Thursday, 24 April 2008

U-turn if you want to

You wait 10 months for a U-turn and then two come along at once.

Gordon Brown won't enjoy today's newspaper headlines, although the Government's change of heart will help many, if not all, of those who lost out from his last Budget as Chancellor.

The U-turn by the Welsh Assembly Government should mean NHS staff in Wales enjoy the same legal protection offered to their English counterparts.

One month ago, WAG insisted the new powers weren't needed in Wales. They're not saying that today.

The U-turn followed the outcry from Labour MPs and a Lords rebellion led by the cross-bench peer Baroness Finlay of Llandaff.

All sides are now being magnanimous in defeat/victory. WAG said in a terse statement: "The Minister met recently with Baroness Finlay to discuss this issue. A Government amendment will be put down, which would extend these powers to Wales."

The deal was brokered by Secretary of State Paul Murphy and First Minister Welsh Rhodri Morgan.

An e-mail from the Wales Office sent to Baroness Finlay was more conciliatory:

"The Government aim to table the amendment later this week for Third Reading. The Government amendment will give the Assembly Ministers the option to request the powers laid out in this Bill at anytime in the future, if they determine there is a need for this legislation, they can request for it to be given to them via an Affirmative Order (delegated legislation), as is the case for Northern Ireland in the aforementioned Bill".

Will they request that hitherto "unnecessary" option? Don't bet against it.

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