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Monday, July 14, 2008

More questions

Labour Assembly Member and blogger, Huw Lewis this morning joined the growing list of people who are asking what the All Wales Convention is for.

Writing for the BBC news website, Huw says that are those inside and outside the Labour Party in Wales who question the need for such a convention at this moment in time:

As someone who is currently engaged in a backbench bid to devolve more powers to the assembly (on buses and coaches) using the new Government of Wales Act, I have some sympathy with that opinion.

We are after all talking about changing the Welsh devolution settlement before we've really tested the new powers won through the 2006 act.

To some, that seems an unseemly way of doing things, and without a case in point where we can say 'We need extra powers because currently we can't make Welsh society better by doing X, Y or Z' it is reasonable to ask if we are putting the cart before the horse.

I've always been pro-devolution because of the opportunities it affords people to make society-changing decisions closer to the grassroots.

The best outcome of the convention will therefore have to involve some real examples of why further powers are needed to make Wales a better place to live and do business - only then will popular support be assured in any future referendum.

What is not clear is whether this vision of the convention making the case for further devolution is one shared by the Labour-Plaid Government and the Convention members themselves. Isn't that what the referendum campaign should be about?

Where I disagree with Huw is in his assertion that we need to test the powers granted to us by the 2006 Government of Wales Act before proceeding to the next stage. That is because that Act did not so much give us powers as create an elaborate mechanism which we are able to use to progress further down the road to full powers. What we have established already is that this mechanism is not fit for purpose, it is a series of road blocks rather than the road map it is promoted as.

Unless it proves otherwise the Convention appears to be me to have been created to analyse the nature of those road blocks and suggest possible diversionary routes. What is actually needed is a referendum to clear the road.

N.B. Congratulations to Huw and his wife Lynne Neagle by the way. Lynne gave birth to their second son on Saturday.
the excellent richard commission had aleady covered the areas that the convention will be needlely looking at again! The richard commission demonstrated strong support throughout wales for further powers for the assembly!

It seems to me that there are no conclusions that the convention will arrive at that have not already been reached by the richard commssion some years ago - well all except one that is!

The disturbing thing about the convention for those of us who would like to see the devolution process in wales go further is that it could - on the basis of submissions made to it - conclude that the case for greater powers for the assembly has not been made!

Clearly there are a number of Labour AMs like huw lewis and lynn neagle and welsh labour MPs like paul murphy, don touhig and kim howells - not to mention the loathesome tory david davies - who believe that the devolution process has gone far enough and who will be making submissions to that effect to the convention im sure!

If the 'convention' arrives at the conclusion that the case for additional powers has not been made - and unless im very much mistaken it could - what then?

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