A select life without LCOs - what Welsh MPs did next

It's just a wild guess but you possibly have other things to fill your time than wondering how MPs are coping without LCOs.

I ponder these things so you don't have to. LCOs, or legislative competence orders, were the device under which the Welsh assembly acquired law-making powers in a particular area.

During their brief life they created a lot of work for politicians (and journalists), in both Cardiff and Westminster, and helped breathe new life into the select committee on Welsh affairs.

Pre-devolution, this committee used to monitor decisions taken by what was known as the Welsh Office in areas such as health and education.

Post-devolution, it has had to re-invent itself in a new role examining matters within the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Wales (including relations with the National Assembly).

So the committee has busied itself looking at issues such as Severn Bridge tolls, the Newport passport office and S4C.

Its inquiry into the latter, which in a relatively short time lost both its chief executive (sacked) and chairman (resigned), found that a significant number of the channel's programmes had no viewers (in the way that audience figures are usually measured).

Evidence gathered, the MPs produced a report which S4C found "positive on the whole and helpful to S4C".

Committee chairman David Davies denied that his members had pulled their punches, although the report is said by insiders to have been influenced both by a need for consensus and a fear that the department for culture in Whitehall would seize on any criticism of S4C.

So the MPs have moved on to inward investment, with much of the evidence so far suggesting the Welsh performance is not what it used to be.

Last week they heard from the last chair of the Welsh development agency, Sir Roger Jones, who criticised the Welsh government's record in this area since the agency was culled in a "bonfire of the quangos".

Sir Roger, who has combined entrepreneurship with public life, had some harsh words for what he called "the dead hand of the civil service" and warned:"being micro managed by people who don't know much is a dangerous practice".

Except it appears Sir Roger hasn't always been so criticial of the new set-up. Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas un-earthed a quote from Sir Roger in a joint statement with Andrew Davies (then a Welsh minister) issued on the announcement of the cull.

"The decision to incorporate the WDA into the Welsh Assembly Government will create a new, sharply focussed, commercial organisation, the best of its kind not only in the UK but in Europe," they announced.

"The new organisation will be the leader in innovative regeneration and promoting private sector solutions wherever it can, rather than seeing public sector intervention as the default option."

Perhaps the new organisation has failed to deliver in the way its creators hoped but the MPs' report when it emerges may be worth reading.