Monday, December 17, 2007

So its to be an 'Establishing' Committee.

Regular readers will know that this blog supports full law making powers for the National Assembly of Wales - in those policy areas that have already been devolved. It also supports this happy position being acheived by the straight forward route of a referendum backed change to the Government of Wales Act which legislates for it. It also believes that the transfer of powers by the non-referendum backed means of Legislative Competence Orders (LCOs) will lead to a constitutional bust-up between Westminster and Cardiff Bay which will damage the constructive relationship which I want to see exist between the two ends of the M4.

Today, things may have moved on towards my favoured constitutional settlement. I write 'may' without much conviction. Today, a group of MPs and AMs (plus the very considerable addition of Cynog Dafis) met at Westminster to set out the way that the recently announced National Convention is to be progressed. Again, regular readers will know that I have no real grasp of what this National Convention is being set up to do. I know what its remit is, but I cannot believe that a 'National Convention' is being set up for something so narrow - and its to be chaired by such an eminent personage as Sir Emyr Jones-Parry. Far better to just ask Richard Wyn Jones at Aberystwyth. He would give a better researched answer than any Convention on whether a referendum can be won, if that's all it is - and a lot cheaper.

Well, the meeting is over. According to Betsan's blog, the official communique released at its conclusion read "Its been a very positive meeting, with members of both parties focussed on the work that needs to be done in setting the terms of reference for the National Convention. The establishing committee will now meet on a regular basis over the next threee to four months with the aim of the Convention starting its work in the summer".
So now its to be known as the 'establishing' Committee. First I've heard of this. I suppose this is progress - though I think I sort of took this as given before the meeting started. I often hear these 'constitutional' issues being dismissed as "not what ordinary people care about". But some of us do care about how our nation is governed - and it bothers me big-time that the present arrangements are a 'Dog's Breakfast' just ready to break out into bloody big row at any time. I'd like to see things sorted out.

18 comments:

Valleys Mam said...

couldnt agree more Glyn.
Looks like going around the hills to get to the valleys, as my old Nain would say.
Glad that there is some gravitas there. Looking at the members of the group, not what I would call A listers for such a vital role.Lets hope they will involve the Aber team, as you say they are informed experts

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

More old rope to make the WAG sound like it is doing a good job. Meanwhile the Welsh economy and education standards are moving ... backwards (as evidenced by Dylan's latest article on icWales.

Glyn Davies said...

VM - or going from Cardiff to London via Edinburgh. Cynog is 'gravitas'. Big job is establishing what its for.

Christopher - I agree that the Assembly Government does not seem to have done much of a job over the last 8 years.

Dylan Jones-Evans said...

Glyn - just to pick up on Christopher's comment.

Powys' GVA/head has gone down from 85% of the UK economy in 1995 to 70% in 2005.

During the period 2004-2005, it grew by 1.7 per cent - the lowest of any Welsh region - and at half the rate of the Welsh economy.

Certainly, a special case should be made for Powys to recieve additional funding to support its economic development. It should qualify for European Convergence funding, unlike Swansea, and perhaps, you should start a campaign for fair play for Powys cos it certainly ain't getting it now.

Happy to provide more detailed stats....

Glyn Davies said...

Dylan - I was involved in special pleading for Powys (DBRW area/Mid Wales) in early 90s. But back then, Powys was too 'rich' and the boundaries were adjusted to take it out of the 'application' area in order to drop below the GDP threshold. How times change. We should talk about how to make the case.

Jean Monnet said...

But the Tories pre 1997 wanted to submit an area to the EU based basically on the Heads of the Valleys. We only had EU funding because the WLGA had a bright officer to draw up the proposed map and this was supported by the Labour party. If the Tories had won the 1997 election Wales would have lost out completely on EU funding.

Glyn Davies said...

jean monnet - discussions about the redrawing of the NUTS Two boundaries took place a long time before 1997 - even if it was Ron Davies, after he became Secretary of State who finally delivered it. Main players at the time spoke highly of Ron's contribution. I didn't know that there was any opposition to this from the Conservatives. If there was, I didn't know anything about it.
I'd been much involved in the failed attempt to win EU funding for Mid Wales (which was then a discrete area under NUTS Two) in late 80s/early 90s. There is no doubt that whoever had the bright idea to redraw the boundaries came up with the key strategy.

Jean Monnet said...

The person with the bright idea was Victoria Winckler. Some of us were there and the then Tory led Welsh office was not interested. In fact htey argued thta Wales would never get Objective One funding.

Glyn Davies said...

Jean - you seem awfully keen to make political points here. Now, I'm not in a position to be definite about this, because I was too far from the action in 1997. All I do know is that David Hunt was very supportive when he was Secretary of State, of our efforts in Mid Wales. It may also be the case that without the boundary change, Wales would not have qualified at the time. Ironically, Powys' economy has deteriorated to the level where it would also qualify for an Objective One programme.

