Friday, November 21, 2008

27 Steps to an LCO

Tomos Livingstone and Betsan Powys both make reference to Hywel Williams' recently released list of actions that must be completed in order to make an LCO.

Previous publications have suggested far fewer stages than this.

The Devolution Guidance Note 16 (DGN16) written to assist people at Westminster in Summer 2008 says there are six stages, although the Bevan Foundation's Evolution of Devolution notes that these represent a series of actions, not just one event.

The House of Lords Constitutional Committee report on scrutiny of Welsh Legislative Competence Orders, published in December 2007, suggests there are ten stages, although some of these take place simultaneously in Cardiff and Westminster, in effect meaning there are far more stages actually occurring.

The '27 steps' attempts to unpack the different actions to make a coherent and comprehensive description of the process of making an LCO.

Tomos Livingstone is wrong when he suggests 27 places at which an LCO can fail - there are only certain points where it officially 'falls', but it shows that the process is a bureaucratic nightmare where a secretarial absence or a mis-filed letter, never mind actual disagreement on the LCO, can lead to huge delays in transferring powers to Cardiff.

Just to give an example, I'm pretty sure that most of the Welsh public are unaware that LCOs are scrutinised or checked by four different committees at Westminster, by the two Houses of Parliament (sometimes, but not always, by a delegated legislation committee) and passed through the Welsh Office on several occasions.

The phrase Kafka-esque springs very much to mind.


For those interested, here are the 27 steps again.

"1. Announcement of LCO or ballot made (there could be other pre-LCO stages in the case of a ballot where it must be submitted or by an Assembly committee as the result of a petition)
2. Negotiation between Cardiff Bay & Whitehall on LCO text
3. Agreement of Cardiff Bay & Whitehall on LCO text (‘Whitehall clearance’)
4. WAG Minister lays proposed order in Plenary and accepted by vote
5. WAG Minister sends copy to Sec of State
6. Business Committee starts legislative committee in Assembly
7. Assembly Committee opens consultation
8. Sec of State publishes draft for pre-legislative scrutiny and invites Welsh Affairs Committee to scrutinise LCO
9. Sec of State invites Constitution Committee to scrutinise LCO
10. Welsh Affairs Committee asks for submissions
11. Assembly committee and WAC meet jointly or consecutively to take evidence – this has usually been consecutively and therefore could conceivably be 2 stages in the process
12. Constitution Committee scrutinises LCO
13. Assembly committee write report
14. Welsh Affairs committee write report
15. Westminster Government responds to WAC report
16. WAG & London Govt agree text after committee recommendations
17. WAG Minister lays draft order before Assembly
18. Assembly discuss and vote on LCO in plenary
19. First Minister informs Sec of State that LCO has passed or that the draft order was rejected by the Assembly, in which case it would fall
20. LCO is laid before both Houses of Parliament
21. Joint Committee of Statutory Instruments Scrutiny
22. Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee Scrutiny
23. House of Lords debates draft Order
24. Delegated Legislation Committee to discuss LCO
25. House of Commons passes draft Order without debate
26. Sec of State for Wales recommends Her Majesty in Council to make order.
27. Her Majesty makes the order

The Welsh Assembly now has the Measure making powers applied for in the Legislative Competence Order and may choose to make a Measure within these powers."

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