With so much happening in the Bay and the House of Commons yesterday a story, that would in other circumstances, have been a major story was buried. After 10 years of service to his country and party as the Conservative spokesman on Welsh affairs in the House of Lords Lord (Wyn) Roberts of Conwy is to retire.

During the past 10 years Sir Wyn has been a hard working peer who has had influence on a number of important parliamentary measures that have had an effect on Wales, including the Government of Wales Act 2006. I hope that who ever replaces Sir Wyn is as much of a patriot as he is because the House of Lords will play an important role in the work of the National Assembly in future.

As we know the new Assembly will have the ability to pass laws under a very complex system. Assembly Measures will have to be approved by the Secretary of state, The House of Commons, The Privy Council and The House of Lords. The House of Lords will be able to oppose, amend (possibly) as well as approve Assembly Measures. It is, therefore extremely important that there are a number of patriotic Welsh men and women of Lord Robert's calibre in the Lords to ensure fair play for Assembly Measures as they pass through the house.

Of course Sir Wyn is a Tory and his successor will be a Tory. There are good Welsh people from other parties in the Lords too. My chapel minister Rev. Lord Roger Roberts from the Lib Dems. Lord Elystan and others from Labour and Dafydd Ellis Thomas from Plaid Cymru. There will be a huge responsibility on their shoulders too, to ensure the success of Assembly Measures.

But Dafydd El will face some difficulties in dealing with Assembly Measures in the Lords. Firstly, of course, he will have a lot on his plate performing his duties as Presiding Officer and may not have the time to spend in the Lords. Secondly as Dafydd is a member of the Assembly, the Privy Council and the Lords there could be constitutional problems if he were to take an active part in affecting Assembly Measures in all three bodies. Thirdly Dafydd has to remain "neutral" in his role as Presiding Officer, it would be difficult for him to retain that neutrality if he was partisan either for or against an Assembly Measure in another place. So there is a danger that the only voice that Plaid has in the Lords could be silenced when Assembly Measures are being discussed.

There are a hundred thousand good reasons for opposing the very existence of the House of Lords and as many reasons for Plaid's policy of boycotting the place and not having members there, but we have to live in the world as it is until things change. As the House of Lords is going to have such an important role to play in the Assembly Measures process it is time for Plaid to think again about sending people to the Lords, and to do so in haste as the first Measure will be before the House about October time.

But who should be made a Nationalist Lord? Lord Alwyn of Oldfart has a certain ring to it, don’t you think? ;-)


  1. Assembly measures do not go to the Houses of Commons/Lords. It is Legislative Competence Orders that are considered in Westminster. As these just draw down powers as opposed to actually doing something with them then there will be less difficulty in DET participating in the debate if he wishes to.

  2. Thanks Peter. I can't think of an occasion where it might arise but suppose the Assembly voted for an LCO with Labour and yourselves supporting it and Plaid opposing it, don't you think it would cause constitutional outrage if the "neutral" Lord President voted against the LCO in the Lords?

  3. This really is complicated!! Try explaining it to Yanks!

    They even have trouble with trying to relate Wales to the UK!!!

  4. With respect, it is positively insulting to Wyn Roberts to have his name mentioned in the same breath as Roger Roberts. Wyn is a man of huge intellect and stature - a national figure of great significance. Roger is just an amiable old buffer who got into the Lords by virtue of nothing more than having been around long enough. He is a political and intellectual featherweight who doesn't belong in the same chamber as Wyn.

  5. Bryn, The Rev Lord Roger Roberts, who I have known and had the honour of calling a friend for over 30 years, is far from an intellectual lightweight. In the years that he has been my minister I couldn't have wished for a wiser or more understanding spiritual advisor. If you read Lords Hansard you will see that Roger's contribution in the house has been considerable.

    Despite having been political opponents in many elections I know that Sir Wyn and the Rev Roberts hold each other in mutual respect and I'm sure that Wyn would not be happy to see his name being used in order to insult Roger.

  6. It's not being used to insult Roger. It's an objective assessment. I know both men.