Tuesday, 15 January 2013

They're my laws.

Every new Assembly session is opened by the Queen. Its a big jamboree. But like every event it’s not without some controversy. 

Dedicated Republicans boycotted the event. Last time Leanne Wood, Bethan Jenkins and Lynsey Whittle  decided to hold a rival republican meeting. 

Ieuan Wyn Jones the then leader of Plaid Cymru decided after a bruising election campaign  to take a holiday. Oh, how his  holiday created a storm on the Welsh airwaves and in the press. Disrespectful to the monarch was the cry at the time.

It was a day of pomp and some considerable ceremony. 

Shortly, afterwards the new Labour government announced what its legislative programme was to be. Most of the bills proposed will become law, eventually. 

To make them legal, the Queen has to sign up to them by attaching her signature. Part of her duties as head of State. 

A formality. Just another throwback to the days when the Monarch had real powers. But still part of the constitution. A throwback to the old days. No question that the will of parliament will prevail and the Queen will put pen to  paper shortly afterwards.

Well, that’s what most of her “subjects” were led to believe.  The powers of the crown were now purely ceremonial. Oh, how naive a view that would seem to be.

The extent of the Queen and for that matter the Prince of Wales’s secretive powers have just been made public. Made public only after Downing Street had to be dragged kicking and screaming to publish after a  15 month long battle and a court order.

The papers show that at least 39 bills have been subject to the most senior royals’ little-known power to consent to or block new laws. Ministers and civil servants are obliged to consult the Queen and Prince Charles in greater detail and over more areas of legislation than was previously understood. If the Royals don’t agree major bits of Bills “have to be removed.”

These powers have been used on Westminster bills. What is not know is what powers the Royals have over Welsh laws. Do they have the same powers? Do Welsh Government civil servants have to run past the royals, Welsh Bills? Does the same happen to amendments proposed to such bills, do they have to have the consent of the Royals? 

The powers they have come under the name of prerogative powers. Now most constitutional anoraks say that they are little used. Implying that they have the cobwebs of history all over them. Not so, what is clear is that the Royals wield great power and influence. And its all hidden. No transparency here. 

Wales has a relatively new democratic body. It won law making powers after the people had decided in a referendum. All should have an equal right to influence the law makers. But no one, apart from those elected by the people should be able to stop or amend Assembly laws.


  1. Let's just put this in some perspective. Wales 'won law making powers after the people had decided in a referendum.' Yes, but only the people of Wales had a vote. Not the people of England, Northern Ireland or Scotland.

    And yet it is the people of all these lands, and most particularly the people of England, that contribute most to the coffers of Wales. A clear case of pay but have no say!

    It is the Queen that we rely upon to ensure that we are happy to keep on paying. And it is the Queen that you rely upon to ensure that these funds keep flowing. It's a fundamental part of Britishness. You would be wise to remember this.

  2. We DO know don't we that in the Government of Wales Act, they must consult anything that effects the interest of the Duke of Cornwall (or something similar).

    How can this happen in a 'democracy'?

    Personally prerogative powers do have to remain for historical reasons then fine. But when they are used, Ministers should be duty bound to inform the people of this 'democracy' immediately.

  3. "And yet it is the people of all these lands, and most particularly the people of England, that contribute most to the coffers of Wales. A clear case of pay but have no say!"

    This is not true. It always keeps coming up but is untrue. It's the people of Wales that contribute the most to the Welsh coffers, then there is an essential top up from the rest of the UK, not 'people of England' but the financial sector of the south-east, Scottish oil and gas revenues, taxes paid by coropoations etc.