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Section highlightHouses into homes This report details findings to emerge from the evaluation during the first six months of delivery (April to September 2012).
Written Statement - Update on tobacco policy »Standardised packaging of tobacco products and Sub Committees on The Smoke-free Premises etc. (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.Learn more »
National Library base for US Radio Travel programme
On Saturday 25 May, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth will be host to US radio star, Peter Greenberg.
- Industry and government plan for a healthy future for farming in Wales
- Historic garden is a breakfast TV star
- National Library base for US Radio Travel programme
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Section highlightAccess to information
The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
Sky lanterns: environmental and risk assessment »To establish an evidence base to help any future policy decisions on sky lanterns and helium balloons.Learn more »
- Future management of private water supply pipes
- Amendments to the Motor Vehicle (Competitions and Trials) Regulations 1969 and the Motor Vehicles (Off Road Events) Regulations 1995
- Higher Education (Wales) Bill: Technical consultation
- Consultation - Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (Wales) Regulations 2006 (Amendment) Regulations 2013
- Draft action plan for pollinators
Featured consultation »Implementing the Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 2011
23 days left
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Section highlightFurther and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Bill 2013
Removes a number of technical restrictions and controls on colleges without changing the principal powers of colleges to provide further, higher and secondary education.
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
2nd Supplementary Budget 2012-13 »
Proposes a number of changes to the 1st Supplementary Budget for 2012-13, which was published on 26 June 2012.Learn more »
Oral - All Wales Convention Report
I am pleased to make a statement to the National Assembly on the report of the All Wales Convention. I warmly welcome this report and congratulate the convention on its hard work over the past 16 months. It has succeeded in raising awareness of the current system of governance in Wales, and has also shown the possible options for the future.
The report provides a careful analysis and assessment of the level of support for giving the National Assembly fuller law-making powers—powers that the Parliament in Westminster has already agreed to in principle, by passing the Government of Wales Act 2006, but which need a 'yes’ vote in a referendum to bring them into effect.
First, I pay tribute to Sir Emyr Jones Parry, who took on the task, without hesitation, of chairing the All Wales Convention, which shows that he is a man who is not afraid of a challenge. He has truly given something back to Wales, following years of public service overseas for the United Kingdom in the United Nations and elsewhere. His commitment to this task has been unwavering and unstinting. I am also grateful to the other members of the executive committee for their dedication. It is worth highlighting the wide spectrum of experience of the executive committee, covering all the main political parties, a cross-section of Welsh civic society and individuals who volunteered and were appointed on merit. I also thank the secretariat for carrying out its remit so thoroughly and professionally.
From the outset, the special character of this convention has been the way it has sought engagement with the general cross-section of the Welsh public, and not the usual suspects and constitutional anoraks. The question was: what does this mean for Mr and Mrs Jones and the kids? Trying to find the elusive Mr and Mrs Jones and talk to them in comprehensible language about this issue—does Wales stick with Part 3 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 or go nap on Part 4?—has been difficult, as I have just illustrated by failing to use comprehensible language.
I thank everyone who has contributed to this key assessment of the state of the nation and where we go in the future. I include the convention numbers and staff who dreamt up the idea of curry nights and tea dances, as well as all the 'Mr and Mrs Joneses’ who were inveigled to take part by the prospect of curry or a tea dance. Mr and Mrs Jones are the bosses of this project; not me. Not me; not me and Ieuan; not me, Ieuan and Peter Hain; not Sir Emyr and his team; the bosses are the ordinary people the length and breadth of Wales. We in this Assembly may think that we have served our apprenticeship in passing laws for Wales under Part 3, and that we are therefore ready to move on to Part 4, and primary law-making powers, but that is not the question; it is not whether we think we have served that apprenticeship, but whether the people of Wales think that. Naturally, we are biased.
That is the next stage. Before turning to the key issue of the referendum, let me briefly draw your attention to the report’s views on how we can improve the operation of the current system. The recommendations on framework provisions and Measure-making powers in Bills are timely in themselves, coming as they do immediately ahead of the Assembly’s debate on the Queen’s Speech tomorrow. The convention has some important things to say about simplification of the legal system in Wales, and a sustainable boundary between what is devolved and non-devolved.
That brings me to the core of the report. It is emphatic that there would be 'substantial advantage’ in a move from Part 3 of the Government of Wales Act 2006—that is, the system of legislative competence Orders that we operate now—to Part 4, and full, or fuller, law-making powers. It further concludes that a 'yes’ vote in the referendum that would be the key to bringing this system about is 'obtainable’, although it cannot be taken for granted. It stresses the importance of an informed electorate, and the challenge of how to achieve that—in other words, how to reach the majority of people in Wales who would never have cause to research how laws on education, health, children and families and so on, are made in Wales, Indeed, why should they? Research on how laws are made is for anoraks. Persuading ordinary punters to get sufficiently interested to get geared up to vote in a yes/no referendum is a big ask. You can only ask that very occasionally. It underlines the need for care and clarity in explaining the choice on offer as to how far laws should be made in Wales, and the roles of the Assembly and the Government here, the Parliament and Government at Westminster, and the Secretary of State for Wales. All that needs a great deal of clarification if the public is to be sufficiently involved in a vote.
At the heart of this 'keep it simple’ message is the nature of the question that may be asked in a referendum, and the preamble that goes before the question on the ballot paper. It is a no-brainer to work out that a referendum question that only asks:
'Do you want Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act to be implemented? Yes or No’
will not pass muster. However, if that would not be good enough, what would? How do you construct an easily understood and fair question? In the end, that is a matter for the Secretary of State with advice from the Electoral Commission.
The ball is now in our court. This National Assembly has the task of digesting the report, debating it, and reaching a conclusion on the way forward. The Assembly Government intends in the new year to bring forward a motion for a full debate on the convention’s report. I am reassured that the convention believes that our 'One Wales’ agreement to hold a referendum during this Assembly is both practical and achievable, although I will leave the details of that to my successor as First Minister. In the meantime, please digest this report with your turkey and Christmas pudding, and we shall return to the subject in the new year.