Attended an Institute of Welsh Affairs Conference in Wrexham last night. Under discussion was the future of health care in Wales. The event was sponsored by the European Care Group, an international care provider with which I have an involvement. Despite there being a poor attendance (and one of the three speakers being silenced by an equipment failure), it turned out to be useful for me - not so much for what it told me about health care, but for what it told me about the impact (or not) that would arise from the granting of law making powers to the National Assembly for Wales. This was the second time this week that the changes, when properly understood, are seen to be much less significant than is generally supposed. This view is also the basis of an article published in today's Western Mail here written by David Williamson following some whinging by Cymru Yfory.
First time was on Monday, at my poorly attended meeting in Llanfyllin where I tried to engage the interest on the public in 'How we govern Wales'. I noted the change in the expression on the face of a 'devosceptic' in the audience (if 6 can be termed an audience!) when he realised than the move to law making power does not devolve power over any new policy area.
Last night it was Jon Wyn Owen's turn. He's a former head of the NHS in Wales, among a clutch of other things. The core theme of his presentation was that Wales needs a new Public Health Act. I've heard him make this case before. I asked him whether such an act could be passed under the current devolved powers, which he conceded it could not. But when I asked if it could if the Assembly were to be granted full law making powers, he responded with a 'It wouldn't make much difference' comment. A Wales Public Health Act could only be framed and enacted, if both the UK Parliament and the National Assembly worked together on it. I do keep on trying to make the point that governing Wales is as much a concern for Westminster as it is for the Assembly - and will carry on being so.
Am off to the Cardiff now. Amongst other things, I will be talking to the BBC in the Senedd about how devolution has developed over the last 10 years.. But have to be back in Montgomery by 7.30 for another of my meetings about 'How Wales is Governed'. I hope someone turns up!