Saturday, 25 March 2017

Why is Wales so slow in getting a distinct legal system?

Let me begin by saying I have very limited knowledge of Legal issues but I wonder why so few have?

When I was working for Customs and Excise in London in the early 90's the Library there had a copy of Robyn Lewis Welsh Legal Terms (Gomer Press 
As far as I know there has been (despite devolution) very little to expand this beyond a free dictionary on the Welsh Assembly website).

If you tried to look up Welsh Law  on the internet you will probably be directed  to English and Welsh Law and find this 

"Although devolution has accorded some degree of politicalautonomy to Wales in the National Assembly for Wales, it didnot have sovereign law-making powers until after the 2007Welsh general election when the Government of Wales Act 2006 granted powers to the Welsh Government to enact someprimary legislation. The legal system administered throughboth civil and criminal courts remains unified throughoutEngland and Wales. This is different from the situation ofNorthern Ireland, for example, which did not cease to be adistinct jurisdiction when its legislature was suspended (seeNorthern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972).A major difference is also the use of the Welsh language, aslaws concerning it apply in Wales and not in the rest of theUnited Kingdom. The Welsh Language Act 1993 is an Act ofthe Parliament of the United Kingdom, which put the Welshlanguage on an equal footing with the English language inWales with regard to the public sector. Welsh may also bespoken in Welsh courts.Since 1967 most lawyers have referred to the legal system ofEngland and Wales as "the Laws of England and Wales"following the Welsh Language Act 1967 as may be seen bylooking at the applicable law section of most commercialagreements from these countries. Before, from 1746–1967 thiswas not necessary (see below) but may have been done quite often nonetheless".

I wonder what other devolved power has so litte control over its law and criminal justice?

The Wasting Mule reports that 

New calls have been made for the recognition of a distinct Welsh legal jurisdiction as the UK prepares for the challenges of Brexit.

The Welsh Government argues that withdrawal from the EU will “accelerate” the development of a growing body of Welsh law.

The call comes as a major report from the Commons Justice committee on the implications of Brexit is launched. It warns that cooperation on criminal justice with the EU is so important that this is “too precious to be left vulnerable to tactical bargaining” in the upcoming negotiations.

Plaid Cymru argues that the case for a “separate legal jurisdiction” is “already overwhelming” and Welsh and English law will become more divergent if the Assembly gains powers today held by Brussels.

Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid’s constitutional affairs spokeswoman, said:

 “There is a crucial difference between working together cooperatively and maturely, and imposing a one-size-fits-all, ‘England and Wales’ shackle to important and intricate legal matters. Welsh democracy has developed over the last two decades to a point where Wales now has its own body of law that is increasingly distinct to that of England.
“We are the only country in the world that has a full law-making legislature operating without a corresponding legal jurisdiction. It is unsustainable and it is time that Westminster accepted that the UK is now a partnership of countries, working together maturely, rather than imposing its own archaic structures on all parts of the UK.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said:

 “A distinct Welsh legal jurisdiction is already developing with the growing body of Welsh law; the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will accelerate this development. There is no doubt that formal recognition of a distinct legal jurisdiction, moving in the direction of Scotland and Northern Ireland, would clarify powers and responsibilities to everyone’s benefit.”
As I said I have very little knowledge of legal issues, but I find it extraordinary  that in the since 1999 when the Assembly was established so little has been done to meet the changes that devolution has brought.

It almost as if that Labour and have deliberately avoided the issue Carwyn Jones in particular would seem to be highly placed to have pushed this

He  graduated from Aberystwyth University with an LLB (Bachelor of Laws) degree in 1988 and went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London to train as a barrister. He was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1989 and subsequently spent a further year in Cardiff in pupillage followed by ten years in practice at Gower Chambers, Swansea – specialising in Family, Criminal and Personal Injury law.[ He left the Swansea legal practice to become a tutor at Cardiff University for two years on the Bar Vocational Course.

In the Assembly was appointed Counsel General for Wales and Leader of the House on 2007.before  becoming Labour Leader and First Minister in 2009

Is it a symbol of his Laissez-faire  style of government or is it part of a deliberate policy that there has ben very little move to create a separate Welsh Legal jurisdiction?

