Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Organ donation statement

Assembly government procedures to ask for legislative competence from the UK government on the issue of organ donation have been put on hold.

As she laid the Organ and Tissue Donation Legislative Competence Order (LCO) before the assembly on 12 January 2011, Health Minister Edwina Hart AM told AMs that the assembly government had yet to receive confirmation from the UK government's chief legal adviser that it is a devolved matter.

Ms Hart did however confirm that the LCO can be referred for pre-legislative scrutiny by the Welsh Affairs Committee.

The purpose of the order is to introduce an 'opt-out' organ donation system.

The opt-out organ and tissue donation system would mean that Welsh residents are presumed organ donors unless they or their relatives object.

Should the legislation become law, Wales would become the first part of the UK to introduce a soft presumed consent system.

Nick Ramsay AM, the Shadow Health Spokesperson, welcomed the LCO as a party but said "we also believe this is an issue of conscience" for individual members of the party.

He said that he believed it sensible to continue the pre-legislative scrutiny before a decision on whether it is a devolved matter or not is made.

The minister said that laying the order so close to the assembly elections in May would be offset by preparatory work that has been in motion since 2008.

The Liberal Democrats' Veronica German said that her party agreed with the thrust of this legislation to take advantage of a situation whereby 90% of people agree with the 'opt-out' system but only 28% are currently on the organ donor register.

An outstanding decision from the Attorney General as to the assembly government's competence to legislate in this area angered a number of AMs, including the Plaid Cymru AM Dai Lloyd who proposed the LCO in the first place.

He was "perplexed" by the decision and agreed with other AMs that it gave support to the Yes vote in the imminent devolution referendum.

It is currently estimated that one person in Wales dies every 11 days while waiting for a kidney.

There are approximately 300 patients on the organ waiting list at any one time in Wales.

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