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Assembly can and does scrutinise laws; LETTERS.

IN their search for arguments against giving more efficient law-making powers to the National Assembly for Wales, campaigners for a ''No'' vote in the March 3 referendum have lately been trying out the idea that there is not enough scrutiny of new laws made in Cardiff Bay.

They argue that because the Assembly has no second chamber, equivalent to the House of Lords, it''s necessary to go on using the Westminster Parliament to scrutinise Welsh legislation before it becomes law. Brian Christley (Letters, February 14) describes this as an essential safeguard.

However, contrary to the propaganda put about by True Wales, proposed Assembly laws are not scrutinised by the Westminster Parliament, even under the present system. Laws made in Wales do not go before MPs at all.

What MPs scrutinise is the Legislative Competence Orders (LCOs) that the Assembly asks for. These Orders give the Assembly general powers to draw up a new law in one of the 20 areas of public administration it controls.

What has been happening, however, is that some MPs have been trying to block new Welsh legislation by arguing over details of what the general powers might be used for. That goes beyond the requirements laid down in the 2006 Government of Wales Act concerning the scrutinising of LCOs.

It has also given some MPs the opportunity to interfere in administrative areas that are no longer the Westminster Parliament''s responsibility.

These tactics are what have caused new Welsh laws on such matters as affordable housing to take up to three years to reach the statute book.

Furthermore, requests for LCOs are scrutinised by the Assembly''s own committees before they go up to Westminster.

These requests are drawn up by the Assembly Government - that is, the ruling political parties and the civil service.

Assembly committees, though, contain representatives of all parties.

Close critical scrutiny of Assembly Government proposals - including LCOs and new laws - is the job of these all-party committees. And it is a job of which they now have several years'' experience.

Thus, sending requests for LCOs up to Westminster to be scrutinised all over again is a waste of time and money. A 'Yes'' vote on March 3 would end that waste.

Wyn Hobson, Tal-y-bont, Bangor
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 16, 2011
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