One theory I heard in London last week was that MPs had treated the Assembly as a parent might a child: letting it find its own way in the big wide world, holding back for fear of being accused of interfering. Perhaps that had gone on for too long and 'holding back' had led to a lack of familiarity, an unhealthy distance.
But things were now improving, went the theory. Welsh Ministers were making the trip down to Westminster more regularly. Parent was getting reacquainted with child; famliarity was breeding contempt. Oh no, not that bit.
Today the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, has made the trip to Cardiff. And his message is pretty specific:
“I am a devolutionist. I always have been. I helped to deliver the original devolution settlement for Wales, as well as the enhanced 2006 Act, and I am as passionate as anyone else about seeing it succeed.
“So I have a presumption in favour of legislative bids.
“Let me be clear that there is no case whatsoever for the Assembly to be required to supply every detail of future, perhaps unforeseen, Assembly Measures. Under the 2006 Act Parliament’s responsibility is to transfer enduring competence, and must accept there will be scope for the implementation of policy not yet contemplated.
“But, by equal measure, Parliament cannot rubber stamp or let anything through ‘on the nod’. Each request for legislative competence will be subject to scrutiny, as the Government made clear during the passage of the 2006 Act. We will make a judgement on the detail of each proposed Legislative Competence Order. How clearly defined its scope is. Whether it is within the terms of the overall settlement for the Welsh Assembly Government to legislate in a certain field. And whether a purpose for the transfer of power can be identified.
“We have no desire to meddle in future policy developments which are the prerogative of the Welsh Assembly Government and the Assembly. That would be against the spirit of the Act.
“But it is an important principle that Parliament and Whitehall Departments are allowed to probe the basis of legislative requests, and that in doing so are not presented as ‘unreasonable’ or ‘obstructive’. The mentality that sees Parliament as an ‘inconvenience’ will itself act as a roadblock to devolution’s progress, and is in any case against the terms of the settlement as entrenched by the people of Wales in 1997".
Someone asked me in response to Monday's posting whether anything happened in the Senedd on Tuesday. Yes, it does. Yesterday journalists were given this hand-out by the Assembly Government, a list of 'Frequently Asked Questions' on the legislative process shared out during Counsel General Carwyn Jones' lobby briefing.
Q: "Does the UK Government need to be made privy to what the Assembly wishes to do with the power that the LCO transfers before they agre to the LCO?"
A: The Welsh Assembly Government's immediate policy intentions should not be the determining factor when considering the proposed order ... In other words ... the detail of the Measures themselves will be a matter for the Assembly - this is the nature of the enhanced devolution settlement".
I'm clear about one thing only: the LCO-route has been a bumpy one, so bumpy that Peter Hain has come with a message. He clearly agrees that the process isn't working as effectively as it should. A lot's been done in 15 months but anyone who's tempted to suggest that Parliament's part in the whole process is a bit of a nuisance; that Parliament is meddling unnecessarily in what is Assembly business - that's not just unhelpful; it's counter-productive.
So just you try and go ahead and publish plans without cabinet clearance in future, just you try and draft orders that are so broad it's impossible to see the edges and that road will get a whole lot bumpier.
Off to read Hansard's record of a debate in the Lords last week on the Local Transport Bill. Lord Glentoran was none to please that the Lords "are being asked to sanction a general transfer of powers when the Welsh Ministers cannot or will not say how they intend to use it".
Perhaps he'd appreciate a copy of the Q+A handed out yesterday.