Referendums BBC Wales Scotland Devolution

Dissent within the Welsh Labour party

Devolution for Wales was one of the promises in Labour's election manifesto in the run-up to the last general election. Once in government the party wasted no time in introducing a White Paper on Welsh devolution.

Betty Bowen and Carys Pugh having a go at Labour unity
The government may be determined to establish a Welsh Assembly but up to a third of the 32 Welsh Labour MPs are reported to have doubts about devolution.

There is also dissent amongst grass roots Labour members. Two members in the Rhondda Valley, Betty Bowen and Carys Pugh, have been running a petition against the Assembly and are founders of the anti-devolution 'Just say No' campaign.

The Critics of Devolution

Llew Smith fears the end of the UK could be nigh
Llew Smith
Llew Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, is a longstanding opponent of devolution. In February 1995 he published a document in which he said an assembly had no place in Wales and would ultimately lead to the break up of the UK. He has called the devolution process 'a nonsense'.

Since the Labour government has come to power, Llew Smith has also accused the Welsh Secretary Ron Davies and his Special Adviser, Huw Roberts, of threatening to expel him from the Parliamentary Labour Party over devolution. Mr Smith told the BBC that Ron Davies had warned him he would be thrown out of the Parliamentary Labour Party should he campaign against a Welsh Assembly.

Mr Smith's Blaenau Gwent Constituency Labour Party responded to the reports saying they 'deplore the threats of disciplinary action against Llew Smith'. They called for an open debate on devolution.

Allan Rogers
Allan Rogers, MP for Rhondda, has said that he is in favour of a referendum and for devolution but is not convinced that a Welsh Assembly would be the right way forward. He believes that the government will lose the referendum campaign and is also unenthusiastic about the issue of proportional representation. Mr Rogers campaigned together with former Labour leader and Welsh MP Neil Kinnock for a 'No' vote in 1979.

Paul Murphy
The Minister of State for Northern Ireland and MP for Torfaen, was the treasurer to the 1979 'No' campaign in Wales.

Kim Howells
The Minister of State at the Department of Education and Employment is the MP for Pontypridd, and understood to be anti-devolution as well. He was recently quoted as saying that he was against the 'Balkanisation of Britain'.

The Devolution Fans Who Are Critical of the Details

Denzil Davies
The MP for Llanelli has spoken out against proportional representation. Furthermore he told the Western Mail that having 'powers to reform the quangos is not the same as the Devolution Bill reforming the quangos'.

Ted Rowlands
The MP for Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney is in favour of devolution, but unenthusiastic about proportional representation which he thinks institutionalises factions. Mr Rowlands has called for the early introduction of controls on quangos and is 'concerned that we appear to be fudging the issue when we say that a Welsh Assembly may at some future date deal with the quango state'.

Alan Williams
Mr Williams is another Labour MP who wants devolution but is critical of details of the Government's proposals. The MP for Carmarthen East is not in favour of a system of proportional representation for electing the Welsh Assembly, and he has doubts about holding a referendum in the first place, saying that there 'is a danger that each referendum could be a David and Goliath contest, with the full panoply of governmental powers, resources and the information machine on one side ranged against the relatively unsupported representations on the other'.

Sir Ray Powell
Sir Ray represents Ogmore in the House of Commons and has promised that he will campaign for devolution but vote against an assembly with proportional representation.

There is a large group of Welsh MPs that has argued that the proposals do not go far enough; Ann Clywd, Paul Flynn John Marek and Gareth Thomas are among those who call for an assembly with powers similar to those proposed for Scotland.

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