“Silk is the right path but not the end of the story” says First Minister

Silk is not the end of the story, the First Minister has said as he set out the Welsh Government’s blueprint for constitutional reform on the 15th anniversary of the National Assembly gaining its first executive functions.

Publishing the Welsh Government’s vision for the governance of Wales within the United Kingdom, Devolution, Democracy and Delivery: Powers to Achieve our Aspirations for Wales, the First Minister set out the case for more extensive powers to give Wales a simpler and clearer constitutional settlement and outlined his preferred timetable for constitutional reform.

Responding to the Silk Commission’s second report, he said that he agreed with the thrust of the proposals, but  there was a strong case for  going further in key areas such as energy and public health in order to respond fully to current and future challenges facing Wales.

The First Minister said:

“Wales has had primary legislative powers for barely three years, and during that time we have delivered an ambitious legislative programme. Despite this we are still constrained by a set of out-dated governance arrangements.

“Moving to the reserved powers model, as recommended by the Commission, means Wales will be put on the same footing as the other devolved administrations. This will simplify the UK’s constitutional arrangements and reduce the uncertainty and complexity that currently acts as a barrier to delivery.

“Silk puts us on the right path but I believe we need to go further, and today I am setting out the case for broader powers so we can promote our goals for health, for the environment, for the economy and transport, and for our communities, free from uncertainty and confusion about our powers.”

The First Minister stressed that today’s publication forms part of  a wider vision to reform the governance of Wales at national and local level, with plans for the next phase of reform of public services, in response to the report by the Williams Commission, due next week.

The First Minister added:

“Silk is by no means the end of the story, but adopting their recommended approach will set us in the right direction. However, the detailed provisions in the next Wales Bill will need to take into account potentially much wider changes to the UK’s devolution settlement following the Scottish referendum. We will be ready to consider whether these are right for Wales.

“The Welsh devolution settlement in its current form is over cautious, over complex and out dated. The direction I have set today offers a better way forward, and we stand ready to work with the UK Government to put in place the reformed constitution Wales needs.”