Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Saturday, 7 November 2009

Contender says yes to power vote

Carwyn Jones
Carwyn Jones has said he is committed to the One Wales agreement

Welsh Labour leadership candidate Carwyn Jones has reiterated his commitment to holding a referendum on full law-making powers for Wales.

It comes after he hinted all Welsh Labour members should be consulted on the issue despite the One Wales agreement with Plaid Cymru.

Labour and Plaid's coalition in the assembly government agreed that such a referendum should be held before 2011.

Some Plaid members feared his earlier remarks could split the coalition.

It follows speculation that his promise to consult his own party before holding a referendum over more powers for the assembly could create a rift between Plaid and Labour.

Some members of Plaid believe a refusal to call a referendum would break a key promise in the agreement.

Successful outcome

But Mr Jones said he continued to support the One Wales pledge for a referendum.

Over the last year, the All Wales Convention has consulted the public on whether they want more powers for the assembly.

Its final report, due in the next two weeks, is expected to say a referendum should be held.

It is then likely that the new first minister, expected to take office on 8 December, and Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones will decide whether to go ahead with the referendum.

In the One Wales coalition document agreed by the two parties there is a clear commitment to "proceed to a successful outcome of a referendum for full law-making powers... as soon as practicable, at or before the end of the assembly term".

Recommendations

On Saturday morning, Mr Jones suggested that before any decision is taken on whether to go ahead with a referendum, Welsh Labour as a whole should be consulted once again.

He said: "I am totally committed to what was agreed in One Wales but that should in no way preclude my responsibility, if elected leader, to consult within the wider party on the findings and recommendations of the All Wales Convention.

"But consideration of the convention's report must not be a matter solely for AMs to decide - it must involve the entire Labour movement in Wales, AMs, MPs, grassroots members and trade unions."

Later on Saturday, he clarified his position by saying: "I want to keep to the One Wales agreement to have a referendum before 2011 and that's something I would agree with.

"We should remember that Sir Emyr Jones Parry's convention will produce a number of recommendations and I have no doubt that all parties will want to look at the recommendations and take soundings from within their own parties with regards to these recommendations.

Preparations

"But when it comes to the One Wales agreement and what it says about the referendum I support the agreement and I will continue to do so."

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said Mr Jones has "always supported further devolution".

The spokesperson said: "Many Labour AMs are as impatient as we are in Plaid to secure further law-making powers for the assembly and they too believe that the current settlement is unsustainable.

"Plaid and Labour have formally agreed to hold a referendum at or before the end of this assembly term and we look forward to those preparations getting under way."

The two other leadership candidates, Edwina Hart and Huw Lewis, have said they would only move ahead with a referendum with the support of the Labour movement in Wales.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokeswoman said: "We look forward to receiving the report of the All Wales Convention on November 18."



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