Monday 4 January 2010

Hain's revelation

According to the Western Mail on Saturday, Peter Hain has 'revealed' that the Welsh language LCO would have been 'bad law' were it not for the kindly intervention of MPs.

I don't think that he has actually 'revealed' any such thing; he has merely expressed his personal opinion. The two things are quite different, although I sometimes wonder if he understands that. But there is much to argue with, even in his expression of opinion.

In the first place, it is questionable whether the MPs were making 'law' at all, in the commonly understood sense of the word; they were only debating whether the power to make law should be passed from one place to another.

I suppose it might be argued that that is indeed making law in the widest sense, since it amounts to a change in the Government of Wales Act; but even taking that broad interpretation, I fail to see how the current LCO process does anything other than make a 'bad' law (Hain's own brainchild, of course) even worse. 'Good' law surely includes maximum clarity over who is responsible for what, but the more that MPs try to slice and dice powers before passing them to Cardiff, the less clear the situation becomes.

More importantly, it really does seem as though Hain and his MPs are still struggling with the concept of devolving law-making powers to Wales at all. I'm not sure whether the exceptions to the LCO that have resulted from the efforts of MPs' are right or wrong. They are certainly legitimate matters for debate, and I hope that I'm open-minded enough to consider the case for and against. The debate, however, should have been held around any draft Measure, not around the LCO.

I don't blame the various organisations for lobbying Parliament in the way that they have. If you give people two bites of the cherry, you should expect them to take two. MPs have effectively declared that they can and will obstruct and change LCOs, not on the basis of a rational discussion about where the power should lie, but on the basis of what someone might do with it at some unspecified point in the future.

It's a pity though that those organisations are putting their time and effort into trying to stop or restrict the transfer of power itself rather then entering into debate with the Assembly's committees and members about the content of future Measures. It's an even bigger pity that Hain and friends are giving them such an open invitation to do so.


Unknown said...

Nothing that Hain would attempt to sabotage, delay or obstruct the passage of laws concerning Wales, already agreed in the Assembly, would surprise me.
What does surprise me is why the Assembly and the people of Wales put up with this situation and the ridiculous system of LCOs which are an insult to responsible democratic representation.

Anonymous said...

It's just another attempt by Hain to lead the campaign against increased assembly powers by poiting out how great his brainchild is. Even Rhodri Morgan has admitted that he can't understand the process, and if anyone could understand such a convoluted system it would be RM