Wales 'should be given more powers'

Somerset County Gazette: The National Assembly for Wales, based in Cardiff Bay, will be allowed to rename itself the Welsh Parliament under new recommedations The National Assembly for Wales, based in Cardiff Bay, will be allowed to rename itself the Welsh Parliament under new recommedations

Responsibility for policing, a greater say over energy policy and the ability to set speed limit on roads should be devolved to Wales, a major review of the powers granted to Cardiff Bay has concluded.

The Silk Commission report also recommended that responsibility for the treatment and rehabilitation of youth offenders should be devolved, with the possibility of further areas of the criminal justice system in future.

The report, welcomed by both First Minister Carwyn Jones and Secretary of State David Jones, also recommended allowing the National Assembly to be renamed the Welsh Parliament if the institution wanted to make the change.

The commission's chair, Paul Silk, said: " At a time when constitutional issues are high on the agenda in the United Kingdom, we have agreed recommendations that will provide a stable and well-founded devolution settlement fit for the future. It will give Wales a lasting settlement that allow political decisions to be made in a democratic and accountable manner.

"Through a phased ten-year programme of reform, it will create a stronger Welsh democracy and bring Wales more in line with the other devolved countries of the UK."

The report's recommendations include:

:: Devolving most aspects of policing

:: Devolving the youth justice system immediately, with a feasibility study for the devolution of prisons and probation to follow and the completion and implementation of a review of other aspects of the justice system by 2025

:: Giving the Welsh Government responsibility for energy planning development consents for schemes of up to 350 megawatts (MW)

:: Devolving powers in relation to ports, rail, bus and taxi regulation, speed and drink drive limits

:: If the National Assembly wishes to change its name to the Welsh Parliament, this should be respected

Labour First Minister Mr Jones said: " Devolving new energy powers to Wales will ensure decisions on developments which affect Wales are made in Wales. This will allow us to maximise the economic potential of renewable energy power generation, as well as enabling locally sensitive decision making.

"Devolving powers over policing, community safety and crime prevention will allow us to strengthen joint working with the public and emergency services already devolved and help reduce offending.

"New powers over road safety and public transport - including powers over speed and drink driving limits, bus and taxi regulation - will also help us make a real difference to people's daily lives.

"I'm also very pleased the commission has rejected the idea of transferring any of the Welsh Government's existing powers to Westminster."

The Welsh Government believes the new powers should be devolved to the Assembly by 2020/21.

Conservative Welsh Secretary Mr Jones said the report "makes recommendations for change which are thought-provoking and thoroughly researched" but ruled out legislating for the transfer of the additional powers before the 2015 election, arguing that the current Wales Bill going through Parliament should focus on the already agreed devolution of tax and borrowing powers.

But he added: "For those recommendations that will not require primary legislation, we will consider early implementation during this Parliament if, after due consideration, we are satisfied that the case for the change is clearly made, there is a broad consensus in favour and it can be implemented quickly and easily."

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