Power to Enter into Concordat

Part of Orders of the Day — Government of Wales Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 25th March 1998.

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Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Opposition Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs, Scotland and Wales), Opposition Spokesperson (Environment, Transport and the Regions) 9:45 pm, 25th March 1998

The Secretary of State has succeeded in creating a fog of complete confusion about the nature of concordats. More ridiculous even than his other comments was his suggestion that he already has a concordat with local government in Wales. What sort of concordat did he have with the Cardiff county council regarding the siting of the assembly? He had no such concordat, because, for an agreement to exist, it must be based upon a common source of authority.

The description of a concordat says that it should set the ground rules. It states that there will be arrangements for resolving disagreements, but that they are not intended to be legally binding. When is an agreement an agreement? An agreement is not an agreement unless the parties have some recourse to an independent arbiter who will decide what that agreement should be.