Page last updated at 12:04 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 13:04 UK

Clash over date on powers vote

Lord Elis Thomas and Lord Eystan Morgan
Lord Elystan Morgan disagrees with Lord Elis Thomas (left) and said opinion polls were "fragile things"

A referendum on more powers for the assembly should not be held on the day of the election in 2011 said a leading political figure.

Lord Elystan Morgan, who led the pro-devolution campaign in 1979, made his remarks on the S4C political programme CF99, which is made by BBC Wales.

He dismissed the idea of combining the referendum with the assembly elections.

Combining the votes was suggested by the assembly presiding officer Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas.

"I have huge respect for Dafydd Elis Thomas, but I disagree with him," said Lord Morgan.

Lord Elis-Thomas has said the date of the assembly elections might also be a useful date for the referendum, but it was up to assembly members and parliament.

But Lord Morgan said: "That's the last day we should hold a referendum."

Lord Morgan, a crossbench peer and former Labour minister was speaking on S4C programme CF99.

'Scraped through'

He said a referendum should be avoided for another few years as it was important to allow people to consider what was at stake.

"I hope the referendum doesn't take place too early, we don't want to risk losing the test," he told the programme.

Lord Morgan led the unsuccessful "Wales for an assembly" campaign 30 years ago.

"Opinion polls are fragile things.... in '79, six months before [the referendum] opinion polls were close, but we lost four to one," he said.

He also said the opinion polls were misleading before the last referendum which led to the creation of the assembly.

"In '97 we thought we'd win easily [through the opinion polls] and we scraped through with a majority of 6,000" he said.

Lord Morgan also said Wales could benefit if the Conservatives were returned to power in Westminster.

"It wouldn't be a bad thing for Wales to have a year or two of Conservative Government."

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