The fate of the National Assembly's first attempt at passing a law under the new powers it gained following last year's referendum is currently being considered by the Supreme Court following a complaint from the Wales Office that it is without the competence of the Assembly. Apparently the Assembly Government had been warned by Whitehall sources that there were problems with the Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Bill before the bill had gone through the Assembly's processes but the Assembly Government chose to carry on regardless.
Yesterday it was announced that a second bill, The Official Languages Bill is about to face a similar fate because the bill deals with both the devolved Welsh Language and the non-devolved English Language. I am not at all surprised by this move; back in 2010 when the Assembly was discussing the Welsh Language LCO I noted on this blog that "There is a failure in the devolution settlement. The Assembly has the right to legislate on the Welsh Language, but not on the Languages of Wales. A measure that says that English and Welsh are both official languages would be illegal;" I made this statement, not because I have superior knowledge of the law, but because that was the feedback that those of us who raised the issue of Official Status got from Assembly Members and Civil Servants. So the Assembly appears to have passed the Official Languages Bill knowing full well that that there were elements in the Bill which were not within the Assembly's current competence.
A third bill, dealing with organ donations is, almost inevitably, going to face a similar challenge, but yet again it appears that the Welsh Labour Government is going to press ahead with that bill regardless of any legal warnings too. When the Government of Wales Acts were passed such legal challenges were expected to be very rare, but they seem to be the defining trait of the current Assembly. So the question has to be asked "Why?"
From a nationalist point of view one could see these legal challenges as a way of highlighting the deficiencies in the Welsh devolution settlement and making the case for more devolution, but that is not what the Welsh Labour Government is doing; Welsh Labour, on the whole, is lukewarm about giving the Assembly further powers.
The Labour government in Cardiff is basically having a pissing competition with the Con-Dem government in London in order to prove that they are "standing up to the Tories". They are allowing the governance of Wales to stagnate in silly legal challenges. Rather than using the limited powers that we voted to give the Assembly in the referendum for the benefit of Wales, Labour is abusing that mandate by bogging the right to pass Welsh laws down in petty party politicking and point scoring. Yet again - the Labour Party is putting what's best for Labour before what is best for Wales!