Thursday, February 21, 2008

Convention Update

An issue that this blog posts on regularly is the relationship between the UK Parliament and the National Assembly. Its one of the main issues which drives my desire to become a Member of Parliament. There are two sides to any transfer of legislative power, and in my opinion, the discussions at Westminster are every bit as important as debate in Cardiff Bay. MPs are crucial to the success of this process. So I like to keep an eye on what the Chair of the proposed Convention that is being set up to look at this issue is saying. Yesterday, Sir Emyr Jones Parry was speaking to 'Wales in London' about the issue.

I think Sir Emyr is wise not to commit himself to a referendum on law making powers at this stage, because his Convention may well decide not to recommend one. Currently, those who still don't accept devolution are generally opposed to the idea of a referendum. And in 18 months time, those who do accept it may begin to agree with them, if the system of transferring power by Legislative Competence Orders which has been in place since last May proves to be successful.

Since the Convention was announced, the only worthwhile purpose I've been able to identify for it is engagement with those who oppose the whole idea of devolution. This is why I was pleased to read that Sir Emyr intends to listen to what he calls 'ordinary' people, (Y Werin), rather than those who are closely involved in the political world. Regular readers of this blog know that I personally favour law making powers being invested in the National Assembly (in devolved subject areas). I expected many people, some in my own party, to disagree with me about this. Now this is fair enough, but I've been disappointed that those who disagree through comments on this blog, don't seem to want to engage in serious debate. Comments tend to be anonymous and quite abusive.

Devolution is changing the way Wales is being governed. Many people remain unhappy about this process. The challenge facing Sir Emyr's Convention is to persuade these devo-skeptics to engage in debate in a considered and realistic way. I must admit that I would not be too unhappy to stick with the current power transferring system if a wide consensus could be created in support of it. The next 18 months are going to be very interesting.


Anonymous said...

Glyn, do you know that I had very little interest in politics till I started reading your blog, now I find myself reading the darn thing before breakfast, not to mention getting the feather duster out!!
Having read Sir Emyr's speech can you explain a couple of things. Is this Convention going to deliver anything different than the Richard Report, Sir E says he intends to listen to what he calls 'ordinary' people, I thought that the Rchard Report was supposed to have been drawn on comments expressed at public meetings and on public opinion survey evidence?

The advance committee drawing up the term of reference for Sir E's Convention is made up of Labour and Plaid MPs and AMs, why, shouln't all parties be involved?

Sir Emyr said Wales has to be "more assertive" in Whitehall, suggesting that it was the Foreign Office who did much of the lobbying to ensure West Wales and the Valleys secured EU Objective One funding, who I want to know is lobbying on behalf of Mid-Wales or is this why we are non-existent in such matters?

Hope your day is a good one.

alanindyfed said...

May one live in interesting times.
Wales´ transformation to Cymru Fydd.

DaiTwp said...

With the steady and gradual drip feed of LCOs from Westminster creating a (messy) patchwork of effectively primary powers for the Assembly and the gradual change in tone about if/when the referendum should be held. I can't help but feel that the whole idea of a referndum (on the principle of primary law-making powers) is being slowly kicked into touch as the Assembly will gain these in devolved areas over the coming years anyway. (Which I happen to think was part of Hain's "masterplan" when he came up with the Wales act 2. I think the crunch time will come when laws in Wales will be sufficiantly different to merit it's own judicial system and when the LCO requests start "wandering" into the area of criminal justice (which is not devolved). The heads of Wales's police forces are already in agreement that Wales should be devolved criminal justice powers and I think this will be the next "flash point" as such - not a referendum on law making powers.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

To Approve andnot Approve This Message

"Devolution" and "hair-spray" seem to be two obvious things we should be thinking about this weekend, particularly if we are asked (by our barber/hairdresser): Anything for the weekend?

Anyways ... at Milliways (the Restaurant at the end of universe) a curious thing happened. I was 'relazing' ('relaxing' having gone out of fashion) but my mind was still thinking about an uncompleted task or other.

When ur dining at Milliways it is not a good idea to tap your fingers on the table or in the air - because the motions of the fingers are always monitored and checked against all computers and interfaces and all known keyboards ... so happens my fingers typed out:

Abstract/(hair and (lotion or composition or formulation)) and abstract/(workout or "work-out" or "work out" or exercise or sweat) andnot abstract/spray

The air lit up in front of me and out popped an image of Peter Black, AM.

I modified the Boolean logic, as follows:

Abstract/(hair and (lotion or composition or formulation)) andnot abstract/(workout or "work-out" or "work out" or exercise or sweat) and abstract/spray

... and out popped an image of Lembit Opik.

Curious… so I tapped:

Title/("Glyn Davies”)

And out popped a video stream of Glyn Davies at the dispatch box in the House of Commons…

Then I tapped:

Title/"King of England" … and out popped a video stream of Gordon Brown having tea with the new PM.



… and an image of Tony Blair came forth.

'Funny', I thought, 'Never thought of Tony as an enzyme (Glucose OxiDase), but then he always seemed to be, borrowing Sir Anthony Hopkins words, "wound up too tight".

Anonymous said...

