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Sharp End

This week's programme brings you details and reaction to the Silk Commission report on further devolution to Wales.

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Devolution can go further says First Minister

First Minister Carwyn Jones has marked the 15th anniversary of the Assembly getting its first powers by setting out the case for its role continuing to grow. He's argued that "regardless of the result" in the Scottish independence referendum the UK needs to move to a more stable settlement.

The First Minister was making the Welsh Government's formal response to the second report from the Silk Commission. It not only recommended the transfer of more functions to the Assembly but also moving to a "reserved powers" model.

That would allow the Assembly to legislate in any area not explicitly reserved to Westminster, a far cry from the position on July 1, 1999 when the Assembly was given the powers formerly exercised by the Secretary of State for Wales.

Silk puts us on the right path but I believe we need to go further, and today I am setting out the case for broader powers so we can promote our goals for health, for the environment, for the economy and transport, and for our communities, free from uncertainty and confusion about our powers.

Silk is by no means the end of the story, but adopting their recommended approach will set us in the right direction. However, the detailed provisions in the next Wales Bill will need to take into account potentially much wider changes to the UK’s devolution settlement following the Scottish referendum. We will be ready to consider whether these are right for Wales.

The Welsh devolution settlement in its current form is over cautious, over complex and out dated. The direction I have set today offers a better way forward, and we stand ready to work with the UK Government to put in place the reformed constitution Wales needs.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

Tory leader pours cold water on devolution proposals

The Welsh Conservative leader says it will be difficult to reach consensus on proposals for further devolution set out in a major report this week. Andrew RT Davies said he feared crime would go up if the Welsh Government were given control of policing.

The Opposition leader said he would 'really struggle to advocate' some of the changes recommended in the second part of the Silk Commission's report although he wasn't saying 'no' to all of its proposals.

And he repeated his commitment to the first part of the report which recommended transferring some tax and borrowing powers. That, he said, was 'the missing piece of the devolution jigsaw.'

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Plaid leader's disappointment with devolution report

Plaid Cymru's leader Leanne Wood says she's 'surprised and disappointed' that a major report into devolution didn't go further in its recommendations. She said the Silk Commission, which included a Plaid Cymru representative, had 'done a good job' in gathering evidence and expert opinion.

But she said the report missed opportunities to push devolution on towards a 'sustainable' future and described its proposals 'are not radical, all they do is bring us up to where we should be today, catching up to the same position as the other UK countries.'

Despite her party's disappointment with the report's recommendations, she said they represented a step forward and should become reality as soon as possible.

The recommendations of the Silk Commission should be implemented at the earliest possible opportunity to end constitutional confusion.

It’s now up to governments at both ends of the M4 to work quickly to deliver what has been agreed. There is no reason and no justification for delaying this process.

These powers are vital if we are to build our economy and create work, and this is Plaid Cymru’s priority.

– Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru leader

True Wales "appalled" by Silk proposals

True Wales, the group that campaigned for a "no" vote in the 2011 referendum that gave fuller law making powers to the Assembly, says it's "appalled" by the Silk Commission's recommendations.

Yes politicians and campaigners continually denied that the devolution of tax powers, criminal justice and policing, more AMs and a separate legal jurisdiction would follow a Yes vote. Indeed, we in True Wales were regularly accused of being untruthful and of misleading the people of Wales. This happened even though Yes campaigners were fully aware that the UK Government had announced a Calman style commission in the event of a Yes vote. Two years on from referendum day, we have the extraordinary spectacle of a commission recommending all of those radical changes that we predicted.

The devolution settlement is to be very quickly expanded far beyond that to which 35% of the electorate consented on Thursday 3 March 2011. Such contemptuous treatment of the people of Wales during the referendum campaign has done nothing to enhance the reputation of the Assembly and only serves to undermine the legitimacy of these future powers that will no doubt be enthusiastically embraced by politicians who claimed that the referendum was 'merely a tidying up exercise'. We do not believe that the expensive centralisation of power in Cardiff Bay can accurately be described as devolution.

We would ask that a commission to explore the devolution of power from Cardiff Bay to local authorities be established forthwith.

Given the way the people were misled and denied a proper debate on the real issues in 2011, we believe that, without a full open and honest public debate and a further referendum on the proposals in Silk Part II, these radical changes will in no way be legitimate.

– True Wales statement

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Charity welcomes new speed limit proposals

Proposed new powers to set Welsh national default speed limits in Wales have the potential to make Welsh roads safer and increase levels of walking and cycling, according to Sustrans Cymru.

The proposals were set out in the second report into the future of Welsh devolution, which sets out all the powers it thinks should be transferred from Westminster to Cardiff Bay over the next 10 years.

Some of those powers include control of youth justice and teachers' pay.

The Welsh Government does not yet have control over setting speed limits Credit: ITV News Wales

The Welsh Government does not currently have the power to set default speed limits.

National Director of Sustrans Cymru, Jane Lorimer, said, “The power to set speed limits is a key part of the jigsaw in making Welsh roads safer, as well as increasing walking and cycling.

"We welcome the Silk Commission’s recommendation and hope that it can be used to make 20mph the default speed limit in communities across Wales."

Tories' muted welcome for Silk report

Silk 2 handover
Commission Chairman Paul Silk handing his report to the Welsh Scretary Credit: Wales Office

The Welsh Conservatives have limited themselves to thanking Paul Silk and his commission for its work, without commenting on any of the recommendations.

There have been arguments over the detail of the commission's earlier proposals on tax between Welsh Secretary David Jones and the Tories' Assembly leader, Andrew RT Davies. Those disagreements have only just been smoothed over after the Prime Minister met his party's AMs and MPs.

Today, Mr Davies simply called on all political parties to study the recommendations in detail "with the aim of achieving cross party consensus on the way forward".

Follow Silk's plan say Lib Dems

The Welsh Liberal Democrats has called for the implementation of the Silk Commission's recommendations for devolving more power to Wales. They say the Commission's report is a blueprint that should be followed.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats helped ensure that the Silk Commission was established as we believe Wales must have a proper functioning parliament. Like the first report, we believe the recommendations published today set out an ideal blueprint for the future of devolution in Wales.

At every stage the Welsh Liberal Democrats have been pressing to bring more accountability and responsibility to the Welsh government. We also believe that the current devolution model is simply not fit for purpose; this has been shown by the increase in Supreme Court cases. It is time for a new model to be established that clearly defines what is devolved and what is not. Clarity is needed and we welcome that the commission has called for this to be the case.

In only a short space of time and against much resistance, Liberal Democrats in government have been the driving force in ensuring there is now real momentum behind the devolution process. We have a proud record of bringing decision-making closer to the people of Wales and we will continue to fight for that to be the case.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM
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