Valleys Mam said...

It wasn’t just the people you mention I too made a case directly to the Commissioner with Victoria, Bryn Parry Jones and Gareth Jones, Ron Davies, when he was Secretary of State brought us face to face with him at a lunch, the Kinnocks were there as was Jan Royale. There were many string to the bow that gave us Objective one and no party can claim the result. but I have to sat Ron Davies was amazing.

Glyn Davies said...

VM - My information also was that Ron Davies was extremely good on this issue. And my information was coming from a non-Labour source. In speeches I made in the National Asembly on this matter, I publicly acknowledged the role that Ron played. His disappearance from the leadership of Labour in Wales was a huge blow. He was so much more able than his replacements.

Anonymous said...

But Wyn Jones is a rabid nationalist, so we know what answer we would get from him. More powers to the Welsh Assembly and more money wasted by third rate, minor politicians.

Jean Monnet said...

I know some people don't like the idea but it is a fact that without a Labour victory in 1997 Wales would not have gained objective one status.The only other possible winner in the 1997 general election namely the Tories under Major were simply not interested.After all it was a Labour government that agreed to support the map that at least ensured that a part of Wales qualified. Now what has been actually achieved with the money is another matter.On another matter Gkyn. What do you think of Powys CC going with the begging bowl to the Assembly? They never complained when they received money meant for free bus passes but then spent it on other services.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - I would never have so described Ieuan Wyn Jones. He's a fairly pragmatic man - even if a bit 'wobbly'. I think you are too dismissive of Assembly politicians. Like everywhere else there are some good and some poor - with no-one remotely as bad as Gearge Galloway. And when it comes to wasting money, I would suggest that nothing the Assembly Government has done compares with Northern Rock, ID cards and a whole lot else. Attacking individuals and institutions is not effective if it just lays into everyone and everything.

Glyn Davies said...

jean monnet - we've probably done the Objective One discussion - though not ending in 100% agreement.
The Powys Council budget position is equally difficult to judge. I don't think there is much doubt that the Local Government settlement for 2008/09 is very tough, and will inevitably mean that Council Tax will rise significantly - although there will be a temptation to raid balances and put the pain off for one year, it being an election year. Powys did have the lowest settlement in Wales - and it is a bit difficult to understand why Powys should have 1%, while the Vale has 3.6%. Perhaps the difficulties will be more extreme in those Councils having 1% or just over, but truth is, most Councils are facing a tough budget setting process - with cuts inevitable. Overall, its a case of the Assembly Government putting up tax, in the only way that is open to it.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

George Galloway had some good points. He was my MP for a few years (Hillhead/Kelvin, Glasgow; I did a PhD in chemistry at Glasgow University and lived for much of that time in Glasgow's post grad accommodation on Kelvinhaugh Street near George Galloway's surgery) and probably would still be MP for Hillhead if he wasn't chucked out of the Labour Party.

George Galloway spoke his mind and was not easily bullied - I always have to admire someone who goes against "the flow" and speaks what he thinks. Too many politicians feel obliged to tow the line and check their pees and queues. Over the top "PC" is killing British culture. PC is turning the UK a spin-off version of Orwell's 1984.

Good that we have George Galloway's of the world still in the UK. With them the British spirit lives on - same goes for John Redwood. I don't have to like or even agree with Galloway or Redwood to admire these keenly intelligent men. Imho, those who try to make fools out of such men should think again. The so called "Liberal Democratic" party wants PC to rule the UK. Why? Because they are "down with the UK", they feel embarrassed about the UK, they convert their 'guilt' into PC jargon and intimidate those they feel don't fit in well with PC jargon. The leader of the Conservative Party should attack the false premise on which PC is based: hatred for everything quintessential British.

A vote for the Lib-Dems is against everything we hold dear about being British.

Matt said...

The rate we are going with GDP, the whole of Wales will be eligible for Objective one. Of course we need to get every penny we are entitled to but if we are declining economically then warning bells should be going off in the bridge of the good ship Wales! Clearly we are not generating the rigt culture for business and growth. Economic development monies can help to a small degree but ultimately its playing around at the edges compared to real policies to make busines business friendly. Irelnad has done well not so much because of the EU money they got in grants as their Govts very business friendly approach of lower taxes and less regulation.

Matt

Glyn Davies said...

christopher - for once I don't agree. Galloway is a hugely talented man, a wonderful speaker. a great intellect - but is a deeply flawed and irresposible politician who has brought shame on our country - in my opinion of course.

matt - agreed with all this. UK business is too highly regulated and too highly taxed - and its not going to improve because of Gordon Brown's hunger for more public spending and central control. This leopard is not going to change his spots. Wales will always suffer because of the terrible decision of Andrew Davies and Rhodri Morgan to incorporate all of the Quangoes in Wales as they did. Contrary to what the Labour Government claims, transparency and accountability have disappeared.