Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Elis-Thomas: Time to accept constructive criticism

Catching up with the news, the Western Mail reports on the National Assembly’s Presiding Officer has fired a broadside at an all-party group of MPs, accusing them of misrepresenting the facts about the making of new Welsh laws.

In a letter to Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy, Lord Elis-Thomas, pictured, says claims by members of the Welsh Affairs Committee that they are in danger of being “swamped” by legislative proposals coming from the Assembly are groundless.

Since last year, the Assembly has been able to seek permission from Westminster to make its own laws in defined areas. Permission is granted in the form of Legislative Competence Orders (LCOs) passed by both Houses of Parliament. Prior to approval, draft LCOs are considered by the Welsh Affairs Committee.

In a recent memorandum to Mr Murphy from the committee, MPs suggested the number of LCOs coming through from the Assembly could prove unmanageable. Now Lord Elis-Thomas has intervened to “set the record straight”.

In a letter sent to Mr Murphy on Friday, he refers to the allegation made by the committee that the system is being swamped, stating: “This conclusion, which has attracted much publicity, is, in my opinion, clearly contrary to the evidence actually set out in the memorandum itself.

“The Assembly acquired its new legislative powers on May 25 2007. During the first 12 months following that date, seven proposed LCOs were laid before the Assembly, five of which were proposed by the Assembly Government and two by backbenchers. As the memorandum itself makes clear, only four of these proposed Orders have as yet been referred to the Welsh Affairs Committee.

Or was it entirely constructive, and part pantomime politics?

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