[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 18:31 GMT
More assembly powers call
Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones
Carwyn Jones says the assembly's powers should be increased
A Welsh assembly Government Minister has gone further than any of his cabinet colleagues in publicly calling for greater powers for the assembly.

Rural Affairs Minister, Carwyn Jones, said that the current devolution settlement is a "mess", but that much more planning is needed before the institution is given law-making powers.

Mr Jones' paper, "The Future of Welsh Labour," was written for the Welsh think tank, the Institute of Welsh Affairs.

In the pamphlet, Mr Jones said it is for opponents of primary powers for the assembly to say why it should not have them, not for supporters to argue that it should.

He added that the current situation reflects the compromise in the party between pro and anti-devolutionists and "like many compromises, it's a mess."

It would be similar to the Scottish parliament, it would have the same kinds of powers but not in quite as many areas
Carwyn Jones

Mr Jones said: "Wales is in a position of unique weakness which can only be rectified by the assembly gaining the powers of every other legislature in the United Kingdom."

But he added that further planning was needed before the assembly gets law-making powers.

"If they were given to the assembly now it would struggle to cope and the people of Wales would be disappointed," Mr Jones wrote.

The rural affairs minister told BBC Radio Wales that he envisaged the Welsh assembly having similar powers to the Scottish parliament.

"It would be similar to the Scottish parliament, it would have the same kinds of powers but not in quite as many areas," he said.

"At the moment, we are in a position where Westminster deals with Welsh legislation, it would make sense to have the Welsh assembly dealing with Welsh legislation."

'Pro-devolution voice'

Later this year, the Richard Commission will make recommendations on issues including the Welsh electoral system and whether the assembly needs greater authority, similar to the law-making powers of the Scottish Parliament.

Changes to the devolution settlement, however, can only be made by in Westminster.

Helen Mary Jones, of Plaid Cymru, said Mr Jones' comments showed inconsistencies within the Labour Party's over the future of Welsh devolution.

What is clear is that the Labour Party is in complete disarray about this
Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru

She said: "It's good to hear a pro-devolution voice coming out of the Labour Party because we've had some strong anti ones lately.

"What is clear is that the Labour Party is in complete disarray about this.

"Our ultimate aim is clear - we want to be an independent member of the European Union but we've said that the next step has got to be a proper parliament.

"Anybody making some sort of step towards that is welcome but our constitutional position is clear.

"What isn't clear is where the Labour Party is going to stand and I think it's a big issue that voters in the elections in June don't know where they stand.

"The Labour party needs to tell people where the whole party stands."

Mike German, the Liberal Democrat assembly leader, said that there is a widening rift in Labour between MPs opposed to further devolution and an increasing number of assembly members who agree with the rural affairs minister.

Mr German is calling for First Minister Rhodri Morgan to show more leadership on the issue.


SEE ALSO:
Assembly powers change warning
13 Jan 04  |  Wales
Devolution's future examined
22 Nov 03  |  Wales
Sluggish Scotland avoids recession
29 Oct 03  |  Business
Ministers play down Hain remarks
15 Jan 04  |  Scotland


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific