"Empowerment and responsibility"

  • 19 November 2012
  • From the section Wales
  • comments

Parts of the Silk Commission report, says the eponymous Paul Silk, "might at first blush look a little dry".

Don't worry Mr Silk - most of it looks anything but.

The two hundred page report is about new powers that the commission is confident are in the best interest of Wales and the UK. It is about a practical, balanced attempt to make the Welsh government both more empowered and more accountable. Ask those who campaigned for a no vote in the referendum in 2011 and they'll say it's about another visit to that slippery slope towards making Wales more insular, worse off.

It is "a package" - a word we heard many times at this morning's briefings - that includes sharing responsibility for raising income tax but also ensuring Wales is funded fairly.

What does 'fair' mean, we asked? Cue a debate that will last for some years to come. One brave member of Mr Silk's commission had a bash at it: devolving tax raising powers, he said "has to sit within a bed of territorial equity". Ponder that one.

One thing the report was not, according to the Labour nominee Sue Essex: difficult to agree on. On a scale of one to ten I asked, how tough was it getting unanimous support for its thirty plus recommendations. "One" came the response, "with one being easy and ten tough". There was a willingness from the very beginning to find common ground.

And now? Now it's over to the UK government, the Welsh government, the UK parliament and the National Assembly to dig into that common ground and tell us what they find.