Sink your teeth into this one!
- 16 November 2011
- From the section Wales politics
Given budget talks are happening behind closed doors and there's little new to report on that front, sink your teeth into this one:
A few weeks ago the Guardian ran this story. What it told us was that Prince Charles is routinely asked to give his consent to pieces of new legislation emanating from Westminster and that effectively therefore, he has a power of veto.
The paper's take? "The 62-year-old prince isn't a minister, an MP or even a lord; in constitutional terms, he is a subject of the crown like any other. But it has emerged that he has a far more formal role in shaping our laws than many people - legislators and civil servants included - ever knew".
You can add Plaid Cymru Assembly Members to that list.
But now that Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins knew and that Counsel General, Theodore Huckle was in the chamber taking questions this afternoon, she saw her chance to do something about it. Had the Counsel General, she asked, had any discussions with law officers in the UK government on the requirement to consult the Prince of Wales over Welsh legislation?
Mr Huckle wasn't about to tell her if he had. Lawyers are like that when it comes to their 'behind-closed-doors' discussions.
Either way he was "not aware that the consent of the Duke of Cornwall HAS been requested for any measure". For measure read legislation so far made in Wales. For the Duke of Cornwall read the Prince of Wales. Two hats, both worn by a man called Charles.
The look on the Plaid AM's face suggested that lots of things might not happen but the very fact that they could is bad enough. This was, she said, an "absurd situation" that the man - as Prince of Wales or Duke of Cornwall - could choose to be consulted and have influence on matters that affect his interests in Wales. What was Mr Huckle going to do about it?
He was going to explain why there isn't much, he feels, he can do about it.
1. Wales is not a sovereign state. The Assembly's powers have been granted under the Government of Wales Act (made in Westminster).
2. Though a case at the Supreme Court recently underliend the fact that laws passed by the Welsh assembly have the same legal weight as acts of parliament, it would be rather difficult to argue that we're on stronger legal grounds than Westminster.
3. So as with legislation coming from Westminster, the heir to the throne (as Duke of Cornwall and under the Government of Wales Act Section 111(4) and Standing Order 26.67*) has the right to be consulted on laws made in Wales.
But it's never happened. A government source drives home the same point. It's never happened. Get it? This is "entirely hypothetical".
I'm just guessing here but from the way Bethan Jenkins crossed her arms and fixed the Counsel General with a steely stare, 's'never 'appened' won't placate her.
*If a Bill contains any provision, or is amended so as to include any provision, that would, if contained in a Bill for an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament, require the consent of Her Majesty, or the Duke of Cornwall, the Assembly must not debate the question whether the Bill be passed (or approved following Reconsideration) unless such consent to such a provision has been signified by a member of the government during proceedings on the Bill at a meeting of the Assembly.