Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has speeded along implementation of the Localism Act to ensure that councils in England are allowed to say prayers at the start of their meetings. But Eric's writ does not run in Wales. So we are in the situation where councils hold prayers at the start of their meetings in England, but not in Wales.
The High Court judgment banning council prayers related to Section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972 which applies to England and Wales. Post-devolution, the Welsh Assembly has the competence to legislate in this area. The Localism Act 2011 which has introduced the general power of competence in England could have been applied to Wales, yet the Labour-run Welsh Assembly Government refused the Coalition Government’s offer for the Act to include Wales (because, I suspect, the Welsh Assembly Government doesn’t really like devolving power to councils…).
But the National Assembly for Wales does have the power to legislate in this area. The ban of prayers can be stopped if the National Assembly wish it.
Janet Finch-Saunders AM, The Conservatives Shadow Minister for Local Government, said: