Parliament votes this week on the three orders authorising the referendum on extending the primary legislative powers of the National Assembly. The Commons votes on Tuesday (23 November) on the order amending Schedule 7, and on Wednesday on the other orders setting out the general procedure for the referendum including the question, and the campaign spending limits. The Lords votes on all three orders on Thursday 25 November. They then go to a meeting of the Privy Council in mid-December. As this earlier post reported, the two orders requiring approval by the National Assembly have already had that (and that post also has links to the orders themselves).
Various Committees at Westminster have considered one or more of the orders. They’ve been ‘not reported’ by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (here), which means that there’s nothing about their drafting that concerns this important Parliamentary watchdog. The only substantive consideration of them in Westminster has come from the Commons Welsh Affairs Committee. which published a report on the Schedule 7 Order. (My role as specialist adviser included assisting with their consideration of that order.) The report is available on the Committee’s website here, there’s a press release here, and a PDF of the report can be downloaded here.
UPDATE: It’s also worth noting that at least part of the referendum campaign kicked off on Saturday, at the Labour Party’s special policy conference. This hasn’t been widely reported, but there’s a news item from Wales Online here and a post by Betsan Powys here. Jones’s statement is available here, and his speech to the conference is here. Welsh Labour clearly seek to link opposition to the Coalition UK Government with a ‘Yes’ vote, with a two-pronged appeal:
- ‘Voting “Yes” on March 3rd is the best way to make sure Welsh Labour’s policies become law.’
- ‘The old system worked okay when we had a Labour Government in Westminster, but now Tory MPs would be in a position to delay Labour proposals to make Wales a fairer country.’
How the other parties, and non-aligned ‘Yes’ supporters, will respond to these approaches is an open question – especially as many would challenge the idea that all that’s wrong with Part 3 of the 2006 Act is that Labour are no longer in office in London.
UPDATE, 25 November: The referendum orders have duly passed both Houses of Parliament. There’s a Wales Office news release about this here. And those interested in Carwyn Jones’s arguments for a ‘Yes’ vote will be interested in this piece by him, from WalesHome.