Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Sunday, 13 July 2008 16:48 UK

Ex-diplomat relishes power debate

Sir Emyr Jones Parry
Sir Emyr Jones Parry says law-making is a complicated matter
As the All Wales Convention attempts to decipher the public mood on the question of further law-making powers for the Welsh assembly, convention chair Sir Emyr Jones Parry explains why he believes the issue matters.

I was particularly pleased to be asked to chair the All Wales Convention.

After a career in the British public service, it's good to be directly involved in Wales, and I'm looking forward to this challenge.

So what is the All Wales Convention about?

Well, it's an opportunity for the people of Wales to tell us what they think about law-making, and who they think should be making those laws.

I understand that this may sound a little abstract or 'academic' but it's important that we understand how our laws are made, as they are being made in our names.

There's no getting away from the fact that law-making is complicated.

It is not easy to understand fully the different terms and processes involved, but we can begin with the basic principles.

Incremental approach

So how are laws made now?

In a nutshell the National Assembly for Wales can only pass laws, called measures, in certain devolved policy portfolio areas, called matters.

The list of matters is quite short at the moment, but new matters can be added with the agreement of the UK parliament.

Convention meeting room
The first meeting was held at the Pierhead in Cardiff
So, at present, there is an incremental approach with the assembly gradually increasing the policy portfolio areas where it can pass measures.

This approach is what is set out in part three and schedule five of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Alternatively, there is the potential for a process by which the national assembly would gain full law making powers in a package of devolved policy areas, which would pass automatically to the national assembly, if the people of Wales, in a referendum, voted for that transfer.

This would mean parliament's agreement would no longer be needed on a case by case basis.

Funky Dragon

So this can be thought of as a more of an 'all at once' approach: it is set out in part four and schedule seven of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

It will be for the convention to stimulate and facilitate a debate in Wales on the two different approaches, and to advise ministers on the arguments which the people of Wales consider relevant to each.

Members of the convention meet up in Cardiff

The executive committee of the All Wales Convention comprises 16 people plus me.

Eight of these come from key organisations from across Wales from Funky Dragon to the Faith Forum, four from the main political parties and four members of the public.

Whilst it will be the committee's responsibility to steer the work of the convention and write the final report, participation in the work of the convention will be open to anybody who wishes to engage in the debate.

My aim will be an open approach, open to all the arguments and considerations, and open to everyone in Wales.

It's your opportunity to tell us what you think about Wales' future.

We want to hear your views and opinions - please get involved!

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