Page last updated at 21:06 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 22:06 UK

Final sounding on Senedd powers

All Wales Convention meeting (picture: All Wales Convention)
The final public meeting of the All Wales Convention in Cardiff City Hall (picture: All Wales Convention)


Around 200 people have met in Cardiff in the final public session of the All Wales Convention looking at whether the assembly should have more powers.

A referendum would have to be held in Wales before any moves towards law-making powers for the assembly.

According to a straw poll at the meeting in City Hall, almost two-thirds of those there wanted law-making powers for the assembly all at once.

But more than one-third want the situation to stay as it is.

An electronic vote at the meeting showed 64% of those who took part backed giving the assembly law-making powers, while 36% would leave the situation as it is.

On the panel at the meeting, Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru AM for Llanelli, said the present system was "confusing".

"It is a very complicated system and not stable," she said.

Sir Emyr Jones Parry
Sir Emyr Jones Parry chairs the convention (pic: All Wales Convention)

But another panellist, former Conservative minister Lord Tristan Garel-Jones, said he supported both devolution and supported the present system, where law-making powers on particular issues came to Wales after scrutiny in Westminster.

"The step-by-step process that now exists is the route to go down," he said.

Gaining more powers could be "another little step" towards an independent Wales which would be "exceedingly dangerous," he said.

'Confusing'

Sir Emyr Jones Parry, chair of the convention, said the evidence was that some people thought the split in responsibilities between Wales and Westminster was "confusing" and a "fog".

The panellists also included Professor Richard Wyn Jones, director of the Wales Governance Centre, at Cardiff University, Nick Ainger, Labour MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire; and the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan.

From the floor of the meeting Michelle Matheron, of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, said effective lobbying of politicians under the present system was difficult.

She wanted to know whether an assembly with increased law-making powers would help people engage with it.

On that question, the electronic vote recorded 69% saying yes and 23% voting no, while the rest were undecided.

The Cardiff meeting was the last of 23 of the convention around Wales over the past six months.

The convention was a commitment by Labour and Plaid Cymru when they formed a coalition assembly government in 2007.

It is intended to prepare the ground for a possible referendum on full law-making powers for the assembly on or before the next assembly election in 2011 by gauging public opinion.

It is also intended to explain the present system of powers available to the assembly.

Its executive committee has also taken evidence from individuals and organisations in more formal sessions, as well as in written form.

Sir Emyr said he hoped the committee's report would be available by the end of November.



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