Wales politics

Welsh assembly: Parties 'cagey' over powers - Sir Emyr

The man who led an inquiry into the case for a more powerful Welsh assembly has said Labour's plans for new legislation are "not a natural fit" for the problems facing Wales.

Sir Emyr Jones Parry, chairman of an inquiry which proposed the referendum, said the main parties were "remarkably cagey" about using the new powers.

The Welsh Government said they would be used when needed.

"But we will not create legislation for the sake of it," said a spokesman.

Wales voted in favour of direct law-making powers in March.

The referendum was recommended by the All Wales Convention, chaired by Sir Emyr, a former UK ambassador to the United Nations.


Speaking at a conference in Cardiff Bay, Sir Emyr said: "Perhaps the priorities in there (the Welsh Government's plans) are not a natural fit for the problems Wales confronts.

"That's a very diplomatic way of asking whether the Welsh economy, whether the skills Wales needs, whether the educational requirements Wales has... whether we think all of those are going to be strengthened by an obligation to have cycle lanes in a joined-up network across Wales.

"I'm not sure whether they actually hit the button."

First Minister Carwyn Jones is due to set out his government's programme next week. In July he outlined the legislation Labour plans to introduce over the five-year assembly term.

It included bills on schools standards, the organ donation system and to create more cycling routes.

'Half answer'

Sir Emyr said at the time of the referendum campaign all four parties had been "remarkably cagey about what they wanted to do. I asked all four parties and I got half an answer from one of them."

He also suggested that the lack of an official No vote campaign in the run-up to the poll affected the result.

"Had there been a No campaign instead of the motley collection of people who set out the case, I'm pretty sure it would have been much closer, because there are legitimate criticisms of what's been achieved by devolution."

He cited educational standards and economic performance as examples.

The Welsh Government said it had "the most detailed legislative programme ever presented since devolution".

A spokesman said: "It sets our plans to address many of the issues that the people of Wales care deeply about - such as improving our public services, tackling under performing schools, reform our social services so that they are able to meet changing social expectations and demography, action to address homelessness, and improving food safety.

"We will also consult on plans to create an opt-out system of organ donation.

"We will use the new legislative powers that we received following the referendum in March when we need to, but we will not create legislation for the sake of it."

Next week the first minister will "set out in detail what we will deliver over the next five years to create a fairer, greener, more prosperous Wales".

The spokesman added: "It will demonstrate very clearly how legislation and other tools at our disposal will be directed to tackle the big long term challenges."

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