Plaid Cymru has said that if the Supreme Court strikes down the Assembly's new law on farm workers's wages, Westminster must pass a new Government of Wales Act to devolve the necessary powers.
Given that the purpose of the Bill was to protect Welsh agricultural workers after the UK Government scrapped that protection, it is disappointing that the Attorney General has referred the Bill to the Supreme Court. This comes on the same day as the Silk Commission poll findings that once again show that the people of Wales trust the National Assembly more than they trust Westminster and want to see significantly more powers transferred to Wales.
Plaid Cymru hopes that these important safeguards for agricultural workers are found to be within the National Assembly’s powers.
Meanwhile the UK Government has defended the Attorney General's decision to refer the legislation to the Court, arguing that it is a necessary procedure under the devolution settlement.
All legislation passed by the National Assembly for Wales is examined to ensure it is within their competence. Upon examination of the Agricultural Sector (Wales) Bill, the Attorney General considers that it raises important questions about the breadth of the National Assembly for Wales’ legislative competence and that the Supreme Court is the right forum for resolving those questions. The UK Government is committed to continuing to do all it can to ensure that the current devolution arrangements work effectively.
But the Shadow Welsh Secretary, Owen Smith, has claimed that today's action is part of a pattern of behaviour by the Welsh Secretary, David Jones. He added that a previous challenge to the Assembly's Byelaws Bill cost £150,000 before the judges ruled last year in the Welsh Government's favour.
After the last attempt, David Jones said he’d learnt lessons about the boundaries of devolution but once again he is questioning the Assembly’s authority.
David Jones and Dominic Grieve voted to scrap the Agricultural Wages Board in England and now they’re trying to block a Bill that will protect the wages and conditions of 13,000 farm workers in Wales. But what’s really at stake is Tory acceptance of the devolution settlement and respect for the Welsh Assembly.
The Tories are revealing their antipathy to devolution and their determination to block Labour measures to make Wales a fairer place.
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