Through the Cardiff seminar on ‘A separate Welsh Legal jurisdiction’, (see post above) I learned that the Wales Office has now quietly published two new Devolution Guidance Notes concerning the new legislative arrangements.
Devolution Guidance Notes are rather important parts of the knitting that make the devolved UK work. Collectively, they can now be found on the Cabinet Office’s website here. Although they are only internal guidance to UK Government departments, they lay down important procedures for how Whitehall should in fact deal with the devolved governments and legislatures. They also result from discussions with the devolved government concerned, so although they should not be regarded as agreed documents, they do take into account some devolved concerns.
The new DGNs are Devolution Guidance Note 9, Post Devolution Primary Legislation affecting Wales, and Devolution Guidance Note 17, Modifying the Legislative Competence of the National Assembly for Wales. DGN 9 has been through repeated editions, following the various legislative dispensations for Wales; the new one replaces one designed for Part 3 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, which was issued in November 2005. DGN 17 is wholly new, and deals with the possible (indeed, likely) need to amend the legislative powers set out in Schedule 7 to the 2006 Act under section 109 of the Act. (Unlike legislative competence orders made under section 95, there are no defined procedures for such orders – or any formal way for the National Assembly to seek to obtain one.
It’s not clear when the new DGNs were actually made or published. There was no announcement of their publication on either the Cabinet Office or Wales Office websites (so one would have to be very vigilant to have spotted their publication), and the new notes bear no date – but they are pretty new. The new DGN 9 can be found here, and DGN 17 is here.