ALDERNEY, the third biggest of the Channel Islands, has only 2,400 residents. Yet it has its own Parliament able to pass its own laws.
In Wales, under the convoluted proposals put forward by Labour, the National Assembly will remain a second class body entirely at the whim of Westminster.
It will continue to be the only part of the British Isles unable to pass its own laws without seeking permission from the UK Government. The Republic of Ireland is wholly independent, the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly - when it is sitting - can both make their own laws in devolved areas, while the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands enjoy autonomy. Only our National Assembly remains wholly subservient to the UK Parliament when it comes to lawmaking.
Opponents of full lawmaking powers for the Assembly have argued that it needs to walk before it runs.
Yet in contrast to the 60 full-time politicians backed by an extensive civil service that makes up our Assembly, Alderney is run - and laws are made - by 10 unsalaried amateurs collectively known as the States of Alderney backed up by less than 20 civil servants. In addition there is an unpaid president whose role is similar to the Speaker of the House of Commons.
Comparisons that illustrate the unjust nature of Wales' status are not restricted to the British Isles. Further afield there are small remnants of the British Empire that most people in Wales will never have heard of that also have lawmaking powers superior to the National Assembly.
Coincidentally, the Australian constitutional lawyer who has drafted laws for several such places now lives in Alderney. Neil Adsett was dismissive of the proposals put forward for Wales by Peter Hain. "They are a nonsense and won't work. Why don't they just give Wales the legislative powers it needs?
"If Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey and British Overseas Territories like the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean can have full lawmaking powers, there is no legitimate reason at all why Wales shouldn't have them too. The success of these other places proves that size does not matter when it comes to legislative powers.
"Wales should be looking to get a similar deal to Scotland."
Mr Adsett raised concerns about how long it would take to get Welsh laws enacted under Labour's proposals.
"When the legislatures of Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney pass new laws of their own, they need to have them ratified by the Privy Council in London acting on behalf of the Queen. With Jersey laws there is an average delay of seven months, and Guernsey of five months before an Order in Council is made.
"The proposal for the Welsh Assembly is more complicated. It would involve some kind of pre-legislative scrutiny involving MPs and AMs and then debates in both Houses of Parliament before an Order in Council is approved giving the Welsh Assembly the right to make law in a narrow area. This is a very complicated and time-consuming system and I can't see it working."
Former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies, a strong critic of the Government's proposals for Wales, said, "These small places may have a degree of territorial and geographical integrity that make them slightly different from the UK. Nevertheless, what experience shows is that once successive British Governments have been prepared to let go of the policy agenda, the development of legislative competence is a piece of cake.
"What we are seeing in Wales is a Government in Westminster unwilling to let go of the policy agenda and instead creating a Heath Robinson, ramshackle device for delaying, obscuring and disguising the fact that it still wants to cling on to political control."
In January last year Welsh Labour Environment Minister Carwyn Jones published a pamphlet in which he referred to the discrepancy in powers between the National Assembly and the other legislatures. At the time he told the Western Mail, "In a world where you have Assemblies and Parliaments in eight UK territories and dependencies, it makes no sense at all for the Welsh body to be the only one without primary law-making powers.
"If the Isle of Man can make its own laws, why should the Welsh Assembly not be able to?"
Later that year, however, Mr Jones and other Labour proponents of full lawmaking powers for the Assembly agreed to a compromise proposal designed to appease anti-devolution elements that leaves Wales in an inferior position.
So what's on offer in Alderney?
THERE are numerous pubs, restaurants and places to stay, and even in August there are still beaches that are virtually deserted, plus several Victorian forts.
Among past residents are cricketing great Ian Botham, cricket commentator John Arlott and the author TH White.
Its legislative body is known as the States of Alderney - it could be described as the ultimate unitary authority. There are 10 members of the States of Alderney, plus a president. Alderney enjoys offshore status with a flat income tax rate of 20%. Tax is collected by the Bailiwick of Guernsey, which includes Guernsey itself, Alderney, Herm and Sark. The Bailiwick is responsible for education, the health service, the police and financial regulation. Alderney used its primary lawmaking powers to establish its own Gambling Control Commission that licenses internet gambling companies. Last year the Commission generated £800,000.