Rhodri backing Assembly bid for future law powers

Reporter:

Andrew Boyd

A WELSH political heavyweight is urging the nation to make its vote count on the future powers of the Assembly.

Former First Minister Rhodri Morgan is fronting the cross-party ‘Yes for Wales’ campaign ahead of the referendum on March 3 which will determine if the Welsh
Assembly will be granted increased rights to pass legislation.

If a majority yes vote is obtained, the Assembly will not require Westminster approval when passing the majority of its laws.

Mr Morgan told the Leader: “I would urge everyone to vote and understand the significance of this referendum.

“It is unfortunate that the referendum comes at a time when there is a national referendum on alternative voting reform also soon to happen and that will get a lot of attention, but this is completely separate and very important for Wales.”

The Assembly has existed since 1999 and gained an increase in powers in recent years, although this has been subject to Westminster approval.

“I believe the Assembly has served its apprenticeship and proved it can handle law-making,” added Mr Morgan.

“Now we are ready to move on to the next level and have increased powers.

“We have seen with the recent issue in tuition fees the benefits of devolved powers for people in Wales.

“I am fronting a cross-party and non-party campaign for the yes vote, it is not about what the Labour party wants to happen.”

Mr Morgan said a yes vote would not mean Wales is seeking to distance itself from the rest of Britain.

He continued: “In Wales we have a situation where a lot of people are travelling in and out of the country every day and this is not about being independent of England.

“We simply want to create a situation where Assembly legislation can be passed through more quickly and that will be of benefit to the people of Wales.

“A backbench MP could put forward a bill and it is likely to be a much quicker process for the legislation to be passed through than it is now.”

Mr Morgan gave assurances that North Wales would not lose out if the yes vote goes through.

“As with now we will continue to have a situation where the proportion of AMs in the Assembly from North Wales is significantly higher than with MPs in Westminster,” he added.

“We have a situation in Wales where there is a large gap between the north and south and a delicate balance is always required.

“With North Wales well represented in the Assembly it will continue to have its members putting forward bills.”

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