Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Law Making Assembly on its way.

Yesterday saw the first step on the road to a law making National Assembly for Wales. Since the people of Wales voted in favour of devolution on Sept.18th 1997, I have believed this type of Assembly is the only logical constitution for Wales. The current arrangement is not worthwhile. Not all members of my own political party agree with me about this - but I genuinely believe that at some stage a majority will, and it will eventually become Conservative Party policy. My respect for the opinions of those who disagree with me influences my opinion about how the Convention, which was announced yesterday, is to be set up to prepare the ground for the referendum on law making powers should operate. There is a big task ahead.

I do not know Sir Emyr Parry Jones - but he is a 'big fish' and something of a catch So I welcome his appointment. I look forward to learning what he is going to do. Is he going to consider things like the number of Assembly Members and the voting system? Or is he going to recommend that more subject areas be devolved? Or is he just going to conduct an ongoing poll of public opinion and recommend ways of persuading people to vote 'Yes'. I suspect the answer is No to all these questions. But I do not know the questions to which the answer would be 'Yes'.

The only aspect of all this that I feel sure about (and this may surprise you) is that there must be real engagement with those who oppose the whole idea. I understand why many people opposed devolution (because I was one of them) and why they are suspicious of going further - but I have found it difficult to engage with, or even find, argument that is intellectually based, rather than instinct based. The Parry Jones Convention must find a way of engaging with the anti opinion if it is to have any point. I do wish him and his team well. I will be supporting his work and campaigning for a Yes vote when the referendum comes - probably in 2011.


alanindyfed said...

Referring to the comments in the Western Mail by your Mr Crabb
I suggest that Wales is steaming ahead towards it parliamentary destiny, and he joins the Labour and Conservative MPs at Westminster who are holding back the tide in their belief that Wales is essentially the same place as England, which it never was, being substantially different socially, psychologically and culturally.
Thus the differences are inherent in the character of the people and have always been so.

Glyn Davies said...

Alan - I have not read Stephen's reported comments - so my comment is not related to his words.
I, myself do not accept that there are these great difference between England and Wales that you talk about. There certainly are regional differences across the UK, which cannot be broken down along Offa's Dyke and Hadrian's Wall. There are also big cultural and social differences within Wales which flow from industrial history and geographical inaccessibility. But lines have to be drawn somewhere, and Offa's Dyke is good enough for me. Which is why there must be major investment in linking North, Mid, West and South Wales into a unified nation. If you lived near the England/Wales border, your view would be different. What you see depends on where you stand.

I concede that there are several serious politicians in my party (and other parties) who are concerned about what they see as the divisive nature of devolution - a danger that I recognise myself. It would be complacent not to recognise this. Facing up to this and reassuring the doubters is going to be a challenge - and that is the main job of the Parry Jones Convention (in my opinion).

Tomos said...

Stephen Crabb's comments are available in full here

Mr Crabb is not just "concerned about what they see as the devisive nature of devolution" he seems to actually be wishing the Assembly to fail and is unhappy that Wales receives enough funding so that this is unlikely. Crabb, Davies and David Jones are all very sceptical about the Assembly and if you look at the responses to Crabb's article so, it seems, are most Tories.

The question that I think you and other "Welsh" Conservatives need to ask is where does Cameron stand on the issue, my guess is that he will side with his MPs against his Assembly group.

Glyn Davies said...

tomos - I've now read (skimmed) Stephen's platform piece on ConservatineHome. Even though he remains sceptical about devolution, he recognises that it is here to stay, and that a more balanced UK constitution is needed. I accepted this on 18th September 1997. Once accepted, there has to be a debate about how best to acheive this.
I do not agree with the assertion that England in some way funds Wales. (I did warn repeatedly that the misguided decision to grant free prescriptions to all would feed this perception and resentment)- even if it is probably the case in respect of Scotland. I suspect that if the Barnett Formula was scrapped and a 'needs based' distribution mechanism put in place, the ammount of Treasury cash coming to Wales would not change much, one way or the other. I'm rather pleased that the debate in my party seems to be gathering pace.

Che Grav-ara said...

Glyn it is a shame that you are not still involved as a frontline politician. Not until after the general election at least. Whilst your words are comendable sadly they are not reflective of the Tory party as a whole, and the likes of Stephen Crabb and David Davies make it hard to swollow the tory devolutionist line, however well meaning from some members.

You say that it will eventually become tory policy but action is needed now. It is not tory policy, it is not supported by the party and there is more than a few elected tory members that are totally in disagreement to your own belifes about devolution.

alanindyfed said...

