Governance of Wales

Tomorrow, the National Assembly will debate the Government of Wales Bill.
The bill is the latest chapter in the rather confusing process of Welsh devolution.
Does anyone outside of Cardiff Bay and Westminster understand it? Does anyone want to try? One suspects most people would rather go through the stomach churning experience of watching George Galloway licking Rula Lenska’s fingers.
As stated in an early post (December 9) I’m sure most things are kept deliberately confusing. Politicians don’t want us taking too much of an interest: we might see what they are really up to.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, the bill will ‘enhance’ assembly powers, allowing it to appeal to Westminster for ‘orders in council’, which would allow AMs to frame a new law within specific areas (namely those the assembly has jurisdiction over, such as health and education).
Our First Minister will present a proposal for an order of council to the Secretary of State for agreement. It is not clear if he must go cap in hand.
If the S of S agrees, 90-minute debates and votes will follow in both the Commons and the Lords, and there will be much rejoicing.
Wales will not have full law-making powers but if two-thirds of the assembly, the S of S and both Houses of Parliament back the idea then there will be a referendum.
Peter Hain, the S of S for Wales, our governor with a Belfast desk, is not likely to back that option. He, too, would rather see Galloway imitate a cat.
Oh, and another thing, and this isn’t confusing either, under the bill, assembly candidates are to be prevented from standing in constituencies and simultaneously on the regional PR lists. Some AMs get very animated about that, mainly – if not entirely – because they wouldn’t get elected.
Now. Any questions at the back?
-When is it likely to become law?
In the summer. But it won’t affect you until after the 2007 elections.
-What does Nick Bourne think?
Well, I’m glad you asked that. He wants to highlight divisions between Rhodri Morgan and Peter Hain, hates the bill and wants a full-on referendum that we can all happily ignore.
“I accept that there are differences of opinion in all parties about the assembly’s future,” he said today. “The very least Peter Hain and Rhodri Morgan can do is admit the same.
“Welsh Conservatives are committed to the future of the National Assembly and want to make devolution work for everyone in Wales.
“What we cannot support is this attempt to sneak law making powers in through the back door.
“The people of Wales have been given a chance to have their say on major constitutional change in the past. It is only right that they are allowed to express their opinion now.”
Yes? Another question?
-Who is Nick Bourne?
Ah, an elector speaks.
Something serious please to end.
-What does Plaid Cymru think?
I am super pleased you asked that as Plaid’s boss Ieuan Wyn Jones put quill to paper only last week to reply to my Big Issue piece on this subject. He is a man of taste and judgement.
“Your article on the confused future of devolution by Greg Lewis rightly pointed out the bizarre way that the Labour party in Wales has implemented devolution,” he wrote.
“Plaid Cymru – the party of Wales – has consistently argued that Wales needs a parliament to build better public services and a strong economy. New Labour spent £1m on the cross-party Richard Commission, but ignored its recommendations. This commission found that Wales needed a parliament with law-making powers. Instead of listening to this, Peter Hain has decided to create a timid compromise that pleases no-one.
“It is up to the people to decide the future of governance in Wales, not some back room deal between Peter Hain and his London colleagues. Wales needs the chance to decide its future through a referendum on parliamentary powers.”
All clear? Please say it is.

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