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? ;-)