Tweet Writing in the latest edition of the IWA magazine, 'Agenda', Peter Hain says, "The Government of Wales Act 2006…settled the question of Wales' constitutional status, if not forever, then for generations to come. …there will never be another Act because it provides for full law making powers…"
If there's one infallible rule of politics it is this: politicians who say something will 'never' happen are proved wrong, sometimes fairly rapidly. There are many politicians who have lived to regret ever having uttered the word. Hain will be proved wrong as well, for the simple reason that, even after holding a successful referendum and implementing Part 4 of GOWA 2006, the Assembly will still find itself hampered by the way in which the powers have been devolved.
The contrast is, inevitably, with Scotland, where the devolution settlement is so very much clearer. Scotland can do anything not explicitly reserved to Westminster; whereas, even under GOWA 2006 Part 4, Wales will only be able to legislate on those matters explicitly devolved to Wales. We will be able to do so without having to go through the ludicrous LCO process, and the split in responsibilities will be clearer than it is now – but it will still not be as clear as the situation in Scotland.
Far from being settled 'for generations to come', I believe that the constitutional status of Wales will continue to be a significant issue until at least the degree of stability afforded to Scotland is achieved. Does Hain really believe his own words, or is he just playing to a particular audience in his own party?
The IWA Podcast- Will the Scottish referendum settle the issue? - Will the Scottish vote on the 18th September see more questions raised than answered?
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