Only Welsh politics anoraks will have the slightest interest in this post. I've been thinking about what might be the consequences of the constitutional precedent incorporated in the Housing Legislative Competence Order last week. If you remember, this is the LCO which proposes a transfer of law making powers over housing matters from Westminster to the National Assembly fr Wales. The precedent stipulates that the Secretary of State's approval is required before one specific part of those power can be exercised. I don't like the principle at all - because it makes a complex constitutional process even more complex - and less understandable. And its quite a crafty move from a Labour perspective. But its done now - so no point in bleating about it.
Lets consider instead what might be the consequences. Seems to me that it could, in theory at least, facilitate a more relaxed attitude to the powers transfer process at Westminster. Initially, it was assumed that if an LCO fell within a devolved 'field', it would almost automatically be approved - at least that's what some in Cardiff Bay assumed. But we very soon found out that MPs wanted to know what the power was to be used for - and this was where an Assembly Minister, Jane Hutt, unwisely told them to mind their own business (in so many words). A bit like poking a crocodile in the eye with a short stick. It seemed that the only options were to approve the LCO, or find some way of frustrating its passage. Now, by using the new 'veto' mechanism, effectively reserving power over a specific part of the field covered by the LCO, it may be that MPs will be more prepared to afford it a speedy and favourable response. OK, I accept that I'm looking for a positive angle on this.
The other possible consequence is that it may create more opportunity for mischief - particularly when there is a Conservative Secretary of State. A future non-Conservative Assembly Government could well seek to create a measure, which incorporates something subject to a veto, simply to cause the mischief. For example, a future housing measure (welcome in every other way) could propose to abolish the right-to-buy - which I would expect a Conservative Government disapprove of. I can see the outraged press releases now. Conservative Westminster Government frustrating the will of the National Assembly of Wales. This might suit some agendas, but it doesn't suit mine. I don't like this at all. On balance, I hope we don't see last week's crafty little finesse repeated very often in the future.