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That's the way to do it!

Betsan Powys | 15:56 UK time, Tuesday, 20 October 2009

_40083332_punchandjudy203.jpgMark Isherwood is a mild mannered man. He is also the Conservative chair of Legislation Committee No.5 - the committee that is scrutinising the Welsh Lanuage LCO.

For a mild mannered man he's written a bluntly worded letter to Peter Hain. It chides him for briefing journalists on the draft Order before it was published. That showed "discourtesy." It then goes on to question the decision to allow a meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee to consider the Order at all.

"We do not understand why you would wish to add another stage, of little discernible benefit, to an already complex and lengthy process ... I strongly urge you to respect the conventions for pre-legislative scrutiny, and not to develop exceptions on an ad hoc basis, so that a consistent approach can be taken to how the Assembly acquires its legislative competence".

To you and me that's hardly Craig Revel-Horwood territory but to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee - who were copied in on the letter and who discussed it this morning - it's serious stuff.

It has apparently gone down "very, very badly".

Their arguments?

1. The meeting of the Welsh Grand did not delay the process.
2. The letter is misconceived in that it is parliament who decides whether there's a debate, not the Secretary of State. He simply facilitates it.
3. Far from delaying the process. It enhanced it.

The words "a certain amount of ignorance" and "contempt of parliament" came up in the conversation too, one which ended with a rhetorical question: can you imagine how the Presiding Officer would have responded if a parliamentary committee wrote to an Assembly Committee telling them how to run their business?

I thought you could.


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