The Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb, has today (24 June) used a keynote speech in the Senedd to set out how the new devolution settlement for Wales will provide the tools for the Assembly to become a full Parliament with tax raising powers.
Under the current devolution settlement, a seat is reserved in the Senedd for the Secretary of State for Wales. On Wednesday, Stephen Crabb used that seat to address the Assembly.
He said that:
Devolution is not an endless journey, it is time for the 16-year continuous debate about powers to end and for the Welsh Assembly to become a full Parliament;
The Assembly should assume tax-raising powers and not merely be a spending department;
The UK Government is empowering cities and local communities to grow and innovate, politicians in Wales must work together in a new era of pragmatism to make sure Wales does not fall behind
He used the speech to announce that the Wales Bill will abolish the outdated requirement for the Secretary of State to address the Assembly and hold a seat in the chamber.
The Secretary of State also announced that the UK Government will devolve decision making on applications for all onshore wind farms down to the local level through the Energy Bill and related legislation, including Wales.
Stephen Crabb said:
I firmly believe the Welsh public are hungry for us to move forwards as a nation. For this place to become a true forum of debate, the articulator of our national ambition - not a vehicle for a never-ending conversation about more powers.
We are embarking upon a fundamental re-writing of the devolution settlement, the most far reaching and significant package of powers ever devolved to Wales.
It is now time that the Welsh Government demonstrates its commitment to becoming a full and accountable legislature, by making progress on the income tax raising powers that are available to it.
The time has come to put the endless sclerotic debates about powers behind us and focus on how the new Welsh Parliament can generate growth, champion innovation, increase productivity and deliver better public services.
That is what people in Wales want and that is what they deserve.
Notes to editors
The St David’s Day Agreement set out how the Government will deliver a stronger, clearer and fairer devolution settlement for Wales with sweeping new powers for the Assembly.
Key points include:
Giving the Assembly the ability to determine its own size and rename itself a Parliament
Energy projects up to 350 megawatts to be decided by Welsh Ministers, including most onshore wind farms and renewable technologies
The National Assembly to have powers over fracking licensing and the development of ports
All powers relating to Assembly and local government elections to be devolved, including the electoral system, the number of constituencies, their boundaries, and the conduct of the elections themselves.
A Barnett funding ‘floor’ for Wales, to protect relative levels of Welsh funding