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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 March, 2004, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Richard report and the reaction
Richard report
The 10 Richard Commission members produced a 308-page report
Reaction to the Richard report calling for more powers for the Welsh assembly was swift, with Secretary of State Peter Hain announcing that it contained "plenty of food for thought".

But Mr Hain warned that the work of Lord Ivor Richard's commission would have to win the backing of both Westminster and Cardiff Bay before its recommendations went any further.

While Plaid Cymru welcomed the recommendation for the assembly to make its own laws, it said the report should have been more radical and called for a "proper parliament".

The Liberal Democrats said it offered the chance of a "stable and permanent settlement", but the Conservatives said there would have to be a referendum before any change.

The 308-page Richard report was published on Wednesday after two years' work, almost five years after the assembly first sat, and six-and-a-half years since Wales voted for devolution by a narrow majority.

These were some of the main responses:

WELSH SECRETARY PETER HAIN

"Lord Richard's team has produced a comprehensive piece of work containing plenty of food for thought. We will be digesting it whilst we await any representations from the Welsh Assembly Government to whom it is addressed.

"Meanwhile, I will be listening to the views of others, especially Welsh MPs, talking to Rhodri Morgan and consulting with cabinet colleagues. In order to move it forward, it will be important to achieve a consensus between Westminster and Cardiff Bay.

"However, I repeat what I have already made crystal clear. First, that a referendum would be required on a Scottish model.

"Second, I welcome confirmation of the serious inadequacies of the existing electoral system. Third, any reforms agreed must be consistent with maintaining the existing number of Welsh parliamentary constituencies."


PLAID CYMRU

In a joint statement, party president Dafydd Iwan, assembly leader Ieuan Wyn Jones and parliamentary leader, Elfyn Llwyd welcome the move towards primary law making powers, but said the report had "missed an opportunity to be even more radical in its approach."

Plaid had called for reform of the Barnett formula - which decides how much money Wales gets from Westminster - and tax-varying powers.

"Without these fundamental and necessary reforms, Wales will still have second class powers and will not be able to move forward with confidence," the Plaid leader said.

"We cannot move forward on improving our public services or our economic performance without the tools to do the job.

"We must go beyond Richard if we are to release the full potential of our nation - that's why we are demanding Richard Plus - in other words a proper Parliament - only the best will do for Wales."


CONSERVATIVES

Nick Bourne, leader of the assembly Tories, said: "Giving the assembly law-making and tax-raising powers would be a significant change to the way Wales is governed and must have a clear public mandate.

"Without it, the new settlement would be extremely fragile and could be undone in the same way as it was created.

"While we oppose any suggestion that the assembly should be given law making and tax raising powers, we do welcome the commission's recommendation to draw a clear distinction between the executive and the legislature.

"For too long opposition parties have been blamed for the failures of Labour and the Labour assembly government.

"There are many areas in which the assembly could be improved under the current settlement. Some of these are identified in the report - but that does not mean a wholesale shift in the way in which Wales is governed."

Shadow Welsh Secretary Bill Wiggin said: "If the outcome of such a referendum were positive and included an increase in the number of AMs, we believe a reduction in the number of Welsh MPs would be essential.

"You cannot have one without the other. The taxpayer is paying enough without spending 2m extra a year on 20 extra AMs if there is to remain the same representation at Westminster."


LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Welsh Liberal Democrat assembly leader Mike German said the commission was "at the heart" of the coalition government his party formed with Labour in the assembly's first term.

"After two years of careful deliberation, the dommission has now made a clear case for change," said Mr German.

"These proposals offer a stable and permanent settlement capable of winning support across the whole of Wales.

"Two things are clear from the conclusions of the commission: independence is not an option and we cannot stay as we are.

"Wales needs a Welsh parliament with primary law-making and tax varying powers, elected by a fair voting system which allows people, not political parties, to choose their representatives."


BACKBENCH MPs

Anti-devolutionist Llew Smith, Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent, accused the assembly government of lacking the "courage or principle" to use the powers it already has.

He said if there was a referendum, voters should be given the option of scrapping the assembly.

Labour Wrexham MP Ian Lucas called for a referendum. Labour Ogmore MP Huw Irranca-Davies agreed, and said the time was not yet right for further large-scale devolution.

Conservative former Shadow Welsh Secretary Nigel Evans wanted a referendum on the proposals, with a second question giving the option to scrap the assembly.


FORMER WELSH SECRETARY RON DAVIES

The former Caerphilly MP and AM, the architect of the current assembly, said: "What I am surprised at is how radical it is and how far-reaching it is. I think that the progressive forces in Wales can get behind this.

"The question now is for the Labour Party - will the Labour Party be prepared to get behind it?"

Referring to his famous quote on the morning of the devolution referendum in 1997 that it was "a very good morning in Wales", Mr Davies added: "It is still a good morning in Wales, and it will be an even better morning in 2011 when we have a proper parliament."

Earlier this year Mr Davies left Labour and joined the Forward Wales party.


FARMERS' UNIONS

Farmers' Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan said: "I'm greatly heartened by the findings of the Richard Commission which reflects many of the views expressed by the FUW.

"I'm particularly pleased that the commission is recommending law-making functions which would bring the powers of the National Assembly closer in line with those already enjoyed by Scotland and Northern Ireland."

National Farmers' Union Cymru president Peredur Hughes said more resources would be needed along with new powers.

"There will be an even bigger problem in Wales if the recommendation is approved but no extra resources put in place," said Mr Hughes.


PEERS' REFORMIST GROUP

A group of Welsh peers united to welcome the ideas, and said they needed "a swift and positive response".

The peers, including former Welsh Lib Dem leader Lord (Alex)Carlile, cancer specialist Baroness (Ilora ) Finlay and Labour historian Lord (Kenneth)Morgan, said: "Richard's searching analysis can make Welsh devolution a reality.

"It can match the progress of Scotland and turn Wales into a vibrant democracy. At present, we have only a flawed and feeble version of the old Victorian tag - 'For Wales, see England.'

"Wales deserves better, and Richard now provides the opportunity for action."


CYMDEITHAS YR IAITH GYMRAEG

Welsh Language Society chairman Huw Lewis said: "Who would seriously suggest that Westminster knew better than the elected representatives of Wales how our own national language should be developed?

"The next obvious step is that we should legislate in Wales for the future of our education system - which is different from the system in the other countries of Britain, and requires democratic control."




SEE ALSO:
Wait ends for devolution report
29 Mar 04  |  Wales
Assembly powers change warning
13 Jan 04  |  Wales
'Weak' assembly harming Wales
24 Nov 03  |  Wales
Review seeks assembly opinions
15 Jan 03  |  Wales


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