Legal Row over Tattooing, Toilets and Hop-Pickers

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Byline: TOM BODDEN Our man at the Welsh Assembly

THE first ever Bill passed by the Welsh Assembly under 2011 law making powers was in the dock yesterday.

Five law lords were asked to rule whether this historic piece of legislation was, well, legal.

The Attorney General of England and Wales claimed that parts of the uninspiringly titled Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Bill exceeded Wales' devolved powers.

The Assembly voted unanimously to pass the Bill in July.

But Dominic Grieve went to the highest court in the land to try to have it overturned before Royal Assent.

The Welsh Government aims to streamline the way councils make local byelaws by abolishing the need for the rubber-stamping of Ministers.

The Attorney General argues that by doing so they remove the powers of UK Ministers too, which is beyond the Assembly's devolution deal.

At its most basic level, the UK Government is seeking a continuing role to deal with matters like conduct in public lavatories, standards of cleanliness in tattoo parlours and acupuncture clinics, and the management of accommodation for hop-pickers and similar seasonal workers.

Really? The Welsh Government is unaware of any examples of the Secretary of State being requested to confirm Welsh local authority byelaws.

The Supreme Court is the only court of England and Wales where proceedings are broadcast live (via its website www.supremecourt.gov.uk/).

One civil servant - enthusing about its significance - described the case as a 'constitutional match of the day'. …