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“Silk II report provides a sound basis for the evolutionary reform of the devolution settlement” – First Minister

The Welsh Government supports “the thrust” of the Silk Commission’s second report into Welsh devolution, which provides a sound basis for the evolutionary reform of the devolution settlement, First Minister Carwyn Jones has said. 

Addressing Assembly Members, the First Minister said the Welsh Government supports:

  • A new Government of Wales Act by 2017, with the introduction of a reserved powers model of devolution by 2021;
  • Enhanced powers in areas such as water, transport, energy, elections and teachers’ pay.
  • New powers over policing and youth justice, with a staged approach to the full devolution of the wider criminal justice system;
  • Improving inter-governmental relations.

The First Minister said discussions on the devolution of rail powers were already underway, and would need to happen to a more rapid timetable than that for the implementation of the Silk report as a whole.

The First Minister said he welcomes the recommendations to give the Welsh Government a formal role in broadcasting appointments, and for a devolved governance body to scrutinise the output of the BBC in Wales. However, the First Minister said the recommendation to devolve UK Government funding for S4C carried some risks. There would have to be clear safeguards about the continued overall funding for the channel before this could be supported.

The Welsh Government will continue to press for the devolution of alcohol licensing powers to support policies in relation to health and community safety, the Community Infrastructure Levy, emergency powers and for the strengthening of equality powers.

Speaking in the National Assembly, the First Minister said:

“The Silk Commission’s second report gives us a platform to reform our governance arrangements which are out of date and out of step with the needs of Wales.  

“Since 1999 we have come a very long way in terms of capability to govern, to legislate and to scrutinise and hold the executive to account. The changes proposed by the Commission are significant and will need careful planning, but viewed against the progress made since 1999, they are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

“The Commission support our view that the timescale and budget transfers must be agreed between the two governments. On their timetable, we would have a draft Bill early in the next Parliament, with the Reserved powers model coming into effect in 2021. This would give clarity on the direction of travel and give time for proper planning of significant changes.”

The First Minister added:

“I look forward to hearing the views of Members as we prepare the Welsh Government’s detailed statement on the way forward for Welsh devolution. If we can reach a consensus, this will put us in the best possible position to negotiate with the UK Government, and to respond to the Scottish referendum, whatever its outcome.”

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