Saturday, 10 December 2016

UK government claim they can legislate in devolved matters.

Which ever way the  Supreme Court case on Brexit and Article 50 turns out it has at least highlighted  the fact that devolution at least in the minds of the government, does not mean they cannot interfere in Welsh Government matters.
The UK Government's barrister told the Supreme Court that Parliament "may legislate at any time on any matter..." regardless of devolution. 
In his evidence the court, James Eadie QC said it was "plainly wrong" that the convention that the UK Government sought agreement with Wales before legislating on devolved matters affected its freedoms.
The Wasting Mule tells us he said, according to the written transcript of the hearing..
As the Mule states
The implication of Mr Eadie’s statement is that Westminster could make laws in all policy areas devolved to Wales – including, for example, details about how Welsh schools should be run.
Senior figures in Welsh politics said the submission betrayed a lack of respect for devolution.
One senior Welsh political source said:
 “This is a clear demonstration that there is a widely held belief in Whitehall that devolution should never have happened.
"It completely vindicates the Welsh Government’s intervention in this appeal.”
And a spokesman for the Welsh Government spokesman said: 
“Since devolution in 1999, there has been a well-established convention that the UK Parliament would only pass laws in areas devolved to Wales with the express consent of the democratically-elected National Assembly for Wales.
"The UK Government are legislating, via the Wales Bill which is currently before the House of Lords, to put that convention, known as the Sewel Convention, on a statutory legal footing.
“We would resist any move by the UK Government to undermine the will of the people of Wales by overriding devolution, by bypassing the devolved government and legislature.
"Devolution is the settled will of the people of Wales.”
 However there is a convention, known as the Sewel Convention, under which the Government agrees not to legislate on devolved matters without the Welsh Government's consent.
Lawyer and academic Alan Trench, one of Britain’s leading constitutional experts, said: 
“I am afraid that Mr Eadie has overlooked the fact that the Sewel Convention has already been put on a statutory legal footing in Scotland and is due to be in Wales under the provisions of the Wales Bill.
“It is ironic that he should be talking about the supremacy of Parliament at the same time as he is arguing that the Crown prerogative is more important than Parliament in the Supreme Court case.
"A civil war was fought about this 370 years ago.”
According to Devolution Matters

  The upshot is that the powers of the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales to make laws cannot be reduced without their consent.  It similarly means that the powers of the Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly Government cannot be reduced without the consent of the Parliament or National Assembly.  The same applies to conferring new powers – extra powers cannot be compulsorily devolved, but only with devolved consent.
 The Welsh Government argument in this case seems to be that because of devolution the immense changes to UK law that will result from powers being returned from Brussels means that it needs consent of the devolved powers.
Parliament is sovereign .

It seems somewhat ironic that the UK's Barrister a man who understands legal matters far more than I ever will is arguing this in a case in which he is also putting the case for Brexit that it is not.

But that's lawyers for you.


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