Lord Prys-Davies and Lord Mackay. The question is precisely as both noble Lords have said. The fact of accountability in one form or another is not disputed by the clause to which the noble Lord referred. It is the form of accountability and how that is to happen and the nature of the relationship that concerns us. I believe I have said enough to indicate that it is my intention to withdraw the amendment, but we may well wish to return to the matter at a later stage, perhaps in a more comprehensive form, and look at the role of subject committees in the light of whatever further advice emerges from the national advisory group. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 58 agreed to.

Clause 59 [Subordinate legislation scrutiny committee]:

[Amendment No. 155 not moved.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 155A.

Page 30, line 43, leave out from second ("made") to ("and") in line 46 and insert ("in exercise of a function in relation to the exercise of which by the Assembly any relevant Parliamentary procedural provision has effect,").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 59, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: Perhaps I may ask some questions about this clause, which I confess I find extremely difficult to understand. First, as Members of the Committee put up earlier with a technical drafting point, perhaps I may make another. In subsection (3), paragraph (a) ends with the word "and", and paragraph (b) follows straight on. That is perfectly easy to follow. One realises immediately that they are conjunctive. Similarly, in subsection (4), one realises immediately that the two paragraphs are disjunctive. However, when one looks at subsection (6), we have to read six lines before we find that they are conjunctive when the word "and" appears.

That is not the only example in this Bill, but it is a clear one because it compares with the two other subsections. It would be much easier to understand--

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say in the case of subsection (6)--if paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) ended with the word "and".

I know that a long-established drafting method is used in that clause and in this Bill. Indeed, it follows the general, though not universal, literary conventions. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, is in his place and will correct me if I am wrong about that. Certainly in a statute it would be much easier to understand if each sub-paragraph either ended conjunctively or disjunctively. That is purely a drafting point.

I find it difficult to understand exactly what subsections (3), (4) and (6) are intended to do and how they work. Subsection (3)(a) deals with power to consider--a duty to consider--assembly general subordinate legislation. That is defined in subsection (6) as,

    "required to be made by statutory instrument ... made or proposed to be made by the Assembly ... not made or proposed to be made jointly with a Minister",

and in paragraph (d), "not local in nature". Perhaps I can pause there and ask what that is intended to cover. Presumably the Welsh assembly is not to be charged with the consideration of private Acts of a local nature which come to Westminster so far as they arise in Wales. Or is it? If not, what do the words, "not local in nature" mean?

That relates to assembly general subordinate legislation. But what is "relevant Welsh subordinate legislation"? It is defined in subsection (7), in which paragraph (a) is common to subsection (6); in other words, assembly general subordinate legislation. Paragraph (b) is a specific exception which relates only to Forestry Commission orders. What is the relationship?

When I raised the question of subordinate legislation the Minister helpfully and courteously said that he would write to me to explain and would also consider what is absolutely necessary; that is, that the matter should be properly defined in Clause 20. I understood that all secondary legislation which extends to Wales--in so far as it does extend to Wales--would be within the cognisance of the assembly and would be considered by it. I asked whether there was any other species of subordinate legislation which was not at the moment the responsibility of the Secretary of State. The Minister said that he would consider that too and write to me about it.

I thank the noble Lord once again for his usual courtesy and helpfulness. But it may be advisable for him to place a copy of his letter in the Library; it is probably a matter of general concern. Those are the questions I wish to ask. I really wish to have the whole section explained to me. If the Minister says that I must be patient and await his letter, I shall try to be patient.

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