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  1. ITV Report

New powers for Wales in St David's Day devolution deal

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have unveiled proposals for a range of new powers for the Welsh Government and National Assembly as part of the UK Government's St David's Day devolution agreement.

The funding measures involve introducing a limit, or 'funding floor', to the Barnett formula used to work out how much funding the Welsh Government gets - to ensure fairer funding for Wales.

Additional powers over energy, transport, the environment and elections have also been announced.

The agreement says the National Assembly should be able to lower the voting age to 16 for Assembly elections, set its own speed limits and have control over fracking, sewerage, ports and taxi and bus regulation.

It was also agreed that the National Assembly should be formally recognised as a permanent institution and have control over its own affairs, including the power to change its name if it wishes.

In addition, it says that Wales should move to a “reserved powers model” – in line with the model in Scotland - where it's assumed that the Assembly has full control over all devolved areas.

Wales' ministers must agree before a referendum can go ahead.

The framework's recommendations include:

  • Energy projects up to 350megawatts should be decided by Welsh Ministers. This would include most onshore wind farms and renewable technologies to harness tidal power
  • The National Assembly should have powers over the development of ports to improve Wales’s transport infrastructure.
  • The National Assembly should have the power to lower the voting age to 16 for Assembly elections. The Assembly already has the power to lower the voting age to 16 for a referendum on devolving income tax powers.
  • All powers relating to Assembly and local government elections should be devolved. This includes deciding the electoral system, the number of constituencies, their boundaries, the timing of elections and the conduct of the elections themselves.
  • Welsh Ministers should have the power to appoint one member of the Ofcom board to represent Welsh interests.
  • A review should be carried out of Air Passenger Duty which could open the door for it to be devolved to Wales.

The announcement follows months of talks between the leaders of the four different parties at Parliamentary and Assembly levels.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg give a speech inside the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on devolving powers to Wales. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The Prime Minister said the St David's Day agreement "represents one of the biggest transfers of power in the history of Welsh devolution".

This is about finding lasting settlements across the country to make our United Kingdom stronger and fairer.

It means more responsibility for the Welsh Assembly. It means more decisions taken here in Wales and more opportunity for the Welsh people to hold their politicians to account. And it means those who spend taxpayers’ money must also be more responsible for raising it.

I hope the next great debate is not about which powers should rest where, but instead about how these powers are used for the people of Wales. How both of Wales' Governments can do all they can within their powers to make Wales prosper for decades to come.

This is devolution with a purpose.

An enduring settlement for Wales which works for Wales, today, tomorrow and for generations to come.

– Prime Minister David Cameron

Nick Clegg said today's agreement is another step towards "a fairer, stronger Britain".

The St David’s Agreement, which accepts the majority of the recommendations of the second Silk Report, increases the devolved powers at Wales’ disposal in important areas such as energy, transport and the environment. It paves the way for a stronger, more autonomous Assembly – giving Wales more control over its own affairs. And it starts the process of delivering fair funding for Wales.

We’re committed to devolution across all parts of the UK, and we have a strong record in Government. Together, we’re laying the foundations for a greener and more prosperous Wales. Our whole country will benefit, creating the jobs and growth we need to build a fairer society and stronger economy for all.

– Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said it was "a strong package that creates the foundations for a stronger, fairer, lasting devolution settlement for Wales".

These new powers create an important opportunity for Wales, they are powers with a purpose.

As a UK Government we believe in rebalancing the economy to enable wealth to be created more fairly and evenly across the whole country. This St David's Day package provides a toolkit to help the rebalancing of the economy here in Wales too.

I'm very grateful to all the Welsh parties for the spirit with which they've engaged with this process and for their willingness to make our starting point one of pragmatism and consensus rather than dogma and division.

As a small nation, I believe we pack a much bigger punch by working together and this will need to be the way we do things if we are now to deliver this package through legislation.

– Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb

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