Sunday, April 03, 2011

Where now for the Welsh Assembly?

So where does the devolution process go now? Important question to which there is no obvious answer. I suppose there's no rush. It may well not go anywhere, anytime soon. The referendum result is in, and it could take a while for the National Assembly to get a confident handle on the substantial increase in it's law making capacity. In some ways its a big move forward for the Assembly, even if in my opinion, it's no more than what most Welsh people (except we anoraks) thought we were voting about in September 1997. And it irritates me a touch to hear so many people saying "the Assembly has now been given law making powers" - as if some great principle had been conceded. The principle of devolved law making power was granted to the Assembly in 2006. What happened in the Mar 3rd referendum was that the process of granting this law making power was greatly simplified and speeded up.

Reason I was thinking about this over the weekend is that Martin Shipton rang me for a chat about it. Don't know whether he's printed anything yet. The next step in the process, in my opinion, is the granting of some form of 'fiscal accountability' to the Assembly. Cannot be more precise than this, except to say I was impressed by Gerry Holtham's Report into the matter which was published last year. We've heard quite a bit of negativity from Cardiff Bay politicians about this, which really mystifies me. Even Berriew Community Council had 'fiscal responsibility' when I was its Chairman 30 years ago! So I reckon the next step is going to be a "Calman-like process" - Calman being he that led a major review of the granting of 'fiscal responsibility' to the Scottish Parliament. It will take a while to work though this though - several years probably.

Personally, I also reckon it will be a while until the range of policy areas that fall under the Assembly's wing is up for consideration - except for some tangential references during the 'Calman-like process'. The next big debate on transfer of policy responsibility, which is already being mentioned by some would probably be criminal justice. This is a mighty area, which would transform the National Assembly. I cannot see this debate firing up into something real for a long time. But then I could be wrong.


DaiTwp said...

But why is a "Calman Comission needed" if the Holtham Comission is there already? What would another comission looking at the eacat same thing conclude that would be any different? You said yourself you approve of Holthams conclusions.
Seems like another comission for the sake of kicking the subject into the grass for a while to me. Not to mention a waste of time and money. If the Govt. wants fiscal accountability for the Welsh Assembly then implement the ready to go Holtham conclusions. If it doesn't then just say so and move on and let the Welsh Assembly caarry on as a "spending agency".

Anonymous said...

The more I look at the current Assembly model the worse it looks. The pool from which to appoint Ministers is so small that Ministers are picked that lack the competency and skill set to run their departments and as a result Wales is hamstrung and poorly served. Look at the evidence: minister of innovation etc that doesn't show the leadership required on the patent front as evidenced by the pathetic patent rate among many of Wales's universities leading to massive downstream opportunity cost in terms of wealth and job creation in Wales which in turn feeds into Wales's pathetic economic-GVA rating.
Chris Wood PhD