Welsh Government
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UK Government move will “severely restrict” Assembly’s powers to deal with anti-social behaviour – First Minister

A move by the UK Government to amend the National Assembly’s powers will severely restrict the Assembly’s ability to pass laws to deal with people who cause harassment, alarm or distress to NHS staff, social workers and teachers, the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones has warned.

The UK Government, as part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, is scrapping the existing Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) system and replacing it with a new system of “Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs) and injunctions.”

Currently, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) are not within the National Assembly’s powers.  On 7 October, Home Office Ministers tabled an amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to amend the Assembly’s powers. The amendment means that all or any orders to protect people from behaviour that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress would fall outside the Assembly’s legislative competence.  

Carwyn Jones said:

“The Home Office contend that this is a consequential amendment, which merely updates the Assembly’s powers in recognition of the abolition of the current anti-social behaviour regime. I disagree with the Home Office.  

“The Minister for Local Government and Government Business and I have made our views clear to both the Home Office and the Secretary of State for Wales - the amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill represents a substantive reduction in the Assembly's powers.

“It would prevent the Assembly from legislating substantively about any sort of order to protect people from behaviour that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, even in devolved contexts such as the health service, schools or housing.”

The UK Government is making the move without the consent of the Welsh Government or the National Assembly for Wales. The Welsh Government has warned the UK Government that any move to legislate in devolved areas without the National Assembly’s consent would be in breach of “well established conventions”.

The First Minister added:

“The UK Government considers that this amendment to Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act can be made without the consent of the Assembly.  I disagree.  

“The amendment would reduce the Assembly’s legislative competence, and it should not be taken forward without the Assembly’s agreement.  The Minister for Local Government and Government Business, Lelsley Griffiths will be laying a legislative consent memorandum and motion on this issue before the National Assembly very shortly, and the Welsh Government will not be supporting the motion.

“If this motion is not passed, we would expect the UK Government to adhere to well established conventions that they should not legislate in devolved areas without the National Assembly’s consent.”

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