Wales politics

AM attacks 'Trojan horse' policy making

Angela Burns
Image caption Angela Burns says the assembly and assembly government need to raise their game

A Conservative AM has attacked the way Welsh laws are drafted as a "Trojan horse" for ministers bringing in regulations without proper scrutiny.

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire AM Angela Burns said that was the increasing view.

She added that measures introduced to the assembly could be seen as vehicles for giving ministers more powers.

She was speaking as a waste measure was passed by AMs, giving the environment minister a number of different powers.

These power include setting the level of charges for carrier bags as well as waste disposal and recycling issues.

Other measures currently being scrutinised by AMs, including on the Welsh language and local government, also contain so-called "framework powers".

These are where the assembly approves legislation in outline, with the details of how this will work in practice then made by ministers by regulations later on.

It is also common practice with Westminster legislation.

'Become stronger'

But Mrs Burns, the chair of the finance committee, said: "I don't believe that the Welsh Assembly Government, or the National Assembly will take people with it on its road to further powers if we continue to map out legislation that to some appears to leave the serious thinking to a later date once competency is in place.

"I think to others, it seems little more than a Trojan horse intended to bring in further regulations at a later date without proper scrutiny of whomsoever this assembly should decide should do that scrutiny.

"I think we absolutely have to get that right if we are going to go out to Wales next year and ask them for more powers, to become stronger, to make our nation, and the laws for our nation, how we want it.

"I do not think that we do ourselves, as a group, as an assembly, or the government as the leader on it, any favours, and I really think we need to up our game and get better at this whole thing."

Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis Thomas said: "Nothing you have said is disorderly at stage four, but clearly it is controversial. I'll stop there."

Environment Minister Jane Davidson, speaking earlier in the debate, pledged that the assembly government would consult widely on all regulations to do with the waste measure.

She said they would be brought back before the assembly for approval before being brought into force.