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Wales Bill heralding a “clearer, fairer and stronger” devolution settlement for Wales passes Commons

The Secretary of State says the Welsh Assembly is on course to become “an institution that is accountable to the people of Wales"

The Wales Bill has now passed its last House of Commons stage and is on course to deliver “clearer, fairer and stronger” package of powers for Wales.

Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, led the debate at Report stage and third reading of the Bill.

He said the Bill “delivers an historic package of powers to the National Assembly that will transform the Assembly into a fully-fledged Welsh legislature, affirmed as a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional fabric.”

The Secretary of State said the Assembly was on course to become “an institution that is accountable to the people of Wales, with powers over taxes that will make it responsible not only for how money is spent in Wales, but also for how the money is raised.”

The Bill will give the Assembly powers over areas including:

  • Speed limits
  • Regulation of taxis and buses
  • Ports
  • Fracking
  • Planning consent over most energy projects *Assembly and local government elections and Assembly processes

For the first time, the Bill enshrines the Assembly and Welsh Government as permanent parts of the UK’s constitutional arrangements .

The legislation also recognises that there is a body of Welsh law made by the Assembly and the Welsh ministers, forming part of the law of England and Wales.

Mr Cairns told the Commons: “The powers in this Bill will usher a new era of devolution to Wales - one which draws a line under the constant squabbles over where powers lie.”

The public would be clear on who is accountable for decisions over public services and the legislation would make the Welsh Government “truly accountable to the people of Wales”, the Secretary of State added.

The Wales Bill will now be scrutinised in the House of Lords.

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