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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Still learning about devolution

The devolution process has been a hard slog in all the political parties as we seek to establish proper lines of responsibility in terms of policy development and try and stop our colleagues from hijacking our agenda. Even Plaid Cymru, who as a small state party does not have this problem, have not always got it right in terms of what is devolved and what is not.

We have made substantial progress not least in our manifestos, which have been consistently the most devolution of all the Federal parties. However, a vote in today's Liberal Democrat Conference makes me doubt what level of understanding there is amongst the ordinary membership.

The motion was on a proper legally enforceable code of conduct on how civil servants avoid conflicts of interest when they cease to work for the government and go into the private sector. The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors tabled an amendment calling on the same code to apply to Council officers and urged Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to follow suit.

Now it may well be that the devolved countries would want to follow suit, after all it seems like a good motion, but frankly that is a matter for us and not a Federal Conference, who have no jurisdiction in these matters. It is really none of their business to advise us either way. I argued that the offending passage should be excised but was defeated.

Perhaps we should start passing motions in Welsh Conference advising England to adopt unitary authorites across the board like we have, or suggesting they may want to put a nuclear power station on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells. I am sure the English representatives would not be so keen to pass on their advice then.
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