Thursday, January 13, 2011

Growing the powers of the National Assembly

Six-o-clock and just about wrapping things up in the Westminster office before tackling the four hour journey home to Montgomeryshire. Been an interesting day, with much discussion about the the powers of the National Assembly for Wales. It began at 07.00 this morning on Radio Cymru's Post Cynta programme. I'd agreed to discuss the transfer to the National Assembly for Wales of the power to change the law on human organ donation. The Assembly Government wants to introduce a system where the organ's in everyone's dead body are considered available for removal for the benefit of someone who needs a transplant, unless specifically stated otherwise - a change from an 'opt-in system' to an 'opt-out system'(or presumed consent). There's been a bit of a kerfuffle because the Attorney General has expressed concern that this power may not be a devolved issue. I think I was supposed to be entering into a bit of 'argy-bargy' with my old friend, Dr Dai Lloyd AM - something I was not inclined to do. I preferred to be all 'sweetness and reason'. Whatever you think of the Attorney General's concerns, they have made me realise that even if we transfer all law making powers to the Assembly in devolved policy areas through a Yes vote on March 3rd, there will continue to be potential conflict about what is and is not actually devolved.

There will also have to be continuing discussion between MPs and AMs about the granting of new powers to the National Assembly by 'framework powers'. This is where new powers are granted as a result of inclusion in new legislation being created at Westminster. Today it was three issues which form part of the 'Localism Bill'. Not sure how seriously the Assembly Minister, Carl Sergeant takes this process. To begin with, we were mightily impressed with the team of officials who had joined him on his trip to London. He strode into Committee Room 8 with 7 (Yes 7) officials trooping in behind. To begin with I thought he must have had his own personal hair stylist, photographer and fitness trainer with him. Carl explained that he needed a cross-cutting team (not cost-cutting) with him. Whatever, it was nice to see a few old Assembly friendly faces. Funny old meeting though. wasn't much to talk to all these officials about. Carl hadn't given much thought to what he would like to do with these new powers. The full team of 8 is on its way back to Wales as I type - and I'm off to join them.


Sea Wood said...

The proposed LCO order definitely includes human rights concerns, and I would say per se. When a state proposes to take ownership of peoples' bodies this is very much a human rights issue. The state proposes to have first dibs/ownership rights on a person's body absent an opt-out. Such a state action is akin to the Nazi surgeons who assumed ownership rights over concentration camp prisoners - and in the Welsh case over a wider range of people.

In the opt-out the state will have ownership rights, but in the opt-in there is no state ownership issue, the individual maintains ownership over their body and only if the individual decided to have his/her organs harvested could the state then harvest his/her organs near the time of death.

The opt-out system turns this on its head. Under opt-out the state is put in the driving seat, not the individual.

There are some in the Labour Party who also recognize the seriousness of the human rights issues involved here.

Glyn Davies said...

Sea Wolf - This is a tough one for me. I've been much involved in promoting renal dialysis in Montgomeryshire, and many dialysers have become good friends of mine. They are all generally enthusiastic 'presumed consenters'. I would like to agree with them - but cannot do so. I just think it is wrong to take away body parts that the owner of which has not expressly consented to. Supporters of 'presumed consent' can argue until cows all come home, I still accept the line that the Attorney General is said to have raised.

Anonymous said...

good luck to them. They were voted in by us so only a green eyed monster would be envious of this