Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Devolution in Wales - The Way Ahead.

I've just noticed that it was made public this afternoon. That's the much anticipated summary of the 'interim report' put together by Lord Roberts of Conwy at the request of David Cameron, to inform the people of Wales of Conservative policy towards devolution. Cannot make a fully considered post at this stage, because I've not had a chance to read it. But I have read what other's have said about it here and here. This report is a matter of great interest to me. It will also be of great interest to the people of Wales if the Conservative Party forms the UK Government after the next General Election.

The top line that seems to be leading the news on this is Lord Robert's belief that we do not have the right devolutionary settlement. I agree with that. But it seems that we are not yet ready to decide on a definitive way forward. I've just watched Lord Roberts being interviewed on Wales Today and he informed us that he wants a future Conservative Government to hold a 'root and branch' review of how the current Government of Wales Act can be improved. A year ago, I would have been disappointed by this conclusion, but the position has moved on. And because the position is going to carry on moving on, I don't think that Lord Roberts had too much alternative. Its the way I've been going myself.

A year ago, I anticipated that there would be a determined effort by the Assembly's Governing Coalition to create some momentum in the direction of a law making Parliament. I also anticipated that a referendum on whether we wanted law making powers in devolved areas would be held before the next Assembly Election. On both issues, I now believe that my confidence was misplaced. This leaves two major questions just hanging there. Firstly, what approach should a future Conservative Government take to Legislative Competence Orders, the complex system by which powers are currently being transferred to Cardiff Bay. And secondly, what would be the response of a future Conservative Government to a request for a referendum on law making powers across the board to be held, if it were to be made sometime in the future. I suspect Lord Roberts has concluded that this is best left to the 'root and branch' review. This does not so much close down the debate as defer it until post General Election - much the same sort of conclusion I'd reached.

But this is not going to fully 'park' the issue. During the General Election campaign, candidates (of which I expect to be one) will have to answer the two outstanding questions. At present I can see no reason why I cannot inform the voters of Montgomeryshire that I would support the holding of a referendum if it were to asked for, and I would support law making powers if a referendum of the people of Wales supported it. I will also be able to promise that I will do all that I can to encourage the processing of LCOs through the Westminster procedures in an efficient and timely way.

14 comments:

Graham said...

Call me cynical if you like, but I can't help wondering why this was announced on the day when all news bulletins are dominated by Barack Obama.

Is the Conservative Party so embarrassed by the report, and the lukewarm (to be polite) response it will receive that they thought today a good day to bury bad news?

Oh, I almost forgot. You are quite right, the Assembly needs more powers; and probably more AMs in exchange for fewer MPs.

I give up said...

What a disappointment.
Like you I have not read the report but from your own summary I can think of only two words - wishy-washy.

And you go on to say ". . . I would support the holding of a referendum if it were to asked for, and I would support law making powers if a referendum of the people of Wales supported it.

O dear! Now we know. Here's a politician who follows public opinion. Nothing wrong I suppose - but we know now that we were wrong to expect leadership from GD.

As I said wishy-washy.

Anonymous said...

i havent seen so much fudge since i visited the fudge factory in fudgeville. This is one centre right person who believes in a referendum now who will not be switching my vote to Tory - something i intended to do

Dewi Harries said...

"and I would support law making powers if a referendum of the people of Wales supported it"

But how would you vote in the referendum Glyn?

Valleys Mam said...

I think that the report reflects much of what most people if you ask them, outside of the political bubble are feeling. With the situation economically and politically ambivalent to say the least common sense has to prevail --- oh yes and democracy. A root and branch review makes sound sense to me, but then I am a great believer in evidence being sound before policy is made. When moves affect the whole nation, what ever political shade or no shade , it is only right to move forward with caution. And I am a convinced devolutionist.

DaiTwp said...

A review that concludes there needs to be a review! Made public, as Graham states above, when everyone is looking at what's happening across the Atlantic.
But good effort to trying to pass the blame for this pointless conclusion on the WAG.

Anonymous said...

Glyn,
That was a brave effort mate, but no prizes I'm afraid. As an experienced politician, you have sat down and realised what a caning your party will get for this and tried to pre-empt some of those articles.
Yet, you know a fudge when you read one and Glyn, I'm afraid the fudge is purely to cover over the cracks in your own party and not for the benefit of Wales and democracy.
The next Westminster and Cardiff elections will see Tory candidates across Wales completly contradicting each other over the question of a Parliament. You will rightly state your position, in direct contradiction to your current MPs and many of your candidates. Do you really think that a promise of a post-election report will wash with people who want a Parliament?
The timing of this was very cynical, but from the published conclusions I can understand why.

