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Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: I shall go back a bit to get the context. I am sure that noble Lords are aware that, since the Government of Wales Act 2006 received Royal Assent last year, the Government have

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been undertaking a substantial programme of secondary legislation comprising 11 orders properly to settle matters of technical detail that flow from the Act. This order is simply one part of that wider programme, and the process of clarifying and defining the exact boundaries of Schedule 7 to match the existing executive functions of the Welsh Ministers has involved detailed discussions between UK government departments and the Welsh Assembly Government. This has been undertaken over the past seven months and is not something that could properly be accomplished in a very short timescale or as an expedient reaction to circumstances.

The noble Lord referred to Articles 7 and 8. I welcome the fact that he has no criticism of the tighter definitions that they represent, and can confirm again that one purpose is to ensure that the Assembly’s legislative competence is intended to fit within the boundaries of the devolution settlement rather than extending into areas which remain the responsibility of the UK Government. Having acknowledged that situation, and confirming that he has no criticism of it, I do not follow the noble Lord when he suggests that the public would be surprised that nuclear energy and installations are excluded. They have always been a matter for the UK Government, in Wales as in England. This order simply seeks to make that clear. It does not mean that local people and their representatives cannot have their say. The UK Government’s current consultation on nuclear offers the opportunity for the public and representative groups to set out their views. The Government are committed to a diverse energy mix to ensure that we keep the lights on.

I shall take this opportunity to explain to the noble Lord that registration for local bus services has been excepted from the Assembly’s legislative competence because there is a unified system of traffic commissioners across Great Britain. Although traffic commissioners are appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport, they have a quasi-judicial role so, as a result, operate largely independent of government. The role of the traffic commissioners is also not related to the power of Welsh Ministers to give subsidies to bus services. Their role is to ensure that bus operators operate their routes in accordance with the details of their services which they have registered. As a result, it is appropriate for this to be excepted, and the Assembly agrees to that.

I can also assure the Committee that, although transport emergency planning remains the responsibility of the UK Government, for Wales as for England, the UK Government work closely with the Welsh Assembly Government to ensure that UK civil protection policy and planning is tailored to Welsh needs in Wales. I am pleased that the noble Lord agrees with the clarification on the exclusion of occupational and personal pensions—a matter raised by a number of noble Lords—social security payments and various benefits from the scope of Assembly legislation. The noble Lord is correct in observing that the revised wording in Article 11 on water and flood defence more accurately reflects the current division of responsibilities between the UK

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Government and the Welsh Assembly Government, and removes any ambiguities present in the previous Schedule 7.

I welcome the acute observation of the noble Lord, Lord Roberts—taken up by the noble Lord, Lord Livsey—that there are no fewer than seven references to fish. In legislation, the term “animal” sometimes includes fish and sometimes it does not. These amendments seek to put beyond doubt the fact that fish will be within the Assembly’s legislative competence. I therefore assure the noble Lord that this order has widespread support from the UK Government and the Welsh Assembly, and welcome the fact that neither he nor any other noble Lord has a fundamental objection to the order as a whole.

I shall pick up on a few of the other questions. As I have said, we will write if we fail to answer a question. The noble Lord, Lord Livsey, asked about nuclear energy and installations, and whether Wales should have the ability to legislate. The Assembly will not be able to legislate on renewable energy—that is, the LNG pipeline—which I think I dealt with in my speech. The noble Lord also said that there was no ability to have a public inquiry in relation to the LNG pipeline or nuclear waste disposal. The Assembly can hold inquiries only into areas where the Welsh Ministers have executive functions, so it is right that the Assembly cannot hold inquiries that stray beyond this boundary. Currently, Welsh Ministers have power only under the Inquiries Act 2005 to hold inquiries into devolved matters.

The noble Lord, Lord Livsey, and my noble friend Lord Jones also asked about English and Welsh water company areas. Certain water issues are devolved on a water company basis rather than on an all-Wales basis. Therefore, although some Welsh residents are served by companies regulated by the Secretary of State, the converse is also true. Some English residents are served by Welsh companies. I shall write to Members of the Committee with a list of those companies, which I do not have with me. The amendment relating to nuclear power has no

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relevance to the plans for the Wylfa power station, a matter which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Jones.

My noble friend Lord Rowlands asked whether the Assembly was consulted on this order with regard to the Explanatory Memorandum and the two clauses in two Bills conferring matters of legislative competence on the Assembly. Clauses in the Bill are subject to normal parliamentary scrutiny, debated in Committee in the House of Commons and on the Floor of the House of Lords. I have dealt with the fact that the Assembly does not have to approve this order. Negotiations have been conducted between the UK Government and the Welsh Assembly Government to arrive at the provisions. My noble friend Lord Rowlands also asked why the Assembly does not have competence over electricity matters. This reflects the current devolution settlement. The Welsh Ministers have no executive functions in this area.

The noble Lord, Lord Jones, asked whether pensions of WDA employees were safeguarded. They are not affected by this order. WDA employees are employed by the Assembly Government and are thus civil servants. The noble Lord also asked whether the SI had been prepared carefully in conjunction with the Prime Minister’s Statement today. It was prepared and laid before the Statement was made; it is the result of seven months’ work by officials, the Welsh Assembly Government and the UK Government. I was here in this Room when the Prime Minister made his Statement in the other place and it was repeated here, and I am looking forward to reading it. But the SI has certainly not been made in conjunction with that Statement.

I am grateful for the great interest in this order. We have had a long discussion. If I have failed to answer any questions, I shall write to noble Lords. I take the opportunity to say goodbye to the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, as a spokesperson, though not as a friend and Back-Bencher.

On Question, Motion agreed to.


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