Thursday, 19 November 2009

A case in point

Posted on This is My Truth on 19 November

So its official, the LCO system is flawed

On the day the All Wales Convention delivered its verdict, the Assembly's Enterprise Committee was meeting behind closed doors to discuss the progress of its own bid for extra powers. There was exciting news. Ministers were dropping their opposition, and if the committee was willing to agree to a delay WAG would swing behind the draft Highways & Transportation LCO in the spring and negotiate its passage through Whitehall.

As the Committee Chair Gareth Jones put it, “This is a triple first when it comes to creating new laws for Wales. Not only is this the first LCO to be proposed by an Assembly Committee but it is also the first to come directly from the National Assembly’s petitions process. Furthermore, the petition came directly from civic society”. He added "It’s democracy in action.”

Well, up to a point Lord Copper.

An important point of principle has been conceded, and now the LCO has cross party support and the blessing of the Minister. But even with a fair wind the LCO is going to struggle to get on the statute book by 2012 – assuming there is Whitehall co-operation. Then there's the business of consulting and agreeing on an Assembly Measure.

Remember the LCO system was meant to speed things up. It has taken me two years to get to this point - and there still hasn't been a vote in principle on the Assembly floor, let alone engagement with Westminster.

As I set out in my evidence to the All Wales Convention on behalf of Sustrans, “We do not believe the current settlement is satisfactory, stable or sustainable”.

The All Wales Convention agrees. But even if we draw down the powers in the 2006 Government of Wales Act, we will still have an unclear division of powers. Unlike the Scottish model where there is a list of powers that are reserved for Westminster and the rest go to Holyrood, we’ll continue to have ‘jagged edges’ – to use the phrase of Lord Richard.

Will we be still having this debate in ten years time? Maybe by then we’ll have succeeded in getting our Assembly Measure passed!

*I try to keep my professional and personal activities seperate on this blog but please excuse me this once.

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