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Wales Act 2014

Section 3: MPs to be disqualified from membership of Assembly

16.The practice of simultaneously being an AM and a member of the House of Commons (commonly known as "double jobbing") has been the source of some criticism. In its 2009 report on “MPs’ Expenses and Allowances: Supporting Parliament, safeguarding the taxpayer”, the Committee on Standards in Public Life examined the issue and recommended “that the practice of holding dual mandates in both the House of Commons and the devolved legislatures should be brought to an end as soon as possible. Ideally that would happen by the time of the scheduled elections to the three devolved legislatures in May 2011, or failing that by 2015 at the very latest.”

17.Subsection (1) of section 3 inserts a new paragraph (za) into section 16(1) of GOWA 2006 to provide that members of the House of Commons are disqualified from being members of the Assembly.

18.Subsection (2) of section 3 sets out some limited exceptions to the disqualification of MPs from membership of the Assembly.

19.A new section 17A(1) in GOWA 2006 provides that when an MP is elected to the Assembly, they have eight days’ grace in which to resign their seat in the House of Commons before becoming disqualified from becoming an AM. Given that technically an MP cannot resign, this grace period is to allow them time in which to ask to be appointed to an office such as the Steward or Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds in order to disqualify them from the House of Commons. This allows them to continue as an AM rather than an MP.

20.New section 17A(2) deals with a person who (a) is a candidate for election to the House of Commons, (b) is returned at an Assembly election as an AM, and (c) is then subsequently elected to the House of Commons. In this situation, they would not be disqualified from being an AM in the eight days following the day on which they are returned as such. Again, this allows an AM some time in which to disqualify themselves from their seat in the House of Commons. Alternatively, if an Assembly election and a Westminster election take place on the same day or in close proximity, and a candidate is elected at both, this provision would allow them eight days in which to decide which seat to take up.

21.The period of grace is only given to a person who is a “candidate” for election to the House of Commons on being returned as an AM. No period of grace is otherwise given to an existing AM who is then elected to the House of Commons. Such a person will, on successful return to Westminster, automatically be disqualified for membership of the Assembly under section 16(1)(za) of GOWA 2006. No grace period is required because the Assembly does not have the same restrictions on resigning that exist at Westminster.

22.Subsection (2) of section 3 also inserts new section 17B into GOWA 2006. This applies where an AM is returned as an MP within the period of 372 days before an expected Assembly general election. The period of 372 days reflects the maximum period possible (even allowing for leap years) between a scheduled Westminster general election and the subsequent scheduled Assembly election. If an AM was elected at a scheduled Westminster general election, they would therefore not be disqualified under section 16(1)(za) of GOWA 2006 because section 17B allows a limited period of “double-jobbing”. In these circumstances, an AM would retain their seat so that the expense of a by-election is avoided when a scheduled Assembly election is only approximately one year away.

23.Subsections (4) and (5) of section 3 make consequential amendments to the National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2007 (SI 2007/236). Article 34 (false statements in nomination papers) and rule 9(4)(c)(ii) of Schedule 5 (Assembly election rules) are amended to include reference to the disqualification of MPs provision in section 16(1)(za) of GOWA 2006.

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