Presiding Officer Dame Rosemary Butler AM's response to the Secretary of State's statement on the future constitutional arrangements for Wales

Published 27/02/2015   |   Last Updated 27/02/2015

I am pleased that today's statement from the Secretary of State for Wales reflects the broad cross-party agreement that the National Assembly for Wales should have control over its own future.

This agreement places the institution on a firm and permanent footing.

It signifies the shift in the balance of power between Westminster and the Assembly for which I have called and will enable us finally to determine our own affairs like any other parliament. I now want to see these powers devolved at the earliest opportunity.    

I am pleased to see a commitment to ensure that the Assembly will:

  • have the power to increase its capacity to match the size of its task. This will allow us to fully scrutinise the growing policy and legislative programme of the Government and its new tax raising powers;
  • be able to decide its own electoral arrangements as well as important symbolic and practical matters such as the name of the Assembly itself and its internal operation; 
  • need to consent formally before the UK Parliament makes laws in areas which are devolved to the Assembly. The current non-statutory protocol is not a robust safeguard of the devolution settlement. We need to be treated with parity with Scotland where the Sewel Convention will in future be enshrined in law.

I also welcome the transfer of powers to determine the appropriate voting age for Assembly elections and look forward to sharing and considering the outcome of the Assembly's votes@16 consultation in July.

The devil is, however, in the detail and I look forward to seeing the UK Government's proposals for implementing the move to a reserved powers model. In light of the most recent Supreme Court judgement, the clarity of this model is key if the Assembly is to legislate effectively and the people of Wales are to understand the powers of the institution

I have made my view known previously that I believe that the recommendations of the Silk commission should be implemented in full. Like many others today I am disappointed that it has not proved possible to make greater progress on the full range of issues set out in the Commission's second report.

But the significance of the Secretary of State's announcement should not be overlooked. For the first time, there is cross-party consensus both in Cardiff and Westminster that the Assembly should be a sovereign parliament that controls for itself how it delivers laws and scrutinises the Welsh Government.

I look forward to working with the next UK Government, whatever its make-up, to see this commitment a reality at the earliest opportunity.