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Government of Wales Act 2006

Proceedings etc.

Section 31: Standing orders

143.This section requires Assembly proceedings (which include the proceedings of committees and sub-committees) to be regulated by standing orders.

144.Amongst matters for which standing orders must, under provisions of the Act other than this section itself, expressly make provision are the following:

Section 10(8)Determining the date on which a constituency vacancy is treated as occurring.
Section 23(2)Specifying the person before whom Assembly members are to take the oath or make the affirmation of allegiance.
Section 27(3)Appointment of the four members (other than the Presiding Officer, who is appointed automatically) of the Assembly Commission.
Section 28(3)Provision about the membership, chairing and procedure of the Assembly’s committees and their sub-committees – note that such provision must, in relation to committees, meet the requirements of section 29.
Section 36Provisions in relation to registration and declaration of members’ interests, prohibition of paid advocacy and for defining (or providing for the definition by code or protocol) the respective roles and modes of description of constituency and regional Assembly members.
Section 98Procedures for scrutinising proposed Assembly Measures.
Section 111Procedures for scrutinising Assembly Bills.

145.The Act also empowers (but does not oblige) standing orders to be made covering, amongst others, the following matters:

Section 20(6)(a)Provisions for remuneration of Assembly members (including provisions conferring functions on the Assembly Commission).
Section 21(3)(a)Provisions for limiting the salaries of Assembly members (including provisions conferring functions on the Assembly Commission).
Section 25Provisions for the exercise of the Presiding Officer’s functions by the Deputy Presiding Officer, or by any other person where both the Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer are unable to act or their offices are vacant; and participation by the Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer in Assembly proceedings.
Section 28(1)Provision for the appointment of committees to the Assembly, and for those committees to have the power to appoint sub-committees.
Section 28(4)Exclusion from the proceedings of Assembly committees and their sub-committees of Assembly members who are not members of those committees and sub-committees.
Section 31Exclusion of members from Assembly proceedings, and withdrawal of members’ rights and privileges.
Section 34Participation of the Counsel General (if not an Assembly member) in Assembly proceedings.
Section 37(7)(b)Power of committees or sub-committees to call for witnesses and documents.
Section 40(1)Administration of the oath or affirmation to witnesses in Assembly proceedings.
Section 40(4)Payment of allowances and expenses to witnesses in Assembly proceedings and those producing documents for Assembly proceedings.
Section 53(7)(a)Remuneration of Welsh Ministers, Deputy Welsh Ministers and the Counsel General (including provisions conferring functions on the Assembly Commission).

146.Because of the change in the structure and functions of the Assembly the standing orders relating to the Assembly constituted under GoWA will not be suitable for use in relation to the Assembly constituted under this Act. Consequently, new standing orders will need to be provided in readiness for use by the Assembly at its first meeting after the May 2007 election.

147.Paragraph 20 of Schedule 11 sets out how the new standing orders are to be made. In summary, the new standing orders must be made by the Secretary of State by no later than 31st March 2007. In making the standing orders, the Secretary of State must give effect to proposals submitted to the Secretary of State by the Assembly (as currently established) no later than 28th February 2007, provided that those proposals have been approved by a two-thirds voting majority in the Assembly. As a minimum, the standing orders have to include the mandatory provisions required by the Act . Both the standing orders made by the Secretary of State, and the Assembly’s proposals as to what provisions they should include, must be made in both English and Welsh.

148.The standing orders are to have effect as the standing orders for the reconstituted Assembly at and from its first meeting after the ordinary election in May 2007, unless and until they are remade or revised by the Assembly in accordance with section 31(7), which requires any changes to the standing orders to be approved by a two-thirds voting majority in the Assembly.

149.Standing orders must make provision for preserving order in Assembly proceedings, including provision for preventing conduct that could constitute a criminal offence or contempt of court and provision for a sub judice rule to prevent matters which are the subject of ongoing court proceedings to be raised in questions or debate.

150.Standing orders may include provision for excluding Assembly members from proceedings and for withdrawing from an Assembly member rights and privileges of membership.

151.Standing orders must make provision for Assembly proceedings normally to be held in public, but allows standing orders to specify circumstances where committee proceedings may be in private. They may set out conditions with which members of the public who are attending Assembly proceedings must comply, and can provide for the exclusion of a member of the public who does not comply with those conditions.

152.Standing orders must provide for those Assembly proceedings that are held in public to be reported, and for reports to be published as soon as practicable.

153.The Assembly may, by resolution supported by at least two-thirds of the members voting, remake or revise the standing orders. The Clerk of the Assembly must publish standing orders from time to time.

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