Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Update on 'Dear Lord Roberts'

This post is for anoraks and should be read in conjunction with my post of two days ago entitled 'Dear Lord Roberts'. My letter has already gone, but I want to adjust it, following helpful suggestions of others.

1) - I want to clarify the point about not wanting the same range of powers as currently apply in Scotland to be replicated in Wales. The position under the Scotland Act is that the Parliament can legislate on anything except for a list of specific and major policy areas, such as foreign affairs and monetary policy. Under Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act, the National Assembly for Wales is constrained within the broad policy areas already devolved. My opinion is that the range of policy over which the Assembly can legislate should remain so constrained at what is still an early stage in the devolution process.

2) - I want to address the apparent contradiction where I support law making powers as a constitutional argument, but believe it is legitimate to take a case by case view on specific policy points while the current system of transferring power by Legislative Competence Order continues. This has been well illustrated by the response of Conservative MPs (and me) to the proposed LCO concerning suspension of the right-to-buy. My support for moving to Part 4 of the GoW Act is an acceptance that Westminster would no longer have the ability to question or block what the Assembly Government wishes to do. Because this is an apparent contradiction, there will remain opportunists who will seek to portray our position as negative about the Assembly, when in fact it's the opposite.

3) - I want to expand on my description of the current Act as being 'constitutionally unstable and a long term threat to the relationship between Westminster and Wales'. At present, there are too many players on the field - the National Assembly, the Assembly Government, the Wales Office, Whitehall departmental civil servants, and the Westminster Parliament. All these ducks have to be in a row for any progress to be made, and when they are not in a row, there is and will be endless arguments about who is to blame. No-one will be able to work out where the blame lies, and there will be complex disputes which no-one can understand, including the participants in this ridiculously complex process. Recrimination and constitutional instability follows. This may suit some, but it does not suit a Tory. The position could worsen when there is a Conservative Government at Westminster.


Prasit. said...

Why not give us a chance to abolish the assembly?
It is run on the whole by second rate politicians, and costs millions for no real return or benefit.

Glyn Davies said...

Prasit - a fair question, but above my pay grade. while the Assembly was operating under the first Government of Wales Act, my opinion (publicly expressed) was that the Assembly should have been granted primary powers or scrapped. It was not worthwhile as it stood. The new Government of Wales Act has moved things on a lot. I have accepted the party leadership's decision to remove the abolition option from any referendum. The issue now is which is the better way to transfer primary powers, via LCOs or via a referendum. Only Ukip now talk about abolition.