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Press Release: Welsh Devolution: Silk Report Part 2 Welcomed as “Clear Consensus Which Catches Up With Reality”

4 March 2014

The latest Silk proposals are an attempt to make sure that the division of powers between Welsh and UK institution catches up with reality. They represent a clear consensus across the Welsh political parties about what should happen next.

The carefully considered and cautious recommendations have eschewed a number of more radical calls – for the establishment of a separate Welsh legal jurisdiction, and for the devolution of all aspects of the civil or criminal courts, and the civil or criminal law, or of welfare.

The key recommendations are:

  • Devolution of policing to the National Assembly
  • Devolution of responsibility for youth justice, but not the courts or the legal system generally
  • Devolution of planning powers to approve energy projects of up to 350 megawatts, of powers relating to sewerage and the regulation of some aspects of water supply within Wales, and for there to be a Welsh Crown Estate Commissioner.
  • Some further devolution of powers in relation to rail franchising, bus and taxi regulation, and speed limits and drink-driving
  • Appointment of a Welsh member of the BBC Trust (something already in place for Scotland), and control for the Assembly over public funding for S4C
  • An increase in the size of the National Assembly, noting many calls for 80 members but leaving the issue for further consideration.
  • An enhanced approach to the conduct of intergovernmental relations and the machinery for that. The Secretary of State for Wales would also lose his seat in the National Assembly, his right to receive its papers and obligation to present the UK Government’s legislative programme each Parliamentary session.
  • Perhaps most importantly, a move to a ‘reserved powers’ model for the National Assembly’s legislative powers, away from the current ‘conferred powers’ one, along with a removal of the current and problematic protection of pre-devolution powers of UK ministers.

The UK Government should not cherry-pick these proposals, nor should it wait a year to decide what to do, although that is what the Secretary of State seems to intend.

For further information please contact Alan Trench, honorary senior research fellow with the Unit and professor of politics in the University of Ulster. For full analyses see his blog Devolution Matters http://devolutionmatters.wordpress.com/ Contact Alan Trench at devolutionmatters@gmail.com

Notes for Editors

  • The Constitution Unit is an independent and non-partisan research centre based in the Department of Political Science at University College London.

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