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From the notebook

Betsan Powys | 11:26 UK time, Friday, 7 November 2008

Scribbled notes from yesterday's conference on the Evolution of Devolution:

Hywel Francis MP on the Affordable Housing LCO: "There are unforeseen problems with the way it's been drafted by our esteemed colleagues and comrades in Cardiff. Is it what it says on the tin?"

Marie Navarro - lawyer, academic and devolution expert - thought devolution legislation was 'inflating' at a faster pace than expected but the first year was bound to be tricky:

"The first year is like the first pancake. In France we get rid of it straight away".

Would a referendum on further powers be winnable?

"I've no idea or opinion. I just want to know are we to have one or not. I want to know what game we're playing".

Laura McAllister, former member of Richard Commission, currently on a research sabbatical from Liverpool University at the Assembly Commission describing the process of the transfer or powers from Westminster:

"It might be cleverly-crafted and let's not get away from the fact that it is functional but people in Wales have not grasped it and the issue of intelligibility is key in any democracy".

The Western Mail's Martin Shipton on the same subject: "It is a mess".

Laura McAllister also came up with a rather neat, if partisan, collective noun for AMs: "an inelasticity of 60 AMs" and a body blow for civil servants: "officials are not of sufficient managerial capability to deal with the next step in devolution".

Cheryl Gillan MP on different perspectives in London and Cardiff: "There is a natural tension that we never seem to address".

Peter Hain MP on accusations that his colleagues take their role of scrutiny too far: "It's not a question of London modifying things. It's a case of what does this act mean? Does it mean what it says on the box? It's about asking whether an LCO transmits what it is supposed to transmit."

On the timing of a referendum: "Not in this decade. You might see it in the next decade at some point."

If the Conservatives win the next general election: "It may well be considerably sooner".


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