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Government of Wales Act 2006

Committees, etc.

Section 28: Committees and sub-committees

125.This section allows the Assembly by its standing orders, to make provision for the establishment of committees, and for such committees to establish sub-committees. Only Assembly members may be members of committees or sub-committees.

126.Standing orders must make provision about the membership, chairing and procedure of committees and sub-committees and may make provision for excluding an Assembly member from the proceedings of a committee or sub-committee if the Assembly member is not a member of the committee or sub-committee.

127.Subsection (5) provides that the validity of any proceedings of a committee or sub-committee is not affected by vacancies in membership, defects in appointment, or non-compliance with standing orders relating to procedure.

Section 29: Composition of committees

128.Section 28(3) provides that standing orders must, among other things, contain provision about the membership of committees. Such provision must meet the requirements of section 29.

129.Section 29(2) requires the provision in standing orders to secure that appointments to the places on each committee are, if possible, to be determined by a resolution of the Assembly which secures that the membership of that committee reflects, so far as is reasonably practical, the overall representation of political groups in the Assembly. The, standing orders must also secure that, if such a resolution is passed on a vote, it will only have effect if two – thirds or more of the Assembly members voting support it.

130.Section 29(3) requires the provision in standing orders to secure that, in the event that the membership of a committee is not determined by a resolution of the Assembly which meets the criteria in section 29(2) (a) and (b), then appointments to each committee are made in accordance with the provisions of sub-sections (3) to (7), which are designed to ensure that places on each committee are allocated to political groups to reflect their overall representation in the Assembly

131.Under those provisions, the allocation of places on committees between different political groups must be made according to the d’Hondt formula, (another example of which is that used in section 9 in order to determine the allocation of electoral region seats in the Assembly for each region). The d’Hondt formula is also used in section 29 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to allocate committee chairs and deputy chairs. The formula is set out below.

132.No requirements (other than to make provision in standing orders) are imposed in relation to the composition of sub-committees, the chairing or the procedure of committees or sub-committees. Standing orders may make whatever provision is appropriate in relation to these matters.

133.The political group (if any) to which each Assembly member belongs is a matter to be determined by standing orders (section 24(5)) and questions arising as to the application of standing orders made in pursuance of this section are to be decided by the Presiding Officer (subsection (10)).

134.The first place on each committee is allocated to the political group with the largest number of Assembly members.

135.The second place is then allocated by comparing the figure X produced in relation to each political group by the formula:

where:

A

=

the number of seats in the Assembly currently held by members of the political group; and

B

=

the number of places on the committee that are already allocated to members of that political group.

136.After the first place is allocated to the largest political group X will be equal to A /2 for that group and will be equal to A for all the others. The second place on the committee is to be allocated to the political group which has the highest value for X at this stage.

137.B is then adjusted for the party to which the second place has been allocated and X is re-calculated for each political group and the revised value of X for each group is compared. Once more the political group with the highest value of X is allocated the next place on the committee.

138.The process is repeated until all the places on the committee have been filled. (The size of committees is not regulated by this section and is a matter to be decided in accordance with standing orders.)

139.Subsection (8) requires standing orders to specify how ties (i.e. cases where the calculation produces the same figure for X for two or more political groups) are to be resolved.

140.Provision must, under subsection (9), be made in the standing orders for securing, so far as is reasonably practicable having regard to the total number of committee places available, that a place on at least one committee is available for every Assembly member who does not belong to a political group, and that the total number of committee places allocated to each political group is at least equal to the number of Assembly members belonging to that group.

Section 30: Audit Committee

141.While generally it will be for the Assembly to decide what committees it wishes to establish, this section requires the Assembly to have an Audit Committee (or Pwyllgor Archwilio) in order to discharge certain statutory functions under this Act (such as taking evidence from any of the persons mentioned in section 143(3) if requested to do so by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts) and other legislation (such as the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004). The section allows the Assembly to rename the Audit Committee and provides that, in the event that the Assembly does so, references to the Audit Committee in enactments, instruments or documents are to be read as if they referred to the renamed committee.

142.This section requires standing orders to specify how many members the Audit Committee is to have. Provision made in standing orders in accordance with section 29, to aim to secure that the political composition of committees reflects the political composition of the Assembly, will apply to the Audit Committee. Seats on the Audit Committee may not be allocated to the First Minister (or anyone acting as such), any Welsh Minister or Deputy Welsh Minister or to the Counsel General (or anyone acting as such), and it may not be chaired by an Assembly member belonging to the largest government party.

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