Devolution finally delivers full Welsh control of water

The drowning of Tryweryn symbolised Wales' lack of control over its own affairs

How home rule for Wales was brought about is still an argument that the politicians are not yet quite ready to leave to the historians but popular outrage at the drowning of the Tryweryn valley is often seen as the starting point.

The destruction of the village of Capel Celyn, near Bala, to make way for a reservoir to supply Liverpool, was carried out despite near-unanimous political and public opposition in Wales in the late 1950s and early 1960s. But the village was drowned anyway.

Despite the symbolic importance of reservoirs supplying England, the 1996 Wales Act, which set up the Welsh Assembly, gave the the UK government the right to intervene to protect water supplies to England. Subsequent legislation has preserved that power but the Welsh Secretary, Alun Cairns, says the time has come to end it.

Water has been a challenging issue as anyone familiar with recent Welsh history knows. I'm pleased we are now about to reach a definitive agreement that resolves past differences and provides clarity for the future.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns MP

The Secretary of State says he'll amend the Wales Bill, which is currently in the House of Lords, to remove what he calls the UK Government's "historic right" to intervene on water-related issues.

The Wales Bill has been heavily criticised, notably by the House of Lords Constitutional Affairs Committee, for not delivering a more clear-cut devolution of powers, with matters devolved to Cardiff Bay beyond the reach of UK ministers. Alun Cairns is pointing to today's announcement as one example of where he has done just that.