Glyn Davies said...

graham - I have no knowledge of why this particular date was chosen. And I agree that it would be unacceptable to the public to increase the number of Assembly Members without reducing the number of MPs.

I give up - I think you are being unfair to me. My position has been very clear on this. Were I to be an MP, I personally would strongly support holding a referendum if it was asked for by the National Assembly. That's how the 2006 Act works. I have also made it as clear as I can that I support granting law making powers in devolved subject areas to the National Assembly. Go point your finger in the right direction - at the Coalition partners who have let this issue drift to the extent that a referendum could npw well be lost.

anon - A referendum will only be held if two thirds of Assembly Members ask the UK Government to arrange it. Labour and Plaid between them have a two thirds majority, and its likely that the Liberal Democrats (and possibly the Conservatives. I have not asked them)). Its the Government who are dragging their feet on this.

dewi - I have always made it clear that I would campaign for a yes vote - but I would need to see the question before I can be 100% certain. I probably wouldn't want to be part of any organised Yes campaign though. I would not want to share platforms with those openly campaigning for independence.

VM - could have written that myself. But it would have been a different story if there had been any drive shown by the Coalition partners, who have just let the matter drift into the doldrums.

Dai - Thanks for the compliment!

anon 2 - A bit too negative I judge you to be. Perhaps you can tell me where Labour are saying anything different - unless you've heard anyone senior in Labour committing to a referendum in the last few months. And even Ieuan Wyn Jones is now using weasel get-out words such "if we are satisfied we can win a yes vote" - having done sweet FA to deliver it.

Che Grav-ara said...

"I would not want to share platforms with those openly campaigning for independence."

The referendum would be about a full law making parliament. The independence scaremongering is straight out of David Davies handbook and I am sorry to see it wheeled out on this blog Glyn. I would have thought you would approch the subject with a little more reality.

Glyn Davies said...

che - regrettably referendums are never about the question on the ticket. A referendum on law making powers would be more about what AMs are paid, and whether Wales can survive as an 'independent' nation. I believe I could be a lot more influential wihin the debate if I didn't become involved in an official yes campaign. There will be plenty of others who will want to do that. I suppose I've sat on too many panels when the debate has been completely derailed by one of the other panellists, and the chair has just let it run - especially if it gets completely stupid, in which case its thought to be 'good television'.

Che Grav-ara said...

"Regrettably referendums are never about the question on the ticket. A referendum on law making powers would be more about what AMs are paid, and whether Wales can survive as an 'independent' nation."

I'm sorry Glyn but that is simply not true. I agree that David Davies and his mob will certainly try and turn it into that but the YES campaign will be founded on winning a referendum on a full law making parliament and the merits of doing so. To suggest that those involved with that will be pushing other agenda's is the exact sort of thing that your Tory colleagues in the NO campaign will be doing. If you feel that you can be more effective campaigning for a YES vote outside the campaign great. All the help is welcome but as someone who will be happily supporting the official YES campaign when it is established I take exception that you would try and cloud the waters suggesting that it is about anything other than what it says on the tin. Perhaps this is a NO campaign in disguise eh Glyn. "Yes I am for it - but its really about independence and AM's pay don't you know!"

P.S

If it’s about pay all the better. Increasing AM's would naturally lead to decreasing MP's and AM's get paid less than MP's!!

Anonymous said...

I'm interested that you share the same ground as Valleys Mam, as I did not have Lynne Neagle AM and you as best butties. You are far more pro Wales!

Glyn Davies said...

Che - Yet again you seem to be putting meaning into my words that are news to me. I would not wish the referendum to be about anything other than what is on the tin. But that is not the real world. You want to try discussing this issue on the doorstep outside of what can be described as a Welsh heartland. And why do you keep on about 'my Tory colleagues'. Firstly, there are a great many Conservatives who agree with me, including most (possibly all) of the AMs. And secondly, your main problem is Labour, not us. The reason that the Plaid leadership is scared of a referendum is that it does not trust the Labour Party to deliver. And I reckon that I would do mpre to help a yes campaign (talking to the genuinely undecided) than and official Yes campaign will acheive, talking mostly to the committed.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - cannot make much of this comment. It seems to me that VM is simply making an observation based on facts. I've no idea what this has got to do with Lynne Neagle, but you would be right to think that I've sometimes thought she is talking a lot of sense - and she's got b***s