"they are not reflective of the Tory party as a whole, and the likes of Stephen Crabb and David Davies make it hard to swollow the tory devolutionist line,"

I fully support these comments from Che, so it means the Conservative Party must recognise that the Convention will take place as planned and there needs to be a unified stance from this party on such an important issue. Without the support of Cameron and the party people such as Glyn and Nick will be on their own. Messrs Crabb, Davies and Jones are holding them back, so how do they intend to resolve this?
Can they continue to hold their views without party support? Who will change, the party or them?
The agent of a positive change is :
reality and foresight.

Glyn Davies said...

che and Alan - I think you expect too much of our Party - or any Party for that matter. I accepted reality on Sept 18th (19th actually) 1997. Others have done so since. The Assembly team is committed to a referendum on the need for law making powers. We know that there are others who remain unethusiasic in our Party - but it will be a majority decision in the end. I have always said that those of us who believe that the Scottish model is right for Wales have to go out and argue our case - and in those parts of Wales where opposition is greatest. Its no good living in the 'comfort zone' on this one.

As far as I know, the Conservative Party is supportive of the Parry Jones Convention, and will play a positive role in its work. Our response to its conclusions will form part of our manifesto at the next General Election. Of course there are devo-sceptics in our Party - as in others. The reason our position is particularly important is that we may be forming the next Government. It will depend on leadership and debate to deliver what I/we want. There is a job to be done - and I do my bit whenever I get the chance.

I remain confident - and there is not the remotest chance that I would change my general view on this - beyond perhaps what may be needed to achieve some positive consensus.

Dr. Christopher Wood (avatar: "Farscape") said...

Frankly, I am becoming very despondent about the whole devolution thing. About ten years in and the Welsh Assembly remains next to incompetent as evidenced, for example, by the standing of the Welsh economy.

Then there is the patently obvious issue of failing to protect inventions and discoveries.

In his excellent article (“Universities Can Give Us Economic Boost”, WM, Oct. 25); David Rosser analyzes the role of “Wales’ 12 universities” in the Welsh economy.

To illustrate several important points Mr. Rosser refers to Michael Moritz, a Cardiff boy who went west, to California, and became a billionaire by helping to finance seedling companies such as Google and Yahoo. In his speech at the Cardiff Business Club, Mr. Moritz the role of universities, and the contribution of university graduates, and sometimes drop-outs, to the companies that he backed and which are today global names.

I’m must say that I fully agree with Messrs Rosser and Moritz; specifically, that graduates and sometimes drop-outs are a vital asset in developing companies of tomorrow.

But there’s that annoying stupid and often ignored patently obvious problem with Wales and its intellectual property. Intellectual property is only property when it is protected in some fashion, and the favoured way of protecting inventions is through the medium of patent protection.

Take Google, did Google (or rather Google Inc.) arise out of nothing and maintain its position as a fast producer of jobs and tax-paying wealth creation by chance or did Google protect its ideas by filing for patent protection?

Answer: as of October 24, 2007, Google has over 50 patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and this figure does not take into account Google’s numerous patents issued around the world.

alanindyfed said...

Let us hope that the Tory policy makers come out unequivocably in favour of a Welsh Parliament.
This may serve to silence the nay-sayers in the party and signal a positive approach to Welsh majority aspirations.

Glyn Davies said...

Alan - I thought Don Tuoig was stunningly negative about the Convention on Dragon's Eye last night - even if he wa only attacking the appointment of Sir Emyr Jones-Parry. Generally speaking, every Conservative I've talked to (bar one) is content with the convention, and with the chair of it.

Che Grav-ara said...

Glyn i dont think it is expecting too much for the tory party to have an official line on the matter. Whilst some in the party(yourself, bourne) paint a pro devolutionist tory party (and i welcome that) others clearly are against it. Thats where the splits on the issue lie.

I dont think think you can claim im expect to much to want the tory's pro devolutionist line to be backed by party policy and not mearly good faith. Only the other weel a Tory spokesperson was in the western mail confirming that bourns comments were his personal ones and not that of the party.

Glyn Davies said...

che - I accept that we do not have a policy that commits us to supporting a law making Assembly. In my post I was commenting on what Stephen Crabb had written.
I also accept that Labour has a policy to hold a referendum and campaign for a law making Assembly - even though we know that several MPs (and perhaps some AMs) will not do so. It is open to conjecture which of the two main parties will be most effective in delivering its support. I genuinely believe that with a leadership that is prepared to go out and lead on this issue, my party will be the more commited. I accept that you might disagree with this. If we are both still blogging in two years time, I hope to make you eat your words.