The concept of devolution which espouses principles of domestic rule and subsidiarity inevitably rests fundamentally upon the acceptance of what I would call the ‘watershed’ of justice and reason.
A denial of this watershed is both an affront to common sense but also a betrayal and a devaluation of devolution.
This Tuesday January 10th 2017 Lord Elystan Morgan is proposing an amendment to the Wales Bill to direct the Secretary of State for Wales to establish a Working Party to report to Parliament within 3 years as to the operation of the reserved powers retained by Westminster under the bill - particularly those matters which can properly be regarded as belonging to the province of the devolved Parliament.
The function of the working party would be to winnow out the dozens of trivial matters whose inclusion in the Reserved Powers list is an affront to Welsh nationhood and would never have been considered in the 1950s in the context of a British colony in the Caribbean or Africa.
Lord Elystan Morgan goes on to say
‘I venture to think that the proposed amendment is of the most crucial importance to the Welsh devolution settlement in that it seeks to correct a fatal flaw in the heart and cornel of that settlement.
The concept of devolution which inevitably espouses principles of domestic rule and subsidiarity inevitably rests fundamentally upon the acceptance of what I would call the watershed of justice and reason.
This is no more and no less than an acceptance that while certain matters belong inevitably to the mother Parliament (Westminster), such as succession to the Crown, Defence and Foreign Policy; the vast bulk of the remainder are matters which palpably belong to the jurisdiction of the devolved parliament (the Welsh Assembly).
A denial of this watershed is both an affront to common sense but a betrayal and devaluation of devolution.
This is what exactly what the bill creates in Wales when functions such as liquor licensing (devolved to Wales in 1881) and the organisation of charitable collections! are set amongst the Reserved Powers.
I would expect the Working Party to report to represent the broadest interests in Wales both socially and politically.
If the Secretary of State wishes to have a working party ‘off the shelf’ he could do no better than invite the Silk Committee to sit again, remembering that this distinguished body represented all political opinions has reported twice – unanimously and constructively – upon Welsh devolution.