Glyn, you really are all over the place

Glyn Davies said...

anon - We do not know what Sir Emyr's Convention is going to do. It is supposedly being set up to assess the public mood towards a referendum on law making powers, and make recommendations about timing. I find it hard to believe that it will remain so limited. It well revisit some of the issues covered by the Richard Commission. I thought that Richard did a very thorough job, including discussion with 'ordinary' people.

The idea of the Convention was conceived in the discussions which led to the Coalition Government, so its no surprise that the setting up committee should be drawn from the governing parties - but I would expect all parties to be represented on the Commission itself.

The Western part of Mid Wales is already eligible for EU funding under Objective One - but Powys is in a hopeless position. Very difficult to outline the complex reasons why I do not think the boundaries of eligible areas can be easily redrawn, even though GVA in Powys are at an appropriately low level. Lobbying is now done by the Assembly Government.

Daitwp - You can note from my post that in general I agree with you. Of course it depends on how the LCO system goes. The problem is that its all very patchwork and difficult for the people to understand what is going on, and consequently for genuine accountability. Whenever I talk about law making powers, I prefer not to stray into areas which are not currently devolved, although I agree that this will force itself onto the agenda at some stage.

Oscar said...

What is the point of having an MP and an Assembly memeber?
My main grip always has been the very poor quality of Assembly member.
It has reminded me of a local council.
On the whole I do not find the assembly members to be up to the job, nor do they have the back up of substantial brains, meaning fellow MP's and top notch civil servants, should the need arise, such as the MP's have in Parliament.
I also find it hard to take the way some such as yourself, fall of the horse as far as the assembly, then rush straight into trying to get into Parliament.
In your heart of hearts I am sure you would always have rather got into Westminster in the first place.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

More from Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Want to know ‘how it goes’ from ‘here to eternity’ for the Welsh Lib Dems following their Lib Dems conference in Llandudno?

Thought not!

You want the key lotto numbers for winning Donald Trump sized ‘BIG’ in 2008!

Well, tough!

Let’s take Mike German’s comments as reported in today’s Wales on Sunday, “Young people are being attracted into politics because of the showbiz antics of Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Öpik”.

Whatever the merits of Mike German’s selective imagination, the Milliways’ database is emphatically clear: “Lembit Öpik looses in Montgomeryshire”.

This could be construed as good news for Glyn Davies.

But, who does the “showbiz antics” loose too?

Darn, there’s a power outage – well the universe is shutting down and this is Milliways, the Restaurant at the END of the universe.

Glyn Davies said...

christopher - I'm struggling to decide which Milliways image is the most unlikely.

anon2 - You'll have to explain the basis for your comment further. I'd have thought I was probably as clear-speaking a Conservative on this subject as anyone.

oscar - Challenging comment. You make an entirely fair point about the need for both - but this was decided in 1997 by referendum. I wasn't in favour of an Assembly, but re-thought my position as driving home from the count where I was the only 'No' side person left at the death! I've been criticised by some in my party ever since for accepting what I see as the logical consequence of the vote. There are several leading Conservatives now agreeing that law making powers in devolved subject areas will happen sometime.

I think you are unfair about the poor quality of AMs, as a general comment. Of course there are awful AMs, just as there are awful MPs. There are very good AMs as well as very good MPs. And each of us would have a different view on which are which. I must also respond by saying that I worked with several very able Assembly civil servants when I wads an AM as well - and some dddisgracefully craven towards their Ministers.

Now what is a man supposed to do when he falls off his horse - lie there and sulk or stand up and have another go. I didn't want to lose my seat - in fact I was bloody devastated, but after a few days to recover, I got on with life. I'm not going to answer the question about whwther I would prefer to be an AM or an MP, but you are probably the first to comment that I'd rather be the former. Circumstances demand a single minded focus on trying to become an MP.

Chris - I might post about Mike German tonight - his strengths (of which there are many) and his weaknesses, which include an ability to portray the daftest things as fact

Anonymous said...

How happy is Cheryl Gillan with you turning out this pro devolution stuff?

Glyn Davies said...

anon - to the best of my knpowledge, I am not out of line with party policy at all, and never have been on the devoplution issue - so there is no reason why anyone representing the party leadership should be in any way unhappy. In fact, I was invited to share lunch with Nick Bourne recently, and there was no disagreement whatsoever. My Party is in favour of a referendum on law making powers, as we were at the last General Election - where there was an abolition option which has subsequently been removed. (A decision taken way above my level of responsibility). I fully supported the pre 2005 policy and have accepted the policy change, without question. Perhaps not all of us say which option they would support in a referendum. Its just that I prefer to let people know what I think before I ask them to vote for me.

Anonymous said...

Its just that I prefer to let people know what I think before I ask them to vote for me.

Good idea. So conservatives can either stay at home or vote for somone else.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - you clearly don't enjoy reading my blog. Since my aim is to encourage debate, or offer a pleasurable experience to readers, I cannot understand why you bother to visit.

Anonymous said...

anon - you clearly don't enjoy reading my blog.

On the contrary; I enjoy advancing a point of view different from yours and in tune with mainstream conservative opinion in Wales.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - ok then. If you want to put forwards a different opinion, why don't you do it. This blog is open to opinions which differ from mine - in fact it welcomes them. I'm willing to tell you what I think. Why don't you tell us what you think. The only 'condition' that I suggest is that you comment on the basis of where we actually are, not where you might like us to be. And tell us what evidence you have for your claims about the support you have for it.