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Assembly 'virtually impotent' claims Plaid AM.

MEMBERS of the Welsh Assembly are virtually impotent when it comes to taking new policy initiatives, a leading Plaid Cymru AM has claimed.

In a depressing analysis of the Assembly's powers, Plaid business manager Jocelyn Davies says things won't improve until the body is able to make its own laws.

Last week, Wales on Sunday told how the Assembly plans to give councils the right to consider wages and conditions at private firms before awarding them contracts.

In fact, the new regulations making this possible are to be based on similar ones introduced in England earlier this year.

Ms Davies, who represents South Wales East, said: "The system we are forced to work under makes it extremely difficult to initiate any new policy initiatives that require legal changes.

"In London, you are able to decide on a policy agenda and then draft laws that enable you to make the changes necessary.

"In Wales, all we are able to do is look at primary legislation passed at Westminster and see if we can tinker with the occasional word when we have specifically been given permission to do so.

"Since the Assembly came into being, we have passed 330 Statutory Instruments (regulations based on laws passed at Westminster), but I can only think of one instance where we have been able to make a significant change.

"That was the regulations extending the definition of homelessness proposed by (Liberal Democrat AM) Peter Black.

"So many of the debates at the Assembly are general and vague and I'm afraid that will continue to be the case until the body gets primary legislative powers, enabling it to make its own laws like the Scottish Parliament."
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 9, 2001
Words:280
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