The Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, Elin Jones AM, has published a series of proposed amendments to the Wales Bill.
They have been shared with the Secretary of State for Wales and Welsh MPs ahead of the first Westminster debate on the Bill on 5 July.
The Llywydd believes her proposals will provide “further clarity” and ensure “a constitutional settlement that is workable, clear and provides a firm foundation for the Assembly’s future.”
“In the wake of last week’s Leave vote in the EU Referendum, it is crucial that Wales has a strong, clear constitutional framework” said the Llywydd, Elin Jones AM
“I have taken the innovative step of publishing amendments that address points of principle because it is more important than ever that we get a Wales Bill that is right for Wales. For example, some amendments address areas where I think it is more appropriate for the Assembly rather than UK legislation to determine its own procedures.
I hope that they will be considered as a positive contribution to a process that must provide further clarity about Welsh governance.”
The Llywydd sets out how the amendments are intended to reflect two key principles.
The first is an important constitutional principle: the Assembly should consent to any change in its powers. Therefore the statutory legislative consent arrangements between the Assembly and Parliament should be no narrower than the scope of the inter-governmental convention currently in place. Likewise, the Assembly should give its consent before the power to vary the income tax rate is devolved.
The second principle addressed by the amendments is that, after 16 years of devolution, the Assembly should have both the power and the flexibility to determine its own internal affairs. This principle finds its expression in the following areas of amendment:
- The Bill devolves power to the Assembly in respect of its electoral arrangements, which is welcome, but there are some outstanding issues. The 7-day timeframe within which the Assembly is required to hold its first meeting and elect a Presiding Officer causes practical difficulties and does not allow the Assembly the same flexibility as Scotland, where the requirement is to elect the Presiding Officer within 14 days. Similarly, I wish to see the power to vary the date of Assembly general elections, and to fix the date of extraordinary Assembly elections, transferred to the Presiding Officer, as is the case in Scotland. Currently, the Bill would transfer the first of these powers to the Welsh Ministers, and leave the second with the Secretary of State.
- I believe that the Bill should therefore also be amended to remove new and unnecessary prescriptions in respect of its operational arrangements, which occur in the provisions requiring a super-majority and justice impact assessments.
- I am pleased to see that the Bill gives the Assembly control over financial, accountability and audit affairs for Welsh bodies. I would like the Bill to include a small number of additional important provisions on this matter.
Wales Bill Briefing 30 June 2016 (PDF, 710KB)
Letter to MPs 30 June 2016 (PDF, 227KB)