All 60 Assembly Members, of all parties, (at least I think so) want to pass into law new measures to ensure people suffering mental illness have the right to be assessed earlier than at present, and have improved access to independent advocacy during treatment. They do not believe that the current UK law is good enough. At present the power to pass such a measure lies with the UK Parliament. Today, Conservative Assembly Member, Jonathon Morgan submitted a proposal to transfer this power to the National Assembly. This is the first proposal for a Legislative Competence Order put forward by an individual backbench AM.
This is a big deal, with major financial implications. To deliver the services covered by this LCO would cost a significant amount of money - from a fixed budget. Its also a big deal because of the principle involved in transferring an important power from Westminster to Cardiff Bay. While I'm strongly in favour of the proposed changes in mental health services, I'm expressing no opinion in this post on the principle of transferring this law making power to the Assembly. Whenever I've pointed out that this is what will be happening under the current Government of Wales Act, and on a regular basis, I find very negative comments about the statement of fact on my blog. Perhaps when this transfer of law making powers to the Assembly has happened on dozens of occasions, there may be a call for the public to be invited to express their opinion on it!
Today, when interviewed, Jonathon said that ideally, the Assembly should have primary powers to pass new laws in this devolved area, without the necessity to ask for it to be transferred first. Once the power is transferred of course, the Assembly will then be free to pass other laws in this field. He then added, that since the Assembly does not have such powers at present, the Assembly must use these current convoluted arrangements instead. I repeat that all AMs from all parties agree with him. But I wonder what my readers think of this!