Devolution differences

The Welsh Secretary claims the current devolution settlement does not need major changes but urges the Welsh Government to use its powers more effectively. Meanwhile all three devolved governments have called for more borrowing by the Treasury.

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Owen Smith MP: "Secretary of State is out of touch"

How typical that in a week in which the rest of Wales is worrying about what further reductions to the Welsh Budget the Tory party will unveil on Wednesday, our out of touch Secretary of State should choose to make a speech on the constitution.

David Jones is right, of course, to say that Wales is a stronger country as part of the United Kingdom, but instead of giving patronising lectures to the Welsh Labour Government he should have used tonight’s speech to remind George Osborne that Wales’ budget has already been cut by 8.7% or £1.4 billion, and to announce the borrowing powers Welsh Labour needs to invest in our future success.

– Owen Smith MP, Labour Shadow Welsh Secretary
  1. Nick Powell

Welsh Secretary opposes major devolution changes

Welsh Secretary David Jones has rejected Wales moving to a system where all powers are devolved to the Welsh Government and Assembly except for those explicitly reseved to Westminster. The Welsh Government had called for a shift to the 'reserved powers' model used in Scotland.

I support the current arrangements for devolution in the UK as providing the constitutional flexibility with which the peoples of all the British nations are comfortable, rather than a one size fits all approach which I believe would satisfy few.

– Welsh Secretary David Jones MP

In a speech in Cardiff Bay this evening, Mr Jones said wales has a "long and close (if sometimes difficult)" relationship with England. He claimed the fact that it was founded on conquest made it "subtler" than the negotiated union of England and Scotland.

Wales, like Scotland, benefits from having two governments and two legislatures, but the relationship between the devolved institutions in each country and the UK Government is rightly quite different. In Wales’s case, it is right that our model for devolution confers specific powers on the devolved institutions in Cardiff given the close-knit nature of the relationship, and the extent of the interdependence between Wales and England.

A devolved settlement for Wales would always need to be more subtle, more finely tuned and, yes, more complicated, than its Scottish equivalent.

– Welsh Secretary David Jones MP

He also rejected the idea of a separate Welsh legal jurisdiction, even in the longer term. He called on the Welsh Government to make the existing settlement work, saying that since devolution the prosperity gap between Wales and the rest of the UK has grown wider.

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  1. Nick Powell

Welsh Secretary hints at M4 deal

Welsh Secretary David Jones has hinted that the Chancellor will announce a deal to pay for an upgraded M4 around Newport during his spending review on Wednesday. Mr Jones used it as an example of how devolution works during a speech in Cardiff Bay this evening.

Discussions are continuing between the UK Government and the Welsh Government on upgrading the M4 around Newport. I’m sure we’re all hopeful of a positive announcement by the Chancellor when he publishes the outcome of the 2015-16 Spending Review on Wednesday.

– Welsh Secretary David Jones MP

The Chancellor is expected to place heavy emphasis on the need to prioritise infrastructure projects in order to get the economy moving. But finding up to £1 billion for the motorway improvement is linked to negotiations about granting the Welsh Government borrowing powers .

Those talks have taken longer than expected. There is also the issue of whether the Welsh Government would be granted the toll revenue from the Severn Bridges. The tolls could then repay a loan raised to pay for relieving the bottleneck where the M4 passes through the Brynglas Tunnels in Newport.

  1. Nick Powell

UK must borrow more says Welsh Finance Minister

Welsh Finance Minister Jane Hutt has called on the UK Government to borrow more money to boost the economy. She has signed a joint letter with the Scottish and Northern Irish Finance Ministers setting out what they want for their countries from Wednesday's spending announcement by the Chancellor.

They call for extra funds to pay for construction projects that would stimulate economic growth and create jobs. But they say their capital budgets should not be increased at the expense of other areas of spending. They claim that the benefits would justify a short term increase in borrowing.

The evidence is clear - well chosen public infrastructure investments can have both short term and, more importantly, sustained, long term benefits for the economy. That is why a key component of our response to the continuing weakness in the UK economy has been concerted action to boost infrastructure investment.

We have a range of priority infrastructure projects which can be brought forward to make use of additional resources and make a positive contribution to growth in the UK economy. We are now urging the UK Government to do all in their power to support the work we are undertaking by boosting our capital budgets to allow us to invest in the infrastructure we need to boost growth and create jobs

– Finance Minister Jane Hutt AM

Jane Hutt said that the letter followed what she called a 'useful discussion' between herself, Scotland's John Swinney, Sammy Wilson from Northern Ireland and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander. But spending cuts are expected as a result of Wednesday's announcement.

"Use devolved powers more effectively" urges Welsh Secretary

Welsh Secretary David Jones will tonight endose the current devolution settlement and urge the Welsh Government to be be more outward looking.

He'll be speaking at an event hosted by Cardiff University's Wales Governance Centre, where he's expected to say the current model avoids a one size fits all approach and allows Scotland and Wales to adapt and evolve to changing circumstances.

He's also expected to take a swipe at the Welsh Government urging them to use the powers they have more effectively.

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