Wales Bill: real or synthetic concerns

It may come as a surprise for many to learn that Labour and Plaid Cymru AMs would consider rejecting new powers from Westminster when they spend so much time calling for them to be devolved.

Likewise, it seems unlikely that Carwyn Jones, who has spent so much of his time as First Minister talking about the constitution, will stand in front of Labour AMs on Monday night and tell them to turn down what's on offer in the Wales Bill on Tuesday.

But Mark Drakeford's admission that it is not a foregone conclusion suggests there are serious misgivings within party ranks.

UK Government ministers are calling it "synthetic anger" but there has been a relentless series of critical reports into the attempt to simplify the devolution settlement with the introduction of the reserved powers model.

At its peak, the criticism, strongly denied by the UK Government ministers, is that it will lead to a rowing back of devolved powers.


That said, Mr Drakeford will presumably be arguing hard for the bill to be accepted as he spent so much time putting together the financial arrangements that underpin much of the bill.

In December, he championed the fiscal framework which provides financial safeguards for the assembly when tax powers are devolved as well as greater borrowing powers.

We now know it would all have to be renegotiated if the bill is rejected.

One senior Labour AM told me he was torn between his concerns over the reshaping of the devolution settlement and the knowledge that if this piece of legislation collapsed it could be years before another opportunity comes along for the assembly to take on more powers.

A Welsh Government source went one further by telling me it could be a decade before another chance presents itself.

Interestingly, UKIP has become the only party to say it definitely will be voting against the bill as it believes the devolution of income tax without the need for a referendum is a breach of faith with the Welsh people.

A big complex piece of legislation was never going to keep everyone happy and the Wales Bill has certainly delivered on that front.

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