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Thursday, July 1, 1999 Published at 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK

UK Politics

Wales and Whitehall could clash

The new administration in Wales could clash with Whitehall

A political row is brewing over delays in publishing the ground rules for the relationships between the National Assembly and Whitehall departments.

The rules were due to be set out in agreements or concordats between the Assembly and Ministries like the Departments of Trade and Industry and the Department for Education and Employment.

These set out how decisions will be taken where power is shared between the Assembly and Whitehall - they cover things like teachers' pay and inward investment.

[ image: The Welsh Office sign comes down]
The Welsh Office sign comes down
They were due to be published before this week's transfer of powers but have been delayed by wrangling between ministers and officials.

Government sources say that the prime source of delay is John Prescott's Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, where officials are said to be reluctant to concede power to the Assembly.

The Merthyr and Rhymney Labour MP Ted Rowlands has now tabled parliamentary questions to try to speed up agreement.

Questions in Commons

The Plaid Cymru MP for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy Elfyn Llwyd is to raise the issue in the Commons later.

On Thursday, the powers of the Welsh Office were formally transferred to the National Assembly for Wales, marking the coming-of-age of the first Welsh government for 600 years.

The Welsh Office has now effectively been dissolved and its 2,000 civil servants will work for the Assembly.

The post of Secretary of State for Wales will continue, though its department will now be known as the Office for the Secretary of State for Wales.

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