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Friday, November 07, 2008

Defending the indefensible

A new pamphlet from the Bevan Foundation seeks to defend the indefensible by arguing that the Assembly's law making processes are working well. They identify the main problem as a lack of ideas for new laws coming from Assembly Members.

Alas, the report appears to be confusing two things. Nobody is criticising the procedure for making Measures, the Assembly equivalent to an Act of Parliament. Apart from the fact that there are not enough of them and there are only a limited number of areas that we can currently propose them, the measure-making process is fine.

However, the Legislative Competence Order process, by which we draw down powers from Westminster so as to make measures, is not fit for purpose. The Bevan Foundation dismiss the argument that this procedure is too complex, however that is not the argument. The act of securing an LCO is over-long and subject to the whims of MPs and the UK Government. It involves the expending of huge amounts of time and money on the part of both the Assembly and Parliament without producing anything at the end which improves in any way the lives of our constituents.

That precious Assembly time would be better spent drawing up and passing measures. Instead it takes twice as long as it should to deliver on manifesto pledges because we have to acquire the power first before we can even start to legislate.

Having said all that it is worth quoting one part of the Bevan Foundation with pride:

The authors write: “If you examine the ideas put forward at each ballot, it is clear that, were it not for the Liberal Democrat group in the Assembly, who have provided the bulk of the proposals to the ballot, there would always have been a minuscule number of suggestions brought forward.

Once more it is the Welsh Liberal Democrats who are driving forward the Assembly's agenda, even from a position of opposition.
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