Democracy and closing down schools in Wales
Emyr Lewis, who is also a Blake Morgan consultant and former senior partner for Wales, discussed COVID, democracy and closing down schools in Wales.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a huge amount of legislation made by Government Ministers through Regulations under Public Health protection powers rather than by the Senedd through Acts. The most well-known of these laws have substantially curtailed basic rights and freedoms, such as having a cwtsh, singing hymns or going to the pub. The law-makers have had to be careful to ensure that the restrictions are proportionate and reasonable in the interests of achieving the aim of dealing with the pandemic. If these laws go too far, they can be challenged in court.
There have also been other less-well-known laws. The second half of the talk looked at one of these, namely the changes made by the previous Education Minister to the Schools’ Reorganisation Code using Covid emergency powers, so as to make the process easier for education authorities, but arguably less democratic.
Internal Market Act
Dr Greg Davies also looked at the Internal Market Act, with a focus on Wales.
At every stage of its short life, the UK Conservative Government’s Internal Market Act has been fiercely contested. Dr Greg Davies explored why that has been the case from a Welsh perspective. He examined the key provisions of the Act and their effects, the political and constitutional context to the legislation, and the major developments which have arisen since its enactment, such as the Welsh Government’s legal challenge to the Act.
He argued that the tools within the legislation which could alleviate its most aggravating political consequences are unlikely to be used to their fullest extent. An Anglo-British understanding of the UK’s constitution, characterised by a deep suspicion of devolved self-rule, gave rise to the legislation. While it is a perspective rejected by the Welsh Government and an overwhelming majority of the Senedd’s members, it continues to guide UK Government thinking. For this Senedd term at least, protracted conflict between Cardiff Bay and Westminster may become a defining feature of political life in Wales.
Tuesday 15 June 2021
10am – 11am