All 1 Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe contributions to the Wales Act 2017

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Wed 18th Jan 2017
Wales Bill
Lords Chamber

3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords

Wales Bill Debate

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Department: Wales Office

Wales Bill

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe Excerpts
3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 18th January 2017

(7 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Wales Act 2017 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 89-I Marshalled list for Third Reading (PDF, 62KB) - (17 Jan 2017)
Lord Elis-Thomas Portrait Lord Elis-Thomas (Non-Afl)
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I think that it is a curate’s egg. I am a Welsh Anglican; I know these things.

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe Portrait Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe (Lab)
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It is a parson’s nose.

Lord Wigley Portrait Lord Wigley
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My noble friend is of course far better versed than I am in these matters. It may well be, as the noble Baroness suggests, that the parson’s nose is coming to the fore in my consideration of some of the more controversial aspects of the Bill.

As the Minister knows, the Plaid Cymru group in the Assembly voted against the legislative consent Motion yesterday, for the simple reason that the Assembly is losing some powers, as we noted in a number of debates in the Chamber in Committee and on Report. Some of those powers may well have been assumed or unclear, but none the less they were used, some for substantive pieces of legislation. The existing legislative powers of the Assembly were endorsed by a 2:1 majority in a referendum in Wales in 2011 and some of the powers implicit in that vote are now being retracted. Some of the legislation enacted by the Assembly since that referendum was made using powers that will no longer be available to the National Assembly when the Bill becomes law. That is a perfectly valid basis on which to register a protest vote, as the Plaid Cymru group did in the Assembly yesterday. None the less, I hope that the Government of Wales will make full use of the powers now available to them under the Bill.

Sadly, the Bill does not provide the long-term settlement to which the Minister referred. No doubt in the fullness of time another Wales Bill will clear the uncertainties left by this Bill and address the issues, many covered by the Silk report, that were avoided in this Bill. Undoubtedly, for example, the devolution of police, prisons and justice will drive that demand, as well as more coherent powers over energy. By the way, I noted something that did not come to the fore during our early debates: the Home Office, which was then under Theresa May as Home Secretary, failed to give evidence to the Silk commission on these matters. I am sure that the Minister will recall that from his work on that committee. A whole new debate will arise, post-Brexit, on financial levers and further tax-varying powers.

Finally, I will say a word of tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, for the way in which he has conducted the passage of the Bill. His has been a stalwart performance—single-handed most of the time—and we admire the way in which he has kept on top of his brief throughout, although at times we disagreed with that brief. His experience, both as a key member of the Silk commission and a former party leader in the National Assembly, undoubtedly stood him in good stead in this matter. Many of us feel that there were times when he had to defend a government line when, in a previous incarnation, he may well have taken a different line. None the less, I hope that he will be recognised by his colleagues for the work that he has done and I hope that they will take note in future of the advice that he gives on matters relating to Wales. I hope that the Bill will help to the extent that that is possible within its limitations. I therefore wish well those who will live within the framework that is now being enacted.