LSW comments on UK Government’s Wales Bill 2016

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The Learned Society of Wales welcomes this opportunity to submit comments on the Wales Bill 2016. In doing so, we note the growing participation of Welsh civic society in public debates, and the Society itself is an exemplar of this encouraging and positive trend in Welsh civic life.

We acknowledge too the readiness of the promoters of this bill and its predecessor, the Draft Wales Bill 2015, both to engage with Welsh civic society regarding their proposals and to respond to that debate. We note also, however, that the timetable envisaged for the scrutiny and possible amendment for this bill is very tight, and that consequently there is little realistic opportunity for substantial change to the proposals and their detail. We confine ourselves here therefore to broader issues of principle, rather than suggest detailed amendments, and note issues which in our view will almost certainly require further legislative action at a future date.

The Bill is intended to achieve ‘clarity, coherence and stability’ by adopting a ‘reserved powers’ model. In our view, it will not succeed in doing so. The structure of the constitutional arrangements remain extremely complex.

There are several features of its content which also undermine the stated objectives. […]