Page last updated at 08:45 GMT, Saturday, 7 November 2009

Power review sought by contender

Carwyn Jones
Carwyn Jones says he would consult Welsh Labour about a referendum

Welsh Labour leadership candidate Carwyn Jones says his party should be consulted on a referendum on full law-making powers for the Welsh assembly.

It is thought this could put him on a potential collision course with Plaid Cymru - Labour's coalition partners in the Welsh Assembly Government.

Plaid see a referendum before May 2011 as a deal-breaker for the alliance.

The convention consulting on more powers for the assembly is expected to say a referendum should be held.

The final report by the All Wales Convention, set up by the coalition government in Cardiff Bay to gauge views on whether there is an appetite for more powers, is due within the next fortnight.

It is then likely that the new first minister, expected to take office on 8 December, and Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones will decide whether to go ahead with the referendum.

I will campaign for a Yes vote when the referendum is called, but we need a united Labour Party for a victory
Carwyn Jones

In the One Wales coalition document agreed by the two parties there is a clear commitment to "proceed to a successful outcome of a referendum for full law-making powers... as soon as practicable, at or before the end of the assembly term".

But Mr Jones is suggesting that before any decision is taken on whether to go ahead with a referendum, Welsh Labour as a whole should be consulted once again.

He said: "I have always been committed to further law-making powers for Wales.

"I am totally committed to what was agreed in One Wales but that should in no way preclude my responsibility, if elected leader, to consult within the wider party on the findings and recommendations of the All Wales Convention.

"But consideration of the convention's report must not be a matter solely for AMs to decide - it must involve the entire Labour movement in Wales, AMs, MPs, grassroots members and trade unions.

"I will campaign for a Yes vote when the referendum is called, but we need a united Labour Party for a victory."

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said Labour's Mr Jones has "always supported further devolution".

The spokesperson said: "Many Labour AMs are as impatient as we are in Plaid to secure further law-making powers for the assembly and they too believe that the current settlement is unsustainable.

"Plaid and Labour have formally agreed to hold a referendum at or before the end of this assembly term and we look forward to those preparations getting under way."

Fellow contenders

A spokesman for Edwina Hart, who is also standing as the next leader of Labour, said that he was delighted that Carwyn Jones had agreed with what Ms Hart had been saying at a number of hustings with party members in recent weeks.

He said she believed that once the All Wales Convention's report was public, there should be a full discussion both with Labour's coalition partners Plaid Cymru, but also the Welsh Labour Party throughout Wales.

Huw Lewis, who is also in the running for the leadership bid, said he hoped other parties would see the "common sense" in not embarking on a referendum campaign before the general election.

He said: "Welsh Labour made a democratic decision to support the aims of One Wales and I'm not going to do anything to undermine that.

"Unity of purpose is paramount to the Labour movement but it is my recollection that a decision has been made on this, involving all sections of the party and affiliates, at the time of the special conference."

A Welsh Assembly Government spokeswoman said: "We look forward to receiving the report of the All Wales Convention on November 18."

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