“Clarity and accountability” at the heart of the Wales Bill, says Alun Cairns
“Clarity and accountability” are the two guiding principles of the new Wales Bill, Alun Cairns told MPs as the Commons began its second reading of the legislation.
The Secretary of State for Wales said the new reserved powers model of devolution clearly established which powers were reserved and which were devolved.
“It will end the squabbles over powers between Cardiff Bay and Westminster, enabling the Welsh Government to get on with the job of improving the economy, securing jobs and improving devolved public services,” Mr Cairns said.
The introduction of Welsh rates of income tax ensured accountability was at the heart of the Bill, the Secretary of State told the Commons.
It will make the Welsh Government accountable to people in Wales for raising more of the money it spends.
We committed to put in place a clearer, stronger and fairer devolution settlement for Wales, and that is exactly what this Bill does.
The Secretary of State said the Bill gave the Assembly powers over areas including
- Speed limits
- Regulation of taxis and buses
- Planning consent over most energy projects
- Elections and Assembly processes
MPs were told that, for the first time, the Bill enshrined the Assembly and Welsh Government as “permanent parts of the UK’s constitutional fabric”.
The Assembly no longer had to undergo a “necessity test” when changing civil and criminal law for devolved purposes, Mr Cairns said.
He also said the legislation recognised for the first time 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.” A working group was now looking at the distinct arrangements for Welsh law, the Secretary of State added.
The Wales Bill included a “historic transfer of powers to the Assembly and Welsh Government”.
“It further enables the Welsh Government to deliver on the things that matter to people living and working in Wales, and to be held to account for their decisions and policies.”
The Wales Bill is expected to complete its passage through the Houses of Parliament before April 2017.