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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Party pooper

At one point in yesterday's Plenary proceedings, the Presiding Officer paused before reading out a statement about the first Legislative Competence Order to receive Royal Assent. An adjacent AM whispered to me; "This is where we all clap." I did not join in and nor did a number of others.

This is not because I was displeased. On the contrary, the Assembly has clearly taken an historic step forward, whilst the LCO in question is both worthy and necessary, even if in itself it will not change anything. We need to pass measures to do that. My reluctance to cheer was due to my disquiet at the slow pace of reform.

One year, one LCO approved. Unless things pick up and gather pace quickly we are going to be facing the voters in three years time with little to show for our efforts. And let us be clear, it is not through lack of trying on the part of AMs or even MPs that we find ourselves in this situation. The process we have been lumbered with is cumbersome, virtually unworkable and not fit for purpose. It has been designed to slow down the process of devolution, not assist it.

There is something to be said for small gains and solid progress. However, what we are faced with is the legislative equivalent of a circular three legged egg and spoon race. We are spending time scrutinising why we should acquire additional powers in specific and limited areas, when we should be drafting real laws that change people's lives for the better.

If there is to be a referendum that transforms us into a Scottish-style Parliament then we need to get on with it. With May 2011 looming large, we are running out of time to do this during the current session. In the meantime the UK Government is throwing us small pieces of meat at irregular intervals in the hope of keeping us acquiescent. It is no way to treat a legislature.
It's fortunate that the 8.3% increase isn't performance related.
I agree with your displeasure about the current system. Personally, I think we have run out of time already. In any case I think applause is not appropriate in the Chamber. A touch old fashioned I know, but its not a concert hall. Banging the desk or barracking are OK, but not applause please.
I think that is what I said Glyn.
Can somebody please explain to me what the difference is between banging the desk and applause?
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