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Welsh Food Alliance Cynghrair Bwyd Cymru

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Food Policy, Devolution and Wales

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Article Index
Food Policy, Devolution and Wales
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From the Welsh Food Alliance
Who we are?
WFA members have been active in championing devolved government in Wales from 1978.The Welsh Food Alliance (WFA) was formed in March 1999 to support the process of devolution and citizen engagement in the development of food policy across all aspects of government. It is self-financed by its volunteers. During this period we have responded to over 150 consultations, organised many free public consultations, including five Welsh Youth Food Assemblies at the National Assembly building and a hustings for political parties on food issues prior to each Welsh General Election. We have also undertaken three older people's food surveys involving over 800 people from the comfort of their own homes. Part 2 of our current UK survey  underlines the need to engage with citizens, the private sector, non-devolved public and professional bodies across the UK in addressing growing malnutrition in an ageing society.
Introduction
In principle we support the NAfW being given further primary law making powers on the basis that legislative decisions affecting Wales should be taken for and by the people of Wales. We are aware that the complexity of LCO's has constrained and delayed the Government making necessary legislation in Wales and that across a range of issues a good case can no doubt be made for extending primary law making powers. If possible, we would welcome an independent audit of what has been achieved as a necessary basis for commanding public confidence in any proposal to extend primary law making powers.
We have confined our evidence to specific food policy issues well known to us and on which we have worked consistently over the past ten years. We are therefore aware of the mistakes that have been made and of the non-use of devolved powers to bring about incremental changes in food policy to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales. We attempt to demonstrate that the failure has not necessarily been the absence of legislative powers, but as Scotland reminds us, of how essential understanding, listening to the evidence and then political will is required to take positive action to realise the promise of devolution.
Our comments on the legislative process show how the current system should have been more attentive to well evidenced representations - and then using devolved powers already available. Our experience has been that it is often not more primary law making powers, but civil service capacity, the political will and understanding to achieve 'connectivity' between different aspects of government and partner organisations, and to take action for the common good. We comment as follows on:
(a) The National Curriculum - practical food education
(b) School meals and Inter-generational health inequalities  
(c) School meals: legislation or political will?
(d) Capacity and UK wide issues
(e) Wales in its UK context
(f) Local Health, Social Care and Wellbeing strategy
(g) Food standards
(h) Contribution to public policy and devolution
(i) Wales Food and Health Policy Council
(j) The necessity of UK wide partnership working and collaboration