Presiding Officer says that current devolution settlement “must work”

Published 25/01/2008   |   Last Updated 14/07/2014

Presiding Officer says that current devolution settlement “must work”

The National Assembly’s current constitutional settlement must be made to work in order to move on to the next stage of devolution, the Presiding Officer will say today (Friday January 25).

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas will tell AMs and journalists at the Assembly’s north Wales office in Colwyn Bay that politicians in both Cardiff and Westminster have a responsibility to ensure the Assembly can take full advantage of its powers under the Government of Wales Act.

Lord Elis-Thomas will say: “I am pleased with the way we have risen to the challenges of the new law-making Constitution of Wales since last May. We have seen the introduction of Measures, the equivalent of Acts of Parliament, and a series of Proposed Legislative Orders, to obtain powers, by Welsh Ministers and by individual AMs. Inevitably, with any legislative proposals, there will be scrutiny and discussion and debate and sometimes disagreements, as has always happened in Westminster, and we must expect it to happen in Cardiff Bay too. This is democracy in action.

“Despite the views of those who feel that we do not have enough powers, or those who would prefer no devolution at all, we owe it to the people of Wales to make the present system work.  After all it is no more complicated than the rest of the UK Constitution!  We need to see legislative proposals brought forward, and we need robust scrutiny of those proposals, so that we make new Welsh laws which are fit for the purpose.”

“I want to see us moving towards a referendum on full Scottish-style powers for the National Assembly, but we can only get the full-hearted consent of the Welsh people for that in the referendum required by our Constitution, if we can show that we are using the powers we have to make a real difference to people in Wales. Obviously we as Assembly Members have a responsibility to make this happen, but as a Member of the Second Chamber who has been involved in constitutional issues, I must say that Welsh MPs and Peers have their responsibilities too. These do not include second-guessing or seeking to reverse the view of a majority of elected Members in the National Assembly, whether the proposals for legislation come from Welsh Ministers, Assembly Committees or Individual Members.”

The Presiding Officer will also stress the Assembly’s commitment to using the most up-to-date technology to communicate with the people of Wales.

“Ever since the beginning of the Assembly, we have sought to be as innovative as possible in the use of ICT. We have a new website and now we are launching a pilot project on e-petitions, enabling people to submit and sign petitions to the Assembly online. We want to ensure that people understand the role of the Assembly, and its powers, and the difference between the National Assembly and the Welsh Government. Media reporting needs to be clear and accurate in its coverage using the correct terminology to explain to readers, viewers and listeners.”

Note to Editors: The Constitution of Wales’ is set out in the Government of  Wales Act 2006, as described by the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution 2nd Report 2007-8: “the 2006 Act is, to all intents and purposes a written constitution for Wales.”