Wednesday, 22 October 2008
MPs trying to undermine devolution
Affordable housing has been a major problem for many years in Wales, which is why the One Wales Plaid-Labour government sees tackling the shortage as a priority. Our programme commits us to building 6,500 new affordable homes during the course of this Assembly term. In order to protect those houses in the long-term, the government is seeking the power through a Legislative Competence Order (LCO) to suspend the right of council tenants to buy their homes in areas where there is an acute shortage of housing. The aim of this policy is to keep more social housing available for people who need it, and to alleviate homelessness.
I chaired the Assembly Committee which scrutinised the proposed LCO. After our work was done, MPs in London then scrutinised it. This week we have heard the news that some Labour and Tory MPs on the Welsh Affairs Select Committee have gone against the spirit of devolution by blocking the progress of our LCO at Westminster. They are seeking to limit the LCO substantially. This exampel shows how inadequate the current situation is where all our law-making is subject to a veto at Westminster. I raised this in the Senedd yesterday with the Counsel-General, Carwyn Jones.
I said: "It is very sad that the LCO system isn’t working. This is not the way that was envisaged by the White Paper or by the guidance. It shows that it’s now time for a much more robust devolution settlement."
We need Welsh MPs to make their position clear on this. I have challenged my local MP Chris Bryant to make it clear whether he supports the Labour-Plaid administration's position in Cardiff, or the New Labour-Tory consensus on the Welsh Affairs Select Committee at Westminster. I'll let you know if I get a response.