Do you want the assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?

That’s the question in the Welsh referendum planned for March 3rd 2011. It, actually, isn’t as badly phrased as many suggestions….although the Electoral Commission’s preamble is a little ..well..long?

PREAMBLE
The National Assembly for Wales – what happens at the moment
The Assembly has powers to make laws on 20 subject areas, such as:
· agriculture
· education
· the environment
· health
· housing
· local government

In each subject area, the Assembly can make laws on some matters, but not others. To make laws on any of these other matters, the Assembly must ask the UK Parliament for its agreement. The UK Parliament then decides each time whether or not the Assembly can make these laws.
The Assembly cannot make laws on subject areas such as defence, tax or welfare benefits, whatever the result of this vote.
If most voters vote ‘yes’
The Assembly will be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for, without needing the UK Parliament’s agreement.
If most voters vote ‘no’
What happens at the moment will continue.
Question:
Do you want the Assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?

It’s probably the most bizarre referendum in UK constitutional history with no constitutional principles at stake, and all parties in the Assembly in favour – but it’s important as the law making process in (or perhaps for) Wales has become an international joke.

The infamous, innocuous, Housing LCO was first proposed on December 3rd 2007.
It went back and for from Westminster until it ran out of time pre General Election. – objections from MPs to the potential to remove the right to buy and to over rule local objections to Gypsy sites…
Following “discussions” between Westminster and Cardiff Bay the LCO was approved in July 2010..
The next stage is a WAG measure – in preparation I believe…
That’s 3 years – about 2 and a half too long…
The referendum is about re-engineering the decision making process to align laws with strategy in a timely fashion. That’s actually quite exciting.
…I doubt, however, that the referendum will be about the real issues….same old slippery slope…

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  • Cymro

    The LCO was, in Peter Hain’s words, ‘the settled will’ for the next generation … or, until Labour lost the Westminsiter election.

    The referendum is only being held because Plaid Cymru made it their top priority in the One Wales pact with Labour and Plaid insisted that Labour support a ‘yes’ vote to avoid a repeat of ’79. A referendum was offered because of concerns that Labour MPs (N. Kinnock mostly) wouldn’t allow Labour to agree to giving Wales powers over the subjects which are partly devolved to it.

    So, Labour could have said ‘no need for a referedum’ as all 4 parties in Wales want to move from LCO but didn’t.

    As in most things constitutional in Wales it all depends on the internal kremlinology of the Wales Labour party.

    We don’t need this referendum, there are no new competences. The irony is, that most people will think they’re voting for Wales to have the same powers as Scotland. They’ll be voting for a weaker Assembly than they probably want.

    In any case, 3 March it is. I recon we’ll win it, unless there are splits. Splits will be caused by Plaid, Tory or LD members feeling that Labour is taking over the campaign or/and not playing ball.

  • Dewi

    It’s not unreasonable to claim say “Scottish style powers in devolved areas” – because that’s what they are, accepting of course that more areas are devolved in Scotland. I’m pretty confident we’ll win because it’s, like, logical. as Carwyn Jones said:
    “You hire three workers. With two of them, you give them a full set of tools. Call them Scotland and Northern Ireland. The other worker, you give that person an empty box and you say, “Each time you need a new tool, come to me, explain why you want that tool and then I’ll decide whether I’ll give you that tool.” ”
    Daft.

  • Framer

    I doubt the Welsh electorate will vote yes in this referendum for all sorts of reasons, not least the chance to say no to their government(s).

    They know the result will just be higher costs and charges. Most legislation is also about more regulation which requires more public servants.

    Northern Ireland has had a separate body of law since 1921. The result was that nothing was reformed.

    Latterly, with the new Stormont devolution settlement nothing even gets legislated, which is an improvement.

    I pity the Welsh if this slips through.

  • joeCanuck

    Dewi,

    Just out of curiosity, How involved are the populace with the Assembly? Voter turn out for example.

  • Dewi

    Joe – turnout not great but hopefully the 2003-07 trend will continue (as Westminster turnout falls)

    1999 – 46.3%
    2003 – 38.2%
    2007 – 43.7%

    Framer
    “They know the result will just be higher costs and charges. Most legislation is also about more regulation which requires more public servants.”
    This should actually reduce costs as the time and money spent at Westminster will be eliminated.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Dewi, will this leave the Welsh basically on the same footing as the NI assembly? or are they still a few steps behind.
    How much extra power does Scotland have?

  • Dewi

    Policing and Justice the major difference now. Scotland, in addition, has some taxation varying powers and powers over Transport. There’s a more fundamental difference in that for Scotland and NI it’s reserved powers that are specified whilst for us it’s devolved powers. I’m away from home but will dig up a reference tonight.

  • Dewi
  • imron

    hi dewi..how r u?
    do u still remember me…