The Wales Office published a curious document in January: a ‘Post–Legislative Assessment of the Government of Wales Act 2006’, in the form of a memorandum to the Commons Welsh Affairs Committee. It can be found here, though curiously it’s not on the Wales Office’s own website.
This process of post-legislative assessment comes about because of a reform initiated by Harriet Harman when she was Leader of the Commons, in a 2008 white paper called Post-legislative Scrutiny – the Government’s Approach Cm 7320 (available here). That recommended that UK Government departments responsible for a bill should publish a memorandum about it three to five years after it was passed. It would then be for parliamentary committees to decide whether and how to respond. It’s not for me to comment at this stage on what action the Welsh Affairs Committee might take in response, but the memorandum is certainly worth a look.
The Wales Office paper on the Government of Wales Act shows what many would regard as a high degree of satisfaction, even complacency, about the Act. Two examples will have to suffice:
- Regarding criticism of the working of Part 3 of the Act and the LCO system: ‘… much of this criticism centred on the non-statutory aspects of the process, and not the provisions specified in section 95 of the Act. We believe that these provisions were fit for purpose, providing a means of enhancing the Assembly legislative competence incrementally and in so doing enabling the Assembly to legislate to fulfill the Welsh Assembly Government’s public commitments’ (paragraph 68)
- The Act ‘established a governance structure for the devolved institutions in Wales has proved to be effective and durable. In particular, it effected a separation between the legislature … and the executive … The parliamentary model has proved to be an appropriate one for devolved governance in Wales, affording a more appropriate separation between legislative, executive and scrutiny functions at national level than the local authority model which preceded it’ (paragraph 90).