On 9 September 2022, the second reading of the Government of Wales (Devolved Powers) Bill [HL] is scheduled to take place in the House of Lords. It is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Wigley (Plaid Cymru). 

Under the provisions of the bill, the UK government would not be able to change powers devolved to the Senedd Cymru without support of a least two-thirds of all Senedd members entitled to vote. The bill defines the devolved powers subject to its provisions; the consent procedure for approving proposed changes to the Senedd’s devolved powers; and the process for dispute resolution. The bill also contains provisions on financial compensation for the Senedd, and on the operation of the Parliaments Acts procedure in relation to the bill. 

The Wales Act 2017 established a “reserved powers” model of devolution in Wales. This means that the Senedd can legislate on any matter not expressly “reserved” to the UK Parliament. For instance, it can legislate on matters relating to health, education, and elections. Reserved matters include foreign affairs and defence. Similar arrangements exist under the devolved settlements in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The UK Parliament is still legislatively supreme under the reserved powers model and can legislate in areas of devolved competence. However, under the Sewel convention it does not “normally” do so without the explicit consent of the relevant devolved body. There is debate as to what extent the UK government should legislate in devolved areas of competence, the process for consultation when the government does legislate in these areas, and how to define the concept of “normal” established by the Sewel convention. The Welsh government advocates a new constitutional settlement for the UK that enshrines the principle that the Westminster Parliament will not legislate in devolved areas.

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