The case seems unarguable if we are to compare ourselves with the other devolved  legislatures  (and legislatures is a key word here) , Why has it taken so long.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Baglan and Botany Bays symbols of colonism

 Apparently there a nw version of an old Folksong

Farewell to Old England forever
Farewell to my rum culls as well
Farewell to the well known Old Bailee
Where I used for to cut such a swell


Singing toorali-orali-addity
Singing toorali-oolari-ai
Singing toorali-ollari-addity
We're bound for Baglan Bay

The Normans built Castles in Wales first ro subdue the Welsh and then to remind us whose in charge,

Ir seems that the symbol of the latter is now prisons.

Plans for a new prison to be built in Port Talbot will be  as the government announces the locations of four new jails.
A publicly-owned site in Baglan will be home to a category C prison as the Government steps up its drive to reform the crisis-hit jail system.
Justice Secretary Liz Truss  also announced new jails will be built at three existing prison sites – Full Sutton in Yorkshire, Hindley in Wigan, Rochester in Kent – as part of a pledge to create up to 10,000 modern prison places by 2020.
The Baglan site is expected to create 200 new long-term jobs once it has been completed while the construction will lead to around 1,000 jobs.
The Ministry of Justice said final decisions on the new jails would be subject to planning approval, value for money and affordability.
The announcement is the latest step in a £1.3bn revamp of the estate first launched under Ms Truss’s predecessor, Michael Gove, amid concerns a number of facilities were overcrowded and run-down.
As part of the modernisation drive £250m ‘super-prison’ HMP Berwyn in Wrexham, which can hold more than 2,000 inmates, opened earlier this year.
Berwyn of course was not built to server the need of Wales but of England (masquerading as the UK) Unionist politicians gave the plans a cautious welcome, with Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock saying:
 “The building of a prison in Port Talbot would bring much-needed construction work to the local area and in the long term would mean more jobs for the day-to-day running of the prison.“However we will need to look very closely at the planning application to ensure that it is sited in a suitable location, that local people and skills are utilised, and that local materials are central to the construction of the site.
“The Ministry of Justice must provide further information because the community must be on board. The onus is on the government to reach out and engage with us.
“But if these necessary safeguards are in place, and the community is part of the decision-making and construction process, then this is something that should be welcomed because the project could be a welcome boost for the local community and economy.”
Such is the poverty under their  of Wales that Unionist Politicians here will tug thier forelocks and accept anything that provides a few jobs 

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: 
"I am delighted that Port Talbot has been selected as a preferred location for one of the four newest additions to the UK's prisons estate.
"Berwyn prison has already had a positive impact on the regional economy of North Wales.
"A new South Wales prison will bring its own economic opportunities - including new jobs and contracts for local suppliers, and will significantly accelerate the government’s aim of replacing old, uneconomic prisons with modern, more cost-effective facilities.
“I am pleased that Wales is leading the way in providing facilities designed with rehabilitation in mind as well as the traditional security which the public rightly expects.”
If it was the case as in Scotland  where we the Welsh Assembly were in charge of Prisons  then we would not have built Berwyn nor the proposed Baglan Prison but worked out our own policy

But Labout and Tory Unionist have resisted the devolution of Criminal Justice happy to see Wales treated as a Colony.

  Mar 22MoreWestminster lobby journo just asked me "are they (British Government) turning Wales into a penal colony?"

Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales West, Bethan Jenkins at least  said: 
"Building a new prison in isolation to looking at new ways of helping to ensure people do not re-offend and to realise the error of their actions, and addressing why so many people with mental health problems are in prison, is a sign of bad government and poor strategy from the Tories.
"We need to look at prison reform, not just build new prisons and assume that it is the only answer. So I cannot warmly welcome this news today.
"Plaid Cymru has been calling for the devolution of these matters for some time. Decisions about Wales, for Welsh prisoners, should be made in Wales.
"The Ministry of Justice must answer key questions on this scheme. It's vital that the safety of the local community will not be compromised by this plan.
There is a new super school in Baglan, and a new Welsh Language School is yet to be developed there.
"The area already has huge traffic problems that the Council are failing to deal with. What will throwing a prison in the mix mean?'
"Plaid Cymru has been critical of the HMP Berwyn superprison in Wrexham due its disproportionately large size and in particular, the pressure the huge number of inmates may put on the local NHS and other services.
"If this is to go ahead, assurances are needed on private sector involvement in the proposed Port Talbot prison. Evidence shows that when private companies are contracted to be responsible for prison security, the safety of both staff and inmates is compromised. This must not be allowed to happen.
"In the long run, Plaid Cymru remains committed to the devolution of the prison estate alongside the wider justice system."
New data released yesterday (Wednesday 22 March 2017) by Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre shows that opening a new ‘super’ prison in Port Talbot will lead to Wales having a surplus of prison places.
These new figures published today follow the announcement of plans to build a new Category C prison in Port Talbot for up to 1,600 prisoners, as reported by BBC Wales News online.
The analysis by the Wales Governance Centre show that based on the current use of Welsh prisons against the total number of Welsh prisoners currently in the prison system, Wales will have a surplus of almost 2400 places (2387) once the Port Talbot prison is fully operational.
The data shows that even if HMP Cardiff closed as a result of the UK Government’s announcement, Wales would still have a prison place surplus of over 1600 places based on the current use of the prison estate in Wales against the total number of Welsh prisoners.
Its time we said no to this plan are we so subdued and lacking in vision that we accept this insult.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Westminster Attack.

After Yesterday's attack in Westminster I think it not a day for my usual polemics

My thoughts are with the families of those who died and that of the injured and those who experiences  a trauma that will affect them for a long time,

It is to early to speculate  on the reasons behind this attack but I share the statement of the Muslim Council of Britain,
Image may contain: text
It is poignant that this came a few days after the death of Martin McGuinness someone who had rejected the terrorism of the past and who fully embraced the peace progress and tellingly achieved more for his goal in a United Ireland by doing so,

No matter what our political views we must all stand together  and not be cowed by such attacks and we should reject those who will see this as a excuse to promote their own bigoted agenda against innocent people , who are not responsible for the action of small number of extremists or deranged individuals 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Labour finally sign Death Warrant for Pontypridd as a retail centre.

I've got to hand it to Labour in RCT they have managed to spin years of failure to modernise Pontypridd Town Centre bu making an announcement  just before the May election

Pontypridd used to be a major retail centre with thousand descending on the town on Wednesday's and Saturdays to visit the Market and shops.

Alas the outdoor market is a shadow of its former self and many of retail outlets are now Charity shops.

The final blow came When Marx and Spencer's closed.

The initial idea was to demolish the unloved and under occupied  Taff Vale Precinct  and replace it with a modern shopping complex.

Initial Plans meant that it may have looked like this

However having failed to get investors however the council were left with a building site and nothing to place on it.

So they have come up with a solution in which they will fill it with council buildings and replace what was a hideous monstrosity with another one

Library And Leisure Hub To Form Part Of Taff Vale Project

We are told a new Fitness Centre and Library are set to be created as part of the redevelopment of the former Taff Vale site in Pontypridd. 

The Council has already allocated more than £3.5m in revitalising the strategic site in Pontypridd since it became the outright owner in April 2015 and is committed to delivering an office-led project. It will be delivered in three buildings – including a statement building at the entrance to Pontypridd. This building will house a new fitness facility and a new 21st Century library for the town. Pontypridd One4All Centre, which is currently located in Sardis House, will also be relocated to this facility. Visible progress has been made by contractors since they started demolishing the old precinct site in January, and the demolition process is due to be completed by the end of March 2017. To support the relocation of Pontypridd Library to the new development, scheduled to complete in 2019, the Council has submitted an application for capital funding of £300,000 to the Welsh Government’s Museums, Archives and Libraries Division.

