“We need a strong constitutional framework for Wales” – Llywydd gives evidence to Assembly Committee
The Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, Elin Jones AM, will outline additional changes she wants to see to the Wales Bill when she gives evidence to the Assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs committee tomorrow (6 July).
Her proposed amendments have also been shared with the Secretary of State for Wales and Welsh MPs ahead of the second Westminster Committee debate on the Bill on 11 July.
“The Bill represents progress on the draft Bill but further work is needed to ensure a constitutional settlement that is workable, clear and provides a firm foundation for the Assembly’s future,” the Llywydd said.
“In the wake of last week’s Leave vote in the EU Referendum, it is crucial that Wales has a strong, clear constitutional framework. It is more important than ever that we get a Wales Bill that is right for Wales.
“As Llywydd, publishing amendments is an innovative step but my role is to represent the interest of the Assembly and ensure it effectively serves the people of Wales. The amendments are intended to provide a settlement for the Assembly which is clear, workable with minimal roll-back of the Assembly’s powers and reflects the Assembly’s maturity as a legislature by giving it the flexibility to determine its own internal affairs.”
The Llywydd published amendments prior to the first Westminster debate on the Bill which took place on 5 July – these have been put forward for debate by MPs.
This second group of proposed amendments from the Llywydd are being published ahead of the second Committee debate– when MPs will move on to look in more detail at the proposed reserved powers model which will determine the future competence of the Assembly.
This Llywydd’s amendments focus on ensuring the legislative competence of the Assembly is clear, workable and does not roll back on the current settlement.
“My biggest concern in respect of the proposed model for competence is the absolute prohibition the Bill now places for the Assembly to legislate on any way that ‘relates to’ a reserved matter – this will lead to some loss of latitude as compared to the current settlement,” the Llywydd said.
“I look forward to following the debate and the Secretary of State’s response on the amendments on these important points of principle.”
- The reserved powers model does make it more certain where the boundary for the competence of the Assembly lies.
- However, certainty in relation to each reserved area is not the same as clarity overall, and this is certainly not a clear, easily understood boundary. It is not apparent that a coherent principle has been applied for how that boundary has been drawn. Such a principle, or set of principles, would have helped greatly – both in the drafting of the Bill, and in everyone’s ability to understand and operate the settlement in the future.
In particular the amendments include:
- Removing the necessity test in relation to reserved matters
- Providing that the restriction on the Assembly’s ability to legislate on criminal law mirrors the restriction for private law
Wales Bill briefing 5 July.pdf (PDF, 525KB)
Letter to MPs 5 July 2016 (PDF, 214KB)
Further information: UK Government's Wales Bill