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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Perhaps I can intervene for a moment. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, raises some important issues. If the noble and learned Lord has trouble reading statutes because he cannot decide whether they are conjunctive or

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disjunctive, he can imagine what difficulty the rest of us have who are not lawyers. He makes a good point which never occurred to me.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: The Minister is not only a lawyer, but has the supreme accolade of his colleagues in having been elected to be chairman of the Bar Council. I have no doubt therefore that he understands it.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I am not sure, but the noble and learned Lord may be telling me that I am the meat between the sandwich or something like that. However, he makes a good point.

The more important point to which the noble and learned Lord drew my attention relates to subsection (6)(c). Apparently, subordinate legislation may be made jointly with a Minister of the Crown and in those circumstances the Welsh assembly will not deal with it, if I read it correctly. My understanding was that the legislative role of the Welsh assembly was limited, but that it was to deal with secondary legislation. I am a little surprised to have my attention drawn to circumstances in which secondary legislation for Wales will be dealt with jointly with a Minister here, but will not need to go before the assembly.

Perhaps the Minister can give me an example. I sometimes find it easier to understand a concrete example than theory in these matters. In the example that I am sure the Minister will give me, will the Secretary of State for Wales be involved? It is a difficult concept, as the poor old Secretary of State for Wales does not have much in the way of ministerial responsibility left over after power is devolved.

I am in some difficulty when I read the clause. We will come to secondary legislation in a moment, but the whole question of secondary legislation is extremely difficult. I see the noble Earl, Lord Russell, poised in his seat and I know that he is a great hawk when it comes to watching secondary legislation. I worry that in cases falling within paragraph (c) the Welsh assembly may be blocked out and Ministers may find it convenient in the future to find ways to block it out. Perhaps the Minister can explain exactly what is covered in that regard.

6 p.m.

Lord Prys-Davies: I should be grateful if my noble friend would clarify the point that has been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. I understood from the memorandum which the Leader of the Commons sent to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments that some of the orders that will be made jointly will have to be submitted to the subordinate legislation scrutiny committee of the Welsh assembly and also to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments here at Westminster. My worry about that is what the position will be if the terms of reference of the subordinate legislation scrutiny committee of the Welsh assembly are not analogous to the terms of the

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reference of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. I look forward to my noble friend's response to the points that have been raised.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: As will presently become apparent, knowledge of the law is not a necessary prerequisite for being elected chairman of the Bar.

Quite detailed questions have been raised, some of which I can readily answer; others need a little more research. I doubt that the answer that I shall give will be sufficiently comprehensive to do justice to the questions which have been put. I will take up the courteous offer from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, to write immediately to him. I will make it a rule that all letters which are sent on similar topics are put in the Library for the reason that he mentioned.

As to the question of disjunctives and conjunctives, I agree with the noble and learned Lord that this has been the usual pattern of parliamentary draftsmanship in the past. It is something I shall listen to. It is not enormously difficult to follow because of the position of the "and" or the "or"; it is the substantive wording itself which is more difficult. However, I take the noble and learned Lord's point.

The noble and learned Lord asked for an example of a piece of legislation which was not local in nature. Local in nature apparently is an accepted definition and would include, for instance, a traffic regulation order relating to a particular road.

Devolving from what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, said, the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, asked what was the distinction essentially between general subordinate legislation and joint legislation, and he asked me to give examples. The examples which have immediately sprung to hand and mind are that there might well be agricultural legislation in conjunction with MAFF or transport orders jointly with DETR. The essential difference--and I recognise that this is a simplistic answer which needs development in the way that the noble and learned Lord asked--is that general subordinate legislation is to come under the assembly's scrutiny committee. If there is joint legislation--two examples of which I have given--that will be scrutinised by the joint scrutiny committee in Parliament. That is a fairly limited answer to subtle questions. If it requires expansion, as I think it will, I undertake to give it within seven days of today.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: I would not wish to hold the noble Lord, who has responsibilities not only for this Bill but for a number of matters which are now current, to a seven-day agreement. I shall be quite content to have an answer before Report stage.

