Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Thursday, 22 November 2007

Law-making report by end of 2009

Guto Thomas
Political Correspondent

Sir Emyr Jones Parry
Sir Emyr said he had no hesitation in accepting his new role

A report on the likelihood of getting extra full law-making powers for the Welsh assembly could be completed by the end of 2009.

Sir Emyr Jones Parry, the new chairman of the All Wales Convention, has started preliminary discussions with First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

Sir Emyr wants the widest public involvement with the convention's work.

He also warned his critics that nobody should ever question his Welsh roots or his commitment to Wales.

This apparently random statement about his Welshness, about having lived in six different Welsh towns over the years, and having family roots in every part of Wales cannot be interpreted as a throwaway comment.

Anybody who tells me I need a sat nav, I'll compete with them in a rally around Wales without a map
Sir Emyr Jones Parry

Diplomats with the experience of representing the United Kingdom at Nato and at the United Nations rarely if ever make such statements without clear intent. In this case, it's likely that the comment was directed at the Islwyn Labour MP Don Touhig.

Last month Mr Touhig told BBC Wales that there were plenty of leading figures, other than Sir Emyr Jones Parry, "who wouldn't need a sat nav to find Wales."

Mr Touhig - a critic of the Labour/Plaid coalition's plans for a referendum on extra powers - said in October that the job should have gone to someone with a greater knowledge of life in Wales.

But in his first meeting with Mr Morgan to start the process of mapping the way ahead for the new convention, Sir Emyr - who has just retired as Britain's ambassador at the United Nations - said nobody should ever make the mistake of thinking he was not a Welshman through and through.

"Anybody who tells me I need a sat nav, I'll compete with them in a rally around Wales without a map - I know my Wales very well."

Rhodri Morgan and Sir Emyr Parry Jones
The meeting took place in the first minister's office in Cardiff Bay

He also said that he had no hesitation in accepting the role of chairman of the convention, after being approached by Mr Morgan.

This, he said, was an opportunity to "give something back into the communities that bred me".

Although no detailed talks about the convention have yet taken place, Sir Emyr confirmed that he hoped to start work as soon as possible, with the aim of completing a report by the end of 2009.

The first step however, will be to bring MPs and AMs together - a task easier said than done.

Both Plaid and Labour have already chosen their representatives on the steering group that will set the framework, timetable, and terms of reference for the new convention.

Civic society

Labour have nominated four MPs - Nia Griffith, Nick Ainger, Jessica Morden and Ian Lucas- as well as four AMs - Lynne Neagle, Alun Davies, Christine Chapman and Jeff Cuthbert.

Plaid has nominated AMs Helen Mary Jones, Alun Ffred Jones, Dai Lloyd and Nerys Evans, MPs Elfyn Llwyd, Hywel Williams and Adam Price, as well as former MP and AM Cynog Dafis.

One of the biggest questions however will be the make-up and size of the membership for the convention itself.

Too small and narrow, and it will be criticised for excluding key parts of civic society in Wales.

But if it is too large, then it could become cumbersome and unwieldy - making any consensus extremely difficult to achieve.

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