DRAFT WALES BILL A STEP CLOSER TO INDEPENDENCE, WARNS MP  

WALES is edging closer to independence with new devolution legislation, Monmouth MP David Davies has warned.

A draft Wales Bill offering more powers to the Welsh Government is due to be published this week. It is expected to confirm a “reserved powers” model where powers are assumed to be devolved unless they are listed as Westminster responsibilities.

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has also promised additional powers over transport and the environment, as well as joined-up rules on lowering the voting age to 16 for Assembly elections.

But Mr Davies, who chairs the Welsh Affairs Committee, expressed concern that further devolution was a “one-way street to Cardiff Bay”.

“The latest draft Wales Bill comes just a year or so after the last one was ratified and transfers a whole new tranche of powers to the Welsh Government,” he said.

“AMs will therefore be able to make laws in any area not specifically “reserved” to the UK Parliament.”

The Bill is likely to grant extra powers over energy policies too, giving the Assembly the ability to approve planning applications on medium-sized energy projects.

“Step by step, Wales seems to be edging closer towards independence,” said Mr Davies.

“What worries me is that it is always a one-way street. No-one is talking about taking powers away from the Welsh Government in areas where it is performing badly, such as health or education.

“Even with all these powers, First Minister Carwyn Jones is still calling for a separate Welsh legal jurisdiction.

“Over the next few months, I’ll have an opportunity to scrutinise the proposed legislation and will do so very carefully indeed.”

Mr Davies said he would prefer to see the Welsh Government “get on with being far more effective” in the policy areas it already has responsibility for, rather than demanding “yet more powers”.

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