This week's programme brings you details and reaction to the Silk Commission report on further devolution to Wales.
There have been hints that a decision on tax and borrowing powers for Wales was close, but don't hold your breath.
The Silk Commission recommends that the Welsh Government should be able to vary income tax rates here in Wales.
The UK Government says it'll now consider the recommendations of the Silk Commission. Welsh Secretary David Jones says any major changes which need new legislation will have to wait until after the next UK General Election.
This Government has consistently reaffirmed its clear commitment to devolution, and we warmly welcome the Commission’s second report which sets out its recommendations for making devolution in Wales work better.
The report raises crucially important questions about the future governance of Wales within the United Kingdom. Therefore, it is only right that we now take the time to consider in full each of the recommendations and their implications.
– David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales
We will consider implementing some of the changes the Commission has recommended during this Parliament. But there is insufficient time remaining in this Parliament to implement any changes that require primary legislation.
These will therefore be a matter for the next Government and Parliament, and for political parties to set out their proposals and intentions to the electorate ahead of the General Election in 2015.
Plaid Cymru says it can only give a cautious welcome to the Silk Commission's report, claiming that it "falls short" of signalling real progress on actually securing more meaningful powers for Wales.
Having made great strides on the devolution journey in recent decades, it feels as if Wales is now sadly being dragged along at an agonisingly slow pace of progress. Plaid Cymru believes that all decisions affecting the people of Wales should be made in Wales. That is why the issues dealt with in this new report - justice, policing, energy and more - form the vital building blocks of a stronger, more prosperous nation.
While we welcome the fact that the Commission has accepted our view that policing should be devolved, it is frustrating to see little progress being made on creating a Welsh legal jurisdiction. Limiting the Assembly's powers over planning consent for energy developments to projects generating 350 mw or less is also a concern. With control over the Crown Estates also being denied, Wales is in the position of having a wealth of natural resources but limited power to utilise them to benefit our people. No energy-rich nation should have thousands of households living in fuel poverty as we do.
– Plaid Cymru Parliamentary Leader Elfyn Llwyd MP
As far as broadcasting is concerned, we welcome the proposal to devolve the funding and responsibility for S4C, but believe that the Commission has ignored the opportunities for Wales that would arise if broadcasting was fully devolved to the Assembly. This report clearly shows that our current devolution settlement is confused, complex and unsatisfactory.
The First Minister, Carwyn Jones has welcomed the Silk Commission’s second report into the future of Welsh devolution.
The report sets out all the powers it thinks should be transferred from Westminster to Cardiff Bay over the next 10 years, including speed limits, youth justice and teachers pay.
He said: "I’m delighted that the Welsh Government’s clear vision for a long term constitutional settlement for Wales within a devolved United Kingdom has formed the basis of the Commission’s recommendations to the UK Government.
"Achieving such a settlement could only strengthen the Union and Wales’s place within it.
"I’m therefore delighted the Commission agrees with us that powers over large scale energy consents and policing should be devolved to Wales."
Paul Silk, who's led the Commission on Devolution in Wales, has formally handed over his second report to the Welsh Secretary David Jones. It brings to an end the Commission's work after two and a half years of looking at the devolution settlement.
The Prime MInister has welcomed the publication of the Silk Commission's second report. David Cameron said:
– David Cameron
I am proud of this Government's record in delivering for Wales and bringing further devolution. The tax and borrowing powers we are devolving will give the Welsh Assembly and Welsh Government additional means to help generate economic growth and today's report makes recommendations that propose a new course for the future.
I know that the Secretary of State for Wales, and colleagues from across Government, will give careful thought to each of the recommendations made.
The Commission on Welsh devolution has published its final proposals. It sets out all the powers it thinks should be transferred from Westminster to Cardiff Bay over the next 10 years. It says some responsibilities should be transferred straightaway, notably youth justice.
