'Ignore Bumps in the Road and Follow Middle Way to More Assembly Powers'
Byline: By Tomos Livingstone Western Mail
Peter Hain yesterday appealed to MPs from all sides to ignore the "bumps in the road" in Wales' new constitutional system and follow his middle way to greater powers for the Assembly. The new Orders in Council process - which sees Parliament hand a blank legislative cheque to Assembly Ministers in specific policy areas - has provoked some bickering between MPs and AMs.
Several MPs are unhappy that they cannot scrutinise each order more closely and many AMs wish to see the promised referendum on a Welsh Parliament come sooner rather than later.
Addressing the Welsh Grand Committee at Westminster, Mr Hain said, "Getting this order in Council process right needs careful attention - we are all on a legislative learning curve."
The Welsh Secretary said that, ranged on either side of the debate were "devo-sceptics, who insist Parliament must in advance dot and cross every I and every T of the Assembly's forthcoming Measures" and "ultra-devolutionists" who thought every intervention from an MP was an "anti-devolution conspiracy".
"Both positions are wrong," said Mr Hain. "As we proceed to make this new system work there will undoubtedly be bumps in the road. To succeed, open and constructive negotiation is necessary - co-operation rather than competition, patient partnership not megaphone diplomacy.
"Devolution will only progress if we cherish a partnership based on mutual respect and recognition of our respective democratic mandates and accountability."
In a sign of the continuing teething troubles, however, Mr Hain ticked off the Assembly Government for putting forward the latest order - on suspending the right to buy council housing - before the UK Cabinet had cleared the idea. …