Tuesday, 17 November 2015

More Welsh AMs A Bit Of A Catch 22 Situation!

The National Assembly needs more members – not a second chamber, Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler told MPs.

Ms Butler told the Westminster Welsh Affairs committee that while she could see a case for the number of AMs going up from 60 to between 80 and 100 she did not back the creation of a second chamber for Assembly.

She told the MPs: 

“We just have to get it right the first time. You can afford to make mistakes because the House of Lords will send it back to you.
“We can’t afford to do that.

For some reason, Monmouth Conservative MP and committee chairman David Davies said: 

“The vast majority of legislative bodies have some kind of second scrutiny chamber that’s slightly detached from the main one... Why would you go for more members of the Assembly rather than a second chamber?”
Newport West AM Ms Butler said:

 “We have to have democratically elected members... I think that a second chamber would not be appropriate in Wales.
“I don’t think the people of Wales would accept one. I honestly think that we can do the job with more members as a unicameral [institution].”

David Davies I suspect  is not really a supporter of a second chamber  in Cardiff Bay but he raises a interesting point. 

Ms Butler has raised strong concerns with the draft Wales Bill. She warned that the legislation was being “rushed” and said it should be discussed by the Assembly which will be elected after the May elections.
Arguing that the changes proposed by the legislation could make it harder for a presiding officer to decide whether or not the Assembly has the “competence” to make a ruling in an area, she said: 

“Sometimes competence is difficult for me to decide. In the future, whoever is the presiding officer, it will be far more difficult to decide what is within competence and [what] is not and there that cannot be a clearer settlement.”
Raising concerns about the devolution process, she said:

 “It is piecemeal. Things are moving ahead at different paces in different parts of the country and I just feel it’s time that somebody stopped and said, ‘Where are you going? How are you going to deal with this? How are you going to be fair with all the other nations, as well as the big cities in the North, not to mention the big cities in the South?”

Ms Butler said she was not pushing for a “complete redraft” of the draft Wales Bill although she would “quite like” that to ensure that decisions are taken at the lowest possible level wherever possible in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.

Given that under English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) is now in place English MPs will have more powers over English only Legislation than AMs in Cardiff have over Welsh Legislation in that the chances that English MPs do not have the competence to carry out a piece of legislation it is an interesting dilemma.

Maybe Mr Davies was hinting that as laws under EVEL wil have to go the Lords they wil have more "Legality" than Welsh laws that are passed i the Assembly.

 The solution in the Bay however would be to strengthen the Committee stages of the Assembly to scrutinise Bills and for this to be successful we need more AM's .

Though it is unlikely  to go down well the the public in a Catch 22 situation in which to improve the Assembly we need more AM's but we can't have more AM's because the Assembly is failing in areas like Education and the NHS'

We can afford to have constant rows over "competence"  and Devolution must be sen to work.

The current Westminster Bill will make this  more difficult  and maybe that is the main reason d'etre behind it.

1 comment:

  1. To have more AMs, Wales needs to be able to afford them, which in turns means a larger tax base. With relatively few people paying tax due to the current level of unemployment, boosting the economy must be given priority. More people in work means more people paying taxes, hence we are in a position to afford more AMs.

    It's no good having AM from Labour and Plaid offering vote-bait spending sprees without knowing where that money is coming from. See Labour in Scotland in the last weeks for a prime example.