Silk Commission: Call for UK government response

Senedd debating chamber The Silk Commission has looked at the scope of the assembly's powers

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A member of a commission which recommends more fiscal powers for the Welsh assembly has called for the UK government to respond to the proposals.

The Silk Commission is examining the future of devolution in Wales and has recommended some tax-varying powers.

Plaid Cymru economic adviser Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym said he hoped the proposals would be implemented "pretty rapidly".

Welsh Secretary David Jones said the UK government would "take as much time as necessary".

Start Quote

If they're devolved to Scotland, why not to Wales?”

End Quote Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym Silk Commission member on its tax power recommendations

The UK government set up the commission to examine the future of the Welsh assembly's powers.

Chaired by former assembly clerk Paul Silk, it includes eight unpaid members including representatives from the four main political parties.

The inquiry was split into two parts.

Part one of the inquiry looked at fiscal powers, and a report published in November 2012 made 33 recommendations, including some tax-varying powers.

The second, ongoing part of the inquiry's work, has taken evidence on whether there should be other changes to the devolution settlement.

It has looked at what policy areas should be controlled by the devolved administration and what should remain under the UK government in Westminster.

The commission's full report is due to be published in spring 2014.

Dr Gwilym, the Plaid Cymru representative, told BBC Radio Wales the commission had "no idea" why the UK government had not responded.

He added: "We put forward those recommendations about eight months ago.

"The UK government said they would respond by the end of the spring.

"The end of the spring I think is technically 21 June. We haven't heard yet and of course in a couple of weeks' time Parliament recesses for the summer.

"So we're very hopeful that the government will respond before Parliament goes down for the summer break."

He said the commission backed the proposals unanimously and "we'd like to see those being implemented pretty rapidly".

He said there was speculation the proposals were being considered alongside devolution considerations in England but warned tackling everything in one go could be "complex".

Dr Gwilym said the commission's 33 recommendations for Wales were "relatively straight forward" and all but one of the tax matters were already devolved to Scotland, adding: "If they're devolved to Scotland, why not to Wales?"

'Implications for UK'

He added that commission members were due to meet Welsh Secretary David Jones MP on Thursday.

In response to Dr Gwilym's comments, Mr Jones said: "The Silk Commission made 33 detailed recommendations that would fundamentally alter the Welsh devolution settlement in terms of financial powers.

"They have implications for the whole of the UK, not just for Wales, and it is right that we take as much time as necessary to consider fully the implications.

"We will respond as soon as possible."

David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth, said he suspected the UK government would "link their response to their response to what goes on in England as well".

He said he was "certainly unhappy" with some of the Silk Commission's recommendations and he would be "very interested to see what the response of the government is".

Earlier this week, deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told MPs that supporters of more devolution would be "pleasantly surprised" by the UK government's "forthcoming and forward-leaning approach".

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