As to paragraph (d), the noble Lord's answer indicated that it was not intended to cover what would be the subject matter of a private Bill of a local nature. I wonder whether it should not be? Why should a local Bill promoted by, say, Swansea have to come to London rather than be considered locally by a body which is much more cognisant of the local situation?

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As for the rest, the noble Lord said he would consider it with the draftsman and I am obliged for that. I am still very puzzled about this clause and I am grateful for the further consideration.

Lord Stanley of Alderley: Will the Minister, when he deposits the letter in the Library, kindly address one to me? I live rather a long way away sometimes.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I try to be reasonably selective in sending out letters to noble Lords who have perhaps spoken on a distinct topic in a limited debate or who have expressed general interest on Second Reading. I try to circulate letters as widely as possible. I shall make sure that the noble Lord has a copy of this letter. It would be appropriate if I ensure that the noble Lords, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish and Lord Prys-Davies, also receive a copy as they have raised the same detailed questions. I automatically send them to the noble Lords, Lord Roberts of Conwy and Lord Thomas of Gresford.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Before the noble Lord sits down finally, I am grateful to him for the answers that he gave. I understand that in the time available his answers were pretty broad brush about agriculture and transport. We discussed agriculture late last night and it will be discussed again in a little while. Because of the European input, secondary legislation statutory instruments on issues with a European connection will inevitably have to be the same in England and Wales--and probably in Scotland as well, but that is a different matter--and if the Welsh assembly is to be a devolved body responsible for agriculture, it seems odd that it will not be allowed to discuss or even nod through those statutory instruments. The procedure will be entirely based here.

If the noble Lord can be helpful in any letter about this I would be grateful. I may have to study this and return to it. At the risk of sounding as if I have clothed myself in the devolutionary mantle, it seems that we are giving to agriculture on the one hand and clawing back bits of it with the other. I do not think I am wrong about this and I may have to look at it again. I would be grateful if the Minister could also look at it to see whether there is any problem with powers over agriculture and other devolved issues.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: That is a perfectly fair question. I will respond as fully as I can in the same letter.

Clause 59, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Elis-Thomas moved Amendment No. 156:

After Clause 59, insert the following new clause--

Scrutiny of European Community legislation

(" . The Assembly shall establish a committee with responsibility relating to the scrutiny of European Community legislation and communications from the European Commission in accordance with standing orders.").

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The noble Lord said: In view of the last remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, I am tempted to say that we are all devolutionists now. In that case, he is very welcome to join the club. His noble friend has been there for a long time.

Amendment No. 156 relates to something that we debated last night around midnight. I see that the Chief Whip has joined us and I would obviously not wish to repeat anything that we said last night. It was a useful debate. As often happens in these matters, important issues are discussed at unfortunate hours. I hope that that will not happen in the assembly. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the assembly establishes a committee to scrutinise European Community legislation and communications from the European Commission. It is based on the positive work of both Houses of Parliament in their own European Select Committees and scrutiny committees.

I have been privileged to be a member of Sub-Committee C of the European Communities Committee, under the strong chairpersonship of the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, which considers all aspects of Community legislation in the area of the environment, public health and consumer protection. The European Communities Committee of this House has a very good reputation throughout the European Union. I am always pleasantly surprised to see the extent to which our reports are read throughout the European Union. Indeed, they are almost obligatoire in the Commission in terms of our analysis of the implementation of Community policy.

I hope that the national assembly in Cardiff can make a similar contribution within its area of devolved powers and that it will become a serious European partner in the scrutiny of legislation, in the understanding of communications from the Commission and in the expressing of views. That links up to something at which perhaps we did not look in enough detail last night. I refer to the position of the assembly in relation to the successor body of the Wales European Centre in Brussels and in relation to having close links with MEPs within the European Parliament and with the Committee of the Regions. All those networks to which the assembly will relate should come together in the activities of the scrutiny committee of European Community legislation.

I suspect that the Minister will tell me that it is not necessary to have this provision on the face of the Bill. I think it would be helpful to have it on the face of the Bill in order to indicate clearly that the scrutiny of European legislation is regarded as one of the major functions of this new body. I beg to move.

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