Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Good law or bad

One of the most active of Assembly Members is Liberal Democrat, Peter Black. He has tended to specialise on housing issues. 
Last year he won the opportunity to introduce his own back bench bill and true to form he’s decided on a piece of housing related legislation. To be precise not brick and mortar housing, but mobile homes.
Today, the National Assembly for Wales will debate his Private Member Bill concerning the management and sale of park homes.

His bill reflects the concern of many who live in such mobile homes about their lack of rights. 
As Black himself says,"Assembly Members across Wales have received large numbers of complaints about the way that their park home site has been managed, some of which can sometimes amount to low-level harassment.

“There is a general consensus that the law does not provide enough protection for residents of these sites, which is something that I hope to change.”

Now it is very likely that the bill will attract cross party support and there will be a vote to move to have such a bill introduced. Many would say “hoorah, to such a proposition. Just the kind of useful legislation that the Assembly should be passing.” Not many would disagree.
But it’s just this kind of legislation that everyone approves of that causes most difficulties in the long run. Because it’s such a “good” thing the tendency is that the bill gets a fair wind from Members. Result, less scrutiny of the content.
Now in the Westminster Parliament this is just the kind of bill that the House of Lords acting as a revising chamber gets its teeth into.  Within the Lords there are many with real expertise of the area which the bill is looking at and amend the bill accordingly. What comes out of the Lords is almost always a better bill than the one originally drafted. 
In the case of the Welsh Assembly talent is thin on the ground.  All the Welsh laws go through just one chamber,  they’ve got to get it right the first time round. There is nobody out there looking at their work. 
Now a second chamber in Wales would unlikely win the approval of the voters. But to expect 60 members to get it right every time, is a big ask indeed.
When Lord Richard made his case for a legislative assembly he envisaged two things happening to the Assembly to increase its capacity.  “A combination of reviewing its working methods and increasing its Membership from 60 to 80.”
Now the Assembly has done the former and has set up committees to deal with legislation. But, surely, now is the time to look again at increasing the number of Assembly Members to 80.
If legislation is not right who gains? Lawyers with their fat fees when badly drafted legislation inevitably come before the law courts.

As predicted in the above Peter Black's bill was given the thumbs up to proceed.


  1. Gareth the answer is for Welsh members (don't ask me to define "Welsh") of HoL to review and scrutinise. Whatever happens we don't want more third rate overpaid politicos in the Bay.

  2. Nice to see someone with the bottle to tell it like it is. You get the politics and political decisions in the form of laws that you deserve. The more I see of the moral vacuum that is Westminster, the more I want as many decisions made for Wales in Wales.

    Increase the Senedd numbers to 80 to enable proper scrutiny and at the same time aim for a minimum of Devo-Max. The less Westminster has to do with Welsh legislation the better!

  3. I agree with you post and I am concerned about the potential lack of scrutiny in the Welsh Assembly.

    If Westminster goes down the England only bills going forward surely the Welsh MP's could use the time freed up to scrutinise the Welsh Assembly legislation at no extra cost.

  4. By all means lets have 80 or even 100 members. Why not even more?

    Just one constraint. The total cost for all members should not be one penny more than it is at the moment.

    And, better still, this cost must be on a decreasing annualised scale.