Friday, September 23, 2011

Our Law Making Assembly

My parents bought me my first bicycle for doing well at school. I was not able to ride a bike at the time, and I contented myself with cleaning it and lavishing love and pride upon it. It was a long, long time until I stopped being afraid to ride it. You may ask why this random thought has flitted across my mind today. I think I know why. Its because of Sir Emyr Jones Parry and Sir George Reid.

In a recent most undiplomatic speech, Sir Emyr, the usually urbane ex-diplomat spoke most uncharacteristic about how Wales is governed. You could see written between the lines, in huge bold lettering, the words "WAS IT WORTH IT". He was reflecting on how the Assembly Government is using the law making powers that the voters of Wales decided should be granted to it last March. He asks whether the needs of Wales, which he sees as about skills, the economy and education "are going to be strengthened by an obligation to have cycle lanes in a joined up network across Wales". He also points out that when seeking suggestions from all four parties in the Assembly about how law making powers would be used as taking evidence for the report which carries his name, he says at the time of the referendum, "I asked all 4 parties (what they wanted to do with the new powers) and got half an answer from one". I've always regarded Sir Emyr as a wise and patient man. He must be very frustrated to offer an opinion so undiplomatic. As an aside, what bothers me is that one significant law that the current Assembly Government does want to pass (introducing presumed consent for organ donation) is in my opinion deeply flawed, and unlikely to reach the statute book.

And now we have Sir George Reid (Second Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament) questioning whether the current Assembly Members are up to the job of exercising law making powers. I'm not with him on this. Individuals who have been elected deserve a bit more respect than that. But his point should not be ignored. Being an AM is a changed job. Its no longer just being a good constituency AM. Sir George is suggesting that staff allowancs shouls only be available non-constituency work. Just as I've found it difficult to adjust to accepting that my main role must be as a legislator in the House of Commons, AMs will have to accept the same. These outside voices (of great wisdom) are only pointing out what they think the people of Wales deserve


Anonymous said...

I must agree that the role for people who sit in a legislature is to legislate. Although there is a need to collect evidence, and opinions, MPs and AMs must not be drawn into a role of social workers.

Glyn Davies said...

Aled - or take over the role of councillors, which is so very easy to do because the public in general do not know where responsibilities lie.

Just saying said...

Chief Executive of Sustrans leads Yes for Wales campaign and cycle lanes across Wales are one of the first laws to be enacted.


Jeff Jones said...

Whose fault is that Glyn? Before the late 1970s if you went to an MP with a housing complaint he would direct you to your local councillor. Hugh Gaitskell visited his Leeds constituency abour once a month and stayed for the weekend. Come the 1980s and it all began to change with extra staff allowances and the idea of the whips as Brian Walden put it to turn MPs into 'glorified social workers'. The government of the day were laughing knowing that the days of a Churchill, Nye Bevan or Enoch Powell taking them apart in the Chamber were over. Instead of holding government to account MPs were diverted into holding surgeries where many of the problems were local government issues. The result is a poorer democracy and some really awful legislation. With lawmaking AMs are there to scrutinise and improve government's legislation not to worry or comment on Mrs Thomas' planning application for a new bathroom extension.

Glyn Davies said...

Just saying - Lee is a most capable man, who has done a great job for Sustrans. Just sayin

Jeff - I think we are saying the same thing. Maybe you reached there before I did. My impression is that many of the new intake of MPs see themselves as legislators.