The Council have been helped by the Welsh Labour Government with the announcement

Economy Secretary Ken Skate said 
Hundreds of new jobs are set to come to Pontypridd as the town will be home to the new headquarters for Transport for Wales.Transport for Wales, the next rail franchise and South Wales Metro operator, will be located at the Taff Vale building in the town, 
I wonder if we managed to have something like the previous plans how many jobs would have been created probably more than a few hundred. 
So after years of failure the council have decided to more or leaa put its own building comprising of a new library despite  closing a number of libraries in county and a fitness centre which might put some  leisure centres under threat.
The local Labour MP Owen Smith and MP Mick Antoniw have tried to present this as a triumph but in reality it has ensured the end of Pontypridd Town centre as a retail centre .

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A London "City State "intresting

Normally  I would support "devolution all round " but I wonder what the real intention of Labour's David Lammy  London plan to become a city-state if the “hardest of all hard Brexits” goes ahead.
Writing in yesterday's Evening Standard, the MP for Tottenham argued the capital’s future as a thriving economic powerhouse depends on being open to the rest of the world.
He said Scotland’s push for a second independence referendum should inspire Londoners to seek what is best for the capital as well.
He wrote.
“Whitehall has begun the devolution of control over adult skills, criminal justice services and employment support to City Hall, but Brexit changes everything, so it is perfectly rational to consider more radical proposals than piecemeal devolution,”
“Let’s not forget that 60 per cent of Londoners voted to Remain. The referendum result sent a shock wave through the capital, but as the dust begins to settle, London finds itself increasingly constrained by — and at odds with — the policies and priorities of our central Government.
“If Scotland can have another referendum on independence, then why can’t we have a well-overdue debate about London becoming more autonomous and independent from the rest of the country?
“If Brexit was a victory of smalltown conservatism, resurgent nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment, then London’s status as the financial and cultural capital of Europe depends on resisting these shifts.”

He added 
“What has become clear since June is that the Government will not fight London’s corner in the Brexit negotiations.  London’s status as a “de facto city-state” will become clearer over the next two years of Brexit negotiations.
“The case for a London city-state has never been stronger. As Sturgeon told the SNP conference: we are not powerless, we can still decide which path we take. If you identify with London’s values, it’s time to fight for them.

I wonder  If Mr Lammay's intention  is to make sure that in the aftermath of a Hard Brexit there will be a move of some of London financial and other services may move North of the boarder 

But Mr Lammy's is fighting for hos own patch and maybe it will get us to realise  that unless we change our subservient  attitude then we lose out particuarly after Scotland leaves  and economic power increase in London

London's devolved status and its finances  became a key point when  Jeremmy Paxman was taken to the cleaners by BBC current affairs programme, Newsnight. In the interview Dr ap Gwilym challenged Paxman on a variety of economic figures, particularly Wales was the telling him to "do your homework" when those figures were not readily available. 

Its always worth another look at.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Confused Dotty Con "Scotland is another country)

A Wales Office minister has described Scotland as "another country" after a recent trip to Edinburgh.
Aberconwy MP Guto Bebb said he had left feeling "despondent" because it reminded him of Dublin.
"should be a warning when visiting a city which is a crucial part of the UK", he said.
Mr Bebb, a Conservative party whip, was in the Scottish capital for a British and Irish council meeting
He said
"We have a huge amount in common with citizens of the Irish Republic, as we do Scotland," including similar television programmes, popular music and "in many ways a shared literature".
But he said
"read their papers, listen to talk shows and watch the news and it's clearly another country".
Mr Bebb said leaving Edinburgh made him feel the same way as he does when leaving Dublin. Leaving Dublin.
"For me Dublin is somewhere which is recognisable but very different.""That is fine in the context of the capital of an independent country but it should be a warning when visiting a city which is a crucial part of the UK.
He added: 
"The sense of nationhood in Edinburgh is palpable. For a long time it has been satisfied within the UK.
"Is that changing though? My gut feeling is yes and that should be a cause for regret to all of us."

