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).