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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2003, 16:02 GMT
One bill for Wales
Picture of the Queen in Rhondda
The Queen visits Wales earlier this year - but only one bill granted in her speech
The government has granted just one Wales-specific bill out of the several requested by the Assembly.

Announcing the government's new legislative programme at the state opening of Parliament, the Queen said a bill will be introduced to create a single public audit body for Wales.

The Audit (Wales) Bill will create the new Wales Audit Office, headed by the Auditor General for Wales.

The new body aims to provide a check on the finances of all public bodies in Wales. It would embrace local government and NHS bodies as well as the National Assembly and its sponsored bodies.

Wish-list

Earlier in the year, the Assembly Government put together a wish-list of legislation they want to see Westminster introduce for them.

Under the current devolution settlement, any new laws must come from Parliament. The Assembly does not have enough powers to introduce such new measures themselves.

On their request lists was a Public Services Ombudsman Bill, a Tourism Accommodation Bill and a Transport (Wales) Bill.

Individual assembly members also requested legislation, such as a ban on smoking in public places.

'Disappointing'

Tony Blair and the Welsh Secretary Peter Hain have come under criticism from opponents over the announcements.

Plaid Cymru says speech demonstrates a "further lurch to the right" by Tony Blair.

Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary Leader, said this was, "a right-wing government who, above anything else, are proud to be seen to be tough on the underprivileged.''
Tony Blair and Peter Hain have proven that the needs of the Welsh people are far below that of middle England
Elfyn Llwyd MP, Plaid Cymru

''Today's Queen's Speech was very disappointing. It will not solve any of the issues which face our workers, pensioners, farmers or our students on a daily basis,'' he said.

Mr Llwyd, the MP for Meirionydd Nant Conwy, attacked the Government for not listening to people's concerns, adding, ''Tony Blair and Peter Hain have proven that the needs of the Welsh people are far below that of middle England.''

But speaking last week, Peter Hain said that other UK-wide laws would have a significant impact on Wales.

One such measure was the Education Bill where the Assembly will be given powers over whether to impose university top-up fees.

The Welsh Conservatives welcomed this move but criticised the Government for not containing anything to solve Wales' problems with crime, transport and NHS waiting lists.

More powers?

This annual ritual of waiting to see if their wish-list becomes a reality centres on the relationship between Wales and Westminster.

Next year Assembly members will read the results of an independent inquiry into the future devolved settlement.

The Richard Commission was set up last year in an attempt to find out whether the current agreement is working for Wales.

The Commission, headed by former Labour Minister Lord Richard, has been looking into whether the Assembly would benefit from Scottish Parliament-style powers, or London Mayoral-style powers.

The report is expected to be published in January.

Catch highlights from the week in the Assembly every Saturday from 1500 GMT on BBC Parliament



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