Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
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Peter Hain welcomes WAC report on process of devolving powers

Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain today welcomed a report by Welsh MPs that concludes that the process for new powers to be passed from Westminster to the National Assembly for Wales is working well.

And Mr Hain said the Wales Office looked forward to working with members of the Welsh Affairs Committee to improve even further the process of devolving powers to Wales.

Mr Hain said: “After barely two years of the new system, more and more powers are being devolved to the Assembly via framework powers and Legislative Competence Orders. So far, powers have been devolved to the Assembly in 50 areas, three times more than would have been possible under the previous system, with many more to come.

“I have already freely admitted that the system took time to bed-down, but we’ve learnt lessons, and things are very different now. In fact, we are making excellent progress as the process grows in strength, effectiveness and transparency.

“For example, we have London and Cardiff working together from the start of the process. Project teams are established comprising officials from the Welsh Assembly Government and Whitehall departments, to steer the process of agreeing the LCO and work through any thorny issues before they could develop into serious problems. A timetable for reaching agreement on an LCO is decided by the team, informed by the Welsh Assembly Government’s legislative programme, with clear milestones in place for each stage of the process.

“This early engagement between Cardiff Bay and Whitehall has meant that the lines of communication are much clearer than before, and that information is better shared between the two Governments. This tighter management of the process has, in turn, resulted in more concisely drafted proposals agreed jointly between the Welsh Assembly Government, the Wales Office and the relevant Whitehall departments, specifying clearer boundaries to the competence and setting out a clear rationale for the powers being sought.”

Mr Hain added: “These changes have meant that LCOs are moving through the system far more quickly than before; they are tighter and clearer in scope; but most importantly, they are moving forward in a spirit of shared endeavour, with London and Cardiff, working together closely and co-operatively to deliver the powers that Wales needs.

“But we are not resting on our laurels as I know that this process, like any other, can be fine-tuned. We have made a number of improvements to strengthen and quicken the way things are done, at Westminster, around Whitehall and in Cardiff Bay. I therefore look forward to working with members of the Welsh Affairs Committee to further improve what is already a very effective process of devolving powers to Wales.”

 

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