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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fighting to save the devolution process

Until a referendum is held to do away with the complicated system of Legislative Competence Orders by which the Welsh Assembly draws down powers so as to pass its own laws, we are caught up in a time-consuming and expensive process that continues to sap our energy without actually producing anything of use at the end.

That system is bad enough without adding any further complexities. That is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats have sought to stop the deeply flawed and precedent-setting Secretary of State's veto in the Affordable Housing LCO in the House of Lords.

As is reported in today's Western Mail, Lord Richard Livsey of Talgarth has tabled what is known in the parlance of the House of Lords as a 'fatal amendment' to force the LCO out of Committee and onto the floor of the House where it can be properly debated and voted upon. He has tabled this motion reluctantly and in response to the decision of a joint committee that warned that the veto provision in this order could be ultra vires.

As I wrote on Freedom Central on Wednesday: The Government of Wales Act does not make any provision for the transfer of power to be approved by a Government Minister as is envisaged by this LCO. The question then must surely be can an Order or Statutory Instrument amend the terms of an Act under which they are made? Surely the answer is no.

Somebody has to draw a line in the sand to signal to MPs that their unacceptable interference in the LCO process goes beyond what was envisaged when the Government of Wales Act was passed in 2006 and that it must stop. It seems that it falls to the Welsh Liberal Democrats to do that.
The whole situation is just getting ridiculous now and is, as you say, damaging the entire devolution process. Good on Lord Livsey for undertaking this intervention.

I'm starting to come round to the idea that to stop this kind of thing happening we need to stop messing around and hold a referendum now.
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