If readers in Scotland are bemused with the seeming flash of insight from a Tory south of their is as nothing to us in Wales as Bebb is not some dyed in the wool Tory from the English shires is a former Plaid Cymru activist and was chair of the party in Plaid's heartland of Caernarfon. He defected to the Conservatives because of his Eurosceptic views.
Indeed he a member of a old Plaid family being  the grandson of Ambrose Bebb
A co-founder of Plaid Cymru Ambrose Bebb  was inclined towards the sort of right wing nationalism (some would say fascist) influenced of Charles Maurras of the Action Française movement. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Bebb became a vocal proponent of the War Effort against Nazi Germany, and considered Germany's total defeat "essential".In the 1945 General Election Mr Bebb stood for the Plaid Cymru in the seat of Caernafon, and came in third place
Now no one should take responsibility for their Forebears and certainly when he was a member of Plaid Guto wouldn't even find an echo of Grandad's  Ambrose's views.  
But Gutto would have been immersed in the view that Wales was a Nation in in an area which has elected a Plaid MP since  1974 and which is largely Welsh speaking
Perhaps it was the shock of largely monglot English speaking Scots in Edinburgh which left Guto confused .
Or maybe it was akin to Labour MPs who where shocked to find that their late Leader John Smith  supported devolution out of genuine belief rather than political expedience and that Scotland claim to Nationhood is not coming from people alienated from  Westminster but a realisation this is their time to take their place  among the nations of the world.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

I don't think Dominion Status for Wales is the answer.

I am not sure about Plaid's Adam Price t that “Wales needs an ante-room to independence”.
Describing what this could look like, he said: 
“It’s not the Assembly, but it’s something like the Irish Free State 100 years ago, the Dominion status floated recently by Elystan Morgan within Labour and the ‘free association’ suggested a decade ago within Plaid by Rhodri Glyn Thomas.“A free Wales now, independence next could be an idea that gathers momentum.”
Not withstanding that the Free State "solution in Ireland  was followed bu a civil war that led to more deaths than the War of Independence it seems a cop out
I don'r reject the idea right out and his argument that Wales needs a “
plan”and must not end up as “the sad one at the end of the party who doesn’t know when to leave”.
Is spot on  but when we order the Taxi I think we should intend to go straight home

He attacked “a particularly Welsh complex – the inverted self-confidence of a nation that is convinced that it cannot be a success”.
he former MP said:
 “This is so deeply ingrained that beliefs – that we are too small or too poor to be independent – appear to us self-evident facts even when contradicted by the world we see around us.”
In his essay, Mr Price rejects the arguments that Welsh independence will be “easy”, but also dismisses claims it is “impossible”.
He said: “[There] are some really difficult, thorny issues which we will need to solve, both on our journey towards independence and in the years following. But although they are significant, and must not be underestimated, they should not be exaggerated either.”
Adamant that small countries can thrive, he said:
 “Of the top 20 richest countries in the world today, 14 of them are small countries. Far from being too poor to be independent, doesn’t the logic point in the opposite direction – it’s our very lack of independence and the ability to be agile and innovative, using the full range of tools and policy levers that only the independent nation has at its disposal – that has condemned our people to inter-generational poverty.”
He pointed out 
“This is so deeply ingrained that beliefs – that we are too small or too poor to be independent – appear to us self-evident facts even when contradicted by the world we see around us.”
If a conversation in the pub after yesterdays  match is anything to go on its even more depressing. One person not only pushed the too small too poor and worriedly seem more than happy to accept it.

Indeed it seemed that this was a majority  opinion of those around me it reminded me of an abuse victim who has lost all self esteem and seem to accept their abuse even believing it  is their fault .

Perhaps Plaid should send someone to Scotland to observe the changing attitude there among particularly those who believed the  small or too poor to be independent scenario and shared the sad acceptance of this.

I for one do not want Dominion Status or Independence with one of the Windsors as head of state.

I want full Independence in Europe. some would argue that we should not be part of the EU but we can still for now move forward together.

One of my very firs Blogs was to compare Devolution with the Old Trans Cambria Bus root here and commented that not every may want to go the entire distance of the journey but they can share the Bus for a while.

I just hope most will join me on the journey all the way.