Rather unexpectedly, the Welsh Government’s problems over Legislative Competence Orders have reared their head again, this time over the Welsh Language.
This is a surprise because it had been assumed that everything had been agreed prior to the publication of the Welsh Language LCO. After all it took over 18 months to negotiate and both governments seemed happy with its contents. None of the evidence given to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee indicated that they would offer such a radical judgement of how the instrument should be drafted and indeed it is difficult to see what it is they are suggesting.
The Committee are quite right to argue that the lengthy caveats that form the bulk of this LCO are unworkable and contradictory, but the idea that Welsh law should be based on a series of tests rather than the transfer of specific powers is unusual and bizarre. Is it even workable?
The danger now is that further discussions over the Welsh Language LCO could lead to extensive delays in the timetable and its demise in the legislative wrangling prior to the dissolution of Parliament. This is a very good illustration of the way that the LCO system has been complicated by real-politik so as to make it unworkable.
It would have been so much easier and much more logical to have simply transferred powers over all Welsh Language legislation to the Assembly without all the nonsense of trying to define the boundaries of future measures in the LCO itself.