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Lord Hooson: I am sure that the Minister will extend to this matter his invitation with regard to previous matters. I know that my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford will want to study the provision and that he may return to the Minister with points of detail. Generally, however, we very much appreciate, and approve of, what has been done. The Minister is correct to suggest that this provides a model which may be

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copied elsewhere. Based on experience of what at times have been ineffective procedures, this provision seeks to tighten the complaints procedures and those for responding to complaints. That is most acceptable.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We want the best that we can possibly get, not least by way of drafting. I am more than happy to accept proposals put to me either in correspondence or in personal meetings with officials.

The Earl of Balfour: I welcome this opportunity to ask one or two questions. Perhaps I may ask your Lordships to look at today's Marshalled List and particularly at Amendment No. 245, which introduces the new schedule. I refer particularly to page 28 of the Marshalled List and to paragraph 15(2), which states:

    "A body falls within this sub-paragraph if"--

and to sub-paragraph (b) which then states:

    "at least half of its expenditure on the exercise of functions in relation to Wales ... is met directly from payments made by the Assembly".

As the assembly, as I understand it, will not have its own fund-raising powers, I wonder whether the schedule is not being rather restrictive in asking the assembly to provide 50 per cent. of the funds. I should have thought that one-third would be quite satisfactory in this case.

My next question arises in relation to page 36. In paragraph 24(1)(b) one sees the words,

    "for the purposes of any proceedings for ... an offence under the Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1989".

I believe that there is an inconsistency here between this group of amendments and Amendments Nos. 119A and 254A which we discussed almost at the beginning of the proceedings. With the greatest respect to the Minister, I believe his earlier amendments are correct and that reference should be made to the Official Secrets Act 1989. If I remember correctly, that Act covers all the enactments between 1911 and 1989. I believe that there is an inconsistency here and it is worth raising a question upon it at this stage.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am not aware of any inconsistency but I shall research the matter and respond in the usual way to the noble Earl's question. As to his question as regards page 28, the assembly itself has no tax-raising power but it will be in receipt of significant funds--the overwhelming part of the £7 billion that is presently under the control of the Secretary of State. We believe that to take a half rather than a third is perfectly reasonable, but we shall similarly reflect on the noble Earl's point. Referring to the Official Secrets Act, I believe that this new provision is correct. However, I shall look at it again. As to funding, a number of examples can be given.

The Earl of Balfour: I thank the noble Lord for giving way. I do not intend to criticise the drafting. I believe that the provisions are perfectly correct. I merely refer to the difference in wording between the

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amendments moved earlier today and the amendment now being moved with reference to the Official Secrets Act.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I shall check and check again and write to the noble Earl.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 202A not moved.]

Clause 71, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 72 [Accountability]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 202B:

Page 36, line 44, leave out ("meetings") and insert ("proceedings").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 202C:

Page 37, line 3, leave out from ("any") to first ("to") in line 5 and insert ("proceedings of the Assembly (including proceedings of a committee of the Assembly or of a sub-committee of such a committee) which have taken place, or are to take place,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 72, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 73 [Integrity]:

Lord Monson moved Amendment No. 202CA:

Page 37, leave out lines 15 to 17.

The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment. Its purpose is to remove the requirement to declare a non-financial interest. No one can object to the requirement to declare financial interests, which obviously should include the financial interests of family and friends. Although the latter obligation may result in a few borderline cases, on the whole the financial interest requirement is straightforward and free from ambiguities and grey areas.

The same cannot be said of non-financial interests. Even the word "interest" in a non-financial context is peculiar when one comes to think about it. For example, there are some who take the view that if one's third cousin twice removed was mugged five years previously one should declare that fact before speaking in support of a Bill, in this place or another place, the aim of which is to increase maximum sentences for crimes of violence. There are others--the majority, I would hope--who contend that that is being preposterously pernickety and way over the top.

The trouble is that no one is sure where the line should be drawn where non-financial interests are concerned. If someone misjudges the precise location of that line in this place or the other place, nothing remotely serious is likely to occur. Indeed, in nearly all cases nothing is likely to occur. But things will be very different where the Welsh assembly is concerned. Clause 73(5) permits the total exclusion from the assembly, and any of its committees, and sub-committees, of anyone who fails to declare a non-financial interest, plus the withdrawal of all rights and privileges for the time being.

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Clause 73(6) goes even further, and allows for the prosecution of such an individual, which can result in a fine of up to £5,000 being imposed upon him or her. For a minor transgression which involves not a whiff of financial corruption those penalties seem ridiculously disproportionate. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: It seems to me that the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Monson, are directed at two matters. The first is whether there should be an offence relating to non-financial interests; and the second is what should be the consequences by way of sanction.

It is important to recognise that many interests of significance need not necessarily be financial. Indeed, yesterday, we spent what was not the happy hour, but certainly a happy hour, with a number of us declaring various interests to do with the University of Wales, none of which, I am happy to say, had anything to do with financial interests of any sort. We were dealing, for instance, with the questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, about HEFCW and the funding of the university. He, the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, my noble friend Lord Prys-Davies and others all declared interests in the fact that they are connected with the university or, in some cases, had been. That is the proper thing to do, not because our own judgment or our own vote would be affected but because there might be the thought outside that it could have been.

There are other interests which are non-financial. They should be declared and properly registered on these occasions. If there is a trivial oversight, which is likely to happen to all of us, because we may have forgotten that 10 years ago we were the trustee of a society for which we had no remuneration, it is open to the assembly to take its own sensible course. It might be to take no action; it might be to reprimand; it might be in a gross case that a prosecution would be instituted. The sanction range is there. It would be used with discretion. Particularly these days, when there are significant suspicions about what motivates men and women in public life, to limit the requirement to financial matter would be too restrictive. The range of sanctions is there to be used discreetly.

Lord Monson: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. I am sorry that more Members of the Committee did not join in, because I think that it is an important topic. I seem to have drawn the short straw again in the timing of my amendment, but there it is. The noble Lord summed up accurately the aims of the amendment. The trouble is that there is a philosophical gulf here. I have always taken the view that unless there is positive corruption it is a waste of time and effort declaring a non-financial interest. The idea, for example, that someone declares that he is secretary of a bridge club before speaking on a proposal to encourage the teaching of bridge among sixth-formers is preposterous. However, I acknowledge that other people feel differently about it. I appear to be a minority at present. Therefore I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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10.15 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendments Nos. 202D to 202J:

Page 37, line 21, leave out ("Standing orders made in pursuance of subsection (1) or (2)") and insert ("The standing orders").
Page 37, line 25, leave out ("with") and insert ("if he has").
Page 37, line 26, at end insert (", and
(b) for preventing or restricting the exercise of a function by a member of the executive committee, or the exercise of a function by an Assembly member by virtue of section 60(6), if he has a registrable interest, or an interest mentioned in subsection (2), in any matter to which the function relates").
Page 37, line 27, at beginning insert ("The").
Page 37, line 36, at beginning insert ("The").
Page 38, line 2, leave out ("subsections (1) to (3),") and insert ("subsection (1), (2) or (3)(a),
( ) exercises any function in contravention of any provision included in the standing orders in pursuance of subsection (3)(b),").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to these amendments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 73, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 74 [Publication]:

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