Page last updated at 17:19 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 18:19 UK

Tea dance steps into power debate

By Brendon Williams
BBC News website

Eric Lawrence and his wife Ros lead the tea dance
The tea dance was part of the aim to have a 'Heineken effect' on voters

A tea dance was the latest attempt to draw people into debate about whether the Welsh assembly should have more powers.

The All-Wales Convention is travelling around Wales to gauge opinion and visited Denbigh on Tuesday.

Sir Emyr Jones-Parry, chair of the convention, told about 30 guests that he wanted to give "100%" of Welsh people a say.

But as the tea dance got under way, not everyone was stepping to the same tune.

Sir Emyr told the audience that if a referendum was to be held, the people of Wales had two choices.

The first, he said, was to do nothing and wait for extra-law-making powers to gradually devolve from Westminster.

Alternatively, voters could decide to transfer extra powers in one go.

I do not accept that we as a nation are somehow incompetent
Sir Emyr Jones-Parry

He said he and the other members of the convention could not express personal views but they wanted to adopt the "Heineken effect" and get "to the parts of Wales not normally reached".

Sir Emyr briefed the event, which was hosted by broadcaster Arfon Haines Davies, before opening the floor to questions.

One member of the audience, Ann Beamson, from Abergele, Conwy, said: "I think the powers should come gradually, not all at once.

"Step-by-step is much better".

Another said: "I agree, we should have the powers and I see no problem with having them all at once, otherwise is only going to make it very untidy and difficult."

David Jones, from Corwen, Denbighshire, asked several questions including whether extra powers would be subject to scrutiny by a second chamber.

Sir Emyr Jones-Parry
Sir Emyr Jones-Parry is the UK's former ambassador to the UN

He also asked whether assembly members were competent enough.

Sir Emyr said it was not possible to answer all the questions. However, in his personal view, he added: "I do not accept that we as a nation are somehow incompetent.

"We have a huge amount of talent and resources that can drawn on."

Another audience member congratulated Sir Emyr on explaining a "very complicated procedure" in an understandable way.

One couple in particular got more than they had hoped for from the session.

Eric Lawrence and his wife Ros run dance classes in Rhyl and were asked to stage the tea dance by the convention.

Mr Lawrence said: "We've come along mainly to do the dance. This has been an eye opener for us because to be honest I don't really take a great deal of interest in politics.

"If the vote came along, this session would probably influence the way I would vote."



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