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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.43 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.42 to 8.43 p.m.]

Government of Wales Bill

House again in Committee on Clause 62.

[Amendments Nos. 165 to 170 not moved.]

Clause 62 agreed to.

Lord Elis-Thomas moved Amendment No. 170A:

After Clause 62, insert the following new clause--

Youth Advisory Committee

(" .--(1) The Assembly may establish a committee to provide advice to the Assembly about matters affecting young people in Wales.
(2) A committee established under this section shall be known by such title as the standing orders may provide (but is referred to in this Act as the Youth Advisory Committee).
(3) The members of the Youth Advisory Committee shall be--
(a) all members of the Assembly under the age of 26 at the time of their election to the Assembly, and
(b) persons selected by the Assembly from outside the membership of the Assembly.
(4) The standing orders of the Assembly shall provide for the selection of the members referred to in subsection (3)(b).
(5) The Youth Advisory Committee shall elect one of the members of the committee to chair it.").

The noble Lord said: In the previous debate on regional committees, it was emphasised that that was somehow the most important issue facing the assembly in terms of its structure. In my view--I still adhere to this view even after a good dinner with my noble friend

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Lord Hooson--that is pandering to the old allegiances of Wales. My amendment is an attempt to create a different kind of citizenship. The reason why I propose the establishment of a youth advisory committee for the assembly and why I flag it up at the top of the flagpole is because I believe that there are now opportunities to transform the nature of participatory democracy within our society through the enhancing and deepening of a notion of citizenship, particularly among the younger citizens of the country.

I propose that a youth advisory committee should be established. It would build on the existing work of our tremendous young people's movement in Wales. I shall not try to list all the bodies concerned, but I have personal experience of the activity of the Boys and Girls Clubs, and of the Urdd, the Welsh League of Youth, the activity of which was evidenced so dramatically last week in Pwllheli at the annual eisteddfod. I refer also to the activity of the young farmers' clubs, which will be demonstrated yet again soon at the Royal Welsh Show at Llanelwedd. There are many other youth organisations.

Young people's culture in Wales is now becoming internationally recognised as a force for change. It is of deep cultural interest. It is a great joy to me that two young men from the Conwy Valley, part of the Catatonia Band, with their CD "International Velvet", were recently, and still are, at the top of the charts and that the Super Furry Animals shot up to No. 12 with "Ice Hockey Hair" only last week. I speak of these things because I am privileged in my own family to have younger men than myself, of that generation, who are involved in the media and in music.

That generation of young people has passed through many of the conflicts about the old kinds of Welshness which still seem to bedevil some of your Lordships in our debates. There is a notion of a post-modern, recreated sense of Wales and a sense of a new Welsh citizenship. We need to recognise that in a practical and participatory way by recognising the contribution of those young people to the remaking of Wales and by involving them actively in our processes.

I suggest that the Welsh youth advisory committee to the assembly should meet in the assembly building, in the chamber when the assembly is not sitting--or perhaps even when it is sitting, but not on sitting days--and that it should contribute actively a critique of the activities of the assembly.

This is not middle-aged paternalism on my part. I move this amendment because I believe that the creation of a new citizenship is an appropriate mission for the assembly. That citizenship must reverberate in another context which we discussed very late last night. I was very pleased with the response of the Solicitor-General on the question of the involvement of all the minority communities in Wales of whatever ethnic background. (I hate the word "ethnic", but it is a word in regular parlance to describe differences in culture and background.) I want that involvement to be

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part of the celebration of a diverse citizenship. This amendment more than any other gives us the opportunity to do that. I beg to move.

Lord Prys-Davies: I support this amendment probably for the same reason as that advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas. In discussion with young people in Wales I do not detect political concern about the future so much as a concern that they should be involved in reforming the institutions of our society. I am not so sure that this is a new development. When I read the life history of Aneurin Bevan and James Griffiths I find the same impulse driving them forward. I should like to think that this is not just a modern development but is part of the history of Wales. It may well be that there are no members of the assembly under the age of 26 at the time of the election. Nevertheless, I believe that this amendment is very important. The critical words here are "may establish". I am sure that this should be drawn to the attention of the advisory committee and in due course the assembly.

Lord Davies of Coity: I believe that there must be a voice and expression for youth. I hope that some members of the assembly will be under the age of 26. The noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, referred to a number of organisations who represented young people in Wales in various fora. I wonder whether this is sufficient to draw to the attention of the assembly, by way of representations through those organisations, the advice that this clause suggests should be provided to the assembly. The provision is not mandatory; it refers to "may" rather than "shall" or "must". Therefore, there is an option as to whether the assembly establishes it or not. One wonders whether it is necessary to have this further tier of advice for the assembly through this kind of forum when there will be many other organisations representing young people in Wales who will be putting advice both to the assembly and presumably the regional advisory committees in any event.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, has this evening tabled a number of amendments which suggest additional committees in the assembly. I suspect that he has become rather worried because I have been sympathetic to his point of view and have understood his argument. On one occasion I tried to give his amendment a fair wind as it moved towards the Minister. On this amendment I shall redeem his reputation. I cannot support it. I fully appreciate the importance of involving young people in politics and the government of our country. But when I read an amendment like this it smacks of tokenism. I could shift youth and put down pensioners who are also a major group in our society; or I could put down women (if that were possible) or the disabled or ethnic minorities. There is a big danger here. Once one goes down this road people want more and more committees representing different groups.

As an outsider, the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, made an impassioned plea against the regionalisation of Wales, setting one region against another by having

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regional committees. I believe that his argument carried some logic. I fear that that logic has been set aside during the dinner hour and we have reached an illogical position. If it is of any assistance to the Minister, he will have my support if he decides to reject this amendment.

Lord Hooson: I am sure that the Committee agrees that the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, should not disturb or upset the early election campaign of the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas in this way. All noble Lords agree that youth should be encouraged to stand for the assembly in all parties. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies. He will remember the time when he was a wild young politician in Aberystwyth and I was an equally wild young politician on the other side. We did not need to be encouraged to go into politics; we had the instinct to do so. All of us would like to see young people stand for the assembly and become members of it.

But I believe that it is a little mean of the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas--who has admitted for the first time, as I recollect, that he is middle-aged--to adopt a cut-off point of 26. The amendment provides that the members of the youth advisory committee should all be members of the assembly under the age of 26 at the time of their election to the assembly. One would have thought that 30 was a reasonable age, but there we are. The noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, always has his own agenda and 26 must be a magical figure in his mind. But I do not believe that we need statutory young people, as it were; we need young people who are impelled to go into politics. No doubt they can be leavened by some wise and experienced heads in the assembly, like that of the middle-aged gentleman, the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas. But I do not believe that it is necessary to lay down what the assembly should and should not do by way of committees.

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