Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Role of Presiding Officer?

Lord Elis-Thomas (prominent Plaid Cymru Assembly Member and the Presiding Officer of the Welsh Assembly) told Cardiff Business Club last night that the power to oversee S4C should lie with the Assembly and not with Department of Work and Pensions in Whitehall.

It's curious to me that the Presiding Officer (effectively the speaker in the Chamber) can drive the news agenda so easily and come out so publicly with a view that is not the view of the whole Chamber – especially when he was speaking at the dinner not as Assembly Member for Dwyfor Merionnydd.

Can you imagine the Speaker in the House of Commons, for instance, coming out like this to propose an item of legislation which falls outside his jurisdiction as the Presiding Officer of the chamber?

I'm well aware that the Assembly's Presiding Officer is not bound by any of the same rules like the Speaker in the House of Commons (Lord Elis-Thomas still sits for Plaid while Speaker Martin at Westminster is re-elected on a partyless ticket) but there are surely reasons and benefits for neutrality in such a position – is an independent chair not usually seen as a fairer judge?

It's the role of the Assembly Government to make representations for the people of Wales, the Presiding Officer is supposed to represent the interests of the Chamber – does the control of S4C really fall under that remit?

Dewi Tri



Sweet and Tender Hooligan said...

I do think its a fair question to put. One which, to somewhat defend the current incumbent, needs clarifying.

Anonymous said...

He had probably had a few to many....

Anonymous said...

Personally I think DEL is a great template for future Llywydds.

Anonymous said...

I think the fact that the current presiding officer has created a role in the way he has is fantastic. I would rather have Dafydd Ellis Thomas putting forward inventive and progressive ideas than the Speaker of the house spending his time trying to hide information on MP's expenses

Anonymous said...

It could be that he see his model for "presiding Officer" or Llywydd" based on the Speaker of the US house of Representatives, who is not neutral, but quite partisan. Also at one time was more powerful in it had the powers to appoint the chairs of the committees.