Stage 1 - National Assembly for Wales

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Stage 1 - National Assembly for Wales

The National Assembly for Wales is the democraticallyelected body that represents the interests of Wales andits people, makes laws for Wales and holds the WelshGovernment to account.An electronic copy of this report can be found on the National Assembly’s website:www.assemblywales.orgCopies of this report can also be obtained in accessible formats including Braille, large print;audio or hard copy from:Legislation OfficeNational Assembly for WalesCardiff BayCF99 1NAEmail: Legislationoffice@wales.gov.uk© National Assembly for Wales Commission Copyright 2011The text of this document may be reproduced free of charge in any format or mediumproviding that it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading or derogatorycontext. The material must be acknowledged as copyright of the National Assembly forWales Commission and the title of the document specified.


ContentsStage 1 - Consideration of general principles ............................................... 1Introduction ................................................................................... 1Referral of Bill to a ‘responsible committee’ .................................... 1Role of the responsible committee ............................................... 1Stage 1 scrutiny by responsible committee .................................. 2Consideration of Bill by other Assembly committees ....................... 2The Stage 1 debate ......................................................................... 3Completion of Stage 1 .................................................................... 3


Stage 1 - Consideration of general principlesIntroduction1. Section 111(1)(a) of the Government of Wales Act 2006 requiresthe Assembly’s Standing Orders to include provision for generaldebate on a Bill with an opportunity for Assembly Members to vote onits general principles.2. Stage 1 of the Assembly’s legislative process gives effect to thisrequirement and involves the consideration of the general principles ofa Bill by a committee, and the agreement of those general principlesby the Assembly.3. Standing Orders 26.9 to 26.15 provide the framework for stage 1.Referral of Bill to a ‘responsible committee’4. Once a Bill has been introduced into the Assembly, the BusinessCommittee must decide whether or not to refer it to a committee forconsideration of the general principles (Standing Order 26.9). Where itdecides to refer a Bill to a committee, the Business Committee mustalso establish and publish a timetable within which the committee isrequired to report (Standing Order 26.7).5. The committee to which the Bill is referred by the BusinessCommittee is known as the ‘responsible committee’.6. If the Business Committee decides not to refer the Bill to aresponsible committee at stage 1, the Member in charge of the Billmay table a motion proposing that the Assembly agrees to the generalprinciples of the Bill (Standing Order 26.12).Role of the responsible committee7. The role of the responsible committee at stage 1 is to considerand report on the general principles of the Bill (also referred to as‘stage 1 scrutiny’).8. The work of the committee at this stage will focus on examiningthe principal purpose or purposes of the Bill, rather than looking at thefine detail (which is a matter for stages 2 and 3, and the Report stagewhere appropriate).1


9. In conducting its scrutiny, the responsible committee may wish toconsider:– the aims/policy objectives of the Bill;– whether a legislative approach is necessary to achieve thoseaims/objectives; and– whether the Bill, as drafted, is capable of achieving its statedaims/objectives.Stage 1 scrutiny by responsible committee10. There are no specific requirements in Standing Orders relating tohow the responsible committee carries out its work. However, it isgenerally expected that the committee will invite representations frominterested parties usually by asking for written and oral evidence toinform its work.11. It is usual practice for a call for written evidence to be issued bythe responsible committee at the beginning of its stage 1 proceedings,and for oral evidence to be heard from a range of interestedstakeholders, as well as the Member in charge of the Bill (usually theMinister), over a number of meetings.12. At the end of its stage 1 scrutiny, the responsible committee mustpublish a report, which may contain a recommendation that theAssembly either agrees or does not agree to the general principles ofthe Bill. The report may also contain recommendations foramendments to the Bill, based on the information the committee hasreceived.Consideration of Bill by other Assembly committeesSubordinate legislation provisions in a Bill13. Where a Bill contains powers for Welsh Ministers to makesubordinate legislation, the Constitutional and Legislative AffairsCommittee may consider and report on the relevant provisions of theBill (Standing Order 21.7).Financial aspects of a Bill14. The Finance Committee may also consider and report on thefinancial implications of the Bill where the Committee feels it isappropriate (Standing Order 19.2.)2


The Stage 1 debate15. Once the responsible committee has reported on the Bill (or hasfailed to report in the time allotted), or in cases where the BusinessCommittee has decided not to refer the Bill to a committee, time willbe allocated in plenary for the Assembly to debate and decide whetherto agree to the general principles of the Bill – the ‘stage 1 debate’.16. There must be at least 5 working days between the date theresponsible committee reported on the general principles of the Bill (orthe deadline by which that committee should have reported) and thedate of the stage 1 debate (Standing Order 26.11).17. The stage 1 debate takes place on a motion by the Member incharge of the Bill, "That the Assembly agrees to the general principlesof the [title] Bill". Such a motion may be amended, but any amendmentthat might cast doubt on whether the Assembly agrees to the generalprinciples or not, or which seeks to amend the Bill, will not beaccepted.Completion of Stage 118. Stage 1 is completed following a vote by the Assembly on thegeneral principles of the Bill (Standing Order 26.15).19. If the Assembly agrees the general principles of the Bill, itproceeds to Stage 2, i.e. detailed consideration of the Bill by acommittee (Standing Order 26.13).20. If the Assembly does not agree to the general principles of theBill, the Bill falls and no further action is taken on it (Standing Order26.14).3

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