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.
Next May's Welsh election will be 'the toughest [Labour] has ever faced' according to the First Minister Carwyn Jones.
The Welsh Labour leader was speaking to the party's UK Conference, the first under new leader Jeremy Corbyn.
He told delegates in Brighton that Labour will face challenges from all sides in the 2016 Assembly election, but he assured them that the party can be proud of its 'secret weapon: a record of delivery.'
I have no doubt whatsoever that the next Welsh General Election will be the toughest we have ever faced.
We slipped back in Wales in May, when we were fighting to win.
Next year the Tories will, of course, out-spend us and will use their Westminster megaphone to once again trash the record of the Welsh NHS.
And there’s danger on the fringes too – the frantic nationalism of UKIP and fantastical nationalism of Plaid Cymru will be competing hard for the votes of the disaffected.
It will be tough.
But, as Welsh Labour, we have a secret weapon. A record of delivery.
Every promise we made, we’ve delivered.
First Minister Carwyn Jones has arrived in Patagonia for the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the first landing by Welsh settlers in Argentina. He's met the Governor of Chubut Province, Martin Buzzi, and tonight they will attend a performance of music and dance in Puerto Madryn, founded by the Welsh as Porth Madryn on 28 July 1865.
Governor Buzzi earlier told the local newspaper El Diario de Madryn that the celebration of the Welsh pioneers evoked the issue of the Malvinas (Falklands) because it showed that the Argentine State respected the culture, religion and especially the language of immigrants.
The Welsh settlement in our lands belies the idea held by some islanders that under the Argentine flag they would not be respected.
The President of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, who has previously compared the Welsh settlers with the Falkland Islanders, was also due to attend tonight's festivities. But she's cancelled all her engagements because she has laryngitis.