The Welsh Government has produced its own version of the draft Wales Bill, as an alternative to the proposals for further devolution that were 'paused' by the Welsh Secretary last week. Unveiling his 'Government and Laws in Wales Bill', First Minister Carwyn Jones claimed that it would deliver a stable, long-term devolution settlement for the people of Wales.
It includes substantially fewer 'reserved matters' -powers to be retained by Westminster. It also provides for further devolution in future, with the Welsh Government eventually gaining control of policing and the courts. The bill would immediately create a distinct legal jurisdiction for Wales.
Whilst it was the right decision for the UK Government to pause and reflect on their proposed Wales Bill, we are still deeply concerned at the lack of consultation and involvement in the process. So today, in the spirit of constructive collaboration and co-operation, we have published a comprehensive made-in-Wales alternative Bill which addresses those concerns, and provides a stable, long term solution to the future governance of Wales. We hope the UK Government will use the space created by the pause on their Bill to engage constructively with our proposals and believe it offers solutions to many of the difficult issues we currently face. This is the Bill we could still deliver together.
The immediate response on behalf of the Welsh Secretary suggested that it was unlikely that many of the First Minister's proposals would be incorporated into the actual Wales Bill.
The Secretary of State has already announced changes to the Wales Bill that will command broad support and deliver a stronger devolution settlement for Wales. As part of the St David’s Day process, Welsh Labour specifically ruled out devolving policing and creating a separate legal jurisdiction. The fact is the Labour Party is split from top to bottom when it comes to devolution. This alternative Wales Bill is clearly a concession to Plaid Cymru ahead of the Assembly elections in which Labour is expected to lose seats.
A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said the Welsh Government's bill wasn't worth the paper it was written on, as Labour MPs haven't put forward these proposals at Westminster.
First Minister Carwyn Jones has given qualified support to the RAF bombing Isis targets in Syria but he told AMs that the Prime Minister needs to explain who would provide the forces on the ground to complete the task and bring peace.
Questioned by Conservative leader, Andrew RT Davies, the First Minister confirmed that he had no objection in principle to extending air raids on Iraq to include Syria.
There's no difference between Iraq and Syria at the moment, the border has effectively disappeared. What concerns me is that we should not do what happened in Iraq, more than a decade ago, to take military action without thinking what the end game is.
Mr Jones acknowledged that his view was different to some in the Labour party. Mr Davies told him that both as First Minister and as Labour's most senior elected politician he had a responsibility to ensure support for Britain's armed forces once they were sent into combat.
First Minister Carwyn Jones has told AMs that the Welsh Government will get almost no more money as a result of the UK Government's announcement of extra funding for the English NHS. Increases in England lead to matching percentage increases for Wales under the Barnett Formula but Mr Jones said they'd be cancelled out by cuts in other parts of the English health budget. The First Minister dismissed as naïve a call from the Conservative leader for any extra money to be given to the Welsh NHS.
Today the Chancellor has announced £3.8 billion worth of extra money for the English NHS in the next financial year. There will be a Barnett consequential for that uplift. Will you commit to ringfencing that money in the next budget round so that it is put into the Welsh NHS?
Is he saying to us today that there will be a full consequential to Wales as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review? Because our understanding is entirely different. What was being trailed on the radio this morning is that there will be cuts in public health and medical education and that money will be transferred to the NHS budget. There will be no consequential if that happens. So if he thinks there will be a consequential in those circumstances, I'm afraid his naïvety overtakes his perception.
The First Minister has admitted that the Welsh Government 'got it wrong' when it decided to stop publishing decision reports by cabinet ministers.
The reports had been posted on the Welsh Government website but were discontinued because ministers said very few people read them.
But after an outcry, Carwyn Jones has taken to twitter to announce they'll be reinstated.
Transparency & effective scrutiny of Government decisions is crucial ... 1/2
I've listened to views on Decision Reports - we got it wrong - and I will be reintroducing them 2/2
First Minister Carwyn Jones has condemned the draft Wales Bill, claiming that it would create an English veto on Welsh laws. He said proposed new restrictions on the National Assembly’s ability to legislate would make the devolution settlement more complex and less powerful. Mr Jones made it clear that he would ask the Assembly to refuse legislative consent for the bill as drafted to go ahead.
The Bill contains extensive new requirements for Whitehall to consent to Assembly bills, something which would be both inappropriate in principle, and bureaucratic in practice. They amount to nothing less than an English veto on Welsh laws. In pursuing its legislation, the Assembly would be subject to a new test of necessity which would introduce new areas of legal doubt and uncertainty. If these provisions had been in place during this administration, lawyers advise that less than one third of our Bills could have been passed without the prior approval of the UK Government. What kind of devolution would that be? The draft Bill, which reverses the two unanimous decisions of the Supreme Court in the Byelaws and Agricultural Wages Board cases, proposes a type of reserved powers model which, if implemented, would be a major step backwards for devolution in Wales. Without major improvement, the Bill is a recipe for ever more referrals to the Supreme Court and ever more inter-governmental disputes. That cannot be in the interests of the National Assembly, the Welsh Government or, indeed, the UK Government. The Bill as drafted will not provide the coherent and durable devolution settlement that the people of Wales deserve.
The First Minister has paid tribute to the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Denis Healey, who's died at the age of 98. Carwyn Jones said:
I am very sorry to hear about the passing of Denis Healey - a true great of the Labour movement. He continues to inspire and inform our politics today.