Wales politics

Devolution bill proposals could change, Stephen Crabb says

Assembly chamber

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has said he expects to make big changes to proposals for the next stage of devolution before they come into law.

He suggested the current set of proposals left too many powers in Westminster.

The draft Wales Bill would give new powers to the assembly over energy, transport and its own elections.

Critics like the Welsh government have said the bill risks rolling back on the current devolution settlement.

The bill was published as a draft so it could be "improved", Mr Crabb said, and there was "bags and bags of time" to make changes before the bill goes through parliament.

"I do expect the final piece of legislation that gets Royal Assent to be significantly different from the draft, but let's see how people use this time to come forward with ideas," he told AMs.

'Hovercrafts'

The bill uses a reserved powers model which lists the powers that will be reserved to Westminster and assumes everything else is the responsibility of the assembly.

Asked about the list of reservations, he said: "I think the list of reservations is too long. I think the whole point of having a draft bill is we can have a look at that and do some work together to try to bring that down."

Giving examples of things that Westminster would reserve responsibility for, he said he was "surprised to see hovercrafts mentioned".

The final list of reserved matters would be "considerably shorter than the one that's in this draft text", he said.

But he said the bill was "a big step forward in terms of providing clarity" about which matters were decided in Cardiff Bay and what stayed in Westminster.

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