Thursday, July 07, 2011

Will you take an intervention Mr Antoniw??

Mick Antoniw the AM for Pontypridd unsurprisingly voted against reinstating Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Aled Roberts on 6th July.  All for the best of reasons no doubt, because, just like Brutus, he is an honourable man.
Antoniw’s contribution to the debate is a matter of public record – thought I would add a couple of intervention points of my own!
Mick Antoniw: This debate is not about our personal feelings for an individual who stood for election but has been unable to take up a seat because of the National Assembly for Wales (Disqualification) Order 2010: it goes well beyond that.
Yes, isn’t it true that the member for Pontypridd is basing his response more on pure political spite
It is about an important point of constitutional law that has serious implications for this new Assembly and legislature. It is also about the credibility and integrity of this body and the Welsh Government.
Are you sure that you are in a position to take such moral high ground? After all you were the Director of a firm that conned miners out of thousands of pounds worth of compensation, and were fined for such by your regulatory body, and then tried desperately to deny it to your own party members than anything else?
The first undisputed fact is that, under section 18 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, he was disqualified from standing as an Assembly Member, which I understand is not disputed even by the person himself.
Unlike your transgression which you strongly disputed despite the clear evidence to the contrary. Is it not the case that you even had a colleague threaten me with legal action for reporting the truth?
What we decide may be subject to legal challenge by way of judicial review by an interested party.
Despite legal advice you have been given that says that overturning the disqualification is perfectly legal and proper?  
In considering this motion, I have put aside all interests other than what is the right decision and what is right to preserve the integrity and credibility of the Assembly.
I refer the not so honourable gentleman to my earlier comment re integrity.
I have reluctantly ( you are kidding me) come to the conclusion that we should not exercise our discretion in this case, and I will be voting against the motion. (what a surprise)
It is clear that an individual candidate is responsible for ensuring that he is entitled to stand. (quite right, a modicum of sense at last.)
He may (MAY) consult with a variety of bodies—his political party, his agent, bodies such as the Electoral Commission, and, if necessary, his solicitor; but it also recommends consulting the legislation, or, if necessary, taking independent legal advice.
Why would any reasonable minded person doubt the advice coming from the body set up to regulate elections and give advice? The Electoral Commission staff are paid to give advice – they failed to give accurate advice.  Did you consult a solicitor Mr Antoniw?
Turning to the exercise of our discretion, I am clear in my mind that it is a discretion that should be exercised rarely and with caution, and that there have to be substantial reasons. I do not believe that circumstances in this case would justify the exercise of this discretion.
So being given totally out of date and inaccurate information is not a good enough reason?
Apart from the reasons that I have already mentioned, if we exercised our discretion in this way it would drive a coach and horses through the disqualification Order.
Why?  You have already been advised that it is perfectly legal to do so.  In fact the report says as near as damn it that is what you should do.
We will also have set a precedent.  (heaven forbid we should do that)
We are a new legislature and we must take the consequences of our decision seriously. We cannot set aside a Crown Order just because we might like to do so. (No but you can if the rules allow you to do so.)
Setting aside the Order in these circumstances would……have consequences for future elections and would undermine the clarity in procedure and law that is essential for our electoral process.
No Mick, what undermined the clarity in procedure was the incompetence of the Electoral Commission in failing to provide accurate information.)

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