New Welsh powers to be outlined within months - Clegg

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Media captionWelsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams: 'Wales needs a proper parliament'

Nick Clegg has spent 45 minutes afternoon answering questions from delegates.

Dressed as a Johnny Cash lookalike in a black open-neck shirt - at least his third outfit of the day - the deputy prime minister has been making the most of the platform offered by the party conference.

He faced questions on drugs policy, foreign affairs and, yes, devolution. He told delegates: "When we deliver what is in effect home rule here for Scotland, within the United Kingdom, I think we should aspire to deliver home rule to Wales as well. We've done a great deal already.

"I'm very keen that [Wales Office Minister Baroness] Jenny [Randerson], and I know Jenny is doing this already, should work within government, so that on the same timetable as the government publishes draft articles - draft legislative articles - on the devolution of powers to Scotland around the beginning of next year - I hope - Jenny's looking rather alarmed by this - but I hope we can seek to do the same for Wales."

You might not call that a "vow" or even a "pledge" but if he is speaking on behalf of the coalition it will be interesting to see what emerges "around the beginning of next year".

But what, I hear you cry, about the Barnett formula that decides changes in the Welsh government's budget?

Clegg added: "There's a very important financial component to all of this, which is for reasons that I think most people will appreciate. Everybody believes the Barnett formula is flawed, but nobody actually seems to come to an agreement as to what is better to improve it. So I think people have rightly said that the Barnett formula should remain in place, but that does leave a big problem, bluntly, for Wales, because I don't think Wales is fairly served by the funding formula at the moment.

"That's why we have agreed as a party that we'll find a separate financial solution for Wales - even as Barnett continues to be the formula by which finances are distributed elsewhere in the United Kingdom - to address those very particular concerns for Wales. I think we're part of a really exciting journey across the United Kingdom now of further devolution powers everywhere - but most especially and certainly including Wales."

The Lib Dems did enter the last general election campaign promising to rip up the Barnett formula and replace it with a needs-based version. Now the Barnett formula has been given a stay of execution, the Liberal Democrats are likely to enter the election with a manifesto commitment to "seek over a parliament to increase the Welsh block grant to an equitable level".

Given past Lib Dem manifesto commitments, the key word there is probably "seek" as this commitment stops some way short of a guarantee to make up the shortfall.