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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 09:52 GMT
Michael sets out devolution vision
First Secretary Alun Michael has given his devolution progress report

Assembly First Secretary Alun Michael has spelt out his vision for the National Assembly.

In a speech to the Institute of Welsh Politics in Aberystwyth, he said the Assembly had had a tough first few months, but that in time, it would mature and evolve.

However, he rejected moves towards a Scottish-style parliament.

Mr Michael had been invited to give the first annual lecture to the Institute of Welsh Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

The first secretary was reviewing the first few months of the Assembly and outlining his personal priorities into the millennium.

The speech examined politics in post-devolution Britain
The speech also examined the consequences of running a minority administration and the potential frustrations and difficulties it can bring.

"The dragon is on our doorstep - devolution is here," he said. "The National Assembly is up and running, and we have begun to take control of our own affairs here in Wales.

"I would like to restate the case for devolution, putting it in its proper historical perspective.

"Not as a staging post on the road to separatism - a compromise, a half-way house - not as a nationalist concept or a Trojan horse.

"No, as a principle in its own right - and as the right principle for democracy in Wales - for the New Wales in a New Britain."

The lecture came just hours after the Wales Labour Party voted to adopt the recommendations in an internal report on the party's poor performance in this year's elections.

Labour suffered disappointing results at the polls for the National Assembly, local councils and Europe, with an erosion of support in its traditional heartlands as Plaid Cymru made extensive gains.

The birth of the Assembly has been difficult, with a censure vote against Mr Michael's close colleague, Agriculture Secretary Christine Gwyther and rows over European funding.

The Institute of Welsh Politics aims to be the leading research centre in a field of study which is quickly expanding in the wake of devolution.

Members are currently studying a range of issues including the relationship between Wales and Europe, the position of Wales within a post-devolution Britain and the shape of the political parties in Wales.

The Institute is also involved in the detailed study of Welsh voters and their attitudes.

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See also:
20 Nov 99 |  Wales
Labour licks Assembly wounds
19 Nov 99 |  Wales
Labour explores Assembly election wounds
15 Jun 99 |  UK Politics
First secretary addresses state of nation

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