.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Llwydd hits back

A memorandum by the Welsh Affairs Select Committee calling for a cut in the number of bids by the Welsh Assembly Government and AMs for more powers have received short shrift from the Presiding Officer. In a letter to the Secretary of State for Wales released today, he makes it clear that the idea that the current volume of proposed Orders is "swamping the system, both at Westminster and in the Assembly" is "clearly contrary to the evidence".

He writes: "The Assembly acquired its new legislative powers on the 25 May 2007. During the first twelve months following that date, 7 proposed LCOs were laid before the Assembly, five of which were proposed by the Assembly Government and two by back-benchers. As the memorandum itself makes clear, only four of these proposed Orders have as yet been referred to the Welsh Affairs Committee.

"In paragraph 21 of its Memorandum, the Committee refers to the fact that it had expected to have to deal with "four or five LCOs annually". In fact, it has only been asked to deal with four. Far from being swamped by more LCOs than expected, the number it has had to deal with has been at the lower end of what was estimated.

"The Memorandum states that the Committee has already reported on three of the four LCOs referred to it, and expects to report on the fourth soon. In the Committee's own words "We have published timely reports on all (sic.) of the proposed Orders which have been referred to us so far" (paragraph 2).

"So the Committee's claims about its performance during the first year of the process obviously does not support any suggestion that the system is being "swamped". Some confusion has however been caused by the Committee's statement that "In fact the number of LCOs which have been proposed in the last 12 months has reached 11 already" (paragraph 22). The Committee has unjustifiably sought to compare this figure of 11 with the "four or five" LCOs which it expected to have to consider. The reference to a figure of 11 "proposed" LCOs in twelve months is incorrect and is seriously misleading in a number of respects.

"The 11 "proposed" LCOs is in fact a list of all proposals for LCOs which have been announced by the Assembly Government and by individual AMs during the first 14 months since the new powers were acquired. It actually includes one proposal which has already been rejected by the Assembly itself as well as one whose principle has not yet even been considered by the Assembly and two (one from the Assembly Government and one from an individual AM) which have so far only been the subject of announcements and have not yet been laid before the Assembly.

"In portraying a picture of a system in danger of being "swamped" the Welsh Affairs Committee has not compared like with like. It has sought, simultaneously, to raise groundless fears, based on a misleading figure of 11 proposed LCOs, that it will be "swamped" by the number of LCOs it is expected to consider, whilst at the same time claiming to have dealt with the four Orders actually referred to it in a "timely" way, although strictly it has only actually reported on 3 out of the 4 LCOs referred to it.

"During the same period the Assembly's own committees have, on the other hand, fully completed consideration and reported on 7 actual proposed LCOs, with no suggestion that this has imposed an excessive strain on the Assembly's more limited resources and certainly no claim that the system is being "swamped"."

Of course all of this would be academic if we had not been lumbered with this unworkable system in the first place.
"Of course all of this would be academic if we had not been lumbered with this unworkable system in the first place."

Don't think it's unworkable Peter, just requires good will and patience.

Dafydd's letter is an important redress to the figures released by the Welsh Affairs Select Committee. We need to deal with real numbers here if we are to make any sort of quantifiable analysis of the past year. I reckon Dafydd's number crunching is spot on.

Having said that, I can accept that the Welsh Affairs Select Committee has felt swamped at times. After all, they have had to take on a major new element in their work which has major time commitment consequences. I'm not being at all sarcastic here. It's obviosuly going to take time to bed down, and members like Cheryl Gillan have already suggested alternative ways of working so as to manage the flow of LCOs better.

I remain worried though that with WASC requesting just some four LCOs a year (which corresponds with the number proposed by WAG for 2008-09) that there is a strong possibility, if implemented, of radically reducing the number that can be dealt with arising from the backbenches or the Assembly Committees. To me, the involvement of these bodies were one of the strongest selling points of the system.

Not that many people would concede it had any selling points of course ;)
We should be cutting back on the likes of swimming pools and rowing facilities, we've been swamped with gold medals over the past week and a bit.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?