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Lord Kenyon: My Lords, there are two issues represented by this group of amendments. The second issue has been very adequately covered by my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish; namely, the membership and chairmanship of the scrutiny committees and the audit committees. But the first issue is Amendment No. 72, which relates to Clause 55. That deals with the actual membership of the sub-committees themselves.

I believe that the intention in the Bill is that the membership of the sub-committees should be broadly representative of the political balance in the whole of the assembly. Clause 54(2)(b) states,

I should like to know why that is not repeated in Clause 55(3) so that the political balance remains the same on the sub-committees. It does not seem to me that my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish is going quite far enough in that respect.

11.45 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, raised these points in Committee. I did not think then--I am not sure that I think it now--that his concerns were justified, but I have written to him saying that we shall do our best to meet them. The effect of our amendments would be to prevent the largest party of representation on the executive committee from taking the chairmanships of the scrutiny and audit committees. Smaller parties with representation on the executive committee could still take them. It would be possible to prevent that by provisions in standing orders. If we went down the road suggested in Amendments Nos. 84, 85 and 88, the "grand coalition", to which the noble Lord referred, would lead to no one being able to assume any chairing responsibility of any sort. I believe that our tranche of amendments would meet the noble Lord's reasonable concerns.

Amendment No. 72 would not permit the establishment of any subcommittee in the circumstances of a coalition of all the parties. That is unlikely, but we think that it would be better not to include in the Bill a provision which depends on the unlikely not happening.

We think it proper to adopt the standing order that subcommittees must include at least one member from a party not represented on the executive committee. I am happy to take that question on board.

I am not sure that I have fully grasped the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Kenyon, but that is undoubtedly my fault. It may be because we have sat here for quite some time. Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to consider this point and write to him, which I promise to do as promptly as I may.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I am sure that my noble friend will be content with that

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response. My noble friend has a point and he has suggested a better way to deal with this matter than I have proposed, so I, too, shall study it. Ironically, earlier today--a lot earlier!--I envisaged certain electoral circumstances which the Minister told me were totally unlikely and he said that we did not therefore need to deal with them. Now I am told that we cannot possibly change the Bill in the way that I suggest because there might possibly be the unlikely event of a grand coalition. The Minister is trying to have it both ways, but at this time of night, I am hoping for only one way; namely, one way home to my bed! For that reason, I am content to beg leave to withdraw my amendment, to welcome the Minister's amendments, as far as they go, and to thank him for accepting that there was a bit of a problem here.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 56 [Executive committee]:

[Amendment No. 73 not moved.]

Clause 57 [Subject committees]:

Lord Elis-Thomas moved Amendment No. 74:

Page 29, line 45, at end insert--
("(9) Each subject committee shall be responsible for monitoring the performance of the non-departmental public bodies within the fields covered by that subject committee.
(10) Each subject committee shall be responsible for deciding on any appointments which may be made to the boards of non-departmental public bodies.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I should like to home in briefly on the second subsection of this amendment which relates to responsibility for the appointment of members of NDPBs and the responsibility being laid on subject committees. At col. 376 and onwards in Committee (3rd June), we discussed a number of issues in relation to the role of public bodies and the assembly and I received a number of useful assurances.

However, perhaps we did not deal in sufficient detail with the question of whether there would be a role for subject committees in agreeing appointments to NDPBs. That proposal is very much in line with the Nolan and Neill procedures for such bodies in that it opens them out to selection and appointment procedures beyond individual secretaries. In ensuring transparency and accountability, it would be appropriate that the government of the day in the assembly, the executive, should not be the sole source of appointments to NDPBs, but that the subject committees should have a role. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, we discussed this matter at some length at Committee stage. My response remains the same. I agree with the sentiments that the noble Lord then expressed and has repeated briefly this evening. One wants a creative relationship between subject committees and the non-departmental public bodies. He mentioned his particular public body; the Welsh Language Board.

I entirely agree with the noble Lord. It is for the assembly to put in place arrangements that provide proper democratic accountability. After all, there are

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provisions to allow subject committees to summon the members and staff of public bodies to give evidence and provide documents.

As to the subject committees, that is still under consideration by NAAG. I can assist your Lordships and in particular the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas. I believe that there are likely to be recommendations involving the committees in the procedures about which we have been speaking. I cannot pre-empt that work. NAAG is coming to the end of its work. I believe that what it recommends will be pleasing and satisfactory to the noble Lord. I cannot give him an absolute reassurance. I understand his concerns. Obviously, this is a very important aspect, for the reason that the assembly was set up in the first place. I hope that what I have said is helpful.

Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, as always, what the Minister says is helpful but it is particularly so in this instance. I look forward to the NAAG report on this issue and the response to it. On that basis I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 58 [Subordinate legislation scrutiny committee]:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 75:

Page 30, line 2, leave out ("subordinate legislation") and insert ("relevant Welsh subordinate legislation.
(1A) For the purposes of this section "relevant Welsh subordinate legislation" is any subordinate legislation--
(a) which is made or proposed to be made, or
(b) which, or a draft of which, is (or but for paragraph 2(4) of Schedule 7 would be) required to be confirmed or approved,
by the Assembly (whether or not jointly with a Minister of the Crown or government department).").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 75. This group comprises Amendments Nos. 75 to 82 and 93 and 94. Of those, Amendments Nos. 75 to 79 inclusive and Amendments Nos. 81 and 82 are government amendments. I shall speak to those first and in closing deal with any other amendments in this group that may be moved or referred to. This is the first of four sets of amendments that we tabled in response to points made by noble Lords at Committee stage. These amendments effect a restructuring of Clause 58. Earlier I placed in the Library a copy of a letter to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, which shows how the clause would appear if these amendments were adopted.

The assembly will have important powers to make subordinate legislation. The Government's clear view is that it should be able to do this without excessive nannying oversight by Parliament. For this reason, Clause 44 of the Bill generally disapplies parliamentary procedures for assembly subordinate legislation. Clause 58 then requires the assembly to put in place its own scrutiny procedures.

Most assembly subordinate legislation will fall into the category of assembly general subordinate legislation which is defined in subsection (6) of Clause 58 as

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amended by Amendments Nos. 78 and 79. The subordinate legislation scrutiny committee will have specific responsibilities in respect of assembly general subordinate legislation. These are set out in subsection (4), as amended by Amendment No. 76. These responsibilities amount to a species of internal review as against the external scrutiny provided now in respect of ministerial subordinate legislation by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.

However, the subordinate legislation scrutiny committee may also be given responsibilities in respect of the general category of "relevant Welsh subordinate legislation" which is defined in Amendment No. 75. This category includes assembly general subordinate legislation, but goes wider to take in, for example, orders made jointly with a Minister of the Crown. The assembly could give scrutiny responsibilities to its scrutiny committee in respect of such orders. I think that this meets a concern expressed at Committee stage by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, and my noble friend Lord Prys-Davies. The remaining Amendments Nos. 77, 81 and 82 are drafting amendments to create the right structure for the clause.

I believe that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, has done the House a service in asking us to look again at this clause. We have done so and I hope that the House approves the result of that re-examination. I beg to move.

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