An interesting point about the Queen’s Speech is the way it has been used for some pretty blatant campaigning for the constitutional status quo in Wales. The speech itself was studiedly neutral, with only a commitment to ‘devolve more powers to Wales’. However, the following statement appeared on the Number 10 website:
This Government introduced devolution and has steadily transferred an increasing number of law making powers to the National Assembly for Wales. In the three years since the Government of Wales Act (2006) powers have been devolved to the Assembly in 45 different areas, with many more in the pipeline. The Assembly is getting the powers it needs for the people of Wales. The fifth Session will continue our commitment to devolution and delivering for Wales.
This of course appears on the same day as the All Wales Convention report is published, criticising the clarity and comprehensibility of the present arrangements. Peter Hain’s position is, of course, now well known – he thinks that the present arrangements deliver devolved powers in an adequate way, and he’s taken advantage of this opportunity to repeat it.
Moreover, since the 2006 Act very carefully talks of general ‘fields’ in which matters are devolved, for particular specific ‘matters’, talking of devolving powers in 45 ‘areas’ is highly confusing – and it’s hard to resist concluding that that is deliberate.