Just over two weeks ago, I spoke at a conference, on ‘The National Assembly for Wales: Studying the Welsh Legislature’, at the Welsh Governance Centre in Cardiff. I gave the keynote lecture and spoke on ‘Making sense of diversity – The National Assembly: A framework for analysis’. I drew on analyses on legislatures, including previous work I have done on assessing the legislative effectiveness of legislatures.
I addressed challenges facing legislatures and the challenges facing the National Assembly for Wales. The latter I discussed in the context of devolution, newness, and size. On the first of these, I quoted John Kincaid: ‘Devolution’s key challenge is not so much dividing powers as it is sharing powers.’ This also extends more broadly to co-operation. There is the danger of legislatures missing out. In a dynamic environment of multi-level governance, there is the danger of executives developing institutional links, but with legislatures not developing similar links. As the Silk Commission has recognised, there is a need to think about ways of engaging. The challenge, as the Commission recognised, is ensuring that inter-parliamentary engagement, and not just inter-governmental engagement, is strong. Co-operation between parliaments within the UK is developing, but there is a case for ensuring that it has a more established basis.