Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Powers over Water merely a symbolic gesture?

Why have Politicians and the Media gone all patriotic over the UK Government plans to give the Welsh Government new powers over water?
 Is it really a “historic” opportunity to ensure the 1965 Tryweryn flooding is never repeated.
Has there been any recent plans for another Tryweryn ?
The Wales Office has announced that AMs and Welsh ministers are to gain new water powers.
At present, the UK Government can stop the Assembly passing laws it fears will have a serious impact on supplies in England. It can also stop Welsh ministers taking action.
There are now plans for the UK Government to give up its right to intervene on water-related issues. This is expected to allow the Welsh Government to make policy without looking over its shoulder
Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said:
 “The current powers allowing UK Ministers to intervene on water issues will be replaced by a statutory agreement between the UK and Welsh Governments.
"This recognises the increasingly mature relationship between the Governments of Westminster and Cardiff Bay.
“It is part of a wider package of measures being agreed under the Wales Bill. Water has been a challenging issue as anyone familiar with recent Welsh history knows.
"I’m pleased we are now about to reach a definitive agreement that resolves past differences and provides clarity for the future. This approach lies at the heart of the Wales Bill which is designed to give Welsh people control over the daily decisions affecting their lives.
“It is only natural that a critical issue like water is part of this agreement.”The move comes as the Wales Bill continues its journey through the House of Lords. The legislation will give AMs the power to change the name of the Assembly and also grant them control of elections.
What exactly apart from preventing another Tyrweryn  does this mean

A fair deal of Water in Wales  will still be run by Severn Trent  so it seems unlikely that we will see Wales charging those over the boarder for our water.





 Why has the Tory government done this?

The move comes as the Wales Bill continues its journey through the House of Lords. The legislation will give AMs the power to change the name of the Assembly and also grant them control of elections.
A committee of peers have added their backing to those who say the Wales Bill legislation would actually reduce the powers of the National Assembly.
And they are calling on the UK Government to clarify if it intended to reduce those powers and, if not, to set out what steps it will take to rectify this.
The report was published by the House of Lords Constitution Committee, which has been scrutinising the legislation as part of its passage through Parliament.
It has also faced a scathing criticism  from Professor Richard Wyn Jones is the director of the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University .
Such is the weakness of the bill that this Blog has suggested the Welsh Assembly veto the Bill.
Is the transfer Water powers which looks like the Welsh Secretary surrendering them (and therefore regaining them?) rather than devolving them an attempt to convince Welsh Politicians that the Tory government really have our interests at heart?

All that seems to be offered is the recognition of a great Injustice carried out on Wales by the drowning of Tryweryn.

But much of the real power will lie with Severn Trent and the chance of Wales to dictate what really happens to Welsh water and how England pays for it  is limited.


1 comment:

  1. Think i'm right in saying it was a certain Baron Hain of Neath who gave companies like severn trent such sweeping control of water in wales via the 2006 wales act (apparently such companies have a 75 year lease or something and which cannot legally be amended or revoked by the senedd).

    Im not against the new powers being proposed but the reality is the people of wales will never have meaningful control over their own natural resources - like water - until they have self government.

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