Thursday, 22 November 2007

Fundamental flaws found in drawing up a new law

Fundamental flaws have been identified with one of the Welsh Assembly Government's first attempts at drawing up a new law as reported by the BBC.

Under the 2006 Government of Wales Act, Wales-only legislation can be created in certain devolved areas. But a scrutiny committee has found a number of problems with proposals for legislation to improve travel to schools and further education. These include a basic lack of powers over key issues, such as seat belts. The Enterprise and Learning Committee's scrutiny report found the new law, known as an assembly measure, would be powerless with regard to vehicle standards, seating arrangements or seatbelts. The committee also found inadequacies over codes of conduct.

In order to plug the gap the Assembly Government will present more detailed proposals in the new year. But if it fails to request enough powers to plug the gap, the committee has said it may consider bringing forward its own request for extra powers from Westminster. It wants the Assembly Government to give further consideration to the code of conduct, including to the issue of who will be covered by it. The committee also wants the assembly government to give further consideration to the possibility of staggering the opening and closing times of schools.
In recent months I've been notified of the first recruitment of legal trainees for solicitor's Training Contracts, having been advertised by the Welsh Assembly Government on its website. With an emphasis on providing opportunities for trainees, the real need lies in a demand for more experienced staff. As I've been led to understand, the Legal Services Department of the Assembly Government is vast in numbers and should be equipped to tackle any legal proposal before a problem arises at committee level. If it feels that they haven't got the manpower or expertise, they've the backing of the UK Government Legal Service (GLS) with their expert knowledge in drafting legislation for Westminster. At this stage of devolution there's no time to be too proud in asking for assistance.

On 22 October 2007 the Welsh Assembly Government made an announcement that Professor Thomas Glyn Watkin had been appointed as the First Welsh Legislative Counsel. Professor Watkin is an eminent man and as I understand, made sacrifices to become Counsel. The Welsh Assembly Government are very fortunate to have him in their employment, and on talking to someone in the Legal Services Department, I've been informed that he was actually appointed in April 2007 and has a token number of staff to call upon.

This just doesn't bode well for the future and will inevitably slow up procedure if it continues.


Anonymous 22 November 2007 at 10:27  

You've got an agenda haven't you ...Assembly incompetent, Westminster competent ... meanwhile in the real world the Labour rats try to blame a 23 year old AO for the latest example of criminal London incompetence.

Miss Wagstaff 22 November 2007 at 10:37  

Anon 10:27 - There's no agenda. All I am saying is that there are resources there with the GLS. If a resource is there, then why not use it?

Haven't read the papers today so don't know about the 23 year old. I find it hard to believe that responsibility would be with that person - the public are not fools.

Peter Black 22 November 2007 at 14:51  

The flaws are not legal they are political! There was a conscious decision by the Government not to ask for these powers I guess because they could not get agreement with Westminster.

Miss Wagstaff 22 November 2007 at 15:00  

Thanks for the comment Peter as it makes matters a little clearer.

Jonathan 22 November 2007 at 19:40  

I'd stake a bet on the experience not being there either. WAG lost decent staff after the merger with quangos due to their way of working. I imagine that lawyers only work there for experience and then head back into law firms.

Anne 22 November 2007 at 21:47  

Looks like there'll be more of this blaming culture. If the Assembly doesn't pass as many Measures as expected, they will blame Parliament.

Anonymous 22 November 2007 at 23:53  

Wagstaff? You're not related to old Bill Shakespeare by any chance?

Miss Wagstaff 23 November 2007 at 09:54  

Trust you to get your Falstaff mixed up with your Wagstaff :)

I'll tell you a little secret - Wagstaff is my partner's name. I had to think of a name for this blog, hence Miss Wagstaff. I'll look a right fool if we don't get married next year as planned.

Anonymous 29 November 2007 at 12:16  

Good laws require politicians with the intelligence to understand what is achievable and first class civil servants with drafting experience.

Gerry 13 January 2008 at 14:39  

It would be a good idea if they started to spend money in the areas of staffing that are needed. Are two new special advisers needed as opposed to those legal bods with specialist drafting skills? Get your priorities right WAG. If you mess up the Welsh laws you don't earn the right to more powers.

Legal Training Contracts 27 June 2008 at 09:47  

Fundamental flaws aside, it nice to know that there are individuals who are trying to make securing legal training contracts a bit easier for law students like me, as it is by no means a walk in the park to secure one.

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