Welsh referendum: a date, a question, and related matters

Cheryl Gillan, the Secretary of State for Wales, has today made the order for the referendum on legislative powers for the National Assembly.  As requested by the Assembly Government and widely expected, it will be on 3 March 2011.  The Wales Office news release about it is here, and a written ministerial statement is here.  Strangely, the order itself doesn’t seem to be available anywhere – certainly not on the Wales Office or OPSI websites.

The question is that recommended by the Electoral Commission, previously discussed HERE (and note also the comments on that post).  It raises three problems.  First, the terminology (the reference to ‘subject areas’, a term no-where used in the 2006 Act or the 2005 white paper) is potentially confusing.  Second, the question can be read as implying that that the  Assembly needs Westminster’s consent whenever it legislates, rather than to ensure it has the  powers to legislate.  That reading would, of course, be wrong.  Third, it doesn’t refer directly to the 2006 Act and the legal nature of the powers that would be brought into effect if voters vote ‘yes’.

As well as the referendum order, there’s a draft order amending Schedule 7 to the 2006 Act (which sets out the powers the Assembly would be able to exercise if Part 4 came fully into force).  That’s available here.  At a quick glance, the changes are mostly technical (someone has got excited about the definition of ‘animal’), or bring Schedule 7 into line with Schedule 5 (to ensure, for example, that the Assembly will still be able to legislate about fire sprinklers in domestic houses).

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1 Comment

Filed under Referendums, Wales, Whitehall

One response to “Welsh referendum: a date, a question, and related matters

  1. Emyr Lewis

    Thanks for drawing our attention to the changes to Schedule 7. Some interesting stuff in there – but some very tiresome stuff as well.

    you may have intended the comment about definition of animal lightly, but it is symptomatic of the culture of micro-manaegment of the Welsh legislative process from Westminster that gave rise to the current flawed system and was reflected in the behaviour of certain members of the Welsh Select Committee during the passage of certain Legislative Competence Orders in London. What this suggests is that even if Schedule 7 comes into force following a yes vote in the forthcoming referendum, we’re in for more of the same micromanagement, and (I fear) complexity for complexity’s sake.

    While it is not without its complexities, a reserved powers model, such as that in Scotland, would enable the Assembly to legislate in a mature and targetted manner, using the powers purposefully when the need arises.

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