Let Assembly make laws, says
By Tom Bodden (Daily Post)
WELSH Environment Minister Carwyn Jones is to
call for more law-making powers for the Assembly.
The youngest member of Rhodri Morgan's cabinet
also wants the number of AMs increased from 60 to 80, with a new
voting system to return two members from each constituency.
And a review should take place of the "quango
state" in Wales in which each public body is examined over its
future existence, he said.
Mr Jones will make the case next week in a
public lecture and paper for the Institute of Welsh Affairs.
He is the first member of the Assembly
government to declare support for such changes, ahead of the
publication of the Richard Commission report on the future powers of
the Assembly in March.
The Bridgend AM said yesterday he expected some
hostile reaction within Labour to his stand but said it was time to
make the case.
"I am in favour of primary lawmaking
powers over devolved responsibilities," he said.
"Tax-raising powers are potentially a good
idea but not something that's feasible for the foreseeable
future," said Mr Jones.
The Minister wants the present proportional
representation method of election to the Assembly, which returns 40
constituency AMs and 20 from regional party lists, scrapped.
Instead he favours dual-member constituencies,
where voters would directly elect two AMs.
"Does it really make sense that of the
eight legislatures in the United Kingdom and Crown dependencies, the
only one without primary law-making powers is the Welsh Assembly?
"The question is not so much why the
Assembly should have primary powers, as why it shouldn't."
Wales had to submit a wish list of six or seven
Bills to Westminster each year in the hope of gaining a place in the
Queen's Speech, averaging about one Bill per year, he said.
"Why do we need to do that? Scotland
doesn't, England doesn't, Northern Ireland doesn't," he added.
"Primary powers for dealing with the Welsh
language rest at Westminster and that doesn't make sense.
"We have voted in the Assembly to ban
smoking in public places and with primary powers we could take that
Plaid Cymru had abandoned its aim of a full
parliament in favour of independence for Wales, Mr Jones said.
He described his paper as an attempt to
contribute to a debate that will take place over the next year.
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain dismissed the
Scottish model of a parliament for Wales, and insisted the number of
Welsh MPs at Westminster should not be reduced in a new devolution
Clwyd West Labour MP Gareth Thomas attacked any
attempt to "bounce" politicians or voters into a new