David Cameron and Nick Clegg have unveiled proposals for a range of new powers for the Welsh Government and National Assembly.Read the full story ›
Welsh Labour has criticised the proposals for further devolution expected to be announced by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister later. A spokesperson says:
Any progress on putting the Welsh devolution settlement on a firmer footing in terms of powers and funding should be welcomed.
However, this process has shown one thing above all others - that Wales remains an afterthought for the Tories.
There’s no parity with Scotland in the offer being mooted and people will rightly ask why that is.
They’ve slashed £1.5bn from our budget and they have waited until the last days of this parliament to start talking about fair funding for Wales.
The Labour offer in the General Election is clear – an ambitious devolution package, fair funding and a commitment to tackle the cost of living crisis.
Plaid Cymru sources are privately expecting to be disappointed by today's devolution announcement by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. The party has engaged with the talks led by Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb and is hopeful for some of its aims to be realised in the St. David's Day agreement.
Ahead of the announcement, Party leader Leanne Wood said,
Plaid Cymru entered talks with the Westminster parties in a spirit of cooperation and we stated clearly what the next steps for Wales should be. We look forward to reading the command paper upon its publication.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is expected to tell his party's Welsh conference that today's devolution deal is 'another step towards Home Rule for Wales.'
And he's expected to say that the moves 'would not have happened without the Liberal Democrats.'
He'll tell party members that Liberal Democrats in government 'have delivered greater devolution to Wales than anyone could have expected in 2010.'
Mr Clegg is expected to say
Today we have taken another step towards Home Rule for Wales with the new powers in the St David's Day Agreement.
This means a plan for fair funding for Wales and a new constitutional settlement, moving to a reserved powers model and handing over more control of important areas like renewable energy.
Make no mistake, this would not have happened without the Liberal Democrats. Giving away power does not come naturally to the Conservatives. Silk would not be being implemented at all without Liberal Democrat Ministers sitting at the cabinet table, making the case over and over again for devolving power to Wales.
But we will not rest here. The genie is out of the bottle.
We want proper Home Rule for Wales.
We will be the guarantors that fair funding will be delivered.
And we will continue to campaign to give Wales more control over its own affairs in areas like policing and transport.
The Liberal Democrats are fighting Wales' corner in Westminster, just as you are fighting for your communities day in and day out.
The Prime Minister says that today's expected announcement of further powers for the Assembly and Welsh Government is part of the Conservative party's 'ambitious, long-term plan for Wales.'
David Cameron said:
This is a further important landmark in Welsh Devolution, which will allow the next Parliament to legislate for a stronger, fairer settlement for the people of Wales.
Conservatives have an ambitious, long-term plan for Wales and we want the Welsh Government to use these new powers as tools to help grow the Welsh economy from the inside up.
By securing fair funding for Wales, we have removed the final barrier to the Welsh Government holding a referendum on income tax.
As Conservatives, we believe that politicians should be responsible for raising some of the money they spend, and it is now time that the Welsh Government gives the people of Wales the chance to decide on this matter.
Right across the UK it is the Conservatives who are delivering on devolution.
In Scotland, Northern Ireland, the regions and cities of England, on English votes for English laws and on devolution for Wales, we are giving people more say over the decisions that affect them.
Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb says today's announcement of further powers for the Assembly and Welsh Government is 'landmark moment.' He says it marks the culmination of months of cross-party talks.
First Minister Carwyn Jones has responded to proposals for a major transfer of additional powers to Scotland by saying that Wales should be offered the same. But he added that the Welsh Government would then choose what to accept and that he continues to have concerns about income tax powers.
Whatever has been offered to Scotland today must be also offered to Wales, so we can better determine our own preferences for the future. However, we have consistently said that before any consideration can be given to income tax we must see fair funding delivered. It would completely irresponsible to lock in underfunding.
We would certainly expect to be offered full control over our electoral arrangements and Air Passenger Duty, in common with Scotland. It would unfairly discriminate against Wales if these were not on the table, and I would expect the UK Government to make this clear in the coming days.
A promise was made to the people of Scotland, and that is being delivered. However, I have long said we cannot continue with this piecemeal approach to devolution and changing the UK. We need a proper conversation that treats all four nations as equals, and which develops a long-term view on what the new UK should look like. This stuttering, ever-changing series of offers is confusing to people, and ultimately extremely damaging to the prospects of the union staying together in the long-term.
Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith says the Smith Commission blueprint for giving new powers to the Scottish Parliament should not simply be translated into a plan for Wales.
The Labour MP says that the people of Wales should 'decide for themselves' what powers should be transferred in any future devolution. And he's repeated his warning that income tax devolution poses 'far more risks than benefits for Wales.'
This is his full statement:
The conclusions of the Smith Commission clearly have significant implications for Wales and we will need to consider them with great care. However, Wales is not Scotland. Our culture and history, our legal system, our economy and society are all more integrated with England than those of Scotland. The Welsh people will want to decide for themselves what additional powers we might want to exercise through our National Assembly, rather than simply following behind Scotland.
My view remains unchanged that those additional powers, and wider changes to the framework of devolution across the whole of the UK should be decided in a Constitutional Convention. However, at that Convention, the powers on offer to Wales will now need to reflect those that are being offered to Scotland, including on Income Tax.
At present, it seems clear to me that the devolution of income tax includes far more risks than benefits for Wales, especially given the Tory Party’s apparent willingness to break up Britain for party political gain. Nevertheless, that decision should ultimately fall to the Welsh people.
I welcome today’s Smith Commission report which I believe is another giant step towards the long held Liberal Democrat vision of a Federal United Kingdom and Home Rule.
While Scotland’s future devolution settlement is clear, the same can not be said for Wales – that needs to change as Wales must not be left behind.
First and foremost, Wales must speak with one voice if we are to be heard. All parties had representatives on the Silk Commission, therefore all parties should at the very least subscribe to the main thrust of the Commission’s proposals. So far, only the Liberal Democrats have done so in Westminster.
The Smith Commission’s report is wide-ranging and many of the proposals would also be appropriate for Wales. Momentum for devolution is moving faster now than it has for years. We must take this opportunity to ensure Wales gets the powers it needs to help build a stronger economy and fairer society.