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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Where power resides

There was an excellent interview with new Tory MP, Jonathan Evans on Radio Wales this morning in which he defended Nick Clegg for his 'slip of the tongue' in the House of Commons yesterday.

Mr. Evans confirmed that it is his general intention to vote 'yes' in a future referendum on enlarging the Assembly's powers but he stated what he thought is an important caveat. He is concerned at the way the Welsh Government interferes in local decision-making and expressed a particular concern at ministerial rulings on Cardiff schools.

He said that instinctively he believed that powers should be devolved to communities and that this is an agenda that should be pursued by the Welsh Government. He said that if we are to give the Assembly further powers then this should be conditional on them dispersing them further.

I have already written on my view that we should be giving greater powers to local government, including control of health as part of a general reorganisation that would see fewer and bigger local Councils and a third less Councillors. However, the issue posed by the referendum is quite different.

When people are asked to vote they will be given the choice of transferring full legislative powers on the 22 policy areas devolved to Wales. That is quite different to the administrative powers which would be passed down to local councils under my scheme or indeed, under the proposals of Jonathan Evans. And that is a crucial distinction.

Unless the new Cardiff North MP is proposing making local authorities legislative bodies then there is no reason why his positive vote in a referendum should be contingent on further administrative devolution. They are two separate issues.
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