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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Peer reports on boosting assembly power
Lord Richard
Lord Richard was the UK's man at the UN
First Minister Rhodri Morgan has named the man he wants to decide on whether Welsh Assembly powers are beefed up.

The Labour Party's former House of Lords leader Lord Richard of Ammanford is to chair an independent commission to advise on stronger, legislative powers for the devolved government.

Tax-raising abilities and regulation of Welsh media could be on the cards when his panel of politicians reports back next autumn.

Welsh Assembly
The assembly does not have legislative powers
The commission will review of the assembly's work since its inception in 1999 in arriving at an answer.

Lord Richard will now consult with party leaders and is expected to emerge from talks with four of the panel's 10 members drawn from the assembly membership.

The rest will be sought through an advertisement and the commission will begin its work in the summer.

Mr Morgan is forming the group to gauge opinion on whether his government should follow the law-making path tread by the Scottish Parliament.

Power struggle

But the new group will not have the final say on whether the Welsh body gets a shot in the arm.

The first minister will consider Lord Richard's recommendation, but only Westminster can tweak the devolution settlement.

And it is at Downing Street the report could meet a stormy passage.

Lord Richard, 70, was sacked by Tony Blair for calling for a speedy reform of the house and wanting half of the membership put to an election.

His wife, Janet Jones, wrote the book Labour Of Love, in which she savaged Labour lynchpin Lord Irvine and fiercely criticised New Labour backbiting.

  • A barrister, the Rt Hon Ivor Richard QC was UK Permanent Representative at the UN from 1974 to 1979.
  • He was a European Commissioner from 1981 to 1985.
  • He was World Trade Centre Wales chairman from 1985 to 1987.

The assembly governs agriculture culture, economic development, education and training, the environment, health and health services, highways, housing and industry.

It also oversees local government, social services, sport and leisure, tourism, town and country, planning, transport and roads, the Welsh language and ancient monuments.

But the administration at Cardiff Bay cannot make or alter laws.

Labour Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy has consistently warned there is no public demand for further constitutional change.

Plaid Cymru advocate more devolution and the Liberal Democrats, too, want Cardiff to have the same powers as Edinburgh.

Welsh Assembly Chamber Row

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See also:

30 Oct 01 | Wales
PM praises devolution 'clout'
20 Jul 01 | Education
Welsh school league tables abolished
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