Wednesday, 23 July 2008

MPs swamped

As a parliamentary correspondent, I'm often asked: "David, what do Welsh MPs do now devolution has reduced their role?"

The answer involves legislation - and a committee of Welsh backbenchers is rather worried there's too much of it.

A memo from the Welsh affairs select committee complains about the political system in both Wales and Westminster being "swamped" with legislative requests from the National Assembly for Wales.

It effectively suggests the Assembly should concentrate on quality rather than quantity when it comes to legislation.

The MPs say: "We urge the Assembly and the Wales Office to find ways of giving a proper focus to legislative work, aiming at producing a reasonable number of high-quality Orders {Legislative Orders in Council or LCOs} each year rather than allowing volume to swamp the system here and in the Assembly as seems to be happening at the moment.

"We are convinced that a concentration on quality will enhance the credibility and standing of the LCO process."

MPs on the committee (modestly) say their "constructive contribution" has "helped to significantly improve the quality of those LCOs that have come forward for formal approval to date."

"If the level of LCOs coming forward from the Assembly settles down at something
of the order of the four or five per year originally envisaged, this will enhance scrutiny,
facilitate better planning and avoid the danger that issues over capacity could become
an obstacle to effective working."

Some legislation takes longer to scrutinise than others. Gordon Brown has, it has been widely reported, created 2,823 new laws during his first year in office (the sort of total that will impress those who see law-making as a political virility symbol).

The MPs say there were problems of misunderstandings about scope and intention with some LCOs but these have been overcome with goodwill on both sides.

They raise questions about clarity and say a clause should be added to each LCO making it legally clear "that the power is intended to provide the power that has been
requested and outlined by the Assembly".

An idea unlikely to find favour with their colleagues in Cardiff Bay.

Perhaps the pressure of work explains why the committee has yet to publish the results of its inquiry into globalisation 18 months after it began.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A very funny aside from David Cameron today, when being interviewed by your colleague Lucy Cohen on Wales Today in which he claimed:

"I represent one of the most rural constituencies in England, with both livestock and..err...the other kind or farming. So rural issues are very important to me."

It's called arable, David. But at least he remembered Alun Cairns's name this time.