‘Unprecedented’ debate on the draft Wales Bill – Presiding Officer
The Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, Dame Rosemary Butler AM, has called a debate on the draft Wales Bill 'unprecedented' in the history of the Assembly.
The debate considered the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee's report on the draft Wales Bill held at the Senedd on Wednesday 13 January 2016.
In its report the Committee called it a law 'made for Wales, not with Wales', and that the Bill would, if passed, roll back the powers already devolved to Wales. The Committee's view was that while the draft Bill contains welcome elements, it "is not yet in a position to command consensus" and that it should not proceed until it is significantly amended.
Speaking after Assembly Members voted to welcome the report from the Committee, Dame Rosemary said:
"Today's debate on the draft Wales Bill is unprecedented. It is our means of presenting our collective view on the future powers and position of this Assembly to the people of Wales, the UK Parliament, and the UK Government.
"By speaking today with one voice, the Assembly has shown how important this issue is for the future of devolution. The next Wales Bill must leave the Assembly with a fuller, clearer, and more workable set of powers to make decisions for the people of Wales.
"The recommendations of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, and my own contributions as Presiding Officer on behalf of the Assembly, provide solutions to the UK Government that would improve the Bill significantly. I hope that the UK Government will respond positively to them."
The Presiding Officer has been central to the broader discussion around the draft Bill and Wales's constitutional settlement.
"I agree with the Secretary of State for Wales that we in the Assembly should focus on making laws for Wales that will improve people's lives. That's what we want to continue to do.
"But we can only do it if he gives the Assembly the right legislative tools to do the job. His current proposals would reduce the powers of the Assembly and make it far harder for us to make laws for the benefit of Wales.
"I have suggested ways in which the Secretary of State can remedy these weaknesses. The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee has done likewise and these ideas have today been endorsed by the whole Assembly.
"This debate is not about politicians obsessing about their powers, rather focusing on how to use them for good. This is about finally trying to get a toolkit for Wales that actually works."
More information about the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee report on the draft Wales Bill.