Sunday, July 11, 2010

Powers Referendum - Bring it on.

My opinion has been consistent since the second Government of Wales Act was passed in 2006. Law making powers in devolved policy areas should be transferred from the UK Parliament to the National Assembly for Wales as soon as it reasonably can be. In fact, the 2006 Act did implement such a 'powers' transfer, but by a ridiculously complex system, and only 'bit by bit'. The 2006 Act also allowed for the National Assembly for Wales to ask the Secretary of State for Wales to bring forward a referendum, seeking the approval of the Welsh people to the transfer (all in one go) of law making powers in those devolved policy areas. Straight forward you would think. Well, think again dear readers.

In 2007, the new Labour-Plaid Cymru Coalition Government in Cardiff Bay decided that this referendum should be sought 'on or before' the Welsh General Election on May 5th, 2011. I, and many others were encouraged. But the Coalition (by various prevarications) delayed asking the question of the Secretary of State until February 2010 - almost three years later. You will have to try and work out why. A convincing answer you will not find - but it probably had something to do with party political calculation. Even as early as Feb. 2010, I was reading legal advice given to AMs that it would be very difficult to hold the referendum until early 2011.

After this, opinion emanating from the Assembly Coalition partners seems to lose all direction. Firstly, First Minister, Carwyn Jones (supposedly speaking on behalf of the Assembly Government) demands that the referendum be held in October 2010 (despite having legal advice that this would not be possible). When the Secretary of State pointed out this inconvenient fact, the Presiding Officer, who is a senior Plaid Cymru politician, said it should be delayed until the autumn of 2011. And today, it seems that he's called for it to be held on the same day as the Welsh General Election. And this despite his Party leader at Westminster, Elfyn Llwyd, MP being opposed (probably - outraged as only Elfyn can be)that another referendum (on the adoption of an AV voting system) is to distract from the election by being held on May 5th as well. They're all over the place.

So what do I want to see happen. Easy. I want the Secretary of State for Wales to hold the referendum on the earliest day possible, consistent with Electoral Commission advice. Let them veer like drunken cyclists on black ice, while we act in a steady and deliberate way to give the people of Wales what they have been promised. Let the referendum go ahead next March.


alanindyfed said...

Why is it the British government feeds Wales tidbits of legislation instead of giving Wales the Full Monty?
Being thankful for small mercies is not on.

alanindyfed said...

"let the Referendum go ahead next March"

Glyn Davies said...

Alan - The UK Liberal Democrat/Conservative Coalition Government is giving the people of Wales the opportunity to vote in the referendum that the people of Wales (through their AMs) have actually asked for - and at the earliest date possible, consistent with Electoral Commission advice. Hopefully this will be next March.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be better to have a referendum on keeping the assembly? After all, it is just an expensive way of duplicating things from westminster. why do we need all them AM's that do nothing

alanindyfed said...

Simple answer, anon.
Wales is a nation.
Nations have a national parliament.
Hence the referendum.