Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 12:59 UK

'Difficulties' over Senedd powers

Public meeting in Cwmbran (picture from All Wales Convention)

A lack of public interest in politics will cause difficulties for ministers considering a referendum on more assembly powers, it is claimed.

Sir Emyr Jones Parry, chair of the convention measuring public support for further powers, said people were more likely to be talking about rugby.

The All-Wales Convention's final public meeting is held in Cardiff on Thursday.

It will publish its findings in a report to the first minister and deputy first minister in November.

In an interview with BBC Wales political programme CF99, which is broadcast on S4C, Sir Emyr said he was certain people were not talking about assembly powers and were more likely to be talking about whether the British and Irish Lions would win their next rugby match.

One of the lessons for us all is if you believe politics matter we've got to be better at getting these messages across
Sir Emyr Jones Parry

He also indicated that the timing of a referendum could prove critical to its outcome, insisting that "referendums are seldom on single issues".

He suggested that fears about the economy and the expenses scandal in Westminster could also play a part in how the public voted.

"Lots of other things are actually contagious on the issue you want to debate," he said. "And it depends on timing, circumstances, what's the economic situation, what do people think about Westminster - a whole series of factors."

The former UK ambassador to the UN insisted the convention's work had been important in giving people a chance to participate.

But, ultimately, he said he was "glad" that the decision on a referendum was "one for the politicians and not for me".

Gauge opinions

"We said from the beginning any voice, anywhere in Wales, on any aspect of this, will be welcome," he said.

"That was the offer but I can't guarantee that everybody took up the offer. Out there, there's still a lot of uncertainty, lack of knowledge about what is happening and frankly a lot of disinterest about politics.

"One of the lessons for us all is if you believe politics matter we've got to be better at getting these messages across."

The All-Wales Convention was established by the assembly government to encourage a debate about how Wales is governed.

Its purpose has been to increase understanding of how the assembly works and gauge opinions on the case for more law-making powers.

Since January, it has held a series of public meetings and roadshows, and received evidence from a wide range of organisations.

• The final All-Wales Convention public event is at City Hall, Cardiff, on Thursday, 25 June from 1830-2030 BST.

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