Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Thursday, 10 April 2008 12:18 UK

Row on archbishop 'immoral' claim

Welsh assembly in Cardiff Bay
Some Welsh law-making is possible in consultation with the UK government

The archbishop of Wales says it would be "immoral" for Wales not to have full law-making powers in the near future.

But Conservative Monmouth MP David Davies said his comments were "disappointing" and there were more pressing issues he could speak out on.

Barry Morgan spoke to BBC Radio Wales in his role as chair of Tomorrow's Wales, which looks at devolution.

He told the Good Evening Wales programme that religion could not be "separate from life".

The archbishop has previously criticised the existing law-making powers as "tortuous and convoluted".

He made his comments as the Queen approved the transfer of new powers to the assembly allowing it to pass laws in specified areas.

He denied that he should not speak out on politics because he is leader of the Church in Wales and stressed he was not concerned with party politics.

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan
People like myself can't divorce themselves from the life of politics
Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan

But Dr Morgan told Good Evening Wales it seemed to him the "present settlement is demeaning to Wales and therefore I think that people like myself can't divorce themselves from the life of politics".

"Because politics is about the way we organise ourselves in society and, therefore every single aspect of life ought to have relevance to the Gospel, and that's why I'm speaking out."

Crown and mitre

Dr Morgan also said he believed "more and more people were on board with devolution" and if a referendum on more powers was held by 2011 it would be won easily.

A referendum on more powers was part of the agreement signed by Labour and Plaid Cymru when they formed a coalition Welsh Assembly Government last May.

However, Mr Davies criticised the archbishop saying: "What disappoints me is that the most senior member of the Anglican Church in Wales is using his position to put forward a political point of view which he may - and is perfectly entitled to - hold, but he's not making it clear that this is a personal view.

"He's doing so wearing his crown and mitre, as it were, and frankly I think that's very disappointing, especially when there are so many issues that you would expect the Anglican church to be speaking out at the moment about.

Lorraine Barrett, the Labour AM for Cardiff South and Penarth, said she for once agreed with Mr Davies that the archbishop should not have got involved.

Ms Barrett, a humanist , said she could not see what the archbishop would have to say.

"The archbishop can have his own views but I don't think he should use his position to try to influence society on a religious basis. I don't think religion should have any privilege in our civil society," she added.

But Saleem Kidwai, secretary of the Muslim Council of Wales, and a member of the executive of Tomorrow's Wales, said the archbishop was right to present his view and he had made it clear he was speaking in a personal capacity.

"Politics and religion go together and it is our duty that we should talk about matters which relates to our life," he said.

"If we live in Wales the Welsh Assembly Government is a part of our life that we have to talk about and to encourage the people to debate and have informed views about it."


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