The Commission, chaired by former Assembly chief official Paul Silk, calls for legislation giving Wales all powers not specifically reserved to Westminster. This 'reserved powers' model is already used in Scotland, while Wales currently has 'conferred powers'. The powers Wales would gain include:
- Most aspects of policing
- Youth justice, followed by a feasibility study of prisons and probation
- Any other parts of the justice system recommended in a review held by 2025
- Energy generation up to 350MW, a major increase on the present 50MW
- Water, including all supplies to England
- Ports, rail, bus and taxi regulation
- Speed and drink-drive limits
- Teachers' pay
- Any funding out of taxes for S4C, now mostly paid for from the television licence fee
The Commission calls for the Assembly to be expanded to effectively scrutinise a more powerful Welsh Government. It also wants a new system to resolve disagreements between Westminster and Cardiff Bay without involving the Supreme Court. These recommendations include:
- A bigger Assembly, with more backbenchers to scrutinise ministers
- An increase in the size of the Assembly's research staff
- An intergovernmental committee of Welsh and UK ministers
Our Terms of Reference tasked us with coming up with recommendations that would enable the United Kingdom Parliament and National Assembly for Wales to better serve the people of Wales. We have consulted widely throughout our work and considered all the evidence presented to us. We are grateful to everyone who engaged with us throughout our work – the views we heard have been invaluable in helping us produce this evidence-based report which we believe will command a wide degree of support.
– Commission Chair Paul Silk
At a time when constitutional issues are high on the agenda in the United Kingdom, we have agreed recommendations that will provide a stable and well-founded devolution settlement fit for the future. It will give Wales a lasting settlement that allow political decisions to be made in a democratic and accountable manner. Through a phased ten-year programme of reform, it will create a stronger Welsh democracy and bring Wales more in line with the other devolved countries of the UK. We are therefore delighted to present our unanimously agreed report to the UK Government for implementation.
The Silk Commission, set up to consider the scope for further devolution to Wales, is due to publish its second report. After recommending tax and borrowing powers for Cardiff Bay, it's moved on to look at whether the Welsh Government and Assembly should take on additional responsibilities.
A lot of the Commission's work has been to do with whether the devolution boundary is in the right place. The schools system is devolved but not teachers pay. The Welsh Government is responsible for roads and for public health and safety but it doesn't control speed and drink drive limits.
One of the biggest questions is whether Welsh ministers should control the police. If policing is devolved, the Commission will have to decide if the justice system should be as well. The Commission has also heard calls for powers to return to Westminster, notably over the Welsh health service.
I understand that some MPs in the government parties are considering the possibility of pushing through plans to transfer tax-varying powers to Wales without a referendum because of what they see as Labour 'intransigence' on the issue. The current plans require a referendum before any such move.
If you want to catch up on the row, and see why Labour thinks the proposal is a politically-motivated 'trap,' click here, here and here. The other parties believe Labour is angry that devolution has been taking out of its hands for the first time.
One Conservative source said that 'intransigence' raises 'serious questions about the way in which fiscal responsibility can be imposed on the Welsh Government' and used the word 'imposed' deliberately. It's controversial even to suggest and is a sign of exasperation on the government benches.
Labour has been accused of 'torpedoing' plans to give the Welsh Government new financial powers. But in return Labour says those plans are politically-motivated and risk undermining Wales' place in the United Kingdom.
The accusations were made in the House of Commons during a special meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee to debate the draft Wales Bill. This is the legislation which would transfer control over some taxes including income tax (following a referendum) as recommended by the Silk Commission.
Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith described the proposals as a 'trap' and a means of cutting funding to Wales.
He said Labour had 'never sought to devolve income tax-varying powers and warned that such a move risks 'undermining the union' by limiting the 'ability to pool risk and share rewards between the peoples and regions and nations of Britain.'
In response, Conservative MP Glyn Davies accused his Labour opponents of 'torpedoing' the plans as recommended by the Silk Commission. He took to Twitter to underline his point.
In Welsh Grand Committee listening to Labour totally disowning Silk Commission recommendation to devolve income tax. Looks like end of Silk
Today, Labour demolished the recommendations of the Silk Commission and declared itself to be the anti-devolution party. Big policy change.
In the Commons, the Welsh Secretary has been accused of committing his party to a tax cut costing £200m. Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith seized on comments made by David Jones following the news that some control of income tax could be transferred to Wales.