Thursday, 28 November 2013

Tory AM cites Orkney and Shetland to argue against Welsh Jurisdiction

Wales Online have an article where Welsh Conservative Byron Davies hits out at proposal to devolve policing to Wales

Mr Davies, a regional AM for South Wales West and a one-time officer in the Metropolitan Police and served for a number of years at the UK National Crime Squad, said: “What needs to be explained is where is the demand for the devolution of policing.

“Where is the public demand for the Welsh Government to run policing?
“Why would the Welsh Government run policing better than the UK Government or Police and Crime Commissioners?
“The truth is that there is little discussion around Wales about policing being given to the Welsh Government. Why should there be?
“Crime is falling year-on-year under this UK Government and police and crime commissioners now offer the most radical localised policing solutions we have seen.”

He said: “Policing is not an area that would benefit from being in the hands of the Welsh Government.

“When I chat to old colleagues - a lot of them still serving - not one of them talks about the devolution of the police. Talk to barristers and they say the same - namely that they currently have the ability to practice across a jurisdiction seen as one of the fairest and most successful in the world.”
From the start there's a problem with his argument

Firstly Where was the public demand for Police and Crime Commissioners? 

Secondly just a year after the public registered their approval of the election of  Police Crime Commissioners PCCs by largely not voting, and which saw less than 15% in Wales bothering to turn out. Including a Newport Polling Station which saw no one bother to exercise their franchise.  There comes  a poll revealing that nine out of 10 people in the UK cannot name the politicians who hold their police forces to account.
According to the Wasting Mule a year after commissioners took office, at a cost of £75m, a YouGov survey found that two thirds of people felt the commissioners had made no difference to police accountability.
Mr Davies maybe to show how well informed he is comes up with a somewhat bizarre argument  that the the idea that as the National Assembly accumulated more powers and becomes more separate in its body of law, it would require its own jurisdiction, citing a body of law in Shetland and Orkney which still had supremacy over Scots law - “Udal law”, which derived from Magnus the Great of Norway in the 5th Century - as an example where differences could be incorporated into the same jurisdiction.
He added: “Is Welsh devolution so far different from these examples, and therefore in need of a separate legal jurisdiction with its own statute? No.”
Well maybe not at the moment . But I think that most would agree that we are heading there and there is a strong argument that we should prepare for this by devolving policing and jurisdiction

As for Udal law i resorted to Wikipedia
Udal law is a near-defunct Norse derived legal system, which is found in Shetland and Orkney, Scotland and in Manx law [1] at the Isle of Man. It is closely related to Odelsrett.Udal law was codified by the kings Magnus I of Norway "the good" and Magnus VI of Norway "lawmender". The Treaty of Perth transferred the Outer Hebrides and Isle of Man to Scots law while Norse law and rule still applied for Shetland and Orkney.
Scottish Courts have intermittently acknowledged the supremacy of Udal law in property cases up to the present day. Major differences from Scots law include shore ownership rights, important for pipelines and cables.
Udal law generally holds sway in Shetland and Orkney, along with Scots law.
More of an example how this can be accommodated in Scots Law which has been different from that from "England and Wales" since the creation of the Union and always needed a separate judiciary
So it was inevitable it was devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
It is clear that we are heading the way that  and jurisdiction in Wales will be distinct from that in England in some cases and it would be ridiculous to place this through Westminster rather that Cardiff. 
I think that the argument should be not whether  jurisdiction and policing should be devolved as a natural part of devolution. but how we will run it afterwards.
Should we be aiming to have a unified police Force as in Scotland, keep the current police authorities even  look at another way.
Maybe Byron Davies experience would be welcome here . His knowledge of Shetland and Orkney law serves us no use whatsoever.


Anonymous said...

Good post Glyn ... and interesting. Learnt something new today. Never heard of Udal law.

Cibwr said...

No I have never heard of Udal law either, and the difference is that this law doesn't have a legislature that is constantly updating the corpus of law under its jurisdiction, Wales does. Thus eventually the differences between Welsh and English law will grow and a separate jurisdiction for Wales will be unanswerable.