Historic Day as First Law Making Powers are Transferred to Wales
Today, Wednesday 9 April 2008, marks a historic day as the first Legislative Competence Order transferring law making powers to Wales receives Royal approval from Queen Elizabeth II.
The new powers will allow the Welsh Assembly Government to bring forward Welsh laws, called Assembly Measures, on Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision.
The new laws will enable the Assembly to tackle issues surrounding additional learning needs and develop a distinctive approach that meets the needs of all learners with such difficulties in Wales.
The law making powers are the first to be transferred to the Assembly since the Government of Wales Act was passed in 2006 using this new process. Others will now follow, covering the various other responsibilities which are devolved to Wales.
First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: “For the first time in 500 years the people of Wales are now able to create laws to help improve their day-to-day lives. That is what makes this such a historic day."
Presiding Officer, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said: "This is a momentous day in the history of the Assembly and marks another clear and important stage in the growth of Welsh devolution. It shows that the new powers granted to us under the Government of Wales Act are working, and that the Assembly and Welsh Ministers have shown they can rise to the challenge of creating legislation for Wales. We have heard critics say that the processes for creating legislation were unclear and did not work, but today those critics have been shown to be wrong.
“There are other LCOs currently being developed and scrutinised here and in Westminster, together with a number of Assembly Measures being brought forward within the areas that have been devolved already. I am sure we will see many LCOs and Measures being passed within the lifetime of the Third Assembly."
Education Minister Jane Hutt said: “The Assembly Government is committed to providing every citizen with the opportunity to reach their full potential no matter what their circumstances or level of ability. With this in mind I am particularly pleased that the first Welsh law passed in many centuries will be aimed at improving the lives and opportunities for those with Special Educational Needs. This is indeed a landmark day for Wales.”
From today the Assembly has new powers to pass laws in areas relating to the education of those with additional learning needs, thanks to a Legislative Competence Order – the first one since the 2006 Government of Wales Act became law. The new powers given to the Assembly by the 2006 Act give us the power to pass new laws in areas where the Assembly has “legislative competence”, for example agriculture, health and culture. In the areas in which we have this legislative competence, we can make laws, known as “Measures”, which have a similar effect to an Act of Parliament. The areas where we have legislative competence are listed in Schedule 5 to the 2006 Act. Schedule 5 may be amended by either a new Act of Parliament; or a Legislative Competence Order (known as an LCO), which has to be approved both the Assembly and the UK Parliament and subsequently by Her Majesty the Queen in Council.
The Education and Training Legislative Competence Order is the first LCO to be approved by both the Assembly and UK Parliament, and has now been given formal approval by Her Majesty. This is how the process works - the LCO was first proposed by the Education Minister and then an Assembly Committee was set up to scrutinise the proposal. Scrutiny was also carried out by committees of MPs and members of the House of Lords. Following this scrutiny, the LCO was approved by the Assembly and by both Houses of the UK Parliament before receiving Royal approval yesterday.