A clear and stable devolution settlement will better serve the people of Wales, according to the Commission on Devolution in Wales, which has published its report on the powers of the National Assembly for Wales.
The commission’s report makes 61 recommendations, which would lead to a clear, well-founded devolution settlement for Wales.
The commission’s second report proposes a phased timetable for more powers over ten years, including a Wales Bill in the next Parliament.
Following a year-long review of the powers of the National Assembly, the Silk Commission found the current settlement was overly complex; that there was a need for Governments and institutions to work together better and that there was broad support for further devolved powers.
Commission Chair Paul Silk said: “At a time when constitutional issues are high on the agenda in the United Kingdom, we have agreed recommendations that will provide a stable and well-founded devolution settlement fit for the future.
“It will give Wales a lasting settlement that allow political decisions to be made in a democratic and accountable manner.
“Through a phased ten-year programme of reform, it will create a stronger Welsh democracy and bring Wales more in line with the other devolved countries of the UK.”
The commission has recommended moving to a reserved powers model, which sets out the powers not devolved rather than the powers that are.
Also recommended was the devolution of further powers including policing, the justice system and the youth justice system.
Gwent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston said the report raised several questions about devolving police powers.
He said there needed to be a greater understanding of the consequences of some of the proposals.
He explained: “It’s not simply a matter of devolving policing.
“You can’t take it apart piecemeal – it’s much more complex than that.
“Many areas of policing and the criminal justice system are so intrinsically linked that if you devolve one you would have to devolve many more.
“We need to look at the wider picture and have an open and transparent discussion about all the other aspects that need to be considered as part of the process.
“As I stated in my evidence to the commission, it’s my strong belief that any such discussion must take place at the same time as a debate regarding the transfer of the whole of the Criminal Justice System. The interface between the police service, community safety and the wider criminal justice service is critical.”
Business leaders in Wales welcome Silk report
Business leaders have welcomed the second report from the Silk Commission into devolution.
The report said Wales should follow a reserved powers model, such as the one in Scotland. This would list the powers that are not devolved, rather than being a list of powers controlled by the National Assembly of Wales.
The Federation of Small Businesses Welsh Policy Unit Chair Janet Jones said: “We welcome this second report from the Commission on Devolution. It is clear that it contains many sensible recommendations to provide a clear and lasting devolution settlement for Wales.
“We are particularly pleased to see that the Commission has called for the adoption of the reserved powers model for Wales. The flaws of the current system have been all too apparent to our members because of the lack of clarity over the devolution of business rates.
“We also welcome the Commission’s proposals on the devolution of control of the Wales and Borders rail franchise and over a Welsh share of Network Rail funding. This devolution would pave the way for future investment in rail transport infrastructure, something that is vital to the future health of the Welsh economy.”