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Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Welsh Labour need to offer a lead on Assembly powers

An interesting article on Wales-on-line reporting the views of Richard Wyn Jones from the Wales Governance Centre who says that there are tough political decisions for the Welsh Government and Welsh Labour to make with regards to the Wales Bill and the reserved powers model it envisages for the Assembly:

Westminster has agreed to replace the existing list of policy areas in which the Assembly can make its own laws with a Scottish-style “reserved powers” model, under which everything is devolved except what appears on the reserved list.

Professor Richard Wyn Jones, director of the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University, told us he believes Westminster is seeking to hold on to as much power as possible, and that it was important for the Welsh Government to have a clear view of what powers it wanted.

Prof Wyn Jones said: “This is not merely a technical matter, and there are tough political decisions to be made by the Welsh Government and Welsh Labour.

“It’s good that the Welsh Government is drawing up its own list of reserved powers. If you look at the annexes to a recent UK Government command paper, you see a lengthy list of potential exceptions.

“If the Assembly is to be a properly functioning legislature in the future, it’s important that we move to a point where there is a Welsh criminal justice system and a separate Welsh jurisdiction.”

Professor Jones is absolutely right of course. The Welsh Labour Government has been at odds with Welsh Labour MPs and the Welsh Labour Party in general for too long on this issue. Sometimes it feels that we are just splitting the difference, at other times we end up with absurd compromises such as Legislative Consent Orders.

We need a cross-party consensus but above all we need the Wales Labour Party as a whole to fully embrace the devolution agenda and to stop prevaricating over some of the key issues thrown up by the process.
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