Saturday, April 12, 2008

His Lordship's Opinion

The National Assembly Presiding Officer has written a long essay for today's Western Mail about how the constitutional arrangements, under the Second Government of Wales Act, are working out in practise. Its a good essay, and its a pity that I can't find the story on the web pages to provide a link. His Lordship seems terribly pleased that the first Legislative Competence Order has been approved by the Queen and the National Assembly is now able to pass new laws (or measures) in the specific subject area included in the LCO. There is no doubt in this reader's mind that he is in no hurry whatsoever to hold the referendum on law making powers. This was also the tone of his public rebuttal of Archbishop Barry Morgan's controversial radio comments about devolution yesterday. He is busy softening up his party's activists, by making out that everything is tootling along at an acceptable pace, and that the LCO process will deliver a law making capacity to the National Assembly at an adaquate pace - without the need for a referendum, in the short term anyway.

The only part of the essay I disagree with is the assertion that the LCO system is not complex. The Presiding Officer's view seems to be that since Westminster processes are always hugely complex, its OK if the LCO process is the same. I always hesitate before disagreeing with the PO, and I know he gets terribly crouesty whenever anyone challenges his view on this. But my concern is that only a tiny proportion of the population have the slightest clue clue about what is happening, or even that law making power is currently being transferred. And this is not healthy in a democracy. Anyway, what he says suits me fine. I have accepted that there will not be a referendum on law making powers before 2011, and that the best we can hope for is sometime between 2011 - 2015. Lord Elis Thomas must do what he must do to keep onside his Party's activists (who voted for the Coalition with Labour only because of the early referendum). What matters to those of us who believe that the most sensible and stable constitutional settlement is where law making power is vested in the Assembly in respect of all devolved issues, is for the current LCO system to work effectively.


Anonymous said...

does anybody still listen to Dafyddd Elis Thomas or take him seriously anymore, I think he's in the wrong party.

Anonymous said...

DET should ask the averge guy in Dolgellau Market place or Barmouth beachfront if he understands the new ways of the Assemblys workings rather than those on the coctail circut of Cardiff Bay! I guess we all know which one he lsitens to most?

Glyn Davies said...

anon - DET is the most influential politician in the National Assembly, in my opinion. I don't think there's much doubt about which party he belongs to, even if he does seem to put his role as PO before that of his party - most of the time anyway.

anon 2 - You are right. I suspect there would be no-one in the two locations who would have much idea about what a LCO is. Quite a few on the cocktail circuit wouldn't know either. And that is why the current Government of Wales Act is such a pig's ear.

Anonymous said...

I roared with laughter when he made the comment about the Church in Wales Constitution. It is a mess of Byzantine proportions.

And no more democratic than the "Stalin Constitution" of 1937 (I think)

Glyn Davies said...

Morgan - I'm looking forward to having a discussion with the Archbishop at a conference later this month. In fact, I expect that he and I agree on much of what he says about devolution. I'm not so sure that I think much of his idea of democracy.